Britnie Turner founded Aerial in 2009 at the age of 21 with the mission of elevating people and places. Britnie has since formed multiple companies under the Aerial brand, all accelerating the mission by empowering people, sustaining the planet and utilizing capitalism as a force for good. Through the success of her companies, Britnie is resetting the standard of what is possible for women and young people across the globe and has won several national and international awards for speed of growth, innovation and trajectory. Aerial’s commitment to a triple bottom line approach is proving that conscious business is not only viable but the way of the future.
Stefan Aarnio: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the show. It’s Respect the Grind with Stefan Aarnio. This is the show where we interview people who have achieved mastery and freedom through discipline. We interview entrepreneurs, athletes, authors, artists, real estate investors, anybody who has achieved mastery, and examine what it took to get there.
Today on the show, I have Britnie Turner. She is a well-known real estate developer. She’s down in Nashville in the USA. I absolutely love Britnie. She’s an accomplished real estate developer. She started as a home flipper. She does great charity work, and she’s even a singer. I’ve heard some of her music, great singer too.
Britnie Turner: Oh no.
Stefan Aarnio: Britnie, welcome to the show, Respect the Grind. Thank you for joining me. How are you doing down in Nashville today?
Britnie Turner: It’s a beautiful day in Nashville. We’ve got a killer view of the skyline and the river, and life is good.
Stefan Aarnio: Awesome. I said you were a singer, then I heard you go, “Oh no. Oh no, he knows I’m a singer.”
Britnie Turner: Oh no.
Stefan Aarnio: Well, we’re not going to do any singing here. You know, I’m a singer myself, so we’ll keep the singing to a minimum. It’s so great to have you here. I follow you on social media. I follow you on Instagram, followed you on Facebook for years, not sure how we got connected, but absolutely love your work, Britnie. Why don’t you tell the people at home, who don’t know you, a little bit about yourself and how you got started?
Britnie Turner: I wanted to be a missionary from the time that I was 12 years old. I went to a missionary training school/survival school to be able to prep for being hardcore and living overseas. I was very frustrated on all of the mission trips that I went to, from 13 to 18 years old, and kept asking God, “What’s a better way to go about this?” Very long story short, I ended up learning that you could flip houses and make chunks of money, and those chunks of money could buy an apartment complex, and that apartment complex could fund your orphanages, and you wouldn’t have to ask anybody for any money, and you could live your dream of being able to help people.
For me, my passion and purpose is to be able to create opportunity for those who have none and to live as an example of what’s possible. I was very excited about the opportunity to learn, how can you be self-sustainable? It was just a very new concept at the time, especially for people who wanted to go into missions. Missions and business don’t normally go together. My original plan was to buy an apartment complex before I turned 24 and move to Africa.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow!
Britnie Turner: Yeah, so the plan has changed and grown and expanded, but that is the original gangster plan of why I got into this.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow, so Britnie, I’m going to roll that back for a sec. You were in the mission and giving back right away. Usually that’s something that people do at the end of their life. It’s usually an ending thing. For you it’s a starting thing. Are you an old soul? Where did that come from?
Britnie Turner: I may be an old soul. I don’t know. I have just cared about people and animals from a really young age. I think that it’s just been a passion of mine since I was a child. You can ask my parents. Just seeing anybody get beat up on the playground or not being able to defend themselves, I just always wanted to be strong. I went on this one mission trip pretty early on, and at the end of our conference that we put on, there was a little girl that I met that was sexually abused by her father, and she couldn’t speak because of it. She was very, very young when it happened. I was totally disturbed, but I was more disturbed when I found out that this was not only something that happened to her, but it was socially acceptable in the area. I’ll never, ever forget the look in her eyes of absolute, total hopelessness, where I knew she lived in a society, in a village, in the middle of nowhere, that she’d never have a chance to get out of that or really create change in her community. When you feel that feeling that I felt that day, it’s absolute anger, sadness, pain, all at one time, that can create a lot of momentum in your life, if directed in the right way. I went back to my tent and got on my knees and just told God, “Whatever it looks like, I want to be the one to come back and make a difference. I want to change what’s socially acceptable, in that this should not go on.” Right at that time, I felt like the Lord told me, “I’m going to take you out of missions and I’m going to put you in business.”
That’s when this started, but business was something that was totally repulsive to me. I thought it’d be boring and corporate and stuffy, and I’m very much an outdoorsy, survival type person, so to be stuck in an office all day and wear stuffy clothes was like the worst thing ever. I’m so grateful because, when I look back now, business is the way to actually have sustainable impact. Business is the way in which I can pour into these people, who are so passionate, but don’t know how to actually make something work. It’s been fun to learn those skills.
It wasn’t fun along the way. Honestly, business is hard and painful. Learning anything is difficult, but it’s fun now, almost 11 years in, to be able to sit down and have the kind of conversations I’m having with presidents of entire nations, in how to literally do all these social impact things, but have it fund itself. It’s been really, really interesting, and something I’m really excited about right now.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow, wow. It’s tremendous, Britnie, following you on social media and seeing Aerial … Your company there, is it called Aerial Development?
Britnie Turner: I have Aerial, the brand, and I have lots of companies underneath that brand. Aerial Development Group is probably the most well known.
Stefan Aarnio: Okay, so the Aerial brand, I mean, you guys are doing beautiful, beautiful homes. You guys do beautiful communities. You are a powerful woman, a powerful woman creating powerful change. To do that, as a man or a woman, is tremendous. Do you find that it’s different to do it as a woman?
Britnie Turner: Yeah, it’s super different. It’s very different, but it’s not something I complain about out loud. The more we complain about it, the more it’s going to be a thing, so instead of complaining about it and talking about all the BS I’ve had to deal with that’s ridiculous and over the top, I just am better. You know, you just have to be better. You have to be more excellent. You have to be more thorough. I can’t do things on a handshake, the way that other people can, but I’ve found a way to where nobody can say no, because I’m so good. When I say, “I,” it’s my company is so good at what we do, you can’t say no. You absolutely … There is no way you can get out of it. That’s been … it being so difficult to get in and be taken seriously … Sorry, I’ve got something in my throat. Being so difficult to get in and be taken seriously just made us, again, have to be 10 times better.
It really made me have to be excellent at getting the picture out of my head and getting it into someone else’s head. That’s why we originally became really good at media, is because a confused mind says, “No.” They’re looking at a 21-year-old girl, that’s me, and saying, “I’ve never seen someone that looks like you do what you’re saying you can do.” When I can show them pictures of before and after of how just that I was able to renovate and design and concepts and stuff like that, actually put it into picture form, I found that that really, really helped me. I encourage people. It doesn’t mean … If you’re a woman or whatever you are, if you’re not being taken seriously in your field because you are a whatever, getting really excellent at your presentations can help you overcome that.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow! Well, I had dinner with a mutual friend, Paul Kazanofski down in San Diego, a couple months ago. I asked him about you. I said, “Hey, Britnie Turner.” He said that, I guess, you met him in the beginning. Can you tell me the story about how you met Paul and got started in homes? What was the very, very beginning like for Britnie Turner? Tell me the story, from your perspective. I heard it from Paul. Paul’s a great story teller.
Britnie Turner: I’d love to hear it from Paul.
Stefan Aarnio: Well, yeah, I also interviewed him on the show. We didn’t ask about you, but I want to hear how you started out, you met Paul. I want to hear about showing up at — what was it? — like 5:00 in the morning or something to flip a house with him. I want to hear the whole story. Tell me the story.
Britnie Turner: Oh, man, the stories can go on and on and on, but it is really important to have a mentor. When I first got into the business, I literally googled, “What colleges teach you how to flip houses?” That’s how new I was to the concept.
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah, there’s none.
Britnie Turner: Yeah. I googled it, and this was 2007. “What colleges teach you how to flip houses?” Nothing popped up, so I am very practical, and I was like, “I guess I’m not going to college.” That’s just … I’m pro education, but they didn’t teach what I want to learn, so why would I go? Not everybody takes it that well. I’m not going to say I got any support for that decision, but I knew that I would have to learn that business another way, and so for three years I actually struggled. I would call the “We Buy Houses” signs and say, “Let me work for you for free.” I guess it was two years, at the time. Everybody was saying, “Get out of the market.” Now, I didn’t watch TV, so I didn’t know there was this global economic meltdown happening. I thought I was just a failure at everything that I touched, and so I end up happy to become a waitress, because literally everything that I was trying to do was a failure, which didn’t give the non-supporters any less ammo to hate on me. I’m waiting tables at a Cheesecake Factory, and I had to make $350 in order to make my mortgage payment, because I bought my first house, as a waitress at 18 years old. They were giving anybody loans back then.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow.
Britnie Turner: I was like, “Okay, God, I’m trusting You. I know You’re going to come through. I’m working a double. I can make this $350.” At the end of a nine-hour shift, I had seven dollars in change that I had made.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow, wow, oh no.
Britnie Turner: I threw my hands up. It was the worst day ever. I was like, “Really, God?” “Really,” I heard loud and clear. I was like, I said, “Why am I here, God? I’m smarter than this.” I literally had real estate books in my apron, because I would hide in the back and read them, like, “I’ve got to get out of here.” I heard loud and clear, “It’s because I want to bless you.” I’m like, “Really? Really? Seven dollars, you want to bless me.”
Right at that moment, as I went up to the host and said, “Please send me home. I’ve made no money today. I’m going to go home and wallow and feel sorry for myself,” these two guys and a girl walked in. I begged for that table. I was like, “Look, I don’t care if it’s five dollars. I really need the money.” The guy sitting farthest away from me had a ring on his wedding ring finger, and it had a little tiny logo of a house, and it said, “The Millionaire’s Club.”
I said, “Are you real estate investors?” They said, “Yes, we are.” I said, “I’m going to be a real estate investor.” They looked at me and said, “Yeah, right. You probably read Cosmo Girl Magazine.” They kept drilling me on all these questions, and I said, “Actually, I read Success Magazine.”
Stefan Aarnio: Ooh.
Britnie Turner: For those of you are just beginning the school year and nobody’s believing in you, and you are just being self-taught, it is those little things that you do when nobody’s looking that you’ll be quizzed on later, or somehow it will get found out, that opens the door of opportunity for your future. I had been studying real estate, whatever I could get my hands on for 12 hours a day, and I was working the other seven, and sleeping very little.
They started grilling me. They said, “Are you reading Cosmo Girl Magazine?”
I was like, “No, I read Success Magazine.”
They were impressed. Then they said, “Okay, well what CD are you listening to in your car? Is it Hanson?”
I’m like, “Hanson, no.”
Stefan Aarnio: Oh, boy. MMMBop. You listen to MMMBop.
Britnie Turner: “Actually I’m listening to Think and Grow Rich.” Yeah, we should play that, just to open this podcast up. I said, “Actually, I’m listening to Think and Grow Rich, the audiobook.”
They were impressed, and so they kept asking me these questions. They’re like, “Wow. We really do think that you want to become a real estate investor.”
I’m like, “Well, yes. I’m going to be.”
They happened to put on conferences all over the world that taught people real estate investing. They invited me to be a guest. I was kind of freaked out, but I went, and it was awesome.
I had learned over the past three years of totally being a failure and broke and in debt, still paid my minimums, but I was super in debt from all this time of things not working out. I learned that, no matter what you’re going through, you have to give first. A lot of people blow their beginning opportunities with people wanting to mentor them or help them, because when you’re in a desperate situation, you turn into survival mode, and you drown the person coming to save you.
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah, wow.
Britnie Turner: I had learned, you give first. I’m sitting at this table with all the speakers who are “these multimillionaire real estate teachers,” and I bought their lunch. I asked them to lunch. I wanted to pick their brain, and I bought their lunch. I was praying the last few dollars on my credit card would go through, and it did.
At that lunch, I met a guy, who said, “I’ve got an opening. I need an assistant. I need to teach them how to do all these deals.” I was like … I raised my hand. I ended up taking it, a job that was $650 less than the minimums on my credit cards. I rented my house in Charlotte out to these guys off Craigslist, and I moved to Nashville. I was like, “I’m going to learn. Things are going to go great, blah-blah-blah.” I told my family, told my friends, and they’re like, “Don’t do real estate. It’s stupid.”
I’m like, “Guys, this is going to work, especially because I’m doing this with this holy sounding” … Whatever, it wasn’t about sounding. It was like, it seems like I had a really pure heart, and I was. I was like, “I just want to do this for orphans anyway, so it should work.”
Stefan Aarnio: Right.
Britnie Turner: I want to encourage those of you who think that God closes the door when things don’t go your way … That’s not necessarily God closing a door. It’s you having to gain the muscle to overcome the obstacles to be able to exist at the next level. Most people, especially God-fearing people, leave 99% of their calling on the table, because they think it’s God closing the door.
Now, I’m not sitting here trying to prove to anybody. I don’t care, but you asked me my story. My story’s filled with God. It’s just, I don’t have another way to talk about it.
Stefan Aarnio: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Britnie Turner: I moved to Nashville. I’m excited. Things are going to work. I’ve got this job. I’m going to learn the business. Within 60 days, I got fired.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow.
Britnie Turner: They totally did away with the position, and within 30 days of me moving up there, the first month’s rent check, for the guys in Charlotte renting my house, bounced.
Stefan Aarnio: Oh.
Britnie Turner: Now, I’m having to pay this mortgage, evict these people eight hours away. I’ve already taken a job less than the minimums on my credit card, and I get fired.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow.
Britnie Turner: This was my first rental property, so I actually believed their story.
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah, exactly.
Britnie Turner: I did learn that.
Stefan Aarnio: You believe the tenants and the excuses they give you.
Britnie Turner: So stupid. I really … They approached my bleeding heart.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow.
Britnie Turner: I’m in quite the hole, but remember, when you are in a desperate situation, you still give first, no matter what. I ended up having to move into my car, because I couldn’t tell anybody that I lost my job, because I was a failure. The day I got fired is the day I met Paulie.
Stefan Aarnio: Hmm.
Britnie Turner: I met Paulie, because he was the loudest guy up on stage. We were at a conference. The guy that I came to work for, he ran real estate conferences. I met Paulie, because he was up on stage talking about all these deals he did. Even though I knew I was in this horrible situation, I was totally stressed out … I don’t know if anybody else has felt financial stress, but it feels like a giant crushing your chest.
Stefan Aarnio: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Britnie Turner: I went up to him, and I said, “Can I work for you for free?” I had no idea how I was going to pay any of my bills or survive, but “can I work for you for free?” Paulie actually said no, but I got in another way. There was another person that worked with him, and I worked with him for a couple months to eventually be able to work for Paulie for free. When somebody that you want to be your mentor says no, find a way to serve their vision and their calling, and they won’t say no for very long.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow. That’s powerful.
Britnie Turner: Paulie put me through the wringer. He’d make me meet him at 5:00 in the morning or work until 3:00 in the morning or whatever. Every day was different. Honestly, he wouldn’t tell me what he needed. I literally just would get in the car, and I would have to find value wherever he was. Again, I couldn’t put him out. I just needed to learn this business. I would do whatever. I’d be wherever, whenever. Was it cleaning up dog poop out of one of his rental properties or coordinating contractors? He really wouldn’t delegate to me. I would have to just almost interrupt him and find a way to create value, so that he would keep me around.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow.
Britnie Turner: I’ve never had … I mean, I’ve had thousands of people want to work with me or for me or learn from me. Nobody’s ever tried to do something like that. Nobody’s really interrupted to find a way to create enough value to be worth keeping around. Now, I’ve mentored people, but just saying, that is an unstoppable rule that, if somebody does it, you’re never going to have somebody say no. I want to encourage you to try that theory.
I would notice, okay, if they’re struggling to find investors, okay, well, how can we get investors to believe in this project? Well, let me make it clear, and I’d put together a proposal. By the way, naturally very disorganized. This very disorganized person became extremely organized. Why? Because you become whatever your freaking business needs you to become. I don’t want to hear, “Well, I’m not naturally a good organizer,” or, “I’m not naturally” … I don’t care what you are naturally! What’s your dream, and how do you need to adapt to freaking live your dream? Shut up and stop complaining! Figure it out!
Everybody’s so hung up on what their one gift is. Well, you learned how to walk at one point in your life, learned how to talk. Stop saying you’re not going to keep learning and growing and pushing yourself. You obviously don’t want it enough. Anyway, that’s my little soapbox for the moment.
Stefan Aarnio: I love it. I love it, Britnie. You know what? I’ve never heard this story before, and I’m sure the people at home are … I’m a little bit put back by how much BS you had to put up with at the beginning. I think most people at home, who want the result … They want to develop property. They want to flip property. They want to be a success like Britnie. I don’t think they get to see the beginning, the living in my car story, and the property failing. It’s such a great beginning, and you had to go through some major hurdles. Tell me, what happened next?
Britnie Turner: I could probably talk for three days about all the bad things, but to summarize it, worked for free for nine months, totally starved it out, found a way to survive, got my license to be able to reduce their cost of commission. This is 2009. It was 2009. It was the worst economic time, where everything is spiraling out.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow.
Britnie Turner: It’s such a perfect time to learn, because literally the way that we would run our numbers are if the houses are selling for $200,000 today, by the time we’re done in five weeks with this rehab, which is go, go, go, go, go, all the comps will be around $180,000 or $170,000.
Stefan Aarnio: Oh, my God. Oh, my God.
Britnie Turner: Yeah, we would just run our numbers on being $10,000 cheaper than a depreciating market, where everything’s falling apart, and you’re competing with HUD houses.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow.
Britnie Turner: Yeah, it was just normal. I didn’t know any different, except for to absolutely have to go out and kill it, absolutely have to dummy proof why a buyer would pick my house over anybody else’s in the entire world, and paying five points and 15% interest back then, and no banks were lending. How do you overcome those kind of obstacles in a failing market, and you start a business that way, in a “failing market.” You just run your numbers differently. You just operate differently. You have to put in … I’d go through three tanks of gas in a tiny car in a week, because I’d put in more than 60 offers per week. I ran numbers on every single one by myself. I’d be crawling in windows late at night.
I have plastic credit card looking business cards, because I broke so many cards getting in these HUD houses to run numbers. It was just … You put in a lot more work. You put in a lot of different work. Opportunity never goes away. It only switches places, so when the market goes and tightens up again, know it’s not over. You don’t throw in the towel. It’s not done. You just figure out, okay, well, if the opportunity’s not here today, it’s over here. You just need to have enough in your savings account to be able to take that time to recalculate.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow, I love what you said there, Britnie, 60 offers a week. Did you say 60 offers a week?
Britnie Turner: At least, at least, at least.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow, I love that. I love that. I’m from Canada, up in Winnipeg, so directly north of you. I train people. I say, “You’ve got to do a minimum of 50 calls, 10 offers a week,” and 60 … That is extreme. I love that. That’s what it takes to succeed. I was talking to Paulie earlier today. I interviewed him, as well. He was saying, I think, seven offers a day. That’s like an offer every hour. That’s pretty much just hammering the market every hour with an offer. Is that what that looks like?
Britnie Turner: Yeah, oh, and he does do that.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow.
Britnie Turner: I know he does that. He taught me. I learned from the hustler of hustlers, and I learned from somebody with a great work ethic, and it was amazing to be around Paulie, because he saw my work ethic, and he saw that I would never forget what he taught me. He would call it out. He would always say, “You’re going to be something great.” I’d never had somebody tell me that before. It was really, really impactful in my life. You can’t make what any one person, no matter how close they are to you … Whatever they say cannot become your identity. You really have to find it in yourself and in God, but it was amazing to have someone around me that did see something great and called it forth. That is something you’ve got to have around you, especially in the beginning.
I don’t know if it’s just the beginning. I need to have it around me now, because it only gets bigger. You know, I’m playing with 100-plus million dollar projects, not playing. You can’t mess around with this. This is really, really, really stressful. The problems change. You’re not worried about putting gas in your car. You’re worried about million dollar problems every day, every week. I make at least three million plus dollar decisions a day.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow.
Britnie Turner: That’s not all I have to do. That’s just at least.
Stefan Aarnio: Britnie, just for the people at home, because I don’t know if they totally know that much about you … You started out with some crappy little $100,000-$200,000 homes, and now you’re moving around 100 million at a time, some big projects. You guys do entire communities. This is all in what, 10-12 years, you’ve gone from those little starter homes to major developments?
Britnie Turner: Yeah, well, I’m 29, and I think I flipped my first house by myself … I was almost 22, and I won like Forbes Sixth Fastest Growing Woman-Owned/Woman-Led Company in the World this last year. All of it is because I had a why bigger than the pain of the obstacle. I know that I have the human capacity to be able to affect people’s lives and do something great, and I’m not going to F around with that opportunity.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow, that’s tremendous. Britnie, hearing you speak today is absolutely tremendous. It’s inspiring me. I’m sure it’s inspiring many of the people at home. Now, switching gears a little bit, do you believe that success is more about talent or more about hard work?
Britnie Turner: Hard work, a hundred, thousand, billion percent.
Stefan Aarnio: Tell me more about that.
Stefan Aarnio: Why can’t it just be talent? I mean, a lot of people think that it can be talent or a magic bullet or a magic button. Why is it hard work?
Britnie Turner: I don’t even think talent is talent. I think talent is belief system.
Stefan Aarnio: Hmm. Tell me more about that.
Britnie Turner: I think talent comes from having a mind that works to tell itself it’s really good at something and it’s focused, and so that’s really the same, almost the same thing, as hard work, is it’s focused positive energy on something you believe. Hard work, again, it can be … It doesn’t matter if it’s hard work, if it’s not focused, not growing. I’ve got a lot of musicians around here that aren’t successful, but they’re so, so, so talented, and they’ve spent so much time working on their craft. Learning how to make money can be the same thing. It’s truly just a skill. It’s not something you have to be born with. I think that, I just don’t think I’m very talented, so my personal experience with success has been from focused hard work around a passion that I want to help people, and this is my way to do it. I want to help people at scale, because I can.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow, mm-hmm (affirmative), mm-hmm (affirmative). You’ve got a massive … The thing I see that’s different about you than so many other people I talk to and meet in the real estate space, is you have a big why and a big mission and massive faith. You have probably, out of anybody I’ve talked to, the biggest faith I’m feeling out of anybody. Faith is the power to see the unseen, so my hat goes off to you.
Britnie Turner: Thank you.
Stefan Aarnio: Now, Britnie, in your transformation there, from starting out at the Cheesecake Factory, waiting tables, to Britnie Turner at 29, do you think success has changed you at all?
Britnie Turner: I’m a much better person now. I’m definitely a much better person now, because success is just the magnifying glass of your heart. Whatever it is that you want to do with your life or are passionate about, then it’s just going to get magnified. When people say success changes people, it just magnifies whatever’s inside them. If they’re icky on the inside, then now you see it, because where your money goes, there your heart will be also. You can see it in their money spending, as well.
For me, I would say it has made me … It has changed me, but it’s made me a better person. It’s made me a thousand times more faith driven, in that I know that I know that I know it’s going to work out. I can’t give up. I have to keep searching for the answer. I don’t expect it to be put in my mailbox and dropped on me. I have to just grow as a person to be able to do this thing. Your business, sadly sometimes, is a reflection of what’s going on, on the inside of the entrepreneur. If you’re not doing well, and you’re not growing, your business is not going to do well, and it’s not going to grow.
Stefan Aarnio: Hmm, absolutely. That’s fantastic. Lots of truth bombs here, Britnie.
Stefan Aarnio: Now, we talked a little bit about talent versus hard work. Now, some people say mastery is creativity and discipline blended. Do you think creativity’s more important, or is discipline more important?
Britnie Turner: Hmm, and I have to pick one?
Stefan Aarnio: Well, I mean, obviously it’s a blend, but which would you go with first? Would you say discipline or would you say creativity?
Britnie Turner: In order to be successful?
Stefan Aarnio: To be a master, to be a master at what you do.
Stefan Aarnio: Arguably, you’ve been around for 10 years in your business. You’ve done very well. You have reached a point of mastery. Which would you lead with, creativity or discipline?
Britnie Turner: I’m sorry. I don’t think I’ve reached mastery, but if I was going to give advice to reach mastery, I would say discipline. There’s a lot … I am a more creative person than disciplined person probably, but and that’s actually why I’m doing a bodybuilding competition just to be more disciplined. It’s so easy to, especially when you start getting well known for what you do, have a million things coming your way. You have a million things coming your way, and you won’t know the difference between an opportunity and a distraction if you are not very clear and focused and disciplined on where you’re going and why you’re going there. Everything looks like an opportunity. Everything can make money, but who cares if it makes money if it doesn’t fulfill where you’re going with your purpose in life?
Stefan Aarnio: Absolutely. Henry Ford says, “A bad business only makes money.” Now, Aerial does great developments, great products, great real estate projects. I’ve seen them online. They’re great. How do you guys contribute to the world and give back?
Britnie Turner: We have three teams. We have the People Team, the Planet Team, and the Profit Team. All of these are focused on our bottom line. Most companies are focused on their bottom line of profit, but we are focused on our bottom line of our impact on people and the planet and profit. The nice thing about having three different teams is they keep the ideas every week in check, so the Profit Team can’t come in and say, “We’re going to bulldoze this whole 10 acres that we just bought, because it’s cheaper to develop.” The Planet Team’s going to be like, “Sorry, we’re going to develop around the trees, and we’re going to find a way to make it work financially.” They get to arm wrestle it out. Then the People Team gets to come in and say, “Well, if we do these designs that are cheaper, the neighborhood’s going to be pissed, because it’s hideous, and it doesn’t make any sense. It doesn’t matter if it just makes money. It’s not going to contribute to the neighborhood for the next hundred years.” It’s really … I mean, there’s a lot of different ways to keep yourself in check on a practical business sense. A couple of the initiatives we do … You know, I’m really passionate about orphans, and even now, I’m more passionate about creating opportunity where there is none. Going back to Africa over and over again, and now doing all the relief work we’re doing in BVI, I’m seeing that what people need is just some kind of mechanism to be able to pull themselves out of their situations. It sounds awful to say it, but I’ve met a lot of families that have had to sell their kids into sex slavery, because they didn’t have another way to fund buying a cow, and there’s no way for their family to survive without buying that cow, so they had to sell one kid. If there isn’t a way for them to make money and be … They’re normally, people in desperate situations are normally, really entrepreneurial, and they’ll hustle, and they’ll do it, but they just need some way to start. That’s why microlending’s so amazing. For me, I have actually been practicing revitalizing blighted areas, not because it’s a cool urban fad, but because I want to know how do you take something broken at scale and get it to become one of the best hotspots that all these businesses move into, so that the area grows? All these jobs are there. Instead of creating affordable housing, how can you make the area be able to afford it?
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah, wow. That’s passion. I love what you said about microlending. I do chicken loans for chicken farmers around the world, because chickens are the key to eradicating poverty in the world, according to Bill Gates. If you can give these people … Like you said, they’re entrepreneurial. Give them a little bit of a loan or a start to do a chicken farm or something, they can pull themselves out, rather than just taking handouts. Would you agree?
Britnie Turner: Absolutely, I love that you’re doing that. We should brainstorm about that later, get some ideas. I want to hear it.
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah, well it’s amazing. You know, you can start a chicken farm for a couple hundred bucks or a couple thousand, and those people, they can become leaders in a couple years. It’s amazing. Now, switching-
Britnie Turner: It’s amazing-
Stefan Aarnio: Sorry, Britnie, go ahead.
Britnie Turner: Well, rapid fire, some of the things that we do is we sponsor an orphan in the name of the home buyer for every single house that we sell. We do a tree planting annually in the neighborhood, where we will fund the plant, and we allow the neighborhood to buy a tree at cost, and so we can redo that. We’ve got a massive list of all of our different initiatives, on top of just sitting down with these nonprofits. This is the coolest one. I’ll sit down with these nonprofits that have all this land. A lot of it’s urban land, and it’s not needed anymore, because their clientele has either shrunk or has gone somewhere else, or whatever, and/or they just don’t need to do the same thing on their site that they did.
Let’s say it’s a four-acre piece of land. We’ll find a way to allow them to stay and rebuild and have one of the acres. We can sit with them and activate their other three acres, and then make it to where there’s so much rental property on that project that they never have to ask for donations ever again.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow.
Britnie Turner: Sitting down and finding out how to make these nonprofits self-sustainable is one of my new, but amazingly exciting, passions, because it’s some way to actually use your business skills to help people who are already helping people.
Stefan Aarnio: That’s amazing. It’s like what Warren Buffett says. He says, “Bill Gates can do a better ROI than I can on my charity, so I give my money to Bill Gates.” Now-
Britnie Turner: Isn’t that amazing?
Stefan Aarnio: It is, and charity is a business unto itself. Usually it nets 10% just like a business, and that net goes towards a cause rather than just pure profit. Now, you met … I’ve seen you online with Richard Branson, and I guess you’re on Necker Island. Tell me, how did you get hooked up with Richard Branson? What’s that relationship like?
Britnie Turner: Well, you’ve got to be careful what you put out there. He’s the only famous person. I grew up without TV, and I don’t really know that many famous people, who they are. I don’t really care, but I did hear about this Richard Branson guy. I still don’t have TV, by the way. I’ve never had it.
Stefan Aarnio: Me either. I don’t have it either. I’ve got a big bookshelf.
Britnie Turner: There you go. That’s cool. Love it. I hear about this billionaire that is really cool and really fun. When you come into this world without very much and then you start becoming really successful, a normal pattern is to be really self-sabotaging, I guess. Especially me, like I grew up where I thought it was bad to have money. I just didn’t think that it was okay. All the bad guys were the rich people. I don’t know if it’s a millennial thing, where Disney trained us that way, but I really had a hard time having money when I wanted to be a missionary. I kept wanting to just give it all away.
I’d look at the future of, okay, if I kept growing and kept getting better and better at this, then my future looks like this super stuffy, toxin-face filled, old woman, who’s angry at the world and living in this cold place that I don’t love. That’s a horrible picture, but I did not like the future of what normal business people looked like. I had a very small experience with what that was, and being an entrepreneur back then was not a cool thing.
I self-sabotaging and not wanting to make it that big, but then I heard about this Richard Branson guy. He just always stuck out to me as this fun person. I was just, “A billionaire that was actually cool? What?” I put it out there. I told my family. I was like, “I’m going to meet Richard Branson someday, and we’re going to be friends, and not just meet him at a conference and take a picture. We’re actually going to be friends.”
They’re like, “Yeah, whatever.” Within two months of me randomly saying that, I get this Facebook message from somebody I hadn’t talked to in eight years. They said, “Hey, it looks like you’re doing great. Haven’t talked to you in a long time. I’ve got this interesting opportunity, but you need to be doing more than a million dollars in revenue.” They said, “What’s your company doing?” At the time, I was doing more than 10 million, and they were blown away. It was actually my survival school leader, that I hadn’t talked to in eight years, back from this tiny school in the middle of nowhere, training to be a hardcore missionary.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow.
Britnie Turner: She had accidentally met his wife on another island, didn’t know who it was, had an amazing conversation, shared her experience with something, got invited over for dinner at Necker Island. She was invited. She figured it out, who they were, when Richard walked up to the table. They were so excited about her business, they said, “Look, something we’re really passionate about doing is pouring into entrepreneurs. Anybody doing more than a million in revenue that is really trying to scale their business, bring them. Bring a group of 30 people, and we’ll hang out for a week.”
That’s how I got invited. At first, I thought it was some kind of scam. I’m like, “I don’t know if this is real,” but I went, and I got to talk to him. I shared my vision at the time, which was not nearly as big as what it is, because when you hang out with somebody like that, the conversations you have are, “Okay, how did you come up with Virgin Galactic?”
“Well, I was sitting on the beach with my friends, and we were looking up at the stars, and I said, ‘Well, why can’t we go up there for tea tomorrow?’ They said, ‘Well, it’s too hard, it’s too dangerous, and it’s too expensive.'” He sits there for a second, and he looks at the sky, and he said, “Well, I’ll just come up with a company that isn’t too hard, it’s not dangerous, and it’s not expensive.” That was the birth of Virgin Galactic is overcoming what people say is impossible.
Then you have the conversation, “Well, where do you see it in 10 years?”
“Well, realistically, you’ll be able to go up there on holiday with your family and stay in a Virgin hotel, of course, and it’s going to be orbiting the moon.”
I was like, “Well, why wouldn’t it be on the moon?”
“Well, you can’t put it on the moon, because of the gravitational blah-blah-blah-blah-blah.”
I’m like, this is what this person thinks of as normal. It just challenged me, and I realized all the peasant thinking I had been doing, and so I just started really dreaming big. He started talking to me about the power of a brand, and he realized, of course, that I’m a value-driven person. He said, “Britnie, the way that you can really impact the world is to put those values into your brand and have lots of companies that share those values.” That’s why I started all these other companies underneath the Aerial brand, instead of just having Aerial Development Group.
It was really, really impactful to be able to experience a great mind like that in my lifetime and to be able to spend so much time there, because I’ve gone there like nine times, nine different weeks, and hear his great mind and be able to network with other incredible minds. I’m really, really, really intentional with who I keep around me. When I don’t keep that one-on-one time with a mind like his, I listen to podcasts from those people. I read their books. I find a way to experience their mind, even if I don’t get that in-person time with them, until I do.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow, that’s very powerful. Britnie, now you’ve been to Necker Island nine times, spending time with Richard Branson, a billionaire. Do you think that has completely transformed your company and your brand from being with a mega-entrepreneur? What does he have, 400-500 companies, Richard Branson?
Britnie Turner: Yes, it’s crazy.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow, so it’s probably … How has it transformed you?
Britnie Turner: He said that you should spend 50% of your time working on your brand and 50% of your time working on your business.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow.
Britnie Turner: I don’t know if it’s a female thing, but I’m pretty sure it is. I’m sure more than just females deal with this, but self-promotion is not a natural thing for me, at all. I still don’t feel like I do that, but I do share. When I get the question … I’ll walk off the stage and have delivered some awesome speech, I’m sure … just kidding. I’ll walk off a stage, and people are like, “Wow, that’s really great. You’ve been through so much,” blah-blah-blah, “and I’m so glad that you’ve done what you’ve done, but is this your daddy’s business?”
Stefan Aarnio: Ooh.
Britnie Turner: People are always … That’s normally their first question. Instead of getting mad that they would assume that, and being mad like, “Men!” and blah-blah-blah, I get mad at women for not sharing their story. I know why you don’t, because there are haters out there, and it sucks, and you have to have your crap together, or you have to just be willing to be vulnerable about not having your crap together, but there’s so many things that come with being willing to share what’s going on in your life. I do it, because it can say that what I am and what I’ve done is something that’s possible and normal, so that I’m not this freak of nature.
There’s so many incredible people out there that haven’t been willing to share. That’s another thing, with your branding, is sharing what your company’s doing that’s great, why you’re different, what your values are. People want an authentic experience with you and what you’re putting out in the world, and they can’t do it if you are not sharing, but you have to be doing it to be able to share it, so get clear on all those things, so that you can let people know those things.
We don’t ever share like, “Oh, look at this really great thing we’re doing for the neighborhood,” to say we’re doing a great thing for the neighborhood. We do it so that people can look at their business, whatever kind of business it is, and say, “I can help people, too.”
Stefan Aarnio: Mm-hmm (affirmative), mm-hmm (affirmative), I love that.
Stefan Aarnio: Britnie, just switching gears … We’ve got to wrap up in a couple minutes, but what are three top books that have changed your life, either at the beginning or now, top three books if somebody wanted to follow Britnie’s path?
Britnie Turner: Hmm, if you haven’t read Think and Grow Rich, you’ve got to. It’s amazing. Think and Grow Rich is the foundation book of all of the right way to get your mind in order. I’ve probably read that a hundred thousand times. One of my game changer books in the very beginning was Rich Dad, Poor Dad. I know it’s basic. I don’t care. It’s a great book. It is something that from, in the very beginning, if you’ve come from nothing, especially, and you’re not used to being around anything more than maybe middle class, it teaches you the mindset of the difference in the poor middle class and wealthy and how they make decisions, so that you can get out of whatever you’re in and start actually making sustainable decisions.
That was probably the first book I read that got me to thinking entrepreneurial, got me to thinking longterm, got me to thinking sustainable. I encourage anybody just beginning their journey to just read that book. It’s awesome, especially if you’re getting into real estate. Then I read Think and Grow Rich. That was amazing.
Stefan Aarnio: Number three.
Britnie Turner: Anything by Napoleon Hill is amazing. I really like his Outwitting the Devil.
Stefan Aarnio: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Britnie Turner: Have you read that one?
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah, I’ve read Outwitting the Devil, and it really goes into the things that hold people back, almost like sins. Tell me what your experience was with that book?
Britnie Turner: Outwitting the Devil, what I got out of it was watching how people are not necessarily awake. What keeps you trapped in staying where you are and not being impactful? It’s getting people to fall almost asleep to their own potential with their own mind. I don’t want to get weird. It’s not weird. It’s just looking at what are the distractions that get thrown at you to get you off kilter, to make you not want to try to grow, because it’s painful. It’s hard, and it pushes you. To be somebody that’s just not effective … I don’t know. It explains that really well. I’m probably botching it now.
Stefan Aarnio: Well, it’s a great book, and Napoleon Hill, he didn’t publish it until … I think it was after he was dead, it came out, right?
Britnie Turner: 2011 is the first time, after it was written in the 1930s, that all the family members were finally passed far enough along to where the legacy was willing to release it, because his wife wouldn’t let him release it in their lifetime. It was so confrontational to churches and schools and everything, in how people are being controlled. It is a very good book, and it will help you in business. It helps you stay focused, stay motivated, pull yourself back together, when hard things happen, how to just refocus. It was … I had a really tough year last year, and it was one of the books that brought me back into my identity and where I’m going and how distracting pain can be.
Stefan Aarnio: Hmm, wow. Britnie, we’ve just got to wrap up here. Are there any resources you can recommend to people starting out and wanting to follow a path like yours, besides the books?
Britnie Turner: The biggest thing that I can ever recommend would be to write your eulogy.
Stefan Aarnio: Hmm, tell-
Britnie Turner: If you are confused on what you’re supposed to do and your purpose in life, you will know very clearly what matters in the end. I actually teach a little class. It’s not online or anything, but I just sit with people, and we go through living an intentional life. All right, well, we’ve got to start with what do you want to be true at the end of your life, and your one chance on earth? Okay, if you want that to be true at the end, what do we have to start doing? What has to be true in the next 25 years? What has to be true in the next one year to be on track with the 25 years? What do you have to start doing in the next 90 days to make that one year true? What do you have to stop doing in the next 90 days that’s holding you back from everything you want to be?
A lot of people, when they write it, they realize they’re not doing anything that’s actually leading them towards the only things they want to be known for. It’s what changed my life at 18 years old. I was in a class, and they made us do that, and I got hyperfocused on what actually matters, and I spend my time doing that.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow, that’s powerful. One final thing, Britnie, before we wrap up. Do you have any causes you’d like to promote or programs, stuff that you’re doing, that we can send our listeners into you?
Britnie Turner: Yeah, sure. We have two big things going on right now. I’ve never talked about this before, but it’s called Aerial Global Community, and it is a community of donors and doers, who what to create sustainable change in hopeless places. It’s a nonprofit, but it’s actually doing all kind of things. BVI Stronger is one of our initiatives, where we are creating a web series that is sharing what the issues are after a hurricane like this, and how people can get involved in solving those issues.
We’re actually creating a web series that shows it, and then you can immediately either donate, add resources, or volunteer in those initiatives. Aerial Global Community is something I’m about to open up to the world, where, if you want to be part of a group that is making a difference all over the world, either with volunteering or donating to bring different things to life that create opportunity for those who have none, in a sustainable way, I’m letting people be part of that.
Stefan Aarnio: How can people participate? Is there a website they go to? How can they get started?
Britnie Turner: When is this being promoted? When is this podcast going out, because it’ll be live by then?
Stefan Aarnio: What’s the website? If you have the URL, we’d love to hear it.
Britnie Turner: aerialglobalcommunity.com. You can sign up. You can come on a volunteer trip. You can donate towards bringing something to life.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow, that’s great. Any final words for the people at home, Britnie?
Britnie Turner: Hmm. My final words to you would be to stay focused on what matters. Only listen to people you want to be like, and know that, no matter what, as long as you stay on track and don’t let yourself fall apart, it’s going to work out for your good. Start looking for why it’s going to work out for your good instead of feeling sorry for the fact it didn’t work out according to your original plan.
Stefan Aarnio: Thank you, Britnie. That was tremendous. Britnie Turner, everybody, a tremendous female entrepreneur. Thank you so much for being here, Britnie. Would love to meet you in person. Maybe we’ll have to have you out to a conference or something. Thank you so much for being on the show.
Britnie Turner: Thanks for having me, Stefan.
Stefan Aarnio: Hi, Stefan Aarnio here. I hope you enjoyed this episode of my podcast, Respect the Grind. Now, if you enjoyed this episode, I want to invite you to check out my book, Self-Made Confessions of a Twenty-Something Self-Made Millionaire. At age 22, I had just graduated from university. I had no cash to my name. I was a guitar teacher, broke, living at my mother’s house, and with $1200 in cash that I scraped together, got into my first real estate deal, and by age 28 and a half became a self-made millionaire through real estate and through business.
In this book, you’re going to find out how I did it, and how I built the foundations for building equity and cash in real estate and in business. If you want to get a copy, go to selfmadeconfessions.com/podcast, and you can get a special offer just for podcast listeners. Once again, that’s selfmadeconfessions.com/podcast, to get your special offer. I want you to remember, you are self-made. You are on a journey, and I salute you in the pursuit of your highest and greatest self. Respect the grind.