Company values are essential to fast-growth companies. Many fast-growth companies know hiring and firing by core values is part of their success. Leaders have to be intentional about living by their values. Today’s guest is Alex Parker, Managing Partner at CAP Venture Group. Inc Magazine ranked his company #1675 on the 2020 Inc 5000 list. Alex’s company assists clients in buying and selling homes through its low-stress home transactions. We look at how the company has stressed the importance of hiring and firing by core values. Then, Alex gives us a view inside his fast-growth company so you can improve your leadership.
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Alex Parker: The Transcript
About: Alex is the founder of CAP Venture Group, Inc. Alex is the proud founder and President of this Louisville-based real estate investment corporation. Alex earned degrees in Economics and Communication from Denison University, where he acted as President of the Entrepreneurship Club for two years. He went on to gain beneficial insight while working at a renowned hedge fund on Wall Street, after which he moved back home to Louisville. Alex pursued his passions of entrepreneurship and real estate to eventually result in the formation of CAP Venture Group, Inc. Alex is genuinely committed to reinvesting back into his community and improving neighborhoods one house at a time. He always strives to do business with the upmost integrity and truly seeks to find win-win solutions.
Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.
Alex Parker: Going back to the core values and our why, and really like my personal, why is always growing kind of as a person. And that is also, you know, the company’s wide, you know, always growing in terms of, of growing the company and trying to hit the revenue goals, but looking at ourselves as people and always growing as people and developing and trying to reach our full potential. And creating a culture of team members who embrace that, that is why, and these core values. , I think as, as creating created an amazing culture of players, you know, who are always figuring out, Hey, what can we do better? How can we improve? And it’s just not me, you know, trying to figure everything out. I have a team that’s pulling their weight and doing everything.
Introduction: Welcome to Growth Think Tank. This is the one and only place where you will get insight from the founders and the CEOs, the fastest-growing privately held companies. I am the host. My name is Gene Hammett. I hope leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of their growth. are you ready to grow?
Gene Hammett: You know, core values are important to the success of your company. Well, if you want it to grow, you’ve probably heard core values, years or something that you should hire and fire by firing by your core values means that when people get out of alignment when you have not been able to coach them up and coach them through and get them to see what really the values are that align to put together, that you’ve got to move them on. Firing through core values is something that you have to do religiously. And you really want to understand what that means. You also want to hire by core values cause you wouldn’t bring in people who aren’t have a natural adherence and fit for the organization. We have clarity with your core values.
It provides a place that people want to come to work for and it’s clear what they should be doing while they’re there. You know, what is beyond. Hiring and firing by core values. Well, there’s a lot of pieces to it that you want to make sure that you pay attention to very intentional about if you want to create the space for people to grow together and execute and hit the goals that you have set out. Now my job is to help you understand exactly what is inside this episode. We have the founder of LSD properties, Alex Parker. Now they were on the Inc list this past year, and they’ve grown really fast. And why are we having to talk about core values again and again, and again is because people just aren’t getting it?
They have this kind of vision in their mind. That core values is just one project and getting a business started and some people skip it altogether. Those that are hiring and firing by a quarterback. Are also doing some other things that we look at inside this episode. What I like most about this Alex talks about book reviews and what that really means to the core values and how they make it part of their everyday conversations and how they make it a part of their meetings across the weekly and months of the year. So stay tuned for Alex talking about this.
Before we go into this interview, let me ask you a couple of questions that allow you to reflect on your own leadership. Are you clear about what does it take for you to level up as a leader? Are you clear what it will take for you to really engage the team at a higher level to reach the next big milestone? Whether it be financially or some other thing that you’re focused on as an organizer? Well, if you’re not exactly clear, I want you to think about hanging out with peers that will challenge you to grow and challenge you, to get really clear about what those missing skill gaps are, but also the mindset shifts and all the things necessary for you to be an extraordinary leader. If you want to hang out with other leaders that are already growing fast and check fastgrowthboardroom.com inside there, you’ll find out a few of the details that we put in there specifically to help you grow as well. Help you be a better entrepreneur and help you create more value within your company.
Just check out fastgrowthboardroom.com. Now here’s the interview with Alex,
Gene Hammett: Alex, how are you?
Alex Parker: Hey, doing well. How are you doing Gene?
Gene Hammett: I am fantastic. Excited to have you on Growth Think Tank. I’ve already let our audience do a little bit about you and what we talk about today, but I’d love for you to give them some context on the company that has been so fast and honored by the Inc list. LST properties.
Alex Parker: Yeah, absolutely. So we started, LSP properties, which stands for low-stress transaction properties back in 2013. And so I’ve been doing it for a little while now. And basically what we do is provide solutions to home sellers, whether they be in a pre-foreclosure situation, you know, need serious repairs done to the home, or have another situation where the traditional model of sell might not be the best fit. And I think we’ve really found a competitive advantage rather than just coming in and saying, Hey, we’re going to buy your house we’re going to take a look at their whole situation and really make sure it’s going to be a good fit for them and make sure it’s a win-win. And if they’re going to come out on the other side, whether they are in a paid foreclosure situation or something like that and have a fresh start, and then after we typically purchase a property, we will redevelop it and then resell that property or lease it out in our rental portfolio.
Gene Hammett: Perfect. So more of a long-term hold or are you doing flipping or doing both?
Alex Parker: Doing both. Yeah. So a combination of both just, you know, depending on where it is and kind of what allows us to make the best offer to the seller
Gene Hammett: Alex, I have heard because we’ve been doing some research on what makes fast companies grow. And it’s really the kind of the basis of the entire podcast. , when you think about your company growing, you don’t have the biggest team in the world. What you said about 11 employees. 35 independent contractors that you work with on a regular basis. What is the S the thing or principle that really has driven the growth for your company?
Alex Parker: I would say there are a few different mechanisms, kind of behind what our success and our growth have been. You know, our kind of going back to the core values and our why, and, and really like my personal, why is always growing kind of as a person and in that is also, you know, the companies. You know, always growing in terms of, of growing the company and trying to hit the revenue goals, but looking at ourselves as people and always growing as people and developing and trying to reach our full potential and creating a culture of team members who embrace that, that Y and these core values. I think as, as creating created an amazing culture of a players you know, who are always figuring out, Hey, what can we do better? How can we improve? And it’s just not me, you know, trying to figure everything out. I have a team that’s, that’s pulling their weight and doing everything we need to get there.
Gene Hammett: You know, when you talk about values, a lot of people I think, get this wrong, but you’re a small company. But I want to kind of go back to when you first started thinking about values, was it really early? Was it somewhere in the middle of your growth or is this a recent thing for you?
Alex Parker: Honestly, it was somewhere, I would say maybe about three years into the business. And you would always kind of like hear core values and why, and, you know, and I, I almost just thought like, oh, that’s just, you know, not, not hogwash, that’s the wrong word, but you know, it’s like, it’s kind of like silly almost, you know, and a lot of people I think, you know, might think that when they first see it and really, you know, learning your, your company and a lot of ways, it becomes like a reflection of you as the founder and seeing how that affects it and learning from other successful entrepreneurs and other successful companies and seeing the impact it’s had. I started to look into it closer and realizing how important it really was, and really, really put a lot of thought and time into figuring out what those core values are, are going to be.
You know, what do we want to represent? You know, what is ours? And doing so has made all the ducks.
Gene Hammett: So three years into it, you had employees, is that fair to say
Alex Parker: yes.
Gene Hammett: Did you include your employees in the values or is this a solo exercise that you decided to take on your own?
Alex Parker: It was because a lot of times I, you know, talking with other entrepreneurs, they said, Hey, the business and the core values need to be a reflection of you as the founder. And so I really kind of deep dive on it independently at first and kind of once I. With them. I then sat down, you know, with all the different team members and, you know, went over it and said, Hey, you know, I’m open to suggestions. You know, I want you all to think about it and say, Hey, what do we want to represent as a company and come back and give feedback.
And we ended up, you know, tweaking a few words and different things in it, you know with their input and sort of definitely, I, I included them in the process, but it was definitely a lot of, you know, Reflection on what I represent and what I want the company to represent as a person.
Gene Hammett: I’m kind of curious in there. Can you remember one of the words that got changed around and massage too, so that the team felt like it was a better fit?
Alex Parker: Let’s see here. , so like one of, one of ours is like take action and follow through persevering and don’t it. No excuses, how you do anything is how you do everything. And so just essentially, I think it said pretty much the same thing before, but we did change it around a little bit just because we are in a business where so many difficult situations come up, you know, daily, and kind of having that attitude of, Hey, you know, no excuses, you know, You know, it, doors closed.
We’re going to break down the door and find another one to figure it out. And so really it was, it was, I would say more of a wording change on a few of them rather than a big structural change.
Gene Hammett: Perfect. I love that value of no excuses. I’m kind of curious, how does that play out as you’re leading this team?
Alex Parker: Yeah, absolutely. And so like one of the things, if you are going to have core values, you really have to, you know, hire and fire by your core values. Like it has to be what your team members. Right. And, and so the no excuses is that you know, we know things are going to come up in the business. We know there’s going to be issued during construction, you know, with contractors and stuff like that. And it’s like, oh, this contractor, you know, isn’t meeting their schedule. It, you can’t just come and say, oh, Hey, this contractor is meeting their schedule. It’s like, what am I going to do to then get that contract? Back on track and on a budget to make it rather, than coming in and saying, oh, Hey, I didn’t do this because of this.
It’s saying, Hey, how do I counteract this and figure it out. And so really owning, you know, your mistakes, if, you know, for instance, if you’re a project manager and the project doesn’t get done on time, then you’re going to own that and say, Hey, I’m the project manager. I’m in charge of that project. And the timeline of it rather than saying, oh, Hey, it didn’t get done on time because of. ABCD, because there’s always going to be things that come up and, and always, you know, excuses that could be made. So trying to really take accountability,
Commentary: Alex just talked about hiring and firing by corporate. Now, this whole episode is what’s beyond that. So let me walk through the five core areas of core values to make sure that you’re living them to the highest degree possible and making the most out of them. Well, of course, there’s hiring and firing, right? Those are the two bookends, but you also want to pay attention to onboarding leading, and developing onboarding is, you know when the people come in to start their job, it’s not just about giving them a laptop and giving them an email extension and giving them a phone or whatever the things you designed as the tools it’s about, you know, talking to them about how we work together, about how what’s important to you and the core values. It’s gotta be a central part of that. In fact, I think you want to make onboarding a very big part of how you bring people into your world and set expectations. Very early, the second piece behind that is leading. So the conversations you have on a day-to-day basis, leading through challenges, leading through difficulties, leading to delegate, all of those things are part of the core values. And you want to make sure you’re incorporating those into the conversation. Development is all about, you know, really how are you growing as a leader? How are you growing with all the values? If you have a value of courage, then you want to make sure that you were constantly developing people to be more courageous. You can do that through different kinds of workshops. You’re doing lunch and learns all the things that are available to you. If you truly want to develop these core values, I list this out here because I wanted to make sure that you had the full picture of what does it take to create a team that’s centered around the core values. And are truly living it now back to Alex,
Gene Hammett: I love that because one thing I see about something like a value is you want to make sure that you’re leading it every day. And it is a part of the daily conversations inside of meetings. Inside of one-on-one conversations, people are being recognized. This, when I say that, what comes to mind is something you guys do on a daily basis around your house.
Alex Parker: Yeah, absolutely. So one of the things that as we do, you know, kind of morning huddles and weekly meetings and the weekly meetings, sometimes someone will give an example of, you know, how they, you know, lived out or, or, live by five, the quarterback. And then when we do like a monthly meeting, every single time I am going to be bringing up the core values. And, you know, as a leader, I feel like it’s almost my job is to bring them up as, as much as possible, almost to the point where they probably think, oh God, he, you know, you bring up the core values again, but it’s, you know, you got to just reiterate it over and over and over again, to make it part of the culture. And then, so like one of our giving an example of how we espouse them in the business is one of them. Do you believe in and are committed to personal development and growth? Right? So our, why is always growing. So, you know, learning best practices and, and learning and developing ourselves. And so one of the things we did was creating a book club actually, and it can be books about really anything educational.
It doesn’t have to be just about what that person is doing. It could be about, you know, personal finance, you know, personal development, growth, anything like that. And what we’ll do is actually incentivize them to read the books. Paint different amounts for different books. And sometimes there’ll be one, like one book I wanted a lot of people to read recently was the E-Myth right. And I wanted everyone to do it. And so I put a little bit of a bigger incentive on that book to get it through. But things like that, book club, you know, and trying to incorporate it into the book.
Gene Hammett: Now, one of the things I want to put a spotlight on for you and the audience here listening is I’ve seen a lot of companies that are trying to figure out ways to create culture. And they struggle through the growing of virus kind of thing, and whatnot, but they could do a book club to reinforce culture reinforce conversation. And here’s the beautiful thing. It doesn’t have to be a business book. It could be that you mentioned personal finance. Did you guys pick a personal finance book and talk about that as a team over the last few years?
Alex Parker: Yeah. And so it’s not everyone doesn’t read those same books at the same time. It’s a library of books and they can choose what spoke they want in order to get credit. Basically, at one of our weekly meetings, they’ll give a quick three-minute review of the book and what their takeaways were up. And then, you know, say, Hey, you know, I liked it for this reason or didn’t like it for this reason. And then other people on the team might pick up and say, Hey, you know, that sounds like a good fit for me. I’m going to read that book next.
Gene Hammett: I love that. I think I like the other part too, but this is. Spin-on this, where you’re asking them to go back to high school and read a book and then tell us what you read. And obviously they, you know, I guess they could short track that, but most people probably are leaning into it. They’re picking books that they want to read, but this is a way to share learning across the organization. Have you seen an impact, you know, maybe someone hearing a book report and says, oh, I wanna, I want to read that book too.
Alex Parker: Oh, yeah, absolutely. A hundred percent him since, you know, we first started it and just kind of see people adopt it. You know, I think some people might be a little bit hesitant, even though they wouldn’t tell me about, you know, kind of jumping on, you know, to it. I think, you know, once they get into it and read a few books, it kind of changes and they kind of really adopt, you know, getting into the, and also, you know, you’re getting paid a little bit too to read the book. And so it’s, you have that little bit of incentive.
Gene Hammett: I want to switch gears a little bit here, Alex, because you had talked about the importance of a company that is growing together as people. And I find that leaders will say that they’re growing, but they get a little stagnant and their own growth, their own evolution. What would we see in yours? From a day to day or month to month practices around your own personal growth.
Alex Parker: Yeah, absolutely. So several years ago I adopted kind of a version of the miracle morning where it’s, I’m sure if you haven’t read that book highly recommend, but it’s kind of, you know, a personal routine and every morning with like meditation working out a little bit, and then, reading is something that I incorporate and to, to mine. So I’ll spend. 30 minutes to an hour, every single morning, you know, reading a book on whatever topic I want to, to kind of learn about. And kind of one of the things I’ll joke around with people is that I have a master’s degree in audiobook. And so when I’m driving around in the car, you know, if I’m going to go look at projects or just for any reason, a lot of times, other than listening to music, I’ll be listening to, you know, just an audiobook and just kind of, you know, always learning and kind of having that mindset that I, you know, never be like a no at all, right? Like I’m never going to be like, oh, Hey, this is like the best way to do it. Always be open to new ideas and always be open to learning and trying out new things. And just really, I think having curiosity is really, I think the secret to getting into. And, you know, for rushing at being kind of a self-development junkie.
Commentary: Nope. I just talked about the miracle morning. Now, if you don’t know what that is, it’s a powerful book that Howe L rod has written, and I have a lot of authors on the show and I’ve actually had how on the show before. So if you want to check out that I want you to go in there and Google Growth Think Tank Gene Hammett and Howe L. Rod or miracle morning. If you Google something related to that, you’ll be able to find that episode. There’s probably the easiest way to find it because we’ve done hundreds of episodes. And I can’t just give you a specific number and it just makes it easier for you. You can go to my website, you can use the search bar and that’ll. But if you want a primer on this, let me just kind of break it down for you. The miracle morning. It’s just a basic analysis of the power of having a very intentional set of things you do when you wake up in the morning. One of the concepts behind this is when, the morning when the day, right? So if you really intentional about what gives you energy, what gives you clarity? What gives you stability in the morning? Then you. Create that routine and it will serve you. For example, my routine is not meditation. I’ve tried different meditation things and I go through cycles where I do that, but I do a visualization technique and I do a gratitude exercise before my feet hit the ground. Before I look at a phone, I’ll spend five. Thinking about my day, thinking about the vision I’m creating, the big goals I’m creating, and let myself feel it. I will also think about what I’m grateful for in the immediate term. Usually, it’s my family. Usually, it’s my health, use something very small, and I create that together as a five-minute routine before I jump up and go work out. That’s the next piece to my workout routine. And so if you want to have more power available to you and more energy then you want to make sure that you are clear about how you spend yours. You can spend as little time as I do, or you can spend as much time as I heard someone say that they spend about three hours on their morning routine. Now, I don’t know, I’m not going to pass judgment on this, but it would just want you to think about being intentional about how you wake up. And I can be very certain that most people that are very successful, aren’t picking up their phones. First thing, checking their text messages, checking their email in, or even checking social media. They are actually being very intentional not to check those things. So if that’s your routine, Then you might want to look at, you know, what would better serve you in this time and this space and this season of life, just my 2 cents here on the miracle morning and how powerful it is when you adopt it and modify it just for you. Now back to Alex.
Gene Hammett: you know, I listened to a lot of podcasts, a lot of audiobooks, too. This past year has been a little bit less. So, because I don’t spend that much time in the car, but I will say that I really enjoy it. And part of it though, I get a little frustrated because I want to take notes and I can’t do that while I’m riding in the car. Right. , and so I’m like, oh, let me pause this and come back to it. And I get to do it at a time when I’m actually sitting in a place to take notes. But when you think about being open to new ideas, what has that allowed you to do. As a leader of this company.
Alex Parker: Absolutely. Yes. So being open to new ideas. So probably my ideas about business and you know, how a business should be running and everything from, you know, day one to today is completely, you know, different from, from coming into it. You know all about what I’ve learned. And I would say trial and error as well, you know, in the business. So you make a mistake and you figure out, Hey, how do I learn and adapt from that? One of the, one of the big things I would say that I learned critical point was looking at employee or team member performance at this one point, you know, I was, I was looking almost, at for certain office jobs, like getting software that like, you know, looks at productivity, you know, almost like it’s like he strokes and stuff like per minute, and you can like to compare on a really high-level productivity, but then, you know, if you’re an employee, you’re gonna feel like it’s big brother, you know, like looking over your shoulder all the time and have that pressure.
And I was almost kind of going, this direction where it’s going to be a lot of like, control almost on it, rather than trust. And just come into the right information about, you know, really inspiring and, and motivating temp team members and kind of given them, getting the right people in the role and giving them the reins and not looking over their shoulder, you know, every second. And I think having that piece of information at that time, let me take the business in the direction that we did, where if I didn’t have that, it would be in a completely different direction. That wouldn’t be so brave.
Commentary: I want to remind you that if you are not on the YouTube channel where we actually give leadership insights and wisdom, check out Genehammett.com/youtube. We’ve had a massive amount of growth there. We’ve putting on more content that you could only find on YouTube. Just go to Genehammett.com/youtube. If you want to become an extraordinary leader.
Gene Hammett: I remember some people yeah. Talking about it, they thought that the performance tracking and really big brother-ish kind of software would really blow up because people, more people working from home this past year. And I was really saying in the back of my mind, I hope that doesn’t happen because I hope that leaders learn to truly empower people. And so it looks like you’ve had to think about that and process that for yourself and say, you know what is the real thing is to empower them, not to look over their shoulder. Alex, I want to wrap this up with one more quick question for you.
You know, what’s one of the biggest mistakes you’ve made in building a team and creating. This kind of culture do you want, that you could share with us today? ,
Alex Parker: I would say kind of going in that direction that, that I just told you about with a kind of, you know, we did a lot of clocking in and clocking out and stuff like that. And just to clarify, going really quickly back on your last question, we do have a lot of key performance indicators that we do measure, but they’re going to be larger ones. Right. So if you’re an acquisitions manager, you know, how many properties did you purchase? You know, last year, For the project manager, you know, you’d be, come in on budget below over, you know, what was the timeframe for a completed project.
And so we’re measuring the results, but not necessarily the inputs. Right? So rather than saying, looking at the computer and saying, Hey, I’m measuring the, you know, you’re getting efficiency on your computer and, you know, making sure you don’t go on Facebook and stuff like that. , it’s like, I don’t care. I don’t care. You know, when you clock in or clock out, I’m going to give you the freedom to do whatever you want and manage your own time and you are the end results we’re going to get. And so, you know, I definitely do care about the end results and something that we have to hit, but not micromanaging and like kind of looking over the shoulder to get there.
And I think, you know, when I first started out, one of my biggest mistakes was not correctly measuring things. You know, we had our QuickBooks and stuff like that, but things would get out of whack and we’re not getting, you know, No perfect data. Every single time, we’re not getting updated data and you really need those KPIs and indicators that kind of see where you are and what knobs and levers you need to like pull in the business in order to get back on track for your goals. Right? So if you’re off your goals, you want to know that as soon as possible, so you can make adjustments to get back on. And one of my biggest mistakes was not making that a major focus. I think when I first heard.
Gene Hammett: I love that you share that with us. I mean, I know mistakes are something we’ve all had to deal with as leadership. I went through this, so I’m not immune. I didn’t know everything. In fact, I, I made a lot of mistakes and that’s one reason why I do what I do today. And it’s one reason why I have people that are like you on the show too, to see their perspective of leadership and culture. So Alex, thank you so much.
Alex Parker: Hey, thank you so much for having me here.
Gene Hammett: I want to wrap up just a little bit of what you’ve heard today. What we talked about was the importance of core values. Now, a lot of people just like Alex said, was, is this silly? Is this a one-time project? And then we just, you know, move on and get the work done if you do it right. Values are something that guides people when you’re not in the room. So if you’re not sitting with a client, if you’re not, you know, right across the desk with them every time or in the meeting, they will look at that and say, oh, you know what? We have no excuses, I’m going to make sure I don’t make an excuse here.
We’re going to talk about how we’re going to solve the problem. As an example, what we also looked at was, you know, creating space for people to grow as individuals and creating that and rewarding them and having these conversations. I love this book review idea. So hopefully you’re picking up on some details that you can incorporate inside your own culture to keep it growing and keep your leadership on track. If you want to, you know, check out some of the things we have around fast growth leaders gathering together, learning from you. We have something at fastgrowthboardroom.com. If you want to be a better leader, be an extraordinary leader, and want to evolve beyond where you are today. Check out fastgrowthboardroom.com.
It may be just a solution for you. We get together. We do some fun stuff. like raising Porsche but we also really grow as people and as leaders. So check out fastgrowthboardroom.com. When you think about growth and you think about leadership, think of Growth Think Tank as always lead with courage. We’ll see you next time.
Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.
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