A conversation about Charlotte corporate courage – The wrap-up

I started the conversations about corporate courage series because I wanted to know more about the lessons learned by local developers through adversity, how they got their inspiration, and see if the lessons they learned were similar.

I’m a huge fan of the book, The 4 C’s Formula, written by my mentor, Dan Sullivan. Sullivan writes about his experience coaching high-achieving entrepreneurs. These high achievers share common traits: Commitment, Courage, Capability and Confidence (hence the book’s title). I wanted to know more about how some of Charlotte’s most successful developers exhibited these traits.

The leaders I chose were gracious with their time and I’m thankful they were willing to share their insights. I also was appreciative of their candor. In talking with this diverse group, I was struck by some common themes: The value of long-term relationships, the importance of patience and perseverance, and the developer’s genuine desire to do the greater good for Charlotte.

The first C I talked about involved commitment. Clay Grubb and his team, for example, got their commitment for their 4601 Park Road project from their understanding of and belief in the surrounding neighborhood. They knew Montford Drive and what makes it work – the cool bars and popular restaurants and shopping.

What I call the “oh shit” moment came next, and everyone ran into it – that moment when doubt creeps in. I asked how they overcame any concerns. Tracy Dodson, for example, who is heading up the Rea Farms project, shared how her mentor, Johnny Harris, talked her through any concerns so she could figure out how to resolve issues that cropped up.

The topic of capability came next: How did the developers get the capability to do great stuff. People talked about the value of relationships and teamwork. Dodson spoke passionately about fostering leadership within her team, and she has benefited from the trust she built with former co-workers when she worked with the city of Charlotte. Gene Bodycott shared that Hugh McColl and Ed Crutchfield took time to meet with him and offer advice when he was an unknown architect. What an incredible opportunity! Lat W. Purser III worked closely with a team that included a trusted architect and banker to develop Matthew’s Station. Peter Pappas worked with a team of multi-generational developers in town to structure a complicated and risky deal that became Phillips Place. And Ben Collins, Regional Director at Crescent Communities, and his signature multi-family development Crescent Dilworth, illustrated the good that can come when you work with stakeholders, even those with whom you don’t have an obligation. Using a consensus approach he and his team included neighborhood stakeholders and others throughout the process, resulting in a better project that incorporates the feel of the community in its design.

Confidence is the final C we discussed. This looks at how people take what they’ve learned to go on and do bigger and better things. Scott McLaren exemplifies this trait. He rolled into town as a newcomer and was able to develop a Publix grocery store in Ballantyne. From there, he went on to develop more complex Publix retail projects in the area, and his team is now eyeing new opportunity around town.

When writing this series, I was reminded of the huge personal and financial risks that developers take on everyday as they embark on a new project to create value for the community, their partners and themselves. I think people don’t always realize the risks being undertaken. Commercial real estate types sometimes carry the burden of a bad reputation created by others in the industry – the notion that they develop to better their egos at the cost of community, or that they focus entirely on the profit at the expense of people. The leaders I spoke with are passionate about their people and the impact their projects are leaving, and they care deeply about their communities.

In all, the 4Cs rang true for everyone I spoke with. This process of commitment, courage, capability and confidence is something all people can embrace, and it was fascinating for me to see how it applies to the development community around us.

I’ve attended The Strategic Coach with Dan Sullivan for over a decade. If you would like to learn more about it, feel free to reach-out to me or go to their website at Thanks in large part to Sullivan’s coaching, Cardinal Partners has been able to thrive since it started in 2005 by being an active advocate for it’s clients who seek clarity to complex commercial real estate transactions.

Real estate transactions can be fraught with frustration and pitfalls.

Sometimes the hardest part turns out to be working with your broker, the person who is supposed to help you through the complexities. Veteran commercial real estate broker and client advisor John Culbertson discovered that brokers’ interests aren’t always aligned with those of their clients. He realized there was a better way to advocate for clients and get the deal done.


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