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6 min read

Executive Letter #8: There's No I in TEAM

Sep 12, 2021 6:00:00 PM

If investing in real estate was just about walking to the mailbox once a month and pulling out a fat check, then everyone would do it. But it's not.

Like anything in life, nothing rewarding is ever that easy.

In real estate, there are a million little hiccups that will add stress to your life. You'll get an unexpected bill for necessary maintenance or for damage from an act of nature. You might have to make quick decisions that come with a hefty price tag. The phone rings and rings and rings.

I've seen investors buy a few properties and think they've finally made it—until things start to get a little uncomfortable. 

No, real estate is not easy. There is no cruise control if you want to make a living in this industry. It's managing hundreds of details and being proactive so that everything stays in good shape. On top of that, you also want to keep everyone fairly happy in the process.

At REI Nation, this is a team sport and there truly is no "I" in team. You also never know what the day may bring. However, if you can get comfortable with the uncomfortable, it sure can be rewarding. 

There's No Crying in Real Estate

I'd like to talk about what it means to work at our company and be a part of our team. To borrow a real estate term, our team members are our number one asset. That doesn't mean it's necessarily easy or comfortable to work at REI Nation. If you can handle working for us, though, it's worth it in the end.

From day one, we're going to be observing how you work, watching what you do and asking you questions about why you're doing it that way—not with the intention to scare you, but because we're constantly reviewing how we can do things better. You have to have tough skin to be part of this team because we expect everyone to be willing to learn. That's sometimes a different mindset than what people are used to.

Before any team member gets to day one, however, our interview process is unapologetically rigorous. I've hired upwards of a thousand people over the course of my career. I've learned to watch a candidate's body language. I notice if they're taking notes, or if they've prepared questions. We put them through multiple rounds of interviews with peers and team members to make sure each candidate is someone our top team members want to work with.

I'm also known for rapid-fire interview questions. "What's the biggest mistake you've made on the job?" "How would your current coworkers describe you?" "Do you see yourself as an entrepreneur or employee?

My favorite question to ask a candidate for hire is, "What are you going to do to make us better on your first day?"

I'll tell you, there's no right answer to this, but I've heard a few wrong ones.

If they say, "This company will be better because of the skills I bring to the table," then I know they don't belong here. I don't like overconfidence. I need to be able to know that every single person who works here can be trusted with a potential client, and my trust is earned by people who commit, who strengthen our team, and who motivate themselves to be better than they were the day before.

In other words, can I push them to their highest potential? Is that something they'll be able to take?

Other important information I get by asking this question is learning how quickly the candidate can think on their feet and how they gauge their own success, because those are expectations of working here that I want to set from the beginning.

The worst thing they could do is sit there in silence and finally admit, "I don't know!"

So when we say, "Get comfortable being uncomfortable" to team members, what does that really mean? Well, it means never getting complacent, staying on the edge of your seat, and understanding that it's game time all day long. During the work day, there's no time for distractions, and people who lack focus or cut corners are weak links in our system.

At this company, we don't host community circles to talk about our feelings or cut cake for everyone's everything. But I've had many team members tell me that working here not only made them a better professional, but also a better person.

In the end, it's not easy, but it's rewarding for everyone involved. It's amazing to see the results when an entire company of above average people focus on every detail, because that's the kind of hard work that turns a profit—and builds a legacy.

Front and Center

The hardest part about balancing attention to detail and attention to people is to stay focused and not lose yourself along the way. When you're a leader, it's easy to be taken off course by the distractions, and I promise your team is watching.

Back in the grocery days, I had a job with a lot of perks. It was up to me to decide what was front and center for our customers, like where products were placed and what brand sales were advertised. That put me in the way of a lot of people who were interested in their brands and products coming out on top, at whatever price.

From time to time, vendors would send free products to my house to try to influence my decisions. Regardless of anyone trying to sway me, though, I made my decisions based on data and what was best for our customers.

When you're in a position of authority—be it grocery manager, CEO, or real estate investor—people will watch you to see how you make your decisions. What do you care about? Are you easily influenced? Are you one to dictate your will no matter what? I guarantee your team will be watching how you handle these situations and will often emulate your behavior.

Keeping yourself focused on what matters is easier said than done. When you do it well, however, you'll win loyal team members and brand fans.

I don't apologize for creating a company structure that makes a profit or for challenging my people to optimize outcomes. I also don't apologize for committing everything I've got to this business. I have no choice but to do it all with integrity and by putting my team's best interest front and center because, without them, we have no business.

When it comes to The Grind, my team and I are all in.

Commit to The Grind

Regardless of what business you find yourself in, your integrity will likely be tested time and time again. If nothing else, if you're in real estate, you'll be in a challenging, time-consuming, headache-inducing industry.

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Building a business isn't easy but if you can stay focused on your goals, your team, and your clients, you'll be able to weather anything that comes your way. The rewards may also turn out to be a lot more than you expected.

Until next time,

Article Graphics (8)-1

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.