Building Wealth: From shoeshine boy to real estate magnate

By Robert Barbera

Wealth isn’t about money.  

All my adult life, people have asked me, “Robert, how did you make money? How did you become wealthy?” And while I want to share that with them—and with you—I also want you to understand that those are two different questions. Yes, of course, money can help you create wealth. But wealth is far more than a number on your bank statement. 

So if wealth isn’t about money, what exactly is it? 

Wealth is independence. 

Real wealth is the ability to live your life on your own terms. It’s the freedom to switch careers, spend time with your family, improve your community, and make a difference in the world. Building Wealth will help you not only to reach your own financial goals, but also to attain this level of wealth.


About the Author

Robert Barbera is a proud Italian-American. His immigrant parents taught him the value of hard work and the importance of family. He made his first stock investment in 1954, only four years out of high school, and bought his first building in 1961. Through hard work, dedication, focus, and the support of his family, he now has 500 units and multiple subsidiary companies, making real estate the cornerstone of his success.

Throughout his life, Robert has built wealth not just for himself and his family, but for many other people in fields as diverse as restaurants, car dealerships, and the financial industry. He launched The Barbera Foundation in 1994 and has donated his time, expertise, and financial resources to many worthy organizations, including Pepperdine University, Thomas Aquinas College, and the California State University system.

Robert was lucky in love, having had a happy, forty-five-year marriage to his late wife, Bernice, and finding love a second time around with Josephine, whom he married in 2003. He is the father of three wonderful children, Ann, John, and Patricia, and the grandfather of seven. 

The Mentoris Project, which this book is part of, represents a piece of Robert’s legacy. It connects his past, his parents, his children, and the future by honoring the achievements of Italians and Italian-Americans and publishing inspirational books.