Company: CMC Technology Solutions, and SLT Technology Inc.
Family: Wife, Brittany, two daughters (Bryce and Baylor Mills), and one son (Aiden Mills)
Hometown: New Orleans, Louisiana
Education: Bachelor of Science degrees in computer science and business
In the news:
Mills Jr. was awarded the National Small Business Association’s 2019 Lewis Shattuck Small Business Advocate of the Year award on June 10. Along with operating two businesses, Mills is board chairman of the Research Park Corporation. The award annually honors small business owners who go above and beyond to advocate for policies to improve America’s small business community.
What was your very first job, how old were you and what was the biggest takeaway from the experience?
The first job I held was at 16 years old. I worked in the food and beverage department at the Audubon Zoo. The biggest takeaway was being responsible: making sure that I got to work on time and took care of the responsibilities I was given. I also had to learn to save my money—my first financial class.
What time do you typically get up on a workday, and what’s your ideal morning routine to get it off to a great start?
I usually get up around 6:30 a.m. Typically, I go in my office at home and read my Bible, then I turn on CBS “This Morning,” and check my calendar and emails. Some mornings, depending on my schedule, I’ll go and do my 3- to 4-mile walk.
In addition to serving as CEO of both CMC Technology Solutions and SLT Technology Inc., you’re also board chair of the Research Park Corporation Board. How do you manage to serve in so many demanding roles?
That’s a good question! Honestly, I love what I do so I just make it work.
In your book, “No Secrets to Elevation: An Entrepreneur’s Story of Persistence,” you say: “Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful. Never fear failing at something because there’s something you have to learn.” What are some of the greatest challenges and failures you’ve had in business and life, and what are the greatest lessons you’ve learned from them?
The greatest challenge I’ve faced has been been building and growing my companies without the help of banks. I’ve been told “no” so many that times that I’e learned to become my own bank and just take it one customer at a time. The greatest failure I’ve had was being at the top of my industry and not preparing for down times, only to lose everything during the great recession and moving into my office and sleeping on an air mattress for over a year and a half. The greatest lesson has been to never give up and believe in myself. Realizing that I was the only obstacle in the way of my success—and never losing faith in God!
Your book also details growing up poor and being bullied and in a crime-filled neighborhood. How were you able to overcome those obstacles, and what is your message for aspiring youths who face similar challenges?
I have a strong mother. She is and has always been my biggest inspiration. My mom taught me to never give up. I watched her never accept “no” for an answer. Even when we didn’t have money she never allowed that to stop us. I gained the nickname “little poor rich boy” because my mom introduces me to different things that were free but full of culture. (the symphony, free violin classes, free golf classes, etc.). I would tell aspiring youth today to never accept your current conditions as your permanent conditions. Strive to be great and prepare yourself be successful.
What would you say separates successful entrepreneurs who bring their visions to fruition and those who don’t?
Passion, commitment, preparation and focus.
As a husband and father, what is your strategy for maintaining a healthy work-life balance?
I make time for what matters most: My family.
What’s a leadership skill you’ve learned the hard way?
What’s something about your job or companies that might surprise people?
Nothing really my job is always exciting!
What are some of your hobbies or favorite things to do in your free time?
I love to travel, golf and sleep!
You’re taking me out to a business lunch in Baton Rouge. Where are you most likely to take me and what do you recommend I order?
Capitol City Grill. I recommend catfish Acadiana and bread pudding for dessert.
What’s one of the smartest purchases you’ve ever made? What’s one of the dumbest?
The smartest: Stock. The dumbest: Penny stocks.
What kind of vehicle do you drive and what do you think it says about your personality?
I drive a GMC Yukon. It says that I have a big personality—but a serious one.
What’s one of the luckiest things that has ever happened to you?
Meeting and getting the opportunity to speak with President Barack Obama, and going to the White House!
What is something you are absolutely determined to do in life?
Be the best role model to my kids, the best husband to my wife, and to inspire others.