Before we begin, let's set the stage. The purpose of this interview series is to inspire and encourage millennials to take the leap into entrepreneurship or give advice to those currently on the journey.
This series will highlight millennial entrepreneurs in a wide range of industries who are offering services, products and resources to their audiences.
Throughout the next couple of weeks you will have the chance to read the stories of millennial trailblazers who are designers, social ambassadors, photographers, and more. I hope you are inspired!
In this Mindshift Interview, I have Brandon of The Scheme Team. During this interview, we deep dived into all things business, influencing the future and more. Brandon is an serial entrepreneur with three companies under his umbrella. How does he manage to do what majority would describe as the impossible? He breaks it down for you, here...
Behind the Person
Tell a little bit about yourself and what you do.
My name is Brandon Miller, I was born in Southern California but claim Denver, Colorado as my home. I received my Bachelors of Science in Biomedical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology where I also minored in Technology & Management. Currently, I am an implementations and operations consultant (from 9-5), and the rest of the hours in the day I am the CEO and Head Designer for That Guy’s Graphics, Co-Founder of The Scheme Team Blog & Community, Co-Founder of The Black Burdell, Inc. – a nonprofit focused on promoting, supporting, and cultivating black entrepreneurs, as well as a avid runner and Chipotle Connoisseur.
What is one quote you live by? Give an example of how you’ve applied this quote in your journey.
This quote means so much because it ties together legacy, purpose, and passion. My dad, who is probably the smartest, most business-savvy, and motivational people I know, always told me he worked so hard so he could provide a foundation for my brother and I so that we can be better than him. My brother and I never really understood how to be better than what we thought was the best, but it ended up making sense the older I got.
If you’re not passionate about what it is that you are doing, if you don’t have a forward-thinking purpose - you’re doing yourself a disservice and that particular task a disservice as well.
What’s one habit you have developed that you feel as though has aided in your overall journey?
- The statement in itself is crippling and debilitating, I look at it as you telling yourself “I’m not as good as God thinks I am.”
- Ever since I let go of that phrase the sky has been the limit for me. I actually love it when people tell me that I can’t do something now, one – because I know I can (and proving people wrong is always fun).
What is one book, you feel has contributed to your success?
If I told you I’ve read The Alchemist seven times would you believe me? Paulo Coelho does a great job of personifying some of my favorite themes.
- ‘Dreams,’ which we often look at as lofty goals that may or may not be attainable in our minds.
- ‘Reality,’ your actual circumstances, whether good, bad or ugly.
- ‘The Process,’ the bridge that connects the two (this is what we call ‘Schemes’).
As Santiago connects dreams, schemes, and reality: he learns that once you conquer fear you become an unstoppable force, the best way to learn is through action, and that success has a ripple effect – as you become better all those around you become better too.
All Things Business
How did The Scheme Team come to form? What was the idea that started it all?
A bunch of friends that committed to working hard and playing harder; and we wanted to inspire everyone else in our generation to do the same. Even beyond the core group that ‘officially’ started The Scheme Team, we had a decently sized circle of friends that loved to travel, that were pursuing their careers in hyper drive, and loved to have fun. I think it was New Years Eve 2015 when we had a conversation about first starting a blog and business.
What does The Scheme Team do?
We showcase millennial success, curate experiences that embody the work-hard-play-hard mindset, and have a lot of fun doing it. There are so many impressive people our age who are really making their dreams a reality – from climbing the corporate ladder, starting businesses, excelling in the arts, and are on the leading edge of ‘the next big thing.’
We want to be the vessel to showcase that talent, to motivate our generation to not be complacent, and have the opportunity to bring people together to learn from one another and collaborate – whether through our blog, book club, or on one of our experiences.
What problems or pain points are you looking to solve through The Scheme Team?
.We all get into ruts where we fear our dreams or see them as unattainable, but life is too short for that. By creating a mindset of ‘turning your dreams to a reality’ through multiple avenues we hope to motivate, encourage, and inspire.
There are a lot of misconceptions about running a small business or being an entrepreneur, like lack of freedom or difficulty growing income. What’s the biggest myth you’ve learned to be untrue?
Planning is important, as long as you don’t let a plan become crippling. Spend more time acting on your instinct, if you feel what the right business decision is – do it. Hell, if you fail guess what? You learned what doesn’t work and you have the opportunity to try again.
Once I stopped planning (as much), and started acting instinctively I’ve had a lot more fun with my businesses, a lot more failures, a lot more lessons, and ultimately, many more successes.
What tools or systems is a necessity for running your business smoothly?
There are also so many cool tools and platforms that can automate your business processes to reduce time on your end and seamlessly integrate what it is that you do.
My favorite communication tool now is Slack, I use it for a number of my businesses and it makes it easy to communicate in real-time. It also helps monitor business processes like sales, emails from customers, track mentions on your social media, launch google hangouts, and so much more.
In regards to automation; if you are a business that doesn’t use IFTTT.com (If This Then That), or Zapier you are swimming cross-current right now. These services integrate and automate across different platforms and can almost do anything you want them to. Morgan Debaun, the CEO of Blavity, put it this way – if you’re doing a task multiple times a day, you should automate it.
In order for a business to thrive there must be clientele. What marketing strategies have you used to attract and find new leads for business growth?
Nothing is more valuable to a brand than when your community sells the brand for you. Our goals is to have everyone saying, “wow those are really dope people, doing really dope things, for a really dope purpose – I want to join the movement.”
We refer to ourselves as a socially powered success movement for that reason, it is our community that motivates us and truly powers us. So being who we are (passionate, intelligent, bottle-popping, purposeful, driven individuals) has served to be the best marketing strategy; everything else seems to just fall in line.
Customer Service or the customer’s overall experience is crucial when it comes to brand longevity. What experiences have you created for your clientele or audience?
One of the biggest challenges that we have faced and still are combating stems from our name. We still get asked, “How can I be a part of the team?” Our answer is always, “Are you committed to making your dreams a reality? Cool, you’re a schemer, you’re on the team.”
- Through our blog, we want to highlight passion pursuers, their craft, keys to success and how people can interact with them.
- Through our book club, we want facilitate discussions to bring more value to the lives of our community.
- Through our travel experiences, we want to introduce people to each other, let loose, and have the time of their lives.
- Through our shop, we want people to rock the #SchemerGear and tell the world they are relentless in pursuing their passion.
These are the experiences we continue to curate for our community and add value to the movement.
As a serial entrepreneur, (The Scheme Team, That Guy’s Graphics, and The Black Burdell) why did you decide to own or create several businesses rather than solely focusing on one?
It’s uncommon that you find people so like minded and dedicated to running a business, so when you encounter that it’s very difficult to turn a blind eye to it. With each business I’m surrounded by people that are very dedicated and very intentional, which makes it easy to balance the workload without losing momentum. Each team is very specialized in serving a niche market that it just made sense to keep them separate.
In addition, I’m fortunate enough where all of my businesses sort of flow with each other. As a graphic designer, I can create a lot of the marketing material for The Scheme Team and The Black Burdell. With The Scheme Team, we can highlight members of The Black Burdell community and co-brand events. Regarding The Black Burdell, I can offer design services to young entrepreneurs and introduce them to The Scheme Team community. I couldn’t have asked for a more seamless business portfolio at this time.
As an entrepreneur, one understands the time and energy required to run a business. How have you managed to run multiple?
This is the million dollar question. I get this question a lot, and often times I have to stare in the mirror and ask myself. I chalk it up to a few simple things.
- God. I think it is human nature to have to have something to believe in, something foundational to support you – and faith is it for me.
- Passion. If you are not passionate about something it won’t be sustainable – business, relationships, hobbies – it applies to everything. Too many people start businesses to make a quick buck and wonder why those businesses aren’t sustainable.
- A solid team. Teamwork always makes the scheme work.
- By surrounding yourself with people better than you, you are forced to step your game and be better.
- By surrounding yourself with those that support you, you will not fail because true supporters will never let you.
- By surrounding yourself with those that inspire you, you will never settle because they will push you, force you to come up with new ideas, and be great.
In all of my business projects – That Guy’s Graphics, The Black Burdell, and The Scheme Team I’m surrounded by team members, partners, mentors, and advisors that I look up to, that are supportive, and that inspire me.
Influencing the Future
What are some accomplishments of The Scheme Team? And where do you see its future?
One of the biggest accomplishments is our sustainability and continuous improvements. What I’m most proud of is how adaptable we are to serve our community; from our ability to tell the stories of Schemers across the United States through our #SchemerHighlights, interact with our community in a unique way with our #SchemeReads book club, or to plan and execute some pretty impressive experiences (if I do say so myself).
The ability to bring together young professionals who are really grinding and motivated in many different industries, from numerous locations, and a plethora of backgrounds together to network, forge new relationships, and have a fun time doing it is my favorite thing to see.
I describe a Mindshift as a moment in time, where one realizes, there is more to life than what society has told. Can you describe your Mindshift moment?
This is a great question, I actually had to sit and think for a while. I would say that I have had many “mini-mindshifts” but the biggest mindshift I had was when I was studying at Georgia Tech. I was involved in entirely too many campus organizations, I was interning and working two campus jobs, President of my campus Fraternity, and pursuing one of Georgia Tech’s toughest majors.
I had a breakdown that was rough. Many didn’t notice or see it, but I was averaging maybe three hours of sleep a night and was bogged down by loads of stress. That’s when I realized I didn’t have to do everything, solve every problem, or be too consumed by my resume. I realized the power of saying no, the importance of only committing to what you’re passionate about and that life is too short to let stress get the best of you. The rest is history.
What advice can you give to other entrepreneurs?
I talk to current and aspiring entrepreneurs just about every day and I often find them caught in the “What-If” cycle. They’ll plan something great, think of something miniscule that might happen, scrap their plan and start the process over.
Until the rubber meets the road you won’t have an answer to your “What-If questions,” but if you fail fast, fail forward, and fail often you can learn, adapt, and innovate much quicker.
Lastly think about what living life on your own terms means to you. Describe your ideal situation.
I’d say my ideal situation would be one in which I can help others build and better their businesses, collaborate with one another, but also ensure a positive and fun experience (all while making money).
For me this boils down to starting a diversity consulting and strategy practice coupled with an innovative co-working and event space
Additional Gems From Brandon:
Start. Connect. Inspire.
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