My name is Tammy Fleming and I am the owner of Trendz by Tammy Black Hair Salon in Houston, Texas where “we take hair from a hot raggedy mess, to beautiful tress”. It’s been an honor and a pleasure to have been accepted into and graduate from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. To understand just how much of an honor, you must understand where I am coming from. Whenever I become discouraged with my industry or what is going on with my life, I allow myself to sulk for a little while, only because I’m human. But only for a little while. Then I know it’s time to get up from my cubby hole or wherever I put myself in my time of weakness. It’s time for a change in my life and I will have to be the one to make it. And I know it has to be me because I don’t have a given support team like you might think. I became a self-motivator at 13 years old. You see, at 13 years old, my mother was one of the victims of a brutal double murder-suicide and with the incarceration of my abusive father (not my mother’s murderer), my entire family was separated from each other. I was the only one of 7 siblings to become a ward of the State of Louisiana. I grew up in an all-girls group home and it was there that writing became my refuge. I wrote an essay to try to win money so that I could attend the college of my choice, Xavier University of Louisiana, since the state would only pay for state colleges. I was successful. I won the $10,000 Coca Cola Share the Dream Scholarship.
In 1995, my despair resurfaced. I became discouraged with the murder rate and my life in New Orleans. So after completing my college degree in accounting and my curriculum at Molers Beauty College, I moved to Houston. I had only $200 in my pocket and got on welfare yet just 5 years later, I opened my first black hair salon. On September 11, 2001, I had a feeling I should be doing something else. That same year I became a real estate agent and then a real estate broker in 2005. Feeling the need to continue growing, in 2009, I taught myself search engine optimization (SEO) so that I could market my business properly and now I consistently appear on the first page on Google organic search results for my keyword.
In 2015, I began getting that feeling of despair once again. But this time, I simply could not figure out the cause. In 2013, I had relocated to a larger, more visible commercial location and doubled my business over the last two years. Every task I had taken on, I had been successful. I didn’t really have anyone to prove or disprove anything to. In fact, people in my environment always tell me I am doing too much. Although I’m sure saying this to me was meant to be a compliment, it never was. It was very discouraging. It would feel as though they were saying that I should be satisfied with what I had. Or that somehow I was acting selfish or greedy. It was none of those. Where someone else thought I was “doing too much,” I knew I was in no way reaching my full potential. I was not reaching my plateau. I still hadn’t satisfied my biggest critic – myself.
I am only happy when I am being challenged. So I had to motivate myself. I just started keeping my dreams and aspirations to myself. If I had to talk about it, I told strangers. This time I didn’t want to just pursue another accomplishment, succeed at it with no celebration, only to watch my excitement and joy fizzle into despair again.
This time I didn’t want to just put another project on my plate. I wanted to realize the reason for my despair. 2015 made 20 years that I have been in Houston and in business, and it passed with no fanfare at all. As I grew more focused, I became more and more isolated from my surroundings and my family, probably because I couldn’t get what I needed from them: encouragement and support. I even became isolated from my own church. I’d go and enjoy church service, give my tithes and then leave. With the exception of a few occasional hellos, not a word was spoken by me. I considered moving out of Texas, but I would just have to start all over again somewhere else. Besides I thought, Houston has all the resources I could ever want or need so if I can’t make it here, then where could I make it? I knew it was time for me to get to work and create another challenge for myself to achieve. I vowed that in 2016, I would get out and make some life changes.
I finally realized the common thread to my despair all those times: I was not feeling successful because I wasn’t being challenged and I didn’t want to be the smartest person in the room. Each of those times, I was not reaching my full potential and each time I completed a project, I felt better and would resume my life because I felt validated.
Now that I knew the source of my anguish, I vowed to do something about it and not let that momentum fade. I joined a chamber of commerce, which was a start but I needed something more. I decided to follow up with a program I had found online several years earlier in one of my other times of despair. I thought this program fit me perfectly. I wanted in badly. It was the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program. I did my research, read up on the Goldman Sachs corporation, and I must have read the entire Small Businesses website twice. I watched all of the alumni’s videos and as I listened to their stories, I cried as I cry when I’m watching The Color Purple. I knew I wanted to be a part of this program. And even more, this program was looking for me. I am the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses target market.
Then I read the requirements. I knew immediately I didn’t meet all of the criteria, but that did not discourage me. I applied anyway. I mainly applied for two reasons. First, when I was in high school, there was a scholarship that I wanted really badly. I was scared to apply because I didn’t meet all of the criteria. The GPA requirement was 3.2 and I had a 2.9. I had no one to encourage me, so I didn’t apply. I later found out there were a total of 10 scholarships to be had and only 7 people applied so they all got the scholarship. The second reason was I was looking for something hard-not easy. If I got rejected, it would make me that much more determined to get in. I was right. The second time was the charm. I became a Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Alumni on my birthday in August, 2016. Being an alumni of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses has its privileges. As if the program wasn’t enough, becoming an alumna opens up the door to a whole other level of privileges and streamlines to the American backbone. The program has truly been a life changing experience and I vow to do my part to keep up the momentum and be a part of what it takes to make this program so successful. And with that I leave you a poem I wrote about what success means to me…
In a hungry soul, that must be fed
Success is learned, but can’t be taught.
Its enormous wealth
That can’t be bought
No, currency does not determine success
Neither a dollar nor dime
Success is a state of mind
It can be accomplished in a moment, or in a matter of time
Or it can take a lifetime or stand the test of time
Sometimes success is not recognized, until after you die
Some successes are never complete
Some successes are complete just with the opportunity to compete.
Some people are successful and don’t even know it
While others declare success too quick
Some accomplishments can be a chore so taxing
You never want to do it
Or so enjoyable
As soon as you finish
You’re ready to do it all over again.
Success is being able to influence the next generation
That’s consumed by texting and PlayStation
They’re poised to be followers
But we need leaders
Our youth need leaders
And someone in their community
Like me, a motivational junkie
There are different degrees of success
And what’s someone else’s failure
May be considered success by you
It’s not that your standards are low
That just may be your plateau
What a beautiful word success
And although it rhymes with recess
I can attest
The two words are not synonymous
Success is hard work that requires some fails
Expect opposition when determination appears
Crowds scatter, so stamina is required
And be prepared to be alone
I don’t like being alone
I despise failure even more
Success is an ego that can’t be bruised
Success is attitude you don’t ever want to lose
If after all of this, if success to you is still a mystery
Surround yourself by people who are
Where you want to be