Born and raised in Philadelphia, Jarrod Whitaker, AKA “General”, releases his first book, “The Real Estate Godfather of Harlem: A Short Memoir for Success”.
In the land of opportunity, New York City is the island of opportunity. It draws the best and the brightest from around the world. Jarrod “General” Whitaker was amongst the talent that was not only drawn to NYC and is now part of its redefinition. Whitaker has just released his debut book, “The Real Estate Godfather of Harlem: A Short Memoir for Success”, which is intended as a way of educating and enlightening young men and women from underserved and marginalized communities about the importance of self-reliance, self-determination, and collective economics. It charts his journey of self-discovery as a source for motivational encouragement for achieving personal success. In other words, if you can believe it you can achieve it.
Whitaker grew up during the height of the Philadelphia crack epidemic, and he discovered that music offered him an escape. Due to his father’s influence as a budding bass player, he became intrigued by the new phenomenon known as Hip-Hop.
“I’m an 80s baby, born in 1978,” Whitaker noted. “I grew up really all over Philly: Southwest Philly, North Philly, my father has roots in South Philadelphia, and then we moved to the Oak Lane section when I was in my early teens. It was a pretty rough time and you had to be creative and innovative in how you positioned yourself, getting back and forth to school and kind of coming up at a tough time. So, when I started coming of age at 18, 19 the first thing that I ventured into with the music industry. I left Philly in 1998, and ended up relocating to Los Angeles to pursue a career in music and I had moderate success, but it was really just wanting to get out of Philadelphia to see the world and kind of have bigger opportunities beyond some of the limitations that were going on… So I think that was the most dramatic thing that I did in my early years to have the opportunity to be where I’m at today. Just being open-minded, wanting to learn, and being open to seeing and learning different things was critical, especially coming from Philadelphia.”
Whitaker, performing as “General,” met musicians such as Ice-T and Brian Allen, who worked as a music manager for R. Kelly. After an impromptu phone performance, Whitaker was flown to Chicago immediately and went on to co-write the hit songs “Fiesta” and “Like a Real Freak” on R Kelly’s 5x platinum “TP2.com” album.
He achieved what he calls “moderate success” in his projects with Interscope Records, Bad Boy Records, and other music industry power players, and decided to pivot to focus his talent and ambition on real estate. He relocated with his wife to her Harlem hometown in 2003 and began his next life chapter in the mailroom of a $40 billion real estate and private equity firm.
He remained curious and open-minded and was taken under the wing of RE mentor Jim Simmons who advised him to finish what he started at Temple University, eventually graduating from Columbia University in 2013.
Whitaker recalled: “My career just continued to grow with me becoming a project manager, then a portfolio manager, moving up to director level vice president and today on the real estate side, I’m the senior vice president for a $21 billion firm headquartered in New York City.”
Despite this, Jarrod Whitaker became intrigued by generational wealth as a catalyst for economic growth and freedom. His life story represents an illustrative model of creating wealth from nothing.
“Rather than luxuriating and just spending that money on material stuff, I started investing my personal money to acquire real estate that I own,” Whiter explains. “And I’ve been able to take the positive cash flow from those properties that I get every month and then I invest into index funds, ETFs and other financial instruments, stocks and bonds and all type of thing I’ve been able to you know, I‘ve been able to come from that little snotnosed latchkey kid growing up in southwest Philly in the ‘80s to having a net worth that nearly $20 million; from WIC and food stamps and government cheese. Through those lessons, trials, setbacks, and just learning and growing, I’m at a stage in my life where sharing that information, sharing the education, and being able to touch and inspire young people of color coming from underserved and disadvantaged communities, like the one I grew up in, is something that’s a burning passion for me.”