What’s Your Number?

There are certain transitions that seem logical or obvious but aren’t as easy to make as you would think. Being a entrepreneur doesn’t mean you will be a successful business owner. Many entrepreneurs struggle to make that transition to CEO, and often times their companies out-grow them. That’s why many of the most successful entrepreneurs have had a multitude of successful start-ups, and end up taking a role on the board of directors, or advisors, rather than drive their company into the ground. They know their strengths, and more importantly they know who to hire to get the job they need done, done.

The thing with a successful business plan is that you have to know your niche, and have an exit strategy. Entrepreneurs focus on the beginning, the establishment — developing an idea or concept; many times which comes from creating a convenience that they wanted but couldn’t find. Their end is when they either bow out gracefully, sell or…become the reason it fails.

When ever you start a business, you always have to know your exit strategy — or know where to go once you’ve reached what you were working for. Whether you have a number you want to reach financially so you can walk away and never have to work again (ie, retirement), or your company goes in a direction you do not agree with; and part ways. 

Initially, my plan was to establish this company, remain as majority stock holder and appoint a CEO to manage the team and run the show so I could focus my energy elsewhere — at the time it was returning to being an artist; now its more about philanthropy. Since I’ve grown, that has somewhat changed. My heart isn’t in being a performer, as much as I may miss it or enjoy the brief moments I get to be on stage. I mean, the plan is the same but I wouldn’t go back to being an artist; not full-time anyway. [The reasons I wanted to be an artists were rooted in the idea that that would be the best, and only, way I knew how to reach the people and community, and contribute to making changes, and the impact in my community. I now know better ways to initiate the changes I want to see and make the contributions I want to make…but that is a blog for another day..]

I wouldn’t consider myself an entrepreneur, although over the past few years I have started growing into that role and contributing to the start-up of many different projects that I am passionate about; I never would have been able to be at this position without AG One. I didn’t start AG One to be an entrepreneur. We started it because we knew what we wanted to do, and no one would give us the platform to do that unless we did it ourselves. I never went into the music industry with the sole purpose of getting rich or obtaining fame, but I was conscious of the fact that it was a possibility — the good and bad.

The reason I’m reflecting on this today is because while I was at my buddy’s house helping him unpack from his move he asked me, “Where do you see yourself and where do you want to be, will you be doing AG One forever, or do you plan to walk away?” Honestly, no I won’t do it forever. Once I reach my number — not including assets, property, or investments — I will gladly walk away and move into the next phase of my career and life. I would be able to dedicate my time to my family, and building my own family; and being involved in the philantrophic and community organizations…maybe even get my credentials and get back in the classroom. But for the time being, I have a mission to accomplish — and these are all career moves that will get me to the place that I need, and want, to be in order to really make the passion moves I intend to make.

Picking Up the Towel.

I was supposed to have written this a few months ago; Picking Up the Towel (fast forward the video to 3:20). It was going to be a follow-up to a post I wrote on the Speaker Box . Then life hit — ironically, what I spoke on at 3:02 became relevant to my life, again. You would have thought I would have learned my lesson the first time. But it wasn’t until I was writing the blog I wrote last week about my selling my phone that I was reminded me of this. Now, while it wasn’t the actual story that triggered the realization, it was again the book, “Produced By Faith” by DeVon Franklin — another theme that was a #dammitrandy moment.

I’m not one to pay attention to signs; figuratively speaking. So when God, or the universe, is speaking to me or trying to direct me down a particular path I don’t always acknowledge it. In most cases, its leading me in the direction I am not trying to go in so I, regrettably, make a conscious effort to suppress it. Then I finally give in. I accept it, and more doors open I could have ever imagined. Things start falling in place faster than I can keep up with and its like, “why didn’t I do this sooner?”

In some ways, that’s why I have been on somewhat of a hiatus from blogging. Well, I’ve been blogging, just not on here. I’m sorry for that — but really its myself I’m apologizing to since I created this blog in part to document my journey of growth, trial and triumph that I will one day be able to share with my legacy.

In the past 7 months, I’ve started a new business venture; Edizon Flix Fotografia. Although modest, its growing pretty rapidly. It started out as a hobby, if you could call it that. It was more of a necessity for my artists — head shots, shooting live gigs, etc. I had numerous friends and colleagues asking for me to shoot for them, but I politely declined since it was not my specific area of expertise. One day I agreed to shoot with Arnold Randall…and the next thing I knew gigs piled up and I had some of my work in a feature for a local publication. And a new business venture on my hands.

So this was me, again, refusing to pick up the towel, and get in the game. It only took me 3 years to realize that this is something that I really excel at, as well, being rather lucrative with. Whether it be the growth of confidence in my ability, or the idea that something kept pushing me down this path, I’m here now and I’m enjoying it. I’ve always felt like folks who have too many creative ventures are indecisive, or don’t know what to take seriously so they try to do it all. That is why I was reluctant with owning this craft. I never want to venture too far from AG One, but I do feel this is another avenue in which I can build within the company and support my artists with — and that was my sole purpose when I started out.

Only time will tell where it goes from here. But I’ve picked up the towel, and for me that is always the hardest part.

Remember Who You Wanted to Be.

I am in the process of changing phone carriers. I figure, I could make a small profit — or at least supplement the cost of the new phone — by selling my old one on craigslist. I put it up for a modest price, same amount you would pay in deductible cost for a “lost or stolen” phone, which is still twice as much as you would get from a buy-back program. I got several hits, and committed to the first guy who agreed upon my asking price. Later that day I got an email from another guy who was in dire need of a phone and was willing to pay me enough above my asking price if I were to hold it for him. I agreed. But when we met to make the sale, he didn’t have the full amount agreed upon.

A number of thoughts went through my head:

– I got greedy; I got duped.
– I have a waiting list of people who I can get more money from.
– This isn’t my problem; no sale [walk away].

It was at that moment I had to check myself, and take a step back. I wasn’t present in the situation, nor with the person in front of me. My industry can leave people very jaded, and its a conscious effort to be able to recognize when its happening; to maintain compassion.

So lets paint the picture. Initially we met at Starbucks, but ended up going to the near by sprint store so someone could help us with the change. I pull up looking for a green car, and right away I spot him in the back row by himself chillin in his car. He was pretty grimy. He had no shoes, and his feet were pretty dirty from walking around barefoot for what seemed to be quite some time. A dirty white shirt with holes and khaki shorts that looked like they haven’t been washed in some time. I can only assume he works in the construction industry or possibly in the window installment business because of the company name and logo on his shirt. A job in which not having a phone meant he wasn’t getting calls for work.

After not being able to make the switch over the phone with account services, we decided to go to the sprint store. I can’t even explain the loud screech that came from his engine as he turned on his car. As we drove, it appeared that he wasn’t able to go over 35mph — thank God that the Sprint store was only a few blocks away. He had one tire that was a spare, and the rest had mix matched tires and rims. It looked like he could have been living out of his ’92 corolla, but he had shared with me that he had just gotten that car that morning.

While we were at the sprint store, he was sharing with me the story of what he had been through the past couple weeks. If anyone needed a break, it was this guy. So after all the hoops we had to jump through to get the phone activated, I asked him if he had the money. He looked at me and said, “I did this morning…but I needed gas to get here, and I was hungry…and this is what I have left.” I don’t know what face I made but he looked a little worried to ask, “Can you work with that?”

Initially I was gonna snap and say, “No.” Have the rep switch everything back and be on my way because like I said before — I had other people who were willing to pay me more. But when I took that step back I was able to see, whats a couple dollars if its really going to help this guy out? I almost missed an opportunity to help someone who really needed a W in the win column.

I think this moment came so timely and weighed so heavy on my heart because of the book I’m currently reading, “Produced By Faith” by DeVon Franklin. He speaks on a very heavy theme through out the book this far; not compromising who you are for your career. I can’t say that I’ve stayed the same person; its impossible. But what I can do is be conscious traits that I do not want to to be part of my character.

When I started down this career path years back, Cliff and I made a promise to each other not to lose sight of who we wanted to be, and how we wanted to get there — and keep each other accountable. We’ve spoke about this recently, and he said I needed to get back to blogging…hence the story. This was one of those moments. Always remember who you wanted to be.

[hindsight: I could have had him make a deposit via paypal to hold it for him, and collected the rest in person…but that’s not the point of this story]