Am I optimistic? Absolutely! There is always what we perceive to be a struggle and pain or challenges and resistance that are involved during the evolution of life and change. When you think about the birth of a child, that is probably one of the most painful yet joyful and amazing experiences that a woman could ever experience. I would liken the evolution of change to that. It hurts when you’re going through it but when you get on the other side of it, the creation is amazing!
I had the pleasure of interviewing Preston Byrd.
Preston is a real estate developer, philanthropist, motivational speaker, life coach, and author of I Don’t Rent, I Rent, a “How To” book on creating wealth through owing and developing multifamily housing.
After attending Middle Tennessee State University with a concentration in architecture and civil engineering, Mr. Byrd built and sold several multi-million-dollar companies in the healthcare and Information Technology sectors. In 2004, he founded Horizon, a real estate investment, development and management company focusing on development opportunities in the multifamily housing sector.
An award-winning speaker and innovator, Mr. Byrd shares his unique business style and approach to life in his lectures and workshops. My. Byrd’s core belief of socially conscious entrepreneurship has stayed with him throughout his 20+ years in Real Estate Development. This unique perspective has given him the opportunity to create flourishing new businesses from the ground up.
Mr. Byrd is an intentional leader, whose philanthropic work focuses on building people and communities. He is the Founder of Operation Help a community based non-profit. Over the years he has supported numerous organizations and communities.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Preston! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you. Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
I am an avid reader and I have been impacted by many great works. Most recently, I think the book titled “I Am the Life” by Murdo MacDonald-Bayne has left a significant mark. This book resonated with me because it opened up my awareness and allowed me to realize two (2) very important things. 1. Life is bigger than me and my challenges and 2. I control my life’s journey, my narrative. These lessons are particularly timely to me right now as I look around and see the state of the world and how we are each faced with many challenges as a nation, as a race, as humanity. From the pandemic and the economic challenges facing our country to the recent unrest and protests centered around race and equality. I am reminded that our daily struggles and challenges may seem large to us but pale in comparison to what others may be facing at this very moment.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?
I actually have several quotes that I have collected and use frequently to inspire and motivate me so, I’ll share one that I’ve adopted and one of my own.
My Favorite quote is by Theodore Roosevelt: Well, it’s more poetic anyway. It’s called, The Man in the Arena: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Mine: “Know what you’re in when you’re in it” It is so important to understand where you are in life. Understanding that, truly gives you the freedom to obtain whatever goal or dream you set for yourself.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
For me, Leadership is having the ability to look at yourself and constantly evaluating how you can improve! When you do this, I believe that the example you set just by being and staying true to yourself, sets the pace and desire for others to aspire.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. The United States is currently facing a series of unprecedented crisis. So many of us see the news and ask how we can help. We’d love to talk about the steps that each of us can take to help heal our county, in our own way. Which particular crisis would you like to discuss with us today? Why does that resonate with you so much?
Of course, the George Floyd matter is of great importance at this moment. This resonates with me because being a black man in America, I too have experienced my own personal experiences of injustices within our “justice system”. The moments that we’re in right now, that we are experiencing as a country and even around the world, are the moments that will change the course and trajectory of our history.
This is likely a huge topic. But briefly, can you share your view on how this crisis evolved to the boiling point that it’s at now?
So I grew up in the South and I had one of those grandmothers that loved you but, she would reach out and “touch you.” I can recall my brother and I running around her house doing stuff that we knew we weren’t supposed to be doing or that she’d already told us many times to “stop!” or ‘don’t do that!’ and we, of course, did it anyway. So at some point, she’d reach out and “touch us.” After the touching, she’d say, “Now that was for ole and new!” The George Floyd reaction that we’re seeing being displayed now is for ole and new!
Can you tell our readers a bit about your experience either working on this cause or your experience being impacted by it? Can you share a story with us?
Being a father of my three (3) amazing children is certainly a proud accomplishment. Fatherhood challenges you in a way that can hardly be described. One of the most challenging components of fatherhood is having those tough and even unthinkable conversations with them about the world that we live in. As an African-American father, for me, those conversations include things like, “you won’t always be accepted by white America simply based on the color of your skin” however, it’s not your job to try and force anyone to like or approve of you. Your only job is to be the best person/human being that you can be in spite of other opinions.” I am often concerned about my children for very different reasons than my Caucasian friends may be concerned about theirs. For instance, when my children leave home, and more specifically my 13-year-old son, will he/they be met with force by a police officer or some other white man that believes he has the right or in his warped mind, the duty to cause harm to them or even take their life. Having these conversations and many others are very necessary for black households. We are faced with challenges every day that the average white families are not. I, however, teach them that those things are never an excuse to not be kind to others, or always be fair and act with integrity. To live life to the fullest and always focus on being your best self.
Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share your “5 Steps That Each Of Us Can Take To Proactively Help Heal Our Country”. Kindly share a story or example for each.
Given the current environment, I think it’s important that I address what I believe to be one of the major disconnects between my white friends and colleagues and the African-American experience. In my opinion, most white people lack the ability to truly empathize with what we as African-American’s have unfortunately normalized. My white friends don’t have a genuine fear of being stopped by the police nor do they worry about that for their children. They don’t really get the idea of not having representation on the boards of major corporations because they are represented. They can’t understand that just their whiteness alone gives them more privilege than most African-American’s will ever experience. This privilege ranges from always being given the benefit of the doubt to expecting to be heard whenever and by whomever they choose to be heard by. Now I do believe that there are many of my white brothers and sisters out there that truly have a desire to understand our experience, they are interested in trying to identify with these inequities. This journey requires an un-stripping of self and ego and acknowledging that these experiences are real for us and that we are in many instances forced to live with them.
Having said that, I believe the willingness to have open and honest dialogue with one another and truly drive into the ugliness of these inequities with the goal of determining what “I” as an individual can do to start having an impact even if it starts with my immediate world around me.
Knowledge is power so taking intentional steps to educate ourselves about each other and truly work towards understanding the “Why” will bring us closer together. We must ask ourselves: “Why is this my belief?”, “Why do I ignore the existence of these inequities?”, and “Why do I stay silent when I see or hear things that I wouldn’t want for myself or my loved ones?”
Challenge ourselves to take a stand against these inequalities when we see them even when it’s uncomfortable for us. As an example: Something as simple as that time you stood in the line at Starbucks and you knew that this person of color was there before you yet the attendant asked you if they could help you while overlooking the person of color.
Consciously make attempts to expand your network of people that’s more inclusive. In our society, African-Americans are forced to interact and be engaging with the Caucasian community however, there are still in this day and time many white folks that do not have substantive relationships with people of color because they believe they don’t have to in order to function and excel in life.
And lastly, This may sound simple however, I believe in sticking to the Golden Rule. “Treat others as you would want them to treat you” With respect, love, honesty, patience and forgiveness.
It’s very nice to suggest ideas, but what can we do to make these ideas a reality? What specific steps can you suggest to make these ideas actually happen? Are there things that the community can do to help you promote these ideas?
I believe that what we do is very important and I often try to back up the things I say with actions. I am currently running a campaign on social media that I call the “Value Challenge”. I have asked my social media followers to participate by reaching out to three people right away and simply ask them, “How can I add value to your life Today” In doing this, it creates an opportunity to focus our attention on others in a very positive way and it then allows them to take that positive energy and pass it on to someone else. It creates a ripple effect. I believe that actions like this should be rewarded, so as a fun incentive, I am conducting a random drawing. Anyone participating and leaving a comment on my social post on Instagram at @PrestonByrd will be entered in a random drawing and the person selected will win $100 for themself and $100 for the 3 people they tagged and have chosen to improve their lives in some small way. One of my goals each day is determining how I can positively impact and infect my world around me and I want to encourage others to do the same. Sure, the $100 is fun, but the real reward is the pride you feel when you positively impact another person.
We are going through a rough period now. Are you optimistic that this issue can eventually be resolved? Can you explain?
Absolutely! There is always what we perceive to be a struggle and pain or challenges and resistance that are involved during the evolution of life and change. When you think about the birth of a child, that is probably one of the most painful yet joyful and amazing experiences that a woman could ever experience. I would liken the evolution of change to that. It hurts when you’re going through it but when you get on the other side of it, the creation is amazing!
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
I believe that life is about what we can give back to it. It’s always my goal to positively impact and infect my world around me by offering knowledge, experiences, and resources. If we take this approach in, I believe that energy will always yield a positive result.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I would love to spend some time with Russell Simmons. I’m inspired by his business acumen as well as his platform of conscious enlightenment.
How can our readers follow you online?
They can go to www.iamprestonbyrd.com IG: prestonbyrd; Twitter: @prestonbyrd
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!