The Crust - 5 Years In Business. Podcast Alert with Anthony Winston III, P.E. MEP Engineering Firm Owner | Venture Capital Seeker


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Coming this May
Quite often entrepreneurship is painted as this glorious mountaintop where you’ll find complete happiness and a pot of gold. In Chris Rock’s comedy special “Bigger & Blacker” he stated “You gotta love the crust, the crumbs, the tiny crumbs at the bottom of the toaster.” in reference to being in a relationship. Although being an entrepreneur in Construction Engineering has been very rewarding, like any other profession, it comes with its challenges. Three years ago I wrote an article “How I Escaped My 9 to 5” (See article here ), detailing my journey to business ownership. Now I want to give some insight into this world for any aspiring entrepreneur.

You’ll Be Treated Like a Football Kicker

In the game of football, there are a lot of actions that take place before the final seconds. The quarterback could have thrown multiple interceptions, the wide receivers constantly dropping balls and the coach called horrible plays. In the final moments of the game, it’s up to the kicker to make the game-winning field goal. If the field goal is missed, it’s the kicker’s fault. No matter what happened leading up to that moment, the kicker lost the game for their team.

Being in Construction Engineering requires that you work on a team with other people or entities. Quite often there is a project owner, Architect, General Contractor and specialized contractors (Electrician, Plumber, HVAC Technician, etc) that have to provide inputs before it gets to us as the MEP (Mechanical, Electrical & Plumbing) Engineers. You may have an all-star team but if any one of those entities are late, it can cause a domino effect. So we as the MEP Engineers are usually the last link in the chain and quite often it’s up to us to work miracles to finish on time.

When working as a consultant, collaborating with different entities, it’s important that you understand you will be blamed no matter how well you performed. Get over it and move on. It’s always best to have everything documented, but sometimes even that’s not enough. Continue doing the best work you can, and with experience, you will become good a noticing trouble spots before they arrive.

This Is Not Burger King

As a business owner, you want every customer to be completely happy with their transaction. 9 out of 10 times that happens and it makes you feel good knowing you were able to help someone. Unfortunately there are some times when you have to say “no” leaving some clients unhappy. Sometimes life happens (See sections below for some of the reasons) or sometimes clients will ask you to do things that are illegal or unethical (yes, sometimes unethical actions can still be considered legal).

I’ve been asked to “fudge” numbers on Engineering plans just to pass inspection. I’ve been asked to leave vital information off plans to pass inspection. I’ve been asked to put my employees in dangerous situations to get site information. In these and other situations, the answer is always “No”. Stand firm in your decision as “Have It Your Way” never applies in these moments.

Value Your Time

Anyone who knows me, knows I put my family first. I do my best to carve out critical quality time with my wife and 2 kids. Although I’m not perfect, I still try my best. For that very reason, I have 2 cell phones…one for work and one for personal. (here is the social media post I did on this topic ). Make sure your clients fully understand your office hours. If you don’t, expect calls late at night.

Be a Tribal Leader

Simon Sinek wrote an amazing book titled “Leaders Eat Last” ( ). This book completely changed my perspective on being a leader. In summary, the book describes how being a leader means being selfless and looking out for the best interest of the tribe (your employees) before your own. This was the first time I had heard this concept. It is critically important that you as a leader understand that your people come first and business comes 2nd. This may seem counter-intuitive, but at the end of the day, you can’t run a successful company without having quality personnel that WANT to stay.

When building a company, I don’t believe many people take this into consideration. You have to remember that your employees are living, breathing individuals that have lives. They get sick, they lose loved ones, their kids participate in sports, they go through divorces and breakups. Through all of this, you as a leader have to be understanding and have empathy.

No One Cares About Your Sick Kids

One thing you should know is that some (not all) clients believe that when they sign the contract and make the start payment, THEY OWN YOU. Their project is the most important thing in the universe and it doesn’t matter if your child is sick, you’re sick or your house is about to burn down. The latter actually happened a few years ago during a major wildfire. My house was in danger of burning down and I informed the client I would be a bit late. They didn’t care and I calmly explained the situation in my most professional, yet stern voice.

It’s always best that you are upfront about project turnaround times prior to the client signing on. I would rather lose a client than over-promise on a submittal date. Also be sure to over-communicate. Let the client know well in advance that you are on track to meet your deadline or if there is a need to extend the deadline. The worst thing you can do is tell a client a project is going to be late on the day it’s due.

You Now Have Multiple Bosses

The perception about being an entrepreneur is that you no longer have a boss. That couldn’t be further from the truth. As a consultant you have multiple bosses. At any given time we may have 5-10 projects. That means I have 5-10 bosses at any given time. Of course you have the ability to set terms and work in the manner that you feel is best.

Failure Is An Option

I do my best to not dwell on the negative statistics about business failure rates. The Bureau of Labor Statistics state that about 20% of businesses fail in their first year and 50% of small businesses fail in their fifth year ( ). I rarely think about failure but I am certain if Winston Engineering Inc did not survive, I have gained enough knowledge and skill-sets to start another business. Electrical Contractor Magazine wrote a great article about “R.I.P. Your Business” ( ). Essentially write a letter to you as to why you think your business will fail. This may highlight some inadequacies that you can correct before it’s too late. Stay focused on being successful but also be aware of things that could cause you to fail.

I hope this article has given you some insight into the “crust” of entrepreneurship. Enjoy the beauty of it, but know how to deal with the not-so-great aspects as well.

Published on March 10, 2020

Anthony Winston III, P.E.

MEP Engineering Firm Owner | Venture Capital Seeker
2 articles 

Dr. George C. Fraser - Power Podcast

Biography  Dr. Randal Pinkett has established himself as an entrepreneur, speaker, author, scholar and community servant, and one of the leading voices for his generation in business and technology. He is the co-founder, chairman and CEO of BCT Partners, a multimillion-dollar research, consulting, training, technology and analytics firm based in Newark, New Jersey. BCT Partners mission is to provide insights about diverse people that lead to equity. BCT works with corporations, government agencies and nonprofit organizations in the areas of housing and community development, economic development, children and families, health, education, diversity and inclusion, and energy. A partial list of BCT's clients includes: Johnson & Johnson, Ford Foundation, Pfizer, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Annie E. Casey Foundation, Citigroup, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Hewlett-Packard, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Facebook and Microsoft.



As President/CEO of the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC), Ron Busby, Sr. brings business management skills as well as a lifetime of community development experience to the organization. Mr. Busby is a former successful business owner himself, and he has been recognized as one of the nation’s best CEOs. Ron grew his first company, USA Superclean, from $150,000 annualized revenue, to over $15 million in only 10 years. Early on in his career, USA Superclean was recognized as the largest Black-owned janitorial firm in the country. Mr. Busby has also started and grown two other janitorial firms, both resulting in over $4 million in annualized revenue.

Currently, Ron serves on the Pfizer Small Business Council, National Newspapers Publishers Association Foundation Board of Directors, and White House African American Leadership Council. He has also formerly served on the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Council on Underserved Communities.

Trained by some of the country’s leading corporate executives, Ron developed his skills at some of the nation’s largest corporations including; Exxon, Xerox, IBM, and Coca-Cola USA. While in corporate America, he was recognized as National Sales Person of the Year.

Ron also has chamber experience as he was previously the President of the Greater Phoenix Black Chamber of Commerce for five years.

A native of Oakland, CA; and graduate with honors from both Florida A&M and Clark Atlanta University, Ron has dedicated himself to the empowerment of the Black community. Ron is also a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. Ron has two sons and currently lives in the Washington, DC area.

The Amani Experience Podcast Interview with Melissa Majors #shegetitdone

The Amani Experience Podcast Interview with Melissa Majors

image257Ok, I had the pleasure of receiving a message from Milissa Majors to check out an interview that she did. She thought that it would resonate with me,  Let me just say it truly did.

Please take an hour out of your day and, enjoy the Amani experience because he is riveting and she is marvelous. It was a fantastic use of my time nothing short of a master class. I can be a little bias being that she is a true Ohio State Buckeye.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Milissa a couple months ago on this date actually ironically. I was heading to ConExpo North America's largest construction show that takes place every 3 years in Las Vegas. Milissa gave me some great words of wisdom being that I was moderating a few educational sessions for the Association of Equipment Management Professional AEMP. Let's just say I nailed it.

If you haven't signed up for one or all of her courses you better.

From Professional to Professionally Speaking Kelly Charles-Collins. with SallyAnn Gray on their 1st instagram live. 4/28/20

If you stay ready you don't have to get ready. 

Be comfortable being uncomfortable.

Power Privilege & the Pandemic Madison Butler & Karen Fleshman Racy Conversations. #shegetitdone Must See

Coronavirus is further dividing an already unjust and unequal society. Black and Brown people are contracting the disease and dying at higher rates, disproportionately working on the frontlines, and even more impacted by unemployment, economic contraction, and homeschooling.

This was an online conversation about what those who have privilege do to help, both right now and in the future, featuring Madison Butler and Karen Fleshman, recorded on April 23, 2020.

Madison Butler is the Fairy Job Mother • Outspoken Diversity & Inclusion Advocate • Travel Fanatic • Culture Queen • Retention Wiz • Startup Whisperer • Builder of Sales Teams • Belonging Strategist • Keeping Austin Weird • Speaker • Hockey Fan Karen Fleshman Esq. she/hers is an activist, attorney, single soccer mom, founder of Racy Conversations, inspiring the antiracist generation


The LinkedIn Post

I know it's hard to imagine it, but diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives matter more than ever right now, & not just at work.

When the dust settles, this crisis disproportionately impacted people. We all didn't get to stay home & binge Netflix, or pet our dogs. Not everyone's biggest complaint was not being able to get an Instacart slot.

Black people are disproportionately impacted because the healthcare system was not created for us. Black people currently make up 70% of the death toll in Chicago.

Black women are 2x more likely to be furloughed, laid off or receive a pay cut.

People risked their lives to bag your groceries.
People died for their jobs, & not just in hospitals.

Medical workers had to choose between their oath & their families.

Many had to Facetime their loved ones to say goodbye.

Many people won't be able to afford mental health treatment to deal with the emotional aftermath.

We deserve better.
From healthcare, to business, to communities.

I recently read that, we are not stuck at home, "we are safe at home", & that is a privilege.

I hope we emerge more empathetic than before. I hope as humans we come together to help those impacted, but also to create change.

#Covid19 #Coronavirus #HumanAtWork #HumanizeHR #DiversityandInclusion #DEI

I spent a lot of time this weekend thinking about the pandemic and the way it will change the way we view the world.

If brown people started flooding state capitols with weapons, it would be called a “riot”, not a protest. Police wouldn’t stand calmly with us.

The news would look very different this morning.

Privilege is showing it’s true face. This is what we meant when we said “privilege"- the ability to exercise your right to speak up, to protest, without the fear of not returning home to your family.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, there is privilege in the way we get to respond to things.

Privilege never meant that there were not struggles, it meant that people's lives are valued on a sliding scale.

That's the tea.

So let's talk about it. If anything, let's make sure the pandemic leaves us ready for change, ready to have hard conversations & ready to examine ourselves.

“Superwoman is black too”: Covid19, Power and Vulnerability

1 hour ago
“As a woman with conditions, the black woman is therefore not granted the same privileges of softness; vulnerability and space to cry. Rather, in the face of trauma and difficult situations, the average black woman must jump into a telephone booth, throw on her cape and emerge as “The Black Superwoman!” And if she is triggered, like The Hulk, she morphs into “the Angry Black Woman” brandishing a domineering stance with the ubiquitous chip on her shoulder.”  Me but not me.

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♬ Funky Town - The Dance Queen Group

The past five weeks have been emotionally taxing for everyone. From the incessant phone notifications about new quarantine provisions to the morbid updates of those who have succumbed to COVID-19, everyone seems to be on high alert, as the world collapses into bedlam. There have been numerous allusions to the “Twilight Zone” and dystopian films, to make sense of the current chaos.

In my free time, I’ve skimmed online articles about how the pandemic is specifically affecting the black community. In the majority of these pieces, the resilience of the black woman has been highlighted. On social media, several videos are circulating, showcasing the efforts of the tireless nurses and the selfless doctors, caring for their patients. Across the country, during this quarantine, a large percentage of the women still working as cashiers in supermarkets and at fast food restaurants, are black women. During these harrowing times, these women embody the “keeping it moving” ethos; but as a black woman, I hesitate to embrace this generalized depiction of black womanhood. Without a doubt, hearing the stories and watching others act courageously is empowering; however, I fear that these broad characterizations of the formidable black female, help to perpetuate commonly held stereotypes.

In the United States, before the COVID-19 pandemic upended the lives of Americans, whenever black women publicly displayed any type of emotions, their feelings were promptly reduced to memes, trending hashtags and buzzwords. Despite the increased visibility of black women in the media, there has been limited space for them to honestly express their feelings, fears and concerns. Paradoxically, there are numerous blogs (like this one lol) and YouTube channels popping up daily, telling black women what to do and how to do it. However, these platforms seem to merely brush the surface or give superficial solutions, if any, to the lived experiences and silent suffering of many black women.

Broken Ceiling

For centuries, black women have fought for basic personhood; while white women have been defined as the “fairer sex”, in comparison to the dominate white men. Seemingly always in flux, the ever evolving concept of womanhood, with all its inherent struggles and biases, still looks to the upper class white female as the paragon of “woman”. Since the lived experiences of white women are antithetical to that of most black women; the cis gendered black woman is essentially a woman with conditions.

As a woman with conditions, the black woman is therefore not granted the same privileges of softness; vulnerability and space to cry. Rather, in the face of trauma and difficult situations, the average black woman must jump into a telephone booth, throw on her cape and emerge as “The Black Superwoman!” And if she is triggered, like The Hulk, she morphs into “the Angry Black Woman” brandishing a domineering stance with the ubiquitous chip on her shoulder.

To this end, the meekest and most soft spoken black girl appears threatening and unhinged; while those who are reserved in nature, but question systemic workplace micro-aggressions, are deemed aggressive. Most professional black women, regardless of their field have been characterized as “difficult to work with”. Unfortunately, these mischaracterizations of the black woman that begins as early as adolescence, help to shape the way that she navigates spaces in the world. The quiet teenager who is treated like a ticking time bomb, eventually, begins to change. She may master the duality of an “outside” and an “inside” face or she may internalize these false portrayals of her personhood. Over time, the effects of splitting herself gradually diminishes her humanity, and her womanhood.

Looking back at my formative years, I realize that I learned to be very measured in expressing my emotions, be they joy, anger or dismay. As a black teenager, even at the most difficult and trying times, I was expected to exude strength, as the “indomitable black woman” in training. And since superheros don’t need protection, black women are rarely offered the proverbial safe space, to just be.

So, today, as the black female anesthesiologist intubates the highly virulent patient, while thinking about her two children at home, can she say, “I’m scared”? If she protests about the lack of protective gear, will her fervent need to protect herself and her young family be heard, without first being filtered through the lens of “aggressive black woman”? Furthermore, will this society allow her to shed some tears, voice her fears; wipe her eyes; then throw on her cape and fly back into action?

Read more on the blog: Women

Aminata Cisse

Aminata Cisse

A psychiatrist writing about mental health issues, through a black female lens.

S3:E3 - Managing Our Anxiety & Fear During COVID-19 Red table talk

In this challenging time, motivational speaker Jay Shetty and psychologist Dr. Ramani come to the Red Table with tips and tools for managing the emotional toll that's been brought on by COVID-19. This episode was filmed prior to the enactment of the current COVID-19 guidelines by the California Governor and similar guidelines enacted in other states. Please practice recommended social distancing.

‘Broken Ceiling’ is a Timely Response to Toxic Workplaces Everywhere. This film was shot in 4 days in one location.


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Genre: Drama
Run Time: 90 min.
Writer: Adam Davis, Director: Adam Davis
Cast: Karan Kendrick, Regen Wilson, Rane Jameson, Torran Kitts, Jay Disney
Distributor: Indie Rights
The film is now available to rent and/or buy on AmazonGoogle Play, and YouTube.
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The premise of Broken Ceiling is this: “When Angela Walker is passed over for yet another promotion, she decides she’s going to have to break through the invisible corporate barriers once and for all.” Well, color me interested. Being director, Adam Davis’ first feature film, (his award-winning short films include 2016’s No Touching starring ZoĆ« Bell, Heidi Moneymaker, Jake Busey, and Doug Jones), he sure did set out to make a film that is timely and relevant in the present day. Shot entirely in a nondescript office in four days, this independently produced film speaks to toxic work environments and what happens when the dogged out, underpaid, under-appreciated, taken for granted and surely underestimated have had enough.

What works the best here in this drama is the ability of the actors to work on and against each other in contained spaces. The best scenes are the cast in the conference room on a Saturday morning during the conference call. You know, that conference call that has everyone’s hopes and dreams (and their asses when it comes to their jobs) on the line. Regen Wilson is Ken Wolf (Fear The Walking Dead, VEEP and The Haves and the Have Nots), the boss or Ken, the great manipulator and soothsayer of all the right words at the right time. He is unabashedly loud and quick to anger with his direct reports over the tiniest inconveniences and smallest irritations. His relationships with the three other employees who join him this fateful Saturday are complex to where when they are revealed later down the line, you can see how he’d been playing them against each other. Wolf is convincingly the big dog in the yard and brash enough to make you remember it—until he isn’t.

Karan Kendrick (lead) and Adam Davis (Director/writer/producer) 

Torran Kitts is Garrett, the young upstart—newer to the company and newer to the corporate world. He is bright-eyed, too eager, and obviously a junior, but entrusted enough to be a part of this crew for this big deal happening. Later in the second half of the film when things get way more heated, Kitts has some unfortunately funny lines of dialogue while trying to defuse an escalating situation while he’s in shock. We see an interesting tag along but not quite buddy-buddy presence between him and his senior at the company, Tyler, played by Rane Jameson (The Spearhead EffectThe Monroes and NCIS)
Tyler is the slightly older employee of Ken who has been with him at the company perhaps as long as Angela. As something of a right-hand man, Ken saw potential in him long ago when he was young and kept training him for more. He is almost like a father figure of sorts as well. Yet something is amiss and Tyler is on to it, feeling left out the loop somehow until he has the pieces he needs for a possible confrontation later. Jameson kills it in a scene alone in the bathroom after making a call when all his insecurities come to light and he starts to crumble under what he’s uncovered. I can’t help but see him and Angela as foils to each other. They tiredly joke around and seem to be Ken’s oldest workers present on this weekend workday. While they both vie for the same promotion, one is weak and one is strong. Both clearly take matters into their own hands but only one does their homework so they don’t just become someone selling wolf tickets.

But it is Angela, portrayed by Karan Kendrick (Just MercyHidden FiguresThe Hunger Games, and The Hate U Give), who is the best part of this film. We see her almost wearing the office and her job like a second skin. She is assertive, knowing she deserves the promotion, the pay raise, and the recognition. She craves the acknowledgment of all the work she’s put in and the cementing of a higher position in the company because she’s been Ken’s secretary for so very, very long (and has worn more than one hat while doing her job over the years).

If you pay for prime you can watch for free by clicking this link Broken Ceiling and on other 

Kendrick excludes a terrifying calm when she enacts her master plan and when she pokes fun at the others and laughs, it is a satisfying pleasure to watch. When she explains all the compromises she’s had to make in life, starting from childhood, it’s a thrilling thing to witness even if it is a tiny bit heavyhanded. Her performance tackles several issues that connect together: what if feels like to be non-white and non-male in a company, or industry and in a system that continually takes you for granted, plays down your worth and plans to keep making you work twice as hard for something that isn’t promised to you.
This conference call drama gets a bit muddled in the middle with a few scenes dragging on a bit too long. Angela puts her plan in action in the conference room and helps set the train back on the tracks while the drama certainly intensifies. Kendrick’s performance is this film’s secret weapon and it’s a shame it took so long to see it in full. I can’t forget Jay Disney’s voice as Mr. Bradford, the perpetually unimpressed man on the other line of the conference call who artfully plays his part well in this whole debacle. Broken Ceiling is good for seeing an intriguing play on characters that get pressed too hard and too often and too long in one space. I felt catastrophic. I felt nervous. I felt pinned down. Broken Ceiling is a timely response to toxic workplaces everywhere, knowing your worth and being ingenious enough to make it all come to ruin when you’ve had enough.

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  • Carrie McClain
    Reviewer/Editor/Magical Girl
    Carrie McClain is a writer, editor, social media maven, and media scholar. Other times she's known as a Starfleet Communications Officer, Comics Auntie, and Golden Saucer Frequenter. Shuri is her favorite Disney Princess. Nowadays you can usually find her buried under a pile of Josei manga. She/Her

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