Britnie Turner Keane is the founder and CEO of Aerial Development Group, a Nashville-based residential and commercial development company that aims to revitalize urban neighborhoods and tackle social issues.
When you retire, what do you want your professional legacy to be? I’ll never retire because I work for my purpose: to provide opportunity to those who have none. Whether I do it through real estate or something else, I’ll be living this purpose for the rest of my life. I believe that businesses should model excellence with impact, providing an excellent product or service and using their platform to give back to the world. Every Aerial company is focused on this, and I hope that will be my professional legacy.
What destination is on your bucket list, and why? Space. I am signed up to go on a Virgin Galactic trip to space soon. I have been obsessed with the stars since childhood and have been caught gazing up at them for hours at a time. Every astronaut says once you see the Earth from space your perspective changes forever. I am so excited to get the ultimate Aerial view.
What famous businessperson do you most admire, and why? Richard Branson is my role model for doing business differently, staying true to my values, starting companies around a mission and doing a lot of heavy lifting around several tough issues I believe needs to be done by business leaders, not just politicians. In addition, he is really fun to hang out with. I regularly spend time on Necker Island with Richard, his family and other global entrepreneurs. I feel very fortunate to have his insight about growth, multi-vertical branding and being an industry disruptor.
If you were to start a blog, what would you call it? As Aerial continues to grow as a global brand we are constantly being asked to share our experience. All Aerial companies thrive within a set of core values, and through blogging these values will further inspire action within local and global companies to develop their own models for conscious capitalism within their industry. Aerial.Global/blog is our growing portfolio of the toughest lessons learned that we turned into practical applications for entrepreneurs wanting to create businesses that are a force for good!
What is your favorite spot in Nashville for business? Hands-down my favorite spot in Nashville, whether it’s for business or not, is Chauhan’s Ale & Masala House. You can’t eat Maneet Chauhan’s tikka masala and be unhappy. … It’s scientifically impossible. Also, Chauhan herself is awesome.
Do you have any concerns about Nashville’s current growth? Why or why not? People are being drawn to Nashville from all across the world for many reasons but the most important one for sustainability is jobs. Almost daily there are announcements about new jobs opening up in Nashville and people are flocking to the opportunity to live in this vibrant, growing town. We are excited to be part of Music City as it continues to grow and becomes more diverse. We have the opportunity to develop and provide beautiful new homes while also revitalizing neighborhoods that create healthier, stronger and more sustainable communities for the future. Nashville’s infrastructure, open space, and mass transit plans are all key factors for the continued success of our city. We feel that encouraging public private partnerships in all of these areas will be key to ensuring positive growth.
What is your favorite cocktail/beverage, and what does it say about you? I love bold and strong red wines that get better with age. … I’m not sure what that says about me.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?“Your success is never for you; your role is to open the doors and make a way for others.” — Gene Strite, my mentor
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? I grew up on a farm in the middle of nowhere. There were no obstructions to seeing the incredible open window to the heaven of stars above and I would lie for hours in the fields watching [the stars]. Naturally, I wanted an even better view by becoming an astronaut. Though I didn’t become an official astronaut for my career, I will be leaving Earth in the next three years for a fun trip to outer space as I am on the list of future astronauts in the Virgin Galactic Space Exploration Program.
What one word best describes you? Determined.
What is your favorite or most exotic place you’ve ever traveled? Necker Island, British Virgin Islands. In December 2014, I was one of 30 entrepreneurs who got to spend a week with Richard Branson on Necker Island. Branson spent several hours a day answering some of my biggest questions. He reinforced my confidence as an industry-disrupting CEO, showed me that business can be fun and profitable at the same time as being a force for good. I feel incredibly blessed to continue to be invited back to spend time with extremely high-level entrepreneurs and the legend himself.
Fill in the blank: “In high school, I was/should have been elected ‘Most _____ ’.” Likely to prank you. Life is fun, make a difference, grow something incredible, be all you are going to be but make sure you keep a goofy attitude and can always take a joke. I’m not afraid to be myself. I am one of 6 kids, we were all homeschooled for a while and quickly learned to make innocent pranks a way of life.
Whose job in Nashville business do you aspire to have? As an entrepreneur I don’t really desire anyone else’s job. I DO desire to collaborate with other people who are passionate about creating positive impact, collectively solving social issues, and creating global change.
T ell us a joke. (You should probably keep it clean.) Why couldn’t Moses believe his mother sent him away in a basket? Because he was in de-nile.
Please describe your three most unique and impressive accomplishments spanning your entire career. 1. I started Aerial Development Group when I was a broke 21-year-old living in my car during the height of the nation’s greatest recession. Six years later and despite the many obstacles we have faced, the company’s revenues exceeded $27 million last year in our infill projects alone. We have been able to expand our footprint in the southeast by acquiring multifamily properties in Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga and Savannah and will continue to break glass ceilings in the process. 2. Named Ernst & Young’s 2014 Entrepreneurial Winning Woman, an international competition and ongoing executive leadership development program that recognizes high-level scaling women entrepreneurs. 3. Youngest self-made female real estate developer in the Southeast and arguably the nation for success at this level.
Please describe your top accomplishment at your current company. I have been developing a strategic plan by which our company will be using real estate to create global change in an even more powerful and intentional way. My top accomplishment is that as a company we are leading the way in the re-imagination for how this business is even being done. We believe that capitalism is one of the fastest ways to bring about transformation, so as we look at revitalizing different areas of Nashville, we are looking to scale this model globally. We are launching this plan for deep intentionality with Nashville’s first health and wellness community, East Greenway Park. The 10-acre community will include 62 cottage-style homes and is specifically designed to encourage an active and healthy lifestyle for residents and neighbors.