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Meet Dr. Yolanda Columbus of Black Wall Street DFW in South

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Yolanda Columbus.

Dr. Yolanda, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
In 2017, my Granny died unexpectedly. One Sunday she went to the Emergency Room. The next Sunday she died in my arms as we were preparing for Sunday dinner. I started my business because of fear. I feared that I would lose her fingerprint on my life. My Granny, my Bigmama was a black woman born in 1931. She owned real estate before it was commonly accepted for blacks and before it was commonly accepted for single women. My business honors her by helping entrepreneurs and small-to-mid size business owners design and live the life they were created to experience.

Almost a year after she died, I left my career as a higher education administrator to become a full-time entrepreneur. For most of my career, I had a side hustle. As I attempted to honor her, I realized that my career was no longer feeding my soul. Somewhere during my fifteen years in academia the love affair died. When I accepted that the answer was not another job in academia, I saw new opportunities. It was then that I decided to leave my career.

When I left my career, my intention was to become a consultant. My goal was to help entrepreneurs make data driven strategic decisions. During the first three months, I quickly realized that being a consultant restricted my impact. I wanted to help many entrepreneurs rather than focus on 1-2 at a time. It was then that I decided to become a Speaker, Mentor, and realtor for entrepreneurs and small-to-mid sized businesses. Initially, I was a residential realtor. Today I am a commercial realtor who specializes in representing tenants.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The road has not been smooth. Most of the struggles were a result of habits and mindsets. I was an employee for 25 years. As an employee, you develop knowledge, skills, and coping mechanisms. My knowledge and skills transferred. My coping mechanisms were routed in habits and mindsets that did not serve me well as a full-time entrepreneur.

As an employee, if my family life was stressful or overwhelming, then I could cope by making specific adjustments. As an employee, I always had multiple projects. Each was typically at a different stage. Depending on the stage, I would need to isolate myself in my office to dig into the data or reach out to build or maintain community. I developed the habit of mentally checking out of professional relationships as needed. After years of this practice, I began to believe that this was the way to live a balance life.

As an entrepreneur, this was extremely harmful. Ignoring prospects and clients could mean that a warm lead became cold. It could mean a loss of momentum and/or a loss of income. For me, this was particularly problematic because as foster parents life was unpredictable. We became foster parents to guide, teach, and love children as they navigated the emotions and reality caused by trauma.

The reality of parenting children healing from trauma while they are enduring more trauma from the system was exhausting. I found myself wanting to disengage regularly. In the end, I avoided interactions too many times. This practice cost me leads, income, and peace of mind. Even as I chose not to engage I carried guilt for making that decision.

It took me a while to adjust my business to this reality. In the beginning, I created a Mindset Routine. It is similar to a physical workout routine. It helped me build and shift my mindset. In the morning, I’d write down three things that caused me to smile on the previous day. I would then state my affirmations of who I wanted to become. I would read the Bible out loud. During the day, whenever I realized I was off kilter, I would repeat my affirmations and a Bible verse. At night before I went to bed, I would write my to do list for the next day, pray, and read an interesting book. This routine steadied me as I discovered what it meant for me to be an entrepreneur.

Black Wall Street DFW – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
At the end of the day, Black Wall Street DFW exists to serve entrepreneurs and small-to-mid size business owners. I help them shift their mindset and build legacy wealth. This is accomplished via speaking engagements, mentoring, and tenant representation for commercial real estate transactions.

Too many of us create a job rather than a business. As a result, we live a life that is less than it should be. We continually work in the business and not on the business. If the income stops when you stop moving, you have a job rather than a business. I am passionate about and committed to shifting mindsets and building legacy wealth so that each entrepreneur and small-to-mid size business owner can live the life they were created to experience.

In order to accomplish this goal, I draw on the knowledge and skills built during my 25 years as an employee. In my career, I was usually hired by departments or companies in the midst of change. For example, I was the first Compaq hire when they transitioned their eCommerce department from outsourcing to in-house employees. I introduced Quality Matters, a standard for evaluating online courses and programs, to Texas A&M University when Congress was cracking down on online degrees. I established the Office of Distance Learning & Instructional Technologies at the University of North Texas at Dallas. As a result, my questions unveil knowledge that can be quickly leveraged for wins while my recommendations integrate sound principles and data from multiple fields.

My proudest accomplishment related to this skill happened just a few weeks ago. A group of entrepreneurs, business owners, and leaders that I had the privilege to lead generated $50K in less time than most entrepreneurs work in a day. My role was to serve and support. For this group, it meant pointing out ineffective strategies, creating an easy way for them to get out the message and offering 1-on-1 advice to some who needed a new way to pitch. I was their champion on the ground, in the room, and in their ear.

My formal education, commitment to the work, and willingness to serve means that my clients enjoy the diplomat level of customer service as I create knowledge unique to their needs, vision, and mission.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
My goal is for my clients and colleagues to freely give my referrals the VIP treatment long after their interaction with me has ended. Hence, my proudest moment to date is when a former colleague scheduled a face-to-face meeting to help one of my prospects. I didn’t ask him to make the appointment. I said “A client just moved to the area. He is having a hard time getting enrolled in college. He believes everything has been addressed. Is there a name I can give him just in case he has questions?” He replied, “Tell him to email me or call me and I’ll set an appointment for him to come in to make sure everything is taken care of.”

I’m proud because this experience is evident that I served well.

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Image Credit:
Sherron Allen, Andre Jackson

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