We had the good fortune of connecting with Carlos Wallace and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Carlos, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk is a necessary component of success. There are very few aspects of life that do not involve some form or risk, especially since outcomes are never guaranteed. Things happen. And because I understand this, I factor risk into all my decisions. When you are prepared for the threats, challenges, obstacles, you become better equipped to handle the hurdles. You have to be realistic about the good and the bad in life or you will never be motivated to try new things, explore ideas and concepts. I am not afraid of the word “no”, and I am not intimidated by “gatekeepers.” That is very empowering attitude. It’s one I wish others would take more.
My thinking is, “The nerve of someone trying to convince you that if you do this, or say that, you will face consequences so you better back off.” Unless you are clearly embarking on some detrimental mission (which of course I do not recommend), take a chance! Maybe you will fail. Do you really want to limit yourself on the fear of a maybe, an unknown? You might just succeed! How about you roll the dice and believe THAT!
Some view taking risks as a deterrent. To those people I say you will never reach your objectives if you are scared to pursue them. And I am not only referring to financial risks (which are the most common). I mean being willing to lay comfort, peace of mind, stability, on the line. At one point in my career, I butted heads with a manager at my company. I stood my ground about an issue as a matter of principle. That resulted in my losing engineering license and consequently, my livelihood for three years and 4-days. I knew the risks surrounding my actions, but my dignity mattered more. I fought the manager’s (and the company’s) decision to dismiss me, while starting my own business in order to feed my family. That business, Sol-Caritas is now a successful entity. I eventually got my job back, worked the requisite number of years I needed to retire, and today, I am an author, motivational speaker, business owner.
Had I cowered, had I not taken my chances, I really can’t say I would have come this far (at least not in this way). I’m just happy I didn’t have to find out.
These days, if I think a project is worth it, I enter it into festivals and submit them for consideration. The risk? What if they say no. No won’t kill me, it will motivate me further! My latest collaborative project P.E.N.S. (Poetic Energy Needed in Society), which is a documentary of Houston’s spoken word culture, is receiving the highest critical acclaim. What if I was too intimidated to submit? We now have a film that honors our city, our performers, one of the best directors I know and one of the best writers I have ever met. That is what taking a risk can accomplish.
When I started writing my first book, I thought about the possibility it would not be well received, a total failure. But I believed in my story, and my editor. The book, “Life Is Not Complicated, You Are” is now a bestseller, and is part of the Psychology and Social Justice curriculum of over six schools (including four colleges)! That is what taking a risk can accomplish.
If I want to invest in stocks or more aggressive assets, and I do my research (very important), I go all in. The risk, I may lose money. But I might also profit on the wager. I am always inclined to think positively. I moved my entire life, left everyone and everything I knew behind to move to New York to be with my (now) wife. Had I been too afraid to start over, I might have missed out on the great life we have together. That is what taking a risk can accomplish.
Why take risks? Because too much caution might cost you everything one day. Ironically, that is a risk too!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am an author and a filmmaker. Both challenge my creativity and compel me to think about issues that matter and that will bring about change.
I pursued writing and producing films for several reasons, but mostly because my circumstances demanded I do something to keep me from giving up and becoming complacent. After losing my job for three years and four days (I was eventually reinstated and worked until retirement), I was reminded nothing is promised. You change your way of thinking drastically when you become aware of how fleeting life can be. I wrote my first book because I never wanted my experiences to go to the grave with me. I believed my story could inspire and encourage and motivate. The book was not easy to write, but it is worth it. Life Is Not Complicated is exceeding my greatest expectations and has touched so many lives. The day a young student shared with me that because of my book, they changed their mind about committing suicide, was the moment I finally understood fully why I do what I do. We have a responsibility to leave this world better than we found it. This is my ongoing mission.
Presently, I am extremely excited about my collaborative film, P.E.N.S. (Poetic Energy Needed in Society), which is a documentary of Houston’s spoken word culture. This is an opportunity for Houston and its poets to shine; for the world to discover what I’ve always known-the cultural revolution in our city is well underway and we are winning on all levels!
I have always appreciated what good storytelling can do. For me (a student and big fan of hip-hop), listening to my favorite artists (Jay Z, Eric B. & Rakim, Public Enemy, NWA, Slim Thug, etc.) was a lesson in life. The lyrics and flow were exceptional in that they were thought-provoking and impactful; a call to action that challenged people to have a voice and call out injustice. I credit this genre for fueling a desire to share truth, information, quality entertainment. If you are not producing work (whatever the work may be) to move the needle, change the narrative, speak about social justice and race relations, and bring out the best in people, why bother?
Whatever you do in life, make it matter. Along the way, you will discover that not everyone is on your side. Some may clap, but on the low, they are praying you fail. I learned that the journey to any goal is constant, winding, full of obstacles, costs money, time, energy, and sometimes it can cost you friends and family. If you are not ready and willing to invest in yourself, take on risk, ignore critics, experience some isolation and remain positive and dedicated through ALL that, you will fail.
Ultimately, I am my brand. Everything starts and ends with Carlos Wallace. Businesses, books, films, comedy and poetry shows, my role as father, husband, friend, loved one… are all under one umbrella: my name. As Carlos Wallace evolves, improves, produces and innovates, everything I come in contact will benefit. At least that is always what I pray happens. Life is unpredictable, but you can at least control how you handle the good and the bad.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
First, stop for breakfast at Barnaby’s Cafe. This grew to be my absolute favorite during the time I lived in the Mosaic Towers on Almeda. Monday a trip to Kema and maybe Galveston. Tuesday enjoy our museums which I think are undervalued by locals. Houston Improv on a Wednesday (Sol-Caritas night) Chill and lay low on Thursday and Friday enjoy one of the various poetry spots. Saturday, another stop at the Improv to get a laugh in by one of my favorite comedians.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I will definitely use the opportunity to shout out two amazing, trailblazing, creative minds:
Mikell “Fetti” Limbrick is, bar none, the best director and filmmaker in the industry. The work that Fetti’s “iRise Filmz” did on the award-winning P.E.N.S. documentary is masterful. Fetti also possesses a level of commitment and passion for film work that underscores every project he produces. I appreciate the ability to exchange ideas and talk about relevant issues that affect our society, all while discussing ways to amplify those messages in productive ways. Everyone needs people around who encourage them to take action, think deeply, and support free, original thinking.
Whether he is editing and producing a major film, music video, original documentary, or a local PSA as part of his dedication to community service, he is all in, 100%. Fetti is being recognized by the industry, finally! The best is yet to come with this Houston native!
I also want to shoutout author, writer, and award-winning journalist, Liz Faublas. I can’t say enough about her talent, and her innate ability to transform words into compelling, relevant, human interest stories. Everything she does is heartfelt and meticulously executed. Her company Million Dollar Pen, Ink. has edited, written, and or published seven books, all bestsellers. That includes my two books! And you can include her children’s book series, “You Have a Superpower: Mindi PI Meets” to that collection of bestsellers.
As if that is not enough, Liz is an outstanding stand-up comic that has headlined in Houston, New York, Montreal.
As a motivational speaker, she is a powerhouse who is passionate about women’s rights and empowerment, and mentorship. I learn so much from her, each day. She is generous with her time and creativity and always a well of good counsel and inspiration. More importantly, Liz is supportive and one of the best cheerleaders I know. And she does it all, with sincerity, expecting nothing in return. She is a rare breed indeed.
I can go on, but you can find out more about Liz by going to her website: www.lizfaublas.com.
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