The year was 2014, and I had, “started from the bottom now I’m here,” on repeat.
I was preparing to graduate from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a major in Biomedical Engineering, minor in Technology & Management, starting my first businesses, and receiving multiple job offers - life was good and I was happy.
But I knew my narrative was not the archetype of a started from the bottom entrepreneur.
I grew up in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado. My dad was a successful, business-savvy sales executive and my mom was an engineer by education and a creative by passion. I like to think that I’m a pretty much an even split between the two. I had my dad’s business acumen and emotional intelligence and my mom’s creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. Comparing myself to my peers — I had thoughts that others wouldn’t respect me as an entrepreneur because I didn’t have a humbling story that catapulted me to success.
Rewind to 2012, I remember having a series of pretty intense breakdowns and bouts of depression on campus. Covered with a smile, everyone thought I was fine but, put simply, I was doing the most. I stressed myself out with overcommitting, got about 3 hours of sleep a night, and was consumed with the thought that I had to live up to everyone else’s expectations of me. I was humbled really fast and learned the importance of prioritizing self and only committing to things that aligned with my passions or purpose.
I shed the things that didn’t make me happy, and pursued the things that did.
Fast forward to 2016, I’m balancing a 9-5 in Corporate America as an IT consultant while also leading the company’s diversity council with co-managing, leading, and growing a series of side-hustles:
- The Black Burdell, a nonprofit focussed on promoting, supporting and cultivating young, black entrepreneurs
- The Too Fly Foundation, a nonprofit that hosts happy hours, brunches, and day parties across the country to provide passports and travel grants to students in underserved communities
- And the Be Great Brand, a branding agency, apparel company and motivational platform
You would think this all would be a huge challenge — you’re absolutely right. It’s challenging as hell. But when you are walking in your purpose, challenges look more like opportunities.
I now thrive off of challenges. (Tell me what I can’t do, please!)
I now love to see others win. (One team, one dream.)
I now find more value in collaborating than competing. (I call it collabetition).
I now understand that everyone has a story and a unique definition of greatness.
I now truly believe I grew up blessed to be a blessing to others. (#GREATful)
I spend a lot of time connecting with others — I used to have the mindset of doing everything on my own, but once I learned to reach out to others, learn from their lessons, delegate responsibility, build teams, and improve efficiency - my personal brand started to take form.
It was a process, a long, ugly, frustrating process, but I learned to enjoy it.
Now we’re here, 2018, I’ve relocated to Dallas, published my first branding workbook, hosted CreativelyLIT fundraisers across the country with the Too Fly Foundation, hosted our second conference and awarded thousands of dollars in scholarships with The Black Burdell. I’m coaching countless entrepreneurs and creatives on building their brands, and I’m inspiring greatness through The Be Great Brand — it’s actually, very lit.
The truth is that I had to do these things first:
Understand the difference between doing your job and fulfilling your purpose (shout out to Hov).
Know your worth, add tax, and never devalue your brand.
Put yourself in an environment to win, with a winning team.
Find your niche: innovate, integrate, elevate.
2018 is all about scaling, collaborating, and winning together.
— Bmills, @thatguybmills
More of what I do: