As part of our series about the “Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Turbulent Times,” we had the pleasure of interviewing Todd Baldwin.
Todd Baldwin, known on CNBC as the Millennial Millionaire, is an American entrepreneur, investor, and real estate enthusiast. He lives in Seattle, Washington with his wife Angela where the two of them have amassed a House Hacking and Airbnb Empire. He is using the knowledge he has learned in these endeavors on his YouTube channel to help others build wealth and gain financial independence.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Unfortunately, my story is not uncommon. I was raised by a single mother who struggled every day to put food on the table for three kids. Seeing my mom worry tirelessly about finances led me to decide at 12 years old that someday I would become a millionaire.
By the time I was 22, I was making 6 figures working in sales, and I used every last penny to buy real estate. Today at 29, I’m bringing on $1.4 million per year.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
One time the HR director emailed the entire office that she would be out of town on a vacation to Australia. I hit “Reply All,” and I said, “Oh you’re going down under to see the kangaroos? Put another shrimp on the barbie!!” I clicked send. It was at that point I realized the HR director didn’t say she was going to Australia. She said she was going to Austria….I was mortified.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I would like to thank my mother, Sandra Ramsey, for instilling a work ethic in me that helped me become a multi millionaire in my 20s. I saw her work incredibly hard as a kid, and that same tenacity has served me well. I would also like to recognize my wife’s dad, Scott Hansen, for all of his wisdom and encouragement throughout my career. He always has great advice and can act as the voice of reason if an opportunity seems too good to be true.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?
My wife and I set out to solve the housing crisis in Seattle WA. Seattle is a really expensive market, and we wanted to provide safe, affordable housing that was nice. We have served 150 tenants in total.
Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion. Can you share with our readers a story from your own experience about how you lead your team during uncertain or difficult times?
Treat your team with respect. Right now there is a labor shortage. People don’t want to go back to work. My company however isn’t having any sort of labor problem. It’s because we pay our people well, we treat them with respect, and we let them choose their schedule.
Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the motivation to continue through your challenges? What sustains your drive?
My goals are way too big to give up. I’ve got one shot at life and I’m going to make the most of it.
What would you say is the most critical role of a leader during challenging times?
Lead by example and be a good listener. Your team may be worried. Listen to them. Let everyone have a voice. Show them you care. If you take care of your employees they will take care of business.
When the future seems so uncertain, what is the best way to boost morale? What can a leader do to inspire, motivate and engage their team?
I’m not like the King who sits back on his horse and puts his soldiers on the front lines. I’m leading the charge into battle. Be a part of the team and show them you care.
What is the best way to communicate difficult news to one’s team and customers?
Complete honesty and transparency. No B.S. Be a straight shooter.
How can a leader make plans when the future is so unpredictable?
Expect the best, plan for the worst. Nobody plans to fail. They just fail to plan. Always be prepping for the worst case scenario.
Is there a “number one principle” that can help guide a company through the ups and downs of turbulent times?
Understand that hardships are temporary but giving up is forever.
Can you share 3 or 4 of the most common mistakes you have seen other businesses make during difficult times? What should one keep in mind to avoid that?
Many businesses freed their employees. I didn’t terminate a single worker. Not one. Now these companies are struggling to find employees because the workers know that they will be terminated when times get tough.
Most companies don’t innovate. They don’t adapt. You have to be able to adapt to the new times. If you’re a restaurant that got shut down during the pandemic, double down on your takeout and delivery service.
Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
Our profits went way up during the pandemic. It is because we adapted. While other companies tried to do things the “traditional” way, we adapted to the changing times. If you’re not cutting edge, you’ll get left behind.
Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should do to lead effectively during uncertain and turbulent times? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Lead by example. Be in the trenches with your team.
- Treat your employees with respect. They are people, not numbers.
- Be customer centric. Listen to your customers and give them what they want.
- Adapt. Don’t be stuck doing the same old thing if it doesn’t work anymore.
- Be honest. Tell it like it is and be straightforward with your employees and clients.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Hard times create strong men. Strong men create easy times. Easy times create weak men. Weak men create hard times. This pandemic is really hard. Those of us who come out the other side will be stronger for it.
How can our readers further follow your work?