Hezekiah Griggs_An Entrepreneur's Story_Transcript

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					                                 Virtual Speaker Series
                                    “Hezekiah Griggs”

© 2011 Extreme Entrepreneurship Education, LLC All Rights Reserved.

Michael Simmons [MS]: Good afternoon, everyone, this is Michael Simmons, co-founder of the Virtual
Speaker Series. I am always excited for every single VSS broadcast, for different reasons. For this one,
you‟re really going to hear from one of the country‟s top entrepreneurs, number one, but one who has
come from one of the most challenging backgrounds, and one of the ones who has gone the farthest.
He‟s also one who, as a guest, has really given back. You‟re going to hear how he‟s served as a mentor
for over his life for hundreds of young aspiring entrepreneurs, or for people who just want to be successful
and make a difference.

At 23 years old he has accomplished more than most people do in their entire lifetime. I‟m not going to go
through every single company, because that would take forever, but here are some highlights of what
he‟s doing now: He‟s the founder of H360 Capital, a venture capital firm with a large fund that is about to
finish closing on a hundred-million dollar fund. He‟s a founder of the Urban Entrepreneurial Alliance,
which has given over $25 million in grants. He‟s a founder of HG3 Media, which has created a number of
youth-focused and other focused magazines and media properties. He‟s the recipient of over 300
different awards including being honored as “Legend in the Making” at the 55              anniversary of the
Montgomery Bus Boycott. So, we are going to have a very exciting interview and go deep into his story.

But before we do that, I want to recognize our title sponsor: The US Chamber of Commerce‟s Campaign
for Free Enterprise. Now more than ever, this system of entrepreneurial mindset and the free enterprise
system to let that mindset loose is important. You can learn more and participate at or
you can text EET to the number 64274.

This is an interactive interview; so if you have questions throughout, not just at the end, please share
them with us. The number to send that to with your cell phone is 917-512-6189. If you don‟t already have
that number saved, please go ahead and save it now. We have a Facebook group. If you‟re a member of
the Virtual Speaker Series, you can go to If you have any questions,
we‟ll be happy to answer them if you don‟t get them answered during today‟s broadcast.

So with that, I just want to say welcome, Hezekiah. Thank you for being here.

Hezekiah Griggs [HG]: Thank you for having me.

MS: Well, let‟s jump in. You‟re 23 years old and you‟ve already had a career that‟s run over 15 years as
an entrepreneur. So even though you‟re young, you have a huge amount of experience. Give me an idea
about the environment that you grew up in.


HG: 2012 will be 17 years in entrepreneurship. I grew up in poverty. I grew up in Newark, New Jersey in a
little town called Passaic, which used to be a pretty popular place back in the early 1900s. In fact, we
have the distinction of being the city that helped to create the television. Many movie stars came through
Passaic and unfortunately it is not what it used to be. There is a very high poverty rate, a very high
violence. It is a stereotypical urban city.

I grew up in homelessness and poverty. We did not have a lot. My younger sister and I would go to bed
hungry, and there were days we‟d go to school and we didn‟t know where our home was. My father
wasn‟t in the house and it was quite difficult.

MS: What was that like? I mean, I personally didn‟t come from that kind of background, and for people
who are listening – you know, when you say that it‟s hard to comprehend what it would be like to be
homeless at that age.

HG: I don‟t want to over-dramatize homelessness. What I mean by that is – we weren‟t sleeping on park
benches. In the essence of not having a stable home environment, where we couldn‟t go to school and
know “that‟s where home is.” Some days we would stay with my aunt, some days we would stay with my
grandmother. It was very difficult. But I imagine it was no more difficult than what young people all across
the country today are dealing with. I was in Houston last week and I spoke to 21 schools as I do often. I
like to speak to high schools, middle schools, and I do it as part of my commitment to giving back. A lot of
the kids there could give me stories that would run way past ours. I think it‟s a common theme in America
to overcome adversity eventually. And for some of us, that adversity is when we were children.

MS: At that age were you used to that and it wasn‟t – you know, you had just learned to cope? Or at that
time were you kind of feeling that this wasn‟t right and you wanted to create an environment that is
completely different than where you were?

HG: At first, I joke around that we were so poor the poor people would look down on us, which is very
poor. I think everyone has a point in their life where they either decide to be a part of the problem, or
decide to be a part of the solution. And I don‟t know if there are too many people who would like to be in
poverty, like to be broke, and not live the life they want to live of success and fortune. In my case, I was
blessed, some might say through God or other means, with an incredibly motivated mind to change my


MS: Looking back and trying to dissect that, you know you grew up in this environment and for you that
was a fuel to create change. But for many people, it holds them back. How do you explain that for

HG: I would like to think that no one is successful in life – can achieve success - without recognizing first
why we can fail, why we should fail and why we should not fail. It‟s very important. I believe that life is a
beautiful struggle, and you don‟t learn anything in life if you do not go through a struggle. And this is why
so many of us who are blessed with great fortune when we come into life lose it over time. We either lose
it or lose ourselves in the process because struggle is the determinant factor that allows us to become
better cultivated to adapt to the society that we live in.

MS: I completely agree with you, but the reality, I would argue, is that for people who are successful, they
look at their challenges like they didn‟t succeed despite their challenges, but because of them. But the
reality is that challenges hold down most people, they aren‟t able to rise above it. How, at such a young
age, do you think you were able to rise above your challenges and see things? Do you have an idea of
that, or was it just too long ago?

HG: You just take advantages of opportunities. Before when we pre-gamed, what we talked about was
very important. As a kid, you have enormous power to decide what you want. You want toys, candy,
watching cartoons. You could act up in Wal-Mart if you wanted to for about 5 or 10 minutes and hopefully
get the candy that you wanted. When you‟re conscious of the fact that you may not have what you want
all the time, or you‟ve been disappointed, you start to reach for things that give you long term satisfaction.
That includes trying to come out of poverty, so I think that‟s my mindset. Not to mention that I was always
a peculiar young man, who liked to have conversations with older people for most of my life. I was also
very off and weird.

MS: So what was your first business and when did you start it?

HG: My first business was Griggs Cinematography. I started it, I would assume, somewhere around ‟96 or

MS: So you were about 8 or so?


HG: I was 7. My birthday is in October, so the summer of that year, ‟96, I believe, is when I started. And
then I turned 8 in October.

MS: Was it something that took off? Was it a typical 8-year-old business but it taught you business skills?
Or did it actually become like an adult business?

HG: This actually is quite a long story but I‟ll shorten it just a bit. My grandfather is a preacher at a large
denomination. One day, he asked me to film him as he was preaching and I did. It was an easy
assignment. Usually, I would go to church, sleep, wake up and go home. This job required me to press
“record” before I went to sleep, and press “stop” when I woke up. I say this in church, too, so people don‟t
get confused. One day I was putting the tripod away to my grandfather‟s camera, and an old woman
came up and asked me how much a tape cost. I told her $15. In ‟96, gas was 89 cents. $15 for a 70 or 80
year old was quite a lot of money. I gave her the tape a few weeks later, and other people came and
asked me how come they didn‟t get a tape. I told them it was because they didn‟t give me $15 and that‟s
how my business really matriculated. There were a lot of events that took me to the next level.

MS: Could you move a little bit closer to the camera, Hezekiah?

So you‟re getting some success, were you putting a huge amount of time into the business at this point?
Or are you still treating it kind of as a hobby on the weekends? When did it get serious for you?

HG: Number one to answer your question, I was not smart enough at 7 to realize that every time I
recorded a new tape, I didn‟t have to sit there and watch it. So my grandfather didn‟t really care that I was
going to church and sleeping, because he was seeing me watch his sermons over and over and over and
over. I thought I had to sit there and watch it in order for the tape to work, that‟s the mind of an 8 year old
for you. My big moment came one day when I was putting the tripod away and this young lady came up to
me and told me she liked the way I used the camera. She said she and her fiancé were getting married
and they‟d like me to do the wedding. I told her that I‟m a stationary guy, I come to church, I press record,
I go to sleep, I wake up, I press stop. She said she‟d pay me $3500. I asked her what time she wanted
my grandmother to drop me off.


MS: Wow. $3500 at 8 years old, by that time I‟m guessing.

HG: Yea I was 8 by then. The beautiful thing is that that wasn‟t even the big break. Within 6 weeks of

starting my business, I was making at least $6,000 a Sunday. I was selling somewhere around 400 tapes
each Sunday.

MS: Wow. $6,000 a Sunday. What were you thinking at that point? Could you even count that high? I
couldn‟t count that high at 8.

HG: Well, my sisters worked at Applebee‟s, my mother did at some point too. I used to see them come
home with brown manila envelopes and I used to think that‟s how you got paid. So I would buy these
envelopes and I would put money in them and I just had stacks of envelopes underneath my bed. It just
was not conscionable to me. I did what any other kid would do. I spent it all on toys or candy. I liked
candy, so I got a lot of candy. But in North Carolina, you know, it is a lot of candy. But if you knew where I
lived in North Carolina you‟d know why I focused on candy. It took us 30 miles to get to the gas station to
get candy. In New Jersey, you basically only had to walk a block to get to the candy store. So I would
make sure I didn‟t have to walk that 30-mile journey and I got a bit of candy. But eventually I started
putting it in the bank.

MS: So what was the big breakthrough in that business? I know you were making a huge amount of
money, spending a good portion of it on candy, probably as much as you can, and it sounds like saving
the rest of it.

HG: I got a few big breaks. The first one came when I was at school and a lady randomly stopped me and
introduced herself. She was the vice president of Ethan Allen, a very large, high-end furniture store, and
she asked me for my information, and my guardian‟s information because she wanted to take me out to
get some ice cream. That‟s a little weird, now that I think about it, but back then it was not. Now you have
to be careful, don‟t just go with anybody who says they want to take you to ice cream! But I was sitting
there and I told her what I was doing and she just was so impressed that she introduced me to her lawyer
and a bunch of successful people were around me. It just catapulted my business. I hired cameramen a
few weeks later and a few months later I was clearing quite a bit of money.


MS: How old were you at that point and how much money – you know, a ballpark?

HG: I was 8 about to turn 9. By the summer of ‟98 I was making clearly, in revenue profit, 6-figures a

MS: A month? I mean, that‟s crazy. I don‟t even know how to process that at such a young age.
Obviously, you can‟t buy candy – I mean that amount of candy, unless you‟re going to sell it. What were
you doing with it? Are you saving it? How do you even process that?

HG: I was buying something that my grandmother buys. She buys S.S. Bonds which are war bonds that
in the 1940s in the Great Depression – prior to that – in order to fund the war the U.S. government offered
securities called Treasury Bonds – S.S. Bonds - - that were basically loans that were guaranteed by the
federal government to support the military efforts in foreign countries. They double in value over a certain
number of years. So I sold those.

MS: That‟s obviously very smart. You‟re doing very well; you‟re off to a good start.

HG: The interest rate is not as good as, let‟s say, stocks . . .

MS: But it‟s secure.

HG: Right, it‟s way safer.


MS: By this point in your life, you‟re making more money per time period than most people do – you
know, than 99% of the world does. You‟re doing very well. Are you going to school at this point? Do you
just know that you‟re completely different than everyone else?

HG: No. I never accepted that, I still don‟t accept that. Now, I have an arrogance to me. I have a new
arrogance to me because I think that anytime you have an experience that other people don‟t have, you
should be the most confident person about that experience. But I have never thought to myself that I was
different than other people. I just always knew that the way I thought, at my age, was different. I‟ve always
believed that that is what it was, and that‟s what it is.

MS: Ok. So you‟re doing well. What‟s the next step-up as an entrepreneur?

HG: The next step was when I was 11. I was running this business, doing quite well, and I had a meeting
with my lawyer in accounting and we were talking about something in particular and I had to have a legal
representative because of my age. The law stipulates that anyone under age 18 can void contracts.

When someone tells you that you can‟t buy a car under the age of 18, it‟s not technically true. The law
stipulates that you can void contracts. So you‟ll have entities not get involved, so I always had to have
someone with authority or the power of attorney or guardianship to sign for me. We were in a meeting
talking about something, a contract or something like that, and my lawyer looked over to me and he said
that I‟d done quite well for myself. He said that if he were in my position, talking about retirement, etc. He
said that if he were in my position, he would retire, because he actually wanted to retire. I said thank God
I‟m in the position you want to be in right now. So I‟m going to do something I feel like I can do. I decided
to retire then.

MS: What does that look like to retire when you‟re 11 years old?

HG: It means absolutely nothing.

MS: Here are some basic questions. You‟re 11 years old; you‟re going to school. How do you get to and
from places and things like that? With that large amount of money, there‟s math you can‟t do. Stuff like

HG: Well, number one, I was very smart in mathematics, in fact, I was taking Algebra. I took AP Calculus
in the 10 grade. My mathematic skills were quite tight. I will also say that I had a lot of people around
me, especially my parents and grandparents and other members of my family were around. They see a
lot of me. The process was that I got up every morning at 6:30 and got on a yellow school bus. I got home
from that yellow school bus and went to my cove in my grandparents‟ home and had conversations about
business and met with people and shook hands and traveled and introduced myself and always had my
trusty camera around. I started doing other things, too. It was quite an experience.

MS: And did people try to take advantage of you?


HG: Absolutely, Michael. If somebody isn‟t trying to take advantage of you, it means you‟ve got nothing to

MS: Did you have situations where people were able? Or did you always have good enough people
around you that you could kind of fend it off?

HG: I think, Michael, any good thief, someone who takes, every good thief is able to find a loophole. I

wouldn‟t be naïve enough to say I wasn‟t taken advantage of. I am still taken advantage of today. My
heart gets me taken advantage of. But now I‟m wise about who is capable of taking advantage of me and
whether or not I‟m going to let them. Because sometimes, you let people take advantage of you because
in the end, you win. But at 11 or 12 or so, because of the kind of life I‟ve always lived – a private life – I
don‟t talk about money, I‟m not showy, I don‟t discuss it. I think it was very hard for people to get in my

MS: So you come out of retirement, because I know you‟ve done a lot of things, so I know you‟re not

HG: That‟s what retired people do, Michael, when they retire.

MS: What inspires you to go back into business and really go all in when you didn‟t have to?

HG: Well let me put this into context, especially for the young people that are watching. Just because you
are doing something that is allowing you to be successful, doesn‟t mean that it‟s your purpose. So what
you will have, you‟ll see a lot of success and achievement, but clearly in my case, what I was doing back
then was not my purpose. I did not believe it was, and it just wasn‟t. Ever since I was a child, I‟ve always
wanted to be a bus driver. How crazy it sounds, it‟s true, I always wanted to be a bus driver. I used to see
those bus drivers turn those wheels from left to right and they used to do it quite well and I thought that
was power.

One day I was in a science fair in the 9 grade. I was 13. I created this airplane that was going to be the
best airplane in the world. I put it next to this sloppy project that just had spaghetti stuff just hanging all
over it, it was horrible, horrid. An hour later, the judges come by and that sloppy project won. And I just
felt that was the most tremendous injustice I have ever seen in my life. And I started running around the
gym screaming, „Injustice! Injustice!‟ I did it so much that my teachers were just screaming „Injustice!‟ and
I realized that I had something here. I decided to start a magazine called Project American Justice to talk
about justice in America and that started my media company.


MS: We‟re getting some questions here. I apologize for all of the questions I‟ve neglected so far because
I have so many of my own. I have a question from Jason. Have you had a midlife crisis because of your
early success?

HG: So I‟m assuming he‟s talking about my midlife crisis now. Have I had a midlife crisis now or was it
prior? Let‟s say it‟s now. Honestly – I‟m also a very honest person. A year ago, I had a mental breakdown.
I was depressed, I was frustrated. I had a situation where – when you‟re doing high-risk assessment, you
have to live up to, Jason, live up to what you‟ve done before. At 7. You‟re constantly trying to outdo what
you did at 7. It‟s very difficult.

I‟ve always been a man of purpose. I‟ve always known what I was going to do, how I was going to do it,
etc, etc. Last year, I didn‟t know what I was going to do. It scared the hell out of me. I got very depressed.

MS: How long did that last for and how did you come out of it?

HG: It lasted for 5 months.

MS: 5 months? So what did that look like? Did you just work through everything and this was in the
background, or did you just kind of slow down and notice everything?

HG: First two months I couldn‟t even work, I sat on my grandmother‟s couch. My grandmother was just so
sad for me because she‟s seen me always be a high caliber, you know. I wasn‟t even willing to go speak
to kids at schools, which is what I love doing. I just sat on the couch. I had an old colleague from 8 years
ago, and we saw each other randomly. He called me up one day and that made me realize I have to have
some pride. I had to be working on something. I made something up in 15 minutes and he said that he
liked the idea and wanted to know where we could meet next week. I thought oh my god, now I have to
create something for that. Now we are what we are. I got out of it because of that. Thank God for that
phone call.


MS: I see how that was a project that came up and it kept you busy, but were you able to deal with the
underlying thing? How did you process that?

HG: Eventually I realized from a friend of mine, Kevin Powell, he used to be on the Real World, one of the
first cast members on the original. I called him and he was out of the country. He had just lost his election
in New York, he was running for Congress, and I had a conversation with him. I told him that I was
unhappy and that I was a little depressed. He said that I was a fantastic businessman, a great speaker,
and good at what I do. He said, „Griggs, you have to run your life like you run one of your businesses.
You have to plan your life like you plan one of you businesses.‟ It‟s one of those dormant things, where

you can make a lot of decisions and say you‟re very planned. But if you don‟t really sit down and think
about it, because that was the first time anybody‟s ever said that to me. It just came to me like an “ah-ha”
moment. I knew that, but I never really did it. It was a great experience.

MS: So you‟re thinking about your vision, your values, you‟re getting really clear on that and how it‟s
going to drive you forward, like a life plan, basically?

HG: Sometimes you just have to stop. And when I say I retired, those have been necessary. Otherwise, I
would have been a crazy madman who wasn‟t able to do anything that he wanted to do in life. I‟m glad
that moments especially like the one we‟re talking about now have happened.

MS: What is your long-term vision for your life, now? You‟re 23, so we‟re assuming technology is going to
help us live longer so you have at least to a hundred years old.

HG: To put it quite bluntly, I want to die stronger than when I started. Whatever that means for me, let it
be. I don‟t need to know exactly the details. All I need to be, in my mind, is prepared for whatever
happens. As I‟ve progressed, nothing that has come to me have I thought 3 or 4 years ago would happen.
It‟s always come to me because I‟ve always had a mindset of being prepared for what life is going to
present to you, and be ready for the challenge. So I just want to be better everyday.

MS: I definitely get that, especially with the world we‟re living in now. The world is accelerating, new
things that you didn‟t see coming are happening, so I definitely understand being prepared. How do you
prepare yourself for these challenges? When you answer that, think about how other people can prepare
themselves and be better everyday.

HG: Well you‟ve got to first accept a challenge beyond yourself. I mentor a lot of people. You have to
have a mentor. You need someone in your life that helps guide you and prepares you. For those of you
who don‟t have a mentor, not just because you don‟t know what you want to do but also because it is a
part of life, you need to find one. That‟s very helpful. In terms of being prepared, you have to be a sponge.
Moments like this on your campus, and in your business – when you‟re exposed to people. Always take
advantage of those opportunities, because those, really, are the preparation moments. Who is to say that
today, the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerburg is not sitting and watching because of something that
happens in the next 15 minutes, Michael, like it happened for me when Kevin Powell told me to plan my
life. Moments happen, randomly, so you‟ve got to put yourself in a position to be prepared. That‟s just an
easy way of looking at it: always take advantage of opportunities.

Put yourself around people who want to challenge you. The other thing I would say is that you need to
make sure the friends you have are good friends, which means that they are constantly challenging you
to do better . . . to do better . . . to do better. You shouldn‟t have friends, Michael, that put you in situations
where you are distracted from your purpose as a result. Your friends should be constantly looking at you
and saying, „Man, you said you want to be a doctor. You‟re supposed to be studying right now.‟ That‟s a
good friend.

MS: So let‟s go to mentorship. When we spoke earlier – I see that you‟re one of the most unique young
entrepreneurs in general that I‟ve met in terms of how seriously, and how much time you put into
providing mentorship. Can you talk about the role that being a mentor plays in your life? And then, I‟m
going to ask you – actually, let‟s just start there.

HG: Ok, good. So mentorship is the most important thing I do in my life. It‟s the most important thing. I
guess I would be a great father because of it. Mentorship is very important to me because I recognize that
my life is only as purposeful as my legacy is. And my legacy lives through the actions of others. Certainly,
I want them to be better as a result of that. If you don‟t mind me being semi-religious in saying that Jesus‟
legacy is stronger because of all of the people who decided to live up to what he says and he set the
standard for. Not just Jesus, but Dr. King or anybody else who has died. At their death, they become
stronger because of that. Now putting that into a commonplace or common thought – when I look at
mentorship. If I‟m in a meeting and one of my mentees calls me, I stop the meeting. I‟ve been in the White
House, Michael, I‟ve been in multi-million dollar meetings, and my phone has rung and I have stopped the
meeting, walked out, and taken the phone call. I think that‟s part of your character, and that‟s just who I
am. That‟s just one of those things. There are things you‟re just not going to get me to do, and one of
them is to turn my back on young people, or people in general that I decide to support.

I think the three most important things of mentorship are care, belief and love. You must care about the
mentee, believe in the mentee and love the mentee enough to care about them and believe in them even
when they make mistakes. In some cases, it requires a sacrifice of your own self. I have been mentoring
for nearly 9 years and I have seen people come out of poverty, I have seen people come out of gangs, I
have seen people come from very good places and I have seen a lot of young people who have been
under my stewardship succeed in life because of my commitment to them.


MS: First of all, that‟s amazing and I wish more people thought that way. But the reality is that, you know,
when you interview most young entrepreneurs, they are in the building phase of their life. They‟re building
a business and they‟re not giving as much time to mentorship. How do you balance your time between

building, managing and growing a business that could touch thousands or millions of people‟s lives,
versus taking a conversation with one individual where there isn‟t going to be a direct impact to your
business. How do you make that decision?

HG: Well, I will say to you right now: any architect knows that the foundation of any plan is more important
than anything else that happens. If you don‟t build a strong foundation – you can have the top of that
building floating, but if the foundation isn‟t working, it doesn‟t really matter. You‟ll see a lot of people who
aren‟t successful because they have no foundation. They just want to build their business. You can‟t build
your business if you haven‟t provided a character or a staple. I think one of the greatest things that has
happened to me is that I have noticed that the more I have given back and have been of service to
something bigger than me, the more successful I‟ve become. That‟s an amazing thing. And that may not
be true for everybody, but the people that I hang around with, it is true for them. So certainly, you just
need to have that perspective. There‟s nothing that has greater priority than what I care about: my
mentees, my family, and the things that are personal and dear to me. I don‟t care what else – everything
else is irrelevant. I will take off of work, I will cancel meetings, and it doesn‟t really matter.

MS: You think about someone like Steve Jobs who is an entrepreneurial hero for many, but he knew that
he was going to die, he put less time towards his charity – well, he didn‟t really do much charity at all. He
focused on Apple because by releasing the next big product, that‟s how he could make his biggest impact
and make his dent on the universe. What makes you feel like mentoring an individual person and taking
the time for that call – how does that make you feel like you‟ve had your largest impact?


HG: Well, I am a King fellow. Dr. King says in his Drum Major Instinct speech, which is by far, in my
opinion, the best speech he ever delivered . . .

MS: You said it was the Drum Major Instinct?

HG: Yes, the Drum Major Instinct. He says that if you want to be important, wonderful; if you want to be
recognized, wonderful; but recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And he
describes that as the new definition of greatness and in order for us to be great, we all must serve. And
as I look back at history‟s greatest servants, I see that they are the most successful people in the world. I
think it is best to understand the psychology of one‟s behavior than to duplicate that behavior without
understanding why. If I look at Steve Jobs or Bill Gates or anybody who has been ultra successful, they
have been successful because of what they‟ve done to help other people. Now whether they‟ve gotten
money as a result of that, bless their heart. If it had not been for Bill Gates, we certainly would not be on

Skype talking right now. I would not be who I am today without Bill Gates. A lot of us owe credit to him, or
we wouldn‟t be able to study the way we study in classes, we wouldn‟t be able to teach and profess the
way that we do in classes. I think it‟s just a commitment to something greater than you. An idea, a
concept, a moral code, and that will root itself in everything that requires success.

MS: Who are some of your biggest heroes? It doesn‟t have to be in business, but people who have
inspired your thinking about service and helping others.

HG: My life is an indication of greater moral tenets, than anything else. So even in the book listing, you
will see that I don‟t read business books; in fact, I don‟t read many books. I don‟t read business reports, I
don‟t . . . you can become isolated from reality when you are not looking at greater things. So my biggest
concern is my influence on people who just make a difference. I remember Matthew – a young man
named Matthew Stepanick, or my friend Anthony from years ago who had tremendous life adversities.
I‟ve seen people come from illness and fight unimaginable circumstances; people who come from lower
depths of poverty, people who have been slaves. I‟ve seen kids in Africa, I‟ve been all over the world and
I‟ve seen adversity with my own eyes. Those things are driving me and are motivation for me. I can‟t
sleep at night knowing that I can do more and be better. That requires me to do more and be better.

MS: You had the opportunity to mentor hundreds of people who wanted to, wherever they were, to be
more and to be stronger. Wait, give us one second here I just lost Hezekiah. Let me bring him back up,
one second.

Actually, this is a perfect time for us to go into a break. We‟re about 45 minutes in, so I am going to play
the intermission, we‟re going to play a video from our sponsor. We‟ll be back in 5 minutes.


MS: All right, we are back with Hezekiah, here. Welcome back, Hezekiah.

HG: Thank you.

MS: All right, I‟m going to jump into an audience question. This is from Cate. What was the most difficult
struggle you faced in your journey from poverty to prosperity?

HG: That young lady read my bio. The most difficult . . . let me answer that by giving you a story. When I
was 12 I met a young man whom – I was in Ohio to give a speech – I‟ve been speaking since I was 12
years old – and I was at a youth rally. This young man came up to me and says, „You‟re Hezekiah Griggs,

right?‟ I said „Yes, sir,‟ and turned around with a little bit of arrogance and cockiness, „yes, I‟m Hezekiah
Griggs III.‟ He said, „I wanted you to know that you are my role model.‟ If there‟s something that can‟t
humble you – that should. I looked at Anthony, he was a white kid in a wheelchair, and I could tell we
were from different paths in life. That made me more humble, that this young man says to me that I‟m his
role model. And I asked him why I was his role model. He said it was because I have hope and a desire
to do great things. I said, „Don‟t you have hope?‟ He said no. He had leukemia and the doctors told him
that in 6 weeks he was going to die.

I remember that because it was a pivotal moment for me. I had to decide whether or not to do what my
character tells me to do, or to just let the situation pass. I said „No, you can‟t give up.‟ We talked for about
two hours, exchanged numbers, and we spoke everyday. 6 weeks passed, 6 months passed, 6 years
passed. I spoke to him everyday for 6 years.

January 6, 2006 was a day I‟ll never forget. At 5:30 in the morning I got a phone call from Anthony‟s
mother. She was crying. She told me that Anthony had passed away that night. I told her I thought he had
gotten rid of the leukemia. She told me that was not how he died; he died from a drunken driver. The car
flipped over 18 times. That was the most difficult experience of my life. I had to go and eulogize this
young man who became such an important part of my life. I remember everyday we would talk and he
would say at the end of the conversation that I was his role model and I would joke and say „Bless you.‟
Which I do all the time.

I didn‟t realize until I stood over his coffin that he was my role model in life. I never told him that. But you
get moments like that where you just sit back and reflect. I have an enormous opportunity to have people
like Anthony in my life who have impacted me, and you can‟t forget those moments.

MS: How was he your role model?


HG: I think the reason I would have to say he and others like him were my role models is because when
you have to go against what society tells you, it‟s pretty strong. To say to a kid that has much life ahead of
him that he has only 6 weeks to live, and then he decides by his own will to determine his fate, I think
that‟s – I think we should all appreciate that kind of spirit.

MS: One of the things, you know just from hearing you talk, is that so often entrepreneurs put themselves
in the context of learning from entrepreneurs and famous entrepreneurs. I hear you talking about that
story and your life, I can tell you‟re a student of life. The books you recommended and the movies that

have influenced you – they‟re not based on business. Can you talk more about that? In other words,
people think of learning from the celebrity entrepreneur but some of your biggest role models are not
celebrities but are the people around you that probably most people even take for granted. How do you
use them to be a student of life?

HG: I just love to sit back and listen. As much as I talk, I do as much listening. I don‟t know where it even
came from. I was asking my friend the other day where I got this drive to care about people. I could look
at a kid who other people would say is not capable of being successful, and I look at him and can see a
CEO. I can see it. That to me is important. As I‟ve matured, I‟ve also allowed life to mature with me. I think
anytime we allow ourselves to mature as human beings, ultimately our life is going to be better because
of it. So what I want all of us to do is right now recognize that there is a lot of maturity that we have to go
through as human beings before we can be called leaders for a given career or job. I think there are a lot
of young people listening to me right now who have a lot of strong desires and who have dreams that
they want to accomplish in their life. Certainly, I will tell each one of them, without even having met them,
that I believe they are capable of doing it. I mean that genuinely, so long as their life is prepared for what
is to come.

MS: So you‟re 23, and as far advanced beyond your years as you are, we‟re all always growing. What are
the biggest things, just out of curiosity, that you feel like you are still maturing on? What do you feel that
you need to learn, or that life is trying to teach you?

HG: Patience.

MS: Tell me about that.


HG: Patience. I‟m very good at time management. My time management skills are impeccable. I have a
fantastic memory. I never forget people. I get like 6,000 emails a day.

MS: 6,000 emails?

HG: Yes, that‟s because I respond to each of them. So over the years, I‟ve gotten a track record. If you
email Hezekiah Griggs, he‟s going to respond to you. It takes me, sometimes, 2-3 days, but I get back to
everybody. And if I don‟t respond to you, I remember that I haven‟t responded. So my mind is just like
incredible as it relates to that. Now, things that I will forget are just ridiculously stupid. I don‟t know where
my suspenders are; I‟ve been looking for them for weeks. I can‟t find them. Mostly because I don‟t wear


I also have a pretty good – a strong moral fiber. I have never been told to do something and did it
because someone else told me to do it. I‟ve always done what I wanted to do, when I felt it was in my
best interest. As I look back at a lot of these things, now at 23, it‟s just a progression I think. For me, I‟m
not the best person talking to people. If you saw me speak in front of 100,000 people, you‟d think that I‟m
not nervous at all. If you have me sit with 2 or 3 people, you‟ll see me look a little odd. Like somebody
said I‟m moving a lot because I‟m looking at myself and I see you, but I see myself and I don‟t like looking
at myself. It‟s making me uncomfortable, that stare. I know when people say that they are intimidated by
me because I‟m intimidated by myself. Lord, have mercy. It‟s things like that that I still have to mature.

MS: Why do you feel that way?

HG: About myself?

MS: Yea, or why do you feel that when you‟re talking to 1 or 2 people you feel that that is intimidating at


HG: Well, crazy people always have crazy problems. You think about Howard Hughes and how he was
able to think about these grandiose things but he was such a hermit. I‟m able to live in real society. We all
have these problems. I‟m very anal. I can see when a wall is off by a quarter of an inch without even
measuring it. Stuff like that is disturbing. It‟s a disturbing fact. And my memory is so impeccable, I‟m
always challenging people, and that‟s difficult to be around. Sometimes you just don‟t want to be in that
situation. Sometimes you just don‟t want to remember things you said or you did. I can remember every
embarrassing moment that happened to me in my life. I can remember that – that‟s not exactly a good
feeling. But also, when I‟m dealing with – I‟m a very private person, so when I‟m dating young ladies and
things don‟t go the way that I want them to go, it makes me uncomfortable and nervous. It‟s the same
thing that most 20 year olds go through. It‟s the just mysticized because of who I am.

MS: Going back to mentorship, I‟m very curious. You‟ve had the opportunity to mentor hundreds of
people. I‟m sure you‟ve seen patterns in your life and in other people‟s life about what holds them back.
What are the key things that allow them to go forward? If you had to boil everything down – and I know
it‟s hard to boil it all down – but if you did, what‟s the key principle that you think helps anyone go from
where they are to where they want to be and get over all the challenges in between?

HG: Right. Here it is. I believe the biggest hurdle facing anybody in their life is acknowledging why they
should fail. That‟s it.

MS: So what do you mean by that?

HG: You have got to be wiser about why you should fail than anyone else. I know every fault and
weakness that I possess. And what I do, when I know those faults and weaknesses, I do my best to make
sure that they don‟t prevent me from succeeding. And there‟s a lot of people who walk around life thinking
that they‟re going to do something, yet they don‟t realize that it may be the way they look or the way
they‟re talking or the way they‟re dressed that might be influencing the people that say no. But because
they never step back and recognize the things that are holding them back or that are prohibiting them
from being successful, they never correct them. They constantly go into a spiral of rejection, and
ultimately they need a doctor for a problem they should have long seen on their own. It is the case. And
every one of my mentees, I make them go through the same process of examining their failures and
putting it in a process and a rubric for how they are going to address them and move past them.

Once you do that, there‟s nothing that can hold you back. I know it‟s my weakness, so if somebody calls it
out to me I can say „Thank you‟ kindly and keep moving. I think that‟s very, very important.

MS: So it‟s kind of taking those blind spots that people have and through self-examination just trying to
become more clear on what‟s holding you back and then addressing it?


HG: Yes. And the biggest problem, I think, most people will have is because of the arrogance in their
mind to think that they will never fail. And that‟s a big problem. If you are thinking that you will never fail,
you have a really big problem.

MS: Tell me about that, in your life. Have you had business failures?

HG: Oh my god. I didn‟t say – if you asked me that at 20, I would have said I never fail. At 23, oh my God.
I was publishing a magazine called TRUE – Teens Reaching for a Unified Era – and I got an offer – a
high 7 or low 8 figure offer – to sell my magazine.

MS: How old were you at this point?

HG: Oh, I was 15 or 16. The deal was to sell my magazine and come aboard as a publisher at a very
large fortune 50 media company. It was because they had a product similar and they wanted my
resources and my talent. I turned them down. I told some young people this story last week and I almost
had a heart attack thinking about it. 6 months later, the magazine industry was losing like 40% of
revenue; the cost of ink went so high. I‟m sitting here looking at my P&L statement – a Profit and Loss
Statement – and I was thinking that I was losing money, and it was time to cut my losses now. 6 months
later I had stopped publishing magazines. As I think about it, I would have been so much wealthier had I
just sold the magazines. Could you just imagine being a Senior Officer at 15 or 16? What the heck was I

MS: I mean that just goes to your confidence, though. At 15, I think that‟s amazing. As much as that hurt
you, that also seems like a strength that you were offered 6-9 million dollars or so and you turned it down
because you . . .

HG: It was a little more than that, Michael. But we can‟t talk about that any further because it‟s going to
make me a little upset.


MS: Ok. So that was a failure. How about another failure? Let‟s make you more human to people who are
watching. Most people aren‟t dealing with the whole „I was offered a large amount of money at 16 and
turned it down.‟

HG: Well, all of our situations are a little different. We all have a purpose eventually. I had to have a
purpose younger so that I could inspire younger people to realize their purpose earlier. I look at it that

Let‟s see, another failure. I‟ve had failures in relationships. Some girlfriends I‟ve dated haven‟t necessarily
been in my best interest, though I‟m very peculiar about the young ladies that I date. I mean, I‟ve had the
same failures as anybody else. I thought I was in love, got my heart broken and money couldn‟t save. I
thought that if money couldn‟t save it, Lord have mercy.

So, I‟d like to think that I‟ve gone through everything most kids - most young people - have gone through.
I just have probably gone through a little more that has been on a larger scale because of the spotlights
that I have on me. I have a very private l am a bit reclusive, but when I come up for an event like this, or
an event in New York, or having meetings – people want to know who this Hezekiah Griggs guy is and
how can I meet him? I just constantly have people around and sometimes I make mistakes or don‟t do the

right thing. That‟s a part of life. I used to be very mean and fire people for anything. And now I‟ve become
a little more empathetic – I still fire people for anything, but I say it more nicely now.

MS: Tell me more about that, I would like to know more about that part of your personality – you said you
still fire people for anything.

HG: Yea, I mean, I‟m a very shrewd businessman. I like to think that when you‟re not doing what you‟re
supposed to do, it doesn‟t allow me to be as effective with all of my nonprofit things that I need to be
doing. I use some vulgar language that we‟re not going to use during this Skype call, but it messes with
the kids‟ money. It affects my ability to give out scholarships. It affects my ability to leave the office
whenever I want to. You are not going to come between what I feel like I‟m supposed to be doing and
what I have to do here as a fiduciary responsibility.

When you come a minute late, you cost me some money. You better think that if you come in a minute
late, I‟m going to fire you. I‟m going to fire you if you come in at 9:01 and you‟re supposed to be there at 9
o‟clock. This has always been a policy. Don‟t be late. If you‟re late, it‟s an automatic firing.

MS: That‟s fascinating. You just completely switched, also, from a completely nice conversation to this.


HG: I was winning people over and then you had to ask that question.

MS: I have probably read five Steve Jobs books and one of the things he does there is just demand high
quality of the people around him.

HG: Oh, yea, Steve Jobs would fire people in the elevator. I have not done it in the elevator, but I‟ve been
close to the elevator. I‟ve fired people while walking them into the elevator, yes. And when I was younger,
I dealt with a lot of things. I dealt with racism, gender – not gender – ageism. Gender? A whole bunch of
women‟s rights organizations right now are like „since when?‟ No. Ageism and a variety of other things.
So I had to be a little more difficult.

Unlike most of these tech start-ups now, you did not refer to me in my office by first name; you called me
Mr. Griggs. There was no slippage of that – that was from the beginning. I just had a very simple mindset.
You were not going to take advantage of me because you thought I was a weak kid. No sir. You were
going to respect me and you were going to have the utmost respect for my institutions and if you did not,

you were not going to work for me. You knew that every day. Now I was going to show you love and I was
going to appreciate you and I was going to pay you well, because I paid my people well. But you are not
going to disrespect me as an individual or this business. I have always had that mentality and I still have it
today. I don‟t even let my staff members call me Hezekiah; it‟s just an old thing. I go to these new
companies now that we‟re funding and they are walking around with shorts and sandals on in the office,
calling each other nicknames and I‟m like „oh, my god.‟ That‟s not how we operate.

MS: Now this goes back to your point earlier in the conversation about the importance of surrounding
yourself with people who try to make you better in the employee context and also in the life context as
well. How do you demand that? It‟s hard if you have a relationship with someone and it‟s not working out
–it‟s hard to sever ties. How can people do that?


HG: That‟s the ideal situation for me. Personally, I can fire you easier if I know you. As I have gotten into
higher levels of business and corporate ladders I couldn‟t just fire people because I wanted to, I had to
have a file and have an HR person sitting there like I needed somebody sitting there when I needed to fire
someone and have them tell me what can and cannot say and all this stuff. I just think that you should
always be honest.

I‟m a really honest guy. When you know me, you know that I would never do anything to hurt you.

MS: So it‟s the intention behind it?

HG: Yes. So even when I‟m firing you, I‟m doing it for a good reason. I‟ll tell you a quick story. I fired this
guy nearly 8 years ago. 4 years ago I as in Chicago‟s airport – they have two now, actually, ORD and
O‟Hare – I was in O‟Hare, a very big airport. I was in a restaurant and this waiter comes and he throws
the water on the table and water splashes and I look at him like „oh, gosh.‟ And I always judge myself, like
is it just me? Am I just getting a little high minded? But I said no and that I needed to speak to this man‟s

Here comes the guy that I fired 4 years prior, walking up to me. And I thought, „Oh gosh, I‟m not even
going to eat here, he‟s going to spit in my food.‟ And he said thanked me, he said „You don‟t know what
you did by me letting me go.‟ Obviously, I didn‟t know it was going to work out, you pretend it‟ll work out
and just hope. And I told him that the waiter had come and threw the water on the table. The manager
calls the waiter over to the table and asked him if he knew who this was. He said, „this is Hezekiah Griggs
III. You can‟t treat him that way. I‟m going to teach you a lesson that he taught me. Never make a mistake

when you‟re supposed to be watching. You‟re fired.‟ He fired the kid right in front of me. I thought that was
pretty impressive. He said that when I fired him, he decided he wanted to be an entrepreneur. Now he
owns the restaurant that I saw him at that day. He was the owner. I was stoked up about that. I went back
to my office and said, „Let me tell you something, folks. When I fire you, you are going to be the boss.‟

MS: It‟s easy to hear the advice about having great people around you, but if you have known someone a
long time and you have a relationship, it‟s hard to separate yourself from those people. We‟ve fired
people and sometimes mentally, as an entrepreneur, you want something to work, you‟re depending on
those people. Can you go into more detail? Now it sounds like you‟re a master and it and you are very
comfortable with it. But think about someone watching who is just starting to think the way you are.

HG: I hire and fire everybody that comes into the office and works for me. When I‟m at a company either
as a transitional CEO or permanently as a director, I hire and fire most of the people that come into those
businesses. My thought process is very simple. From a personal perspective, let me just distance myself
from that and say that as an entrepreneur you‟re making that decision about who is going to be on your
team. I believe personally that everyone in your life, you are to trust with your life. If you don‟t trust them
with your life, they shouldn‟t be in your life. Let me tell you. Even the people we don‟t trust that we allow to
be around us are infecting and affecting our life. So we better be very careful about who is around us.
Certainly, when you recognize that trust, when you make decisions based on what‟s in the best interest
for yourself, your business, and that individual, those decisions won‟t be second guessed because that
individual knows you care, regardless of the decision you make. It‟s just very simple. A lot of the stuff I
say and believe in so cliché and straightforward, it‟s just hard to believe that it‟s right there. But clichés
are truths that are never served; that is why they‟re clichés. Do good as you would have people do unto
you. Well, that is true. The problem is that too many people don‟t do it, and that‟s why it‟s a cliché. But I‟d
rather be a clichéd man that lives the life he wants to live than to be someone who looks for something
deeper and really does nothing deeper for the psychology or the pathos of my life.


MS: Let‟s switch to how you follow through on the most important things, instead of living life on purpose.
You mentioned that time management, is important and that you have impeccable time management
skills. Tell me about that.

HG: I had an English teacher in high school that – I‟ll just tell you. This teacher, boy, she wouldn‟t let you
get away with anything. I remember a kid came into class and said that the principal kept him in the office;
he even had a note from the principal. She told him she didn‟t care. I remember the next day the principal
came to the class and she told the principal that she didn‟t care, the student is failed for the day. I saw

that and thought, „My goodness, this teacher is not going to take any excuses.‟ She challenged us every
day. She didn‟t care what the problem was; we were going to get our work done. There were 3,500 kids
at my school, and every one of them knew who Mrs. Katasta was. They thought she was a mean woman.
But I remember her because she trained me for life. Life teaches you that no one cares about what you‟re
going through or what your mistakes or challenges are. What they care about is that you do what you‟re
told to do. Are you prepared and ready when they want you to be prepared and ready?

As I think about these decisions, obviously, time management is important. My teacher says that
perception is your reality, and that‟s important. I want to give you something, one of the biggest nuggets
that I can give you, right now. Expectations drive results. When you expect things to happen that benefit
you, they happen. If you expect to fail, you will fail. Expectations drive results. You‟ve got to set a level of
expectation that‟s high, and have standards that are not besmirched by any old thing, but are morally in
code with who you are. Those are simple things – simple tools. Time management. Patience.
Surrounding yourself with good people. Have standards. Expect what you want out of life. Work hard.
Discipline yourself. How do you discipline yourself? You say no to everything that is not a part of your
discipline. Everything you do should have a purpose connected to your greater purpose in life. That‟s a
part of your discipline. I‟m a very disciplined guy. Michael, you have to learn how to make decisions
because you feel like they are the right decisions. We morally get involved in a lot of confusing things, but
at the end of the day, if you know what‟s in your heart and you know who you are, you should make
decisions based upon that. Other people shouldn‟t sway you easily. You have to learn who you are and
stick to your decisions. That‟s why you‟re in college, so your mind can be shaped and molded so you can
make perfect decisions. Not perfect in life, but perfect for you. So these are things in life you just have to
take and live with.


MS: How do you make those principles real through time management? More specifically, how do you
plan your day? Let‟s say it‟s the night before, tomorrow‟s Thursday. How do you set up your time?

HG: Do you have my schedule up? Did you guys get my schedule?

MS: Yes, we have a picture up now.

HG: So my schedule is quite tight, as you can see. There‟s a whole bunch of stuff that I think they took
out for sensitive reasons. But if you notice, my schedule is broken up into 15-minute increments. I take
one break during the day and there are occasions where I will eat. I think that‟s pretty decent. Last Friday
I had 80 phone calls that I had to randomly make - not scheduled phone calls. 80 return phone calls. I

want to teach a secret. I call from a private line. Most people don‟t pick up private numbers. Here‟s the
best thing, when I call from a private line and they don‟t answer the phone, it isn‟t like I didn‟t call. It‟s a
business trick.

MS: Won‟t people start to recognize that you‟re the private number?


HG: They won‟t recognize that. They will think it‟s bill collectors or whoever calling. Even I have had bill
collectors call me for some reason or another. It is what it is. So I pick up all my phone calls. You‟ll start to
develop tricks and learn what works, but that‟s one that a lot of people use. It‟s why there are private
numbers – that‟s why bill collectors call from private numbers, because they really can‟t speak to you. If
they wanted to speak to you, they‟d call you every 10 minutes. But they do want you to realize that they‟re
going to harass you. Its stuff like that you‟ll start to process.

There‟s something else I want you to all get in your mind. You need to be careful who you get advice
from, even if the person that‟s giving you advice is well-respected, let‟s say it‟s Hezekiah Griggs III. I don‟t
know you; I don‟t know your situation, so it‟s very difficult for me to give you advice that‟s going to directly
help you. You have to surround yourself with people who care about you and believe in you and can give
you advice based on your individual circumstances. You might have cancer; you might have a whole lot
of elements that may preclude you from certain advice. You could have ADHD, for God‟s sake. I don‟t
know. I don‟t have it, but I act like I have it sometimes. You‟ve got to have people who surround you who
can give you advice. Now, what I have done creatively is give you a covering. I‟ve covered your life,
hopefully, with some basic tools and tips that should help you make better discerning judgments. But
ultimately, you need to have a reconciliation point that you‟ve determined in your mind to be the best. And
I would also say to you that you need to stop searching for what you already know.

MS: I‟m not going to follow that line of thought, but I like that advice. Let‟s switch back to time
management. I want to make this as actionable as possible, I agree with everything you‟re saying, but I
also know there‟s a big difference between knowing something and taking action on it. You can imagine
that, I want people to not just say that, but to make them a part of their life. I want people to understand
how they can really make things more actionable.

HG: So the question particularly is how to make it actionable?

MS: Yes. If you want to integrate these principles into your life, how would you do that?

HG: Well if you want to do it, this is what you do. I‟ll give you an assignment I give some of my mentees. I
want you do write a thesis. I give my assignments – they‟re very simple. You write a thesis. We talk about
how you need to understand your values, but sometimes that‟s difficult to do. Write a composition paper
that fully exhausts your opinions of yourself. Put it away for a week, and then read it.

MS: So what do you mean by a composition paper of yourself?

HG So particularly what I would do with my mentees is that I would give them a topic to write about,
maybe like, „What is it that can cause you to fail?‟ And then give them three sub-points: 1) What are your
faults and weaknesses, 2) What is the value of failure, reaching back to the thesis topic itself, 3) Why did I
want them to write the thesis? And then as a part of that thesis, they would exhaust the thesis topics and
present it to me. When most people present it to me, they think I‟m judging them. But I want them to
deeply analyze within themselves who they are. In that process they will have learned something about
themselves, hopefully, that they did not know before. This is the same case that I would say to anybody.
Sometimes you just have to sit down and plan your life like you would plan a business. Who are you?
What are you? What do you want to accomplish in your life? And what commitment, what steps do you
want to take right now? What are the five things you want to do right now in terms of taking steps to
achieve your goals right now? Are you going to stop going to parties for a month until you get your GPA
up? Are you going to go to ten networking events in a month to help build your business? If you were to
start a cell phone business, are you going to email 20 people in the cell phone business until one of them
responds back to you? When they respond back to you, what are you going to do? Are you going to ask
them to give you advice? Are you going to ask to visit their headquarters? These kind of things need to be
written down. You have to prepare for it. It‟s a strategy. And if that doesn‟t work, this is what I‟m going to
do. I‟m going to sit back, I‟m going to re-examine myself, and I‟m going to start over again. I‟m going to
reach out to another 20 people, until I find one that works. You have to have something that‟s base. I‟m
not going to give you 30,000 things. But here‟s what I will do for you. When you start doing these
processes – everyone who is listening to this recording – if you email me, I will respond to it.


MS: That‟s a huge offer. Let me put up his email. It is I‟m going to leave that
up while I talk here. I want to challenge everyone who is listening to take on that challenge of identifying
everything that may cause you to fail, and email that Hezekiah. Is that ok, Hezekiah?

HG: Email me and this is what I‟ll do. Just because you guys are down with Michael – surround yourself
with positive people, and positive people will surround you. I will read what you have sent to me and will

respond back in time with practical steps for you to address those problems. Advice, I‟ll point you to
articles, I‟ll introduce you to other people who might be helpful. I might even to be able to use some of my
mentees in that case, who have gone through similar things and have them talk to you about how they
have addressed those concerns.

MS: That‟s an incredible offer. Thank you, on behalf of the audience for that. I‟m going to switch over to
some of the books and movies that you‟re recommended here.


Book number 1: How to Play the Game at the Top – 9 Rules for Consummate Corporate Effectiveness by
Fenorris Pearson. Why is that a top book?

HG: Fenorris is a really good friend of mine. He‟s a partner at HG360 Capital and he‟s also the former
Vice President of Dell and the former Vice President of Motorola. In fact, he oversaw the development of
the Motorola Razor. If you read the book, you‟ll notice that I actually wrote a note inside of the book about
the book. I have never done that before. What Fenorris presents in this book is the process required to
achieve, in the corporate system, the kind of success that you want to achieve. It‟s not a business book
as much as it is about navigating the waters as a man, as a woman and achieving the heights that you
want to in the corporate world. He gives a lot of anecdotes and stories that bring to life and bring
tremendous value to the circumstances. He talks about how his character ultimately allowed him to go
from one place to the next. He talks about how he never let anybody disrespect him. When his bosses
saw that he would not tolerate disrespect to him as a man, they decided that they would help him and
they took him up, in a lot of ways, to higher levels in life. It just goes to show you that good people always
make it to the top.

MS: The next book is not a business book. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

HG: I love when F. Scott Fitzgerald points out to us as readers the difference between old and new
money. He does it so fantastically. He describes what we sometimes view as valuable and it sometimes
is not. There‟s this allure of Gatsby that you can‟t really pinpoint. He‟s a new age cat; he‟s just a
renegade. I find it very fascinating when he describes in vivid detail the slums compared to the wealthy
people and what they do in those areas. I think that‟s a very good character development book for people
who want to be successful about the way that you must comport yourself as an individual in life.

MS: Next book – and this is a great book, I‟ve read it as well. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse.

HG: Loved this book. It‟s really the only book I‟ve read from cover to cover. To be honest, I‟ve read it
probably 5 or 6 times. Every time I give it to one of my mentees I read it with them. This book is just
phenomenal. I am a Christian by trade, but this book doesn‟t talk about Christianity at all, it talks about
Buddhism and some other things that Christians wouldn‟t agree with. But here‟s the thing. This book
doesn‟t have anything to do with religion. It‟s about Siddhartha‟s quest to understand his purpose in life,
and how intelligent he is compared to his peers. It‟s about how arrogant it can be at times and how it can
be in life to realize that what he had in the beginning is just as good as what he is going to have in the
end. Sometimes we‟ve just got to appreciate what we have in order to fully appreciate, later in life, what
we don‟t have. He has things happen to him that he unconsciously was doing to other people. That
ultimately allowed him to have the wisdom necessary to be able to interpret the events that happened in
his life and to seek out the way. Sometimes we‟re looking for something, but we‟re looking in all the wrong
places. What we‟re looking for something we already have, right in our homes or right next door or right in
the school. Sometimes we just have to bring our mind right back down to earth and think about what it
comes down to. I‟m telling you, that book really got me. It caught me. It‟s hard to read at some points, but
what is a book that‟s isn‟t hard to read?

MS: That‟s our error. The world is our mirror.

HG: The river. Let the river speak to you, Michael.

MS: We‟re going to move over to movies.


This is our first movie segment ever. We asked Hezekiah what his favorite books were and he gave us
some recommended movies, so we created this segment for you, Hezekiah.

This is a movie I haven‟t ever heard of before, but I saw it was really highly rated. Tell us about 12 Angry

HG: I was 11 years old one day, and I was watching AMC. Don‟t ask me how, or why. Not AMC, TCM –
Turner Classic Movies. I was just looking through and I never watch that channel because it‟s black and
white movies, but the remote was lost. What a wonderful movie. I challenge all of you to watch this movie.
I‟ve taught classes at Harvard University specifically about this movie. You‟re going to be challenged to
put away your preconceptions. The movie does a wonderful job using one camera, illustrating how other
people in life can affect your life, and why we must all make competent and wise decisions about what we
want to do with ourselves. Here‟s what I want you to do. Watch the movie, and let me know how it goes.

You should be impacted by it.

MS: I‟m going to put that right on my Netflix account right away.

HG: It is on Netflix and you can sneak and see if you can watch it on YouTube. It‟ll be cut up, but it‟s a
great movie. Henry Fonda, 1957. United Artist Picture.

MS: Awesome. And we just have a few minutes here, so if you can give a quick abbreviated overview of
Mr.. Smith goes to Washington. I have seen that movie.

HG: Watch the movie. It‟s about a naïve man who goes to Washington and is put in a moral disposition
and has to come out on top. It‟s a really good movie.

MS: And last one, it‟s a newer one, Too Big to Fail.

HG: Too Big to Fail. I wanted to give you something educational relative to business. This movie – I found
it to be quite interesting. It talks about the arrogance at Leman Brothers. Warren Buffet, a lot of people
don‟t know this, Warren Buffet was going to save Leman Brothers 6 weeks before it collapsed. But the
chairman of the board said that they didn‟t need his help. So thanks to the Chairman of the Board, we
ended up in a little crisis. Great movie, it talks about how the government works and how business
decisions are made. It‟s on HBO so if you can catch HBO every now and again, they play it. It‟s a really
good movie.

MS: Awesome. And you know, you gave a few websites but I want to focus on one.

HG: Right. It‟s a great website. Look it up. There‟s a membership offering on the site. What I‟m going to
do is – in January, they are launching a new site with a new platform and a new form. So you‟ll be able to
sign up for free. If you have any problems just email me and I‟ll give you the hook up.

MS: Check out, right now, write it down, I also want to give you some ways to reach
Hezekiah. His email is One of his many websites is You can
find him on Facebook and Twitter with Hezekiah Griggs username.
I want to give you the last word, here, Hezekiah.

HG: Let me say to all of you young and deserving individuals, life is, as they say, a beautiful struggle.
Certainly, all of you are embarking on a great struggle of your lives and you‟re expecting every dream
you‟re reaching for to reach back. I challenge all of you to think and be bigger, to strive to be excelling in

everything that you do everything you need to do to comport yourself in a way that will encourage others,
and to recognize that he who is greatest among you will be a servant. You certainly have the capability
and the potential and I want to be as helpful as possible in that process. So reach out to me, use me as a
resource and bless all of you.

MS: Hezekiah, I really enjoyed this interview. Thank you, that was amazing. Personally, that was really
just unexpectedly inspiring. We‟ve met once, talked on the phone once, but we haven‟t really gotten deep.
What inspires me the most is your character and your focus on character, which is just not focused on
enough in the world. Ultimately, I think that drives impact. So thank you.

We‟re going to end there. Remember to email Hezekiah with your thesis about what is holding you back
or what will cause you to fail. He said he‟d respond to you. We always want your feedback about how we
can be better. Text us at 917-612-6182. We‟re going to come back soon for the second part, for those of
you subscribed to Succeeding as an Entrepreneur, about how you can take these lessons of character
and apply them to business on a specific, practical level. Thank you everyone. We‟ll see you soon.


© 2011 Extreme Entrepreneurship Education, LLC All Rights Reserved.


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