Glenn S. Phillips is the CEO of Lake Homes Realty, the nation’s largest lake-focused real estate brokerage. The company operates a unique, tech-enabled full-service brokerage, licensed in multiple states across the country.
Glenn is an author of the book, Nerd-to-English: Your Everyday Guide to Translating Your Business, Your Messages, and Your Life. He is a graduate of Auburn University in Computer Engineering. He and his wife, Lake Home Realty’s COO Doris Phillips, live in Hoover, Alabama.
How did the concept for Lake Homes come about?
Lake Homes Realty has evolved over time. It began as a two-state brokerage, then investors wanted the company website LakeHomes.com to become a national portal similar to Zillow (but just for lake real estate). In 2011, we joined as management and evolved the company to be a new type of full-service, tech-enabled real estate brokerage operating across much of the country. So it evolved over time, with lessons learned and leveraging advances in technology.
How was the first year in business?
Lake Homes Realty was founded in 2009 but began executing the current business model in 2013.
What was your marketing strategy?
Be of a genuinely-unique high value to our target clients and be inescapable to these same people. We do this with several approaches, the most visible being our website LakeHomes.com. It is the only website that allows people interested in lake real estate to see tens of thousands of these types of properties from across multiple states.
How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
Since 2013, we’ve grown fast, with 40 to 60% year-over-year growth. Lake Homes Realty is a repeat member of the Inc. 5000 list, representing the fastest-growing companies in the U.S.
How do you define success?
Success as an entrepreneur clearly requires attaining a level of sustained profitability (after all, a business with no profit is only a hobby; perhaps, a very costly hobby). Success also requires that the work be done in a manner that provides genuine value to others, treats people respectfully, and maintains personal integrity.
What is the key to success?
Adaptable persistence. Everyone can be great…for a while. People can confuse stubbornness with persistence. Success requires deliberate mindful work, over long periods of time, while being situationally-aware so you can adapt quickly.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
I am my own biggest obstacle. I must always work to be more self-aware and mindful.
What are some quotes that you live by?
My favorite quotes happens to be a very long list, and what is my favorite at any moment is typically context sensitive. That said, I am fond of “We will either find a way, or make one” (Hannibal, Carthaginian General) and “Lighten’ up!” (Roger Singletary).
What are some of your favorite books?
I love a large number of books, but three I think are particularly valuable as an entrepreneur are:
Leadership and Self-Deception by The Arbinger Institute
Great by Choice by Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen
Purple Cow by Seth Godin
Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
Prior to Lake Homes Realty, in a prior business I founded and operated, I was digging us out of a financial hole that I had unfortunately helped dig. One day, the core of our team told me they were leaving to go work for one of our clients as employees. I was unsure the business would survive financially, and if it failed, I would also (personally) fail financially. In retrospect, that shake-up forced me to lay the ground work for the much bigger successes we built since that day.
When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
Growth only occurs in discomfort. I accept that I must deal with adversity, knowing that eventually I will find success or an important lesson.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Be very coachable, know why you really do what you do, be of genuine value, and really, really know your numbers.
This interview was conducted for research purposes by author Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.
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