Mr. Cook shares with eBrandz readers, his thoughts, passions and business philosophies.
Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business.
Core Solutions provides immediate and long lasting solutions for parents whose teens are making poor choices and engaged in risky behaviors that are putting their health and safety in jeopardy, and undermining the well-being of the family. Core Solutions is a lifeline for those parents, offering a wide range of services and solutions. Some of our services include: in-home program, family in-home coaching program, local resource finder, long term residential treatment. Everything we offer is customized to the needs of each family and based on their goals and values. We are in the field of family healing and success.
Kindly give us a brief description about yourself.
Hi, I am Randall Cook, President/CEO of Core Solutions. I have fifteen years experience in the Family Healing Field coupled with a foundation in the Family Crisis Intervention. I have also been a consultant / advisor during the organization and launch of a number of successful therapeutic boarding schools, both in the United States and abroad. I have played an important and active role in promoting legislation to protect and enhance parent’s rights and resources. I have featured on Larry Elder’s nationally syndicated TV talk show and am a frequent guest/expert on talk radio programs.
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture?
Through the years of working with families and teens in the Family Healing Field, I found that all the focus was placed solely on the teens, their issues were explored and they were burdened with making all the requisite changes. When in reality, change needs to happen from within the family system. So, I created Online Parent Communities for parents and other adult family members to have a private place to network, share ideas, share struggles, offer and receive support and learn from others who have ‘walked in their shoes’. Over the years this morphed into what is now Core Solutions.
What three pieces of advice would you give to college students who want to become entrepreneurs?
1.Treat others fairly. When going out on your own in business you are required to network with other companies, manage employees and subcontractors. It’s not all about you.
2.Do not try and reinvent the wheel. – Utilize your passion for whatever particular field you are entering and make it a better product or service than when you entered.
3.Do not depart too far from yourself or your family. Work to live, don’t live to work.
If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
I find the greatest value in living life today and setting my goals for tomorrow. I would not want to start over again, given the opportunity. What I have learned in the process though is to slow down and enjoy life. Malcolm Forbes summed it up well when he said, “It’s great to arrive, but the trip is always most of the fun.”
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
1.Self-reliance – As the spearhead of your company, you are required to lead by example. You have to be able to rely on yourself every single time.
2.Manage yourself as a 3rd party. At times, when I get stuck on a particular subject or situation, I try to mentally remove myself and evaluate what feedback applies.
3.Recognize feedback without emotion. Before allowing a situation, or especially a relationship, get out of control, do your best to stay in tune and remove yourself from the emotional discomfort. Identify the best process and outcome, head in that direction and let your emotions follow later.
How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
There have been concepts that I have introduced and promoted that were not going to work from the word go, but I wanted it to work so badly, I would push and push. At times, I ran the idea to tatters before I finally recognized that it was just not the right timing, service, or that it just did not fit into our business model.
How many hours do you work a day on an average?
I keep a fairly flexible schedule. If need be, I do not work for a couple of days and again at times I put in 15-hours a day.
How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
The biggest impact has been the consistent theme that I am not always right, and I do not know everything. I have leaned on my wife during challenging times for guidance and support, so in that sense it has really made for a stronger partnership and in turn a stronger family life.
What motivates you?
The understanding that the services we provide creates value for others and has the power to not only change lives for the better but also save lives is a big motivator.
How do you generate new ideas?
It is often a collaboration of recognizing a problem that needs to be addressed and looking around at how the mechanics of our world function. Life has a unique way of presenting us with solutions and ideas no matter where we are or who we are with.
What is your greatest fear and how do you manage fear?
My all-time greatest fear is that something would prevent me from spending a full and complete life with my family. To keep this tempered I let go, have faith and let God manage the rest.
How do you define success?
Success to me is living a balanced life, enhancing the bonds within my family and close friends, growing our business and being able to end each day with the feeling that I put my best foot forward through each decision.
What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
Setting goals is a must for me. I do a lot of journalism, a lot of long-hand writing. I subscribe to the concept of making small steps in the right direction and the overall picture will come to life.
How do you build a successful customer base?
The simple response is treating our families as we would like to be treated. We have created a loyal following of families due to the fact that we provide for families what they are in need of – services that provide immediate resources and lasting positive change for their family. We have been consistently accurate in our assessments, coupled with an exceptional team of people who genuinely care about our families, we have touched the hearts and lives of many and in doing so, have earned their loyalty.
How did you decide on the location for your business?
Southern California chose us. My wife and I were raised here. After moving around for several years, when the time came to start our own venture, we looked at other states that held some stronger advantages for operating a business, but once we had completed our lists of pros and cons, we chose to return to Southern California, mainly due to our many family members who reside here.
Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
If there is, I would not profess to have any patent on it at this time. Our current formula is : Treat all people well, no matter their relationship to you. Provide quality, accurate services and be fair in price structuring.
If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
Mark Twain. He had a great sense of humor and was powerful in his communications. He was a good American and never seemed to be afraid to share what was on his mind.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
My sister, Sandra has always been a source of inspiration for me. While growing up, of my three sisters, she was always the most accessible, supportive and would get excited about the opportunity to help guide me through life.
Which is your favorite book?
I would have to say a set of encyclopedias as it satisfies my thirst for information.
What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
The constant learning and growing. I grow through and with my work. Contrary to the popular belief that entrepreneurs are a greedy and seemingly dishonest lot, I have found that small business owners are hardworking, caring, loyal and try to instill hope and fairness around them and that is the group I choose to align myself with.
To what do you most attribute your success? What would you say are the five key elements for starting and running a successful business?
My success is a direct result of my personal determination and the quality of people I surround myself with. The 5 elements that I could suggest for running a successful business are: People – Surround yourself with exceptional people , honesty, patience, family and humility.
What has been the most satisfying moment in business?
I would have to say the current times. We have weathered an ongoing brutal economy and high anxiety all around regarding our future as a Nation and so on. Through this process we have chosen to remain flexible and optimistic. Also, during this time we have had to evaluate our own systems, relationships, services and I am happy to report that we have not been forced to do any major overhauls which is an indication that we have been heading on the right path for some time.
How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Our main avenues for marketing are word-of-mouth and online marketing. The Internet is extremely powerful, it is almost like a second DNA that connects us all.
What kind of culture exists in your organization? How did you establish this tone and why did you institute this particular type of culture?
Our culture in Core Solutions is calm, professional and sincere. Establishing our culture is directly credited to the people we invite into our organization. Anyone with short egos or short term mentality are not welcome. We all spend much of our lives associated with work, so create an atmosphere that you look forward to.
In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
What are some of the biggest mistakes you have made? How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?
I am short on patience. When we have developed ideas that I know are good, it is hard for me to sit around and wait for those concepts to take a life of their own. I created anxiety due to my lack of patience. As the years have gone, I have learned my lessons.
What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
Hanging out with my sons is top priority. I also enjoy swimming, mountain bike riding, golf and shows highlighting cooking and travel. I also absorb a lot of magazines and educational videos. And as odd as it may sound, I also find pleasure in house cleaning, a chore learned in childhood.
What makes you happy?
What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
Being a small business owner can be a lonely path to walk at times. You do have to sacrifice much of your social life. The best remedy is to keep a close relationship with your family.
Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
I am not sure that it would be considered a company, but rather an organization, TED found at ted.com. This reflects a group of smart, innovative, successful people networking and trying to do good for humanity. I appreciate people, or groups, that offer up viable solutions and not just simply point out problems.
Where do you see yourself and your business in 10 years?, 20 years?
Helping people on a much larger scale. We are in this for the long haul and I do not see a limit to the number of people we can provide solutions and value to, given the right resources.
If you were conducting this interview, what questions would you ask?
First, I would like to thank eBrandz for such a complete and personal interview, as opposed to solely focusing on business related items. It really helped to support me in sharing more on a personal note, so thank you for that. I may have included some questions about different travels or cultures that can be shared with people.