Meet David Belman:
David is a second generation home builder, a real estate broker realtor. He served as past president of the Metropolitan Builders Association and past president of the Wisconsin Builders Association, as well as a director at the National Association of homebuilders. David has won numerous industry awards, including the 2020 Emerging Leader Waukesha County, 2017 Waukesha Freeman Citizen of the Year and his firm has won the Top Choice Award for Best Home Builder for six years in a row.
I keep hearing about Operation Finally Home, could you tell us a bit about it?
Sure, I basically was at a builder Show in Las Vegas of all places. One of my suppliers offered to take me to a concert which was a benefit concert for veterans and I learned about a veteran that lost his legs in the war. His vehicle ran over an IED and his legs were crushed inside the vehicle and he had to pull his mangled legs from the wreckage. The vehicle was on fire, and the ammunition inside the vehicle was gonna blow up the whole vehicle so he used mangled legs to put the fire out which saved his whole battalion. He had just enough strength to pull himself out of the vehicle before he passed out and of course, he had to have his legs amputated. This is a guy who was going to serve his entire life in the military and that was taken away from them. So you've got a guy that's 30 or whatever that now is handicapped, has no career option at this point, dealing with depression, all sorts of things. This organization came along, found him and gave him a brand new, completely free home which totally changed his life. I just thought that was the most incredible thing. He was there at the event and I got to meet them. I was like, "man, I want to be a part of this, I want to be able to do this kind of thing." So I got involved and brought it to Wisconsin almost seven years ago. I was the first builder to commit to doing one here in Wisconsin, and I've done six homes already and I'm planning on doing my seventh one. It's been super gratifying and these are all great people. I never realized how difficult it is for veterans to return back, especially if they have injuries so this is one way to really help in a big way and make a big difference.
What new things are you working on right now?
I'm actually in the process of writing a book all about leadership which will come out into February. So it's leadership growth hacks for developing professionals and anyone that wants to improve their leadership skills. I've held a lot of leadership positions over the years and I've been compiling ideas and notes which I'm excited to get out there and share with people some of the tips that I've created and lessons that I've learned over the years.
Obviously Young Guns is something major on the horizon as well, do you want to talk about that a little bit?
Young guns is something that was an opportunity that was given, partly because of the operation Finally Home stuff. I had met Paul Neuberger who had seen some of the things I was doing, and we had a conversation because they do some charitable work. I was explaining how our charity works and then then his insurance company did some things for our cause. Later he reached out to me a couple months later and said, "Hey, I've got this really big idea and I would like you to be a part of it." The idea was to put on a really killer business development conference and he wanted me to speak. So we had some conversations, and it evolved into the Young Guns brand which we became business partners for along with Andy Wines. It went from being a conference to now, we've got an online show, we have quarterly events and some other things in the works. We have our first summit November 12th and we have 2 really great keynote speakers. The first speaker is Ryan Campbell who was the youngest gentleman to fly around the world. Unfortunately, after that completed he was flying and he actually crashed on a takeoff and he became paralyzed. He worked very hard in rehab, and he actually willed himself to be able to walk again. So that's an amazing and inspirational story that we can't wait to have him share. Then we have Brandy Holloway who has another interesting story where she created own business which in her words flamed out. She basically rose from the ashes which is her motto of being a Phoenix. We have some panels that we will be doing as well including one that's talking about businesses that are crushing it during COVID which will be talking about different models and things that people are doing that are succeeding right now, when a lot of companies are having a hard time.
Can you share with our listeners one of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you've had?
Yeah, I think I think my best one ties in with my Operation Finally Home Story at the conference in Vegas. For the first decade of my career I was in sales, and I sold a lot of homes, but I didn't really do a lot of networking. I started to get more involved in organizations especially when I went to that builder show out of state I decided to meet people and learn as much as I can. That was one of those opportunities where it wasn't something I would normally do is kind of outside of my comfort zone. I went and did it and it's completely changed my life. They always say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but not this. This definitely came back and it was a good thing. I think that's probably my most successful networking story because it's created so many new friendships, new opportunities, and connections not only locally here, but even around the country. It's great to have those connections and those friends that you can work together on a common goal and help each other out.
How do you stay in front of and best nurture relationships in your network?
I think it's a combination of using the tools that are out there like social media platforms and sharing what you're doing to let your network know what you're involved in and what you're working on. People like to do business with people they know, like, and trust so letting them know who you are, and being there for them is important. I also think it's important still to have that in person connection, and they kind of go hand in hand. Maybe there's somebody you're intrigued by because of what they're posting or their content. I encourage people to reach out to those folks and try to get to know them a little bit. Sometimes it works the other way where you meet somebody in person, connect online, learn more about them online, and grow the relationship that way. So I see it as a 2 way street.
Do you find more value in digital networking or traditional networking?
I guess I'm a little old school that I still like face to face. My closest connections are people that I've actually met so I think at the end of the day I still prefer that. However, you definitely have to be able to supplement that with social media and you should be connecting on social media with everybody that you come across and work with. But there's just nothing quite like looking someone in the eye and shaking your hand and getting to know him, or having a common experience with them. That creates a bond that's stronger than anything you can do on social media.
If you could go back to your 20 year old self, what would you tell yourself to do more of, less of, or differently with regards to your professional career?
When I did the Young Guns speech, I talked a little bit about this and I think this is when my career really changed. I always worked hard, I was putting a lot of hours, but didn't seem like I was going the direction I wanted to. I met a speaker at an event that I was at, and he talked about his legacy and it really got me thinking. He said, "You've got to think about your legacy." I took it to the next step and I said, "what would somebody say about me when I'm gone?" I thought about it and didn't know if I liked the answer at the time which really made me shift my thinking about a bigger picture. When I started to use that mindset, I started making decisions very differently. That's kind of how I started getting involved with Operation Finally Home and how I started giving back into the industry. Now I'm changing people's lives and building a roof over their head which is the largest investment they're gonna make in their life. It took our higher level of importance and it allowed me to see more opportunities that I didn't see before. It really changed my perspective from just saying, "do this" or "do that" to instead looking at the bigger picture and understanding that you only get one life. So do what you want to do and don't be afraid to try something or do something.
Who would be the one person that you'd love to connect with?
I've got to think big and it would be really cool to meet somebody like a Tony Robbins, or a Simon Sinek. I think those guys are just really deep, interesting people and I think given this day and age there's definitely a way I could do that. I look at some of the stuff we're doing with Young Guns, and maybe that'll grow and give us that opportunity to work with one of those folks. There's always a way to meet somebody and I've had some kind of cool opportunities. I actually sat in the room with Paul Ryan once and ran a meeting when he was speaker of the house. So you never know who you will connect with and what's going to happen. The only way to make it happen is to be intentional and go for it!
Do you have any final word or advice off for our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Always be learning is a big one. As far as growing your network, always be willing to put yourself out there and ask questions. Also be willing to give and be willing to help others first so when you do need something it becomes a lot easier to ask.
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