Gregory Okwuosah relocated from Nigeria, a country located on the west coast of Africa, to the United States to attend college at Utah State University, Logan, Utah, and later transferred to the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, where he received his B.S. in Economics. He then opted to continue his education, obtaining an M.B.A and B.S. in Accounting from Utah State University in Logan, Utah. After some years working as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), his pursuit of a law degree then brought him to Pennsylvania. After receiving his J.D., or Juris Doctor, from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, he completed his LL.M., or Master of Laws degree, in Taxation from Villanova University School of Law. Gregory followed this by earning an additional LL.M. in Corporate and Finance Law from Wayne State University School of Law, in Detroit, Michigan, while working as an attorney, finally completing his education–at least, for the time being.
After years of practicing law as a Special Assistant United States Attorney with the United States Department of Justice, and as a Senior Attorney with the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Office of Chief Counsel, now, Gregory has opened his own law practice, known officially as The Law Offices of Gregory C. Okwuosah, LLC, focusing on many disparate areas of legal consultation. In his professional role, he derives great satisfaction from knowing that he’s able to service and support his community. By providing legal services for those in need, he assists his clients with the best representation he can provide.
During his free time, Gregory enjoys spending time with his family and friends, and reading. In all of his endeavors, he works to be the example he wants to see in the world around him.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
I knew that I wanted to own my own business from the very beginning. My dad inspired me as one of the most intelligent men I know. He taught me that working hard and getting your education would help you achieve your goals. For his part, he worked very hard and owned his own construction business. But from an early age, having my dad to look upon as my role model inspired me to achieve this goal and to work for the success that I have built today.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My day-to-day productivity is defined by my schedule and what it looks like. If I have to be in court, I wake up early to get there on time, brief my client, and go over any last-minute details. Once the court session is over, I handle anything needing my attention. If it is a day at the office, I come in and do the daily tasks I have scheduled, including returning phone calls, scheduling and handling appointments, and anything pertinent for the day.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Once again, as inspired by my father, I enjoy reading and conducting research. I then analyze it and, should it be appropriate, use it to further the needs of my business, clients, and pending cases.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I see trends as passing fancies and have never been a trend watcher or setter. The practice of law does not lend itself to transitory movements, as it is more of a traditional business setting. Unless a trend has stood the test of time and will be around for a while, it is not interesting. And I suppose, by definition, that would not be a trend.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I am curious by nature. Being an attorney feeds that curiosity. As I said before, I enjoy reading and researching. The legal profession lends itself to reading, investigating, and research, which helps me appreciate all that I am working to achieve in my daily practice. After doing all that, my job is to tell the story of each of my clients and act on their behalf and in their best interests.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Even though I knew education was important, I would have wanted to start my business a lot sooner than I did. I debated about it in my mind for a long time before I finally decided to take the leap.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
There is no such thing as failure. With every effort you make, you gain that much more knowledge. It can only be defined as a failure if you stop trying to get better or if it does not teach you something. Some people might consider a setback a failure because they lack the courage to try or lack the courage to continue. You must always continue to use your knowledge to move forward in your journey.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Everything can be considered a challenge. Challenges make people work smarter, not harder. When people challenge themselves, they do their best to achieve positive results.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Whether growing your own business or obtaining a new client, the strategy that resonates with me is just to let them talk and truly listen. It would be best if you listened without thinking about getting ready to reply or without any expectations. What you will find when you do this successfully is that people will begin to trust you, and then it will open the lines of communication, and they may even sign with you; however, either way, they will remember that you listened to them.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
One thing that comes to mind is achieving a positive work-life balance. I enjoy what I do daily but often continue even after the workday is over. There is always one more book to read, an additional research project to look at, one last phone call to make. I’m still working on learning how to close the book, shut down the email, get out of the office mentally, and do something meaningful that I enjoy to achieve that balance. The lack of work-life balance affects me; it also affects the family. Work-life balance is sometimes hard to achieve but it is necessary.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Several come to mind; however, the most recognized and proven business is getting involved in real estate investing, which interests me. Yet again, it has a lot to do with reading and researching, which I enjoy doing. I think that either buying into a successful franchise or investing in an interesting entrepreneurial business would be something I might find rewarding.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best $100 I recently spent was purchasing a cell phone for my young daughter. We had made an agreement about it, and I wanted her to have one because it is a way to call and text each other at any time. If I am away, we can always communicate with each other. That is something incredibly special to me.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
The software I use the most would be Outlook. It is versatile, has many uses, and allows you to be productive while on the go. It is there 24-7—anywhere, anytime—to access from your desktop and smartphone.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Having a father who encouraged me to read from an early age, so many books come to mind. But if I had to pick one, I would choose One L, by Scott Turow, as something that resonated with me. It was about his first year at Harvard, his experience there; how it challenged him, how he immersed himself in it, and got through it. It would be a great read for anyone, especially someone going into law practice.
What is your favorite quote?
I laugh when I say this: “Go ahead, make my day.” I’m a fan of Clint Eastwood’s early movies! To me, the quote carries with it the meaning of ‘give me anything, and I will take it on as a challenge and succeed.’ All joking aside, I would have to say a quote I live by would be, “Do unto others as you would like done to you.” Abiding by the Golden Rule is a great way to set an example.
- There is no such thing as failure.
- Be curious.
- Challenges make people work smarter, not harder.
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.