Entrepreneur to Students: Use Your Personal Time Wisely
Michele Velcheck provides keynote address at Awards Ceremony
KENNESAW, Ga. (May 20, 2019) — For many students, success means securing a comfortable, high-salaried job after graduation. However, Atlanta real estate entrepreneur Michele Velcheck says that recent graduates should also focus on how they spend their personal time if they want to be successful.
Velcheck is the founder and CEO of Solid Source Realty, a real estate firm with more than $1 billion in annual sales. She was the keynote speaker at the 2018 Beta Gamma Sigma & Outstanding Student Awards Ceremony, held at the Michael J. Coles College of Business on May 7.
The ceremony recognized the more than 60 graduate and undergraduate students inducted this semester into the Beta Gamma Sigma international honor society, as well as the students from each academic program receiving Outstanding Student Awards, and the fourth graduating cohort in the Coles Scholars program.
Speaking to some of the College’s most distinguished students and graduates, Velcheck shared her personal journey from a small-town teenager working three jobs to one of Metro Atlanta’s most respected entrepreneurs. She says her success boils down to how she has chosen to spend her personal, or discretionary, time.
“Know what your discretionary time is worth,” she said. “Especially you in this room. Our discretionary time is the time outside of our required time…our days off. It was in my discretionary time that some of the greatest things in my life happened.”
Growing up in Woodstock, Ga., Velcheck’s family never encouraged her to attend college. She was more concerned in high school with balancing her three jobs – hosting at a local restaurant, baking biscuits, and working at Burger King – than with maintaining her grades. After graduation, she enlisted in the U.S. Army and became a military police officer in New Mexico.
It was during this time that she realized she could use her discretionary time to improve her future. With the military offering free tuition, she began taking classes at New Mexico State University on her days off. After leaving the Army, she returned to Georgia and took night classes at Kennesaw State University, graduating in 1990 with a degree in management.
Velcheck then began a successful career in corporate sales, working for companies like Pfizer and C.R. Bard, complete with high salaries and company cars. Motivated by a desire to take more control of her financial future, she began using her discretionary time to invest in real estate.
“I saw a one-hour infomercial about investing in real estate one night at 2 am,” she said. “Within 60 days I owned three rental properties. This was not my day job, but it became my passion.”
After spending some time working as a real estate loan officer, Velcheck obtained a brokerage license in 1993 and opened Solid Source Realty. Today, the company employs 1,700 agents and sells more than 5,000 homes each year. INC Magazine ranked Solid Source as the 95th fastest-growing private firm in the country, while Velcheck was a finalist for Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
Velcheck says her success would not have been possible without wise use of her discretionary time. She urged the students to use their discretionary time to pursue their passions.
“We can all hope that the corporate job you are going to accept is amazing,” she said. “But, let me remind you that you are the top of the top. You’ve gotten here by taking tests really well, but you can also do a lot of other things really well. Channel that into your discretionary time because it could mean the difference between where you are and where you wind up.”
In addition to providing the keynote address, Velcheck received an honorary induction into the Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society.
“Michele has a great story, a great character and a great heart,” said Dr. Robin Cheramie, Coles College’s Interim Dean.
Spring 2019 Beta Gamma Sigma Inductees
Cheramie also congratulated the students in attendance for being among the top business students in the world. Beta Gamma Sigma membership is available only to the top students at the nearly 800 schools globally accredited by AACSB International, the most prestigious accrediting body in the world. Coles College invites juniors in the top 10 percent of their class and seniors and graduate students in the top 20 percent of their classes to join the society.
“As an international Beta Gamma Sigma international honor society inductee, you are now the best of the best,” Cheramie said. “That is quite an accomplishment and something you should be proud of.”
— Patrick Harbin
Photos by Catalina Calvo