The immortal Dr. Martin Luther King said it best. “Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.”
Arlington, Texas resident Clarence Campbell is a reflection of that advice. Known as the apple of his grandmother’s eye, he freely admits that he was spoiled. He was not brought up in the manner you’d have thought for someone ending up in prison. He was reared up to be a king! Clarence was always a cut above the rest. This is one of the qualities his grandmother installed in him. On his way to college, Clarence got sidetracked, wanting to move up quickly in the world. His desire to obtain what he wanted expediently would lead him to make wrong decisions and hang with a criminal-minded crowd. A life of destructive outcomes was bound to happen. Clarence would fall into the trap of a cycle of crime, leading him quickly to a prison cell.
Soon, he was caught in this ugly net and found himself back in prison for the second time. However, a life-changing event would cause his cycle of incarceration to be broken. His prison cell would now become his prayer room and THINK tank. It is here, on his first day of his second sentence, that Clarence would hear the worst news ever. His precious Grandmother, who had been his rock of support, had passed away. The deep sorrow he felt from the loss of his grandmother would drive him to pursue a new direction. After a period of praying and thinking, The Shine King began to be conceived.
Clarence’s focus became more fixed than ever. He made the decision to move forward into shoe-shining, even though this was not his trade or what he went to college for. He had always been a fan of sparkling, dazzling shoes! After making his mind up about his new occupation, everything began to fall into place, and soon he would begin to visualize himself as a global entrepreneur. At this time Clarence was flourishing with his new shoe-shining job. It was time for him to go up for parole. Everything was right for him. His new job placed him in the position to service the warden of the prison. Clarence’s shoe-shine stand was right in the front where he was visible to potential customers, alongside the best barber and shoe-shiner in the institution.
World class tips would be given and incorporated, mashing with Clarence’s own skill sets. This was the best time to go up for parole. He was sure the parole board would see him as the success he was! To Clarence’s horror, the parole board denied him. This was absolutely discouraging, making him feel like he had just taken a powerful punch in the stomach. At this point, Clarence felt he needed a boost to remain on the right track. He bent on his knees, asking God to guide him, and it was not too much longer before he received a package. It was a 26-29 page application, which was the key to the door he had been hoping for, the Prison Entrepreneurship Program.
PEP is a pioneering nonprofit that delivers the nation’s best results in terms of recidivism, employment and small business creation among ex-offenders. Clarence was determined to complete every requirement. Three thousand applications were sent out, yet only one hundred spots would be filled. Your test score had to be over 90%. Clarence scored 92% and made it into the program with ninety-eight others. As he developed in the program, he went beyond shining just shoes, to include shining anything leather.
With the spirit of entrepreneurship driving him, he went on to create a business pitch which would be one of the keys to opening many remarkable doors. Clarence went up for parole again, and this time was approved. He was determined to let all his mentors and business coaches know he was serious about his new endeavor. Within a few days of being released, he made his business a professional entity with the State of Texas.
Numerous phenomenal doors opened for Clarence, and many are still opening, including an appearance on the Steve Harvey Show, Life Choice Radio and a visit with Mark Cuban, owner of the Mavericks NBA team. Clarence is a prime example that it’s possible to turn your life around by believing in your faith, working hard, having good mentors that motivate you to do anything you put your mind to. He says he wants to be “The Starbucks of shoe-shining.”
The following is Clarence’s Rules of Success:
- Have God First
- Be Reliable
- Balance God, Family and Business, any of one of these out of order and you will feel a pull.
- Work Extremely Hard
- Save Your Money
- Have a Passion for What You Do
- Always Be Honest
- Have an Accountability Group, Someone that Can Hit You and Your Chest When You’re Wrong
- Be Responsible and Treat People Right
Bonus: Do Your Best In Everything You Do