Many of us left the 9 to 5 corporate life to become entrepreneurs so we can have the freedom we most want to live how we want to be. But why does it feel like instead of freedom, we’re struggling to find the time and control we need in business and life? In this episode, Chris Arnold invites Cierra Ford, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Arnold Elite Realty, to talk about the five reasons why most entrepreneurs struggle to achieve freedom in their wholesaling business and how to fix these problems; once and for all! You’ll learn how to overcome these challenges and walk away with a solid plan to achieve more time and freedom in your life and business. This episode is a masterclass on becoming a more effective and efficient entrepreneur and how to “finally” find the success you’ve been searching for. Don’t miss out!
Reasons Why You Don’t Have Freedom in Your Wholesaling Business
In this episode, our guest is Cierra Ford, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Arnold Elite Realty and Chris’ right-hand person. She’s responsible for building many of the systems in Chris’ business and has a deep understanding of how systems work…
I’m interested to talk through this topic. I’m going to tell you something that I’ve observed over my years of doing real estate. I would tell you that the majority of people when you ask them why they’re getting into real estate, the most common answer that you’ll get is for freedom. Typically, people are working a 9:00 to 5:00, and they have a family. For whatever reason and cause, I see a lot of desire and freedom to want to be able to build our own vision. Maybe that’s more quality time with the family, a desire to pursue things, or be the man or woman of your world and schedule to be able to wake up each day and control your day rather than show up for somebody else and building their vision.
Here’s the contrast of what I see, which is interesting. The vast majority of people I have come to learn never attain that freedom. It’s the reason that everyone gets in, but it’s the thing that most people never attain. I’m going to have a conversation. I brought in my Chief Operating Officer, Cierra Ford. What we want to talk about is why this is. As you’re reading this show, what are these reasons they’re going to get in the way of you grabbing hold of the freedom that you’re pursuing right now? The reason I feel like we’re going to talk well about this is twofold. I run Multipliers Brotherhood. We serve the top 5% of real estate investors around the country. I have hundreds of conversations with top-level investors and I see a commonality that even at that level, there’s a lot less freedom, I would argue.
Cierra has become the person that a lot of people go to in the market to talk about trying to attain freedom, to hire a COO or an integrator. We have conversations on the side about this dynamic because she comes in and she challenges people that come in and go, “I don’t have any freedom. How do I get out of this vicious time cycle that I’ve locked myself into?” We sat together and came up with five things that people don’t do that keep them from this freedom. That’s what you’re going to get on this episode.
We want to help you begin with the end in mind. If you’ve never even done a deal, this is something, in my opinion, that if you get this now, it will save you a lot of time on your journey to freedom to get you there faster. It’s a little bit more of a conversation. You might think around, “That’s someone that’s got a team.” No, it begins day one with the mindset you have around freedom and how you build your business. This conversation is applicable to all. Cierra, what’s up? I’m excited, as always, to have you back on the show. How are you?
I’m good. I’m excited to be here.
People don’t give up control because they really think that they’re much smarter than everyone else.
Have you not recognized this dynamic on how many people call you to talk to you about this topic of trying to get out of the day to day?
I have. It’s the same question. The funny thing is most people I talked to, they already know the answer and what they need to do. It’s just taking that step and allowing themselves. It is the same common questions and issues that come up.
Pride: Giving Up Control
What I’m going to argue is a lot of this is not as much strategy as it is psychological. There are things that impede people in their minds from gaining that freedom. That’s what we’re going to walk through. Let’s go through this. These five what people don’t do. Let’s get on the first one. This, in my opinion, stands out immediately above the rest. That is, we find that people don’t give up control. They start running a business and when it’s time to give control of things in their organization to someone else, they don’t give up control. I know that there are fundamentally three emotions that drive this. That’s what I want to break down with you, Cierra. Number one is pride. I find that people don’t give up control because they think that they’re that smart, that they are that much smarter than everyone else.
I’ll use Liz Wiseman’s language on this. You, as a leader and an owner of your company, either believe you are the genius or you are a genius maker. It will be a mature day in your leadership journey when you realize that there’s someone that’s better or add just about everything that you do. There’s someone out there that can do it better, but a lot of leaders don’t think that. There is an arrogance that I see of, “I’m the smartest guy in the room. That’s the reason I’m not going to give up control.” Cierra, what do you think about this psychological piece where we talk to people and there’s arrogance when it comes to giving up control?
It’s a recognizable thing. I hear it. I hear the, “But I’ve always done it. But I know that I can do it.” Yes, just because you’re able to doesn’t mean you’re the best at it. Sometimes we have to walk away from that and realize that there’s always someone that can do it better. If you’re doing well now, imagine if somebody that’s skilled coming in and taking that, how they’re going to do. It’s going to change completely. It’s going to be even better. A pride thing.
Fear: Delegating As A Skill
The second one I see is fear. There’s an underlying psychological piece where they don’t trust people. I had to go through this process. I don’t want to act like I’m immune to it. I’ve worked through this transparently myself, but I’ve come to learn that you’ve got to empower people as far as you possibly can, like 95% of what’s going on in the organization, the sense of decision-making should be done by the great team that you build around you. I see a lot of people go, “I want to give up control, but let me be honest with you. I don’t think that I trust people. I don’t trust them enough to hand them over my baby.” What do you think about this?
I’ve heard this one a lot. What it comes down to is if you’re confident in your hiring process and you know the type of people you want to surround yourself with, you wouldn’t be nervous about handing over that control. If you’re hiring blindly, obviously, there’s going to be fear there, but if you’re doing the hiring process right and strategically, you’re only surrounding yourself with people that are trustworthy and they’re for your business. That fear piece goes away. I feel like people can’t see the difference there. I hear it a lot, like what if they mess it up? Especially the CRM access or database or marketing, these are things I hear all the time that they’re so afraid someone’s going to come in and mess it up. If you’re making the right hires, you shouldn’t be nervous about that. It shouldn’t be an issue.
As we always say, if you’re the owner of your company, your job is to lead it, not do it. I heard a quote one time that’s always stuck with me, “Leadership is not about getting things done exactly right. It’s about getting things done through other people.” As Maxwell would say, “If somebody can do it 80% as good as you do, then delegate it. Let go and empower them to do it.” Here’s the reality. It’s always going to be your baby. You’ll never find anyone that is going to take it as seriously as you do because they didn’t birth it.
The reality is you have to learn that, “It might not always be up to the exact level that I want it to be, but unless I want to be the bottleneck within my organization and fundamentally be a one-man or one-woman show, I have to let go of that. I have to realize and allow people to make mistakes.” Let’s talk about this from a practical standpoint. You’re a COO, we hire people and they make mistakes in the organization. What is our mindset on the value of allowing people to make mistakes versus getting so frustrated and go, “I told you, you can’t trust anyone to do it?”
It’s all a learning experience. If somebody is going to make a mistake, it’s an opportunity to make it better. It allows us to see the faults within our system and where the cracks are. If somebody can so easily buckle the system and make a mistake, then that probably represents the system more than the person. All of those need to be strong. You need to have strong people working for you, but you have to have strong systems. When people make mistakes, we have to take the lesson. There’s always a principle there. I know you’re big on that. There’s always a lesson to be learned. You got to take the lesson and you grow from it. It’s not a, “You were right. We should never let them in.” It’s going to teach us something about the system, the person, and the process. It’ll teach us something that is worth learning, honestly, and it’s going to make us better in the long run.
If you have the right people, what I’ve learned is you don’t have to come and beat up the right people when they make a mistake. The right people beat themselves up enough because they are holding themselves to a standard. That’s what you have to realize. The right people take that mistake as much as you do. Honestly, I’ve learned that about our organization. I don’t need to come in and point fingers. If anything, I need to pick them back up because I know a lot of times on our team how hard people are on themselves when they make a mistake. That’s also evidence of having the right people because they want to be working at their full potential. The last emotion is guilt. I dealt with this one because I had a misunderstanding, but what it comes down to is a lot of times, people don’t give up control and they feel guilty because they don’t realize that someone loves to do what they hate to do.
If you’re the owner of your company, your job is to lead it, not do it.
Early on in my career, when I was younger, there were tasks I hated. I could not believe that anyone would find enjoyment in what I hated. I equate this, though, if those who are reading have ever read The 5 Love Languages. What’s so valuable about that book is Gary Chapman talks about the fact that people receive love in different ways. Even though I don’t feel love by getting an act of service or a gift, that doesn’t mean that another person is not going to feel the love via gift. My love languages are affection and words of affirmation.
If you apply that thinking that people receive love in different ways, you also have to apply that to the fact that people find enjoyment in different things than you do. They get different types of satisfaction on task depending. This comes down to the way that people are wired from a brain standpoint. This has always been interesting because there are things that you and I love and hate to do. We focus on the things that we love, but I know that you and I have both learned that. There are people that love to do every task in the organization if that’s the way that they’re wired. Do you agree with that?
Yes. It’s crazy to me because there are things in this organization that I have team members that thrive doing them. They love the accounting piece, the cleaning of the CRM, and the lead management. Those things are boring to me, but there are things on the other hand that you and I are completely different on as well. It’s like a spreadsheet. I can get lost in a spreadsheet because it becomes like a hunt for me. I know you get lost in a spreadsheet, but you’re miserable. Your eyes are growing, you hate it. It’s the same task, but we’re completely different in that way. Where you and I are similar in the things that we enjoy doing, there are some major differences too, and things that I know that I’m happy doing. I’m happy being there and it’s not for everybody, but same with our other team members. They all have something that they handle specifically for a reason because it doesn’t bring us all joy because we’re not all the best at it.
That number one, we wanted to unpack that one. We spent a little bit more time because people that don’t give up control is probably one of the main things that we see. Recognize those emotions in yourself as you grow your business. Are you not giving up control because of pride or fear or guilt? It could be a combination of 2 or 3 of those. We all have to work through those feelings as individual people based on our past experience. Let’s move on to number two. The other thing that I have realized is that in order to get freedom, you have to learn to delegate well. I don’t hear a lot of people talk or I don’t think they understand that delegating is a skill just like sales, communicating, KPI’s, and learning to understand the finances of your business does a skill.
Delegating is a skill. It’s not something, for the most part, that comes naturally to most people. There are some out there that might start off as that’s easier to do, but I find more people have to get in and sharpen that skill. The reason that people don’t get freedom is they don’t spend any time developing the skill of how to delegate effectively. I believe that over time for myself, I feel like this continues to happen. It’s an unending journey. Every year I get better at delegating and in different ways. Every year it might be something else because there’s a lot that goes into delegating how you do it, when you do it, at what level do you delegate, and all of the things that you have to let go of. Cierra, thoughts on this about treating delegating as an actual skill. If we’re being transparent here as well, I’ve known you for several years. This is a skill that I’ve watched you as a COO get better at.
It’s something that I have truly struggled with in the past. It is a skill. It’s something you have to develop. It doesn’t just come naturally to everybody. This isn’t even about more of the visionary side. This is with the integrator side, too, or the administrative side. Some people think, to an administrative staff member, this comes naturally. It doesn’t. We struggle with it, too, because we’re used to trying to do everything ourselves. A lot of the time, when you’re an administrative assistant or administrative team member, you’re used to doing all of these things yourself, getting it done for whoever you’re working for. When you’re in a bigger organization, we try to focus on your skill.
Trying to take those pieces back and saying, “You shouldn’t be doing that,” but you want to say, “But I can do it.” Should you know? You shouldn’t. From my prior experience, I got caught up in this whole thought that if I can do it, I need to do it. You taught me how to delegate. You pushed me into it. You spent time telling me that my time was worth more than that and that I needed to hand it over. I can honestly say without you and your guidance, I would’ve still been guilty of this and lacking that skill of delegation.
Letting Go Of The Tangible Things
What’s interesting is over the years, you and I have a lot of conversations about this. It usually starts on you challenging me or me challenging you with like, “Why are you touching that? Why are you doing that?” That’s how it always begins. That’s that moment where both of us are triggered to go, “I know where this conversation is about to go. This is about the delegation conversation.” That’s always valuable to have someone that gets in and challenges you both ways. It’s important. Let’s go to number three here on why people don’t ever get to that freedom. I have found that people don’t want to let go of the tangible things in the business because intangible things are hard to measure. Let me break this down. When you start off building your business, you get to live in a tangible world. Tangible things are like, “I set an appointment. I executed a contract. I dispo-ed a deal. I added X amount of new people to my buyers’ list this week.”
The thing about tangibles is that they’re easy to see. We get that positive reinforcement, particularly for most of us, if you’re reading, we’re achievers. Checking something off the box or getting that little or big win, we thrive off of that. It keeps us motivated. What happens when all of a sudden, if you want to be a visionary and have freedom and a team that runs everything for you and you find yourself in the intangible world? Let me give you examples of intangibles. “I need to strengthen the culture of our organization.” How do you quantify culture? “My job is primarily to think.” How do you quantify the value of thinking? What I know that I initially wrestled with is as I began to let go and move from tangibles into the intangibles, which was what the business needed, like vision, how do you quantify vision and vision casting?
We all would sit here and agree going that vision is important. I found myself not being able to as easily give myself a pat on the back. What I had to learn to do is let go of the tangible world and learn to find what wins look like in the intangible world and learn to draw my sense of value and accomplishment from something that’s much harder to see and judge. I don’t know if I hear a lot of people talk about this, but this is one reason people don’t give up control because they tie their identity and worth to the ability to get those tangible wins. Cierra, what do you want to add to this?
I don’t hear a lot of people talking about it, but I hear a lot of people struggling with it. I will talk to some of these investors and their big thing is their culture. They don’t understand why their culture isn’t tight. That’s one of the big questions. “How do we form our culture? How do we put together this environment where people thrive and are comfortable and want to be here?” I get that question a lot, but one of the big problems is, is that these same investors are the ones that are still closing deals. They’re still running numbers on properties. They’re still going out to the property. They’re doing all of these things and they refuse to fully hand it over. If people realized if you can delegate those things, those tangibles, then you can focus on your environment, your culture, and your team, and you can help build that.
We’re a good example of that. You’ve been able to focus more on the vision and helping us all get to this end goal and painting this beautiful picture for all of us because you’re not in the day-to-day. You’re not running numbers on properties and calling buyers and sellers or talking to title. You’re able to do that. There’s a correlation there. I hear them struggling with these things, but I don’t think it is talked about. I don’t think they realize that it’s a tangible issue and that they need to let go of those tangible things in order to focus on the bigger picture.
If somebody is going to make a mistake, it’s an opportunity to make it better.
I had to come to terms with that. My primary job is to think. You might be hearing that, but when you get to a place where you have to buy into that, that the greatest thing as the owner of your company that you bring to the table is thinking, that becomes something that you get tested on. I think about a multiplier guy that I know that works about fifteen hours a week. Every day, he literally walks anywhere between 5 to 7 miles. It takes him a few hours, but he knows that is his greatest value because he does his best thinking. Imagine that. That guy understands and has the discipline to step back and go, “I am literally going to make myself walk because I realize at the end of the day that one great idea trumps a busy day.”
Hats Versus Roles
That’s what we’re talking about. Ideas, they’re intangible. Busy day, that’s tangible. You can measure that. You have to come to embrace that your primary job that you’re heading toward in the future if you want freedom is to think that’s going to be the primary thing that you’re responsible for doing. It’s going to be the thing that your team is going to be looking to you for because they’re going to be asking the question, “What’s next? Where are we going next? We did that. What’s next? What’s coming down the pipeline?” You’ve got to be well ahead in the future of what that looks like. Let’s go to number four. I find that people don’t get freedom because they confuse hats and roles. A hat you put on versus a role that you’re in. Fundamentally, they’re not firing themselves fast enough from positions.
What this comes down to psychologically is they don’t embrace change. It was traction that gave this analogy for hats and roles, if I remember correctly. To define that, a hat is something that you wear that you might be responsible for a period of time. When you start out a business, you’re wearing every hat in the organization. You are the admin, the lead manager, the head salesperson, and the janitor. Just because you wear a hat doesn’t mean it’s your actual role. What I find over time is as you grow as a visionary, it gets very confusing because you’ve worn so many hats that when you look at that pile of hats, you have difficulty understanding, “What is my role? What am I supposed to do? I’ve become decently good at most of these things. Now, as I step back and try to answer the question, what is my genius zone, what is my unique ability? I’m confused about that because I’ve done so many different things for so long.”
What I find is people don’t get an understanding of what their key role is. I’ll use Andy Stanley’s language here. Your primary target is only to do what only you can do. When all of a sudden you have a large organization and there are all these responsibilities and skills and gifts that are being used and needed, you step back and you begin to ask yourself, “What is my primary gift to this organization? What is my superpower?” It becomes a twofold thing. People get stuck wearing these hats and they’re not firing themselves fast enough.
When I get a new responsibility or we launch something new, I’m trying to fire myself from that thinking as quickly as possible and put somebody else in place because my responsibility is to move on. Over time, I’ve had to continue to sit down for each company we have and answer that question, “What is it only I can do that no one in this organization can do as well as I can?” You can find someone to do everything as good as you can, but there are one to two things that you never will. That is your genius zone. That is the sweet spot in which you need to live. Cierra, what are your thoughts on this?
This one ties into the control piece a little bit. Not necessarily that topic, but those pillars, pride, fear, and guilt. It plays into this piece where people can’t let go. It is a little bit of guilt walking away or firing themselves that pride piece that keeps them there, that fear of, “Who is going to take it if I don’t?” Those three pillars fall into this as well. I know that you and I have had these conversations where you’ve called me and you said, “I needed to talk this through. Where’s my role right now? What’s my role right now? Where am I most needed?” I love those conversations, first of all, because it lets me see how you’re thinking and where you’re placing yourself, and then the overall explanation of where you’re comfortable right now or where you find that you’re going to be the most valuable.
It’s so important to not only ask yourself those questions, especially as a visionary because you’re totally changing and people are filling these seats and coming in and your role is constantly evolving. It’s important for you to ask those questions to yourself, but it’s important to ask others. It gives you that validation and you’d be surprised asking that to someone else, the validation that you would receive. Somebody is telling you, “That’s where you need to be or no, I don’t think that’s the best place for you. It’s more important for you to be over here.” It’s getting that back and forth is also helpful to move out of that rut or be able to fire yourself. Get the opinions of your team. I’m sure you’re sticking your nose in something that they would rather you not. That makes it a little more difficult when the boss is in the day-to-day too much when they’re trying to evolve and get out of it. I would utilize your team for feedback on that.
Those are valuable conversations because I can tell you you’re always evolving. What might be your unique ability for maybe 5 or 10 years in the sense of a decade, if you do it long enough, all of a sudden, you’ve got to level up? You gain and get into greater strengths that were not recognized or that are needed. It’s not like you’re going to answer this question and be done with it for the rest of your life. You will always be answering the question, “How do I show up best for my organization? What is the main thing that they need from me right now?” It can change. COVID would be an example of that. A lot of leaders, we had to go back in and go, “How can I show up best for my organization via COVID? These circumstances are requiring that my organization needs something different from me.”
Finding The Integrator
Let’s go to the fifth and final one. This, out of the five, is the most practical one, but it’s the most important one. Yet the one still, as everyone knows this, has difficulty finding. You can say that I got lucky with Cierra. I know a lot of people go, “What can I do to steal her away from you?” Number five is people don’t give freedom because they never find that number two or that integrator or that chief operating officer. In my opinion, this piece right here is the one thing that once you find, will get you closer to freedom than anything else.
Unless there is a visionary integrator relationship that’s intact, unfortunately, you have to be both. If you’re truly a visionary and you’re having to play integrator, that’s not freedom. You might do it well, but over time, it’s going to drain you. I know I don’t do it well, I never did. I’m not an operational person. I’m walking around with my head in the clouds, thinking about what we can go accomplish next. This is vital. Cierra, I’m going to hand this one to you because this is something you know well. How important is it to find the right integrator?
It’s huge because you didn’t do the integrator portion. That’s because you’re not an integrator. You’re a visionary. You talk that you dream. You lead us in that direction, but the implementation, it’s not your strength. It’s not where you’re going to thrive. That’s where your integrator comes in. They need to be able to organize and make sure that things are the way they need to be in order to implement that vision. I’ve talked to a lot of investors that struggle with this piece. It’s like they want to paint the picture, but they also want to pave the road and lead everybody up the mountain, but then they want to go fill the patches. They want to do it all and it’s not within your personality.
In order to get freedom, you have to learn to delegate well.
Just like these other points, it takes the right people and understanding what your strengths are versus others. I feel like one thing you and I do well is I know my strengths and I know yours and I’m clear about them. We complement each other well. We also think similarly, however, there’s enough of a difference to where we’re not running in the same direction all the time. I can push back on you because first, I trust you. I know that you trust me. That’s important, but we are able to work through and I can speak up. Whereas I know that a lot of people put integrators in these roles and the integrator shakes their head, “We’ll do it.” That’s not your job as an integrator. Your job is to speak up and say if this is going to work or not work. They get that integrator role confused a bit. It needs to be somebody that compliments you but also isn’t afraid to speak up because if you have a yes man in that role, you’re not going to get what you need either.
There’s a difference between a decision carrier and a decision-maker. People confuse an executive assistant or an admin as an integrator. Those things are entirely different.
I get and hear that a lot. “Can I hire an assistant?” You can hire an assistant to assist you, but that’s a different personality that somebody is going to grow into than an integrator. An integrator is a different personality. You need to make sure that you have the right person in that seat, first of all, but also make sure that you’re not confusing that role with an assistant because it’s not the same.
There’s a lot to that on how to do that, but the most important thing we want you to know as you’re reading is that’s such a vital role. Start to think through that. You never know. Even of the people that you hire, they might be a future integrator one day. I didn’t hire Sierra as a COO. That’s not where we started working together, but she took off out of the gate. Over a few years, I’m like, “This is more than what I have seen before. What am I looking at here? That’s exactly what it is. There’s a talent level here that’s beyond most people that puts her in a COO role.” I want to go back to one thing you said because this is important for visionaries to understand.
One of the things that Cierra does for me primarily is she is my discernment. What I mean by that is I got 100 ideas that run through my head every day. All my ideas are fantastic. The way that I’m wired is they run through my heart before my head. Cierra knows when she gets that call and I’m high energy and it’s very emotional. What I realize is just because I’m great at coming up with ideas doesn’t mean that I also have the gift to be able to discern sometimes whether or not it’s the right idea or not. A lot of our conversations with Cierra’s like she’s a filter. I want her to come in and honestly poke holes. I don’t take it personally and I’m not going to sit there and try to convince her that I’m right.
What I realized, Cierra, that the value you bring is when I bring you ten ideas, you’re going to be like, “Eight of those aren’t as cool as you think you are. One is a maybe. That’s a good idea.” I have learned to realize that my discernment level is not the same as Cierra’s because that’s what a COO does. The other way I’ve heard it say a lot of times is your COO is a tether to your balloon. It keeps you grounded. You’re meant to fly high, but not that high. You can’t go into orbit as a visionary. You have to cap some type of reality of what’s practical and how it’s going to affect. I want to touch on these to summarize what we talked about.
People don’t get freedom for five reasons. Number one, they don’t give up control. Number two, they don’t treat delegating as a skill. Number three, they don’t let go of the tangibles and embrace the intangibles. Number four, they don’t understand the difference between hats and their primary role. Number five, they never do find that true integrator that’s going to get them to that place of freedom. We’re sharing straight experience with you guys. I’m amazed at how few people ever attain the thing they got in for, which is ironic when that is the driver that serves so many people, but such a small fraction of people ever attain it. I know for me, my number one drive was freedom. This is something that, for several years, I stumbled through and made mistakes and came to the realization that all five of these things I had to go through that personal process myself of understanding them and starting to execute on them as well.
As always, if you’re checking in, I want to remind you, we’d love to help you out, particularly around the radio piece. We think at a particular level and REI Radio, more than just, “Here’s how to do a deal,” whatever that looks like. We want to show you how to do radio and also help with some of the bigger questions that you can potentially have around how to build a business. That’s the way that we think. I’m a lifestyle guy. As always, if you’re interested in learning more about what we do and you jive and connect with us, we’d love to add value to you as well. You can check us out at WholesalingInc.com/REIRadio. Cierra, as always, I enjoy our conversation. Thank you so much for coming on and add some value to the tribe.
To the rest of you guys reading, as always, we will catch you soon when we add more value.
About Chris Arnold
Chris Arnold is a 15 year Real Estate veteran who has closed over 2500 single family real estate transactions in the DFW metroplex. Chris is the founder of multiple companies that are managed by a US virtual team, which allows Chris to run his organizations while living in Tulum, Mexico full time. His passion for leaders has led to the creation of Multipliers brotherhood which serves the top 5% of real estate entrepreneurs out of the US. Most recently Chris has launched his REI Radio coaching program. This program is designed to teach real estate investors the marketing stream that everyone knows about but NO ONE is doing!