[00:00:05] Kim Ades:
Hello, hello. My name is Kim Ades, I am the President and Founder of Frame of Mind Coaching™ and you have just joined The Frame of Mind Coaching™ Podcast, where we invite leaders from all over the world to come onto the podcast and get coached live and in-person.
Today my guest is Brian Adams and he comes to us from Nashville and he runs a company called Elexior Capital.
[00:00:30] Brian Adams:
Excelsior Capital. State of New York.
[00:00:32] Kim Ades:
Oh my goodness! What is wrong with me today? [Laughs]
[00:00:35] Brian Adams:
[00:00:37] Kim Ades:
Excelsior, like the... Isn't there an Excelsior in Vegas?
[00:00:45] Brian Adams:
Maybe. It meets Everett upward.
[00:00:48] Kim Ades:
Everett upward. Okay. So what is Excelsior Capital?
[00:00:52] Brian Adams:
So, we're a commercial real estate investment platform that I started 11 years ago. We offer direct co-investment opportunities to a network of high net-worth individuals, family offices, and boutique wealth management firms.
[00:01:09] Kim Ades:
Okay. And so, 11 years ago, and how's it going?
[00:01:13] Brian Adams:
[Laughs] Like most small businesses, it's been a rollercoaster. We've really hit our stride, I think, in the last two or three years. But overall, I think if you take a step back and think 84% of small businesses in America fail within 12 months or so, we are, you know, continued to grow, we are thriving. We have about $450 million of real estate under management, maybe 17 employees.
So we've grown pretty dramatically over the last one or two years. And I think we're going to talk about this, but I'm really trying to figure out how to scale it efficiently, without losing kind of the vision and the culture that we've been able to establish over the last 24 months.
[00:02:06] Kim Ades:
Okay. And we are going to talk about it in a minute. So, COVID hit and you grew instead of anything else.
[00:02:16] Brian Adams:
Well, COVID allowed us the opportunity to obviously stop running around as much as we had been in our business. Like many businesses, we're really traveling quite a bit and, you know, frankly distracted very often. So COVID allowed us to put into place a lot of the infrastructure from a marketing, investor relations, content creation standpoint. Putting the aspirational bucket for a long time and have the ability to actually sit down and do what my marketing consultant had been advised me to do for the last two years.
And so we put together a very robust content calendar, we put together a social media strategy. I launched my own podcast. We started doing webinars. We started doing co-branded content. And really had the chance to listen to our investors about the challenges they were facing and start creating messaging and reporting that was empathetic to exactly what they wanted and need.
And that took about 12 months. We kind of turned the new machine on in January of this year (2021). And we've three or four X start traditional production. This calendar– we're doing this in November, so for the last 11 months and it's been terrific. And so now the question internally is we'd like to continue this growth, but we don't want to blow ourselves up, we don't want to stray from what's gotten us here, right? We want to dance to the one who brought you.
And so that's been the internal conversation is, you know, should we continue to try to grow aggressively? Should we take a breath? There seems to be a lot of opportunity there. And it's really, where should I be spending my time to make sure the company is continuing to do what it should in the core business, but that we're always expanding our investor relationships beyond the ones that we have today.
[00:04:15] Kim Ades:
So, I mean, it's an interesting thing that you're bringing to the table because essentially you're saying "we've been successful, we've done a good job, we've taken the time that we had as a result of focus, because of COVID, and we've leveraged that time. We've made good use of it, and we've implemented a new marketing strategy, content, calendar, all of that, and it's caused us to really grow. And so now the question is, should we continue growing?"
And, you know, normally we would say, why not? Like, what's the actual fear? What's the actual reason why you would question whether or not you should grow? And so, I'm not really sure I got at that yet. So what exactly is the fear? What's the discomfort? Why not just grow? You're doing well. Why not continue doing well?
[00:05:01] Brian Adams:
A previous iteration of the company we grew really quickly, called this five or six years ago, and we didn't put enough resources to the guts of the business, and it almost kind of blew up. From a reporting and a communication standpoint specifically. And also some, you know, blocking and tackling and accounting and bookkeeping, et cetera.
That's an experience that allowed me to be the manager I am today, and also a mistake that I don't want to repeat.
[00:05:35] Kim Ades:
Okay. So, tell me a little bit about how you almost blew up. Is that... people were stressed because they had too much workload? Is that you weren't dotting your I's and crossing your T's and things were falling through the cracks?
[00:05:50] Brian Adams:
Yeah. More the latter. So it was really more of a function of a trap that many real estate sponsors like myself fall into, of being more oriented towards the deals and the acquisitions and less on the asset management and the investor experience.
And so, it's something that we've worked really hard on and that we've put time and energy and money into, making sure that the investor experience is phenomenal and that we have really good people in place to manage the assets once we acquire them. And so that was the trap that we fell into, however many numbers of years ago.
[00:06:27] Kim Ades:
Okay, so you asked a question before the question was, you know, "what's the best use of my time?" And to me, the best use of your time is to twofold. One is you are the experience carrier, right? You have the history, you have the expertise, you probably have the relationships. You're the experience carrier.
And so, from my perspective, you know, a lot of marketing can be done without you. And maybe more and marketing can be done without you. And while perhaps you're saying "well, hold on a minute. I'm perhaps the face of the company. And I'm the face and I need to be out there", I would actually challenge that and say "what places can you remove yourself from the marketing equation? And move yourself to the strategy equation".
When you're talking about growth, you're really talking about pushing on the right leavers at the right time. And making sure that when you're pushing on one, we understand the impact or the repercussions of that push. And so to me, you've done an amazing job of growth through marketing.
But now the question is, "how can I replace myself here? How can I take some of the talent and the people or the resources around me and replace some of the places where I am actively involved and don't need to be actively involved? How can I create maybe a procedural manual to say 'here's what we do, how we do it, when we do it' so that somebody else can take over". It's a training manual per se, right?
"How do we create procedures, policies, methodologies, so that I can now move on to the next thing I need to work on? Which is strategy". And in so doing, we say "okay, so our company has come to this point. What is the key determining factor of continuous growth?" And I'm guessing it's probably relationships with your investors. And the relationships that they might bring to the table from here on in.
So "what do I need to have in place now to exponentially grow out my relationships? And if I do that, what potentially could be the cost if I take my eye off this other ball for a minute? And what do I need to plug in to make sure that those things are not falling through the cracks?"
And so, from my perspective, it's not about whether or not you grow because you're in a growth mode, right? Like, we never tell a child "stop growing", right?
Growth is, you know, you have two options: you grow or you die. So it's not a question of whether or not you grow. It's a question of how you grow and how you manage the growing pains. Right? Does that make sense?
[00:09:26] Brian Adams:
It makes a ton of sense, and I think it will be more about managing my ego of not micro-managing every aspect of the business any longer, and being able to delegate efficiently so that I can kind of think about, to your point, the strategic direction of the firm, as opposed to some of the day-to-day minutia that is probably not best serving the enterprise.
[00:09:50] Kim Ades:
So when you said, you know, "the pandemic allowed us to focus and eliminate distractions and really hone in on what was super important", like, that's the thing you need to do on a regular basis every six months, right? Focus on what's really important and get rid of the distractions. And from my perspective, great leaders are incredibly good at replacing themselves so that they become less and less important to the business.
And they become more valuable in strategic decision-making, direction, talent acquisition, being the attracting force, being the messager and messenger of the business. Both of those things. And so you have to look at yourself differently as you're moving forward. And so it's very interesting. As a company grows, a leader must grow too.
And so when you're talking about ego, right? Part of what you need to do is say "okay, so where do I need to personally grow in order to be able to manage the strategy moving forward? How do I need to think differently in order to be able to operate at the higher level that I'm seeking to operate?"
And so, oftentimes companies grow and leaders don't grow with their companies. And so for you right now, the company's growing, it's doing well and you kind of have to step up above the company in order for it to meet you where you want it to be. That's where you are right now. So you need to look at yourself differently. You need to see your role differently, as not the marketer person, but as the strategic entity of the organization right now.
[00:11:34] Brian Adams:
Yeah, I agree. The question is how to do it. [Laughs]
[00:11:39] Kim Ades:
Well, to be honest, like, I think– again, we work with many, many leaders and the greatest challenge they have is having a thinking partner, someone who can help them work through the ideas. Someone who can challenge them when their thinking isn't aligned with their goals. Someone who can say "Hey, that strategy doesn't even align with your values. What are you doing? Where are you going? How does that even make sense?" Right?
And so, you need a group of people, maybe a board of directors, an executive coach, whoever it is, that you can really start to think with. And so, that's where you are right now. It's less about tactics and it's more about strategies, and you really need to examine some of the thinking that you bring to the table and have people you really trust to challenge the thinking that you bring to the table.
Because, you know, we all make errors in our thinking because that's just the way we're wired. And so it's to have those checks and balances with people we can really trust, to make sure that we're heading in the right direction in a way that is consistent with the next goal and the objectives of the company.
[00:12:55] Brian Adams:
Okay. I think that's right.
[00:12:57] Kim Ades:
You think that's right? That's it?
[00:12:58] Brian Adams:
[00:12:58] Kim Ades:
You think that's right? Good advice?
[00:12:59] Brian Adams:
I think that's right. I mean, I would agree. It's really good advice. It's a function of what it looks like, and I probably need to do some introspection and speak to some peers and some of my mentors about their personal board of directors or advisory committee of some sort to make sure that I can execute on that 12-24 month vision to extract myself a little bit from the business, so I can work on the business.
[00:13:28] Kim Ades:
A hundred percent. And one of the things that we recommend is using a journal to kind of start to work through your ideas and say "well, here's the thinking that brought me here, but the same thinking isn't going to bring me there. So how do I have to look at this differently?" And so, yeah, that's the recommendation.
And I think you're in an exciting spot. Like, you figured some things out, some of the things that a lot of people don't know how to figure out yet. So you're in a beautiful spot. And you're in a beautiful spot from two standpoints. You're a company that is growing, maturing, coming to its own, as you are too, as a leader. And so those are two amazing things to be dealing with and it's awesome to see, and I congratulate you for your success so far.
[00:14:16] Brian Adams:
Well, thank you. I appreciate that.
[00:14:19] Kim Ades:
For those of you who are listening, if you're growing your company and you're wondering how to move from one place to the next, one of the things that you really want to do is start to think about what you're holding onto tightly that you're not willing to let go of. Start to think about how you can replace yourself. Start to think about how you can establish some procedures and methodologies for what you've already accomplished, so you can pass it on to the next person and focus on building strategy, focus on talent acquisition, focus on really building up your client base and making sure you have raving fans.
Thank you for being on the podcast with me, Brian. Again, for those of you who may have a challenge that you want to share on the podcast, please reach out to me.
My email address is Kim@frameofmindcoaching.com.
And if you have a challenge that you want to discuss, but maybe not so much on the podcast, please reach out to me as well. My email address again, is Kim@frameofmindcoaching.com.
Brian, I wish you the best of luck and I hope we do stay in touch.
[00:15:25] Brian Adams:
Yeah. Thank you, Kim. I appreciate it.