Posted: February 23, 2017 by Eli Randel, Director of Business Development
CULTURE IS KING
An exert from CREXi’s The Marketplace Volume One. To request a complimentary copy of The Marketplace, Click Here to provide your mailing address.
Startup-life can sometimes feel like armies of naysayers and competitors are telling you to give up and get a “normal job.” Our team approaches those armies like Spartan warriors: aligned incentives, firm principals, a unified direction, and a honed ability to do more with less than those who can sometimes be paralyzed by their size. We are the few going against the many, the creators of something new going against the preservers of something old, the resourceful vs. the overly resourced. Scarcity can be motivating and necessitate innovation while abundance can cause companies to avoid progress (when the need to survive is gone, evolution can also disappear). As we’ve grown and achieved measures of success, our humble roots remain and the culture of scarcity and innovation is something we focus on preserving.
With close to half of our employees being from Chicago and knowing each other as far back as middle school, two sets of brothers, and every employee (except Kodi & Snugs, the designated emotional support pups) being a shareholding partner, it’s impossible not to become a family. We protect our family tooth and nail and culture fits are more crucial than individual superstars (the “Bill Belichick Model”). Chips on shoulders are encouraged as are healthy debates which breed the strongest idea-babies. With relatively flat management usually consisting of player-coaches, we generally avoid the time-suck of over meeting (a meeting to discuss a future meeting followed by a meeting to recap a previous meeting).
While the focus on culture can sound squishy and perhaps secondary to business, we genuinely believe a good culture isn’t about making people feel good (although it should), but will be reflected in the user experience and brand perception and will eventually contribute to the success of the company. The benefit is a team able to do more with less because time isn’t wasted on corporate politics, meetings, and noise which allows us to focus our energy on building the best product in the market and servicing our customers above and beyond industry standards. Cultural strength also allows us to avoid the future expenses associated with overhauling an unhappy workplace including employee turnover, more meetings (but this time with consultants!), diminished productivity, and an army of detractors vs. a legion of ambassadors. Therefore, we hire the right people, give them real ownership in the company, and offer a healthy dose of autonomy. Resumes are always accepted (firstname.lastname@example.org).
All Companies Aren’t Created Equal
While good cultures are not exclusive to small companies, larger companies have more opportunities for toxicity to hide and culture to go awry. As sources of value creation become harder to locate, credit can be misplaced and talented contributors can become marginalized. Steering a large ship can take time and reduce mobility and size can also create a false need for layers of management between executives and producers and “us vs. them” divides often form. As information becomes a currency controlled by managers, transparency – an omnipresent request of employees – often gets diluted as can feelings of relevance and importance. We have grown in team size since launching and are currently in the process of hiring several more talented people, but are committed to avoiding some of the traps inherent in size. Transparency and identifying value contributors are crucial to us.
Eli Randel is Director of Business Development based in CREXi’s Miami office. Eli spearheads CREXi’s growth and sales throughout the east coast as well as overseeing the national sales team. Prior to joining CREXi, Eli was director of dispositions for Blackstone’s Invitation Homes. Eli has also held management positions and production roles with Cohen Financial, Auction.com, LNR and CBRE where he began his career spending three years in Investment Sales before leaving to obtain his Master in Business Administration from the University of Florida.