What keeps you moving forward in the face of adversity?
Jamal: I could be naive but my vision is way bigger than the obstacles that come today. I have a beautiful girlfriend, a family, 10 nieces and nephews. They all look at me; I imagine my own kids one day, I’ll never give up. If I quit, what does that show them? If I win big or if I lose big, I always keep my word, even in my losses. I’ve always remained honest with myself and others in my successes and failures.
The reason I do what I do is bigger than me. It comes down to Legacy and Family. And if my nieces and nephews and one day my children and wife, God willing, can be okay with what I’m doing and where I’m at in life, I’ll always fight for them and persevere for them.
No matter what the outer world thinks, I fight for myself because I know what God has given me and I won’t let those talents go to waste.
Hearing about other people’s journeys help too. That’s what I love about bio’s and memoirs, reading up about people, studying people. Steve Jobs left Apple at 1 share and got kicked out of his own company at age 30. Elon Musk left Paypal with $180B and invested all of it in new projects and he ended up having to borrow money for rent! And Walt Disney, too. For those people to get where they got, it was by no means overnight. I just have to continue to remind myself to never let my highs be too high or my lows be too low.
What has been your biggest success thus far – in your company, in your life?
Jamal: For Desiar, distribution to Luxottica. I mentioned the story of going in there 4 or 5 years earlier and them saying no thank you and coming back and placing an order for distribution. They typically don’t do that with independent brands. Along with that, I’ve had partners along the way that have believed in my vision that have supported the venture financially. I have a lot of skin in the game, and my partners have skin in the game. Having people that believe in where the business is going and your vision as the leader has also been a success. You can’t survive without having the capital. I started with no money. I literally started from nothing. Again, to go through the journey, having support has been a success.
For my life, enjoying the process and understanding this is all a process. That has been the fun part to me. It’s never ending. That’s maturity or understanding; life is a process. That is the biggest success.
I’m on this journey but God is in control. I can plan all I want, set goals all I want, be committed all I want but at the end of the day, I’m not in control. It’s knowing that but being intentional about what I can control.
What do you attribute your success to? What are the keys to success?
Jamal: Perseverance and really believing in myself and my vision. No matter if it’s a business or raising capital or in life, a lot of people said no. If had stopped, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today. Perseverance has a lot to with that and I also believe in what I do. And since I believe in what I do, I make it happen.
What volunteer or extra-curricular activities are you involved with?
Jamal: I’m very passionate about the youth. I take that from my dad. He worked in Ft. Wayne Community Schools for 20 years which included my high school. I hated it at the time but now I hear stories that my dad really helped a lot of students get through school or family or relationship issues; he was a conflict mediator. I get that passion for youth from my dad since I’ve seen that he has made over people’s lives.
When I started my for-profit business, at the same time, I started my non-profit which is called Believe In A Dream, Inc. I am the current Chairman of the board and Founder of the organization. We have 3 core areas: Business Education, Math and Sciences, and Performing Arts. We primarily focus on Northeast Indiana with that core mission.
I’m also on the board of Ft. Wayne Black Chamber of Commerce, Ft. Wayne Community School Foundation Board, United Way of Allen County Board and The Doermer School of Business (IPFW) Alumni Association Board.
What’s next for Desiar?
Jamal: We are opening our first retail kiosk in Houston, TX in August. It’s a part of our distribution plan. We are looking to open 2 by end of year and 5-10 in the Southeast by next year. We are also in final stages of doing a revision for the Made in Indiana line. I’ll be able to get out the second version by the fall.
***Stay tuned for Part 2 of Jamal’s insightful interview and learn more about creating, expanding and developing possibilities in your life and business.
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