It was my first day of my senior year of high school. I was sitting in class, bored by all of that “here’s what you can expect from this course” talk that seems to suck the life out of that first day. The class that likely has had the largest impact on my life had just started and the teacher, that often had struck me as gruff when passing him in the halls, stood at the front to get us started. He did something I will never forget.

His name is Billy Richardson, and he started his class, Small Business Ownership, by writing his name on the board, and under that, he wrote his cell phone number. I was shocked. That might not seem like a big deal now, but in the late 90’s that was huge! Back then you had a limited number of cell phone minutes to talk on each month. It was also a pretty common thing for students to want to prank call their teachers, or even random numbers for some reason. Giving a class of students your cell phone number was a risk on a number of levels. It was a risk that Mr. Richardson took because he started with trust.

Over the course of that semester, he built more trust by letting us run the school store, sell cookies out of his classroom, and all sorts of other things that I’m sure drove the school administration crazy. He started with trust and continued to extend more and more trust to his students, and in turn, we rose to the challenge.

I think if you start with trust in any relationship it builds a foundation that is much stronger than if you start any other place. Starting with trust allows you to build the relationship faster, better and more completely than starting any other place.

That class and my relationship with Mr. Richardson (whom I now call Billy) changed the direction of my life. It is likely the reason I run a small business today. Thank you Billy!