Listen to this week’s episode on how Don Wenner, founder of DLP Capital, has:
- Overcome a volatile market shifting risk into reward
- Created a superior culture that attracts top talent and clients through transparent communication, core values, and community
- Hit the Inc 5000 list NINE times (and all before his 40th birthday)
- Bought over 3 Billion in real estate
There are so many golden nuggets in this week’s episode.
My favorite piece of advice comes at the end when Don starts talking about how he integrates running his company AND being a present father for his children.
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*this transcript was mostly generated by AI, please excuse any mistakes
Welcome everybody. Amanda Holmes here, CEO of Chet Holmes, international of the CEO mastery podcast.
I have with me today, Don Wenner who is taking a moment out of his wonderful vacation with his family out in Maui, or I’m sorry in Oahu. That I’m so grateful that you’re here. So for everybody that’s listening, Don is the founder and CEO of DLP capital, just at a young, I know he said I’m not that young, but 37 years old who have had his company.
I, I read on your website that you own about 3 billion in real estate assets. As of right now, that’s 14,000 housing units and you’ve hit the ink 5,000 list nine times also winning best places to work. My mind is blown, Don it’s so magnificent what you’ve created.
Well, thank you very much. It’s an honor privilege to be here with you today.
Super, super excited to chat.
So just for everybody to know, can you share cuz I have it written down, but I think it might be better to hear from you what exactly is DLP capital and then we’ll move into what we’re gonna talk about today.
Yeah. AB absolutely. So, so DLP capital as a firm, as you said I founded 16 plus years ago now.
And what we do is we’re an impact investment company focused on investing in workforce housing. And we do so as by building a community of really great developers, builders, operators that we partner with, we support, we help them scale their businesses. We lend capital to them and through helping them grow their businesses focused on creating workforce housing, as well as creating jobs.
And we like to say happiness lottos to have pretty tremendous growth in our organization actually just found out last week will be in 5,000 for the 10th straight year 350 to five. Yeah. Thank you. It’s been 350 to 500% growth every three years for 17 years now. So it’s been a pretty, pretty awesome journey that we’re just getting started on.
My goodness. I love that. Just getting started that’s even better. So I want to, for everybody that’s listening in, we’re in such a precipice time of with inflation rising and seeing on the brink of another recession. And I was watching one of your interviews where gentleman complimented you on the fact that you built your business during a time, the last recession, when everybody was running.
Away from real estate. And yet you still manage to sell real estate and happen to do very well at it. So, this concept of, and I see it with our best of clients, this is the kind of CEO that when everyone’s in panic, when everybody’s in fear, when everyone’s in rage, they can just discern and look at it with a logical mind and be able to find the opportunities and utilize them when everyone else is in massive panic.
So you had called it risk in looking into risk and how to make risk a reward. Can you share a little bit of that? What it was like when you were during the last recession, as you were getting ramped up in your business?
Yeah, a absolutely. And you know, what I always think about is you know, when there’s a recession or volatility is the word I like to use when there’s volatility, there’s change going on.
It creates great opportunity. And what I think about whether it’s real estate investing, sorry, I’m waiting for this about to long cutting guy to go by. So sorry. No problem. Just about so when there’s risk or like say volatility in the market, and I always think that’s a great opportunity and in any major times of change, and there’s always the best managers in any asset class, it could be real estate or any other form of business.
I always think of the best managers, the best leadership teams grow market share and grow the organizations much greater through, through downturns, through times of great change. And it’s the ability to be able to see. What’s going on. Be able to stay calm and be able to make clear decisions when many are operating under points of panic and fear.
And one of the big RA reasons we’ve been able to do that has been that we’ve focused on building a really disciplined organization. So we call it the 20 mile March, which is a term from Jim Collins about making sure you figure out what are the things that you do that generate results in the organization.
Making sure you do those things day in and day out, week in and week out, month in and month out, regardless of what’s going on around regardless of the external market conditions. And when you build that discipline within the organization of knowing what we need to do to generate results and then build from that, the strength to then be confident that we can weather, whatever changes, whatever challenges coming that are coming about and not only weather them, but be able to capitalize on them.
Has been a big part of our success. And I started in real estate in October, 2006 which in where I grew up and where I started my company, Beth in Pennsylvania, October, 2006, was the peak of the real estate market that month that’s when homes hit their highest values. And so, we built a business on selling real estate through the downturn and buying and renovating and flipping real estate through the downturn.
When most people would’ve thought well buying homes and reselling them when property values are declining rapidly would be a really bad idea. But because so few were doing that, it created a lot of great buying opportunities through to buy at much, much lower prices, significant discounts because of what was going on.
And that’s often the case what happens. So right now we can say, oh, it’s not a good time to buy housing because interest rates have gone up or because of inflation or because of this, it often creates the best opportunities. Two by but kind of going against what many believe to be the direction you should go?
What everybody else is saying is the correct strategy is often how significant wealth can be created to be able to see the opportunity despite, you know, the noise and the chaos and fear that gets created.
Absolutely. Wow. Fascinating. There’s something happening again in real estate.
It’s so interesting. So because my organization we serve so many different industries. I think I shared this with you in our last call, right? That in the same week, like within a two week span, I got five different companies, just like yours knocking on my door saying, Hey, I want to talk to you. So something must have just pivoted in the last 30 days or so that has made something different about the real estate market.
Yeah, agree. And I think it’s a great sign. You know, those who would reach out to an organization like yours, when there’s times of volatility thinking, Hey, how do I rethink what we do? How do we go about, you know, generating more revenue? How do we go about generating more sales? How do we go about differentiating in this time of chaos?
You know, that’s a great move, a great time, because what so many people do is they, you know, they get afraid and they crawl under the bed and they stop spending money. They fire their sales team, they stop investing. They act out of fear. So that’s a great sign that people are calling you and saying, Hey, I need to rethink right deals.
You know, things are getting harder than maybe they were, or there’s more confusion. And my sales team doesn’t know how to navigate through these difficult conversations right now because of the change that’s going on and we need help. But the big change that’s happened in insured.
The thing that’s caused so much of the fear has been interest rates. So this has been our world today of buying or partnering with, or lending money against workforce housing. So that means we build or develop a grant brand new build to rent single family rental communities, multi-family rental communities, and we also buy or lend against existing.
And this has been a business that’s been so competitive for so many years now. That’s been driven off of very low cap rates, which required really low interest rates to be able to make money. So all of a sudden, if you’re buying properties at a four cap rate, a 4% return without leverage without a loan, and all of a sudden those interest rates are now higher than 4%.
You now get negative. Amortization or negative returns, which doesn’t work in almost any environment. And it’s created a lot of challenge where people could buy a property at a 4% return and get a loan at three and still makes sense of it. In theory that’s kind of been flipped upside down for a lot of people and all of a sudden for the first time and, you know, argued other than a few weeks of COVID, you know, property value properties are now trading for less than what the brokers thought they would get.
And there’s real fear as to, you know, what’s gonna happen. Is this gonna continue? Are, you know, is the market gonna completely you know, sort of fall off a cliff, are rays gonna keep going up? So there’s just a lot of fear that’s been created around the the easy kind of world that anybody in investing real estate’s sort of been living.
The last number of years has been sort of shooken up the last month. And that’s created a lot of fear and panic and nervousness by many.
Well, I think something that’s really powerful about what you do is this concept of community. And especially because of what’s going on in our world, right.
We just went through a pandemic and now I’m noticing it in my organization as well. People just want to congregate and come together and find strength in community. And I my father used to talk about something called the difference between a strategist versus a tactician. So tactician is solely based on the sale, right?
How can I close the sale? How can I close the sale versus a strategist that thinks much more outside of the box and thinks about all the different strategic objectives that they want to accomplish, like being positioned as number one in their marketplace, or wanting. To create that top of mind awareness so that as soon as somebody, that either your client knows or whether it’s like word of mouth to be able to that, you’re the first person that pops up, oh, I wanna refer this person as word of mouth.
And I think you’ve done a magnificent job of being that strategist when it comes to cultivating your community of investors and all of the masterminds that you do as well. Can you share a bit of, you know, with the volatility, how it goes, what you’ve noticed from having such a core group of community and what created that core group of community?
Cause I think it has something to do around your mission, but I’m curious to hear it from you.
Yeah. Thank you. And yeah, community is a is a great word for what we’ve developed. And the, one of the key parts to building great community is communication. And so when you know, when the market kind of nervousness that we just talked about came about these last 30 days, what we immediately started doing was dialing up our level of communication.
So our world revolves around two sort of sets of communities that, that overlap. One is what we call our elite membership community, which is our successful business owners, leaders in the world of housing. So these are real estate developers, builders, operators, manager. And then we have about about look at 50 to a hundred companies, a part of that group.
And that’s a few thousand team members or employees. And then our other community is, so those are the people we’re investing money with. We’re lending to we’re partnering with we’re helping them scale their business. And the other side of the community for us is the capital that we use to partner with our elite community.
As we call our prosperity community, which is about 2200 families, we like to call ’em faith centered wealth creators, but these are generally first generation wealth creators who invest their capital with us and our funds. And so they’re entrusting their money to us in a discretionary manner that we then go out and use that money to partner with these great operators and lend to them and so forth.
So when volatility comes about like we’ve experienced the last couple weeks, what we started doing immediately was starting to ramp up our communications. So, having ongoing com calls weekly webinars with both sets of those communities, talking about what’s going on in the. market what do we see is gonna happen?
What’s gonna happen with interest rates, how it’s gonna affect property values, what should we be doing? What’s gonna what are the strategies or approaches and not just us sharing what we think’s gonna happen or what we think is the best approach, but getting the members of the communities to share what they’re seeing, how it’s affecting their specific world.
Cause they’re in all different parts of the country and different strategies and getting that collaboration of great operators, sharing the risks and opinions and ideas and opportunities they see has been really powerful. And we think, you know, going back to when COVID hit and everybody was in an extra incredible amount of panic in, you know, March of 2020, we started EV two times a week calls with our internal team members, our four, 500 team members meeting every week, talking about what, how things are affecting our organization twice a week, meeting with our membership bases.
Having talking about what’s going on with rent collections, what’s going on with. Payments from our borrowers what’s going on with the market and just giving clear, open, honest communication has been a really key part of what’s allowed us to mitigate risk for our last conversation, but also build confidence and build a deep sense of community.
And over the last couple years of going through, COVID and the develops that we’re going through together we’re going through again now we put together this list of the 23 CS of risk and and all the different risks that we pay attention to, and we think are important. And most of these risks that we deal with are internal risk.
And the most common internal risk theme is the risk around who you’re doing business with. Right. Who works in your organization? Who are your partners who you do business with. Who you do life with is a big part of the risk we face. And so we put a lot of energy and effort around building a community of like-minded individuals who have clear goals and purpose and meaning to life.
And for us as you we’re alluding to, you know, we set about four areas of impact we want to have as an organization which are to make a significant difference around the workforce affordability housing crisis. We call the jobs crisis, which is in fact that so many jobs in America are being displaced due to technology and other forms of innovation.
We call the happiness crisis and we call the legacy crisis. And so we’ve set out to leverage our platform of DLP capital which has a purpose to dream live, prosper, passion, creating prosperity through investing in communities to make a di difference on these four areas of impact and doing.
In deep partnerships with the members of our communities and by having that kind of calling and aligning ourselves around people in, within our organization, those that we do business with and we partner with and are part of our community who are aligned in making a significant impact.
It allows some pretty, pretty amazing things to happen often, much faster than we ever thought was, was.
I love that for so many people that’s listening. Right? The, this fear of, I don’t wanna talk about what’s happening. I just wanna kind of shove it under the rug, right. You’re saying lean in double down.
Get very clear, get very honest. And then also the amount of impact, right? Post COVID. People just want to make a difference. I mean, ESG has become such a huge topic since for those that don’t know environmental, social governance, right? We’ve put billions of dollars behind improving the environment because when the world shut down, it’s as if we woke back up and gained a conscious like we actually wanted to do something good.
And it’s part of our generation, at least six out of 10 millennials feel personally responsible for making the world a better place. So you see more mission clearly communicated in companies. And I think you do such a magnificent job of that. I mean, as you talk about all of this, well, I’ll get to that in a moment.
I’m curious then how does that create the culture? How do you work to the culture within your own organization? As so many are facing difficulties with staff right now. And I’ve heard that is a competitive edge to keep you and keep your team and keep a great team. Oh,
you are muted.
Oops. Yeah. Yeah, it’s an incredible challenge right now. An opportunity to build a great engaged culture. And I’ll just take a step back for a sec. So we do these events around these two communities. We talked about a moment ago and so, so our next one you’re coming up is in Asheville, North Carolina and a lot of these events, we do, we have a whole bunch of different groups of people at the same venue.
So at the same venue, we’ll have the operators, partners, developers that we invest with. The ones that we’re currently partnered with at the event, we’ll have those who are prospective partners, operators members at the. We’ll have the members who invest with us, our prosperity members who invest their capital with us at the event, we’ll have prospective investors at the event.
We’ll have our existing team members, we’ll have prospective team members or employees at the same event. And one of the important things for us is the transparency that we can have all these same people sitting at literally the same tables at the same event. And we don’t have to worry about it.
We don’t have to curate it. We don’t have to worry about what one group’s gonna say to another or how it’s gonna make us look. We can be completely transparent with who we are, because who we say we are is who we actually are. Who we say we are to one group of people is exactly who we say we are to another group of people and that transparency to, to who we are and how we operate and what we’re willing to talk about.
Like you just said, we openly talk about, you know, what are the challenges we’re dealing with? What’s going on in the market? What are the you know, headwinds we’re facing, we’re also open. In talking about example our faith and all the things that are often thought to be, you know, taboo where you don’t wanna talk about, you wanna avoid, we find the more transparent and open we are the better and easier we’re able to operate.
And the faster we’re able to navigate change, because we’re not worrying about what we have to pretend to do or how we have to, what face we have to put on. We’re just being who we are. And so I’ll say that transparency and openness to, to what we do and who we are and why we do what we do is very freeing.
And it’s a big part of the culture we’ve developed and what attracts, you know, great people to want to come work here in the organization, attracts great people to want to partner with us and be a part of our community. And so we’ve done a lot of effort around building out a set of values.
For our organization, you know, people call of course core values and we have more core values than probably most organizations should have. We have 10 of them. But we genuinely live those 10 core values and those core values are used to screen, you know, who we invite into organization, who we do business with.
And and by, so we’re looking for people, example, some of our core values are, you know, driven for greatness, which means people who seek knowledge, they’re curious, they wanna learn, they want to grow. We have a core value of grit, which is from Angela Duckworth, you know, a passion perseverance towards long term goals.
We have a core value of the 20 mile March, which we talked briefly about earlier. We have a core value of delivering wow. Or having positive enthusiasm. You only people who are half glass full excited to be alive, jump out of bed kind of people. And the way I always think about values and how you attract and build great culture.
A quote by Howard Schultz, the founder of, you know, Starbucks many years ago, he was asked an interview, you know, how do you get people at Starbucks to smile so much? And he said, well, it’s really simple to hire people that like to smile. And it was such a simple explanation to, to how you build culture.
But that’s what we try to do is we hire people. We don’t try to think, Hey, we’re gonna get people to be more curious, more driven when they come here, more gritty. Yes, those things will happen. People do change. We believe in growth mindset that people can change and improve, but but we wanna attract people already fit our organization.
You know, we have a simple role here at DLP of the Chugg test, which is, you know, is this somebody you, if you were, you know, stuck at an airport with, would you want to, you know, sit down and. Have a beer with, right. And I try to think about that every person we hire or we partner with what I want to have to, you know, sit next to this person for 50 hours a week or 40 hours a week, or even go get a beer with after work and that simple mindset of, you know, having no a-holes only having people that are aligned with your organization is really powerful and you do that.
It takes effort and time. And, but when you do that and you don’t sacrifice, you don’t make excuses because this person has so much talent or experience or whatnot. And you only allow people who fit your values into your organization. Then it starts building upon itself. And those people build upon and create that culture that every organization really wants.
And, you know, the biggest thing I can ever do when I’m hiring, looking to hire somebody or bring in a new member of one of our communities is just simply get them into my office or to one of my events to just to spend the time with the people in our organization. And if they spend time, I don’t have to curate it.
I don’t have to worry about it. I don’t have to walk ’em down one hallway and not another. And I just let them spend time with the type of people in the organization, type of people we do business with. If they’re the right type of person we’re looking for, they’re fit for culture their soul, nothing else needs to be done.
But that takes a lot of time and effort and, you know, and sometimes it forces you to have to make hard decisions when something comes. That’s counter to your culture counter to your values, even if it’s making you a lot of money or even if it’s good for business on the short term being willing to sacrifice, sort of be willing to, you know, I like to say dial on across for those values is what makes them really core values.
I love that. And I felt that as soon as I met some of your team when I met Patrick, and then when I talked with Claudia and that’s why it seemed like such a great fit to come and speak at your events. I can’t wait. So you’ll give us a link of how people can find these events or do they go to DLP capital.com?
Yeah, absolutely. They can go to DLP capital.com and dlp.com/events. But you can click on the events tab and you can see all the events, our next ones July 20, 22nd, and Asheville, North Carolina, the events focus around how to 10 your business. In the next five years, and that’s an area of we have great expertise in we’ve grown our organization by 60% or more every single year for 16.
Now, just about to be 17 straight years 10 years in a row, one of 5,000 fastest growing companies. And it’s what I wrote a book on called building an elite organization, how to scale a high growth, high profit business. And that’s the, really the center of what our elite membership, where we partner with other developers operators, but it was all about helping people scale a great organization.
And that’s what this event’s gonna be all about. And we have some other great events coming up later this year, some smaller, more mastermind type events you can find on that same website, DLB capital.com/events and our big event coming up. Which I know you’re also gonna be joining as at is gonna be in November.
I think it’s the ninth, the 12th of November in San Juan, Puerto Rico. And this one’s a little different albeit we’re gonna have some focus around scaling a business. It’s more focused on on personal development specifically, it’s on longevity, health and wellness. And we have it’s for anybody has read Tony Robbins, recent books.
Lifespan, which is, I think has been the number one best selling book in America, the last, you know, two months in a row. There’s a ton of phenomenal world renowned doctors and scientists featured in that book. People like the actual real author of the book, Bob Harari who’s really the mind behind the bulk life spent.
He’ll be one of our speakers and many of the other speakers, Dr. G who’s a Nobel prize winning expert on stem cells regenerative stem cell therapy all kinds of incredible experts. I’ve been telling people for years that part of my tool week we have called personal compass part of my personal compass.
That’s something we’re actually gonna teach on at the event is that I’m gonna live to a hundred and. And people genuinely laugh. What I say, I wanna live to 150 and they always think, oh, that’s funny. Or that’s, you know, that’s, you know, cute or silly or whatnot, you know, don’t think it, that I’m serious.
And I am, I believe I’m gonna live to 150 God, God willing. But I believe when people come to this event, they’re gonna believe they too can have 150 when you understand what’s going on in the world of longevity and reversing aging. It’s pretty, pretty amazing stuff. So it’s gonna be a great event.
Coming up this November. I
love it. And I’m speaking of both of them, I can’t wait. It’s gonna be a blast. Come and check it out. Yes, it’s.
I am curious. I also saw from my little digging around on you that last year you helped. Have a record generating net return of 45.57 for your investors.
Can you just give some little nugget of how you were able to do that? That’s magnificent. I’m like pulling out my checkbook to write you a check with that kind of
Yeah. Thank you. And yeah, so we have, as I mentioned before, you know, 2200 families invested with us now and growing, and that’s what we do is we serve, you know, Families who wanna invest into real estate and earn great returns while making a positive impact.
And I’ll start with saying our return targets are not 45%. We’ve been generating great returns for investors for about a dozen years. Now. We’ve exceeded return targets every single month and every single fund, double digit returns in every period and all of our funds for 12 years. But last year was incredibly good.
And I’ll start with saying first, it was an incredible market for sure, lots of positive market conditions that helped. But it, at the end of the day, you know, we believe our approach was just to invest in what we think has a, the greatest impact in the greatest need, which is workforce housing, but also has been proven time and time again, to be the one of the safest places to be, which is to be in, in an area where we have the greatest under supply of housing in America today ever.
There’s never, ever been a time in history than today that we have more. Housing units that were short of to meet current demand. It’s about 5.4 million housing units short, almost every market in the country, but certainly most of the Southern half of the country. Incredible more demand than there is affordable housing.
And so we focus on investing in housing that is affordable for the local workforce your teachers, your social workers, your police officers, et cetera. And there’s just anywhere you’re listening in to this podcast, I’m sure in your market you’re seeing there’s not enough housing.
People can’t find a safe affordable place to live. So that’s what we invest in and through, by staying fundamentally sound to finding and extracting value when there’s volatility finding an approach to find value. So example coming outta C we saw a lot of student housing operators get hurt pretty bad due to universities get shut, getting shut down.
Right? And so a lot of them went in, went into defaults on their loans. And and, but we saw that none of these owners of student housing properties, nor their lenders thought of these properties as. being available to rent, to non students as well. So example, we bought a community in Houston, Texas that was built in 2017 was only rented to students and it only had 50% occupancy that was in a what’s called receivership with the lender.
But it was in a market that had 98% occupancy for the regular housing of, you know, families of non-students. So, and fundamentally it’s the same real, it’s the same properties departments are the same. So we bought the property and took it from just being renting the students to renting it to students and non students, anybody who can afford to pay rent and needs the safe place to live and you know, and have driven that from 50% occupancy up to 90 plus percent and essentially doubled the value.
So we bought a bunch of properties that way. Nobody else was that we, at least we came across, was buying student housing properties and saying, Hey, these make great properties for working families. And that’s the way we found some. When nobody else or not many people were thinking about that opportunity.
So that’s what we often do is we find ways to extract value in a competitive environment and be able to create sort of outsized returns. So last year, our property values increased by over 20%. And we generated over 25% realized returns from cash flow from operating our properties which was awesome.
So the return Target’s 12%, we hit 45%. We’re at 30 plus percent since we launched the fund a few years back net to investors on an annual basis.
Wow, that is just magnificent.
You know, I also, I find it fascinating how you’ve incorporated all parts of life, you know, from faith to health to, can you share a bit about when you decided to open up and because I’m also getting from everything that you’re saying this theme of transparency and honesty and, you know, impact and mission.
So it all kind of comes back to this whole person approach. Can you share a bit about when you decided to start opening up and was there a time when you wouldn’t really talk about your faith and then all of a sudden you said, okay, fine. I’m going talk about it now. I’m curious. We all go along our own journeys.
Yeah, it’s a, it’s an awesome question. And so we’ve developed over the years, we sort of, finalized this maybe five years ago, this terminology. So we call one of our core values is living fully. And and so we define living fully as as achieving our goals is seating in all areas of life and we’ve defined life as eight Fs of life which are faith, family, friends, freedom, fun, fulfillment, fitness, and finance.
And I believe in, you know, I’m in some organizations like tiger 21 as an example, which is a group of about a thousand members around the country with an average network of 50 to a hundred million. Right. And I’m part of some other groups that are even higher network averages. And my point to saying that is, is I know a lot of really wealthy, unhappy people, right.
And, you know, people who’ve succeeded in light the area of. But it failed in the area of fatherhood of faith of family in, in, in many ways. And so to me, I learned early on that, you know, real success was to be able to grow and achieve everything you want in business while not sacrificing any of the other areas of life, the more important areas of life and what my good friend and mentor Lloyd Reed, the founder of co-founder of halftime Institute likes to say is don’t sacrifice the what’s priceless for what’s merely valuable.
And there’s not a lot of life. That’s really priceless. And usually for most of us, it starts with our with our family. So, another great kind of way to think about it is, you know, people ask me the number one question, people ask me all the time is, you know, how do you balance your time, right?
How do you time management? Right? That’s the top topic people always thinking about, and everybody thinks of it as, you know, work life balance. And I’ve been saying for years, you know, work life balance is a, is an outdated way of thinking. And Jeff Bezos came out just last year and said that he thinks the term work life balance is a debilitating term.
The life isn’t about a balance. It’s more like a circle. It’s a and so we’ve been using the term work life integration for years, and we developed a really cool tool. We call the personal compass, which is the eight Fs kind of think of across a compass, a circle. And and anybody who’s listening can go to DLP elite.com and you can click on free resources and download this personal compass and some other cool tools.
But so in this personal compass we lay out life across these eight apps and set goals long term and down to very short term, 90 day goals around achieving success and all eight of these areas at the same time. One of the key pieces to that is every year we have a living fully dashboard which is having at least, you know, one or two clear goals across each eight Fs of life each F of life.
And when you’re. Get achieving success in all those areas at the same time, the level of fulfillment and happiness and satisfaction that comes outta life, your perception on your own life you know, goes up dramatically. And that’s what we put a lot of focus on and focus being the key there that people get confused about work, life integration, or about achieving a lot of things at the same time as the as multitasking.
And the key is being able to be fully focused and present in whatever you did. So, as you said at the start of this I’m in Oahu right now, I’m in Hawaii on a family of vacation right now. But I get up every day here at, you know, three 30. And I work from, you know, three 30, till 10, 11 in the morning here in Hawaii time, which is, you know, from nine 30 to five o’clock Eastern time, which is where time is on my company operates on.
Right. So it’s my way of being able to stay fully focused, be here, get all my work done in the morning, but then the rest of the day I’m gonna be out and enjoying time with my family. And I’m here with friends and doing things that’s work, life integration. Right. That’s how I’m able to go from.
San Diego to Al islands here in Hawaii to Yellowstone to grand Tetons, to then meet you and Asheville for our event and be gone for 30 days. But stay on top of all the important things in the organization and have some unbelievable, incredible experiences in my family which our family, B a G right now is 1000 extraordinary days and a hundred different places.
And and so this travel and exploration is a big deal to us, but my company can’t just stop for me to go travel for a month, or I’m not at the point today with all things that’s going on, that I can just check out for a month. But I can integrate my business and with my life. Cause it doesn’t have to feel like it’s one sacrificing for the other, as long as I’m very present here as I’m working and then I’m gonna be very present this afternoon.
My kids and a lot of people will do is they’ll feel guilty and say, oh, I need to get home at five 30 to spend time with my family. And they get home to have dinner with their family, but they’re on their phone that entire. And even though they’re there, they’re not accomplishing anything because they.
Present there with their kids. And I’d rather have an hour and a half of very present time with my children than to be at home all day but not at all acknowledge them. Right. So this integration of all the areas of life has been a big part of how I’ve been able to. Build this organization as CEO build this leadership team while feeling I’m not nearly as good of a CEO as I am as a father.
I don’t know my wife, I’ll tell you if I’m as good of a husband as as a CEO but very, you know, very and very engaged in, into kind of part of your question in my faith and and this confidence in sharing my approach to life and everybody in my organization knows, sees my personal compass.
All of my investors, all of my partners, I fully share all of my goals, all of my progress on to achieving my goals. My, my full perspective on how I’m living my life to both a hold me accountable to create transparency and hopefully, you know, create some inspiration, motivation for others to realize, you know, they can accomplish a lot more.
They might have thoughts possible have multiple obsessions and passions around. Life’s a good thing. And you don’t have to say, I’m gonna take the next 10 years and focus on my career. And then later I’ll be a good father later. I’ll take care of my body or later I’ll have time for the Lord.
And so it’s been certainly a an evolution I wasn’t as confident in sharing all the intimate details of my life or my faith earlier on in my career and what I found, the more I’ve been willing to be transparent and open and honest the more people have appreciated it and the more, you know, been able to flourish and kinda last note on that.
I gave a keynote speech a little bit ago at a organization called go bond. And I spoke at, I think it was eight o’clock at night is when I started. And I got done at, you know, 8 45 at night. And then they had me do this charity raffle thing where I raffled off some different vacations and some of our beach houses and then time with me.
And anyway, by the time we got done, it was 10 o’clock at night and they said afterwards, they said, you know, Don’s gonna go into the, over into this area and he’s gonna sign his book. And if you want to get, you know, your book signed by Don, you know, go over there, you know, following in a couple minutes.
Right. And I’m thinking, all right, 10 o’clock at night there’s a bunch of generally young guys. Nobody’s gonna come stand in line to get a book signed. Right. So, so I go and walk over there and there was 350 people maybe in the audience and 340 stood in line to get a book sign. And my God.
And what was meaningful about it was not that anybody stood. I mean, it was amazing that they were that engaged and wanting to be better people and learned what was amazing is that by far the number one comment people said to me, 10 times more than anything else is, wow. I love. Your openness to your faith.
And I hear that was the first kind of big time I heard that and I’ve done. I’ve been to even bigger audiences given kind talk. I always am giving credit to the Lord and talking about my faith and and that’s what people constantly say to me. And people say things like to me, like, you know, I wish I was as confident to do that, or it’s so great to see somebody willing to give credit and talk about their faith.
So I’ve never yet had somebody I’m sure there, maybe the 10 people who didn’t stand in line were like, man I can’t stand this guy talking about his Christian beliefs. But I can tell you that, you know, people give me pats on the back for that more than anything else I say or do. So for those who aren’t confident in doing it know that you know, people do appreciate it and and be confident doing it.
Cause there’s nothing greater we can do, right? If I can teach somebody how to scale a business or teach them how to live a more fulfilled life, that’s all wonderful. But if I can. If I can help somebody to connect to the Lord and build a relationship and find Christ that there’s not no greater accomplishment I can have on this earth.
So, accepting that responsibility as a leader, as a thought leader, somebody that people wanna listen to or will listen to of credibility in their eyes is a huge opportunity.
I think that’s also the difference between pre-internet and. post-internet So today you can cultivate a group of people that are like-minded unlike ever before.
We can niche down to, you know, stay at home moms that take care of their children yet also wanna do a side business and here they are. And there’s a group of hundreds of thousands of them that are women that wanna do just that. Or I’m finding that as well. That the more that I share about my own experience, which mine is very unique.
I study under an Indian Saint. I was bald for five years. Like it’s not a normal, normal thing. It kind of look like I wear robes. So, but the more that I share, I find the more that I attract more like-minded people like the reason why we’re talking and why I’m speaking your event. And we’ve, we’re creating this relationship is because I spoke at an event where one of your staff was and what he, what really sold him was that.
I got, we were able to get my nonprofit, a booth or a nonprofit that I work with very deeply around mental wellness. And he was like, oh, it’s a match. We’ve gotta, we’ve gotta meet up because of everything that you’re doing. So it’s even more gratifying to look around and realize, wow, when I actually am honest about what lights me up and what my core values are, people will flock to that.
And then you’ll look around one day and just go, wow. I have people that have similar core values and that’s so gratifying and uplifting that you can come together and everybody can lift each other up.
That’s awesome feedback. And I’ll just say one last kind of comment on that. So one of the four crisis we’re focused on is we call the happiness crisis and you know, people probably aren’t surprised to hear this.
We have the highest levels of unhappiness and depression ever in America today. Right. So incredible level of unhappiness. And I believe that the Genesis or the main fundamental issue is people feeling, having a lack of connection and connection to a purpose or a meaning, you know, bigger than themselves.
And I believe that purpose, the meaning that people are looking for in missing in most cases is a relationship with the Lord. And that there’s no replacement that you can’t replace that through social media or any of these ways that people are out searching for this meaning or connection to life.
But in addition to that which is directly tied in people wanna be a part of something of a purpose here on. That’s bigger themselves. And I believe as leaders of organizations, that’s our responsibility to have a purpose in our organization to have a meaning to our company that your team members, your employees, your clients can feel a part of and is and can give them that feeling of being connected to a goal to a mission that’s bigger than themselves.
Everybody’s out looking for that. And I believe again that’s our job as leaders to first make it clear that the biggest connection most important connection is the Belo. But second to that, to create an organization that has meaning and values that, that people can feel a part of and give meaning and value to their life because of the contributions, they can clearly see that they’re having towards accomplishing the goals of the organization or moving towards the the purpose.
Oh, I think we could talk about this for hours. Just this topic right here. yeah I do know cuz you know, I run I run a Mar a market research firm that this is the first time in history of the United States where less. So it’s always been the majority that went to church. Institutional church.
And this is the first time in history where it’s less than the majority. It’s still only about 46%, but 46% of the us population goes to church now. And that decline of institutional religion is breaking down. It’s in a, it’s in a decline and it is part of, you know, SMBs it’s part of the smaller businesses.
That house 90% of the workforce in the, in America, where it’s our moral obligation to uphold values. And, you know, if we’re seeing it as a deterioration of our own institutionalized, because church was the place that you would go to find out, you know, these are the things that are good, and these are the things that you should work on and stay away from.
And now all we have is social media. So I fear for the younger generations, but I’m uplifted and in a positive place to see people like you as a leader that can stand for that and uphold that within core values. I have some other companies that I’m really proud to be a part of Jay mark out of Missouri.
They’re one of the largest, it managed services companies in the United States. And I love how they carry out this belief system of let’s. Let’s be that let’s fill that void and stand for truth in honesty and morality. If we can carry that within our organizations it’ll trickle down. So well said.
well, Don, it’s been such a pleasure. What can you say your book again? I’m sorry, I didn’t write it down. What’s your book that everybody can pick up,
Building an elite organization
and you can find it anywhere. Yes.
Yep. Amazon, you can go to dlpelite.com but Amazon audible Libro anywhere you get both.
Yep. And then the next one’s coming out in August will be building an elite career. So more written for those building their career, not the owner of the organization or senior of the organization we have building elite organization is the one that’s out now and focused on the subtitles.
How to scale a high growth, high profit.
Great. And for those of you that are interested, you should hop on, get on a plane, go to Asheville. So this will come out. It’ll be the week after this launches or make sure you can get in for November. It’s going to be I can’t wait. I’m looking forward to it.
Thank you so much, Don.