Lindsay Davis is the Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer of Spartan Invest, a real estate investment firm based in Birmingham, Alabama. Spartan Value Investors, the holding company for Spartan Invest, recently landed on Inc. 5000’s 2017 list of fastest growing private companies in America for the fourth year in a row. In her six years at Spartan, Lindsay has helped to generate a combined revenue of $16.3 million, and presides over $10 million in assets. With uncompromising integrity, exceptional intelligence and an extreme work ethic, she is able to motivate people from all cultures and walks of life by gracefully displaying compassion as well as hard-nosed business leadership.
My first job ever was…Domino’s Pizza at 15 – taking phone orders, helping delivery drivers, throwing the occasional pizza dough and coming home smelling like pizza every Friday and Saturday night.
I chose my career path because… Actually, my career path chose me. I never had a childhood dream of real estate. However, I always dreamed of success in business leadership, and I devoted countless hours and energy to pursuing that. I also strived for an entrepreneurial environment. I found all of this in Spartan Invest.
My proudest accomplishment is…My two children, Jackson, 3, and Addison, 1. They are the two greatest joys in my life. I am so proud to be their mother. That being said, I am also proud to have contributed to a work environment that allows women to flourish professionally while growing a family. At Spartan Invest, we work hard and sometimes put in long hours, but no matter what, family will always come first. To be a part of promoting that kind of culture and creating that type of work environment has been extremely rewarding.
My boldest move to date was…Leaving my cushiony corporate job (where promotions were standard, and pay was promising) for Spartan, a small startup surrounded by uncertainty. At the time, Spartan consisted of just the CEO, Clayton Mobley, and myself – the two of us working on our office, our company and our careers. We rotated between the two of us sleeping at the office, and it took years before we hired our first assistant.
I surprise people when I tell them…My age (32). Given the company and its level of growth, people tend to be surprised by how young both the CEO, who is 31, and I are.
My best advice to people starting their career is…Do not job jump. Longevity in a company shows loyalty and willingness to stick it out. Hiring for a small, growing company always meant the exact job descriptions might change week to week. Fearing one might jump ship is a real deterrent.
My best advice from a mentor was…Fake it until you make it.
I would tell my 20-year old self…Not to be worried about all the college-level extra curricular activities. I spent hours in a panic that my resume was not filled with sorority positions, volunteer opportunities and internship experiences like my classmates. In reality, I gained so much more life experience waiting tables and working two jobs through college. I don’t mean to discount these activities, as they are certainly valuable. I just wouldn’t place quite as much importance on them. Real work experience is so beneficial and truly invaluable, no matter the work.
My biggest setback was…When Spartan experienced a shift and changed directions. We started out only selling properties to owner occupants, but eventually we began selling to investor clients as well. Once we realized we needed to devote all our time and energy to the turnkey model, we had to let go of our previously successful company model. It took a real leap of faith, and that was certainly a challenge.
I overcame it by…Focusing on the hedgehog concept. Any Jim Collins fans out there will understand this concept – stick to what you do best and be the absolute best at it.
Work/life balance is…Great! In reality, my work/life balance fluctuates a bit, changing from week to week. Some weeks, I need to devote more hours to the office, and others, my family needs me more. While it constantly changes, I am grateful to have my husband as my support and a family friendly work environment.
If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know…That I absolutely love dressing up for Halloween. My family picks a theme for our costumes every year. Life is short – have a little fun!
I stay inspired by…Our company and our team’s ability to handle the hurdles. With our amazing growth over the last couple of years (including four consecutive years on the Inc. 5000 list), we’ve experienced our fair share of hurdles and challenges along the way—it comes with the territory. I am constantly inspired by our team’s ability and determination to face them head-on.
The future excites me because…Of its endless possibilities. When I first started with Spartan, our office was one 320-square-foot room. My desk was a pop-up white folding table and a lawn chair. In 5 years’ time, we have hired 15 employees and are on track to sell 200 turnkey properties this year. Everything about the future excites me because of our past.