I have worked with Lamar for over six years on several complex web/technology projects. However, we only met in person about three years ago when the technology team we formed with PeregrineAssociates.com and TheWebsiteParkingLot.com held a start-up business brainstorming retreat in Atlantic City. It was immediately clear to me that Lamar had a passion for creative entrepreneurship and an infectious personality that quickly draws others into his vision. I enjoy working with Lamar on tech projects and am impressed with his thoughtful approach to faith, family and fortune.
1. Career influences
My grandfather was a huge inspiration to me because although he only achieved the equivalent of a 5th grade education and came up from the south to get a job at a grocery store, he managed to have a gas station, a construction company and own his own home. Certainly, with additional education and resources, he could have gone farther, but he truly made what he had go very far.
2. Biggest career success
Surviving, and in a way thriving, through 4 business disaster events in one year for one of my companies, people advised me to declare bankruptcy. But, I persevered and it created a steely resolve in me that clearly defined in Whom I trust and a clear understanding of the phrase “that when the going gets tough you keep going”. I believe just two of the events would have taken the average business down, but surviving them set our firm up to thrive in the upcoming years. I have already seen the positive results.
3. Recent lessons learned
Many people look at those that have achieved success and just like I did, say, “ I wish I had what they had and were where they are.” However, these same people, including myself, do not count the cost of the journey and have not thought about what it took those people to succeed. I have learned to count the cost and not begrudge anyone their success. First, wishing for what they have does not help me. Second, time is better served figuring out what they did and making sure I am ready to tackle those challenges.
4. What inspires and motivates
Do what you love. I’m not saying you won’t have to do things that you don’t love to do. But, if the end goal is something you love doing then it makes it all worth it. I have cleaned bathrooms, cleaned dumpsters (literally), worked crazy hours in cold, heat and many other things but my goal was something I always kept in mind. It says in the bible (yea, I quote it and read it regularly) that without vision the people perish. As an entrepreneur you will perish if you do not have a clear vision. As a leader/entrepreneur, if you do not provide a clear vision for your people, i.e. partners, employees, associates, etc., they will not be as productive and will not succeed. So, define your vision and keep it in front of you while emptying the trash, doing the accounting and any other activity that you may not love to do. Your vision is what makes those other things worth it.
5. Share a leadership story
One of my businesses is a construction company and this past year I thought it was going out of business. I am responsible for the livelihood of about 20 to 40 workers at times. Add the vendors that support us and there are a large number of people who would be negatively affected if our firm went out of business. I told management that if things did not turn around I would take the responsibility for everything and they would be liable for nothing. I had no idea how I made that decision, but I made it. Management stuck it out with me and God blessed my decision. As an owner, president, CEO or whatever you want to call yourself, the big decisions are your responsibility. Being an entrepreneur absolutely has its benefits, but responsibility is first and the benefits come second.
6. Your Top Two
Learn to laugh in spite of fear. It doesn’t mean fear won’t have a run at you, but if you laugh in spite of it you can maintain a proper perspective.
Be careful for nothing but be careful about everything. HUH? Let me explain:
Being careful for nothing means don’t worry. Worry will not solve ANYTHING. This is important so I will repeat. WORRY will NOT solve ANYTHING! Being careful about everything means make calculated decisions. Too many people leap and make the calculations on the way down, realize they should not have leaped and then worry. If you have already leaped, don’t start worrying. Instead take the seconds or minutes you have before impact and make CAREFUL decisions. It can save your business and save your life. Many entrepreneurs have died or committed suicide because of stress and worry. Don’t let yourself be numbered amongst them.
7. About Lamar Childs
I’m a serial entrepreneur. Most people think I do too many things already and every other month I have another business idea that I put on the shelf until the right time. With the help of some awesome partners and people, I run five companies. Three years ago or so I thought, “Ok, I can only run so many companies (the number in my head was between 7-10 with some quality assistants), so I will have to start setting them up and getting someone like me to run them”. And then I started thinking, I don’t need to own the companies. Instead I really just want to create environments where people can take a concept and run with it.
I thought back to when I was first starting out and remembered how I yearned for someone to give me a chance to prove myself with the proper resources. Because I didn’t feel that anyone did, I struck out on my own, under-capitalized and lacking knowledge. Many people helped me along the way. So I thought, hmmm, if I can find people like myself with or without ideas, I can set them up and back them. I don’t need to take all their profits like many venture firms do because I really just love seeing things grow. They can own it and develop it and I help them navigate the pitfalls I fell into. So in short, I think I am transitioning from being a serial entrepreneur to an incubator that helps grow the dreams of others. I do have a bit farther to go in order to “get there” as I am still working to get the kinks worked out of my own companies, but that’s my vision. What’s yours?
Lamar Childs, Serial Entrepreneur/Business Incubator
- Author’s note: More to come, I’m sure!
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