July 16, 2018

Failure is Not a Representation of Who You Are, Says Commit Good CEO

Ashley Fletcher Frampton  /  Charleston Digital News
Commit Good CEO, Clay BraswellCommit Good CEO, Clay Braswell
Commit Good CEO, Clay BraswellCommit Good CEO, Clay Braswell
Commit Good CEO, Clay BraswellCommit Good CEO, Clay Braswell
Commit Good CEO, Clay BraswellCommit Good CEO, Clay Braswell

The Charleston Digital Corridor's Leadership Profile Series is focused on the individuals who are driving the Charleston tech scene forward. This series is brought to you with support from Charleston Southern University.

Clay Braswell is founder and CEO of Commit Good, a company based in downtown Charleston that is combining cryptocurrency with charitable giving. Braswell started Commit Good in 2012, and the company now has 10 full-time employees.  

In your own words, what does your company do?

We connect charities with resources – monetary, in-kind and volunteers – utilizing the blockchain and a digital currency called the GOOD token.

What inspired you to start this company?

My mother passed away from cancer and I realized life is really short and that we fool ourselves by thinking tomorrow will be like today. I wanted to build a global platform that would produce life-changing results for people in poverty.

Where did you grow up? What was life like?

I have lived in a lot of different places, but Alabama will always be home. I was raised in a traditional values environment: have faith, love your family and friends, help your neighbor and, most importantly, win sporting contests.

How did you come to be in Charleston?

I had a couple of software projects underway in Charleston, so I was traveling here multiple times a week and thought, "Why am I not living in Charleston?" It is an awesome city, and I can't think of a place anywhere in the world I would rather live than here.

What was your first job, or most memorable early job? What did you learn from it?

My first job was in high school and I was a Little League Baseball umpire. I learned parents and competitive sports can escalate quickly, so you need great conflict-resolution skills.

What is your management style? Why is that your approach?

Hands-on. I hate the term "vision casting." I think leaders should be willing to take the arrows and be the last one off the battlefield.

What lessons have you learned from good bosses? Bad bosses?

I think good bosses love what they do and bring a sense of excitement and humility, which make the tough situations easier to navigate. Bad bosses are always trying to overcompensate and make the workplace miserable.

What's the hardest or most important lesson you've learned in business?

You are going to have failures. Failure is not a representation of who you are as a person. Dust yourself off and keep moving.

What's the biggest misconception about being an entrepreneur?

That it's great being the final decisionmaker or calling the shots. Entrepreneurs make a lot of daily decisions. Trying to see all of the angles and blind spots is an exhausting process.

Do you have a morning routine?

Arrive at the gym by 7 a.m. It's my Zen time. I pack my gym bag before bed so once the alarm goes off, I'm out the door in 10 minutes.

What obstacles have you faced building your business? How have you overcome them?

Like most entrepreneurs, I can't think of an obstacle that I haven't faced. You have to stay open and flexible because, a lot of times, obstacles really create the pivot needed to find success.

What do you look for in the people you hire?

Does this person have to be trained, or are they ready? We look for someone that contributes from day one.

What is your biggest pet peeve in business or among colleagues?

Long business conversations. Tell me exactly what you want or need from the beginning.

What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs?

It's not an "I'll try it" type of scenario. If you are not willing to go all in, it's not going to work.

What advice would you give new graduates seeking to work in the tech industry?

Along with your current skillset, focus on project-management experience. On time and on budget is a sweet melody.

What do you see as the future of your company?

A global blockchain software platform that creates a charitable economy.

How do you prevent burnout?

Keep the main thing, the main thing. Burnout creeps in from wasting time on things you should have avoided. At all costs, cut negative people out of your business and personal circle.

What one person has been the biggest influence on your business life?

My first business partner was a retired executive that wanted to start a new company. He was 62 and I was 22. I learned a wealth of knowledge from his years of experience, understanding what the puzzle pieces are and how to put them together.

Are you a Mac or a PC? iPhone or Android?

PC. iPhone.

What's a book you always recommend?

The Bible. Take away all of the preconceptions and read it for yourself.

"Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill.

What is your usual Starbucks order?

Venti coffee – half decaf, cream.

Do you see any challenges recruiting tech talent to Charleston?

Building a blockchain company is more challenging because the number of people in the world that have a smart contract coding skillset is very limited. I would say Charleston has less than 10 people that have deployed a smart contract on a public network. But we have an advantage because of the nature of what we are building and haven't really faced any problems.