1. How did you get into the telecom industry?
I guess I’ve always been an entrepreneur. Even in college, I was selling sandwiches in dorms and started both a pizza business and a carpet business. When I graduated (from Clemson with a degree in political science), I accepted a job from a company called Tel/Man, which was one of the first companies to buy large blocks of long-distance time at a discount and resell it.
2. You’ve received several awards for entrepreneurism. What’s your top advice for companies who want to innovate?
You have to listen to your customers and find out what their needs are. Then you must have a relevant solution. You can’t force a solution that no one needs – you have to have a product or service that someone wants to buy.
3. What are you focusing on now?
I am very involved with Serrus Capital Partners, which I helped co-found. As a Greenville-based real estate investment and management company, we focus on primarily distressed residential housing and mixed-use properties. We then redevelop the properties and either sell or lease them. We currently manage six investment funds and 500 different properties in North Carolina and South Carolina.
4. What keeps you awake at night?
I’m not a very anxious person, I’m almost obnoxiously positive and I really don’t have a lot of big worries. However, I think that we will continue to see more societal and business pressures on health care and personal security and these are business opportunities for the future, as the population continues to age.
5. What will you be talking about at the KeyMark Horizons conference?
I’ll be speaking from the viewpoint of someone who has gone from the outhouse to the penthouse. In other words, I’ve had successes and failures along the way. I plan to share my thoughts on what it takes to win in today’s business climate.
6. What is your favorite technology product/service and why?
We use a great system to control all of our contacts, called Highrise. It is a cloud-based CRM system that really gives me an advantage in my business life. It allows me to keep track of every one of my prospects by recording conversations, meetings and more. I can access the system from my phone, computer or IPAD, which allows me to conduct business wherever I go and keep up with important tasks and deadlines.
7. What is your favorite website or mobile app to use and why? Business or personal?
I love keeping up with Clemson football. If I want to do something besides work, I really enjoy being on the TigerNet.com website.