“I knew I wanted to be in business from the day I was born,” Lance Pierce says.
His instinct seems to be spot-on. Pierce, who is an Innovation Leader at Hallmark Inc., started out selling melons grown on his family farm, and his success has grown from there.
“I would load the melons up on my four-wheeler and sell them door to door. I raised bottle calves as well. The dairy down the street didn’t have a need for their male calves, so I would buy them and bottle-feed them every morning and night. Then I put them out to pasture and sold them at the market for a profit,” Pierce says.
His business adventures grew beyond the farm into a lawn-mowing business, a venture into catering, and eventually into a degree in business and marketing from the University of Missouri.
Pierce interned at Hallmark and then came on full time after college in 2009.
“What I do is called ‘intra-preneurship.’ It’s like entrepreneurship, but instead I build new businesses within Hallmark,” Pierce said. “My collaborative role requires me to partner with engineers, visual merchandising, packaging, designers, and even foreign manufacturers. My role is similar to an owner in the fact that I ensure that all the activities of my cross-functional team align to the strategy I have developed.”
Besides his work at Hallmark, Pierce rents out living spaces with Airbnb, a company that connects travelers with individuals that rent out their extra rooms or homes to others. Pierce is enthusiastic about the company and the opportunities it affords him.
“I love it so much because yes, it’s a nice stream of revenue, but the really great thing about it is the people I meet.
They’re from London, they’re from Australia, they’re from Ukraine. Airbnb allows me to travel without leaving home… I really love people. I love hearing their stories and perspectives, and when I talk to people and I uncover something new I didn’t know before. What Airbnb has done is bring the human element back to travel.”
Pierce is also the Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the Mid-America Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and he has been a part of the organization from the beginning.
“We’re bringing together the movers, the shakers, the dreamers and the doers. We bring people together in a place where they can help benefit each other, and raise the community through prosperity.”
“What I love most about the Chamber is the amount I’ve learned over the past couple of years from the other board members… and the opportunities it’s provided for me for learning, networking, and building a really strong future,” Pierce explains.
He’s also excited for the doors it opens for LGBT youth.
“We’re creating this world, and people can be around positive role models. When you first come out or realize that you’re gay, you don’t see anyone at the top like you. You don’t really see how your life might play out. But now you couldn’t pay me all the money in the world to be straight.”
Pierce also extols the importance of bringing allies into the Chamber and into advocacy for LGBT issues in general. “When you look at social movements, the turning point was when non-minorities started speaking out, because it elevates it from a personal issue to a human rights issue.”
From his farm business-savvy to innovating every day at Hallmark, Pierce seems to have business in his blood. And he shows no signs of slowing down. He smiles as he says, “Life is about the people you meet and the things you create with them. So go out and start creating!”
Photo credit: Landon Vonderschmidt
The Mid-America Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (MAGLCC) is an organization that advocates, promotes and facilitates the success of the LGBT business community and its allies. Learn more at MAGLCC.org.