In this new series, NPR’s Guy Raz (one hell of a storyteller) is giving us an insight into how some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs built their empires. On each episode of How I Built This, Raz talks with one entrepreneur at a time to discover how the 'The journey from that day when they were pounding the pavement by themselves, to when they were at the New York Stock Exchange, ringing the opening bell.”
This one was a cracker with Kathy Hughes, Founder of Radio One. I have to confess, when I downloaded it, I wasn't quite sure - having not heard of Kathy before. How wrong I was. Her passion is off the charts. Her single minded determination was deeply moving. Kathy is one of the wealthiest self-made African-American women in America. She was a single mother in Omaha, Nebraska; she had a child at 17. She just was relentless in her mission to own and syndicate a radio station. A dream she held even as a young woman. She managed to rise up the ranks of radio stations in Washington D.C., until she managed to cobble together loans and enough money to buy her own radio station in the late ‘70s. Her company is now worth $250 million. But it wasn't an overnight success. She only made profit after 7 years and even spent the first 3 years sleeping on the office floor!
“When she was looking for a loan to buy her first radio station, she was rejected by thirty-two out of thirty-three banks. The loan officers were all white men; the thirty-third loan officer she met was a Puerto Rican woman who said, ‘You know what, I’m gonna give you a chance. I just believe with you.’ And at that point, once the deal was sealed, Kathy kept saying to her: ‘And we’re gonna do this, and that, and you’re gonna be so impressed with how we do this and that,’ and she kept going on about all the amazing initiatives they were gonna do.
“And this loan officer looked at her and said: ‘Kathy, I’m gonna tell you something that’s really important. Once the deal is sealed, stop selling it.’
“She took that advice and never looked back. I think many of us, when we make a promise to somebody, or somebody agrees to work with us, our instinct is to say, ‘You’re not gonna regret this, it’s a great decision.’ But once the handshake is done, stop talking.”
If there was one quote from the interview that will live with me forever it's: 'If you allow yourself to get bogged down and loose your enthusiasm, then you're dead in the water. But if you remain optimist, cheerful and committed to your goal, there is nothing that can stop you'
Listen to the full interview here.