Kirk Grimshaw has been part of the Extra Space Storage team for almost three years now. As Vice President of Legal, Grimshaw is the in-house attorney for the self storage company, assisting in the acquisition of new properties and the structuring of new business transactions and opportunities.
We recently sat down with Grimshaw for a Q&A to learn more about his work as in-house counsel for Extra Space Storage and what he’s learned over the course of his legal career.
Q: How did your career path lead you to Extra Space Storage?
A: I was working as a partner at a law firm, and Extra Space Storage was one of our firm’s clients. In that role, over the course of a few years, I helped Extra Space purchase several storage facilities. Eventually, Extra Space asked me to come and work for them full time in their legal department. I jumped at the chance. After working for a few years with several employees as an outside attorney, I knew the quality, character, and values of members of the Extra Space team. I was happy to become a part of the group.
Q: What is the best advice you’ve received in your career?
I was once told that “everyone deserves your respect and kindness.” For me, that statement was very impactful. I believe that a person’s job, status, position, rank, or standing should not matter. It is my goal to treat every person I encounter with dignity and compassion, whether they are the CEO or a part-time intern.
Q: Which experience(s) in your career influenced who you are today?
A: Before joining Extra Space Storage, I had two experiences as a young attorney that I believed helped shape the way I approach my job and career.
Very early in my career, I made a mistake in my drafting of a document for a client. The mistake was going to cost our firm’s client a few thousand dollars. When I recognized my mistake, I sheepishly approached a senior attorney at our firm who was then mentoring me to let him know what I had done. I was very nervous and expected the worst, but I fessed up to my error. Instead of yelling or screaming at me, my mentor focused on how we could work together to fix the mistake. We decided to provide our client with some free legal work to change and renegotiate the erroneous document.
My mentor said that if I could learn as a young lawyer to stand up, be honest, and fix my mistakes, then the small price of fixing the client’s document would be well worth the cost. After some extra hours on my part, we revised the document and remedied my original misstep. Some people choose to find fault, place blame, or focus on the problem. Since learning that great lesson long ago, I have always chosen to concentrate on seeking a solution. I try to be a problem solver.
On another occasion as a young attorney, I was involved in representing a very successful businessman in a transaction. During the course of our firm’s representation, another individual came to our client demanding money. Our firm, however, did not believe this other individual was owed anything. In one of our meetings with our client, the businessman decided to settle the issue by paying all or part of the money demanded.
I asked our client why he was willing to pay the money if clearly the other individual was not legally entitled to any compensation. I will never forget his great response. He said, “I would rather be wronged than wrong someone else.” This client helped to teach me that personal integrity always matters. I have tried to incorporate that great counsel into all of my actions as a businessman and attorney.
Q: What has been the most challenging aspect of your career?
A: The most challenging aspect of my career has been trying to find the right work-life balance. I have always prided myself at being a “doer” and wanting to accomplish great things in the business world. At times, that type of dedication takes some long hours. However, I also have a wonderful wife and two great boys. I want to be the best husband and father that I can. They deserve it. Consequently, I have always tried to find a good balance between working hard and advancing my career on the one hand, and giving my time and resources to my family on the other. I hope I am doing a good job in this endeavor. Making sure I am keeping a proper balance takes constant care and vigilance.
Q: What has been the most fulfilling aspect of your career?
A: The most fulfilling part of my work is the people with whom I interact. I have found over the years that my job satisfaction comes more from the great friends and relationships that I get to build rather than from any other source. The people at Extra Space Storage are one of the main reasons I see myself working here for a long time. (I only hope the people here think the same about me!)
Q: Describe your most successful endeavor with Extra Space Storage.
A: I have helped structure a few business transactions that have allowed Extra Space Storage to acquire and enlarge their large portfolio of properties in creative ways. These transactions have included helping Extra Space expand into a few states where the company did not previously have a presence. I hope to continue to help Extra Space be as successful as possible.
Q: What advice would you give to future Extra Space Storage leaders?
A: If you want to be successful at Extra Space Storage, live the company’s values of integrity, excellence, innovation, teamwork, and passion. I believe that Extra Space employees will flourish and prosper both professionally and personally if they follow these values. It is my opinion that internalizing these characteristics will help you succeed.
This article is part of an ongoing series of interviews with Extra Space Storage (NYSE: EXR) team members. Kirk Grimshaw is the Vice President of Legal at Extra Space Storage.