BGBS 069: Don Wenner | DLP Real Estate Capital | How Do You Instill Grit?
Don Wenner is the founder and CEO of DLP Real Estate Capital, a multi-faceted company that leads and inspires the building of wealth and prosperity through the execution of innovative real estate solutions. DLP Real Estate Capital is the parent company to 7 subsidiary companies with the purpose to “Dream. Live. Prosper.” They are located in Pennsylvania and Florida and conduct business throughout the United States.
DLP has been ranked in the Inc. 5000 fastest growing companies in the US for 8 consecutive years. They have earned the #3 spot for Americas’ Fastest Growing Companies 2020 in the real estate and property category by Financial Times and have been named by The Wall Street Journal as one of the top 15 real estate firms in the U.S. for the sixth straight year, including the #1 team in PA and NJ for sales. Don has built a track record of generating consistent profits in all market conditions and cycles. In less than 10 years, he has grown his business to over $100 million in annual revenue, and in less than 15 years, he has amassed over $1 billion in assets under management. His company has grown by 60% every year for the past 13 years. Since DLP’s founding in 2006, they have closed more than 16,000 real estate transactions totaling $4 billion+ and have over 500 loans in our portfolio. They currently have over 1,000 real estate investors and a portfolio of 11,000 units.
Don is also an author and speaker. His first book, Building An Elite Organization: The Blueprint to Scaling a High Growth, High-Profit Business, along with its companion – The Elite Journal was published in April 2021. In 2019, he founded the DLP Positive Returns Foundation, focused on making a monumental impact on two epidemics: the creation of well-paying, stable jobs and providing safe, affordable housing. DLP has made a pledge to donate ¼% of all capital, ¼% net revenue, 100% of all book proceeds, and 100% of all American Institute of Investment Housing (AIIH) proceeds to the Foundation. They are focused on raising $1 million by the end of 2021.
Don studied Finance and Marketing at Drexel University, in Philadelphia, PA. He and his wife, along with his two young sons, reside in St. Augustine, FL where he is active in faith and community. He is passionate about fitness & health, devours books on a weekly basis, and enjoys many outdoor activities and discovering new places with his family. He also spends time at his homes in Asheville, NC and Bethlehem, PA.
In this episode, you’ll learn…
- Many Americans are struggling with depression and feelings of inadequacy from the current state of the world. As a leader, you can bring significance and happiness into your team member’s lives by helping them live fully and feel connected to an impact bigger than themselves.
- Every problem is a leadership problem at its core.
- Affordable rent has skyrocketed disproportionately from the slow rise of income in the US, on top of many future jobs being lost to automation. It’s a challenge to keep housing affordable without sacrificing a decent standard of living in this age of inflation, but DLP Real Estate Capital is committed to doing so.
LinkedIn: Don Wenner
Facebook: Don Wenner
[9:45] I do believe that grit is what separates the most successful people in the world from everybody else. And I believe that’s a fact, not a theory. But the question is, how do you instill grit? How do you instill that drive?
[19:09] What I believe is every organization has four quadrants: their strategy, people, operations, and acceleration — acceleration is sales and marketing integrated — and you need to be able to grow all of that together, part of one plan in order to be able to grow consistently and profitably.
[28:45] I believe it’s our job as leaders to help our team members connect their day to day work with making impact bigger than themselves…and we focus heavily on helping our team members live fully across the eight F’s of life, which are faith, family, friends, freedom, fun fulfillment, fitness, and finance.
[37:34] The first fundamental part of the challenge is aligning what’s good for society or the world with what’s good for us or for our investors and trying to align that always because a lot of real estate — good, great companies — are actually a part of the problem, not the solution.
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Don Wenner 0:02
You know, that sort of taken off so we couldn’t we didn’t have enough capital. So I launched private investment funds and started taking in capital into our funds. And then we start having too much capital more than we could deploy. And we said, well, how do we help other people trying to run businesses similar to us and we started in lending money to others do a running business similar to as other real estate investors. So it’s happened in a very natural manner of progression off of helping home sellers and are beginning days.
Marc Gutman 0:34
podcasting from Boulder, Colorado, this is the Baby Got Back story Podcast, where we dive into the story behind the story of today’s most inspiring storytellers, creators and entrepreneurs. I like big backstories and I cannot lie. I am your host, Marc Gutman. How in the world can anyone afford housing expenses these days, the market is going crazy and the rising cost of housing is far outpacing the rise in wages. It’s truly the crisis of our time. I’m Marc Gutman, and on today’s episode of Baby Got Back story we are talking about, you guessed it, real estate, housing, and living fully. And before we get into this episode, I want you to live fully. I want you to excel in all eight apps, you’re going to need to listen today’s episode to understand what that truly means. That all starts by heading over to Apple podcasts or Spotify, and giving us a five star review and rating. By this point in our lives. We all know that algorithms rule the world. And as such apple and Spotify use these ratings as part of the algorithm that determines ratings on their charts. Show that algo who’s boss and rate this podcast, own the algorithm. Don’t let it own you. Thank you for your reviews. I do appreciate it. Today’s guest is Don Wenner founder and CEO of DLP real estate capital. And as you’ll hear DLP capital has $1.6 billion in assets under management and they are on track to be a fortune 500 company. You could say they are going places. DLP real estate capital is a multifaceted company that leads and inspires the building of wealth and prosperity through the execution of innovative real estate solutions. DLP real estate capital is the parent company to DLP elite DLP Capital Partners DLP lending, DLP realty DLP, real estate management, Alliance servicing and Alliance property transfer and they are located in Pennsylvania and Florida and conduct business all throughout the United States. So what does all this mean? DLP is taking on the workforce housing crisis head on. They’re on a mission to align affordable housing with investor returns. no easy task. In addition to running DLP, Don winter is an author and speaker. He is passionate about fitness and health, devours books on a weekly basis and enjoys many outdoor activities in discovering new places with his family. And this is his story.
I am here with Don Wenner, the CEO of DLP capital. Don, welcome to the show.
Don Wenner 3:40
Hey, thank you, Marc. Really excited to be here.
Marc Gutman 3:42
Oh, really excited to have you before we get into it. Can you tell what is DLP capital? Like? What do you guys do?
Don Wenner 3:50
We do it we do a few things. So So yeah, so DLP capital is the parent company to about a dozen operating businesses that operate under the DLP brand. And then short we’re a private real estate investment and financial services company. easier way to say it is we invest in, in housing, specifically workforce housing, and then we do a lot of different ways we do that and execute on that. And we’re really focused on, you know, making an impact on the affordable workforce housing crisis in America today.
Marc Gutman 4:21
Yeah, and affordable housing. It’s a topic that I’m sure we’ll get into deeper later in the episode, but it’s, it’s a hot topic right now. It’s a real real issue.
Don Wenner 4:30
That’s not never never been a bigger issue than it is today. That’s for sure.
Marc Gutman 4:34
Well, I’m happy to hear that you’re working on that problem. And looking forward to talking more about what that looks like. But before we get into that, you know, is real estate something that you’ve always been interested in when you were young and a young young kid? Where’d you grew up done?
Don Wenner 4:51
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, known for Lehigh University. Probably most of anything today.
Marc Gutman 4:58
Yeah. So you know, when little was running around Bethlehem? Like, were you into real estate? Did you think that this was going to be something that you’d be into as a career,
Don Wenner 5:08
and no, never never gave real estate a moment, I thought until I was probably up until about two weeks before I got into real estate. So it was never on my mind in any way, shape, shape or form. So I think I don’t know, I don’t know, I guess today, you know, more and more, we have a lot of kids coming out of college, you know, who are getting degrees in real estate, and it’s, I guess, more in vogue today. But at the time, certainly real estate was not a something I thought over I knew any other kids thinking that real estate was going to be their, their career path.
Marc Gutman 5:39
So what were your influences growing up? I mean, did you come from a family that was entrepreneurial,
Don Wenner 5:46
I did not. So So my parents had me at 16 so like most 16 year olds, my parents had no money and so grew up in you know, lower middle classes, I guess the nice way to put it, you know, working family you know, bought our clothes either made them or bought them at a yard sale and and, you know, scraping to make ends meet each and every week and month and, and it was you know, great, humble, humble way to to grow up. I’m the oldest of four grown up five now as an adopted sister and, and my parents got divorced when I was four though, and so made made ends a little even tighter and grown up. And in the eighth grade, kind of a big influence for me was I was already entrepreneurial.
You know, my dad told that my wedding story how he knew I was going to be an entrepreneur in kindergarten, when he started packing doughnuts into my lunch bag, and I started selling them to my classmates for 50 cents apiece, and, and when the school found out and call them cut my donut supply, that’s, you know, kind of when he knew and I never heard that story, and I remembered it when he said I hadn’t heard it until my wedding when he when he told it but but that was kind of my first entrepreneur experience and did that all through elementary selling, selling different things, running landscaping businesses and employing my friends and stuff like that. And in in the eighth grade, a financial advisor came into career day. And he showed this little chart that said, financial advisors made more money than doctors, lawyers, accountants, you know, all the jobs your parents tell you to become. And so I was entrepreneurial. And he explained to you know, financial advisors independent and kinda is in control of their own business, and you have to be good at math. And I was like, well, that’s me. That’s what I’m gonna do. And literally, I was, you know, very annoying eighth grader, shadowing financial advisors and spending my summer trying to learn the business. And I was set.
That’s what I was going to do. moved out of my parents house in high school at 17 years old and supported my way through the rest of high school and into college and had my mindset while I was at Drexel University studying finance, I was going to be a financial advisor and worked at BlackRock and McGladrey and Poland and some good sized companies, but knew I was going to be a financial advisor. And, and that was until I would wait tables on the weekends to help make, you know, make ends meet and pay for my room and board and whatnot.
And a guy kept coming into the restaurant was working at and his name is Nathan Robinson. And Nathan convinced me one day to come meet with him because he wanted to, he kept wanting me to come work for him, and didn’t really know what he did. He told me he was in the security business. So I finally sat down and met with them and turned out he was in the ADT, you know, alarm system security business. And he told me, I would make $2,000 a week, if I came to work for him. And I was 19 at that time, and, and $2,000 a week sounded, you know, pretty good. And it was a lot of money. You know, 19 years old now says, Yeah, yeah, 1617 years ago, and, and so, I, for some reason, believed him. And I started working for him the next day. And my first paycheck was $5,280. That was one of my worst paychecks I’d ever I ever earned from there forward. Later in life. Many years later, I found out no one had ever earned $1,000 a week for him less than $2,000 a week but because he gave me that belief, that’s what I thought was supposed to earn and my whole job was, you know, knocking on doors.
That’s literally what I did all day was I knocked on doors, and you know, became the top sales rep in the country for ADT, and making a lot of money and saving a lot of money and, and Nathan also happened to be in real estate. He was a real estate agent at Keller Williams and he convinced me if I got my real estate license, I would do really well. Still in college, kind of didn’t sleep for a couple weeks, took my classes online, took my exam and and that weekend, I flew out to a marketing conference the weekend I got my real estate license and I learned the concept of direct response marketing and having a unique selling proposition. My message from that first weekend before ever you know how to sign up at Keller Real Estate was your home sold, guaranteed or buy it? And it was October 2006, which was the peak of the real estate market. So it was a good time and seriousness, it was a good time to get into business. We didn’t many didn’t think it would be but it was that kind of was the start of my my real estate career.
Marc Gutman 10:16
Yeah. And so, what do you think Nathan saw in you? That 19 is someone you know, working as a waiter in a restaurant, you know, and what do you think he saw on you were like, what, what did you exhibit at that time?
Don Wenner 10:32
So I know one of the specific things that would grab his attention as you know, I worked at the time I was working at a Texas Roadhouse. So yes, I had the line down. So it was a it was a it was a interesting job. But uh, you know, every night they would do, and maybe we’ve ever worked at restaurants, you probably experienced this, you know, you had, they would have a contest of, you know, whoever sells the most filets tonight, or ribeyes, or whatever earns, you know, whatever it was 100 bucks, or, or, you know, some sort of incentive.
So, when that when we started off that shift, whatever the item was, that was the hot item for the night, that’s what everybody was eating. So, so Nathan, realize that, you know, he didn’t really get to dictate what he was having. And he was, you know, you know, a lively charismatic guy, and, you know, have a lot of fun with it, that, you know, he was going to eat whatever, you know, he knew what the special was, and he knew that’s what he was having. So, after the third or fourth time of me selling him on on some sort of special, you know, he saw saw some sort of, you know, energy and excitement that, you know, he wanted to explore and I don’t think I was the first he recruited after restaurants out that I was so special, he, you know, he realized it was a great place to find people willing to work hard and used to be out in front of people and, and so gave me Give me a chance.
Marc Gutman 11:50
Yeah, you know, I think there’s a rite of passage work in a chain restaurant and knowing like either line dancing, I worked at ci G’s. And so I just sing the birthday song, I just actually sang it last week for a friend because I’ll never ever forget it. Maybe maybe at the end of this episode, I will delight listeners with that. Awesome. But yeah, and so that’s all cool. And you’re working hard. And you know, you’re, you’re catching Nathan’s attention. But I’m really curious, like, where does this drive come from? Because I sense like, you know, yeah, there was some, some financial incentive there, you wanted to make money? But why?
Don Wenner 12:28
That’s an interesting question. So you know, not to detour a little bit, but you know, I just published a book called Building an elite organization. And, and, and I, I’ve said this a couple times, I joke, like, if I, if I could answer your question, you just asked me, I wouldn’t have wrote the book building in the organization, I’d be writing books on parenting. Because if we could all, you know, figure out as the father of two young boys, you know, if I knew the exact formula to what, you know, what creates that drive, and I, you know, grit as we like to call it, you know, that, that’s, that’s what I’d be, I’d be an expert in today. And, and, you know, I do believe that grit is what separates the most successful people in the world from everybody else. And I believe that’s a fact not a not a theory.
But, you know, the question is, how do you instill, you know, grit? How do you instill that, that drive? And I think there’s lots of things that you know, and I try to do as a parent, such as an example, is, you know, I don’t I don’t tell my children, you know, my children are eight, nine today, I don’t I don’t tell them, you know, you’re so smart, or you’re so handsome, or you’re so athletic, I reward the behavior. And so I record you know, man, three touchdowns today. That’s a man so impressed with three dozen and man, I’m really proud of how hard you worked this week in practice, and, and how you really, you know, improved on on this and they get, you know, high honor on all A’s. I’m not saying man, you’re so smart. I’m saying, I’m really proud of how hard you’ve been working on your homework and not after you’ve been putting forth and kind of rewarding the things you can control versus what you can’t control the effort and the behavior.
But, you know, for me, you know, I didn’t grow up from entrepreneurs. You said, Actually, my my mom’s been working for me now for 14 years, my father for 12 years, my stepmother for seven years, my stepfather for four years, much of my family works in the business, none of them came from an entrepreneurial background or none of them, frankly, have the sort of drive that I’ve always had. So but I think part of it is coming from humble background helps and that’s definitely a concern. I know many who children are growing up in an environment of abundance trying to make sure you keep that that drive and that that focus so I don’t have the exact answer. I feel though growing up with your limited limited means and dealing with some embarrassment as it is in you know, kind of middle school age of not having the cool clothes or shoes or, or whatnot. I think those things help shape and shape kind of the drive to take control of these things and more are certainly impactful for me.
Marc Gutman 15:00
Yeah, and so you’re working in the real estate business, you’re getting your start offering to buy houses guaranteed if you can’t sell it, how do you make the leap from that from getting into the business to starting a business like DLP?
Don Wenner 15:17
You know, for us it everything you know, so it looks today, like, you know, I work with, you know, we help a lot of entrepreneurs who are looking to scale their businesses, and especially, especially, we help a lot in the, in the world of real estate. And, and a lot look at what we do. And we have, you know, we have a, we can show a pretty slide or pretty page of our family of businesses, and they look like they just worked so well together. And like, you know, I must have sat back 15 years ago and crafted this, this vision, and, and, you know, and poof, like, you know, we have this, this is perfectly set up organization. But, you know, the reality is that that’s not how it how it happened. And really, you know, what we did is we looked for, you know, challenges that are the clients, the people we were coming in touch with, were struggling with, and trying to find solutions. And so it happened very, very naturally, you know, started with as you said, I was a real estate agent offering the guaranteed to sell your home.
So I was going out to home sellers homes and offering to guarantee their sale, and that led to some people couldn’t even wait to put their home on the market. And we would just start buying their home because they were in such need of selling, especially in the great, you know, recession time. And we had some people who were upside down on their home, and we started a short sale negotiation company and, and scaled that before there was such thing as short sales. And, and you know, and then you know, we started having people who didn’t want to, you know, couldn’t sell their home because they were upside down, didn’t want to do a short sale and kind of destroy their credit, and but needed to move, they were relocating for a job or whatnot. So we started doing property management so that we could help them rent that home, because they needed to move out or move somewhere else. And so it all just came out of helping, you know, home sellers in the beginning stages. And then, you know, as we started growing and helping more and more people and started growing this home flipping business, we couldn’t find enough good contractors, I found one really good contractor, but he couldn’t keep up. So I hired him to come inside into my organization launch our own construction company, help us, you know, scale a construction company and, and you know, that, you know, really started growing and then you know, the bottom of the market, we said, hey, it’s the bottom of the market and 2011 2012 it must be near it. And we said this is the time to build a portfolio. And so we started really building a portfolio of rental properties and providing housing to those who couldn’t qualify to buy and in need of homes. And, you know, that started taking off.
So we couldn’t we didn’t have enough capital. So I launched private investment funds and started taking in capital into our funds. And then we started having too much capital more than we could deploy. And we said, well, how do we help other people trying to run businesses somewhat, and we started then lending money to others who were running business similar to us other real estate investors. So it’s happened in a very natural manner of progression off of helping home sellers and our beginning days and has taken shape where it is today, which today we’re you know, closing in, bender this month, 450 employees, team members, you know, 1.6 billion and a u m, and and you know, doing hundreds of millions a year in revenue, but it’s happened, you know, very naturally over these last 15 years.
Marc Gutman 18:14
Yeah, and for those of you listening A u m is assets under management. So yeah, thank you get clarification on the jargon there. So, thanks for that, Don. Yeah, I mean, I think about that, and I have so many questions on that, on that last segment there. Because how do you do it? Like, how do you keep starting businesses, in ensuring that they fall underneath DLP in a way that is, is satisfactory to you? Right? I have to imagine that you have very high standards that you you’re creating this, this business empire, if you will, and, but it’s not just like, Hey, I’m just gonna, you know, you know, throw something on the wall and see if it sticks, it has to, you know, be up to your state, like, how do you do that? And you yourself not get caught up in the details and not get mired down in being a doer versus a leader?
Don Wenner 19:08
Yeah, that’s a great question. And I, I’ll start first start with the last part of that notice, you know, I, I believe strongly my job today here at DLP, and over the past 15 years in each of our, you know, senior executives is still to be doers. So, you know, we expect our executives to be doers, managers and leaders at the same time, and that’s not easy. But that’s been, you know, really critical, you know, for our success and, and, and I’m still roll up my sleeves, you know, every every single day and, and it helps a ton staying, you know, keeping your feet in the dirt and understanding what’s really going on. But, you know, I’d say a couple things to answer your your question, though, is you know, first is I was never afraid to hire.
And I realized early on, you know, in sales, you know, I realized that, you know, my fundamental stage we’re all salespeople in every every business then they your core. Your core function is is sales. And so my beginning days of being a real estate agent, I realized if I wasn’t on the phone prospecting to potential clients, or I wasn’t sitting in front of a potential client, my time wasn’t being best used. And so I was in the business for maybe 60 days, when I took another agent in my office who wasn’t doing very well and offered her a part time job. By the end of that first week, she was working more than full time. And two weeks later, she was so busy, I hired another assistant. And then about a month later, I hired the third two of those three young ladies are still working for me today.
But I was willing to put people in place to free me up for to do what I knew was most impactful, where I can make the biggest difference. And, and in the beginning, that was, you know, that was really impactful. And I put built an organization around, you know, some people who are willing to follow me and work really hard and, and in free me up and follow me towards my, my vision, and, and I was, you know, constantly trying to learn and grow and realize, especially in the world of big businesses, such as real estate and financial services, and lending, there’s lots and lots of people have done this, and I’ve done this successfully. And there’s other people walk before me who who’ve done it. And so a constant wanting to learn from from others. And so still, to this day, you know, I’m an incredibly avid learner, I read, you know, three, four books every week. And, and so I was reading and learning and going to masterminds and learning for 20 great people and getting all these great ideas and concepts from the greats like Jim Collins, and john Maxwell, and so forth. And, and, but getting all that information and into in a manner that you can put it all into place, right, because you read one great book about leadership and tells you that’s all you need to grow great business and other one is just management.
Other one is content marketing. And another one, it’s, you know, it’s execution, another book, it’s all about hiring, right. And but the reality is, you need to be good at all these things at the same time, as part of one system. And, and so we set out, you know, about 10 years ago now, and realizing we needed a system to, and a system that can get everybody in the organization around to be able to really have consistent results. And, and that’s where what I wrote a book on called Building an organization is about, it’s what we’ve built over the last decade called the elite execution system. And what I believe is every organization has four quadrants, their strategy, people, operations, and acceleration, acceleration is sales and marketing integrated. And you need to be able to grow all of that together a part of one plan in order to be able to grow consistently and profitably.
And that’s been really key to how we’ve grown, you know, by over 60%, every year now for 15 years, while growing our margins is putting that discipline in place. And when you get put that structure in place, and language and terminology that that every business in our DLP business operates under. And you realize most all businesses are more similar than dissimilar. And and as we’ve gone through a lot of businesses 12 that we run today, I’ve run over 20 businesses in total, over this past decade, they’re all very, very similar, and they have the same challenges, and are very, very similar challenges. And in putting the right structure in place that allows you to be able to execute each day and put the right people in place has been really instrumental in the success we’ve been able to have and be able to grow multiple business at the same time, without yet coming up with a way to add more hours in the day.
Marc Gutman 23:16
And I imagine that staying consistent, staying cohesive, staying connected across all those business units in different businesses is a bit of a challenge. And like So from my perspective, you know, I think, you know, what role does brand play and brand building play in the DLP story?
Don Wenner 23:36
Yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s tremendous. For us and so the way I think about it is, is and I think more and more people today are realizing the connection between brand and culture. And so you know, we have a full time executive here at DLP, Patrick, whose title is chief experience officer, and his he’s the connection, you know, in in from an executive leadership standpoint, between your cx customer experience in E x and employee experience, and, and I think what’s been really powerful for us and growing our brand is, is the level of, of, of transparency between our culture and our brand. And, and there’s no difference, right, who we say we are, to potential employees or to our existing employees is exactly the same, as well as exactly the same as who we portray ourselves to be to all the different types of clients or stakeholders we serve. And, you know, are the book again, building the organization, we’re teaching this system that we run to other other companies, and many, many cases, these companies were helping implement the lead execution system who were teaching Hey, this is how to grow a great organization. Well, they’re coming to our meetings, they’re seeing the internal operations we let them come and see a lot of things hands on right.
So if we’re going to saying hey, this is how you should run a an elite organization, but then they come into our organization realize Wait, they don’t You’re not actually doing what you said you’re going to do, right? Or, you know, we run these big events that we bring are kind of our world revolves around kind of two groups, those who invest money with us into our funds, and then those who we invest money with, that we lend money to and invest equity with. And we’ll run these big events where the same, these two groups of people come to the same events, right? And so if we’re a different person to those investing with us, and we tell a different story to them, then we tell it to those we’re lending to, right. If I tell my investors who are investing with us, hey, we pay you these really great returns and incredible returns, and that’s because we overcharge our borrowers, right, and then we tell our borrowers that we’re giving them really great rates over here, right? If our stories aren’t matching between all the different stakeholders, from our team members to our residents who live in our properties to our investors, to our our borrowers, it becomes very, very hard. So So we really focus on that first and foremost in terms of growing our brand and then, you know, we’re going through a process literally right now you referenced that I run a company called DLP capital.
Actually today our company is called DLP real estate capital. And we’re actually going through a rebrand process right now of knocking out the real estate and DLP capital, and realigning our businesses. Right now. We were on DLP real estate capital and we have DLP lending. We have DLP Realty, we have DLP, property management, we have DLP, construction, management, etc. We’re actually going through a process right now of rebranding everybody under DLP capital. So now instead of the DLP, capital lending division, DLP capital, Property Management Division, DLP capital, so everybody’s under one brand. If you work at DLP, you’re not gonna say I work for DLP lender, you’re gonna say I work for DLP, capital lending division, right? One LinkedIn page one, you know, main website. And that’s a really big, you know, move that we’re going through right now to better align the brand and be able to better align all the products and values we can bring to clients under under one umbrella. So that’s, you know, in a very active process we’re going through right now, which has been a lot of fun, a lot of a lot have been a lot of excitement.
Marc Gutman 27:02
A common question I get all the time is Mark, can you help me with our brand? Yes, we help companies solve branding problems. And the first step would be to schedule a no obligation brand clarity call, we’ll link to that in the show notes, or head over to wildstory.com and send us an email, we’ll get you booked right away. So whether you’re just getting started with the new business, or whether you’ve done some work and need a refresh, or whether you’re a brand that’s high performing and wants to stay there, we can help. After you book, your brand clarity call, you’ll learn about our brand audit and strategy process will identify if you need a new logo or just a refresh, will determine if your business has a branding problem. And you’ll see examples of our work and get relevant case studies. We’ll also see if branding is holding your business back and can help you get to the next level. So what are you waiting for, build the brand you’ve always dreamed of. Again, we’ll link to that in the show notes, or head over to wildstory.com and send us an email. Now back to the show.
I think what I’m hearing is something that I like to touch on and talk about is that branding is always an ongoing process, right? Even though right now you’re going through some identity work to bring all the companies under one banner and one look and feel that’s not going to end just with that process. And it’s an it’s an ongoing process. And I don’t want to make a point of that. And I think you’ve articulated that. And so, as you’re speaking I have to ask, you’ve got like 1.6 you said billion right and assets under management, yet now you’re even starting to teach other businesses, how to run a company like yours, like, why?
Don Wenner 28:56
Yeah, that’s a great question. So the first, you know, root reason at the end of the day is is as first foremost, I believe it’s it’s my responsibility. So, you know, I believe, you know, I’m, I’m very, I’ve been very blessed with, you know, we’re living in this time living in this country, with the skills and abilities that I’ve been blessed with from from the Lord and it’s my job to do those for the best, you know, good of, of this this world and, and feel called to, to help other companies succeed, help individuals grow, it’s not not easy and I’ve been, you know, figured out certain things through through a lot of hard work and teachings and, and other people willing to give me their time and and and, you know, share it share into into me and and so that’s the first reason second is you know, we are very focused here at DLP on on impact. And we have four areas of impact where we’re, we’re focused on first and foremost is in most obvious is is housing. That’s what our whole world revolves. Round is, is housing.
So we focus on investing in workforce housing that is and will remain affordable for the local workforce. And that’s really everything we do impacts that. The second big area of impact we’re focused on is jobs. And right now, in America, mainly due to automation technology, 30 to 50% of jobs will be gone in the next 10 to 20 years. I don’t think it’s doom and gloom, that doesn’t mean our country’s ending society’s going to hell, I think technology is going to create a big wave of job creation and new types of jobs. But those jobs are only going to be created by small businesses, or I should say, predominantly by small businesses, right, they’re not going to be created by governments, they’re going to be created by small businesses. And I know firsthand how difficult it is to grow a business despite being an amazing time that we’re faced with the global competition, it’s very challenging to grow to grow consistently and grow profitably.
And so I believe that it’s needed, you know, a system to scale entrepreneurial businesses is needed and can be the difference between an organization hitting a plateau of a really great CEO and some, you know, followers who get to a million or 3 million or 5 million or whatever revenue and just can’t, can’t grow beyond that can’t create more jobs can’t really make the level of impact that they like. And then we’re also really focused on two other areas of impact which tie in the third is on legacy. And we want to help people live and leave a legacy and, and right now those who work really hard and have success, unfortunately, the majority of first generation wealth creators, wealth is lost by the second or third generation, and doesn’t have to be that way. And not only is the wealth loss, but often they didn’t really leave a legacy or get to live one and for a number of reasons, which we could get into if we wanted to. And and the fourth crisis we’re really focused on which ties all these all these other crisis is really together is, is happiness. And, you know, right now, we’ve never been in a state of a higher percentage of people suffering from mental illness.
The number one mental illness people suffer from is depression. And stats are kind of all over the place, but it’s somewhere around 40% of Americans are struggling with depression is the most recent stats I’ve heard COVID has dramatically sparked that up and, and I believe that historically, you know, meaning the last many generations, people get their, their feeling their happiness, and their, you know, derive Your happiness is derived from the feeling of importance and significance. And people you know, Dale Carnegie and the great book, you know how to win friends and influence people. You know, it says that the number one human desire is that of the feeling of importance and significance. And historically, we’ve get that feeling from our work. And more and more today, people don’t have that same connection with their job with their employer with their careers they once did.
Couple that with social media and the feelings of inadequacy that that many face, I believe it’s our job as leaders to help our team members connect their day to day work with with making impact bigger than themselves. And that by doing that, that that’ll help them get the feeling of significance and importance they can carry into their their home life into the end of their faith life. And, and we focus on we have a whole chapter of the book is on living fully. And we focus heavily on helping our team members live fully across the eight F’s of life, which are faith, family, friends, freedom, fun, fulfillment, fitness and finance. And, and I believe that’s our job as business leaders, helping our team members get gaining importance and fulfillment in all areas of their life. And, and so I want to help not only grow great organizations, but also help those organizations organizations create happy, impactful people who can make an impact at work and outside of work.
Marc Gutman 33:51
Yeah, can you give us an example of how you support which is a EFS? That I get the PDFs? Yeah, it is.
Don Wenner 33:58
Yeah, absolutely. So so one of the the core fundamental tools, kind of where things start with our operating system called the lead execution system is developing what we call a compass, which is laying out a clear direction to where the company is going starting with purpose and mission and a clear B hag and understanding your core client and your brand promises and, and then getting into what your three year aim is for the organization and laying out a very clear one year bull’s eye. And that’s kind of the centering point of of our lead execution system. Well, we have a similar tool we call the personal compass. And so here at DLP, every one of our team members creates a personal compass where we help them evaluate their own personal mission statement, help them do we call a life assessment and go and assess their life across these eight areas of life, and evaluate where they’re at today. And then we help them set a living fully dashboard, which is setting generally about 10 goals each year across these eight apps of what they want to accomplish in Next year to live fully, and just going through that process of really evaluating your life, looking at it holistically, setting clear goals, and then building a culture of helping them achieve those goals. And we don’t just do it once a year as an exercise.
We live it throughout the year we have a living fully day where we spent a whole day focused on everything but work and bring in all kinds of experts on personal finance, meditation, fitness, etc. We do Miracle Morning, every morning with actual workout group every morning on zoom people all over the country do we have a morning prayer group, we have a FitLife group, we have a single mom support group, we have a lot of things focused on whatever the needs of our team members are, we have this group called driven for greatness we have meaning for 12 years, we read a book together, we buy everybody audible accounts, we buy everybody fitbits we buy everybody Beachbody on demand accounts, a lot of personal tools. And we read a book together and different frontline team members lead us to the discussion of that book every other week and getting people who otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to self improvement in these types of ideas in this in this environment, think about construction workers and maintenance technicians such who think would never have haven’t listened to a business book in their whole life before coming to DLP. And now you know, leading a group on on a book on you know, a personal development book, I mean, it’s just really, really cool process.
So you know, then doing things helping people be able to you know, have appropriate time off helping show firsthand, you know, I coach my kids soccer, I don’t know nothing about soccer still, even though I coach this past season, but I also coach their football and their and their basketball sports, I know a little bit more of how and, and, and, you know, so much so and I and I highlight that and show that organization that Yeah, I leave, you know, work at 530 and go coach my kids sports and, and, and having that in it work life integration, as we call it, where you’re focusing on being fulfilled and succeeding in each of these areas at the same time, which is where real success, I feel comes from. And so our leaders, not just myself lead by example. And, and, and we want to really create a great environment. I had a team member a few years ago, probably about eight years ago now, who had a heart attack. And he had some other you know, he was a smoker and had some other, you know, issues. But you know, he’d been working really, really hard and a lot of us had known he had been really stressed out and been, you know, really pushed himself too hard. And luckily, he’s he he ended up living, but we thought he was he might die and and it was it was on it was touching go for a while. And you know, that hit me.
And I was like, man, I never want to be looking back saying, Man, somebody literally died here because they work so hard. They didn’t take care of themselves. I don’t want to find out that one of my team members, they got a divorce because they’re not home, and they’re not attentive to their wife. And, and because I’m working so hard, right? So so so those are some of the, you know, simple concepts and things that we’ve put into place to really help our people live fully. And there’s the lessons, we teach and provide very specific tools to help put this in action into into other businesses.
Marc Gutman 38:01
That’s super inspirational. And thank you for sharing, it’s no question or no wonder why DLP is seeing such success, you can really feel it in that explanation of going through the eight apps. And so when you think about your business, what’s hard about it? What don’t we know? What don’t we see? What don’t maybe even most of your team members see, like, what what’s hard about it?
Don Wenner 38:25
You know, I’d say the hardest part, you know, I think about every business, no matter what its size is really every problem starts in many ways or stops around leadership. So I believe every problem we have is a leadership problem at its at its core. So you know, from a simple standpoint, the hardest part when you’re growing at you know, 60 plus percent a year is in leadership development. And our focus and we believe the key to having a truly enduring organization over many, many decades is our ability to develop leaders, you know, develop people from the frontline coming in, in the front end of our frontline of the organization, be able to develop them into senior executive roles. And but when you’re growing in this kind of pace, we’ve also had to supplement with hiring great leaders from outside the organization and integrate them into the culture and, and it’s hard. I mean, it’s it’s hard as much as we’ve heard over the last, you know, year about high unemployment, different cases.
The reality is every company, especially every growing company is struggling to find enough good people, let alone strong, strong leaders. So that’s the biggest day to day challenge. And that’s been the number one place where I spend my time the number one place I spent my time in the past decade, pretty much the same thing every week, every month is on hiring. And then the second biggest place I spend spend my time for the past decade is on the development of our people, especially our leaders. So that’s the biggest challenge.
I’d say the hardest part though, of that is when you get when you have people who are really loved the organization who who work really hard, but just can’t get to the next level to keep up with the pace of growth and when you have to Either, you know, some cases part ways or have to, you know, sort of higher above somebody’s capability despite that person’s well intentions and wanting to be able to own that, that job not being able to grow at a fast enough pace, kind of the saying that, you know, I’ve heard in the past is, you know, those who got you here can’t get you to where you need to go and, and and certainly I look at first and foremost, when that happens as a as my fault and that it’s a leadership shortfall that I didn’t get my people to the point of being able to handle the growth fast enough.
And so that’s the hardest part we have such great people who are well intentioned and want to be successful want the company be successful, but just simply have a have a lid today anyway. And we’ve had to, you know, go and higher above and some of those cases have turned out to be incredible success stories where they’ve been repurposed or been okay, having some reporting somebody else and have thrived and grown and other cases where they’re, you know, people’s, even though we’re, you know, one of our core values is humble confidence. And we have very limited egos here are some of the People’s, you know, egos can’t, a lot can’t accept kind of when that happens. And we’ve we’ve lost some some good people. So that’s, that’s been, I’d say, the biggest actual challenge on a day to day basis.
Marc Gutman 41:16
Yeah. And as you as I’m processing those thoughts around the challenges you have internally in running the business, what are some of the challenges that you’re experiencing in this affordable workforce environment? Like, you know, I’m not that familiar with it. I’m guessing a lot of our listeners may not be like, what, what’s that challenge?
Don Wenner 41:35
No, say the first fundamental part of the challenge is, is make is aligning what’s good for, you know, what’s good for society, or the world or with what’s good for, for us or for our investors and trying to align that always right, because a lot of real estate, good, great companies, good real estate operators, developers, are actually a part of the problem, not the solution. And what I mean by that is a lot of companies out there they go and buy, say, an apartment community, where the rents are $900 a month, which almost every place in America today needs more $900 month apartments. And so they buy that community where rents are $90 a month, and they come in, they have an investment plan, that makes sense, and they dump a ton of money into that property. And they drive the rents up to 14 $100 a month. So when they bought the property, it was affordable for the working families, you know, for the local, you know, teachers and nurses and so forth, their families could live there and afford for it to be there. And they come in there and they put so much money to the property makes great sense for the company and make great sense for their investors. But it doesn’t make great sense in that you just displaced hundreds of families, who now already there wasn’t enough affordable housing in that market.
Now, there’s even even less than estimated 500,000 units of that are affordable for local local workforce, in America today, per year are being removed from the affordability pool. And that’s one of the reasons and and by affordability, what I mean is that, that the local working families are spending less than 30% of their income on rent. And about half of Americans today are spending more than that. And over a quarter of Americans, they’re spending more than half of their income on rent, you just simply can’t afford health care, food education, when that much of your income is going for the basic need of housing. So that’s the you know, that’s, that’s, you know, challenge one is making sure we certainly have investors and we certainly want to do good for our investors, but while not being part of the problem, but instead being part of the solution here. So so that’s that’s difficult. And and and we’ve done it and that’s that’s our business thesis. And that means some deals that otherwise would work for us don’t work, because we’re not willing to, to make investments that aren’t gonna make a positive impact and keep and preserve housing that’s affordable for local workforce. So that that’s one challenge.
The other challenge is right now and was never been, it’s never been harder than it is today is right now rent growth is just incredible. We’re going through the greatest growth in rent in the affordable sector, meaning you own the, you know, in the space of markets of 789 100 1011 1200 a month housing across the United States, rents are going up right now faster than they’ve ever gone up. Since COVID. It’s only skyrocketed the growth and rents to a pace that we’ve never seen. In the last decade, rents have gone up 70% in America 70% incomes have gone up four to 6% rent has gone up 70% that’s not a sustainable formula. So again, it’s a balance of certainly we want to for investors young to take part in some growth and rent and that helps our investors but we don’t want to be in a situation where we’re making our housing unaffordable for the local workforce. So you know it building cost and and and you know, the whole kind of Supply Chain right now pricing is going up. And it’s making it harder and harder because incomes just simply aren’t aren’t keeping pace.
So it’s a, it’s a heck of a challenge and doing so keeping your housing affordable, while not sacrificing, making sure you’re truly creating a great lifestyle for your residents. And we want our communities to be safe. We want to invest heavily in enrichment of our residents, we do a lot around, Enriching them helping we call choose prosperity, giving them access to education and knowledge that they otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to. Helping them with jobs and career advancement and health care and, and so forth. And it’s it’s a major, major challenge. And it continues to seem to get harder and harder. And this this demands, you know, whether it’s short term or permanent, this inflationary environment we’re in today is making it you know, even harder.
Marc Gutman 45:52
Yeah, I mean, it seems like given the numbers that you stated, and the scenario that you outlined an almost impossible challenge. So I mean, thank you for taking that on. It’s, it seems like, you know, deck is certainly stacked against so you know, finding success, there is a real accomplishment. And as you look to the future, Don, like, what does the future look like for DLP? Like what’s what’s what’s next? Yeah, so,
Don Wenner 46:18
you know, we’ve we have a family of businesses is talked about before today that are all growing really quickly, and all serving, you know, tremendous need and making an impact, which is exciting. And, you know, as we look ahead at our pace of growth, and of our growth and our assets, you know, we’re growing at an incredible pace and is incredible, it is what we can do with the capital and employing more people and making a direct impact through our hands on investment into these affordable housing communities, workforce, housing communities I mentioned and so forth, what we’ve realized the biggest impact we were gonna be able to make is to take the certainly the capital, but also the knowledge and resources and systems that we’ve developed and making them available to more businesses and entrepreneurs and families. And that’s where the book comes into play.
And that’s where we spend a lot of our time are spent a lot of my time is helping companies, a lot of our focus is certainly around other real estate companies who are also investing in this space of making impact on on workforce affordability. But helping more and more companies can make an impact on this jobs crisis and happiness crisis. And so our ability to kind of expand our platform and our and our footprint to, to make a much larger impact is that is the kind of the challenge we’re, we’re tackling right now. And and it’s been been a lot of fun and exciting. And, you know, our B hag right now, you know, big hairy audacious goal is to be a fortune 500 company and at our current pace, we’ll be there and really a blink of an eye and is a few years which is exciting and humbling at the same time.
But realizing that if we keep doing you know, doing what we believe to be right and doing the right thing, and building building our brand and culture around the our values, and you know, we’re really just just getting started and you know, there’s great books out there on topics like small giants is a classic one that you know that hey, you can have a small business that’s, that’s great. And, and I challenge anybody looking to grow a business that if it’s a great business, and you’re really helping people, there’s no way you can stay small. It can’t be a great business and stay small and, and I’ve accepted a while ago for a short period of time in my life, I looked at Wow, when all of a sudden I realized I had a couple 100 employees, I thought well what if you started feeling like that was a liability and started feeling like wow, that’s that’s I didn’t really set out to employ hundreds of people.
And now I’ve quickly learned that you know, it’s my greatest asset and, and the greatest opportunity I have is the ability to employ people and directly and indirectly through through our investments and and partnerships in education of other businesses is our greatest opportunity we face today and it’s a lot of fun and exciting and haven’t been more excited in a 15 point 15 year journey so far as I am today at the kind of the opportunities right right in front of us. It’s it’s we’re having a blast.
Marc Gutman 49:12
Fantastic any Oh, and we’ll make sure to link to all things Don Wenner in the show notes will link to the books DLP, Evernote have access to all those resources so they can easily connect with you and and look you up that as we come to the end of our conversation here. I’d like you to think back to little Don solid doughnuts, making 50 cents 50 cents a donut and you know if he saw you today, what do you think he’d say?
Don Wenner 49:40
Well, it’s so interesting question. No one’s asked me that one before but funny side story. Well, I think about that. So So I tell this the story of this donut story and kind of beginning of the book. And yes, just yesterday for the first time ever. I met with a gentleman who runs a actually a bank, a CEO of a bank, and he handed me a card have these little hostess doughnuts. No one had ever done that, that I sold back when I was a kindergartener. It was a it was a pretty pretty, pretty cool moment is that was definitely you could say a pivotal moment. You know, I hope that if I you know, look back I’d be I certainly think I was old as it’s a it’s amazing thing you know, I grew up with my parents have me at 16.
So, you know, I was, you know, 20 years old and my parents were my age and so, so probably thinking I’m pretty, pretty old because that was my grandparents age at five years old. And I hope hope, hope I’d be proud and I guess the best way I think about that is you know, I have a nine year old and, and hope hope they’re proud I funny story. I was talking to my I was in the car taking my kids to a flag football practice a lot about two weeks ago. And so I have my two sons back there and one of their other teammates, another kid back there and, and I asked the little boy, so what does your dad do? And he tells me in long detail, his dad worked for Johnson and Johnson and he’s the software engineer and, and he builds these prosthetic arms and great detail right? And, and I asked my son I said, I said is Donnie and Donnie, what do I do? He says he does something with money in real estate.
So didn’t quite know even though he’s been to my events and dinners, but as money in real estate, so I guess he was he was a partial, pretty pretty right there. But uh, but but hopefully they’re proud of they tell me I’m really cool, because my book launch is going on right now. And they keep seeing my book ads pop up on their iPads. So right now I’m a celebrity and I’m really cool because I’m on YouTube. And I’m on NBA touquet. So I’m winning right now in my kids eyes I guess.
Marc Gutman 51:49
In that is Don Wenner, founder and CEO of DLP real estate capital. quite inspiring, isn’t it? Our conversation made me ask, am I living fully? am I playing all out? Or am I thinking too small? It’s always amazing to see financially successful companies solving real social issues, such as affordable workforce housing. It furthers my belief that entrepreneurs are the answer to most of our problems. Congratulations to Don, who I think might be the first ever eighth grader who grew up dreaming of being a financial planner.
A big thank you to Don Wenner and the team at DLP real estate capital. We will link to all things down winner including his two books in the show notes. Make sure to check them out. There’s tons of valuable insights and information there. And if you know of a guest who should appear on our show, please drop me a line at podcast at wild street comm our best guests like Don come from referrals from past guests and our listeners. Wait, and I did promise to flex my own cheese restaurant experience. So here we go. Happy Happy Happy birthday. Happy Happy Happy birthday. Happy, Happy Happy birthday to you, to you to you. Oh les. That’s how you do it. Well, that’s the show. Until next time, make sure to visit our website www.wildstory.com where you can subscribe to the show in iTunes, Stitcher or via RSS so you’ll never miss an episode. A lot of big stories and I cannot lie to you other storytellers can’t deny.