The Primitive Podcast: Rick Betenbough

Posted by The Prim Pack | September 21, 2020

The Primitive Podcast with Rick Betenbough

Even with business roots stemming all the way back to 1894, Drayton McLane never knew his life would unfold to reveal multiple successful businesses and ownership of the Houston Astros for 19 years. But life has a funny way of showing you how to grow if you’re ready. Listen now to hear more from Drayton McLane.


Kade Wilcox (00:00):

Hey guys, Kade here, host of The Primitive Podcast. Thanks for joining this week's episode with Rick Betenbough. Rick Betenbough and his father founded Betenbough Homes around 1992 and have grown it to be a significant home building company in all of West Texas. Just a really great conversation with him. Two things that really jumped out to me is when he talked about his role as a leader and what he sees his role there being, and then two, I really loved some of the things he shared about failure and how he learns from failure. So hope you enjoy this week's episode and thanks for listening.

Kade Wilcox (00:52):

I really appreciate you being here. I know you're busy and really appreciate the time that you are giving us on the podcast. So for those who don't know who Betenbough is why don't you tell us a bit about you, about your family, about your professional background and let's start there

Rick Betenbough (01:07):

Thanks Kade. It's a blessing to be here with you. Well, I have been in the home building business since 1992. Actually a little before that, but I used to be before that a long time ago in the software business, I flunked out of Texas Tech in 1982.

Kade Wilcox (01:27):

Before you were in software or after you were in software?

Rick Betenbough (01:31):

Before I was in software. If you don't go to class, turns out, your grades are going to be bad and they're going to invite you to do something else. I guess I'm just not an academic kind of a guy. So at the time my dad, Ron Betenbough had a real estate business here in Lubbock and had for 25 years before that. And he was busy going broke in fact, and finished that in 1984. He lost everything, had some apartments and motels and shopping centers and that kind of real estate and most of it was very highly leveraged. So he lost everything in 1984 and he ran away from home. He would say he ran away to California from here. And I was 19. He hated my mom, his wife of 21 years got divorced, so he really lost everything. And I was here in Lubbock again, just flunked out of Texas Tech.

Rick Betenbough (02:26)

And dad said, well, I guess you're on your own. Now he'd been paying for the college that I wasn't attending. And so I went and got a job, came to work for a software guy here in town, a local software company called Compushare. I have no idea why Dr. Marvin Krasnow gave me a job because academics were pretty important to him.

Kade Wilcox (02:47):

That wasn't your thing.

Rick Betenbough (02:47):

Yeah, that wasn't my thing. Obviously he invited me to give him a better effort than I gave Texas Tech University. That's a question he asked me, are you going to give me a better effort than you gave to Texas Tech University? Nobody ever really asked me that question. I just was wandering along. And that gave me an opportunity to say, you know, am I going to do that? Or am I just looking for a job? And I decided in that moment, I'm going to say yes to this. He's not going to give me a job if I don't say yes, but also I want to say yes because I'm going to give him a better effort. It's time for me to do something different.

Kade Wilcox (03:22):

Was that a conscious thing that you felt that moment? I really want to give life more than this?

Rick Betenbough (03:27):

I was just looking for a job, right? I flunked out and didn't have any other options. So I was looking for a job, but he was inviting me to do more than that. And it's a reminder to me that I should ask young men and women that I encounter that same question. Sometimes they just need to be asked that question. They're invited to give their best if they haven't been right. So I did and worked for him for five years. It was a blessing. I learned a ton. I always knew I was going to be in business for myself or in some way, because I love the marketplace. I grew up going to work with my dad. I worked for him during the summers, mowing lawns for his apartments and that kind of thing. And so I just loved what he did. I didn't even totally know what he did as a young man.

Rick Betenbough (04:07):

I just knew he talked to people and made deals. And it seemed like a fun thing. And so I wanted to do that at some point. And that opportunity came in about 1988. I built some homes because blocks were always my favorite toys as a kid. I like building stuff. So building some homes became an idea that I had and I built some homes. I got A blessing from the Lord and Dr. Lillian Chou, an oncologist here in Lubbock. It gave me an opportunity to build her some rent homes, 10 of them. She still has those 10 rent houses from all those years ago. And that got me in the building business. And dad was in California trying to figure out the next chapter of his life. And I said, hey, why don't you come back to Lubbock? And let's build some homes together, you sell them and I'll build. And that said, all right. And so in 1992, he moved back to Lubbock from San Diego, California.

Kade Wilcox (05:03):

And that's the origin story of Betenbough homes.

Rick Betenbough (05:05):

That's it. We started Betenbough Homes that sometime in April, we celebrate the anniversary around the middle of April. We don't know exactly what date, its one of those kinds of things. And so we started Betenbough Homes in 1992.

Kade Wilcox (05:26):

And obviously Betenbough is known now for just extremely rapid growth and is successful in every way from culture standpoint, people standpoint, mission and value standpoint, and just the sheer number of homes that you build. So when you started in 1992, what was the original vision? That's where it is now, but how long did it take before you realized that vision or did it just accidentally happen or what? Can you go through that journey from 1992 to now and what that looked like for you even personally?

Rick Betenbough (05:58):

That's a super cool question. Dad and I talk about this all the time, because really I built those 10 homes and I developed a system for trade relationships in which we don't take bids. We build a home on paper, all the costs are carefully calculated. And we invite trades: sheet rockers, framers, roofers to buy into that and to take the price we offer. And so you're going to build a discount into that also, because value is critical to this system that we have. We want to create value for people. In other words, you get more home than you paid for it. So that was my big idea in 1992. And dad loved that idea, but he added to our little new business this idea that we should honor God. Very specifically, we sat down and he said, I didn't dishonor God in my business life before this, but I don't think I overtly honored God. And I've been thinking about this. And if we had success, could we honor God? That's what he said to me exactly. And I didn't know what the heck he was talking about. I said, dad, what the heck are you talking about? He said I don't know even what I'm talking about, but maybe we can commit to this. Maybe it means we give money away to whatever God might lead us to do. Now, first I was going to have to get to know God, cause I didn't know anything about God at that time. I believe there was a God, but I sure didn't know anything about him. And I didn't know that dad knew anything about him. We went to church a lot, but we never actually knew much about God.

Rick Betenbough (07:39):

So I thought about it for a minute. And I remember thinking to myself, we could probably use all the help we could get. Maybe God could help us. I don't know. And so I agreed. I said, yes. And I think that was a critical, yes. God, I believe came into our business in that moment and really gave us favor. I remember telling dad somewhere in the middle in that early conversation, this is my business that he was joining. I knew I couldn't really go forward without him joining me. And I was really sad about that, but it had been mine before that. And I remember thinking and telling dad, I bet we could build 50 homes a year.

Rick Betenbough (08:29):

And he thought that was amazing. We thought that was an amazing vision. So that was our vision for that. This year in Lubbock, Midland and Odessa, and Amarillo will build 1350 homes this year.

Kade Wilcox (08:43):

Wow. How about that for some perspective. Dreaming big in 1992 was 50.

Rick Betenbough (08:48):

That was our little vision. Just even last week I said, aren't you glad God gave us his vision and not my vision. Remember my little bitty tiny vision? And I would have had no idea what I missed out on.

Kade Wilcox (09:07):

That's powerful. Obviously in any business, it's not a straight line from 1992 and your vision of 50, to 2020 and on track to do 1350. So at what point in y'alls business journey, did you really kind of tap into your kind of progressive growth cause you've grown aggressively every year for 20 plus years? Right?

Rick Betenbough (09:32):

Well, I think that the Lord meets you right where you are, and then you start going forward from there. We started having success immediately and really what happened was I engaged with God in that moment. I want to get to know you, Lord. I want to start talking to him, hear from him, study his Word, really getting to be part of his team, so to speak. We started having success immediately. We built 15 homes that year with only eight months left in that year. We closed 15 that year, 50 the next and 100 after the next year. So we were the largest builder in West Texas by the second year. We were profitable on the first day and every day since then praise the Lord.

Rick Betenbough (10:19):

And really it's been very counterintuitive, which sounds like God, right? It just doesn't work the way the marketplace thinks it works. I think one of the things that we started doing and started learning was, great people. God sends people to us and our leadership exists to help people find their highest potential. God made us all and our highest potential is what he says it is. And I believe as a leader, it's my job to help people find their highest and best use. You know, interestingly real estate is about that, right? Highest and best use. It's taking something that's not doing well, it's not it's highest and best use and converting it to that. Take an old building, convert it to its highest and best use, and it becomes more valuable. Right? And I think that applies to people, helping them to their highest and best use.

Rick Betenbough (11:20):

You know, in the early days I thought my leadership was for me to do something, create something, climb mountains, do this. And that was me trying to lead me and I needed to lead me in a different way. And God began to do that for me. He invited me to lead other people in a different way. We want to raise people up to their highest potential, even if that means, especially if that means not for us, they might leave our company or our enterprise and go on to something else. And I want a legacy of helping people do that.

Kade Wilcox (11:53):

That's really good. You really got into my first question, which was how you've seen your role as a leader throughout the years of your leadership. So at what point did that start to become really real to you? I even wrote down what you said, leadership exists to help people find their highest and best use. That's really powerful. What was your journey like getting there, from 1992 and you're trying to keep up with the chaos of a rapidly growing business and hiring and firing and financial decisions. So what was your journey of leadership to get to the point where you realized your role as a leader is to equip others?

Rick Betenbough (12:32):

Well, for me, that was somewhere in the early 2000s. Dad is a deal kind of a guy. He's a visionary leader. I'm the operational leader in our partnership. When dad was in business, he didn't have lots of employees. He didn't organize, it was just one deal to the next deal with a few partners. So this organizational thing was mine.

Kade Wilcox (12:59):

I think I'd get along with your dad. Like I love the dreaming and planning in this gaming. And then when you start getting into the details, I get desperate real quick.

Rick Betenbough (13:07):

And people need both.

Kade Wilcox (13:09):

Sure, absolutely.

Rick Betenbough (13:10):

And so that's what happens in a partnership where one of us is able to do that. So I was the organizational guy and I was really struggling mainly because I was selfish and ambitious for my own purposes. And really the Lord had to break me of that and invite me to invite some other people around me. This happened in the 2000s somewhere, maybe 2002. I don't remember when, but I really just started hearing from the Lord that I was to lift up a group around me. I already knew who they were and invited them into leadership and we would lead together. and it was no longer me leading them, and we're just going to go do this and we're going to go do that, but together, we're going to figure this out.

Rick Betenbough (13:50):

And over the years that has just become an incredible, amazing thing to give people territory and authority and mean it. Don't invade the territory you gave them, but go with them and go along with them and help them really conquer that territory and always invite them to give away territory to others. And that cascading style leadership, as we say, this is highly relational is an amazing catalyst. God wants us to create a flourishing for his people, all of them, everybody that's involved. And so my leadership in the marketplace is about creating flourishing for all the people around me. Great and amazing products and services for the customers, great experience. Cause we're in this new experiential economy, right? The experience is more important than the product and the way in which it's delivered is the most important thing. And so a great experience for customers and having a great experience for our employees that deliver those goods and services and experience to customers. In other words, for everybody. Including vendors and trade partners, and then slowly but surely, the Lord has widened our view. Everybody's included in this. How to help them flourish. And if we create a flourishing for everyone around us, then amazing things happen for everybody involved.

Kade Wilcox (15:17):

That's really powerful. Can you unpack practically what it looked like for you over the years to really empower the leaders around you? I do this podcast so I can learn. So I hope other people listen and enjoy it, but the best part about it is I get to learn. And so I would like you, if you're willing to be as pragmatic as you can about unpacking for me, when you realize you wanted to really help those around you lead, not just for your own good, but for the organization's good and their good would that practically look like? Did you start meeting with them three times a day? Was it title changes? Was it the way you made decisions within the organization? Throughout the years how have you practically helped those around you flourish in leadership. And then I loved what you said about that cascading style of leadership. So what does that practically look like for you?

Rick Betenbough (16:09):

Well, it starts first, like most things do, at the very bottom. I mean, you're in a disaster organizationally and from a leadership perspective, you're failing, failing, failing, failing, failing a lot. It's just not working well. And so that comes out of necessity and that's a marketplace style of leadership that is, I'm the leader, you're the followers. We're both working on this stuff together. Mostly I'm driving you, pushing you or pulling you, or based on different personality styles that look different. But it's mostly still me going somewhere and dragging everybody with me. And we had a shift away from that to God has given me a vision for something. And so we want to go there and we're going to go there together. And I'm going to invite you to be part of that. And in fact, I'm going to focus on you.

Rick Betenbough (17:04):

My mission is going to shift from what we're doing to you, to my team. I believe this is a powerful way for teams to thrive and become extremely fruitful in the marketplace or any organization today. And that is for the leader to determine that his or her job is actually the team and the job that you do is theirs to do. So I'm going to focus on you. And so what that looked like pretty practically for me was I'm going to start pouring into people around me instead of pouring all my energy into, let's go do this and y'all come along. I'm gonna start pouring into y'all and inviting y'all to do it. I'll go with you. I'll help you. And I'll encourage you. And this is a relational style. A leader is not in his office with the door closed or in her home, behind her computer, it's an engaged leader, a relational leader who's engaged closely with the people that are doing this work, whatever it is.

Rick Betenbough (18:05):

And so for us, we call this a relational style leadership. And it's a bit counterintuitive. If I empower people, if I lead people well, encourage them, and love them well, it turns out they'll do amazing things. They'll love others well. And so for me, a small team, my leadership team, my job is them. My job is not doing the stuff that we need to do. That's their job. My job is them. My job is to spend time with them, encourage them, lift them up, and make sure that they're making good decisions because we're going to do them together. I'm going to offer a confirming style of leadership alongside them.

Rick Betenbough (18:51):

So Cal Zant is the current president of Betenbough Homes. My job is not to be in his way. He's an amazing leader that God sent to me as a young man, an ex drug addict and alcoholic and IT guy leading our home building business. Remember I was an IT guy though so that's cool. So it's about really pouring into people. And so he's like a son to me. And so I have a relationship with him like that. And that started early by pouring into him and leading him in a very relational way, led to what we have now.

Kade Wilcox (19:32):

That's cool. Last question on this. I think I could spend the rest of the podcast here. Every leader on your leadership team has different personalities and different needs. I find myself having that desire, but not knowing what Heather needs versus what Jess needs or what Jess needs versus what Tim needs versus what Annie needs. So how did you facilitate that journey of knowing that this person needs this and wants this and this person needs it in this way. Is it just intuitively feeling it out or how'd you approach that?

Rick Betenbough (20:13):

Well initially, and even still sometimes the answer to that is poorly, right? I mean, what we tend to do, unfortunately, is to lead everyone the way we think we should be led or the way we need to be led with our personality and style. Instead of adjusting to them. We also think everybody on the team should look and think and be just like us. And that's a disaster. That's not a team, you know? And so diversity is critical and amazing. And collaboration is the right way to think about this. I've given Cal a lot of great ideas, but, Cal has given me a lot of great ideas and come up with a lot of amazing ideas, right? So he's very different than Carrie on my team. I mean, they couldn't be more different. And so it's about adjusting my style to them.

Rick Betenbough (21:06):

I find first I'm committed to a relational style of leadership. It's not an arm's length. You're over there. I'm over here. Do what I say, kind of leadership. Let's figure this out together. And first let's start with this. I want to get to know you. These guys are like my sons or my brothers. I know their kids' names. I babysit their kids, Holly and I have. We vacation with them. We know them well. We're very good friends. My best friends are these people, these leaders. Now don't mistake what I'm saying for advocation of authority. God has given me authority in this business. But he's invited me to share that authority appropriately, that territory with these other leaders and to go with them and progressively give them more and more territory and together always making sure that we're going the right way.

Rick Betenbough (22:05):

Just recently, Cal had a big idea that we start doing some multifamily builds. Some duplexes, and we've never done that ever. That's a brand new idea from him and he wasn't sure how I'd respond to it. When he came to me and I immediately saw he had thought through it. That's what happens with a leader who is given authority. He knew he could do that. He knew he needed to get my confirmation, my blessing, is maybe the right word for that, but I could give that quickly. And that has spun up and, and gone from just a little bit to a lot in a hurry. And that's an amazing fruit of this kind of leadership.

Kade Wilcox (22:49):

That's really awesome.

Rick Betenbough (22:50):

Because the truth is I was going to that in 2003, I was just going to die from the weight of trying to figure this out and doing it poorly and not leading with other people with that burden being shared by everybody in the collaborative style of leadership where you maintain authority.

Rick Betenbough (23:08):

I still have authority there that God has given me that he'll release me from that at some point. And I'll know when that is. I knew when it was time to give Cal the authority to be the president of Betenbough. He was 33 years old, I think at the time. And lots of people said you gave a 100 million dollar company to a 33 year old. And I said, well, no, God did. And it's worked out pretty good. The business has doubled and a little more in the five years that he's taken over. So that's either an amazing compliment to Cal or an amazing conviction of my leadership. But I love that. And I'm excited about that. And it doesn't diminish my leadership even a little bit. It's exciting.

Kade Wilcox (23:58):

I haven't met Cal, but his daughter Hattie and my daughter Selah are best friends. So they're in the same class at KPA and hanging out all the time. So as you're sitting here talking about it, I'm thinking it's really embarrassing that they've been friends I've never met Cal.

Rick Betenbough (24:18):

Well, that brings up a point as leaders in the marketplace. Can we work for years with people, lead people in fact very directly and not know anything about them. We're in this Facebook generation where we know lots and lots and lots of people and nothing about very many of them, except what they show us on Facebook, which is their best-of album. That's what Facebook is. If you don't know the spouse's name of the people you're leading, if you don't know their kids, if you don't know something's going on in their life right now, do you really know them? And if you don't, shouldn't you? And could we lead them if we don't love them and can we love them if we don't know them?

Kade Wilcox (25:00):

Yeah, that's good.

Rick Betenbough (25:01):

I mean, this was the shift for me, a big one after the leadership thing, I remember we always thought that for our business was to be God's ministry in the marketplace, it meant we made money because we were good at that. And we gave it away to other people. And the Lord started talking to us about our business itself being his ministry. And what did that mean? I remember talking to my wife, Holly, who loves people very easily and very well. She's just built like that. It's natural. God sent her to me to help me with that. And she has helped me with that a lot. And I remember she and I talking about this at one point, our leadership team was hearing the same thing. We need a different approach with our people. They're supposed to be our ministry. And that word is a mysterious word. Nobody knows what the crap it means. And it really just meant caring about them, knowing them, caring for them. Helping them rise to be their very best. And I remember thinking, I think the Lord wants me to love these people, but I don't think I do. And Holly said, well, that's going to be a problem. Maybe you're going to have to ask the Lord to change that in your heart. I'm a task-oriented guy. That's something that the Lord did have to change and that he has changed in my heart. And so it's an amazing thing to shift from worrying about all the things that need to be done to helping the people be strong enough and encouraged enough to go get all of the things that need to be done, done. That's a shift in leadership that is hard to explain. And it has amazing fruit.

Kade Wilcox (26:43):

That's really cool. Thanks for sharing all that. And it's really good stuff. Let's shift gears just a little bit. How have you approached or treated failure through your 20+ years of leadership?

Rick Betenbough (26:55):

Failure is the only real way that we learn. We really don't learn anything with success. We think we're cool. We're smart. It's going to work out every time now for us. That's what we learn from success. The truth is failure is the one and only place where we absolutely learn something. If we'll choose to make a different choice going forward. There's two parts to it. First we've got to acknowledge it as a failure and determine what should be different about the next attempt here. And then we have to forget about it. You know Brett Favre? He's my favorite quarterback. I'm showing my age now. One of the things I loved about him was he'd go out there and throw an interception and he'd be on the sideline for about one minute mad at himself.

Rick Betenbough (27:47):

And then he's going back out there and he believes in his heart that I'm going to throw a touchdown, the next one. And it might be another intersection he goes back to. That's the way I want to be. No matter how many interceptions I throw, I want to believe that the next pass can be a touchdown and go back out there. Now I might need to not be arrogant and make some adjustments to have a different outcome, but I need to forget about that and not let that weigh me down and wear me out.

Kade Wilcox (28:17):

That's good. Do you have a process in which you and your leadership team, discuss and document failure? That was a really good example and I love what you said about acknowledging and forgetting. A lot of people kind of camp out on it for a long time. But how have you done that in the context of a team?

Rick Betenbough (28:42):

Collaborative. Collaboration is the most amazing thing that we have at our disposal. God's kingdom is a team sport. It's about us collaborating together between us, we're likely to get it right. That even started early on with Rick and Ron Betenbough, very, very different people. I'm my father's son. So we both like Fritos and doughnuts and steaks and we think a lot alike in some ways, but we're also very different. And that's what made us a great team. In the early days, cuss and discuss and start out North pole and South pole and find our way to the right place in the middle, where the best possible decision can be made. Most of the time we're going to blow this in isolation. We're going to screw this up. Me by myself, I'm going to make some bad decisions. I tell Cal all the time, he has a team around him. I didn't just give him the job, I gave him a small team around him, the job. And I said, y'all do this together, like we've been doing it all these years. I didn't tell him to do something that we hadn't been doing. He knew what I meant. He knew what I was talking about. I said, and now when he says, well, what do you think about? I say, what does your team think about it?

Rick Betenbough (30:01):

Y'alls idea is always going to be better than your idea. Our idea is always going to be better than my idea. And we say, first thing we do is take an idea, a really good idea, and make it public right away to the group, and invite everybody before you've gone off and thought about it and cooked it up and married to it. And you come back with this thing that cannot be changed, that's completely baked. The best time to collaborate on a cake is when you're mixing the ingredients, not after it is baked. And so making ideas public with the group should weigh in on it, not too many, but just the right number that's gonna make for the right decision between us. We'll figure this out. That's what we believe. And so it's very collaborative. That's what that looks like.

Kade Wilcox (30:55):

That is really good.

Rick Betenbough (30:56):

I can trust Cal and his team went in moments maybe I couldn't trust Cal.

Kade Wilcox (31:02):

That's really good. How have you approached your own personal growth? You made it really clear that your style of leadership has been very relational and your desire to invest in other people. What have you done to make sure that you're the very best version of yourself so that you can then help equip and support others? What does that look like for you throughout your career?

Rick Betenbough (31:21):

Well, it's, it's kinda morphed. It looked like no development early on.That really didn't work too well. And then more than anything, collaborative development, again, really I've grown because of the people around me. Now that requires two things that are critical to this. Number one, I must first invite them into that accountability. I must have the humility to do that. And that's, what's missing from leadership in the marketplace in our political system and our government and our schools and our businesses and our churches. And in every facet of organization, there's too much arrogance and too much competition and not enough collaboration. I can't say how much I've learned from my wife, my dad, Cal, Carrie, Walter, the other leaders that are around me. We learn things together. We'll all go off and learn something from over here and over there. And then we share it together and it multiplies everyone's growth. You know, at some point you stop buying suits, you stop being able to conquer the next level of technology. I'm sort of the old guy now around the office but there's a lot of young people and they know a lot of things and my job is to be engaged with them. And then I can learn those things right back and still teach them some old things that are still true and powerful. But most of those things can be reinvented in such a way that they're more powerful than they ever were. Most great ideas have some root in the past, with a current innovation, with some vision for a future way that it could be. The largest real estate company or the largest hotelier in the world doesn't own any hotels. You know, that kind of thinking with Airbnb.

Kade Wilcox (33:32):

That’s really good. You've used the word collaborative a lot. Collaborative really in every level of your business. And it's been a powerful statement.

Rick Betenbough (34:07):

In fact in your life. Could we substitute collaborative for competitive? You know, I'm a pretty competitive guy. All the people that I know that work for us. In fact, one day, not too long ago, I discovered when I looked around, I realized we're very competitive, ambitious, but Lord has softened all of us and invited us to be more collaborative. Right. And boy has that worked out.

Kade Wilcox (34:37):

That's good.

Rick Betenbough (34:42):

That doesn't mean that I'm not competing with myself to be better. It means I'm not competing with you or someone else. That's not really the right way I believe.

Kade Wilcox (34:53):

Yeah, that's good. You've been surrounded by a lot of great leaders. You've built great leadership teams. You guys started the Kingdom At Work. And so you're around other organizations and other organizational leaders. So what are two to three marks of really great leaders that you've observed throughout the years that really jump out to you? When you think of these leaders that pop into your mind, whether they're in Betenbough or Kingdom At Work or whether other organizations that you've been fortunate to be around, what are two or three marks of really effective leaders that you've seen?

Rick Betenbough (35:29):

Well, number one has to be humility. Coachability might be another way to say it because I don't think I can be humble. Particularly if I say I'm humble, I'm probably not, right? What I can do is pursue humility. How about that? Let's think of it like that. What I should do is pursue humility. That means that in the moments when I'm not, because those moments will come, I will be coachable. Holly might say, that sounded really arrogant, Rick. I love you. But it sounded really arrogant. See, in that moment, I have a choice now, am I still pursuing humility? I wasn't being humble, but am I pursuing humility? So I'm going to renew my commitment to pursuing humility. I'm going to say, you're right.I appreciate that. And how could I do that differently or say that differently? That coachability, that pursuit of humility, is a game changer.

Rick Betenbough (36:23):

It's a deal breaker. In fact, God says in his Word that the only thing he stands against is arrogance or pride. Everything else he'll work at. He's not happy about lots of other things, but he's like, we can work through this, Rick. Pride I’m standing against. I'm going to let you die in whatever you're doing if you're going to be prideful about it. Humility and the absence thereof is the biggest disaster in the marketplace everywhere. Whether it be a President or a CEO or the senior pastor or a husband, it's a killer.

Kade Wilcox (37:03):

That's good. What other marks come to your mind? So humility is a really good one. What other marks come to you when you think of all the great leaders you've been around?

Rick Betenbough (37:14):

Courage. We need courage to do some tough stuff. If you're going to be in leadership, this just in, it's going to require some courage. You're going to have to do some things that you don't dig. Some things that are just not going to be very much fun, right? And courage is critical in that moment. To have that desire, willingness maybe is a better thing, I don't know about desire. It's about just in the moment I gotta go do this. I gotta go have this conversation with this person. I love them. And I want the best for them. So the best thing is not to ignore it, but in fact, to bring it to them gently and in the course of our relationship or whatever it is. Courage is going to be required.

Rick Betenbough (37:55):

We believe that right behind that is improvement. I'm always trying to improve things, myself, circumstances. We're dial twisters and knob flippers. And we break things that are working just to see if we can make them better. And when they don't, sometimes we have to go back to the original. You got to have the courage to say, let's try something different. And then you gotta have the courage if that didn't work out, to say, that didn't work out. That was dumb. Let's go quickly back to what we were doing or think about this in a different way. So we are not shy about changing things and we're not shy about apologizing and changing things back or changing again, whatever is necessary for improvement. This is stewardship. I must take what I have or am given. And instead of wanting more, I should do something with it and create something from it. We should be more resource oriented in our lives. What do we have that I'm not taking good care of, or is not it's highest and best use. And how can I change that? Constantly thinking about it that way.

Kade Wilcox (39:01):

That's good. We're almost done here. I got two more things. The first is what role has vision played in your role as a leader or maybe your observation of other leaders? What's your thoughts on the role of a leader as it relates to vision and seeing the future and setting people up for that future? What are your thoughts there?

Rick Betenbough (39:24):

For a senior leader, particularly in our organization, visionary skill is required. Are you interested in that? I mean, for me to break something that's working, I better have to have vision for that. Cause that works out more for us than it doesn't, that's the truth. Although there have been plenty of times when it didn't.

Kade Wilcox (39:47):

Yeah. You said earlier you're a real operator and into the details, how has the company started rapidly growing, which it did very early on, how did you practically step back from the doing and the details and the knob-turning as you referred to earlier?

Rick Betenbough (40:02):

Give real authority.

Kade Wilcox (40:04):

So give it away so that you have the space.

Rick Betenbough (40:05):

Sometimes that worked out, sometimes it didn't. But I can tell you that a big way to improve the opportunity for giving authority to someone and it working out is to go with them early on. Don't send them. Cal always says, you didn't toss me the keys and say, hope this works out. Good luck. I went with him. And we talked through things in the background for five years. And he progressively makes better and better and better decisions. And it comes to a place where sometimes I wonder how much he needs that anymore. But everybody needs encouragement. Confirmation and strengthening. And what I find is that is the way that goes.

Kade Wilcox (40:46):

That's good. So last thing, some years ago you started handing off leadership. You've talked a lot about Cal and others, and you started an organization called Kingdom At Work. So maybe give a little backstory on that and tell everyone what that is. And I'd just be curious even myself.

Rick Betenbough (41:05):

Probably for 15 years, people have been interested in what we were doing. They've heard about us out there somewhere. They didn't know exactly what it was and they would call us. Initially it was our home building operation. How are y'all being profitable? In 1998, 50% of the home builders in America went broke. 50,000 of them. And a lot of them were really, really, really smart. Some of them were multigenerational. We grew in that year, cause God gave us Midland and Odessa. He led us through a young man who was not a leader at the time to do that. And so the way we've been operating, which is under God's authority and very collaborative and very relational, these things that we've talked about, we got an opportunity to start sharing that with people. They would come visit when it happened a lot or we'd get requests for contact.

Rick Betenbough (42:00):

And so Kingdom at Work became this idea that we had been living for a long time. This came as I transitioned out of a really active operational role at Betenbough Homes. An opportunity came to share that with businesses outside of our own and just use our experience. This is what we've seen. At first, it was not very much about teaching somebody anything, we were just sharing what was going on with our deal. And very slowly, we began to develop the words and reasons this was happening. Is there something you can do differently that would change that? And what did we do? Cause sometimes we didn't even really know exactly what we had done or what had happened. We just were in the middle of it.

Rick Betenbough (42:46):

So Kingdom at Work is not a company. It's not an enterprise. It doesn't belong to us. It is just a collection of everything that God is showing us, that he showed us in the past, and that he's showing us right now. And it's going to change because he's going to show us something new in the future. And sharing that with other businesses so that they might unlock that in their own business. So we call it Kingdom at Work. You can go see it at We have a little podcast. We do workshops in Lubbock two or three times a year when there's not a pandemic going on. We're actually going to have one in October. Everybody's excited about that. We're going to gather together and we're going to talk about this stuff. And we do some coaching and we don't charge for that for the most part. If somebody's interested, we'd like to help them and walk with them and share everything that we have that God's shown us.

Kade Wilcox (43:42):

That's really, really cool. It's the first time I've ever met you, but the Betenbough story and all these things you're sharing in detail are things that even from a very outside perspective you can see. I've never been a customer. I don't know anyone on the inside. And it's really fun to hear you talk about these things in detail, because they are things people observe from the outside. And I only bring that up because I think it really marks you, your leadership, your team, the whole organization with a kind of a level of credibility and authenticity that what you see, and what you observe is what you then learn when you have the opportunity to see under the hood and see the details. So as a young aspiring leader, I really admire that what I've perceived to be true of you, is real. And in getting to hear you talk about the journey and the details has been really, really fun and encouraging for me.

Rick Betenbough (44:34):

That's nice. I appreciate that.

Kade Wilcox (44:34):

I really appreciate your time. And thanks for coming in and sharing your story and I wish you all the best moving forward.

Rick Betenbough (44:43):

Thanks. Same to you, my friend.

Kade Wilcox (44:44):

Yeah, I appreciate it.

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