In his conversation on stage at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute’s Social Entrepreneur Bootcamp on July 17, successful businessman Steve Clark explained what launched his entrepreneurial career.
As a young 20-something traveling salesman talking to his mentors on a business trip, Clark took a step back. What he saw were guys, although very talented, who were burned out and estranged from their families. Clark decided that would be him in 15 years if he didn’t change something.
The next day Clark decided to quit the job he had with his father-in-law’s business and started his own logistics firm. Through his journey with Fort Smith-based Propak Logistics, Clark learned “how to stay alive.”
“Entrepreneurship,” Clark said, “is like living in the jungle. You learn how to adapt to the resources you have.”
And with that, the founder of Propak, co-founder of Rockfish Digital and Noble Impact caught the entrepreneurial bug and has never looked back.
Propak has grown to be one of the largest logistics companies in the country. Clark credited the success with high quality and consistency. He said the company always strived to “convey a consistent and succinct message and deliver on that message.”
Clark explained that his core message for entrepreneurs came out of his own experience with his children, particularly his middle child. His middle son was struggling with the purpose of school, but he had a passion for skateboarding. Clark and his son identified a need for an indoor skateboard park in their hometown of Fort Smith and the two of them launched the largest indoor skatepark in the state.
While running the skatepark, his son began to see the purpose of the things he was learning in school. The message to his kids, and to entrepreneurs, is “see a problem, fix a problem, and you don’t need permission to affect change.”
Clark said that his definition of success is the “freedom and liberty to do what I want with whom I want.” He asks every entrepreneur who meets with him what is success for them. If they don’t have a definition, he tells them to learn what that is for them and then call him again.
The keynote address was a Q&A format conducted with TB&P’s Roby Brock. The event was a part of the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute’s Social Entrepreneur Bootcamp and was open the public.
Following are other points Clark made during his address.
• “If your company delivers quality, you will attract crazy high quality people.”
• “Entrepreneurship is like living in the jungle. You learn to adapt to the resources you have.”
• “You can’t be jealous of other entrepreneurs or employees who become entrepreneurs.”
• “See a problem, fix a problem. You don’t need permission to affect change.”
• “Your plan needs to be sustainable. Apply principles of entrepreneurship to make it sustainable and then affect social change for the good of society.”
• “Social Entrepreneurship is like modern-day philanthropy.”