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Gerald Washington: Don’t Just Start a Business, Build an Empire

What does it mean to be an empire builder? What needs to shift in your mindset for you to go from an employee or entrepreneur to an empire builder? And, how can you best set yourself up for success? 

We’re covering all these questions and more on today’s episode with Gerald Washington, my husband, for the release of his book Don’t Start a Business, Build an Empire.

In this episode, we’re going deep into this idea of empire building, where Gerald shares our personal story, explains concepts from his book and gives practical advice for building your empire.

This episode is brought to you by the Redefining Wealth LIVE podcast taping in Atlanta on Sunday, October 13th! Pick up some gems of wisdom and meet Purpose Chasers from all over. Limited Tickets available at!

About Gerald Washington

When he’s not building his own empire, Gerald Washington is using his leadership, innovation and business acumen to empower others to move beyond being just another entrepreneur to becoming their own empire builder.

His passion for business and entrepreneurship didn’t start when Gerald was the partner and president of Steve Harvey World Group, nor did it start just after college when he launched a boutique real estate company with his then girlfriend and future wife, Patrice, a business venture that would help him build a multi-million dollar real estate empire by his mid-20s.

It actually began when he was in high school and created a 5-figure business as a teenager. Which you’ll hear more about shortly.

Today his genius is turning missed opportunities for others into thriving empires – he is all about sharing his experiences and wisdom to help others find the wealth that he has gained through his own love of the game of wealth. 

You see, his own empire includes multiple multi-unit real estate holdings, a transportation company, brand management agency and now a transformational portfolio with his own speaking, co-coaching programs and a new book, Don’t Just Start a Business, Build an Empire. 

Our Story from Gerald’s Perspective

I talk about our story a lot on the podcast, but Gerald doesn’t. So one of the things I asked him to cover was telling our story from his perspective.

Here’s what he has to say:

Before the 2008 Recession, Patrice and I had a thriving real estate empire. We were very successful in what we knew, but we’d neglected to have a guide or mentor to give us advice. So, when the real estate market took a turn, we weren’t prepared for it because, one, I wasn’t watching the market and wasn’t aware of what was happening, and two, I didn’t have anyone to talk to about it besides my peers.

And so the market crashed and without a road map or guide, we lost it all. 

At that point we went to New Orleans to try and hold onto the last of our properties, and it became very clear that I needed to get a job by any means necessary. I went to McDonald’s, Burger King and Hardee’s, but they all told me no. I then went to Taco Bell and said, “Listen, whatever job you have, I’ll take it. I’ll clean toilets, I’ll work food prep, I’ll run the register, whatever you need me to do.” And they gave me a job.

“I went from a 7-figure business owner to working at Taco Bell and making about $2,400 a month.”

I was so grateful for that job though, because it gave us some stability. After nine months in New Orleans, I followed Patrice to Atlanta and was able to work at a Taco Bell there. 

Fortunately for us, Patrice was working for the Steve Harvey Show and had built a relationship with the people there. It was through that connection that I was offered an opportunity to watch Steve’s manager’s house every night while they were having construction done. 

I did that for three months, but what I also did was notice things. I’d walk around the house at night and make notes of the construction that’d been done during the day and I’d communicate these things with the homeowner – noting things he might want to look at or ask about. What I didn’t know was by doing this, I was essentially interviewing for a potential job in the future, which I got when the Steve Harvey Show asked me to come work in the office. . . 

Listen in for more of that story, but we also tackle why Gerald decided to write Don’t Start a Business, Build an Empire.

According to him it takes the same energy to develop the concept for a business as it does to create the concept for an empire – the only difference is mindset. And with the right mindset, you can expand what you consider to be your entrepreneurial effort into something that can become a global empire if you’re willing to look at things like expansion, sustainability and allowing others to participate in the conversation.

So I wrote the book to help shift the mindset of entrepreneurs out there who can’t see the empire just yet.

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Unfortunately, many of us don’t look at how to expand our entrepreneurial efforts beyond us running things.””]

We also tackle Gerald’s thoughts behind many entrepreneurs going in circles – over-thinking, over-creating and attempting to over-deliver, but the end result is they spend too much effort and energy and put themselves under too much unnecessary stress.

He says, “We do a great job of over-complicating the simple things, and in-turn lose profitability. Take In-N-Out Burger for example. They have three options with the burger purchase – with French Fries, Coke products or a milkshake, and their lines are out the door. They’re thriving and simple.”

Now, take The Cheesecake Factory. They have so much crammed onto their menu with hundreds of choices. It’s too much for the consumer and for me, every time I go there, I don’t even read the menu; I just order what I’ve ordered before. 

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Here’s the truth, you don’t need to have 10 offers to be successful, and when you do, you make it hard for people to choose how to work with you.”“]

In your business, if you want to add certain items to your “menu,” do it when the time is right, when you’ve perfected the selected things you do offer and then do it sporadically so the consumer gets excited about it and there’s a supply and demand to it.

Listen to the full episode for more gems on building your empire and learn more about Gerald Washington by visiting or follow on Instagram at @empirebuildergw.

Redefining Wealth Rapid Wisdom Questions

And with that, let’s dig into Gerald’s responses to our Redefining Wealth Rapid Wisdom Questions.

Define Success:


Define Wealth in 3 Words or Less:

“Freedom from a job.”

One Book that Has Redefined How You See Wealth:

The Richest Man in Babylon” by George S. Clason

Fill-in the Blanks … “My name is ___ and the truth about wealth is ___”:

“My name is Gerald Washington and the truth about wealth is that it is not tied to money.”


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