Mar 10

When we ask companies what sets them apart, almost all of them who don’t have clear positioning say its because they’re nice people.

NEWS FLASH: Being nice isn’t a differentiating attribute. Being nice is expected. Sure, it helps. But is it truly why you are better than 20 of your closest competitors? I doubt it.

If you want to compete by cutting through the clutter and being radically different, you’re going to have to come up with something other than being nice. Make a claim that nobody else can make. THEN, you will find yourself truly differentiated.

Mar 05

PULSE, Greenville, SC’s young professional group, had the opportunity to hear from local favorite, Merl Code. The topic: “A Leadership Action Plan.”

Merl’s main points and pearls of wisdom included (note, not all are verbatim, but paraphrased per my recall):

  • Know what you’re passionate about - and volunteer where you’re passionate.
  • Leader’s help others get what they want.
  • Never judge another-you have no idea their situation, where they’ve come from or why they’re there.
  • If you aren’t going to help anyone, then just stay home.
  • Challenge yourself. “My momma told me, ‘You aren’t competing against everyone else in this county. You’re competing against yourself.’” Do the absolute best that you can do. The competition then doesn’t matter.
  • Challenge yourself, II. Don’t accept the class/station of life you’re put in (i.e. High School AAA). “When you think you’re single A, you play like a single A school. When you don’t know your single A, but you’re playing AAA schools, guess what? You play like a triple AAA school.”
  • Make a difference. If you’re going to make a difference, you have to be in the room. (based on his father becoming a Republican so he would be heard).

If you ever get a chance to hear Merl speak, I highly encourage you to take the opportunity to do so. Not only does he provide great wisdom, but his delivery is outstanding as well.

More on Merl Code, taken from The South Carolina African American History Calendar:

“As a child, Merl F. Code’s parents subscribed to the philosophy, “”You are not competing against others; you are challenging the greatness that is within you.”" Whether in the classroom, boardroom, athletic field, courtroom or in life itself, Judge Code has adhered to his parent’s philosophy. He is currently a Municipal Court Judge, Senior Attorney of the Code Law Firm, and CEO of Precision Tool Manufacturers. His success as an athlete, businessman, scholar and community volunteer is combined with his passion for community service.

Code, the son of Allen Louis Code and Sedalia Blassingame Code, was born on September 8, 1948, in Seneca, South Carolina. His father was a high school principal, semi-pro baseball player and state champion girls basketball coach. His mother was a home economics teacher. His parents served as his role models.

He was educated at Seneca’s Blue Ridge High School. He was a Presidential Scholar and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics, Cum Laude, from North Carolina A&T University in 1970. Mr. Code was captain of the “”Aggie”" football team, while earning all American accolades in 1969. He was an outstanding student and athlete, and went on to play seven years of professional football.

Mr. Code resumed his academic pursuits at the University of South Carolina’s School of Law, earning his Juris Doctorate degree in 1979. He was an Earl Warren Legal Scholar, and became the first African American to serve as president of the Student Bar Association at USC.

Throughout his distinguished career, the Honorable Judge Code has accomplished an impressive list of firsts: the first African American to serve as a Municipal Court Judge in Greenville, South Carolina in 1981; the first recipient of the Young Lawyer of the Year Award, selected by the South Carolina Bar Association in 1984; the first African American to serve as Chairman of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce in 1999, and the first African American to serve as Chairman of the Greenville County United Way Board of Directors in 1994.

Among his many awards and honors are: The Order of the Palmetto, in 1996, South Carolina’s highest civilian award; the Compleat Lawyer Award by the South Carolina Bar Association in 1997; North Carolina A&T University Hall of Fame in 1981; Omega Man of the Year both in 1978 and 1998, and was inducted into the South Carolina Black Hall of Fame in 1999.

This outstanding Jurist, businessman, athlete, and community servant has devoted his life to being involved locally, regionally, and nationally. His service on national and regional boards includes: Furman University Board of Trustees, Palmetto Institute Board of Directors, BCBS of South Carolina Board of Directors, University Center Board of Visitors of Greenville, Clemson University’s Board of Visitors, BB&T Bank, the South Carolina Board of Directors, the Boy Scouts and the United Way.

Judge Code has been a staunch advocate for African American business development and social change.”

Mar 04

This past week, Merge partially funded an entrepreneur in Nicaragua. He is a grocery store business owner who was raising capital in order to buy additional inventory.

The terms of the loan? Interest free, paid back over 24 months. So far this week has raised over $650,000, $25 at a time. As the $25 loans are paid back, most Kiva lenders roll it over and fund another entrepreneur. is taking the American dream and the great American advantage-access to capital-and has created the most efficient “lending” machine in the world. All thanks to the web.

Their moto: “Loans that change lives.” Help out a 3rd country entrepreneur today. Join

Isn’t the web great?