Erwin Portis Jr., aka “Jimmy Burner,” had a dream, literally. The 17-year-old Texan woke up one day and decided his moniker would be Jimmy Burner to complement his dream of being a fashion designer. The native of Houston is a sneaker-fanatic-turned-entrepreneur who discovered his love for fashion when he was in the third grade.
Read what he has to say.
Please describe your leadership style as a CEO.
One who exhibits great communication and people skills and is able to make everyone maximize their full strength and highest potential. A leader can take the pressure of dealing with all of types of personalities and use them for the greater good. They are someone who can take control, and is not afraid to voice their own opinion, overall knowing what’s best for the team. A leader is money-conscious and very attentive to every detail of the business meaning that they’re not afraid to “spend” money, but afraid to “lose” money—it’s always about the dollar. They’re constantly figuring out what makes the most sense for the business, and how to stay profitable.
What is your mission statement?
I live by two mission statements, “Live Free Live Right” and “Live Full Die Empty.” For a while now, I have stuck with my first statement because it just always made sense to me. If you live free and do the things that make you happy, it becomes contagious to the people around you. People like leadership, but respect as well, and if you have both, you will definitely go far. “Live Full Die Empty” is self-explanatory it means exactly what it says, live life to the fullest potential so that when your time of departure comes, you can rest well knowing that others will say you have poured out everything to impact others to the best of your ability.
What three skill sets are critical for the future executive that you hire for your organization?
Professionalism, loyalty, and resourcefulness all are really important as it relates to the quality of a person’s character when it comes to their work. My dad would always say, “when you have a problem, find a way to solve it.” I would always watch him interact with his employees, and when they came to him with a problem he would always ask “what have you done to solve it?” As a leader, you always want your employees to be deep thinkers – continually finding ways to help the cause, and to keep the boss stress free so they can continue to grow their business.
How does having an advanced degree benefit you and your clients?
Having a degree benefits you with having a solid foundation in your area of interest or industry. Overall, I believe, that you gain the most knowledge from experience which is the best form of education. Don’t get me wrong, a degree dresses your name up, and gives you a certain status. Above all, having both is great so you don’t necessarily have to choose one.
How do you utilize technology to benefit your organization?
I’m taking classes at The New School of Parsons right now, and it’s helping me tremendously with sketching and transferring my ideas to life. Usually, I would have to pay a sketch artist to do my designs, but now I can do that myself, thanks to Parsons. Technology makes things a lot easier, and saves plenty of time and money.
Finish the sentences:
Team work is important because …
It is the key to the overall success of the business. You need every single person on your team putting in quality work and that makes everything so much smoother when it comes to the bottom line of the business. When you have an amazing team, and every person knows their job, and does their job well, then you will be unstoppable!
The best way to recruit great talent is …
The internet in my opinion, because it’s the easiest, and you can literally find everything.
Speaking a second language is important because …
You can communicate to different cultures around the world, and cut out the middle man.
What social media platforms do you engage in the most?
Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat
What professional organizations do you support?
Jack and Jill of America, Inc.
Jack and Jill of America Foundation, Inc.
Fashion Group International
Dwight Howard Foundation
Anchor TX, Inc.
Teens Against Distractive Driving
Describe your networking style.
I’m extremely laid back. I rarely am the first person to make the connection for some reason, perhaps because I wear a lot of bold outfits from my collection when I’m out and about. I feel like that’s my business card, my clothes make a statement, and generally sparks a conversation asking where did I get a particular clothing item from Most of my contacts start with “nice shirt” and I reply with “thank you” and hand them a business card.
If you were given a graduation speech to college students, what would the title of your speech be and three reasons why?
“Follow Your Heart”
1) Do what you love and do it at your best
2) Drive out distractions
3) Clear your climate of negativity
Name your two favorite vacation destinations to relax and recharge? Why?
I love California and the Dominican Republic. I love how free and relaxed California is—it feels like my home. People show me love, and I always give it back. The weather is incredible and the vibe is amazing. I love it!
What are you reading or your two favorite books?
You Are The Answer by Erwin Portis Sr.
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
Name three business leaders or political leaders who inspire you.
Erwin Portis, Barack Obama, P. Diddy
What are your favorite sports team and hobbies?
Hanging with flesh mob and rapping, skate boarding, reading, painting, sketching, and mentoring.
Name two favorite quotes that motivate you?
“Do it now, so you won’t have to worry about it later.” – Erwin Portis
“It’s Business, Not Personal.” – Unknown