From the Hub to the Hill
Compton native Tyrone Bland describes his rise to becoming successful lobbyist
By Evan Barnes
Sentinel Staff Writer
As a lobbyist, Tyrone D. Bland meets with some of the most powerful people in the country and has earned the reputation as one of the rising stars in his field.
But getting to that level has taken him a long way from his days growing up in Compton. In the 6th grade, he told his mother he wanted to start his own business, setting a goal that he never lost sight of.
Now in his mid-30’s, he has created his own lobbying firm, PORTER TELLUS, LLC. based in Dallas, Texas, with offices set up in Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Sacramento. It’s not just about growth though with Bland, it’s about maintaining the ambition he started out with.
“I look for my firm in the very near term to be one of the largest and most respected lobbying firms not just in Sacramento, but in the country,” he said.
He’s already carved out a solid start to his career including a two-term Chief of Staff with former Assemblyman Carl Washington and a senior policy advisor to former Congressman Walter Tucker.
But the foundation for it all started with his time working for the Brotherhood Crusade. During his time there–while simultaneously earning his Masters degree in Public Policy at UCLA–he taught technical training to small businesses including simple tips every business should know before they start.
Advice such as having a road map, understanding the core of your business and knowing your competition are all things he draws upon now as a lobbyist and entrepreneur.
“The basic practical principles still hold true today,” he said. “In order to run a business effectively and efficiently, one must have a comprehensive, well-thought out business plan.”
It’s a plan that he developed while playing football at Carson High School–winning an L.A. City Section title in 1987 and helping them finish No. 2 in the nation, the following year.
As he excelled as a running back and learned his craft, he knew that the goal was ultimately not the NFL, but using his skills for other means.
“At Carson, I wanted to play football so I could pursue the best possible education.”
That’s what he did when he made it to UC Berkeley. He played football but he also took advantage of his new surroundings and made the most of his education, graduating in 1993 with honors.
When he started his political career, he already had the ambition, preparation and dedication to make his mark and now, he’s regarded by his peers as being among the most respected and prepared at his craft.
As a young African-American working in a field of seasoned professionals who are mostly former elected officials, it’s a label he works at every day through the same planning he once instilled in others.
“I check my game plan every day. I know my competition, my skill set and I’m strategic with my approach. Nothing will happen that I haven’t prepared for,” he said.
His firm handles clients such as Toyota, Debolt and Ace Cash Express, but the bulk of his work is spent on flying coast-to-coast meeting with officials. Although he is primarily based in Dallas, he’s a “traditional shoe-leather lobbyist” in the sense that he most likely works in Sacramento or in one of the three Senate office buildings.
It’s that feeling of making things happen everyday that has driven Bland in the past and at this current stage of his career. Two decades into his political career, he feels as motivated as ever to continue the plan that he started.
“From my perspective as a young entrepreneur, there’s a more aggressive level of ambition that my contemporaries are picking up and it’s incredibly exciting,” Bland said.
Now he’s sharing his advice with his 7-year-old daughter, the reason he relocated to Texas after working with the respected lobbying firm Capitol Hill Consulting Group.
“I felt compelled to be closer to my daughter and spend more time with her but still have a ability to provide a living for both of us,” he said.
It’s a reminder that Tyrone Bland has risen fast in his field because of his old-fashioned values that never lose their usefulness: hard work, preparation and sense of knowing what’s important in his life and career.