I am incapable of managing people. My focus shifts so quickly that people end up with workflow whiplash. I cannot evaluate anyone’s performance or character because I like everyone. I have the memory of a fruit fly and have not invested the time or energy into creating systems to overcome it. Rules and structure imposed by others make me rebellious and uncooperative. More severe procrastination has yet to be documented this side of the Mississippi. And even though I mean well, I frequently commit to projects or follow-up that never happens.
From the outside, it seems like I have it all together. I am the founder and president of JWB, the largest homebuyer, infill builder and single-family property management company in Northeast Florida. We have over $60 million in private capital from approximately 300 different individuals, having cumulatively been lent more than $400 million in the last 13 years. We have paid 100% of our lenders back in full.
My business partner, Gregg, and I founded the company with neither of us having any real estate experience or background. And we founded that real estate business in 2006, of all times! We not only survived, but thrived and grew. I have been named to the local 40 under 40, Leadership Jacksonville and Leadership Florida. JWB has been on the cover of the Wall Street Journal, multiple evaluators have named it a best place to work and multiple publications have named it a fastest-growing company.
So how does someone as flawed as myself grow a highly successful business and personal life?
In addition to luck and great timing, I can point to five principles that have been instrumental in getting stuff done.
- Work Hard // Putting in the hours makes up for a lot of personal shortcomings. For the first 10 years, my business partners and I worked 70-90 hours a week. These days, I have an amazing wife and two young sons. I am down to 50 to 55 hours a week, which I consider part-time! In the early days of the company, even though I was bad at a lot of things, I was willing to put in the time to ensure the work was done, and the company could move forward.
- Be Authentic // People are very forgiving if you don’t pretend to be something you are not. Own your shortcomings, own your failures, but also own your strengths. Know your core values and stand by them, no matter what.
- Grow // In 2010, I was running our construction company. My right-hand man told me he would quit if he had to work with me anymore. I listened to his concerns, and we came to the mutual decision that running the day-to-day operations of the construction company was not a great fit for me. Long-term success and survival means adaptability and flexibility, and that starts at the top with a leader who hears feedback and evolves with it.
- Find Your Niche // Develop a role that plays to your strengths. There are ways you can contribute to your company’s success and ways you hinder it. At various points, I have overseen or participated in basically every part of the company except property management—to contribute my skills to the team in the most powerful way.
- Build Your Team // Surround yourself with top talent who complement your weaknesses. The reason JWB has been successful is because we have an amazing team. We try to stay out of each other’s way, trusting each other to run the parts of the business to which we are best suited. We still connect with each other on major decisions, but we each have responsibilities and teams that we trust to excel in ways we cannot even imagine.
These principles are not a magic bullet to success. One of the JWB core values is “empower people to make mistakes and fail forward.” Use the opportunity to do better, to be better and to keep moving forward. ∞