Interestingly enough, I never thought about writing a book. Then one day, I was nudged to write my life story by a friend, that friend being Loida Lewis. Loida Lewis was formerly the Chairwoman and Chief Executive Officer of TLC Beatrice, LLC. Her late husband, Reginald Lewis was the first African American to build a billion dollar company, Beatrice Foods. As a matter of fact, in 1992, Forbes listed the Lewis’ among the 400 richest Americans, with a net worth estimated at $400 million.
In Loida’s words, she said my life story was “a story that must be told.” She added, “It’s an American Story that is the purest example of what makes this country great.”
Loida, determined to see the book idea through, introduced me to Blair Walker the author of “Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun?” How Reginald Lewis Created a Billion-Dollar Empire. As history would have it, Blair Walker and I are now co-authors of Beating the Odds.
Chapter 5 of Beating the Odds is entitled “The Magnificent, Mysterious Lady B.” What would you say to Lady B if you had the chance to do so today?
Of course, I would tell her THANK YOU! I would tell her that her blind trust in me catapulted me out of a world of potential poverty into a world of enormous possibility. I would THANK her and tell her that I learned an entire new way of being from her generosity. I am a philanthropist as a result of her grand example. You see, I can choose to spend my time in the constant pursuit of material things and self-gratification. Or, I can choose to spend my time making “footprints” for future generations. It’s my choice, my goal, to use resources to “Change Lives” and “Save Lives.” It’s become a part of my life’s mission, through a variety of efforts, to remove as many obstacles and stumbling blocks out of the pathway so others can achieve success too.
This is a core belief for me and brings to mind, one of my favorite songs is “If I Can Help Somebody” by Mahalia Jackson. The lyrics are so powerful. “If I can help somebody as I pass along, If I can cheer somebody, with a word or song, If I can show somebody how they’re traveling wrong, then my living shall not be in vain. My living shall not be in vain, and then my living shall not be in vain.”
Yes, with the deepest gratitude I would tell the Magnificent, Mysteries Lady B. THANK YOU!
What would you want others to walk away with after reading Beating the Odds?
Well, I hope “my story” would inspire someone to pursue their dreams and to face difficult situations with fierce determination to succeed. It’s important to realize that you cannot control the hand that you’re dealt. But you can control the way the hand is played. Play it well. Be persistent, figure things out, dig in and expect to win. And, of course, help as many people as you can along your journey.