Realtors Reducing Poverty: Tony Sells SLC
Whole Planet Foundation has been supported by Tony Huston since 2014. Tony was instrumental in his former employer showing up one day to the Whole Foods Market headquarters office in Austin, Texas with a Big Check made out to Whole Planet Foundation for $100,000. He had heard about Whole Planet Foundation impact from Whole Foods Market team members and wanted to join them and other stakeholders in alleviating poverty in countries around the globe that supply stores with products.
As an entrepreneur himself, Tony established Tony Sells SLC, with five tenets to his mission: service, active listening, open communication, client satisfaction and giving back. In his words, “I believe it's important to give back to our communities. That's why I give a $350 donation to the charity of my choice, and ALSO give a $350 donation to the charity of YOUR choice with EVERY transaction.”
Whole Planet Foundation interviewed Tony as part of our Entrepreneurs Empowering Entrepreneurs interview series:
Q: What inspired you to become a realtor and continue to support Whole Planet Foundation?
I became a realtor for three primary reasons; 1) I love helping others 2) timing had never been right when I had considered it previously 3) after traveling for work every week for 25+ years, I was ready to work where I live. The reason I chose to continue to support Whole Planet Foundation is because I sincerely believe in their mission. I had the extraordinary opportunity in my previous career to both support and visit specific locations around the globe where Whole Planet Foundation was impacting communities and hear the stories directly from microcredit clients and how microloans had dramatically changed their lives.
Q: How did you progress from your origin story to where you are now?
I had always worked for corporate America, which has provided me incredible opportunities to experience different cultures, personally, and professionally. These experiences have led to a desire to do more for people both locally and globally, something I never thought possible in my youth.
Q: Tell us how it felt when you experienced a setback, and how you overcame it?
Setbacks can feel frustrating and defeating. I have learned that whether you think you’re going to succeed or fail, you’re right. You get to choose. Every time I remind myself of that, I am able to overcome those setbacks, because that’s all they are…setbacks.
Q: What makes each day an opportunity to make a difference for yourself and low-income entrepreneurs around the globe?
Every day we get to choose. Our attitude, our actions, our motivations. As an entrepreneur, truly what you put in will determine what you get back in return. I choose to make a difference every way I can. I have had the unique opportunity to meet entrepreneurs all over the world. At 53 years old, I decided to start a completely new career. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. However, I have been beyond amazed seeing how taking small steps every day make for dramatic changes over time. I have an even greater understanding today of those entrepreneurs I’ve met and their drive to do more.
Q: What’s the most impactful part of a program/project/product you developed?
For me, it was the opportunity to establish the $100,000 Fund with the support of my employer at the time for Whole Planet Foundation. Whenever you can raise the bar in a way that challenges others to rise, and hopefully, exceed a new benchmark, especially for the good of others, you can’t help but feel great! That experience affected me so deeply, that when I made the decision to transition into real estate, incorporating a give back program into my own business model was one of my very first considerations.
Q: What’s your 5-year dream?
My 5-year dream is to continue to scale my business in a way that allows me to spend even more time helping others not only through financial giving, but with more of my time and talents as well. Although Covid-19 threw a wrench in my initial 2020 goals, it has not deterred me from my longer-term objective. I want to be personally debt-free in 5 years, and I would love to achieve a combined 5-year donation level of $100,000 to Whole Planet Foundation by the end of 2024.
Q: What’s your advice to aspiring entrepreneurs who want to embed a cause in their business strategy?
My advice is to make it part of your business plan from the beginning and make it scalable. If it’s not affordable when you’re starting out, it’s likely not going to be as you get bigger. Secondarily, do it for the right reasons; make sure you have a passion for the cause you choose. I believe when we commit to support a cause that we have a personal connection to, it gives us purpose. It becomes less about self, and more about others. I think today, now more than ever, we need that!
Learn more at wholeplanetfoundation.org and become a Realtor Reducing Poverty by contacting WPF Development & Outreach Director Joy.Stoddard@wholefoods.com.