876: What Makes a CEO with BiggerPockets CEO, Scott Trench

January 27, 2020

What makes a CEO tick? What does it take to turn your business vision into reality? On today’s podcast with BiggerPockets CEO Scott Trench, we discuss what entrepreneurs can do to realize their professional goals. Scott starts by outlining his journey from financial analyst to CEO of the company that serves as one of the world’s most-trusted resources for real estate investing. He then shares several pieces of advice guaranteed to help you succeed, including what it takes to stay focused on goals, how to flesh out business plans, and ways to stay mentally and physically ready for the challenges that come with a leadership role.

Listen to today’s show and learn:

  • About Scott Trench and BiggerPockets [2:59]
  • How Scott became the CEO of BiggerPockets [3:37]
  • A unique way to prepare for a CEO position [9:56]
  • The roles and responsibilities of the BiggerPockets CEO [12:52]
  • Scott’s weekly work schedule [17:22]
  • How writing helps Scott build business concepts [19:55]
  • The mental benefits of blogging [22:23]
  • The BiggerPockets Money Podcast [24:21]
  • Tips on keeping mentally and physically fit for a leadership role [27:42]
  • Scott’s CEO superpower [31:34]
  • Scott’s conference and mastermind recommendations [33:01]
  • Scott’s goals for 2020 [34:12]
  • How to break through your goals.
  • Plus so much more.

Scott Trench

Scott Trench is the CEO and President of BiggerPockets. Scott has dedicated his career to helping ordinary Americans build wealth in part through real estate investing. Since joining BiggerPockets in 2014, Scott has authored the bestselling wealth-building book Set for Life and joined Mindy Jensen as co-host of the BiggerPockets Money Podcast.

Scott is an active real estate investor in the Denver market, currently managing a private portfolio of about $1.5M and holds his real estate license as a Colorado broker. He is a perpetual student of personal finance, real estate investing, sales, business, and personal development. With this knowledge, Scott stays active in the BiggerPockets Forums and has contributed hundreds of articles, market analyses, and files to BiggerPockets. He hopes this will provide other investors the tools they need to repeat his results in just 3-5 years, giving them the option to go anywhere they want in the world, work any job, start any business, or finish out the journey to financial independence and retire young.

Scott has contributed to several personal finance blogs and podcasts, along with traditional news outlets including Time, CNBC, and NBC. Find out more about his story at  JoeFairless.com,  MadFientist, and ChooseFI.

Scott graduated from Vanderbilt University with degrees in Economics and History, Corporate Strategy, and Finance. In addition to real estate, Scott enjoys skiing, rugby, craft beers, and terrible punny jokes.

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Read the Full Interview

Scott Trench: The way I look at it is, I don’t have the models that a CEO with 30 years of experience has. I have to get them somewhere and while there’s no direct substitute for experience, that self-education is at least a passable alternative to get me there while I spend the years developing that experience.

Aaron Amuchastegui: All right. Hi. I’m Aaron Amuchastegui. I’m a real estate investor, entrepreneur focusing on online recurring revenue companies and podcasts. I was recently speaking to a fellow entrepreneur about building his business and he told me he had to dig deep to figure out what kind of person he had to become in order to become the CEO of this hundred million dollar valued company that he wanted to build. That got me to thinking, what sort of habits, decisions, trainings would I have to focus on to do the same thing? What makes a CEO, what makes somebody tick, what makes them succeed?

I figured the best way for me to answer that for my own self and for everybody else out there is to interview CEOs who are crushing it in this space and building and running companies that are well on their way to a hundred million dollar valuations. I want to record them, figure out their formula, and see if it was something I could share with everybody else. Today listen closely if you can find some tips to help you level up your career and your chances to become a CEO like that.

One of my first CEOs here today I get to chat with Scott Trench, he is the CEO of BiggerPockets. BiggerPockets is the largest online network for real estate investors and it has, I think it’s more than one and a half million members that are on their site, several giant podcasts growing like crazy. I think I read something it was like they’re getting 5,000 extra members a week, totally huge. Scott has been the CEO since 2018, been involved in BiggerPockets long before that and it’s grown like crazy under his leadership. Scott is also the best-selling author of Set For Life and the co-host of the BiggerPockets Money podcast.

To get started and learning about what makes a CEO, Scott, I wanted to introduce you, bring you on. Thanks for coming on and let’s hear about how you became the CEO of BiggerPockets.

Scott: Yes. Well, thanks for that awesome intro there, first of all, Aaron. Great to be here and I always like talking about this stuff. My kind of journey, I’ll give you a quick overview of my career. I think it starts there. I started my career at a Fortune 500 company as a financial analyst in the pay-tv space. You could look it up if you’re interested in learning. I found out after like two or three months on the job that I just really didn’t want that traditional corporate career track. It was climbing the corporate ladder. I became fascinated about this concept of financial independence and real estate investing.

I started saving up my pennies and looking to buy my first house hack actually. I became a fan of this tiny little website called BiggerPockets.com and its founder and the co-host of the podcast, Josh Dorkin, and his co-host, Brandon Turner. I began listening to that, saving my pennies and within a year I had absorbed hundreds of hours of content and really gotten going on that. Saved up my first $20,000 and around the same time, bought my first house hack, I also joined that startup. I remember networking on the founders’ advice with other real estate entrepreneurs in the local area. I’m here in Denver, Colorado.

I joined a mastermind group of entrepreneurs. Through that mastermind group, I took every single one of them out to lunch. One of them happened to work in the same co-working space of the Vince Startup BiggerPockets and that’s how I met Josh Dorkin. I banged on his door a couple of times and he told me to go away a couple of times. I kept following up until here we are, I got a job as director of operations at this then two-person, after I joined a three-person startup. If you’re not familiar what director of operations means, at a three-person company it means you do all of the crappy jobs that no one else wants to do.

Scott: That’s how I got started and joined this company. 24-year-old, 25-year-old, I started at BiggerPockets as a director of all things operations.

Aaron: That is so awesome. I love the first I was a member. It was like first I was a client and then I got bigger. That makes it hilarious, right? That’s one of companies, my foreclosure listing service company. I was a subscriber, right? I was a subscriber for a long time using it before I became the owner and the guide, and the CEO trying to grow that thing. Another thing I love about your story too is a lot of people think that– I’ve heard people say, the guys at the beginning can’t work their way up in CEO. You need to bring a CEO in from some other space that’s already been a CEO.

Your story is like, no, you started as the guy that was going to get coffee and anything else, and then– What good advice too, there’s a whole podcast about how do you become a CEO, right? That could be its own brand out there and you being able to say like, “No. I showed up at the right spot. I networked, I met a who met a friend, who met a friend, and made it.”

Scott: I obviously over that five-year period that I’ve just glossed over there, I worked really hard. I was working longs days.

Aaron: You had to.

Scott: I was doing everything in my power to loyally support both the mission and the owner personally, Josh personally. I did everything I could and tackled every new problem. There was an area of the business we didn’t know about, I was going to read three or five books on it and become an expert or at least possibly effective so that I could go on and take on that new challenge, that new role. Over time we realized, “Hey, we need someone to do a little bit more of the management of various teams and major revenue streams for the business. Brandon moved off to Hawaii and surfs all day. That left me to handle a lot of those types of issues. Then in late 2017, Josh really began taking more of a backseat in the day-to-day operations of the business and as is his daughter became ill. That was really the time period where we had the transition to me formally taking control of management responsibility for the business as president. Then over the course of 2018, we led a recapitalization where we brought on private equity sponsors.

Josh had a very good outcome, and he’s now doing all sorts of different interesting things in addition to being a part-owner of BiggerPockets. I stayed on a CEO from there.

Aaron: Yes. That’s so awesome. When I’ve heard Josh tell the story of when he had to pull himself out of it to choose family first, which is the most admirable thing, but one of the other things that he fondly talks about is how all of you guys really stepped up into the role. It was one thing to be able to go, “Wow, I have to step away from this for a second to take care of what’s most important,” and how worrisome that must have been, and how proud he is of you guys. You guys took the ball and ran with it. You just said, “We got this. You take care of your family, we’ve got this and we’ll build it and grow it.” You guys didn’t take your foot off the gas.

Scott: No, absolutely. As Josh and his family went through a very tough time there it was up to me to help– One, it was opportunity, it was a career opportunity and two, if I don’t do a good job, I’m hurting Josh’s family, right? If I’m not doing my job. It was those two things. I had to do it. How could I possibly blow this opportunity and not do everything in my power to step up and become, I think that was phrased in your intro, how do I become a CEO?

The way I looked at it, I can’t fool investors with tens of millions of dollars into thinking that I am this effective person. I have to become an effective person, right? You don’t go to Harvard and get an MBA and control hundreds of millions of dollars in private equity funds without knowing a little something about judging people and analyzing businesses. I think that’s the right way to phrase it. How do I become that person and what does it possibly look like?

Aaron: That’s awesome. You worked really, really hard, and then when the opportunity came, you were the first natural fit, right? You were like first guy like, “Hey, it’s time to step up.” We could talk tons about that, but let’s talk more about now that you’re there, what do you do? How do we get there? What education do you have? Do you feel like that was impactful on how you run your business now?

Scott: Yes, I went to Vanderbilt University. I got a degree in economics and history, so dual econ history. Then I minored in corporate strategy and in finance, so financial accounting. I have a background that helps you a little bit with the business day-to-day. It certainly seems like that’s, “Oh here’s a course load for a CEO.” I guess that I do check that box, but I’m probably in the very small minority of people who have that outside of like, “But, I also do have an MBA,” or anything like that.

I wouldn’t say it’s been particularly helpful in terms of direct translation to my experience. My school has been the hundreds of business books, blogs, podcasts, videos, whatever that I’ve read, and continue to read on an ongoing basis. That’s really where the meat of my knowledge comes from. The way I look at it is, I don’t have the mental models that a CEO with 30 years of experience has, so I have to get them somewhere. While there’s no direct substitute for experience, that self-education is at least a passable alternative to get me there while I spend the years developing that experience.

Aaron: I remember when I was first working for a home builder, I asked the CEO then– I was an intern, and I said, “What should I pay a lot of attention to?” One of the advice he gave me, he mentioned was, he said, “Pay a lot of attention in those accounting classes because even though you’re not going to be an accountant, later when you’re a CEO and you’re reviewing those accounting reports, the little things there, you’re going to need it. It’s going to come back to you.” It’s not always direct trained training.

We learn so much more by learning by doing. What we learned 10 years ago, so much of it is out of sync now, but that was a class for me. Accounting is one that I still use even though at the time it was like, “I don’t need this, I’m going to run a company.”

Scott: I love and hate accounting because with the goal of it, in my opinion, there’s tax accounting which is to say to pay as little taxes as practical as your business model will allow for. But then, the mechanics of your business is what you really need to understand. You have to set up your accounting mechanism and, well this is a way off-base. Two, how do you actually manage your business. BiggerPockets is interesting business because we don’t have a lot of those marketing and advertising dollars in a traditional sense.

When I want to compute my customer acquisition cost or LTV or those ratios, I have to use different formats outside of traditional accounting because they don’t quite make as much sense in our model.

Aaron: It’s a whole different world. With podcasts and things like that, you’re like well how much of that directly translates into this? I don’t know but that’s where they come from. People come from the podcast but how do you get that? How about your typical day? What’s your typical day look like as a CEO? How do you keep track of it? How do you attack your day? What’s your management style with that?

Scott: Sure, so and there’s a whole bunch of questions here that you sent me ahead of the show here. I want to just talk like a broad overview about how I was thinking about your questions set before- [crosstalk]

Aaron: That’s awesome, yes go for it. Do your thing.

Scott: I think that running the business is a lot like running your life. You start off with hey, what’s my five-year or three year, however long out you want to forecast your vision for your life? Then you say, what can I actually do in this next year? Then what do I want to do in this quarter, this month, this week this day? Most people don’t do that in their lives, but almost every business does this. I’ve had a lot of practice doing this over the last five years with my personal life and now I’m just translating that for the company.

Most of my job is really doing that work on a regular basis. Because of my role as an outward-facing CEO– I have two roles, I’m the CEO and president. I operate the business and I set the strategy vision, mission all that stuff as well. I have a lot of outward-facing duties like for example, showing up on your podcast here to talk about my day. When you think about what might typical day is, as a CEO, I’m not an early riser-

Aaron: It’s getting loud, yes.

Scott: -amongst my peers in the CEO role but I like to rise it up at like7:00, 7:30 and get to work around 8:00, 8:30 and start the day. I review my list of goals. I always have to do that. I’ve done it my whole career, I have my weekly goals mapped out. I usually do it on Sunday night or Monday morning. I say, “Okay, what is the most important thing on my list?” I do that one first. Every day is completely different with the exception of Monday mornings which is when I record all of my content on the podcasts. I don’t know if that’s very helpful for you. This week, what am I going to do this week? Let me check my list here.

We’re going to overhaul our product and engineering process. We need to create a factory model with our product engineering team. How do we measure a unit of output from engineering which is a classic long-term problem? How do we get good enough with that? How do we create a variable component where we can do lots of small projects very quickly with a high degree of velocity? How do I have a more fixed model over here where I’m building large new feature sets like a brand new marketplace? Then we’re going to visually construct a product road map and then a timeline there.

We have to redefine our value proposition for our pro-membership this week. I’ll probably tackle that on Tuesday or Wednesday with our marketing team. We’re coming out with a new investment market index we’re going to rank the major metropolitan statistical areas in the country by their ability to generate cash flow for investors. What’s your rent minus vacancy minus maintenance and CapEx, minus property management fees, minus taxes and insurance?

Those are the fixed overhead that every investor where you are will have. How do we make a reasonable assumption there and help that provide a useful starting point for investors and so on and so forth? I’ve got a couple of other things, but those are my three big ones this week. If I just do those three things, I’ve had a great week.

Aaron: That’s so awesome. That’s your Monday for all contents, anyone interviews you, anyone you’re going to interview. A lot of people are like how do they do it all? That’s one of the questions, how does the CEO do it all, how does he run a podcast? How does he have a book there? Those are great tips, Monday you pack it all together, and then you’ve got your three big goals over the week. Of those goals, it seems like it’s slightly different departments because those are a lot of the same things we’re doing with our online company right now.

You’re like one is, an engineering product, thing like function of the website, another one is content of the website. The content for your end-users and  you’re going to tackle those three things. You don’t start your day and go,”Hey, there’s 20 things I need to do today.” These are my big three things of the week and anything else fills itself in.

Scott: Yes, and those may not take a lot of time either. This is maybe a growth, a learning curve and I’ll probably get into a different place in six months from now, but maybe actually that’s the way it is, every three to six months things change. Sometimes I’m spending a lot of time overseeing one functional component of the business. Other times I seem like I have nothing to do and really I just need to stay away from the business and let people do their thing because they’re all on top of it. It’s kind of this weird dynamic that shifts.

When you ask what a typical day is as a CEO, it really varies dramatically with me. There’s like two or three components of structure to my routine that happen every single week and outside of that, it varies depending on the needs of the business.

I’ve got my content on Mondays. I have our metrics meetings where we measure the health of the business every Tuesday. Our business is very weekly seasonal. We have a lot of traffic to BiggerPockets on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and then it drops off in the weekend because people are less and less active.

Aaron: Like they get to their day job and they’re like, “Let’s just learn about what it’s later.”

Scott: Yes, right there at like nine o’clock in the morning they’re like, “I don’t want to tackle my workload, I’ve got to go at BiggerPockets instead and watch a bunch of podcasts.”

Aaron: Yes, totally.

Scott: We look at the business weekly because our seasonal pattern reflects that. If you look at it monthly, you’re going to get a mixture of days that gives you misleading insight into the business. Metrics and then one-on-ones on Tuesdays. Then I have my cadence with our chairman of the board, who is my boss representing a lot of the shareholders once a week on Fridays.

Aaron: That’s very cool. What about– Do you have to travel much for your work? I fly a lot and when I’m flying I’m usually watching a bunch of movies. For next year I’m like I should make that time more practical. I’m flying hundreds hours a year, maybe I should make better use of that. Do you have to travel much for work or for pleasure?

Scott: Yes, I did about 20 trips this year which for me it was a lot, it felt like a lot. I’m sure that other people travel more but travel is not required as part of it. I think that it’s good to meet a lot of our power users, people who’ve been around for a long time and talk real estate a couple of times a year. Then I have a couple of board meetings. Our shareholder is also based out of Omaha so I go there a couple times a year. I want to see my family two or three times a year if they’re out on the East Coast. There you go. Between five, six conferences, a couple of board meetings, a couple of family travel, and then a couple of other odds and ends turn in there you get up to 15, 20 trips.

Aaron: Do you just listen to the BiggerPockets podcast the whole time or what are doing to fill that time?

Scott: I do listen to the BiggerPockets podcast sometimes often while I’m driving but, no. I would say I actually don’t have a good set routine on these things. Sometimes I’ll download a movie and watch a movie on the flight and sometimes I’ll write. Often, I do produce a good amount of content while on planes just for whatever reason. My mental MO is I get on the plane, I get out my tablet and I’ll start writing. I’ll write a blog post or two on some flights or even portions of a book. There is kind of a mixed bag of used time for that airplane travel.

Aaron: I love that. One thing I was going to ask you is do you journal as an outlet or something like that? For you, blogging is kind of an outlet. It’s kind of like journaling, right? You’re taking your stuff but you’re putting it in a format. Do you still journal about other stuff? Is your biggest outlet creating content?

Scott: No. Years ago, I used this journal called– It was Darren Hardy’s– Do you know who Darren Hardy is?

Aaron: Yes.

Scott: It’s like his success journal basically and I use that. There’s a wheel where he’s got like, “How are you measuring your relationships? How you’re self-diagnosing there? How’s your business? How’s your finance? How’s your mental? How’s your energy? How’s your spiritual? Your physical?” whatever. I consider that all as part of this mental component. I have to have something where I can think about and frame my thoughts and write them out in some detailed format. That pattern for me is typically taking a form of either podcasting, creating blog posts, or writing books. So yes, I do need something like that.

For me, it’s not journaling. I can never get in a habit of journaling about my day but I do like to journal about various models. Lately, I’ve been getting that side hobby about framing my thoughts. It’s been in the format of either framing out business concepts for BiggerPockets or political ones, which I won’t get into here. [chuckles] I’m always interested in the concept of like, “How do you help? How do you handle these problems with homelessness in these big cities?” There’s a lot of different and very conflicting viewpoints. I love thinking through those types of problems.

Aaron: That’s great. You could think about those problems forever because there are so many different versions and then going, “That could work and that could work,” Especially homeless– I lived in California half the time, Austin half the time and see so many different places your like, “Here’s multimillion-dollar houses that are empty and hundreds of people but how does it fit?” Yes, we will not go deep into that bit.

Scott: The point is that I like writing about that privately. That stuff though I would never publish because no is interested in that opinion but I do-

Aaron: It’s like brain teaser.

Scott: -like forming my own opinion. Yes.

Aaron: Yes. You give yourself a brain teaser and what would it be. I think that’s a hack that a lot of people is they try to figure out how could they be a CEO, running a company like BiggerPockets because I know a lot of people that journal but really struggle to create content online and really struggle to like, “Hey, I want to do a blog,” but they journal 20 hours a week. My wife actually does a great job at that. In the morning when I’m journaling, she’s getting her posts ready for Instagram and she creates content. That makes a lot of sense, like its own little outlet.

Scott: I think the question is about do you journal, how do you stimulate that mind? The job of CEO is not always very stimulating, right? You always have to be on, you always have to be careful, you always have to know what implication of your words are but the tasks are, “I know exactly what I’m looking for more or less with this factory model for our product engineering team and what the visual outputs are.” Now, it’s just translating that vision into reality which is not a stroke of genius.

There’s inspirational points where you really work in that mind. For me, they seem to come in spits and starts like anything else and I need that on a regular basis. That’s the outlet that I choose to go with is in blogging.

Aaron: I really like that. At the beginning, you talked about your education comes from so many books and stuff that you write. Do you read any nonfiction too? Fiction, nonfiction. What are your favorite books?

Scott: I do, from time to time, read fiction. It’s almost exclusively nonfiction. I read business books. I like motivational books. I like personal finance books. I like exactly what I talk about all day long here in BiggerPockets which I think is why I’m probably in this position. I like reading about that forever and ever and ever and I do. I also pick up the occasional biography. One of my favorite biographies I read last year was Grant by Ron Chernow, which is pretty good. Kind of a fascinating figure.

Aaron: Grant. That’s awesome. When did you start hosting the money podcast?

Scott: We started that back in 2018. Beginning of 2018, so just over two years now. I think we crossed three million downloads cumulatively.

Aaron: How many a week do you do on that one?

Scott: We usually record one a week but sometimes we’ll do two or three. For example, we’re recording this talk right now on December 9th. We’ll probably get ahead the next couple of weeks to make sure that we don’t have any scheduling conflicts with the Christmas holiday and New Year’s.

Aaron: That’s something interesting is you do. I want your advice for later. We’ve got a podcast right now that I feel like there’s so many different things where we could spin off and do more things. Then we wonder is it better to keep one brand or separate one and all sorts of that. It’s content that people want to hear but will all the BiggerPockets, there’s two or three podcasts and they’re all distinctly different brand essentially, or goal of each podcast, I think.

Scott: Yes. Our brand, the point of this is our users want to achieve financial freedom through real estate investing. The real estate podcast is clearly on track for that. One of my kind of personal passions and in relation to that goal of how I got started on the BiggerPockets blog is, a lot of people on the site are not financially prepared to make large real estate investments and are not entrepreneurs. If you’re not an entrepreneur and you work at $50,000 to $200,000 a year income job, that’s a big bucket. You probably don’t want to buy 20 houses a week or whatever it is. It’s not a practical situation for many people. Some people, it is.

If that’s the case, you need to work on building that financial foundation, getting that downpayment ready, and then preparing to make that large frequent debts in whatever asset class you’re interested in. Largely real estate for the BiggerPockets Money listeners. That’s the purpose of that show. The BiggerPockets business pockets is that is a lot of people are that entrepreneur and they’re looking to grow and scale and expand their small businesses in conjunction with the real estate investing. They take the profits and plow it back into real estate. There’s a lot of overlap here. We think there’s a lot of directional components. We’ll probably launch another show early in 2020 and then carry on from there.

Aaron: That is such a very clear elevator pitch. I have so many people reach out to me and say, “How do you start with real estate?” I try to find what I think is that very entry-level something but you’re saying one of the problems is they need $10,000, they need something to start with. You’re more about like, “Here’s how you get to that point to where then you can do that something later.”

Scott: Yes. Investing it with no money is great. If you have a large amount of money and want to increase your velocity of money and all that kind of stuff. Investing with no money is not a very good idea if you have no money, no credit, no job, whatever. You got to fix those problems first in my opinion.

Aaron: Yes. I know, I agree. I met a couple of people that one of their biggest successes was they bought property but they had really high paying jobs so the months that they didn’t have a tenant, they could pay the difference. It wasn’t a stress but yes, that’s definitely a good reason to have the second podcast. You definitely had a clear brand for it. Another what makes a CEO tick or how you go, it’s like how do you create energy? Is there any special eating habits, exercise, stuff like that? Anything that you can say, “Hey, that’s where I get my energy from. That’s how I do my days.”

Scott: I think it’s sleep, diet, and exercise. I do CrossFit and I’ve played rugby my whole life prior to that. I try to stay very fit there. My gym’s right down at the street. I eat very healthily. Like today, I’ll have a very healthy salad for lunch. I had oats and a smoothie for breakfast and I’ll probably have a tuna steak and potatoes and some sort of healthy vegetable combination when I get home. I try to eat mostly healthy like that. Then when I go out with friends, I got no problem eating buffalo wings or whatever, or drinking too many beers on occasion, that kind of stuff. My default is a very healthy meal three times a day with healthy snacks on hand. Then I exercise three to five times a week pretty intensely.

Aaron: That’s awesome. You talked about you sleep and you make sure you get your sleep. Do you work out in the afternoons then?

Scott: Yes.

Aaron: Three to five days after you get off work, you just go crush it then?

Scott: Yes. Typically I’ll try to end everything around 4:15 and then I’ll go work out at 4:30. 4:30 to 5:30 is my workout and then I’ll come back and finish up the day until 7:00, 7:30 and that’s my day. I just prefer to get in that 8:00, 8:30 and leave later in the day.

Aaron: I feel like health is such an important equation to being successful. Just like you said, sleep, exercise, and what you eat. A lot of people do it before they start their day. I prefer my workout in the morning instead but then going like that same exact formula. Yours is changing that order a little bit on what works best for you. That’s cool to hear that kind of different versions of it.

Scott: Absolutely. I always think it’s funny because you go through this set of things like, “Oh, healthy, wealthy, successful, whatever people,” they all tend to do these same concepts. They all self-educate, they all are healthy, they exercise. They’ve got this crazy pathology about doing death-defying personal hobbies like skydiving, or whatever it is, right? They’ve got goals that they write down, they wake up early in the morning.

If you aggregate people, I think you’re going to find that, on average, people that are CEOs, or are founders, very wealthy, successful people, they typically embody multiple of those but probably not all of them in any one individual.

Aaron: Yes. There’s 10 pieces to the equation and everyone does seven, or something–

Scott: Yes. I don’t know, I’ve had a crazy career here, and this is very fortunate to be here with all that. I probably do 7 of those 10 things and I don’t like the sleeping in, waking up early. It doesn’t work for me. I just can’t quite do it.

Aaron: Doesn’t do you any good

Scott: I don’t do the death-defying crazy hobbies either, that [chuckles]-

Aaron: The skydiving.

Scott: -entrepreneurs seem to do.

Aaron: That was going to be one of my next questions. Do you do anything for fun? Any hobbies? You got CrossFit, that’s a hobby, but anything else that you like to do like jumping out of planes?

Scott: Yes. I’ve played rugby for a bunch of years. I took this last year off, I may rejoin in the coming years. I had a couple of bad injuries, so I took it off. I ski, I do CrossFit, and I’m a bit of a gamer. I like to do something fun every single week with my buddies, whether that’s a sporting event, or trip, or whatever.

Aaron: You live in the best place for skiing, too. We’re heading up to Aspen for a couple weeks in January, so we’ll be almost in your neck of the woods. Maybe we’ll see you up there. Let’s see, so, if you had just a few more things, really. I wanted to be able to interview, hear some secrets, be able to share them without taking a whole ton of time. Do you have any secret weapons that you use? Anything that you said, “Hey if you were going to give one piece of advice, it would be this” or one thing that makes Scott Trench different?

Scott: Yes, I don’t know if this is a piece of advice but I read that as– We always ask, “What’s your superpower here?” to people. My superpower is my ability to focus on the same thing and do it without interruption for hours and hours on end. I can just read a book straight on through, or write for four, five, six, seven hours, however long I need to get something done. That allows me to have a lot more free time because I’m able to knock out my big tasks when I need to, just in one huge block as opportunity arises. That’s my superpower.

Aaron: That’s a huge superpower. When I first started getting on stage, I was trying to teach people about focus, and the power of focus. We homeschool our kids and our whole thing is an hour a day of focused learning is the equivalent to what they were getting when they went to school somewhere. Being able to be that guy that doesn’t get distracted by social media– Especially, you have a business that’s based in the social world, so being able to not check social media and knock your stuff out, I could see why that definitely sets you up for success.

Scott: Yes, the big thing there is, I’m sure a lot of people know this, but you work until you get to 95% completion, and then for whatever reason, it just sits there on the shelf. I’m guilty of this too, but I like to think because of that, I’m able to knock out a little bit more of that, than maybe the next guy, to 100% completion and move on to the next thing.

Aaron: Yes, you get to 95% quicker no matter what, then. Any conferences or masterminds that you recommend for the coming year for people?

Scott: Yes, BiggerPockets will have a conference. We’re still finalizing our date, but it looks like it’ll be in early October, barring a couple of negotiations with the hotel.

Aaron: In the same location?

Scott: No, I think we’re going to move to a new location, so I don’t want to spoil it in case that one does fall through, but you guys will know in a couple weeks about that conference. I like FinCon every year. Again, this is not a CEO conference. FinCon is a financial independence and media conference, so it’s a lot of people who are talking about how ordinary people can go on to achieve financial independence early in life through a variety of means. We love that conference. Then, there’s numerous regional conferences around the country for real estate investing that are awesome. I go to a couple of those every year.

Aaron: Yes, I’ve heard FinCon is a good one. I missed the BiggerPockets one this year in Nashville, but I heard that everybody just crushed it and had a good time.

Scott: Yes, it was a lot of fun.

Aaron: As we’re wrapping up, what’s next for BiggerPockets over this year, the next few years, or you personally? Do you have a big goal of 2020? Do you get through your December and say, “Okay, this is what’s going to happen next year?”

Scott: Yes, personally, the biggest goals for 2020 are just health and fitness, and then I’m getting married in 2020.

Aaron: Oh, that’s huge.

Scott: That’s going to be a big focus there. Making sure that we have a great Bachelor party, a great event for everybody. We get to see all of our friends and family, and celebrate our life together, me and Virginia.

Aaron: Congratulations, that’s awesome.

Scott: Thanks, yes. That’s a big one, and we’ll try to do quarterly trips and have a good, fun year there. For BiggerPockets, we have three primary value drivers that we’ve identified that we want to grow. One is the reach of our brand. We want to reach every single person who’s a investor in the United States or an aspiring investor who’s under 65 years old. We feel that some people are not digitally native, they’ve done their thing, they’re probably not ready for BiggerPockets, or not interested.

Aaron: Right, they’re not interested.

Scott: We’ve defined our addressable market, in CEO language. We’re going to go after that, and we want every single one of those people to have a favorable opinion of BiggerPockets and know who we are. That’s what is a reach, and I’ve got numbers for that if you ever want to dig into this. Downstream, we’ve got engagement and transaction. We want people to engage with our platform. What do we mean by that? You sign up for BiggerPockets, we know you’re in one of several categories, most likely. You’re a new investor, you’re a small investor, you’re an accredited investor, or you’re a vendor, like an agent or a lender.

We want to have you sign up, we want to learn what your biggest problem is. Almost all your problems are the same, it’s either finding deals, getting started generally, getting financing, getting debt financing, raising equity capital, or managing your personal financial position, time or networking. We’re going to identify where you are in your investment journey and what your biggest problem is, and then give you a personalized solution to those problems. To make everything easier to access on BiggerPockets. That will help us drive engagement forward from the business while we’re solving our user’s problems more effectively.

Then, we also want you to be able to go on to actually transact on investment real estate that you believe will advance your financial position. That’s the next piece of that. That engagement leads to transaction. We want a certain percentage of the marketplace’s deals to flow through our pipes next year, where we know that we’ve either made a connection to a property or a professional that led to a transaction outcome.

Last, we have financial. We want to grow our pro membership revenue, we want to grow our publishing revenue, and we want to begin moving into this lead generation space where we connect users with agents and lenders. Agents and lenders ultimately become a major customer for us.

Aaron: I love how clearly you knew exactly what your goals for next year are. I think I’m guilty of when we come up with our company goals– I know I did this last year with our rowdy foreclosure company. We came up with our list, and we have 30 things we were going to accomplish this year. We accomplished like 25 of them. I think there’s probably a lot of value in being able to look at that bigger picture and going, “Here are the three that we’re going to focus on. Here are the three that we’re going to drive for.”

What’s really funny and cool too, you want to reach every single person that’s interested in real estate, and a lot of people think, “Well, that’s pretty bull.” I would say that too, except for I meet somebody new every week that goes, “Yes, I heard this on BiggerPockets. Yes, I heard this on BiggerPockets.” I get people– I was interviewed on BiggerPockets nine months ago, I get an e-mail every day from somebody that heard me on there and wants to reach out. The rates that you guys have, is so amazing. I also have several friends in Northern California that had not done any real estate investing, normal jobs, like nurses. People that, they’d started listening and now they own five or six rentals, and they’re starting to grow, and it was because of those podcasts. We see it happening and I think we will more and more people transacting within your site.

Scott: When you say it so clear, that is the vision long-term. It’s every single person interacts with us monthly and has a favorable opinion of BiggerPockets, who’s an aspiring or current real estate investor within our target market. This next year, we have a growth pattern where we’re trying to inch towards that ultimate vision. I think it’s about 25% reach growth, basically, that we’re aiming for this year. It will probably be in the ballpark of 60 to 70% at that target market, that we’ll reach.

We’re trying to get to that 100% mark over time, it will take us a couple more years to get there. You have to have that clear vision, and then those clear targets. The team, they go and they fill out all the specifics. I just review and have input on those, so veto-power, basically.

Aaron: Yes. You’re like, “Here’s the vision,” and they’re like, “This is how we’re going to do it within our engineering department. This is how we’re going to do it within this department.” When we’re off-channel, I’d love to get to brainstorm with you on org chart stuff, I think you could probably help me big time on some of that stuff. I think with your reach too– In my Tesla, the podcasts come up and my kids have never been prouder than when they got to hear me on a podcast on the Tesla. Just the fact that BiggerPockets is everywhere. It’s not just on this podcast stream or the other one. It’s anywhere. Someone can listen to a podcast, it’s there.

Scott, this was awesome. I know I learned a ton. I learned a lot about different planning and maybe some ways that I should look at. I bet everyone that gets to listen to this and see it, I think they got to learn a lot too. If people want to figure out more about your books and obviously BiggerPockets, what’s the one or two places that you would say, “Hey, for more information like this,” this is where they should go?

Scott: Sure. If you just want to see what I’m up to, you can follow me on Instagram at @scott_trench, or you can check me out on biggerpockets.com. I’m on all of these various social networks. Biggerpockets.com or Instagram might be the two places I would suggest.

Aaron: You guys have your own social network, essentially, on BiggerPockets. If someone creates a user and you can get through there, and Instagram is a fun place to share. That’s one of my favorite places to share content in there too. Thanks again, Scott. This was awesome. I look forward to chatting with you some more later.

Scott: Thank you, Aaron.

Aaron: Thanks.


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