“… every day what I try to do is to set the right example, be a positive role model, and hopefully in doing so, giving people a sense of hope. You know, at the end of the day, people want to feel a sense of hope about themselves, about their environment, and that anything I can do to help facilitate that, to create that sort of feeling and aspiration and inspiration, that to me is a positive thing.”
Toni Reece: Thank you so much, Matt, for agreeing to be part of this Project today, and before we begin, can you please introduce yourself?
Matt Carter: Yes. I’m Matt Carter. I’m President of Sprint’s 4G division.
Toni: Well thank you for being here.
Matt: Thank you.
Toni: Let’s talk about inspiration, Matt. When you think about inspiration, who do you think you inspire, and how does that happen?
Matt: Well, I certainly hope I inspire my family and friends and whom I come in contact with on a day-to-day basis. The heart for me is that I believe I’m here to help serve others, and so I take that very seriously. With that sort of perspective and attitude, I really try to make sure that the things that I do are actually helping others in inspiring them to fulfill their potential.
You know, Toni, we’re here only for a short period of time in this life, and while you’re here you want to make sure that you’ve gotten the most out of this time that you’re here. Part of that is really interacting and inspiring others to fulfill their potential.
Toni: How does that happen with you, the transaction occurs between you and your family or your friends or people that work for your company? Can give me an example of how I might be inspired to live my best life or to work my best work? How does that happen, and how would you inspire me to do that?
Matt: So it really starts with a basic fundamental belief about human nature. It focuses around every day when people wake up, they want to be the best that they can be, and so understanding that — that being sort of my life operating assumption — that what I try to do is to have interactions with people that help them fulfill whatever it is that they’re trying to achieve in their life.
It may be something as small as a quick conversation or just sitting down and listening to others talk about things that they are hoping to accomplish in their own life. It may be actually getting actively involved and participating through volunteer work or teaching, or whatever it may be. It cuts across a number of different things. There isn’t just any one thing, it’s really looking at and interacting with people across a number of different fronts. I interact with them in a way that I hope gives them some inspiration.
What people look for, Toni, quite frankly, is validation, and so I try to be a positive influence. I try to be realistic. I don’t want to be Pollyanna, but what I try to do with folks is be positive and exert a positive energy with people, and if people feel positive about things and they’re wiling them to take the next step to fulfill their particular aspirations.
Toni: Well that is the second question of the Project, which is how do you help others to explore their potential, and you’ve touched on that a bit, and I’m wondering if some of it is just who you are and what you do, but it sounds as though there’s a conscious attempt or effort in how you are with others so they can expose and learn about their own potential. Does that happen on a natural basis with you?
Matt: You know, it actually does. It comes from a background where, you know, being part of a minority group in America and having family that lived a life of, you know, challenges and struggles, there was always a sense for us, an obligation to try to make things better for the next person. It’s just kind of in my DNA that I’m here to help others, and part of it is kind of the responsibility of being an African American person to try to help people who are perhaps less fortunate.
So I have this kind of part of my own overall disposition that a sensitivity in trying to help those who have been less fortunate in life. So everyday – I’m not perfect by no means – but every day what I try to do is to set the right example, be a positive role model, and hopefully in doing so, giving people a sense of hope. You know, at the end of the day, people want to feel a sense of hope about themselves, about their environment, and that anything I can do to help facilitate that, to create that sort of feeling and aspiration and inspiration, that to me is a positive thing.
Toni: What inspires you, Matt?
Matt: You know, it’s self-improvement. I’m constantly looking for ways to improve myself, be a better family member, be a better executive, be a better friend, and so it’s just this constant thing of trying to be the best that I can be with the capabilities that I have. I try not to be like someone else. I try to be the best Matt Carter that I possibly can be, and with that comes a sense of peace of mind.
So if there’s an inspiration at the end of the day for me, it’s just knowing that I gave it everything that I could to be the best that I can be. All you can ask for in life is to be the best that you can be. Whether you win or fail, to be the best that you can be. And that for me is about the ultimate sort of end goal, which is peace of mind, that you can sit back and say, you know, “I gave it my best shot.” Whether I win or fail, I don’t get hung up on whether or not I win or if I fail – I get more hung up on did I give it the best that I can.
There have been times, quite frankly, when I haven’t had that peace of mind, you know, when I felt like I didn’t give it my best. But I try every day to give it the best that I can, and knowing that I gave the best that I can has given me a sense of peace of mind about myself. So that’s kind of what inspires me, Toni.
Toni: You’ve touched on the fact that you haven’t always had this mindset, or you might have stepped out of that, you know, having the peace of mind and you’ve experienced at times that you haven’t. People that are listening to this Project and reading the transcripts all over the world — it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do — people have responded to this Project because it’s just so genuine with what you have to say, and that’s the word I wrote down as I’m listening to you, is that there is a genuineness that’s going on.
Have you always showed up to the table this way as far as knowing that you were meant to help, you need to help, there has to be a difference that’s made? Did you always have that mindset, Matt, or was there something that happened, a transformation that occurred? What got you here?
Matt: You know, it starts with family. I’m from a family that … you know, my dad and mom had very simple principles for all of us, and it was to work hard and, you know, be the best that you can be. So right from the start as far back as I can remember, I’ve always had that sort of attitude to, you know … nothing in life is going to come to you, you have to really work hard and harder than the next fellow, and then all you can ask for of yourself and of others is to be the best that they can be. And by the way, you know, you’re also here not just for yourself, but you’re here to help serve and help others. What good does it do to, you know, get yours and not have helped others to achieve their sort of aspirations.
So early on in life, I’ve had that. Part of that, too, truthfully, is that I’m the oldest of five siblings, and so being the oldest you always have this sense … I’ve always had this sense of responsibility and accountability. I was always the last one at the dinner table to eat. I wanted to make sure that all the other kids, my other siblings, ate first. If there were only four desserts left, I made sure that they ate the dessert and I sacrificed not getting one. So it’s all part of that sort of mindset that, you know, I’m the big brother, and the big brother is the person, the older sibling, that makes the sacrifice for everybody else and makes their life better.
So, that’s always been a part of my sort of disposition. Now, have I always, you know, been good at doing that? No. I mean you live life. You’re going to be challenged by outside events. There are going to be things that are going to come your way that may occasionally throw you off your game or off your mindset, and that’s when you try to figure out what kind of person are you? But I’ve always been able to come back though to, you know, the foundation of who I am and not lose focus around the values that I have that I learned from mom and dad.
Toni: That is so powerful to remember, to align everything that you’re doing to your core values, and that is … and some people just don’t know how to do that, or struggle with that. I think that message is incredibly important.
What do you do now to explore your potential? I would imagine you’re a busy guy. What do you do to keep moving forward and develop new ideas, and you know, keep things interesting?
Matt: Well, by nature I’m just curious. I’m curious about the world around me. You know, the more that I learn, the more that I figured out that I don’t know, and it’s just an insatiable appetite to learn, explore, discover, and so that really inspires me on a day-to-day basis, and it helps keep me energized around the possibilities.
I’m not one of these guys who feels that I know everything. In fact, I go the opposite direction. I feel like I don’t know a whole lot, and it’s this sort of desire to learn more, do more, understand more, and I take that sort of energy and passion into the interactions that I have with others and try to get them energized and excited.
Just the other day I discovered a new food that I’ve never tried before, and it was fabulous. You know, to have this experience of trying this new cuisine that I had never tried before, and I was like a kid in a candy store. So those types of things, you know? If you’re just curious and you have a desire to learn more about the world, the world has a … it’s just an open book of opportunity for us all to learn more, do more, see more. You know, people who I meet … if I’m meeting a new person, it’s like “Wow, here’s a new opportunity to learn something from someone.”
By the way, it all starts though too, Toni, with an understanding that … you know, to understand life, you’ve got to also understand death, and that’s meant to sound morbid. It’s meant to understand the fact that, you know, we’re all here for a short period of time and that one day, you know, we will all depart this world. So if you understand that right, therefore then you know that “Hey, while I’m here, I’ve got to get the most out of this time while I’m here.”
I’m not going to live forever, no matter how many times I run around the block or how many Brussels sprouts that I may eat and those types of things – by the way, those things are important to try to have a healthy lifestyle and those types of things – but eventually we will all depart this world. And so if you understand that, therefore then you understand that, you know, you have to live.
Therefore, then, here is kind of my motto about living: It takes courage to live your life. You know, not to live the life that others have subscribed to you, but it takes courage to live your life. And what I have found for a lot of people is that they don’t have the courage to live their life – they live the life that they think others want them to live. And so for me, it’s all about having the courage that I do have to live my life. And I feel that what I want to do in my life is get the most out of this existence for the short period of time that I’m here on this earth.
Toni: Matt, I cannot thank you enough for the message that you’ve given here. Not only who you inspire and how that happens and the fundamental message underneath that, but really what you need to be inspired and that potential. But you know, it does take a lot of courage, and if we had more time, I know that there’s people out there that might want to know what I would like to know, which is, what happens when you don’t have that, and where do you seek it and where do you get it?
The fact that you acknowledge that it takes courage to live the life that you’re meant to live is pretty amazing. We can’t thank you enough for sharing all of this on the Get Inspired! Project and taking the time out of your schedule to be with us.
Matt: Thank you, Toni.
Toni: It’s been a pleasure. Thank you so very much.