EPMEPM: Feature InterviewEPM: Leadership

Great ideas come from within: Ben Foster

In a four part series we drew inspiration from Tim Ferriss' Tribe of Mentors and asked ARPM 2018 speakers about their leadership journey. Part 3 features Cameron Head of Property Management Ben Foster.

What is the most important thing you are working on and how are you making that happen?

We have been transitioning to a new software platform called Re-Leased, moving from a server-based to a cloud-based program. This has really been the focus of future-proofing our business and providing a more nimble solution to our clients.

Where do great ideas in your business come from?

Great ideas within our business come from our staff. I think one of the greatest assets we’ve got is the ability for them to speak freely and make suggestions for improvements to our team and how we operate.

Following one suggestion we’ve implemented the ‘Cameron Chronicle’, an internal monthly digital newsletter touching on what everyone’s doing; birthdays, anniversaries or milestones, sales and leasing transactions, new managements onboarded, updates from our managing director and staff interviews.

Who are your leadership mentors and what do they do to inspire you?

Our managing director, Ben Cooper, is very innovative and a market leader in our space. I’m often in awe of some of the ideas he implements. I also look to established people who started the company, such as David Cooper and John Cooper, and people like Tom Ferry; I know he’s very sales-driven and motivated, as is Tom Panos, but some of their ideals filter through to whatever industry you’re in.

Just give it a go. What’s the worst that can happen?

How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success?

I don’t look at them as failures but more as ‘learning experiences’. I’ve made some mistakes along the way that have affected the operations of the business, the direction we’ve gone or staff retention. I think all of them, successes and failures, help us grow and improve. If you repeat that mistake, you’re a slow learner and probably need to look at yourself more than the failure.

What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.

I’m very conscious of making time for my family outside of work. Early on, I made the mistake – I think most real estate agents do this – to dedicate a lot of my time to real estate. Now I drop my boys to school two days a week and I get to soccer training; they’re non-negotiables in my diary.

In addition, I encourage my staff [to invest in] professional development. Attending courses, seminars at the REIV run, things like ARPM or AREC. Professional development investments are important to anyone looking to grow their personal wealth through salary increases and professional opportunities.

In the last five years, what new belief, behaviour or habit has most improved your life?

Having an open-door policy has given me really good rapport with all levels of my team, but the downside is they can come to rely on it too much. That’s one of the strongest habits I’m trying to obtain; to be a good sounding-board and mentor, but not do the job for them. Giving them the rope to go and do it themselves and have the confidence that I’ll back them if it doesn’t work out.

What commonly given advice do you think people should ignore?

‘You can’t do it.’ Just give it a go. What’s the worst that can happen? I encourage my kids that it doesn’t matter if they don’t kick a goal, but if they don’t step onto the soccer pitch, they’re not even going to get a chance of kicking a goal.

You can find our other exclusive interviews with ARPM speakers and coaches here.

Ben Foster will be speaking at ARPM 2018 at The Star in Sydney on 19-20 August. For more information visit arpmconference.com.au

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