HYPE recently invited James Smith to participate in the Entrepreneur Success Stories. As the President of Universal Connectivity
, James has already accumulated a wealth of experience at a young age. As one of 9 children (as well as 9 step-siblings), James learned at an early age a few skills that have helped him throughout his life. He began observing the actions of his brothers and
sisters as well as the consequences that would befall them. Through this James was able to vicariously learn lessons that helped spur his development. He also developed his outgoing nature due to constantly being in the presence of not only his sibling but their friends who would be often be present at his house.
James attributes his entrepreneurial spirit to his mother, who it was evident provided him with the inspiration he carried throughout his endeavors. She began a career placement service in 1966 that catered only to female customers. Using only $500 in seed capital, James mother started “Exclusively Women” and it grew to be a successful company that many of her children spent time working at, however James was never one of them. While he learned great lessons from his mother like “to go for your goals” and “never take no for an answer”, he was not interested in
working for their family business and instead began a career in telecommunications.
Working his way through a variety of companies including SNET, Sonitrol, and Verizon, James learned the industry from the ground up. Eventually his future father-in-law approached James with a company he had acquired called Universal Connectivity. Knowing that James had a wealth of experience in wireless, his future wife’s father asked for his assistance. He began his work as a consultant, then soon became a partner in the business. James has continued to build Universal Connectivity into the successful company it is today.
When asked if he has had any entrepreneurial failures and what he learned from them, James recounted two stories, although both are a far-cry from being an all out failure. The first is when he launched a company with the mission of providing mathematics education via videos streamed online. The company was called Aeon
, and while it was a good idea that spurred a lot of interest, it may have been a little ahead of its time. Convincing teachers to forgo their traditional lesson plans
proved harder than James had anticipated as many still had little experience with the capabilities of the internet. James still has ownership over the company and may one day attempt to resurrect its possibilities. He also told the group about how he and his wife briefly got involved in horse racing. They teamed up with two other couples to buy pure bred horses, one of which actually went on to be fairly successful. Ironically, this was the discounted horse that was thrown in to sweeten the deal on a stud racing horse.
James was also asked to share some of his networking strategies. He recommended a book called “How to Win Friends and Influence Others
.” This book taught him the importance of some simple strategies like always asking and remembering names. He explained that “the most important word in anybody’s world is their name” and has even put it to experiment by learning the names of everyone who works at his local Subway restaurant. James now finds that the
employees are happy to see him and even give him preferential treatment, all because he took the time to learn their names. James also follows a rule called “the three golden bricks.” He explained that by giving people three compliments, they are much more receptive and even prone to helping you!
We would like to thank James for his time and for sharing a little about his life. If you would like to learn more about Universal Connectivity
, please visit their website.