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Imagine you’re starting out on a journey, and you realize that after a certain point, the map is useless. The road keeps shifting, maybe, or perhaps there are far too many possibilities to consider. In that moment, what would you give for an experienced guide sitting beside you?
That’s what a mentor is, and our guest this week knows exactly what a good mentor can do for you. Entrepreneur Blake Johnson has founded and sold several businesses in his career so far, achieving this success through a focus on the fundamentals of commerce and some forward-thinking endeavors. Forbes Magazine named Johnson’s latest business venture, Byte, the fastest-growing company ever. Byte went from zero to $1 billion in valuation without being funded by venture capital or external capital.
Outside of the business world, Johnson has been giving back to the community since his college years. He expanded this support in 2015 when he established the Blake Johnson Alliance. The Alliance works with local nonprofits to provide Los Angeles youth with a safe and supportive environment to help them succeed both academically and personally.
Read on for more about the power of mentorship, and make sure to listen to the full episode to learn how Johnson has nurtured such success in himself and in others!
THE VALUE OF A SUPPORTIVE COMMUNITY
Johnson grew up in a small farming town on the border of Mexico with little opportunity outside of farming and agriculture, but a high school teacher and principal saw his potential and helped him get into the same boarding school in California where he sent his own daughter.
Coming from that background and benefitting from the support of his teacher, Johnson understands the value of community. Attending a quality prep school and leaving his hometown gave him “exposure to a completely different world that kind of opened up my eyes to a number of different other possibilities and opportunities.”
PIVOTING TOWARD NEW OPPORTUNITIES
Johnson learned early that pivoting is an essential element of success. When he wasn’t accepted to the Naval Academy in Annapolis as he had hoped, he was devastated at first. Looking back, though? “I look back at that and say, ‘That was a pretty pivotal break in my life in a lucky way.”
As most of us know, sometimes life places obstacles in your path. Those obstacles often create a pivot point where you must make a choice. Johnson learned that to be truly successful, you must be nimble and remain equanimous when things don’t go the way you had planned.
“You need to understand and welcome the pivots and the roadblocks and really embrace [them], as they often create new opportunities and lead you in a direction that will ultimately put you in the right place long-term.”
Ultimately, Johnson says, it’s about getting out of your comfort zone and “being okay with the unknown.”
AIDING THE COMMUNITY THROUGH BUSINESS AND PHILANTHROPY
Since pivoting and finding success in entrepreneurship, Johnson has turned to supporting others. Because so many others helped him along his path, he told himself from a young age that he would pay that back when he could. He started right out of college, signing up as a volunteer at Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
After selling his third company in 2014, he felt he was in a financial position to make a greater impact and founded the Blake Johnson Alliance. He has aimed much of the Alliance’s work toward helping children: “I find we can move the needle the most and have the biggest impact when we reach youth at the appropriate age.”
His community-driven approach extends into his business endeavors. A conversation with a friend in orthodontics led to the creation of Byte, Johnson’s most recent company. Byte provides invisible aligners at 30% of the cost, making them more affordable for those who need them, while referring people who need more complex help to orthodontists.
Johnson has so much to share to build up the community. Check out the full episode to learn more about how Johnson got to where he is and the value of exposure to generational differences.
Listen to this episode to learn about...
[1:28] Johnson’s small-town roots
[3:09] The teacher who recognized his potential
[5:56] Johnson’s college pivot point
[10:40] Stepping out of your comfort zone
[17:20] Intergenerational interactions
[20:15] How Johnson created a billion-dollar company
[25:23] The amazing impact of Byte
[29:27] Johnson’s drive to give back
Check out the Members Only episode to hear Johnson’s advice for college students!
Learn how the Blake Johnson Alliance is making a difference in children’s lives.
Keep up with the Blake Johnson Alliance on LinkedIn.
Learn about the Big Careers program, a collaboration between the Blake Johnson Alliance and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County & the Inland Empire.
- Find out more about the unexpected ways volunteering can benefit you!
Listen to other Motivational Mondays episodes.