We’ve gone rogue – burn the ships

Written by Tyler Kastelberg

August 8, 2021

Happy Sunday!

You’re getting this email because at one point or another, you signed up to be a part of Bullpen’s blog email list.

However, you’ve probably noticed that we haven’t been sending out very many marketing emails. Frankly, marketing emails suck, and I don’t like reading them.

From now on, we’re going to be using this email list differently. You’re going to hear directly from me, Tyler, the Founder at Bullpen.

Every Sunday, you’re going to hear from me on the topic of building real estate acquisitions and development businesses. Over the next few weeks, we’ll cover:

  • Should you scale your real estate business (and what that means)
  • How to use software to scale before hiring (plus my software recommendations)
  • Where software can’t replace a human team (and who you should hire first)
  • … and lots more random but relevant things

If the thought of a weekly content designed to scale your business gives you indigestion, scroll to the bottom of this email and hit the unsubscribe button.

Before we get going – a little introduction …

My name is Tyler Kastelberg. I was born in Richmond, VA and currently live in San Francisco with my wife and 6-month old son. Before starting Bullpen, I ran an acquisitions business based in Richmond, VA. I made some good investments and one bad one (contrary to popular belief, you can lose money in real estate) but soon found that I liked building businesses more than chasing deals. I started consulting for some of the biggest real estate investment companies in Virginia and shortly thereafter started Bullpen to help these real estate companies scale their teams.

Now for the good stuff … building a team like Elon

Building and managing an effective team is hard. As the team gets bigger, it gets even harder.

Elon Musk runs two BIG businesses, and in a recent, super-nerdy youtube tour of his SpaceX facility, shared his five-step strategy to keep everyone working on their products effectively.

Picture from the aforementioned super nerdy youtube tour in Boca Chica (yes, I watched the whole thing).

1. Make your requirements less dumb. Elon’s quote – “Your requirements are definitely dumb. It doesn’t matter who gave them to you. It’s particularly dangerous if a smart person gave them to you because you might not question them enough.”

In CRE, we can translate the “requirements” mentioned above to the “old way of doing business.” Have you ever questioned why you’re spending 5 hours per day cold calling property owners? Perhaps the old way of doing things isn’t the best way in today’s world.

2. Try very hard to delete the part or process. Elon’s quote – “If you’re not occasionally adding things back in, then you’re not deleting enough.”

What in your business can you stop doing? As an example … we deleted formal, quarterly investor updates for Bullpen investors. They were cumbersome, stressful for me to create, and distracted from growing the business. However, investors still wanted to be updated about the progress in our business, so we added a bi-weekly, informal email rhythm where we update them on important happenings. Investors enjoy the updates, and they take 5 minutes to create.

Bonus … Whatever requirement or constraint you have must come with a name, not a department. “You can’t ask [a question to] a department, you have to ask a person. … The person putting forth the requirement or constraint must take responsibility for that requirement.” – Elon

This is typically an issue in bigger companies with legacy processes. If you’re pulling a report because “Fund Accounting” needs it, then find out who needs the report and periodically make sure it’s still relevant. Don’t let your team waste time on useless tasks!

3. Simplify or optimize. Elon’s quote – “The most common error of a smart engineer is to optimize a thing that should not exist.”

Take note, this is step 3, not step 1. Once you’ve determined that a thing should exist, ask yourself, “how can this be simplified?” See the example above about our investor reporting rhythm.

In school, we’re taught to answer the teacher’s question, not ask if the question is dumb. This teaches us to use convergent logic to problem solve, which Elon calls a “mental straight jacket.”

4. Accelerate cycle time. Elon’s quote – “You’re moving too slowly.”

You can always make things go faster. Once you know what you should be doing and have simplified it, it’s time to move fast. Leverage your team and run!

5. Automate. Elon’s quote – “don’t make the mistake of doing this first.”

After the first 4 steps are complete, it’s time to think about how you can automate tedious tasks. This is where software can be a big help. However, don’t make the mistake of buying software before you have assessed if the requirement is dumb (see point 1).

That’s all for today! Send me a reply if you saw anything interesting.

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