Forward with NACCE

Overcoming the Fear of Failure. The Story of Craig M. Chavis Jr. Burdens of A Dream.

September 01, 2021 Craig M. Chavis Jr., MBA Season 2021 Episode 34
Forward with NACCE
Overcoming the Fear of Failure. The Story of Craig M. Chavis Jr. Burdens of A Dream.
Show Notes Transcript

Anyone who dares to abandon the status quo, follow the road not taken, and discover the person they are truly meant to become will enjoy this episode. Award-Winning Author, Business Strategist, and Serial Entrepreneur Craig M. Chavis Jr. and host Jeff Smith explore how to overcome the fear of failure with tips for everyone to apply to further their entrepreneurial journey. 

Don't forget to register for your in-person or virtual ticket to the NACCE Annual Conference on October 3-6. This year, our lineup of mainstage topics ranges from healing social unrest to innovation and inclusion in the classroom to policy change, giving you a great opportunity to hear from some of the top minds in the industry.

Rebecca Corbin:

Welcome to Making Our Way Forward, a podcast where we share compelling life stories and learn from the experience of everyday entrepreneurs. At NACCE, we celebrate diversity and invite you to join the conversation. As we talk to entrepreneurs and leaders from all walks of life. We hope that by telling their stories, we bring you inspiration, empower you to take action, and ignite entrepreneurship in your community.

Jeff Smith:

Okay, so welcome to Making Our Way Forward, I'm so excited to be here with Craig Chavis, Jr. He is award-winning author, interdisciplinary coach on a mission to actually help entrepreneurs; he's also as a serial entrepreneur himself. He's many things such as being a part of a Peace Corps, and he is someone that I'm so excited to talk to. So welcome, Craig.

Craig M. Chavis Jr.:

Thanks, Jeff. Thanks, Natalia. Thanks, Dr. Corbin, for having me on this podcast. I'm super excited to be speaking with you all today.

Jeff Smith:

So Craig, we here at Making Our Way Forward, we're actually thinking about the ways, in which many people are seeking to make sense of who they are, where they're going, particularly, in light of some of the things is going on around us. So we turn on the news, we see things about COVID, we see what's happening in Afghanistan and Haiti. And so in light of what's going on what has kept you motivated?

Craig M. Chavis Jr.:

So when, I work with clients, I always tell them in order to begin, you must look within. And so what I mean by that statement is that, you know, you yourself should be motivating you to achieve whatever goals and targets that you have in life. And so for me, one of the things that keeps me going, is my goal of becoming a better and higher version of myself. And it's not easy, it's very, very uncomfortable. But to me is like stagnation is an enemy of growth. And so if I'm constantly pushing myself and motivating myself to become a bigger and better version of myself, now, that's what keeps me motivating. Because if you're looking outside of yourself, to find inspiration, you're going to lose inspiration very, very quickly, like you must let your own creative fire and keep your own self going. And you'll never, ever stop.

Jeff Smith:

Wow, that's amazing. So I know that you are a coach, and you help entrepreneurs to actually discover their purpose. So with this said, I would love to hear about how you're helping to kind of cultivate and facilitate this motivation for others at this time.

Craig M. Chavis Jr.:

So one of the primary tools I give all my clients who are these aspiring entrepreneurs, is this tool called the value creation framework. And so basically, it's devised from three core elements. Number one, analyzing your skills, number two, analyzing your passions. But then thirdly, most importantly, analyzing market demand. Because when you find a business where you're great at something, and you love creating that thing, and then the market also demands and wants that you're not only creating value for yourself, you're creating value for the market as well. Because my one of my core philosophies is that money is only a byproduct of the value that you create for others. And so in business, you want to be doing something that you enjoy, and that you are talented at doing. Because if you're producing a poor product, nobody's ever going to buy that. If you are lacking, if you're, if you have skill, but you're lacking your passions, you're eventually going to burn out. But if you are combining your skills and your passions with market demand, you're going to like I said, create value for yourself and create value for others. So that's why I say no, in order to begin, like you must look within, and that's going to strategically position you to build something of value that's going to stand the test of time.

Jeff Smith:

Wow, thank you so much for that. One of the things I've learned interviewing entrepreneurs and people who practice the entrepreneurial mindset is that oftentimes they have a story. And that story often inspires them and is a way that we come to understand how they have kind of began to practice what they preach, if you will. So I would love for you if you want to share with us as a part of your story in light of what has inspired and lead you to do the work that you're doing, and also on your own kind of entrepreneurial journey.

Craig M. Chavis Jr.:

Awesome. Well, me being an award-winning author, let me take y'all on a little journey. So my name is Craig. And like, I'm originally from Cincinnati, Ohio. And growing up, I moved around a lot because of my father's job. And one of the lessons that he taught me. He's like, if you run into a glass ceiling, or if you, if you running out of opportunities, sometimes you might have to uproot yourself, change your location, and create your own opportunities. And so that's what we did, we moved all across the state. And so the next place we move was Cleveland. And growing up, I had a severe speech impediment. And after school, I had to do Hooked on Phonics to improve my speaking abilities. And my mother taught me. She's like, if you have a problem, you're going to have to be the one to solve your problem, you're going to have to work really hard. And so I did Hooked on Phonics every day, from third grade to the eighth grade. And now today, you know, I'm a public speaker, and I speak multiple languages, but I never would have gotten that if I wouldn't have learned that lesson early on. But one of the things that really inspired me to get into entrepreneurship was my love of music. At 15, I became a team DJ, in Columbus and I actually started my first LLC at 15 years old. And so I did that because though we didn't come from a lot of money, and so I used those proceeds to spend on buy my own car and just being a teen male, like I was, but what kept me grounded, you know, outside of music and business was athletics, I was good enough to get a football scholarship that took me down to Birmingham, Alabama. And that was my dream was going to go to the NFL. But my sophomore year, suffered a career ending injury, and I almost dropped out. But my Spanish Professor convinced me to study abroad in Costa Rica, and going to another country, you know, changing my environment, creating this opportunity is what really, really inspired me to come back and focus on my entrepreneurial studies. And also envision that I could be an international businessman. So I got done with my four-year degree and moved down to Florida, knocked out my MBA in less than a year. And when I was interviewing at some of these tech companies, I realized that I didn't want to sit in a cubicle for the rest of my life. I didn't want to manage, you know, teams and just be in this office setting. I wanted to do something more fulfilling. And so right before I graduated, I ran into a Peace Corps recruiter who was like, you make the perfect Peace Corps volunteer. Now you're fluent in Spanish, you're entrepreneurial, you're creative, you should apply and see what happens. And so I applied for the Peace Corps. And that's what took me down to Peru for two and a half years where I was a Community Economic Development Facilitator, aka a business coach. But I also taught youth entrepreneurship on the side. And when I was teaching youth entrepreneurship in these different colleges, one of my co-professors was a distiller. And after class, he taught me how to distill. And so I sold the liquors that we were making two out of the farmers, small business owners that I was coaching on the side. And this is what inspired me to move back to Peru by myself and opened up one of the country's first branded craft distilleries. And it was a really successful venture in less than nine months, we got four products to market, we export it globally. But when I approached my landlord to sign the lease to extend my stay on the property, they confessed that they didn't own the business didn't own the land. And so I was defrauded of my dream business. But what I realized is that that wasn't a failure, like to fail is just experience a first attempt in learning. And so since that whole experience in 2017, I've gone on to manage a travel company in Costa Rica, I got into blockchain app development in Washington, DC. And now I find myself as like this business coach and business strategist that specializes in helping entrepreneurs to overcome the fear of failure, and start their business. So for me, the reason why I'm doing what I'm doing is because I have that real life experience of overcoming failure to start multiple businesses. And it's just something that doesn't feel like work to me, and I really enjoy what I do to this day.

Jeff Smith:

That's amazing. Craig, I heard you say, mentioned in there about the youth entrepreneurship. And so we just recently interviewed a youth entrepreneur, it was very interesting interview. So I would love we're also focused on supporting student entrepreneurs as well. And so, I would love to hear about your passion to support the youth entrepreneurs and some of the kind of visions and dreams you have around that particular goal.

Craig M. Chavis Jr.:

Yeah, well, the reason why teaching youth entrepreneurship is so critical is that today the world is completely flat. It's not the way it used to be. We're in a very, very competitive job market. And so so quickly, things are changing. Well, the people who are most adaptive to change are people with an entrepreneurial mindset or an entrepreneurial disposition. Because the thing is, is that entrepreneurship really isn't just about creating a business, it's really about a way of thinking and about creating a life or career that you have more control over. And guess what, like, if you work for somebody else, you can still be an entrepreneur. And that's really being an entrepreneur. And so as long as you have this entrepreneurial disposition, you're going to be a very, very valuable entrepreneur working for yourself. Or you could be a very, very viable employee, creating an innovating for other people at your current job. And so for me, I think introducing a lot of entrepreneurial curriculum to students, starting in middle school, particular in high school especially helps them to develop this entrepreneurial mindset that's going to position them for success in their careers in this ever changing world.

Jeff Smith:

Right. Thank you for that. I know that you are you were a Peace Corps volunteer. And you mentioned how entrepreneurship is not just about business creation, per se, but it is about problem solving. And so I would love to ask you, what are some of the problems that you are interested in solving using that entrepreneurial mindset at this time.

Craig M. Chavis Jr.:

So one of the things that's really important to me is equity. And that's kind of like flattening the playing field, because in entrepreneurship, at least, you know, in the community that I grew up in, we were never taught what an entrepreneur really was, we only associated entrepreneurship, with somebody with particular being a white male, or somebody who comes from a privileged background. And so if you don't have access to resources, if you don't have access to knowledge, if you don't have access to money, it's really, really difficult for you to pursue an entrepreneurial path. And so I remember growing up, one of my mentors told me, he's like, I have this formula for success. It's called the PIE formula. The P stands for image, the I stands for No, the P stands for performance, the AI stands for image, and the E stands for exposure. And he's like, Craig, which variable do you think is the most impactful? And so for me, being an athlete, I'm like, it's performance. The people who work the hardest are the ones who succeed the most. But he's like, Craig, no, it's actually exposure. And so as I've matured, and grown within my life, in my career, I've realized that the people who are who have exposure to opportunities, who have exposure to money, who have exposure to resources, exposure to people, these are the people who are going to, you know, succeed quicker. And so we transform that same formula over to entrepreneurship, if we can, you know, flatten the playing field and give everybody more equitable access to this knowledge, to this money to this resources. Now, this is going to change the game, because there's genius everywhere. There's people who are hard working everywhere. But if you don't know certain things, you can't do certain things, and you do better when you know better. So equity is probably the number one thing that I'm hoping to pursue and achieve, you know, with teaching entrepreneurship to the youth into the masses.

Jeff Smith:

While that is beautiful, equity is certainly a very important value for us in NACCE; I love how you have, how you think about entrepreneurship, both as business creation, but also as ways to solve some of these comprehensive problems. With this, I have also been able to take a look at some of your work through your book. So you've written a book called burden of dreams. So can you tell us about what inspired you to write that book and a little bit about? What what that contains for us?

Craig M. Chavis Jr.:

Yeah, so the story of burns of a dream is literally my memoir about leaving the U.S., joining the Peace Corps, starting a business and recording the life and business lessons from those experiences. And like I said, I remember the day that I had to close my distillery, and I and I look back. And like I said, initially, I felt like a failure. But I realized that like I said, there is no failure. There's only feedback. And so when I moved back to Ohio in 2019, and I was sharing my story, I ran into a guy who was a publisher, and he's like, Craig, you have a book in you. And I'm like, No, I don't. I'm just an average guy. I know who had these experiences that were kinda extraordinary. But he's like, you need to share your story with the world. And so after I signed the book deal like that project transmuted from just a brighting a book into a calling. And I wrote in the introduction that this book is dedicated to all those who dare to abandon the status quo, follow the road not taken and discover the person they're truly meant to become. And so to me, as much as I was writing those words to myself, I was writing those words to my readers, as well. Because guess what - every dream that you have, has a price, has a cost associated with it. And if you're willing to bear the burden of your dream, if you're willing to pay a cost that other people aren't willing to pay, you're going to get you're going to live a life that most people can only dream of. So that's why it's entitled Burdens of a Dream. But.. Furthermore, within the book, I also redefined entrepreneurship. I defined an entrepreneur, as anyone who's willing to take a calculated risk, to create something out of nothing, and share with the world. And as I, you know, introduced in the beginning of our conversation, most people only associate entrepreneurship with business. But like I said, it's really more about creating a life that you have more control and direction over. And so for me writing that book, and sharing my story with the world, but while also providing them with 33 actionable nuggets of wisdom, which are those life and business lessons. Now, I was able to help people to avoid a lot of the mistakes that I made, so that they can expedite their entrepreneurial journey. And since writing that book, you know, my life has changed forever. And this is why I always lead with my personal story. And it's allowed me to create a better brand, it's allowed me to, you know, meet so many amazing people. It's allowed me to build more authentic relationships. And it's just been the best thing that's ever happened to me.

Jeff Smith:

Wow...That's amazing. I love hearing that. One of the quotes that I read of yours that really inspired me is the following. And I would love to kind of hear you expound on this a little bit. But you say that "the creative entrepreneur accepts the possibility of failure and maximizes the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. Some expectations may fall short of reality. And there's always a chance you may not accomplish your goals. Weigh your options, take calculated risk, and remember, decisions are what separates the doers from the dreamers." I want you to talk a little bit about the about the separation between the doers and the dreamers. If we, if we find ourselves, you know, which we love dreaming, it does amazing. But if we find ourselves in that space, how do we kind of transition over to become on those doors as well?

Craig M. Chavis Jr.:

One word, action. It's that simple. But it's not easy. Because what prevents people from taking action is this four letter word called fear. And so what people say fear means is what false evidence appearing real. And so like when I consult with so many aspiring entrepreneurs, they'll tell me, Hey, you know, I can't start a business because I don't have enough time. I don't have enough money. I don't have enough knowledge, not enough resources, not enough support. But in all actuality, those reasons for not starting a business should fuel you and inspire you to take action. But it's like, you know, and we've studied millions entrepreneurs. I'm a case study. There's other people like me, who have overcome all of those limiting beliefs to start our businesses. Why is that? What is the difference between me starting a business and somebody who hasn't started a business? Well, it's the fact that I've overcome the fear of failure, to leap out on faith, to take action, to see if this idea that I have in my mind to see if this dream can become a reality. And so the difference between a dream and a doer is just taking action. And here's like a big secret that every entrepreneur knows that most aspiring entrepreneurs don't know. And it's that you learn while doing by doing. So the key there is that you're only going to figure out what your next best step is. After you take your next best step. Like you literally have to walk on faith. And of course, you do this in a strategic way. You don't try to do everything by yourself. But the way that you become a doer is by putting in work and taking action. Is that simple, but it's not easy.

Jeff Smith:

Right, Craig! Um, my dad is a is a Southern Baptist preacher, and he may oftentimes, you know makes mention of this idea of being able to walk by faith, you know. And I love that you mentioned that. And also, I've heard him say a number of times, you know that the message is to calm and follow me. So it's an experiential kind of message. And so to your point, oftentimes, it seems that it means to dive in, and to grab it and embrace it, which are wholesale. So I love that one more quote that I really was inspired by. It says that "the creative entrepreneur checks their ego at the door, and teams up with others to develop mutually beneficial relationships. Realize that nobody is truly self made. And only narcissists believe they're successful, exclusively based upon their mirror, avoid this trap. Humble yourself by working with like-minded people to accelerate your learning curve and increase productivity." In a world where, particularly adults are made to feel that they should already know everything, how do you cultivate that type of humility, enter continue to be a kind of lifelong learner up against that type of culture and rationale?

Craig M. Chavis Jr.:

Well, I mean, that's a beautiful question to ask after the question, the prior question, because we are talking about fear, right? Well, one of the things I've learned is that you have to do stuff while you're afraid. And so when you're doing stuff, while you're afraid, it forces you to do things that you typically wouldn't do. But that fear it humbles you because you realize that you don't know everything. And because people naturally don't want to experience failure. One of the best ways to avoid failure is to find people who have already accomplished that very thing that you want to accomplish. So that's why it's so important to be resourceful, and to reach out and ask for help. Because like, why would you logically want to reinvent the wheel when you don't have to? If I know you, Jeff, or you Natalia, have accomplished or have built a business that I want to build naturally, it should be wise for me to ask for help. And who knows, that could help me to expedite my growth, and help me to accomplish those goals much quicker than I would find myself. And so developing that humility, being resourceful, which I think is the number one attribute of a successful entrepreneur, it's just the strategic and the wise thing to do, because none of us are self made. We all had help getting to where we are at in life. And why not, you know, ask, ask for help. I mean, closed mouths don't get fed. And so it's just a smart and wise thing to do. And entrepreneurship is the ask for help.

Jeff Smith:

Yeah, we hear you. You mentioned again, beer, I was just thinking, oftentimes, the fear is like a fear of rejection. And so I would just as a kind of a continuation, can you expound a little bit more specifically how to overcome maybe a fear of rejection?

Craig M. Chavis Jr.:

Well, here's the funny thing. If you don't do something, the answer is no. If you do do something, the answer could be no. But the only way to convert a rejection into a yes, is to do something. And so that's just like, the obvious, like mental game that I play. It's like, okay, if I don't do what I need to do, nothing's gonna change. But the only way for something to change is for me to take an action and to try. And so if you don't try, you'll never get to where you want to go. But if you do try, there's a chance that of course, you might not receive that. Yes. But by trying, you'll get to that yes, eventually. So that's how you overcome failures, just knowing that if you do do something, then you can make whatever you want happen.

Jeff Smith:

Greg, I would, I would argue that we are in a time of great change on there paradigm shifts, there are a lot of interesting opportunities in the form of problems that we see. So I believe we need entrepreneurs in every regard - social, civic, business entrepreneurs. So you say that becoming an entrepreneur is something that everyone can do. So I would ask you, what would you say to the reluctant entrepreneur at this time?

Craig M. Chavis Jr.:

I would say like what is the cost of doing nothing? And that's a question that most people won't ask. Because in life, we've kind of been programmed to think that hey, doing nothing is a safety, doing nothing is, you know, not making a move is okay. But I think about chess. And it's like in chess, the objective is to know checkmate to capture the king. Well, not moving is probably the worst thing that you could do. Because if you're not moving the rest of the world, the other pieces are consistently moving. And so like the cost of doing nothing, is something that I'm not willing to bear. And so just realize that if you don't do anything, nothing will ever change. And so if you want to see the change in the world, you have to represent the change that you wish to see. So if you're reluctant entrepreneur, just know that, like, you're the reason why things aren't moving forward. So for me, that's why the cost of doing nothing is something that I like to mention to people, because that's what really gets people to reframe, and rethink and the question, okay, I need to take some action, because it's really on me to be the change that I wish to see in the world.

Jeff Smith:

If that doesn't give you a sense of a sense of urgency, I don't know what will. So, Craig, thank you so much for your time. This has been amazing. I think so many people are going to be able to benefit from what you have shared with us as being inspirational. It's been informative, and honestly personally has been motivational. So, thank you. Thank you, again, so much for being on Making Our Way Forward.

Craig M. Chavis Jr.:

Thank you, Jeff. Thanks Natalia for having me on. And I'm really grateful for this opportunity to share my story and offer some inspirational nuggets of wisdom that people can apply to further their entrepreneurial journey. So, thanks for having me on.

Jeff Smith:

Thank you so much for joining us. We hope the listening to this podcast will help you to explore the many ways we might define entrepreneurship. Join us every other Wednesday for more episodes as we celebrate opportunity. learn from one another and grow together. Subscribe to this podcast connect with us on social media, and learn more about today's speakers at nacce.com. We look forward to making our way forward together with you.

Rebecca Corbin:

Have you heard about our latest book IMPACT Ed, how community college entrepreneurship creates equity and prosperity. This is our roadmap for building back better in 50 states and globally. In each chapter, we share the inspiring stories of everyday entrepreneurs and explain how community colleges play a crucial role in their success. Visit us at nacce.com/impacted to order your copy now and join us in this work.