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The CXO Time

Stephen Nalley

Effective leadership in the real estate industry demands a strategic, inclusive, and thoughtful approach. This multifaceted leadership style not only drives success in transactions but also establishes a resilient foundation for growth and positive industry impact. Stephen Nalley’s leadership style is characterized by this approach. He navigates the complexities of decision-making with a clear focus on well-considered choices aligned with organizational goals. By defining objectives and gathering diverse perspectives, Stephen ensures that decisions are not only data-driven but also incorporate qualitative insights from team members and stakeholders. His commitment to transparency and effective communication is evident in the way he articulates clear visions, negotiates buy-ins, and maintains team morale during change processes.

Stephen’s Journey from the Military to Real Estate Entrepreneurship

Serving as a light infantry squad leader with the 10th Mountain Division laid the groundwork for principles that continue to guide Stephen in both life and business. Post-military life saw his determination shine as he pursued higher education while juggling full-time work across various industries. Graduating with a Bachelor’s in Healthcare Administration from the University of North Florida, he furthered his academic journey with an MBA and DBA from the University of Atlanta.

Embarking on a career, Stephen entered the healthcare sector as the Patient Access Services Supervisor at St. Vincent’s Medical Center. However, his trajectory shifted when he delved into the biotech industry as a regional sales manager for ViroPhara. It was here that he encountered Ocean Waters, a real estate investment company, capturing his interest and leading him to assume the role of vice president. Under the mentorship of Ocean Waters’ owners, Stephen’s proficiency grew, propelling him to the position of Chief Operating Officer for a $1.6 billion real estate concern within just two years. In 2005, seizing an opportunity, Stephen co-founded Inner Circle, a comprehensive real estate company overseeing 11 hotel and resort assets, along with residential, office, and restaurant components.

Fast forward to 2020, and amidst the challenges posed by the pandemic, Stephen founded Black Briar Advisors. This venture was born out of a necessity to address the unique problems stemming from financial distress in the hotel and resort industry. His focus on repositioning and repurposing assets showcased Stephen’s adaptability in the face of evolving market conditions.

Overcoming Challenges and the Journey to Professional Growth


In the pursuit of success, everyone encounters obstacles along the way. Stephen, reflecting on his career journey, acknowledges facing numerous challenges that have profoundly influenced his professional path. One notable hurdle involved adapting to the swift changes in technology. The constant evolution demanded ongoing learning and flexibility, posing a continuous process of growth and adaptation rather than a one-time challenge.

Another significant challenge came in leading and instigating change within organizations that were resistant to it. Persuading teams to embrace new methods or overhaul legacy systems required a deep understanding of change management, effective communication skills, and considerable patience. It became a trial of Stephen’s ability to articulate a clear vision, negotiate buy-ins, and maintain team morale in the face of resistance. Achieving a balance between professional aspirations and personal commitments posed an enduring challenge for Stephen. Navigating the demands of a career while prioritizing personal well-being and fulfilling responsibilities outside of work demanded meticulous time management, setting clear boundaries, and fostering resilience.

Successfully overcoming these challenges was a product of Stephen’s perseverance, adaptability, and commitment to personal and professional development. Each obstacle brought valuable lessons and opportunities for growth, molding him into a more resilient and versatile professional.

Cultivating a Positive Work Environment: Stephen’s Team Approach

In an effort to create a positive and productive work atmosphere, Stephen employs a well-rounded strategy focused on communication, recognition, and growth. He places importance on open and transparent communication. Regular check-ins and team meetings provide a platform for everyone to freely express ideas, concerns, and feedback, fostering a culture of trust and inclusivity. Secondly, Stephen emphasizes the importance of recognizing and celebrating achievements. Whether through formal programs, shout-outs in meetings, or simple thank-you notes, acknowledging individual and team successes significantly boosts morale and motivation. Thirdly, the spotlight is on personal and professional development. Encouraging team members to seek learning opportunities, be they workshops, courses, or conferences, is a key aspect. Stephen ensures each team member has a clear career path, understanding how their role contributes to broader organizational goals.

Creating a supportive environment that respects work-life balance is fourth on the agenda. Stephen recognizes that a happy and well-balanced team is a productive one, incorporating flexibility in work arrangements, encouraging time off when needed, and ensuring a reasonable workload. He leads by example. Maintaining a positive attitude, approachability, and a strong work ethic, he believes a leader’s behavior sets the team tone. Mindful of the culture he cultivates through his actions, Stephen aims to create an environment where team members feel valued, supported, and inspired to deliver their best.

Guiding Principles and Path to a Purposeful Life

At the heart of Stephen’s actions and decisions lies a commitment to integrity and honesty. Whether navigating personal relationships or professional partnerships, he strives to be transparent, truthful, and ethical, fostering trust and respect in all interactions. He is a steadfast believer in continuous learning and growth, and he sees life as a lifelong journey of development. Committed to expanding his knowledge and skills, staying curious, and embracing new ideas, this principle not only propels his professional journey but also enriches his personal life, making it more fulfilling and interesting.

Placing great importance on empathy and understanding, Stephen values diverse perspectives and experiences, fostering meaningful connections and collaborations. Whether within personal circles or the workplace, this approach strengthens relationships. By embracing challenges as opportunities to learn and grow, he embodies resilience. Maintaining a positive outlook and persevering towards goals, he navigates through difficult times with determination.

Stephen strives for a balance between personal life and professional responsibilities. Prioritizing well-being, encompassing physical health, mental health, and relationships, ensures peak performance across all areas of life. With a key aspiration to make a positive impact in the lives of others and communities, he actively contributes through both professional work and personal engagements. Seeking to leave things better than he found them, he aligns actions with the goal of creating a positive ripple effect. These principles and aspirations serve as Stephen’s compass, guiding his actions and decisions and leading him towards a purposeful and fulfilling life.

Approach to Professional Development

Stephen emphasizes the importance of staying informed about industry trends and advancements to maintain a competitive edge. Employing a pragmatic approach, he utilizes various strategies to ensure a consistent awareness of the latest developments. Continuous education is a cornerstone of his strategy. Enrolling in courses, workshops, and webinars offered by accredited institutions and industry leaders not only imparts formal knowledge about the latest technologies but also creates opportunities for valuable networking with peers.

Actively participating in industry-specific events, conferences, and seminars is another key element of Stephen’s approach. Networking with professionals provides insights into real-world challenges and solutions, offering a broader perspective on how different organizations are adapting to change. Subscribing to key industry journals, magazines, and online portals is an important part of Stephen’s strategy. Regular reading of articles, reports, and case studies helps him stay informed about the latest trends, research findings, and expert opinions. By harmonizing these strategies, Stephen not only remains aware of the latest industry trends and advancements but also possesses the ability to evaluate and apply them effectively in his professional role.

Black Briar Advisors: Change for Tomorrow’s Success

Black Briar Advisors is a company in constant evolution, always attuned to the needs of its customers and clients. Specializing in the repositioning and turnaround of distressed real estate assets, the company’s core expertise lies in transforming challenges into opportunities. While the goal is not merely to grow in size, Black Briar Advisors remains committed to enhancing its capabilities to deliver outcomes that bring value to customers. The focus lies on building strong leadership within the organization and preparing to meet the challenges that tomorrow might bring.

Black Briar Advisors’ strength lies in its flexibility and adaptability. The company thrives in changing environments, turning challenges into stepping stones for growth. This adaptability positions the company well for the future, ensuring it remains relevant and effective in meeting the evolving needs of its clients. The company is not just looking ahead but is strategically positioned to embrace the opportunities and demands of tomorrow. As it continues to evolve, Black Briar Advisors remains dedicated to its mission of delivering valuable outcomes for its customers while navigating the ever-changing real estate landscape.