In the lead up to Labor Day, we have put together a Q&A series we're calling "Q&Aid" with some of the top entrepreneurs and city/business leaders to get our volunteers' creative juices flowing.
For the latest installment of our series, we sit down with G.T. Bynum, Mayor of the City of Tulsa, and third youngest person to serve in this role.
Editor's Note: Parts of this interview have been edited and condensed for clarity.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Sworn in as the 40th Mayor of Tulsa in 2016, I am using data and innovation to bring people together and make our city globally competitive. To accomplish this, I am focused on fiscal responsibility, public safety, infrastructure, and equality of opportunity for all Tulsans. This approach has already yielded the successful recruitment of the two largest new employers in the history of Tulsa, while outpacing both the state and the nation in job growth.
Prior to my election as Mayor, I served for eight years on the Tulsa City Council. During that time, I was elected as the youngest City Council Chairman in Tulsa history.
Before serving as Mayor of Tulsa, I served as the managing partner of Capitol Ventures, and before that worked in the United States Senate for Senators Don Nickles and Tom Coburn. I am a proud graduate of two institutions operated by the Augustinian Order of the Catholic Church: Cascia Hall Preparatory School in Tulsa and Villanova University, where I served as Student Body President.
I come from a family dedicated to public service and my wife, Susan and I, are the proud parents of Robert and Annabel – the sixth generation of Bynums to call Tulsa home.
When did you know you wanted to do what you do now?
People have been telling me why they think my grandfather was a great mayor for as long as I can remember, so even before I had any idea what a mayor did I knew it was something important to other people and a way you could help people.
Who is your biggest role model or mentor and why?
My grandfather, former Mayor Robert LaFortune, has been my hero all my life. He is always focused on what he can do for others. He has dedicated his life to his church, his city, and his family. He has remained kind and humble while accomplishing a great deal.
This Lemon-Aid stand is my first entrepreneurial venture… any advice or suggestions?
The only limit to what you can accomplish as an entrepreneur is what you’re capable of doing. Unlike other jobs, no one tells you how much you make or how to do it. You have all the freedom, and all the responsibility.
What did you wish you knew when you were a kid that you know now?
You will get far more enjoyment from a sense of accomplishment than you will from anything you can buy.
What has been your greatest failure and what did it teach you?
Being laid off from my job when our daughter was 2 weeks old. It taught me to make the most of the things you can control, and don’t waste time worrying about the things you can’t. I started my own business, grew it, and loved the experience.
What drives you to keep going when things get difficult?
My love for my family.
How do you feel you make a difference in the world?
I think being mayor of your hometown provides more opportunities to make a positive impact in the daily lives of people you care about than any other job.