From Selling Sweets to the Sweet Life: Odell Bizzell Teaches Youth How to Succeed by Serving

Business Wire

GREENSBORO, N.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Odell Bizzell doesn’t believe in retirement. And for someone who started his first business venture at the age of 14, that’s a lot of years of work, but he jokingly says, “I’ll retire when I die.”

Those are strong words from a young man who hasn’t even hit 30 years old yet. But for Bizzell, an entrepreneur who’s already owned multiple small businesses, lost it all, and worked hard to get it back, it’s just one of his many life mantras.

It started in high school selling candy to earn money for expensive shoes. By college, he owned 30 vending machines and a barbershop only to lose it all in bad investments two months shy of college.

“I had ambition, resources and people on my side but thought I had everything figured out. I stopped listening to people that helped me,” he says.

Downtrodden, broke and trying to support himself and his wife, Bizzell took a job as a detention officer at Guilford County Jail in his hometown of Greensboro. He had a tough time at first, seeing guys he knew from high school on the other side of the bars, but the experience humbled and inspired him. While there, he wrote and published three books.

“I’m fortunate that it happened when I was younger. I still felt like I could bounce back,” he says.

That’s one of the reasons he loves sharing his story with college students in particular.

“Young people still have a lot of dreams. The audience is full of hope but I think they’re missing their greater sense of being connected to others. It’s not about you, it’s about everyone else.”

His message of servitude and finding passion in a career, along with his happy-go-lucky attitude makes him just as popular with audiences today as he was in high school. Since taking his story on the road in 2008, he’s reached students at more than 150 college campuses throughout the eastern United States.

His next project, Adventures in Achievement, will be a fictional series inspired by real-life stories.

“Everybody’s purpose in the world is the same—to give the world a glimpse of heaven by what they do and who they are. That glimpse is passion.”

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