Good Founders Will Be Terrible CEOs (If They Don’t Have These Skills)

By: Frank Roessler

When we talk about founders, we tend to imply an “and” at the end of the title. A founder isn’t just the person who came up with an idea for a new business — we also expect them to be its chief executive, president, or public face. We assume that after an entrepreneur dedicates their time and energy to starting a venture, they’ll want to take the lead on sailing it into profitability. The apparent connection between founder and CEO is so strong that on some level, we even expect the skills that make founders so successful in the earliest days of their businesses to translate seamlessly into their post-founding leadership efforts.

As someone who has been both a founder and president, I can tell you definitively — that assumption is off-base.

There is an enormous difference between founding a company and leading one. The two require entirely different skill sets; to be completely honest, I’m not at all surprised that some entrepreneurs prefer to focus on one area or the other. Those who choose to found and lead a company, as I did, usually have to undergo a difficult transition.

Here’s the issue — when you decide to establish a business, you’re essentially starting on a creative and individually-driven mission. You aren’t responsible for an extensive employee base, you don’t need to manage multiple departments, and you don’t have a company to lose (yet). You have an idea, and if you put in a tremendous amount of effort and maneuvering, you have a shot at bringing it to market as a reality.

As startup culture commentator Michal Bohanes describes the transition in an article for Forbes: “Once a business idea takes root and a company starts growing, the main priority isn’t being an entrepreneur but instead becoming a manager. It’s taking care of the mundanities of running a business: Hiring, managing people, quality control, finance, customer service etc.”

When a business needs a CEO, the entrepreneur’s work as a founder is all but done. They don’t need the individual drive or sheer creativity that pushed them to success as an independent entrepreneur anymore — instead, they need to have the charisma to articulate a vision, the operative skills to build a strong organization, and the strategic business planning abilities to set a course towards success.

I’ll give a personal example. When I started Ashcroft Capital, I did so because I saw an opportunity to create a firm that could take a fiduciary approach to the acquisition and management of multifamily real estate investment opportunities across the United States. It took time, resources, and more than a few sleepless nights, but I managed to make my idea a reality and become a successful founder. By the time that I took on the role as Ashcroft’s president, I thought I had made it through the hardest part of the entrepreneurial process and could rely on the skills I’d honed as a founder to carry me as a company leader.

As it turns out, however, the transition from founder to president was more complex than I had ever anticipated.

You see, it’s all too easy to develop tunnel vision during the founding process. While I was aware during those early stages that I would eventually need to shift into an executive role and act as a team leader, I was more focused on what I had to accomplish as an individual founder to build the firm. As I began to take on more leadership responsibilities, however, I realized that being successful as an entrepreneur-founder and doing well as an entrepreneur-president required two very different and distinct skill sets.

It’s a heck of a transition.

Today, I have the “and” in my title. I currently stand as Ashcroft Capital’s Founder and Managing Partner. Here are a few pointers that might, from my own experience, help other entrepreneurs successfully add the conjunction to theirs.

Live in a Learning Mindset

The shift into executive leadership has a steep learning curve, especially for first-time founders. They need to be humble enough to put their preconceptions about the role and its requirements aside and focus on learning more about what the company needs from them. Listening to industry veterans and advisors is a necessity, especially if a founder doesn’t have prior leadership experience.

Learning to be humble enough to listen and accept suggestions, however, can be difficult for founders. During the entrepreneurial process, being stubborn and overconfident is almost a requirement. A founder’s assurance empowers them to build a business even in the face of criticism and adversity — and then holds them back from being effective leaders after the company is established. Entrepreneurs need to know when to shift gears and let down their founder-era defenses.

As CEO Jeff Booth noted of his own experience with what he calls the arrogance-humility cycle, “It takes overconfidence to stay the course through adversity but a humble mind to evolve and iterate. How, exactly, do you know when it’s the right time for each? The moment where success is knocking down your door and everyone starts telling you that you’re right—that’s the time to get humble, fast.”

Good leaders can’t be intractable founders; if you want to succeed, accept that you don’t have all of the answers and open yourself to learning.

Hire the Best People You Can and Listen to Them

I like to say that it’s easy to lead when the people around you are smart and talented — but you need to be in a position to listen. It can be tempting for founders to micromanage or hover over every business decision or staff action like a parent behind a toddler, worried that a single wrong decision will topple the company. Founders need to hire the best people they can and learn to listen to them. Once they do, they will gain the confidence they need to step back and trust in their team.

Part of this does come back to humility; I knew that I couldn’t bring Ashcroft Capital’s portfolio to stand on sturdy legs by myself, so I brought in the best people I could find in the industry to help me create a thriving company. For example, our director of acquisitions, Scott Lebenhart, came from eleven years of experience working at one of the largest private equity firms in New York City; our asset manager, Alex Raggio, ran a $750 million portfolio before he came to work for us; and every one of our analysts is a top-notch performer. Success in business is a group endeavor. Hire people for their skills, industry knowledge, and ability to work effectively within a team, and then trust that they will surpass your expectations.

Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. Building a business takes more time, effort, and resources than most would ever guess — and running one after the building is done demands even more from a founder. But if you have the drive to build and lead a venture, my advice for entrepreneur-founders who want to become entrepreneur-leaders is this: know what your organization needs, then be humble, open-minded, and dedicated enough to provide it.


Why Culture Should Be the Cornerstone of Your Company

Culture should be the cornerstone of every company. Every business owner should know this by now, but many don’t realize what exactly culture should be (it goes beyond just pizza parties and paid lunches) and why it’s so crucial to the success of their companies. 

The title of this article should read as an obvious statement. It’s a statement that most business owners would never disagree with. Yet it’s frequently the last thing they focus on, which can be an enormous mistake. One can create the ‘right’ company from a purely business perspective. Still, if the culture doesn’t flourish along with the business talent who helped create it, its success won’t stay for long, and operations will suffer.

When I founded Ashcroft Capital, a real estate investment firm that acquires and improves large multifamily communities in top U.S. metros, I knew culture needed to be a strong focus. When Birchstone Residential, our own property management company, and Birchstone Construction, our in-house construction arm, were founded, it was equally important to recognize and cultivate the individuality of each company. While these three companies are connected, they are uniquely different and required great attention to ensuring we were creating the right culture for each – essentially from scratch. Today, our companies are built with more than 200 team members who thrive on each organization’s unique culture.

Of course, the knowledge and leadership experience you’ve acquired over the years will influence every new business you’re part of, but you can’t simply copy and paste. What worked for one company won’t necessarily work for another. So, as I thought about what I wanted Birchstone Residential to evolve into, how I wanted it to stand out from the competition, it was obvious: culture. Multifamily is an interesting industry where there are various customers – your investors, your residents, and your teams. I knew the cornerstone to effectively connect with and service all three audiences was through our culture. 

Culture has become somewhat of a buzzword – with many companies taking a passive approach to culture. They might believe it’s not something they can control, so they sometimes neglect it and think it will work itself out. Like HubSpot Chief People Officer, Katie Burke, says: “When it comes to culture, most companies have a can’t-do attitude.”

But leaving your culture up to chance is destructive not only to your employees and your clients but also to your organization. Culture isn’t just pizza parties or paid lunches; it isn’t a strategy document created with good intentions that never gets looked at again. Culture is the way a company lives and breathes. To nurture culture, leaders must commit to intentional, distinct, and purposeful initiatives. 

Birchstone Residential’s mission is simple: We are people serving people.

And here is why we believe that culture is so important:

Strengthening Loyalty

If your teams dread coming into work, you have a problem. Disengaged employees don’t value their work, nor do they find much purpose in collaborating with other team members to improve operational efficiency and client service. And professional development? It’s futile if employees don’t feel united with the business.

It’s all about connectedness. Our team laughs hard together, they work better together, and collaboration soars. They’ve become a very tight-knit group and consider themselves family (their words, not mine). They tackle challenges and accomplish goals together because they push each other to go the extra mile. They know they have a support system behind them to help them through the challenges and celebrate their wins together. 

Employees want to feel like they are contributing to something that’s larger than themselves. Jim Goodnight, co-founder and CEO of SAS, wrote on his company’s website: “Treat employees like they make a difference, and they will.” I couldn’t agree more. 

Happy employees are 45 percent more productive than team members who are just ‘satisfied’ in their careers. This means that more work will get done, which will also enhance your client service efforts.

Happy employees, happy customers. 

Service Above Self

Clients won’t be able to love a company unless its employees love it first. When you establish a culture-based company that empowers and develops high-performing employees, then, and only then, can that passion extend to your customers. 

Hiring exceptional employees is an investment, and you want to be sure you’re investing the time and resources into the right people. We equip and empower our team with the resources and opportunities that will allow them to succeed with confidence. If they discover an internal or client-facing issue, they know they have the insight and expertise to resolve it. If they see an opportunity to accelerate our success, they have the assurance to bring it to our attention. 

But providing the best service doesn’t just depend on a person’s professional development, it’s also contingent upon how leaders chose to invest in their wellbeing as well. 

Curating Your Brand Identity

Your culture is the life force of your company. It’s what makes you unique and sets you apart from competitors in your industry. 

If you boast authenticity, breathing that into your culture will show your clients that you are unique. The more your clients identify and connect with your brand, the more they’ll want to interact with you and advocate for you. You can only curate this relationship through your employees. But remember, you cannot do this through one person alone. It takes executive oversight, intention, purpose, and committed participation from everyone at the company. 

We promised our clients and community that we are — and always will be — sincere, genuine, honest, and transparent. Our culture is the glue that keeps our organization together, and our clients are the ones that stand to benefit from such an engaged workforce. 

You need to build a community within your business that people want to be a part of. That’s making culture the cornerstone of your community. 

About The Author

Frank Roessler

Frank Roessler

Frank Roessler is the Founder & Managing Partner of Ashcroft Capital and Founder of Birchstone Residential.

Lifting the Amenities Lockdown: What Are Today’s Must-Haves?

Work from home is expected to be a lasting trend, and that is informing a number of choices around the amenities a building may offer.

Amenities have always been seen as selling points for multifamily properties, providing incentives for residents to sign a lease or stay on for another year. From fitness centers and golf simulators to pet parks and movie theaters, these spaces provide opportunities for residents to interact with one another and to feel like they are getting the most for their money.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit hard in March 2020, however, many amenity spaces were quickly shut down while capacity and operating hours were curtailed at other spaces.

Over the past year, property owners and managers have had to work diligently to repurpose, reposition and revolutionize how these spaces can be used in order to keep residents interested and satisfied.

“It really comes down to convenience and flexibility,” said Frank Roessler, founder & CEO of Ashcroft Capital. “Home isn’t just a place to lay your head down at night anymore. Residents are even more focused on comfort, space and amenity packages.”

According to a survey from the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, 42 percent of the U.S. labor force is now working from home full time. Additionally, the share of working days spent at home is expected to increase fourfold from pre-COVID-19 levels—from 5 percent to 20 percent. With this, amenities have become even more important, providing a much needed escape for residents from the confines of their own homes. So with the vast amount of available options, what are the wisest investments that owners and operators can make?


Although the coronavirus will be behind us someday, that doesn’t mean residents will be flocking back to the office full-time. Therefore, there is an increasing need for remote work amenities, particularly those that promote a better work-life balance. Further, amenities are now being adapted to more individualized use, ranging from scheduling formerly shared spaces to making Wi-Fi more readily available throughout the community to support higher bandwidth.

According to a resident survey conducted by SatisFacts, some of the top amenities residents claimed would assist them in working from home were faster internet speeds; wireless self-service printing, copying and scanning; outdoor working spaces; individual work pods; coworking spaces; and video chat booths.

These technology upgrades would help mitigate some of the challenges the surveyed remote workers are currently facing, including balancing the work-life schedule (36.6 percent), finding a dedicated workspace (35.9 percent) and being able to focus (33.1 percent).

Once the pandemic is over, working from home is still expected to be the favored choice amongst many workers, and, in order to keep themselves feeling productive, proper workspaces are necessary.

“The pandemic has further evolved that transformation as working from home has become the norm for more residents,” said Beth Tuttle, vice president of marketing at LMC. “Large coworking spaces have now been partitioned into smaller spaces to allow for more physical distance between residents.”

Another amenity that is highly sought after is green space such as playgrounds, pet parks or access to nearby walking or biking trails. Playgrounds and green spaces were amenities the industry as a whole had dramatically leaned away from, Roessler noted, but that is expected to change as restrictions are eased and new work-from-home routines are established.

“These spaces offer an additional place for kids to expend energy while their parents work remotely,” he said.

Having access to green space on a property’s premises will be an important alternative for people who want to enjoy the outdoors but want to avoid more public recreation spaces. Outdoor lounge and grilling areas, for example, have always been attractive to residents but maybe were not used as often.

“Before the pandemic, residents could have stopped at a local bar or restaurant for happy hour with friends,” said Tuttle. “Today, they are holding virtual happy hours in outdoor lounges instead. These spaces provide a sense of normalcy while also offering a change of pace someone may need to help unwind from the new at-home workday.”

According to the National Multifamily Housing Council and Kingsley Associates 2020 Apartment Resident Preferences Report, more than one-third of residents surveyed were pet owners. Dog owners specifically even said they expected to pay between $28 to $34 more per feature per month for amenities catering to their animals, including pet-washing stations and on-site services, like dog walking or dog sitting.

Although fitness centers were one of the first amenities to be halted at most properties, they are actually still a top want from renters. The pandemic has placed a higher emphasis on health and wellness, prompting residents to take advantage of the fitness options provided to them once they are reopened.


Technology is playing a big role in how amenities spaces are being repurposed and used by residents. Innovations that are becoming more commonplace include: facial recognition software, room sensors and smart home access controls, like touchless elevators and Bluetooth-enabled doors. When it comes to marketing to potential residents, self-guided and virtual tours are the most convenient option to increase lease-ups. For resident retention and safety, air filtration and electrostatic spraying features are easy upgrades that can be added to a community for higher sanitation needs.

“Having the proper mechanical, filtration and HVAC strategies matter,” said Jeffrey Schoeneck, executive director of Cuningham’s Live. “It’s going back to basics in terms of thinking of design and preventing some of the higher risks with a low-cost solution. Regenerative design is improving the situation in front of us … incorporating biophilia, stronger access to daylight, better LED and blue lights; all these factors boost health and a better lifestyle.”

With these transformations, buildings will become more behaviorally healthy for residents, while still allowing for places where people can connect passively and actively.


Although it is impossible to know when the next challenge might arise, it’s important to have a plan in place to keep owners and operators flexible. “Having a generic business continuity plan for any kind of event that might limit access to office spaces or exposure to customers, forces us to think through how we can continually adjust our strategies and look towards more digital solutions,” said Jenny Schoellhorn, director of learning and development at Birchstone Residential.

While the past year has been difficult, it has also been a great opportunity for multifamily operators to demonstrate how they can listen to residents and health experts and respond accordingly.

“Yes, this will pass, but something else will always come in its place,” said Schoeneck. “We need to capture those moments and translate them into design. Look at healthy buildings. Don’t lose sight of needs that are fundamentally healthy and focus on the end user and what will be the experience for them physically and mentally.”

Read the March 2021 issue of MHN.

UCLA Anderson MBA Resources – Parker CMC


UCLA Anderson pic

UCLA Anderson

Multifamily investor Frank Roessler, the founder of Ashcroft Capital, has a strong background in business. which includes years of experience and a quality education. Frank Roessler attended the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Anderson School of Management where he earned an MBA.

UCLA’s MBA students have access to some of the best career resources in the world, thanks to the Parker Career Management Center (CMC). The Center’s career advisors help students develop clear career objectives, identify and take advantage of professional opportunities, and connect with the right people to get ahead. Some students go on to establish their own firms, while others join major companies like Amazon, Citi, and Sony.

No matter what a student’s professional background or current career goals might be, the Parker CMC can help them achieve their goals. Those interested in switching careers often get a leg up thanks to the UCLA MBA program and the Parker CMC, as the staff working with both entities have significant experience assisting students looking to switch careers. In fact, almost 90 percent of program participants in 2017 changed their industry or their job function, while about two thirds switched in both areas.

Anderson Real Estate Association Competes in NAIOP SoCal Challenge


Anderson School of Management pic

Anderson Real Estate Association

Frank Roessler is a driven real estate investor and entrepreneur who has held positions such as acquisition associate and asset manager. A graduate of UCLA’s MBA program, Frank Roessler currently manages the daily operations of Ashcroft Capital as its founder.

While a graduate student at UCLA, Mr. Roessler was actively engaged in extracurricular activities that included the Anderson Finance Club and the Anderson Real Estate Association (AREA). A student-led organization, AREA promotes awareness of real estate and prepares members for careers in the real estate industry. The organization offers extensive programming that ranges from professional networking and mentorship to field trips and site visits.

AREA also participates in the Commercial Real Estate Development Association (NAIOP) SoCal Real Estate Challenge, a competition that hosts five person teams from each of USC’s and UCLA’s business schools. Each student team creates a real estate development proposal for a specific location. The most recent challenge was attended by nearly 300 real estate professionals. In 2016, UCLA’s team developed a strategy to develop a 5.07-acre site in the City of Inglewood and was awarded the Silver Shovel for its work.

UCLA Anderson Levine Program Promotes Affordable Housing


MBA Program pic

UCLA Anderson

Frank Roessler oversees the acquisition and sale of multifamily investments in major metropolitan areas as the founder of Ashcroft Capital in Westwood, California. Before starting his career, Frank Roessler graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Anderson School of Management. UCLA Anderson manages many real estate-related programs through the Richard S. Ziman Center for Real Estate, which administers the Howard and Irene Levine Program in Housing and Social Responsibility.

The program leverages ULCA’s academic authority and core public education standing to improve quality of life for members of the community by addressing critical, current housing issues, ranging from urban housing market challenges and housing policy to the needs and outcomes of households with limited incomes and workforces. Activities hosted by the program increase student awareness of these challenges and promote public dialogue for the betterment of society. Core components of the program consist of educational initiatives such as a graduate course in affordable housing, annual housing summit, and a housing and sustainability fellowship.

The program sponsors the UCLA Distinguished Speaker Lecture in Affordable Housing, which offers students the chance to hear from leading industry scholars, authorities, and policy makers. Lectures explore current trends and critical issues affecting the development and preservation of affordable housing in California.

Anderson Real Estate Association’s Annual Real Estate Career Night


 Anderson School of Management pic

Anderson School of Management

Frank Roessler serves as founder of Ashcroft Capital, a national multifamily investment firm based in Westwood, California, that focuses on repositioning complexes with 100 or more units. A graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Anderson School of Management, Frank Roessler belonged to the Anderson Real Estate Association (AREA).

The AREA gives UCLA Anderson students the chance to advance their real estate knowledge and promote industry awareness. Students receive guidance on marketing themselves and how to conduct effective career searches, while developing a working understanding of real estate concepts and principles. In addition, students can begin developing industry connections through educational and social networking opportunities.

Programs administered by AREA include the Real Estate Career Night, an annual event organized by students that allows them to network with potential employers and industry leaders. Sponsored by UCLA Anderson’s Richard S. Ziman Center for Real Estate, the event has featured more than 100 companies in the past three years, including Lowe Enterprise, the Olson Company, Wells Fargo, and American Realty Advisors.

UCLA Anderson Holds 10th Annual John Wooden Global Leadership Awards

UCLA Anderson pic

UCLA Anderson

An accomplished real estate investment professional, Frank Roessler oversees Ashcroft Capital in Westwood, California. In preparation for his career, Frank Roessler attended the UCLA Anderson School of Management and earned an MBA with a concentration in real estate finance.

Throughout the year, the UCLA Anderson School hosts several signature events for current students, faculty, and alumni. One of the school’s most popular annual events, the John Wooden Global Leadership Awards, recognizes individuals for exemplary leadership and service to their community. Past recipients include W. James McNerney Jr., president, CEO, and chairman of Boeing; Robert Iger, chairman and CEO of Disney; and Ursula Burns, CEO of Xerox.

During the 10th annual John Wooden Global Leadership Awards on Monday, November 13, 2017, UCLA Anderson honored Kevin Plank, the founder of Under Armour. In addition to recognizing Plank for his achievements, the event raised money for the John Wooden Global Leadership Fellowship Awards, which provide $25,000 fellowships for up to four outstanding UCLA Anderson students each year. The 2017 fellows are Evan Barnes, Anna Goldberg, Sana Rahim, and Brandon Scott.

Club Events at UCLA Anderson Real Estate Association

MBA Program pic

UCLA Anderson

Frank Roessler is the founding principal of Ashcroft Capital, a multifamily real estate investment firm headquartered in Southern California. Before launching his career in real estate, Frank Roessler received his MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management, where he belongs to the Anderson Real Estate Association (AREA).

A prominent student group at UCLA Anderson, AREA hosts a variety of events designed to expose students to real estate and prepare them for their careers. Every year, the club competes against rival USC’s business school in the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties Challenge, in which each school sends a five-person team to determine a maximally effective use for an existing real estate project. The club also participates in national case competitions such as the UNC Real Estate Development Challenge and the MIT CASE Competition.

In addition to intercollegiate competitions, AREA sponsors a broad range of real estate workshops for students at UCLA Anderson. Over the years, the organization has sponsored events on topics ranging from land acquisition and private equity financing to real estate financial modeling and home purchasing. Other club events include alumni networking mixers, mentorship programs, and a distinguished-speaker series.

Anderson School of Management MBA Program


Anderson School of Management pic

Anderson School of Management

Before beginning a career as an investment manager and founder of Ashcroft Capital, LLC, in Westwood, California, Frank Roessler attended Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, where he studied electrical engineering. Frank Roessler also attended the UCLA Anderson School of Management in Los Angeles, California, where he earned an MBA in management.

The Anderson School of Management MBA program at the University of California Los Angeles features a nine-course core curriculum that gives students the foundation for building a career in management. Although first-year courses are required, students are free to decide the order in which the courses are taken.

Schedules from the second year on can be designed according to the student’s needs and lifestyle. The management program offers electives that can be tailored to individual career choices ranging from accounting and brand management to entrepreneurship, global management, and marketing analytics. The courses are designed to help students develop in-depth skills in their chosen area of focus as well as excel during internship and job interviews.