Teams, not individuals, change the world. Ensure that your teammates are in customized roles that align with their talent, and have a deep understanding of each other’s personalities in order to maximize workplace productivity.
In the final episode of the 3-part team-building series, Chris Arnold and his team members discuss all the personal and vulnerable stories that made their relationship stronger. They also talk about what makes Chris such an effective leader and how those qualities have helped their business last for a decade.
Team Building Masterclass – The Secret to Achieving Maximum Impact in Your Life and Business – Part 3 of 3
I’m very excited that you guys are with us. If you’re tuning in, you are catching the end of a three-part series that we have put together. We’re talking specifically about our team, my team. I know that one of the biggest compliments that I always get from people is, “Chris, you have such an amazing team. Where did you get those people? Can I steal them away from you?” I do get that quite a bit, which I obviously say, “No, you cannot, but go ahead and please, try.” We are very loyal to each other.
If you’re tuning in, where we’re talking about team building. As we sat in the previous series that teams not individuals change the world, even though you’re a solopreneur at this point, at some point, you’re going to add on at least 1 to 2 team members. Maybe you don’t want to scale it up, but you will be leading a team at some point.
Number two, if you have a high level of turnover, that is going to slow down the growth of your organization. Rather than getting in and executing on new projects and making things happen, you’re going to be so busy trying to replace seats because it’s a revolving door in your organization. We see that quite a bit.
Number three is freedom. If the entire business is built on you, you’re wearing every hat in the organization and your goal was to get in for freedom. I will probably challenge you that you will not get that freedom. The only freedom that will ever come is if you have the ability to leverage through a team because that’s what a team does. It allows people to pop in and pop out because each other has each other’s back and can fulfill each of the roles that each other has.
That’s why, for the most part, a lot of people in our organization are cross-trained. Lastly, in my opinion, is there’s joy and doing the journey together. If you were going to climb Mount Everest, it’d be cool to do it by yourself, but I don’t know about you. Once I summited, it would be much nicer to put some hands around some shoulders and give some high fives and some hugs and some tears because you did it as a group. I do value that idea of comradery and journeying somewhere together as a team. That’s why we are talking about the importance of a team, but the reality is most teams don’t stay together for very long.
What I did was I sat down, which I have on Krista and Sierra and Grace and Scarlet, who we’ve worked together for almost a decade. They are leaders in my organization. They are directors. They have played in a lot of different roles and have been with me as we are, at this point, are now on our fifth company. We’ve done different industries and different types of business, but the one thing that has stayed steady and maintain the same was the fact that we stood together.
We didn’t kill each other. We made it. More importantly, I know there are some days where I don’t even imagine what my life would be like without my team. They’re such a big part of my life. I talk to them every day, all day long if you can imagine that. There’s a lot of closeness that’s created. I always liked to throw it out there because it always makes heads turn.
Make sure that you’re customizing the roles for every person in your organization. Don’t just stick somebody in a seat.
Even though we’ve been together as long as we’ve had, believe it or not, I’ve never met Krista, Sierra, Grace, or Scarlet face-to-face, but we trust each other with our lives. That shows you the power of technology and more importantly, you don’t have to be face to face to have a great culture. We’re going to end this series with three more things that we felt like have helped us as a team navigate this process and stay together. Go back and read to the ones that we left before. I will not recap those all this time, but you can check us as we come out for the previous two.
Let’s hop into the meat. Again, these are not mine. I sat down with Krista, Sierra, Grace, and Scarlet. I said, “How in the world have we made it?” I let them as team members answer these questions. These were not my answers to the question because, for an audience, I wanted you to hear from the team, their perspective on what keeps the team together. Again, we, as visionaries, have opinions on why things are the way they are. A lot of times, what I’ve realized is our team is a lot smarter and knows a lot more than what’s going on than we do. Most of the time, we have our heads in the cloud anyway.
Let’s hop into the first one. What they told me is one of the things that has kept us together is the fact that we have learned to customize the roles for the talent within our organization. We never come in and try to change the person. What we do is we try to change the position to fit that person. As common sense as that sounds, I don’t think that happens the majority of the time. People are constantly being stuffed into positions because they need to be fulfilled. Not because that’s the way in which they are wired and what they’re most passionate and gifted to do.
I’m going to this over to Grace and Sierra. Again, we wanted to back all of this with a story. We wanted to use Grace as an example because Grace has been through a lot of roles, but the one thing that has stayed consistent is who she is. It’s taken time for us to carve out that perfect position. After all these years of working together, she’s doing what she’s been gifted to do. Sierra and Grace, I’ll kick that over to you. I don’t know which of you want to start, but I’m going to volley it up to both of you guys.
It doesn’t matter. I don’t mind jumping in there. What Chris mentioned does sound obvious to fit your talent into what’s best for them or with their most gifted is. More often than not, more people are pushed into a role to fulfill it. Thankfully with our culture, that’s not the actual case. I started here as a prospecting assistant. Tapping into, I always like talking to people and I like helping people, but prospecting assistant probably was still limiting everything that I could do. It was tapping into one element of my talent.
When you say prospecting assistant, Grace, so the audience understands, you are on the front lines, pre-qualifying the incoming calls.
Yes, any call that we had coming in, I was talking to the person, pre-qualifying them, then tossing it up or teeing it up for our acquisition manager. In one way, it was great getting to know the company in that way. That’s what clicked with or at least my interest in the marketing, is that how often I would hear certain feedback from callers. I was able to run that to Sierra and my other team members going, “Here’s what I’m hearing on the phone.” Again, the prospecting assistant was tapping into one of my talents. I jumped into lead management, which we all slowly learn spreadsheets and admin tasks.
Lead management, again, for someone that’s newer, that is defined as getting in and managing the actual database. The leads that were coming in and making sure they were being followed up on. You were literally in a database managing all of the incoming seller leads.
Yes, it was very much so a database role. A lot of administrative tasks of searching the system, cleaning up the system, running reports, which are extremely necessary. You knew that. All your leads are coming in to that CRM. Someone does need to track that all of the sources and all of the phone numbers are working properly and that the leads are being tagged appropriately. If they’re new leads or someone did touch base with them, at least once where they are falling so the same entire team is aware of what phase of the funnel this particular person is going through. That was one of my roles as well.
Where did you go from there? Because it didn’t stop. This is interesting because you have kept evolving. You’re not a lead manager anymore. What happened after that?
I finally started to be able to branch into the marketing side. First, it was getting to understand what our direct mail process before I breached over into radio and then grew and took over into marketing overall, which is a little bit more in my wheelhouse. I like to be able to touch base and help people, but I also love researching. It allows the nerd in me to stop and learn then be able to tinker, as I call it. I would not describe my role as marketing. I was more like the tinkering director of researching, toying, and playing and tracking with things like that before ultimately growing into my wholesaling eGrow under REI Radio. I was coaching and helping our radio students get in and set up their radio processes.
Let me break that down, though. I want to make sure people caught that. You started off as a calling assistant, pre-qualifying, inbound seller leads for acquisition managers. You moved into a lead manager role in which you were managing the database in the CRM, then you became the director of marketing, being responsible for tinkering with all of our marketing, finding new ways to market, running that entire department. Now you’re fundamentally in a role in which you are coaching and helping students all across the country. By the way, Grace has helped 45 out of 50 states at this point. Students set up their radio, so that’s a lot. That is a long swing.
I’m going to kick this over to Sierra. Sierra, you’re the COO. Your primary responsibility is to make sure that the right people are on the bus. The wrong people are off the bus and the right people are in the right seats. As Grace tells that story, what do you take away as a COO on the fact that was a path to get her down to what she does best. As I’ve heard, it says, “To be able to do only what Grace can do that she does so superior to anyone else.” Talk a little bit about that.
Grace is such an interesting person, first of all. She has this personality that she can do anything. You can out Grace in any role, she can do it, but there’s a difference between doing it and being the one that should do it and the only one that can do it. For a long time, we were trying to see. We put Grace in a position and she did well because she has it in her personality. Was she fulfilled?
Teams, not individuals change the world.
No. Was it hitting all of the talent points that we needed to hit? No. That’s what happened with Grace. When she came in initially, we quickly realized that she loves talking to people. She is like a chameleon. She can change her personality so much. If she has a student that is more on the monotone side or very much to themselves, she tweaked her personality to be able to speak with them and communicate with them in that way.
The same, you have somebody that’s louder and more outspoken. Grace can completely shift herself. We knew that on the prospecting side. She had a gift of speaking with people. Her communication is great. She keeps connect so well, but there’s this missing piece over there on the prospecting side. There’s this creativity that Grace didn’t get to touch. She didn’t get to tap into that creative side, which if you know, Grace, you know she’s two things extremely. She is a good communicator and she’s a creative person. We needed a position that was going to tap into both of those things. For lead management, we found out that she didn’t thrive in that position because it wasn’t talking to people. It wasn’t being creative. It was much more like administrative tasks. She doesn’t enjoy that.
Honestly, it takes a very specific personality to enjoy that. When we moved her into marketing, we saw that creativity. We felt her get excited and passionate. It’s mind-blowing to me how she thinks. It’s awesome to watch her connect the dots. Ultimately, we put her in that assistant coaching role, is what I call it on the REI Radio side, which allowed her to do those two things she does so well on a daily basis. She communicates with the students and she gets to be creative and help them problem solve and maximize their money and their marketing.
To me, it is the perfect position for Grace. She gets to use all of her talents. I don’t think I’ve had one student come across that wasn’t blown away with Grace. She gets compliments on every call because she has such a unique personality. It was finding a place to utilize her that was going to get or to have the ability to maximize her talent. We could have kept her in those roles. Honestly, we have benefited so much more. Grace has benefited so much more with us finding a place that was going to speak to her talent. That’s what we did. She’s amazing to throw her out there.
Grace is super talented. What I want you to know if you’re reading to this show is the extent to what our organization goes through to make sure that somebody is put in that absolute, perfect position that’s going to draw out all of their strengths. It’s going to give them fulfillment and excitement. A lot of times, most people are thrown into a role and they’re left there. They probably don’t feel like they have a voice to express. Maybe that they’re unhappy in that role or you have leadership that doesn’t come in and identify and goes, “I know that you’re good at that, but we know that good is the enemy of great and there’s something that we feel like that you could be even doing at a higher level.”
One of the reasons that our team functions at the level that it does is because rather than coming in and trying to change the person, we’re constantly evolving the position until we get that person in the seat doing only what they can do, what they love to do. Krista is a great example of that. Krista is probably one of the most diverse people in our organization. I call her like a rover. That’s an old baseball term back in the day where you would have someone that would literally, wherever the ball on the field went, that’s where they would go.
They didn’t play any particular position. They just went where the ball was hit and Krista is a lot like that. She’s probably been one of the people that’s been trickier because she’s able to do so many different things. Over time, we’ve been able to hone into a few things that she does that we needed, things like compliance, which we’re all so bad at, but she’s so good at.
I hope that you guys know and take away from the fact of the extent at which we go through. One of the ways we do that is we also utilize a lot of psychological assessments, things like inner metrics and strength finders. A lot of those tools out there that reveal a lot about how a person is wired because we believe it’s our responsibility to make sure that we’re maximizing what that person can do within the organization.
This is one of the things that Krista, Sierra, Grace, and Scarlet are saying has been such a key thing to keep everyone here so long because a lot of times, people will quit. They quit because they end up doing something that they don’t enjoy showing up every day to do. If you’re in a position that’s perfectly carved out for you and you love it, that makes your job very different. As they say, if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. I believe that to be true.
Let’s go on to the second one. This one’s a lot of fun because we’re going to give an example of how well our team knows each other. The second one is a deep understanding of how each of our team members functions. I said, “What is a great way to illustrate this? I’m going to call on a few people and I’m going to let the other ones talk about when that person thinks best and when you want to call them on the phone and what’s the best time to have a conversation? When are they most likely to bring the best ideas?” Let’s start with Scarlet. Talk a little bit about Scarlet. What do you guys know about how well she functions and when it’s best to work with Scarlet?
Scarlet is a perfectionist. I like Scarlet. She is the person that you go to when you need things done perfectly. When they need to be done right and you need somebody to analyze something, Scarlet’s the girl. No matter what, she is going to be able to pull it apart and to seize it in such a unique way. She has many talents but the best for our team is her ability to see things completely different. You can pull things out that you may have been staring at the same thing for an hour and he’s not getting there. I’ll call Scarlet and immediately, she sees things in a completely different way. She’s able to analyze things. That’s one of her best skills.
Aside from being a perfectionist, it’s great to catch Scarlet in the morning. Whenever we need a project done in the morning, Scarlet’s a go-to. I always envied Scarlet’s ability to have to simplify things and unbiasedly will give you an opinion on something. If I’m ever looking at a project and I might be emotionally invested or looking at it only with my set of eyes, I can know you can honestly go to Scarlet.
She’ll look at something and look at it objectively and simplify it to its very baseboards and go, “No, this is the thing. This is probably how you need to approach it or how you may be need to be looking at it,” because you’ll do it unbiasedly, which is great when you’re dealing with someone like me. Depending on the day, my emotions didn’t carry my thought process. It’s nice to have a team member who’s balanced that way and balanced and thought as well.
Sierra, when is it best to call Grace?
At night. You don’t call Grace before 12:00 if you can help it. She’s not there yet. It takes her time to get those juices flowing and to want to communicate. It’s not that she can’t. We know we’re going to get the most out of Grace, it’s going to be in the afternoon. Grace and I have the best conversations at 8:00 at night. For some reason, that’s when our brains connect perfectly. I can leave her alone all day, but I know I’m going to call her at 8:00 and we’re going to get problems knocked out. We’re getting a problem solved.
It is much nicer to put some hands around some shoulders and give some high fives and hugs and some tears because you did it as a group.
What about Krista? What do you guys know about her and the way that she functions?
Krista is an early bird. She’s the one person I can get when I’m awake.
Krista is the morning person here. Do you want Krista to get things done? She’s going to get it done at 5:00 in the morning and you’re going to be totally blown away. When you wake up and roll out of bed at like 7:00, she’s already been working for four hours. She’s pretty much on top of it.
I get up in the morning and Krista is still up.
I always laugh. There are times where I’m up and I think I’m the only one that’s awake and then I get a text from Krista. I’m like, “It’s early,” and I have to remind myself it’s even earlier for her because she’s on Pacific time. She’s two hours where I’m at. How in the world is she already awake texting and thinking as well? If I were to put language to what we’re talking about, I would call it the ologies. You should get a degree in each person within your organization. What you’re hearing is we have a degree in Krista-ology, Grace-ology, and Scarlet-ology. It means that we understand the quirkiness about each other and when’s the best time to share ideas and what each person does uniquely.
Whether they’re more emotionally driven or they’re more driven by reason, or if you want somebody to simplify. In Sierra’s case, if you want someone to be a soundboard because you’ve had a tough day and you need to vent it out. Because we have such a deep understanding of how each of us functions and taking the time to go to that level, that’s one of the reasons that we’ve been able to stay together for as long as we have. I’m going to equate it to a lot like marriage. How well you understand your spouse and all those idiosyncrasies and the way in which they function to determine the longevity of a marriage. The same is true with the team that works together as well.
Let’s go to this last one, which is freedom. I love the phrase that performance buys freedom. I also remember Steve Jobs saying that talented people don’t need to be managed. They need a common vision. Once they know what to do, they’ll go figure out how to do it. You got to get out of their way. I’ve always held to that overall leadership style that talented people will figure out. You got to give them a common vision and point them in the right direction.
I know within our organization, one of the things that have kept us together is that the overall leadership style is you’ve got the freedom to walk away, to choose, to work when you want to work, how you want to work in whatever way that you want to work. We don’t care as long as you get done whatever responsibility it is that you’ve committed to doing. Scarlet, I know you have a story here to represent that. Do you want to share a little bit about your story when it comes to the freedom in our organization that you felt has held us together?
The past several years, I felt like there’s always something crazy going on in my life. Since working for the team, I’ve had health issues, death in the family, my husband’s deployment. It’s been one thing after another. A few years ago, my brother passed away unexpectedly. I was the one that got the initial call and had to call my family. Right after I called my family, Sierra was my next call. I was bawling my eyes out, telling her what happened. I was truly surprised she even understood anything I said, to be honest. She let me get everything out that I needed to get out then she was like, “Take all the time you need.” She never once asked me how long I thought I was going to be out, what needed to be done. There was never any of that. She called and checked on me and stuff like that.
I got calls from other people, but everything got taken care of the entire time I was out. I don’t even know who did what, but it gave me the time and the freedom that I needed to grieve, attend the funeral, and take care of my family. I’m not generally one that’s good with taking time off. It sometimes has to be forced, but I would pipe in randomly and distract myself and Sierra would push me back out and be like, “No. You need to take some time.”
I wasn’t there yet. With the team that we have, I never worried. I never had to worry that something wasn’t going to get done, that I was going to lose my job for me to take this time off. It gave me what I needed to focus on my family at that time. That’s been the way we’ve all been. We can take that time that we need and know that the rest of the team has our backs. Stuff’s going to keep moving and when we get back, it’s not a mess to come back to. It makes you feel a lot better when stuff comes up.
You said something there. I don’t know if anyone picked it up, but it’s something that I’ve observed about our team. It’s interesting that when something personally goes wrong in one of our lives, usually one of the first calls that we make is to somebody on the team. Krista, I know when you had something pop up, that was a pretty big tragedy, one of the first calls you made was to Sierra. Sierra was up with you. Late into the night, you were talking about trying to figure out how you were going to navigate this and so forth. You guys were up until super late and she was sitting on the phone with you.
We were texting from the emergency room, but yes.
A great telltale sign and I didn’t pick it up until you said it and I haven’t thought much about it. You can dictate the closeness by the team. When you start making those calls when tragedy happens, how far down on the list are your team members? Is that the last call you make? “By the way, I got to let the people in my organization know that this happened,” or is it one of the first calls that you make because you know that these people are important to your life and are going to step in and do whatever it takes to help you out regardless of the situation?
Wrapping up our series, we want to come in. It’s not saying that we have the perfect team. Every team, obviously like family, has its own dysfunctions, but one thing I do feel like we’ve done well is we’ve navigated several years together. We want you to overhear a conversation of a team that’s stuck through it through thick and thin, through the ups and downs. We’ve told you guys some personal stories, whether that be stories of death in our organization, to stories of people potentially walking away from the organization, to stories of whether or not the organization was going to make it because there was a shift in the market. We wanted to come in and be raw and honest with you guys and say this is our story and as you build teams, we hope that what we’ve learned together over the last ten years, there are some things that you can take back and glean from and implement into your own organization.
Good is the enemy of great. There’s always something you could do at an even higher level.
Again, the three points that we wanted to drive home was, number one, make sure that you’re customizing the roles for every person in your organization. Don’t just stick somebody in a seat. You might, as we use Grace as an example, have to move them to four to five different seats on the bus, but it doesn’t matter as long as you finally get them in that perfect seat in which they are fulfilled and they are obviously working in their utmost strength and talent in there as we would say their genius zone. Their unique ability.
Number two, having a deep understanding of the quirkiness of everyone in your organization. When it’s time to work with them and how they’re best, whether they’re the one that simplifies, the one that listens, the one that’s more of the rational voice, you have to know that about every person on the team because I believe that in different situations, different people in the organization needed to pick up the leadership reins and it’s not always me. Sometimes I’m not the one that’s meant to lead out of this situation. There might still be someone that’s more equipped than myself to be able to do that.
Lastly, a deep belief in the fact that if you trust your people and you have great people, you don’t need to manage them. If anything, you probably need to grant them more freedom than you ever thought about giving them. What I have found is that the more freedom that you give them, the harder they’re going to work. They know that they get to show up, not because they’re being demanded to show up but because it’s something that they know they have the freedom to show up for. That’s a big shift in the overall intrinsic internal drive that we have.
We hope that you enjoyed this three-part series with us. Again, this is us just hanging out talking about how we’ve done, what we’ve done. I’ll say it publicly. I don’t know what in the world I would do without my team. At this point in my life, I don’t have kids, so I don’t have a traditional family. For me, my work family is my family, probably above all. I’ll probably spend more time thinking about them and talking to them than anyone else that I have in my life. That is the joy that you can get to once you build a team.
Again, I know for a lot of you reading, building a team is not fun. There are times in which it was extremely difficult. I’ve had times in which I’ve had the wrong team. I’ve had times in which I’ve had 2 or 3 team members walk out on me simply because I was not yet the leader that I was supposed to be within the organization. In no way was it an easy path to get to where we are but you know how it is. You put the time and the energy in. There’s always a great value on the other side if you stick with it.
As always, if we can help you out on the radio side, we would love to do that. The rest of the team and I would love to support you in the process of getting it set up. At this point, we’re biased on the fact that having inbound quality calls via radio is one of the best marketing channels that are out there. As always, if you’re interested and you want to check it out, you can go to WholesalingInc.com/REIRadio. Book a call and see if your market is open.
Krista, Sierra, Grace, and Scarlet, thank you guys so much for coming on the show. Thank you for being willing to be vulnerable and expose a little bit about our family to the rest of the Wholesaling Inc. tribe and family so they could get a glimpse of what it looks like to work with the same team for a long period of time. To the rest of you guys, as always, thank you so much for tuning in. Until next time, 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!