You gotta listen to the story of Travis Lee. He’s a commercial real estate developer, but one more interested in building community spaces than just buildings.
He’s one of the co-founders of Fields Corner Business Lab, the co-working space I was using in Boston before I moved over this past summer. It’s where Life Skills That Matter was incubated!
Travis left his last job about 5 years ago to go out on his own. Working from home was a little tough with 4 young children, so he was looking for a place to work. When he inquired about an office in Dorchester (the neighborhood in Boson where he lives) little did he know he would end up buying the whole building!
It was his first commercial real estate deal. Fourteen of the fifteen banks he approached for financing turned him down. Dorchester is a residential neighborhood with light commercial activity. Most of the banks didn’t see Travis’ vision for turning a blighted building into a vibrant place of commercial activity.
That’s what makes Travis an entrepreneur. He sees opportunity where others don’t. He also had a plan and spent years accumulating the skills he would need to make his vision a reality. Honestly, I think this guy’s secret lies in his ability to tell a compelling story. That’s not easy to do.
Today the four-story building he bought is fully occupied thanks in large part to the creativity of Travis. He also just finished opening a brewery in the same neighborhood and is already thinking about his next business venture.
Life Skills That Matter In This Episode
- Tell your story.
- Explore your purpose.
- Research and plan.
- Building community spaces.
How Travis Works and Thinks
- Wake up time: When his 3-year old twins wake him up!
- Superpower: Connecting with a wide range of people by making them feel heard and understood.
- Definition of success: Seeing people around him flourish.
- Recommended book: Bible
- Ideal work environment: It varies. Sometimes he prefers quiet solitude and when he needs to collaborate, he prefers working with them in person, especially over a good meal.
- Productivity tool: Google Calendar
- 90-day goals: He’s trying to figure out how to create a system to help him move out of the day-to-day operations of his businesses. He’s also making plans for his next business: a food co-packing production plant in Dorchester.
“Storytelling is one of the principle skills sets required to be successful in almost any career.”
“If all I’m doing is making money then I’m not fulfilling my responsibility of being a good steward.”
Travis offers some insightful advice about how to tell your story . . .
1) Figure out what excites you or you are passionate about.
Seek out work experiences where you can learn new skills. Travis held 6 jobs in his first 6 years after college. He had a wide range of jobs and in different industries. Each successive job provided him with more and more clarity about how he wanted to create his own work.
2) Talk to others about their work.
The two most effective ways to know what type of work you really want to do is either do it for yourself or interview someone who is doing the work you are curious about. People love talking about what they do! Just ask!
3) Create a plan once you know what kind of work gets you most excited. Once you know what you are excited about, then you have to figure out how to get there. Create a plan for achieving your goal.
Remember, your plan will take time to execute. Making incremental progress on a constant basis is one of the most effective pathways for achieving your goal.