Billy Price is the co-founder of BILLY Footwear, a shoewear company that was started after suffering a spinal cord injury as a teenager. BILLY Footwear quickly became a prototype to fulfill Billy’s personal needs and help those like him and is now featured in hundreds of stores like Nordstrom and Zappos.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
I was born and raised just outside of Seattle, Washington. Much of my childhood was spent playing sports like soccer, skiing, and baseball. I was very active in the outdoors — going hiking, camping, and climbing the peaks of the Cascade and Olympic Mountain Ranges. I loved building things and learning how things worked too. You could often find me in the garage using my dad’s tools taking things apart and then putting them back together. My childhood really shaped me in terms of striving to be independent and figuring out how best to accomplish that goal.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
I wish I would have learned earlier in life the importance of having a mentor and building a network. I suppose for me it happened organically, given there have been so many that have assisted me along this precious journey called life.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
I do not think this can be specifically attributed to the shoe industry or being an entrepreneur, but one “success principle” that I hear thrown around is to ‘fake it until you make it’. I totally get that we may not have all the answers when we are moving forward, but I think it is important that we are intentional and eager in our learning. For me, it is vital that we always remain authentic and genuine to all that surrounds us. Business (and life) is about building relationships.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
Just after I broke my neck and became paralyzed from the chest down, my mind went to a very dark place. Yes, I was alive, but it felt like my life was over. And that was the toxic negative talk that I was feeding myself. In that time of darkness, I felt it was not worth living if I could not walk. It was a very scary time. But through the support of others, I was able to change my mindset. Instead of focusing on what I had lost, I began focusing on what I still had, and became forever grateful just to be alive.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
In the book Go-Giver, it speaks about the law of reciprocity. By helping others, others will help you. The thing is though, you do not help others with expectations for them to return the favor. You help to help — adding value to add value. It’s a gift, not a transaction.
In our business, we do our best to add value wherever we can. That effort has garnered tremendous relationships with factories, distributors, retail partners, and end-user customers. Through all those channels, word of the BILLY brand has spread. Now our once small brand out of Seattle is selling shoes to customers around the planet.
What is your morning routine?
I’m usually out of bed by 7 AM. My wife and I have a 3-year old toddler that commands the morning. Between getting him set up for the day, I take a glance at any emails or texts that came in overnight over a cup of tea. From there, it’s off to our office and warehouse to meet up with the rest of the BILLY Team.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
Grit. Building a business is a bit like riding on a rollercoaster. There are highs, there are lows, and sometimes you want to puke. The trick is being able to endure and grind through the challenges. It’s the old adage: ‘what does not kill you makes you stronger’.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
Ha! Is no sleep an answer? In all seriousness though, it is a matter of identifying sequencing the priorities — separating the needs from the wants. One only has so much bandwidth. Identify what is most important, identify your strengths, and jump in. You’ll be wearing lots of hats at first, but as you grow, you’ll become more efficient and more people will become available to help.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
- The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. I love the power of compounding. And I love how this book illustrates how the compounding of small things turns into big things. As an example, doubling pennies for 30 days yields huge results. On Day 2, you have two pennies. On Day 30, you have more than $10M. Absolutely incredible. We just need to be patient and committed to letting the compounding process take its course.
- The Go-Giver by Bob Burg. This book provides a powerful image of the importance of putting the needs of others ahead of your own. By first helping someone else succeed, you succeed.
- Bible. Reading the Bible grew my faith in something bigger than myself. It helped me find and focus on the blessing, instead of fixating and cursing any challenge. It helped me move forward with confidence, knowing that everything will work out.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
I do have one saying that comes to mind often. I’m not sure if it can be attributed to anyone specific as a quote though. Maybe it’s my own quote 🙂
“If it were easy, everyone would do it.”