Wesley C. Walker is owner of Intelligent Office of Boston’s Financial District. Intelligent Office is trying to revolutionize the traditional concept of the business office in terms of both space and services. It offers “remote receptionists” and telecommunications services, as well as upscale temporary and full-time office space on a variable-rent basis. Its professional and affordable serviced offices, virtual offices, shared conference rooms, remote receptionists, and Intelligent Assistants™ provide excellent support for entrepreneurs, on-the-go professionals, international businesses, satellite offices, and home-based businesses.
Prior to owning Intelligent Office, Walker held various positions in the medical device industry. He was last the Director of Arthroscopic Equipment Operations at Depuy, Inc., a Johnson & Johnson Company in Raynham, Massachusetts. Walker’s education in engineering and background in operations allowed him to travel extensively and explore many cultures. He knew, after almost three decades of work within orthopedics, that he was ready to break out on his own. Intelligent Office was the ideal next step for him.
Walker attended Texas A&M University and received his BS in Industrial Engineering. He went on to earn his MBA in Management at Fogelman College of Business and Economics at Memphis State University in 1990.
What are you working on right now?
Working every day to get the new Boston location up and running. My policies are in place, my staff is in place, so now I must be very focused on marketing our services and figuring out ways to get our name out in the Boston area. As a part of marketing, I am trying to get to events and network.
Where did you get the idea to become a franchisee of Intelligent Office?
I found the opportunity on Entrepreneur Magazine’s website.
What does your typical day look like?
My typical day right now is trying to schedule my networking in order to market Intelligent Office. Most networking events seem to be in the evening, and I do enjoy many monthly networking events where I can connect with people professionally and personally. But I am looking into opportunities that can also take place during work hours. For instance, one Tuesday a month, the Boston Business Journal (BBJ) hosts a lead generation seminar that we sponsor and hold for them at our offices. It brings traffic into our space, and the BBJ gets a professional space to hold their meetings. Win-win.
How do you bring ideas to life?
To a degree, the answer I gave above, plus partnering with people like Lisa Nickerson and her company, Nickerson PR.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Everyone is breaking away from the typical mold of going into the office 9-5. People are looking for flexibility. This plays right into Intelligent Office and what we offer. The trend of flexibility leans to the younger generation especially. They are coming out of school and hold the expectation that life should be more balanced, more flexible. For example, our services and space are well-suited for young lawyers coming out of school who want to start their own practice. Take a young lawyer with zero clients and little capital. For a very small sum, they can start out with a Financial District business address, phone number, a trained receptionist, and all the offices and conference rooms they need on an hourly basis. They can then work from a home office most of time—but when that important client needs to come in, they can come into the Intelligent Office. Even if they have an important call, they can use the office. But they don’t have to take out a lease to do this. It’s a new, cost-effective way to get started in business and is extremely professional. We can make them look like a huge corporation. Another example would be a professional based in New York who wants to eventually run a new office out of Boston. Well, anyone in a transition mode can have a Financial District address here for the time they need while they set up shop.
What was the worst job you ever had, and what did you learn from it?
I had many jobs throughout my high school years in Las Vegas that all tested me in similar ways. One summer, I had to shovel gravel all day long. Another was delivering alfalfa and bean sprouts to Chinese restaurants. I was also a room service waiter at the Tropicana Hotel on the graveyard shift. I would start work at 11:00 p.m., finish at 7:00 a.m., take a shower, then go to school. I would sleep when I got home from school, and I’d do it all over again. And no matter how bad those jobs were at times, I knew that no matter how menial the job was, it mattered to someone, and I had to make the most of it. The greater lesson there was to work as hard as you could no matter what the situation or conditions.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
If I had had the money to leave corporate life sooner and set out on my own, I would have. I am definitely not complaining about my past jobs, as they afforded me the opportunity to travel and make a healthy living, but I know I am much happier in business as my own boss.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else to do?
To say “Thank You”—to folks on my team and everyone I meet.
What is one problem you encountered as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
One of my biggest worries is that there is some kind of rule, law, or regulation that I am somehow missing. No one hands you a handbook, “All You Need to Know When You Go Out on Your Own.” I try to overcome this worry by educating myself as much as I can, and I have a good attorney. You just don’t know what you don’t know.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
To use Intelligent Office and save money!
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
As corny as this sounds, I wish everyone would get along. If there is one thing I have learned by traveling internationally, it’s that wherever you go, people are pretty darn similar. No matter the culture, the vast majority of people are good. In Tunisia—a Muslim country—I ran into the nicest, happiest, friendliest people I have ever met. In France, I met some of the hardest-working, most dedicated people who got the job done. Basically, it would be great if all people could travel and experience others for themselves and not rely on some longstanding stereotypes.
Tell us a secret.
(Walker had to really think about this one, and after a giant laugh out loud, he was ready.) Even though my daughter started college this year, I still vividly remember her first day of kindergarten. When I put her on the bus, I turned around and cried my eyes out!
What are your three favorite online tools or resources, and what do you love about them?
1. LinkedIn – I find that it is the most powerful social media tool out there for me.
2. Quicken/Quickbooks – Online banking and finance are huge productivity gainers, and I can’t say enough about how they’ve changed my life.
3. Enterprenuer, Inc. and the Wall Street Journal – Publications that have strong online presences are my go-to news sources for everyday information.
What is one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins. It shares so many great points for new leaders.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
Wes Walker – Great office space opportunities to make your life easier and your wallet happier.
Idea Mensch – Love reading about innovative people with great ideas.
Lisa Nickerson of Nickerson PR – My engaging PR company.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
This interview/conversation. When I had to think of a secret and admit my public cry-fest!
Who is you hero?
My grandmother on father’s side. She is the best example of battling all kinds of odds. She was born in 1902, was orphaned, and got married at 18. She and my grandfather were share croppers in Texas—they picked cotton. She did everything from scratch because she had to—there was no money. She made it through the Great Depression. She saved all the rubber bands from newspapers, reused tin foil, etc. By the time I was in college, they had scrimped and saved enough money to help me get through college. I don’t think I could have paid for college if not for their help. I am always reminded of their hard work. When I moved into my first apartment, she literally picked the cotton that was in my mattress and hand-sewed the mattress cover that I was sleeping on.
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