The Russell file Featured

8:00pm EDT July 26, 2008

Born: Atlanta

Education: Building technology degree from Tuskegee University

What’s the best business lesson you’ve learned?

Not to take anything for granted. You can’t take anything for granted. In this business, you have got to be precise, you have got to have the facts. I’m in the business that if you’re not focused, if you don’t put it together right, you can be in the position to kill thousands of people. It’s not like in the operation room where you have one patient if you make a mistake; this is a business you have to stay focused on.

Whom do you admire most in business?

I admire lots of people that I’ve come in contact with in my lifetime that put humanity before the dollar. If you’re honest, treat people right, you’re going to make the money. But once you get to the point that you’re greedy and you do things that are not fair, I think that is one of the biggest sins that one can make because so many people depend on business leaders for their livelihood.

What did you want to be as a child?

A builder because I was working with my daddy, and he was running buildings. I knew at an early age.

What was your first job?

Working for my daddy helping make up cement, mortar, sand, bringing water to the workers that were working hot summer days — just a little gopher. I was about 8 years old.

I went to work when I was 8 years old at the shoeshine parlor. I had a paper route. I’ve been an entrepreneur all my life. I made money and saved my money.