Photography by Billy Surface

Meet the CEO: Shawn Todd

The founder and CEO of Todd Interests on the lessons he's learned.

Shawn Todd is living proof that even the most promising investments can be made better with a little help from your friends. When he founded Todd Interests in 1990, just five years after graduating from Baylor University, it was with the support of professional mentors who went beyond sharing their real estate expertise. With a free office, a borrowed receptionist, and faith in his business plan, Todd was able to build a flourishing real estate investment and development firm. Along the way, he has improved the core of Dallas, with projects such as One Dallas Center, a 30-story tower designed by I.M. Pei that has been redeveloped into 14 floors of corporate office space and 16 floors of luxury apartments, and 400 North Ervay, a former U.S. Post Office that’s now a marquee residential address. Todd says his motivation goes beyond shoring up the bottom line: “I want to be a good steward of the gifts I have been given and to use the platform I have to serve well those in my path.”

Age

52

First Job

Being a yard boy at 10 years old.

Other Careers Considered

When I first went to college, I thought I wanted to be a public relations major because I thought all you did was play golf and entertain people. I thought, ‘I’m perfect for that.’

Company Culture

We’re big on transparency in the office, and we’re big on accountability. I’ve found that there is wisdom in an abundance of counselors when they are giving you the right counsel. 

On the Horizon

One of the most exciting things at our firm is Robert McFarlane joining our company as president and partner. We’ve been in business for 25 years this year, and so that’s very exciting for our firm and our team. His leadership, his vision, his integrity—I am very thankful to be his partner.

Management Style

Side by side in the trenches.

Strategy for Success

I have people who are willing to speak truth to me, to help give me a proper perspective when I’m inclined to do the next deal or to buy the next toy. There are people who bring me back to where my true happiness is who are willing to ask me hard questions.

Personality Traits

I’m very passionate. I’m an encourager. I’ve learned to keep short accounts—meaning to forgive quickly and, more important, to seek forgiveness quickly.

Weaknesses

I push too hard. Also, I’m somewhat of a control freak.

Lessons Learned

I think we often define success by how many toys you have, how big your bank account is. But when I die, all that stuff goes back in the box and it doesn’t really provide any joy or true satisfaction.

Reading

I’m reading two books right now. I’m reading Outdoor Pastimes of an American Hunter, which was written by Theodore Roosevelt. It’s the personal journals of his hunting across the United States. The other is Malabar Farm by Louis Bromfield; it’s a classic.  

Comments