We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Carlos Wallace a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Hi Carlos, thanks for joining us today. Can you share a customer success story with us?
When I first began producing our monthly comedy series, Houston’s All-Stars of Comedy, I partnered with artists and supporters to help sell the tickets. It was an unorthodox way of selling out shows. Still, my team and I designed the process so it would be mutually beneficial for everyone involved. Ultimately, each person earned $5 for each ticket sold. Obviously, the more tickets you sell, the more money you make. Many people took advantage of the opportunity. However, one woman stands out. Each month, she would purchase between 20 and 30 tickets. I could set a clock to it; she was so consistent! While I appreciated the effort, I could not help but wonder why she purchased so many. One day my curiosity got the best of me. I asked her why she purchased dozens of tickets for every show. She explained that her daughter left her with 2 grandchildren to care for (I did not pry for details). She shared that the money she earned monthly from selling those tickets covered the cost of school lunch! She also found an enterprising way to make these sales. The monthly show became a regular night out for her and several co-workers. As the popularity of these outings grew, she was able to sell more tickets! Her colleagues appreciated and respected her as a manager and used the evening as a team-building experience! In this instance, the show served multiple purposes.
The bonus will always be the laughter and good times everyone attending the long-running show at the Houston Improv enjoyed.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers?
Whenever I am asked to tell my story, I hesitate. How can you sum up a life that is in constant motion?
It’s not as if I do not know what to say; I’m just a firm believer that my “story” is in a persistent state of growth and maturity. Every morning I take a breath is a new beginning and an incredible opportunity to either improve upon what I have been doing or to execute a new project or plan. This has always been my way of thinking. Seize the day, make a difference, and never wait for a handout. My parents and my grandparents instilled that discipline.
I come from a long line of people who worked hard, broke down walls, crashed through ceilings, and even made history. I was raised by a mother who did not tolerate nonsense or disrespect from anyone; an All-star collegiate athlete who was not allowed to sit at the same table with her teammates at restaurants, even when she led them to victory. She gave birth to me after one of the most intense basketball games of her collegiate career. Literally held me in a delivery room hours after sinking a winning basket. Not even the excruciating pain of labor could stop my momma. These examples taught me resilience and patience. It helped me plow through inequities fearlessly, always knowing who I am.
I would spend hours in the private chambers of my grandfather, O’Neal Hunt (the first black judge to sit on the bench in Palestine, Texas’ Anderson County). There, I learned the value of principles, fairness, the law, integrity, and strength of character. My grandparents were married for over 60 years. That taught me commitment and great reverence for the sanctity of family.
I am a fifth-generation railroader inspired by a legacy that drives me to work hard, show up, and go after what I want no matter what opposition I may encounter. My uncle Rube was the first black railroad conductor for Missouri Pacific (one of the first railroads in the United States west of the Mississippi River!) So you see, I have always had outstanding role models.
I joined the Navy because my father (a towering figure at home and in the workplace that everyone respected) encouraged me to explore a world outside of East Texas. Fact is, living up to the memory and the expectations of the men and women who raised me is my driving force. Because of them, I began working at the age of 11 on a paper route I managed for five years.
I grew up in Jacksonville, Texas. Despite traveling the globe (until I finally settled down in Houston), I never underestimated the impact of a small-town upbringing. That background has kept me grounded and proud. I know my East Texas community is always watching, and I never want to disappoint the people who helped raise me. My small-town rearing even kept me out of prison! Thanks to my “village,” my family, and my strong ties to the community, I was given a second chance early in my adult life. Trust me when I tell you, the thought of losing your freedom is a powerful incentive to do right at all times.
The first 40+ years of my “story” inspired a best-selling book (“Life Is Not Complicated, You Are”) and eventually a second book (The Other 99 T.Y.M.E.S: Train Your Mind to Enjoy Serenity). The first chapters of my story speak to what inspired me to start my own company (Sol-Caritas). The journey also gave me the knowledge I needed to manage top entertainers, authors, and journalists. My journey prepared me to become a mentor and youth advisor. It even empowered me to move to New York to begin a new phase of my personal and professional life.
Ultimately, life is a gift that definitely keeps on giving. My charge in the grand scheme of things is to pay whatever benefits I receive forward.
Let’s move on to buying businesses – can you talk to us about your experience with business acquisitions?
Yes, I have. My wife and I recently invested in a bakery called “Lucy Pearl’s Sweets.” When I introduced the idea to my wife, she was surprised I even considered venturing into the food and hospitality industry. By most accounts, it was risky, and very few entrepreneurs made it past the first two to three years! But after hearing the very thorough, comprehensive, and promising pitch from the company’s founder, we both agreed this was well worth the deal. It did not hurt that the CEO and controlling owner was my former manager. I worked with her during my tenure as an Engineer for Union Pacific Railroad. She was a trailblazer, a dominant force in the workplace, and a master at planning, organization, and logistics. Above all, she was a hard worker who valued fairness and professional ethics. Suffice it to say, I admired her for many things, especially her attention to detail. That said, she made becoming an investing partner quite easy. She laid it all out, explained the risks and rewards, had a professional walk us through the process leading up to the financial commitment, and provided us with all the research we needed to make an informed decision. My wife and I did our due diligence, conducted independent research, and consulted with our attorneys and financial advisor. We signed on the dotted line when we received the red light from them. Best investment we’ve made to date!
It wasn’t just about the “business,” though. The inspiration behind the bakery was a huge factor in our decision to invest. Every single product of “Lucy Pearl’s Sweets”-from cakes to cookies and everything in between, is a family recipe passed down from generations! Homemade. No preservatives, no artificial flavoring; everything is prepared with natural ingredients and baked (literally) in-house for the love of the woman who created the recipes (we lovingly call her “Sweets”).
The older I get and the more conscious I become about my health and what I put inside my body (especially snacks), I appreciate the value of having a bakery in our community that takes these concerns to heart.
I believe in the product, the preparation, the history, the owner, and the long-term success of “Lucy Pearl’s Sweets.” We know our investment is in good hands. This confidence definitely helps us sleep at night!
How do you keep your team’s morale high?
People matter. The bottom line is important. Revenue is essential to keep the business going; running a tight ship is critical to continued growth, but it is about the people who help keep it all together.
Never lose sight of the human interest factor. Your workforce is only as strong and dedicated as its leader. If respect, accountability, appreciation, and hard work are not present at the top, your team will feel it, and it will show. Why? Because there is nothing to emulate. There are no incentives to believe in the vision and the mission. Your team will not be motivated. If anything, they will be resentful, unhappy, and unproductive.
I measure “success” by my least happy employee. A satisfied employee is great, but a disgruntled employee is a sign of work to do! That is the barometer. I ask myself, “how do I lift that person’s morale, show them they are valued, and encourage them to work with the team?”
You won’t ever please everyone, of course, but never neglect anyone who has the potential to excel and be great! Everyone in the company should feel like they are winning. That is the Sol-Caritas way.
- Website: www.carloswallace.com
- Instagram: @MrCarlosWallace
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MrCarlosWallace
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carlos-wallace-45b94327
- Twitter: @MrCarlosWallace
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6i-806HYpD9pO7_aQ3K0bw
- Other: Carlos Wallace IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm4977981/
Deonne Moore and Charles Andrews