School is in Session with Professor Kezia Williams

Audio Description

When entrepreneur Kezia Williams realized that ‘Any hand that feeds you has the power to starve you,’ multiple income streams became a non-negotiable.


The following transcript has been generated by an AI tool. Please excuse any typos.

00:00 - 00:37

But the biggest lesson that I got from this story is that any hand that feeds you has the power to starve you. And up until that point, I thought that Adebutu was the only way that I could pay my bills, not having a job and understanding that the reasons behind why I quit were outside of my control. Was the catalyst for saying that I need multiple streams of income. Because in the absence of that, that is hazardous to my wealth position. And so while I was leading an entrepreneurship program, I was also learning how to lead a business enterprise that can generate enough revenue for me so that my W-2 didn't have to be that sole source.

00:43 - 00:48

This is Changing the Trajectory. I'm James Seth Thompson, Bernstein's Head of Diverse Market Strategy.

00:49 - 01:44

And I’m Maci Philitas, the Emerging Wealth Strategist here at Bernstein. Thanks for joining us on this episode of Changing the Trajectory. School is in session with Professor Kezia. Kezia Williams is an entrepreneur and the CEO of the Black upStart, an organization that to date has trained nearly 500 black entrepreneurs to become not only job creators, but also asset owners. She's also an influencer known for her animated, easily digestible educational financial literacy videos, which she shares across social media platforms to an audience of nearly half a million people. I think you should also do a course on how to build a social media community. I should also note that in addition to her financial literacy videos, she also creates and shares clever observations and tips for your personal life.

01:44 - 01:56

Kezia is the author of the Black Entrepreneurs Workbook, which is sold 10,000 copies, and she's been featured on CNN, Forbes and USA Today, among other platforms.

01:56 - 02:00

So, Professor Kezia, thanks for joining a show. We feel so lucky to have you with us.

02:01 - 02:09

Hi, James. And thank you. Thank you so much for having me. I am so excited to be here. Maci, you and I go way back.

02:09 - 02:44

Way back to using your culturally relevant wealth blueprint helps black people understand how to break counterproductive generational habits and establish a profit generating and wealth creating mindset. Like many, your journey to entrepreneurship wasn't linear, and I think that's a common theme with entrepreneurs. You worked for the United Negro College Fund for seven years before taking the black upstart full time. What was the catalyst for creating the black upstart, and how did your time at UNCF help steer you in that direction?

02:45 - 03:27

Well, my interest in entrepreneurship did start at UCLA, but the catalyst for entrepreneurship began before then. I was taught that the definition of success is you graduate from high school and you get the boot plum. You graduate from college, you get a degree, and then you go and get a good job. And not just any good job, preferably a good government job. And then you worked out for four years and you retire with benefits and a pension. So I was taught that that was the definition of success. When I got the diploma, I got the degree, I got the good government job, and five years in, I just realized that though the money was good, there was no fulfillment there.

03:28 - 04:20

My sixth year of employment, my bosses changed and I had a woman come in and at that time I was working in counterintelligence, counterterrorism, countering weapons of mass destruction. Say that three times past. And even though I've been doing work, I mean, I've been drafting reports that were seen by the National Security Council. She looked at me and she said, I don't think that you are qualified to do this work. We're going to transition you out of data analytical reporting, and we're going to have you start organizing travel for the office. And I said, I'm still going to get paid six figures. And she said, Yes, well, maybe I can stomach it. I will still do the nonprofit after 3 p.m. because that's when I got off. And three months passed by and she came back and she said, I'm going to put you on badge duty. And so I said, okay, well, am I going to get paid that six figure?

04:20 - 05:07

She said, Yeah. And I was like, okay, I'm going to be successful. All you want me to do is print badges. It's a slap in the face, but I'll try it. I'll do it. So I did that for three months, and then she came back to me and she said, I need you to grab your chair and follow me out in the hallway. And she said, I need you to sit outside this back room. And because we work in a secure space, you will badge the people in and outside of the bathroom whenever they need to go. And I just remember my heart breaking and a million pieces. And I did it for a man. I'd ask myself, was six figures really worth losing what I felt like was my self-respect, my dignity? I remember calling my mom and she was just like, Well, do you have another job lined up. I don't have another job lined up. And she was like, Well, baby, I got you. If you need to quit, quit today. We'll figure it out.

05:07 - 05:35

And so I quit that day, and I was so excited. I'm not sure if you all had ever quit a job that you hated, but you just feel exhilarated. And so the next paycheck, you hit the direct deposit the same way that it used to every other Friday. And I remember called up the unemployment office. And I was just like, hey, I just need to know how much money do I get when I quit my job? And they were like, Oh, you quit your job. Oh, you don't get unemployment. Oh, drastically.

05:37 - 06:21

So the nonprofit that I was with at that time had a woman who was volunteering underneath me, and she had seen me build that nonprofit capital cause up over that six year time frame. And she said to me, You don't know this, but you're really an artist. Know, you started this business from the ground up. You work from zero members to 5000 members. You all have served philanthropies across the D.C. area. I think you need to get into entrepreneurship. I have a job at the United Negro College Fund. I will put you in a place where people can mentor you in entrepreneurship and you can start next week. How's that? And from that point, I had a job. But leading a $25 million National Entrepreneurship Initiative for the Humanities from college by teaching undergraduate students how to start their own business.

06:22 - 07:00

But the biggest lesson that I got from this story is that any hand that feeds you has the power to serve you. And up to that point, I thought that a W-2 was the only way that I could pay my bills, not having a job, and understanding that the reasons behind why I quit were outside of my control was the catalyst for saying that I need multiple streams of income, because in the absence of that, that is hazardous to my wealth position. And so while I was leading an entrepreneurship program, I was also learning how to lead a business enterprise that can generate enough revenue for me so that my W-2 didn't have to be that sole source that's guide.

07:00 - 07:04

Any hand that feeds you has the power to starve you who.

07:04 - 07:09

You know, a lot of people dream of kind of venturing away from that steady, stable job.

07:09 - 07:19

But when you think about that transition, what are some of the most important lessons you learned in your entrepreneurial journey with the black upstart that other entrepreneurs may learn from as well?

07:20 - 07:46

I mean, the biggest lesson is just love. What? And I know that quiet quitting is trending across the Internet. Go to work. Do exactly what our job description says and nothing more. Do not go up before 9 a.m. and if you'd be napping, you better be back in your bed so you can rent out the door. And yet there is such a thing as what I call slow quitting. And so I did go from one job to the next.

07:46 - 08:33

So the last job did teach me that I needed to diversify my income streams. And while I was at that job, I began to pick up skills that could help me as an entrepreneur. The full time entrepreneur that I aspired to be. One of my responsibilities was traveling around the country and recruiting undergraduate black scholars to apply for this fellowship program and also to share information about the program. I would run into the room, and because I'm high energy, I would be like, Oh my gosh, who wants to be an entrepreneur? All that. And this would be like, What am I going to do it? Who wants to be their own boss? They were like, I don't want to do that. I don't feel like we'll be one $20,000 in scholarships, and then all the kids would get excited. We thought, we can pay for school.

08:33 - 08:56

But after the pitch was over, it was their moms, their dads, your aunts, your uncles, their big cousins who would come up to me and say, My kid doesn't understand the pain that accompanies sometimes being a black employee or a minority employee in a majority workplace, where color switching could be the difference between staying on payroll or not.

08:56 - 09:22

And so I want to learn what you're offering my child, because I understand what that means. And so I went back to you in Seattle, and I said, we have an answer for normal idea of the week at lunch. In addition to teaching these students, let's also teach the adults, do let's teach our parents us. You have turned me down. But in the same breath, they gave me their blessing. And their blessing was that I could start a enterprise outside of once.

09:22 - 10:11

Yes. And that's where the idea of Black Upstart was born. But I didn't just jump, start, start, Black said. I work 9 to 5 to pay my bills with my USCF paycheck, and from six to midnight I work to build what I am calling my legacy. And that's my business. And I did that for for almost five years before I quit. And that meant hosting bootcamps for black entrepreneurs on the weekends. That meant recruiting faculty to help develop my curriculum for black upstart after 6 p.m. That meant that I needed to make certain sacrifices that I didn't have to make when I. Just have one job in order to launch my enterprise and leverage the skills that USCF wholeheartedly invested in me as an employee and leveraged them in order to run my enterprise.

10:11 - 10:45

And when I got into a financial place where I could hire myself and two other people, then I submitted my resignation with a good relationship with my former employer. And in my first year, my former employer offered me four different contacts to help me in my first year of business, maintain at least six figures in revenue. And so massive hordes of folks don't dare get up on that Instagram timeline at 6 hours now and listen to those Influenced by your job is such a business and my love for you. But I'm telling you what will work better if you have a plan and you do it.

10:45 - 11:21

The Berkeley. I'm glad you mentioned that. I've got an older teen who wants to be some type of influencer and you know, he sees all this persons playing games for $1,000,000. This person is doing this for 500 grand. But I share with him and other people, you can fund your entrepreneurial dream with your 9 to 5. You'll have to put in the extra time to work after five. But be very strategic. Do your 9 to 5 plays a role, Right? And your vision and what you hope to do as this kind of budding entrepreneur. Definitely a sound bite I'm taking home. Thank you.

11:22 - 12:09

Yeah. And Kezia. It's so funny because that's also how I transitioned from Marriott and to my start of it being that buy in from your employer is so key because one, you can manage your time differently, right? Like my leadership understood what I was doing in my off hours and so they were so understanding and so accommodating when I had to take certain meetings during their time. Right. And beyond that, to your point, we both got to finish well, right. You got to leave with a contract. I left with their full support. There was that energy of wanting to see us succeed. And I think that's such an important concept for our listeners to capture that you don't just bounce like know you like you said, you'd slow quit.

12:09 - 12:44

Some of the lean. But I want to speak to a point that both of you all said, James, when you talked about how influencers will talk about their successes, but very rarely where they talk about the sacrifices. And so the cost of success is sacrifice. What are you willing to pay to go to the next level? Instagram is social media is a highly curated environment where people only want to show you the highlight reel. And so what I have done, at least on my page, and I know a couple of a handful of other influencers that have done the same thing is start to tell the truth.

12:44 - 13:10

I was at a Walmart the other day or some kid I used why to make When we come, are we going out to find out? I want to see a horse. I walk that little boy. I'll stop myself and my knee for all summer, which is fully paid off. And paying off that vehicle five years ago enabled me to purchase my home, pay off my mom's mortgage, pay off my credit card debt, pay off my student loan debt.

13:10 - 13:31

And it was a lesson for him that sometimes the things that you flex with aren't the things that you see on social media. Now it's all about what are you willing to put in in order to get out? And sometimes that example is a scene in a one minute real objects that are also on Instagram. So that is super important for people to understand as well.

13:31 - 14:24

The last thing that I will say is that when you are quitting, love quitting is that even if there is no alignment in regard to your skills, be your transferable. I like what James said because it can't be that your paycheck resources your business when the banks don't, when the angel investor doesn't, when the friends and family round comes up short while your golf buddy right maybe your set that cost and sacrifices that you're not getting your hair done every two weeks that the nail tech don't see you for six months maybe Salvation Army has to see you disappear And now you going back up in there because Nordstrom just named in the startup budget, maybe there are some sacrifices that you have to make in your budget so that you can be your own angel investor in order to birth your own idea. And I think that those are the conversations oftentimes that people don't have because saving is not as sexy as the flex.

14:24 - 15:12

That's good. So I want to talk about a different kind of flex, and that is the power of the black dollar. It actually is one of my favorite movements and most incredible things I've seen on social media. You truly did create this unique movement. You spearheaded the nation's first quantifiable initiative designed to measure the impact of consumer activists and, quite frankly, the black economy. In 2020. Over the course of 13 days, you collected over $7.7 million and receipts that supported the hashtag My black Receipt by black. Initiative. So not only were we spending the money, you also had the receipts. So who was the catalyst behind the movement and what were you seeking to achieve by collecting by black receipts?

15:13 - 15:42

That's such a good question, and it just takes me back to my days as a tech founder. It definitely has not technical skills, but Tableau of Black Mind That wasn't initially a business. This was while I was still working at USC. AS and at that time the program had grown from no scholars to at this point. We had about 500 scholars enrolled in 90 colleges and universities, which we were very proud of.

15:42 - 16:15

And shortly after the public execution of George Floyd, a young college student in the state of Georgia, Atlanta specifically was pulled over by police officers and mistreated, mishandled. And I didn't catch it when it first happened. In fact, I had turned off all of my electrical devices because I was still processing what it meant to see a black man murdered for the whole world to see. And when I turned on my laptop the next day, I was flooded with hundreds of messages from students saying that one of the founders in our cohort had been mistreated at the hands of law enforcement.

16:16 - 16:40

And so then I started to ask myself, what can we do right? How can we respond in a way that's more than just saying, I'm not I'm upset. We should do something. And what have been trending across the Internet at that time was that 41% of black owned businesses were expected to close. And the response that people were posting tagged black owned businesses. And because I'm a black owned business, I'm like, what's the tag supposed to do?

16:40 - 17:20

So I called up one of my tech friends and I said, Hey, how about we come up with a way to save people? Are you saying that they're buying black? If they're saying, Oh, I'm a black man, this is the purchase of their product that we actually measure that. And I thought he could just throw up a website and we would tell people, Submit your receipt. Then we would just start receipt. That's what it was. We looked at receipts on Jones Eve all the way up to black out, Suzanne And one it's longer than a day to put up that website because I didn't know was that complicated. It doesn't work that way. On the backend, we have to collect data and start somewhere. Although I bet that's why your I've been great sick. Leave that out. That's all I need.

17:21 - 18:08

And so we built it. And I remember on the day that we were supposed to launch, we have partnered with Yelp that was going to help us get the word out about this incredible initiative it had taken off we had uncovered by CNN at that point, CNBC, the real Black Enterprise. All of the major news outlets. So everybody was anticipating this website launching on Juneteenth. And when we pressed the, I don't know, publish button because I'm out of tech person, I've been to the website did not publish you guys. And I literally just cried. Yeah. Yeah. And now I got on Instagram. I had to tell people, you can't upload your receipts. There were response videos on YouTube where folks were like this and this is not real. And we thought that we weren't going to be successful in that initiative.

18:09 - 18:29

Fortunately, a team of black women worked with my tech lead at that time to get the site restored, and we were able to collect $7.7 million in the season, 13 days. And what that means for me is an opportunity for us to quantify the ways in which we support black owned businesses for us not to just buy black in response to a tragedy which would be like a one time purchase.

18:29 - 19:17

The reason why we ran Sentinel about that 13 days is because we believe that buying black should be a habitual practice. Black people spend $1.5 trillion annually. There should be no reason why that should be a blank check for every other community to side with our own. And that's not to disparage other communities, but it's just to say, if we can spend it, why not invest it through our purchases? We might think that all the time, every single day, shirts, shoes, you look across your entire home, look in your purse. All of those things were purchases that you acquired because those were things that you wanted. And there are black owned businesses out there that are providing those products and services. So here was an opportunity for us to be intentional about not only supporting them, but supporting them so consistently. And as an aggregate, we can see our collective impact.

19:17 - 19:44

We certainly hope in some moments of that campaign that becomes more systemic, where it does become part of our culture. We do see the value of that intentionality contributing to our ecosystem. You know, to everyone who is listening, like campaigns don't last forever, right? But the purpose is we just need to be mindful to keep the energy and the passion and intentionality around movies like that.

19:45 - 20:13

James Can I just share a heartbreaking, like a follow up to make? Everyone was so enamored and first we wanted to collect that $7.7 billion never cease. Well, we did it again the following year. We collected our last. 1.1 million. And one of our lessons learned was exactly what you said, James, is that people were very motivated because at that time protests were happening. People were trying to figure out what to do in the middle of a pandemic. Not everybody wants to go to a protest.

20:13 - 20:44

One of the biggest challenges we face as a tech company after that is how can we make the lip service of being black? Should be a habitual practice, actually become habit in people's everyday lives. And when we began to reach out to the tens of thousands of people across the world who uploaded their receipts, we did begin to hear some disparaging things, you know, assumptions. On the most part, black owned businesses are dirty, are unprofessional, they're lazy, etc. You know, these were assumptions that people were making.

20:45 - 21:41

But then in the same breath, you know, a lot of these individuals, the grace that you extend, let's say, to H&M, we know H&M had the controversy of the young boy posted with the clueless Monkey in the Jungle shirt. Starbucks, I know they did their DIY training, but there was some controversy about the two men being kicked out or the police being caught with the two black men being chased out of their store. We know that Gucci, they apologized, but they had models walking around in blackface. And yet there are people wearing H&M and Gucci and drinking Starbucks today. It was a measure of grace of authority. Amazon says they'll get you your package in a day. You might find two days later you're still excited to see the Amazon prime guys collapse. And so where is the grace for black owned businesses, many of whom started just like me? If they're not nice 5 hours or 6 to 10, we're going to try to get you the product or service as soon as we can. And if something's not right instead of canceling us, right, tell us. So we have an opportunity to fix that.

21:41 - 22:16

That prevailing narrative of black owned businesses not being sufficient, I believe, is not one that is accurate, nor is it true, nor is it fair. And so I do think it's important, James, and I'm happy that you brought that up, that we take some time to sit with ourselves and ask ourselves how can we make measurable improvements in the black community when we don't invest in black owned businesses, the businesses that are more likely to recycle the dollar by investing in black schools, black nonprofits, black communities, and also taking that black wealth and making it generational for descendants to come.

22:16 - 22:29

It's obvious you're changing the trajectory of black wealth within popular culture. That's well-stated. And I so appreciate your energy, by the way. You're like shaving ten years off my life. My grades are gone. This is great.

22:31 - 23:00

I mean, education is definitely at the core of everything you do. In addition to the black upstart you launched Skill House, you Classrooms for the Culture, which is an online school that provides the necessary skills and training for entrepreneurship and wealth creation. So with your passion really being embedded in teaching real practical skills, how would you say that you're disrupting the traditional notions of education and entrepreneurship for Black Wolf creators?

23:01 - 23:57

The inspiration for how I teach actually originated from you is, yes, I was at Morehouse. We were hosting a tech accelerator, and the kids were being inspired by a moderator, and he was running up and down the aisle and he was saying, Who wants to be the next Steve Jobs? And you saw these black college students. Everyone was like, oh, my gosh, I want to do it. And he was like, Well, let's be the next Bill Gates and every student in the room. I want to do it. Please pick me. And he was like, a little would have to be, you know, the next Mark Zuckerberg. And every every kid in there was getting excited and I got caught up in the excitement as well. And so I realized that those questions at face value were excluding a population of entrepreneurs that are also successful, too. No matter how those black college students survived and they would never grow up to be white, they would never want to be white male, and they would never want to benefit from white male privilege.

23:57 - 24:44

And so after that experience, USCIS and I, we sat down and we said, we have to be intentional about the type of entrepreneurial curriculum that we put in front of our students. Yes, they can learn about Steve Jobs and Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. But let's also talk about the historical narrative, this seed in the entrepreneurial blueprint. Let's talk about Mary before. But none of this started in a one room schoolhouse and ended up in Oklahoma University. Let's not go back and separate examples like Issa Rae, who started off on YouTube. Let's talk about Garrett Morgan, an innovator during that time. Let's talk about Jam met Silver, who created the invention that put Shoe Masters Union, which which is at that time out of business. And because of his invention, we're able to produce anywhere between 800 to 5000 shoes per day. That was a black man.

24:44 - 25:11

You know, let's talk about those black entrepreneurs who were also successful, whose lessons and also wins we can learn from. And with black hats, I said best name, ideology and applied it as well. That's my. License for the culture because we're going to talk about those black entrepreneurial case studies that we can learn from and couple that with business concepts and back the balance. Use that. Yes, our general. Want to make it specific.

25:11 - 25:34

The other thing is she mentioned my social media, what people think about financial literacy. They always think about it being boring. It's a snore. It's not like when people think about financial literacy. They're normally coming to the when they're in a place of emergency and need help. I gotta got my credit card bill, but I don't have enough money, right? I want to get a mortgage, but I'm the first person in my family. So purchase a home.

25:35 - 26:03

And so the way in which we curate content, so it's culturally relevant, but also it has an entertainment value to it where you don't want to check out and be like, I'd rather be Netflix being and chilling right now than listening to this person talk to me about the debt to income ratio is very specific about making sure that we keep things light and entertaining, that people don't feel like they're in a classroom where this is a chore, but this is something that they actually want to do to economically emancipate themselves.

26:03 - 26:50

And speaking of your strong social media following and community, I think it's so important for there to be black female voices in the financial literacy and content space. And you've done such a great job of creating and carving out your brand, your platform, your community. As you said, you keep things culturally relevant as you help us all build the next generation of trust fund babies. I have two questions, actually. One, what is it that drives you to do this? But also number two, how do you even determine what kinds of content you create, the topics you cover? Because you seem to be able to kind of fill that breadth and depth of opportunities and knowledge.

26:51 - 27:19

Yeah, that is a great question. I read this statistic and it's probably shifted since then that black women are projected to lose over $900 million over their working careers, not be that high, but they're projected to lose a substantial amount of money over their working careers, not because they're not twice as smart, not because they're not twice as good, but simply because they're not white males.

27:20 - 27:54

And being a black woman and have them experience the wage gap real time at work. I remember one job I found out the administrative assistant was making $30,000 More than me. Yes, 30,000. But when I read statistics like that that the wage gap is so vast that regardless of how hard you work, it will be difficult for you to close it. Or when I read statistics like Black Wealth is projected to be zero by year 2050, it's very, very motivating to me to try to figure out ways in which to close the gap creatively.

27:55 - 28:25

How do I find these topics? I do a lot of historical reading as well. One of my favorite books is Power nomics Backlot Anderson The Miseducation of the Negro by Carter G. Watson is never one being able to really see myself in Black history. But then also I'm a nerd, so every morning I wake up at 5 a.m. and I'm reading money back from a reading Business Insider I'm reading Entrepreneur dot com. I'm going to be any dot com, like I'm looking at all of these pieces of information.

28:25 - 28:56

And then the next question that I ask myself is how do you bring this down to a level where if you've never understood this topic, you can make it easy to understand for anyone listening, regardless of where their financial literacy exists. And then this silly side of me comes out because I'm the only person in the business. I got the content. Now how do I make you pay attention? Let me go outside and dance with my dog because I definitely have to let me. And if I could be out here and look for you, you have this information. You going to leave? Give me a minute of my time.

28:56 - 29:10

So, I mean, you have such an active community. Have any of your listeners or followers share in any success stories with you? And what kind of impact have they told you that you have made on their lives?

29:10 - 29:46

It's been overwhelming. And for me, it's I'm such a forward thinking person. I'm always going to the next project. I think sometimes without backing and honoring the space of the last project and maybe the outcomes that come from that, The team is not like we're crunching this data. You have to see the data. And I'm like, But I'm reading right now, but from our bootcamps, a black entrepreneurial bootcamps where we did some work down in Oklahoma before the anniversary, I think it's the hundredth anniversary of the race massacre there. And it was incredibly humbling to see that.

29:46 - 30:29

So the cohort that we had trained there and provided ongoing mentorship to that, there were at least two studios that are open storefronts on Greenwood Avenue. We did like Wall Street in our curriculum. So to be able to see, like remember. Girl when they were just at the idea phase and feed them inside of a store on Brewer Avenue just in time for the commemoration. And the doors are still open. Incredible. We've had a couple of our moms pitch on Shark Tank. We've had when alumni come to me and say, I have raised enough money for my business or I have enough customers for my business, whack a hire myself for my Instagram. There have been people who have let me know that during a pandemic, teaching them about PPE.

30:29 - 30:58

So the Paycheck Protection Program and how to qualify for that legitimately really help them keep their business doors open and sustain itself, especially when we know that some of this government thought to be a little confusing, you know, And so there were people who followed me during that time. In fact, one of my most watched YouTube videos has over a half million views. And it was let's walk you through the terminology. Let's pivot. It's just something that you can understand and then let's go through the process so that you can qualify yourself in ways that make sense.

30:59 - 31:29

Being able to teach people who are just getting started out with their business, What's the difference between LLC or sole proprietorship? You know, there's a lot of individuals that are just like, I've got an LLC. Why is it $400 for me to pay for it and then made a sale? Yes. So being able to let them know you can actually write your business, which you're supposed to serve you number. Yeah. As the sole proprietor before you, I started up as an LLC. And so there have been a lot of stories like that. And that's really what keeps me motivated even more so than myself. You.

31:29 - 31:36

You refer to yourself as a second generation financial teacher with your mom being your first.

31:36 - 32:32

Yes, I do consider myself the second generation financial teacher with my mom being the first. My mom is the oldest of eight children, and so she was a major contributor to the household, being born to teenage parents, my grandma and my grandpa. And so she had to learn early about money management. She was the first person in our family to graduate from high school, to graduate from college to get her master's degree, to get her Ph.D., to purchase a home, to purchase rental property, to retire from the government with our side hustle, which was her real estate company, and be able to help. Every single one of her seven siblings also purchase the home as well. And I think that that is incredible. She retired from civil service after working for over 30 years there with honors from President Obama. I think my mom is absolutely believe me, I learned from her entrepreneurial hustle and also from her housing.

32:32 - 33:00

But then also even with credit, like my mom added me as an authorized user, and she pulled her credit report and she was talking to me about the different credit bureaus She was talking to me about What happened was she didn't pay her bills on time when she was in her twenties and how that was really important. My mom pulled my statements when I was in college for my checking account and she was like, Hey, let's talk about what you spent versus what you earned. This was every single month. It was a haven for us.

33:01 - 33:40

But here are the things that were I benefit in both. When I purchased my home at one negative thing on my credit and I was able to go directly to my credit union, ask them to remove it because I had an account with them since I was born. It's also a full circle moment because I was lost in some amazing event. My nonprofit now is 13, 14 years old and I was able to hire my mom as an employee there. And so when Biden relaxed some of the laws for public student loan forgiveness, one of the gifts I was able to give back to my mom, in addition to paying off one of her mortgages, was qualifying her for student loan forgiveness, where she was able to remove over $60,000 in student loan debt from her account.

33:40 - 33:49

That's also that's also I know you've got a lot in store in your future. Like what are the one or two things that you're really excited about?

33:49 - 34:22

One of the things that we're seeking to build out is our team for North Boot camp. And so we have been working very closely with the Find Two Foundation, which is Robert Smith, the Billionaires Foundation, and we piloted bootcamps this past summer in Denver and also in Mississippi. And so we are excited and certainly within the black upstarts, we can see you back curriculum development and continue teaching you about entrepreneurship. And I'm also excited because the black upstart wants to begin focusing on skills development.

34:22 - 34:56

We do understand that the educational landscape is changing, especially as people begin to interrogate the true value of their college degree. Not saying don't go to college, but for those people who did and graduated and their student loan debt has become a barrier to wealth creation, what are some other ways and opportunities that we can offer to people so they can develop the type of skills that can be monetized inside of the gig economy? And then also I'm working on writing a book, and my second book is going to be focused on financial literacy through a culturally competent lens.

34:56 - 35:08

Kezia Besides purchasing your book next. Yeah. Are there any other specific calls to action that you would like for our listeners to take to support you, to support your work, the movement and the impact you're making?

35:09 - 35:58

Yes. So I would love for people to support my first book, and that would be the Black Entrepreneurs Workbook. You can buy that at Professor. Give that up. Also, I would love for you to register for free and still house you dot com. We're going to be doing a series of night schools starting in 2023. We piloted it in 2022 where we are going to be teaching the skills development that I spoke of earlier. And if you're looking for fun financial literacy content, you can follow me across all social media platforms at eight easy I a and W or it starts hashtag Professor t k easy. I want to thank you Macy and James so much for having me. Y'all are so much mine. I can totally be talking to you all day long about this. Thank you so much for having me.

35:58 - 36:01

Well, thank you for joining us.

36:01 - 36:03

We definitely appreciate you. Thank you.

36:05 - 36:22

I hope you enjoyed today's episode. We'd love to hear from you. So please email your thoughts, questions and any feedback to diverse markets at Bernstein dot com. Be sure to share, subscribe, comment on and rate us on Apple Podcasts or anywhere you listen to your podcasts and check us out on Twitter at Bernstein. P. W. M.

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