You're gonna fail, Period.
For our next feature in the entrepreneurship series, we interviewed Julius (Jay) Holmes, founder of Lord Resume, a modernized career training and resume-writing company. Jay, like most of us, left his cushy corporate job to start his own company. He has the unique perspective of being raised overseas, so we coupled that with his experience as a business owner to find out how being a nontraditional African-American entrepreneur has changed him:
What was it like growing up Black?
Well firstly, I think it was good (LOL) and it’s interesting because I was just talking to some high schoolers about this yesterday. I think from a challenges perspective, for me it came from other black people, from this kind of ‘Are you Black enough' type of thing. If you speak intelligently, if you’re punctual, if you’re not necessarily into hip hop or super materialistic, you’re not considered Black enough and so my struggles as far as being Black came from feeling like I wasn’t a part of the wider community.
Has that influenced you as you’ve grown to be part of different communities in your personal and professional life? How has it changed you?
Well initially I think I wanted to fit in and some of the things I pursued were in an attempt to be accepted. And it never really worked because ultimately you’re faking it and people either on a conscious or subconscious level can tell when you’re faking. I think just growing up and becoming more and more comfortable with myself and saying- it doesn’t really bother me what your perspective of me is or isn’t. It's affected me because now I am super secure in who I am, I love who I am, and I’m not really interested in other people’s opinions about it. I think that being authentic (in that way) is such a huge part of starting and running your own business.
What, for you, are the top three things plaguing the Black community and what are the fixes? Or... what are you doing in your business to fix them?
I think for one, economic empowerment is a big thing as far as not having or not keeping money in the Black community. Two, a level of self-hatred, from the standpoint of not loving our people as they are and always demonizing or hating on some subgroup of Black people. And the third, I’d say is maybe institutional racism. And so, what I’m doing is starting my own business which for me changes all three things.
There’s economic empowerment for me, for the people that I hire, and the people that I train to start their own businesses. Two, I think is just becoming and falling in love with who you are and being authentic, not really caring about what anyone has to say about it. And three, as far as institutional racism, that exists because we always try to join someone else’s thing. We’ll say ‘Hey, can I join your company, Mr. White Man? Can you hire me? Can you treat me right?’ When you create your own, it’s no longer a thing because (you) don’t have to ask anybody for anything. So I think starting your own business and training people to do the same solves all three.
What inspired you to start your own business?
Hatred actually (of course we’re all laughing at him saying this)…
…Being at JP Morgan, which is a great company, but feeling like I had no control over my life. I remember being in the office and it being such a beautiful day outside and wanting to go outside but I couldn’t because I had to be here. Asking my managers if I could take vacation days and having them say no, just hating the fact that my life was controlled, that I wasn’t free. That hatred was what kind of pushed me to start my own business. And then eventually you fall in love with the process and some of the wins, and then the positivity pulls you. But initially it was the hatred of feeling like I (wasn’t) free.
What’s the most fulfilling part of what you do?
I do a lot of training, like modernized career development training, so working with someone and then having them reach back out saying ‘Hey I got the job’ or ‘I got the interview,’ or being in the room with people and having them laugh or be really engaged with what we’re doing- that’s probably the most rewarding thing. To know that the work that I’m doing has immediate impactful results on other people and our communities- I think that’s beautiful.
How has entrepreneurship shaped or affected your personal life?
So when I was at JPM, there was “Work-Life Balance” where there’s work and it’s (supposedly) separate from my life. The biggest thing in entrepreneurship is that there’s no work life balance from the standpoint that this is my life. I think that that’s such a … it unifies you in a sense. I think people are very fragmented; I was very fragmented, but I’m now becoming one person. That focus and that energy and that passion of “I’m living my dreams, I’m living the dream right now.” It’s the holistic fulfillment that’s the biggest thing for me.
What are you most proud of as an entrepreneur of color?
It’s interesting because I don’t look at it that way. I only look at, unfortunately, what the next thing is so it takes for someone to ask me a question like that to make me think about what I’ve accomplished to get here. It sounds weird but, nothing. I feel like I have so much further to go, and so much more to give, so much more to accomplish and so, I’m not really proud of anything. It’s more of “What’s the next big thing that’s on my end.”
Have your experiences as a POC shaped your approach to entrepreneurship?
Especially with all the recent police shootings and the anger that that’s caused me and thinking “What can I do about that?”… I’m not necessarily the guy that’s going in the street to protest. Not that it’s a bad thing, just not my thing, and saying- if I create my business, hire other POC, train other POC to create their own businesses and get economic fulfillment in their careers, ultimately I can be a part of changing that [situation] by giving people opportunities so that they don’t have to go to another group to ask.
That’s kind of it. That’s been my approach. How do I fix this? By creating economic fulfillment and opportunity for other POC.
You’re gonna fail, period. And the people who win aren’t the people that never failed- it’s the people who’ve constantly pushed past the failure.
If you had to give another POC advice on entrepreneurship what would it be? You only get one thing.
I would say persistence. You’re gonna fail, period. And the people who win aren’t the people that never failed- it’s the people who’ve constantly pushed past the failure. Get comfortable with the idea of failing, then doing it better. Fail, do it better, fail, do it better.
If you’re looking for career training, speakers for your organization's event, resume hacks, etc.. You can find Jay on IG @LordResume and on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/juliusqholmes