When highly successful people are asked to share the secrets to their success or describe how they got their start, their anecdotes of their early days don’t typically involve hoping for failure.
Carlton B. Dallas, who boasts an impressive petroleum industry and speaking career that has spanned 34 years, 19 moves and more than 50 countries, came from a humble beginning.
Dallas, a North Carolina native, began his collegiate career at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a solid student and played a little football until he hit a financial bump in the road and returned home.
“It was the ’70s and people were ‘finding themselves,’” he says. “I ran out of money and thought I would find myself too, but my parents had other ideas.”
With his parents’ encouragement, Dallas inquired about job openings at a local Crown Central Petroleum convenience store. He prayed that there were none, but there were and his magnetic personality quickly secured him an interview. His potential employer required candidates to pass a polygraph and Dallas prayed he would fail it — he didn’t.
Dallas accepted a position as a third-shift clerk and, instead of treating his role as a simple job for a paycheck, took full advantage of his unique opportunity to run and learn a complete business at a young age.
“I was responsible for revenues and margins, hiring and firing and more — all of the things I had studied in business school,” he says.
Dallas continued his education, graduating from the University of Maryland with a degree in management, and went on to study at Cornell University, the University of Chicago and The Young Executive Institute at the UNC Kenan Flagler School of Business. He also obtained 360-Degree Leadership Feedback/Development certification at the Center for Creative Leadership Research Institute. Throughout his diverse career, Dallas gained experience in marketing, management systems, sales, human resources, logistics and more.
He fell in love with Hilton Head Island while attending a sales conference on the island and convinced Michele, his wife of 20 years with whom he has two sons, that Hilton Head should become the home for their next chapter. He retired in August 2010, but has shown no signs of slowing down.
In addition to managing a robust speaking schedule and heading up Dallas International Trading and Solutions, which specializes in connecting investors, turning around businesses and transforming leaders, he is actively involved with a variety of other organizations and causes, including the Hilton Head Institute, the World Affairs Council of Hilton Head, the Don Ryan Center for Innovation, the Hilton Head Island Economic Development Corporation and the “Shark Tank”-esque Bring Your Business Idea to Life competition.