Watch the interview here:
“We have to be willing to articulate what we believe…”
About Our Guest in this episode:
Rep. Derek Grier represents St. Louis County in the Missouri State Legislature, serving as chairman of the Committee on Economic Development and sitting on the Professional Registration and Licensing Committee. Derek has been successful in eliminating barriers to entry for workers and passed one of Missouri’s largest occupational reform bills in over a decade.
In addition to his legislative responsibilities, Derek owns and operates Grier Realty Group, which focuses on commercial and residential brokerage, property management and consulting. Derek believes treating people with respect and honesty is the backbone to his success.
Prior to being a State Representative, Derek held the position of City Council Member in Chesterfield, MO. He has also served as Chair of the University Outreach Committee for the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and is member of the Chamber of Commerce. Derek has a B.A. in business administration from Principia College.Part of our Net Effect Conversations series: https://abfcareeralliance.org/category/net-effect/
Transcript of Episode:
Robin: This is the Net Effect, Career Conversations and Connections, episode number 41.
We have as our special guest, Derek Grier, owner of Grier Realty Group, husband, father, businessman, and Missouri State Representative District 100.
I’m your host, Robin Jones director of the ABF Career Alliance.
Derek is here to tell us how he’s been casting his net on the right side, just as Jesus challenged his followers to practice. I’m so excited.
So let’s get right into it. Mr. Grier. He has a lovely, lovely family. So beautiful. So Derek as a husband and a father and a business owner, it’s truly an honor to have you here. I’d like for you to just give us a little bit of background, where you started, and how you got to where you are right now.
Derek: My family started in Maryland and when I was about six years old, my parents decided that they were going to uproot my brother and I and move to the middle of the country.
My mom was from California. My dad was from Maryland. So Missouri made absolutely no sense, except for the fact that there was a school that they’d heard about, The Principia, that has a really strong character education program, and has a religious foundation and spiritual foundation. And they felt strongly enough about providing my brother and I with a strong foundation for our lives, that they left good jobs from where they were, and they came to Missouri to go to this school that they’ve heard about.
They, I don’t think knew, hardly anybody here in the St. Louis area. They decided to take a huge risk and they came with no jobs, without really knowing anybody, purely on faith, that that was the right decision for their family and for my brother and I. Looking back on it, I can’t imagine that. It was such a huge leap of faith for them to do that.
I know a lot of other families have done that for that particular school as well. I mean, that’s what faith is all about. You don’t know how it’s gonna work out. That’s why it’s called faith. You’re trusting in things unseen. So we came out here and I had the opportunity to go through that education that provided a strong foundation for me, both spiritually, but also, just good education, character education giving me the skills and the tools to be able to go on and be successful in business and now in politics and lots of other things.
I learned from them too, because they started their own business. They didn’t have really anything here. It took a while for them to get set up in St. Louis and they decided they were going to start their own business. They’d never been entrepreneurs before. And they had some skills that they felt like they could plug into a specific industry. It happened to be real estate property management.
They started from scratch and they built their way up to being one of the most successful property management firms in the St. Louis area. Looking back on it again, what an incredible leap of faith for them to launch out on their own, to take that risk and knowing now as a small business owner myself, how scary that is to come to a new, strange place with not knowing too many people and to venture out and start a business that they’d never done before.
I mean, really, really tremendous. I know there was a lot of prayerful work going into that in trusting that the right things were going to work out there. We went through the Principia through college, my brother and I both did.
I had an opportunity to play football, basketball being a smaller school, I could do music as well. It really gave me an opportunity to do a lot of the things that I now have found to be real joy and love in my life. Which is physical activity, being in nature and outside. That was a part of what we were doing growing up.
And also the music, I had some really good mentors going through sports and through music. They taught me a lot and again, provided that foundation. And now as a dad, that’s so important to me to make sure that my kids have similar opportunities and that they’re able to get that strong foundation, those skills both soft and hard and the spiritual foundation too, to be able to handle what comes in life.
Robin: I’m sure that you didn’t start out as the owner of your real estate business. So how did you get started in business and give us a little quick background about how that looked?
Derek: So out of college, I went to Atlanta and I started working with a company there. It was through a Principia alum. I didn’t know anybody in Atlanta, myself. I had one friend there and I was like, you know what? I’m ready to get outside of my community, to broaden my horizons. So moved to Atlanta. Worked there for about a year and a half.
It wasn’t too long, but got some great sales experience. I was calling on CEOs of companies doing business to business sales and it helped get me comfortable with that sort of thing and, and not being scared to just call on people and share what it is that you’re doing and how you might be able to help them.
And then my parents, they gave me the hard sell to come back to St. Louis and help with the company here and help grow the company, and that was my charge. My claim to fame while I was there was we doubled the size of the company about three years and that was tremendous growth and it was really exciting time.
And then of course, once you grow a company, you have to support that business and know how to service the new clients. So I spent most of my time then being a property manager and actually serving the clients that we brought on board.
After a few years of that, I realized that that probably wasn’t what I wanted to be doing long-term, and so I made a switch and I went to commercial real estate and worked with a company and got some tremendous experience there working in a division called corporate services. So any company that doesn’t have an in-house real estate company they would outsource to a third party and they would handle all of their real estate.
I ended up starting at the bottom which for me was a pretty big risk in itself because I was in a very comfortable position with the family business. There was a security there that was, I knew I had a future there.
I knew I could, potentially lead the company at some point. And so for me, it was tempting to feel like I was giving something up and I think that’s always the case in life, right? When you’re taking a leap of faith, the temptation is to think the focus on what you’re giving up rather than focus on what the opportunity is.
So I think that was maybe the first time in my life where I started looking at things through a different lens, the lens of, what’s the opportunity, what’s the best thing that could happen, and what’s the worst thing that could happen if I do this. And at the time, the best thing that could happen is that I learn a whole new set of skills.
I get a whole new network of people that, that I know. And I, and I grow myself personally and the downside could be what… I don’t know, I don’t succeed or I get fired at some point. And like, is it that bad? Like what I would I find another job I probably would, do I have any responsibilities that I’m going to not be able to pay the bills or something like that?
No. So the upside was significantly bigger than to me the downside and the downside would be just staying comfortable and sticking where I was, because I was afraid to do something new and different. So I did, I did the Cushman & Wakefield thing for a number of years, and I had the opportunity to lead one of their major accounts.
This was a company that I essentially was the outsourced real estate director for. They had 1,600 locations around the entire country, and my team was responsible for all of the new site selection and development, responsible for all of the renovations that were going on all of the facilities on the 1,600 locations, all the lease negotiations.
So it was a lot of responsibility pretty early on in my career. And I had the opportunity to work with their CEO and CFO directly. This was a $350 million company. So I had the opportunity to be in the room with people that were really, really smart and had been very, very successful. And there was so much to learn from them.
So I soaked it all up. I mean, I, I love the experience. But again, I got to a point where I was like, well, I don’t think I want my boss’s job and I don’t want my boss’s boss’s job. Things are going great. And I’ve got lots of potential here, I think. But ultimately I was like, do I want to be here in 10 years?
And the answer for me was no. And once I realized that was the answer, it was like, okay, well I need to start looking and thinking about how to continue growing, because if you’re not growing, you’re going backwards, you’re dying. Right. I mean, that’s what people say. You got to keep growing, you got to keep making progress.
And so for me, I felt like it was getting a little bit stagnant. So I launched out into my own business. I had a mentor in real estate and I did some fixes and flips, and learned how to wholesale. Again, a whole nother aspect of real estate that I’d never thought about or considered before and gave me the opportunity and the flexibility as well to, at that time, move more into politics.
Robin: Quick question. So in this is finding purpose. I mean, where in this, do you land or start to explore that? You’ve had some great opportunities and you’ve had success. You’ve been around a lot of different people.
Where does purpose come into this?
Derek: Robin, I think it’s a continuous journey. I don’t think finding purpose there’s ever a final answer for it. Right. Because our purpose is constantly changing. To me, it’s finding ways that I can do God’s will, I guess, is the best way to put it, that it’s always listening for what that next step might be.
You don’t always know if you’re making the right choice and sometimes you don’t, right. I mean, sometimes your path leads you in a circuitous route. There always is a purpose in that though our mistakes are missteps going directions that end up being dead ends, they always teach us something.
So for me, it’s finding purpose in everything we do, and there’s a purpose in your failures. I’ve learned way more from failing and not succeeding than I have by the successes that I’ve achieved. And I think that’s the key – is always looking at things through that lens of trying to find, okay, well, what can I gain out of this? What can I find?
I feel like I have lots of purposes in what I do in life. I’ve got the real estate and the business side of life. And then I’ve got this purpose in serving my community and my country and my state with politics.
So, I’ve had the opportunity now to fulfill lots of different goals and objectives. And that purpose is a continuously evolving thing. I hope there’s never a clear answer. Like this was your purpose, and now you’re finished. Maybe on my way out someday, but I don’t want to know the answer to that until the end of the road.
To me, it’s constantly looking at everything I’m doing and finding the good, finding the meaning in it, and yeah, it’s not always clear. You don’t always know. And there’ve been lots of things that I’ve done, and I’ve gone down the road, and they didn’t turn out to be what I thought they would.
But I sure found something that I could take out of it.
Robin: I love what you say about the purposes evolving and, as you’re growing and moving, you should be looking at that, from a lens that is maybe the lens that we talked about. How are you casting your net on the right side?
What was it that said you ought to run and go into politics. How did you make that decision?
Derek: Like so many other things we just said it’s constantly evolving. Like I never, ever thought I would be involved in politics. I mean, in college, I didn’t know a conservative from a liberal, I didn’t really know what I believed. I didn’t really know what was going on in politics, but I did feel an obligation to learn more.
So I think the seed was planted somewhere in college that was like, hey, I’m going to be voting soon. And I feel like maybe I should be paying attention to this stuff. And at least have some working knowledge of what these issues are. And I knew that I felt a certain way about issues that would come up.
I knew as an example, people ought to be incentivized to work, that people that want to work ought to be able to get to work. I started exploring those and getting a little bit of a foundation of, of what politics are, but I never had any intention, never had any desire to go into politics.
I started serving on a community civic organization. And that started just because someone called me and they said, hey, we need some help. And I realized, I have this desire to serve my community in some way, to give back. Because I’ve gotten a lot. I’ve been very blessed in my life and what have I done to give back?
There are a lot of people that love their country and they choose to serve in the military, and I have tremendous respect for that. I didn’t do that. So I almost felt like, hey, there’s these other people out there that are they’re giving and doing a lot, what am I doing with my life?
So this was a small little way that I could get involved. And it just evolved into serving in a greater capacity. And I kept looking for ways that I could impact for good. And I realized somewhere around the time I was on that civic organization, because there were a few members of the city council and the mayor that were a part of that organization.
I realized that when you’re in certain positions, you do have a larger audience. You can amplify a message for good, and you have the opportunity to be in a position of making decisions that can positively impact a lot of people.
Some people go into politics with one agenda or one issue. I never had one issue or one agenda item that was really important to me. It was, hey, how can I just be in a position where I can influence for good?
So I ended up running for city council. I lost the first time I ran against an incumbent. And I lost, but man, did I learn a ton from that experience!
I met so many good people going around knocking on doors and I overcame a lot of personal timidity. People have always thought I’m very outgoing and that that’s easy for me, but it really isn’t. I don’t know too many people that are very personable and outgoing, that it’s not somewhat of a challenge to get in that mindset.
And when you go out and you knock doors and politics, you gotta just be fearless. You’re going up to somebody’s home, and knocking on their door, disturbing their day or their night or whatever it is. And then to be pitching yourself to them, it was really hard.
Robin: After a defeat like that, is it difficult to say, okay, I’m going to do this again, or did you have to take a step back and go, okay, what do I do now? What was your thought process?
Derek: Yeah, I was done Robin. I was like, you know what? I gave it a good shot. I gave it the old college try and it didn’t work out. It wasn’t until a year and a half later, I got a phone call from a sitting city council member. You never know what the things you do, what they’re going to lead to later. You never know what seeds you’ve planted in other people’s thought.
I thought I was done, I tried, and I didn’t make it and I’m supposed to do something else. Okay, great. Well, I got a phone call from the city council member and he’s like, hey, the person you ran against is stepping down and there’s an open seat now, and we really liked your message.
It was very positive and we think you’d be a great council member. Do you want to run again?
And I was like, ah, I don’t think so. Nah, I’m done. But then it was in my thought and they had then planted a seed with me. It’s like, hey, if this is important and if, if you think you can do some good, then go for it.
So I did. I went for it and, and ended up winning by a pretty large margin the second time. It’s just grown from there. My desire to do more in politics has just stemmed from a desire to impact for good and be in a position that I can have that influence for good.
Robin: So many young people today are running away from the faith that they’ve been brought up with, whatever faith it is, whatever church. So many are pushing back and heading away from their faith. It’s even to the point where some have shared with me and I talked to a lot of kids, a lot of students now they’re afraid even to say, they’re a Christian, how has your faith impacted your service?
Have you had challenges at being a Christian that that maybe you go, I don’t know if I should have said that thing. Tell us a little bit about that.
Derek: I think that especially in the environment that we’re in right now, it seems like religion is not valued the way that maybe it used to be. I’ve always searched for inspiration in lots of different ways.
To me, it’s not about the religion, it’s not about the church.
It’s about finding a connection with God. And finding some connection to something greater than ourselves. If you break it down to its most simple form, it’s connecting to something greater than ourselves, and there’s lots of conversations about that.
If you’ve ever seen Tony Robbins talk, he’s saying the same things that Jesus was saying in a different way. I mean, it’s the same message. He’s just using different terminology. He’s using different verbs, he’s using different things to describe the same things.
There’s lots of people that are speaking in a way that is explaining what that other thing is. And for me, faith is found in inspiration.
It’s important to find things that inspire us. For me, along the way, when I feel disconnected with spirituality, I go to the things that, that I feel in my heart, and that then inspire me, like music.
I play the saxophone, and when I play music, Robin, I feel a connection to something greater than myself. I feel like the things that I’m doing, I improvise a lot, like jazz and the blues. And there are times when something just comes out of me and the saxophone and what I’m playing that I could never do again.
It just happened in that moment. And that to me is divine inspiration.
That’s something that’s working through me. That’s clear evidence of something that’s greater than me.
I get the same feeling when I’m out in nature. When I go climb a mountain or I’m out hiking, and I see something that’s just astoundingly, beautiful, and I pause and I’m like, wow, that wow, that to me is divine inspiration.
So it’s important to find those ways to be inspired. And it doesn’t have to be like, I’m going to go read the Bible for 30 minutes and that’s how I’m going to get my inspiration. Sometimes that might be exactly what you need. But other times you just got to find something that you feel connected with that greater purpose, with that greater being and lean into it and lean into that.
People may be uncomfortable talking about God and talking about Christianity, talking about spirituality today, but frankly, you can still do it in a way that’s not the terminology that people are used to, and you can be inspired in those ways.
I don’t know whether that’s a good answer to that question or not Robin. There’s probably a lot of things I could say to that.
My experience in politics too, has been somewhat unique.
I am a Christian Scientist. When people learn that, a lot of people don’t know what that is. They’re confused by it. They think it’s Scientology.
I get a lot of questions about it or, or people that are just like, oh, okay, yeah. And then it’s like, no idea what that means, like silence and like trying to explain, Hey, this is a biblically based religion, it’s based on Jesus’s teachings.
There’s a lot of really neat messages in this.
It’s a very personal thing to me. My religion, my spiritual searching is a very personal thing to me. I’m always happy to share about it. But I don’t look for a stage to project that, and to proselytize to other people about it.
I hope that, in my actions, and in the way that I speak to others, the way that I make decisions in life, in politics and business, and anything else, are expressing the qualities and the lessons that I’ve learned.
To me, Robin, the Bible, it’s just examples of everyday life.
It’s in a different language almost. If you read the King James version, it’s hard to read sometimes and understand that these are stories about real people and thier real life examples of exactly what we go through, right. There’s lots of examples of people that have gone through hardships, just like we go through.
And if we lean into that and we lean on that there can be a lot of lessons that are learned. It’s really just advice for life. That’s the way I view the Bible.
A lot of times when I’m reading, it is like, hey, this is just good advice. Like, hey, here’s some people that went through some tough stuff and here’s how they handled it.
And it really worked. So when I’m dealing with challenges, I often will look at it that way.
If you read Proverbs, it like you’re sitting with a wise old man, who’s got all these amazing lessons from life to teach you.
Treat people with respect, speak softly, be humble, all these things that are just going to lead to a life of fulfillment, a life of happiness and a life of service to others.
Robin: How do you find the environment where you are in working with your colleagues? I mean, is it as brash and the way that you see it portrayed or are you actually able to get things done and work with your colleagues from around the state?
Cause they really are your neighbors and friends and sometimes family.
Derek: What you see on the news and in the media is not reality. We have some strong working relationships in the state house, certainly. I have friends that are on the other side of the aisle. I’ll give you a great example.
Just this morning, I went and spoke with a business group and it was just a panel. It was me and a Democrat. And one that I have tremendous respect for, and I consider her a friend.
Robin: You’re a conservative Republican, right?
Derek: Yes. I’m a conservative Republican. And so our views on policy issues are, are very different.
We are a stark contrast to one another when it comes to a lot of policy issues. But we both have a firm belief that we must talk about those. We have to be willing to articulate what it is that we believe and share that with one another and we can disagree about it and we’re going to disagree on it, but we have to do that in a way that’s civil.
The more that we articulate and have that dialogue, I think the better it is, the more personal you can make those conversations the better, and try and remove the animosity from it.
It’s hard today though, because I think the media feeds off of that tension, right. And that butting of heads. Everybody singing kumbaya, it doesn’t sell and it doesn’t make for a good news headline.
It would be refreshing to see more of that, but the reality is that’s just not the case. And so it’s up to us to magnify the good. It’s up to us to show that we can work together as individuals, either as a politician or, or in your day-to-day interactions with people. And I think we just need to not be afraid to talk about this stuff and ask questions.
I find that when I enter a conversation with with curiosity about what the other person believes and a true desire to understand their position it’s very helpful, and I’ll give you an example of that.
One of the most incendiary conversations you can have is about abortion, right?
That’s one of the most divisive type topics that you can have. When I came into politics I’ll be honest, it’s not something I’d ever given a whole lot of thought to. So this was an issue that I never really dug too deep into. I had some feelings about where I thought I was on it.
But it wasn’t something that I really looked into deeply. I genuinely wanted to understand, what are the different perspectives on this? I went into it open-minded and I sought to understand the position of people that are on both sides of that issue and what I found out, Robin?
The people that are passionate about that issue, they all cared deeply about other people.
They care passionately about other people, right? The conservative side, they focus on the, the baby being a child. So their love and their passion is driven by that child, they see that as a child. And so they want to defend that. They’re passionate about that.
On the other side of it, they’re passionate about defending women and they care deeply, deeply about the pain and the sorrow and the anguish that can be caused in these situations.
So if you look at it from that perspective, both sides have love and compassion that they’re working with. So why can’t we talk about that? Why can’t we understand that and respect that and the other side? We should, we should, right?
You can tell, I get a little emotional about it because it’s something that taught me so much, just that one issue, because it’s, it’s deeply passionate, it’s deeply divisive. It’s something that we ought to be able to have a compassionate conversation with one another about.
Robin: You’ve been in legislature, how long now? How long have you been there?
Derek: This is my fifth year in the state house.
Robin: And you’ve had some pretty remarkable success, I would say with some of your ideas and things that you’ve worked on. Tell us a bit about some of the committees and successes and things that have happened during those five years.
Derek: It’s been quite a ride. If you told me five years ago that I would have been able to do the things that I’ve gotten to do, I wouldn’t have believed you. It’s been a really tremendous experience.
It’s just like high school when you’re in the legislature. It’s freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Cause we’re on an eight year cycle. We have term limits here. So you get two years to every term. So just like high school, you go through and, and freshmen, you get the worst offices, you get the worst committee assignments.
And everybody razzes you for a little bit until you figure things out and then when you get to be more of an upper-class, when you get opportunities to lead committees and be involved in more well, I had the opportunity at a very early stage to be more of a leader in the caucus and have the opportunity to chair the Economic Development Committee in the start of my third year, which is pretty unusual to have that opportunity.
So presumably I will have had by the end of it, six years to chair that committee, which is really special.
Some advice that I got early on was, and this applies to life too, find something that you can be an expert on that other people seek your advice on and they seek your counsel on.
I found an issue, I stumbled into it by accident. I found something that I really was passionate about, and it was something that not many people really knew about it, it was occupational licensing and regulatory reform.
Not an exciting subject to a lot of people. But for me, this was something that I connected with as a business person. I learned how restrictive a lot of these occupational license requirements are and how it makes it really hard for people to work, and it creates barriers to entry.
I believe strongly that we ought to encourage people to work and want people to be successful. So why are we creating as a government more boundaries? Why are we making it harder for people to do these things and be successful?
The first example of this, I happened to be on an aircraft carrier off of Mexico, the Teddy Roosevelt. And I’m standing there and I’m like 15 yards away from these fighter jets taking off. They’re literally taking off and landing right in front of me. It’s like Top Gun.
It’s an incredible experience. And as I’m standing there, I’m looking out on the deck of this aircraft carrier and I’m watching these people launch these fighter jets. I don’t know how much a fighter jet costs. I always say a hundred million dollars. I’m probably off on that, but they’re really expensive.
They cost a lot of money and here they are, and they look really young.
So I asked the guy standing next to me, who happened to be the senior security officer for the entire ship. He’s responsible for keeping everybody safe. And I was like, hey, buddy, how old are these guys and gals out here? Because they look really young, and they’re doing these incredible tasks, very dangerous tasks and we’re trusting them with a lot.
And he’s like 19, 19 is the average age of the people that are out here on the deck doing those jobs. I was like, Oh my gosh, the margin of error is zero. Like you, you screw up at all and people are flying off the ship, right?
The way that that applied to me was I had just heard about some of the age restrictions that we have on occupations in Missouri.
For instance, to be a master plumber in Missouri, you have to be 25 years old. This is after the six years of apprenticeship, and the three years of additional coursework. If you’re Doogie Howser, and you want to do that job and you can demonstrate you’ve got the skills to be a master plumber at 22, what does 25 mean?
Thomas Jefferson was 32 when he wrote the Declaration of Independence and shaped the entire country. Surely we can trust somebody to move a toilet when they’re 20 years old, right?
So I went back with this newfound passion for finding these arbitrary restrictions and getting rid of them.
I went on this mission of, of changing Missouri’s perspective on this and last year I was able to pass the most comprehensive regulatory reform bill in the entire country. It was amazing. It was monumental. I thought it would take me my entire career. We got it done in one year with the help of a lot of people.
But because of that, bill I was able to go to the White House. I was invited to go to the White House and visit with some other reformers from across the country. It was a tremendous experience. It was a surreal experience. And that is the epitome of why I got into politics.
I wanted to have an impact for good. Well, I set the standard with that bill, for the entire country on how this issue is handled. And now other states are following suit. We have a number of other states that have done exactly what we did in Missouri to now break down those barriers to entry, to make it easier for people to work. And it’s so fulfilling to have that.
If you would have asked me two years ago, what’s your purpose, Derek? I wouldn’t have told you to pass sweeping regulatory reform, and I’m going to change the way that the country looks at this. I didn’t know what I was doing. I was just following each step right in front of me.
I was like, well, this makes sense. And well, maybe I should try this and maybe I’ll talk to this person and maybe we can take it to this place. And it led to the White House. So pretty cool.
Now the challenge is, how do I top that? Do I need to top that? And what do I do next?
So that question of purpose, it’s always changing. It’s always growing.
Robin: Talk about the Walking Wounded a little bit, and, and your opportunity to make a really neat introduction.
Derek: Yeah. That was a great story. I’ve got a great friend. His name is Mark and Mark is, he works for an organization that his entire job is like promoting Missouri and, and bringing jobs and bringing businesses in Missouri.
And he happens to be from the UK and and he’s also a good friend of mine. We sing karaoke together, sometimes, which you’re never going to see, don’t even ask.
Mark was involved with the British government. He’s the honorary British consulate for Missouri. So he’s, he’s got a really cool title and he works with the UK a lot. Mark had this opportunity to work with this organization called the Walking Wounded.
There were some soldiers, some British soldiers and some soldiers from the United States that had been wounded in battle. And they were in the process of walking across the country. And one of their big stops was in St. Louis. They were going to come to St. Louis and we were going to do a big press event.
The headliner was Joe Biden, so this was former Vice President at the time Joe Biden and his wife, Jill. And it was really Jill’s initiative.
She was heavily engaged with this organization and really, really helping raise awareness for it. I got to introduce now President Joe Biden which is a pretty cool thing, regardless of what side of the aisle you are, if you like the guy or can’t stand the guy, introducing a future President of the United States is a pretty awesome thing.
Robin: I love that. You’ve had some really cool experiences and you mentioned playing the sax earlier and you talk about some things that are, highlights in your life. Is this one of those highlights.
Derek: It was definitely fun to do. But there’s certainly more rewarding things that I’ve had the opportunity to do. For me, it’s the small things in life. I’ve never felt like I need a title or I need to have these big accomplishments. I just want to do good with what I’ve got.
And a lot of times just having somebody call me on the phone and tell me that something I did mattered to them. That means a lot more to me than introducing the future President of the United States. I’d much rather hear from constituents that I’ve been able to help in some way.
And that’s a lot of times all my job is, it’s just helping my constituents with needs that they have, maybe they interact with a state agency that doesn’t treat them well, or they’re not getting the answers they need. Maybe they’ve got a disabled child and they just don’t know what the resources are.
So we can help, and they call us and they say, hey, I don’t know what to do and we can plug them in. Those are the kinds of things that I like about that job and meeting, interesting people is just a bonus.
Robin: Well, you you’ve talked about some great successes and I wonder if this is one of those great successes?
Derek: Yes. That’s my Muskie. I caught a Muskie.
Derek: You know what a Muskie is right?
Robin: I do, man. That’s a special thing.
Derek: Yeah, that is! That was a fun day. It was two summers ago. I think it was 37 or 39 inches. Something like that. It was, it was a big old fish. We were up in Wisconsin, so we went to visit some friends and went out on the boat and we were just sitting in the middle of the lake and throwing our lines out and boom, I get the biggest fish in my life on the line.
That was exciting. You can see my smile and that, yeah, I’ve got a pretty big smile. That was really, really fun.
Part of that, Robin was, I was joking the whole time. Cause I knew like the big things like, Oh, you got to catch a Muskie in your life sometime. And so I kept razzing, my friend, I’m like, this is it. I’m going to catch my Muskie on my first trip to Wisconsin, you know? And I did it.
Robin: That’s really fun.
Well, talk to me a little bit about the takeaways here in dealing with failure as a matter of perspective, what do you mean by that? Because you obviously can’t always win, when you’re in life or when you’re legislature or you’re selling a house. There are times when you just don’t, like you mentioned your first run. Talk to us a little bit about that perspective.
Derek: Yeah. Th the trick is knowing that there are going to be those moments that feel like failure, knowing that you are not going to always achieve what you think and what you see as success and understanding that the most important thing you can do in those moments is just remind yourself that that’s okay. And that that’s a good thing.
It can be really hard in those moments to remember that because we get down on ourselves and my wife will tell you, I am my biggest critic. Like I never feel like anything I do is good enough. I mean, even going to the White House, I was like, I don’t know, babe, like that, it was cool, but it wasn’t that big of a deal.
And she’s like, no, you did it. That was amazing. Like, come on, give yourself credit here. I think we all do that to a certain degree. Right? We’ve bagged on ourselves, pretty hard. And, and we’re not supposed to, like you say, win all the time. And the failures that we have the trick is to, to first remind yourself that that’s okay, because that at least gives you hope.
Okay. I’m going to get through this, whatever it is, whatever that challenge is, there is light. And I may not be able to see it because I’m on a curve going through the tunnel. Right. But the light may be just right around the corner. You just got to keep going through it. And it’s, it’s darkest before the dawn.
I’m sure you, and so many others have heard that before. You just gotta keep plugging away. Just keep going.
My mom has always told me that you just never know what seeds you’re planting along the way. You just never know what you’re doing is going to lead to my, my first failure in politics led to my leaving an impression with somebody that was positive enough that they felt like I could do a good job.
And I had the opportunity to come back later. Had I never made that first run or had I been so down on myself from that failure that when they called me again, all I remembered was the pain from that experience, I would have said no. And I never would have had the opportunity to be sitting here with you and having this conversation like we are.
So that’s what I mean by, it’s just a matter of perspective and, and we can change our perception so quickly. If we’re just aware of how we’re thinking, and we recognize those thoughts that are coming to us and, you can look at it spiritually, you can look at it humanly either way is going to help you get through that.
From a spiritual perspective, it’s okay, I need to turn to, to God and turn to good. And I need to magnify the good and, and know that there is more than this and that no, that this is not part of me. This failure is not me. Don’t own that failure, right? That is not who God created, that failure.
And that experience humanly speaking, I mean, come on, life is long. We get a long time on this planet to do things. So just have a little bit of patience and, and, Moses, he wasn’t called to whatever his great purpose was until what was it, Robin 80 something.
Robin: He was, he was, he’d already had a whole lifetime before that.
Derek: So what if he had just been like sitting back and being like, Oh man, God pass me by, like, I never had my purpose and I’m checking out, like, We, we would never have had the great inspiration that is there by Moses has experienced. And he wasn’t called to that and duty until late.
I’ll give you another experience.
A person that I met years ago I was in the Virgin Islands for an abroad in college, which was really cool by the way. We were in our little sailboat and we pulled up and, and anchored next to this gigantic yacht,a huge yacht. We were joking the whole day. How cool would it be to get on that yacht?
Wonder who owns that yacht and. Well, lo and behold that night our instructor played saxophone and he had brought his saxophone with him. And so he was playing on the deck of our little sailboat and they heard it on the big boat. Well, they came over in this day boat that’s as big as our sailboat.
It’s massive. And it’s the wife of the owner of the ship. I mean, she’s the owner too, but her husband was the one who who was well-known. And so she invited us, she said, hey, you gotta come on our boat. My husband wants to meet you guys. So we got on, we went over and we met this incredible, incredible gentleman by the name of Jim Moran.
I’d never heard of him before. You’ve probably never heard of him before, unless you’re in the car business. If you’re in the car business, you know who Jim Moran is. Well, he was the most gracious kind, humble guy.
His story was so cool to me and I reference it all the time that people that are at later stages in their life, because Jim Moran, he didn’t find success until he was like 55. He owned a car dealership and he got, I think it was cancer, terminal cancer or something like that.
Like 95% chance he was going to die. Well, he beat it, he beat it and he came back stronger than ever at 55. He lost everything at that point. And he came back and he made an arrangement with Toyota to be the first Toyota dealership and supplier in the country. And that’s what he did. He brought Toyota to the United States and what a tremendous, tremendous story of going from nothing to everything humanly, right?
The man had more success than most people will ever dream of. And he didn’t do it until, his last 20, 30 years of life. That’s inspiring to me because I do hear people a lot of times say, oh, it’s too late for me, it’s passed me by. No it hasn’t, don’t give up, don’t give in to that attitude.
You gotta stay positive and keep moving forward. One little step at a time.
Robin: I love that idea. One of the things that you mentioned as we get into our Q and a and wrap up was, don’t try to pack everything into one year. I would think that’s really important with the work that you do legislatively, but what does that mean in your business?
What does that mean in your day-to-day life? That may be different from the legislative process, but maybe you can give us some ideas about that.
Derek: Something that I heard a long time ago, that just stuck in my brain was we tend to dramatically, dramatically underestimate what we can accomplish in 10 years.
On the flip side, we dramatically overestimate what we can do in one year, right? So we think we can accomplish everything in a year. But if we just have the perspective of more long-term perspective, we can do a lot. If we’re just patient and we just keep making steady progress.
You just keep up that constant pressure, then you can achieve extraordinary things. If you’re willing to be patient and willing to keep up that persistence and that diligence. So we dramatically overestimate what we can do in a year and dramatically underestimate what we can do over a longer period of time.
That’s important in my day to day. I try and work on that and in one day, there’s only so much that you can do, but over a long period of time, over a week weeks, a month, year, 10 years, you can, you can accomplish a whole heck of a lot.
It doesn’t always have to be a long time. Sometimes things do happen overnight, but usually there’s been a lot of foundation laid first. Usually for people to achieve that success that looks like it’s overnight, there’s been a lot of hard work that comes before it.
Younger generations, I mean my age and younger, we see a lot of success in the world, and we think if I don’t get that right away, I used to think I’m going to be a millionaire by 30.
And that was like my measurement of failure. Right. Is, am I going to be a millionaire by the time I’m 30? Well, 30 came around, not a millionaire, right?
So did I fail, or do I keep working? Do I keep pushing and let go of that arbitrary timeline I put on myself? Every day you set a few things or maybe just one thing, just set out to accomplish one thing a day that’s important and you prioritize those things.
I have a little book that’s my Michael Hyatt. I can’t remember what the name of the little planner that he’s put together is, but it basically says you lay out your top three items for the day, and then it has other priorities and you can calendar it out.
I don’t do it every day, but I try to do it as much as I can to just lay out a couple of things. Then looking back at the end of the day and being able to check off some of those things, it gives you a sense of accomplishment that makes you feel like, okay, I didn’t conquer the world today, but one step at a time we climb the mountain.
There’s not a zip line to success. There’s not a zip line to achieve great heights. It takes hiking, it takes working, it takes the right tools.
Sometimes all it is in a day is just getting the right tools in your toolbox. And maybe tomorrow or next week you start the actual work, right.
If you’ve ever done any, any renovation projects or anything like that, most of it is knowing what tools you need to bring with you. And if you don’t bring the right tools, it’s going to take it three times as long, because you got to go back out and get them.
So think about what tools you need, build your toolbox, and then start to slowly work, start with the foundation. And then you build on from there.
Great. I have a question. This was a question that came in earlier. And this question is about the real estate business. So it’s from a student who’s going to be graduating and they’re interested in the real estate business, but they’re not quite sure how to go about which direction to take, whether it’s commercial or, all the different aspects of real estate.
What might they do? What might you suggest to help them along the way, figure out what might be the best path for them?
My suggestion is find people that you think are doing what you might want to do and talk to them about it. So find somebody who’s been really successful in commercial real estate.
Maybe they’re a commercial broker. Look up who’s the top broker in my area. Who’s sold more commercial buildings than anybody else and had more success? Reach out to them. Cold call them and just say, hey, I’m a student, I’m young, I’m looking for inspiration. Help me understand what you do and do you like it?
What are the aspects of it that are most challenging? And what aspects do you like the most? Do that with a couple of different people in different areas and aspects of real estate. Talk to somebody in property management, talk to somebody in residential. Talk to somebody who’s a residential broker, right?
Because being a broker and being a personal performer as an agent are two very different things as well. You might be great at supervising and helping other agents achieve great success themselves, but you yourself, this is the way I am. Myself, I’m not passionate about being a real estate agent and personally performing.
But I love inspiring other people to be successful. I love giving them the tools and helping them to grow their business.
I think that’s the key is talking to a lot of these people and know too that you’re not going to land on your perfect job, the first job. Just accept that, that’s not going to be the case.
If you do, great miracle, awesome, you’re way above most. If you just go into it with the assumption that this is training, whatever, your first job is, whatever your second job is, whatever your third job is, it’s training for whatever comes next.
So enjoy it. And as long as you can, and if you don’t enjoy it anymore, if you feel like you’re not growing anymore, move on to something else, don’t worry about it.
Robin: Well, I really appreciate that. What would you suggest to someone who’s interested in getting into politics, how should they start?
Derek: Start small, start with engaging with your local municipality. Find out if there’s some civic organizations. Also charitable organizations can be a great way to just sort of plug in and understand the landscape of how that world works.
Obviously, a charitable organization and a government entity are going to be different, but it’s getting that element of service, right? It’s achieving that element of service.
I would suggest, if you’re interested in politics and you’re interested in government, talk to somebody who’s doing it.
People that are in these positions love, love talking to young people. They love providing the inspiration or sharing their wisdom. That’s something that I learned.
One of the best lessons I learned early on in my career was that people that are later in their career, they may have achieved great success. And now to them, what they’re passionate about, is passing that onto somebody passing the knowledge that they’ve gained on. They are desperate in many cases to just tell somebody all the secrets they know. And so if you reach out to them most times, they’re going to be very, very helpful and eager to tell you all kinds of good stuff.
So find some mentors like that. Find some people that you can call on them to ask them those questions.
Politicians, I wouldn’t suggest starting with your Senator, your Congress member, it’s just a factor of their schedules that it’s very difficult to reach those people.
But you can put yourself in positions where you may be near those folks, right? And you may be able to ask them questions. I can remember when I was running for state rep I was scared to death, Robin. I’d never done anything like this before. I’d never been around people that are important in politics.
And I went to this fundraiser for Senator Roy Blunt. At this fundraiser was like, anybody who’s anybody. I mean, it was like, it was like the most wealthy donors in politics on the conservative side and successful business people, all of the politicians were there and I got so worked up. This is, I’m not kidding you.
I got so worked up. Then when I got home, I threw up, I went to bed and I slept for three days straight. I literally didn’t get out of bed for a couple of days. Cause I was just so emotionally in turmoil, I just didn’t know what to do with it.
After that experience, I realized this is so silly. What am I getting worked up about? These are just people they want to help others. By running for state representative, I put myself in a position to get to know some people that are higher up.
And so I was able to ask Senator Blunt, about some of his experiences and he was able to give me some really good pieces of advice.
I’ll end it there cause I know we’re getting short on time. You gotta shut the politician up sometimes Robin.
Robin: You got wonderful things to say, Mr. Grier. It’s been a remarkable hour full of great ideas.
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Derek, you’ve given us some incredibly inspiring ideas today. We so appreciate your time. You’ve been so very, very gracious. So thank you.
Well, thank you Robin. I really do appreciate all the work that you are doing there. You guys do really good work, and I’m always happy to help in any way I can.
We really, really appreciate it. And we look forward to talking to you again, sometime in the future. Keep up that terrific work.
Derek, thanks so much. Appreciate it. Have a great weekend, my friend.
Derek: Yeah, you too. Take care.