Janice Bryant Howroyd was told by her high school teacher that people of African American heritage were only suited for slavery. She then went on to become the first African American woman to own a billion-dollar company. Here are five career lessons that you can learn from the CEO of the ACT•1 Group, the largest privately-held, woman-owned workforce solutions company to be founded in the United States.
Do not let others define your ability to succeed
After attending an all-white high school in the Deep South, Howroyd disproved the racist comments of her teacher by winning a full university scholarship and making history in the corporate world. She recognized her capacity to succeed and did not let disparaging comments keep her from pursuing her goals.
Use the resources that you have
To open her first ACT•1 office, Howroyd saved money and borrowed funds from her family, using all of the resources at her disposal to obtain her dream career.
Build a reputation for excellence
Strive to excel in your career, and you may be surprised by how many opportunities start coming your way. One of the principles on which Howroyd built ACT•1 was the “WOMB” method: “Word of Mouth, Brother!” This principle asserts that if you do your job excellently, your reputation will spread—and indeed, within a few years, ACT•1’s reputation spread and the company had earned $10 million.
Establish long-term relationships
At ACT•1, Howroyd focused on building relationships with companies which she could work with again in the future, calling repeated business her measurement of success. Such long-term relationships continue to benefit both parties far into the future.
Consider yourself as a global worker
Howroyd believes that the key to success is to think globally, keeping international competition in mind. Think of yourself as a global worker, with people around the world offering similar services as you. This broad perspective will allow you to focus on what makes you truly stand out in the workforce.