Steve is a serial Entrepreneur who grew a tech company to over 300 employees which ended up listing on the Australian Stock Exchange with a market capitalization of $315 Million. After leaving operational duties at that business he moved his family to New Orleans and started Home Buyer Louisiana which helps homeowners sell problem properties by buying them direct for cash.
- CEO Hack: Prioritisation and backlog using impact/effort prioritization matrix
- CEO Nugget: Build minimum viable products (MVPs)
- CEO Defined: Ensuring you are on the right path and looking for alternatives
Stephen Keighery 0:00
To me the time it was like, if you were in a jungle with your team, you know, a leader gets a machete, and he's out front slicing fruit, creating a path for your team to follow. And you know that that's what I thought a leader was. But what the person explained to me I now see was that's actually not the job of a leader. The leaders job is to climb the tree and have a look at the terrain and say, Hey, we're in the wrong jungle, guys. Get the hell out of here.
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Gresham Harkless 0:51
Hello, hello. Hello. This is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have steve steve Kerry of homebuyer, Louisiana. Steve is awesome having on the show. Thanks. It's great to be here. I appreciate you inviting me on. definitely appreciate you for coming on. And before we jumped in, I want to read a little bit more about Steve so you can hear about all the awesome things that he's doing. And Steve is a serial entrepreneur who grew a tech company to over 300 employees, which ended up listing on the Australian stock exchange with a market capital capitalization of three 315 million. After leaving operational duties at the business. He moved his family to New Orleans and started homebuyer, Louisiana, which helps homeowners sell properties by buying them directly for cash. Steve, are you ready to speak to the imcl? community?
Stephen Keighery 1:35
Gresham Harkless 1:36
Awesome. Well, let's do it then. So to kind of kick everything off. I know I read a little bit in your bio, but I wanted to hear a little bit more on how you get started. Could you take us through what I call your CEO story? Well, that you started with your business.
Stephen Keighery 1:45
Yeah, I mean, I think I can trace back where I started to when was University actually back in 2000. Obviously, from Australia originally, so in Sydney, and my friend convinced me to go to a Robert Kiyosaki seminar and wasn't really into seminars at that point in time, but like, I just for whatever reason I went, and just literally like mind opens mentally just something clicked, talking about the you know, cashflow quadrant, and etc. So, um, you know, I then started consuming all that information, I still had another, I think, a year and a half left of university. So gave me the time to think and read and think about what I want to do, I'll study studying, like marketing and economics, and then the intention was to get a job. But like, based on that seminar, I went, you know, what, like, I'm gonna start my own business. So, you know, I started my business straight out of university, you know, emerged a couple times, you know, I use my marketing skills, to consult to small businesses, then I specialized in like helping natural therapists market their business, that led me to, you know, business partner who had a natural therapies website. And, you know, we sort of merged our businesses. And also, there was a home improvement website, which was five pages, which is the company that we listed on the stock exchange, and a couple months back. So and then, you know, I still left operations of they're about two and a half years ago, you know, growing to a size that, you know, were 300 staff, you know, it was great, I didn't need to be there, you know, to be honest, like listing companies probably, you know, I'm a good startup person, but like it was ready for someone you know, a bigger boy to come in and not take take over. And so I moved to New Orleans. And, you know, I've always liked property also Robert Kiyosaki thing, he's like, buy properties, use your business to buy properties. So you know, the markets really good over here. So, you know, I buy properties direct from homeowners, I flipped them and turn them into rentals. And, yeah, that's really but really, what got me started was that Robert Kiyosaki seminar, just open everything up to me.
Gresham Harkless 3:36
Nice, that's definitely exciting to hear, you know how, you know, sometimes just getting an opportunity to take a step into something sometimes we don't always think that we will be doing kind of opens up the entire world and opportunities from there. Absolutely. Nice. And so I know, I did, you know, touch a little bit on you know, how exactly you serve the clients that you work with? Could you tell us a little bit more about that? And what exactly that process looks like?
Stephen Keighery 3:57
Yeah, so So we, we basically, we deal with problem properties or problem situations, right? So we're not if someone has a really nice house, like they should list with a realtor, get all homeowners through it and get top dollar, right, we are the end of the market where people have houses that like a damaged, you know, they need a lot of repairs, or maybe there's tenants in there, and it's really hard to show. So really those problem properties that are very hard to sell. So we help people by just really understanding their situation. And we purchased those properties direct from them for cash. And because it's cash, like often, you know, if you're listening to a realtor, you know, someone might get finance and if your home is damaged and needs repairs, like the banks normally won't lend on it. So that homeowner can't buy it or they don't want to buy it because it's not ready. So, you know, we really help those people with those problem properties be able to sell them, we make it really easy. They don't have to clean up after themselves. We just provide a really painless solution. And then we do that work. We're the ones that come in and fix it up. And that's our expertise. So you know, we the client doesn't have to pay realtor commissions and I have a really easy transaction. You know, we get a decent price or we can actually do are working and make a profit on a flip or a rental.
Gresham Harkless 5:03
Nice. That makes sense. And it kind of sounds like you fill in that gap and opportunity where like you said, You know, sometimes people have the property, and they can't do anything with it, and they don't know where to turn, but at the same time, you guys are able to kind of get that opportunity. So it sounds like a win win opportunity, potentially.
Stephen Keighery 5:18
Absolutely, that's it, we have our one of our main values is that we do not do a deal unless both people are smiling at the closing table. And that's that, you know, like that the homeowners be happy, you know, we're not, we don't want to pay them under what they need to get like we will not buy if they're not happy what we're offering, we won't buy the property, you know, and likewise, we also need to be happy to though you need to look, so it needs to be a win win scenario. And that's definitely our goal.
Gresham Harkless 5:42
Yeah, that makes so much sense. And definitely, you know, as you said, so well, like, a lot of times, if we're not the best fit, then maybe you can go a different way, but you're trying to look for it sounds like a very specific segment of the market and be able to kind of create those Win Win opportunities. Absolutely. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. And so what would you consider to be what I call your secret sauce? And this could be for you sell personally, or your business or combo? Both? Or what do you feel kind of sets you apart and makes you unique?
Stephen Keighery 6:07
So from a, from a from a business point of view, I think it's really our listening ability, you know, he we very much listen. And that's the difference, because we are the to create those women's solutions that you mentioned, like you actually need to know what motivated the person and everyone's different sometimes, like, they just need to sell really fast, sometimes, like, it's a burden of the property. Like when we listen, we know what they want. And our goal is to give them what they want, but also structured in a way that works for us. So the ability to listen, we have techniques and ways that we we discuss and get information and determine what they really need. So we can give it to them. I think on a personal level, like my secret sauce, you know, I think I just always move forward, you know, I always never, never get too down. Like I don't let things bother me, you know, to get too excited or don't get too low regard to what is happening. And just always, always push forward. You know, even if you're in a bad situation, you're like, what's my best move? Let's let's move there. And just keep moving forward, keep growing. And you're you know, if as long as you go in the right direction, you'll you'll always do well.
Gresham Harkless 7:09
Yeah, and that makes so much sense. Especially, I always say this phrase that I heard from an internship I had where it's like control what you can control. And I think that if you have those actions, and you understand that I can control that, and not get too high like because if you get too high, then you're maybe like resting on your laurels a little bit. But if you get really low, then you don't want to do anything, you try to find that middle ground and try to stay there as much as possible. And just be consistent with your actions that helps to increase your likelihood of not just being successful, but sustaining it as well, too.
Stephen Keighery 7:37
Absolutely. Couldn't agree more.
Gresham Harkless 7:38
Yeah, and I love that listening skill part. Because I think so many times we don't realize opportunities are the the ways by which we can make those Win Win scenarios. But by listening and engaging in rich really understanding what people are looking for, then it allows that opportunity for that to come to fruition.
Stephen Keighery 7:55
Listening is an underrated skill, you know, we work on it, you know, we train on a we we just just actually listening is a really important skill that I think most people don't use.
Gresham Harkless 8:06
Yeah, I would, I would agree with that, definitely. So it's good that you're able to do it, you and your team are able to do it. And so I wanted to switch gears a little bit. And I want to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app or book or a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?
Stephen Keighery 8:21
So, habit wise, I think the most important thing I've used through my career is prioritization, and backlog. So we use the impact effort. Great if you know that. So you so there's always so many things you can do, I think the problem any company has, is there's actually too many opportunities. There's too many so so what do you do first? And what's the order? So, you know, what we always have done is when there's always stuff going on, we step back, and we just we Id just put ideas on post it notes, get them all out there. And then we put them on on a graph and the graph is on one axes, you have impact, or you have impacts or like what's the impact of this initiative, then you have effort? Is it easy or hard and they got a quadrant, right? So it is high impact, low effort, you are doing that first, right, like, say much effort, it's gonna have a high impact, you're gonna do it, anything, anything that is high effort, low impact. Hopefully, you're never going to do that that's stay away from that, right? Any anything that he's a, you know, high effort, high impact that you know, you that's more of a project, you know, you want to do a quick wins first, and then work on those projects. So we would periodically do that exercise, then just create a backlog. We have all those ideas, and they've got all the prioritization. big wins. First, we're not doing anything but that, let's knock that out the park. Next, next, next and then after a little while, then you go to and then when you ever get new ideas you get you know, people chase shiny objects. When new ideas come on, they have a place to put it where it's on the matrix, put it in the backlog. And whenever it's the next thing, we'll do it, I'm gonna do it until then.
Gresham Harkless 10:08
Nice. I absolutely love that. And I think especially truly entrepreneurial people have a tremendous amount of ideas and things that they want to tackle. So I think it works within an organization. But also it works, you know, personally, and in both ways, really, because you you don't kind of ignore those opportunities. You don't like say, Oh, you shouldn't have those kind of ideas, you just put them in their proper place, and you say, okay, we're running a marathon. So this is where it falls on the line. And then you start to realize what those quick wins are those opportunities, and then start to scale things and prioritize them related to that
Stephen Keighery 10:37
Correct, and it flows through to motivate your staff, because I think there's nothing, you know, once you have a big team, like it can be really demotivating, when the team members have these really good ideas, and they don't feel like they're being listened to. Because you know, so like, you can't always do it. Whereas having a process, you can appease them in the sense of, that's a great idea. Like, we're not doing it right now. But a backlog so Evans there and you can track you can like so it helps you help collect, I usually get more ideas, but your staff can see where things are at, and they don't feel like they're not being heard, they can see that it's in the backlog to be done.
Gresham Harkless 11:08
Yeah, absolutely. And always feels like there's a tension between, you know, prioritization and being able to create ideas, but to be able to have that combination of both. And that that visual, and allows, as you said, to keep team camaraderie, and I think energy towards creating ideas, but also allows you to, to make sure that you're singularly focused on that opportunity that's before you and that, you know, trying to do too many things at the same time.
Stephen Keighery 11:30
Gresham Harkless 11:31
Awesome. And so, I want to ask you now for what I call a CEO nugget, so this could be like a word of wisdom or a piece of advice, it might be something you would tell a client or if you happen to have a time machine, you might tell your younger self.
Stephen Keighery 11:42
So what what I tell myself, I would, I would learn to like, build MVPs, you know, minimal viable products, and new the term button, it sort of links to the helps with improvisation. But I think too many people have this really great idea. And took me a while to learn this, right. And I get caught up because I'm speaking to myself, but I'll speak to listeners too, like nine out of 10 of your ideas suck. Basically, like, like, it's, it's, it's a harsh reality, but like, I learned that about myself, you have these ideas, you think they're awesome, right? But until you test it in the market, often you're wrong, you make wrong assumptions. And I think the mistake a lot of people make is they think this idea is great. And therefore they spend all this time they plan and it's done building this thing. And that building might take six months a year, and it's like, and then they launch and they're like, Whoa, like, it's not working. Obviously, the myth, the MVP, the minimum viable product philosophy is the fastest dirtiest way you can test an idea. You know, you might even throw up a landing page. That doesn't work. Maybe it's a form. And maybe maybe there's no back end built, but just throw it up there. See people fill it out. Right? Because no one fills it out. Don't bother building the back end. What are you building for you? I mean, if someone's filling it out? Well, now, you know, okay, that's working. Let's build on it. So, you know, I think that's the most important for any leader, just learn to test the concepts, see what the market thinks, once you test and you see it, working through everything at it. But what I always found was these 10 ideas, I thought all of them great, didn't work, didn't work didn't work, didn't work, because I failed fast that MVP that, then I go to the one that works way quicker. I spent less time less resources. And when I got it, I follow through and make it happen. You know?
Gresham Harkless 13:27
Yeah, that makes so much sense. I absolutely love that. And I think it's a great concept to kind of take in mind. And, and as we were kind of I love how it ties in right with what we were talking about as far as the, you know, the hacking, because I think we have ideas. Sometimes even within our team, we have ideas. So even giving that opportunity to kind of run with that. But do it in a dirty, quick way just to get the market feedback and then iterate from there that allows you to really see if it has legs, if it has potential, if it's something you want to put more resources into, or something that you got to try. See if it worked. Maybe you got that information that will help you out with another project where maybe that thing isn't necessarily it hundered percent. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. So now I want to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. And we're hoping to have different quote unquote, CEOs on the show. So Steve, what does being a CEO mean to you?
Stephen Keighery 14:15
I might use an analogy actually, someone gave to me, I forget, I forget who it was, it probably comes from somewhere, but I don't know who it should be to. But, you know, they gave me this analogy. And you know, at one time, you know, what's, what's been a leader. And, you know, to me at the time, it was like, if you were in a jungle with your team, you know, a leader gets a machete, and he's out front slicing fruit, creating a path for your team to follow. And, you know, that's what I thought a leader was, but what the person explained to me and I now see was that's actually not the job, the leader, the leaders job is to climb the tree and have a look at the terrain and say, Hey, we're in the wrong jungle, guys. Let's get the hell out of here. And that's what I think it means to be a leader. You need to be questioning what's happening, questioning the direction, always looking for alternatives and just making sure you're you're on the right path.
Gresham Harkless 14:59
Yeah, and that's absolutely huge. And that's why I love how it ties in to the hacks and nuggets that you mentioned as well, because I think so many times it becomes I guess, I don't know what to say if I know if I want to say, glamorize, you know to be that one with the machete in the front leading the team in the charge. But if you're going to completely wrong place, then where are you? Are you where you might be leading? Which are you a good leader at the end of the day, because you really want to be able to take a look at it and see, like, we're in the wrong place. So the true leader will say, let's go back the other way.
Stephen Keighery 15:25
Gresham Harkless 15:26
Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Well, Steve, truly appreciate that definition. And that metaphor, and I appreciate your time even more, what I wanted to do is pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional, you could let our readers and listeners now and of course, how best they can get out of you. And find out about all the awesome things you and your team are working on.
Stephen Keighery 15:41
Look, I just encourage all your listeners, I mean, I also listen to these podcasts and you're you're out there seeking information. Keep going information is everything you know, like I read and consumed and that's what led me to where I am now. So, so keep doing that. If anyone wants to connect with me, you can find me on LinkedIn. My name is Stephen Keighry. It's s t e p h en k ei g h r y, connect me on LinkedIn. I'm happy to help wherever I can and I wish you all the best on your journey.
Gresham Harkless 16:09
Awesome Awesome. Awesome. Thank you so much, Steve. We will have the links and information in the show notes as well too so that everybody can follow up with you but definitely appreciate you know all the awesome work he did you doing and of course, the time and the value that you provided today, and I hope you have a phenomenon today.
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