Entertainment Company Founder/CEO, Samuel L. Thompson III, Talks Starting Over After The Pandemic!
Tell us about who you are and a little bit about your background? I'm Samuel L. Thompson III, a family and community man. I was born in San Francisco, CA., and grew up on both sides of the Bay Bridge. My mother, Queen E. Thompson, moved my brother and me to Hayward, CA. In 1981. Hayward was a very diverse little city with many opportunities. I attended all of my schoolings in Hayward, CA. I was able to join the Boy Scouts, Coach Tee-ball, and elementary school basketball. These were just a few examples of the affluent community of Hayward and the people that allowed me the chance to experience something outside of my talents or comfort zones. I've always had people approaching me with new opportunities.
My first job was at Roundtable Pizza on Tennyson Blvd, where every Friday night after the football games, I would hear in the restaurant lobby, "Sam Hook it up"!! My favorite job coming out of high school was working at Lucky's grocery store at Southland Mall. Being part of the community and helping people would pave the way for growing my customer service experience and the comfort of being in front of people daily. My former Store Managers, Jack Bassett, Greg Jordan, and Rich Henderson, were instrumental in growing my confidence in the workplace. I joined Marriott International in 1998, which would open my eyes to the world of hospitality. Shout out to Christa Ricketts, Eric Giacomelli, Lisa Definney, Kathy Daw, and Micheal Difrancesco for every opportunity over my 17-year career! There are too many people to name, but these individuals truly changed the course of my life and journey into adulthood and gave me the corporate foundation I stand on today.
Growing up in a single-parent household, I would commute from San Francisco to the East Bay from my grandparents' house. My mother worked for Pacific Bell, commuting to South San Francisco daily to provide for my brother and me. My mom set the bar in teaching me what hard work consisted of and what it meant to sacrifice for your family. She worked six to seven days a week, and when she wasn't working, she played tag with my friends and me right in the front yard! Even though my mother was very busy, she still made an effort to make time for her children no matter the time of day. She was and is a true queen! When she wasn't working, we would attend Palma Ceia Baptist Church in Hayward most Sundays. When I would spend weekends with my father, Samuel L. Thompson Jr, my brother and I would attend church services at Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland, CA. Having a church foundation would serve me well later in life as I grew to understand Christ and his calling on my life to serve the community and in his kingdom.
Tell us about your business. What services do you offer? I'm a life Insurance Agent for New York Life Insurance Company. I offer life coaching and life protection services. I teach financial literacy through our financial service solutions. I'm still learning and growing in this new arena, and it's been both humbling and amazing. When I speak with families, I teach them about different life insurance options based on their lifestyles. My clients are blown away because of how much they weren't aware of the options available to them! I've enjoyed showing them the value of these intimate conversations. I'm grateful for the families that have trusted me with making these difficult decisions.
When did you decide to start your own business, and why? I decided in October of 2015 to leave my Marriott career and launch my own business in the event management world. I started my full-service event company, Sync Meeting Management, with a few distinguished gentlemen and grew the industry over the past seven years. I started my own business to be more creative and have more time with my immediate family. I've always been a relationship kind of guy, and I wanted to bring my expertise with my passion for people to a demographic that didn't know what events entail and how to run a successful conference. In 2020 once the pandemic hit, I picked up a new passion for serving the community and began a career with New York Life.
What would you say is the secret to a successful business? My key to success is "Don't quit." It would help if you believed in what you are doing daily so that you are not discouraged when it's not going as planned. You should be passionate about your business and believe before seeing.
Have you ever felt like you wanted to give up? Sure! When entering new arenas, I often feel frustrated with my lack of growth. When I decided to leave Marriott Intl, my Pastor Rodney S. Croom approached me to be Deacon at First Baptist Church of Palm Springs, CA. He said, "Bro. Samuel, this is an opportunity for growth." I was ordained as a Deacon on November 15, 2016. This was right around the time when one of my business partners decided to
leave the business after our first year of working together. This tested my faith, and I started questioning if we had what it took to succeed.
We live in an instant gratification society, and when it comes to my journey, I've sometimes become impatient with my expectations to achieve certain levels of success faster than it has come. I'm now learning to enjoy the journey and be content while growing. We should be mindful that our audience is also learning and growing at their own
pace. Iron sharpens Iron: Proverbs 27: 17
What was the biggest challenge that you have experienced owning your own business?
One of the most significant challenges I have experienced owning my own business has been who I expected or thought I knew who would be there to support me. People may love you with all their hearts; however, that doesn't always translate to the support of your business. Most of my success has come from the most minor expected groups of people. My new ventures have been a grateful and humbling experience. Most importantly, I concentrated on keeping my immediate family close while growing my business. The business may grow and go, but without your loved ones beside you, you won't have anyone to celebrate with if all you do is focus on the business. The pandemic reminded me not to work myself back into a position of not being present with my first ministry, and that's my family.
Have you ever experienced negativity from those closest to you? Family or friends? Yes! My mother told me to stay with my career with Marriott Intl. Versus venturing out. Her advice to me wasn't harmful because it was more generational feedback. My parent's generation historically got a job and worked at a company for 30-plus years until retirement. I've always wanted to build a business and see where it would take me. I'm glad that I did. I am not the same.
How would you encourage those who are experiencing negativity to power through?
Have some faith, as you're going to need it. You can always go back to your comfort zone, but life is meant to move forward, and in moving forward, you will learn new things about yourself. Sometimes it's challenging to get out of your head and self-doubt but try to tune out the negative thoughts. Prepare for the days when ideas don't come to mind right away. Be mindful that all of your results won't be a reflection of your hard work at times. The seeds that are being planted won't grow instantly; it takes time to see results. In addition to having some faith, you will need to form a three-year business plan. Not everything will work out the way you expect it to, but be comfortable with growth in various forms. "Growth is growth." When I was doubtful, I was reminded that the LORD has a plan for me to prosper. He wanted me to experience what's in store for me beyond what I see. The LORD has not forsaken me every time I have trusted him more. My faith grew when I resigned from my corporate job and stopped relying on a steady paycheck. I'm not rich financially yet, but I'm rich with contentment.
What are your future goals regarding your business? My future goals for my insurance career are to hold community workshops and teach about legacy protection, as well as legacy building. I want to reach my people and families in general, so we can do away with fundraising to bury our loved ones. Life Insurance is too affordable! When we educate people properly, we're equipping them with the proper tools to put an end to families suffering through financial tribulations.
What advice would you give new business owners? Know you're why. This is important to remind yourself daily why you do what you do. This will help you stay motivated when you have setbacks or major hurdles within the growth of your business. Be careful of time wasters. Every business owner will go through this process, unfortunately. Just beware of those who sound like a customer and those who act like a customer. There is a difference.
Are there any success quotes you've adapted that you now live by that you want to share to encourage others? "You can fail at what you don't want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love." – Jim Carey "God didn't put me here to miss every shot I take, so I might as well keep shooting." – Samuel L. Thompson III
All photos are courtesy of Samuel Thompson
Samuel L. Thompson III
President - Sync Meeting Management
Life Insurance Agent - New York Life
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