Strive to be the First

Reginald F. Lewis at one point was the richest Blackman in America and founder of the first African-American billion dollar company. In 1987, he led his company, TLC Group, L.P. to purchase Beatrice Foods, a conglomerate of 64 companies in 31 countries. This deal which closed at $985 million was the largest leveraged buyout of overseas assets by an American company at that time.

Mr. Lewis was a go-getter at an early age, even starting a paper route to distribute the Afro-American Newspaper at 10. He went on to become a 3-sport athlete in high school, student-body vice president and graduated with a football scholarship to Virginia State University.

He would graduate from Virginia State University, and later be invited to attend Harvard Law School after attending a summer school law program. He was the first person to be invited to enroll at Harvard Law without ever applying. Post-graduation, he would eventually open the first African-American law firm on Wall Street.

Mr. Lewis’s monumental $985 million deal in 1987 would prove to be wildly successful and catapult him to the forefront of top tier American businessmen. By 1992, the company had sales of over $1.8 billion annually, making it the first black-owned business to generate a billion dollars in annual sales.

There are many lessons that we can take from the life and legacy left behind by Mr. Reginald F. Lewis. But what shines through most of all is his will to do what hasn’t been done. He always strived for excellence and in doing so sought out the biggest challenges.

As you approach your work, goals, and dreams -- don’t reach for the low hanging fruit -- instead, be willing to stretch for the fruit at the top of the tree. Don’t allow yourself to settle for just enough when you know you have so much more to give. Push past good, keep going through great, continue on to phenomenal.

~Ambitious & Black

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