C-Suite Excellence: an interview with Peter McKenzie

The below is taken from an interview with Peter McKenzie, CEO and Founder of Rincon Property Management in Ventura, California. 


My name is Peter McKenzie and I have been the CEO and founder of Rincon Property Management for more than a decade! 

Prior to becoming involved in rental real estate, I was a Fire Captain in Ventura County, California. I retired as a Fire Captain in 2022, I am still involved with the Ventura Fire Foundation on the board of directors.

I decided to focus full time on my property management business and the business has continued to grow exponentially over the last ten years. 


Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?  

A rental property owner had mistakenly left a box of holiday decorations, including a felt tree with sequins, in the attic of their property. The decorations had belonged to the owner's mother who was well-known and loved in the community. Upon finding the box in the attic, the current tenant reached out and asked to use the decorations to honor Nona's spirit, and was given permission by the owner.

The tenant reached back out a few days later to share that Nona's vintage Christmas decorations were amazing. The tenant shared: "Many of the ornaments are from the Shiny Brite company, which seemed like a sign. You see, we have a three year-old daughter named Lumina who has Down Syndrome and is a radiant light in our community. We received a custom neon sign reading 'Shine Bright' as a housewarming present. So we are delighted to decorate the house in honor of Nona. May her spirit Shine Bright and may you all have a Shiny Brite Holiday Season!"

The owner was so touched by their story and their sweet daughter, that they spoke with their family, and decided that the tenant should keep all of the decorations to add to their "Shine Bright" collection. 

This story was touching to all of us and has made a lasting impression! 


Can you please give us your favorite "Life Lesson Quote"? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life? 

“Just do something” is the quote that comes to mind. More often than not, the most important thing is that you make a decision and take action. It can be easy to slip into hyper-analyzing things, which ultimately paralyzes you. Taking action is what sets those who have realized success apart from those who are still in the idea stage. Mistakes are inevitable, and you won’t always make the right decisions. Learning from your experiences and allowing those experiences to inform your decisions in the future is essential. 


Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on your leadership style? Can you share a story or an example of that?  

The book is Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink. Once I started completely owning the outcomes of my decisions and stopped any patterns of blame, it made a profoundly positive impact on the company culture. 


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

The fact that we support our team, our clients, and empower each employee to consider and further their personal and professional growth through mentorship programs, incentive programs, monthly and quarterly check-ins where employees have the floor, and a personal and professional development group.

In the personal and professional development group we run at Rincon Property Management, it will come as no surprise that homebuying is at the forefront of many employees' goals. After only a few years after the genesis of the group, 62.5% of the members have successfully purchased a home. While some utilize their home as a primary residence, others have utilized top financial strategies such as house hacking. These efforts are supported through my (CEO) direct assistance in analyzing the financial benefits and outcomes alongside the employee, providing education to the employee and any partners included in the homebuying process, and the support and accountability the group provides each other. Seeing employees hit real-life milestones is a fun and rewarding experience. 


You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each? 
  • Not being afraid to take action. “We try it” is one of our core values. We have certainly faced situations where we tried something that ended up not being profitable or received by owners or tenants in the way we had initially intended. However, by empowering employees to “try it,” we find employees are more likely to engage in problem solving and proactive research.
  • Learning from people that came before me is a big one! The rental real estate community is smaller than you may think, and many mentors have been crucial to our success. In turn, we are always happy to counsel others who are trying to succeed within rental real estate. 
  • Being humble! Admitting when I didn't know something and seeking out a mentor to help guide me was a key piece of what helped Rincon Property Management scale. By admitting you aren’t sure, or don’t have all of the answers, you open the door to find resources with more experience and insight than you do. By working in a silo, you will likely run into issues that could have been easily avoided by networking and reaching out to industry leaders. 


Leadership often entails making difficult decisions or hard choices between two apparently good paths. Can you share a story with us about a hard decision or choice you had to make as a leader? 

The hardest choice I had to make was early on in my career. I found myself at a crossroads where I felt the best path forward was to extract myself from a bad business partnership. 

It became apparent that the person I started my company with was also the reason it wasn't thriving and growing like I knew it could. Navigating this business breakup in a way that did not harm the business and preserved the relationship with my friend took a lot of work and maturity. It wasn't until I made the hard decision to buy out my partner that my business truly thrived. A company needs a clear leader and having two leaders who had different styles and goals just didn't work.   


Most people think they have a pretty good idea of what a C-Suite executive does. But in just a few words can you explain what a  C-Level executive does that is different from the responsibilities of other leaders?

It's not at all as glamorous as one would think. There's a lot of weight that comes along with running a company and creating a positive company culture. The entire team is relying on you to keep the business healthy financially and culturally.  It's a lot of analysis of the unit economics of the business, and really understanding the drivers of your company.

Additionally, it is a lot of meetings with your team and leaders. You aren't “in the weeds” with day-to-day tasks, but rather, you are directing and architecting the work. In a lot of ways, this strategic, high-level work can be harder than doing the work yourself. 

Finally, being the CEO isn't as autonomous as one would think.  You still answer to people. Your customers and your team are two groups that expect alot from you.


What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a C-Suite executive? Can you explain what you mean?  

The stakes are high! It's not sitting around in a comfy office while everyone around you is scurrying about, catering to your every whim. 

My outlook is that the role is actually a service role to the rest of the company. You are responsible for making sure the team has all the resources they need to get the work done, including cash in the bank to keep operating.


What are the most common leadership mistakes you have seen C-Suite leaders make when they start leading a new team? What can be done to avoid those errors? 

A common leadership mistake I have seen C-Suite leaders make is not taking enough time to truly learn how the business operates and what kind of team you have in place to operate the company.  Often, new CEO’s are brought into effect, but if you don't learn how things work currently, it is harder to see effective and lasting change. If you slash and burn you just may be burning your best allies for change.


In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?

The most underestimated aspect of running a company is the effort that goes into juggling the competing interests fairly and equitably. You're not going to make everyone happy.  

Being frank with your team and explaining why you are doing the things you are doing goes a long way when getting buy-in from the team. Not everyone will agree with you and that's ok. However, everyone deserves to understand your intentions.


What are your “Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective C-Suite Executive”? If you can, please share a story or an example for each.
  • Being an active listener is essential! When employees feel heard (and actually are heard), they are often more likely to buy into alternative courses of action. When you don’t find space to listen to your employees, you may be lacking critical insight into aspects of the company. 
  • The ability to think strategically and focus on the big picture is a key piece of being in the C-Suite. Staying focused on company direction and overall strategy instead of potential day-to-day chaos can be difficult but is imperative. 
  • A starter mindset! You can’t succeed if you never start in the first place. By taking initiative and making decisions you own, you can begin to move things forward and learn from your mistakes. As a C-Suite Executive, you need to be a driving force within the company. 
  • Understanding your employees is an often overlooked piece of C-Suite work. It is crucial that you validate, empower, and listen to your employees when they bring you solutions, ideas to try, or problems they are facing. When you truly care about your employees, they will be able to tell! 
  • Being a psychic! Okay, not really. However, being able to anticipate future trends and strategize accordingly is very important. Things are always changing and you want your business to be at the forefront. As a timely example, we have found that AI implementations can improve user experience and have been the first out of our service area to begin utilizing AI. 

In your opinion, what are a few ways that executives can help to create a fantastic work culture? Can you share a story or an example?

The best way executives can help create an incredible work culture is by prioritizing their employees. As I shared earlier, our optional personal and professional development group has been an amazing way to invest in employees, connect with them outside of their typical work, and build a supportive environment. At Rincon Property Management, we hold these meetings during work hours so employees are not taking hours out of their personal time to participate. 

While not every company can create such a group, I highly encourage all C-Suite Executives to prioritize what the group accomplishes: building supportive team cultures, connecting with employees in new ways, and showing employees through tangible ways that you are excited in investing in their development whether it be in the role or the industry as a whole. 


You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

While many companies preach people-first mindsets. Since our industry is in property management, we are constantly revising things to improve our clients’ and tenants’ experience. 


How can our readers further follow you online?
    1. www.rinconmanagement.com 
    2. https://www.youtube.com/@rinconpropertymanagement
    3. https://www.facebook.com/rinconpm 
    4. https://www.instagram.com/rinconpropertymanagement/ 


Similar posts