Why Entrepreneurs Need People Skills

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Why Entrepreneurs Need People Skills

Why Entrepreneurs Need People Skills With J Haleem

Sean: Hey guys, welcome back to the show. This is Sean. And today we have a special guest from the other side of the world. We are at 12, our differential, and his name is Jay Haleem. He is the president and CEO of J Haleem media. He is the author of three books, the first is “I Won’t Starve”, which is a very interesting title.

The second is “Morning Motivation, Consistent Encouragement through a Crisis”, which is his latest book. It just launched recently go pick that up on Amazon. And lastly, “U Won’t Starve” and the, you, there is the letter U. And he is also a motivational speaker, and a business coach. And we are so, so blessed to have him here on the show today.

Hey J. Thanks so much for being here.

J Haleem: Thank you. I appreciate you. Thank you again for the opportunity.

Sean: Pleasure is mine and we are excited to learn from you today. Hey J, well, the first question I usually ask my guests is how were you able to start your business? How were you able to start being an entrepreneur? What’s your story?

J Haleem: Again for me, you know, my story of being entrepreneurs started way before, you know, college. You know, I was on the other side of the track and doing some illegal things. I learned my first commerce in the street, but I saw some promise in high school where I would sell what we call bus tickets.

So in the New York metropolitan area in the States is used and this is one of the biggest transportation areas. So they had that – nobody’s transportation system is like New York. And we had these bus tickets by little coupons, like raffle tickets for students to catch the buses because we didn’t catch like the yellow bus you see on TV.

We caught the bus with the regular commuters. We had to get these little students tickets. Well, I had people who, in my family; this family that worked for the transit station and they will give us tickets for free cause we needed that type of assistance. But here I am, I saw that I went to a very, very good school, not at my local school because I played basketball.

So I had other students that traveled, and had to get two or three buses so they needed that. The bus tickets for, you know, they bought them for me for a discounted price. So they can go ahead and save some of the money that their parents gave them. So that was my first attempt at entrepreneurship, which I did all through high school.

And but again, I was also doing some other things because that was where I grew up at. I grew up in the New York area and I saw, you know in the crack era. I just saw my family is riddled with that from being – from using drugs. So it wasn’t a cool thing to use drugs. So I, you know, the people I saw that was, very successful was with drug dealing.

But I had, I was blessed to get an opportunity to go to college and I saw how other people live. You know, I started dabbling in entrepreneurship, but once I graduated college, I was already a felon by that time, so I couldn’t get a regular job. So I used those skills that I had as an entrepreneur and started this part of the business. I found a commercial cleaning business at that time, and I’ve been an entrepreneur ever since.

Sean: That’s an amazing story. And the hurdles that just give you detours in life. And sometimes we consider them roadblocks. And for me, that’s failing a lot in college, that being a roadblock in my career because who’s going to hire a guy with 28 failing units.

And in your case, you mentioned that it’s the effect and the influence of your neighborhood on you and rap music as well. That’s very interesting, how much has rap music influenced you growing up?

J Haleem: It influenced me a lot and  it still does to this day, it’s just, you know those are the people we looked up to because you had to have an imagination, you know, you saw a lot of poverty, you really saw things that people – like you get PTSD.

I mean, I’ve seen, I’ve been in crack houses. I’ve seen people bringing their babies, and then use drugs with their babies, coming to buy drugs, I’ve seen pregnant women come to buy drugs. You know, I’m, I’ve seen people selling drugs to their friend’s mother or their friend’s aunt or dad. I’ve seen people’s parents selling their goods out of their house to get high.

You know, I saw that. You don’t see anything good unless you watch TV or you’re listening to the radio. You see these people showing flashy, the jewelry, the clothes, the latest gear that you want. And so you got to use your imagination to say, how can I get that? You know, how can I get those things? How can I be there?

And then you had the drug dealers who, you know, you see him here. Then two years later, maybe in jail, maybe he did something. And so that didn’t last long. So I had a very vivid imagination. Well, my favorite to this day is Los Angeles. And people ask me why I say, well when I was growing up, all the movies were shot in Los Angeles.

It’s not so much the way like that now, but all the movies are shot in Los Angeles. Now they shoot other places. But you know, primarily Hollywood was the place where you shot out all the movies. So I used to just love watching movies and seeing Los Angeles because of the movies.

Sean: You know, this is for me hearing it, one of the few times, I have been able to hear stories like yours, and it’s really inspiring how you were able to get over that hurdle.

And you mentioned the dry cleaning startup that you did. So usually when you start your first business, that is very difficult. I know the first few years I started SEO-hacker, it was excruciating. It was dealing with – just making sure revenue is greater than expenses dealing with people. And I didn’t know I was an idiot.

I didn’t know how to deal with my people. Back then, I was a really bad leader and the result was they made a little mutiny against me and the company almost broke down from there. And I wonder, what are some of the challenges that you faced early on in your entrepreneurship career? And maybe you could share those insights.

J Haleem: Oh, wow, man. You know, everything that you would think of it happened to me, you know, but the cleaning business is not so not popular, you know, so nobody over here in the States, you know, they want the glamorous job when you clean toilets and things of that nature. It’s not glamorous. And so it’s hard to find the help if you don’t make a lot of revenue at first to pay good help.

You know, so you gotta get people who willing to take a minimum wage or close to minimum wage, and then you also want them to be dedicated. And so that’s really, really hard to ask for these people. So you’re dealing with a lot of turnovers, you know, you’re trying to get contract work, which you have to build yourself up so that you can get that type of contract work staying.

So my first couple of years was rough and I got a chance to – I moved from South Carolina where I was to the Washington DC area. And I got a mentor who brought me in to run his commercial cleaning contract. It was a million dollar contract for a 300,000 square foot place. And I learned everything I needed to learn in the year that I ran that contract.

And that made me a better business owner in that field because I learned everything. It was nothing that I didn’t encounter, and I was able to do a whole lot better with my company afterwards.

Sean: So you mentioned that you had a mentor and that was like a big contract, that’s a million-dollar contract.

You don’t see a lot of that when you’re just starting up. It might surprise you. But a lot of the questions I get from the podcast is how do you find these mentors? These exact mentors that you get and how, and when you find them, what are the chances that they’re going to turn to you and say, “Yeah, you know, I’m going to help you out”? When and how do you do that? How do you get them to do that?

J Haleem: Well, I wasn’t looking, I promise you, my wife is from the other side of the track. You know she comes from a two-parent home. She did church, everything like that. And so, but then she’s also my college sweetheart. So she saw me struggling. She saw me trying to do the right thing, you know, again, I’m fighting my case facing 10 years in prison, all through college.

And so she sees me working, working, working, trying to do the right thing. So once I graduated, I can’t really find a job. And so I’m like, okay, well, what am I going to do? I didn’t want to say this was traumatizing, but she told me about her pastor who had a cleaning business in Maryland. And so she said, you might want to do that.

And he was gracious enough to talk to me on, you know, on her word. She calls him and says, “Hey,” I talked to him. He talked to me, helped me out, and get my business up and running. But, once he got this major contract, he said, Hey, would you like to run it for me? And he literally threw me in a fire. You know, I, we have talked once to twice a week and he’ll, I’ll ask some questions.

He’ll say, well, you know, do this, do that. But he put me in the fire. He made sure I had everything I needed. Yeah. I had to learn on my own man. I was twenty-five years old. I’ll never forget twenty-five years old and I’m working with people double my age, and they’re like, I’m listening to this fool and who is he?

And they knew how to do way more work than I did, but I learned something and he said to me, he and I had a conversation. He said, “I didn’t pick you because you knew how to do the work. I picked you because you knew how to deal with people.” And that resonates with me to this day in business because your management is probably not going to be the best worker. But that’s the person who knows how to deal with different personalities. 

And once I started shuffling his deck, it was a 24-hour contract, seven days a week. You know, I was willing to shuffle the deck, put people in the right places and got my team to where it needed to be. And we got a 12% increase in the first year, you know, and he was able to actually sell the company, sell that contract and make a bunch of money off of it.

And I was off to the races with my own people.

Sean: That he chose you because you knew how to deal with people. What does that look like? Cause a lot of people think that they know how to deal with people. Hey, when I was starting out, I thought I knew how to deal with people, but it turns out looking back now I’m connecting the dots. I was an idiot at it. And so what do you mean when you say that you got picked up because you knew how to deal with people?

J Haleem: Well, when he was telling me was, you know, again, he had a young lady, I’ll tell you real quick, I had a young lady and she wasn’t young, she about 50 years old, but she was the best person for the job. Literally far as skillset, but horrible, horrible, horrible temperament.

She’s yelling at everybody. She’s straight-up military style. You know, I understand that you have to deal with each person differently. I want to get to know you. I want to get to know what’s going to make you know to be the best employee. What’s going to bring the best out of you, you know? And then I’m willing to work beside you.

She’s like she was the type. This is your job. You need to know how to do it. Not I’m not going to be here to help you. I showed you already. So no, I’m going to make it easy for you to do your job. So the same way you don’t do your job, I made it easy for you to fire yourself. So it was just a great situation. And then not only dealing with the employees and that being a project manager, but I also had to deal with the facilities manager.

I had to deal with the owners of the building, of the space. You had to be able to turn and have to wear different hats. So not only was I equipped to go ahead and be on my regular uniform, but I could put a suit and tie on as well and have this business meeting talking about this new project because again, they’ll have events, this is extra money.

It was the base contract of a million dollars. But if they have these events at the space, that’s going to be another $20,000. I got to talk. I gotta be able to negotiate in that and say, how much are we going to charge? Because we have to bring new people in here. We got to do this. You got to clean up.

It’s so much stuff going on and she was not even prepared for that. She’s been totally overwhelmed dealing with that. She just, all she knew, was a practitioner. She wasn’t a manager, you know, and that was the thing.

Sean: Definitely negotiation skills are one of the most important things for you and being diplomatic.

Not just with your people, but with your potential clients or with your current clients. And you are completely right in identifying that there are people who are specialists and they’re really good at what they do. And we respect them for that. But people who are managers, who are leaders have to be really good with people.

And that is a really good point right there.

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