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Sharing Success 1- Mikal Caldwell

A few days ago, I mentioned that I’m writing a book entitled The Grind & The Glory. What I didn’t tell you, is that as opposed to being the sole writer, I have help from contributors for the project. Over the next few weeks it’s my goal to share more about them in a series of contributor profile posts.

I believe accomplishing goals is fun, but how much more beneficial is it if you have people that can share your success.

The story begins……..

Name: Mikal J. Caldwell

Age: 36

City: Currently Tallahassee, FL, but a native Washingtonian!

Company/Organization: brandEdge

1. When you were growing up, is this what you thought you would be doing vocationally? If not, what did you want to do?

Actually, I envisioned a career in music. I’ve been singing practically my whole life and that’s what I thought I’d be doing professionally. I actually still do, but that’s another story. The only thing that I was absolutely sure of growing up that is in line with what I’m doing now is that I knew I would be self-employed. I learned very early that no one ever became truly wealthy working for someone else.

2. What’s the most different job you’ve had from what you are doing now and how did that job help you with what you are doing now?

I guess the most different job would be the summer I spent as a summer camp coach for a group of local kids. I’m not exactly the outdoors type and I had to spend the whole day outside with kids playing games and sports and stuff. I guess if it helped me at all, it let me know that I would endure a lot if I had to, but that I wasn’t meant for that kind of work at all!

3. Who is one person, besides Christ, who most helped to shape your leadership and how did they help you?

I’m sort of a student with many teachers. I absorb wisdom wherever I can find it. I tend to lean heavily on military philosophers like Sun Tzu, because having a strategy for whatever I’m doing is a life pillar for me and I tend to be aggressive in the pursuit of my goals. But if I had to pick one person that has shaped my overall thinking and is my biggest influence today, it would be my pastor, Bishop Alvin Stewart. I’ve been serving with him for over 11 years now and have learned so much about how to be a “hearts and minds” leader, while still demanding superior performance.

4. Besides the Bible, what is one book that has most helped to shape your thought process in life and work?

It actually was a game. I started playing chess when I was around 5 or 6 and if there was one thing that has most shaped my thought processes in life it was that game. The ability to see several moves ahead, to anticipate your opponent’s strategy and plan yours accordingly, allocate resources, and even how to sacrifice something of lesser value in exchange for a return of greater value, are all life skills that have had tremendous impact on my life. I am constantly thinking 5 moves ahead, not just for me, but about what potential obstacles I might have to get around.

5. What do you do within your company/organization? How does it serve?

brandEdge is a full service brand strategy and marketing consultancy serving the needs of small businesses, non-profits, and churches.  I am the founder and CEO of the company and my official title is Chief Brand Strategist. Simply put, we help organizations figure out their corporate identity, what aspects of it are most attractive to their stakeholders, and how best to communicate it to the audience that they’re trying to reach.

6. What are three words other people would use to describe your work style/ethic?

Driven, focused, ambitious

7. What is your greatest strength in leadership?

My ability to always see the big picture and how to arrange the pieces to fit it.

8. What is your greatest weakness in leadership?

Lack of patience/tolerance, especially when I’m focused on forward progress. I tend to have little tolerance for things that slow me down, like repeating instructions or when other people aren’t moving as fast as I am. I have to consciously choose to pause, breathe, and have more patience.

9. What is the hardest thing you have to do in life and/or leadership?

The hardest thing I ever have to do in life or leadership is recovering from failure, when I have people following me. Failure is a difficult experience personally, but when you have people that are following you and expecting success, your failure doesn’t just affect you and it adds an additional component to HOW you recover.

10. If you could give one piece of advice to other young leaders from what you’ve learned by experience, what would it be?

You don’t have all the answers. It’s okay to ask for help, or accept it when it’s offered. That help can be physical, financial, spiritual, or simply sound wisdom. Don’t be so protective of your vision that it becomes an island. God designed us to work best in partnership with others, just make sure they are truly an asset to your vision, not a liability.


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