My name is Blake Harbin and I have lived in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District for most of my life. I grew up in an industrious, can-do family, and by the time I was seven, I already knew the feeling of a hard day’s work. Having a strong work ethic is an important lesson I learned from a great man that I very much loved and respected, my grandfather. He owned and ran a successful asphalt paving company. There, I would spend my summers driving tractors and paving rollers, shoveling asphalt, and doing whatever it took to get the job done. This allowed me to grow up around entrepreneurship and the small business community. Being around business oriented individuals at such a young age, I soaked up lessons on business practices and how to treat people the right way, with respect.
During my teenage years, my stepfather, an immigrant from Afghanistan, tirelessly spent hours upon hours building his retail business. Before he opened the doors of his shop, I spent weekends at flea markets, attended community events, and even went door to door to build demand and market his watches and jewelry. This provided an incredible opportunity for me to build relationships with customers from all walks of life and learn about our cultural and/or socio-economic differences. These experiences further established my foundation for knowing how to treat people, what hard work is, and how to pull my sleeves up in order to succeed. That foundational grit would prove to be instrumental and priceless throughout my life.
I excelled early in my career becoming the top salesperson at the first company I worked for. I was quickly promoted into management and leading my first team of professionals within the first six months, which was unheard of in that organization. Before blowing out the candles on my 23rd birthday cake, I led our team to become the top industry producer in the nation.
Fast forward to 2007. I was 27 years old and my career continued to progress. I was now working as an executive at a mortgage company where we helped people achieve one of the quintessential components of the American dream, homeownership, every day.
But at the end of 2007 tragedy struck in two major ways. First, the financial markets started their infamous crash. This had a crippling effect on our economy and a direct impact on my professional industry. Second, I was involved in a terrible accident five days before my 28th birthday. I was broke both physically and financially. I went from being a confident executive at the top of his game, to an unemployed guy permanently in a wheelchair and living at home with his mom.
Every day was a constant struggle, even the simplest of tasks seemed monumental, but I knew I had to make a choice. I could stare into the abyss, let it beat me, and wait to die, or I could face the mountain of adversity ahead of me, call on my strength from within and fight back.
I chose to fight. I chose to show up, give life my all every day and say, I will not be beaten. I will show resilience no matter what I am faced with. I will not go silently into the night.
I eventually ended up back in the mortgage industry by starting my own company, which still operates today, and has created jobs for many people in our district. I married an incredible woman, successful in her own right who inspires me every day.
I often think about my childhood with my grandfather and stepfather. When I do, a word that regularly comes to mind is COMMUNITY. The current political climate thinks in terms of ‘voters’ and ‘ideologies’, but we need to go back to looking at a constituency as PEOPLE. I am running for Congress because I believe in the PEOPLE of the 6th district. I am looking forward to using my business acumen and bullheaded can-do work ethic in order to make sure the needs of Georgia are heard at the highest levels of government.
My life, once fallen apart at the seams, was pieced back together through perseverance and grit. When I think about our country today, I believe it will take that hard work, perseverance, and grit that I’ve learned along my journey to move this country forward and into our bright future, together.