“5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became the CEO of PropertyForce”, With Oliver Seidler

“Get a business coach” — I found a business coach who was able to look at my situation and give me an outside perspective of the business to scale it up. With this fresh pair of eyes, I was able to “zoom-out” and focus on what I wanted in my professional life. Having constant coaching allowed me […]

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“Get a business coach” — I found a business coach who was able to look at my situation and give me an outside perspective of the business to scale it up. With this fresh pair of eyes, I was able to “zoom-out” and focus on what I wanted in my professional life. Having constant coaching allowed me to make several short-term changes that would positively affect the company -and my life- in the long-term. Before having a coach, I feel I did not have a way to fully work through my thoughts and adequately put them down “on paper” to convey them to the rest of my team.

I had the pleasure to interview Oliver Seidler. Oliver is the CEO of PropertyForce, a fast-growing marketing, sales, and technology company that assists investors in finding residential investment properties. Oliver founded the company in 2006 as Meridian Trust Investments, a local firm headquartered in South Florida. The company prevailed through the real estate market crash of 2007–8 and in 2009 began its expansion into four other major cities throughout the state of Florida. This steady growth continued, but Oliver realized he could not accomplish the true vision of the company through physical locations scattered throughout various markets. In 2015 Meridian Trust Investments rebranded as PropertyForce. Taking on a new identity and strategy, Oliver ensured PropertyForce leveraged the use of technology to allow expansion throughout the country from one single location. In 2017, Seidler extended PropertyForce’s reach to Georgia and in 2019, has set plans in motion to add another state later in the year, with three more states to be added in 2020. Seidler’s vision for a national company is consistent with the success he has experienced on a local and regional level. Having worked through up and down markets, skills in marketing, sales and technology, and comprehensive knowledge of real estate investment opportunities and ROI, he offers significant value to investors and employees. In addition to his core business, PropertyForce, Seidler mentors’ young businessmen and women and invests in startups. He provides local service work designed to make a positive difference in the community and currently works with Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Seidler has a master’s degree in Entrepreneurship from “The Birthing of Giants” program at MIT. He is also a part of The Genius Network program and has completed the Bell Leadership Academy program. He has been a member of the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) since 2009.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?

When I was growing up, or in college, I never thought about having a career in real estate. I graduated from college with a degree in International Relations, which wasn’t that useful to me, so I was working as a waiter at a few different restaurants. I wanted to get into another industry, as I couldn’t see myself waiting on tables for the rest of my life. Then, a friend of mine introduced to the industry; he was working for a real estate company that was looking for agents — they specialized in wholesale real estate, sourcing low-income housing to flip and rent or resell. I applied to the position with no experience, but with a positive attitude and a drive to succeed. Within the first year, I became a top performer, and that is how I found my passion for the industry. Closing deals, and the speed in which this happens, is thrilling and exhilarating to me and makes real estate fun!

Can you share one of the major challenges you encountered when first leading the company? What lesson did you learn from that?

In 2006, the company I was working for at the time did not operate in the most ethical way, so I decided to start my own business. I identified wholesale real estate as a niche in which I could succeed. Just a year after I ventured off on my own, the subprime market crash started. It was a scary time, but my business partner and I did not want to fail; we had started something, and we were committed to seeing it until the end, no matter what. What kept me going was my belief that there would be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The thought of failure was the worst thing in the world to me. So, I had to get creative, put my head down, and work through any obstacles in my way. What I learned was that, no matter what, I always have to push through and keep a positive headspace. Moreover, at the time, I had a business partner, which taught me that it is beneficial to have someone to rely on so you can “piggyback” off their energy.

What are some of the factors that you believe led to your eventual success?

One of the main factors that had led me to succeed is perseverance — to prevail, you must have grit and be resilient. I have had clear goals in mind, so I focused on a niche and never deviated or got side-tracked by venturing off into different legs of real estate.

Another crucial factor that led to success has been to constantly look for business coaching to continue learning and growing as a professional and a leader. In terms of my company’s success, the key factor has been building a robust culture and ensuring that every member of the team understands and lives it every day they are in the office.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO”? Please share a story or example for each.

“Get a business coach” — I found a business coach who was able to look at my situation and give me an outside perspective of the business to scale it up. With this fresh pair of eyes, I was able to “zoom-out” and focus on what I wanted in my professional life. Having constant coaching allowed me to make several short-term changes that would positively affect the company -and my life- in the long-term. Before having a coach, I feel I did not have a way to fully work through my thoughts and adequately put them down “on paper” to convey them to the rest of my team.

“Only hire the best people; never settle for mediocrity” — After a couple of hiring fiascos, I found out that it was better to hire the best people, even if it cost a little bit more. These professionals should be highly specialized in their craft so they can positively impact the company. I discovered this practice was more effective in the long-run. In the past, we sometimes had to hold the person’s hand and tell them what to do on a day-to-day basis. Hiring an expert who can come in, understand the vision and goals, and tell you what he or she will do to get there is the right thing to do. My litmus test is now: The candidate is the right one if: 
 a) I am devastated if the candidate turns down the job offer
 b) I would take them back in a heartbeat if they ever left the company
 c) I never questioned if this was the right person

“Tell good people what to do, not how to do it. They will help you get your vision crystal clear” — Continuing the previous thought, I learned (the hard way) to let the right professionals do their job. I brought highly-trained experts to help me run different parts of the business, but I kept telling them what to do. I learned that, if I’m bringing people that can take ownership of their positions, identify, and solve issues on their own. If they truly have “KASH” (Knowledge, Attitude, Skills, Habits), I should let them do their job and support them. This has allowed me to elevate and orchestrate the entire company. I have people in the right positions, and they understand my vision for the company and help me polish it, making it crystal clear through their expertise.

“Don’t make decisions in a vacuum — know your numbers for the long-term and short-term decisions will be a breeze” — I used to make decisions that felt right for the business, but through the years, I have learned that those decisions might not always be right at one specific time. Any CEO should know their company’s numbers, always keeping an eye on the levers to know which ones to pull and when. You have to know the current financial situation of your company while keeping future goals in mind. Doing this will help you understand where the business is going, and it makes short- and long-term decision-making much more straightforward. Once I decided that I wanted the company to double, I built projected profit and loss statements so I could plan expansion from the current state.

“Keep a balanced personal life. Remember that you are human, not a machine” — If you do not have your personal life figured out, your business will suffer. Whenever I tried to push through a tough time in the business, I wouldn’t sleep enough or didn’t exercise enough. I felt like I was giving something up in my personal life. A psychologist once told me that there are four pillars to being a successful CEO: eating healthy, sleeping 7–9 hours each day, working out, and socializing. She also mentioned a fifth pillar: to get “close and personal” with your “special friend,” if you know what I mean. I have always kept these pillars in mind. However, last year I traveled through Europe and I wasn’t exercising or sleeping well, so when I returned, I couldn’t find the right balance in the company. I recalibrated and got back into both habits, and it has made me much better in my professional life. Since then, I learned that I must stay consistent in my personal life to thrive as a professional and continue inspiring my team to succeed.

What advice would you give to your colleagues to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Taking vacations is important. You have to operate in “the sweet spot.” When you’re at work, work hard, but when you’re off, then it’s time to relax and reset. Also, trust the people you’ve put in place to help you run the company because they have your back; you don’t have to do it alone.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

My dad has been very supportive and a great sounding board since before I started PropertyForce. At times, I had doubts about the business, especially during the market crash, and he has been there for me every step of the way. I remember going out to lunch with him during the financial collapse; I had saved enough money, and I was wondering if I should walk away to avoid the hurdles of the market crash. After talking to my dad, he told me to push through and not to give up — to stay focused and succeed. It turned out to be the right thing to do, and I am so thankful for his support and words of wisdom. Beyond any business or personal coach, he has given me sound advice throughout my career.

What are some of the goals you still have and are working to accomplish, both personally and professionally?

At PropertyForce, we have built a truly fantastic system for wholesale real estate deals, but we have not scaled it up to the level we want to achieve. Professionally, I want to elevate my leadership and have people in every function of the business who are running the day to day operations. I want to have a balance of my personal and work lives. I love to travel, and I love to work, but I need to find the right balance. Eventually, I would like to invest in other small businesses and mentor other entrepreneurs, as Marcus Lemonis does. I feel this would be my way of paying it forward because I have had great mentors in my entrepreneurial career.

What do you hope to leave as your lasting legacy?

If I can leave any legacy of my time on earth, it would be to help those “C-student” types of people realize they can grow into incredibly successful people and get ahead in life. I want to ensure they don’t feel beat down by the world and like they cannot thrive. This is the main reason why we structure our internal growth plans at PropertyForce to help our employees and agents grow into the best professionals they can be.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would enhance people’s lives in some way, what would it be? You never know what your idea can trigger!

PropertyForce has already started this movement of helping people with hidden talent thrive and succeed in business. We strive to better the lives of our team and make people know that “renegades” can also be successful!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can follow me on Instagram @olitally, or my company @property.force.

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