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Felecia Hatcher 0:02
Oftentimes when we think about how we market or brand ourselves, we only think about the lack. And we never think about well, these are the other things that make myself marketable to this opportunity. And let me paint the picture about the whole person, as opposed to this one fragment, or one snapshot of our life that we are using to define who we are. And I just wasn't a walking GPA. But if you let everyone else around, you make you feel like that you will absolutely operate and show up like that.
Jamila Souffrant 0:29
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Hey journeyers I'm really excited to have on this week's guest on the podcast. Her name is Felicia Hatcher. She's the CEO of Pharrell Williams black ambition Opportunity Fund. She's an innovative powerhouse personal transformation speaker, entrepreneur, and author. She described herself as a C student in high school, but she beat the odds and won over $130,000 in scholarships. So I'm really excited to just talk about Felicia, his background where she is now and welcome to the podcast. Felicia,
Felecia Hatcher 3:17
thank you so much for having me.
Jamila Souffrant 3:19
So I was going through your profile, like sometimes when I'm like looking for guests, it's really nice when I come across someone who has such like a presence, meaning like, you really have such an energy behind your words. And I just think you're super inspiring. And I was like, Oh, I know my audience. My journals will love to hear Felicia story. So I do want to take it back a bit. Because you've got so many roles or positions, which I find fascinating. And I want to go back back though to you're describing yourself when you say you were like a C student, you didn't really say that you were above average, but you've been doing above average things. So I want to understand for you, where you felt you were like in high school and college and how you did start to transition and find your zone of genius.
Felecia Hatcher 4:03
Yeah, it's like a like a cat. That in loves, right? Man, yeah, high school. I was, I was a C student, right? Like I, I was horrible at math. But like I excelled in other areas, right? And I think like a lot of people you're just told, put your head down and work really hard. And like the world will open up for you. Right? And I think your senior year of high school, it all slaps you in the face and you realize, even you did some things, right? You didn't do that some things right? Within reality just truly sets in. And so, for me, I was also one of those kids that would Tinker right like I taught myself how to code when I was in high school, I could rewire cable, and I did rewire cable into my room when my parents like bought me a TV for Christmas. But then they wouldn't give me cable because they didn't want me to watch TV too much. I'm like, I'll show you like, I would just get the cable from you know, like, I was one of those kids. Is I would anything possible break it, put it back together, cut it. So it's like, I just love working with my hands, right. And I think when you are young, you're told that there's only one pathway to success. And you're told that if you don't do it the way that everyone else does it or the normal way, then you're doomed to failure. And so I learned some really hard lessons. With that, I learned some very expansive lessons about what is possible at 17, when I was applying to go to college, and my mom also told myself and my brother either going to college or you go into the military, those are your only two choices, right? And then either option, even if you went to the military, you go into the military to get the money to go to college, because a mom has a PhD. And as a lifelong learner, I got more degrees and anyone else in the family, right, like, she got degrees to pass around to the rest of us. And so I had a guidance counselor told me, pretty much like long story short, I'd never make it to college or university because of my grades. And not only did she proceed to not help me, she told me, I would be better off just going to get a job or trying to get into a vocational school. And I'm like, sis, not even Community College, like, community college kind of takes everyone right, like they approach you as you are. And that was it. And she proceeded to not help me for the rest of the year. And so part of it was, I wanted to prove her wrong, right. The other part of it is I have a Jamaican mother that like, excellence is going to show up in some form, right?
Jamila Souffrant 6:32
You know what, so I'm Jamaican, and my mom's Jamaican, everyone's Jamaican, I'm in my family. So when you were describing your mom, I was like, Oh, she sounds like she's Caribbean, or Lisa immigrant, like, you know, just that, like that. Education is key, and where we put our focus
Felecia Hatcher 6:47
all of that, right. And if you don't become a teacher, or a nurse, or a banker, or an accountant or an attorney, are you really living life the way you're supposed to, for all their sacrifices, all of those things, right, throughout different parts of my life. But it was definitely that at 17, when someone who didn't know me more than what she could see on a computer screen was trying to literally define what the rest of my life was going to look like. And I thought that was completely asinine, and unacceptable. And it challenged me in ways that I had never challenged myself before, kind of looking back at it now, right. But I ended up winning $130,000 in scholarships and grants to go to college. And I'll never forget, like the kind of the awards night when they're awarding all the people with their scholarships and the National Society, Honor Society, is getting their awards. And at the time, Papa John's was delivering scholarship checks, and pizza boxes and all the things and that was like my Do or die. Like if I don't get a full ride or close to it. I literally have to go to the Marines office tomorrow, because my mom wasn't playing any games. And that's when I got like that big announcement. And it's funny, right? Because the people that doubt you, or limit you will show up to celebrate when you do win. And that is exactly what happened was that, you know, the two ladies on the stage were from the scholarship committee Communities in Schools. And like, the third woman was the guidance counselor who told me to never don't even think about going to a college or a university. And I kind of want to kick her off the stage. That let me be professional because I doesn't want a ton of money that I also thought was impossible. And so many moments throughout my life I have literally sat in at one point in time was impossibility, you know, sat in something that I thought was absolutely impossible, but still move forward anyways. And then when you kind of sit in there like man six months ago, you could not have told me this would be my reality, right? Or you could not have told me that. Having blind faith and taking the steps anyways, was going to manifest this. That's where we are right? Like, I had that same conversation with a really good friend of mine who just opened up a restaurant last week. And I was like, Man, I remember three months, three years ago, when you said like this partnership and this other project was not working out and you want to do your own thing. And my advice to him was just like, I hope before the doors open at four o'clock that you just stand there in the silence of it all and like literally just breathe in the air of something that you had no idea how you were going to make happen, how you're going to raise the money, how you're going to get the customers how any of it and you're literally standing in it with moments before people like rush to the door. That is the beginning stages of felices hatches crazy life this fall.
Jamila Souffrant 9:50
Oh, I love it. I'm just gonna take it back because I just know like in terms of scholarships, like how did you know where to look? We don't spend too much time here but I'm just fascinated about how much you want And the fact that you just even said like, you didn't think you get them. But were you just so determined, you started looking like online? Like, what are tips for people who have college age students who are trying to do the same thing? Or, you
Felecia Hatcher 10:12
know, the interesting thing is like, throughout my years, it's the same processes been not just from winning scholarships at 17. But winning funding for our organization, getting into fellowships that like gave me access to networks that I would never have had access to. Right. And so the process has kind of been the same. And so what what helped was one the mindset, right, and I think, too often people think that they need a different tool set or skill set. And it's all a mindset shift, right? It's like, how quickly can you rearrange the furniture in your head and put new beliefs in. And so it was definitely that. The other part was, when people discount you, there's always someone else there to support you. And it may not necessarily be their job title to support you or their position, but they show up in really unique ways. And so Marissa Fontaine was a career counselor at the school. And she used to do this thing called like, scholarship, Wednesday sound, it sounded much more sexy than it actually was, right? home girl used to be like, I got all these scholarship applications, I'm gonna put them all on the table, during the lunch break, come walk around the table, pick up what's yours go apply that was it, right? Nothing sophisticated. And I remember the first time I went there, because I was just like, You know what, let me see if there's something and I walked around the table, I looked at everything. And I was just like, this is asking for a 3.5 GPA, this is asking for this, or this many hours, or like, or what, or whatever, and I didn't see anything. And what she said to me was just like, go around the table. And look, again, like, that's all she said to me that day. And she's like, just look at it with a fresh pair of eyes, because you're looking at this as the person that doesn't have the best grades and that nothing on this table you qualify for. And so when I looked around the table again, I saw that there was like this scholarship application that asks you to write like an essay on bees, didn't ask for your GPA requirement, or didn't ask for a ton of volunteer hours didn't ask for, like none of that. And like I can write an essay on bees, right. And then I saw this other one that was like a golf scholarship, but you didn't actually have to play golf. Right or major in college, it was just a Golf Association that had a scholarship opportunity. And I think their GPA requirement was like a 2.5. I graduated high school with a 2.7. So I can actually apply to that, right. And so it was that and then what I ended up doing was picking up every single application because I was running out of time. And when I went home, I think there were maybe like, seven or eight applications that I actually qualify for. But if I would have left with just the mindset that I had, at the time that I don't qualify for anything, I would have literally discounted myself out of an opportunity and multiple opportunities. And so I ended up winning community service scholarships, I ended up winning, believe it or not academic scholarships, but like on the writing side, because I, I could write anybody on the ground if I needed to, but it wasn't my first love. And like those are the things and then communities in school scholarship, which I was a part of their organization. My freshman year, I stayed in contact, they asked for like five applicants, five essays, crazy application. But I think because it was so crazy, a lot of people just did not apply. And then like my parents are sigma and Zetas and so like that opened up some opportunities as well. My mom was an educator like I won one of those scholarships to from the classroom teachers association. And so it came from relationships, right? It came from writing, because that was something that I was really good at. And so kind of good at but really good. And then it came from I was a big sister I hundreds of hours and community service. And so it came from a lot from everything else that I did outside of the classroom, that I think oftentimes when we think about how we market or brand ourselves, we only think about the lack. And we never think about well, these are the other things that make myself marketable to this opportunity. And let me paint the picture about the whole person, as opposed to this one fragment, or one snapshot of our life that we're using to define who we are. And I just I wasn't a walking GPA. But if you let everyone else around, you make you feel like that you will absolutely operate and show up like that.
Jamila Souffrant 14:32
Oh my gosh, yes, there's so many like nuggets here. And it's not just about college scholarships, like you said, like this is a framework that you've used to move yourself forward. It's a framework that I recognize that I've done and you know, a couple of things that stand out for me is the look again, look again with fresh eyes like and you know, a lot of times we won't see the opportunities at first but there are hints there's like a cup like shiny coins that are covered in kind of dust and mud and it's like you got to watch Your Inkling your like, your reason for looking in that in that direction is a clue that you should at least discover or follow it or pick it up and look and see what it is instead of saying, oh, that's nothing. So I just think it's wonderful that you did have someone who did encourage you, but you yourself, like, you have to find that inner self starter kind of belief in yourself that there's more to me than just this GPA. You know, like, I could do more. So you go to college, and you're on scholarship. So how was that for you? What did you think you were going to do in school? Did you stay debt free in school, I was I always love to ask, like, for people who did get the full ride or a lot of money, like how it turned out in terms of their student loan debt,
Felecia Hatcher 15:36
you got to coach people in finance, I wish I would have stayed debt free, I made some big mistakes. I also still did not become a better student in college, right? I just, I am a lifelong learner, right? I probably have bits between my books and my husband's book, at least in the rare books, maybe definitely over $200,000 in like, amount of books that we have, right. And so I'm a lifelong learner, but the process the normal process of which classrooms in those environments have never gelled with me. And so I put put it along at Lynn University for as long as I can. My brother's a year and a half younger than me. And so when he went away to school, I still stayed at home, because the college that I went to was just the next city over right 15 minute, 20 minute drive. My scholarship didn't cover room and board and my parents was like, You're not spending that money. But then once my brother went away, I was like, I don't want to be here, I need to be like a full adult, right at nine years old. And so I took out student loans to cover room and board which, for years, I just regret it like, you did not have to do that, like you were supposed to walk away with no debt. Like it was just the stupidest thing, right. And so I didn't, I left Lynn university, my, the spring of my senior year, because I had started a company called Urban excellence. And that was like my first kind of entree into entrepreneurship. And it was a educational consulting company. Again, one of those things that sounded more sophisticated than it really is ever was. But after you went $130,000 in scholarships, especially as a black person, and especially as a mom, a Jamaican mom, as an educator, what do they do? They brag from the mountaintop, and all their friends bombard you? Can you help my student, my child? Because they have a non traditional background like you, right? They've less than stellar grades? Or like, what a number of things where they've been discounted just like you can you help them? And just like great mom, she's just like, you need to turn this into a business. I was like, What are you talking about? Like, you're spending all this time helping people building workshops, going to the youth centers. And she's like, it's taking away from your studies. So you need to charge for this. I had no idea what I was doing at the time, no idea. But I was just like, my mom has never steered me wrong. Let me see where this is going to go. And so that's where I started my first business. And myself, a good friend of mine, James Taylor, is a good friend to this day, we started I had a full ride kind of community academic scholarship, he had a full ride sports scholarship. And we were like, we're gonna go teach the babies, right. And so I ended up winning a $25,000 contract with an organization to like build out college prep programs, my senior year. And God, this was almost 17 years ago. So you could not have told me that I did not win the lotto like $20,000. Meanwhile, you gotta hire staff, and they'll curriculum and all those things. And I remember going to this leadership program during a summer called Monster Monster DLP, or something like that. And when I came back, one of my employees had stolen the contract from me. And mind you, I had told my parents, I was gonna take a break for a semester to build off this business. And I will come back and you have a Jamaican family, so you know how hard it is to tell them that you're taking a break from your education. And so that was after I made that decision. After I had that conversation. I come back from a summer in Baltimore and through voicemail, I find out that my contract had been stolen. And I don't know how I ever got back into entrepreneurship after that, because I completely swore it off. I will never be an entrepreneur again. This sucks and can't trust anybody. And like how dare this person do this and this and this and, and so I'm, I mean to this I, I don't know anything else but entrepreneurship now, right. But to this day, I couldn't tell you like, the mental hurdle that I had to go through just to start a business again after literally being punched in the gut through that experience in college.
Jamila Souffrant 19:58
And what was your major in college?
Felecia Hatcher 20:00
Jamila Souffrant 20:01
Okay, so what did you think you were gonna do with that degree? Like coupled with like your experience so far?
Felecia Hatcher 20:06
Yeah, you know, when I was when I graduated high school, I wanted to be like Hype Williams and create really cool, bright colored music videos, rap music videos to be exact. And then when I got to college and you learn the realities of the industry that you want to be in at one point, it was TV production. At another point, I had a professor, really funny guy, like just I think he just had a bad day. Oh, no, what was going on? Humble, you're on this rant about how none of us will make any money in TV. And we'll make more money going working at McDonald's than we would in like television broadcasting, unless we moved to like Idaho to start our career, this whole thing. And so I'm like, at the end, I'm like, well, where will we make money was like, our communications degrees, right. And he was just like, You should go into PR. Like, that's where I'm going, like, I switch my mind here, like the next day, because I'm just like out, whatever happened to him. I don't want any no part of that. And so that was it. Like, I mean, in high school, I wanted to be an engineer. But again, I had so many people telling me because I didn't have great, great grades and math that that was never a possibility for me. And I had five internships in high school. And so I'm one of those people who has to have and be in a full immersive experience. And so I, I tried so many different things in the media space, I interned at a magazine, a jazz magazine, I used to wake up at five o'clock in the morning, to go to like the number one like hip hop radio station here in Miami. And that was five o'clock in the morning to be on the radio within by six. And I did that for a year. And I was the only intern there that did not want to be on the radio, I wanted to like more about like marketing, and promotions. And so that's where I spent most of my time, right. And the marketing director there will tell you that myself and DJ Khaled are the two most successful interns that came out of 99 jams. And so we were there at the same time, right. And so that was my experience in college, right? It was just, I had all always been a very curious person. And so always wanting to have a full immersive experience. Before I say, this is not the thing that I want to do to figure out the thing that I want to do.
Jamila Souffrant 22:28
And so after graduating from college, you have all this experience. And by the way, it's like so the fact that I mean, it's just a testament to, and I know you're a mom, too, right? So I'm a mom of three small kids, but you know, I'm hearing about just like, how well rounded you were outside of the grades, and thinking to myself, like how would like how could an adult not see that right? Or, like put you down or say that you couldn't be something because I know now, after having my kids and how I learned that I don't I also don't learn like just by sitting still, like I need to move around, I need to actually do the thing. It's just interesting. And just nice to see. I mean, we all know this already. But it's good to see that how like the grades don't matter the way that they test kids and evaluate us on like, you know, one test if you take it on a bad day without even like being in the right mindset like that could predict your future. And it's not a prediction of your future.
Felecia Hatcher 23:16
No, not at all. So I never went back to college to finish. Okay, okay. That one semester hanging on that, I think really 10 years, my Jamaican mother was just like, just go finish. Like, if you don't do anything else in your life, it has been the push for me, professionally of like, I always had to let my parents know that I made the best decision possible moving forward, right? It just was not for me to go back. That made the journey harder. So it's not always the thing that I recommend to young people. And so like, I don't wear the hat of like Kanye West College dropped out, right? Because I don't know if that's the best decision for everyone. But it was the best decision for me.
Jamila Souffrant 24:00
So what did you do when you decided not to go back? What pulled you in the direction that you went?
Felecia Hatcher 24:05
I was interning at an ad agency at the time. And I in the beginning love the work until I got hired as a full time employee that I did not love the work, because I went to work when the sun first came up. And I did not leave the office until the sun went down. And I was just like, this cannot be my adult life. Right. And so it was that. I then like randomly kind of stumbled into the world of experiential marketing through like a Craigslist ad that was just like, travel around the United States, like no expenses and like market products. And I was just like, I don't know what this is, but I'm gonna put a resume and it just sounds like fun. And then it was a marketing right, which was the thing that I was interested in. And so I spent five years I've been I've traveled to every state in the United States have been, if not for at least two days for a week. And experiential marketing was one of those things that opened me My life up to like everything that is cool. That exists in the marketing and experiential marketing space, which is like experience marketing, right. And this is when social media, I feel so old saying that what social media was just sprouting up as a business utility tool, right, like people were using it to social share, but businesses weren't really using it. And so like I work for Nintendo, I worked for Sony, I worked for Wells Fargo when they launched their second live video game. And my job was to travel around the United States, creating like event activations, where people had an immersive experience with those brands. And so I would have a team sometimes five people we would travel around together, if you remember road rules on empty Yes, yes, six strangers piling into view like an RV. Like that was legit my job. But like we weren't on a reality show filming, we were marketing products for and doing product launches for like technology, and cheese and any random thing, any random thing that you can think of. I probably marketed it at some point. But that was my job for five, five years. And some of the most fun I've ever had in my entire life has been in the five years that I set and experiential marketing and literally legit started with like a quick responding to a Craigslist ad.
Jamila Souffrant 26:23
Again, following the clues like following your interest and being open to what came of it. Now. I also see that you work for the MBA, Minnesota, Minnesota Timberwolves as the front office marketing manager. So is that a job you took after this experiential marketing job?
Felecia Hatcher 26:39
I did. Yeah. I met my husband while working in DC while I was working experiential marketing. He graduated from Morehouse and got a job in Minnesota at Target headquarters as a financial analysts. And so I only am a Florida girl that only ended up in Minnesota for love. So I followed him. I loved experiential marketing, there was very, are only a few things in life that would have gotten gotten me off the road as like a tour manager, experiential marketing manager. And it was my husband, right. And so I moved to Minnesota. And then I worked in at a radio station, CBS radio for a while, hated my job. And then I think someone made an introduction to the Minnesota Timberwolves for me. And so I was a front office Marketing Manager for them, or marketing director, marketing director for them, and led the 10/10 anniversary like full rebranding campaign for for the WNBA team. My campaign was actually adopted by the NBA, so they kind of I'm gonna use adopted, we use other words, whatever he's adopted. So if you remember the campaigns that were the players, like half the players face, and the other half was like the mascot, like I created that campaign that the the whole league adopted. And so that was my job. I was, I think I was maybe 2425. At the time, I said, I was too young to be the marketing director for a NBA League right team. But it taught me so much. I also failed horribly. I also ended up hating my job and stumbling back into entrepreneurship as a result of that.
Jamila Souffrant 28:25
When you say you failed, what you just weren't happy anymore. So just things weren't working out, or Yeah, I
Felecia Hatcher 28:30
think it was a combination of it being really cold. So like, negative 30 degrees made me very miserable. I learned a lot, but experiential marketing world and then kind of the traditional marketing or are completely two completely things right. And so a lot of freedom on the road to market products. Create a next, like an immersive experience for people. And as a highly creative on one side. And then being in the office, which is more corporate was a completely different experience. Right. And so I couldn't just deploy an idea anymore. It had like, five levels of approval. Right. I think what we're even seeing now with is Brittney Griner. Brittany, right, that's pretty much kind of like a prisoner of war, right? And Russia. Yeah. But even the fact that most people are now just understanding how WNBA players have to go overseas for months at a time in order to just have anywhere near a competitive salary, comparable to the lowest player in the NBA. That was our reality, right, and so access to players in order to market and sell tickets. We didn't have access to players during the summer. And so it made it really hard to run campaigns and do things that we needed to do because we didn't have access to our own players. Right. And so it was that it was a lot.
Jamila Souffrant 28:30
This is a lot right.
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So you went back into entrepreneurship and definitely want to talk a bit about that. Because I just felt like again, like here you are like building upon. And going back, you said you weren't going back from your last experience in college, but you went back to it. And I just know there are people journeyers listening, and a lot of us like I've changed like I left the corporate office to start my own thing and to kind of pursue my dreams. But you know, there are people just like they would stay, they would stay in the cold, they will stay in the job because that's what life is for them like, oh, that's what they think it should be. And so I'm just seeing a theme here of that you you're not really settling, and you're following the clues still. And so I just think pulling that out as just a highlight. But then talking about what really allows you to go back into entrepreneurship with your past experience with it.
Felecia Hatcher 32:02
Don't get me wrong, right? Like it was, I had to have a lot of big girl conversations with myself, right. And sometimes when you need to take the leap, which I needed to take the leap because I was becoming a bad employee. Right? I showed up what I felt like it right I you start to realize like your love and passion is not there. And as a result of that you don't show up into those environments as your whole 100% self giving them every single thing that they need and deserve right. And so as an employer, now, I have to I recognize that all the time. And I was like, goodness gracious is that how I was like, This is awesome, right? But at some point, you do a much bigger disservice to the company, the people that you are drawing a paycheck for, in order to serve. And as quickly as you can realize, and have an honest conversation with yourself, you actually serve people better, right, but sticking around, because in double Dutching having one foot in and one foot out, like you end up hurting more people than yourself, right. And so I think most of us have a self conversation of like, I'm not passionate, I need to figure out what to do, we'll cut the tie, cut the cord as soon as possible. So that companies can go find the people that truly want to be an employee, right. And I just knew I did not want to work for someone. And it wasn't even just, I don't want to have a boss or I don't want to have anyone telling me what to do. There are projects and processes and ideas and creativity that I want it to flow through me that I felt very stifled in the environment that I was in. And so more than anything, I wanted that creative freedom, but I did not know what it was going to be. And so sometimes you have to do a process of, you know, not just like take off the list and write these are all the things that I want to do. But I had to write a list, these are the things that I do not want to do anymore. And these are the things that I'm no longer willing to compromise on. Right. And so even when I was working in experiential marketing with Nintendo, my job was amazing, but it was 100% travel, I can never travel home. And so I miss weddings, I miss bursts. I miss funerals. And those are some things that I didn't want to compromise anymore. Right. And I think for a lot of us, especially as you advance along in your career, you will realize it's sometimes harder to leave a good paying job than it is a bad paint job. And I think it's very easy when you're not getting the compensation to be like I can go elsewhere. I can in this world right now you can Frankenstein freelancing career together have a few clients here. I don't know maybe some dog walking over here. You have to maybe some Uber, like there was not that flexibility to still be able to make an income or like a gap of income until you figured out like your next thing or until things took off. And so back then it was a very like I whatever I jumped to had to work because there wasn't no opportunities, just be able to do some side hustles. Now, like, you can do that all day long, right? And so like my advice to entrepreneurs, and creatives is completely different. Because you can literally build the thing that you want, you may have to Frankenstein it together. But you can definitely do that. And so you have much more flexibility to make those decisions. But make them faster, is what my advice is to people right now. And then step into your zone of genius, right. And so, so many of us are looking to like, kind of pull out the thing that we're passionate or the pull out the next idea from the sky, but you have to do a process of elimination first, before you figure out what your genius is. And then use your Genius to create zones of opportunity for you. So you know, what happens in your life from an income, an impact standpoint, a lifestyle standpoint, as a result of you stepping fully into your genius?
Jamila Souffrant 35:56
That's great advice. So what did you decide to do? You said, you didn't know exactly what you want to do. But what did you do pick or choose?
Felecia Hatcher 36:03
I ran a gourmet popsicle manufacturing company for seven years. I know your journey years, or like Who the heck is this woman right? I also got married at a hippie donut shop in Portland, Oregon, like I really love the deserts. And, you know, in the economic downturn of what from 2008 to 2010, right one for about two or three crazy years, like I could not find another job in my field. And so I was just like, I gotta I want to see where this crazy idea is going to go. And so started gourmet popsicle manufacturing company, with my husband moved back to Florida to my parents house. And I was just like, we're gonna like peddle our way to ice cream success with these two carts we bought off of Craigslist. And so we ran a gourmet popsicle manufacturing company for seven years, we had stores, we had a client fortune 500 client roster that would absolutely make your head spin, from Coca Cola to PayPal to forever 21. To Airbnb, when they first launched was one of our clients, I did not understand the business model of them, but they were one of our
Jamila Souffrant 37:09
they would they would order or uses your popsicles for like events, they'd have you
Felecia Hatcher 37:14
come in, and so they would do it, they would use it for events, we would do like a lot of custom orders. And what started happening is companies started using our pops as like promotional tools. And so instead of buying T shirts to hand out at whatever music festival, they buy, like 5000 of our pots with to match the logo, the colors of their logo, and then they would hand them out and get free, like get email addresses in exchange, right, or we will do custom flavors. And so we did like a vitamin water popsicle. We make custom popsicles from Maker's Mark, Tinder at one point SS and make like aphrodisiac pops, like, started to get a little crazy. And we made pots for a vino lotion for like a campaign that they run, they ran all throughout the state of Florida. That was our life, right. And we really kind of married our life in experiential marketing. And no brands would literally pay for anything that wasn't nailed down to the ground to put their logo on and like, but we can put logo on your logo on food and sticks and like the wrappers. One is like we created like red popsicles, we wrapped our cards with his album cover. And like, I think it was universal music at the time, we bought like five or 10,000 Popsicles a handout on South Beach. And so like we created this really unique niche in the pop industry. But that's not how we started, like we started with, like, we bought two credit cards off the luxury shopping website, Craigslist. And we started going after, like after school at two o'clock with the kids because that's where everyone I think immediately thinks of. And this was before gourmet food trucks log now it's what we were doing was innovative at the time now it's just like how most, the business model of most food trucks like, especially if they want to be successful is on catering and brand partnerships. And for us, it was just like, the ice cream industry at two o'clock was really cutthroat, right, like, heart so we can go right up to the kids and the trucks had to stay like outside the gate. And so they caused us all kinds of problems. And then we realized like, well, the market for going to kids after school is saturated, but nobody was going after adults at night at the nightclub at the PR events. And you know, in Miami, that's literally 1000 of those kinds of events every weekend, right? And so that became our sweet spot. And then we marriage, what we were doing to like our actual experience, instead of trying to do two separate things, if that makes sense, right? Like, let's lean on the industry that we knew and the process to actually move our business along. And we built a popsicle Empire as a result of that feature on today's show on the Cooking Channel and things just got really, really crazy for us. is really fast.
Jamila Souffrant 40:00
Wow. And I mean, again, you're leveraging your experience, everything you did before that, right like all your experiential marketing, and that obviously helped and I'm assuming to use your connections and contacts to help you like grow the business.
Felecia Hatcher 40:15
Yeah, I don't know how you build anything in this time that we're in without connections and relationships, right. And so like now even the work that I do funding startup founders, right building startup ecosystems, that's what I preach to them all the time. Like, none of this happens without relationships. My year so far, being the CEO of black ambition and working with right like, everything is relationships, right. And so learning how to cultivate those relationships, how to create Win Win situations with those relationships. That is how all of this world works. And I think people of color, we have been told the opposite, right, we've been we are constantly told, just work really hard and have your head down, and the world will open up for you. And you could be the best and smartest, most capable person. But if you have a limited network, and you don't know how to increase your social capital, so that you can get on the radar of people that can easily say, Yes, you don't have anything, right, or you will not have the things that you want, or the journey will be 10 times harder for you. Because the people that can say yes to you don't know where to find you, or you have the relationships, but you have not done a good job at cultivating and fostering those relationships. And so when you need something, you're too afraid to ask the person because you don't want them to feel like you only call when you need something. And that's the worst feeling
Jamila Souffrant 41:42
that is well. So you know, I do want to ask for you what has been if there was one or two things for, you can give a write to someone listening about how they can strengthen or have relationships and cultivate them in a way where it doesn't feel like it's just transactional. Like I need something from you what I'd like two tips that you can give us to help us to do that better.
Felecia Hatcher 42:02
Yeah, it's being intentional about actually building relationships, right? And then there's also asking better questions. So Tony Robbins says the quality of your questions determine the quality of your life. And so many of us get around really amazing people that can completely change the trajectory of our lives. And then we ask them $3 questions, we ask them $30,030 questions, and you need to be asking them 30,000 or 300,000, or $3 million questions. Because when you get answers, answers or insight, and that's data, and then you know what your next best move should be from that. But, you know, people will get in rooms and get so geeked about finally getting into the room that they hoped and prayed for that they then don't best utilize the room, like how can I add value and add the value first so that I can extract the value. And this becomes like a cyclical process where everyone feels supported, right? Like, you gotta have all you got to bring something to the table. But then you have also have to ask really good questions. I think one of the best questions that you can ask, when you're around successful people that builds the relationship is not asking like, what did you do when you first started? Do not ask that question. It is irrelevant to your life. Irrelevant. You ask them, you know, if you lost everything today, and what are the two to three things, or three to five things that you would do to immediately get your money back? Most times, they can't answer the question when you ask them, but if they can they give you the most raw and honest answer possible, because no one has asked them a deep, expensive question like that. The other part of that is, whatever they did 30 years ago is irrelevant to your life, because the environment is completely different. Social media didn't exist, like Mark Zuckerberg was barely out of diapers 30 years ago, right? And so the environment now if they had to create a business now, if they had to build all their wealth, will tell you more about what your next best move should be, than learning about how they started 20 or 30 years ago, the environment is completely different. And so when I say when I tell people to ask bigger, richer, high quality questions, I was what what questions should I that's not the right question. Right. Like, think, like, really be interested in people be curious. And I think from a cultural standpoint, we've been taught to not ask questions, right. And I know like, especially young black kids, they were just so like, you should be seen and not heard that is the most detrimental thing that you can do to a young person. And so when they do get around people, and they get in proximity to power and wealth and opportunities, they shrink when they should shine because they don't know what to say. And many of us are still in that space, right of like, I'm here. This is the thing that I the room that I hoped and prayed for, but I don't even know how to operate. I don't understand the language of power. I don't understand the vocabulary are a wealth. And as a result of that you don't know how to add value to that room, and you don't know how to extract it when it's necessary. I would say the last part of cultivating relationship is, if anybody puts money in your pocket, like you better work your butt off to either reciprocate that, or send them a thank you gift. And so I can tell you the millions of dollars that I've raised, I'm a professional speaker. And so I speak on stages all across the globe. And when people pay me to speak, they usually have an edible arrangement, like on their desk within 24 to 48 hours, because they could have made any other choice. And that itself, just showing people that you're grateful for the relationship and the opportunity go such a long way, right. And then if you don't have the budget to do that, text, pick up the phone, like call people genuinely check in on them. That's one of the things that I learned from spectacular part of pretty Ricky and I think Hip Hop of
Miami, right, whatever it's called, I'm chopping it up. But like, we had him speak at our conference, black tech week, years ago, and my husband and I became friends with him. And so he shared, like, he pulled up his phone, and he shared like, how he saves people in his phone. And so most of us would just do like, first name, last name, email address, phone number, if you're lucky. And then you have no reference of how you met this person. No. Information about when you should check in you don't know if they're a parent, you don't like none of those things. You don't we're not asking the right questions. And so he showed us like how he saves people in the phone. So first name, last name, a little note about where they met, or something from the original conversation that they had, if they have any, you know, if they have any kids, like, I'm blown away by how much information he shares, but every person is. So he's like, when I'm, you know, waiting for a meeting to start, or I see this interesting article, or I'm at a stoplight. I genuinely check in on people. So I get these texts from him like Happy Mother's Day, or like, Man, I know, like this thing is coming up. And I was like, Who is this person, right. And then I realized, like, so he said, his whole process was like, so when I need something from the person, they don't feel like I'm using them, or I only call them when I when I need something, because I've legitimately checked in with them throughout the entire year. And so we can be more intentional about that process and remembering, and then none of it feels transactional. And there's nothing wrong with transactions, you should be asking for the sale or the business any chance that you get, but you also have to cultivate the relationship. So please send Christmas presents or Christmas cards. Like that's always a redemption opportunity for a lot of people if you forgot to check in through the rest of the year, close at the end of the year. You know, thank you for a good year, I'm wishing you a happy new year, we do all of those things. And so people are asking like, well, it must be this big thing. Like no, it's like perfecting the simple things of just genuinely appreciating the people that are around you. Because they always have another choice.
Jamila Souffrant 48:20
Yes. Oh my gosh, I know that we're gonna have some people on for wine this that part because you just gave almost like a masterclass just out of literally what to do. I had like as a question, because make sure I asked you what are cheap versus expensive questions, because I saw you had a video on IG about it. And I was like, Oh, this is so good. And I love that sample question you gave? It's exactly what like I know, someone's saying, What should I ask? Well, that and something else, think of other things sit down. Do thoughts about it. And then the other thing I just want to mention is you know, Malcolm Gladwell outliers talks about this ability that poor to middle class people they don't have with their children what's usually they don't teach them to question authority to ask the doctor questions. You know, like you're supposed to respect the authority. When you know people who have the the means or are rich or wealthy. They're, they're having their kids talk to the doctor like you ask them what's going on and encourage them to speak up. So I just wanted to bring those points out, because it's so important, so important. And I do want to talk a little bit before you go about what you're doing now. And your work with Pharrell and the foundation. Can you talk about how this position came to be and all the amazing work you're doing with it?
Felecia Hatcher 49:31
Yeah. So again, the cat with nine lives after we sold feverish pops. My husband and I started an organization that's now known that was now called the Center for black innovation was code fever when we first started, which is building ecosystems, to make sure like the black community was active participant and financial beneficiary of like the tech and innovation economy. Build a innovation center that still exists in Overtown neighborhood of Miami. Have the bunch of startups raise a lot of money and a bunch of young people be introduced to technology, right. And so, in 2021, I was asked by his chief of staff, and then also one of the funders of black ambition to come on and lead it as its inaugural CEO. And when I say it came out of left field, it definitely came out of left field, I was looking to transition from the work that I was doing, because I'd been doing it for seven years, and kind of that season when you know, was kind of time Seven Year Itch. Year ish. It's a it's kind of a theme of my life. And so for the last year, I've been building the team, building, just an amazing organization. And our focus is on closing the wealth gap. But it's a little bit deeper than that, right. And so, so much of it is about creating spaces and opportunities for black and Latin X and HBCU entrepreneurs to build their companies uninterrupted. And so we even ask our founders talking about questions, right? Like, who were you uninterrupted? Is such a better question to ask, What do you want to build? Or what do you want to be when you grow up? Right? And the premise for that is like, if nothing stood in the way of you achieving your success, what would your life look like? What would what business would you create? And what would your community look like as a result of that? And like, those four questions are the premise of black ambition. And then it's the ambition part, right? So ambition allows you to dream. And we want you to dream, as big and as expansive as possible about the companies and the innovation that you're creating. So we fund bold ideas. We write cheque sizes, between 25k to 1 million, we fund to 34. Really amazing. Companies can be smiley, right, like, amazing companies last year, that are killing the game, right? And so we invested over $3 million across 34 companies, they've gone on to raise over $50 million, you know, they generate about $12 million in actual revenue and sales. You know, our top prize winner was a million dollar prize, right? So we wrote him a million dollar check, which was for me to sit and write a million dollar check to a black business. Like I literally sat there in tears, right. And like, I was like, I know, they were probably upset with me, because they needed that check. I was like, the entire day, it just kind of set on my screen. Because you know, when when people talk about your assignment, like it was the moment where I fully realized my assignment, right? But then when you have assignment, you also got to complete the assignment. And then you begin a new assignment. And so for, for me for felt like it was that right? It's this next stage of legacy work for both of us. And just the person you know, he's such a dreamer, right? The epitome of dreaming big and the epitome of there is no like impossibility to anything, there's always a solution. And then his other thing that has been like baked into black ambition is sharing the codes, right. And like, when you have something you have a solution, you have access, you do a disservice by not sharing with with other people, right? It should come to you, it should flow through you. And the more of us that can register to that to commit to that, we end up building really great people that get the money that they need and the high level mentorship, and then they put out more good in the world. And that's ultimately what we're building. And so well, our applications are open now, for this year, we hope to fund another 30 companies this year, and then just kind of build on the impact of really kind of influencing entrepreneurial ecosystems that value culture as an asset. And then helping those companies get the rest of the resources that they need to continue to grow. And then literally just getting out of their way, so that they can have a path forward that's uninterrupted.
Jamila Souffrant 54:00
Where can people find out or look at the application? And when is the deadline?
Felecia Hatcher 54:03
Yeah, are on our website. And so black ambition prize.com is our website. The deadline is June 20. And so right after our Something in the Water Festival, that Monday, the applications close. And we're looking for people that have bold ideas, we fund in tech, consumer goods, healthcare, we added web 3.0 this year. And then media and entertainment are the five areas in which we fund. And then the new thing that we added this year is like we want people to have a team. And that doesn't mean that you have to have a co founder, right? But if you have a contractor if you have an employee, even if you have a mentor and an advisor that is a team, because that's what's required to successfully go through our cohort style mentorship program for a few months. And then we surround our entrepreneurs with high level resources. They get mental health support from us as entrepreneurs, they get a leadership series with Chanel, Adidas is one of our partners that provides a level of support. And then the mentors are ridiculous, right? And so like Jonah Peretti, the founder of BuzzFeed is one of our mentors, right? And mentor, like five of the companies and VCs and angel investors and glide path into opportunities. And so our million dollar prize winner will easily tell you that the resources and connections far outweigh the million dollars, right. And so you can only imagine what that means. If someone who literally got a million dollar check, for instance, and the money pales in comparison to what happens as a result of being in this network, and literally having black ambition and fraud on your cap table as investor.
Jamila Souffrant 55:44
Wow, say the website one more time, see if we can go black ambition. prize.com Yes. And last thing, because I'm just I'm fascinated. I mean, I know why you selected or went forward with this position, you know, what's your legacy work, but at the time, what made you decide to I know, you do your own personal work your you know, your entrepreneur at the core of it, and you speak and what made you say, I'm gonna put, I'm assuming a majority of your time towards this thing? And what were your qualifying questions? Because a lot of us are facing, like, different opportunities. And it's like, should I take that opportunity? Or should I stick to what I'm doing?
Felecia Hatcher 56:17
You know, I spent a year before that position, knowing that I was ready to transition. And some of the self talk I had to have with myself was like, Who am I without this title, right. And so building a massive brand around black check weekend center for black innovation, and being the face of that right, to separate myself from that and separate my identity, and having to own that, and everything and all the perks essentially, that came with that. I had to mentally separate myself from that, so that I could be fully ready. But then it also allowed me to then, as much as I could prepare the team to assume the positions and different type of leadership that would allow me to leave the thing that I co founded, right. And so it was a lot, it was a lot of that. And then I would say, you know, there are a number of things that attracted me to the position. First, it was once you make up your mind to do something, and you're not double Dutching in and out of like, Should I do this or not, not to sound cliche, or Oprah Super Soul Sunday ish. But the world truly conspires to then bring the thing to you that you are now saying, I am fully ready to step into this new version of who I am. And I may not have it fully thought out, and that's okay. But once you in your heart, say, I can close this chapter, I can clear this late and open up for something new. When I made that I got two job offers in the same week. I never gotten a job offer in 12 years. But if I didn't remember resume, right. And what attracted This to me is I'm still an entrepreneur, but I am able to fund companies, right, which was not able to do to the extent of what we do it now and how we do it and build something new. With center for black innovation, right? We did the community work the ecosystem work to create the environment in which people became more respected and more fundable, right. And then our communities change as a result of that. But to actually directly write checks to entrepreneurs. That was something that also was the next stage that I wanted to I wanted to be in with this work. And so those were the things right, and those were some of the conversations. And then Katherine Finney, who was a someone I hold really dear, who founded an organization called Digital undivided had left her organization that she had founded maybe about six months before I did mine. And we had had a conversation and she had this article that she put out in on LinkedIn, when she was leaving. And like the first paragraph, she said something that just stuck with me. And what she said was like, I have built things and I will build again, right? I think she's like one of the first black bloggers to have like her company acquired, like, she's created more black women, like millionaires in this, like just a dope person. But that line of like, I have built thing and I will build again, is also the reassurance that I think a lot of us need when you've been fully immersed in a certain type of work for a really long time. And then you're getting ready to do and go in this other area that's completely Uncharted for you and uncomfortable for you. And of course, people say get comfortable being uncomfortable, but it's really uncomfortable being uncomfortable, right? But reminding yourself that you have everything that you need to do everything that you need, right, and that if you've built something you can build it again, though Those are the constant conversations and then therapy helps. Right? I went through that. Great mentors help. And then letting people know that you were also looking for like this next chapter in your life was a conversation I started to have with more people that I also think helped kind of attract very unique opportunities to me for this next stage of my career.
Jamila Souffrant 1:00:22
Beautiful Felicia, I can I can keep talking to you, honestly. But I know I know. You got things to do. But I enjoyed this conversation. I know the journey is well, too. Can you please let everyone know where to find out more about you and where they can follow you?
Felecia Hatcher 1:00:36
Sure. I am literally at Felicia Hatcher on any any and everything because it's easy for me to remember. Felicia hatcher.com at Felicia Hatcher on all social, and Jamila, thank you so much for this time and this invitation. And I hope that it was helpful to your journey.
Jamila Souffrant 1:00:54
I know it will be thank you again. Don't forget, you can get the episode show notes for this episode by going to journey to launch.com. Or click the description of wherever you're listening to this. And you can still grab your jumpstart guide for free to help you on your journey to financial freedom by going to journey to launch.com/jumpstart. If you want to support me and the podcast and love the free content and information that you get here, here are four ways that you can support me in the show. One, make sure you're subscribed to the podcast wherever you listen, whether that's Apple podcasts, that purple app on your phone, your Android device, YouTube, Spotify, wherever it is that you happen to listen, just subscribe so you are not missing an episode. And if you're happening to listen to this and Apple podcasts, rate review and subscribe there. I appreciate and read every single review number to follow me on my social media accounts. I'm at journey to launch on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And I love love love interacting with journeys. They're three support and check out the sponsors of this show. If you hear something that interests you, sponsors are the main ways we keep the podcast lights on here. So show them some love for supporting your girl for and last but not least, share this episode this podcast with a friend or family member or co worker so that we can spread the message of Journey to launch. Alright, that's it until next week, keep on journeying journeyers
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