Always a Panther: Graduate Goes from Struggling Student to Successful Entrepreneur

Michael Ray

One of Michael Ray Newman’s favorite memories from elementary school is the day his fifth grade team won field day. You can hear the excitement in his voice when he talks about how his Merrifield Mustangs pulled off a victory in a round of tug-of-war.

“I weighed like 85 pounds then,” Michael said. “We smoked ‘em!”

Michael says for years he struggled with academics. He didn’t know it at the time, but he has learning differences - dyslexia and dysgraphia - that make reading and writing more difficult for him. School wasn’t easy, but Michael says the experience of trying to make up for his disability was not all bad.

“I can pay close attention to verbal instruction,” Michael said. “It made me overcompensate in other areas.”

Since graduating from Duncanville High School in 1985, Newman has excelled in many ways. He now employs more than 2,000 people and has accumulated enough wealth to positively impact generations of his family. 

““I run my companies like I run my family,” Michael said. “You don’t build a business; you build people, and the people build a business.”

Throughout his career, Michael has worked to build up  many people, and with that, many businesses. His online biography calls him a ‘serial entrepreneur.’

In 2008, Michael owned a technology company that created a tracking system using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Global Positioning System (GPS) to track vehicles and labor. He sold that business to a publicly-traded company in 2011 allowing him to retire when he was just 44 years old.

As active as Michael is, that period of rest lasted just a short time.

Today, Michael runs a construction and labor company that builds and remodels properties across the country. The business that most captures his energy and enthusiasm, however,  is his role as an in-demand corporate coach, trainer and keynote speaker.

Michael is Chief Executive Officer of Edge Global, Inc. – a company he founded on the principles of Zig Ziglar – a motivational speaker who influenced the lives of countless people during his lifetime.

Michael laughs as he remembers what led him to that place. He was in his 20s when he unwittingly purchased one of Ziglar’s motivational cassette tapes at a garage sale.

“I thought it was a hair band,” Newman said.

As he listened to the tape, Michael absorbed the message and soon began to embrace the  faith-based positive thinking Ziglar preached. Although he didn’t meet Ziglar before his death in 2012, Michael considers Ziglar a mentor.  That same year, Michael became the Chief Executive Officer of Zig Ziglar International, purchasing the rights to the Dallas-based company. A few years later, Michael renamed the company ‘Edge Global.’

Michael now gets called to coach business leaders and help change the culture at Fortune 500 companies like Coca Cola and UPS.

His journey to success wasn’t always easy, but when he thinks about the struggles, Michael remembers something his high school football coach Tom Talley said to him.

“He walked up to me one day and he hit me in my heart and said, ‘The only thing that matters is what you got in here,’” Michael said.

When asked which accomplishment makes him most proud, Newman points to his family. And, although he could live anywhere he chooses, Michael hasn’t ventured too far from his roots.

“Duncanville was always home. It still is,” Michael said.