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D. Scott Smith: business leader showcase

By getting to know how business leaders tick, we can relate and learn from their experiences to make each of us better leaders ourselves. This interview with D. Scott Smith is a page turner.



Tell us about yourself and your work.

Sure, my name is D. Scott Smith, I’m 36 years old and I focus on commercial real estate. I work in both the brokerage and in the Professor capacity. I’ve been doing real estate since 1996. Real Estate and Business is all I’ve even done and it’s probably the only thing I know how to do.

Walk us through a typical day in your life.

I get up anywhere from 7am-9am and spend some time with my son while I drink coffee and check emails and social sites. Then I make my way to the office, and bother my co-workers.

I make some emails up and do some research and have face to face meetings or prearranged phone calls, until around 3 or 4pm. Then, I usually take lunch and maybe grab another Starbucks. Maybe then answer some more texts and do some more market research. Then head home.

I have dinner with the family and discuss how our day went, spend some time together before putting the kid to bed, and, then head to my business center on our farm, where I do my creative thinking and reading, and make videos, and all that. I try and go to bed around 12 but sometimes it’s more like 2am.

Where were you raised? Where all have you lived?

Ok, well I was born in Southern Virginia in the Tidewater area and then moved to Gloucester, VA in 1990’s. I went to high school there. I move to Laurel, MD which is between Washington D.C. and Baltimore, MD. I did this because I have a sister in Maryland and so I had a quick commute to both cities.

Then after some jumping around, I moved to Baltimore, MD. Then when my son was born we moved from the city and now we live on a family farm in the countryside north of Baltimore. We took a barn and converted it into our home.

How did you get into your current career?

I was not afforded the luxury of college and I could not keep a job so I started my own company at age 19 right out of high school. I think about six months later I was homeless or I guess today it would be called having a mobile address. Anyway, so I saved up enough money to get my own place. That’s when I moved to Laurel, MD. I called up my friends from Gloucester, VA to come and work for me, so we had a revolving door operation. Some stayed, some left.

What did you do before your current career?

I played music in a bunch of punk rock bands. We went on tour, made some albums, and met a lot of people. I learned about survival and DIY through those days. Also about performing on stage and being in front of people. Then I just turned the DIY (Do It Yourself) theme into a business model.

At age 15, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Probably anything but grown up.

What is something unique that you do to balance work and life?

Ok wow, so this one is tough. I’ve always been the extreme type. So I had to basically have a break down and lose everything (side note: I’ve been a millionaire twice already and lost everything twice) until I was forced to learn that it’s really all about quality of life issues.

Without that, everything else is in vain. You can be rich but if your quality of life is poor so are you. So now I enjoy working from home, instead of my home being at work. To relieve stress I blow stuff up on the farm and have big parties with as many friends and family that want to come. My son is a lot like me so he makes me have that separation as well. But honestly, I’m not good at it. I have to stop myself sometimes and redirect.

What keeps you up at night?

I have ADD so pretty much anything. Sometimes my mind can’t shut off and I don’t sleep at all. I don’t worry about stuff that much. It’s more like, I get a thought in my head and I can’t let it go sometimes I just get up and start working on whatever y my thought is. Sometimes it’s what I have to do tomorrow, sometimes its complex leverage matrixes with tax delusion effects. Sometimes it’s just the fact that I can’t sleep is why I can’t sleep. It’s very annoying.

If you could spend one day in the life of another leader, who would it be?

There are so many and all for different reasons. I think the most common thread throughout them all is that they are all trailblazers in their own right. They stood alone and made a success of it. I don’t really care about how good you are at your job, or how many units you’ve sold. I want to know that you have heart and you have your own skin in the game and have something BIG at risk. That to me is a life worth living. Not that you can take someone else’s ideas and make some money with them. Who cares about that? I want to see your passion, what you stand for, manifest into something physical into your own creation.

I guess the ones that stand out the most, and who I would want to be, but for none other than to know what is going on (or went on) inside their mind: Walt Disney, Ron Paul, Michael Phelps, Amelia Earhart, The Beastie Boys, The Ramones, Donald Trump, Dave Ramsey, Henry Rollins, Jesus Christ, Bob Ward CCIM, Ben Cachiaras, Warren Buffett, and Jay Papasan. All of these people are brilliant and stand alone in my opinion. Now I don’t agree with all of them but I respect what they have done and how they have done it and their successes are unable to be duplicated.

What tools can you not live without?

Smart phones, Power Point Projectors, and my composition books. Also, dry erase boards and pretty much any book ever published.

What about you would most people not believe unless they knew you?

So this is going to sound kind of weird but my friends and family know this. I have big time social anxiety and would never leave the house if I could. I hate crowds and seriously become freaked out. Even out to dinner I have to be near a door or something. People and crowds just really freak me out. Some people like at conferences or something, mistake my anxieties for me having an attitude or like I’m too good to talk to people because I don’t hang around. It’s actually not that at all, I just really need to get out of there!

What inspirational quote has stuck with you the longest? Why?

Probably the longest is PMA (positive mental attitude) from Napoleon Hill. The most recent would be those Michael Jordan videos where he talks about all the times he has failed and that’s why he succeeds. And the Will Smith videos where he talks about work ethic. I think those three elements combined are the most inspirational ever.

Stay positive, don’t be afraid of failure, and work your ass off.

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  1. Jeff Brown

    September 4, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Amen brother — You’re no doubt an inspiration to more folks than you’ll ever know.

  2. jpapasan

    September 8, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Great profile on a great real estate leader. Thanks for the nod, Scott. I can say with absolute certainty that’s the first time I’ve been mentioned in such august company. Funny, I love that Henry Rollins is on that list. I had some formative high school and early college years slumming at the Antenna Club in Memphis. This was the age of cassette tapes and I usually had Black Flag in the mix.

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Business News

Too connected: FTC eyes Facebook antitrust lawsuit

(BUSINESS NEWS) Following other antitrust hearings, we’re expecting to hear more about the FTC’s antitrust lawsuit against Facebook, soon.



Facebook being crossed out by a stylus on a mobile device.

Facebook might be wishing it had kept the “dislike” button.

On September 15, the Wall Street Journal announced that the Federal Trade Commission was preparing a possible antitrust lawsuit against the social media titan. Although the FTC has not made an official decision on whether to pursue the case, sources familiar with the situation expect a determination will be made on the matter sometime before the end of 2020. Facebook and the FTC both declined to comment when asked about the story.

The news comes following a year-long investigation by the FTC that has looked into anti-competitive practices by the Menlo Park-based company. This past July, the United States House of Representatives held hearings in which they grilled the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook regarding their business practices. In August, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also testified in front of the FTC as part of the department’s antitrust probe into the organization.

The FTC seems to be especially interested in Facebook’s past acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram, which they believe may have been done to stifle competition. In internal emails sent between Zuckerberg and Facebook’s former CFO David Ebersman back in 2012, the 36-year-old seemed worried that the apps could eventually pose a threat to the social media conglomerate.

“These businesses are nascent but the networks established, the brands are already meaningful, and if they grow to a large scale the could be very disruptive to us,” Zuckerberg wrote to Ebersman, “Given that we think our own valuation is fairly aggressive and that we’re vulnerable in mobile, I’m curious if we should consider going after one or two of them.”

When Ebersman asked him to clarify the benefits of the acquisitions, Zuckerberg stated the purchases would neutralize a competitor while improving Facebook.

“One way of looking at this is that what we’re really buying is time. Even if some new competitors springs up, buying Instagram, Path, Foursquare, etc. now will give us a year or more to integrate their dynamics before anyone can get close to their scale again.” Zuckerberg said.

This isn’t the first time the FTC has investigated Facebook either. Last year the agency fined the company $5 billion for the mishandling of user’s personal information, the biggest penalty imposed by the federal government against a technology company. As a part of the settlement with the FTC in that case, Facebook also promised more comprehensive oversight of user data.

If the FTC does pursue an antitrust suit against Facebook, it could end up forcing the social media giant to spin off some of the companies it has acquired or place restrictions on how it does business. Considering how long it will take to file the litigation and prove the case in a courtroom, however, it seems that Zuckerberg will once again be “buying time.”

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Business News

What you need to know about the historic TikTok deal (for now)

(BUSINESS NEWS) No one really knows what’s happening, but the TikTok deal’s impact on business, US-China relations, and the open internet could be huge.



Male black hands holding app opening TikTok app.

So, maybe you’ve heard that Oracle and Walmart are buying TikTok for national security!

Um, not exactly.

Also, Trump banned TikTok!

Sort of? Maybe?

But then he said he approved the Oracle-Walmart-TikTok deal!

We guess?

The terms of the proposal seem to shift daily, if not hourly. The sheer number of contradictory statements from every player suggests no one really knows what’s going on.

Just one example: Trump said the deal included a $5 billion donation to a fund for education for American youth. TikTok parent ByteDance, said, “Say what now?”

Here’s what we think we know (as of this writing):

Oracle and Walmart would get a combined 20 percent stake in a new U.S.-based company called TikTok Global. Combine that with current US investors in China’s ByteDance, TikTok’s parent, that would give American interests 53 percent. European and other investors would have 11 percent. China would retain 36 percent. (On Saturday Trump said China would have no interests at all. But that does not jibe with the reporting on the deal.)

Oracle would host all user data on its cloud, where it is promising “security will be 100 percent” to keep data safe from China’s prying eyes. But reporting has differed on whether Oracle will get full access to TikTok’s code and AI algorithms. Without full control, skeptics say, Oracle could be little more than a hosting service, and potential security issues would remain unaddressed.

Walmart says they’re excited about their “potential investment and commercial agreements,” suggesting they may be exploring e-commerce opportunities in the app.

The US Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which is overseen by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, still has to approve any deal.

As for the TikTok “ban” – which isn’t really a ban because current users can keep it – the Commerce Department postponed the deadline for kicking TikTok off U.S. app stores to September 27, to give time for the deal to be hammered out. Never mind that it’s still not clear whether the U.S. government has authority to do that. Unsurprisingly, ByteDance says it doesn’t in a lawsuit filed September 18.

Whatever happens with the whiplash of the deal’s particulars, there are bigger issues in play.

According to business news site Quartz, moving data storage to Oracle mirrors what companies like Apple have done in China: Appease the Chinese government by allowing all data hosting to be inside China. A similar move could “mark the US, too, shifting from a more laissez-faire approach to user data, to a more sovereign one,” says China tech reporter Jane Li.

More obvious: Corporate sales and mergers are now part of the parrying between the U.S. and China, which adds a whole new playing field for negotiations among businesses.

In the meantime, TikTokkers keep TikTokking. White suburban moms continue to lip sync to rap songs in their kitchens. Gen Z continues to make fun of the president – and pretty much everything else.

And downloads of the app have skyrocketed.

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Business News

Hobby Lobby increases minimum wage, but how much is just to save face?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Are their efforts to raise their minimum wage to $17/hour sincere, or more about saving face after bungling pandemic concerns?



Hobby Lobby storefront

The arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby announced this week that they will be raising their minimum full-time wage to $17/hour starting October 1st. This decision makes them the latest big retailer to raise wages during the pandemic (Target raised their minimum wage to $15/hour about three months ago, and Walmart and Amazon have temporarily raised wages). The current minimum wage for Hobby Lobby employees is $15/hour, which was implemented in 2014.

While a $17 minimum wage is a big statement for the company (even a $15 minimum wage cannot be agreed upon on the federal level) – and it is no doubt a coveted wage for the majority of the working class – it’s difficult to not see this move as an attempt to regain public support of the company.

When the pandemic first began, Hobby Lobby – with more than 900 stores and 43,000 employees nationwide – refused to close their stores despite being deemed a nonessential business (subsequently, a Dallas judge accused the company of endangering public health).

In April, Hobby Lobby furloughed almost all store employees and the majority of corporate and distribution employees without notice. They also ended emergency leave pay and suspended the use of company-provided paid time off benefits for employees during the furloughs – a decision that was widely criticized by the public, although the company claims the reason for this was so that employees would be able to take full advantage of government handouts during their furlough.

However, the furloughs are not Hobby Lobby’s first moment under fire. The Oklahoma-based Christian company won a 2014 Supreme Court case – the same year they initially raised their minimum wage – that granted them the right to deny their female employees insurance coverage for contraceptives.

Also, Hobby Lobby settled a federal complaint in 2017 that accused them of purchasing upwards of 5,000 looted ancient Iraqi artifacts, smuggled through the United Arab Emirates and Israel – which is simultaneously strange, exploitative, and highly controversial.

Why does this all matter? While raising their minimum wage to $17 should be regarded as a step in the right direction regarding the overall treatment of employees (and, hopefully, $17 becomes the new standard), Hobby Lobby is not without reason to seek favorable public opinion, especially during a pandemic. Yes, we should be quick to condone the action of increasing minimum wage, but perhaps be a little skeptical when deeming a company “good” or “bad”.

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