"The Man, The Mission, The Passion" Husband, Father, Attorney, CPA, Steward Leader, Entrepreneur, MBA, Author, Builder, HBS OPM 25 Class, Mentor, Teacher

Mentor’s Reply to Young Entrepreneur’s Questions

Questions & Answers

1. What do you think separated you from your fellow investor colleagues and friends in terms of your exponential growth and success?

I created an organization; took a decades long point of view, focused on crisp execution/creating value more than “making money” (I wanted to grow prosperous gradually, not get rich quick), I wanted it more than others, was more laser-like in my intensity, lived it and breathed it 24/7. I had a burning desire to get better, be better each and every day, curiosity about all aspects of and next to my business, and a love of learning/growing. I developed the ability to move back and forth between ground level and 50,000 ft. I am working on the ability to let go and to delegate better. 

2. When did you know it was time to invest outside of your local market? 

When I ran out of good opportunities locally…

How did you get comfortable with the idea of actually doing it?

I had to do it or stop growing. I stumbled a bit; there was a learning curve but it all worked out.

3. What is the best thing I can be doing now to position myself to be attractive to acquiring traditional commercial financing from a bank?

Be a good credit risk, know how to prepare good financial statements, have good records, know your business backwards and forwards (that’s why I have so many degrees/licenses), and have good character. 

4. How large does a company have to be before it can be self-sustaining? 

Companies need both financial and intellectual capital. I’d say that a company is self-sustaining in terms of intellectual capital when it is deep enough so that, given normal turnover, there is always enough of the Senior Management Team to keep the lights on and train/bring on board new members.

What is your definition of a self-sustaining company? 

One that can run without the founder.

5. How do you go about setting people’s salaries and incentivizing them? 

I don’t set salaries, the marketplace sets salaries. I endeavor to hire people who love what they do and are internally motivated.

6. Do you run an individual apartment complex like a business within a larger business? 

An apartment community is an investment. The business is the Property Management Company that looks after the community and the Asset Management Company that hires/oversees the Property Management Company and makes buy/sell/refi/renovate decisions. Many owners do not self-manage, they hire 3rd party firms.

7. At what size company do you think I would need a full time bookkeeper? 

As a CPA, I did my own books on Quicken for decades. It’s hard to say. The short answer is when you think your time is better spent elsewhere. But boy, oh boy, did I have a tight handle on my business when I paid every check!

8. Do you still teach classes at UF? 

I teach a Case Study module every July to the Nathan S. Collier Master of Science in Real Estate incoming class.

9. What do you enjoy most about business? 

The independence of being profitably self-employed.

10. What would you say your greatest attribute is in business? 

Desire/Drive. You’ve got to WANT it.

11. What do you believe my present focus should be if my goal is to own at least 1000 units? 

Getting 100 units, profitable.

12. What makes a company great? 

The people.

As always, I share what I most want/need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier

Five Fears and How They Silence

speak your truth

We often fail to have the difficult conversations we need to have, leaving unspoken important truths.

Why?

– Fear of Confrontation/Conflict: From the playground onward, we are taught to be polite, not to hurt others’ feelings, to avoid conflict, to get along. All good advice until applied in excess and we begin to silence ourselves when duty commands we speak.

– Fear of Retribution: Concern that speaking frankly and honestly will damage the relationship, that we won’t be liked, that it will result in a loss of friendship. Most times it is best to let bygones be bygones and we should never, ever make mountains out of molehills. However, at times we feel the need to speak our truth even after due reflection and mediation. It is then our duty, responsibility, and obligation to prepare our hearts and minds in advance and speak our words politely, civilly, and with respect and a kind heart. Having done that and listened diligently and openly to the response, if a friendship is lost then perhaps it was meant to be, was for the best or never was what we thought it was to begin with. You can’t lose what you never had. 

– Fear of the Unknown: Apprehension that bringing the subject out in the open will only make it worse. Thus we choose denial, a most dysfunctional coping mechanism. While denial may seem to work in the short run and may buy us time, we are giving away our powers, bowing to our fears: in the long run living in denial only weakens us. Painting over rust never lasts. Anytime we shrink away from reality, clarity, and transparency, choosing instead smoke and mirrors, we regress. Fear is a monster that thrives in the dark, frequently shrinking to a paper tiger when exposed to the cleansing light of day, the disinfecting, purifying power of truth.

– Fear of Change: There are two sides to most everything. One source of resistance is the concern that if we put our issues out there, they will bring up potentially legitimate issues of their own with us which we don’t want to have to deal with so we make an implicit bargain, a mutual conspiracy of silence.

– Fear of the Complexity: Clear, concise communication is a challenge. Concern that we might bungle it, arising from just the basic difficulty of communication is probably the most legitimate reason to hesitate. Taking the time to separate emotions from goals, facts from fears, seeking first to understand, writing down your objectives, and researching having difficult conversations are all effective solutions.

As always, I share what I most want/need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier 

Have You Mastered Wu Wei Yet?

wu wei

Wu Wei is Chinese for “effortless action”. Pronounced “ooo-way”, it is akin to achieving the state of “flow” where you are at your very best howbeit in a very relaxed, natural way. 

The art of “trying without trying” is inherently a paradox but mastering effortless action is the flip side of “purpose tremor” and “performance anxiety”. Anyone can walk a 12” wide board lying on flat ground; put it 100’ up in the air and “performance anxiety” kicks in big time, not because your skill set has deteriorated but because the downside (literally!) has gotten so great. Most of us put the key in the keyhole the first time, every time but put a cocked gun to your head and threaten annihilation as a consequence of failure and self-sabotaging “purpose tremor” becomes a major risk factor.

So… “You cannot try, but you also cannot not try.” We need to try, we need to intelligently persist but we also need to know when to back off, when to take a break, rest and recuperate and perhaps try another path or even seek out another mountain top. The key, as it often does, lies in balance (Scott Peck’s 4th and most important tool of discipline in “Road Less Traveled”). Moderation in all things including moderation.

I’ve found flow most often in the tasks that I’ve practiced over and over and over again. It has been said that it takes 10,000 hours of focused, coached practice to get to the first level of mastery of any craft. I do know that I play my best racquetball when I’m in the zone, in a delightful, contradictory state of intense relaxation. And I also know that if I’m ever losing some of my best comebacks occur when I release winning and simply resolve to hit the ball as hard and low as I can; no other goal, no other purpose.

Effortless Action. Flow. Success through attraction rather than striving. Embrace harmony, choose contentment. Use the wind, tack as need be but never, ever fight the wind. Better yet, be the wind.

As always, I share what I most want/need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier

A BLOG ON PERSONAL LEADERSHIP BY THE FOUNDER OF THE COLLIER COMPANIES
LARGEST PRIVATE PROVIDER OF STUDENT HOUSING