Daryl Owen – Founder & CEO, Nationwide Real Estate Executives

Daryl is the founder, CEO, and visionary behind Nationwide Real Estate Executives, one of America’s fastest-growing and largest independently-owned real estate firms.

At the age of 21, Daryl acquired his first rental property, fulfilling a dream he had at a young age to become a real estate investor and developer. Daryl obtained his real estate license in 2006 and quickly earned national recognition as a top agent within the Century 21 system. In 2011, he founded Nationwide Real Estate Executives in Buena Park, California which now leads a team of close to 1,000 sales associates throughout the state of California.

Daryl is all about energy and the power of a positive outlook. He has cultivated success by focusing his efforts on identifying the needs of a changing real estate marketplace, then implementing systems and solutions designed to consistently meet those needs. Combining business prowess with strong analytical skills and field experience, Daryl has developed a franchise-ready business that he says can help elevate real estate agents to new levels of success.

Through the success of Daryl’s real estate ventures, he has had the opportunity to invest in and develop new and emerging companies, totaling seven, specializing in construction, real estate licensing and education, escrow, mortgage, property management, real estate investment, development, and private equity.

How did the concept for Nationwide Real Estate Executives come about?
Very early in my real estate career, I always knew that I wanted to build a company, so I made sure to get my broker’s license after I had two years of full-time experience, and continued producing as a top agent for another three years, totaling five years before I took a management position at a large national franchise. Prior to real estate, I had the opportunity to run my own Papa John’s Pizza restaurant at the age of 19, and I ran it so well the franchise asked me to train all of their new franchisees in Southern California. That experience taught me a lot about systems and the importance of consistency. Fast forward to my new management position in real estate, I coincidentally found that there were no systems in how this office operated. It was a bit of a mess, and I was faced with the prospect of either creating all the systems for a company I didn’t own, or starting my own. That was a good push for me since it helped me get off the fence, face my fear of striking out on my own, and starting Nationwide Real Estate Executives. The idea behind the company was to offer an exceptional client experience through dedicated, highly-trained professionals with high integrity. Behind the curtains, building the business was all about building scalable systems including operations, training programs for agents, technology systems, etc. so we could scale to 10,000+ to 50,000+ sales associates. Everything we create is designed to facilitate success for brokers and agents, including how to build offices and get involved in ownership, is done in a way where it can be reused 10,000 times a week. We basically built everything necessary to build a successful brokerage.

How was the first year in business?
The first year was interesting. I put all my money into starting the business and the new location, including maxing out all of my credit cards. We were so cash poor within my first three months that the electricity company showed up to turn my electricity off. When the tech showed up, he gave me an offer to get the bill paid within two days or he would have to come back and perform the service interruption. I was able to borrow the money and keep things moving. At that time, I had to sell, plus manage the office, recruit, and train. I was wearing a lot of hats; it was a stressful time, but also rewarding. Looking back, things were so much simpler back then. Luckily, we started to attract some high-caliber agents early on and things started moving pretty quickly after about six months.

What was your marketing strategy?
Primarily, grass roots from the beginning. As a company, we never spent a lot of money on marketing. As a brokerage, and from the consumer perspective, brand marketing is ego driven and generally a waste of money since the consumer works with an agent because of the relationship they have. Less than 3% of all consumers use an agent because of the brand they work for, so there is just no ROI. Our recruitment efforts were done by phone, and the majority was done by word of mouth and referral.

How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
I founded the company in 2011 with a single location, and we opened our second office in 2012. Both became profitable in 2012, and we were recognized by Inc. 500 as #300 in the nation for our revenue growth of 1,529% from 2011 to 2014. We opened three additional locations in 2014 and have grown to roughly 800+ sales associates within the first seven years.

How do you define success?
I define success as progressing towards my ideal that I deem worthy of where I want to be in life. How fulfilled I am is determined by the number of lives I am able to impact in a positive way including my family, my employees, and my associates. At the end of the day, the more freedom I have, time with my family and the ability to be at peace because I have investments, money in the bank, and I’m basically able to do what I want, when I want is what its all about.

What is the key to success?
From my perspective, this is fairly straight forward and may sound like a cliche, but it all comes down to attitude, perseverance, and a willingness to fail. In order to succeed at anything, I have to have the right attitude. I can’t win if I’m negative, period. You have to be willing to keep moving forward. Perseverance beats IQ and talent every time. I have to be willing to make tough decisions, ones that may be scary in the moment, but still do it anyway…willingness to fail. Lastly, I’ve made this mistake myself, and I’ve seen others make it and it’s a huge waste of time – don’t start a business that’s really just a hobby. If you’re going to start a business just to stay busy, but never grow that business into something that can actually scale, then just recognize that’s what you’re doing. If your business is entirely dependent on what you can do, and you can do it alone, you’ll never grow. If you’re going to start a business because you want to grow something special, and make it huge one day, then start off with that mentality and work backwards. If you fast forward ten years from now, and everything worked out exactly how you wanted it to, how did you do it? Avoid starting a business because it’s something you love, just because you love it. You have to have a market for it and the ability to sell it to large amounts of people.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
At a young age, I had an strong tendency to speak and not listen very well. As I’ve grown older, I’m very consciously aware of when I’m just trying to hear myself speak, versus really listening. I’ve found that I can learn so much from every individual I meet with, no matter what their background is or their position in life. I work to remain open minded at all times, and operate from the mentality that what I think I know today, will most likely be false in five years, and that I’m a lifelong learner. This gives me the ability to change my opinions often, which is ironically, the only way to really grow as an individual over time.

What are some quotes that you live by?
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” – Henry Ford

What are some of your favorite books?
How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling by Frank Bettger
How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Parkinson: The Law, Complete by C. Northcote Parkison
Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
Good to Great by Jim Collins
The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber

Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
When it rains, it pours. Early on, I was served with a big lawsuit, lost a top agent, and had a large deal fall out of escrow that cost me a lot – all in the same day. Then, there are days when everything is going so well, you think to yourself, “This can’t continue.”

When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
I know that if I keep moving forward, I will succeed over time. Ups and downs are a part of life; I just have to keep moving forward.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Be willing to put yourself out there. Don’t worry about it not working out. You can build, fail, and rebuild or start new businesses every year for the rest of your life. You only need it to work out once to make it, and think about everything you learned in the process. You wouldn’t trade that knowledge for the world.

Who else should we interview? Nominate someone!

Interviews are conducted for research purposes by author Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.

Check out the Books most recommended by successful entrepreneurs and executives!