Arnie Malham believes in three concepts that can separate a good business from a great business: individual growth, abundance for the whole team and reverse paranoia, or the belief that the universe wants you to succeed.
Joining Belmont as the Jack C. Massey College of Business Entrepreneur in Residence for the 2019-2020 school year, Malham’s 24-year journey to build three businesses was anchored by his willingness to “get it wrong enough to finally get it right.”
In a convocation event held on campus, Malham gave advice for students and young entrepreneurs on building a remarkable company culture and growing from every mistake.
After being fired in 1994, Malham took his small side venture and made it his career, without a clue as to how to run a company. Armed with his belief that different is better than good, outliers are fascinating and mind-set is everything, he persevered. Thanks to countless business books and dozens of mentors, Malham put the momentum behind his company through a bold, culture-first approach.
He told students that outliers start to explain things going right in a business. They are opporunties nobody else sees. While the clients at cj Advertising were less glamorous than other ad agencies, the culture Malham built kept employees around for a long time. His company paid employees to read, sent birthday cards and money to their children and focused on training them to be the best in their field. He even used an anonymous tip line to find out his team wanted better toilet paper, and he made it happen.
cj Advertising grew to become the largest full-service brand-building agency in the country exclusively for law firms. Along the way, Malham also launched a call center named Legal Intake Professionals (LIP) in 2005 that was also strictly focused on serving personal injury law firms. Both businesses were sold to separate buyers in 2017, and Arnie turned all of his attention toward a concept that played a huge role in creating the successful culture of growth at both cj and LIP: BetterBookClub.com.
As Belmont’s Entrepreneur in Residence, Malham will be available to give one-on-one advising to students as they begin or continue in their entrepreneurial endeavors. He will also support other entrepreneurial programs in the Massey College of Business throughout the year. A seasoned entrepreneur rooted in Nashville, Malham will also act as a connector between Belmont and the larger Nashville community by bringing in speakers, connecting students with mentors and getting students engaged in other entrepreneurial events in the area.
“My goal as Entrepreneur in Residence is not to have the students learn from my mistakes, but rather to help them discover the compounding value of learning from their own mistakes while on their unique paths to personal and professional success,” said Malham. “I’m honored to be a small part of the ever increasing success and influence of Belmont’s Center for Entrepreneurship.”
Belmont has two EIRs each year, and Dan Hogan will continue his role from last year. Both he and Malham are available to meet with any student (of any major) for office hours in the Hatchery. They provide guidance on any question the students may have related to starting a business.
Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship Elizabeth Gortmaker said it is a tremendous resource to have seasoned entrepreneurs provide this hands-on mentorship and allow the students to meet with someone from the community on a regular basis.
“Dan and Arnie are both very involved in Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) of Nashville. They both have great success stories and a huge heart for giving back to students and supporting young entrepreneurs,” she said. “After several meetings with Arnie, it became clear that he had the expertise and the heart for supporting our young entrepreneurs.”
A list of Malham’s additional achievements include:
- EO Nashville Chapter Forum Six – 2004–present
- EO Nashville Chapter, Learning Chair – 2008, 2012, 2013, 2017, 2018
- Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year, Regional Finalist – 2009
- EO Nashville Chapter, President – 2009
- DiJulius Secret Service Summit, highest-rated speaker in event history – 2012
- EO Entrepreneurial Masters Program – 2012
- Nashville Business Journal’s Best in Business Awards winner – 2012
- EO Nerve (regional conference), Learning Chair – 2015
- Published “Worth Doing Wrong: The Quest to Build a Culture That Rocks” – 2016
- Nashville Business Journal’s Most Admired CEOs and Their Companies award winner – 2017
Malham said, “I’m excited about the opportunity to help these talented business leaders of tomorrow cheer for others, embrace the concept of a rising tide raising all ships and open their minds to a universe conspiring to help them succeed.”