Whitebox Real Estate CEO Grant Pruitt joined the show to discuss many aspects of his real estate career, the twists and turns of his journey, and the accidental and riveting journey that led to his entrepreneurial venture. You will laugh, learn, and be inspired all at once.


Aaron Spatz  00:05

You’re listening to America’s entrepreneur, the podcast designed to educate, entertain, and inspire you in your personal professional journey. I’m your host, Aaron Spatz. And on the podcast, I interview entrepreneurs, industry experts, and other high achievers that detail their personal and professional journeys in business. My goal is to glean their experiences into actionable insights that you can apply to your own journey. If you’re new to the show, we’ve spoken with successful entrepreneurs, Grammy Award winning artists, best selling authors, chief executives, and other fascinating minds with unique experiences. We’ve covered topics such as how to achieve breakthrough and business, growing startups, effective leadership techniques, and much more. If you strive for continual self improvement, and enjoy fascinating and insightful conversation, if the subscribe button, you’ll love it here at America’s entrepreneur. Thank you so much for tuning in to America’s entrepreneur, it’s just a true delight to be able produce a show for you. And so, again, I know you saw it in the intro, you’ll see it again in the outro. But if you have any questions, comments, feel free to drop me a line Aaron at bold strategy group.us or Aaron at Bold media.us goes to the same place. But love love hearing from you. And again, I love being able just bring some just fantastic guests. And it’s really asking great questions as you’re pursuing your entrepreneurial journey or contemplating just different things in your professional career. And so this week, super excited to welcome grant Pruitt to the show grant comes to us with a background that is probably relevant and and, and of extreme curiosity to people right now in real estate, because grant has a front row seat to a lot of what’s going on in the commercial real estate space. He’s based in the Dallas Fort Worth area, and he is the President CEO of white box real estate LLC. And so grant, I just wanna I just wanna welcome you to the show. Thank you so much for being here today.

Grant Pruitt  02:02

Thank you for having me. Glad to be here.

Aaron Spatz  02:04

Awesome. So let’s, so let’s go back to the beginning of your story. And so just to kind of share with us a little bit, give us a little bit of a tour of your journey. And then I’d love to just at some point, and it may make sense later or sooner, but we’d love to just kind of understand, like, where did that entrepreneurial bug come from? Like, where where did where did that happen?

Grant Pruitt  02:25

Is that where you’d like me to begin? It’s a real bug.

Aaron Spatz  02:27

Yeah, it’s all good.

Grant Pruitt  02:28

You know, actually, I really connected with what you said at the beginning of the show about the entrepreneurial journey, because I never set out to be an entrepreneur. And I think that’s, you know, there’s a lot of people that wake up, and then you’re just born thinking, I’m going to start a business, I started a business because I felt like there was a need, and I wasn’t able to serve as the clientele that I had. And so it was really born out of necessity. I didn’t set out to be an entrepreneur. And I think that there’s a misnomer that people, you know, they wake up, and they automatically think that they want to own a business. I was a lot, you know, without a little bit of pushing, I probably wouldn’t have done it. And I’m certainly glad that I did. So anybody that’s listening, I hope that they certainly pursue that. But you know, I talked to a lot of entrepreneurs, and this is their 12th business. And, you know, I didn’t start my first business at five. Now my wife, my wife is she’s probably had five or six different businesses. But, you know, for me, uh, I wasn’t born thinking I was going to do that.

Aaron Spatz  03:36

Sure. Yeah, that’s, uh, I really do think that’s, that should be received by folks listening to this right now and watching us that should really comfort a lot of people because I do think there is that, too. I mean, to your point, I really do think there’s a perception that, hey, like, you were, you know, you’re you’re selling pacifiers to your preschool class when you’re, you know, you’re barely able to crawl right? And so, right. It’s, it’s neat, being able to look look to you as it is just as another example, or as a model of like, a man like I, you know, I’d had a career I’ve been moving along with what I was doing and his circumstances and we’ll get into all that here shortly, I’m sure. But this is kind of where this all came from. And I wasn’t able to serve my clients the way that I wanted to. So now it’s, it’s really, really neat. So you but you’ve spent your you’ve spent the bulk of your career than working in real estate. So Correct. Take us take us through a quick tour of your career.

Grant Pruitt  04:33

So I was born in a family that does real estate. Both my parents are real estate brokers. My younger brother is a real estate broker. I have two uncles that are real estate brokers. I have two cousins that are real estate brokers. The list goes on and on and on. And I got into real estate because I really I needed something to be able to do so I mean, He goes back to well. So when I was in high school, my father came in and said, I want you to understand how I earn a living. And it was middle of summer. And he said, we’re going to go and knock on doors and call on warehouse space. And so this was in San Antonio, Texas, and I spent that summer knocking on doors with him. And I really liked it, because I enjoyed the people enjoy the interaction, and also felt like it was an opportunity for me to be able to make some money on the side while I was going to school. So I was going to SMU. And I felt like, you know, I could use a real estate license, go to school and make some money on the side. I I’m one of the few people who actually has a degree in real estate. I don’t know what that means. But I needed some courses that I could pass and bump up my GPA and SMU haven’t have a real estate finance major. And so I, I did pretty well at that I was I was good at it. And so one thing led to another about that same time, I wanted to really figure out how to get my foot in the door in Dallas Fort Worth, because it was a growing market, it wasn’t nearly as big or as reputable as it is now. But it was a big market is a lot bigger than the market that I had been working in working for my father. And so I went on the road show trying to get a job. And as an intern, and I was you know, I would have pushed paper around, I would have done whatever. And I happen to get an offer for an internship at stream Realty. And that was my first bite at the industry. And I worked for them. During school, I worked for them during summers, I begged for a job when I got out of school, I got a job full time working for them. And that was my first job. That’s how I got into this industry. And the rest is history. So thank you to all those guys that hired me.

Aaron Spatz  07:14

That’s awesome. Yeah, that’s, that’s cool. And that it’s not every day, I talked to somebody that comes from a background, whether they’re their entire family works in real estate. So I mean, it’s that, that that alone is really that that’s a really unique perspective, because then you’ve got all these other people that can mentor you not just, you know, general life advice, but in general business advice, but very specific advice to write with as it relates to real estate. Yeah,

Grant Pruitt  07:40

it did certainly give me an advantage. As I went through my career that you know, to have some some help and mentorship as it relates to the real estate industry and some of the the deals and, and knowing where to go and what to do, because, you know, it’s it’s a, it’s a very difficult industry to get into, it really takes a lot of good mentorship. And that’s, that’s, that’s the most important thing is business, there’s not a whole lot of good training. But that’s another reason that I started this company, because I felt like we could train better than everybody else and build better real estate professionals.

Aaron Spatz  08:18

And like, that’s crazy. So like, what why do you think it’s so one that it’s so hard to get into and to why why the training is so bad.

Grant Pruitt  08:26

So it’s the way that it’s structured typically, is that you’re viewed as a competitor to the people that are there, okay. So there’s not a real incentive for the people to hire you. Because if they bring in someone new, if you train them, they’re gonna compete with you. Or at least that’s how it is typically perceived. And most people’s first day in real estate, you know, I actually when I started working, I was working as a market analyst on the leasing side. And I really felt like I wanted to go to the tenant rep side. And maybe I was just crazy, but I felt like that’s where I really wanted to be. So I actually begged them to they were starting to build out a tenant rep vertical. And I begged them to let me go work for them on the tenant rep side, representing tenants buyers, users of at that time, primarily office space. So I went from the warehouse side, leasing office buildings, then tenant replacing, but, you know, there was a fairly decent training program as it related to the leasing side. But tenant rep and most 10 reps will tell you this, you know, your first day is literally Hey, we’re glad you’re here. Here’s your phone, here’s your desk, and here’s your business cards, and I remember my first day on the 10 rep side. That’s what it was like And no one said a single word to me the whole rest of the day. And fortunately, since I’d seen it on the other side, I thought I knew what to do. But I’ll tell you, you know, there’s a, it depends on what part of the country you’re in. But sometimes it’s it’s, it is legally required. Sometimes it’s not. But there’s, there’s a, an authorization letter, an engagement letter. And I went out my first day and they said, you know, here’s your phone, here’s your business card, and I was like, Well, I guess I need to start knocking on doors. So I go out to the gallery of office towers that LBJ in the Tollway and I just started knocking on doors. So I get through maybe two buildings, and then I’m not going on every single door literally knocking on Hey, do you need space? Do you not need space, whatever. And second day, I knock on this one door, and it was Jordan and Jordan insurance in there. And to Galleria, I’ll never forget, they were in about 1100 feet. And a walk in. And I think I said, and I don’t know if I really knew anything. And that’s what you find with a lot of young real estate brokers, they don’t they don’t even know what to say. And I said, I think your lease is coming up. Are you looking for more space? And the guy goes, well, as a matter of fact, it is. And I am looking for more space. And I mean, I about passed out when he said that, wait, what? Exactly. And I knew enough to say, hey, look, that’s great. Where do you want to be? And I had his business card. And you know, I tell a teller by the works here, make sure you have pen and paper because a dull pencil is better than a sharp mind. Well, I didn’t have any paper, but I had a pin and he had given me his business card. Okay, so I said, Well, where do you want to be? And he said, Well, you know, I want to be between 121 and Windhaven. I had no idea where when he was and he goes, Do you know where that is? And of course, I’m going yay, Sure, absolutely. I know exactly where that is. And I’m like, Man, I’m gonna have to, I’m gonna have to pull out a map. Because literally, if anybody knows I’m talking about I had a Maps co map book, you know, this was just as Yahoo Maps was coming, okay, on the scene, but I had a Maps co maps book with all the different cross sections of streets in Dallas, Fort Worth. And so I’m like, Man, I gotta find this when Haven Street and figure out what he’s talking about, because I have no idea what he’s talking about. And that’s the thing is, that was the market that I was in. Now, when I got into that market is about 50 million square foot market using the same metric, it’s probably about 85 million square feet. Now, that Mark has really, really grown but you know, it’s about 50 million feet, then I’m going man, I have no idea where that is. But I’m going to figure out where it is. I said, Alright, here’s the deal. I got your requirement. Let me put together some options for you. I’ll bring you a survey. And we can go from there. Can I come by tomorrow? whatever time it was, he goes, Yeah. And he goes, I’ll see you then partner. And I go back to the office. And I mean, I’m a static and the show up. And I’ll never forget a walk in I go, I got a deal. And the manager goes. So where’s your authorization letter? And I said authorization letter. What in the world is an authorization letter? I’ve never even heard of an authorization letter. And he goes, You didn’t get an authorization letter? How do you know you got hired? And I go, because you call me partner on the way out. Anyways, I brought my one of the guys that was older than me who had been in the business a little while he put some options together. And I did get him to sign it the next day. And that was my very first lease transaction. I mean, moved him. He was one of the initial tenants and Lincoln legacy one. So anyways, when I think about that story, I got really lucky that that was my third day that he signed it I got hired on my third day. That’s very, very, very rare. I don’t think I got hired on my second deal until nine months later. You know, so the learning curve is is it’s very long. It takes a long time to get those deals done. There’s a lot to learn. And you know, here they had me as the North Dallas market expert. There were two of us work in that market. And I had no idea where when haven in the Tollway was which is a pretty major intersection that everyone would know if they were familiar with that market. I had no idea what was going on in the market. I didn’t know what to say. And the only reason I knew to get out and knock on those doors is because I done that on the leasing side handing out flyers I leased a worked on one of the leasing teams is the most lowest on the totem pole you know analysts and was Trying to find tenants to lease bank spaces that, you know, different companies had vacated and some downtown office towers. And I would go and hand those flyers out door to door. And so I just, I figured I would go door to door and start knocking on doors and seeing if I could find people. So man. Yeah, not a lot of training.

Aaron Spatz  15:23

Yeah. Yeah. But then. So it’s, it’s an interesting point, because it’s what one I just I think it’s unfortunate that people see you as competition rather than as a, as a colleague or as a teammate. I, I can see where they’re coming from. But I don’t necessarily agree with that. It’s just it’s,

Grant Pruitt  15:43

it comes down to culture, it comes down to the right people in the right seats, it comes down to the right management, the right management team, that’s really what it comes down to. And the right vision.

Aaron Spatz  15:57

Yeah, for sure. So So walk us through, then your like your next steps, because then you’re at Cushman Wakefield, and then like, what, what led you to start your own business.

Grant Pruitt  16:08

So I’ll just, I’ll be honest, I was, I was having a hard time, in my first go at it as a tenant rep. It was a really, really difficult time we’re in the middle of a recession. It was, it was really, really difficult. And the thing that I didn’t have was training and mentorship. And I, I really started to question rather whether or not that was the right industry for me to be in. So I started just calling up everybody that would listen to me trying to interview for a job again. And I didn’t really know what to do, I was afraid I may get cut loose where I was. They were starting to, you know, every company’s got a bent, their bent was the leasing side, at that point in time, it’s changed a lot, it was a lot smaller company, then it’s not even the same company, really. But it was, it was a tough place to be a tenant rep specifically. And I just, I didn’t really have the training and the mentorship. So I either needed to find somebody that could help me with that. Or I was like, I don’t know, I guess I’ll go to graduate school or something. So I had a cousin that was working at Cushman Wakefield in investment sales. And he said, Hey, there’s this guy that is looking for a junior broker, his junior rover is leaving, he’s going to work for this startup, that, at that time, I don’t know if anybody’s ever heard of called Salesforce. And, you know, he’s moving out to San Francisco. I know he’s looking for somebody, you ought to interview for it. And I went in, I interviewed and I begged, I begged for that job. And I mean, I begged for probably four months. And finally they hired me. And it was to the finest mentors in the business, and really one of the greatest friends and partners on the junior level that I could have ever found. And that was what springboarded my career. And it took me to the next level. I really started to have a lot of success at at that time, at a very young age, I started to work on the processes. You know, I’m a big believer in the, in the Sammy Sosa you know, Mark McGwire type relationship where you kind of need somebody to push you and I had a junior partner that helped push me. And then there were a lot of changes that started to happen. So I did that for a couple years and and, you know, was privy to have some, some great mentors. And then we had a manager that came in, and he was a great manager and mentor as well. And then he went and busted up all these teams, because the way that real estate companies and some of them are still structured like this, but the way that they were structured at the time was you had these teams and they were like companies within a company. And when I was working at Cushman Wakefield there were three teams, primary teams, there were some one off guys here and one off guys there. But there were three teams. Two of them had probably 15 plus people on those teams. And then there was us and we were a team of four brokers and an admin. Okay, we were the smallest team. One of these teams actually had their own suite. When we moved offices with their own conference rooms and locked doors. We He hated each other because we were all competitors. And we had our own competing companies, if you will, within a company. So we had a new manager that came in, he said, All right, new rule, no teams, and he busted up all the teams. And I was really scared, because I went from what was this, you know, family environment where I had this, what I felt like was a backstop, whether or not I did to just, hey, you go figure it out and be on your own. And to be honest, as the best thing that ever happened to me, I had my best year ever that next year, and then I had my best year, ever the next year. And that’s when I started to realize that it probably was a good move. Around that same time, the, you know, over the last 10 or 15 years industries really changed, there were a lot of mergers and acquisitions going on. And the company I was with really went through a, a merger, where they were the they were the acquiree, and then rebranded as the same company, and really changed the company. When I first went to work for them, 51% of the revenue came from what I did, so that was, you know, what their core specialty was, when I left, it was probably about 16%, it’s probably about 12%, now of what the overall revenue makeup is, and so the company’s really changed a lot, the business has really changed a lot. And what I started to see was that, you know, there’s, it’s, it’s a lot like, it’s a lot like the banks in the banking industry. You know, if your city group, you have a lot of mouths to feed, so you want huge projects that aren’t necessarily the most profitable, but you need huge projects to feed a lot of mouths. Yeah. They don’t want the smaller ones, even if it’s more profitable, because it doesn’t feed enough mouths. And that’s what I started to see with real estate companies. And that’s when I started to realize that, you know, unless they were fortune 200, unless they were Bank of America, Citigroup, Microsoft, you know, fortune 200 companies, it was a nicety. It wasn’t a necessity to get their business. So while they wanted me to focus on going out and finding that business, I was really disincentivized to go after that business. And so there was this disconnect, you know, I talked about, one of the largest deals I’ve ever done in my career was a 475,000 square foot office disposition, and it was a seven figure commission. And I made 1700 bucks. So, you know, when you’re working for a year and a half, and you’re making 1700 bucks, people can say whatever they want to say, I mean, I would figure that most people being entrepreneurs, you know, it is what it is, you got to make money somehow. And if you’re making 1700 bucks, you learn that one time, and then the next time that deal comes along, you go, hey, I want to introduce you to Joe Blow, he is the perfect guy for this job. He’s gonna work so hard. Little do they know, he’s been there about a week, and they’re probably getting the worst guy for the job. But it just wasn’t. It wasn’t, you know, at that point in time, I had a wife, I had a mortgage, I had car payments, I couldn’t afford to work for two years to make 1700 bucks on a project. So I started really focusing on kind of that sub fortune 200 business. And there was just a disconnect between what the companies wanted the service lines they were oftentimes forcing me to use, and what we were able to deliver. And I just kind of started say, there’s, there’s, there’s got to be a better way. The other thing is the real estate business as a general rule of thumb, you know, nothing new has been done since the 1980s. There’s a lot of, you know, when people think of real estate, they think of a bunch of, you know, old white haired guys, you know, in a picture with their arms crossed, standing behind the mahogany desk. And, you know, I mean, you look at me now I didn’t look like that. I it’s, it’s slowly but surely happening, but I don’t have white hair yet. So I felt like there was a lot of opportunity. There was a lot of need for change. And, you know, you really had a consolidation of a bunch of really big companies at the top. So like six companies that are all trying to go after those fortune 200 fortune 300 companies, and then you had and it’s not a bad thing, but you had a bunch of companies that were small All boutiques that really didn’t want to play in the same space. And, you know, I, I use a lot of baseball analogies with my business you know just in. If you’ve seen Moneyball we talk about Moneyball a lot in this company, you know, you can play majors it is, you can play in the majors or you can play in the minors. To play in the majors, you have to have a major league stadium, you have to have a major league salary cap, you got to be able to afford Major League coaches, etc. There’s nothing wrong with playing single a and double A baseball, nothing wrong with it. There’s a ton of people that do it and they make a good living doing it. But you kind of got to pick what space you want to play in. I really, if I was gonna do it, I didn’t want to play in the minors. I really wanted to play in the majors, which meant that I had to take a lot of risk, especially financially to afford to play in the majors. And, you know, a lot of times I say we’re kind of like the Oakland Athletics. You know, I can’t compete against George Steinbrenner in the Yankees, that’s fine. They’re chasing that fortune 200 business. And you know, if you’ve seen the the Moneyball, they can have Jason Giambi. But what I can do is put together a team, and what I found I’m really good at and, you know, I’m jumping ahead, I guess on the story, but is coaching people up and getting the best out of them and taking them to the next level, and getting them to be that Rockstar player, that that’s playing in the major leagues, I can take them from that single a and triple A ball, and bring them up to the majors and make them a success in the major leagues. And so that was a lot of the driver of why I started thinking that something had to change, because nothing had changed since the 1980s. And if they weren’t going to change, and they weren’t going to evolve, I felt like I could, yeah,

Aaron Spatz  26:54

wow. I mean, that’s, that’s an incredible story and incredibly credible perspective, because it’s like, again, you’re, you’re identifying opportunities, you’re seeing all these different gaps. And and you clearly have I mean, that that’s a, that’s a unique gift. I mean, that’s a gifting that you have to be able to develop people and to pull the best out of them. I mean, that truly is. And so you’re, you’re able to play to your strengths, utilizing your experiences, you know, elements of your personality, all the different things that that kind of make you you write in your been able to kind of take that push that forward. And here you are today, right? And so it’s like, pretty, pretty fantastic. I mean, that I mean, it’s, it’s really unique. And so like, what what was that, like then taking some of those financial risks that you mentioned a minute ago? I mean, like,

Grant Pruitt  27:47

it is like jumping out of an airplane with no parachute, and just saying, I hope I don’t splat on the ground. Man. That’s the only way I know to describe it.

Aaron Spatz  27:57

I mean, like, I’m being sensitive here, but like, I mean, did you want to go into detail about that? Like, did you want to share a little bit about like, what yeah, look like?

Grant Pruitt  28:04

So, you know, I there’s, there’s several different paths. And like I said, if I, if I was going to do this, I really didn’t want to go down a level and go to the minor leagues, if you will, you know, I didn’t. I’m fortunate in that, you know, I’d seen several different businesses started, I have an uncle who is, he’s probably on his fourth real estate company at this point in time. My father started his real estate company in 1996. Some of them big, some of them small. But I really wanted to be a player and be a contender at the highest level. So if I was going to do it, I wanted to make sure that I had as good of resources or better in every single category as everyone else. And the problem that I had was that I didn’t have the capital to do it. Okay. So I didn’t really know what to do. I am not inherently wealthy, I, I, I had done very well as a real estate broker. But, you know, I was a good salesman, I’d spin in on, you know, I I’d spent everything that I’d made, I’ve gotten married. And so I wanted to test it out a little bit. Okay, so I called up some of my best clients. And I said, Hey, look, I I’m really frustrated where I am. There’s no mobility and that’s really the other thing. I mean, I’m gonna back up a second and I’ll tell you a story about You know, another the thing that the straw that broke the camel’s back. I had been winning awards. At that. Cushman and I, I won an award. And you know that they would have the top producers. And I don’t know how they have a jillion brokers and they pick, I don’t know, the top 10 producers. And so I wouldn’t award for that I wouldn’t deal the Year that year, I won, I don’t know something else. And so, you know, I have all these trophies or whatever. And there’s 10, or 12 of us that have all these trophies. And you know, there’s probably 500 people in the audience. And most of them I didn’t know. And the guy that I was, unfortunately, not the top producer that year, but the guy that was a top producer, gets up there. And he was 60 something. And he said, you know, it feels really good to get up here and win these awards. But we got to go into the office tomorrow and lace up our tracks us and start running around the track tomorrow. And I went, he gotta be kidding me. I’m gonna do this same thing for the next 40 years because I was 29. And I went, Man, I don’t think I can do this for another 40 years because I want to go to the same award show with the same people win the same award forever and ever and ever. And there really wasn’t any incremental upward mobility growth for me. And there’s a lot of ageism in this industry, you know, I don’t believe in ageism, you know, either either hit the metrics, or you don’t hit the metrics. And it doesn’t matter how old you are. You know, there were guys that were in their 70s. And I was laughing them. But, you know, we had a new manager that came in, and I was the very last person that he met with because I was one of the youngest guys. And I’ll never forget he came in he asked what my production was. And he goes, Oh, like, for one year? I said, Yeah. And he said, and you’re not happy? Said No. Anyway, hmm. Okay, well, I guess just keep doing what you’re doing. And when you thought all those other guys that I was doing double then, you know, were more important to meet with and me. So that really bothered me. And it’s always stuck with me, because you’re there hitting the metrics, or you’re not, it doesn’t matter how old you are, doesn’t matter how young you are, to an extent. I mean, I guess if you’re 13, it’d be a little tough. But I was winning these awards, I was at a young age. And I was like, man, for 40 years, I’m gonna do the same thing. And there is no upward mobility. I’m gonna do the same job for 40 years, and I’m completely tapped out. So I’m driving home from this Ford show. And I lived probably 30 minutes away from where it was, and my wife, I was fairly recently married. I think I’ve been married for years. And she goes, You haven’t said anything the entire way home? And I said, oh, sorry. She says, what, what are you thinking about? I said, Courtney, I can’t do this for 40 years. And she said, What do you mean? I said, I just I can’t do the same thing, go to the same award show for 40 years. And she was like, Well, what are you going to do about I said, I don’t know, Bama, go talk some people. So that’s when I started talking to some clients. And I really wasn’t even sure if I wanted to start a business, to be honest with you at that point in time, because talk to this guy and told him I was you know, I’m frustrated. I’m not sure what to do. There’s really nowhere for me to go, because every move is a lateral move. And I get to who’s one of my best clients now, certainly one of my best clients. And I told him, You know, I’m frustrated, every move is a lateral move. And he said, Well, have you thought about going out on your own? And I said, Well, I’ve thought about it, but I just, I can’t afford to do it. I mean, I can’t even afford some of the basic programs, and copy machines and stuff like that. I just, I don’t I don’t have those kinds of savings. And he said, I, here’s what I want you to do. I want you to go home for a week. I want you to think about it. I want you to think about if you want to start a business or not. And if you want to own a business and what that means. And I want you to put a business plan together and come back. And if that’s what you want to do, I’ll back you. So, you know, i Wow, other than Thank you, yeah, thank you. So I went home and started working on a business plan and I started thinking about it and it started to connect To me, and the thing that I tell people, you know, they say, How did you know that it was the time the right time, that it was the right time to start a business. And I say the thought of not doing it was so painful that it outweighed all the risk and potential pain of doing it and failing. So I went back to him. And I said, Okay, I thought about it, I went through this business plan, and he’s a wonderful person, he is probably the smartest person I’ve ever met, and extremely savvy. And he listened very patiently to my business plan. And I guarantee that went in the trash when I left, because I still have a copy of my business plan, and everything I thought was gonna happen and work and none of its right. But he said, Okay, if you want to do this, I’ll back it. Now. I will tell you, the idea was a really good thing. And then, you know, we got the terms hammered out. And then he was like, All right, we got to sign this thing. And there’s a picture of me signing that agreement. I walked across the street from the job I was at. And he said, When are you going to do this? And I said, Give me 30 days. And he said, No, I’m giving you two weeks. And so I signed this agreement, and I walked out, and I just went, well, legally, I’m obligated to go take this on. I really hope this works out. And we’ll see how this goes. And so I walked out. And probably a week later, it just, it was biting at me. And you know, I resigned and the rest is history. Wow.

Aaron Spatz  36:52

That’s, that’s an amazing story. Wow. Like the and I like I can feel it. Like even just just through just through the screen, you’re talking to the like, just the, the tension there of like, we had to actually finally signed this thing. It’s like, okay, this is,

Grant Pruitt  37:09

this is for real, you know, that’s why I laugh. You know, I had already bought a house. But on the second house that I bought, I was like, Man, this is nothing buying a car. I was like, this is nothing because Okay, right, you know, it. You know, you learn a lot about yourself, and you learn a lot about your risk profile. I was extremely risk averse, or much more risk averse. Before I started a business, and then I had to just learn to to embrace and appreciate calculated risk. I don’t believe in taking unnecessary risk, but calculated risk. Yeah. And then, you know, I resigned and literally the next day, I would always advise people taking time off. I didn’t, I didn’t. The clock was ticking. So I needed to go make money because I had a wife and a mortgage that didn’t have a kid at the time. My wife told me she was pregnant, like a year later. So then I really had to kick it in gear, but you know, it. It, boy, it was the most exhilarating and terrifying feeling that I’ve ever had in my entire life. When I woke up that next morning, I woke up about for probably 345, four o’clock that next morning,

Aaron Spatz  38:29

man, that’s nuts. Wow. So then, so then take us through them where, like, where that journey is taking you then from that from that day forward?

Grant Pruitt  38:38

Well, uh, where I am now? Yeah. So, you know, I have I have two offices, I think 14 or 15 employees. I, you know, we did work in 44 states, six countries, three continents last year. We have two primary service lines. You know, I have a leadership team, a management team. And, you know, for anyone that’s an entrepreneur, I, I’ll put a plug in for Eos, which is the Entrepreneurial Operating System. We just implemented EOS and it has been a complete lifesaver for me. There’s a great book the E Myth revisited. If you haven’t read the E Myth. I was that technician that was really good at what I did. And I think any entrepreneur is always going to have to have that vision because you got to be the visionary which you’ll you know, is EOS traction. We you don’t really start a business unless you’re the technician as well because you it, I do know people that start businesses that don’t know the business, but in a service business like mine, especially just starting it is, is me. I mean, when when when I walked in that office, my wife convinced me to wait until about 5am. To go into the office, I told you, I woke up at about 345, four o’clock, when I walked in that office at 5am. It was me, it was dark, and it was quiet. And I had to be the technician. And then I had to figure out how and when to transition into that managerial role. And that that’s a really, really, really difficult thing to do for an entrepreneur, it’s, it’s a very difficult journey as well to transition into that managerial role, and then start working and building on that.

Aaron Spatz  40:50

So let’s so let’s talk about that. I think that I think that’s a great, great topic to dive into. So like, what, what, what did you do? Or like, what, what changes did you have to make for you just internally, but like, what, what changes? Did you have to get your head around in order to make that happen?

Grant Pruitt  41:09

Oh, man, that’s such a difficult question. Because when you start as an individual, which, if you can, I would always recommend having someone else with you, because I think that’s helpful. I didn’t have that luxury. And when you start a business, you literally do every job, everything, you know, I had somebody who came to me and said, Alright, I’m thinking about starting a business what I need to think about, and I said, pins, paper, and a copy machine. And I will tell you the most difficult thing for anybody that starting a business that needs a copy machine is getting a copy machine. Very difficult. You know, I was fortunate that I had the money to go and buy a copy machine. So I went to go and buy a copy machine. And they said, No, we can’t sell you the copy machine. And I said, What do you mean, they said, you don’t have any credit? And I said, Yeah, no kidding, I don’t have any credit. I said, but I want to buy the copy machine, they said, We won’t sell you the copy machine without a service contract. Well, I didn’t qualify for the service contract because I was a new business. And I literally had been operating for a day. And so you know, I made a jillion trips to Office Depot, to Home Depot, IKEA, you name it. And what what happens is, you’re the office manager, you’re the accounting department, you’re the ops department, you’re the marketing department, you’re the sales department, you’re the every single job in the company. The buck stops there, because it’s just one person. So you get really used to doing those type things. And then you say, All right, well, I’m gonna hire somebody to offload some of the things that I don’t like to do. But inevitably, you offload the things that don’t, that you don’t like to do that are relevant to the things that you like to do. So for me, I was a real estate broker. So I found somebody that would help me with real estate transactions, and wouldn’t neglect everything else. I mean, I remember somebody said, When are you going to hire an ops person? And I said, ops what I need an ops person for, that’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard of, what am I going to use ops for. And I will tell you, that that is one of the most critical roles in a company is having an operations department that’s in intact, that, you know, does all the back of the house so that you can be freed up and focus on things that you like to do? And then you really have to start figuring out where you want to be. And it sounds like a silly question, but it’s really not. And what you find with entrepreneurs, people that started the business, not people that came into a business or an established business people that started from the ground up, you will hear this question time and time and time again. What does a CEO do? And that is a huge question that people that start businesses struggle with, is what does a CEO do? And there’s this feeling of not belonging and not being a part of your business. And is there a place for you in that business? How do you fit into that business? Because slowly but surely, for you to scale and grow, you have to relinquish some of the rain to different people that are in your organization, because you can’t do everything, you only have so much bandwidth. And so it is an extremely challenging process to start taking some of those tasks. What’s even more difficult is taking the tasks that you like and that you’re really good at and offloading those because you Do you think if you’re in it depends on how much you want to scale. I mean, there’s some people that just want a lifestyle business, and that’s perfect. If you want a lifestyle business, you can probably continue to do that. And that’s not, there’s nothing wrong with the lifestyle business. I didn’t want to have a lifestyle business. And so it meant that I had to take the 10 rep brokerage, which I had done and built my career on and say, okay, you know, I have a director of tenant representation, he leads tenant representation in our company, it all rolls up under him. And that’s what, you know, I would have been somebody that was working for him at some point in time. You know, it, it, that was a real struggle for me was to offload these types of positions in these types of roles and learn that, you know, it was okay, because you had to focus on other things. And, you know, having an operating system where you understand who you are, where you’re going, what the vision is, what, what your role is, what it consists of what you need to be doing what you need to spend your time on. That is an entirely other discovery process. And, you know, one of the biggest challenges that you’ll, you’ll hear entrepreneurs talk about is, you know, everybody thinks that your business grows at a, what’s at a 45 degree angle, right? You know, it just goes up and up and up, and up, and up, and up and up. And businesses don’t go like that they go up, they go over, sometimes they go down, then you got to figure out how to take them back up again. And, you know, it’s not a straight line, like everybody thinks it is. Yeah, so from a psychological standpoint, number one, that’s something that’s really difficult for an entrepreneur to come to grips with. Sure. Number two, you have to, you have to come to the realization and be okay with the fact that you may see a dip on the revenue side, as you’re transitioning these roles to other people. And that is a very, very difficult thing to do. And you’ll hear that from every entrepreneur that’s ever gone through it, it’s probably one of the most trying things that you’ll ever go through is that dip to get to the next level. Because you’re ramping up, you’re doing all this volume on your own. And then you put somebody else in there, they got to learn the ropes, you have to spend your time training on them, it takes you out of the production role. And that’s a very, very difficult journey and process. Yeah.

Aaron Spatz  47:37

Yeah. Yeah. I can’t imagine that because you’re but but then you’re balancing well, but I’ve got to invest in this like, I’ve got I got to do this. And so

Grant Pruitt  47:45

but didn’t really question it. It’s the same thing. We’re really questioned doing that.

Aaron Spatz  47:50

Right? Well, let’s, let’s pivot to one, really, probably one less. Last area of discussion today is like Grant, I’d love to hear from you just kind of your perspective on just the way that you’ve developed manage people lead in leading people, I get the sense that that’s a, that’s a very important topic, very important thing to get your arms around. And I think that’s, that’s something that a lot of people struggle with. And so for you how, how do you go about evaluating people and then pulling the best out of them? Like, what what do you think it is that you are zeroing in on with people that that, that speaks to you and maybe reveals itself to you in a way that it doesn’t maybe show up? For other people,

Grant Pruitt  48:37

the number one thing is hard and work ethic? Yeah, I can train for everything else. But if you don’t have the drive and desire, you’re not going to be successful. I tell. I try and tell everybody, if I forget, in anybody’s listening to this, well, then I’m sorry, I meant to tell you, in interviews, in person, whatever I say there’s three types of people that are successful in real estate, the first person is just lucky. But if you don’t work to put yourself in the position to get lucky. And then once you get that stroke of luck, run as hard and fast with it as you possibly can, you’re not going to be successful. The next person is just maybe they’re really well connected there. They’re born into the right club. But if you don’t work, the connections that you have, you’re not going to be successful. And the third type of person that’s successful in real estate, and is really the only one that you have control over is the person is just outwork everybody else. And the common thread is work. If you work hard, and you have the right training and mentorship, you’ll be successful. I tell people to come through this door. I want them to be we believe in the Jack Nicklaus method. I want you to swing as hard as you can at the ball, and we’ll straighten this out, straighten it out, as long as you’re swinging as hard as you can at the ball and give it 110% I’m not gonna let you fail. I’ll make sure that you’re successful. But if you don’t have it in your heart, I can’t I can’t train for that. I can’t help that. Yeah.

Aaron Spatz  49:55

Solid I mean, because like, exactly what you just said a second goes like You can train all the other things, but that but that that drive that desire that heart that passion like that, that’s, that’s hard, if not impossible to train you can you can inspire people, I think for maybe a season, but they’ve got it. And I think I think it’s kind of a point, like people need to have their own fire, right, they need to have it running cells, they can’t just, they can’t just rely and lean on other people for that, right.

Grant Pruitt  50:22

So you really have to figure out if they have that fire in their belly, which is really, really, really difficult to master, I haven’t mastered it, I don’t know, if I ever will master it, we’ve gotten a lot better, we’ve gotten a lot better processes and ways to figure out if they have the aptitude and the potential to be successful in this environment. But that’s a very, very difficult thing to learn. And, you know, look, I fail, I fail a lot, I learned through failure. And I had a mentor that when I launched this business that said, you know, when I fail, I want to fail fast. And before I started a business said, That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of, because I just don’t want to fail. And I think that is the smartest thing I’ve ever heard of, because when I fail, I want to fail fast, I fail a lot, the faster that I fail, the less painful it is. And when I fail, then I know that didn’t work. So I can tweak it this way that didn’t work. So I can tweak it this way. And that’s really what successful businesses, you know, when you study successful businesses, there’s a number of different books that are written about this. They grow through failure. And so it’s really about making sure that you fail in a controlled environment, and that you’re slowly but surely testing and proving new concepts.

Aaron Spatz  51:49

That’s, that’s solid advice. And I’ve heard I’ve heard a number of people say that it’s really impactful, because you would think that it’s not, when you when you think about it for a minute, it’s it’s, it starts to kind of come out to you, but I think it’s easy to miss is like that. But that’s the difference, the differences if you fail, and in this case, like and pray that you’re able to fail fast, if if that is going to happen. But making, making those adjustments necessary so that you can, you can continue to move on and you can keep through Your iteration process or what whatever it is that you’re working on, you’re able to move. And so this is this may be like a slightly dumb, obvious question here. But, but like, how do you measure? Or how do you determine if something is a failure? Before you decide that you need to move on and do something else?

Grant Pruitt  52:36

Um, to Oh, God, a little bit of some of them, you’re gonna know, because they’re dead on arrival? Sure. I mean, they’re just flat out failures, and it didn’t work. Sometimes you go, well, the concept could work, we just need to tweak this, you know, I’m gonna, I’m gonna liken it to some more better known examples. I mean, if you take the Wright brothers that didn’t fly on the first try, they failed many, many times, before they found the model that worked. They thought the concept worked. So they kept working on the concept. But that particular iteration didn’t work. Same thing with the light bulb. You know, Thomas Edison had a lot of failures. You know, but but there’s a lot of things that that we try, you know, there’s there’s different marketing strategies, or, you know, verticals, or demographics targets that I’ve tried that just don’t work. You know, yada, yada. They’re usually very evident and obvious, the ones that, you know, the ones that are the fail and fail fast, usually are the ones that the concept works. You’re just trying to, you know, massage that con come concept.

Aaron Spatz  54:10

Yeah, sure thing. That makes sense. And I love the Wright brothers in the, you know, Thomas Edison visual there, because I think that’s a great, that’s a great model for kind of how to think of that in terms of the concept versus the, the actual execution of it or different components of it. So I think that’s I think that’s terrific. Well, attorneys time time absolutely flies. And so I want to I want to give I want to give you just a like, just final final segment here, but help people understand what’s the best way to get a hold of you. How can they learn more about whitebox real estate? What, what’s what’s the best way for people to follow all that you’re up to?

Grant Pruitt  54:47

I am not that hard to find my email address is grant at white box realestate.com Or you can try contact at white box realestate.com. Either one of those work and the phone number here 2143804 or 540

Aaron Spatz  55:05

Here you go. And then obviously whitebox real estate comm set us. Yeah, right on. Well, great. It’s been it’s been a sincere pleasure, I really, I really do appreciate you spending so much time with me and just going through these different topics and sharing these stories, I really do think these, these are incredibly impactful moments. And I know they’re impactful to you personally. Right. But I think there’s so much that people can glean from from your experiences and from the the the hard fought and hard earned wisdom, that that you’ve that you’ve been fortunate to receive over the years and, and, and I really do appreciate you spend some time with me today. Thank you for having me. Thanks for listening to America’s entrepreneur. If you enjoyed the show, please leave a review or comment on your preferred social media platform. share it out with friends, family, coworkers, others in your network. And of course, you can write me directly at Erin at Bold media.us That’s a Ron at Bold media.us Till next time

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