Stu Mcgowan is not your typical real-estate redeveloper and there are plenty of reasons why he is the Anti-Trump of real estate because of his community influenced social mission that is behind Stu’s career. When my Professor Dr.Young was asked to describe our upcoming guest speaker the week before Stu’s appearance she simply could not give a direct answer to describe Stu, and after hearing him speak I can totally see why she was unable to put a specific label on him. Stu is known around Burlington Vermont as the guy that owns all of the oddly colored houses. He currently owns 78 properties in the city of Burlington Vermont. He started his journey in Korea and Vietnam and eventually moved back to the states and lived in New Jersey as a military brat. After New Jersey he went to veterinarian school for 1 year at the University of Vermont but was totally not into the curriculum. Stu took time off to work more than full-time at 120 hours per week at two jobs until he saved up enough money to travel to Europe. He also spent time in Alaska mining gold, but eventually video production inspired Stu.
Stu eventually went back to Vermont to design his own major to become a video producer, he got to realize his passion when he was able to take coursework after his travels that he wanted to take in order to discover what made him most passionate. His self-designed major in Public Relations and Media Creation which lead him to working on educational videos at the NoodleHead Network. He ended up getting married shortly after graduating and moved into a duplex in the Old North End. The Old North End at the time was known as the area filled with “outsiders” in Burlington, but Stu made it his mission, “to do stuff that is good for community”, he expressed that at the time there was lots of need within the community. Stu shortly found out that the school system in the Old North End needed major help and became the President of the PTO. Stu transformed the helpless 3 member PTO program to 200 PTO members. He personally built the PTO up from scratch and got noticed by people in the community for his volunteer work He has also been active in the community volunteering as the Head Empire for little leaguers and volunteered with the cub scouts in Burlington.
Stu started gaining his real estate developing experience when he rebuilt and renovated dilapidated houses with his own kids and other kids that flocked to his house in the Old North End. Stu got the idea to start his business called ShoelessManagement/Konstruction by trying to rehash Burlington homes and hire young employees and pay them well at the same time. It is a business model that sure has worked out well for Stu and his employees. Stu provided value for the community of Burlington because he always had a common thread in prioritizing his social mission in any of his endeavors. I strive to eventually work or create an organization that can represent the community and provide them with greater value because of my own doing or collective doing.
Stu has always had the neighborhood first and the social responsible business fund managed by the City of Burlington helped him out to expand his property management business by lending him more funds. Stu is a one-of-kind landlord in a college-town like Burlington where slumlords are the norm and apartments are not given the proper care or are completely neglected. Stu until his retirement was on the scene and visible at all his properties. He has never raised the monthly rent for his tenants if they are still residing at one of his properties. His passion to do good for others has evolved into a website called ShareYourself.org that teaches do gooders how to take an idea with a social mission and make it possible by allowing others to assist in process using his online platform.
I admired how Stu said that it was never about money that drove him, it was the fact that he was able to be involved. He strives to teach more people about the ways that he has done business and how it has benefitted his career by not taking any shortcuts in his business endeavors. I loved how he told the class that if you can live a creative life than anything is essentially possible and solving problems in creative ways should be the emphasis when trying to create more innovation.
I told Stu that I was passionate about the outdoors and may want to pursue a career in the outdoor industry. Stu immediately had advice for me, that advice was to never work within an industry that is 100% reliant on weather and its only target market is the top 1%. I took his advice to heart and in my job search have made it a requirement to search for jobs in industries that are not solely dependent on the weather. Stu has been my favorite guest speaker in our marketing capstone of the semester because of his charisma and his drive to help out his community. I also think that Stu would make an amazing mayor for the city of Burlington in the near future.