Bradley Byrne with the Mobile Chamber

Bradley Byrne with the Mobile Chamber

This week on The Mobile Alabama Business Podcast, we sit down with Bradley Byrne with The Mobile Chamber. Listen in as we discuss how he plans to move the Chamber forward and what exciting changes he sees for our area!

Produced by Blue Fish


Bradley Byrne: My name is Bradley Byrne. I'm the president and CEO of the Mobile Chamber of Commerce.

Marcus Neto: Yay. I love it. I absolutely love it. Thank you very much for being here. I can't tell you how excited I am that you're the person that they chose to take over the Chamber.

Bradley Byrne: You're kind. I'm a little surprised. I didn't see this coming, but in my life, God's done that. It's His plan, not my plan, and when the search committee approached me and said, "Would you consider this?" My initial reaction was, "No, I don't want to do that. I'm in a different phase of my life." But it truly is the right thing for me to do and I'm really enjoying myself.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. I know that you and I were talking earlier and you said that Terry Harbin was the reason why you have the job.

Bradley Byrne: Yeah.

Marcus Neto: Terry has been a wonderful mentor in my life as well. He's the reason why I have this building.

Bradley Byrne: Oh, good.

Marcus Neto: He's a dear friend, but he also pulled me into some things with the Chamber as well, not to be president of the Chamber, but he's definitely a very good guy.

Bradley Byrne: Terry Harbin's a very thoughtful, community-minded person. When he comes to you about something, it is really hard to tell him no. Sandy Stimpson is the hardest person I noted to say no to. He put it on me pretty good too.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. If both of those people are after you, then there's no-

Bradley Byrne: Then he double team me by calling me on the phone. When I said, "Hello, mayor." He says, "How do I get Jo Bonner on?" I thought, "This is unfair to have both of them on me." There are times when you are called to do something. I don't want to overstate that, but I really think that I was called to do this. We've got a great team at the Chamber. Gotten to know the team, I didn't know a lot of them before I got there. Wonderful volunteers and everybody's pulling in the same good direction and what a direction we're in right now.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. It really is impressive to... Like I said, I've been here since 2004. When you think about the growth that's happened in Mobile, Airbus, [inaudible 00:02:00], which I don't even know what it's probably-

Bradley Byrne: [inaudible 00:02:02].

Marcus Neto: [inaudible 00:02:03]. Sorry. When you think about all these different, large organizations that have come here and they bring people with them and those people bring people and it's just the amount of business that's come to this area, even just in the last five to 10 years has been incredible.

Bradley Byrne: Oh yeah.

Marcus Neto: It's definitely changing the area in a good way.

Bradley Byrne: A very good way.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Bradley Byrne: My family's been here for over 200 years and it has never ever been this good.

Marcus Neto: Wow.

Bradley Byrne: It is causing an influx of new people, which is very good. We are an international city and we're beginning to see what it really means to be an international city. I'm excited by that. One of the ideas we're kicking around the Chamber, it wasn't an original idea, it that came to me when I was in Paris at the air show several years ago, we should have a day every year that's a day where we honor our French heritage, when we honor our Spanish heritage.

Marcus Neto: Interesting.

Bradley Byrne: We honor our English heritage, our German heritage, et cetera, and tie that back to those same countries and use that as a hook to get some of those companies in those countries interested in coming here, particularly with Airbus.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. Because there is such a diverse... when you think about this area and the different cultures that have passed through here over the couple hundred years, there's a very diverse array of people that have lived here and established themselves here from-

Bradley Byrne: I'm Irish, Scotch, English, and German and French, all from people that lived here.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Bradley Byrne: You could add a host of other nationalities and ethnicities to that. You could add Greek, you could add Southeast Asian, down the Southern part of the county and a long, long history of large Jewish families here. That diversity of this area is actually a great strength and makes us a little different from the rest of the state, quite frankly. Having done things at the state level, we're not like the rest of Alabama and I don't mean that negative towards them or negative towards us. We're just not like other parts. We're actually closer to New Orleans than we are to Birmingham.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. Yeah.

Bradley Byrne: There's a lot about that, that makes us this unique place. It's a unique place to go out and sell to companies who try to come here.

Marcus Neto: Mm-hmm (affirmative). When you come in and I mean, I think we would all agree, Bill's done just an absolutely phenomenal job. Nobody really wanted to see him go and it was a surprise, but we all support him in that because he had good reason to leave. But when you come in, what do you see? What are some things that you feel need to be accomplished, say in the first year or so of your tenure here?

Bradley Byrne: Well, we have a real effort that we're just undertaking to go over to Europe and strategically identify suppliers of Airbus to bring them here. Because we think with this new line that's coming on, that it will make economic sense for them to do that. We're going to be doing that. We're now working with University of South Alabama to help them market their tech park out there on campus. They have 140 buildable acres, beautiful acres on the same campus as a medical school, as the same campus that has a graduate program that has the highest in wet lab you can have.

Marcus Neto: Wow.

Bradley Byrne: We want to help them build that into a biotech biopharmaceutical park. There isn't one anywhere south of Winston-Salem. There's no competition up and down the Gulf Coast. Just like 20 years ago, the Chamber saw a unique asset in Berkeley, we developed this incredible aviation business. We think we've got a unique asset out there at the University of South Alabama that we can attract a whole lot of very high end jobs. Then it was all this stuff with regard to logistics. I didn't understand a lot of this. This is all new to me.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Bradley Byrne: I'm told we need 30 million square feet in warehouses more than we have right now.

Marcus Neto: Oh my gosh.

Bradley Byrne: I cannot wrap my head around that.

Marcus Neto: Well, okay. For those of you that are listening, the average Home Depot is a 100,000 square feet.

Bradley Byrne: There you go. Think how many Home Depots that is.

Marcus Neto: I mean-

Bradley Byrne: The crazy thing about that is, is that the way that works is you, the developer, the investor, you build the warehouse on spec, you just build it speculatively. You do not have a customer.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Bradley Byrne: But you have enough confidence in the growth in this area that there's going to be a customer because when they come, they want it right down.

Marcus Neto: Right.

Bradley Byrne: We're working with the investor developers around here that are doing that to help them attract more people because it takes on a unique set of money, people who are willing to do that, but we're finding some success in that. Then, I think one of the things that I in particular want to make sure we focus on is our workforce. It's great to have all these jobs, but everywhere we go, people are having a hard time finding somebody to do the work. We have a dedicated team at the chamber that's focused on three things. Number one, keep our people here. Don't lose our people. Too many of our young people leave. We need to keep them here and we'll keep them here by showing them what they may not know about their own hometown, that there's such cool things here. Number two, we have to make sure everybody's got the right education or skills to do the jobs we're creating.

Then number three, this is really cool. We're going out to recruit people who are not from Mobile, have no connection to Mobile to come here, primarily young people. We've hired a young woman who's not from Mobile, has no connection to Mobile and she's showing us what they're looking for. We are creating a website for that. We're going to universities throughout the Southeast and busing students here, students who've never heard of Mobile perhaps, never been to Mobile and they come down here. They're like, "Wow, this is great." You asked, the first year, that's some of what we're doing the first year.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. I was going to say that's quite a bit. Yeah. No, it's interesting to me because I think we've talked a lot about this brain drain over the years. I was actually on the board of directors and I'm a board of advisor for the chamber.

Bradley Byrne: Oh good. Thank you.

Marcus Neto: I've been in those conversations. The thing that I think is interesting is that the more that we showcase the entrepreneurs and the business owners that live in this area that are doing cool things, the more I think those young people are looking like Mobile might actually be... granted, they do want the cool hangouts and the restaurants and the nightlife and stuff like that too. But I think what they're also looking for is when they go outside of this area, they look at Google and they look at Netflix and they look at all these companies and they want to do these big things. What they don't realize is that, in the chair that you're sitting in, besides you sitting here, I had Tony in here from Secret Scientist, who has started a brand. He's got nine locations. He did this in January of 2020. I think he said so in the last two years over a pandemic, he's grown a clothing business from Mobile into nine locations.

Bradley Byrne: Wow. That's impressive.

Marcus Neto: You know what I mean? There are people that are doing really cool things here. I was telling you before, one of the things that we started this podcast for was to share those stories. My hope is that, because I have young men now. I can't say young boys because they're in their twenties, which blows my mind.

Bradley Byrne: Yeah. They do that.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. They just keep growing. But I wanted to show them that there are some really cool things that people are doing here. I don't know. I like that idea of keeping more of that, because I think the people that come from here, they understand this place. They understand what it takes to succeed here. I just don't know how we keep them from, because if they go to Auburn or they go to Alabama, most of the time they don't come back.

Bradley Byrne: Well, the problem is, is that grass is always greener on the other side and there are other cool places besides Mobile. But I think we've done a poor job of telling our own young people what's here. One of the things, we've met with the new president of Bishop State this morning and we said, "We want to take buses and Bishop State has buses of your students, out to Airbus, out to Austin, go see one of the steel mills, to show them the different varieties of economy that we're doing here.

Marcus Neto: Amazing. Yeah.

Bradley Byrne: The idea that in three years, Mobile, Alabama's going to be the fourth largest producer of commercial aircraft in the world. We all need to wake up and just-

Marcus Neto: Wow.

Bradley Byrne: That is... Our container port is the fastest growing container port in America and has been for the last several years.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Bradley Byrne: I mean, all of these things are happening and it's not a coincidence. We, at the Chamber have been working on this stuff since I was a volunteer in the mid eighties.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Bradley Byrne: This is a long-term play. We're now reaping the benefits of all the work that's been done before. But this golden air is not automatic. We have to go out every day and make it happen. The Chamber has to be the one to do that. There is nobody else to do it.

Marcus Neto: 100% agree.

Bradley Byrne: We take that very seriously. As somebody that's been here for my whole life, whose family's been here for multiple generations, we just cannot let this opportunity go by. We have to seize it. We have to do what we're doing here and then we keep our young people.

Marcus Neto: Maybe we can abolish this whole perpetual potential statement that everyone-

Bradley Byrne: I've banished that.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Bradley Byrne: The other word I banished is COVID. I don't want to hear about COVID.

Marcus Neto: Amen, brother. I will-

Bradley Byrne: We can't do this, COVID, COVID. Can't...

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Bradley Byrne: COVID got in the way of that. I said, "Okay, good. COVID's gone. We're onto what we can do."

Marcus Neto: Yep. I like your attitude. Now you mentioned the 140 acres and I can just imagine Michael Chambers over there going, "Hee, hee, hee, hee."

Bradley Byrne: Yes.

Marcus Neto: Because I mean, that's his wheelhouse like-

Bradley Byrne: That is his wheelhouse.

Marcus Neto: But I had no idea that they were, because I know the tech part, we actually, at one point in time, there was another business that I was looking at starting and we were going to co-locate in their server place that they have there. But that's an amazing asset that I had no idea was there.

Bradley Byrne: Michael and Lynne Chronister called us and called the state, the Department of Commerce, Greg Campfield and said, "Would you all come out to the campus and let us discuss our idea with you?" Of course, we said yes. We went out there, they made the case. They introduced us to the professor that has this wet lab, which believe me, when I say wet lab, I'm like almost to the end of what I understand. But they made a pretty powerful case. This is Michael saying, he's actually taking a cure for a certain type of blindness to market. I mean, this is his thing.

Marcus Neto: That's what he does. I'm sorry for just interrupting for a second. For those of you that are listening, that haven't listened to that podcast episode, Michael Chambers works for the university.

Bradley Byrne: He does.

Marcus Neto: But he also has a lot of ties into the medical startup community.

Bradley Byrne: Yes.

Marcus Neto: And has been responsible for bringing a number of very good products to market.

Bradley Byrne: He got started in this because his brother-in-law a lot of people know Judge Rosy Chambers, that's his wife.

Marcus Neto: Okay.

Bradley Byrne: Her brother, when he was at Johns Hopkins, developed a cure for a certain type of blindness, and Michael helped him bring that to market. Michael figured this out, having never done that before on his own, which just shows you how smart Michael is.

Marcus Neto: [inaudible 00:13:32].

Bradley Byrne: Once he did that, he realized he had something to give to people around here and so he's dedicated himself to helping other people learn how to bring medical breakthrough, scientific breakthroughs to market. It's a terrific gift to this area that we've got him. This was his idea, Lynne Chronister's idea. We are responding to that and I think it's got great promise. Greg Canfield thinks it's got great promise. Somebody asked me the other day, "Bradley, what do you know about biopharmaceutical?" I said, "Biotech." I said, "I know as much about that as when Howett knew about aviation 20 years ago."

Marcus Neto: Yep.

Bradley Byrne: But we're now going to have the fourth largest producer of commercial aircraft in the world. I know we've got a great asset there. [inaudible 00:14:15] knew we had a great asset at Berkeley, we'll go figure it out.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. I mean, Michael Chambers is arguably one of the smartest people I've ever met. Polylingual, understands parts of science that most people would never understand, can take businesses to market. He's just a really well-rounded individual. When he says, "Hey, we've got this asset." Like, "Hey, you might want to..."

Bradley Byrne: Now I'm going to put him down by telling you that in his earlier life, he was a lawyer.

Marcus Neto: Oh, that's it. I think-

Bradley Byrne: He and I practiced law together.

Marcus Neto: Oh gosh.

Bradley Byrne: You can imagine practicing law with somebody as smart as Michael Chambers.

Marcus Neto: Oh gosh.

Bradley Byrne: Pretty daunting.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. I can imagine. What else? Is there anything else going on with them before we change direction? Anything else going on with the Chamber that you might want to touch on or...

Bradley Byrne: Well, we are also the advocate for the business community in Mobile. You will hear us from time to time talking out about issues. For example, when the time is right, the Chamber has taken a positive position on annexation, we will be talking for annexation and we will make the business case for it. That's our job.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Bradley Byrne: Why does this matter to business? You will see us speaking out on local issues, on state issues and federal issues, but we're picking and choosing what we do, because we want to make sure that we're focused on the things that have the most impact on the businesses in Mobile, in the overall economy of Mobile. One last thing about that.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, no.

Bradley Byrne: I asked myself and then asked my staff, "Well, if we're responsible for the health of the economy of Mobile, how do you measure that?" There's no one answer to that. I've tasked my staff and it's going to take a while. We're going to come up with a regular report where we measure all the economic indicators in Mobile and break them down and analyze them so that we can say, we're doing well here, not as well there and poorly there, which is a signal to us and the overall business community that, that's where we need to start pouring our energy. You'll start seeing these reports and we'll try to make them as user-friendly as we can while at the same time, have enough data to them, to where we're getting good analysis on them. I think that's going to be a great tool for everybody in this area.

Marcus Neto: Well, that's interesting because I know we have the state of the city, [inaudible 00:16:31].

Bradley Byrne: [inaudible 00:16:31] County. Yeah.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. I was searching for the word. This is not just an event. I mean, it's kind of... but I know we have that every year and that's always really good and everybody is usually positive and upbeat, but it would be really interesting to have data.

Bradley Byrne: That's what we're going to produce.

Marcus Neto: And not just a feeling.

Bradley Byrne: Now, it exists now in many different places. What we're trying to do is pull it all together into one report and maybe we do it quarterly, maybe we do it semi-annually. I don't know, but we want to update it often enough to where we can track it well, and we can see, "All right. Are we having a measurable impact on that particular indicator that we're worried about?" I don't know of another community that's doing it exactly the way we're doing it. We're out looking right now to see if there's a good example. But if we don't find one, we'll make one.

Marcus Neto: No, that's good. What's the key performance indicators, right? How are we doing? Just having some metric that we compare ourselves against every so often would definitely be a good thing. One of the things that I, and actually I'm going to put this aside. Again, and for those of you that aren't here, I have a sheet of paper that I have my questions on that I normally ask. But I mean, how often do you get to sit down with Bradley here, who's now president of the Chamber. I've got a lot of questions. How does the individual help make Mobile better?

Bradley Byrne: Oh, individuals make Mobile better every day. It depends on where you are and what you're doing. But if, and I hate to use a football metaphor, but that's about the only thing I can understand.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Bradley Byrne: A good football coach would tell you if every member of the team is doing his job right, the team's going to succeed.

Marcus Neto: Right.

Bradley Byrne: I don't care where you're working, I don't care where you live, if you're doing your job right, the overall team's going to do well, but we want people to get involved.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Bradley Byrne: You can get involved in a lot of different ways. The Chamber has multiple ways that you can get involved, in ways that are not only good for the community, that are good for you. We are always encouraging people to join the Chamber and get involved in our many activities, but you don't have to join the Chamber to do that. You could be involved in your church. You could be involved in a civic club. You could be involved in something that's important, an organization in your community. We need more people to get involved. A friend of mine wrote a book several years ago. Maybe it's more than several years ago called Bowling Alone. What's happened is in America, we've lost those efforts by people to be a part of something bigger than themselves. That's what made this country. That's-

Marcus Neto: That's the dream.

Bradley Byrne: I mean, when de Tocqueville wrote Democracy in America, he noticed that Americans are always forming these groups and societies and organizations and busily involved in them. That's how we helped build the country from that level up.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Bradley Byrne: We didn't build it from Washington down.

Marcus Neto: As much as they'd like to have us think that.

Bradley Byrne: Well, having been up there, I can tell you Washington's far more impressed with itself than it should be.

Marcus Neto: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bradley Byrne: All Washington's doing is helping to take the aggregation of what all those efforts are at the local level and make some national coherence out of them. The real strength of the country is occurring in the neighborhood of Mobile.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. Yeah.

Bradley Byrne: That's where it is.

Marcus Neto: For sure.

Bradley Byrne: I've been up there, I can say from firsthand experience, that's where it is.

Marcus Neto: I always tell people, not Mobile, D.C. is the most self-important city in the world. I can say that, because I grew up there. Right. But it is, it is the most important-

Bradley Byrne: Well, I don't blame them. I don't blame the residents of D.C. for that. I blame some of the people we send up there.

Marcus Neto: The visitors. Yeah.

Bradley Byrne: It's gotten to the point where everything has to be nationalized, but that's not America.

Marcus Neto: Right.

Bradley Byrne: The strength of this area is that we've got dozens, if not hundreds of these groups of people that are out there doing their thing to make Mobile better. Take these wonderful people that are working at the Innovation Portal down on Dolphin Street.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Bradley Byrne: It's going to transform innovation, entrepreneurship in this area.

Marcus Neto: [inaudible 00:20:38].

Bradley Byrne: A lot of those people are giving their time for free.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Bradley Byrne: Without them, we wouldn't be the success that we are over there. The Downtown Alliance, Downtown Alliance was also birthed out of the Chamber, as was Innovation Portal. We've got lots of people giving their time for free. My wife, one of them because they love Downtown and they see that they can be a part of helping Downtown to grow. That's what any individual that lives in this area can do, find something that's your passion and get involved in it.

Marcus Neto: Very good. All right. I'm going to rapid fire some questions because I think we got about 10 minutes left.

Bradley Byrne: Okay.

Marcus Neto: What was your first job?

Bradley Byrne: Washing cars at a Chevrolet dealership.

Marcus Neto: Are there any lessons that you learned from that job that you still carry with you?

Bradley Byrne: Yes. That there is no job that's not important. If I didn't clean those cars right, the salesman wouldn't be able to sell the cars.

Marcus Neto: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bradley Byrne: I also learned, and by the way, my father worked there, so he was on me every day. I also learned the value of hard work, the value to the ultimate customer, but the value to you because you learned your own self-worth by showing people that you've got something to contribute. All I was doing, I was a teenager washing cars. But by golly, I took pride in how I washed my cars.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. No, that's awesome. If you were talking to someone that wanted to get started in running their own business, what's the one bit of wisdom that you would impart to them?

Bradley Byrne: You got to have patience and perseverance, because good stuff don't happen in a day and you're going to have bad days. If you let one bad day get you down or a string of bad days get you down, you're not going to succeed. You got to be patient with it and you got to persevere. If you believe in what you're doing, if you believe in your idea for your company, stick with it.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. That's awesome. Recently, and I don't know that it was spoken of before, but recently I'm starting to see a lot of the guys that talk about business and motivation and grind and stuff like that. They're talking about that, don't stop too soon because it might be that one time that catapults you into where it is that you're trying to get to.

Bradley Byrne: The business world is filled with stories like that.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. For sure.

Bradley Byrne: The dark, dark days, then all of a sudden boom, the dream day happens and off you go.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Bradley Byrne: If you really believe in your idea, stick with it.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Bradley Byrne: You believe in it for a reason. Don't doubt yourself.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. For sure. Are there any books, podcasts, people or organizations that have been really helpful in moving you forward?

Bradley Byrne: Oh yeah. I'm going to sound hokey, but the Bible. There is no single thing in the world that's got more wisdom in it. Now I'll tell you, when I first started reading the Bible, I couldn't get it.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Bradley Byrne: Couldn't get what the culture was that it came from and some of the language, but I stuck with it and I've realized over the years, just how much wisdom is in that book. I'm also realizing by talking to people, how few people have actually read the book. Some people have opinions about that book that apparently have never read it.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Bradley Byrne: Also, this is all basic stuff. I grew up in the Episcopal Church. Lots of people have criticism of the Episcopal Church. But if you go read the Book of Common Prayer, which comes from the original creation of Anglican Church in England, there's some wonderful words in those prayers and they're words that were carefully thought out before they were put in there. Then given my background, I have a group of people with me that we read the Declaration of Independence out loud on the 4th of July.

Marcus Neto: Oh wow.

Bradley Byrne: We do it every year. I do a little talk beforehand to tell people why those words are in the declaration, why they're so important. You'd be surprised at how few people have actually read the Declaration of Independence. Then finally, I think people should read the constitution of this country. You can actually, if you go read the amendments in order, you'll see the evolution of America and not enough people have actually read the constitution. Once again, they have lots of opinions about it, but they've never actually read the words. If you pull the declaration of the constitution together, it defines an amazing country and we should be proud of that. I'm a non-apologetic Christian. I'm a non-apologetic American.

Marcus Neto: I love it. Nor should you be. I mean, so I'll tell you this too, because we've only met one other time, but it was very quickly. I wouldn't expect you to know any of this stuff, but my father first came from Brazil.

Bradley Byrne: Oh yeah.

Marcus Neto: And raised me as a single father.

Bradley Byrne: Uh-huh (affirmative).

Marcus Neto: I'm a first generation American. If there's anybody that understands the benefit of being here in the states, it's me. My father is from a small town on the coast of Brazil where their main export is salt.

Bradley Byrne: Huh.

Marcus Neto: Somehow he found himself with the Peace Corps back in the sixties and just managed to get his green card and stayed in the states, met a woman, here I am. You know what I mean? But I'm a business owner, first generation American. I'm a stereotype in and of itself, but I mean, I love this country. I love what it's afforded me as far as the freedoms go. I love that you and I can sit here and have a conversation about some of these things and agree or disagree. We were talking before, I think we come from a different time period where people could disagree on things and still remain cordial and stuff. But I love everything about this country, except what we're currently doing to it. But that's a topic for another-

Bradley Byrne: Well, there's a reason why all these people are literally, literally dying to get into this country.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. For sure.

Bradley Byrne: We have what they want.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Bradley Byrne: We should be thankful for what we have. The freedoms, the values, the openness of our society, the ability for somebody to go from bottom to top within a generation. I mean, this is a great country and here's what I say all the time. When coach Bear Bryant was coaching University of Alabama, that's when players started dancing in the end zone and coach Bryant wouldn't let them do it. Here's what he said, "If you find yourself in the end zone, act like you belong there."

Marcus Neto: Yep.

Bradley Byrne: America's in the end zone every day, we need to start acting like we belong in the end zone.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. For sure.

Bradley Byrne: We should be jubilant and joyful and appreciative for what we've got and quit tearing one another down.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. No, 100%. I completely agree. I'm going to ask you two more questions. The first is, what's the most important thing that you've learned about running a business?

Bradley Byrne: Okay.

Marcus Neto: Actually, I'll leave the second one for after you've finish.

Bradley Byrne: The most important thing about running anything is people. Don't look at it as a disembodied set of numbers, because no business runs itself. Some people have to do it. I was talking about my dad at the Chevrolet dealership and he taught me a lot. There was a man there who swept up some, drove the courtesy car some, he was sort of the guy at the bottom of the pile.

Marcus Neto: [inaudible 00:28:01]. Yeah.

Bradley Byrne: Daddy said, "Let me tell you something. What he's doing is just as important and he deserves just as much respect as the man that owns this company. Don't ever forget that." If you value people and you got the right people, you're going to be a success. Period.

Marcus Neto: Last question. How do you unwind?

Bradley Byrne: How do I unwind?

Marcus Neto: This is the hardest question. Everybody always hates this one because-

Bradley Byrne: Well, I used to not unwind because there really wasn't any time for me to unwind. When I was in Congress, you just get up in the morning and go until you go to sleep or [inaudible 00:28:34]. But I'm an outdoorsman. I like to hunt and fish, but I really like to hike and kayak.

Marcus Neto: Very cool.

Bradley Byrne: I prefer to do it with a group of people, but there are very important moments when I'm by myself. When you find one of those moments when you're by yourself and you're out in the woods or you're in the water, or I was a couple weeks ago, hiking the mountains of North Carolina, you all of a sudden realize that you're this very small little part of a planet, that's just a very small little planet, that's a part of a solar system, that's a very little solar system. That's a part of a galaxy, it's a very small galaxy. These new pictures are to come in from their telescope.

Marcus Neto: They're absolutely incredible.

Bradley Byrne: That should give us all the humility to understand that the Creator put us here. He gave us this life and we should have some humility about ourselves to make sure that we are living the life that we're supposed to live. I do unwind doing that. I read some, I try to read substantive stuff. I try not to read junk. I do not watch television. I don't think watching television is good for you anymore. I try to spend as much time as I can with family and friends, because ultimately that's what brings meaning and joy to your life is the people around you.

Marcus Neto: Absolutely.

Bradley Byrne: That was a long answer to a short question.

Marcus Neto: No, not at all. I mean, I'll sit here for a couple hours, but I know you got a meeting to go to. I do want to thank you again for coming on the podcast. To wrap up, any final thoughts or comments you'd like to share?

Bradley Byrne: Yeah. I consider it a real privilege to be doing what I'm doing. I consider it a real privilege to be the congressman representing this area. But this special time that we're in right now is for everybody, it's not just for a few people at the top. If we do this and do it right, everybody in this area will benefit. Every person; Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, male, female, young, old, rich, poor, rural, urban, everybody will benefit. We're going to be very intentional about that at the Chamber and understand our role is to serve, not just the business community, but that overall economic good for everybody.

Marcus Neto: On that note, Bradley, I appreciate your willingness to sit with me and share your journey as a congressman and an entrepreneur and even a lawyer, which I'll let slide. It's been great talking with you, man.

Bradley Byrne: Thank you. Same here.

Marcus Neto: Absolutely.

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