When were you “bitten” by the entrepreneurial bug?
I don’t think I was bitten by anything to be honest. I’m gratefully unsatisfied. I just don’t think we are supposed to do regular things, and lead regular lives. I’m intensely curious, and I want to leave a legacy. People don’t really own anything where I’m from, and I’m not comfortable with continuing that cycle. I want to create things that don't exist yet.
A close friend told me I was “burdened with purpose”. They were right. The challenge is living that way.
What’s been the hardest part about starting your own business as a millennial entrepreneur?
Changing my routine. Our routines are the basis of everything we do, so I’ve had to become more conscious of what I’m doing, and why I’m doing it. I have the tendency to get distracted by ideas and new thoughts, which can take me off track. Having a routine helps me stay focused on the things that actually add value, and gives me the space to pursue other things that I find engaging too. My life doesn’t stop because I have a new goal, or I’m trying to engage with different I’m not where I need to be yet, but I’m progressing. If I can make 1% improvements every single day, then those changes will compound. I’m actively focused on improving it.
What resources have you found helpful in blazing your own trail?
These are a few of the ones that are having an impact on me lately. I’ll segment them into books, websites, podcasts, and people.
Currently reading Mastery by Robert Greene, and The Art of Work by Jeff Goins. Both incredibly insightful and practical for anyone who creates things.
Who’s your entrepreneurial hero?
I have a few, but Annie Malone is one that I need to highlight.
Annie invented a line of non-damaging hair straighteners, oils, and hair stimulants specifically for African-American women in the early 1900s. Until this point, black women were utilizing whatever they had at hand to take care of their hair; goose fat, soap, or even bacon grease. There was no product made specifically for their hair, which matched their unique needs, desires, and feelings. I’m a student of history, so her advancements here aren’t just incredible from a business context, but because she was defying Jim Crow in real time. That period in history is marred by horrific violence and incredible persecution, but Annie Malone would not be moved. She was a business owner, employed an entire woman only sales team, and active philanthropist. She was the definition of a mogul at a time when being black, successful, and a woman, was a direct threat to your life. She’s not unique in her excellence in that regard. There are countless stories like that, they just rarely get told.
What advice do you have for today’s aspiring entrepreneurs?
Be a student of your craft. People who are great spend time in deep practice. It’s not about paying dues, or “waiting your turn”. It’s about understanding both the business and art of your craft. I’m not trying to be a great writer and a mediocre businessman. I want to master the input and have systems in place to manage the output as well. If we do that, then we set ourselves up for success and longevity. Before that though, I have to be more of who I say I am. Better friend, better son, better mentor. Everything starts inside.
How can our readers connect with you?
You can find me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. My website is under development, but should be live before the end of 2015. If food is your thing too, I also chronicle my kitchen adventures at I Burn Water.
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