New York City

The Education of Sam Liebman

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There’s an old adage attached to academia that, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” It’s arguably a bit of a slight on educators (particularly at the college level), that those who fail in an endeavor, can ultimately resort to teaching others how to succeed at the very thing at which they failed. While perhaps it’s an unfair indictment of higher education as it certainly isn’t universally applicable to every university professor. Nonetheless, there remains a fair criticism of advanced learning that the focus is often too heavily favored toward academic theory than to the real-world application most necessary for success a given field.

Enter Sam Liebman, “The Canarsie Kid,” who’s unique approach to the real estate market was built more on life experience and personal interactions than on rote academic ideas. By his own admission, Liebman faced challenges early on from the streets of Brooklyn and a dysfunctional family environment. He credits inspiration from teachers in both high school and college for influencing his outlook on learning that expanded beyond the textbooks and tapped into his interests. Most noteworthy was his college accounting professor, David Minars.

“He made a subject like accounting entertaining and took difficult concepts and made them easy to understand,” he says of Minars. “He changed my academic life and is one of the reasons I believe mentors are so important.”

Mentorship by key figures in his life continued into Liebman’s professional pursuits leading him to metriculate from accounting to real estate. Beginning in the depressed New York City property market in the mid-1980s which expanded into Texas as well, Liebman managed to thrive in the business by understanding the mindset of the buyer from whom he purchaced a given property and evaluating it by asking three key questions: “What was it?”; “What is it?”; and “What can it be?”

His best-selling book, Harvard Can’t Teach What You Learn From the Streets, was published early last year (2022), and had been praised by critics for how Liebman presents a practical approach to building wealth in real estate. Liebman, however, says the book is more than simply a career guide.

“I lay out principles that are helpful to anyone regardless of their career path,” he explains. He points out his emphasis on life experience, mentoring, and relationships as a means for sustaining wealth and not merely “getting rich.” “Even if you’re not in real estate, you can gain practical insights from my book.

The book is available through Amazon other booksellers, and more information about Sam Liebman can be found on his website:


Jack Raplee is a Queens native with over 20 years of journalistic experience covering industries as varied as entertainment, manufacturing, engineering and consumer electronics as well as hard news. Apart from writing, he has enjoyed additional exposure in radio work, standup comedy and modeling. While his career trajectory has brought him far and wide, living in places like Nassau, Bahamas; Sungnam, Korea; and Jackson, Mississippi he always seems to end up in his native NYC. Jack is currently working on a yet-to-be-titled book providing his unique perspective on his native Queens as seen from the table of a local diner.

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