“Anytime you can help people and make a living, that’s a good thing.” - Marc Heflin
My great grandfather, John Heflin, Sr, was born in 1917 into a poor family in Louisiana. He had an abusive, alcoholic father and at least 8 brothers and sisters. Most days he didn’t know where his meals were coming from or if there were going to be any at all. He never went to college and he basically raised himself and his siblings, but he managed to accomplish things that others deemed impossible.
John decided to travel up to Arkansas with only a gourd as a suitcase. He had endlessly been trying to find work when he was hired at Terminix in 1938. He slowly made his way up in the branch he worked in, now located in Hot Springs Village, until he became the manager and made astonishing waves in the pest control industry.
Prior to my great-grandfather, JJ, termite control and pest control were separate entities you couldn’t purchase or get treated together, which was a major hassle. His branch of Terminix was the first to offer both termite and pest control in the whole industry. He eventually was given the opportunity to
buy ownership of different branches of Terminix, and he jumped at the chance.
As the years went on, the branches of Terminix under JJ’s control had great statistics in customer retention, which goes hand-and-hand with customer satisfaction. JJ’s son, Johnny (who is my grandfather), even joined the business, along with his two sons Marc, my dad, and Jay. Johnny would get to the office early and leave late. “You can’t ask your employees to come early and leave late if you aren't willing to do it.” My whole family was dedicated to building Terminix.
Tragedy struck when JJ died May 1st, 1999, the day I was born. Terminix was already trying to buy back ownership so my family decided to sell all of their ownership except the branch in Hot Springs Village. When they sold everything, they had to sign a 10-year non compete because Terminix was scared that they wouldn’t keep their customers after a 5-year non compete because of the loyalty so many people had towards my family.
During those 10 years, my family started another business called Bird and Bear Companies. B&B Co. was a medical supply company, even though my family knew very little about this particular industry.
My thought process as to why they created this company led me to believe that they wanted to help people by selling and transporting medical supplies and machines, but they were really just waiting for the ten year non compete to run out, which it did in 2009.
In 2009, Legacy was established by founders Marc Heflin, Jay Heflin, Chris Maloch, and Juan Carlos Perez. Even though these men are the founders, they still crawl under houses, evaluate houses, and do other things many CEOs wouldn’t dream of.
Even though I don’t necessarily see myself becoming a fourth generation pest management professional, my family’s story has led me to have an interest in business because it can change lives.
John Heflin, Sr. grew up poor with abusive parents and no foreseeable future until he took things into his own hands. Since he never knew if and what he was going to eat growing up, he gave to the Food Bank because he never wanted anyone else to have to feel that pain. He used his success in business to help others, and that is truly inspiring.
Most of the guest speakers for Noble 201 agree about the importance of being passionate about what you’re doing, but they all have different requirements for what it means to be successful. Some speakers say that “education isn’t the (sole) way to start a business,” (Jordan Carlisle, co-founder of Strengthen app), while others, like Propak founder and Nobel Impact chairman Steve Clark, stress that experience got them where they are today.
Below is a look at what I’ve gleaned from Noble 201’s guest speakers and their philosophies on success. In short, having experience, a problem, and passion seem to be the basis for forging a pass towards success.
Experience Is Key
While all of the speakers fully encourage going to college and talk about how it can be beneficial in a person’s life, they emphasize that college is not necessary to success. Jordan Carlisle and photographer John David Pittman are two examples of speakers who went to college, got degrees in a certain area, and went on to have successful careers in completely different fields.
When serial entrepreneur and Arkansan Steve Clark says that he became successful because of his experience, he isn’t necessarily talking about going to college and getting a degree just to get a degree. The meaning I extracted from Steve Clark’s Q&Aat the Arkansas Fellowship speakers series event, which Noble Impact students had the opportunity to attend, was that you need to have education, or experience, in what you are doing. That doesn’t necessarily mean college.
Solve A Problem
Although there are disagreements on other “requirements” for success, every guest speaker agrees, finding a problem is key to being successful. You can’t think of a solution to address a problem if you don’t identify the problem. Additionally, Steve Clark brought up the point of having the mindset of solving for “x,” and to “see a problem, fix a problem.”
Human-Centered Design, an approach taken by design firm IDEO, adds to this thought — it’s a concept we are highlighting this year in Noble. You have to identify a problem and form the solution based on what the community around you desires. This is extremely important in being successful, because if you create a solution, but no one finds it desirable, you won’t find success. In fact, CB Insights says that the top reason startups fail (42% of the startups they analyzed) is because there is “No Market Need.”
However, Jeston George made the point that sometimes people don’t know what they want. His business, Apptegy, which the Noble 201 scholars visited, helps schools update all of their social media platforms at once in an effort to keep everyone up to date. His original idea was to create an app for schools to communicate with parents, however, no school wanted “another thing to update,” so George created a solution that schools didn’t know they wanted.
Passion Or Pass
Another debatable “requirement” for being successful is passion. Almost all of the speakers have become successful in something they are passionate about. Personally, I agree with Anita Roddick, who wasn’t a guest speaker, but who is a very successful businesswoman and founder of The Body Shop, who says: “To succeed, you have to believe in something with such a passion that it becomes a reality.”
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines success as “the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame; the correct or desired result of an attempt; someone or something that is successful, a person or thing that succeeds.”
Despite being different than the set definition of success, I think Steve Clark says it best: “Success is being able to do what I want, when I want, with who I want.”
Success is what you make it, so make it good.