Exclusive Interview with author "Stephen Nalley"
Stephen Nalley has a passion for business that is nothing less than inspiring. The release of his first book, Relentless Pursuit, outlines the methods he personally applies every day, encouraging his readers to think of them as a lifestyle. The foundations and principles found in the book all revolve around the theory of fervently
going after your goals with the intent of conquering them, as opposed to simply trying your best. He is bursting with authoritative spirit, and ready to share it with the world. Read on to follow his journey. and allow him to motivate you into a new life or “relentless pursuit.”
Tell us briefly about your background and business ventures.
I was born and raised in small rural town in Palatka, Florida that had a population of 7,000 people. I graduated from Palatka High School in 1987 in a graduating class of 41 students.
After graduating from High School, I enlisted in the United States Army as an Infantryman and attended Basic Training and Light Infantry School at Ft Benning, Ga. Upon graduation, I served with the 10th Mountain Division as a Commando and Light Infantry Squad Leader with the Special Troops Brigade. During my service, I deployed on numerous tactical deployments and attended Basic Training, Infantry School, Airborne School, Combat Leaders Course, Mountain Warfare School, Combat Lifesaver Course, Light Leaders Course, Jungle Operations Training Center, Primary Leadership Development Course and Joint Readiness Training. I was Honorably Discharged from active duty in November 1996.
When I arrived back to Florida, I dual enrolled at St Johns River Community College and the University of North Florida in an effort to take twice the normal course load to expedite my completion. During an average semester, I would take 21 to 24 credit hours per term (seven to eight classes). I earned my Bachelor of Science Degree in Healthcare Administration from the University of North Florida in less than two years and completed Masters and Doctorate Degrees in Business Administration from the University of Atlanta in less than three years. Over the span of 30 years, I have remained extremely active academically. I have earned a Law Degree from the Washington University School of Law (2019) and numerous Graduate certificates from Ivy League institutions like Cornell University (Hospitality Management & Leadership), Harvard University (Contract Law), Yale University (Negotiation), University of Pennsylvania (American Law & Intellectual Property) and Stanford University (Game Theory), just to name a few.
Upon the completion of my Doctorate Degree in Business Administration, I accepted a position as a Hospital Administrator at St Vincent’s Medical Center in Jacksonville, Florida as a Patient Access Manager over the emergency room. After a few years my passion guided me towards the newer emerging Biotech industry. I transitioned to a start-up company called ViroPharma as a Regional Sales Manager and absolutely loved it. So much so, I decided to start my own company called BioPointe, which was a consulting firm specializing in Sales Force Development for new drug launches. From here I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that all I ever wanted to be was an entrepreneur. From 2001 through today I have founded and/or partnered with over 100 ventures that have included everything from real estate investment companies to record labels. Black Briar Advisors, Black Briar Asset Management, Black Briar Hotel Group, Inner Circle Management, Inner Circle Capital, Nalley Music Entertainment, the 360 Group, Alpha Media, UND International, Breanna Bailey Investments, Hospitality Energy Consultants, Allied Staffing Solutions and Allied Parking Solutions just to name a few.
Over the past 20 years, I have mentored hundreds of people utilizing the foundations and principles that can be found in my book Relentless Pursuit, despite the fact that it had not been written yet. I always did this pro-bono and have tried for most of my career to have at least two clients at all times. I was very fortunate growing up to always have good mentors in my life and this has been my passion and way of paying it forward in a sense. I really enjoy working with Veteran’s who are transitioning to the civilian world and young inspiring college-aged adults who are looking to maximize their potential and get a competitive edge. Recently, I earned my Professional Certification as a Life Coach and Mentor from the International Association of Professions Career College and I have began taking on more clients on a for fee basis. However, I have not lost sight of why I do it. I continue to do pro-bono work for (two) selected clients at all times.
The majority of my day is spent as the Founder & Managing Partner of Black Briar Advisors which is a full-service Asset Management Organization that specializes in the asset & property management & disposition of distress hotel & resort assets. We are experts at solving problems to either increase the profitability of hotel assets or identify ways to convert or change the use of the real estate. We work with owners and investors to find viable solutions for all parties concerned. Our strength comes from having direct ownership of over $1B in real estate assets over the past 20 years and managing another $2B for others.
Relentless Pursuit is your first publication; why did you decide that NOW was the time to release your book.
Relentless Pursuit was indeed my first publication. As I stated above, I have been teaching these foundations and principles for over 20 years to others. It began with what I called “10 things that all successful people have in common and/or do every day.” This was written on one sheet of paper that I would give people when I would talk to them. In late 2018, I started to expand the list with more detail and theory and it grew to 10, 20, 30 pages etc. Around June 2019, I decided to write the book to be published. I already knew at that time that that I was going to begin increasing the number of clients that I mentor a month, and wanted a textbook to make more of an impact.
Has writing always been a passion?
This is a great question. I have always been passionate about working things out on paper. It is the method that I use to gain understanding and solve problems. I have two journals. One on my desk and one on my night stand. Over the past 20 years, I would say that there are at least 40 of these completed journals on my bookcase. I enjoy writing about how to maximize potential. I honestly believe that I have enough raw material to publish another 10 books, which I intend to do. My favorite subject is the concept of self-imposed limitation and overcoming adversity.
What is the significance of this title?
The title of the book is Relentless Pursuit. It is something that I have described since my days in the military. The definition of “Relentless” is constant and/or insistent. When we pursue something, we go after it with a level of focus and intensity. The foundation and principles that are in my book all revolve around the theory of going after your goals with the intent of conquering them as opposed to trying our best. When we relentlessly pursue something, we do not stop until we have achieved the desired outcome. We do not settle for best when best can be better. Lastly, I would say that everything that I have accomplished in my life is because I have been willing to make sacrifices and do what it is that I don’t want to do when I don’t want to do it the most. The days that we don’t feel like doing what we have to do are the most important. These are the days that we triple down.
Tell us about some of the themes and advice in your book.
Relentless Pursuit lays out the secret to success as knowing what you want, having a compelling reason why you want it and the discipline to sacrifice what we want right now for what it is that we really want later. We get there by aligning our actions with our goals and always being the most prepared person in the room without exception. No matter what our chosen profession is we need to become experts at selling ourselves and/or our idea and we do this through verbal and non-verbal communication. We are constantly seeking knowledge and becoming the master of our craft. Lastly, we need to be open minded and seek inspiration from all places. The foundations and principles of Relentless Pursuit are a lifestyle. It is a never-ending process that last the span of our life with the attempt to become the best person that we can possible be. Success not only occurs when preparation meets opportunity, but also when our compelling reason exceeds the adversity that we will face along our journey.
2020 was a hard year for everyone; many people found themselves in hard situations, living in fear and struggling to cope with unexpected loss and hardships. What advice would you give them?
I have actually been asked this question at least 50 times. I talk about this in the book, but everything about us starts with our foundation. As a country we have been through many challenges since our founding. Recently in my lifetime, we experienced 9-11 and the recession in 2006. Both of these events crushed our economy and had a major impact on all of our lives. Somehow, we found a way to get through these times through resilience. In many cases, we do not choose the adversity that we face, but we do get to chose how we face it. On the cover of my book there is a quote from me that says, “My only real talent is the fact that I can not be outworked.” I am a firm believer that there are times in life that we must face adversity not as a victim but as a fighter, which requires us to dig deep and rise above it. The only way that I have ever found to do this is to work harder. If that is not making a difference then I work even harder. The pandemic is out of our control. We did not create it and we can not solve it. The only thing that we can do is get up everyday and face it and continue to relentlessly pursue our goals. Just because it gets harder does not mean that it is not possible. The harder you work the luckier you get. The last thing that I will say is that we really do not have a choice. Quitting is not an option.
How have you adapted yourself to this new era, did you have to make big adjustments and pivot your business models due to Covid?
Just like everyone else, Covid provided new challenges that none of us have ever faced before. My core business is in the hotel & resort space. It is no mystery that this has been the hardest hit industry. We have witnessed a 350% reduction in occupancy and a $3.3T loss in International tourism. For us this resulted in the closing of all of our hotels. We went from a thriving company to a business plan that simply did not work. Just like many companies we had to step back and re-invent ourselves. We have always specialized in distressed real estate assets. This is where we have thrived. One of the things that we looked at was our significant experience in the Condominium and Renovation spaces. It is predicted that 40% of all hotels will be functionally obsolete by 2022 as a result of Covid-19. Another significant crisis that our country is facing is the lack of affordable housing. We saw a large opportunity and a way to kill two birds with one stone. The cost to develop a new apartment facility is approximately $100k per door. However, a hotel can be converted to micro-apartments for roughly $25k a door if you have the expertise in all of the phases, which we do. We also saw an opportunity where these newly refurbished units could be delivered to rents that also bundle utilities at an affordable rate that lower-income families can afford.
What are you working on now?
Black Briar Advisors is moving forward at a rapid pace in the hotel conversion space as well as working with owners and investors on workout strategies. As a writer, I am working on my second book, which is titled, How to Make Adversity Your B*tch. The book is a short book with five chapters and less than 120 pages. It focuses on strategies to not only face adversity, but also how to come out of it stronger than you were before. I am very excited about this project. Individually, I am really loving my life-coaching/mentoring business. At the moment I am full, but really enjoying the clients that I am working with. I am also building a model in which I can convert a hotel to do weekend retreats, somewhat of a boot camp for Relentless Pursuit, and other works as I complete them.
If you could leave our readers with one message - what would it be?
Everything begins by starting; and habits are formed by repetition. Accomplishing goals is easy. It is the discipline and sacrifice that is required that prevent most people from getting there. Relentless Pursuit was written with this in mind. I challenge anyone to read it, absorb it, and truly make an effort to stick to the principals and foundations and go out and try to fail…I don’t think that it would be possible.
For more information, visit https://stephennalley.me/