My story is simple: I was born in Dallas and raised in Oklahoma. My father and my grandfather were pastors and missionaries who would do anything possible to help someone in need. They, along with my ever-positive mother, taught me strong values that still guide me daily. As was true with my grandfather and father, my family has a passion to serve and help others to have a better life.
And with these values, I’ve assembled an incredible team of people and corporate partners to help build Solavei. The passion that I feel for this company and the opportunity it has to positively improve individual lives have captivated me. We have incredible momentum and are proud to announce our launch this past September 2011.
Solavei is a Social Commerce Revolution taking full advantage of technology, mobile and social networks we all have to make commerce less expensive and even profitable for consumers. We strongly believe that Solavei can change an industry and change the ways of many traditional businesses.
My greatest love is spending time with my family and friends. I have four sons, from the ages of 19 to 5, who daily show me how to enjoy life to the fullest. My oldest son is a college sophomore and has dedicated his life to the Army by joining ROTC. He spent his summer in basic training at Fort Benning, followed by Airborne School. My second son is a high school junior and is either at home, on the golf course or at church where he’s on staff working as a children’s pastor. We’ll see what happens with my 7- and 5-year old sons, but the pure joy they have for life gives me more than I could ever ask.
My wife, Shawntel, is my best friend and the love of my life. She is a former Miss America and the pride of Oklahoma. I’ve come to appreciate her desire to let people of all ages know that they are valuable. I’m always amazed to see her dedicate so much time on philanthropic endeavors that create a better environment for those less fortunate. Through our foundation, we focus on furthering education for those who need it, providing benevolence and missions to impoverished countries. Personally, I have found spending time digging water wells in Pygmy villages in the Central African Republic as one of the most impactful experiences in my life.
Many years ago, I found myself immersed in professional pursuits but found my personal health not a priority. After looking at a picture one day and not being happy with what I saw, I made a decision to change. Since that time, my focus to be healthy and fit is by being an avid runner. I clock 40-60 miles a week by running early in the morning or late at night. I have run 25 marathons around the world, including four Boston Marathons. I’m shooting for 12 marathons in 2012 and have already completed seven.
Golf is a game that I truly enjoy and one that I love playing with my sons. My 17-year-old is on the varsity golf team and now gives me a strong challenge on the course. One of the greatest things I love to hear is my seven-year old saying. “Dad, let’s go hit golf balls today.”
I spent most of the past decade building Motricity, a mobile-services provider that we moved from North Carolina to Bellevue, WA in 2008. Washington is a part of the country we’ve grown to love. Motricity and I parted ways in the summer of 2011 but I’m extremely proud of the company and its employees and all we achieved together. I had the great fortune to be awarded the 2010 Pacific Northwest Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year. I received the same award in 2005 in North Carolina. We built an enterprise with more than $100 million in revenue and a market value that exceeded $1 billion. Some investors have sued Motricity and raised distasteful and untrue allegations about me and the company, among others. But, many people had great experiences with Motricity, including hundreds of employees who earned a good livelihood, customers who were provided beneficial technology and services, and many investors who that received significant returns. Click here for additional info on Motricity.
Before Motricity, I served nearly three years as President of Learning 2000, an education software company with customers such as IBM, Gateway and Micron. Prior to that, I was senior vice president of ShapeRite, a nutritional supplement manufacturer that based its distribution on a person-to-person model. This planted a seed in me for how powerful a marketing vehicle an individual can be. I was very fortunate to take part in ShapeRite being named the nation’s 44th fastest-growing privately held company by Inc. magazine.
I also serve on the board of the Miss America Organization, which is the largest scholarship provider to young women in the world, the Washington Roundtable, a nonprofit, public policy group, and an ambassador for the Internet Innovation Alliance in Washington DC.
I’m neither proud of, nor embarrassed by, the fact that I am a college dropout. I graduated from high school at the age of 16 and at the end of my freshman year of college, I realized that I’d rather be learning by doing than in the classroom. Fortunately, I had great success in real estate at an early age, and haven’t looked back.
I’ve enjoyed successes and endured some failures. But I’ve always learned. Right now, the most important things in my career are to work with people I like, love and trust, and to do something that has the potential to provide benefits to millions of people.