Todd “TJ” Johnson has both founded and partnered to create companies within the industries of data technology, commercial construction, retail, hospitality, publishing and knowledge marketing, leading these companies through startup, turnaround and growth modes. He’s also a lively land investor with properties everywhere the planet . Although he’s known in l. a. for his collection of exotic cars and lively tequila tastings, family still comes first. I trapped with him the day after he surprised his daughters with a hot air balloon ride and asked him to interrupt down his entrepreneurial journey.
“I’m from Cayce, SC, which may be a suburb of Columbia. I grew up in low-income housing to one mom. My family moved to San Francisco , Calif., once I was 11, after my mom remarried, and that we lived there for one-and-a-half years before moving back to SC. My first job was doing yard work — i might cut grass and rake yards. that employment taught me to hustle and be resourceful. If I wanted to form money, I simply had to travel find customers. Some days I didn’t find work, but most days i might if I kept knocking on doors. I always had money, which gave me a way of independence, and dealing made me desire i used to be on top of things of my destiny. That feeling has never gone away.”
Buying his first car … at 14 years old
“I’ve been curious about cars for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I put together model cars, the tiny scale models that had seemingly 1,000 pieces. the ideas of my fingers would become desensitized from all of the model glue. It took time to become organized, detailed and focused enough to create cars that looked great; it had been very difficult to create them perfectly. Fortunately, today I can purchase them and have discovered that each one hand-built cars will have imperfections, regardless of what proportion you buy them.
Related: The Next-Generation Corvette Is Radically Different. Here’s What Led GM President Mark Reuss to Revamp an Icon.
“When i used to be younger, i might attend car dealerships just to seem at the special cars, until eventually I put a Mercury Cougar Rx7 on lay-away. By then, I worked within the kitchen at an Italian restaurant and each week, i might give them my entire paycheck. i used to be 14 years old and couldn’t even drive the car off the lot! I’d cut school to travel hear the engine and therefore the radio. My mom eventually acknowledged , got all of my a refund , and made me buy a Datsun B210 hatchback.”
The first signs of success
“I joined the Air Force at 17 and visited college in the dark to review computing . While within the military, I started building computers and selling them. At that point , IBM compatible computers were all the craze because you’ll have a PC that did everything an IBM PC did for a fraction of the worth .
“I built and sold computers to as many families as I could. it had been labor intensive and required much more post-sales support than I could offer. At an equivalent time companies like Dell and Gateway began offering lower cost, pre configured PCs that were packaged with plenty of software. My little business didn’t innovate or scale quickly enough to remain relevant. i used to be so focused on the “now” and making money that I didn’t even see how short lived my business would be.
“I left the military and took employment working during a telecommunications service desk. I worked third shift, from 3pm to 11pm, doing support and operations. I didn’t find it very challenging or upwardly mobile, so I did everything I could to find out more about technology by working with other departments. Since I didn’t start work until 3pm, i might are available at 10am and volunteer in other departments. I worked with the network, app development and system operations teams and gained tons of experience that I otherwise would haven’t gotten. Eventually, I started making improvements to our flagship system.
“I built a friendlier interface , integrated with our call system and began creating useful reports. then , i used to be given responsibility for the system and began helping and collaborating with other users outside of my company. i ultimately got recruited to figure for a government contractor and made more of a reputation for myself within the community thereupon system.
“This led me to start out my first sustainable business, Intact Technology, Inc. That was $50 million, and 25 years, ago.”
Finding fulfillment by mentoring others
“I know what’s possible once you combine proper vision, focus, execution and grit. I’ve also seen how and why things fail , which is why each of my new ventures achieve higher levels of profit and success much faster than the sooner ones. My coaching under nHotPursuit is centered on helping entrepreneurs accelerate the expansion of their ventures.
“The goal is to assist tens of thousands start and grow businesses that allow them to realize greater financial security, a more flexible lifestyle and better quality of life. If I spend the remainder of my business life in hot pursuit of this goal, my spirit are going to be filled with joy and that i will have done something very special with my life.”