From the moment I met this father/son duo, I realized that there was much more than meets the eye. This inspiring pair shared with me some of their views on faith, family and the lessons they’ve learned from each other over the years.
I had the chance to spend time with both of these gentlemen, outside and in their place of business. As I explained to his father, my first encounter with his son was a pleasant exchange. We met for a much-needed ice cream refreshment on the Sunday afternoon of our first meeting. It was then that I learned that Andre, was “just a kid from Pine Bluff who started dreaming beyond his dreams and watched his dreams become his reality.” I asked him what his dreams entailed of and he explained to me that he has already been fortunate enough to live out some of his dreams while modeling for the Sculpt Agency, working on campaigns for local and national brands such as Grizzly tobacco and Bass Pro Shops. However, Andre insisted that for him, the sky is the limit.
1. Growing Up
A native of Pine Bluff and graduate from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Andre recalled only fond memories of his small hometown in Arkansas. With his parents being alumni of the university and proud fans of the UAPB Golden Lions, he cites this as the reason he chose to attend the school, although due to his father’s success, he had the luxury to attend any school of his choice. He expressed to me the deep admiration for his father as being vital to his chosen field of study in college. When I asked Andre what he wanted to be when he grew up, he simply replied “successful.” He went on to declare that this was the one word that best described his father. And without a specific occupation in mind, he only knew for sure that he wanted to be half the man that his father was. Therefore, following suit, Andre also obtained his degree in Business Management.
Andre recounted memories of growing up being a talkative kid which sometimes led to him getting into trouble in school. That same behavior has since helped shape many of his career endeavors. I first came to know Andre as “the guy who throws parties.” I quickly discovered that he doesn’t just “throw parties,” but he throws parties “with a purpose.” He is the brain behind the annual Christmas “Jingle Mingle” event that collects canned goods and non-perishable items for local food banks. The event is currently in its seventh year of production and increases in popularity and donations each year.
2. The Road to Success
J. Andre Pendleton, Sr., began his professional career as a licensed insurance agent in 1992. In addition to his degree in Business Administration, Mr. Pendleton also holds a master’s degree in marketing. He belongs to the National Association of Insurance & Financial Advisors and was invited into the Millionaire’s Club in his first year of sales. Mr. Pendleton detailed that while the road to success was not always as easy as it looked, he credits his success not to his own ability but to “the grace of God.” He explained that his greatest personal achievement was having the ability to not only acquire success, but to maintain it during the highs and the lows of his career.
When I asked Andre Jr., about his ideas on success he stated that it all begins with confidence. He explained that he tries to instill that idea in his daughters, adding that "it’s okay to be different" and that he wants them to always have a strong sense of self. He continued that he wants his daughters to know that he will always be supportive of their dreams, the same way his parents were supportive of his. He attributes his personal success to being motivated.
3. Setting a Good Example
“I see a lot of people with children that do pretty much anything in front of them, live any kind of way and that was one thing that was always important to me, was to try to be a good example, no matter what it was,” Mr. Pendleton affirmed. He explained that he was aware that his son looked up to him, as children often do, emulating what they see in their parents. He expressed that because he grew up without his father, he made the decision when Andre was a baby that he would be the type of man that he wanted his son to aspire to.
Mr. Pendleton continued that while he grew up without his father, he recalled memories of successful men in his church that he looked up to. Specifically, one gentleman who wore Johnston & Murphy shoes. He said that he told himself as a child that he would have those same shoes when he grew up and became successful. Mr. Pendleton claims that as of today, he owns more than 20 pairs.
4. Fatherly Advice
Andre said that the one thing he most remembers his father telling him as a child and still to this day was to “act like you got some sense.” I asked Mr. Pendleton to elaborate on this statement and he explained to me that he wanted to ensure that Andre conducted himself in a respectable manner once he left home. Not only for himself, but for his father’s namesake as well. A respected businessman in the community and father, Mr. Pendleton revealed that he didn’t want to receive a phone call that his son was misbehaving in public. Although he did reveal to me that because of his many connections, unbeknownst to Andre, he often received phone calls as to his son's whereabouts that to this day, Andre has no clue who tipped his father off. The lesson here: always act as if someone were watching. Chances are, someone is.
5. A Final Word on Fatherhood
I asked both father and son what their relationship was like in the beginning and how it has evolved over time. Mr. Pendleton described the fact that he wanted to establish a level of respect with his son early on. He emphasized that he made it clear to his son that he was the authority in his household and that if Andre decided to “step wrong” then there would be consequences. He illustrated stories of Andre being a typical child and getting into trouble as most teens do, but he detailed that he used those instances as teaching moments for his son to realize that there were repercussions for his actions. When I asked Andre whether his father was more of an authoritative figure or a friend, he replied without hesitation, “both”. He confessed that his father was and still is his “best friend” and that he understood that there was a time to play and a time to be serious. He explained that he follows this same pattern with his own daughters, ages 11 and 13.
When Andre is not consumed with the demands of his business, modeling or planning events, you may find him speaking at a local youth organization, painting abstract works of art or building his own empire, following in his father’s footsteps.