Don Sykes highlights how he is bringing meaningful change to his community
Don Sykes is a registered nurse with over twenty years of medical experience.
As an enthusiastic and forward-thinking person, Don is an active member of his local community and has had a positive impact on families and young people in Richmond, Virginia. In 2006, Don founded J&D Enterprises LLC, which focused on providing the life skills needed to ensure employment for the city’s youth. With an emphasis on academics and financial literacy, Don is on a mission to empower at-risk youth, helping them build their own path.
Don is a perfect example of what hard work can accomplish and his top priority is giving back to those in need. Dawn quotes, “The only way to make a difference in someone’s life is to be responsible, never underestimate the power of a strong God-fearing woman to overcome any adversity.”
What do you currently do in your company?
I am the founder and president of J&D Enterprises LLC. My main objective is to connect underdeveloped communities in my area by providing employment opportunities. My day consists of many meetings; However, since the epidemic I have been able to use Zoom. I travel a lot to get more business and to help other businesses as well. We help them where they want to be.
Community events are a significant part of my position in the company. I like to go out and meet more people. The more business people you know, the more ready you are to help grow your own business. This is an important part of being an entrepreneur. Events allow me to interact with the everyday people we serve. It’s the part I enjoy the most.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
I am a dreamer. I am a solution based person. I don’t want you to keep wailing and wailing over what isn’t right. What I want to focus on is “What can we do to make it right, what is the solution?” Let’s decide to answer this. That’s me. I imagine the solution to the problem is that they work towards making it a reality. There is an obvious need today, but even before the epidemic, programs were needed to help the community. I’m working on some up and running to provide those solutions. The motivation behind business is trust and resilience.
What defines the way you do business?
The current trend that excites me is to make a meaningful contribution to the community of young entrepreneurs and the world. If you don’t want to work for what I understand, create something for humanity. Be creative, create something that can give you the financial stability you want, as well as meet the needs of others. Stop talking about it. It is more than just writing on paper that will bring success. This is a start, but then you have to do it. I am very consistent. I will never give up. If there is an obstacle, I am overcoming it no matter what. I fall a lot of the time, but I always go back. I may have some wounds, but I will never give up. My parents both came from North Carolina and moved to New York when they were 20 years old. I can only imagine what they did to find their success. I admit that if they can do it, I can do it. This is what I taught my son: Never give up. I tell him to have options so if one thing doesn’t work, you have a plan. The most important thing is to work for it, not to give up. Persistence and continuity will eventually pay off.
What can you share in being productive?
One of the biggest things to know is not to just listen to those dishonest people. Negative people spit on others. When you’re an entrepreneur, and especially when you’re just starting out, things can get messy. Some people may try to ask you questions about yourself or your ideas. As long as you continue, you can make it happen.
It may not always be the way you wanted it to be or the deadline, but I know for sure that something is going to happen if you put everything in it. I always tell the younger generation that disaster of any kind will never stop you from doing what you want to do. Another part of this is to be aware of how you present yourself. I’m actually a very sensitive person, but that’s not always the best way, especially in business. I’ve made my poker face perfect. If I could, I would give the shirt to someone from my back, but I also know how to be strong and reliable and set goals.
How do you measure success?
To me, it’s not always about money. Fate is the measure of success. I wake up every morning praising God. I feel like you have to have some beliefs that you believe in. Part of my belief is in the knowledge that I have changed someone’s life. You know, especially the suicide rate is much higher now. For me, it’s just knowing that I’ve given up everything I can and I’m doing my best to give back to the community and my family. Of course, you need money to survive, but to me money is more about what you can do or how it can help someone. Do not keep in the pocket. It’s not doing anything for anyone out there. I try my best to give when I can.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned through your career?
That you have to believe in yourself. You are not going to know every result in the beginning. If you are confident in your abilities and do what you need to do, you can go anywhere. When I talk to my son, I compare him to playing lottery. You hope you win, but if you have never bought a ticket, you have no chance. Just buying a ticket increases your chances. In other words, if you are not willing to take the risk, you will miss the chance to succeed. You have to believe in yourself and in what you are doing. You just have to be more discriminating with the help you render toward other people. Believe in yourself first.
What advice would you give to others interested in becoming entrepreneurs?
No matter where you go, educate yourself about the subject. Make sure you surround yourself with people who can see and share your vision. You have to enjoy what you are doing. If you do not do what you love in your heart, you will not put everything in it. You need that 100% sacrifice. You really have to understand what you are doing. Do your research. Learn from others. The basis of any productivity is communication and time management and reliability. My long-term goal is to have a positive impact on the communities we’ve served and the underdeveloped communities. Handing people over, not handouts. Some people are very arrogant, which I understand. Some people don’t want you to know what’s going on at home. And I understand everything. I do not pass judgment. I just want to end each day knowing that I have made an impact on the world for the better.
What are some of your favorite things outside of work?
I love to travel. If I could travel 270 days a year, I would. I enjoy traveling and learning different things. But it can be difficult with a family. I think I also have a little addiction to shopping. Nowadays everything is available online, I am known to get a package every day. All you need to do is scroll down and press the “Add to Cart” button. Mostly, though, it’s travel and I love that my son already likes it. We learned about different cultures and saw many interesting things. It really made a lot of great memories for us.
How do you balance a difficult work-life?
Believe it or not time management. My fianc has teased me about how much I care. In massage, hair, nails, spa etc. I told her I would do something every day if I could because I had to reduce my stress. I have a lot on my shoulders and I want to achieve a lot. Although I’m reliable and productive, I don’t know if I’ll be able to do this for myself. You can’t pour from an empty pot. So, very few people really understand how important it is to set aside time to get rid of the excitement that you carry in your daily life. I set aside time each morning to read my Bible, and whenever I could, I set aside time to relax. I think it’s because of my solution-oriented mind. Everyone, including me, now wants to keep the economy afloat. If I spend time complaining about stress, I can’t get out of stress. This time permit eliminates the need to complain. It makes me more productive and helps me create a proper work-life balance.
What is the part of technology that helps you the most in your daily routine?
My account with Google Calendar. I realized how much I use it when my phone breaks down a while ago. It only took a few hours to repair the screen, but without it I was lost. Not being able to double check my calendar at that time made me feel ‘off’. It keeps me on time and informs me of upcoming promises. It’s like a lifeline for me.
Who has been a role model for you and why?
My mother was always a role model to me because she was a very spiritual person, but also very passive. He grew up in the South when racism was more prevalent than it is today. She is a strong role model because when she speaks, she is calm but strong. He showed a strength that I have always admired. My uncle, who was like a second father to me and a retired military man was also a strong presence in my life. I also look at Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey. They have faced many tragedies as they grew up, yet they have succeeded. It really takes a village. I admire these role models because they have strengthened my work ethic and taught me a lot through being present in my life.
What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?
Treat others as you would like to be treated. It may seem so simple, but it is an important lesson to learn. I was teased a lot in high school for being so skinny. I was called and dropped off. I certainly hated it, but I believe it also helped me grow as a person. I know sometimes it’s easier said than done, but I really follow this rule. Empathy and compassion are excellent tools for business. The ability to see and feel what others do makes you a better entrepreneur. That insight helps build friendships and connections. Without these you will not get success.
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