For James Nowlin III, founder and CEO of consulting firm Excel Global Partners, business is about much more than the bottom line.
“If you are not in business to create wealth and opportunities for your community and for the next generation, then you should not be in business,” he said.
This personal motto grew from Nowlin’s gratitude toward those who supported him during his journey to build a global, multimillion-dollar, high-level executive consulting firm that competes with big names like Deloitte Development LLC, McKinsey & Co., Ernst & Young LLP and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.
Excel Global Partners launched in 2007, after Nowlin spent several years practicing finance law at one of Texas’ top law firms and serving as a managing director of one of the world’s largest legal search consulting firm. It was during those years that Nowlin realized he did not want to practice as an attorney for the rest of his life, but strike out on his own and build a company that used his natural gifts.
“It took me about 10 years of higher education and professional experience to really fifure out where my gifts were and what I wanted to do with my life,” he said. “I founded Excel Global Partners based on my knowledge of finance and my understanding that corporations and organizations needed higher value consulting resources. They want people to come in from day one who understand their organization, ask the right questions and drive value. I knew that with my vision, I could build a company that provided a higher level of service than some of the global behemoths in the specialized services consulting field.
What started out as a one-man shop quickly grew as Nowlin brought on talented, trusted colleagues, including his life partner and his mother, who put herself through college when Nowlin was in high school. Now Excel Global Partners provides services across the globe, including future opportunities in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar.
“To strategically grow our business, we’ve got to continue expanding into other markets, so we’re exploring other opportunities, clients and geographies,” he said. “There is a dearth of qualified people who do the level of work that we do. As a midmarket enterprise, we have such a talented team; I want to expose business leaders worldwide to our company.”
Nowlin acknowledges that the path to a flourishing business that uses his gifts and allows him to give back has not been an easy one.
“It’s lots of responsibility; it’s also lots of stress,” he said. “But, I look at this [company] and think, ‘Wow, this is an extraordinary experience. I’m really living the ‘American dream.’”
Through it all, Nowlin has remained focused on his core belief that building a successful business means a responsibility for helping other small business owners succeed. He uses his own experiences to coach minority-owned businesses in an effort to help them overcome roadblocks to success. “If you are blessed with opportunity — even if you have created that opportunity yourself — you have a responsibility to give back and to help others along the way,” he said. “We elect to sponsor certain other minority-owned, women-owned and LGBT businesses, assisting them to achieve and perform at a higher level. I really want to see more LGBTBEs become serious enterprises with the capacity to build wealth.”
Excel Global Partners is National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce-certified, and Nowlin credits membership in the organization with building his professional self-esteem and helping develop a national network of business owners that provides support and inspiration.
“I sometimes brag to people that I’m probably one of the biggest benefits of NGLCC’s vision,” he said with a chuckle. “I attended a business executive leaders workshop at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College a couple of years ago, which was paid for by sponsor corporations of NGLCC. We were already a very successful business; that class reminded me that we could become even more successful, that we could improve even more.”
Nowlin appreciates such opportunities to learn how to take his business to an even higher level, but he puts equal emphasis on the relationship-building side of NGLCC.
“There is so much energy that I get every time I interact with someone on the NGLCC board, NGLCC staff or at the national conference or national dinner,” he said. “I know when I walk away from an NGLCC meeting, that I can do it. I feel good about my business, I feel good about who I am, and I know that there are a lot of people rooting for me in the background. That [support] means a lot. That means a whole lot. It reminds me that I’m not alone. NGLCC is a tool that empowers me to stick my chest out a little more, to feel that I’ve got some serious cheerleaders behind the scenes and that the sky is the limit for Excel Global Partners. I love the organization, I love their vision, and I love what they’re doing to assist people who may not traditionally have a seat at the table.”
It is that combination of professional achievement and guiding others to success that drives Nowlin.
“I want to be a resource,” he said. “I want to be a light to others, to let them know not only that they can do it, but that they can do it big and do it extraordinarily well. I want them to know that as they arrive, they have a responsibility to give back and to prepare the next generation.”