Richmond, Virginia native Everette Taylor has found the cheat code to leveraging his past to propel his future. The former Artsy CMO turned Kickstarter CEO comes from humble beginnings and uses that as his motivation to chase his dreams. Going from homelessness and nearly dropping out of college, the 33-year-old is living proof that when you focus your time and energy on what you truly want, it's bound to happen.

"Growing up in communities like Richmond, you don't really feel like you have the opportunity to make your dreams come true. You look at generational traumas and things that tragically repeat themselves, and it takes a special kind of person to break that chain," Taylor says to EBONY. "What has really motivated me in my career is this feeling that I wanted something better for myself and my family. And, I wanted to break some of these generational chains that have bound us for so long. For me, entrepreneurship was about survival and also finding another way that wasn't open to me before."

Previously named as one of the 'world's most influential CMOs' by Forbes, Taylor is now teaming up with Chevrolet to award another dream chaser the opportunity to elevate their hustle this year. Starting Friday, January 13, 2023, you can apply for the chance to take life by the wheel—literally, with keys to an all-new 2024 Chevy Traxfor three months, and receive $100,000 to pursue your dreams, under the official title of Lead Dream Chaser.

Everette Taylor
Kickstarter CEO Everette Taylor poses in front of the 2024 Chevy Trax. Image: courtesy of Chevrolet,

"This can literally change someone's life overnight. $100,000 is a large sum of money. To me, I understand the power of having a vehicle and having the capital," shares Taylor. "It's a very powerful thing, and this opportunity allows for someone to have both and get a leg up. Hopefully when that person is impacted, they will also be inspired to later change someone else's life."

EBONY asked the Kickstarter lead man to walk us through some of his favorite life lessons and tips that have helped leverage him into a successful, top business executive.

Have a Plan in Place

Before having access to a large sum of capital—like that being awarded in the Chevy Dream Chaser contest—you want to have an intentional plan on how it will be used.

"Have a business plan in place, be intentional about every single dollar of capital, and know what the end goal is. Whether that's creating a viable product, or seeking to lock in your first 100 customers," Taylor explains. "And then, from there, know what your next step is going to be. If you are smart and do you what you have to do, it can lead to a lot more."

Take Care of Yourself

Social media culture can lead us to believe that if we aren't on the grind 24/7, then we're behind. But taking care of your physical, mental and emotional well-being is key to running the long game.

"I know I've had times when I've sacrificed my well-being, but looking back it feels absolutely ridiculous. That work will be there tomorrow, that deal will be there tomorrow. Honestly, it's about working smarter not harder and having a well-balanced life," shares the Kickstarter CEO.

Be True to Yourself

Taylor recalls spending a lot of time trying to be somebody he wasn't during one of his first start-up gigs. He often found himself trying to speak, dress and act like someone that wasn't him.

"I was spending so much time trying to be somebody I wasn't, and I wasn't able to be as effective at my work," reveals Taylor. "Be yourself! It's important to always be yourself and to be able to look at yourself in the mirror daily and be okay with who that person is. You can really make an impact by being true to you."

Stay Relentless

Life can throw many curveballs at us. Often times, some of the most successful people in the world are those who have been able to overcome tough obstacles while keeping their eye on the prize.

"The people that are most successful are those who are able to overcome," says Taylor. "You have to continue to have that relentlessness and always be willing to push through and not give up."

Comparison Is the Thief of Joy

Taylor stresses that you have to focus on running your own race.

"If you are constantly comparing yourself to others, you will never be happy," shares the business executive. "You have to remember what you are in it for."

Empathy Goes a Long Way

Whether it's empathy for your customers, your employees or the relationships you build—it all goes a long way.

"The ability to put yourself in the shoes of others is extremely important," adds Taylor.