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6 min read

Executive Letter #10: A Day in the Life

Oct 11, 2021 9:00:00 AM

In my last letter, I talked about the journey versus the destination, and how getting to the top of the mountain doesn't mean you've arrived.

Now, I want to tell you a little bit more about how I keep moving the mountaintop. That's right, 70+ year old me. How do I "grind," minute to minute, day to day, going on five decades in business?

Let's look.

Pulse Check

At the end of the day, no matter how many houses or team members you have, if you're at the helm—you are the business.

You have to treat it like an extension of yourself. Consciously or unconsciously, you're constantly scanning the business to make sure everything is okay. What does our company need? Is something wrong? Can it be easily solved or do I need to consult someone? Is it something that can be dealt with proactively, so it doesn't happen again?

I arrive most days at our Memphis headquarters by 7:00am, and get settled before walking through the REI Nation and Premier Property Management Group offices. I greet our early arrivals, have a conference with my executive assistant at 7:30 to discuss the day's important events, then go.

By 8:30am, we've convened our sales team for 30 to 45 minutes to cover daily KPIs and strategies. Next, I'm checking in with our executives and other team members about topics from the previous day, be it leads, insurance, IT, legal, performance reviews, client surveys, etc.

I spend the next few hours in a variety of ways, depending on what's going on with our company. An example that occurred last week was our vendor lunch. Every year, we take a couple of hours to show our appreciation to vendors by treating them to lunch and thanking them for the work they do for us out in the field to get our homes ready for residents to move in. It's great for me and our team members to develop personal connections with those out there working hard for us everyday.

Daily Rituals

I've shared in a past letter how every day after lunch our executive team gathers to go over daily and weekly KPIs. Sometimes there's a lot to share, sometimes there are only a few headlines. Regardless, I make sure we are knowledgeable of the results and survey responses that come in each day from our stakeholders: clients, vendors, team members, and particularly from residents.

Every month, we extend our executive team meetings and thoroughly go through company and team updates. What's the #1 thing we're hearing from team members about what they like most about working here? What could we improve? What practices should we review and potentially update for better productively and engagement?

I'm also asking us to think beyond the day or week, and think longer term. What markets are forecasting favorably? What kinds of questions are our investors asking us? How are we going to get to this goal or that goal by the end of the fiscal year?

Every executive weighs in on these kinds of conversations, because they have insight into what each of our different teams need, and because they are a diverse group of new and tenured team members who have their own insights to share. 

With this core team at the lead, we communicate the company vision and ensure every person, no matter their role, is working strategically, and has the tools they need to do their job better each day.

No Such Thing as Quitting Time

I've told you before that I like to manage by walking around and meeting with our teams. Some of our staff think I have a kind of sixth sense, because I tend to have uncanny timing when it comes to popping my head into an office or asking someone a question in passing. Nearly every time, I've caught them while they're wrestling with that exact question, or I've brought their attention to something they'd nearly forgotten.

I'm able to do this because I've become attuned to the inner workings of this place. Now, it's second nature, an instinct I've learned to hone. It's the instinct to always find the weakness and fix that two percent of things we can do better.

By 3:30 or 4:00pm, I've wrapped up my day—at the office, that is. Just like I do in the morning and over the lunch hour, I'll drive by a few more of our properties, ensuring that the curb appeal is up to par even on our ongoing renovations, before going home to my wife.

I hope that by organizing my schedule in this way, I set an example for my team that makes it clear I prioritize both my REI Nation family and my actual family. I don't take it lightly that we are a family-owned and operated business and that makes everything more personal.

Working with family can be a challenge. A big challenge. But at the end of the day, these are the people I trust, and I make it a point to surround myself with strong, energetic people that I know I can count on.

In the evenings, I'll catch up on the events of the day and carve out time to read business headlines or a chapter of a book by an entrepreneur or business person. I'm constantly learning and encourage my team to do so as well. That's why they might come to work Monday with the odd message from me sent over the weekend. Hey, I'm in my 70's, and I'm a CEO of a company managing over a billion dollars in assets. If I don't send them a question when it comes to me, or a headline when I read it, when will I?

By 9:30, I'm in bed asleep, ready to do it all again the next day. 

Commit to The Grind

My schedule is sometimes hectic but it helps me to focus when I commit to a routine. That routine has become my "grind."

Consistency is key and an important part of my routine is to wake up at 5:00am daily. After working in a number of industries whose schedules run a little early, my momentum starts long before most people's alarms have even gone off.

Starting my day early helps me to focus on the importance of physical and mental preparation. It's good to get in a workout and set your mindset each day to ensure you come in energetic and enthusiastic to set a positive example for your team. It also makes the rest of the day go by a little smoother.

My schedule may be crazy but there are key people who make my schedule work like clockwork: my wife and my team members. 

My wife Sherry has been a mainstay of REI Nation before it was REI Nation, before it was Memphis Invest, before it was a company at all. She has been a mainstay of every company I've ever run. There's a reason why she plays an integral role in every story I tell you about my grocery days. 

If Sherry holds the key to my many careers and successes, my team members hold the keys to REI Nation. If I'm not here, I know they are pushing forward, challenging themselves everyday to new heights, climbing new mountains. Surrounding myself with a strong team and motivating that team daily is one of my most important tasks. 

These are the people that make my grind possible. When I want to scale the next mountain, I rely on everyone around me to get us there, so that we all reap the benefits. I also ensure that every day is a reinforcement of consistent habits I've developed over the years that make us successful.

What does your grind look like?

Until next time,

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Kent Clothier
Chief Grind Officer

About Kent Clothier

CG5A0010-1Entrepreneur, Real Estate Investor, Husband, Dad, and Granddad. Through decades of personal experience, and a few other titles, Kent built a strong community around him at REI Nation. But it didn’t start there. It took 22 years of entrepreneurship – of losing money and making money, building small businesses and multimillion dollar companies alike – before he founded a family business-turned-empire. His sons Kent Jr, Chris, and Brett have worked alongside him, as well as leading successful ventures of their own. Real estate trends, managing towards efficiency, excellent customer service and leading the industry are what fuel him. Over the years, the skills he’s come to value are financial acumen, honesty, and forging new paths in business, investing, and winning.