Tyrus Sanders, who serves on the Dallas Regional Chamber Board of Directors, is featured in the DRC’s Black History Month Series. In the interview, he talks about what he’s learned in his 30 years of banking experience, including the importance of relationships in business and in the community. Ty also discusses how to have effective conversations about race and shares the best advice he’s received.
The following interview appeared on the Dallas Regional Chamber website on Feb. 22, 2022.
What African American figures have had a major influence on your life?
The first is my father, Albert Sanders, because of his mentorship, work ethic, and approach to life. I still live by my dad’s philosophy today: don’t let anyone outwork you, keep life simple, to get respect you must give respect, and build as many relationships as you can. My father was a small-business owner, and he also taught me business acumen.
Secondly, George Carter was one of the first African American Senior Vice Presidents at Bank of America. He taught me banking is a people business, and details are important. George spent countless hours helping me understand the principles of lending, the art of deal structure, and the importance of reinvesting in the community. I cannot thank those two gentlemen enough for spending time with me.
What are the biggest challenges facing the current generation of African American leaders?
The biggest challenges facing current African American leaders is how we use technology, build relationships, and understand the lessons of the past. Technology has created an environment of convenience and consistency, but the bonding that comes through mutual struggles allows us to be more tolerant of each other’s misgivings and find more common ground. We must make technology a tool and not a substitute for human interaction.
Relationship building is a lot of work, but our current generation of leaders must see the value of building relationships within the African American community. Leadership is also a contact sport. Understanding the lessons of the past requires that we seek mentorship. The art of mentorship must be the building block for our community to grow. We must mentor and be willing to be mentored.
As a business leader, how do you have effective conversations on race?
Conversations about race must start from a place of common ground. We must first talk about the things we have in common. This will lead to relationship building. Having tough conversations about race is most effective when a relationship is in place. This affords us to extend grace. Grace is important because it allows us to see the true intention of what is being said, so we all can achieve the highest level of understanding.
What is the best piece of advice you received on life and building a successful career?
I think about three pieces of advice all the time. My father quoted the following phrase to me, “He who works not for the love of work but for the love of money will not make much money or be very successful in life.”
Cathy Bessant, a senior-level executive at Bank of America, told me early in my career to make your employer feel like having you on the team is a bargain. Your work should exceed the value of your paycheck.
Lastly, Ronnie Smith, President of Regions Corporate Bank, says, “Life is like climbing a mountain with no peak. Slow down and enjoy the climb.”