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Edge Staff

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Podcast with Dr. Kandis Boyd WyattFaculty Member, Transportation and Logistics and
William D. Brown, serial entrepreneur, public speaker, author, and accomplished music producer

What’s the difference between having a dream and having a vision? In this episode, Dr. Kandis Wyatt talks to Bill Brown about how he built a successful career in the music industry, real estate, and other fields. Hear why he believes that people must learn as much as they possibly can about what they want to do and how important it is to be able to pivot when unforeseen things happen or new opportunities arise.

Listen to the Episode:

Read the Transcript:

Dr. Kandis Wyatt: Welcome to the podcast. I’m your host, Kandis Boyd Wyatt. The goal of this podcast is to highlight our local heroes in our community who are champions of important issues affecting us all on a national and international scale.

Today we’re going to add to that very important discussion happening both nationally and internationally regarding the importance of dream building and creating a vision.

So today my guest is Mr. Bill Brown, who is a global speaker and the founder of Vision Buildaz, a think tank and also a digital footprint company providing tangible methods to build and realize dreams. Mr. Brown, welcome and thank you for joining me.

Bill Brown: Good morning, Kandis, and thank you for having me. I appreciate being here.

Dr. Kandis Wyatt: The pleasure is all mine, Bill. So let’s talk about dreaming and vision building. There are so many people out there right now that are changing course and charting a new path, which requires the ability to dream big. So can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself and the importance of dreaming?

Bill Brown: I love answering that question because that wasn’t something that I was trained to do as a child. I came from a very poor family in the Bronx, a family of nine. I’m the middle child. All the stories that you hear about the middle child is very true.

But I’ve lost a couple of brothers, one to drugs, one to prison. I was the next brother in line. I wanted to be different, and I wanted my younger brother to follow a different path. So for me, I hit the streets for a while. I did the street stuff. I did the wheeling and dealing. I won’t go into that to glorify it, but at some point I realized I had a gift in music.

I went into the music business. I worked with some popular groups at the time. I started to realize that they were broke and the people that were running the business had the money: the managers, the producers.

And after watching some of this happen, I said, “I don’t want to be on stage. I want to do what these guys are doing, because these are the guys that are driving the cars and living the good life.”

That’s what created my love for business and learning how business works. I started studying. At the time there was no Google and stuff, but I started studying law books. I started looking up things about business and how business worked.

That’s what made me fall in love with business, and from that point, I began to mentor every group I would work with on how to be paid correctly. The different ways of being paid in the industry was not just going on stage and doing shows, but publishing, royalties. And I began to mentor groups, and some of these people are still in my life to this day because I’ve helped them navigate through the business correctly.

From that point, I began to pastor church for a while and I did that. I used that more as a mentoring platform. Right now I’m involved with 1130 Entertainment, which I have an actress who was in the Temptations musical on Broadway. She’s the dance captain. Her department just won a Tony. I have an actor, Michael, who just before the shutdown was really starting to take off in a lot of TV shows and movies.

I have this food pantry. The ministry and the food pantry we feed a couple of hundred families every week. Live Unique is our salon and spa that I just became a partner with a year ago. You met me through Lindsay and that’s our staffing company, and I have real estate.

So I have my hands very full. I love business. I love investing in people and their visions and just taking a little piece of it. This is who I am. This is what I do. I want to be like the serial entrepreneur. I love doing it.

Dr. Kandis Wyatt: Wow. Will, I’m just so impressed. I mean, your background is so diverse and it just sounds like anything that you have put your mind to, you have achieved. So from the entertainment business to ministry, to helping out the community, it just sounds like whatever you’ve set your mind to doing, you’ve been able to do so. What stimulates you to keep learning and to keep doing more?

Bill Brown: I have a saying that I stand by all the time in my sessions: “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.” I’m a late bloomer. I didn’t get into this young because I didn’t have the resources. So I had to learn by trial and error and bumps and bruises. What keeps me going is, I don’t like being broke, number one.

[Podcast: Human Productivity and Performance — Keys to Success]

Number two, I liked winning. Winning for me is just not me winning, but if the people I work with win. Just a side journey to make my point. My youngest son, he just turned 30. I beat and built so much of this into him that by the time he was 19, 20, he had gone into the Marines. He had two meritorious promotions. He did only a four-year run, and he came out as a decorated sergeant. He went straight to college. He got his degree in finance, and then he’s working with Fidelity.

And this is the kind of thing that gets me excited. How can I help somebody get from point A to point B and when? And that’s encouraged me now that even at the age that I should be retired, that I feel like I want to do more and more and more. That’s motivates me. I like winning.

Dr. Kandis Wyatt: I think we all do. But I think, like you said, sometimes learning that path or learning what you need to do to win is sometimes a challenge for some people. So in a perfect world, what type of trainings or certifications would enable people to live their best life and to achieve their dreams and goals?

Bill Brown: I was anticipating and hoping for a question like this. My answer is going to be very non-conventional. In a perfect world there would be no certifications. When you think about it, this is something people created to kind of gauge you and put you in boxes. Bill Gates didn’t finish college. Steve Jobs didn’t finish college. Thomas Edison, I think didn’t even make it to high school.

Dreams and visions that are born in a person are pursued, and then if they’re pursued vigorously, they become realities.

So I’m not against higher education. My point is, I don’t like people telling me, “You can only go this far.” I have people that I teach that have Master’s and Doctorates, and I have an Associate’s degree.

So I say the more you know about what you do, the better you are at it. But I don’t think certificates or certifications should define how far you can go and how powerful you are. I don’t like labels like that stuck on people. And I’ve had people say to me, “Well, I only have a Bachelor’s. So I don’t know if I can do what you do.”

Well, I made over a million in real estate and I took no real estate class at all. So I don’t like the certificate thing to tell a person what they’re worth. It’s good to do it so that you have the knowledge and have it under your belt, but it’s to not define your height.

Dr. Kandis Wyatt: I like that answer. I like the fact that you can learn from just about anyone, anyone in your circle, or anyone that you encounter. And I think that is a really good point for our students to understand that, as you said, while a professional, or I guess you’d say traditional brick-and-mortar education is important, there are also other avenues that you can capitalize on to learn. And I think that’s a really great point.

Bill Brown: Here’s what I say. Here’s what I say, learn as much as you can learn about what you do. That’s what I tell people, whatever, whether it’s conventional or not conventional. Learn as much as you can about what it is you decide you wanted to do. The more you know, the more you earn. That’s been my statement and it stays my statement.

Dr. Kandis Wyatt: I can agree with that. I think that there is sometimes information overload in some cases, especially now with the internet. There are so many resources that are out there for individuals. I think sometimes the hardest thing is just figuring out what resource to use. So I think that’s a great question. So what are some resources that you have used or you’ve provided in the past to help individuals become more productive and realize their dreams?

Bill Brown: I love that question. That’s a two-phase question, right? Cause I’m old enough to remember there was no Google and no internet, and then I had the library.

But I tell people all the time, “Google this. Look this up. Don’t come to me and ask me, ‘how do I do this, how do I fix this?’ without you first doing all the research you can.” Resources are so available now. I’ve learned how to fix appliances and do construction. And most of the stuff I learned in terms of contracting and doing contracting work on houses, when I would buy them and flip them, I learned that through just Googling stuff.

But before Google was big, they used to have these Saturday morning classes at Home Depot and I would go to them. I’m not a big book person. I’m not against it. It’s just that I learn better visually and if I’m watching something, I learn that way.

There are people they can sit down and they can read a book and they can get everything. I start to see a bunch of words after a while. But if you sit there and show me it one time, I’ll figure it out.

So there’s different learning methods for different people and you got to figure out which way you learn best. If you learn best by reading, then read. If you learn best by being taught or being shown, then you have to expose yourself to those opportunities. And they’re out there. And like you said, now with the internet they’re there. So all you have to do is expose yourself and continue to expose yourself until it becomes your second language.

Dr. Kandis Wyatt: Absolutely. That’s wonderful. That’s wonderful. So you mentioned your son is in the military. So many of the students at our university are also members of the military. We also have a large student population that are working adults.

So I think some of the things that you’re saying are really resonating with them, that it might not be the traditional methods previously thought about that can actually bring you success. So what advice do you have for these targeted groups?

Bill Brown: I love the ones who come out of the military. I have an opportunity as a staffing agent to talk to people. And here’s what I’ve learned through my time, Kandis.

First thing I like to try to determine when I talk to people is where their spirit is. What I mean by that is this: I always talk about employee versus entrepreneur. If you have the entrepreneurial spirit, the worst thing in the world for you is to try to figure out how to find a job, because you’re not going to be happy.

Trying to be an entrepreneur and you have the mind of the employee, it’s a problem. I’ve had people come to me say, “I want to have my own business.” And I’ve even helped people set up their business. And after a little while I say, “You’re not an entrepreneur. You’re self-employed.”

There’s a difference. Entrepreneur sets up a business that works and makes money for them even when they don’t show up. You are working 18-20 hours a day. That’s a burnout. So here’s what I say: skillset versus training.

Some things are just a skill set that you’ve learned and you know it. It’s instinctive, and that’s what you’re called to do. You can go to take a training course and learn how to fix cars, and that’s not really your skill set. That’s just something you train yourself to do.

This is my opinion. Skill sets are things that a lot of times are gifts. So I tell everybody I know that’s in the military or going into the military, “Don’t just go into the military and believe when you come out, there’s a job waiting for you.”

When you go into the military, if you’re not studying the vocation thoroughly, when you come out, you are still going to have to start at the same place that everybody else does. You can add the military to your resume, but then when you come to the job, it’s like, “We don’t care how you can clean and put together a gun. We want to know can you provide the service that we need?”

So I tell people, “Listen, when you come out in the civilian place, it’s just like college. They want to know your practical experience.” So maybe you need to intern while you’re in the military. If you can get the opportunity to do that job in real-time. So when you come out, it speaks to the language of the civilian, not just the military life. Am I clear on what I’m saying?

Dr. Kandis Wyatt: It’s really resonating with me, but like you said, different groups sometimes might have a different mindset. And what I’m hearing is you really have to have an open viewpoint about the future and how to build your dreams and just how to be more productive.

Bill Brown: I like the way you put that. The people that I’m most successful with are people that I use this term, and I’m sure you’ve heard it, people that have the ability to pivot. People that don’t pivot, well, those people don’t usually go far.

That means you can be on a path and you can have your whole mindset, but there may be a tree in the road and you have to know the alternate routes around. Or there may be such a long line in that direction. I give this analogy and I learned this a long time ago.

I would ask people, “If there’s a line and they’re giving out $50 and you can get on as many times as you want. And there’s another line in they’re giving out $1, which line would you get on?” And of course everybody’s response is the $50 line. And I said, “But that line is going to be crowded. Everybody’s going to be on the $50 line. I can get in the dollar line and go through it a thousand times, while you’re still waiting on the line to get your $50.”

You have to find the road sometimes least traveled, and the road that works best for you. You have to be able to move from the left to the right when it’s necessary. So you can have your whole dream laid out, I’ve had so many people come to me and say, “COVID hit and I lost everything.” My salon that I’m a partner with, we were renting a chair in Brooklyn and we were setting up to get ready to move and then COVID hit and everything shut down. I said, “:Well, let’s take one chair. Let’s put it in the middle of the floor at the church. Let’s put a mirror up and let’s set up a temporary thing and let’s keep it growing.”

And from that, we now have built into we have a 2000-square-foot space that we’ve already taken over 300 square foot of and we’re beginning to build. But that was built in COVID because now we had a whole new group of customers, and we started definitely working with the first responders.

We had a whole new group of customers that we didn’t have before COVID. So the ability to pivot and make that move opened up a door to more opportunities. So people who can pivot are the people who will grow the most and go the fastest.

Dr. Kandis Wyatt: Thank you for that. I think that’s really important, especially to our listeners during this global pandemic.

So as we begin to wrap up, I know there’s a lot of misconceptions out there when it comes to building a vision or realizing your dream. I’ve heard of writing your dream down or coming up with three steps every day that you’re going to do to build your vision, or even having a vision board.

So given all of the different versions and suggestions out there, what do you suggest for people to start building their vision and to realizing their dream?

Bill Brown: Okay, that’s a good question. I want to reiterate. There’s a difference in my mind between a vision and a dream. We use the words interchangeably, and I don’t think that that’s correct. Again, my opinion.

Dreams are inspiration. Dreams can come to you if you’re a spiritual person. I’m a believer in God, that God gives everybody dreams. Everybody has the capacity to have some kind of dream about what they want to be, and where they want to go. That to me is not a vision. That’s a dream.

The problem with dreams is you wake up from them. You can have them and they can be great, and then the alarm clock rings and it’s over. What I’m calling the alarm clock is life. When life hits that dream and realities of struggle hit that dream, a lot of times people throw that dream right away. That dream fades away just as easy as you waking up in the morning.

A vision is when you take that dream and you begin to put action to it. When you begin to put resource to it. When you begin to investigate it. When you begin to put it on the path of motion. Now it’s a vision. Bible says without a vision people perish. It doesn’t say without a dream. It’s without a vision. So vision is when you take the dream and you begin to give it real feet in the three-dimensional world. Now you can build on it. So when people come to me and say, “Well, I have visions and dreams,” and they say them interchangeability, I’m like, “Well, a lot of people have dreams.” Martin Luther King had a dream, but then he turned it into a vision and that vision still lives today. If it was just his dream, it would only be his dream. It wouldn’t affect anyone.

Dr. Kandis Wyatt: I think that is a great place to end our conversation today. Although it sounds like we might need a follow-up just to help our listeners learn more about vision and dream building. But thank you for helping us understand the difference between a dream and a vision. So if I could recap, what you said is a dream is an inspiration, but a vision is a dream in action.

Bill Brown: Yes ma’am.

Dr. Kandis Wyatt: And I think that, in and of itself, is inspirational for our listeners. So I’m going to say, thank you. I’m going to say thank you, Mr. Brown, for sharing your expertise and your perspective on this issue. And thank you for joining me.

Bill Brown: I appreciate you. Thank you for your time.

Dr. Kandis Wyatt: You are welcome. Thank you. And thank you to our listeners for joining us.

About the Speakers

Dr. Kandis Y. Boyd Wyatt, PMP, is a professor at American Public University and has over 25 years of experience managing projects that specialize in supply chain management. She holds a B.S. in meteorology and an M.S. in meteorology and water resources from Iowa State University, as well as a D.P.A. in public administration from Nova Southeastern University.

William D. Brown is a successful visionary with over 25 years of experience. He holds titles such as founder, CEO, mentor, public speaker, community leader and author. In everything he pursues, Mr. Brown introduces an entrepreneurial spirit with the aim to inspire and create opportunities for others. 

He is currently Co-Founder/CEO & Director of DEI at FIA NYC, LLC., Co-Founder of Livv Younique, LLC., COO of Pooka Inc. and Founder of 11Thirty Entertainment, LLC. He has served for 20+ years as the CEO of a non-profit organization empowering youth and adults in NYC. He credits his 20+ years experience in IT & Engineering to the launching of his career on Wall Street and financial success. Mr. Brown also wrote and published the book, “Harvest Time: What’s That All About?” outlining the nine major principles in his journey going from lack to wealth and success. As a veteran mentor, Mr. Brown recently launched Vision Buildaz, a virtual program that provides guidance in realizing purpose and fulfilling destiny. Read Mr. Brown’s full bio and more at VisionBuildaz.com.