Don’t be afraid to assess internally and check for complacency and analyze your shortcomings so you can learn from them.
Chad Everett Harris was born in California in 1969. Initially residing in Palos Verdes, California, he quickly became accustomed to moving frequently, having lived in Grosse Isle, Michigan, Atlanta Georgia, Birmingham, Michigan, and New Orleans all in his early days. Even during this time, Chad Everett Harris knew exactly what he wanted to be: a successful entrepreneur. Chad’s career path had its humble beginnings with mowing lawns and lemonade stands.
Chad Harris now has over 30 years in the green industry, working in the construction, retail, and ecommerce sectors. He is a serial entrepreneur who uses his marketing experiences in customer retention, acquisition, and negotiations to help businesses achieve success.
During the time in his landscaping career, Chad has continued applying his excellent work ethic towards a variety of noteworthy projects, including three local to New Orleans: the Longue Vue House & Garden Discovery Garden, the New Orleans Sculpture Garden, and the Audubon Park Golf Course. Just last year, in 2019, Chad Everett Harris was a key contributor to the construction of the largest data center in the world.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
While I always knew from a very young age that I was destined to become an entrepreneur, it took me a little more time to find my niche in terms of exactly what industry I wanted to work in. Sure enough, it was the green industry — landscaping to be more specific — that was the perfect fit.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Honestly, it isn’t unlike your typical workday. I go into the office, I work longer hours, and I come home. I’d say that the key difference that I try to make is how I frame my mindset. Too often, I see people waiting for the optimal conditions before they feel that they can move things forward in their careers. To me, the opposite is true. Whether I’m feeling up or down, whether things outside of my control go my way or not, the secret to productivity is to find that silver lining in your day and keep at it regardless of external conditions.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Just go for it. Anyone can think of an idea; the hard part is bringing it to life. If you’re willing to keep chasing after it, if you’re willing to readily pick yourself up when you stumble, and if you can keep yourself focused on achieving your goals and bringing your ideas into reality, then it’s only a matter of time until you are able to do so.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I think the cycle we all go through of failing and subsequently learning to pick ourselves up is something that I cherish. When times get tough, in retrospect, I’m grateful that they did, because otherwise, I wouldn’t have learned how to grit my teeth and fight my way out of whatever problems were happening and become a better person for it.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I recognize that my time is my most asset. I deliberately decide how I am going to spend it in everything that I do; I’d also argue that it’s just important to take the time to relax and put your feet up for a few fleeting moments as it is to put in time working hard.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I think, if anything, telling my younger self both to chin up and keep on working hard, in addition to never letting success lower my drive, would be on the forefront of my mind if I ever got the chance.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
It is 100% the truth when I say that, to this day, I still don’t understand how planes stay in the air! It’s a mystery to me. Everyone else seems to have it figured out, but either way, I’m glad they can get off the ground and get me where I need to go.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Just say hello. It sounds so extremely basic, but it’s a detail that’s so easy to miss. When you choose to walk up to someone and say hello, you’re tapping into the fundamental need everyone has to engage face-to-face. You’re choosing to invest both in them and yourself as you foster new connections.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I like to take a moment to reflect on what I really need in the here and now. Oftentimes, it’s a lot less than what I like to take with me. What I think I need can often be the very things that hold me back from taking the next risk that has the potential for enormous success.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
At one point, when I was running a family-owned business in the New Orleans area, I ended up having to close it down entirely as a direct result of negotiation failure with regards to a lease extension. I overcame this by taking ownership of my own complacency; I simply sat on my good times and my good fortunes instead of actively pursuing my next successes.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think there’s potential in doing the landscaping procedure in a radically new way, such as creating landscapes that are along the lines of being able to maintain themselves, with technology filling the gaps whenever this is not possible rather than everything being done by hand.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The costs of calling an Uber and getting onto a plane for my next business venture, where I am essentially starting over from scratch, have easily proven their worth already.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I genuinely enjoy being able to take photos so easily on a smartphone; now I can take pictures at just about any moment, with each one being a recorded milestone, showing me how far I’ve come and inspiring me to do more.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I’m a big fan of Brené Brown’s “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead”. I’d argue that it’s just as important to understand your flaws and mistakes, if not the most important, in order to be truly successful.
What is your favorite quote?
Will Rodgers was quoted as saying, “Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” I take this to heart each day now.
- Don’t be afraid to assess internally and check for complacency and analyze your shortcomings so you can learn from them.
- Understand what you need and what you can afford to leave behind.
- Invest in people through face-to-face engagement.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.