Self-discovery and understanding your true purpose may come from a place of despair. Solomon Ali interviews Mitchell Smith Bey, a Life Coach at House of NC ,Inc., to talk about not giving up, lifting yourself helping others, and spreading fitness for a greater cause. Mitch shares his journey of joining the Police Academy, being in the law enforcement, finding his life’s purpose, becoming an aerobatics instructor, and so much more. Creating the House of NC, Inc. to help others and help himself, Mitch has helped many de-stress, become more joyous, and experience life’s pleasure through physical training.
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House of NC Inc: Spreading Fitness For A Greater Cause With Mitchell Smith Bey
Mitch, how are you?
I’m very good. Thanks for having me.
I know that you had a lot of questions. I don’t do a great job of introducing people, so I’m allowing you the opportunity to introduce yourself. Tell us a little bit about you, about your business, so that my audience can know what we’re talking about and that we’re for businesses of all kinds and all types.
I’m Mitchell Smith-Bey. I’m originally from Brooklyn, New York. I came to Charlotte in 1989 and became a police officer. I’m a former police officer here in Charlotte. I left law enforcement in 1994. I went through the police academy. In 1994, I realized that I wasn’t helping others. I was going through a separation divorce and I was back at my mother’s house. During that time, I was always into fitness and I always used fitness as an outcome to help me stay strong, to deal with my discomfort or my challenges. That started back when I was in Brooklyn. I went to Brooklyn College for one year and transferred to Howard University, but I love baseball.
At Howard University, what do they call you? The Hustle or something?
No, we’re the Bisons. It’s education hustle but being from Brooklyn and going to Howard was a good change and good transformation because I was leaving what I was familiar with. I’m the first of seven kids to go to a university. My learning experience all started leaving the house or another experience. Once I got out to Howard, I realized it was a different world. I got my degree. I thank Mr. Myers. He was my counselor. My first year I went to Howard and during the orientation, he said, “Where are you from?” I said, “I’m from Brooklyn.” He said, “You will flunk out.” I said, “Excuse me?” Being from Brooklyn, I took that personally, “You don’t even know me.” Every year, I would have to go back to him to get my classes and I would go, “One.” He said, “What do you mean?” I said, “Nothing.” I walk out. The next year, I say, “Two.” He looked at me and said, “What do you mean?” I said, “Nothing?” Three, fourth years, I said, “You might want to check my credits, I’m graduating in May.” He looked over at my credit, he says, “You’ve got enough credits?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “You would be graduating.”
You wouldn’t be denied.
It was one of those things where sometimes when people say things you don’t know if it’s going to ignite the other person that’s hearing it or put them to sleep and fortunately, it ignited me. It made me feel challenged. I do those challenges. I graduated from Howard. I went back to Brooklyn and worked at one of the biggest shelters in Brooklyn called Catherine Street. I didn’t like that. I came to Charlotte for a family reunion. I was on a waiting list to be a police officer in New York. They have three academy classes. They were waiting to put through about 1,200 police officers. I came to Charlotte and my mother said, “Why don’t you check with the Police Academy here and see if they were hiring.” Fortunately, that July was a family reunion here in Charlotte. I went to the academy, the recruiter said, “If you want it, we can hire you. We’ve got to do the background search.” I said, “I can do better than that.” My background search investigation has already been completed in New York. I had my investigator from New York contact them.
You know you wanted to be a police officer. It’s a noble profession. It’s a profession that helps others.
That’s what I thought I was going to do.
Believe it or not people, police officers help people of color. Let’s not give them a hard time because they truly help us and they’re there to protect us.
Once I realized in law enforcement, I was from the north coming to the south. I was coming from civilian life to para-military life. All that was another learning experience but because of my challenges with the baseball coach at Brooklyn saying I was too small and too weak to live and using weights as my outcome and wellness, I was prepared for the challenge. I went to Howard University. I was a walk-on scholarship baseball player. I went to the coach’s office, knocked on his door, I said, “Give me a scholarship. I’m better than some of the players on your team.” I scouted the team out. I want to get a scholarship. I want to see what I was dealing with.
You were convicted to win?
Yes. I was going to be a win, but I wasn’t going there with just with words. I had had to do some assessments. That came from growing up in Brooklyn. You better know your terrain.
In my line of work, we call it doing some due diligence. Know what’s about to happen and go on. Know everything about them.
I did my assessment, I saw his name, Demory Bonds a first baseman from White Plains, New York. I did all of that. I knew where he’s from, “Where is Demory from?” Demory couldn’t throw the baseball across the diamond and he was on a full ride. That means across the field and the infield. I knew I could throw the ball, I could play better than him. I could throw the ball across the diamond on the line.
Did you convince the coach for that?
He said, “Can you pick it?” I didn’t scrutinize or say anything. I said I could play better than some of the guys, I didn’t say who. I’m trying to lift me up. I’m not trying to put anybody down. He knows what he got. When I went there and he said, “Can you pick it?” That was a sudden term I’d never heard before. Chuck Hinton played in the Major Leagues. He played with the Washington Senators and he also played with the Cleveland Indians. He said, “Can you pick it?” I’m like, “Yes, I could pick it.” I can’t say no.
I don’t know what pick means.
I didn’t know either but he could have me picking cotton the next day.
I’m going to borrow that baseball analogy.
He said, “Come to the field. Have you got your stuff?” I said, “Yes, I got my stuff. I brought it from home.” I went to the field and he gave me a trial and said, “You came from a D1 school, you don’t have to sit out a year.” That was a rule at the time. I said, “No problem.” He said, “After one year, I’ll let you play. If you play well, I’ll see can I find you some money?” I said, “I’m good. I know my way.” That happened for the last three years at Howard University, my education was free. I had to work. You’ve got to put the work in.
I tell a lot of people all the time you don’t have to lie, cheat and steal in business. What you do have to do is be able to do the work and then work comes in different forms. For some people, it may be going to read some books. It may be learning or brushing up on your math. It may be becoming an expert in your subject matter. As you stated, learning and doing analysis and learning the field and the environment. Who are your competitors out there? What are they doing? That’s doing the work.
To piggyback on what you’re saying, what I learned throughout the years is that the work that’s needed to be done is already shown what needs to be done to be successful. When I looked at Demory and I knew that for baseball, you got to be a high performing baseball player or to be competitive. You got to be able to throw the ball in the line across the diamond. I don’t know how Demory got there, I didn’t care, but I knew that if we had to compare skillset that my arm will show that I was more advanced and more prepared.
That’s what we do in business all the time. I tell people, “You don’t have to lie, cheat and steal. You have to do the work.” They look at me like a deer in the headlights and I’m like, “They can’t do the work. They don’t know what the work is.” Sometimes, if you don’t know what the work is, you got to find a tutor. You can’t be ashamed of getting a tutor. You’ve got to find a mentor. You’ve got to find someone. The thing is when they can’t do the work, then they lie, they cheat and they steal because they don’t know what the work is. They only way they know is, “I need to make some money or do something.” They compensate for not knowing how to do the work by lying, cheating, and stealing. You don’t have to do that, people in business, just do the work.
I’m going to agree because no way I have fake the funk and say I could play. I go in that trial and I can’t throw the ball across the diamond. I could hit the ball hard through the infield out the park. If I was fake or phony, I would have been exposed, but I wasn’t. I showed up and he gave me some money two years later. I didn’t stop there because once I had the opportunity to try out, I stayed watching the team. I kept scouting them out for my purpose. How can I make them better and make me better? I played the next summer. That parlayed to coming to Charlotte, being a police officer, and leaving the law enforcement.
One of the things you said, make them better, then make yourself better. It wasn’t a selfish act like, “I want to make them better as a team, then I’m going to be a part of it. I know I’ve got to make myself better as a person and as a teammate.”
I thank you for having me because sometimes we don’t know we’re around amazing people. Even knowing you, it was like, “This is rare that you’re meeting someone who’s willing and able to help you get to that next level.” We do have amazing moments, it’s whether or not we acknowledge it and identify with it. I appreciate you having me talk about my story and my journey because there’s a lot of stories like that out there and I never quit. I use every learning experience to go to the next learning experience. When I got to Charlotte and became a police officer, I’m out of 40 recruits. It was three blacks. One black female from Philly, one ex-Marine, he just got out of the Marine Corps and came right to the police academy and me from Brooklyn, New York, who got a four-year degree from Howard University. Everyone else was white. I’m sitting in that group class.
Unfortunately, I went one year to Brooklyn College because that was my first exposure to being in an environment that was non-racial based on ethnicity. Brooklyn College in Brooklyn is a predominantly white community, Jewish and Italian. I went to a high school, predominantly Latino, Blacks, and Asians. This is my first transition from my community to another community. The Police Academy brought me right back to that but I was prepared because I have experienced it. I went to an HBCU. Now, I knew more about who I was as a person. In the Police Academy, we will do runs. We will run miles. I made a commitment to myself that I was never going to finish last. I wasn’t going to allow them to finish in front of me. Every time we had an open run, which we ran at your temple, your speed, we always started on the formation and we ran and I would go out front. Every race or a run they call it, no one finished in front of me because I had made up in my mind and my spirit, “This is not happening.”
That reminds me, Mitch, of something that my parents used to tell me. No matter what you do in life, be the best at it. If you’re going to pick up manure, be the best on picking up manure. Not only be the best but also be ten times better than anyone else around you. As a young person growing up, you didn’t understand being ten times better what that means. I always took it and I think what they meant, and I’m pretty sure as a 55-year-old man, I know what they mean. It did the work. Everybody else would go inside because it might be raining. I’m out there doing the work. I’ve been that way. After football practice, we would have to go fix up the apartments and the houses that my parents owned. I used to resent that. I was like, “Everybody else got to go home, relax, chill out, take it easy and I had to go clean up after somebody leaving an apartment or a house and all nastiness.” It was amazing. I was like, “I hate this. I don’t want to do this when I get older.”
I went to the military and then I got out of the military, I couldn’t find a job. I went on plenty of jobs and my mother duped me out in the military because she didn’t like being in the military. It was funny because I went to an all-white school. I grew up in East LA until I was about ten. South Central ‘68 to ‘70 to be exact. They moved to West Covina, California which was a predominantly all-white neighborhood. My high school was across the street. My elementary was across the street and middle school was a block away. I had to fight almost every day when I was in those lower schools because some of the kids would spit on me. They tried to dump me in the toilet. I had to fight.
That was your educational level. That’s what you were learning in school.
I went from all East LA, South Central where I never had to fight. Being a black man and a black child, I’d never had to fight. We all had fun together and we did certain things. I don’t want to make any differences, but there are some differences, awareness, and knowledge to a school where it was predominantly white and they were trying to dump me in the toilet. They were having fun at my expense. They didn’t know me, so I get in a fight with three or four people. You know the odds when you’re a kid fighting three or four people, you aren’t going to win. I’m the one that gets suspended.
How did that happen?
I don’t know. My parents were young and most of the white parents were a little bit older and more established and mature. I’m saying this looking back to the lenses because as a child, you don’t understand any of it. The principal suspends me and suspends them. Almost every week for fights and things I never started or done, I’ve been in trouble and suspended. I remember one time they accused me of breaking the lights out, which they call vandalism and wandering the schools. They interrogated me for about a whole day and I’m sitting there crying. I couldn’t even articulate injustice. What I learned was to do the work. Don’t sit back and don’t complain.
You didn’t take on the victim mentality.
It’s rare that you meet someone who’s willing and able to help you get to that next level.
It’s unfair but go do the work. As I got to high school and started playing sports and grinding out because your friends are who you are growing up. I went from having a circle of friends that all look like me to having a circle of friends that all look like them. I was included when we started playing sports. I could catch that ball and they can see me catch that ball and took a couple of them to bring me down. That was exciting. The funny thing, I go to Mt. SAC Relays and then I had the black kids teasing. I got to fight them because they’re calling me names, Uncle Tom. I was like, “I don’t belong anywhere.” I didn’t take it personally. It went back to, “Let me get on that track. Let me show you.” Everything keeps coming down to do the work. I’m not a victim. I would tell anyone that’s looking at the show, don’t be a victim. Don’t take that on. Listen to what Mitch is saying. Listen to what I’m telling you. Do the work and keep going.
That Police Academy thing reinforced again another lens to look through. I’m running and no one could catch me. In the break room when we have breaks between classes, you would have the other recruits talking, “You run faster because you got longer legs.” They are challenging you in a subtle way. How could we rile him up? Being older, from the north and having street smarts, I said, “No, I got a bigger heart. I wanted more.” How could they respond to that? You’re going to challenge me, I’m saying who I am. I got a bigger heart and I wanted more. If you’re going to have a big heart and you don’t want it more than me, you’re going to always see the back of me. During the last part of the run, our last run is the state test that was eight miles which were created by the Police Academy. You could create your own physical tests for being successful for the academy. When they see you can hold yourself and you have pride, dignity and some type of something about you, they try to chop you down.
Again, doing the work. They didn’t know I was running on my own. I didn’t run at the Police Academy. When they were hanging out with the other recruits getting drunk and partying, on Sundays and the days I was off, I’m going to the park running and I’m putting the work in but they don’t see that side. They bring on the last day to run this police officer who was a runner who ran marathons, “This is the day we are going to put him in his place.” All rookie school, they couldn’t catch me. They said, “We’re going to put a run on him.” I looked at the runner. It was December, I said, “They got to run off, don’t be scared. We’re going to run the day.” When the run starts eight miles, I take off, he never saw me. They’re looking at, “This guy, we brought him running.” I took off. He is going to have to run.
What was going through your mind?
“Don’t look back. He isn’t catching me. You’re going to have to do some work. They’re going to have to pull me off this tarmac if you’re going to catch me.”
That’s one of the things that I say in the business. I was a slow reader. I didn’t like to read a lot in school but when I became an adult, I began to enjoy reading some of the things. I’m still a slow reader, but I keep reading. I don’t stop because I know I need that information and I need to be able to regurgitate that information and then spit it out and apply it to the right places. When I’m doing a deal and I’m working on a contract, I’m going to give a quick brief. I want you to get back to what you were saying. When we did a contract many years ago, a law firm that was representing us, one of the largest law firms in the United States at the time called Best Best & Krieger. Dwight Montgomery was my personal attorney that was working on this. We’re doing a big deal. It was a $5 million deal acquisition. They brought over a 300-page contract and I look at it. Three hundred pages is a lot for a brother that reads slow. I got some care to rile me including my grandson that read 300 pages in a couple of hours. I’ll be done with it and digest everything they read. My grandson and I were in a reading contest, who can read the most books every month. He got me beaten by one. He reads well. Back to the contract, they put something on page thirteen. I read it and I said, “I don’t like the way that reads. We need to change it to do something else.” They said “Okay.” Both sides agree.
My attorneys told me, “That’s boilerplate language.” I said, “I understand that, but I’m going to need that to read a little differently.” Everybody agreed to change it. They changed it and then they placed it on page 61. I know these page numbers because I’ve read the contract again. I kept reading the contract. I called up Dwight and I said, “Dwight, they took it off of this page and they put it on page 61.” He was like, “No, don’t worry about that.” I said, “I’ve got to worry about it because it’s still in there. They reworded it a little bit to make it seem slightly different and placed it somewhere else.” They did that a couple more times. In the end, it was on page 200 and something of the contract and I was like, “Okay.” We win this $5 million acquisition. When it was all said and done, they had to give me $300,000 to $400,000 to do the acquisition. I was buying a company for $5 million. They gave me somewhere around $300,000 to $400,000 to buy the company when we were done. That’s where coming in doing the due diligence, going to work comes in. I was like, “I love what I do.” This black man from West Covina, California born in East LA, left about eight, nine years old and went to West Covina. I’m like, “I’m doing these kinds of deals.”
Was that the first major one?
That was the biggest one at that time that I got paid for. I was going then to buy the company and from buying the company, we turned around and they had to pay me. That’s where doing the work comes in. You don’t have to lie, cheat and steal. You wouldn’t let them catch you.
He didn’t catch me. After the run, I ran eight miles in some ridiculous time. I was focused, determined and I had a goal. The goal was when I first started at the Police Academy that I was not going to allow any of the recruits. It was motivated by being one of the few blacks. It was motivated that, “You’re going to have to put out. I’m going to put out and I’m going to see what you got.” That motivation was used in a positive way and it bettered me. I got through that. I’ve got other districts to come and they’re hearing about me. They got a Police Academy guy who runs like a deer. They want me to work in their district. They’re like, “We’ve got a running district, we need a guy like you.” I picked a district that was predominantly black and I wanted to be around us, people that look like me of color because I grew up in that. As I was learning the job and doing the job, I realized I wasn’t fulfilling what I had in my spirit, in my heart, in helping people.
Tell us about that.
The first year is exciting in law enforcement. It’s something new. You’re doing things that you saw in movies and TV that you thought you were doing, but you’re chasing your own shadow. When you work in a neighborhood that has ethnic numbers leaning towards blacks and Hispanics, at that time in 1992, 1991, North Charlotte was predominantly black. Pecan Street, the Plaza-Midwood area, it was packed of black. It was a crime in the city, but It was on a level that was smaller than what I was used to hearing in New York but it was still a crime. What I learned was it was a revolving door. I thought when I came to Charlotte with my peace and love attitude because I worked at a gym in New York when I was also working at the shelter that I can help people and that was my goal. That was my purpose. I realized I couldn’t help. Helping or being in that environment was making and changing me as a person as well. I didn’t trust people because you could be on a call and you can ask me, “You’ve got a firearm weapon or drugs?” They’ll say, “No.” You pat their pockets and you find a firearm. I’m like, “I asked you a simple question.”
It was changing the core of who you are. I can identify and relate to that. I was in business and I’ve been in business for a long time. I remember having a first regulatory problem and it changed who I was and it was like, “You’ve got to get back.” In the first regulatory problem, they sent me a letter when it was all over with it. They said, “We didn’t find anything wrong. We’re sorry for the inconvenience.” Unfortunately, that cost me millions of dollars and had to get rid of the facilities and stuff like that. They didn’t give me any compensation. They didn’t say they were sorry. I understood they’re doing their job. Being a person like most wanted to be law-abiding, following the rules and you’re following the rules. There are so many rules. You may not know what all the rules are.
Even your attorneys may not know what all the rules are. It’s very important that you follow the rules that you know but you do what’s right, not just what’s right in business, but what’s right spiritually and internally. It changed me. When I went to start another business because I wanted to commit suicide because we lost everything and I was like, “Let me go and commit suicide.” My wife at that time could get the money because I didn’t think it was no way in the world I was going to recover. We lost a lot. It’s $100-something million in assets.
It was a struggle and took a long time to get that. You’re looking at it and it’s all gone because of how people have saved you and what they thought about you. That was a tough one. First, I tried to sell some cars. They wanted me to tell these half-truths and half-lies what I call white lies. I was like, “That is not me.” I would tell the people, “This is what the car costs, this is what it is.” I tried that and I was like, “No, I can’t do that.” I walked barges on the Mississippi River out of Louisiana. I’m walking on these barges and everybody’s like, “You can fall in that water and die and you won’t be found.” I don’t care. I was hurt. I was wounded. A couple of people kept calling me. One name was Tyreke and he was a younger brother in his early 30s. I was in my mid-40s. He was like, “If you know how to do this, know how to do this, help me.” It gave me a purpose. I was like, “My mind, I got stinky thinking because I had been wounded and things had changed.” I said, “No.” He said, “Help me.”
I wouldn’t help the brother. All of a sudden, this was doing in 2008, one of the greatest recessions this country has known. I got him my unlimited line of credit during the greatest recession while other people were getting their stuff cut. I turned around from there, I set up my new company, a company that was called Raincoat Private Equity Company. I set up all my trust. I called my friend and attorney who was working with me from the nursing home business. We set up all these different trusts from the very beginning because we said we wanted the structure to be right. Going right back to you, you didn’t want it to change.
I left but your conversation got me wanting to know that. One of my fellow officers in my district committed suicide in a patrol car. It was April of that year and I was on leave already because I was feeling different. I was sitting in a road called thinking about how many shots I could put it in their supervisor’s chest before all the other officers could realize I shot him. I said, “That’s not a good thought.” The nature of why I took the job, instead of helping people, I’m about to take lives. I’m thinking of taking this man’s life. I’m changed because of the environment not being fulfilled and not having those positive challenges. After the officer committed suicide in a patrol car, I called them in and say, “I’m not coming in no more.” That was it. I didn’t go back. I had four years and eight months. I needed four months to be vested. At that time, I’m going through a divorce and job separation. It’s on me. You said you wanted to commit to suicide, I never thought of suicide. I thought about what I’m going to do. The option there was, “What are you going to do?” I was back at my mother’s house. She was still alive.
Let me say this to my audience. Don’t ever give up because your life isn’t your own. God placed you here to be a gift and a blessing to someone else. To enhance their life and to take your gifts, your superpowers, whatever that may be, to use it to wash someone else’s feet. From that, you will get and find your purpose. As you’re finding your purpose, you’ll be rewarded in other ways. The way that I’ve been rewarded is financial. People ask me, “Why you do what you do?” It’s like, “I didn’t save myself. Someone else saved me.” My mother, my wife at that time, they saved me. The people that knew me and knew me saved me. The brother I told you about, he saved me because he gave me a new purpose. That new purpose I had never thought about, it never crossed my mind. You would think that it would, but it never crossed my mind to go out and say, “Let me help this brother do something. Let me not focus on my problems. Let me take my superpower and help this brother.” It never dawned on me.
When I started helping that brother, then the next brother that called me, I was like, “I’m not sure.” He was like, “If you can do it, we’ll give you 70%. We’ll give you this and this.” I told him, “No, we’ll do 50/50. You don’t pay me anything for the first year. You give me a promise every note and I will do the work for you. In the end, I don’t want your cash or your money. What I want from you at the end is some equity in your company.” That was the beginning. I took my superpower on what I knew how to raise some money for some people and how to do the work and set them up very strategically. Something that you don’t see unless you’re with a Fortune 100 company. They don’t see a lot of the time because it’s so departmentalized. They don’t know all of it. You get a guy like me who understands all those different pieces with me. It’s doing the work. It was a blessing to me to be a blessing to them.
I called in and I’ve never been back. I went to my mother’s house and I said, “Mom, what do I do?” I had set up a program called Aerobo Cop. It’s an acronym for Active Exercise Reinforcing Our Basic Oneness Children Overcoming Problems. I created a concept and trademarked it. I said, “This is a program that’s going to help kids that are not participating in sports, but watching sports and wanting to participate.” That number is greater than those who are participating so why not address those on the sideline? I got that from being an instructor. At that time, I became a certified aerobics instructor. I’m looking in the class, “How come this is not full all the time?”
You could create your own physical tests for being successful for the academy.
Most of the people taking classes at that time are former athletes that are going to the gym because they’re familiar with working out. This phenomenon of having a non-athletic person who had no athletic background working out had to become very attractive. They had to make it sexy. That’s why you see all these creative classes. They’re trying to make it sexy for the non-athletic person or active person. A was for kids. I went to that and I’m doing chair aerobics class with the City of Charlotte government channel. They had a program called ABLE, All Bodies Like Exercise. They called me in because I was doing chair aerobics at the Macquarie. My mother had passed in 1998 of ovarian cancer. I was so special, I was her baby. I was hit with another curb like, “What do you do now?”
I want to make sure the audience understands us. When they’re hit with burdens and life challenges, I want them to do what you’ve done. I want him to do what I have done. Keep going. Don’t give up. When you help other people, there’s help on the way for you too. You were hit with a life decision in your career because you are having some stinky thoughts about your career and the things that you are doing. It was changing your personality. You were hit with a divorce at the same time. This is some heavy stuff and later, you are hit with the passing of your mother.
All those moments, all those challenges and even before my mother passed, I was back at her house and being at the house. I was talking to a center here in Charlotte for juvenile kids that had committed a crime but were juvenile. They put them in and they had mental issues as well. It’s called the Tom Ray Center. I called them up and said, “I’m Mitchell Smith.” I was Mitchell Smith at that time. I made a name correction to Bey later on. I was talking to them and say, “Can I come and do a demo with your kids? Let’s use physical activity as an alternative for them to deal with their anxiety or aggression.” They said, “Okay.” They invited me, “You can come and do a demo.” This is a secure facility. I’ll get off the phone. I said to my mother, “What I’m going to do?” She looked at me and say, “Do what you just did. Sell yourself.” I looked at her and I said, “What?” She says, “Sell yourself.” For those who are reading, it’s not my body. It was my intelligence, my creativity, my energy. I went there and I did my thing with the kids and I’m coming from the root word skull session.
You’ll do an activity. You have a skull session. Everybody sits down and talks about what happened. I would do fitness with the kids and then we’ll talk about the things that they were going through or what they would have gone through. When Officer Gamble, my friend from Charlotte PD committed suicide, I didn’t want to go and see the kids that day. I was feeling something and I said, “No, let me go. I’m scheduled to go.” I went in, I told the kids and said, “I don’t want to be here. A friend of mine committed suicide and I don’t feel like being here.” I knew I made an impact on somebody because they raised their hand and said, “Mr. Smith, do what you tell us. Talk about it.” It made my day. It brought tears to my eyes. I’m feeling a little funny, but it was like, “They got it.” If I’m going to walk the talk, now it’s time to apply. I started talking to them about what I was going through.
I tried to help a minority company. I did try and then throw them a great deal of money because I went through something. When I went through it, part of my pledge, my mother told me something very similar. She said, “Help someone else.” I went to start helping minority companies on this and I was like, “I don’t want another minority company to go through what I had gone through some injustice.” I don’t look at it whether it was injustice or not. I don’t care. The people had a job to do for whatever reasons they chose to target me and to do their job in a particular way that suited them. Although I got that letter later, I’m mindful that I could’ve been bigger in anything, but I went and helped someone else.
In helping them, it was a blessing to some degree to me. The young man that I helped, he was a little bit older than me. He was in his 60s at that time. I turned around and called the SCC or whoever and then some other things under the hand because he didn’t want to pay it back or thought I was doing something crazy because he didn’t understand. I was like, “You got to be kidding.” Here it is, a man gives you a lifeline. He gives you his resources from things that he has set up. Access to his network and you go do that. That was hurtful. How do you deal with this kind of stuff?
You said something key. He did something that could have affected you, but it did affect you. How do you use that as a learning moment, a teaching moment? You can’t stop the hurt or the blood. How the cut started, stop the bleeding. In essence, that’s where my mindset is. I’ve gone through some things, even in law enforcement, even with the separation divorce with my ex-wife. What am I supposed to learn from the situation? I can’t stop it. I already got cut. At the end of the day, that’s all I’m looking to do. When I’m growing, knowing and learning, then the universe opens up. You may hear me say a lot, I’m spiritual but I’m not religious. I believe that there’s a higher power. I believe there’s something greater than I, but I also believe that I have choices. Those choices give me something of some type of similarity or relationship with that.
When they started their investigation, I had the choice to be bitter, mad and angry. I chose not to be none. I was like, “I’m not going to be bitter. I’m not going to be angry. They’ve got a job to do.” When they do their job, if there are people that are righteous and just then they will see that, “Solomon didn’t do anything and we’ll be done with it.” If they’re not, then we’re going to all go to the math and we’re going to have to go to court. If we have to go to the Supreme Court, that’s where we go because everybody says, “Solomon, just settle. You’re not admitting to any wrongdoing or anything like that.” I was like, “I can’t do that because my grandson will read this one day.” I don’t want him to think that Solomon got his wealth by lying, cheating, and stealing. I didn’t because that would’ve been a true lie. I kept saying it didn’t fit right in my spirit to settle. It didn’t fit right inside.
I asked myself why. The only thing that came up was this. There are other people that need your help that hasn’t had the exposure and access to where you’ve been. They haven’t sat on the mountain top and be able to see how and what businesses are going through or what they will go through and see where all those different pitfalls are. They’re asking you to lie. Up until this point, you hadn’t told a lie. You were being true to yourself because if we go back to what we were talking about, it was starting to change me from that first problem that I had and then it was starting to change. I set things up correctly in the right way and was like, “We’re going to do 100%. We’re going to do ten times better. We’re going to read these books. We’re going to do this. We’re going to set this structure. We’re going to be better than better.” We did that, but all of a sudden you got a regulatory agency asking you to settle and asking you to settle was asking you to lie. I was like, “I can’t do that for my grandson. I’d rather you find me wrong, guilty or whatever it may be than to go willingly tell a lie.”
If you don’t stand for something, you fall for everything. Back on that, I started to do chair aerobics. I started my concept, my business called House of NC Inc. to cover Aerobo Cop, which was a by-product of House. The House is something that I created to help others and helping myself. In that process of teaching, I start to meet people, then I got an opportunity from doing the cable show, ABLE. I brought Aerobo Cop. My forward-thinking was if I can get exposure on the government channel, then I can grow Aerobo Cop and House outside of it.
You’re helping people with their health, high cholesterol, blood pressure, all this through exercise come and get in better shape. Kids that weren’t in sports to get in better shape and be physically fit.
Introducing and showing in an educational, fun and entertaining way. Aerobo Cop had a spandex outfit with an A on his chest and I did aerobics with kids. The kids were volunteers from schools and I supplied them with t-shirts. I was seen for ten years every Monday through Friday at 4:00 on the government channel. I provided the free information or the presentation and the energy when we were taped and they provided the production part. For you guys out there, I would love to go back out. Aerobo Cop is still needed. Obesity is greater than it was before, that more kids are said to may die before their parents because of early stages of diabetes, high blood pressure and even heart disease. I’m fortunate, I was pulled in by the County Health Department. I was doing a program.
The county reached out to you and say, “We need to put this program together.”
They had outside agencies applying for a grant. I applied and got through their hurdles, their maze. It was cute but when you’re dealing with intelligence and universe, you get answers. They had an application process where when you submitted it, if your interview application didn’t say true to verbiage and the numbers didn’t say true-true, they kicked it out. I’m working this thing, I’m going, “Before we send it in, we’re going to make sure we got true-true.” Me and my grant writer, we got true-true and submitted it. I was requesting $150,000.
Did you submit an application for a grant? You graduated from Howard so you have a college degree. You could have written this yourself, but you went out and got a grant writer, an expert in their field to help you to do that.
I know my lane.
That’s why I try to tell people. Hire those who know their subject and you stay in your lane.
I got her on board and we’re sitting there and combining our intelligence. True-true came up and we submitted in the application. On their side, he got through the hurdles and maze. We’re poised to accept this House of NC Inc. as the outside agency requesting funds because he made it through the application process. We set this process up so if you can’t make it through here, you can’t get any money. We made it through, but because of the powers that we understood the game, I got there. They’re like, “He made it through the loops.” They’re asking the question, “Who’s House?” He didn’t go around kissing the ring.
When you say kissing the ring, what are you talking about?
Kissing the ring to me means to get permission from those who are in a position to help.
People in possession of power or controlling those checks.
It’s like, “Did you know Solomon?” “Did Solomon sent you or Solomon sent me?” You got to have that reference, that contact name, “So-and-so sent me?” “He got through because so-and-so helped them,” but they don’t have nobody in their midst. “Who helped the House?” You need some help to get through this process. That’s why we set the process up. The help was my grant writer, my expertise in the field of writing.
I read a book called The Richest Man in Babylon. I read this book for many years, every year. There’s a little chapter in there that talks about don’t hire brick makers to buy you a jewel. You hire a jewel maker that knows jewels who buy those jewels. That’s what you did. You hired a grant writer.
I’m a fitness guy. I do fitness. I could work out right now but you said, “I don’t want to split my brain cells.” It will take away from what I do best and what I do best is what I know. I acknowledge what I do best and I’m saying, “I want to stay in that lane.” It’s okay to get help. I don’t want to know everything, but I’m going to know what I need to know to be the best I can be in the area that I’m working at. With the fitness pieces came, we got through. They pulled me to the side when they’re supposed to distribute the funds where they had the finalizing of the budget. They had an accounting meeting. One of the representatives pulled me to the side of the district that I live in and say, “Can we talk to you?” I said, “Yes.” They’re like, “You’re a new organization.” They didn’t say an application. He brings a new word in a new conversation. I say, “I’m listening.” They’re like, “What we decided is that we’re going to shift $50,000 to the health department and they are going to use your services to do what you do.” If you know math, $50,000 is how much of $150,000? It’s 1/3. What’s 1/3 of a calendar year? Four months. In my mind, they will know I’m calculating. You give me 1/3 of what I requested. You get four months of work. You don’t get a whole year of work on 1/3 of what I requested, but that’s all right. We don’t need to have that conversation. Let’s get through the 51st.
If you fill this out, you get a chance to get $150,000. They expected you to fail, bringing a different piece in the equation and say, “We’re going to give them $150,000 but they get $50,000 out of it.” That was crazy. That’s how this stuff works. Bank loans, bank VC, capital, all of that works the same way.
They were shifting. The player of the game knew the game. They got through the game late. I was not going to lose. It’s best to have something in 100% or nothing. I said, “Go do what you do.” That’s when the crash hit because that was around 2008. I secured initially $150,000 in their paper game and they realized I got through the paper game. They say, “Let’s give him $50,000 through this, but we know we allocated $150,000 as you said. What happened to the other $100,000?” That’s not my problem. What was not being presented fully? I focused on the $50,000. It’s time to work. I put the work in. I’m doing math. I like numbers. $50,000 is 1/3 of $150,000. One-third of twelve months, they only get four months of work out of me.
Readers, did you know what Mitch said? He didn’t complain about the sleight of hand and not getting $150,000 and he only got the $50,000. That’s what I do. I don’t complain about when they short me or do something where I’m like, “That’s not what the contracts.” I keep working and keep working and doing what’s necessary to get to the other end. When I raised money for clients, I said, “We’re trying to get a touchdown.” When I cold call, whether it’s good or bad, it doesn’t matter to me. Let’s get on the line and the next play until we get into the touchdown.
At the end of the day, that introduced me to the municipalities and how granting works and how the game is played on that level.
I know you’re training a lot of people. I’m one of the people that you’re training. You are training athletes, you’re training everyday ordinary people with the church. I want you to tell us a little bit about that. I want you to tell me how can people reach out to you, get ahold of you so that they can get training or whatever it is that they feel they may need or they might want to talk to Mitchell?
I’m also a life coach, but they can get in touch with me by sending me an email to 2GSMIT@BellSouth.net. You could send your requests or information to me and we’ll connect. You can reach me at (704) 606-1018, that’s a phone number you can reach me. I’m presently working with the Village HeartBEAT, which is a program that is going on this eighth season. It’s a program of the County Health Department that supports local churches. The health ministries to strengthen the health ministries in zip codes that have a high mobility rate based on lifestyle and health. We’ve been doing this for several years. I have a chair aerobics class every Tuesday and Thursday at Rockwell Amy’s here in Charlotte from 11:00 to 11:45. Join us and all these classes are free to the participants. I always tell my class, “If you find anything as useful or helpful like that, please let me know so I can sign up.”
Mitch told you some very intimate things about himself. I discussed some too. If you are looking for a life coach, if you’re looking for someone to help benefit your mind, your heart, your soul, your body and give you some longevity, Mitch is a person that you need to reach out to and get ahold of. Foremost is because you want someone that has some experience with some life struggles because life is going to throw some stuff back. I’m going to say this in a different way. Life is going to throw some crap at you including everything, including the kitchen sink. It’s going to come your way when you least expect it. You’re going to need someone there like Mitch that can help you mentally deal with that. Not focused on what’s been done wrong to you but focused on, “Let’s get your mind right. Let’s go run. Let’s go to the gym. Let’s get your body right,” so that stress is not taking ahold of you and putting you in early grade. This stuff is real. What Mitch does is real.
Fitness and wellness are my outlets for my stressors, my joy, and my pleasures. I always say I work out and look better with no clothes on. We all could robe it up. How do you look when you’re bare? I got to shake test for you all readers. Go in front of the mirror for women and men, keep your short on and shake in the mirror. If your body is still moving when you stop shaking or stop moving, you need to call me. That’s what we got to have more joy. In life, devices have taken us. I like this. We are communicating. This is not fake. This is not short-term. This is not how many characters you could type on your phone. This is a conversation between two people and I appreciate it. When I was going through my studies as more science, I always ask, “What happened to people of color? What appears to be is that they fell out the ranking of relationship with the Creator?”
Here are some that you tipped on. I didn’t quite go there. I was doing a show with Les Brown. He is one of the top motivational speakers in the world, bar none, second to none. He had said something to me, “Solomon, in 51 years, I’ve only been interviewed by people that look like you and me eight times.” That hurt me because I’m like, “A man that reached the levels and as a master at what he does, we would have truly come around and want to interview him.” All the black newspapers out there, radio station and you didn’t come and interview one of the people in this world that saved more black lives than anyone else?
I know when I was down and out, I heard Les Brown’s voice because I had listened to his motivational stuff. If you are a listener to Les Brown, you get up and you keep on going. You become that little engine that could. I know it gave me something. For our people, a lot of times we get our faith and our confidence through the church that we go to and hearing the scriptures. When you said that, it brought something to me that a man that’s been doing something for 51 years and not gives mediocre at it, but was a master of it. One of the best in the world at it and our people didn’t reach out to him and interview him.
That’s why you are a blessing. Your show is one of the things that I’m glad to be a part of it. One of the things the reasons I’m here is to get information on how to protect my House of NC Inc. better. How to take that to a level where I can grow it more, not only domestically but internationally. How do I trust that and put a trust over there, so that at the end of the day that I have the legalities and the protective shields in place to be able to do business without any major outside interference?
When you’re growing, knowing, and learning then the universe opens up.
I’m glad you asked and thank you for the word of confidence in that area because I’m not an attorney. I’m not an accountant. In fact, I don’t have a whole any degrees like you but I am not going to hold that against you.
I had to go to play baseball. I got a degree by accident. They said, “Mitch, you’re going to graduate soon.” I said, “Thank you.”
Every young person around me goes, “Get a degree.” In fact, I’ve got young personnel that’s going to Howard and she’s studying in law. I love that kid to death. She’s smart as a whip. We spiral back and forth and seeing go down the rabbit hole. Sometimes you get me going down that rabbit hole, but bar none education is important. I used to tell kids all the time, “Hang out long enough, keep going and you’ll get it.” That’s where you’re hanging out. You don’t get it. You have to apply it to yourself. That being said, on your business and protecting your business, I’m done that disclaimer, so nobody would call and say, “Solomon said he was an attorney.”
There are very few people on the planet that has made as much money and have as many assets as I have. There’s a lot of them but there’s very few, whether they’re attorneys or whoever you might want to call that has done and achieve what I achieved. I’m going to share a story with you. If you have a business entity, I’m going to say you want to own nothing but control everything. I work with a bunch of different companies and vendors. Our philosophy is to own nothing but controls everything. We didn’t create it. It came from the Rockefellers and they created it and their family is still wonderful and glamorous in the world. I sent you a book before or told you about it on the bankers.
It’s a very good book to take a look at amongst other books. You want to set up an irrevocable trust. You want to ensure that the laws of that state for that trust. You do not want to own the assets as a beneficiary of the trust. The assets of the trust are owned by the trust. Although you’re a beneficiary, you will have no direct ownership or no indirect ownership of the assets. It is for your trustee to do as he, please. You must pick a trustee, there’s the word. That trust will own your business. That trustee will own your house, so you’re putting all your assets in there.
There may be other very strategic things that I don’t want to go into on the show. I don’t want people to try to take it and get it twisted and come trying to sue me or talking about it because it’s important that you get some professional help in setting it up or that you call someone who understands this. If you call me at Minority Business Access or send me an email, I’ll send you to one of my vendors who will help you to set that up. Before anyone goes into business and spends $1 on creating a business card, a website or anything else. You better make sure you have the right structure or you’re going to go broke. That’s a fact. I’ve been doing this for many years.
Once your trust owns your business, then you can do business free. What I mean by doing business free, you’re free of the liabilities. Mitch won’t have to worry about if I’m in your class and I stumble and fall or hurt my wrist, your business being sued and losing everything. Because your trust will be the owner of it and it will have things encumbered in a certain way, so your trust isn’t going to lose it either. You keep moving. You are also able to access capital when you have the correct structure. A lot of people go into business and they don’t think about structure and they don’t think about capital whatsoever. They might take $50,000 or $60,000. They go buy the business cards, the websites. They go buy their equipment and inventory. The next thing they know, all of a sudden they have cashflow problems and don’t know where to go to get money because when you go to the bank, then the bank said, “Let me see three years of financials.” You’ve got to be making a profit for them to loan you some money.
We like to say that banks don’t loan money to people who need it. You’re right, they don’t. Why would they? If you need money, why am I going to loan you money? I’m going to loan money to people who don’t need it. That’s a better risk. Banks are not in the business to take risks. They’re in business to be risk-averse. In other words, they aren’t trying to take a risk. They didn’t talk about venture capital, private equity and all that, and the same thing. They are not in the business to loan you money or give you money for risk, for a hope and a dream. They’re in the business that hope and the dream are going to manifest and become something so they can get their money back. There are no love offerings out there. That’s where you start it. You start with the trust and we’re going to talk about that. We’ll get that document over so you can have something to work with.
I appreciate you.
I want to thank you. I appreciate this. I know that they all appreciate it. Everyone who’s reading, the audience, they take the key. You’ve gone through some life struggles, had some things thrown at you. You are still standing and in business. That’s the people you want to reach out to and learn something from that can help you navigate some waters. Mitch, one more time. How do they get ahold of you?
They can reach me at 2GSMIT@BellSouth.net. That’s my email address and my phone number is (704) 606-1018.