This is an interview with Michael Staton, CEO of Lyon Shield Security.
Where were you at 22, and how did you get to where you are today?
At the age of 22, I was just an undergrad student at Elizabeth City State University. I was in my third year of my bachelor degree course in Chemistry with a concentration in Pre-Med. During those times, I was either busy in my studies or trying to find a way to start a business. Being a student didn’t bring too much income in. Over the years, I begin working as a nurse at varies hospital locations throughout NC, but I still had that ambition of starting something for myself in the back of my mind. That push only grew stronger as I got older. With a leap of faith, along with my ambition and work ethic, I decide to start the business I have today.
When did you really decide to “take ownership” of your career? What inspired you to pursue your passion?
The biggest reason is for my family. When I was growing up, my parents pushed me to do my best but to always love what you were doing. My parents grew up in a time where minority ownership of a business wasn’t very typical and I thinks it’s very important to expose that experience for my kids. When times get hard, I think about my children and the exposure and experiences I want them to have. I am also constantly motivated by ambition and refusal to quit. When I face challenges in my business, like losing a client or working with employees who are unreliable, I see it as a way for me to figure out how to move beyond the obstacle. I meet challenges heads-on, it keeps me on my toes and ends up strengthening my business in the long run.
All good career stories include some aspect of “risk.” Was there a moment in your career where you felt that you were risking something, but looking back on it now, that move made all the difference?
Being a fairly new business owner, everything to me is perceived as a risk. As I learn more, this perception of risk becomes more relative. The move to abandon my steady paycheck while sacrificing my personal capital was a risky plunge.
Where do you find significance in your work? What gives you the most satisfaction?
Being able to pass down my business to my family and giving them the opportunity to have financial freedom. Being able to give back to my community directly through our business services or by helping to fund local charitable organizations.
How do you measure success in your role? How do you know you’re succeeding?
I define success in many different ways. At work, it’s meeting goals that we have set for our company. It is also my continual learning of my business growth and entrepreneurship. Success for me is being able to make a difference in other people’s lives. To know that at the end of the day my work has helped someone obtain a career with our company or being able to feed their family or turn their life around, is the definition of success.
If you could offer your 22-year old self one piece of advice, what would you say?
It is important to find mentors, people to learn from who have been through it. Be humble and take what you can from them, even if they’re not in your career field. Learn from people because there’s no substitute for experience. And lastly, to cling closely to God. You don’t have all the answers and it’s okay to leave things that you don’t understand in God’s hands.