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Episode 57

Episode 57: Scaling a Business through Discerning Leadership with Chris Pomerleau


In this episode of Veteran Led, host John Berry welcomes Chris Pomerleau to discuss his journey from  ROTC law student to successful real estate investment entrepreneur. Chris shares invaluable insights on strategic debt usage, planning for the future, and how to build wealth with your VA Loan. Listen in as John and Chris compare notes on building the right team, scaling your business for long-term success, mitigating risk, and how their experiences in the military helped shape them as leaders.


Scaling a Business through Discerning Leadership with Chris Pomerleau

Chris Pomerleau: The downfall is that we’re the ones signing on the millions upon millions upon millions of debt. And if that were to go south, that’s me and my partner’s name on the line. So I guess that would keep me up at night. But I have slept well because I think we put ourselves in the right position. Or you slept.

John Berry: Well because you served in the military and we can sleep anywhere.

Chris Pomerleau: That’s true. That’s fair.

John Berry: Welcome to the Veteran Led podcast, where we talk with leaders who use their military experiences to develop great organizations and continue to serve their communities. So let’s talk about your military experience. You have a unique experience. You thought you were going to do one thing and did something else. A lot of us have the joke about the recruiter lying to us, but that kind of happened. In your case, it did.

Chris Pomerleau: The phrase needs of the Army, something I learned pretty quickly. I throughout ROTC, which I did during law school, I was kind of a guinea pig. So they had not really they didn’t know how to treat me as an ROTC student in law school. Of course, I was the only one. It’s me and a bunch of undergraduate students. They didn’t know what to do with me, and they did say they could get me into law school. Sorry. Get me into being an attorney for the military JAG officer, JAG officer, which of course is the only reason I would want to do it because I’m in law school. So why would I, um, graduated law school, passed the bar exam, and they said, that’s great, but we don’t really need an attorney right now. We actually need a quartermaster officer. We need some transport or logistics officers, uh, more in the Pacific Arena. And so they stationed me out in Hawaii. There’s a silver lining. I had to live in Hawaii, but I also didn’t get to be an attorney, which was unfortunate.

John Berry: And then eventually you did get to be an attorney, but you left that for a much more lucrative and rewarding profession as an entrepreneur. So tell us a little bit about your involvement in real estate, because a lot of veterans, they deal with real estate. Think of it from the perspective of, oh, every duty station, I’m going to buy a house, and that’s going to be a great investment, or I’m going to use my VA loan to buy an investment property, which they shouldn’t do. But tell us how you first got started, and then whether you use some of those military benefits to to build your company.

Chris Pomerleau: Yeah, I wish I knew what I know now. I would have purchased a place in Hawaii and I’d still own it, and I would be renting it out right now. I didn’t, I didn’t know at the time I was kind of I didn’t have the breadth of knowledge that I do now. If I were, if I could restart it, if I was in the military right now, I would do exactly what you just said. I would buy a dude. I would buy a rental property at every single duty station. I’d live in it, of course, while I was stationed there. And then if I moved on, then of course you could rent it out. You talk about the VA loan? I did utilize the VA loan for the first house I ever owned, but that wasn’t even until I was out of the Army. Um, you know, they don’t like it if you use it on investment homes. However, if you buy it to buy a home you’re living in, which is tying back into, uh, having one at each duty station, you buy it, you live in there, so no money down. That’s a great part about the VA loan. Typically one of the best interest rates you can get. You live in it, and when it’s time to leave, you’re allowed to rent it out after you’ve lived there. I think they say they want you to live there for a year. But regardless, if you’ve lived there and you’re an owner occupier for at least a year and you move duty stations, you can go ahead and rent that out and you can use a VA loan again on the second home. Uh, there’s limitations on the maximum amount of the VA loan you’re allowed to use. However, if you’ve been there for three years, you have a good chance to refinance it, put it into traditional debt, and use the VA loan on the next one. So it’s something I wish I would have done, no doubt. Especially because I’d have a place in Hawaii right now.

John Berry: And that is the real estate at the ground level. But I want to take you up to 30,000ft and talk about your companies right now, that deal with real estate and other things real estate involved. Tell us about your companies, Chris.

Chris Pomerleau: So our main company, uh, that it’s an equity company. It’s an investment company that’s named Leavenworth Capital, um, actually named after an intersection where we met, uh, where I met my business partner. And it’s also, it means to raise your wealth. That’s the purpose of Leavenworth. 11 raise wealth. Raise your wealth. We take on investors. We’re built off of investors. So we have about 2700 apartment units in seven states up and down the Midwest, about $240 million in assets under management. And what we do is we allow, uh, partners to come in with money, and we’ll go and we’ll buy apartment units and we’ll all partake in the investment outcome together. Those investors are passive. So our clients, if you will, we call them partners. We have a chance to actually help them by getting into real estate, owning the real estate. So this isn’t a REIT where you don’t own anything and you’re just hoping for small dividends. You literally get the write offs, you get the ownership, and they bring in their money and we take down the property together. That’s Leavenworth Capital, uh, about nine people, nine employees that are a part of Leavenworth Capital, Second Company, liquid lending solutions that we’re a part of.

Chris Pomerleau: It’s a money lending, uh, business. So a lot of investors need access to quick cash, right. So when I back when I used to buy single family homes, one of the most important things is to have money accessible within hours. Because then your offer becomes the most popular and the most strong offer. If I can say, hey, look, I know you want $300,000 for your home, I’ll give you 250 and I’ll close in 72 hours. To 250 probably was a little scary for them to hear. When they heard in 72 hours, they might have 250 in their pocket. That provides them a little incentive to sell you the property. We lend to the people who are offering 250. We lend to investors. They buy it for 250, they’ll fix it up, and they’ll either sell it by flipping it or they’ll refinance it, and they give us their money back. And that’s what we do. It’s called a money lending program. A hard money is what is it’s commonly known as.

John Berry: And so when I think of business, I think of cash as being the lifeblood of the business. If you don’t have the cash, you’re going to bleed out. But what you’re saying is you’re providing that cash on the front end to make better deals. I’ve always seen it from the other perspective of, oh man, if we don’t have enough cash, we’re not going to make payroll, we’re going to go bankrupt. All these bad things are going to happen if we run out of cash. What you’re saying is, no, no, no, we leverage the cash on the front end. We have the cash to actually get the deal. So I look at cash from a survival mode sometimes in business. And I know that’s that’s what I shouldn’t be doing, but but just that, you know, those those instincts kick in and we get worried as business owners sometimes. Are we going to be able to, to, to make this work. Right. And we’ve all been in those cash crunch situations uh, less now. I’ve learned my lessons the hard way. But there’s something to be said for monetizing your money. And so tell us how you got into that. And thought, thought through that process of we’re going to be the hard money lender up front, because that takes some guts.

Chris Pomerleau: Yeah, it’s not for the faint of heart. I mean, first off, I think what what Changed my mind was a book I read in 2008, actually, it’s called Rich dad, Poor Dad. Many people have heard of this book, otherwise known as the Purple Bible. But really, the importance of Rich dad, poor dad is it changed the way I thought. I used to think like you and many others, and I understand you’ve changed the way you look or think now, but I used to think of debt as terrible because in my mind, debt was credit card debt and, you know, buying things you shouldn’t. Debts. Great. And I’ve learned that since reading the book, if you can buy something or put that debt towards something, that’s an asset that’s producing income. So if I take on $200,000 of debt, but I’m, I go to use it to give me $2,000 a month, that debt makes sense. And so you can fast forward to this whole lending business that we have. And it really is. It’s no different. Sure, the borrower, the person we’re lending to, it might be scary that they have the money, but if they can take that 250 and turn it into 400,000, then they’re using that debt correctly. It’s not credit card debt. So we try to partner with people, our borrowers with liquid lending solutions. We try to partner people who know what they’re doing. Many of our clients have done this. 1030 40 sincerely over 70 times. So those are our perfect type of borrowers. We’re like a mini bank. I mean, I’m not allowed to technically say that. I’m just saying that’s what we’re doing. We’re lending money on an asset. We have first position. We’re hoping you’re successful and we’re hoping to use the debt correctly.

John Berry: Yeah. And you know, for years my my CFO, my COO, they talk about you got to get the good debt. You need debt I think. No I don’t want debt. I don’t want debt. And that’s what I’ve been taught my whole life. But it turns out that this is actually a great opportunity to make money and to grow a business. But there is, of course, risk. So tell us about the risk in loaning hard money.

Chris Pomerleau: Well, gosh, even in loaning money or buying it, even when we go to buy apartments every you have to borrow.

John Berry: When you buy.

Chris Pomerleau: We borrow all the time. Yeah. I mean, we, we traditionally borrow from large institutions. You don’t use the hard money that often on large ten, $20 million purchases. But, um, you know, I think that the risks are that something could happen to the asset. So it really comes down to the due diligence you perform. And, you know, that relates back to even the military. I mean, when we’re trying to make smart decisions on what’s going to affect us three months from now, three years from now, we need to put in that due diligence, that investigation into the asset and or the project to make sure we’re going to be successful not only in immediate terms but in the long terme. And I think that that’s what we need to do. So when we’re lending money on an asset that’s going to be used for liquid lending solutions, we make sure that we have an after repair value that’s given to us by a real estate agent and said, look, you’re lending 250 on this, but if you were to actually change A, B and C, it will be worth 400. And here are the comps or the comparable sales to show and prove that you’re lending on that.

Chris Pomerleau: And so certainly there’s risk. But the best part is if we’re buying something for 250, I just said if we’re buying it, if we’re lending it to them for 250 and they buy it if they’re unsuccessful, which, by the way, we’ve only had one foreclosure in over 200, 300. Some loans, if they’re unsuccessful, then we get it back. We’re the first position and we’re not like a bank. A lot of banks don’t want to own an asset because they don’t. What the hell to do with it? They’re used to making margins off of 4 or 5% like they’re not. If if our client is unsuccessful and we have to take that project over, guess what? They just put it back in our hands. We’re real estate investors. We know what to do with it. And so we’re not a loan to own predatory thing. Like I said, we’ve only had one foreclosure in the entire three and a half years we’ve been doing this. But the risk we’re giving is that we already know that the asset’s going to be good in the long run. And also if they’re unsuccessful, we know how to take care of it when it’s done.

John Berry: So you probably remember as a young lieutenant doing the draw or the the risk assessment worksheets.

Chris Pomerleau: I do.

John Berry: And we still have to assess risk today. But with all those assets under management at Leavenworth, do you face a lot of risk there as well?

Chris Pomerleau: Of course. That’s the risk assessment worksheets. What a blast from the past. Um, of course. Uh, you know, I think we have a duty to inform our investors that this is always a risk. In fact, the legal documents we give them, this is an investment, right? So it’s it’s if you can invest in the stock market, you know, it’s not a guarantee it’ll go up. I think that you just got to rely on the people you’re investing and that they know what they’re doing. And we ask our investors at Leavenworth to trust us, that we know what we’re doing, and we try to mitigate mitigate those risks by maybe being conservative at our underwriting planning for a lot longer return of capital, meaning we’re not promising an amazing flip in a year and a half. We’re saying, look, this is going to take some time. Give us 5 to 6 years, you’ll get kick outs. So certainly we have to go through due diligence and make sure the properties we’re buying have the least amount of risk possible. It’s something we do every single day, and it’s actually probably why we underwrite probably over 100 deals that we underwrite. We only move forward on 1 or 2 because they don’t meet our metrics.

John Berry: So what’s worst case scenario? What is the catastrophic event that that you’re scared of or that might keep you up at night, uh, with Leavenworth or the, you know, when you have $240 million worth of assets under management, what scares you?

Chris Pomerleau: Um, you know, if it wouldn’t be 100% honest, the worst case scenario would be, uh, an investor losing all their capital. That that would mean we bought something for 10 million, and then all of a sudden it’s worth 7 million. Two years later, that doesn’t happen often at all, because usually we’re able to get long terme debt. So the long terme debt helps there not to be a request for capital that quick. So you can usually because of the duration of time you’re holding an asset, you can not worry about it losing its value. But as that’s a sincere worry when anytime you’re handling people’s money, you want to make sure you’re taking care of it. And I guess a step past that, if we were in a position where we did lose an investor’s capital, which, you know, it hasn’t happened to date, we feel very good about that. Um, I guess if it was passed that there’s a possibility we don’t have enough to even pay the bank back and we’re the ones signing on that. That’s a benefit to the investor, because they get to invest in real estate and not sign off on any debt. The downfall is that we’re the ones signing on the millions upon millions upon millions of debt. And if that were to go south, that’s me and my partner’s name on the line. So I guess that would keep me up at night. But I have slept well because I think we put ourselves in the right position.

John Berry: Or you slept well because you served in the military and we can sleep anywhere.

Chris Pomerleau: That’s true, that’s fair, that’s fair.

John Berry: Especially if we’re stationed in Hawaii sleeping on the beach. But when I think of my lessons from mentors, when I looked at, okay, I want to scale this business to ten x ten x the size. And I and I had this mentor said, okay, this is everything you need to do and the cost. And I thought, oh my gosh, like, I could never do this. This is too much risk. He said, John, it’s not like you’re selling a product. It’s not like you have a factory. It’s not like you have all these sunk costs. You have a services company. And so the reality is that in services companies, when things go south, you have to cut headcount, but it’s not going to kill your company the way it would be if you owned a fidget spinner factory, right. Where all of a sudden the product you have, nobody wants it anymore. And you have all these, you have all these sunk costs. So looking at that scenario, how would you compare your position to that where you have these assets, this real estate? You’ve paid money for it, it’s gonna continue to cost you money. But how do you look at that from the perspective of continuing to grow? So I imagine you want to get to probably a billion or more in managed assets. So as you look at ten Xingu, where you’re at, where is the fear point? The terror point where it’s like, oh my gosh, we’re gonna outkick our coverage. I can’t I can’t imagine everything we’re going to need and all the risks we’re going to take on to get to the next level. Where is that for you?

Chris Pomerleau: You know, I think I’ve learned over the last few years and it has it hasn’t been easy. I was the same as some of those worries you were just mentioning. Like, why would I pay someone to do this if I can do it? But it became the it became a scenario where I didn’t have enough hours in the day to do it all myself. And I realized over the years that actually, your team could be a lot better if you hired out people who were experts in those specific areas. So I wouldn’t say I’m perfect by any means on this, but I’m so much quicker now to move into, say, look, we can afford this employee right now. I know it’s pretty expensive, and at this very moment there’s not a dollar for dollar return. But I always envision where where we’re going to be if I want to own $1 billion in assets and I want to be able to manage it, what would my team look like? Okay, that’s what my team looks like. Then I had to hire for that team right now, because if I’m consistently hiring for where I used to be, I’m always going to be strung out on doing too many things and our team can’t build. It’s the same reason you develop like SOPs in the Army. You might have a change of 1 or 2 employees, or maybe a lot, but you need to plan for what does this look like when you’re larger and larger and larger? If someone comes into this position and they need to take over, do they have an SOP? Do they have standard operating procedures that can actually help them get through this? And that’s the way we look now. We’re building SOPs and we’re actually hiring for what would it be like in five years if we were this size. Because that’s going to help us get there instead of learn by failing, learn by failing, which I’ve done that as well. But I think I’m quicker now to just hire to where I want to be in the future. Yeah, and.

John Berry: I’ve learned hire ahead if you want to be there in five years and that person comes along today, hire them. They may not have the same value today that they’re going to have in five years, because you’re not big enough to give them what they need to really grow the organization, but they may not come along and use having those networks, as you know, is invaluable because you know who those people are. And I just sit there and wait, almost like an ambush. I’m waiting for that. My stars. I have a list of people I want to recruit to my team. And when the moment comes and they’re at a crossroads because we’re all there, like when we’ve worked for somebody else, we’ve all even in the military, I don’t want to stay in, uh, maybe now’s the time to get out, right? Everybody’s had the thought about getting out. Even the people who’ve stayed in for 20, 30 years. There have been periods of the career, maybe coming back from a deployment or a bad leadership experience, like I’m out and then we stay in. But, but, but the truth is, in the private sector, there are tons of people like that who who have a bad day and are thinking about other options, and you have a small window to reach in and pull them into your organization. And if you don’t do it, you’re going to miss them and you’re not going to see that opportunity again, because these stars are never looking for a job.

Chris Pomerleau: Yeah, we did that with our director of finances. We his name is Mitch Hagen. We actually he worked at Franklin Zachariah, a CPA firm, a large CPA firm right here in town. And he was helping with all of our books and our our tax returns and everything. He’s a CPA. Well, we actually hired him and we weren’t at the time ready to hire him. We weren’t financially set up to hire him, but we knew we needed somebody like him on our team. So like you said, he was on that list. We jumped in right when we could because you don’t want to let that opportunity pass.

John Berry: And as you look at your your future team, how are you deciding to build it? For me, I look at, okay, I want a ten x these things in the business. It might not be ten x revenue or ten profits, but ten x ten x thing, certain aspects of your business. Then you think, I think, okay, what are the skill sets that I need to build this out? And then I start trying to plug people into those skill sets, people that I already know, or maybe people that I don’t know, but organizations that I’m aware of, they may provide that may have those people as members. How do you how do you start looking out to fill out your future org chart or your future depth chart of your team? You know, it’s.

Chris Pomerleau: Something we’ve had to do over the last however many years. We’re really almost there. Um, not that we don’t have growth, but we have the right people in the right positions right now to where as our portfolio grows to a billion and $2 billion, and $3 billion and which means we basically just have more assets under management, the really only additional personnel we would need is are some more asset managers. And an asset manager is someone who’s specific only job is to take care of the asset. They’re on weekly calls. The property management are doing site visits to make sure we’re implementing our business plan. And as you get more and more doors, if you will, you’re going to need more and more asset managers. Other than that, we’re pretty locked down as far as finances are concerned. Uh, the one item we may I know that we’ll take in-house right now, and we’ve been looking for for about a year, but we luckily we haven’t been forced to do it is maybe a construction manager because we are starting to get into the development space and we’re inching into that. We’re going to be smart about it because we’re taking care of people’s money. But maybe having somebody on the team who has some construction background that can help us, uh, underwrite these ground up developments, that’s about really it. Other than that, our team is pretty solid. I’m. I’m pretty happy to say that.

John Berry: Do you use any of your military leadership experience to pick the team and develop the team?

Chris Pomerleau: I feel so, yeah. No question. Um, other than saying, yeah, which you’re supposed to say yes. In the military, uh, I, I think that I like to hire somebody and that would just understand what their role is like. One of the things I learned in the military was there were many times where I was smarter than a superior. There were many times where I wasn’t. And I’m saying superior and subordinate. But there are many times where gosh. Prime example butter bar showing up first day. Yeah, I’m in front of the platoon, but I’d be an idiot not to listen to that platoon sergeant. And my platoon sergeant would do it for 15 years and knows exactly what he’s doing. Ten years, 15 years. So me showing up and learning that you can be in positions and know more or less than those above or below you, but just doing what you’re supposed to do in your role. When we hire, I want to find someone who understands that, in fact, what I want to do and Colin and I are setting it up like this, is we want people who are running our finances and our assets and our construction and our marketing. We want those people to be way better than us and only concentrate on that, but they all seem to be able to take direction. So if they need to understand that, they may be way smarter than us in marketing. But if we tell them to do something, they need to accomplish it. And that’s kind of what I learned from the military, right? All the time I was being told what to do, and I knew that I could maybe ask some questions to make sure I implemented what I was being asked of me. But it really is the ability to take direction and know your role. And I think that’s really something important that we looked at. When we’re hiring somebody, we need to make sure somebody is smart, assertive, but is willing to take direction.

John Berry: Now to hit you on the cross examination, you previously talked about wanting to hire the semi, the subject matter expert, and now we’re talking about someone taking direction. So given the choice, who do you choose? Do you choose the person who’s better at taking direction or do you choose the subject matter expert?

Chris Pomerleau: Well, I’m going to take the taking directions person with the caveat that of course they have to have some experience in the role. They can’t just be really good at following orders and have nothing, have no idea what they’re doing. But if you have someone who knows everything but is unwilling to listen to either their colleagues or superiors, then there’s a lot of there’s a good chance you could go off the rails. I mean, if I’m trusting an asset manager to take care of a $40 million asset for me, and they’re only doing what they think is right and not asking us or not implementing what we know, then that could actually end up. Not only could the asset fail, but now we’re not even applying our experience and knowledge and the outcome that we want to this asset that we told the investors we would. So I think it’s way more important to find someone who will follow direction. Now, that does not mean head down. No questions asked. In fact, if you don’t ask questions, then that’s not somebody I want either. I want some feedback. I want some give and take a little bit to make the right decision. In the end, it’s my decision, but I need that subject matter expert. But in your hypothetical, someone who’s a genius, who doesn’t listen to anybody or someone who’s pretty damn smart but is willing to take some some direction, I want that person.

John Berry: And your best hiring scenario. Is it better to build the team member or to buy them? Do you want that expert who’s already been where you’re going? Or would you rather have that leader with a ton of potential that has some experience, but is not yet a subject matter expert?

Chris Pomerleau: I think that’s a great question. I think it depends on the role. Right. I think it would have been, uh, not smart of us to try to build the mind of a CPA in our director of finances. Oh, I got this buddy over here. He likes numbers and he knows how to do books. And over time, he can become our director of finances. I think that’s a pretty serious position to where you should hire someone who’s already qualified. So we hired someone who’s already qualified. If you’re talking about perhaps an asset manager or, uh, maybe marketing, but if you come on a position that they can learn that position, certainly by watching us do it. I’ve been asked that managing since I started, someone who can learn on the job and become very good at it. I think that’s okay to do. Sometimes you see the promise in an individual and you say, look, they have these characteristics. We do disc tests with our employees to see where they fall. I don’t know if you’ve heard of that or not.

John Berry: Uh, yeah. When I went to my battalion command school, I had to take disc. Colby a strengthsfinder all of them.

Chris Pomerleau: Okay, okay, so we take that and we try to make sure we like, you know, what their characteristics are. But if they show promise to develop in a certain area and it’s not an area that needs a hardcore expertise, then that’s fine because we know they have the right characteristics to build and become what we want. There are some people that need certain training, like CPA training, and that’s where we’ll lean into that. I know that’s kind of answering your questions different ways, but.

John Berry: Now, you know, I find that the the personality test can be valuable, but they’re not as valid. I don’t I think people put too much weight on them. I once hired someone heavily off of their Colby A, and they were supposed to be a strong Factfinder this was a low, quick start, strong factfinder. They were horrible at research. They couldn’t find any facts. They were terrible. And I looked at the tests. I thought the test does not does not tell the whole story. And it doesn’t. It doesn’t tell you whether someone’s a high performer. It simply tells you what their which way they’re leaning, how work might be easier for them. But the reality is it doesn’t tell you whether they’re competent or whether they can do it well. So just because they may have a leaning toward a certain. Personality trait does not mean that they are going to be able to get the job done, and it has absolutely nothing to do with competence or potential. And I learned that lesson the hard way. Yeah.

Chris Pomerleau: I mean, look, in your scenario where you actually were able to view a high performer and know that they were successful in the role that you wanted to hire them for. That’s my selection, too, no question. Um, you know, using those tests. You’re right. They’re not always they’re not always spot on. But if I if you you know, my old boss, um, when he was building his law firm, that’s exactly what he wanted. He would much rather have us. He hired three people I suggested, not because I suggested them, but he knew that I had seen them. And of course, he. He vetted them myself. Himself. But he knew that I had seen. And then he saw through that how successful they were at being an attorney and not only being an attorney, but what kind of respect do they have from the judges, or what kind of respect do they have in the community? And if you can see that and you already know they’re going to be successful at that, I don’t know how much a disk test really matters. So I agree.

John Berry: Another I think a contradiction for the military is the requirement to do the job and only the job and do it really well. If you think about the military requirements, someone needs to qualify with their weapon, pass a physical fitness test, meet height and weight requirements, and several other requirements. Now you’ve got a lot of civilians that wouldn’t meet any of those requirements, but they are phenomenal at what they do. And I’ve had team members who I think this person is not great with clients, not really great with the team, but is an absolute brilliant legal mind, and I want to keep them on the team and I want to use their skills to grow the organization. But I have to be very mindful of how they fit in the organization, because in some situations they become very toxic to the organization. On the other hand, I want those skills in the organization. And therein lies the dilemma. Do I keep this person on the team who I know is a genius and and can help? But there’s a emotional cost to it. There’s a potential toxicity to keeping this person on the team. They’re very expensive to keep happy, and they’re very expensive to keep away from everybody else. We all know that the technicians who are brilliant but should never interact with people. Do you hire those people on your team?

Chris Pomerleau: It’s a healthy balance, right? So I draw an analogy to back when I was, um, I was our, our was our company’s XO, where we had a couple of maintenance guys who were phenomenal at maintenance. And by the way, being that we’re in a battalion with transportation, it’s really important to have maintenance people who can take care of transportation. Um, and so we utilize them, of course. No question. And but what are they struggled at was their PT test. So it was it was very difficult for us because to answer your question another way, I think, do you give in some areas and take and the other areas? I think it depends on how serious they are. Is it a problem if you can’t walk up steps without falling over because you’re so out of shape? Yeah, that’s a problem. But if you’re not scoring 300 on your PT test every single year and you’re just really just getting by, a little bit of extra help is more important. But I think it’s way more important to have somebody taking care of all of our transportation vehicles who may be downrange with those vehicles, than it is that they can do 73 push ups in two minutes, like, I think you got to kind of way. What’s more important, does that answer your question? Right?

John Berry: Yeah, absolutely. I think we get bogged down in the administrative requirements all the time. Well, especially as as we’ve grown, right. We’ve got an HR department that wants to do all these surveys and ask questions about how people feel about the organization and whether whether certain expectations are being met. And then we add additional responsibilities to people to make sure that their team members feel wanted, feel, feel loved, feel like they’re part of the organization. And we and then we end up putting that sometimes on people who just want to do their job, and they don’t want the extra responsibility. And it seems to drag them down. And some of them, it’s like, wait a minute. A lot of the negative comments from the blind survey we believe are coming from whiners. So we’re appeasing the whiners, right? And now we’re taking our high performers and saying, well, you’re in a leadership position, fix this. And they say, hey, I didn’t come here because I wanted to appease whiners. I came here because I wanted to work with champions and champions don’t complain about the minutia. They just want to get better. So how do you how do you how do you deal with that in your organization where there are additional requirements, like you said, like the PT test where someone may be great at a great technician, great at what they do, and what they do is so important to the success of the organization that the other minutia probably doesn’t matter. But your partner, Colin, is it a mastermind? And he heard that you need to start doing more employment surveys and stuff like that. How do you balance that out? So you make sure that your winners are doing the things that they came to your organization to do? Uh, it’s.

Chris Pomerleau: I hate to explain it like this, but it’s just it’s the right feel. Um, at first when you’re starting and growing that quickly and we grew very quickly, you just sometimes you just need bodies in positions. Now, of course, you need to make sure you’re overseeing those positions or overseeing those final decisions, but you just you need somebody there because the the company is better off with somebody in the position than nobody at all. But after a while, after you get a, a comfortable, uh, cadence and flow state, you got to make sure that, in my opinion. And I started my answer with, you’re going to hate to hear this answer, but it’s just a gut feel. And if there’s like a negative environment and a negative outcome, uh, or just if the feeling is not right about how an employee is approaching something, it’s time to let them go. We’ve let plenty of people go and they are doing okay at their job. They may have been given additional positions. We may have sent them on a different additional schooling or something to get a little bit better in a position, but it was always just whining and excuses and not implementing what we asked. It’s like, I don’t see this ever getting anywhere. So I think what really, for us is the most important. Where we’re at now is to be a different answer. If we were just starting. Sometimes you’re just hiring your best buddy because you’re like, I need someone to be able to knock on doors. But if you’ve started to build something relatively smooth, you want good attitude, ability to take direction, maybe some feedback. You just want that good attitude and that gut feel that something’s right about this and we may hit bumps. We’re going to end up in the right place we want.

John Berry: So, Chris, what it sounds like is you’ve become more discerning over time. And when we may think it’s a gut feeling, I’ve learned that it may not be a gut feeling. Part of it is, well, you probably remember you had a commander, a senior commander, who just knew the right answer, and they’d come in and they never explained it. But as leaders, they don’t have to explain it. But they came in and they knew the right answer. And I’ve always wondered how they got there. And then I had someone give me a book called The Gift of Fear. It was about all these people who were in situation, life threatening situations. Either they were kidnapped or almost murdered and they survived. And the story they told was, I got this gut feeling right before the bad thing happened. And what they figured out was that the gut feeling was a bunch of objective criteria that their subconscious could process faster than the conscious mind. So when they went back, they said, yeah, it was really weird that this guy was standing at my apartment door. He was dressed in a strange manner. He had a bulge in his pocket. I didn’t think it was a gun at the time. And then when I opened the door and he hurried to grab the door to let me in.

John Berry: I felt weird about that. Sure, on the outside it looked like he was helping, just holding the door, being polite, but it gave me a strange feeling. And then from there, obviously the bad thing happens, and time and time again, as victims went back through and realized what had happened to them, they were actually objective criteria, red flags all along the way. But because it happened so quickly, their conscious mind could not see it. But their subconscious mind told them danger. Fear. This is the caveman mentality. The saber toothed tigers right outside the cave. Don’t go outside the cave. They felt it before they took action. I think sometimes as leaders, when we get that gut feeling, we know there are a set of factors that we’re processing. We just can’t articulate them right now. It’s always after the fact. And I’m sure you’ve had this where some a team member hasn’t worked out a deal, hasn’t worked out at the time. It seems great, but you’ve got a weird feeling in your gut and then it falls through. And then after the fact you do the postmortem and you’re like, yeah, this was a really bad idea for these five factors that I couldn’t see at the time. And of course, hindsight is 2020. You ever had that experience?

Chris Pomerleau: Many times. And I think that the explaining, gut feeling, the way you did is way better, because when I explained it, I didn’t necessarily mean I have no idea why it wasn’t really related to anything, it was just my innate ability to know everything about the scenario. It’s more your experience. A couple of those details, like you said, that your mind is piecing together and some consciously, you’re like, oh my goodness, this is going on. This happened with a couple employees. We’ve had to let go. You know, at first I was like, you know, something’s not right about this. I’m hoping they get a little better. I am somewhat empathetic. So even with the military background and stuff, I still it’s not I don’t just I’m not that quick to fire, even though I’ve gotten a lot better about it because I’ve learned it’s quick to fire, slow to hire is a lot better, but over time, we’ve had to let people go, and immediately upon letting them go, within a couple of weeks, it was so clear to me that we made the right decision, that I became a little upset with myself, that I didn’t make that decision a year before that. So I think you’re right. I think sometimes you should listen to your gut because it’s not just like this weird, uh uh non-ops feeling. It’s you’re you’re soaking up these random fact points or details that your mind is putting together. And if there’s something in your head you should make that you should make that, uh, that draw, if you will, that or that or that fire like I had to. So I wish I would have fired a couple of people on our team quicker.

John Berry: And that’s I think, unfortunately, this is the bad lesson the military teaches. As a infantry platoon leader, I believe that I was I believe I was told you’re going to be the Scalp platoon leader or you’ll be Alpha Company XO, but then my company commander became the HHC commander, and he wanted me to be the support platoon leader. So he petitioned or Politicked for me to get moved to that role. And as you know, it’s a very it’s a very important role in an infantry battalion. I didn’t know much about logistics, but I did know that we were the dumping ground for all the poor performers. We had an ammo section. It seemed like all the other companies, when they wanted to get rid of a soldier, they’d transfer them, try to transfer them to the support platoon. And the reason why was because it was very difficult to fire people. And I had a conversation with a battalion sergeant major. I’m like, sergeant major, they keep dumping Sergeant major. Your first sergeants are dumping their dirt bags on me because I had some great leaders in my support platoon. But the team members that they kept dumping in were the underperformers, the people on restriction that people whose files were flagged. And it was frustrating because my leaders were saying, John, I deserve better soldiers. I say then make better soldiers. But they got to the point where I realized that I had to stand up for my team, and I went to the sergeant major. I said, sergeant major. The soldiers. Are the bottom of the barrel. I want the best. And the sergeant major said, look, Lieutenant, what you don’t understand is these soldiers passed the PT test, scored high enough on the Asvab. They’re mentally stable. They are physically capable. If you can’t make them work, you as a leader have failed. And that.

Chris Pomerleau: Was coming.

John Berry: And that was garbage. These were the low performers who probably, you know, yeah, they were good enough to get into the military, certainly. And they, they cleared the hurdles to get there, but they were not good enough to get to the next level. And they were not good at the the role they were placed in. And perhaps like you, they were promised a different role in the military. And then they showed up and the needs of the army directed them to another location. And now they’re in a position that they’re not skilled at. They don’t want to be skilled at because that’s not why they joined. And their morale is low, because they feel like they did not get the MOS they wanted, and they’re under an enlistment contract, and they just want to do their time and get out, kind of like a prison sentence. And I’m supposed to get them to be high performers. And it didn’t happen and we couldn’t fire them. And of course, eventually, you know, you can you can chapter individuals out of the the service. I always hate to do that, but it was no, it’s not about. Them not being them, not wanting to be here. You’re not motivating them. It’s not about them not being good enough. It’s you’re not training them. And that was I brought that into my civilian career, believing that if anyone failed, it was me as a leader who failed the team.

Chris Pomerleau: Sure, sure. But I agree with you. That’s bogus. And I mean, you think about drawing an analogy to sports. I mean, Brady’s last. Brady’s arguably the best quarterback of all time. His last year they didn’t win the Super Bowl. Does that mean it’s his fault or did he not have as good a surrounding cast as he did the year before that? You can have the greatest Jordan. You know he didn’t win every single year. So like you can be the greatest at your position. And if you’re unsuccessful or if something needs changed, it’s not 100% your fault. Actually, that is my beef with the military. It was so hard to get rid of people and I understand it is somewhat life altering, but I don’t. It’s sometimes it’s not any different than a job. You get to fire somebody at their job, they have to go get a different job. That’s I sometimes the problem with the military is that unfortunately, people are given a hundred excuses and it’s really hard to let people go. So I think actually that’s something that I took advantage of. And I don’t mean to say that in a bad way. Anytime somebody loses their job or anytime, these are difficult decisions.

Chris Pomerleau: That does not easy for me to make. But I actually do think back to my military time where I’m like, I remember how hard it was to deal with and I didn’t go to the sergeant major. I was told the same thing you were told their soldiers are as good as their leader. Well, sometimes you’re just a piece of shit. And so what I’ve noticed in this position is that that’s why I’ve gotten a lot better at Quick to fire over the years is because it’s like, look, you can see it, you can see it in somebody. They’re either good or they’re not. And I’m telling you right now that I’m not perfect. I could maybe change a couple of things about my leadership, no question. But you need to do your job. Here’s your job. If you’re not doing it, you’re gone. And I have no I have no qualms with that. So it’s a lot easier to do it in the civilian sector. And I’m sure it took you a long time to learn it, because in the military you’re handcuffed. It’s really difficult to get rid of anybody, which is unfortunate.

John Berry: I think the unfortunate reality that most of us do not want to accept is that if someone is not a high accountability person, they will never become a high accountability team member. I agree. Now, Chris, you were a logistician in the military. Business needs great logistics. So tell me what you learned as a logistician that has helped you with your companies today?

Chris Pomerleau: I think it’s the planning for the worst. Right. So I think, you know, anytime we’re looking at an apartment complex or some type of investment, we got to see in order to mitigate our risk, we have to think about all the bad things that could possibly happen. Now, it’s really easy to look at all the good things, and that’s what people get in trouble for a lot because they say, look, this could be worth this if I just did A, B, and C, you have to ask yourself questions like, well, why didn’t the first owner complete A, B and C? Or what if a, D and F happened? So I think for us it is trying to. What I learned about in logistics is it’s not as easy as saying I need to offload, uh, a bunch of connexes over to Korea and it takes about four days and I just need to call one person and get it done and that’s it. Because if everything goes perfectly, that’s exactly how it’s done. You got to think about the million different other things that could that could affect it. Like, uh, is it even going to get from here down to where it departs? Uh, Hawaii in time, down to we used we were in Schofield Barracks, we used Pearl Harbor and we used, uh, another base right outside of there. Uh, is it going to get there in time? And if it doesn’t get there in time, it’s now two days behind. Uh, what if it doesn’t pass inspections before it leaves? Which happened all the time, which is unfortunate. Probably some soldier that shouldn’t be there who just walk through and check the boxes.

Chris Pomerleau: So you have to backwards plan, I guess, is one thing I learned. No question. You have to think about. Here’s where I want to be. Let’s build in all of these things that could happen. Expect them to happen, and make sure that you’re approaching it as if they will happen. I know that’s general, but that’s so important. So, for example, uh, when I’m when I’m underwriting an apartment complex and we’re saying, look, it could be worth this amount today if we raise the income to this. And if you look around at other apartments that are this size in this area, the income is this today. So income is x. We want to get there. We know we can because all the comparables around there are already at X, we give ourselves three years to get to X. Some people make a mistake in this space where they’re like, oh, I’ll only take me a few months to get to X. I mean, everybody else is doing it. And so we’re getting to X in three years. And what that does is that builds a conservative timeline for a lot of things to go wrong. And before we even get to where we want to be, and I’m hopeful that answers your question. If you need to think about all the bad things that could possibly happen, or the more troubling or time consuming aspects, and make sure you plan for those so that when they come, you’re not surprised. If they don’t come. You meet your beat, your objectives, or your objective.

John Berry: Got to have the contingency plan. Yeah, that’s.

Chris Pomerleau: A way faster way of saying it. More succinct way to say it.

John Berry: All right. So let’s go to the after action review. In the After Action review we talk about three examples of great leadership and three examples of poor leadership. They can be leadership examples that you set, or they can be your failures or something you observed in the military or in the civilian world. So Chris, let’s start with your top three for the after action review. What went well?

Chris Pomerleau: Um, what went well? I think that, uh, instilling hunger in our in the people that work with us, I mean, one of the most important things for us is obviously, now that we’re this big, we want to hire someone who’s very good in their certain position. But you need that hunger. You need that drive, that tenacity to do something. Whether you’re told or not. And we only want to surround ourselves with people who can do that. And I think we’ve actually done a pretty dang good job of that. Okay.

John Berry: You said instilling hunger. Uh, you know, John Morgan is and his book, You Can’t Teach Hunger. I think I agree with the premise. So when you say instilling hunger, do you mean installing people in the team that have the hunger? That’s what I mean. Okay. Okay. So I was gonna say, if you can build hunger, I gotta, I gotta, I gotta hear this.

Chris Pomerleau: No, I mean, making sure that people on our team have the hunger and that’s that’s the hiring process. We need someone who we know is going to hit the ground sprinting and who is just hungry to succeed. That’s that’s something we have to have. So that’s certainly something that’s gone well for us. I sincerely think we’ve done a good job on that.

John Berry: Great. Number two.

Chris Pomerleau: A positive thing that we’ve done at this company. Well, you know, we look at liquid Lending Solutions, our hard money company, I think done a really good job of getting out in the, um, environment and the local real estate groups to let us let them know we’re here to partner with. And I sincerely mean that. I mean, me, myself. I have, as a client, borrowed from liquid lending. I mean, we flipped the retail center in 45 days, uh, because I was able to go to the seller and say, I’ll close in 48 hours, paid them money, and then I had a buyer for it in 40 days. I am utilizing this company because I know how good it is, and I think we what we’ve done is we’ve gotten we’ve done a very good job of getting out into the community, specifically to investors, to not only show them what we’re offering, but explain to them how it helps a lot of people. You know, you get into this space where a contractor wants to own a business. They may be really good at their trade, but they have no idea how to run a business. We’re helping somebody who’s maybe a contractor who would typically struggle on finding money or setting it up so they could actually have the funds to to succeed at their trade. We’re helping them with that branch. And like you said earlier, cash is king. So if you can have access to some capital, I think we’ve done a really good job of getting our name out there and giving those people an opportunity to have access to cash.

John Berry: Well, what you’re describing is what we would call collaboration, right? And in the military, I’ve seen this happen where officers and NCOs simply cannot collaborate with their peers. They. They be great with their subordinates. They may be great with their superior officers, but their peers hate them. And if you can’t collaborate with your peers, you fail. And I didn’t realize the value of that until I was on a battalion staff. And now I have to work with the other staff officers, and we’re all basically peers, and we have to work together to get the project done. And it’s for the for the common good of the organization that sometimes we have to suck it up and put our egos aside and understand that there are people who are better at their job than you, and you have to listen to them. And if you can work together and collaborate, the team does better and it builds a bigger future for you, which sounds like which sounds like that’s exactly what you’ve done.

Chris Pomerleau: Here it is. And I actually did in the military too. So my last stint in the military was I was the Battalion S-4, and that was typically held by a captain before our Battalion Co left. I said, hey, look, I want this position. I know you’re getting ready to leave, but I want this position. You know, Palmer, I think you deserve it. So he gave me a position that was typically held by a captain, but I was only a first lieutenant. You were also.

John Berry: The top lieutenant in the battalion.

Chris Pomerleau: I was the top lieutenant of the battalion. Uh, yes, I was, but, you know, it was typically held by a captain. And much to your story, once I got there, I realized my job, which was typically a captain’s job, was overseeing all the other lieutenants at the different platoons to make sure that they were actually providing headquarters exactly what we needed. And so at first, I jumped into that role, and, and I, I wouldn’t say I abused it. I was wanting to succeed for the when you say what you.

John Berry: Need, you mean what you need in terms of information, what.

Chris Pomerleau: I need in terms of information and succeeding on the battalion’s plan. Okay, right. What? I need you to complete A, B and C, I need this platoon complete D and F, and when I first got in there in the captain’s role, I think I jumped to a conclusion of where. Not necessarily that I was the other Lieutenant Superior, but I knew the buck fell on me. And so I, I started with becoming a little authoritarian over those other lieutenants. I learned quickly that was a mistake. You need to be able to learn to collaborate. I’ve always been collaborating, but I think it was more affected by the the pressure to succeed at a captain’s position, because typically when the captain says, do it, do it, Lieutenant, you do it. Whereas my colleagues were like, oh, Palmer, I have to do A, B, and C, so it was more important. Instead of me flexing about my position, it was more important to say, look, I’ve been in your position, first Lieutenant. I’m a first lieutenant. I get what you’re doing. Let’s collaborate on making sure the end goal is accomplished. So I learned that the hard way because I. I wouldn’t say I was trying to flex, but I was more trying to make sure I accomplished something. And I tried to use a superior position to accomplish it instead of collaborating. So that collaboration was was huge, to your point. All right.

John Berry: That’s two. What’s the third one?

Chris Pomerleau: I think this is a good thing. Uh, one of the more frustrating things for me in the military was you could be the greatest at your position or the worst at your position, but you get paid the same. And look, I understand that as you you stay in it longer and longer and longer. You have a better chance of getting promoted if you’re if you’re good. But when you start those first ten years and I wasn’t in for ten years, but I looked around me and I saw some dirtbags. And what bothered me is that I always had that hunger. And this is not a military thing. This is everywhere. This is every company. You’re going to look around. You’re always gonna see dirtbags. What I learned, what I’m saying is a good thing. So this is a positive my after action review is I learned you’re Chris. You’ve been given a gift. You learned a lot of great leadership aspects in the military, and now you’re in the civilian world. You have the ability. If you’re going to perform well, you’re going to do well. You’re you hold the future in your hands. That’s actually why I left my first law firm.

Chris Pomerleau: I got second overall attorney in the entire country at that time. It was in 33 states. It’s been more now, and I’m not. It doesn’t mean you’re the smartest attorney, but it means you met every single metric and you did it better than everybody except for one other person. I got that accolade. I got a $10,000 bonus and a pat on the back, and I’m like, why the hell? Why am I here? How could I make the company more than anybody? And out of the entire country, we’re talking about hundreds of attorneys. I got number two. I worked my ass off and I got a $10,000 bonus. This is a waste of my time. So I knew immediately from the Army I was like, I’m out. I can’t be a part of a program like this. I should be rewarded for how I am actually performing. So I went to a firm that did exactly that, and so I would say that’s a positive thing that I took is learn that it’s great. It’s it’s better if you’re if you’re a hungry individual, it’s better to put yourself in that position to where you’re actually reciprocated. You’re rewarded for that, that hunger.

John Berry: And as leaders, we want those hungry team members. And you’re absolutely right. I mean, I can think of there’s the we hire veterans. We love to hire veterans. But the reality is we can’t hire every veteran because there are the e-4s that stayed E-4 for eight years for good reason. Or they made E5 and kept getting demoted back to E-4. But then there’s also the officers who made O-4 who never should have made O-4, but they played the game right. And they they were conservative in their approach. They never got in trouble, they never took risks, and they just kind of floated to the next promotion. But they lacked the backbone. They lacked the intelligence and the potential to be in that position. And eventually they washed out. But the point is, just because someone served in the military doesn’t mean. We love to hire veterans, and the best veterans, in my mind, are the best team members, and we want to hire as many great veterans as we can. But not all veterans were great performers, and just because someone’s in an organization does not mean that they are great. And I’ve hired people from great organizations with high expectations only to learn that, yeah, they were probably the dirtbag of that. Yeah, they’re in a great organization. But the reason why they’re available now is because they’re a dirtbag in that organization. And I’m sure you’ve experienced the same for sure. So let’s talk about the three examples of negative leadership.

Chris Pomerleau: Yeah. Most certainly. And there was a lieutenant that was in our battalion who I showed up. And, you know, you show up that first day as a butter bar and you’re like, what am I gonna do? Right? It’s all, you just got back from training for four months in Virginia with a bunch of other lieutenants who was basically just a big frat. You’re learning what to do, but you’re not leading anybody. You show up day one. You’re expected to stand up in front of a bunch of soldiers and command respect. And unfortunately for me, there was a lieutenant in our battalion who I watched and I and at first I thought was going to be somewhat of a mentor, and I quickly learned he was disrespected by everybody. Um, he instead of instead of building a rapport and a and a demand for respect in his position, he thought that he deserved it when he had a difficulty looking internally to realize that you’ve been a lieutenant for five years, like you’re not going anywhere. You’ve been you’ve been medically injured every other month. Like there’s the reason you’re not respected is that you have the balls to look at your a couple of your e2’s or a struggle on their PT test when every morning you show up in socks because you don’t have to do your PT test, you’re not doing anything. You’re hurt. So how can you demand something out of them that you’re not doing yourself? And so I learned very quickly, like, look, if you want it done, you better show them how to do it from the front. And that’s why when it came to these difficult rock marches or whatever, I was always making sure sometimes I didn’t want to be there. It’s tough, but if you expect anybody to do it, you better be able to do it yourself. And seeing that not done by a lieutenant and seeing that how that was actually viewed upon by everybody was a great way to show me how not to act.

John Berry: Yeah, that five years is a first lieutenant tells you something.

Chris Pomerleau: Before maybe, but too long.

John Berry: There are a lot of people that take seven years to graduate college. They’re called doctors. It was Chris.

Chris Pomerleau: Farley. Oh, yeah? Yeah. Dumb dumber. I can’t.

John Berry: Remember the movie, but.

Chris Pomerleau: Tommy boy.

John Berry: Yeah. Tommy boy. All right, so two more?

Chris Pomerleau: Yeah. The first firm I was in, um, there was an attorney who was who was higher up. Um, and they they didn’t build that respect. Uh, I’m trying to, you know, walk on some eggshells here because. But but I can give an example of that. They were in a position just like in the military that deserved the respect. One of the good things for me is that I knew whether I wanted to or not, I needed to give position to that position, just like you’re in the courtroom, right? I’ll be honest right now. There are, there are, there are judges. I’ve been in front of that I had zero respect for. They got that judgeship the same as a colonel might get a colonel position. The same as some CFO might get a CFO position. Sometimes they’re great at what they do, sometimes in the right place, right time. They may be a dirt bag. And I think that about many positions this happened to be, in my opinion, the situation for me as an attorney, because I was I had to answer to this attorney who, much like my military career, was, uh, demanding respect from everybody but not actually showing anybody they could accomplish the same things themselves. And they show up the first day, and they almost wanted to work it like it was the military.

Chris Pomerleau: It was. They did. They yelled at me basically in every way, just short of making me drop and get them 20 push ups like, and it’s like, why are you acting this way without building somewhat of a rapport? Because this is this is a different environment in the military. And so I’m trying to walk on eggshells by not divulging too many details, because it’d be clear who this individual was. But it made me, from day one, say, this is I don’t have any I don’t have any respect for this. And by the way, if I’m going to work my ass off, I end up leaving the firm. But if I’m going to work my ass off, and that’s the position I’m going to take, like, this is not the program I want to be in. And I understand that that that relates a lot to the first detail I gave you. But again, if you’re in a leadership position, it’s more than just who can bark the loudest. It’s can you lead? Can you show them? You can lead, and can you be there to give them the to give them respect that they deserve so that they actually show your respect in return?

John Berry: All right. And number three, the final one.

Chris Pomerleau: I mean, here’s something that would be negative about myself, actually, I think when I first started in the civilian world, building a business which was new to me, I was a part of college athletics. So I fit into a program already built for me. I was a part of the military, so I fit into a program that was already built for me. And then my first firm I went to, it was hundreds of attorneys around the country. I built into a platform that was already built for me. And then when I started my own business, I had to do everything. And one of the things that if I look back on that, I think we’re very good at now that I didn’t do a good job at the ways that was my opportunity to only surround myself with people who I thought were the greatest. And at first, we surround ourselves with people who could help us get the job done, because we’re building a business and we’re growing quickly, and it’s somewhat understandable. You’re not going to have all the best people ever at your beckoning call when. You’re building a business and you’re new. One of the things I could have done better, which is certainly behind us now, is I could have been a little slower to hire and a lot quicker to fire because we learned through time some issues, and I wish we would have done it quicker.

Chris Pomerleau: Um, same same breath to finish. That is also to tell that individual one of the things about military is these R’s or whatever they are, where you have a chance to sit down to individual and say, look, these are the good things that you did. These are the bad things you did. And this is what I want changed. Um, one of the things I learned is I stopped doing that when I left the military. And the problem with that is you may have an individual who’s good or show some guts or so, some hunger, but if they never know what they’re doing good or they’re doing well or what they’re doing bad, they’re not giving them a lot of direction as a leader. And I can tell you, even though I may maybe have should have been quicker to fire one of the things I didn’t do right away, which we’re doing a better job of now, is making sure that each person knows how they’re producing, how they’re performing, because that is the only clear way we can all see what’s all on the table and see if they’re accomplishing their goals or not.

John Berry: Yeah, you’ve got to have I found you got to have both KPI and objectives. You’ve got to have the metrics. But also what are you going to get done this year? Like let’s have a real conversation about what you are going to do this year to move the organization forward. Here are your metrics. And this is what you have to do to to justify your paycheck. And here’s what above and beyond looks like. But I’ve also found that then you want to give them some reach goals, some really stretch to help the company achieve these objectives, because this is where you’re going to advance. And I think that as a team, well, as the boss, you have to make sure that you are giving a bigger and better future to every team member. And if you don’t, the good ones are going to leave. If they can’t see a bigger, better future with you, they will find it with someone else. And I will tell one of the things you said this is, you know, this resonates so well with me because this is where I really struggled. My first couple years out of the military was I had a phenomenal team. You know, my infantry platoon was the best platoon in the battalion and showing up at 530 every morning.

John Berry: I was excited to be there because my NCOs were pumped up. They were ready to go, and we knew that our mission was important and we really wanted to develop every member on the team. It was just it felt like being part of a championship team and I loved being part of it. Then I get in the civilian world and not everyone on my team is a champion, and sometimes I’m hiring whoever I can afford. And then it’s I’m wondering, why don’t I have this championship team? Why am I not happy with the team? Why am I not all pumped up to go into work every day like I was when I was a young infantry lieutenant? And and the reality was, I didn’t understand that it was my responsibility to hire the absolute best to find those individuals who are hungry. And if someone didn’t fall in line with the core values or didn’t want to be there, well then it was my job to help them find a better future somewhere else. But I really I really struggled there for years.

Chris Pomerleau: And same story, same story. It’s tough because when you’re in your position in the military, you weren’t necessarily the ones making the decisions on placing those individuals there, like you weren’t really in charge of who you’re. You certainly had some say, but who your NCO was, your platoon sergeant was like, you had some say, but that was made it a lot higher decision. So you kind of were given who you have and you need to succeed. You lucked out because obviously you’re a great leader and you built a great championship team on that platoon. But like, it’s so different than the civilian world where you show up, you’re in charge of building that team, period. You’re literally hiring the platoon sergeant of your company. You’re literally hiring the squad leaders like it is your job. And that took me a little bit to learn.

John Berry: Yeah, absolutely. Now, finally, Chris, uh, you have a podcast as well, the Keeping It Real podcast. Uh, tell us where people can get Ahold of you.

Chris Pomerleau: So is our or liquid lending is our website. We do have a podcast keeping it Real Estate with Chris and Collins. So that’s a that’s a podcast we like to bring on. Of course we talk about real estate, but believe it or not, we have a lot of entrepreneurs. I mean, John, you were on there and you know, you’re on the real estate sector. I’d say it’s more 70, 30, 70 entrepreneurial leadership, motivational type stuff and 30% real estate. I think it’s great for people to listen to. Um, they can also find us on or me on LinkedIn or Instagram or Facebook, um, any of those social media platforms and reach out to me, Chris, at I’m always willing to converse, talk about what I’ve learned, investment opportunities, and, um, I’m always willing to help.

John Berry: Thank you Chris, thanks for being on the show. This is, I’m sure, going to be valuable to several veterans, not just those who are thinking about the VA loan and maybe some of those duplexes that they bought when they were active duty, that now they’re trying to unload or figuring out how they haven’t monetized them. Uh, but more importantly, looking at a bigger future and an opportunity. And one of the mistakes that a lot of us make when we have our businesses, we’re thinking about the fight in front of us, and we’re not thinking about the future fight. We used to have a section and division staff called Foo Ops Future Operations. And with the real estate now, I know there’s really no such thing as passive income, but there is a way where you can invest in real estate, make a smart investment, and it can actually build your future and build, uh, build wealth in a way that doesn’t require as much active participation as building a business. And obviously you’re the person to talk to about that. Thanks so much for coming onto our show, Chris. It’s always great to have Smees, but more importantly, Smees who actually served in the military and understand real leadership. Thank you, Chris Palmer, for coming on to Veteran Led.

Chris Pomerleau: Thanks for having me, I appreciate it.

John Berry: Thank you for joining us today on Veteran Led, where we pursue our mission of promoting veteran leadership in business, strengthening the veteran community, and getting veterans all of the benefits that they earn. If you know a leader who should be on the Veteran Led podcast, report to our online community by searching at Veteran Led on your favorite social channels and posting in the comments, we want to hear how your military challenges prepared you to lead your industry or community, and we will let the world know. And of course, hit subscribe and join me next time on Veteran Led.

Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law are dedicated to helping injured Veterans. With extensive experience working with VA disability claims, Berry Law can help you with your disability appeals.

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this blog are not a substitute for legal counsel.

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