Calvin Lamont Leonard
Calvin Lamont Leonard, a Business Coach & Financial Literacy Trainer is a Native of Los Angeles California. He is married to Wendy and they have six adult children. They both are the owners of a Real Estate Staging and Interior Design company.
What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/venture/initiative.
My mother and father taught the three of us to be independent, to love God and all of creation. We did not grow up poor and if we did we didn’t know it! However, I knew that we were not wealthy! Mom and Dad had very little college but had dreams for us to do better with what they were able to provide for us. I was told by my High School counselor that I should plan on just going to trade school. He was white I am black. That caused me to defy his assessment push to go to 4 year university anyway. I had a 3.7 average and graduated 28th in a class of 300 seniors. I was able to go to college on scholarships and aid but struggled financially to get through. There were no extras! No cars, fancy clothes, vacations, basic living with what we had and with our dreams of doing better. I majored in Vocal Performance but quickly realized that it would be difficult to make a living right away. So I studied communications. I figured I could talk my into almost anything. I wanted to be the first African American Baritone at the Metropolitan Opera. Well others beat me to it but I did get some rolls, a couple of Operas and did some session work for Television and sang with Master Works Corals. My father was my greatest Mentor. He was a man of honor, integrity, encouragement and Loyalty! Very well respected! I want to end my appointed time the same way!
Was there any turning point in your life that changed your journey? If so, what was it? Please tell us the backstory behind it.
I met a man who saw something in me that caused him to take me under his wings and taught me about finance. He showed me how to get out of debt and how to teach others the same. He became my second mentor. I learned about business from him as he hired me to work and learn from him. He was a Mathematician and Corporate executive for one of the large oil companies as well as an attorney! He helped me dream and plan and execute goals and later it paid off when I started my own company training others what I had learned. Doing corporate training for major healthcare companies and non profit organizations.
Every industry that is now a large-scale, top-notch business once started as a small idea in the minds of entrepreneurs. What was that idea or motivation that made you start your business /initiative? What motivated you within to say “YES, go for it!”
In 2007 when the US economy fell my business fell as well, my wife and I lost our properties she lost her job I had to file bankruptcy and start over. My wife had an important family wedding to get to and she had not seen her family in 7 years so I was determined to get her there. So I began to try and find anything I could to get enough to get here. When I was a young boy I assisted my uncle in painting houses so I asked people if they had any work that needed to be done and I did a couple of painting projects to get my wife home! (she is from Hawaii) When she returned she was excited about something called Staging! A friend of my wife took her to see what staging was as my wife had never heard of it. When she returned she expressed a desire to pursue so I supported her in this venture since we both were out of work. Someone gave us the money for her certification and six months or so later we set up the business and 8 years later we have a thriving business staging homes for realtors and providing interior design for private clients.
Everyone has their own set of challenges when starting an entrepreneurial journey. Still, the most essential part for others to learn is how you deal with those. Would you like to share with us your challenges and your coping mechanisms?
Dealing with down or slow times in your business is a big challenge as we have seasons where work gets very little. Also transitioning from being workers to owners and now wanting to be investors without having to work the business like we are employees. I am learning that you must always be in planning mode. Don’t get comfortable with where you are and what you have achieved. Be forward thinking about growth and about transitioning out of doing all the work. Pay someone else to run it while you use your time to make it better and invest in other things that will cause you to continue to grow! Step back and take breaks so you don’t become broken! Don’t worry about tomorrow today!
While the global pandemic of COVID-19 is associated primarily with adversities, it has also brought about a true boom in startups, with successful entrepreneurship in many countries. The pandemic has impacted all of us in one way or another. Would you like to share your experience on a personal and professional level?
The pandemic was hard and we are still recovering. Nothing like it has happened in our lifetime so it was hard to navigate. Thankfully, my wife and I never contracted it but all of our children did. We lost many friends!
Your journey and your vision are very inspiring, but are there any achievements or accomplishments you would like to mention?
We have been able to put some people to work. One of my mentors use to say “determine your wealth by how many people your serving“
Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?
People realize the potential we have when we work together! I would like all to see that we are all one part of a whole and we cannot do without one another!
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your personal life and professional journey? What is your personal motto in life?
Be a great follower and you will become a greater leader! treat others the way that you want to be treated. Don’t judge people but try to always see good and greatness in them because it is there they just need to be awakened! My Motto is NEVER QUIT!
Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women’s leadership today?
Why go to the top of an existing pyramid? Build your own building and build it so others can build higher and with you. No need to duplicate, there is so much more room in the universe. Be unique, build outside of the box. Allow your innovation to draw great people and ideas that will supersede the Pyramid mentality. Encourage others to do the same! Utilize your God given intuition, care for people, inner strength and determination and you can and will accomplish anything you put your mind to.
With your grit and determination, you are making a considerable impact, breaking through, and serving as role models for many budding entrepreneurs. What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?
There is no future in your past so leave it and only anxiety if you focus on the future so Live in the PRESENT and Never Quit!