LINCOLN UNIVERSITY, PA – Business leaders and entrepreneurs Tom “Chico” Stafford, ‘73 and William S. Parrish, Jr. echoed the sentiment that students must hold onto their dreams and work passionately to realize them.
The pair’s remarks were part of the Oct. 11th Lincoln University Convocation sponsored by the Department of Excellence in Business and Entrepreneurial Studies, where the two HBCU graduates, outlined qualities and the understanding they felt were essential to becoming a successful entrepreneur.
“Whatever you do, always keep your dreams in front of you,” said Stafford, a 1973 Lincoln alumnus and chairman and CEO of Integrated Support Strategies, an IT services firm based in the Philadelphia suburbs. “So when we are talking about entrepreneurship we are talking about dreaming.”
Parrish, a Hampton University graduate and president and CEO of NobleStrategy, LLC, a construction management firm, encouraged students to dream big, and if others didn’t think their dream wasn’t crazy, then their dream wasn’t big enough.
Stafford added that successful people possessed three specific qualities: a sincere desire, passion, and aggression, meaning to be “willing to play their game their way.”
Parrish, also the author of Making Bold Moves: Creating Multimillion Dollar Success in 500 Days or Less, said that one’s brand was also central to success, and how many people had misconceptions about what one’s brand was. He explained that one’s brand was not what one thought about one’s self, but rather a collection of others thoughts and that successful people must understand and build on that.
Recently, Stafford donated 10,000 African American figurines, which he valued at nearly $400,000 to Lincoln’s Business and Entrepreneurial Studies students, who will market and sell them to benefit the University’s scholarship and capital campaign. The effort is the first in what is expected to be part of a portfolio of products that students develop and/or distribute as part of an established business enterprise on Lincoln’s campus.
“The legacy and job of this institution has been to prepare leaders, and that includes business leaders,” said Dr. Robert R. Jennings, Lincoln University president. “This donation creates an excellent opportunity for our students to gain real-world experience by developing an executable business plan and creating a student-run business that as an added bonus instills the lesson of every alumnus’ worthwhile duty to support its alma mater.”
The figurines, offered in two collections – “Sweet Inspirations” and “Legacy Collection” were designed and created by artist Wayne Anthony exclusively for Stafford, who also donated $10,000 in addition to the figurine gift. Each figurine also includes a certificate of authenticity.
Currently, the figurines are showcased and available for purchase in Dickey Hall, Room 258 and on the 4th Floor at the Lincoln University Graduate Center, located at Lincoln Plaza, 3020 Market St. in Philadelphia.
“Everything I am is a result of Lincoln University,” said Stafford. “So I have an obligation to be here and to make sure you know what it is to be successful. I have an obligation to make sure you understand that. I had people here who really cared about me. When I came here, I was a real knucklehead. I wasn’t a model student by any stroke of the imagination.”
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Lincoln University of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, founded in 1854 as the nation’s first historically Black degree-granting institution, combines the elements of a liberal arts and science-based undergraduate curriculum along with select graduate programs to meet the needs of those living in a highly-technological and global society. Today, the University enrolls a diverse student body of approximately 2,000 men and women. Internationally recognized for preparing and producing world class leaders such as Thurgood Marshall, the first African American U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Lillian Fishburne, the first African American woman promoted to Rear Admiral in the U.S. Navy, Langston Hughes, the noted poet, Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana and Nnamdi Azikiwe, the first President of Nigeria.