Leader Chat: Dr. William F. Pickard

By Katrice L. Mines, Editor

William F. Pickard, Ph.D.’s first foray into entrepreneurship was as a McDonald’s franchisee in Detroit, Mich. Forty-five years later, the chairman of Global Automotive Alliance, co-managing partner of MGM Grand Detroit Casino, CEO of Bearwood Management Company, and co-owner of five black-owned newspapers is giving budding entrepreneurs a road map to success with his new book “Millionaire Moves — Seven Proven Principles of Entrepreneurship.”

In it, Pickard details the triumphs and challenges of his entrepreneurial evolution in an authentic, instructive, and “real talk” manner that will be an apt guide to executives on how to transcend obstacles and stay true to their goals.

The civic leader and philanthropist has much to draw from aside from his business pursuits having served on numerous business and non-profit boards including Asset Acceptance Capital Corporation, Michigan National Bank, LaSalle Bank, Business Leaders for Michigan, National Urban League, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Black Chamber of Commerce, and is a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. As well, he was appointed to the Western Michigan University Board of Trustees in 2016. An avid student and supporter of African-American achievement, Pickard recently made a $1 million pledge to the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

Leadership 101.

1. If you were to take one tenet of entrepreneurship and do a TED Talk on it, what would it be?
Vision and attitude. It is critical that entrepreneurs see themselves where they want to be. Attitude will help them to crystalize their dreams and motivate them to be productive, even when it is hard to do so. Vision will keep them grinding while others are sleeping. Vision and attitude will bring them to the finish line. The Bible says, “without vision the people will perish.”

2. People tend to believe that entrepreneurs and executives who work in corporate America are starkly different, but you’ve had proven success in both genres. What is the common ground?
People before profit. I have been my own boss for 45 years but I didn’t start out that way. I was happily pursuing my degrees in social work when opportunity knocked on my door. It was that social work background and opening my McDonald’s businesses that strengthened my appreciation for the people. I can be profitable because I have hired a dynamic staff, one with the right skill set. At the end of the day, it is those people that matter. I genuinely appreciate them and the sacrifices they make to help make my businesses profitable. Without them, there would be no profit and there would be no business.

3. What is one of your go-to life hacks?
Sharing is one of the most important lessons in life. I am an avid reader and every morning before my day starts I review my Flipboards to keep me current and motivated. It’s also my opportunity to share stories with my friends and staff and constantly inspire them. And to read what is sent to me by my own posse. As a leader, it is imperative to constantly instill confidence in people to take a leap of faith as well as calculated risks. You can find inspiration anywhere; you just need to know how to look for it.

4. How do you inspire or evangelize entrepreneurship?
Mentoring young people. I firmly believe in the adage, “Each one, reach one, teach one.” For decades, I have been a lecturer at Historically Black Colleges and other colleges and universities to inspire young people to build their business and create their own legacy. As a community, it is imperative that we build our own wealth. The purpose of writing

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