Scott Tillery is an organizational behavior professional and business owner from Cincinnati, Ohio. Born and raised in Cincinnati’s northern suburbs, he earned his undergraduate degree at Jacksonville University and his MBA at Indiana Wesleyan University. Both within and outside of his entrepreneurial pursuits, Scott has built his career on improving business operations, both culturally and in terms of performance. He does this by using data and his emotional intelligence to ensure that voices are heard and a positive, collaborative, and productive culture is built and encouraged.
Scott has significant experience in entrepreneurship, having launched and operated a few different businesses, with his real estate business as his current focus. While his business owned six properties at its height, they downsized to enable Scott to spend more time with his wife and raise his three children.
Outside of business, Scott has worked closely with several nonprofits. He was recently the President of the Board for Reach Out Lakota, an Ohio food and clothing pantry, and he is one of the founders of the Blue Thunder Foundation, a formerly active nonprofit focused on raising money for firefighting scholarships at a local tech school. He currently lives in Liberty Township, Ohio.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
It was the natural result of my research. I was looking for opportunities that historically had the highest potential for growth, and it turned out that real estate was the most recession-resistant option, while having the longest term sustainable growth. You can make just about anything else, but you can’t make more land. Because of that, land tends to hold its value well, and appreciate often.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
From a work perspective, a typical day for me involves making sure that I’m handling the projects, interacting with folks on the floor to understand their needs, and taking back that information to turn it into something tangible. On the personal side of things, I make sure to get some sort of exercise every day, and I connect with my kids and my wife to see how their day has been. Prayer and faith are significant parts of each day for me as well.
How do you bring ideas to life?
It takes passion to bring ideas to life. You have to think it through and measure the idea, because if you can’t measure it, you can’t refine and improve it. You have to put it through a process called a SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threat) analysis. Figure out if the idea is doable, if you’ve got the resources for it, and if you’ve got the support needed to make it happen.
Even after you’ve done all of that, it’s still going to be tough, and you’ll need your passion and belief in the idea to see you through it. With that passion and energy and support, you’ll have what you need to see it through the test phase, and then the implementation phase.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The real estate market as a whole, really. To expand on that, the real estate market is up over 20% in the last two years, and it looks like it’s sustainable. Banks have learned their lessons from the real estate bubble 15 years ago, and they’re not making the same lending mistakes. So, it all comes down to supply and demand. It’s tough to make more land, so land as a commodity is appreciating simply because the demand is continually exceeding the supply.
We did our research, and things are playing out like we thought they would. It’s a good investment opportunity, and it’s certainly more stable than most investments at the moment.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Prayer, first and foremost, first thing in the morning. It gives me a chance to clear my mind and find my focus.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Stay focused and eliminate distractions. Those are the two most important things. Don’t try to be all things for all people. And make sure that, when you set your goals, you spend your time in support of those goals. Don’t allow people and situations to distract you from what you’re working toward.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
That the Japanese art of Kintsugi can be applied to people. This art was established hundreds of years ago is founded in the principle of something that‘s broken can be put back together and be even more beautiful and valuable than before it was broken. In our Western culture we tend to see broken things and people as less valuable and often get thrown away. When in fact being broken leads to breakthroughs which often to people being more valuable and beautiful than ever before.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Make sure you’re constantly taking time to step back and reevaluate your goals, and make sure all your efforts and results are mapping correctly to those goals.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Our main strategy was to go after homes that were either foreclosed on or HUD properties, and that allowed us to take the equity that was in each of the homes and use that for improvements that needed to be made for the houses to be livable. That way, nothing was out of our pocket.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
One thing that we didn’t adequately plan for was our kids getting older, and the changes that come with that. We had a seven year old and a three year old, and eventually we had another child as well. Of course, we wanted to spend time with our kids and support them through sports, school, and just life in general. At the time, we didn’t really understand the time commitment there, because we’d never been through it before. We were trying to raise our kids while running a successful business, and we didn‘t want to look back and have any regrets of not realizing our goals around having and raising a productive, healthy, and loving family.
We had to make our family the priority, and put the business second. We were okay with that, and it worked out well that we were able to sell some of our properties to folks to help them get back on their feet. So, I’d say it turned out great, but it really wasn’t what we expected or planned for. We reached a point where we really just didn’t have enough time for everything, but we were able to turn that situation into something that benefited others.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
If I were to start a new business now, I think I’d turn my mind back to supply and demand. Much like you can’t really make more land, you also can’t really make more time. So, if you can find something that saves time, that’ll always be in demand. I don’t have any specific ideas just now, but if you can find something that helps other folks get more out of their time, that’s a great place to start.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
We just recently went and bought toys for Toys for Tots, for Christmas. Giving your blessings to somebody else to brighten their Christmas, that’s what Christmas is all about. That’s by far the best $100 I’ve spent in a long time.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I’m constantly using Google searches. It’s a great resource and a great learning tool. Staying informed is vital, but it’s not about having to know everything. Rather, it’s about knowing where to go to get those answers, and Google is a resource that I rely on heavily for exactly that.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Dare to Lead by Brene Brown is by far the best leadership book I’ve ever read. It deals with grassroots leadership and, at its core, is about treating people as your number one asset and getting the most out of your assets by creating a proper, collaborative work environment.
What is your favorite quote?
“Knowing your whys will make you wise.”
It goes back to understanding your goals. Every day, you should be asking yourself, “Why am I doing this?” We should ask that question about everything. When you understand the ‘why’, you can find and understand your passion.
- If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.
- Take a moment to stop and reevaluate your goals on a regular basis. Self-reflect, and make sure that you’re still on track and that your efforts are actually working towards the goals you’ve set.
- Don’t lose sight of what’s important, even if that might sometimes mean putting the business second. You can’t rewind time.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.