This turned out to be a wise choice because shortly afterward, the person providing the financing, who happened to be a former student of mine, embezzled $2 million from his company and fled the country. This experience taught me two valuable lessons: to thoroughly research those I do business with and to never let emotions cloud sound decision-making.
The second happened after I got into finance. I initially started a business in Charleston called Atlantic Strategic Business Planning, franchising from a group in Greenwich, Connecticut consisting of a CPA, a tax attorney, and an insurance expert. Our business model involved providing technical and marketing support for a local accounting firm. We were highly successful until changes in CPA regulations allowed them to start accepting commissions. Our client patted us on the head and said, “We really appreciate all your help, but we got it from here.” That’s when I learned how to pivot whenever rules start changing.
Do you have a personal mantra or motto?
I adhere strongly to the Golden Rule. That is, treating everyone, regardless of their position, the way I'd like to be treated. It's a universal concept, and I believe strongly in its value. Additionally, a phrase I've passed on to my 18-year-old son, inspired by Tony Horton, is "try your best and forget the rest," which underscores the importance of giving your all in everything you do.
If you could hit rewind, is there anything you would do differently?
Looking back, I realize that, despite being well-trained in the field, I lacked confidence in my ability to communicate effectively with people. I had plenty of confidence as a pilot and an engineer, but I was missing it in the financial world.
This lack of confidence, possibly compounded by imposter syndrome and the age gap with clients, made me doubt my expertise. I often felt like I was missing something crucial, which led me to undervalue my own capabilities. Looking back, I see that the financial plans I created in my mid-twenties were remarkably sophisticated, but my confidence struggles prevented me from fully embracing entrepreneurship at that time. Instead, I ended up working for a consulting firm, which, while a valuable experience, delayed my journey as an independent business owner, where I could have built my client base and taken more entrepreneurial initiatives.