Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs From a Successful CEO
Nov 09, 2017 Atlanta, GA
TowerPoint is a leading institutional investor in and manager of wireless real estate — or, for the uninitiated, cell towers — across the United States. TowerPoint’s leadership team possesses over 50 years of combined experience, having financed or invested in more than $1 billion in telecommunications infrastructure and real estate-related assets.
Over the last 10 years, they’ve built a reputation for generating outsized value and execution for a broad spectrum of wireless real estate owners while consistently delivering alpha to investors. TowerPoint credits its success to the firm’s core values, its bespoke approach to structuring investments, and its roster of talented employees.
I spoke with Jesse Wellner, the firm’s passionate CEO to get some advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. The road from startup to successful CEO may be long and difficult, but taking notes from examples like Jesse can help you find success on your own journey.
1. How do you stay productive while balancing all of your professional responsibilities as CEO of TowerPoint?
“Productivity is all about managing life’s most valuable commodity – Time. I learned many years ago that creating and unapologetically adhering to a schedule is critical, but it is equally necessary to also understand how to maintain a sense of flexibility. In this game the plays invariably change on you all the time and when it happens you need to call an audible and pivot effectively.
2. What qualities or characteristics are most predictive for future entrepreneurial success?
“Entrepreneurs who are capable of engaging in real risk assessment and honest self-evaluation are most likely to succeed over time, at least in my view. The entrepreneurial spirit inherently requires a massive dose of optimism and often times that’s the very thing that clouds and inhibits good judgement. Regular reflection regarding one’s strengths and weaknesses with an emphasis on the latter makes it possible to identify and address any areas in need of improvement so that, over time, entrepreneurial weaknesses are eliminated and strengths are enhanced.” “Of course I tend to be overly self-deprecating so my prescriptions should be practiced with some sense of humor”
3. If you could pick three dinner guests, living or dead, who would they be?
“Rashi, Benjamin Franklin and Larry David”
4. What kind of advice do you believe is most important for aspiring entrepreneurs?
“My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is simple: Run a sanity check before pursuing opportunities with a simple but crucial question “Why do I want to do this”? If the answer is oriented in results like “to get rich and famous,” or if it’s too complex to say in just a few sentences then one should take pause. The best businesses or any undertaking for that matter are those with a simple and concise mission. Entrepreneurs need good people around them who can passionately engage in the enterprise. That sort of durable engagement comes from a strong belief in the reasons your business should exist and the results tend to follow.
5. How do you measure the achievements of TowerPoint?
“Like a lot of other companies in today’s economy we are very data and metrics driven and those measurements play an important role in informing our strategic and operations decisions. However, the “Moneyball” approach despite all its convictive benefits requires some skepticism. Without that skepticism KPIs can result in “Titanic” failure like when everything you think you know might actually be working against you. Ultimately it’s important to employ comprehensive data analytics with old fashioned business instincts to instruct decisions and measure achievement. At TowerPoint we like to measure overall achievement by the sum of our incremental wins. Incremental wins even at minute levels generate lasting momentum that lead to big achievements.
6. Jesse, what has driven you in building such success?
“Success is a relative term, and — although it may sound trite — I think proclaiming success as it is traditionally defined can be a dangerous trap. Of course it is important to acknowledge and celebrate achievements and milestones earned. However, success is too often accompanied by complacency and contentment, which quickly leads to failure.”
“The key is to never be satisfied and to always be looking to improve. Embrace challenges and evolve. My definition of success is to be in a constant state of total engagement without even realizing it. That’s when you know you’re having fun.”
7. That said, tell me about TowerPoint’s core values.
“Knowledge – Good information is the difference-maker in today’s economy and TowerPoint’s ever-expanding knowledge base is an asset we share in order to create tangible value for our counterparties.”
“Professionalism – This is a word people throw around pretty liberally these days. Call me old fashioned, but business professionalism is a language that requires commitment. No matter how a deal goes I want our people to be remembered as pros.”
“Integrity – Trust and confidence are the precursors of a successful transaction. Without integrity, you cannot expect to earn trust or confidence from the person on the other side of the table.”
“Partnership – Too many people think of finance and real estate as a zero-sum game. I’m convinced that the very best transactions are those in which every party walks away feeling they’ve materially gained.”
Hence, their expansion and success with good people applying strong values.
The article originally appeared in the Huffington Post
TowerPoint is a telecommunications infrastructure and real estate investment company operating throughout North America. We are the industries longest standing Cell Tower Lease Acquisition Company and continue to be a leading provider of capital and liquidity to cell tower site owners across United States. The company’s affiliate; TowerPoint Infrastructure Group acquires, owns, operates and develops wireless communications towers. TowerPoint’s leadership possesses over fifty years of combined experience, having directly invested over $1 billion in wireless communications infrastructure and real estate assets and advised on over $5 billion in related transactions.