It’s the small choices that we make day after day that truly determine our success and define who we are. For author and real estate entrepreneur Antonio Buchanan, it paid to have education at the forefront. Valuing his studies led him across the globe and later to buying homes. Although it’s unconventional, there’s no doubt you’ll find inspiration in his story whether you’re an HBCU student, alum, or ally.
Antonio Buchanan grew up like many young Black men do, tempted by the possibility of an exciting life as a professional athlete. He enjoyed basketball, and thought perhaps it could be his ticket to a better life. “The only people that I had other than family like my dad and my brothers as positive role models, were people that were aspiring to be athletes in football or basketball, people that were aspiring to be rappers, or drug dealers,” he said. “There was no in between. I didn’t meet a lot of doctors, I didn’t meet a lot of attorneys, I didn’t meet a lot of successful people that just do regular jobs.”
The basketball player tried his best not to accrue heavy student loan debt by playing at a community college after high school. However, it was easy to get side-tracked. He noticed many players only studied enough to be eligible during basketball season. Whenever the season wasn’t on, they fell off. Determined to succeed, he became one of the most dedicated players on his team. But when he received a couple scholarship offers to continue playing at four year universities after he earned his Associate’s degree, he thankfully recognized the pivotal moment for what it was. “I had a moment of reflection and I had to be real with myself,” he said. “Was I good enough to go to the league?” The four-year school he aspired to go to didn’t give him a scholarship, and that led him to enter the military seeking to study computer engineering and information technology (IT).
Although the military may seem like an unconventional path towards higher education for many, Buchanan lived an exciting life. He traveled to over 40 countries while in the Navy, and then came back to finish his last year in Oklahoma. As it turned out, the principles of the military would lead him to live the next chapter of his life doing a different kind of service.
In what was a surprise to many, he applied and succeeded in his goal to become a US Marshal in Miami. “I was kicking in doors, I was arresting people, drug cartels, terrorists, you name it. Some of the worst of the worst criminals I came face to face with,” he said. Amid his exciting career, he still found the time to graduate with his computer engineering degree from the only local college in Miami to have the program at the time.
Next it was time for a bigger challenge. “What else can I do,” he asked himself. His answer was just as ambitious as his quest to be a US Marshal: he set his sights on the CIA. It was very difficult to get in, and for a while he was the only Black man in the program. Knowing this challenging scenario was one of the reasons he pursued his education, he then put his degree to good use. “I went there to be a computer engineer/intelligence officer,” he said. “So think about what I did as a US Marshal. I did the same thing in the CIA but it was geared towards foreign nationals, and I did it from behind a computer. If you wanted to launch a missile, fly a drone, if you wanted to enable the officers that are on the ground overseas, I was the person to do that from an IT perspective.” He eventually went on to earn his Master’s degree in systems engineering, with a minor in cybersecurity.
However, as he became more and more successful, he began to resent the nature of his CIA work. It distanced him from his community too much. Having to lock his phone away for top secret missions every day eventually started to wear him out. Now in his next phase of life, he is finally in a space to be able to be of service to people in a different way. He has found success teaching others in his community the lessons he had to learn on his own.
With the funds and connections he made during his preceding careers, Buchanan dove into real estate. He is now the CEO and managing partner at Capstone Investment Group. He bought his first property in Baltimore, and then Wisconsin. He currently has properties that also span Virginia, Indiana, and even Mississippi. In the future, he has plans to acquire real estate in Texas and Oklahoma City. His new business endeavor is the perfect way of showing his community that it is possible to go beyond what’s typical as a Black man from an urban community.
For Buchanan, entering the real estate market wasn’t enough— he longed to be able to share his wealth of knowledge with others. With his book, “Building Wealth Through Real Estate with AB,” he has set out to demonstrate to readers that they too can find success in the housing market. It’s a concept especially useful to the Black community. “It doesn’t matter what your degree level is, or it doesn’t matter how much training you have outside of your house. The one thing that we lack as a community is financial literacy across the board,” he said. “We’re talking about balancing checkbooks, knowing the difference between an APR and APY. We’re talking about when you go get student loans, the compound interest. Then we bring in the real estate, the stock market, whole life insurance policies that are going to pay you dividends— what the rich people do. We talk about all these things no matter your degree level, no matter how much money you got.”
Because there is so much he had to learn on his own about financial literacy, he is successfully working to close that gap for others. “I wanted to create a body of work that people could not only read once, but can refer back to years from now and it’ll still be valid on how to build wealth through real estate. [I thought] how can I do that without charging you hundreds of thousands, tens of thousands of dollars. For twenty dollars I’m giving you free game,” he said. To make it accessible, the paperback book is easily available on platforms like Amazon.
Speaking of free game, we asked Buchanan, real estate-related or not, what the best advice is that he would give to current students. He didn’t disappoint! He encourages those in college to not follow the crowd. “Often times, when we’re in college we don’t wanna be the one standing alone not doing something because the rest of the crowd is actually doing it,” he said. “If you don’t wanna go to a party that day because you have to study or you have to do certain things then you shouldn’t do that. Because at the end of the day, God has put something in you, and you’re on a journey to get to your destination,” he said. Take it from him, it’s the intentional decisions he made over time that changed his life.