I was recently asked by the guys at Up Global if there's a perfect time to launch a startup and it made me reminisce on when I was let go from a job I had last year and the journey I've had since then. So many times life puts obstacles in your way but it's how you respond in these moments that can define and shape the course of your lives. Like I always say: use your difference to make a difference! I hope you all enjoy the read. Here you go: Is There A Perfect Time To Start Up?
I had the pleasure of talking to one of my mentors earlier in the year about life and this is the conversation that came out of it.
Tayo Rockson: To those that don’t know you, can you tell us about yourself? Your journey so far in life? So both your personal and business paths. Also, please discuss some of the obstacles you have had to overcome to get to where you are today.
Gregg Nelson: My name is Gregg Nelson and I am currently a sales executive at a social learning company. I grew up in California, the son of a military dad and stay at home mom. After high school I attended DePaul University were I earned a degree in Industrial / Organizational Psychology and Communications.
My journey through life has been positive overall. Personal obstacles that I have had to overcome do not really consist of all that many. My parents divorced when I was around 12 years old so there was difficulty in adjusting to the new family dynamic. I am also an only child which meant I didn’t really have any outlet if I needed one. I put myself through college working part time sales jobs which I enjoyed, but would have rather enjoyed “the campus life”. Looking back on it now, I am proud that I was able to accomplish that feat even though it saddled me with enormous debt.
From a business perspective, I really cannot complain either. I wish early on I could have had a mentor to help me navigate the business world and provide that wisdom and experience. In terms of obstacles to overcome in business. Just being in sales and management there are daily obstacles to overcome!! I Just have to persevere. Buddha said “ Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most”. I believe that is a positive frame of mind to have both personally and in business.
TR: So you have worked at quite a few places. (Dell, etc) how did you go about determining the best place for you to work?
GN: Over my 16 or so years, I have had the opportunity to work for great organizations and managers. Before I joined Dell I worked in finance and it was a client of my wife who was attempting to recruit her to join Dell. She was not interested, but referred them to me and the rest is history. I really enjoyed my Dell days and the people I worked with and for.
From Dell on I have been recruited for larger positions with greater responsibilities. In an effort to grow and learn more, I am currently earning my MBA in Management & Strategy which I hope to complete by Q1 2014. It is important to understand what you are looking for and what you expect to learn and get out of your employment with a particular organization. They all have strengths and weaknesses but it is up to the individual.
TR: Why do you think a lot of people aren't happy where they work today?
GN: I think there are those that love what they do and enjoy their work. Others and probably a lot feel they are stuck. Could be that expectations were either too high or too low, level of work isn’t challenging enough or too challenging, no upward mobility as perhaps believed, fear of having to start over and perhaps come to the same conclusion etc... For those who are in school perhaps utilize the university career services more to better understand your major and what the “real world” is like for the career you are choosing.
TR: Can you discuss the importance of people building skills especially in today’s world?
GN: Having developed and strong interpersonal and communication skills are essential for both personal and business life. Continue to practice them by reading, get involved in networking groups that allow for face to face communication and also LinkedIn.
TR: What is one piece of advice you can give to young entrepreneurs today?
GN: Find mentors who have experienced the successes and failures of starting a new business or developing an idea into a product or service. That experience is priceless and can save you money and time. Lastly, do not think that you know everything.
Olumurewa Ogunkoya is a fashion designer and an architect who has a unique eye for menswear (as you can see from the images above). He is also a good friend of mine so it was good catching up with him.
Tayo Rockson: I'm happy to be doing this interview with you. Can you tell us about yourself and how you got to where you are today?
Olumurewa Ogunkoya: Well I'll start with a basic introduction. My name is Olumurewa Ogunkoya, CEO of NuovoVintage Clothing. I'm a fashion designer for men's modern-vintage suits. I'm all about looking sharp and full of class at every possible moment. I'm also an Architect, professionally, so I could say the two trades compliment each other, and positively too.
TR: Now we went to high school together and I remember you always paying attention to the details of your clothes. When exactly did you decide that you wanted to make a career out of fashion?
OO: Well after high school, during my university days, my eye for colour mixing and details grew sharper. I guess I could say I came to a conclusion to do it professionally towards the end of university education.
I've never really been the business kinda guy, sincerely, but I've always had the knack for changing details whenever I purchase clothing from other stores. I'd have to say fear was my major drawback from starting my own business. Although after months of consideration, I made up my mind and went straight for it, whether or not it'd come out successful. And through God's grace, I'm here today with my own fashion line, and my own business enterprise.
TR: Great story! I have been hearing that a lot lately actually. The idea that you should just go for your dreams and you clearly did that with your business and brand. Kudos to you!
OO: Thanks! I appreciate it.
TR: Who would you say is your biggest inspiration and why?
OO: A big inspiration for me is Tom Ford. Class is the main drive behind Nuovo Vintage, and Tom Ford depicts the kind of class that is expected of men's suits and clothing in general.
TR: Good choice. I am not sure that I can count up to five people who wear a suit better than he does.
OO: O yea he is impeccable with his suits!
TR: Exactly! Bringing it back to the business side of things, what have you found to be essential skills crucial to know as an entrepreneur?
OO: Well first, I'd say PEOPLE skills. Being able to relate, in all aspects,to potential clients, and even existing clients, is one of the most valuable skills in the world of entrepreneurship. Also knowing the right market targets, as well as allowing consumer needs to be the drive behind your products, and your production in general, are in turn very crucial.
TR: Now as you mentioned earlier, another part of you is architecture, what do you want to do with that?
OO: I'm still going to practise as an architect. It's my profession and I love it. It hasn't never been interrupted by my fashion designing, and vice versa.
TR: OK. What is next for you?
OO: I have plans on pursuing a programme to further my architecture profession, so that's the immediate next step for me.
TR: What advice do you have for other fellow young entrepreneurs out there?
OO: All I'd love to say to you all is face those business fears head on no matter what trade, and embrace failure as cheat code for success!
TR: Before I let you go, where can people find you and contact you if they want to get some of your designs?
As you can see, sometimes it pays off to just go after our dreams. A lot of times we are tentative about doing this because we may feel incapable. I certainly am guilty of this but what we all have to realize is that by actually "doing" something we are growing, learning, and building invaluable experiences. Experiences that will prove beneficial to your success so go be Nike. Just Do It!
For about six months now, I have been talking to and learning from so many entrepreneurs so I wanted to share with you 10 lessons that I have learned from them:
- They are driven and passionate: They usually have an insatiable will and desire to succeed. Their passions for their projects and ventures drives them to open up businesses and seek out solutions in order to solve problems.
- They are great time managers: Wake up early? Done. Work, go to school, AND manage a family? Done. They go the extra mile to achieve their goals and make time for their goals. Basically they squeeze in as much productivity as they can into the 24 hours that we all get.
- They are not whiners: One of my mentors likes to say to me "don't come to me with the problem, come to me with the solution". That is exactly the mindset that I have noticed in successful entrepreneurs. No matter what obstacle is placed in front of them, they find a way to turn that obstacle into something positive.
- They delegate: No one is perfect. Everybody knows that but successful entrepreneurs know that this is essential for maximum success and efficiency. They find people that are good at things that they are not good at and they delegate tasks and responsibilities to them. By doing this, they save themselves from headaches and who wouldn't say no to less headaches right?
- They have egos: The word ego is often misunderstood. Ego means belief in one's self while conceit is an inflated belief in one's self. The former is what a lot of great entrepreneurs have. They recognize that they need to believe in themselves in order to be successful and they constantly feed their egos.
- They have mentors: Behind every great entrepreneur is a great mentor. Mentors are crucial because they offer guidance, advice and direction to entrepreneurs. Now mentors can come in the form of people, books or believe it or not past experiences.
- They are always learning: Entrepreneurs yearn for knowledge because knowledge is power so they read and obtain information voraciously via any medium.
- They surround themselves with people that challenge them: "You are the sum of the five people you hang around the most" Successful entrepreneurs refuse to accept complacency so they just don't. Excellence is what they strive for so they seek opportunities for challenges and often times these challenges come in the form of their friends.
- They see failure as a stepping stone for future success: They don't dwell on their mistakes, they learn from them. When they fall, they pick themselves up and re-strategize.
- They don't make excuses: I was listening to singer/actor/author/motivational speaker Tyrese Gibson the other day and he said something that really caught my attention. He said "excuses sound best to those who make them". So so deep and so so true. When successful entrepreneurs want something, they go take it. It might take them longer than they anticipated but their eye is always on the prize. Excuses sound best to those who make them.
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