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“Human Nature Exists in Every Segment of Society” 5 Leadership Lessons with A. Donahue Baker

“Human nature exists in every segment of society so I wish I would have remembered don’t let people’s greed affect who you are. It never amazes me how short sighted some people are. Relationships are everything in this business and I would much rather decline to do business with someone than have a short term victory at the expense of my reputation.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing A. Donahue Baker. Mr. Baker is a CPA and Investor who helps his clients to create generational wealth using tax strategies and wealth building tactics. He has used these principles to help his clients build multi-million dollars businesses.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

Hi, thank you for giving me the opportunity to be here. My backstory started in the music industry as it was being reshaped by technology. Even though I was a Grammy nominated music producer my income was super inconsistent so I had to look for alternate ways to build wealth. I got my CPA license and started practicing. That professional led me to work with individuals that succeeded at creating wealth from ordinary professions. I met an entrepreneur that started with a $25k investment and he grew it into 3 dry cleaning businesses that each produced over $100k per year. I learned the value investing and real estate from him. That led me to investing in startup businesses and real estate. Today I am an entrepreneur, investor and real estate developer with a portfolio of over 400 units nationwide.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company

Sure, so part of my acquisition strategy when purchasing real estate is to look for undervalued assets. On this particular situation my team found a great 100 unit apartment complex that we put under contract. We needed a property manager so our team went on the hunt. We ended up finding a property manager that supposedly had a great reputation only to find out that they were really buyers in disguise trying to steal our deal. It’s funny because their subterfuge failed and as a result they missed out on an opportunity to do business in the future. I knew growing up that people will kill you for $10 but I guess for a few million they will try to kill you twice.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I think our company stands out because we have clearly defined goals. We have a consistent strategy and it works for us. We have been the best at educating and spurring that education into wealth creation. As a CPA I offer a unique skillset to clients. I give them wealth building tax strategies. I give them opportunities to build and scale small businesses and make them multi-million dollar businesses. That guidance is unique to every client but the value add really is accomplished by providing personalized services.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I have had mentors along the way and I still do some motivate me others teach me. I am constantly in a state of learning. I read and learn constantly every day. I am not afraid to take a class from someone that has a skill set that I want to develop. Some of my closest friends are people I originally met online. Some interest or passion bought us together and if the energy is right there is a connection.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I work with a lot of non profits and contribute my efforts to their causes. I work with Conscious Capitalism: a non-profit organization dedicated to enterprises and people who choose to follow a business strategy, in which they seek to benefit both human beings and the environment; Green Business Network: home to rising social and eco enterprises of building green and just economies; Social Venture Network: a network of socially responsible business leaders who are committed to creating a more just and sustainable world; and the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC): a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that advocates and lobbies for policy change at the state and federal level in support of a more sustainable economy. My mission now is really to reach people to show them the various ways you can create generational wealth and you can do so in a socially responsible way. That could be investing in a startup that has the potential to change the world in a positive way or buying a rental property and being conscious of the materials used with that property. I think especially millennials they are fixed on achieving fast results and many of them have achieved a lot fast but because they haven’t experienced a lot of the economic hardships of the gen Xers they don’t have a long term strategy that focuses on building generational wealth.

Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?

I have so many favorite books it’s really hard to pick just one. If I had to pick just one I would say Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill is probably my favorite. I have read and re-read it many times and I always seem to find something new in that book. It is chock full of practical advice that is really good business practice as well as good human practice.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Human nature exists in every segment of society so I wish I would have remembered don’t let people’s greed affect who you are. I already told the story above but it never amazes me how short sighted some people are. Relationships are everything in this business and I would much rather decline to do business with someone than have a short term victory at the expense of my reputation.
  2. I wish someone would have told me how to invest properly 20 years ago. Many of my strategies I had to learn through trial and error. Which is very costly compared to learning from the mistakes of others.
  3. I wish someone told me that no one knows it all. I used to be intimidated in my early real estate deals because I sat across the table from some very sophisticated negotiators. Because they were much older and more experienced and used that to intimidate but the easiest way to level the playing field is doing your due diligence, knowing your numbers, and admitting when you don’t know something. Acting like you understand something when you don’t, is a definite receipt for disaster.
  4. You really have to love the journey because if you don’t you will lose the will to add more value to the lives of others. When I started out I used to do it all. I wanted to show the world my skill set and add as much value as possible what I realized is I wasn’t as equally as passionate for all areas of the business. So I focus on areas I am super passionate about and delegate the rest.
  5. And finally I would say I wish someone would have told me to focus on social media more. I recall getting CD roms from Steve Case to open my AOL account that I still have today but I never really incorporated social media marketing into my daily business strategy until much later. Social media has the ability to connect the world and do it virtually for free. People like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs had tremendous vision and they literally changed the world sometimes you don’t know you are swimming in a sea of change until you end up on land.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)

There are many influential people out there that I would love to meet just to understand their perspective on the future. People like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are creators I love their stories because they risked a lot to build tremendous empires. However I am fascinated by people of all walks of life. I really enjoy meeting new people and hearing their stories, understanding their struggles and pleasures.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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If you would like to see the entire “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me” Series In Huffpost, ThriveGlobal, and Buzzfeed, click HERE.