Cliff Carey's "Four Important Traits" of an entrepreneur
Cliff Carey is owner of American Reserve Clothing Co., with work in hearing products and as an efficiency expert — and a degree in English. A focus on the local economy and sustainability, American Reserve Clothing Co. is about the fabric of both the product, and the people who make it.
We believe in the power of clothing to transform a person in mind, spirit, and enthusiasm. We believe in the power of place; where those clothes are made is important; regions, cities, and communities can bring people together in common efforts. Finally, we believe in the power of people to transform the communities around them and through those efforts change the world.
Cliff is a storyteller, and certainly one of the most organized speakers I’ve seen to date. He touched upon his dilemmas as an entrepreneur, a holistic story leading to where he’s at, today. It is no wonder why, when he interviewed for a “day job” at Target just out of undergrad with a degree in English, he was given a job as an efficiency expert. In truth, this is a dream job for me, and I know my own interviewing skills are none too fantastic. I recorded many quotes from Cliff; speaking to him is to learn something new.
The “four important traits of an entrepreneur,” Cliff said, are “grit, critical thinking, patience and curiosity.” And “adaptability,” he added, is a above all else. If anything, adaptability is one of the most important traits for any person.
As Cliff explained, you can make a daily “to do” list, but any number of things can happen that are out of your control. This requires adapting your plan to fit these new variables. “There’s a big difference,” he said, “between theory and practical application.” While entrepreneurs try to preemptively answer and resolve potential issues before they arise, there will always be something that falls outside his or her control or purview. Being prepared for failures and fixes, as Cliff noted, is key to maintaining the business and the drive to make it successful.
“There is only one thing we do in life alone,” Cliff said, “and that is to decide.” While he was, at the time, speaking about working with others, this relates to the overarching idea of being an entrepreneur. The decision to “be an entrepreneur” is a huge decision in and of itself. Many people sit and think for so long, however, they think themselves out of it. Just imagine all of the amazing ideas and the problems we’d solve if people with potential solutions stopped thinking and doubting and made a plant to take action.
Many of the topics Cliff covered were things I had previously observed, but hadn’t labeled. Brand parity, the “consumer perception that only minor differences exist between brands placing a heightened importance on price,” is one such observation. This is prevalent in the fashion world and connects to another idea of cheap, disposable clothes — or “fast fashion.” It was enlightening to learn about the fashion retailer industry and how Cliff’s company makes a concerted effort to be a “conscious consumer,” working with well-researched brands with ethical standards.
The way Cliff spoke, asking individualized questions, exemplified his working style: collaborative. I learned a lot from Cliff, and I aim to work with others in the same way.