Digital Chatter Episode #010: Michael Cowherd
Eric: Hello and welcome everyone to Digital Chatter Live. And we’ve got a special edition going on today. Here is my guest Michael Cowherd
Michael: What’s going on everyone. Happy to be here. Thanks Eric for having me. Finally linked up and I was on time this go around and I was a.. I made you pick me up so…
Eric: This is true. Yeah, I picked up Michael to make sure he’d show up with this one. So Michael is an entrepreneur. Of course. He’s the host of a podcast called Cowherds Corner and he’s also a community organizer. And Michael you and met because of a mutual friend of ours actually the first interviewe that I had, Andy Cabistan.
Michael: He was my first too on my podcast!
Eric: There you go! He’s obviously a great connector as well. So Michael tell everyone on this show today. Tell a little bit about how you got started.
Michael: So I think it got to start with recognizing my parents. So they’re not entrepreneurs but I think that their hustle and the work ethic I attained somewhat and why do I think I just transition into this millennial lifestyle being an entrepreneur getting your own, you know. Where my parents are more you know get a steady paycheck and..
Eric: Which is always nice, there’s nothing wrong with a steady paycheck of course.
Michael: But you know I’m so so I didn’t start as an entrepreneur. Graduate from Morehouse College in 2013. After that I went to work for World of Technology and I got fired. I got terminated. So I kind of stumbled into being an entrepreneur in the sense of I’m a Capricorn I’m from the north east. So to put those things together, stubborn, single-minded. You know it’s hard for me to do things without having an explanation or not having an understanding. And when you work in corporate America you’re not going to get to meet too many people who explain things to you, why you need to do something. So ultimately after my termination I linked up with a buddy of mine Jeff Charein a Lebanese native and he was working on a fintech application called MOULAH.
Michael: Essentially it was like a location based Venmo. So if you were having a house party, or you were a vendor at a flea market you could pull up the app click on you know “Eric’s orange juice” and right from the app pay cashless and your listing would pop up because you are in the vicinity of that listing. So I ran operations near through social media, hired our first three or four part time employees. Did a lot of business development outreach not only in Somerville, Massachusetts but with different investors overseas and things like that. I was bootstrapped so it was different to see a guy you know, Jad made a good investment in Facebook. You know of some years back, be able to kind of leverage that to help keep the startup afloat for the time that it was afloat.
Eric: That’s awesome. You you’ve done I think what a lot of people have done or want to do in life which is you know, you had a corporate job and in your case you ended up not fitting in. It wasn’t that you didn’t necessarily like it. I mean maybe maybe you didn’t like getting or showing it a certain way but it wasn’t a good fit for you. Is it working out so that automatically deposited you into this role. I mean tell me a little bit about what it was like your day to day wise. You know, your first case of being entrepreneur.
Michael: Oh man. So this is going to be an open book and so I might get a little emotional. No man, being an entrepreneur was tough, right. I mean I didn’t consider myself an entrepreneur I was unemployed like you know I was I was I was unemployed collecting unemployment and you know still applying for jobs and I would think from the time I got terminated in 2015 you know up until today I probably applied for over 200,250 jobs right now and maybe got 15 to 17 that I might have.. Anyway. You know at some point you realize you have to accept who you are and have to accept there are certain things in this world that are meant for you. And you know unless I’m at an early stage startup where my personality and my charisma can help cultivate and kind of build the culture within a business. I’ve a very strong personality, so it’s hard for me to come into something that’s already established and that’s not nimble, flexible to accepting personalities.
Eric: The right culture fit.
Michael: The right culture fit. And so basically you know collecting unemployment, figuring out life. I moved. So basically I came down here in January 2016 to celebrate my 24th birthday. And while I was here I was out at a friend’s place and it was during the weeks all my friends were at work and I was like man, like during the day while my friend are at work before I go to you know splurge money, and blow money that I don’t really have because I’m collecting unemployment. You know I wish that I could get into any car. ‘Cause I was a certified Uber driver at the time. So I thought to myself, man if I could just get into a car and go drive for Uber and make money while my friends are at work, that’ll be chill.
Michael: So that’s when I kind of got this passion and this desire to look more to the sharing economy. And that’s since you went on the way you know the carsharing idea came about after a lot of iteration a lot of conversations. You know I saw the benefit and I saw the value for people to take their problem, their second most expensive asset in their home, in their car. That’s just 95 percent of its lifetime, use 70 minutes out day. I saw people. I saw an opportunity for people to make this tool, this hunk of metal work for them and not vice versa. Mean yeah it’s been it’s been a journey so I’ll shut up now and let you keep..
Eric: No no no. Yeah I mean that’s that’s interesting and something you brought up, I mean this Uber driving. This is the- this gives an opportunity to people who want that entrepreneurial lifestyle but don’t wanna deal with all the backend stuff. I mean I think most of us know that the financial side and you know just the maintenance side of business is not something that we go into business for. Yes you know we go into business because we want to solve a problem. Typically because we have a passion for that. But then when you start to hit the weaves a bit, you know six months in and you realize you know you don’t like doing sales calls or maybe that’s all you like doing is sales calls, but you don’t like actually executing the work or maybe no. And then all of a sudden taxes hit and you have to spend hours and hours and hours the CPA doing taxes. And it’s just, companies like Uber gave opportunities and continue to do so, giving opportunities to someone like yourself who wants to use their their you know their car. They want to use something for more just what it is. You want to spend your own time on it. You can- anytime you want. You can you can make money, you choose when you want to make money, Uber allows you to do that.
Michael: So I’m going to do a quick educational moment for the people. I think I’ll be doing a disservice if I didn’t. So ride sharing is Uber and Lyft and car sharing is a company like TURO, T-U-R-O, Zipcar. This is a ride sharing, is a car sharing application. They have their own fleet. But you know all the ways focus more on peer to peer. Right. So let’s say, if you’re an Airbnb host instead of just renting out your Airbnb you can also rent out your car on our platform and double the bang for your buck, look more appealing maybe to some other host in your area because you offer your home and your car as well.
Eric: So the app, what’s the name of..
Michael: So the app is OTW, On The Way. Current- We are currently in an alpha testing stage right now so if you are in Atlanta and wanna join the first 20 batch of cars, I’ll plug in all my information towards the end but we are aggressively looking for 20 cars to help kind of shape this and scale this to have thousands of cars on the road
Eric: What kind of cars are you looking for? Why don’t we start with that.
Michael: So anywhere from 2008 and newer. The luxury of carsharing you know aside from just safety regulations is that you have the autonomy, you have the freedom to value your car at its worth and make whatever the market decides they are willing to pay for it. So if you have a 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee you know that might go for seventy nine dollars an hour. You have a 2016 Range Rover right. That might be a 35 dollar an hour or it might do a daily rate. Hourly rates differs from the competition that we are really focused on hourly movement right. We want to if you have a static schedule. If you’re a consultant actively you know that you travel from Monday to Thursday and your car is just sitting right from Monday through Thursday in the 8:00 hours your car available on that Monday we want to be able to get, let’s say three people in your car, right. Let’s say Eric I wanna use your car from 10 to 2. At 2:00 o’clock, one of our sprinters picked up the car got it clean real quick gas it up delivered it to the next person from three to six. From six to seven were cleaning it again you know deliver to the person anywhere from seven to ten. And then at ten o’clock pick it up drop off at its location for whoever needs it for Tuesday. Right so that one day we just got three people to use one car instead of one person in the car for the day and still doing the same thing that we tried to avoid. So we are focused on this hourly, hourly push rate. We also want to get Eric, the car owner, who called providers, as much money in one day as possible.
Eric: Sure, yeah. I mean in theory the more time it’s been out the more it’ll make more money. So you are just increasing their time and therefore they get paid more. That’s awesome. That’s a great concept. I mean how how did you get involved with this project?
Michael: Um so yes. Essentially it really just came down to being in Atlanta in 2016 and thinking why is there not just a large database of cars. As an Uber driver I could just accesses this debates no matter what city I’m in. Oh this car is two miles away or a block away that’s the problem with driving today. All right so then it became Okay well why don’t we just do that for our own App. Why create an app to go drive for other platforms. Why not create an app that can be driven for myself. So then it became there’s a company called Hyrecar and similar to on the way that TRO people put their private vehicles on the platform to allow other people to drive for Uber, Lyft and Postmates. All right. So you have this entire steering economy system and you know I would share the grand vision. The grand vision is essentially on the way it will be both an Uber and Lyft competitor as well as a TRO, Zipcar competitor. The idea being that if Eric rented his car outside to me either I can go drive your car for my leisurely duties or now I’ve become a driver for on the way as a ride-sharing driver. So now I am going to do Uber and Lyft like activities in the car that I’m renting but just for on the way platform. But we are focused on the car sharing aspect right now to roll out.
Eric: Awesome. I’m mean tell me what problems have you run into during that process. What are some of the difficulties that you’ve encountered?
Michael: Oh man. The easiest one is capital. Well you know the bottom line is I can sell this vision. It’s you know one thing you spoke about you said and said I forget which you were exactly speaking to but I wanted to jump back and say you know as an entrepreneur you have to be so in love with the problem that you’re solving because the solution is a varriable. That problem should stay consistent but when you get so caught up on the solution you miss opportunities, you have to be nimble in ways to find a solution. So be in love with your problem and I think although it’s been over a year and you know we’re not launched I’m so in love with the problem. I’m still in love with the educational piece, getting people understand that treat your car, aside from how much it costs, like a hammer or a screwdriver either, you know like it’s a tool, you know don’t be so attached to it.
Michael: So capital being one and that is a hurdle because although I can sell this vision if I can’t tell you Eric you have a million dollar liability policy on your vehicle God forbid something happens you’ll have a rental car and your car will be put in a shop to be fixed and what have you. Yeah you might like the idea and the vision. Right but if I can tell you definitively that the insurance policy is in place it’s easier to have you come on board. So you know right now we know we do have people that believe in the vision, know that the team is grinding to make this a reality. But you know once we’re able to secure you know a seed round and further push this insurance policy we’ll get that solidified, we’ll be – that’ll be our rocket fuel.
Eric: And why. I mean you can be a little vague if you’d like, but uh. In a seed round, what are you looking for? What’s a ballpark range if you will.
Michael: Yes so definitely about $250,000 Hm, $75,000 to $85,000 will go towards the insurance policy.
Michael: You know, some of the portion of that is to obviously feed ourselves. Small, nothing crazy. As well as bring in some developers out in LA, we’ll obviously need to pay him and be able to bring another engineer or another developer arm here in Atlanta. And you know a lot of some of that money might also go to a partnership for things like that. So one of the things we’re, you know, we are, we are really focused on security. You know we understand that this idea of you know giving your car to a stranger could be – you could have your reservations. So we are we are partnering with a local startup called Truststamp. And it’s, essentially Truststamp is a fintech technology that uses Wattson artificial intelligence, it searches 200 public databases and essentially will give you a trust score.
Michael: All right, and based on your trust score, you know, it’ll gauge whether or not how trustworthy this person is. So they’re great startup based out of Atlanta Tech Village here in Atlanta, Truststamp. And you know this will be one of the parameters that we’ll put in place to have people feel more comfortable with the idea of renting out their car to peers in their community.
Eric: It sounds like you’ve found a problem or maybe a couple problems right away with your solution, which happens. I mean, you open these new doors with your solution to great things to happen. But there’s always the negative side. There’s the trust saga, who’s driving my car. Are they reputable. Is there insurance involved. Is this insurance gonna have issues with my insurance. Yeah I mean there’s just tons of things that go on when you have something like this and it’s great to, first of all hear that you guys are addressing that right of the bat. That’s of course important. You know, tell me, you know. Did you think about these things when you first started or did you discover them as you kind of went along?
Michael: You know, it’s deffinitely a customer discovery, deffinitely a discovery process, you know. So right now we’re recording out of Switcharms, the B to C space here in Atlanta and we’re all consumers. For me even at the B2B level we’re consumers. So when I thought of this idea you know I had to approach this idea from a perspective of: don’t move forward as a founder, move forward as a user of your product. Right. And when you can keep yourself in the shoes of a consumer at all times you’ll find yourself saying “that’s dumb”. You wouldn’t even want that. Why would you do that. Yeah. So it deffinitely came through discovery, and I will say through discovery the largest reservation man, the only thing that has consistently come up is the insurance piece and it’s made me happy. This made me feel like OK we are this – Uber has done a great job, Lyft has done a great job of kind of breaking down that barrier of course, of sharing. So you know like I said once you know the insurance piece was defiitely a huge discovery and you know other things as well but insurance for sure.
Eric: Ok. Awesome, awesome. Good to know. So why don’t we switch gears a little bit because you know, you’ve told us a lot about your background and what you’re working on now and so on and so forth. But I wanna dig a little bit deeper and I want to find out what do you do all this for? What’s the whole – what do you get out of this besides that you know a rich man who can solve all the world problems one day.
Michael: Yeah yeah. You know so thanks for asking this question. I was speaking to some youth yesterday. Usher’s New Look Foundation in free to be entrepreneurial programs here in Atlanta. And you know one of the guys asked me, well asked the panel this question I said basically my biggest fear is is to be the person that people look back on and said Ah he had so much potential never reached it. So that’s what he’s been going on. Also want to make my mama proud, you know and make my dad proud. I feel as though I’m forever indebted to them. So unified and when I do make my billions. I could never pay them back for what they did for me. What I found too is you know during my time in corporate America you know waking up never felt exciting, never felt new and refreshing. So you know after you know, getting back situated with God I’m really letting him take the wheel. I found myself in a good flow and a good flow state. And when you’re serving in your purpose and you’re doing things that is according to your call. Nothing feels strenuous, no. Nothing feels as though you are exerting extra energy. So to answer your question. Life is falling in a away right now that makes sense. And until the winds change I don’t see myself changing course.
Eric: Sure, sure. Why don’t we dig a little bit deeper into that because you mentioned faith as being a big part of your life and I know from previous conversations is a big deal for you. Were you always.. Was faith kind of a big thing growing up or did it become something greater as you got older?
Michael: So I’ve always, I’ve always recognize how high power. I’ve never thought that it was nothing. I’ve never thought we were here. And so no to answer your question I went through a tough breakup in 2015 through 2016 and you know the story is I found myself on my knees in front of my Bible crying. Eyes bawling out. And December 31st, the last day of 2016. Very powerful day. Last day. And still prior to that I committed myself to going to church every Sunday. So all this transformation started on December 4th which is another emotional day. So before I commit I said I’m going to go to church every day for the month to see what happens. Last day of the year, like I said, I found myself on my knees in front of my bible. And I felt this this release energy, this release. You know I think it was a demonic spirit that was finally free from my being. And I probably had it bottled in all year. Just doing everything other than to get rid of it and to free myself. And I have not missed a day of church yet. I am a cabinet member of word of faith. Prayer for be getting baptized this quarter, right. So I take it seriously. I also take it seriously in the sense that I understand people’s cons with organized religion at times. But I keep it very simple. And you know the truth that I believe is that do unto others as you want done to you. And keep God first. And if I can keep those two things in the forefront I can accurately navigate through, through the noise.
Eric: Yeah, there is plenty of noise out there. Certainly I mean it’s it’s you know I think this is this world is becoming smaller in terms of communication and the building, and we can really chat with anyone we want in the world. You know these six degrees of separation are now becoming two degrees, one degree of separation. But there still is a need for a base and it sounds like you reconnected to all of that which is, which is huge. It’s something that I have battled throughout my life. Looking to return to that connecting piece. That’s great to hear that you’ve been able to do that recently and it’s propelled you.
Michael: Yes it’s vital man. And it’s you know for me it’s at some point. I think it’s about accountability. I think you know I’ve been through a lot of life not really being accountable to anything. And you know now committing myself my accountability to a higher power makes me more responsible here on Earth. And you know I believe that I should be doing what I can not to bring – not to bring heaven to earth but to bring Earth to heaven. You know, so how many people can I get , we’ll see. Time will tell.
Eric: Yeah, instead of waiting on the stairs to come down. You’d go up stairs.
Michael: There it is. And I think that you know one thing that I want to do my best. If it’s in God’s will for me. When I do take maybe more national stages, you know I think athletes do a good job and intends to do the job you know and they say oh I want to thank God. And it’s interesting to me that the future is technology but not enough of our founders and CEOs are doing it openly. So you know I think that there is an opportunity here that you know we can’t move forward in technology without also moving forward in our faith. So yeah, it’ll be very interesting to see. You know I hope that there are more startup founders and more successful individuals who bring their face to the forefront. Whether you’re Muslim, whether you’re Christian, Buddhists. At the day if you are bringing positivity, if you are bringing accountability and structure to a world that needs it, to a country that needs it. You know, more power and more blessings to you.
Eric: OK. Are you looking to bring others with you? What’s your- what’s your plan for..
Michael: Oh I’m just going to be a good person if you say why are a good person. Because I’m a Christian and that’s simple you know. I’m not I’m not an evangelist. My aunt is, right. I don’t I don’t you know I think I ever would be in front of a pulpit. But I know that being a good person and you know being able to go to specific scriptures right that teach me how to be a good person, that teach me how to deal with certain situations. You know it’s all I need. So I hope that. My character, my actions are a whole lot too much preaching.
Eric: Got it. And actually what I do want to pull out of this is we talk about you know technology how getting youth involved and so your faith drives you as your passion. And as you know why not only becoming a success will make you happy but it’s because your faith helped to get you there. And actually what are you. Are you doing this.. You know, what is your plan for youth? And how are you going to bring them along.
Michael: Yes. So I’m glad I said all that stuff yesterday because now I’m just recycling answers but no it’s all good. So yesterday I had, the first time that I’ve said this outloud this will be the second time. But I think what happens is in the black community we get to a certain ceiling wherel we no longer have any body to look up to. From a monetary perspective, from a character perspective. Right. And then when our people get to a certain level they don’t always draw down the bricks for us to follow.
Eric: Leading the way. I mean, someone has to be there to lead the way.
Michael: And you know we could talk about a lot of different things but the gist of it is I do. So I have this motto that I got from a good friend of mine. He actually got a tattoo on his arm: “lift as we climb.” And the idea is that as I progress in my future, as others progress in our future, our hands are down and pulling people up. Those who are taking and putting in the effort, we’re not going to pull all our mussel and pull you up. But if you are putting in the effort, you are putting in that time then we will lift you as we climb. And you know, essencialy what I said to the youth was that. The blueprint that white America has used to be the Steve Jobs, to be the Mark Zuckerberg, to be the Jeff Besos of the world is not the same blueprint that blacks will be able to use to be able to get there. For us, it takes a village. And I think that we have to recognize that and have to do all we can to come together. I’m going to share something, I just heard about the Ice Age theory. Are you familiar with that?
Eric: No. No. Please..
Michael: All right so the Ice Age theory. This is a theory, just something that I just learned too. So I’m just sharing to create dialogue and have a conversation. But the ice age theory is that when the ice age hit that you know our white counterparts were freezing we had to fight for survival you know by any means necessary, right. While that was happening we were in Africa, prosperous everything was wealth it was blooming. All. Right when our worlds collided. That mentality by any means necessary. Got to get it during the Ice Age carried during the time of infiltrating Africa and etc. Al right, so to take that mindset into today’s business standpoint and the ruthlessness and sometimes the scandals that you hear like the Lehman Brothers back in the day or even the toxic culture at Uber currently. You know it’s also how we as blacks have this very village mentality versus how it’s not always seen in that with our white counter parts. So it’s safe to say the blueprint is different for us as African-Americans, as minorities, as other people of color. And there are only certain parts of the blueprint that is created that we can follow and so we have to wrap it up. Turn up a new journey for us.
Eric: Sure. Exactly. And you know that journey may take 50 years, 100 years. But, I mean..
Michael: Yeah. I personally don’t think that the work I do, I will see it’s fruitfulness. I’m working for my great grandchildren. I’m working.. Gary Vaynerchuk one of my favorite guys. He said legacy over currency. And I accepted that the things that I want to see may not happen in my lifetime. I’m okay with that. I’m okay with that. I think the more comfortable others get with it and they’re just really trying to put in the work. We’ll see some good things happen. There’s a lot of people that are doing that, a lot of people who are unselfish and doing it for the future.
Eric: I think it’s amazing you bring up a legacy because people typically our age, you know, men and women who are hustling, hustling, hustling, don’t think enough about legacy. Legacy is almost one of the last things you think about you know as you’re getting older and you’re becoming a true citizen of the world.
Michael: That’s how you live forever, legacy.
Eric: You start to live, you start to live out your legacy and you set that up it sound like you’re doing that. Tell me have you benefited from someone’s legacy or has there been someone in your life that you know, that the way has been paved a little bit more next to them.
Michael: Oh that’s a great question. I do not have.. I’m going to jump back to my parents, right, I’m going to jump back to my parents and say that I never went a day hungry. Always had good education. Went to college. I’ve had three cars. Right. And that’s not that’s that’s to say like my parents did the grunt work. You know like my parents did that part of I don’t.. I want better for my child. So I am their legacy and living legacy literally and.. You know so they did what they had to do. My parents still sacrifice for me. And I think you know my buddy made a good comparison. I’m going to switch gears very briefly. My buddy talks about how when we’re born our mom gives us and gives us gives us and gives us. And then at a certain point when we grow up and there’s that balance of OK now it’s my turn to give back, give back, give back. Jumping to climate change ’cause it is real. Take take that perspective of wanting to get back to your mom now that you’ve made it. Mother Nature has given given given given. Yes. And we need to be focused on giving back giving back. Giving back to her. So just wanted to kind of tie that together while I have the platform to do so.
Eric: You brought up a good point, sustainability. And this goes.. Sustainability goes into business as well. I mean you can only be so cutthroat and you know the tip of the sphere for so long as you plow these fuels forward and have this mentality of you know don’t look back until you’ve made it to the top of the mountain or whatever. But it still is important, I think you brought it up as well as to take a look back and to sow some seeds along the way. Absolutely. Now do you have I mean.. I’ll give you an example of that myself. I’ve done things like hired interns, and I have had great interns and I’ve had some interns that are not necessarily the best but I’ve learned either way working with interns and I’ve had internships growing up and they were all valuable to me whether I like them or not. So are you, are you providing any space or do you have any plans to provide for youth coming up?
Michael: Oh I think right now just being involved. You know so one of the organizations I’m really supporting and I’m hoping that they get this entrepreneurship Academy off off the ground is Usher’s New Look Foundation. Usher’s New Look Foundation it is an organization created to help youth find their spark and the idea behind your spark is you may not like math but maybe you want to be a pilot right. So how can we tie these math lessons into you understanding what it means for math to coincide with being a pilot. And they actually have a disrupt summit happening July 20th to the 21st at the new Braves Stadium this year(2018). There will be you know 17 year olds to 24 year olds and it’s an opportunity to come together as future entrepreneurs and meet with some awesome people in the space so if you’re watching this and you have men or women of the age of 17 to 24. Usher’s New Foundation dot org, probably. And July 20th to the 21st, innovative disrupt summit I believe it’s called. So just being engaged with youth about how to avoid the expensive missteps early as an entrepreneur, that I didn’t have the luxury to have.
Eric: And then we can talk to that as well. You know, this ability to fail. You know I think in school nowadays we teach creativity out of some students. And it is detrimental to us because we teach students that failure or be wrong is not good. When in reality it’s good as long as you continue forward in eventually find the answer. But this mentality of just you know you’re either right or wrong but when in reality in the world of creativity and engineering our being wrong discovered different paths to be right. And there’s lots of discovery that’s made internally and externally. I mean there’s so many inventions that were made because of the accidental..
Michael: WD 40. 40 times. Even sticky pads, they were trying to sticky metals. They were trying to go for a strong adhesive and realized oh man like this adhesive doesn’t work and was able to put it on sticky pads. Hm, potato chips. This story is I forget the time frame. Basically somebody came into the restaurant and was like “these fries aren’t cooked” and the chef being a jerk made them extra hard. And this the person actually liked them and that’s how you got potato chips. So you know speaking about creativity I have two stories. One story is, so I forget which consumer show it was, in the consumer show is an event held, we’re in charge. and we have five consumer startups pitch to the community about how we can help them and what they’ve done well thus far for their business. So this company was actually on shark tank as well UMANO. And in a sense what they do is they have students draw on shirts and maybe even ties, well clothing. And when you purchase a piece of clothing they send a backpack of art supplies to youth in need, I think in another country. So the founder Alex I believe his name was he was talking about. He knows exactly when the students have like hit 4th grade, like third grade, because the artwork is different. Right. Because now people are in class like oh my picture is better than yours. Right. Or or or. Maybe so and so are just more popular. So maybe – so you just get to the point in age where you’re more aware of weak, strong, good, bad, right. So even creatively as a kid like “Hey just draw something for a T-shirt”. In the split second of a moment, just switching grades people we become so aware of what’s.. What doesn’t look good.
Michael: And you know we fall back into this creative lol maybe. And then one of the students yesterday she said you know I consider myself a dreamer and she said hey like I’m a dreamer too and I have all these ideas and you know and I have trouble figuring out what to focus on. I said do all of them. Do every single one and you will start to find that from talking to people just with your energy is, certain ones will just naturally start taking the backseat and then sometimes it’s not the right time. You know it’s you know there are there are scenarios about shooting on the door or going through backward. Then sometimes it’s just about you don’t have the tools you don’t have the access, you don’t have the right set up for what you’re thinking to be optimal. So work on some other stuff because the things that she might end up working with ultimately can trigger back right or can loop back in to that idea you had 3 or 4 months ago.
Eric: Absolutely. Sometimes years. Sometimes it takes years, you know. For some of these engagements that we do and you know and there’s people watching out there and you want to get involved, you want to get back to youth or get back to yourself, get back to your core. I would definitely suggest you find organizations or groups out there that are helping. I recently reached out to Decatur Makers, an organization here in Atlanta, Georgia. Because they teach kids technology and creativity and that’s something I’m extremely interested in – the whole STEAM activities. And it’s for me it’s fulfilling but it’s just you know I don’t know where it’s going to go. But at a certain point in time it’s going to lead me to the right place. You know it’s going to bring me to that place where I just, I just know it’s going to fulfill me ultimately and help me build my legacy. So if anyone’s been you know, tip toeing around the fence, or curious about what it is to find your meaning I would just, just look locally, you know. Try to find something local. Have you done anything like it? I mean how did you get involved with this organization?
Michael: So Jason Slovaski, works out of here. Basically has a relationship with the V.P. of national programming and partnerships there Carecia Moore. So some switchyarders went over there to learn more about the foundation, they were- they’re looking for mentors.
Eric: Where in Switchyards Downtown Club in Atlanta, Georgia right now.
Michael: So yeah, I guess just being a part of a community.
Eric: Got it.
Michael: Being a part of the community.
Eric: So you so you well I mean and I wanna know what – I mean, how did that conversation go? I mean were you looking for it or was it..
Michael: So Jason, I think Jason just you know I think Jason knew there were certain people who had interest in it so he reached out to us. When we finally got there and met – uh I’ve a brain fart. I know we’re live. We met Ivete and Carecia, I was just blown away. I was blown away by the authenticity, to the commitment to the youth. The genuine foresight, right. Like that we are not going to move forward unless it is the optimal, you know, the optimal position for our students. To find out that this foundation has been around for 18 years right like, Usher at the age of 18 years old went and sat in a courtroom and was hearing these stories, like these youth basically their lives were being thrown into the system. And he was like I have to do something. So it’s been – it’s been inspirational to see. See what they’re doing, and to see how they’re doing it, right. So they have a few schools, they have a few schools in Atlanta that takes their curriculum. They have an academy out of Detroit that learns their curriculum. I believe there’s some other cities as well. So they’re doing more than just being this incubator for students, like you know. In their schools I belive, the students are actually getting credit to learn the curriculum they’ve come up with that they’re putting out there for the youth. So I think they’re a great thing. Just a quick plug. Break Into Business is another entrepreneurship program here in Atlanta that the age group slips my mind. Basically it’s a summer camp that happens here. The founder’s name is Monica Lage. And she basically has students come in. They learn how to be entrepreneurs. They have five P’s: pitch, product, promo.. I forget the other one. But basically by the end of the camp these students are selling their products, getting real cash, swiping real credit cards. And just that excitement right, to go back to school and say I was an entrepreneur this summer. And she has a good bit of students that kind of comeback ’cause maybe this first time their business didn’t get off the ground. Like, that’s entrepreneurial. Like yo this is not the end.
Eric: Hungry for more.
Michael: Got to have that grit. So yeah, Break Into Business, a great entrepreneurial program here in Atlanta. You know during the summer.
Eric: Awesome. Awesome. All right so as we as we start to wind down a little bit. I wanna know what would you tell yourself five years ago? What advice would you give yourself?
Michael: The advice that I would give myself five years ago is the advice I would give to the youth right now. Stay true to who you are. And the reason I would say that because I have accepted that I’m an acquired taste depending on you know who you are. But being an acquired taste has allowed me to keep strong people in my circle. You know I know a lot of people who have kind of lost people throughout their life based on things getting hard, situations not being right. You see people’s true colors. You know I think staying true to the person that I am and knowing who I am has allowed me to attract people who are genuine and authentic in their being. And to also retrack people who aren’t sure of themselves or who could create a toxic maybe energy into my bubble. Stay true to yourself, it might be tough you know, it might be might be what it is but it will make sense down the line.
Eric: Sure. You’re gonna ruffle some feathers. You may even loose a good friend or two but if they are a good friend they will come back.
Michael: Yeah I believe now I think you know a lot of people talk about not getting second chances but you know as a as a Christian you know it literally says: 70 times seven, which is basically if somebody goes against you over and over man, you forgive them over and over. And it’s easy for me because I know I would want that. You know if I genuinely cared about somebody and I know that I’ve messed up and I did the work to be better, you know I put the work into to be a better person in that situation. I would want to be forgiven. I would want that relationship mend it back to what it was. You know so I try to kind of keep that in mind when I’m when I’m tested you know when I’m tested to be a bigger person or to be the forgiven person.
Eric: That’s great. That’s great. So how can we follow you? How can we..?
Michael: Yeah, so I am on Twitter. My name @MichaelCowherd, on Instagram @CowherdTheRuler, so Caowherd the ruler for my hip hop fans. That is my ode to Slick Rick The Ruler one of my favorite hip hop artists. On LinkedIn, my name. So I tell people all the time. I’m more like, I really like LinkedIn. Even as a millennial you know Twitter, you’ve got the people that kind of go viral in there, but Linkedin that’s my platform, I do a little LinkedIn. So I’m always down to connect, my network is the number of the people that I’m well connected with for sure. So yeah I mean thank you for having me man, like I definitely shared some things that I didn’t know that would share so..
Michael: So.. but you made me feel safe.
Eric: That’s good. We’re in a safe place. In a dungeon in a downtown building in Atlanta. We’re in a safe space.
Michael: Yeah man, really thank you for having me. You know you have a supporter in me, how ever I can help push you forward..
Eric: Trust me I’ll lean on you.
Michael: Well you know me man. I’m built up, I’m ready. I’m back and strong.
Eric: Thanks so much. Really do appreciate you being on the show and you know please reach out to Michael if you want to get engaged with him and learn more about him and what he’s doing.
Michael: Yes another shameless plug. If you are a female entrepreneur please go to W-O-E ATL dot com, that is woeatl.com. This is an event that I helped to co-found with Stephanie Dias. We bring awesome entrepreneurial women so if you have a business or you are trying to figure out if it’s something to jump into. And we have like an Ellen Degeneres, Oprah Winfrey kind of feel. The last two months we had champaigne, dance party, affirmations. Listen this is not your average, your average lady night out. So we plan to come back in September but until then woeatl.com.
Eric: Awesome. Michael, thanks. Appreciate it.
Eric: Alright, that’s it.
Michael: Peace y’all.