Part II of II
By Madeline Marcelia Garvin
Editor’s note: The following is the second of a two-part presentation on Pulitzer Prize nominate author Clifton Taulbert’s recent visit to Fort Wayne.
Those who missed the inspiring Clifton Taulbert the morning of Feb. 18, were able to sit in on his afternoon address to community guests, collegians and high school students interested in entrepreneurship, a presentation which commenced at 1:00 p.m. at the Scottish Rite Saint Francis’s Downtown META Center. Taulbert’s phenomenal presentation focused on being an entrepreneurial leader in business. Though Taulbert directed his message to a younger audience, he was just as mesmerizing while circulating about the room sharing his experiences working in his Uncle Cleve’s Ice House and his growth and maturation in the Mississippi Delta along with his other business projects along his life’s journey.
For the afternoon session Mr. Taulbert was graciously introduced by the University of Saint Francis’s Busse School of Business and Entrepreneurial that Leadership Dean Robert Lee, who is a former County Treasurer and Accounting Professor at The University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne. “Taulbert ,” said Lee, “is a Pulitzer Prize nominated Author, an entrepreneur, a former bank owner, a member of several boards, an owner of the Roots Coffee Company, a consultant to General Motors and Harvard University, and we are very blessed to have him here today.”
Taulbert’s afternoon lecture, “Entrepreneurial Thinking: The Winning Business Strategy,” based on the book “Who Owns the Ice House: Eight Life-Lessons From an Unlikely Entrepreneur,” by Clifton L. Taulbert and Gary G. Schoeniger makes many salient points. And students and guests were actually schooled regarding entrepreneurial success. Many times Taulbert reiterated that he was one who would not have been identified to attain that which he has because of growing up in the Mississippi Delta during the time of legal segregation. Yet, as he aptly stated the marketplace serves all ages, genders, races and sexes, and the business world what they really want is sustainable success. As Taulbert said, “The easiest thing to do is segment oneself rather than to see our interdependence.”
“Our global society,” said Taulbert, “driven by globalization and advancing technology demands more of us. We don’t live in the world of our grandparents, parents, aunts, and uncles. How you handle the demands and respond is in large part determined by our ability to value other people. This is about winning in the marketplace.”
Taulbert wanted young people to understand that he was able to move beyond his growing up in the Mississippi Delta due to his understanding of the marketplace and his ability to grasp his wellspring, cotton, what the Mississippi Delta is known for, and “because of cotton,” exclaimed Taulbert, “I became who I am. There it wasn’t called entrepreneurial thinking; it was called gumption and get up and go. In those very same fields, I had the opportunity to dream, and no one has control over your dream. “
Most of Taulbert’s successes he pointed out were due to his mentors: his great-aunt, his great-grandfather, his great-uncle and grandfather, who stressed the importance of his getting an education even when he had to venture 100 miles round trip to the colored county high school when the white high school was right behind his house. As Taulbert often reminded the audience, though his world was totally and legally segregated, and had black businesses, the ice house was the only business that served everyone. And when the chance came up to buy the ice house, his great-uncle Cleve made the purchase, and though he owned the ice house, he still had to enter the back door of the bank to make his deposits.
“Entrepreneurial thinking,” said Taulbert “brings with it fortitude.”
He grew up in a world where “everyone said, no; but he said, yes. And, according to Taulbert, the power of entrepreneurial thinking helps you to win where you are.
Delving more deeply into his topic, Taulbert shared a power point presentation entitled: “Powerful and Transformative Entrepreneurial Thinking – Winning Where You Are – - – Seven Winning Strategies.”
Strategy #1 – Choose your mindset. Taulbert then asked, “Do you want a fixed mindset or a growth mindset?’ In a fixed mindset, one will not be able to maximize his/her potential, for the train will be out of the station and you will be left there. As William James says, “Man can alter his life by altering his thinking.”
Strategy #2 – Be determined. These stated Taulbert are code words for hard work.
Strategy #3 – Build a solid relationship bridge. Establishing relationships are important, and as Peter Drucker points out: People are important.
Strategy #4 – Slow down to lead. It’s important not to outrun your own shadow, and reflection is an important part of success.
Strategy #5 – Know your business health metrics: commitment and accountability. It is important to know what works and what doesn’t. From the boardroom to the loading dock, everyone needs to know his or her role, and those roles should be respected by all. Quoting his now deceased friend, Stephen Covey, Taulbert said, “An empowered organization is one in which individuals have the knowledge, skill, desire and opportunity to succeed in a way that leads to success.”
Strategy #6 – Be prepared to swim upstream. You have to use your own muscles; you can’t depend on others, for easy is not guaranteed. Next emphasized Taulbert, as Nelson Mandela wrote: “It always seems impossible until it is done.”
Strategy #7 – Resolve to succeed. Wrestling at midnight is talking to oneself at midnight, and in that wrestling, one is able to bring about what one wants. Quoting President Abraham Lincoln, Taulbert said, “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing.”
Coming to a close, prior to touting his forthcoming book, “The Invitation,” Taulbert said, “America is the only home I know; this is my house, and I want it to be successful. Thus, you have an incredible job to do to repair America’s soul.”
Adjunct Professor David Stehlik, asked Taulbert: How many of the successes you achieved were planned and how many were due to your willingness to take up work that no one wanted to do? To that question Taulbert responded that one works hard, and sometimes one fails; but that failure can be one of the greatest teachers.