Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion - Terry James
For those who possess the entrepreneurial spirit, life is seen as a series of endless possibilities. They see a world ripe with potential, but to create something from the ground up calls for someone with a fire in their belly to surmount seemingly impossible odds. Those with the entrepreneurial spirit see those odds and do not shy away, because the only outcome they will accept is success. Entrepreneurs of color are no strangers to beating the odds. They face a world that for centuries has been designed to keep them from achieving their own success, and yet every day, we see them breaking down barriers in the pursuit of excellence.
In honor of Black History Month, we want to highlight the significant contributions of black entrepreneurs and creators who are making huge impacts in the world. With two men of color at the helm and a senior leadership team comprised of amazing women, Offleash’d is uniquely positioned to champion individuals from historically marginalized communities as they lead their industries and communities forward. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are three major tenets of our mission, and we strive to create a safe and inclusive space for all people to form genuine connections no matter their race or gender, starting with the members of our team.
We are so excited to kick off our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion series (also known as DEI) by introducing the new CEO of Offleash’d, Terry James! With over two decades of experience as a business owner, Terry has made a career operating successful enterprises in highly competitive fields. After kicking off his career as a licensed financial advisor with Morgan Stanley and UBS Financial Services, Terry transitioned into real estate by founding his own mortgage financing firm and later starting his eponymous business, the James Real Estate Group.
Our company is on the precipice of achieving ambitious goals, and no one is better suited to lead us toward success like Terry James.
O: When you first heard about the idea for Offleash'd, what made you want to get involved?
TJ: I had been a pet lover and owner nearly my entire life. I was so intrigued by the idea of being able to blend my passion for pets with a business focused on helping people forge new relationships and build community. When my research into the pet industry unearthed all of the possibilities for a life-changing platform that could benefit potentially millions of pet people, I simply knew I had to be a part of this journey.
O: You have spent the last twenty years as a business owner in the competitive real estate market. What important lessons have you learned from that field that you are implementing with Offleash'd?
TJ: I think the most important thing I've learned in business is perseverance. I don't allow myself to get too high with the success or too low with the challenges. I try to remain balanced and focused on the goals set out in front of us. I work every day to get a little closer to accomplishing those goals by breaking them down into smaller objectives that can be accomplished in a shorter amount of time. Each milestone accomplished moves us a little closer to accomplishing the larger goal set out in the beginning. That way huge goals seem obtainable and within reach.
O: Now that you have officially stepped into the role of CEO, what are your biggest goals for this company in 2023?
TJ: We have a number of goals that we want to accomplish in 2023, the largest of which is having a successful launch in California. There are so many pet lovers that live in this area and the weather makes it really conducive for people to connect in-person and outdoors. I am so excited to help bring Offleash'd to Southern California! Other upcoming projects include launching our own apparel line for pet lovers and engaging with our Offleash’d community via our own podcast, where we can encourage our users to share their stories. I really want people to feel like Offleash'd is a safe and inclusive community for everyone and sharing those stories is a way to help people feel more connected to one another. Finally, we will be rolling out many new features on our app including a Groups Feature and Events platform providing our community with even more ways to engage with each other, whether in person or socially through our app. Our future at Offleash'd is extremely bright and I am honored to be leading us as we continue to grow.
O: As we celebrate Black History Month, we seek to amplify black voices, share black stores, and champion black innovators. How has your personal journey as a black man in business shaped your approach to stepping into this new leadership position with Offleash'd?
TJ: I consider myself a student of history. I'm well aware of the sacrifices of those that came before me and the struggles they endured so that I could have the opportunities I have had to build businesses and lead others. There are countless instances where extreme courage was required as I may have been the first to break certain barriers in an industry or workplace. However, my success is built on the backs of those that come before me. This wealth of historical knowledge coupled with my own personal experience as a leader will be a critical asset in helping Offleash'd push the pet industry forward on issues of diversity and inclusivity in a rapidly changing demographic environment.
O: What advice do you have for other BIPOC entrepreneurs?
TJ: Persevere. Don't ever let short-term challenges distract you from accomplishing the goals that you have set for yourself or your business. There will always be obstacles set before you. It's how you respond in the face of adversity that will be the ultimate determinant of success. Be kind and show grace in the face of adversity, but never forget that winning is something within you. Be committed to always giving your best not just when others are looking, but when nobody's looking.
Read more about Terry and the rest of the team here and be on the lookout for more compelling stories and interviews with the amazing people behind Offleash’d.