Where did your personal inspiration, entrepreneurial/leadership purpose come from – what shaped your views?
I started So You Wanna Be In TV? in 2009, after my son was shot and stabbed while in school. With 16 years in television, rather than seek revenge, I decided to reach out to the community.
Two things came out of that - the lack of economic and social mobility.
Though being willing to work hard, financial disadvantage often locks young people into a cycle of despair, whether they have qualifications or not.
63% of those we have mentored have entered the TV industry. Our sponsors include ITV, Talkback THAMES, Hat Trick and ITN.
My inspiration comes from my son, my mother and young people.
My son inspires me on so many levels through his love of life despite many challenges – surviving his birth and being shot and stabbed. Doctors said I would never be a mum. My son is my sixth child and first surviving baby. He survived a botched delivery and doctors said he would never walk, talk or swallow. Today he runs like the wind, never stops talking and eats for England! After the attack he dropped out of education but later went back to school and against all the odds left with 12 GCSE’s and has just finished an Apprenticeship in Media Production.
My extraordinary mother shaped my social entrepreneurial purpose. An amazing storyteller, she was a cleaner and raised myself and four other siblings on tuppance ‘appenny. What she built and invested in with tiny sums of money outdoes anything I have seen because she did so with humility and kindness. Despite financial hardship she never skimped on providing me with a solid foundation based on faith, a moral compass, social skills, manners, a love of people, great writers, laughing at life and never giving up.
From her I learnt storytelling, perseverance, people and business skills and to act on an opportunity - something I still do today. All key components for a social entrepreneur.
What’s the purpose of your organisation?
We build valuable communities to help TV, brands and the public sector gain business value and engage with and recruit from untapped youth markets and diverse communities.
It’s all about addressing youth unemployment, financial disadvantage and the lack of diversity in the workplace, through cutting edge and innovative solutions from the bottom up and based in the community.
We have 3 core services: Diverse recruitment, Video Content and Strategic Consultancy. Our expertise in broadcast TV, Connected TV, youth, diversity training, outreach, social media, online platforms, tech and events – help you connect.
“...I fully applaud the work that So You Wanna Be In TV? is doing to help improve the skills of disadvantaged and diverse young people...which can help them to develop the self-belief to achieve a positive employment outcome.”
Vince Cable MP – Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills
What have been your critical lessons learnt along your entrepreneurial journey?
Be different. Stand out from the crowd. Stay outside the tick box!
“I’m a tangerine!” I always put that down when responding to tick box forms about ethnicity and gender and I always get a response!
What doesn’t kill fattens.
I started work at 13 as a cleaner after mum got me a job working from 5am in Price Waterhouse - London Bridge - before going to school. With bad asthma, nothing has been harder work than that - I can outlast anyone. Just keep going, you’ll surprise yourself.
Money doesn’t maketh man.
Money isn’t the most important thing but you must understand it and use it well. My mother kept her money in a gold oblong box with five compartments and into each compartment was the money for the roof over my head, food, clothing and warmth. That gold box radiated my mother’s quiet love. Never a showy person it took until nearly losing her to realise how ‘rich’ an education she had given me and the importance of overlooking status, wealth, class etc. Being human, having compassion and caring are more important.
When you see an opportunity, act!
My mother studied the financial markets ensuring that her retirement was entirely different to her working life where she had zero choice. Now, she has financial contentment.
What are the characteristics that in your experience entrepreneurs require now and in the future?
- Listening and people skills - the personal touch is good for business!
- Embrace failure, ditch the metrics and start ‘feeling’ your market
- Business acumen. Well intentioned will not cut it
- Instant gratification is for Walt Disney – perseverance, persistence, patience, passion, politeness, prioritise and be proactive! The 7 P’s!
- All of the above, plus an understanding of social and digital media
- Embrace Connected TV to promote your message
What would be your 5 top tips for purposeful entrepreneurs?
1) Listen and the gold will follow…
2) Act now, jump, JUST DO IT!
3) Make a business case for a venture whether social or commercial
4) Attention to detail is everything
5) Treat people well, regardless of status or wealth
So You Wanna Be In TV?