Failing forward to find success with mitch brooks
Mitchel A. Brooks, IV, is a business executive with a diverse range of experience in business operations, strategy, and marketing. Mitch serves as the Chief Operating Officer of the Washington, DC-based information management and technology firm, DSI. In this role, Mitch runs day-to-day business operations and business development. Under his management, DSI has increased by 300% over the last five years. Prior to DSI, Mitch served as the Global Marketing Manager at Caterpillar, a global fortune 500 company. Mitch managed a global network of clients teaching marketing best practices and processes. Prior to Caterpillar, Mitch worked as a strategy consultant for Cerberus Capital Management’s Chrysler and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Mitch’s influence extended throughout all areas of each organization including marketing, human resources, strategic planning and execution, corporate management, product development, technology deployment, and customer and network operations.
With a proven track record in business and an extensive rolodex of contacts, Mitch used his resources to create a passion project, The Urbane Group. The Urbane Group is a national lifestyle marketing team that connects brands with millennial leaders and professionals under 40. The client portfolio has included the likes of Gilt Groupe, BMW, Porche, Bacardi USA, National Bar Association, Teach for America, Kimpton Hotels, and Diageo among others.
Mitch is a native Washingtonian. He lives in Washington, DC with his wife, Cadene. Mitch earned his Bachelor of Science and Masters of Business Administration from Florida A&M University’s School of Business & Industry.
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Episode 2: Failing Forward to Find Success with Mitch Brooks (Via YouTube & Soundcloud)
Written by: (Brandon Alexander)
tell us about your childhood and what growing up was like for you?
Mitch: I’m a fifth generation Washingtonian who grew up in Washington DC and southeast of Martin Luther King Avenue. I think that at a young age it allowed me to experience a lot and really shaped the demeanor I have today. It’s how I go about life, how I go about business.
what did you want to be when you grew up?
Mitch: Yeah, good question, man and I wanted to be a basketball player. I was pretty good at basketball and so every day in elementary school my dad would drive me to school. I would want to read the newspaper and he would let me have the sports section even though he really wanted it. And what he would tell me is, “In addition to taking a sports section, you need to take something else and you need to tell me what you read when you get home. With the Washington Post, the business section is right after the sports section. And so I would take the sports section and the business section as a convenience without thinking about it. I would read the sports section like a little kid and pass it on to my friends. Then I had this business section in front of me. It would amaze me as a kid to see Michael Jordan signs for 25 million for five years. Then I would read the stock tickers; I taught myself how to read the stock ticker as an elementary school kid. I would see something like, “the Chicago Bulls owner makes five hundred million dollars,” and thought at a very young age it didn't take much to understand the mathematics behind that. I always had in my head even if I would play ball at a high level, it was always going to be about stacking my paper to make moves in business.
So you're obviously crushing it as a tech executive, talk about what it means to be COO of dsi and what DSI does?
Mitch: I am the Chief Operating Officer at the company and what that means is I oversee day-to-day operations from every department and all personnel. I'm pointing and directing them on how we can run at the most profitable level. I've brought in over 40 million over the past 4 years.
you’re also the founder of the urbane group, a marketing company you started as an entrepreneur. tell us more about that venture.
Mitch: I started doing events at FAMU. I have to show love to Jarrett Nobles and my partners with Urbane Group. Doing that in college, the bottom line was that I was in Tallahassee, Florida and I needed money. My mom was like, “look you know this is getting expensive.”
You need to get a job, you need to figure this out. Parties are what I got into and I pulled to the side Jarett Nobles and he pulled to the side one or two others and we got into parties. It was very, very successful. I moved back to DC shortly after college and when I moved back to DC a lot of my classmates, friends and other folks who moved from Florida and Atlanta were like, “Yo, I'm in your city, where's the party, what’s the move?” I think after a few weeks of directing people to different places through text messaging and the promoters or the owners, it got to a point I was like, “look let me just do this how we did it back in college.”
Johnny: When you start to become a resource, people begin to call you for that and you're like, "well I need to monetize this resource and value that I'm providing."
Mitch: I like how you put that, I felt like as a Washingtonian I wanted to show people the city and what the city looked like. The folks from Florida, Atlanta, and Chicago that were moving to DC, I wanted them to see that the city could be a lot of fun, that you could enjoy yourself and there would be like-minded folks and all of that. That's deep, I mean, that's music to my ears as a Washingtonian, man.
what was your first job out of college and what did you really learn from that?
Mitch: So, I worked an internship and that internship parlayed to a job offer. I interned at Caterpillar in Peoria, Illinois. Caterpillar is a global Fortune 50 manufacturing company and I was working in global marketing. It was great! That internship parlayed to a job offer and so I took that offer with caterpillar but that was a tough place to live coming from Washington, DC. That experience at Caterpillar was exactly what I needed and I felt like on my journey God has given me exactly what I needed, when I needed it.
Talk about what has been the biggest challenge in the 10 years navigating to become the COO of DSI?
Mitch: For a lot of us, when we’re young, talented and know that God has put something in our heart that's great, the biggest challenge is being patient and appreciating the journey. Through reading books on spirituality I've learned to appreciate the journey. Getting out there and doing it and then messing it up or figuring out what's not for you.
I want to touch on failure being a huge piece of what makes us who we are. I've learned over time we have to appreciate this journey. The biggest decisions I've made during those 10 years were just me sitting, understanding and respecting that I'm going to enjoy this journey and that journey will give me wisdom. It'll give me lessons learned, and make me a better man, business person, and husband when I come out on the other side. During that 10-year process this really started to click for me and I started to appreciate the journey every day as a gift. It's a blessing, I'm going to make the most of it; I'll give every day a 100 percent. I have to give respect and love to mentors and folks along the way.
People like a Marc Barnes – working with him every day he goes 100%. He would never allow me to call him and be like, “Oh I'm going to meet up with you tomorrow.” It's always like, “Let's do it today, tomorrow isn’t promised.”
Johnny: He [Jim Rohn] says set a goal to become a millionaire, not for the million dollars, but rather what it will make of you to become one. That really speaks to me and I think it speaks to your journey and what you're accomplishing right now.
Mitch: That's right! In speaking to friends and in speaking with mentee's and folks that asked for advice, I tell them that it's not one size fits all and you can go work for a fortune 500 company. You can go work for a start-up, you can go work for a small business, but at the end of the day, what are you getting along the way that's going to help you to get to your end goal?
If you had to name two or three people that were on your Mount Rushmore of inspiration, who would it be?
Mitch: Marc would be up there. Marc Barnes would definitely be up there.
Johnny: Why Marc?
Mitch: Marc teaches discipline and I think that's something that a lot of folks don't have. It's something that I thought I had until I met him. He teaches you the next level of discipline. For someone to have built an empire off of alcohol and dancing and he does not even drink or dance, it's quite fascinating. Number two, I really like Seth Godin. He's someone in the marketing space and when I read Seth, and I've read probably five or so of his books, he challenges you and encourages you to think differently. He always turns my thoughts inside out to what I was thinking and how I was thinking about it. That has spurred some of the best creativity that I've had in the business space.
So I'm really curious to know what would you say is your passion and when did you know?
Mitch: I found my passion through spirituality about six or so years ago. I fasted for six months. It started off as me saying I want to fast for 30 days and then I was honest with myself. I didn't fully get what I wanted after 30 days and then it became 60 days, and 60 days became six months. I felt like I figured it out, I figured out life. I figured out my purpose and figured out my passion during that experience. It's hands down one of the most significant things I've done in my life to walk in purpose and to really look to make a difference.
Johnny: So what did you discover your passion was?
Mitch: My purpose was to give to others and I think everyone who knows me knows what I'm doing in business, on the entrepreneurial side and what I'm doing with my investments. It's ultimately to build this dope foundation or to be able to give back.
Johnny: Absolutely, you believe everyone has a dream.
Mitch: I believe everyone has a gift and I believe that everyone has this genius level that they can hit, but it's a matter of tapping into it.
What separates the people who hit that genius level and the people who don't?
Mitch: Exposure. That’s one of the reasons why I have my cousin here. I think it’s about being exposed to great people, great thoughts, and great energy. I think it's just knowing that it's possible, just being able to touch it, feel it, and see it. You cannot become anything that you cannot see and so I think exposure is one of the key ways.
Social media is a problem for people, what would you say frustrates you the most about today's culture?
Mitch: People don't listen to one another, I think that's the biggest thing that frustrates me. I think it's okay to have a difference of opinion. I think it’s okay for you to go down a certain path that is not in my best interests or something like that. But I think that it's powerful if you just take the time to listen because, ultimately, that voice is going to replay in your ahead and at least you'll be able to take that into consideration in the future.
what inspires you to succeed?
Mitch: The idea and the concept of generational wealth and generations behind me being in a better position than me – legacy. If it was just for me and just for my wife, I would do a little bit here and there. But the idea that I'm trying to do enough work for ten people so that my kids and my kids, kids can be in a better position, that's what inspires me and that's what I get up every day for, that's what I hustle for.
What's one book that's changed your life?
Mitch: Rich Dad Poor Dad, if I were to think back to the book that sort of shifted my entire way of thinking and put me from first gear to fifth gear, it was definitely Rich Dad Poor Dad. I think that's a perfect gateway book because it opens your mind and inspires you, and as a result you read more. I think a lot of other books may be tough reads so you may have to endure it. But Rich Dad Poor Dad helped me to understand even if this next book isn't great, I know that there are other books like this, let me go to the third and fourth.
What advice would you give to the next generation of tech executive or entrepreneurs about succeeding in life?
Mitch: Fail, it's okay to fail. At a young age we feel the star reputation and what we do in business, especially in a world that, at my time that was growing with social media, your failures will be public and widely known it's really tough to step out of your box to do things that are uncomfortable. Despite that, I would encourage my 21-year-old self to fail because the reality is that is what makes me who I am when it comes to business and negotiations. It's because I've had some awful experiences that I know what not to do now.
Johnny: You fail forward, exactly. It's not a really a failure, it’s a lesson.
Mitch: Exactly. I've had mentors, business partners, and colleagues along the way that had to teach me that. They had to say, look this isn't the end of the world. You had one event or one party where you didn't get the attendance that you wanted and so those folks speaking that life into me made our next event like a hundred times better than I even thought was possible. The idea of creating something that's in seven cities across the country and tens of thousands of people that rock with you, know you and support you. When I started to do events in DC and people were hitting me up like, “where should I go,” I didn't see seven cities. I felt like this is a DC thing and I'm showing love for my city. And so what I'm getting at is failure and having a strong support system allowed me to grow that [business] to be what it was.
Interested in learning more or connecting with Mitch?