When you have the entrepreneurial itch, it’s not if you will start a business one day—it’s when, said Evans Nwankwo when being interviewed at the March Small Giants Executive Breakfast Series.
The Small Giants Breakfast Series, presented by the Entrepreneur Organization, is designed for values-driven entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Evans is exactly that: an authentic, values-driven leader who didn’t ignore that “entrepreneurial itch.”
Evans is the highly regarded President & CEO of Cincinnati-based Megen Construction, a company he founded in 1993 after immigrating to the United States from Nigeria. Megen Construction has been involved in some of the region’s most important projects, including the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Museum, Great American Ball Park, Fountain Square Revitalization, Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame Museum, and Washington Park Renovation and many more.
About 13 years ago, Evans also leveraged his success as an entrepreneur to start the NUWAY Foundation—a foundation that funds schools, medical centers, drinking water, and micro loans in his native village of Awa and others in Nigeria.
Evans, who was interviewed at the March breakfast by Christy Pretzinger, founder and CEO of Writer Girl, shared many lessons and pieces of wisdom during the event.
Here are 4 memorable insights from the Q&A session with Evans—an inspirational, humble, thoughtful, community-driven, servant leader:
Make sure you’re ready to pivot
Evans has been quoted as saying, “When the music changes, so should the dance.” Evans explained how there are so many things that can change and are out of our control in business—and in life in general.
It’s up to us, said Evans, to be able to recognize the change, and adapt to the change. “You know the one thing for sure that will come is change,” he said.
What happens in your life, prepares you for life
It’s not what happens to us, it’s how we react and learn from our experiences that molds us and shapes true leaders, explained Evans. Evans, who lost his father at age 9 and experienced hardships during Nigeria’s civil war, has been through such circumstances that he suggested were character-building.
Adversity is challenging, said Evans, but it’s that adversity that shapes your future, and that’s why it’s so valuable to us as leaders.
Relationships can be the tie-breaker for your business
When asked about how Megen Construction has consistently won business over time, Evans explained that first, it was about “doing what you do, the right way.” And, second, assuming you get those great results, it’s just as much about genuine relationships, he said.
Looking back, it’s relationships that have made a difference in his business over the years. It’s those meaningful connections with other people that have helped to create great outcomes for all: the business, the employees, the clients, and the community.
Relationships can help build new opportunities, and they can help diminish or change any preconceived notions, too, he shared. Those relationships are what gives Megen Construction the ability to “break a tie” when it comes to winning new business.
Every business needs to find a compelling tie-breaker that would favor them, suggested Evans. Put simply, when a decision maker is comparing your company to another, what makes them choose you? What factor would break the tie and allow them to choose your firm? “Relationships help you have an opportunity to break that tie,” said Evans.
Regardless of the business you are in, consider your community impact
“It’s important for every leader to feel ignited when the lightbulb goes off in someone else’s head. [We’re] here to inspire others, we’re here to help them get to that next level…and we’re here to leave this place a little better than [we] found it,” said Evans.
Part of that is also about being able to support the community you live in, and beyond, he explained. (The NuWay Foundation has helped improve the lives of those in Evans’ home village in Awa, Nigeria and beyond. NuWay’s efforts and funds have benefited the village with dozens of fresh water installations, more than 75 interest-free loans for small businesses, medical aid, school supplies, funding additional school teachers for village schools, and much more. To learn more, please visit www.nuwayfoundation.org)
Evans point was clear to me: No matter what business you are in, you have the opportunity, through your actions and deeds, to contribute to the community and to lift up your community in a way that’s aligned with your God-given purpose.
Ignite Your Passion for Values-Driven Leadership
Want to join and connect with other business leaders and executives who, like Evans, allow purpose and people to drive their decision-making?
Paul Spiegelman, co-founder of the Small Giants Community, will be speaking about the courage it takes to be a purpose-driven leader on April 25, 2019, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at the Sharonville Convention Center.
Paul is a New York Times best-selling author and has been honored with the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. He makes frequent radio and TV appearances and his views have been featured in the Wall Street Journal and Inc. Magazine, and is currently a columnist for Forbes.com. Come to learn more about leadership, employee engagement, entrepreneurship, corporate culture, and customer relationships.
Then, on June 21, 2019, successful business owner, author and speaker Nick Sarillo—an active Small Giants community member—will be the next leader interviewed in our Small Giants Executive Breakfast Series at Cooper Creek on business culture, entrepreneurship, leadership and customer loyalty.
As the founder and CEO of Nick’s Pizza & Pub and The Trust & Track Institute, his businesses serve as a great example of how living your company’s purpose and values creates a world-class culture achieving award-winning customer service, higher margins and an engaged, productive workforce. Nick’s is one of the top ten busiest independent pizza companies in per-store sales, and has margins nearly twice that of the average pizza restaurant. Stay up to date on the latest speakers and events by EO and Small Giants here.