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Serrus Blog

A Time to Give Thanks

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

by Leighton Cubbage

I have a friend whom I've known for most of life. We met in junior high, went through Clemson together, worked together, and remain friends to this day. A conversation with him is like visiting the past and, at the same time, laughing at the present.

Lately, when we eat lunch, we talk about every nuance of the football season. Today we had lunch together at our favorite meat-and-three. The restaurant serves food like our mothers in Sumter fed us, and we love it. Coming in, we both greeted our favorite waitress. When I asked her how she was doing she said, ”O.K.”

My friend and I were seated, and we were soon lost in one of our rambling discussions, full of dreams of Clemson’s near possibilities. It was just one of those lazy, Southern sunny days in the restaurant, with everyone smiling, speaking to each other, and looking forward to Thanksgiving. The world was happy.

Then the bombshell hit. Our waitress appeared at our table and said, simply, “I lost my husband on the 15th.”

My friend and I stood up. He hugged her as she told us the details. We found out that they had been married for 40 years. Comforting her seemed impossible, but we sure tried.

As we left, I watched my friend quietly slip a twenty dollar bill under his plate. We just looked at each other and were totally out of words. What could you do or say?

On my drive home, I began to think of the great Thanksgiving that we have planned. Our family will have a huge celebration this year. They don't know it yet, but I’m going to look each of them in the eye this year and specifically tell them I love them. Although the holiday will be joyful this year, I will not take for granted that my family and friends will always be there, and I will remember that others in our city are struggling during this joyful season.

Thanksgiving is named just right this year for me.

Greenville and Asheville - Two Sisters That are 10's

Friday, July 31, 2015

Most of my life I have lived in Greenville. We are all so proud of the Upstate and its entrepreneurial spirit. Bob Hughes says folks in Greenville help each other. That's true. But, like Magellan, I feel I've found a new land that has been hidden from our minds. It's about an hour away. In fact Greenville and Asheville are separated by one of the prettiest drives in all of America. My partner Steve Mudge began the expedition about 3 years ago. He went looking for opportunity. We have found that the same positive attitudes and powerful economy is definitely happening in Western Carolina. Serrus is committed and wants to commit more in Asheville.

The second part of our interstate story is the leadership of some special people. Ken Flynt and Louis Buck are two of the nicest big time business people I've ever met. They started selling me on the power of Western Carolina University's entrepreneurial business school. The Dean is Darrell Parker. He's like a movie character playing the role of a great leader. His aggressive attack attitude is mind blowing. Then throw in an all-star board with leadership from folks like Ed Wright, David Lilly and a superstar woman named Wendy Banks.

They came down to Greenville and met with us about our Successful Entrepreneurship program . This year we will surpass 400 students going through the program. Just today, I read a thank you  from a founder of a new company in Greenville who gives credit to the program. The Western Carolina University team, with Serrus Capital Partners, is expanding the opportunity to the Biltmore Park location of Western Carolina. Half of the speakers will be from Greenville and half from the Asheville area. Think some business relationships will start? The slang answer of today is , " You think?".

Please take a look at this link for more information about getting into the program in Asheville.

Max Heller Said Go to the Parties

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

During the unveiling of Max Heller’s statue on Main Street here in Greenville, his daughter told the audience that her father had always taught her to go to the parties. That line keeps popping up in my life. Serrus just completed a favorable piece of real estate business with a contact that I made “going to the parties.” It all started when I was asked to do a talk for the Greenville Chamber’s Friday Forum series last year. Greenville has a fantastic working Chamber, and hundreds of people attend these early Friday morning breakfast events. I go to hear people like Randy Dobbs, Merle Code, Toby Stansell, and Stewart Spinks, and I was honored to have the opportunity to speak.

After my talk, folks were very kind, and I shook hands and talked with people who made me feel like I didn’t totally embarrass myself. A few days later, I got a hand-written letter from someone who had thanked me after the talk. It’s one of those notes that you keep and put in that folder you want your kids to see some day. The writer was Jeff Herman of Wagner Wealth Management.

Being me, I picked up the telephone and called him. We laughed some and decided to meet. At their office on Main Street, I saw that Scott Davis was a part of Wagner Wealth. That’s the sign of approval for me because Scott has been a highly reputable and successful businessman in Greenville for many years.  As I looked into their company, I learned that Jeff Herman and the founder, Dan Wagner, manage hundreds of millions of dollars for high net worth clients. WagnerWealthManagement.com is not locked down to investments that some mother company wants them to push. Instead, I love that they are transparent with costs and driven with a goal of world-class service. My opinion is that they are moving toward a billion under management because they actually do what they say they are going to do. That’s become a competitive advantage in today’s world.

The relationship started with going to an event, getting a hand-written note, and following up for lunch. At Serrus now I’m telling everybody about Dan, Jeff, and Scott over at Wagner Wealth Management. They are significant to our plans now, and I look forward to a brighter future together.

Max Heller is still right.

How Do You Keep Your Past From Limiting You?

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Do you have embarrassing things about your past that you don't like to think or talk about? I do. My past contains plenty of mistakes, slack efforts, biting off more than I could chew, and simply bad choices. Some folks I know still take delight in reminding me of these embarrassing moments. You know the type.

Recently, through the Successful Entrepreneurship series, I've had the privilege to hear the stories and messages of some of the most successful people in the history of South Carolina. Most people think these leaders came to prominence with ease and a lot of luck. To the contrary, however, what really stands out to me is that all of them have overcome some sort of adversity. For example, consider Randy Dobbs. He's an investor, author, and former CEO for General Electric. His story makes me shake. I can still feel his tension as he told us the story of defending his mother from a beating by his alcoholic stepfather and how he worked and went to school on a 20-hour-per-day schedule. Listening to Randy, my past was a cake walk. Other great folks like Joe Erwin and Ray Lattimore told us in the class about overcoming huge odds to scratch their way to the "luck" they currently enjoy. Over and over, most of our speakers have underlined the importance of getting up from setbacks and moving forward. The timid and the weak need not apply for starting and growing a business.

After learning how these super achievers overcame such incredible odds against them, I'm reframing my past. The truth is that all of my setbacks set me up for an amazing comeback. In fact, some of the toughest parts of my life actually trained me for my greatest achievements. One of the most difficult periods in my life came as a young man during college on a football scholarship at Clemson, which was paid for with the sweat and blood I left on the practice field. I had big dreams of playing a starring role and being a sports hero. That did not happen: four years practicing and I never got in a game enough to earn a letter. But maybe that's how I learned to overcome personally staggering setbacks. How many times can you open a door that slams? I'm good at it.

Visit www.successful-entrepreneurship.com to check out the list of speakers and apply for our Spring class. I'm fired up about this group more than ever. We will be at the Clemson ICAR campus with a 292-seat auditorium, a great stage, and a state-of-the-art audiovisual system. You will hear—and feel—real life stories and authentic lessons from people who were trained by their past and not whipped by it.

Every Day Should be Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

You might be able to relate to this.

A few days ago, some people in my family were getting testy about the upcoming holiday. We all know there are times when folks can disagree on the who, where, and when of family gatherings. Holidays just bring a weird pressure.  This woke up my consciousness about being thankful. And my distaste of useless drama.

Much has been written about the fact that a major component of joy and happiness is driven by how thankful we are for what we have. It's hard to be happy if you aren't thankful, and joy follows being thankful. Worrying about the holiday event versus focusing on the meaning seems to be a trend in a world that is getting busier and busier. Maybe we all ought to step back and realize that all of these Thanksgiving days and occasions are numbered. Life is not a dress rehearsal.

Importantly, we do not want to lose the joy we get on Thanksgiving by limiting our gratitude to that one day. When we find our attention starting to dwell on ourselves instead of others and on negativity instead of what is good in our lives, we can let the joy return by looking at all that we have and what others have done for us.

This year, before the prayer, we will go around the table, and each person will say why we are thankful. Personally, I'm thankful for my faith, my family, my health, and our work. If you really search your heart, what are you thankful for? Can we all let Thanksgiving be an everyday component of our lives?

Ever learn from your kid?

Saturday, October 04, 2014

A few years ago my youngest child, Mills, did something I'll never forget.  We were in Charleston for his high school lacrosse tournament. His school, Christ Church Episcopal School, had several games scheduled over that weekend. For those who are unfamiliar with Christ Church, the school is exceptional—the type of school we all would have loved to attend because of the wealth of opportunities it provides for its students.

Mills had played almost all sports from the time he was about five years on. His athletic gifts had always been there, but under the surface. As it turned out, he had a reservoir of talent he could use when he wanted or needed it. In one of the lacrosse games in Charleston, Mills suddenly took control of the game. Scoring a goal is a big deal in lacrosse.  Typically, just as with soccer, not many goals are scored. That day, however, Mills scored three goals within just a few minutes. I was filming him and couldn't believe what I was seeing through the camera. In my mind, I can still see him flying around and by the other players. Folks were shocked and cheering. Other fans were asking me how and why Mills simply exploded into a one-man scoring machine. His old man was stunned.

After the game, I asked Mills what had prompted the supernatural outburst. Mills never brags about anything. In fact, when he does something good, he doesn’t tell us; we have to find out ourselves. Therefore, I expected a "no big deal" answer. The answer I got was not anticipated. Mills said, "The guy covering me on the other team said that all of the kids at Christ Church were weak and spoiled, and I just gave him a look at who we really are." Since that lacrosse game several years ago, Mills has shown time and again that he can turn on his abilities. He is now a sophomore at Clemson, and I am really proud of his many natural gifts, and I'm excited about his future. When he wants something to happen, he makes it happen.

This morning, I was thinking about our progress and future at Serrus. We are on the verge of succeeding to another level. My partner, Steve, and I were talking with the company about keeping our eyes lifted to the horizon and how we all have to make plays to get there. Maybe we all need to take a lesson from a kid in a lacrosse game and show the other team "who we really are."

The Fourth of July: Not Just a Holiday

Thursday, July 03, 2014

The Fourth of July is a day on which most of us feel a sense of solidarity in being Americans, but all too often, we only think of the holiday aspect of the day instead of considering its meaning. In fact, for the last few days, my mind has drifted to holidays and vacation, and earlier today I even thought about how I deserved a vacation. Feeling justified in taking time off from the daily demands of life, I made a call to our Serrus project in Asheville to see if they had a condo open. (They are booked 100% for the Fourth.)

About an hour ago, however, I received a newsletter from a real estate legend, Terry Weaver, which began to change my perspective. He wrote about the impact of being on the beach in Normandy, where our fathers and grandfathers fought for and protected freedom in World War II. I’ve visited Normandy, and it was one of the most moving days of my life. His words made me realize that the Fourth of July is not about holidays, but about freedom.

Then, this afternoon someone sent me these pictures that I’m giving you. They make me realize how thankful I am to be an American, and they put my own life in perspective. You see, like you, I am an American. I have the freedom to build, dream, create, work, and profit in these United States. As Americans, we can all sleep at night. We can go to any church we want and sleep in if we are inclined. We can write an opinion or protest one. I believe freedom is such a profound and pervasive part of our lives that we take it for granted . . . until it’s threatened. Do you remember how you felt on September 11, 2001? I do.

Please take a few minutes and look at these pictures and the folks who put their lives on the line to protect each of us. After seeing this, I realized I ought to be a little more thankful for my work and freedom to help build this company and a little less concerned about my holidays.

God, please continue to bless the United States of America. And thank you to all the people on this day—the Fourth of July—who have been willing to sacrifice all to protect and defend us. It’s not just a holiday for those Americans. It’s about freedom.

  WHEN A SOLDIER COMES HOME (Read to the Very End!) 1 When a soldier comes home, he finds it hard......to listen to his son whine about being bored.

2 ....to keep a straight face when people complain about potholes.
3 To be tolerant of people who complain about the hassle of getting ready for work.
4 ...to be understanding when a co-worker complains about a bad night's sleep.
5 ..to be silent when people pray to God for a new car.
6 ....to control his panic when his wife tells him he needs to drive slower.
7 ...to be compassionate when a businessman expresses a fear of flying.
8 ....to keep from laughing when anxious parents say they're afraid to send their kids off to summer camp.
9 ....to keep from ridiculing someone who complains about hot weather.
10 ....to control his frustration when a colleague gripes about his coffee being cold.
11 ....to remain calm when his daughter complains about having to walk the dog.
12 ....to be civil to people who complain about their jobs.
13 ....to just walk away when someone says they only get two weeks of vacation a year.
14 ...to be forgiving when someone says how hard it is to have a new baby in the house.
15 The only thing harder than being a Soldier... is loving one.

A Page in History

Friday, May 16, 2014

I felt like I was in a historical movie last night.

On the stage was Congressman Trey Gowdy, in front of a crowd of 200+ people. The congressman had flown from Washington specifically to introduce a friend of ours, Thom Shea. Thom is a Silver and Bronze Star Navy SEAL who was launching his soon-to-be best seller, Unbreakable: A Navy SEAL’s Way of Life. At the urging of his wife Stacy, Thom wrote the book while in combat in Afghanistan. The lessons in the book were to be a record for their kids if Thom were to die fighting for our country. Having survived, Thom was asked to share his story with the public, and we are lucky that he agreed. The book will knock your socks off.

I am still awestruck when I think about what happened last night as Congressman Gowdy entered the hall. It was like an electrical charge hit the room, as the crowd leapt to their feet and gave our congressman a standing ovation. Congressman Gowdy, who was clearly moved and touched by the welcome, took the stage and delivered a heartfelt and powerful introduction. His words were a form of commitment to this brave warrior that the congressman was going to do his best to get to the truth about Benghazi, and it was a big deal.

Following the introduction, as Thom came to the stage, many of us knew we were seeing something special. Here was a decorated Navy SEAL looking at a crowd standing and applauding. As the crowd slowly quieted down, Thom walked to the front of the podium and began to talk directly to Congressman Gowdy about the importance of his mission in leading the Benghazi commission. You see, SEALs never leave anyone behind, and when someone on their team is in trouble, they run toward the gunfire and fight. They never quit. They are truly unbreakable. Thom's eyes spoke volumes as he urged the congressman to fight for the truth.

Thom then delivered a direct and spellbinding account of his life and covered some key highlights from the book. Folks were transfixed as he spoke, and they will be even more moved when they read his book. For me, some moments in the book make me want to cry, and others are simply unimaginable. Thom fought past spots where he literally thought he had been killed. Instead, he vanquished the enemy and continued to fight for all his brothers in battle. Significantly, he brought his entire team home alive.

Maybe I'll see an American warrior honored again, and I'm sure I'll hear another congressman speak. But I don't think I'll ever see an American hero like Thom Shea and a congressman like Trey Gowdy communicate together like that in front of a crowd.

It felt like history. Buy the book. --> http://amzn.com/1940262372

Greenville Navy Seal Thom Shea Rocks Crowd

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Book Launch - Tuesday May 13rd

Tuesday night, our Successful Entrepreneurship program celebrated its first full year. Approximately 150 people have been a part of two great semesters, with 15 sessions each. The celebration was special. This year folks like Governor Haley, Joe Erwin, Bob Hughes, Edwin McCain, Randy Dobbs and a long list of superstars lit up our classes. We are so thankful for the success of this program and will be continuing again in the fall.

The powerful talk that absolutely mesmerized me and a crowd this Tuesday night was given by Thom Shea, recently retired Navy SEAL. He had a 23-year military career, resulting in over 50 medals including the Silver Star. What do “Captain Phillips,” “Lone Survivor,” and the Bin Laden raid have in common? Thom Shea. Thom personally trained the Navy SEALs who participated in those ops.

And . . . he has now retired (January 2014) and moved his family to Greenville!!

Thom has a new book coming out next month, and the official book launch event will be at the Poinsett Club on Tuesday, May 13th at 5:30 pm. The book was originally meant to be a guideline for life for his children in case he didn’t survive combat. He wanted to have a way to talk to and teach his kids if he were killed in action. It is a moving, compelling, and hugely insightful book.

Ken Blanchard has endorsed the book. Furthermore, the Navy—which has to approve any book written by/for a SEAL—told Thom his was the best SEAL book they had ever read.

Thom also does leadership and performance training for companies, teams, and individuals. He is a true American hero, and we are looking forward to attending this event. Join us and read the book!

CLICK THIS LINK to order tickets to hear and meet this incredible family.

Leighton Cubbage Named Chairman of SC Venture Capital Authority

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Via Upstate Business Journal

April 10, 2014

Serrus Capital cofounder Leighton Cubbage was appointed head of the state Venture Capital Authority (VCA) to serve a term through July 1, 2017.

The VCA was established in 2005 as an agency within the Department of Commerce to identify and select qualified professional investors who will invest in South Carolina companies. The authority is a seven-member board selected by the governor and state lawmakers.

Cubbage has several years of experience in the venture capital field. He has served on boards in the automotive, banking and healthcare industries.

He said he supports the Haley administration’s heavy emphasis on business climate and recruitment and that he and Gov. Haley agree that government probably should not be in the venture capital business, but the VCA must be managed to ensure the best outcome for the state.

“Making an environment where it’s good for entrepreneurs is important. It’s a path that many people can’t walk working in both government and business and doing it the right way,” Cubbage said. “So I’m willing to lend my name to the effort.”

***This article was originally published on Upstate Business Journal's Website, CLICK HERE to read original article.

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