Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse stories with the mission to inspire kids and youth around the world to become empathetic entrepreneurs.
Hi everyone, Spiffy here, your one and only interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth. I’m thrilled to be talking to Lloyd Cambridge an entrepreneur working to make the world a better place through his startup Progress Playbook. Are you ready to be enlightened?
Spiffy: Lloyd, let’s just jump in! Tell us about your work, what challenges are you addressing?
Lloyd: Current business education often provides a one-size-fits-all approach. Entrepreneurs and business owners receive the same general information and methods of learning. With this generic approach, entrepreneurs and business owners often make unnecessary mistakes that lead to failure or delayed success. At Progress Playbook, our mission is to equip entrepreneurs to design the business, life, and world that they love. We envision a world where anyone from anywhere who wants to build any business has step-by-step support along their journey. We create customized learning experiences and programs for entrepreneurs that provide step-by-step support along their journeys.
Spiffy: This sounds phenomenal, Lloyd! What motivated you to take on this work?
Lloyd: Well Spiffy, as a kid growing up in Brownsville, Brooklyn, New York, I always wanted to start a business but lacked the confidence, resources, and support to make it happen. Despite these roadblocks, I never stopped dreaming. After graduating from college, I spent my career supporting entrepreneurs and business owners as a business banker, teacher, and public servant. But I knew I could do more, so with the support of some friends, I finally put my fears aside, quit my job, and started Progress Playbook. As I reflect on my younger self and my own challenges, I am motivated to ensure that anyone from anywhere who wants to start a business has step-by-step support along their journey.
Spiffy: I’m curious, how do you think Progress Playbook is creating a more equitable world?
Lloyd: We design entrepreneurship programs and learning experiences — in partnership with government agencies, nonprofits, and corporations — to support entrepreneurs in starting and building businesses locally. We believe that entrepreneurship is the single greatest tool that we have to transform the world for good. We have customized business education programs for bodega owners, Caribbean business owners, youth, residents in public housing, food manufactures, and more. One of our favorite programs is our Start an Empire program, where we work with young people to build a business that solves a problem in their neighborhood (i.e. mental health, gun violence, financial literacy).
Young people learn about entrepreneurship and showcase their work in pop-up shops at the annual Youth Creative Market. (Photo courtesy of Lloyd Cambridge)
Spiffy: What recent milestones are you especially proud of?
Lloyd: We recently worked with JPMorgan Chase, Next Street, and Common Future to conduct a study on the business ecosystem in New York City. Our goal was to identify challenges that black business owners in NYC face and develop solutions to address them. The work brought together business leaders from around the city who are now working together on several initiatives, including providing more flexible capital, holistic education, and citywide collaboration.
Spiffy: Could you share an experience when you faced failure and didn't give up. What did you learn?
Lloyd: Failure is nothing more than missing an objective. I face failure often — it’s part of the entrepreneurs’ learning, discovery, and growing process. I have had several programs where things didn't go as planned. For example, we were launching an entrepreneurship storytelling platform and our corporate sponsor pulled out at the last minute, which limited our capital to execute the program. Despite the roadblock, we scaled the program down and launched it. We could have given up, but we knew what kind of impact the stories would have on others, so we persisted.
Spiffy: Do you have any words of wisdom you’d be able to leave with our audience?
Lloyd: The path to greatness is doing the ordinary, extraordinarily well.
Spiffy: I think you’re living up to that Lloyd! Keep up the inspiring work!
Lloyd Cambridge is the founder & CEO of Progress Playbook, a small business training and economic development consulting company. Prior to starting Progress Playbook, Lloyd was the Director of NYC Business Solutions and an underwriter at JPMorganChase. Lloyd has supported over 10,000 entrepreneurs throughout his career and has shared his expertise on entrepreneurship with organizations like Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, the Small Business Administration, and New York University. Lloyd earned his B.S. in economics from NYU. (Nominated by ImpactHub New York)