Christ-centered leaders inspire and encourage their followers to live according to compassion, humility, honesty, and selflessness. They prioritize building positive relationships and promoting a sense of community and strive to create a workplace or organization that is guided by Christian values.
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In this new episode, Life Bridge Management CEO Sutton Turner teaches us about leading with a sense of purpose and meaning that goes beyond individual gain and seeks to positively impact the world.
Key Points From This Episode:
- How did he get to lead teams in the Middle East?
- What transitions did he experience while working in Arab countries?
- What lessons did he learn from building a management company in the Middle East?
- What is the most important thing for him when leading a company?
- Why did he build Life Bridge Management?
- What are some of the most important metrics that he tracks?
- How does he give back to the community?
“To build a culture based on love, which is based on grace, is one of the greatest opportunities that I have at age 53.”
“We try our best to build a healthy culture in the property management business.”
“What you guys started at Life Bridge Capital is a culture of love. And now we’re just going to transfer that down, or organization because we love one another.”
“When you have third-party management companies that are on a 30-day cancelable contract, there’s no transparency because of fear of losing their job as the property manager. They’re not going to be 100% transparent with you.”
“For us to have a culture of love from the very, very top of Life Bridge Capital all the way down to the border at one of our properties in Colorado Springs, the only way to do that is to take over your own management company.”
“And because you trust me, and we built that trust up, it’s not like I’m not going to make mistakes. I’m going to make mistakes, actually. But I’m going to tell you my mistakes.”
“I’m trying to give you guys perfect information so that you’re able to make the very best investment decision possible.”
“The longer that people are able to stay a part of our management company, love our culture, know our systems and processes, and be able to answer the question before it’s even asked…these are critical for me.”
“There might be some shortcuts that we’re having to avoid and take the long way to invest in someone to develop someone. But in the long run, we’re going to be so far, so much farther ahead.”
“I want to know how much money we put in the bank. And I want it broken down into two categories: how much rent revenue we put in the bank, and how much other income we put in the bank.”
“Collecting money takes so much effort by a property manager.”
If I can be used by the Lord to help one person out of those 26 every time I teach, it’s well worth the investment.”
“You never know what the Lord might do with those types of relationships. And so I just offer that energy and effort towards that allow the Lord to do what he might do.”
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
About Sutton Turner
Sutton Turner is the CEO of Life Bridge Management. He has 30 years of experience in real estate, property management, and C-level roles. Sutton created and led the Wentwood Companies with his brother in 1997, which managed 36 apartment communities across 13 states with over 300 employees. In 2008, Sutton was asked by a major developer (Sorouh/Aldar) in Abu Dhabi to build a property management company called Khidmah (meaning “service” in Arabic). As CEO, Sutton created the first full-service real estate management company in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with $600 million in assets and $1.8 billion under development. A critical element of Khidmah’s success was the recruitment of skilled workers and professionals from the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Egypt, and Syria.
After establishing this management company in Abu Dhabi, Sutton moved on to Doha, Qatar, where he reorganized Qatar’s property management company, Waseef, as CEO.
Sutton has had two tenures in full-time ministry with Celebration Church (2006-2007) and Mars Hill Church (2011-2014). He is very grateful for the growth through both of these ministry experiences.
Sutton Turner (ST): And so to build a culture based on love, which is based on grace, right, and so, to me, this is one of the greatest opportunities that I have at age 53. To try our best to build a healthy culture, in the property management business, I think it’s rare. It’s kind of one of those things like sanctification, we want to be like Jesus, and we’re going to spend all of our life trying to grow in our sanctification. We’re never gonna get there, we’re never perfect, there’s one Jesus, all the rest of us are sinners. So to me, it’s the culture. I don’t think we’ll ever get there. But it’s just gonna be this pursuit that we have to build a really healthy culture of love and grace.
Whitney Sewell (WS): Sutton Turner, welcome to the show. honored to have you. I’m excited about the conversation, really excited for the listeners to get to learn from you, your experience — it’s very unique. I just think the Lord has used you in so many ways, across your just years of experience, and I’m looking forward to diving in. So welcome.
ST: Thanks. I appreciate it. It’s good to be here.
WS: Yeah, awesome. Well, you know, I know I shared this a little bit beforehand with listeners about you and your role as CEO of Life Bridge Management, you know, in our partnership there, you know, give the listeners a little more about your background. And we’re gonna dive into a few of those things. Because I know there’s so many lessons that I want them to learn from you, but man, it filled them in a little bit.
ST: Yeah, it goes back to middle 90s. Graduated from MBA school at SMU, and between my first and second year of MBA school, my brother and I started a management company, bought 10,000 units over a two-year period of time, and then took a portion of those, started a management company. And he and I started what was called Wentwood, he still runs Wentwood today. We worked together for 10 years. And then really, over the last 30 years, so to speak, I have done property management, or some type of real estate management, and full time ministry and property management, full time ministry, and it’s just back and forth. And the Lord continues to do that.
And when we had the opportunity to team up together, this will be my fourth property management company that we started, what was seven months ago at Life Bridge Management, started the company with my brother, fast forward 2008. I went to Abu Dhabi, and started a property management company there. It’s called Khidmah, which means service in Arabic. And then after setting that management company up, the Qatar government hired me to totally redo their property management company called BARWA. Waseef was the property management company there.
And then I left there, went back into full-time ministry, as an executive pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. And then after Mars Hill Church closed, went back into real estate, and then you know, it’s just been back and forth, back and forth. I’m very thankful the Lord has continued to grow me during all these different experiences.
WS: It’s incredible. And I want to make sure the listeners understand that Abu Dhabi is not a small town in Texas.
ST: No, It’s a Sharia law company, and a Sharia law country. It was by far the greatest ministry experience I’ve ever had the opportunity to be in. And literally many, many, many people would come up to me and go, you’re the first Christian I’ve ever met. Can I ask you some questions, and just amazing, amazing ministry opportunity in a country that if I get caught proselytizing, or evangelizing the gospel, they throw me in jail, they tear up my visa, they put me in jail and kicked my family out of the country immediately. So it’s not something that you do lightly. But it was an amazing experience both.
When I went to Qatar I had that opportunity. My chairman was the Prime Minister of Qatar at the time. Just an amazing, powerful man. Both of those opportunities were Arab board of directors that reported to both of these were public companies. So it’s just, I mean, it was just incredible. It was so much learning and growing during that time when you’re halfway around the world. You see, like we would go on spring break. We went to China one time and I mean, you would visit things that are too far for America.
And it was an incredible, growing experience for my two girls at that time, we adopted a son from Ethiopia based on some of our experiences that we had had there. So it’s a life-changing life transformation, and an incredible ministry opportunity.
WS: Well I’ve that I appreciate you sharing. And just the opportunity that you see it as so much you learned? Well, you know, I would say not many listeners, including myself, you know, have like, thought about, hmm, maybe I could go do something in Abu Dhabi, you know, or like, how did that come up that maybe maybe I can do a property management company in Abu Dhabi, like what did that transition look like as far as like, even to seeing an opportunity there, and then pursuing it?
ST: After working with my brother for 10 years, I really wanted to change and do something different. I became pastor of a church in Georgetown, Texas, and went back to school, and so got my third master’s degree at Harvard University, and at the Harvard Business School, and in my cohort class, there were 51% of our class was from outside of the United States. I met somebody from Abu Dhabi at the time, I had no idea where Abu Dhabi was.
And I really felt the urge, and wanting to go international, we had little kids, it was gonna be easy for time-wise in our marriage and our family for us to move overseas and my wife. One time after coming back from Massachusetts, in Boston, she said, as long as we don’t go to the Middle East, I’ll go anywhere. And so as soon as she said, it was like a grant, we’re gonna go to the Middle East. And so one thing led to another.
The Lord’s very good to me, he gives me one door, he never gives me option one, option two, option three, he just opens one door, I just walked through. I mean, maybe I’m a simple guy. And he can’t confuse the things but that was the one door that went over there thinking it was going to be a consulting role, that His Excellency actually interviewed me directly. And then he stood up and said, Well, it goes to can you do what you did in the United States here? And I was like, Sure. And I was thinking, consulting, he goes,
Okay, go down the hall, talk to Muhammad, and you will be my CEO, I need you to start in two weeks, and literally left. That was our negotiation, like, okay, so I went down the hall to Muhammad. And I told him what had happened. He said, did his Excellency tell you how much salary to pay you? And I said, No, I have no idea. And he goes, and I had done my research, thank goodness. And I gave him a number. And that was the number I was hired at. So just things are different in the Middle East.
And it was an amazing ride. We hired over 600 people that first year. I got an opportunity to go to the Philippines, so many different places in India, and I physically went to those places to hire our workers. It was really important to me to cut the middleman out. There’s a lot of really bad employee hiring practices that happened in the Middle East. And I went there, I went to Nepal, I went to Bangladesh, I looked at the people. There were times that people would translate for me. And I would say do not do all the employees.
So we’d have we’d go to someplace like Dhaka, Bangladesh. And I would tell we’d have been hiring like 50 people. And I would say, if they don’t have at the time I had a headless shirt on, if they don’t have this shirt on, don’t pay them any money. Like, because there were so many things that people would do to make them pay to be able to do it. I’m like, no, no, no, we’re gonna pay these people for the service they provided today, you pay no one so that you can send money back to your family that needs it.
And then that was really honestly a part of my ministry there. Because so many people were like, Why are you going to all this? And I was like, because these people are created in the image and likeness of Jesus Christ. And I want to serve and love them, I have no more worse than they do. And so I’m going to do everything they can, that I can, in my role to make sure that they’re able to really change their family’s direction by having this job in the Middle East.
WS: Wow, there’s so many things there that we can unpack or talk about. I mean, you learned so many lessons from that I’ve no, I No doubt, even hiring 600 People in the first year. I don’t, I don’t know anybody that’s ever done that. But you know, that’s that one thing, much less in a culture that’s not like you just, you know, move to Ohio.
But you know, like, like, you move to a different culture that you know. You are an absolute outsider, you know, in every aspect of the term, you know, and you had to create a business there. or that man from scratch, right and hiring 600 people. Give us maybe a couple of lessons learned from having to hire 600 people ,a couple of ways that you streamline that process to be able to do that.
ST: Well, first of all, it wasn’t just me. I had the most amazing team. His Excellency allowed me to go out and hire all of my lead team, before we hired anybody else. So I hired my COO, who was my long term friend from the United States. Oh, yeah, Director of Facility Management from Australia. I mean, I literally could hire anybody from any place in the world, and hire the very best. And I did, and then brought that team in. And then we went and hired so it was not just me. And then there were a couple of people.
Elias was one of the guys that was super and he was from India, super knew a whole lot about workers and hiring workers. And then we just met, we pulled a map out. And we just said, Okay, where can we hire English-speaking maintenance guys? Okay, we can hire that from Cebu City, Philippines. Where can we hire Arabic-speaking maintenance guys?
Okay, we can hire that from Cairo, Egypt. And I mean, literally, we would go around the world and figure out Dhaka was where we hired all of our gardeners and landscape people, that they had a training facility in Nepal, that trains security guards. And so literally, you just like all my call center, people came from Manila that spoke English. And then we had two other places that we hired for Arabic. So I mean, literally just go around the world and say, Okay, how many do we need this and this, and I knew the number of properties that we were going to be taking in launching with, and they gave me a blank check. So we went out and, you know, pretty much did it like you would want to in one of those things.
I mean, I was there for two years, and then handed it off to my Deputy CEO, who was Emirati. Both places wanted me to hire somebody, and train them to be the CEO, which was amazing. Both of those two people were my friends, taught me so much about Islam, taught me so much about the world. And then I taught them. Okay, how do you run a board meeting? How do you hire? How do you terminate? I had done all of that in the past. So I was teaching both those guys and it was a great experience for them. And then, actually, when I first moved over there, my wife didn’t want to move in the summertime.
So I moved in, say, three months. And the guy that I handed the company over to [incomprehensible], and lived in his house, and he was a Muslim. And he taught me everything. I mean, like literally, I would go and hang out with him, we would go eat any food, I would go to these places that normal Christian Americans would not go to but I was so inquisitive, and wanting to learn wanting to really understand the culture and very respectful and he just kind of opened the door there were many times. I went to funerals and went to Islamic funerals where only men go, I was the only person in a suit. Everybody else was dressed in their [incomprehensible], just amazing experiences that I’ll take with me for the rest of my life.
WS: No doubt about it. There’s so much man Oh, we could dive into but for time’s sake, give us the top one two lessons that you learned from that experience starting a management company in the Middle East that you even apply today.
ST: It’s all about building a team that their strengths cover other people’s weaknesses on the team, and they value each other on the team. So I had, in both places, the most amazing leadership team kind of similar to what we have in life bridge management, to where everyone has a role. They appreciate other people’s role on that team. They value what the other person can bring to the team.
And then in that environment, there’s so much fear, so much fear in the Middle East. And to be frank at Mars Hill with [incomprehensible], there was so much fear. And so this opportunity that we have with Life Bridge Management, I wanted to go hard after love, after building a healthy culture and to just fight fear wherever I saw it, because it was such a fearful environment. You don’t just lose your job in the Middle East, your family has to immediately move and your kids have to leave school. I mean it’s in.
So it’s such a fearful environment they fear. So as we’ve set up Life Bridge Management, I’ve wanted to do everything that we could to remove fear, replace it with love, love one another do unto one another, and a love our core values, where we really place a lot of value in humility, and ownership, grit, but more importantly, joyfulness. And so a company or culture that has joyfulness man, you never saw that in the Middle East, they’re just so little joy, because they’re so worried about good deeds versus bad deeds.
And they’re so worried about how many times you know, making, making it to five times and worship and doing all the things that they need to do. So much is work-based. And so to build a culture based on love, which is based on grace, right, and so, to me, this is one of the greatest opportunities that I have at age 53. To try our best to build a healthy culture and the property management business.
I think it’s it’s rare, it’s kind of one of those things like, like sanctification, we want to be like Jesus, and we’re going to spend all of our life trying to grow in our sanctification to be we’re never gonna get there, we’re never perfect, there’s one Jesus, all the rest of us are sinners. So to me, it’s the culture. I don’t think that we’ll ever get there. But it’s just going to be this pursuit that we have to build a really healthy culture of love and grace.
WS: Yeah, no, I love that. And I just hope the listeners here hear that from you. And even from just Life Bridge, in general, just how I was focused on our core values, we love our people from the top to the bottom. And I hope it shows, right and it just, I hope it comes out and everything that we do and–
ST: Well Whitney, the most important thing to establish that is that I love you. I love Sam, Sam loves me and my family there is at the very top of LifeBridge is there’s three guys that love each other and want each other to grow in Christ. I mean, like, Yeah, and so you can do that, because I’ve worked in organizations to where the top doesn’t set the example for the rest of the organization. But what you guys started that I got a chance to join, add that culture of love in there. And now we’re just going to transfer that down organization, because we love one another.
WS: I’ll share a little story, you know, we were at was it a year ago, a little over a year ago, you know, Sam and I were like, man, we got to hire an asset manager. And know that we have got to get like we couldn’t keep up. Sam was, you know, just doing too much on the asset management side too. And looking for deals and, and some of that, okay, we got to hire an asset manager. So we put a post out to the network and a mutual friend who connected me to Sutton introduced us, you know, said, Hey, this guy may be a great fit for you all. And so reached out to Sutton. And I remember connecting with the amount of first and maybe just, you know, just like a 30-minute call together to say, hey, you know, this is what we’re looking for, are you really kind of thing and getting to know each other.
And then afterwards, I remember talking to Sam and thinking, hey, there’s no reason this guy’s gonna work for us. There’s just no reason he’s gonna, he’s gonna work for like, he could go work for anybody. He’s, there’s no reason he’s, you know, but we need to figure this out and see if it’s actually going to happen or not. So anyway, I just say that saving, you know, even as the listeners here, I mean, just the experience level that set in had. So wow, what an asset to our team that I have no doubt that he would be a great cultural fit.
It was just a no brainer, but I really thought he’s out of our league. You know, it’s not a type of thing. But man, the Lord really shone through that. But even then, we had no idea at that time that we were going to be standing up our own management company. And I knew he even expressed, hey, I’m not even interested in starting a company. But he was interested in that.
ST: And if you see, that’s where the Lord is so good, because he knows that if you come to me and say, Hey, I really want to start doing that. Now. I’ve done that three times. I don’t want to do it a fourth time. It’s too hard. And the Lord knows. Okay, yeah, that’s it, man. I’m like anybody do Asset Management. Like it’s not very hard. Okay, I can do that. But I mean, like, the Lord knew like, Okay, I’m gonna get him in the door this way. And then we’re gonna do this other and so the Lord is so good. He knows us so well. Many times I just laugh.
WS: No doubt he knew what we needed it long before we ever knew, right?
ST: Bait my hook. I mean, okay, get something to move.
WS: So all I’d say man, you know, we had no idea at that time that we were going to be moving in, you know, the property management business and needing that in house, obviously, lots of things happen. There’s like, Okay, this is like, we don’t really have a choice, like this has got to happen. Suddenly, let’s kind of shift gears a little bit, you came in as asset manager, and with no doubt, you know, experience starting management companies, and all of a sudden, obviously, we needed that, right. And in a big way it was the writing was on the wall for us, we said, Okay, we’re having these issues.
And, and actually, I want to back up a little more, because even hiring you with your experience, you know, coming in as an asset manager, I think, ultimately, what you did for Sam, at that time was like, you know, there were like, blinders that came off, you were revealing things within our properties. And within the management company that we, you know, we were using at the time, it’s like, okay, we thought we were doing better than we were, you know, and so all of a sudden, we started our IRA, we start pushing on the management company, and we cared about them, and we’re like, okay, but we can see in efficiencies, let’s help you all improve, let’s push a little bit. And that didn’t go so well.
And so all of a sudden, we’re like, Okay, now that we know these things, we got to do something about it, right. And not only for our investors, for our team, you know, all across the board, I want you to share a little bit about about this, you’ll remember it better than I even for sure that we set a timeline, you know, it’s like, okay, within four to six months, we better be willing or able to have our own management company operating. And then all of a sudden, we got like, 30 days. So share a little bit of that transition for, you know, just for life bridge from your seat, you know, you were the asset manager, then all of a sudden, it’s like, Okay, we’re gonna be going back into the management world, you know, and we’re gonna make this happen. Yeah,
ST: I think the biggest thing, Whitney, is when you have third-party management companies that are on a 30-day cancelable contract. There’s no transparency, there’s not because they’re worried. And again, fear, fear of losing their job as the property manager, they’re not going to be 100% transparent with you. So me coming in, I saw some of the issues that were on the properties and some of the issues as far as just reporting and those types of things to where you could see the true thing.
And you never make money in property management. It’s not, it’s not profitable. So the only reason you’re gonna go through the pain. And the difficulty in setting it up is transparency. And for us to have a culture of love from the very, very top of Life Bridge Capital all the way down to the border at one of our properties in Colorado Springs. And the only way to do that is to take over your own management company. And so that’s where we decided we also wanted to make sure that we set up a management company that was super flexible. And I can say this, we have 1,600 units, we can take over another 1,600 units, in 90 days. Most management companies can’t. Why?
Because we’re 100% remote, we have not spent any money on a real office. I think we pay $1,800 a month right now for a little bit of office space for me, my wife and I, who is our CFO, who is the best thing that’s ever happened to Life Bridge Management. She’s a CPA, worked with me in the past for 10 years. And it’s just a super sharp shooter. But we’ve set up an office in the Philippines, super expandable, that’s based upon someone that I used to work with when I was in Abu Dhabi. And we’ve leveraged that, and we’re growing that but we can literally take over, we outsource our accounting side to SmartSource Accounting, so that if we call them up and said 90 days, we’re going to have 1,600 more years, we could do it, we could take over that. We’re super flexible. Also, we’re flexible on selling. And that’s the key.
Property management companies that are third-party don’t like you to sell your property, they don’t want you to sell their property because they’re gonna lose that management say, Okay, I’m the opposite, because we’re in-house and I’m fine. Like, it doesn’t matter if we expand or contract because we’re not doing this to make money. If you’re in the property management business, you’re doing it to make money. And I think it’s important for there’s a lot of people that were out, we’d never do property management, it would distract us from the investment side. And I say, actually, I’m hopefully freeing up Sam, and Luke and the team to be able to do investor relations, so that you guys aren’t having to worry about the property management side of things.
And you guys are able to focus on what you want to do and because you trust me, and we built that trust up, it’s not like I’m not going to make mistakes. I’m going to make mistakes, actually, but I’m going to tell you my mistakes because I have no fear that you’re going to fire me. And so it’s that culture that Is the reason we went through it. And it was, it was so fast, we took over all those properties, we got an additional 30 days. So within 60 days, we went from not planning on being in the property management business for at least six or eight months to holy cow, we’re going to take over 1,600 units or almost 1,600 in 60 days. Thank goodness my wife joined, which was the key, key, key because she and I are totally opposites. We complement each other totally. We’re the basis of our management team at Life Bridge Management.
WS: Yeah, and hired how many people in that amount of time 30-40 people?
ST: Yes, we’re now 50, seven months later. So we’ve had quite a bit and we could go 100. I mean, we are so set up now to be expandable to grow with what LifeBridge wants to grow like for us to take over the properties that we’re looking at right now, I don’t want to name them. But the properties that we’re looking at right now are super easy for us to do. And I can take over a portfolio, I already have somebody that can be my regional already in our system, so I’m ready to go. So even though we’re small, from a property management side, we’re super flexible, because of the way that we set things up.
WS: Love it, and we couldn’t have done it without all the experience, you had to know. Like, I guess it’s just incredible, again, how the Lord just prepared us, prepared you and our team to grow in this manner. And to be flexible like that. I don’t think that’s common. Right. You know, speak to maybe in your in your role now, you know, as we look at new projects, as you know, from the CEO of the management companies seat, you know, maybe you speak to a couple of ways, you know, you think through as people are concerned about the economy are concerned about potential downturn, what do you like to see, you know, as far as saying, okay, when you say, this is the deal that I feel really good about, even in a potential downturn, or maybe you see, you want this kind of reserves, or you want this kind of business plan, or maybe I don’t know, just kind of elaborate a little bit from your seat, what that looks like, from the property management side in a deal that you feel just confident and safe from day one.
ST: I think it has a lot to do with the physical asset. So if this is a 1970s type of property, what’s the situation with the boilers? And what could be on down the road? There’s very little that I haven’t seen on the property management side. So yes, physical assets, other markets, like one of the markets that we’re looking at right now, and we’re building towards, it’s just a phenomenal growth area. Great, great area for growth. And I think it’s a great property, physical assets. So those two things, and then can I hire? I mean, cuz I mean, property management, I’ve said it a million times about property management as people management. It is, yes, we’re in the real estate business.
But really, we’re in the people business, because I can’t run these properties. Marcy, my wife, can’t run these properties. It requires amazing people on site that are dealing with these risks. So can we hire a bright staff to be able to run those properties. So to me if all those three things check out, let’s go. Now, we will have problems, there are properties that we’ve taken over where we didn’t realize some of the things that were there, and you work through those.
But what I like about our situation is that we have transparency. So as soon as I find something out, I’m slacking, you and Sam, or I’m on our Slack channel with our whole company saying, Hey, this is what we’re found, hey, just found this out. Like, I just found this out five minutes ago. And so I’m broadcasting that out so that you all know what’s going on. In a third party management company.
That doesn’t happen, but they’re trying to fix that problem before the owners find out and that’s what I love about us because we’re to me, your awareness because especially when I look at like Sam’s real buy, sell this property, do we hold it for long term, those some of those decisions, I’m giving him complete information real time so that as that thing changes, he knows what’s going on? He knows my biggest worries, my concerns on these properties and so to me, I’m trying to give you guys perfect information so that you’re able to make the very best investment decision possible.
WS: Yeah, no doubt it’s just crucial. It’s a man I just think that’s another way that we’re gonna rise above most right? There is no doubt about it. What do you see Sutton as you know, one of the bigger challenges for say, you know us specifically or Life Bridge Management, you know, coming from the CEO management, CEO seat, and then how we’re tackling that?
ST: Retention. We need to retain these good people that know our system, know our culture, love our culture. So as we sell properties, we might have to relocate a manager. Also, my team in the Philippines, the culture that we’re building there to me is incredibly critical. That loving one another in the Philippines is very critical. Because I can’t lose any of our team that’s there. The longer that people are able to stay a part of our management company, love our culture, know, our systems, know our processes, be able to answer the question before it’s even asked because they’ve, they have some past history, those to me are going to be critical as we grow, to have a property manager today become a regional manager in the future, I want people to see that oh, Life Bridge means that’s a company that I can grow with. And not only that, they’re going to take somebody that may be a leasing agent today, and then as the property manager, and then become a regional manager.
I want to do that and grow with this business. So to me building that in our culture is super important for our future, super important for our future. And there might be some shortcuts that we’re having to avoid and take the long way to invest in someone to develop someone, but in the long run, we’re going to be so far, so much farther ahead.
WS: Yeah, no doubt about it. And we can do that. Because we have somebody like yourself and in house management, right. Yeah. No doubt. All right. Well, shifting gears a little bit sudden, with just a few minutes we have left. What are some of the most important metrics that you track, it could be personally or professionally, I tell people, it could be how many times you get out of bed on time, to your bench press number or, or something, you know, professionally related?
ST: So metrics business-wise, you know this very well, because I share this with you, often I’m big on total dollars collected per month, I don’t care as much about occupancy, I don’t care as much about lease, I want to know how much money we put in the bank. And I want it broken down into two categories. Rental, how much rent revenue we put in the bank, and how much other income we put in the bank.
And then you add those two together, I want to know those three numbers every single month, that’s my biggest sign because collecting money takes so much effort by a property manager. And that to me, that stairstep is that number increasing over time? Because it’s increasing over time, I know their occupancy is probably going up, I know their lease percentage is going up, I don’t have to worry about those numbers. If that number, if money in the bank continues to go, so will economic collections, economic occupancy, a lot of people call it but that’s to me.
Me, personally, I love to exercise, it’s my way of getting stress out. So every morning at 6:15, I go to Orangetheory. I’ve been there since 2018. Coming up on my 1000s class, I need to do at least three weeks, sometimes it’s five a week, you know, and burn 600-700 calories and get after it because at 53, I need to maintain health going forward. I’ve seen a lot of people in their 50s not put forth the effort into what they’re eating or exercising and I’ve got a young son, I’ve got a 12 year old son, I will be 60 years old when he graduates from high school. And I want to be as active as possible. I also want to be a part of LifeBridge management for a long period of time. So those are all the things and I think physical activity is is really important.
WS: No doubt about it. It just speaks to so many other things. But just your drive setting is a very get it done type of guy and very able and able to go make it happen. We’ve just seen it happen so many times over the last year. And obviously just from his story, I just think so many of those things wouldn’t have me hiring 600 people a year, it doesn’t happen by letting the grass grow under your feet, right or just not being confident, you know that you can go make it happen. And so no doubt we saw that in him and said, Hey, that’s what we gotta have on our team, you know, if at all possible. And I said, how do you like to give back?
ST: Oh, wow. So the older I get, the more that I like to dig into that. So it’s really two ways. I teach a class. I live in College Station, Texas, the home of Texas a&m. I’m an Aggie, and I teach three finance slash real estate classes. They all have it on one day when I teach a freshman class on finance. I teach a real estate class for undergraduates and then their masters class. And during those classes, I talk about my story. Talk about being an administrator, talk about real estate. Talk about the Middle East and I open up to anybody that wants to follow up at LinkedIn, etc. And I, many times after having that day, I will have 26 [incomprehensible] coming up over the next two weeks, three weeks. Some of those, there’s a young man that I meet with once a month right now.
I’ve met him since he’s a freshman. He’s graduating in May. We’ve talked about everything from girls to jobs to whatever. I pray with him. I’m very open with my faith. So some people would say that’s discipleship. Some people say that’s mentorship. But that’s the one tangible way the other way. Because I was an executive pastor at Mars Hill Church, with Mark Driscoll, the most amazing downfall of a megachurch, we’ve probably seen in America, I get a lot of people reaching out to me asking questions about how to deal with either church hurt, or they have a disqualifying pastor situation.
And they’ve reached out to me for my insight. Now, I’m not saying I have done poorly in the past and done some decent things along the way. So I’m not perfect in that way. But for some reason, people know my story, not my experience and say, you know, and I never charged them, I just love them. Sometimes I’m just praying with them. But then I might have, well, I responded this way to the media, when that happened at Mars Hill.
And my recommendation would be not to do that, or to do that, or some other way of learning from my past. And so I feel like that’s an ongoing problem, it’s using what God’s done in the past to possibly help somebody. And the one thing I can always do is show empathy towards them, to pray with them, to love them, to encourage them, because many of them don’t know who to turn to, at that moment.
WS: Well, that’s an incredible way to give back. I just have a great deal of respect for that and just loving on young men who probably don’t have somebody like yourself, or that father figure or somebody to mentor them in a big way. So many men were placed in my life during that time period, I can look back and think Man, the Lord placed this guy. I mean, just at the perfect time, right? I needed that guidance, or, or then all of a sudden, it was somebody else that was like another father figure. And then I mean, I can see that so many times. And so I just think that’s incredible that you’re taking the time to focus on that.
ST: So you think about this, when I was a freshman at Texas A&M, a long time ago, early 90s, there was an ame pastor, that was my professor. And he took me to lunch several times, and did love me, encouraged me, and literally, could fast forward, he married my wife and I, I have an African American son. That’s the direct result of him coming in and changing my point of view on so many things. And so like, if I can be used by the Lord to help one person, out of those 26 every time I teach, it’s well worth the investment. You never know what the Lord might do with those types of relationships. And so I just offer that energy and effort towards that and allow the Lord to do with what he might do.
WS: Yeah, no doubt. I’m grateful that I gave him back to us today. Sutton and just man talking through how you got started in the management business 10,000 units in two years. That doesn’t happen. I mean, most people can’t even fathom doing something like that, much less moving to the Middle East started accompanying their company. They’re hiring 600 people in a year. I mean, wow, you know, all these things. And then coming back, you know, joining our team starting Lockridge management, just grateful for the lessons learned that you shared with us today. How can the listeners get in touch with you or learn more about you?
ST: So pretty easy. I’m on Twitter @suttonturner and then on LinkedIn, please feel free if there’s any way I can serve somebody in any way. Whether it be ministry related or property management related I’d love to serve and help as many people as we possibly can.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
Whitney Sewell: Thank you for being with us again today. I hope that you have learned a lot from the show. Don’t forget to like and subscribe. I hope you’re telling your friends about the Real Estate Syndication Show and how they can also build wealth in real estate. You can also go to LifeBridgeCapital.com and start investing today.
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