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Wisdom from the CEO: Dewey Burke

Insights» Wisdom from the CEO

September 1, 2020by Originate Report

Read the full Originate Report September edition here

How did your past experiences mold and shape you into the leader they are today?
I think my time as an athlete shaped me as a leader the most. When you are part of a team, playing a college sport at the highest level, the way you come together around a common goal is where leaders are born — but I am not saying that is where I became a leader. I learned and watched how to lead during that time of my life, and there has been no better leader in my life than my college coach, Roy Williams. His ability to treat all of us fairly – not equally – but fairly, was astounding to me. He knew who he could push, who needed certain treatment and that was part of his gift.

What did you do in the beginning of starting your business? What risks did you have to take and how did you have the courage to continue to push forward?
I must say that the biggest lesson I’ve learned from starting businesses is this:
Your worst days as an entrepreneur are so much worse than your worst days as an employee. When you are an employee, at the end of the day you will get paid every other Friday, your benefits are there, and unless you really, really screw up your job is safe. As an entrepreneur, none of that is guaranteed. You have nowhere to look but in the mirror. The lows are so, so low, but the lesson is this: if you are tough enough to stomach those lowest lows, the highs – the best days as an entrepreneur – are so much better than any best day as an employee. By far.

What habits, mindset, or perspective have helped you succeed as a business owner?
It’s easy to just say you need to work extremely hard and put in long hours, and for a long time I definitely did that, but now for me it is about efficiency. I have two young daughters and I want to be with them. I don’t want to work 15-hour days every day, because I don’t want to miss things, so efficiency drives almost all my decisions. We do not rush, but we are very thoughtful about time management, using technology to assist our daily processes, and training enough so that we can save time. I don’t believe in the 40-hour workweek or counting hours for my team. We don’t do any of that. We believe in efficiently servicing our clients, getting our work done right, and then enjoying life. We have a terrific balance at our company, and I feel that is born from efficiency.

What excites you about your role as CEO currently today?
We are excited to be expanding the business in several ways. For example, we are increasing the range of market segments we serve by accepting a broader range of asset classes accepted as collateral, including Fine Art, which launched this month. We are always looking for ways we can help our clients tap the equity in assets that are high in value but low in liquidity. We have a dedicated focus on the community of professional athletes and entertainers. We have made it easier for our high-net-worth clients to obtain 7-figure loans by accepting luxury real estate as collateral. We have also broadened our product line by introducing a luxury line of credit and an inventory loan product in addition to our standard collateral loan product. Finally, earlier this year we completed the acquisition and integration of Borro, our most significant competitor in this space. We have introduced to their client base a much richer product offering with better rates and more flexible terms. In these cases, as with our core business, we help people by providing loans from $2,500 to over $5,000,000 within a few days, discreetly, with no credit requirements, no tax implications, and virtually no paperwork.

What piece of advice do you have to share with other entrepreneurs and CEO’s that are in the early stages of building their company?
That’s quite a question. Being able to convince those you are closest to that your idea is worthwhile, and that they should trust you with their money, takes a ton of guts and belief. You really must believe in your vision to ask your personal network for money. I’ll also add a third category of advice here from personal experience, which I’ll call “be out there ready to talk enthusiastically about your business at all times because you never know who you’ll meet.” Never turn down an opportunity to tell someone about your business because you never know where it may lead.

How do you make sure your company stays ahead in this industry?
Technology. We are constantly evaluating our platform, our CRM, marketing automation, the customer journey, how our repeat clients are treated, and how my team can work more efficiently. We are a sales organization, but certainly tech-enabled and the reality is almost every time we do dev work, or update any of our software, by the time that project is done it’s already time to consider another one.

Is there anything that you wish you could go back and tell yourself at the inception of your company?
I would say to be prepared to spend a lot more on legal that I would have guessed. Not because we have dealt with a bunch of litigation or anything like that, but more because financial transactions get complex and you rely on your regulatory and general corporate counsel quite a bit. Whatever I have budgeted for has always been exceeded, which can be frustrating, but I also never try to pretend I’m an attorney. You don’t know what you don’t know.