By Willie Jolley, NNPA Columnist
With revenues in excess of five billion dollars and more than 2,200 employees in 48 states and six countries, World Wide Technologies (WWT) has been ranked at the top of Black Enterprise 100s list of the nation’s largest Black-owned industrial/service companies for the past six years.
Fortune magazine also ranked his company as “One of the Top 100 Places To Work in America” three years in a row.
Perhaps you’ve never heard of its founder and chairman, David L. Steward, of St. Louis, Mo. Steward, grew up in rural Missouri, with his early career working at Federal Express. He created WWT in 1990, which is now the leading supplier of advanced technologies for the federal government.
It has not been a cakewalk to success, though. His car was repossessed and he had to go months without getting his paycheck, but he refused to give up. He took risks and never stopping having faith in himself and in his God. He learned to take leaps of faith and risks in order to achieve success.
In addition, he created strategic alliances. He attributes a great deal of his success to doing business with the Small Business Administration (SBA) through its 8(a) business development program. His company became a top federal contractor. Steward stresses the importance of building relationships and partnerships with a level of trust, integrity, and comfort.
“No one does anything alone. We have built partnerships along the way. SBA was instrumental in growing our business,” he said. Doors were opened to him by the 8(a) program that he might not have been able to walk through alone. That program helped him understand the unique government culture and assisted him with gaining subcontracting opportunities with the Department of Defense.
While WWT is recognized as one of the industry’s fastest growing systems integrators, that is not what Steward talked about when he was inducted into the Horatio Alger Association, the group that honors people who went from rags to riches. Other winners include Colin Powell, Oprah Winfrey and Wally Amos.
He spoke of how his faith in God as the secret to his success in business and in his life. He’s the author of Doing Business By The Good Book: 52 Lessons on Success Straight From The Bible. (Hyperion). In his book, he shares his belief- that he was put on this earth to serve others. He sees his company as his pulpit to spread the impact and power of the Word of the Lord.
Here are powerful takeaways from my interview with David L. Steward:
- God expects your very best, and when you do your very best, you will get blessed;
- Seek to serve and give your very best to others, and good things will come your way;
- Count it all joy, even the challenges. It is through the challenges that we grow;
- It is not easy to build a successful business and a successful life. But as steel must go through the fire to become strong, so too must people go through fire to become their best;
- You must speak those things that be not as though they are (he spoke about a big company when he was struggling and had no money);
- Everyone has a measure of faith, but many people will not develop and use their faith;
- Don’t focus on the present circumstances, but look at the possibilities through the eyes of faith;
- Our decisions have consequences, so we must learn to make wise decisions;
- Our brand is the trust level we bring to the marketplace, so we must represent excellence and
- Put a stake in the ground as to whom you will be and what you will stand for; then take a stand on your values and stay true to them.