Where did the idea for your company come from?
I worked for nearly 20 years in real estate as a syndicator and a sponsor. I used my networking skills to lead the development and raising over $500 million worth of real estate assets.
Through these deals I realized the traditional ways of raising money for real estate projects were archaic and excluded the everyday investor. I watched the rich get richer, and always wondered how I could include the everyday investor into these incredible investments.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I try to strike a healthy balance between time for self, family, and work. I set aside time outside work hours to hang out with my wife and kids and I make sure I have time for my CrossFit workouts. At work, I make sure I am using my time efficiently and spending time on the things that will move the needle. Setting up processes and empowering the team to make decisions frees me up to focus on big picture stuff.
I see people talk about the “5 a.m. club” but I’m the type of person who goes to bed at midnight or 1 a.m. I am most productive when the kids are in bed and I have some time to strategize for the day ahead.
How do you bring ideas to life?
People always talk about ABC’s of closing. When it comes to ideas, I go by the “CBA” rule: conceive, believe, achieve. I’m an idea machine– I’m lucky enough that my mind is wired to come up with ideas nonstop. But experience has taught me to turn ideas into action plans and more importantly, to be able to decide which ideas to take action on.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The rise of purpose-driven brands. Consumers are becoming more engaged with brands that connect with them on a deeper level. It becomes more important now to talk about a company’s mission and for brands to “walk the talk”.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I am a heavy reader. I have a full library in the office and at home and I’m constantly on the lookout for interesting reading material. There’s a wealth of knowledge out there and I read to gather new ideas that I can apply to DiversyFund.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Stay hungry, never give up! Don’t lose sight of why you’re doing what you’re doing or the goals you aim to achieve. The road won’t be smooth but it’s up to you to persevere.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
A lot of people think that a CEO should be highly involved in the day to day work. But I believe that you can’t scale if the leaders do everything. To be successful, you have to be a master of delegation. Hire for production vs. potential — add skills that are missing in your business to move the needle quickly. In a startup, you don’t have the luxury of time to to grow, you need to do what it takes and hire the people who have done it before.
People also always say that one needs to be data driven, and though I wholeheartedly agree, I do think that you have to trust your gut. As a CEO, I am ultimately the main decision maker. Sometimes, you just have to trust your gut.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Fail. If you’re not trying and failing, then you are not learning. I learned a lot on this road to success through failing but I never gave up. I never let go of the vision or my goals. That is important for people to remember — don’t lose sight of why you’re doing what you’re doing or the goals you aim to achieve. The road won’t be smooth but it’s up to you to persevere.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
There is a quote I heard from Bill Belichick that he said he learned about building a business, and it goes something like this: “Organization of Building a good Business. Define Expectations for people in your Organization so that they know exactly what to expect and what you expect from them so they can do their job well.”
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
You can’t be a successful entrepreneur if you don’t fail. That said, I’ve failed multiple times! One of the most recent failures is on hiring and using headhunter firms. We’ve made some hiring mistakes and learned from them. One of the most important things in a company is finding the right person– vetting for the right culture fit is just as important as skill and that’s where I feel a lot of outsourced talent firms can fall short. Now, we do all of our hiring in-house and we’ve put together a system where we ask the right questions to ensure we have the right people on board.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Every weekend, I spend some time with my girls–we get ice cream or some other treat, and we do a fun activity with them. I would say the best money I spend is on activities with my family. You always have to remember what all the hard work is for!
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Napoleon Hill’s The Law of Success. Like I said, I am a heavy reader and I have a ton of favorite books. But this particular book has withstood the test of time
What is your favorite quote?
“Success is the ability to move from one failure to another without loss of enthusiasm.”
Key learnings: Write up 3-5 bullet points recapping the key lesson from your interview.
Learn more about Craig Cecilio and DiversyFund by visiting the site: https://diversyfund.com