graduated college I interned at Hearst Newspaper and that internship and those mentors at Hearst said stuff to me that I had never been told, which really encouraged me to keep moving forward. They were like “Jeff, we see something in you”.
I had two executives at Hearst who basically said if you take these specific classes, they would give me a job when I graduated. Honestly no one thought that this would be true. They were like you can’t trust people. I was like "no, you have to trust someone and someone has to believe you." And that’s the thing. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut. It sounds cliché but go with what your heart is telling you.
I went to this small little private school and no one believed that Hearst, this big media company in New York would hire me. But you know what, when I graduated, my mentors stuck to their word.
I was a fortunate one to have a taste of my dream to know what it feels like to be around “success”. But I’m no different; everyone can do it.
EBONY: Oprah once said at her core that she’s a teacher. What do you consider yourself to be at your core?
I consider myself at my core to be an encourager. I encourage people. I want people to go for it. A friend of mine once said to me: you’re in a canoe and it’s near the river. At some point in your life, you’re going to be in that canoe, too. And you’re going to be in a canoe along other people and at some point in your life you may have to pass them by. That’s the thing. At some point, you’re going to have to keep driving forward and unfortunately other people just aren’t going to be there. People are not going to be where your destiny is calling you and you’re going to pass them and there’s no thought for that. It’s just a part of life. It’s just realizing that you have your own destiny; you’re always going to have your own canoe. And that canoe for me is such a visual. Even though we have so many friends in that canoe, we each have our own destiny.
I encourage people to keep going for what they want.
EBONY: What are some initial reactions that people have when they find out what you do?
A lot of people are more or less like “that exists?” It’s because it’s a new thing. And you know when things are new people are like, “I didn’t realize you could do that.
EBONY: I wonder if people ever think like "yeah right, that’s not a real job."
I haven’t gotten it before yet but people do ask how we make money. We're not charging companies. So everyone wants to know and I’m like well there’s this thing called investors. [Laughs]
What true advice would you give someone going into your line of work?
Pick up the phone. I said this to a friend of mine who was looking for a job and I said you’ve been emailing all of these people. Think about how many other people email these people. Think about how people are actually taking the time to call and say "hey can I talk to HR and can I set up an informational?" And then he did that and he was like “people actually are responsive”. People don’t realize that you actually have the power to pick up the phone and actually connect to people.
Another piece of advice is to be better than the person next to you. That’s something my boss told me and it’s something that always stuck. It’s a hard thing to fathom because you want to be respectful and you want to be a team player. But you always want to recognize that if you get into what your dream job is and you want to stay there, you being better than the person just means going over and beyond to show that this is what you really want.