Popforms Leader Of The Week is a feature on our blog where we highlight an outstanding leader and share their insights on leadership, career, and being awesome at your job.
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Brenton Hayden is the founder and chairman of the board of Renters Warehouse. A Harvard Business School and MIT Sloan School of Business graduate, Hayden leads a team of over 140 employees and franchises in 21 states with a portfolio of managed properties valued at just under $1 billion.
What’s your job title?
Founder, Chairman of the Board, and Majority Owner of Renters Warehouse USA.
What do you actually do every day?
My biggest and most important task is to work with my executives who are currently running my businesses. I’m fortunate to not have the traditional “work week.”
I work two days a week (4 hours/day) and the majority of my time is spent in four C Suite meetings. We practice a meeting systems taught in Gino Wickman’s book “Traction.” Each of these meetings are limited to 60-90 minutes. We review core metrics, short-term goals, and identify and discuss any issues that we’re currently facing.
My second job is Chief Brand Spokesperson for Renters Warehouse. Having founded the company back in 2007, I have literally done every job in the company and worn every hat. I’ve truly built it from the ground up. Who better to be the face of the company? Who better to tell our story?
Lastly, I also focus upon taking care of employment related issues within the company. Whether it is hiring for new positions caused by our remarkable growth, recruiting top talent for executive positions, or retaining long time loyal employees; it is a challenge that must be respected and kept up with regularly.
In ten words or less, what is your leadership philosophy?
Ask questions, listen until it hurts, then be decisive.
What company besides your own has an amazing culture?
I’ve read a lot about Zappo’s culture and I’m quite intrigued by it. It seems to be very real and that’s incredibly inspiring, whether it be true or not.
What are the key qualities (in order of importance) that you look for in a great hire?
First of all and of utmost importance, I look for gumption. I credit gumption for getting me to where I am today – the owner of one of America’s largest and most-awarded property management companies. Without gumption, who knows where I’d be or if Renters Warehouse would even exist?
Next, I look for someone who is extremely ethical. It can be tricky to be a business person and it is so easy to cut corners and take risks to get ahead. While I’m a huge fan of taking calculated risks that will lead to success, I am a firm believer in doing what is right and what is ethical. No exceptions. Any addition to our team must also share in this belief.
I try to hire employees who I know will be loyal to the company. Property Management is a global industry and companies in this space are a dime a dozen. I want to hire someone that wants to grow and scale their career with my company – not jump to another one six months down the road.
Finally, they must be a team player and they must be happy. I’m incredibly proud of the team I’ve built and how incredibly well they work together to make Renters Warehouse the best property management company in the country. Any addition to my team must not only want to be a part of this common goal, but they must be happy while doing so. We have a lot of fun at Renters Warehouse and I want someone who will join in that fun and love what they do.
If you had to give career advice to yourself 10 years ago, what would you say?
Start franchising later in the lifecycle of your business. Looking back, I really spent a lot of money paying to learn the ins and outs of franchising. I taught myself on how to cultivate leads, attended all of the right tradeshows and hired the right attorneys. Where we are today is awesome and it probably has a lot to do with the fact that we started so early.
But looking back, I might have waited one or two more years before franchising my business. This would have allowed me to invest more money on lead generation for the original headquarters, rather than paying to learn the franchise business from scratch.
What was the last thing that inspired you?
When my company hit $1M in revenue. That was the first time it dawned on me, that what my partner and I have created, is a real success. Very few people get to this point, especially so young. I suddenly felt validated and had a sense of accomplishment.
When you’re growing a business, it is very stressful (as any entrepreneur can attest to). When you hit a major milestone, such as your first million, it recharges your batteries and inspires you to think of the next milestone to conquer. I can’t wait for the next one.
What were you like growing up?
I was shy, quiet, unconfident, and indecisive. But I was also smart, inventive, curious and focused. In high school, the only place I felt at home was when I was competing. Whether that was in sports or my grades, I was always very competitive with myself and held myself to very high standards; on and off the court.
That said, I learned confidence through sports and I was pretty darn good at them. I really didn’t hit my stride or become confident in who I was until I started to define myself in my early twenties. I decided then, perhaps late, what kind of man I wanted to be. I set goals and made a pact to retire a millionaire by the age of 27, which I succeeded in doing.
In your mind, what does it take for someone to be crazy successful?
You have to be crazy dedicated, ambitious, and hard working. I call it: Passion, Plan, and Power in that order. You’ve got to have passion. If you’re not passionate about your ideas, you’re never going to succeed. Next, you have to figure out your plan or your purpose. Lastly, you have to have the power to push forward when others are pushing back.
You must be able to say yes when they are saying no. You have to be ready to overcome obstacles when the odds are stacked against you. Passion is the car that takes you to the end of the journey. A plan is like the steering wheel, guiding you over and around obstacles. And power? It’s the gas in the tank. The ability to keep going, work harder, think bigger, and do more with less. If you have all three, you’re on the road to success.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
If you need a job done right, do it yourself first. Then hire someone else to carry on the process.
What’s one of your favorite techniques for getting things done?
Make a list and commit to only the list. I start each day with what is important to me. Sometimes it’s personal tasks or a business task. I lump them all together based on priority.
Favorite books about career or business?
What does the most valuable person on your team do differently from anyone else?
He communicates effectively. When he talks, people listen. He is informed, he is objective, and he is focused. The executive I’m thinking of is this kind of rock.
What’s the coolest part of your job?
Meeting so many new accomplished people. Being successful in your own right opens doors to meet and mingle with so many other successful people. It’s truly motivating.
More Brenton Hayden
Where do you live/work?
Renters Warehouse USA HQ is based in Minnesota, but Brenton is currently residing in Miami, Florida for the winter months.