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This is Capitalism: Up Close, Inspired, Explained

Oct 19, 2017

It’s only about 300 miles from Chesapeake, Virginia, to Charlotte, North Carolina — a six-hour drive — but in the life of Tana Greene, going from an abusive relationship in Virginia to a considerable entrepreneurial, and now, inspirational success, in North Carolina, it represents a much longer journey. She’s the CEO of one of the fastest-growing, woman-led businesses in the U.S., The Greene Group, which has two staffing firms — Strataforce and Road Dog Drivers — and her latest company, Blue Bloodhound, which is a kind of Uber for trucking. Her Blue Bloodhound app links thousands of pre-qualified truck drivers with motor carriers that have shipments to go out.


But first, back to her journey, the subtitle of which, Tana Greene would tell you, is 'never settle.'


Key Takeaways:

[1:11] As a ninth-grader, Tana dated a popular senior and was soon pregnant. In the South, that meant marriage. He started controlling who she saw. She took it as a sign of how much he loved her. Then he took the phone with him to work, and she wasn’t allowed to speak with anybody. No one was allowed in the house when he wasn’t there.

[2:15] Tana kept telling herself she could fix the marriage, and didn’t tell anyone. She was embarrassed about it. One day, her husband hit her so she bled as she went to drop the baby off at her parents. Her dad started looking for him, but didn’t find him. They got her help, a counselor who gave the behavior a name — domestic violence.

[3:21] The counselor told her she could be a victim, or she could decide to do something about it. She wrote down four goals: to own her own home by 25, to own a business by 30, to finish school, and to marry a knight in shining armor! She met each goal early!

[3:53] Tana describes getting ready for work the first day of her first job while still married to her first husband. He had a shotgun aimed at her head when she came out of the bathroom, warning her to behave at work and asking why she had used makeup and done her hair. All the while he was laughing, as though it were a funny joke.

[4:54] It took her two years to leave him, because she had to build up confidence and self-esteem. In domestic violence, a person is constantly being put down and told they are not worth anything. Most women go back four times to their violent, abusive spouse, before they actually leave. They want to make it work.

[5:32] Once Tana left her husband, she was able to make things work for her. She explains how capitalism benefited her. It allowed her an opportunity to build a ladder to get where she wanted to go. We can decide what we want and do anything we want.

[6:13] Tana got an associate’s degree in secretarial work and shorthand, but was soon offered a job selling. She describes how she moved from her hourly position to a commissioned job. She attributes her success to passion and purpose.

[7:17] Tana’s passion and purpose made her a better person, and she wanted to offer that to others. That’s still her purpose for Blue Bloodhound, Strataforce, and Road Dog Drivers.

[7:28] Tana met the right man for her and she bought a staffing franchise. She learned some tough lessons starting a business. They didn’t borrow; they used their own cash. They sold everything they owned and moved to her townhouse. For two years, they funded the business themselves until they got a big contract that provided cash flow.

[7:59] Tana recognized that she should have gotten loans for the business, instead of spending all their cash. When they needed funding, they had no collateral. Banks didn’t want to loan to them. Business and life give you hard lessons every day.

[8:18] Tana’s first contract was 375 people, 24/7, doing shipwatch and labor on board a ship at Norfolk Naval Shipyard. Going from 2 employees to 377 employees taught her tough lessons about Workers Comp, EEOC, and all the financial things that go wrong with a business. Tana says the whole thing is based on turning quickly.

[9:07] Tana and her husband had been the first franchise of the company. Their lawyer had prudently negotiated an agreement without a non-compete clause. When the franchiser changed CEOs, they took away Tana’s best employee and they were trying to put her out of business. Tana let the franchise agreement lapse and changed the name.

[10:08] When 9/11 hit, half of Tana’s business dropped overnight. It was manufacturing, and the first thing companies did was cut the temporaries. They went from $15 million to $8 million, all while they were transferring away from the franchise. There were a lot of decisions to make at that time to survive.

[10:31] The new company, Strataforce, not only survived but made the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing small companies in the U.S. But as late as 2007, something was missing in Tana’s life.

[10:48] Tana talks about maintaining an image. People want others to think of them as happy and perfect. Tana thought if people knew her beginnings, they would think less of her. Her friend’s daughter asked her if she would talk at her school about healthy relationships. She said yes, and then started panicking. But she had a need to share.

[11:58] Tana spoke at the school and it turned her life around. She found joy in giving back to others. The joy of landing a big deal soon passes, but the joy of knowing she is helping others lasts. After a magazine interview, a stranger approached her. The stranger had given the article to a friend, who then left her husband, after 20 years of abuse.

[13:01] On finding her authenticity, Tana started building mission, vision, values, and purpose into the businesses. She teaches everybody, “You can be and do anything you want to be.” She develops great leaders in her organizations. Tana’s personal changes brought changes to the company culture and the workforce.

[13:54] Soon, the results started showing up in better productivity with less turnover. Former employers send her messages of gratitude for her impact on their lives. Tana became CEO, but thinks of it as CLO — Chief Leadership Officer. She leads by example.

[14:25] Tana’s five-year vision is to inspire even more people and lead a $1 billion company in Blue Bloodhound. That’s her goal, and she hasn’t missed a goal, yet.


Mentioned in This Episode:

Tana Greene on LinkedIn

The Greene Group: Strataforce, Road Dog Drivers


Remedy Staffing

Sam Walton

Ben Franklin (Company)

Inc. 5000 2008


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