How I Became an Entrepreneur
After graduating from Liberty University with a dual degree in Finance and Economics, I quickly took the first job I could find at a car sales lot in Lynchburg, Virginia. My precious and young wife, Joanne Parker, was pregnant with our first child, Jody, and being the good husband I strive to be I worked to provide for my very new family. As destiny would have it a local business executive came in to buy a car and was impressed with my untrained and instinctive sales abilities or as he put it my “gift of gab”. Shortly after our meeting this gentlemen offered me a job at a division of General Electric, headquartered in Lynchburg, Virginia. By the grace of God, and after only two years my business channel was generating upwards of $100 million in revenue, not a small feat and one I am forever proud of.
In 1999 I finally acted upon my entrepreneurial spirit, moved to Mobile, Alabama and started a small paging company. Around the same time we also welcomed our second child into the world, Trey Parker, rest assured our hands were full. As technology rapidly changed as did my customers needs. After listening to customers and leveraging on forward thinking technology I pivoted the company and became a first-mover in a new telecommunication technology called Unified Communications. I learned innovation is driven by necessity. As I spoke with customers I learned of their paint points and positioned our solutions to fix those exact needs. We quickly rebranded the company and launched Callis Communications, at the time the leading provider of cloud-based unified communications as a service for businesses. Based in Mobile, Alabama, Callis served customers in key business markets across the globe, and for the six consecutive years, was recognized as one of the fastest growing telecommunications and cloud communications companies on the Inc. 5000 list. Callis started with only six employees and quickly grew to 80+ employees as adoption of the technology grew and our customer base expanded. In 2013 the company saw 300% growth in revenue and boasted 800 customers worldwide. It was a dream come true to build such an innovative and values based company that was a trailblazer in the communications industry. Around this time not only did the company see great growth but also my family continued to grow! We had a full house of 4 including Jody, Trey, Lauren and Zach. Again Joanne and I had our hands full.
After an exciting time of growth and innovation, in a bid to expand market presence and boost product offerings I sold the company to C Spire, a diversified telecommunications and technology services company that provides world-class customer-inspired service and a superior comprehensive suite of customer-inspired wireless communications, high-speed Internet access and a range of other telecommunications products and services to consumers and businesses.
After the sale of the company I still felt the desire to give back to the community that nurtured Callis and my family for 14 years. This prompted me to yet again step outside of my comfort zone, and Dream Big. After taking a year “off” dedicated to my family, I decided to take on a few new challenges.
In the less than two years since the sale of Callis I launched a new investment company, led an array of community and local government initiatives and – most recently was tapped by Dr. Ben Carson to lead his presidential campaign’s national finance operation. I met Dr. Carson through a mutual acquaintance more than four years ago, a true friendship forged not just between us but also our families. When his presidential race conversation first began I told Dr. Carson, God has given me another direction, and here we are. We became even better friends, and I became very busy working for the good Doctor. During my tenure serving Dr. Carson, the campaign was positioned as a party leader, in many cases tied with the likes of leading republican nominee, Donald J. Trump. Our hard-working team helped to raise record-breaking donations metrics, unrivaled at the time and surely unbelievable at the genesis of the campaign. I’ve said before, our learning through this process is that the American people felt like they had a voice and made incredible donations and this matched with the message Dr. Carson championed, fixing our fiscal irresponsibility and getting rid of the divisiveness in this country. Those themes continue to resonate and I’ve seen people first hand open up and I’ve been absolutely impressed with the spirit of the American people.
While Dr. Carson’s Presidential campaign has ended his message continues to ring on the airwaves and I truly believe the world is a better place today than what is was just a few, short months ago. Today I travel the world sharing the message of success and unity to thousands of business leaders and innovators, sharing my many lessons learned and innovative best practices in the areas of entrepreneurship, technology, economics, politics, faith and family.
Dreaming big, striving for more innovation, entrepreneurship, faith and family really can’t be separated. It’s not about getting to the top the quickest. It’s about sharing experiences. It’s about leaving a legacy and light on the world for all to see. It’s about family and leaving the world a better place for them. It’s about making this great big world a smaller place through conversations and collaboration, and if you’re doing it right, it never gets old.