What is downtime? For TJ Larsen, it’s moving an exhilarating 180 miles-per-hour behind the wheel of his race car! Being a successful entrepreneur who works tirelessly in real estate and development, racing is the perfect way to disconnect and, for a brief moment, shift his intensity from daily work to one mission: Driving to Win.
TJ finds the moments on the track are the one time his thoughts are cleared from day to day business dealings. Running not one, but four successful businesses within his brand, “My,” racing is a change of pace – but not in terms of slowing down. Larsen says racing provides an intense rush of competition but also allows him to have a singular focus. “I am on the phone all day jumping from one project to the next. When I race 100% of my effort is spent on executing a pass or driving through the next corner. It clears my head and helps me go back to the office and perform.”
Larsen has a strong desire to win and doesn’t want to delay achievement. He qualified for a competitive racing license in 2011, just one year after his first practice run in a friend’s race car. The day before his first race he recalls his crew chief advising him to take it easy: “He told me, ‘The first turn is where all the wrecks are; hang back at the start and get comfortable.’”
TJ didn’t take that advice, and as a result, he qualified 1st out of 45 cars. Upon revisiting the discussion with his crew chief, Larsen asked what advice he had now. This time he said, “Go like hell.” That’s exactly what TJ did, going on to win his very first race.
TJ is no less driven in his career with My than when on the racetrack.
His business, My, encompasses sales brokerage of condos, townhomes, and single family homes, property management services, and residential development. Each business segment focuses on specialties: My Townhome Condominium and Townhomes sales, My Maison Realty single-family home sales, My Home Leasing property management, and My Real Estate Advisors real estate development. An interesting tidbit is that My Maison (French for home) comes from TJ’s education background. TJ is a graduate of Hamden-Sydney College in southern Virginia where he was a double major in French and History.
Visiting the Queen City with a fraternity brother convinced TJ to relocate from Winchester, Virginia, to Charlotte. TJ shares: “It was the pulse of the city and great times over two trips where I saw my first professional football game at then Erikson Stadium (home to the Carolina Panthers), and an epic concert headlining the Rolling Stones. I was impressed with how clean the Center City was. I knew Charlotte was an up and coming city with great opportunity for growth.”
TJ came to Charlotte, not in search of real estate, but advertising. Larsen’s sister Amy is an accomplished artist
and he was in awe of her ability to create beautiful works of art from a blank canvas. With a desire to exercise his own creativity by designing innovative and engaging messages, TJ sought out advertising as a career. His refusal to accept “no” for an answer drove him to score interviews with business leaders at top ad agencies.
During the interviews, TJ realized he loved selling himself and getting his “foot in the door.” He refocused his efforts to sales. He grew up in a sales environment, learning from the best salesman he will ever know: his father, Tom Larsen. Focusing on large, impactful transactions, he secured his first job as a real estate agent and builder sales associate with a local real estate company in 1998. One year later he was hired as a direct representative for the premier infill townhome developer The Boulevard Company, where TJ learned the business from another angle. Eager to share his sales expertise in a management role, Larsen founded his own sales organization just two years after entering the workforce. TJ exercised his love of advertising to develop a niche brand, and on February 11, 2000, My Townhome Realty was born.
Success, however, is not without challenges. TJ shared a defining moment in his business and a tidbit of wisdom from his mother that set the stage for the rest of his career. “Our equity partner withdrew from the business shortly after opening our first retail location. I woke up in the morning feeling like I was on top of the world only to find an empty office by the close of business that day. It felt like the darkest time with limited options. I got in my car and started driving to figure out how things changed so quickly.
I had a moment where I thought I should go back to school and get an MBA so that I could pursue a new career. I pulled the car over to the side of the road and called my mom. The conversation with my mom changed my perspective.
“My mom patiently listened as I emotionally recounted the day’s events. I informed her that I would have to close the business. As always she gave me exactly what I needed.” Never one to mince words TJ’s mom made one simple statement: “You said this company would be a great success. Don’t run back to school, go back to work and make this business exactly what you said it would be.” With these words in mind, TJ drove to a second-hand store on Independence Boulevard and bought a refurbished computer and a desk chair. He set the wheel and started driving his business back to success.
Not one to let anything stop his momentum, he was able to rebuild his business. Just as a great driver can navigate changing conditions on a race track, TJ is able to overcome challenges and position his company for success in an ever changing market.
Condominium and Townhome sales soared over the next two years and TJ founded a second company to complement the My Townhome brand and assist My Townhome clients with move-up purchases of single-family homes. In 2003 My Maison Realty was born. With TJ sourcing a large volume of first time home buyers in townhome and condo sales through My Townhome, he leveraged his brand to assist repeat customers as they moved from smaller multi-family homes into houses.
Organically, TJ’s third business, My Home Leasing, founded in 2007, developed from a need to serve a client who was unable to sell his home at a fair value in a downward trending market. TJ put an alternative plan into action by offering property management services to the property owner. A decade later, My Home Leasing is a successful property management business with over 600 properties, helping owners succeed in any market by managing their biggest investments.
In 2015 Larsen embarked on his most recent venture real estate development. Under the My Real Estate Advisors brand, Larsen is a developer of leading-edge townhome communities with cues from client feedback over years of working with buyers and truly understanding their every desire. He incorporates features that satisfy the buyer’s needs into his new homes. The end result is a profitable development for both the developer and homeowner.
With all of his magnificent endeavors, one wonders if this man ever sleeps? The answer is yes – but not a lot, he will joke! “Life is too short and there is way too much to experience and accomplish. I don’t want to miss any opportunity.”
What Larsen values most is his amazing family. When he is not pursuing podiums and business accolades he enjoys spending time with his wife Jenn, son Tommy, and daughter Elle. TJ credits Jenn as his driving force in all of his endeavors. “She knows I get bored easily and that I have to be challenged daily. She understands my need to not coast or rest after a past success. Jenn encourages me to push to the limit and grow.”
TJ and Jenn’s son, Thomas James Larsen III, a.k.a. “Tommy,” has a calling to the race track just like his dad. Tommy is a competitive kart racer. “From the moment I took him to Victory Lane at age 7, he was all about driving. We bought him his first race kart for Christmas in 2017 and he is successfully campaigning two karts at the club and national level.” Daddy’s girl, Elle, 8, is an insatiable student and artist. “She is brilliant and MUST be engaged every second of the day. She is sassy as can be and Jenn and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” proud dad jokes. The family loves to support TJ on his racing weekends and they all enjoy the rush of seeing dad in action.
Driven in every aspect of his life from family to racing to business, TJ wants to enjoy life and every success. Don’t go looking for TJ to rest on his laurels from behind a cushy desk chair: he is adamant about being in the moment and living his business daily. “A business coach once advised me to focus only on management and not sales,” recalls TJ. “So, I took off from selling for a short while. While I had more time to manage, the advice I was giving was less impactful. The lessons I have learned in my business have come from my interaction with brokers and clients. I need to be in the game at every level to perform at the highest potential. When I coach brokers in my organization they can be certain that every task that I ask of them I am willing and able to do as well.” TJ’s drive to succeed may take him on many roads, each of which he will navigate to a winning spot at the finish line.
If you’d like to reach TJ Larsen, just call him on his cell at (704)968-0324 or email him at email@example.com.