Questions and Answers with Darrell Freeman, successful entrepreneur who realized The American Dream

By Rosanne G. Dunkelberger

Nashville businessman Darrell Freeman flew himself to Tallahassee to share the story of how he grew a $2,000 investment over 25 years into Zycron, a $40 million-a-year IT staffing company that was sold last year for $20 million.

Freeman’s presentation was part of TCC Spark, an initiative focused on “fueling passionate entrepreneurs with the skills and connections needed to ignite an idea and grow a successful business.” First Commerce Credit Union is a founding partner and major underwriter of TCC Spark as part of our quest to support our area’s business leaders and entrepreneurs.

A group of local business leaders, aspiring entrepreneurs, and college students were, in turn, entertained, enlightened and inspired during Freeman’s straight-talking presentation, “The American Dream in 60 Minutes.” Click here for more information about his presentation.

During the question-and-answer period, the multimillionaire further discussed how desire and hard work can overcome what may seem as disadvantages including economic background, education, and more.

Be Hungry

“When you’re poor growing up, you’re hungry. You can’t teach hungry unless you experience it,” he said. “I didn’t want to live in a two-bedroom duplex.” He developed the skill of “reading” people. He told of moving along a stalled deal by zeroing in on one person across the table who he felt was on board with him. “I read their hearts, read their minds … to figure out who I can establish some chemistry with,” he said.

Overcome Discrimination by Focusing on Excellence

Freeman also offered up a message for the audience about the roadblocks he faced as a black man from a poor background and uneducated parents that also resonates for women, young people and others hoping to get a business off the ground.

“Have I experienced discrimination? Heck, yes. But I told you that’s just another obstacle. I knew I was black when I started it,” he said, getting his biggest laugh of the morning. “I didn’t focus on discrimination. I focused on excellence. People discriminate (because) they don’t know you. If I was the best, I could change their minds.”

Still, he’s invested in supporting minority entrepreneurs. Success, Freeman said, has allowed him to mentor other businesses and support the United Way, Nashville’s Chamber of Commerce and 100 Black Men of Middle Tennessee. He’s also involved with a program to encourage African-Americans to learn how to become pilots.

Embrace Your Fears

While he radiated self-confidence in his presentation, Freeman admitted to having fears — but he encouraged the group to embrace their own.

“Fear is good. Fear will get your butt out of bed,” he said. “I’m scared. I let that motivate me, not paralyze me. Failure is good. I’m standing on top of my failures, my failures are not standing on top of me.”

For more First Commerce business blogs and information about TCC Spark and other area entrepreneurial initiatives, click here to go to our Business Blog. 

ABOUT FIRST COMMERCE CREDIT UNION

First Commerce Credit Union has proudly supported the communities we serve for 75 years. Headquartered in Tallahassee, First Commerce is a full-service financial institution currently serving more than 50,000 business and members in Northwest Florida and Southwest Georgia. First Commerce has 12 financial centers – eight in Tallahassee, one in Marianna, and one in Thomasville and two in Valdosta, Ga. First Commerce was named “Top Credit Union of the Year” for 2014 by the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) North Florida District Office. Business products and services include SBA 7a and 504 loans, commercial vehicle and equipment loans, real estate loans, lines of credit, credit cards, ACH origination, merchant & payroll services, payroll & employee expense reloadable cards, wire transfers, free business checking, interest-bearing business checking, community checking, online & mobile banking, BillPay, remote deposit, real-time text/email account alerts, CDs, IRAs, savings & money market accounts, and more. In addition, First Commerce offers a wide range of financial planning and investment services through our subsidiary, Six Pillars Financial Advisors, and commercial & personal insurance through First Commerce Insurance Agency. For more information, visit FirstCommerceCU.org/Business or call (850) 410-3559 or (850) 488-0035. First Commerce is federally insured by the NCUA and is an equal opportunity lender.