Dr. Randal Pinkett is an esteemed entrepreneur, speaker, author, and community activist best known for winning season four of The Apprentice. He was previously featured in the Winners’ Circle of The Edge, this is an excerpt from that interview.
A lot of people consider you to be an extremely successful person. How do you measure your success and leadership?
I have a definition of success. I also have a definition of a related concept called greatness. The definitions are very simple. For me, success is what you do for yourself, while greatness is what you do for somebody else. Success is measured by things like power, money, fame, fortune, and influence, but greatness is measured by service, benevolence, compassion, and things that make a difference in the lives of other people. And so, you could measure my success by the revenue that my company generates. You could also measure my success by the number of academic degrees I’ve obtained, or by the number of business ventures I’ve launched. But I’m more concerned about how you measure my greatness; how you measure the lives I’ve impacted, the example I have provided to others, the impact I have made in society. These, to me, are the markers of greatness. One of my favourite quotes is from the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Everyone can be great because everyone can serve.” I believe we’re not called through our work to be successful, although there’s nothing wrong with being successful; but I do believe we’re being called to be great, to be of service to others, in the words of Dr. King.
What are your sources of inspiration? Where do you draw inspiration in life and in business?
I draw a lot of inspiration from my business partners. We went to school together and we’ve known each other for more than 20 years. We developed what I might call a fellowship, a brotherhood, a relationship that transcends business. It’s personal and it’s professional for us. We’re very close, as we’ve known each other for more than half of our lives. So we keep each other motivated and focused. We are committed to a vision of helping people, of helping communities and that’s really the core of what we do at BCT [Partners], and why we provide a range of consulting services, research services, data analytic services and technology services. At the end of the day, we are about empowering people, empowering communities, empowering organizations and making a really positive difference. That vision, and the people that I work with, are what keep me motivated.
They say that the first 100 days in office are always the most critical, difficult, and challenging part of being a CEO. Do you believe so? What was your experience?
Absolutely! And I would argue that for an entrepreneur who is launching a company, those 100 days look very different than they would for someone who is taking over a company. My first 100 days were unpredictable and challenging. We didn’t quite know where the next paycheque was going to come from. We were operating in the midst of tremendous uncertainty and that’s very different from someone who’s been hired to lead an established company, which certainly has its own challenges, but it’s a different set of challenges. For me, my biggest challenge was trying to make something out of nothing. As an entrepreneur, you have none of the scaffolding that an established company has. You have no HR department, no IT department, no finance department. You are all these things and you’re also the one who collects the garbage and puts it out. You are everything to your business and you’re required to wear different hats on different days and in different circumstances. For me, the biggest challenge was how to convince people to give us business when we had no track record. How do we secure new customers? How do we engender a track record when we’re completely new to the marketplace? That, to me, was the biggest challenge: making something out of nothing.
Shirley Graham | Contributing Writer