Where we’ve been is only part of the journey..
Most stories you read about someone start “Once upon a time.”
Except Clarke Allen’s.
His starts, “Once upon a now.”
Nimble and always at the ready to seize opportunity and bring people in on the deal, Clarke Allen is both an entrepreneur and educator. Now that you know that Clarke isn’t your average entrepreneur, I will confess that this isn’t your average About page. This is a look at Clarke through the eyes of someone who has known him for more years than any of us would be willing to count.
I first met Clarke Allen at a social function with mutual friends. Impeccably dressed, with a mega-watt smile, he commanded the room with a positive, focused energy and true interest in the people at the party. He seemed warm, genuine and kind. And, unlike a lot of people in this town, folks didn’t have a lot of bad things to say about him. In fact, they didn’t have anything bad to say, just, “Oh yeah – Clarke’s a great guy.” Does that deserve a place in the social history books? Perhaps. You decide!
A few years later, I met Clarke professionally. He wanted to revamp his website to include a few of his businesses – Clarke Allen Events, Creatrix and Center Stage. At that time, his building was in Noda, and the entire experience started outside, to create something special for guests. The revamped exterior, painted with stage lights, hinted at the production-level quality of his events. The interior, as you might expect, exploded with creativity – from the parts clients never saw, like individual tiny houses as office cubicles, to the parts they did, like an ultra-luxurious bridal suite. It was truly an easily recognizable landmark of the community.
The most interesting part of the operation, though, was housed in the back. Clarke saw more than unused warehouse space. He saw recurring income and, with a bit of ingenuity, transformed the cavernous interiors into a suitable office and rented the rooms out to another business. This changed the balance of CAE by transforming a blank canvas into something that generated wealth and supported his other endeavors without any additional effort.
Recently, Clarke and I had a catch up to find out what happened during Covid and everyone’s official time-out. His included several business shifts and a fairytale wedding to an incredible woman who is a game-changing entrepreneur in her own right. Power couple, party of two!
In the telling of tales, I was not the least bit surprised to hear that, industrious as ever, he used a 1031 Exchange from the sale of the NODA/CenterStage property with the hopes of transforming an unused piece of property into an urban food park with music, food trucks and markets. After all, Clarke’s ideas have always been strategically innovative, marrying his strong analytical skills with the type of creative expression that helps build a community.
But, before his vision could be realized, the city bought the property back and he pivoted to revitalize the historic and iconic Ed’s Tavern. That’s just how it is with Clarke. One door closes and he finds 15 windows with views other businessmen might shy away from. Where other investors see a field, Clarke sees a vibrant boho meeting space, where others see an abandoned building, Clarke sees generational wealth, where other investors see impossible dreams, Clarke sees Villa Marbella – a boutique vacation offering in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Everything Clarke does, he does well, because he attends to the details. He thinks about the experience for guests, he teaches the people working for him and near him, he creates sensory engagements for the five senses . . . now on a permanent basis and that makes all the difference. His concepts of identifying a property, converting it with a vision, engaging with it and making it perform are rooted in his life and his love of real estate.
During our chat, he remembered his first location in the Keyman Building. From 1994 to 1996, he learned an expensive lesson. “It’s important to convert from a rental mentality to a mortgage mentality,” he said. “That’s how a legacy is made!”
But I would argue that Clarke’s legacy is built of so much more. His success lies in his passion for the betterment of the world and the people around him.
He touches lives wherever he goes, whether he’s sharing knowledge, offering an idea or putting something together that evokes an audible gasp from guests. Clarke’s mission is to make everyone and everything within his reach a little better for their time together. He works to win the “Wow!”
And, even now, when he and his wife have no need to work, they continue to do so to create better communities. Clarke helps people identify and invest in real estate. His wife’s company, Stilo Design Studio, helps people transform the space. Together, they help entrepreneurs create income streams beyond their wildest dreams by investing and reinvesting in the world around them. Wow indeed.
Now, friend, I turn the lens on you. Hey, I told you this isn’t your average About page!
You’ve read a remarkable tale about perseverance, vision, passion and giving. But I have to ask, what are you going to do with it? Will you let the story fall flat or will you let it stoke your own passion for success?
I ask this knowing one final thing about Clarke . . . his dreams are contagious.
After spending time at the conference table with him, your vision will expand and you will dream big dreams. However, it is your sole responsibility to act. Don’t pause, reach your hand towards the impossible now, not later. Grasp tightly and hold on with all of your might.
Then, one afternoon, when the hardest of the work is done, you will sit back and see all that you’ve done. And, in that moment, you will raise a literal or metaphoric glass to yourself with a wholehearted and resounding “Wow.” And you will deserve it because you earned it.
Cheers to wow, my friend. Cheers to wow.
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