Nearly a year ago, during DC Week 2010, I had a brief encounter with Anthony Braddy at a seminar called Black Tech Blazers. We were both in attendance and he made a comment I can’t recall now but at the time it struck a chord with me. I felt I needed to learn more about him and Capital Management Consulting, LLC (CMC, LLC) the management and IT consulting firm of which he is CEO.
Fast forward to May 2011 – I’ve seen Braddy at a couple of events and spouting his special brand of wisdom on Twitter, but I had yet to have the opportunity to have a real “let’s sit down and let me pick your brain” conversation with him. Well, after several cancellations, I finally had the opportunity to find out a little bit more about what makes this tech entrepreneur tick. Believe me when I tell you, his thought process is one of a kind; and I haven’t even scratched the surface.
“It was all a dream…” – Notorious B.I.G.
Braddy hails from a small, rural town in North Carolina. At not quite 40 years of age, he recalls growing up without running water. Yeah; it was THAT rural. At a young age, Braddy was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug as he watched his father run his own business. He appreciated the flexibility that being a business owner allowed his father and recalls that he was “always there.” This, along with the later realization that he isn’t cut out to work for other people, set Braddy on the path to being the successful business owner that he is today.
“You can’t lead the people if you don’t love the people. You can’t save the people if you don’t serve the people.” – Cornel West
Braddy’s road to renowned and award-winning tech entrepreneur was an unconventional one. Though as a child he was given the opportunity to attend several math and science camps – and excelled in them – he attended the University of North Carolina (UNC) as an African-American Studies major with aspirations of becoming a Cornel West-inspired professor. He states that attending UNC gave him the perspective that he could do great things, due to it’s well-known alumni roster. He never felt that he could not accomplish something because he was black, hailed from a rural town, was male, or any other labels. Braddy considers this outlook on life to be his greatest takeaway from UNC.
So how, you may ask, did he end up in the tech/IT field? It just so happened that a friend knew of a company that needed smart people, well versed in logic, to take their systems from being client based to being web based. Well, he was smart, and most certainly logical, so he interviewed and was hired. The rest, as they say, is history. Braddy has now been in the tech arena for almost 15 years.
“I place a high premium on being rational.” - Anthony Braddy
Part of the beauty of being an entrepreneur is that you report to yourself. Of course you may have clients and deliverables, but at the end of the day, you run the show at your company. This has fared well for Braddy for two main reasons: 1) He doesn’t really like working for people and 2) He needs to respect the intelligence of his supervisor. Well, when YOU are your supervisor, what’s not to respect? He also has a non-typical hiring theory; regarding intellect and ability over resume’ and accolades (or lack thereof.) Having been an HR professional for over 10 years, I can tell you that that is unusual; especially in the DC area. One of the header images on the CMC, LLC website says “A strong brand begins with a strong team.” This should give you an idea of the value that Braddy places on being surrounded by the right people.
“DC is different.” - Anthony Braddy
Braddy and I had more of a free flowing conversation than a traditional interview; however, I did have a few questions that I definitely wanted him to answer; especially pertaining to his views of the strengths and weaknesses of the DC area tech/social media scene.
TR: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
AB: I’ve had to learn that I need to take every call and talk to everyone. As an introvert, this does not come naturally to me; but as a business owner, it’s necessary.
TR: How would you describe the local tech/social media scene?
AB: As a bunch of the same people kissing each others’ asses and young people who are not realizing that this is the case. DC has a younger brother complex. It’s not New York City and it’s not Silicon Valley, so it doesn’t quite know where it fits. There is a lot of talent here; but we need to stop comparing DC to other areas and be comfortable with being DC. If this is achieved, tech can be pushed to the top, over marketing.
TR: What other changes would you like to see?
AB: You can’t paint society with one brush. I’d like to see different cultural graphs come together to establish their own hierarchies. Different groups need to be having conversations amongst themselves to address their tech/social media needs, challenges, etc. and then come together as a larger group to discuss. The cultural gap is being closed on consuming tech, but not on producing it and this is due to economic discrepancies in funding, etc.
Braddy went on to question why the black tech/social media professionals that he sees being vocal on Twitter don’t form their own group offline. Before you ask “why doesn’t he start a group?,” I already asked him. He sees himself as more of an idea person. The man behind the plan, as it were. He won’t start the group; but he’ll join and promote it.
I asked Braddy how he thinks social media tools should be used. Though he didn’t become a professor, he still has a teaching spirit – “To change a couple of people’s perspectives on what they can accomplish or on life in general.” When asked how he uses Twitter and Facebook, he responded “I use Twitter to share enough thoughts that people want to come back for more. I want to build connections. Facebook? I don’t use Facebook.” Ha!
“…Portrait of the artist as a young man…” - Talib Kweli
The five words Braddy used to describe himself were: Relentless, Teacher, Genuine, Passionate and Hungry. I would add to that list Insightful and Visionary and change “Genuine” to Super Genuine. Braddy calls himself a “Reality Promoter.” Agreed.
I couldn’t even begin to include everything that Braddy and I discussed (we did a lot of talking for two introverts,) but I hope I’ve given you enough to pique your curiosity about one of the DC tech/social media scene’s leaders of color*. Please do yourself a favor and follow Anthony Braddy on Twitter at aeb_it for more of his sharp intellect, humor and wit – not to mention a nice playlist from the self described “hip hop aficionado.”
*Initially this was slated to be a one off interview, but as my conversation with Braddy continued, I realized that this would be a great opportunity to do an interview series with local tech/social media leaders, especially those of color. This series will be called ‘DC Social Hues.’