From a wellness perspective, I am mindful of what I put in my body and on my skin, I practice a plant-based lifestyle. I do my best to workout daily ensuring that I’m active which not only helps me physically but mentally.
Asa part of our series about “How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Edward Griffin.
Edward Griffin is an Atlanta-based (by way of Chicago) serial entrepreneur with a proven track record of running successful businesses and helping others do the same via consulting and mentorship.
Housed under E. Griffin Enterprises, his robust portfolio of businesses includes a luxury footwear company — Culture Shoes, a branding/PR company — The Peblicité Firm, a national HIV/AIDS education initiative — R.A.P. On AIDS, a line sitting company — Let Me Wait, two clothing companies — Heavy Clothing Co. and blak pow•er, and an entrepreneurship educational program for inner-city youth — Brand Me University, and most recently, Melanin60 Skincare — a plant-based, all natural line of products for melanated skin..
A proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Edward is also a longtime creator and author who runs the multimedia platform, Hip-Hop-U-C-It, has written two books, completed screenplays and served as VP of Marketing for Emmy Award-winning video editor, Lamont Belton.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
Ofcourse! I was born and raised in Chicago, IL., I also spent a great deal in Racine, WI. I come from a loving single-parent home and am the middle child of 3, with an older brother and younger sister. I saw and experienced so many things growing up which shaped the person I am today. I’ve been an entrepreneur for as long as I can remember, without even knowing it. I was selling candy to my friends as early as elementary school and by the time I was a preteen, I had my friends working for me cutting grass for clients in the summer and shoveling snow in the winter. Beyond entrepreneurship, I’ve always been curious and very observant, and I saw people suffering growing up which is one of the reasons I’m so driven and passionate about helping people today.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
One day I was in the kitchen with my Mom and randomly at 5 years old, I told her I would work in radio and be in the entertainment industry one day. I worked for iHeart Media for over 10 years and I run my own multimedia company. I believe that came from my love of music, being so engulfed in Hip Hop my whole life, and hearing so many old school songs on those dreaded Saturday morning cleaning days, music was always present. I always watched my older brother and cousins playing their music and I felt like Hip Hop shaped black culture and I wanted to be a part of that. Entrepreneurship as I mentioned earlier, I felt was always in me, I loved the idea of making my own money so I could spend it on what I wanted to. Additionally, as I got older entrepreneurship felt more like a need. We didn’t have a lot of money and I didn’t want to worry my Mom with my wants, so I always found ways to make my own money.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
There are so many people, even as far back as my first-grade teacher Ms. Booker. I was blessed to meet so many amazing people who wanted nothing but the best for me, family included. One person that always stood out in my life was James Wilson, he was the director at the MLK Community Center, a center I went to everyday. He believed in me, If I were sad or not talking for whatever reason he would make sure he took a moment to talk to me, showed me he cared. James had three children of his own and he always treated me like one of them. At 14 he helped me get my first real job with the city and my first bank account. When it was time for me to go off to college, being a first-generation college student, I didn’t know what to expect, he dropped me off at my freshman orientation. That same community center I frequented as a child he hired me there, one of the most rewarding jobs I’ve ever had. Beyond all that, on one of those days I wasn’t feeling well as a child, he noticed, and walked me into the gym, and told me not to worry about what anyone says or what was going on outside just know that he believes in me. Those few words were enough to get me through so many tough times and added to my drive.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
I’d say the most interesting mistake I made, in the beginning, is expecting the support of my family and friends. I was just getting started with one of my clothing companies early on and was sure that my friends and family would support me, and I purchased a lot of inventory. When I finally opened for business, I wasn’t getting the support I thought I would, and I realized I had set myself up with unrealistic expectations. What I learned from that mistake is that you can’t guarantee that people closest to you will support you. What I did after that was research companies I could partner with where I wouldn’t have to carry inventory to fulfill orders, I invested in advertising and set the proper expectations by setting up pre-orders so I knew what I was spending up front.
The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?
Great question! Although I have degrees, I consider myself an autodidact, a self-taught person. I’ve learned more through trial and error and my personal experiences than any book could teach me in school. I would say that education is so important, not only in the traditional sense but the things you learn on your own. It’s always important to learn things on your own, you can never know enough, keep an open mind. I would also tell them not to get so caught up in trying to be successful that they don’t enjoy the journey, it’s hard to enjoy the journey after you’ve already gotten to your final destination. Lastly and most important is to be a kind person. Don’t focus so much on how people treat you, there are three things you should always keep in mind when dealing with people, empathy, kindness, and compassion. Keep those three things at the forefront, and you’ve done your part.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
One of the books that made an impact on me was The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. When I told my mom, I was going to work in radio as a kid, I pictured myself being an on-air personality, becoming a recognizable voice for the people. I was introduced to the Marketing and Promotions side of radio and fell in love with it, I excelled at it. although I enjoyed being on-air there was something about being close to the people that I enjoyed. That experience is a huge part of why I do what I do today. What I learned from the book is that, you may have an idea of what you want or what your end goal is supposed to be but when you walk down the path of what you think you want to do, you end up where you’re supposed to be. Therefore, trying is so critical, because your effort takes you where God wants you to be.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
I love quotes, and one of the ones I live by is, When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me’-Erma Bombeck. That quote resonates with me so much because I believe whatever talent or gift God has given us needs to be exhausted. People always ask me how I do so much, and my response is always, “God gives you time for your gifts.” So, when I do leave this earth, I want people that love me to be at peace knowing I did everything I ever wanted to do.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
One of the most recent projects that I launched this year is Melanin60 Skincare. I am excited about how well we’ve been doing so far and looking forward to rolling out additional products to help consumers improve the quality of their skin. I decided to share my skincare secret with the world because I know how important it is to have products on the market with safe ingredients, especially for people like myself who have sensitive skin.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to create good habits? Can you share a story or give some examples?
Good habits are pertinent to being successful. As a serial entrepreneur who has multiple business ventures, maintaining good habits is what allows me to be efficient and maintain all of my companies with the same level of dedication and commitment.
How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?
One of the habits that has played a major part in my success is my ability to zone in and focus on something that I need to accomplish without allowing myself to be distracted. For example, I was launching Melanin60 Skincare this summer, and I turned my personal phone off, stayed off of social media except for promoting the new brand, and gave the launch my undivided attention to make sure everything went smoothly. Additionally, I believe that when you form good habits, they present good results. People try to form too many habits at once, and the advice I give people is to form a habit with one thing, it takes 21 days. Once you form that habit commitment becomes easier in other areas.
Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?
I truly believe that you can do anything you put your mind to. Good habits included. The best way to develop good habits is to figure out what habits are necessary to ensure success and put those into practice. With bad habits, the best way to stop is to first want to stop and then commit to doing so. None of this is easy, but with habits good or bad, you must start the process of starting or stopping them and be dedicated to it. Additionally, I believe everything starts in your mind, as I said you must want to stop. It’s important to identify your triggers, and if possible, remove those things that are triggering the bad habit. If possible, replace your bad habits with something else.
Let’s talk about creating good habits in three areas, Wellness, Performance, and Focus. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum wellness. Please share a story or example for each.
This is a good one. Wellness is the most important of the three because we must remember that self-care is key to any type of success. We must be mentally, physically, and emotionally well to thrive. Performance is all about leveraging your strengths and enhancing your areas of opportunity to truly perform well in whatever it is you do. Focus is something that I take extremely seriously because there is no true success without focus.
As far as examples go, wellness is important to me. I’m really conscious about what I eat, put on my skin, and how I take care of myself across the board. Performance-wise, my goal is to always deliver my best work across all my businesses. Focus impacts wellness and performance because you have to truly be focused on all aspects of your life to be well and perform well.
Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?
- From a wellness perspective, I am mindful of what I put in my body and on my skin, I practice a plant-based lifestyle. I do my best to workout daily ensuring that I’m active which not only helps me physically but mentally.
- From a performance perspective, I read. I usually try to read at least two books a month, so I try to at minimum read a chapter a day to not only keep my mind sharp but learn something new.
- From a focus perspective, I do my best to meditate daily. I usually have so much going on daily, mediation helps center me and allows me to stabilize my thoughts focusing on the most important things.
Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal performance at work or sport? Please share a story or example for each.
A few good habits that help me perform at my best are researching anything new or unknown before diving in, seeking counsel or feedback from subject matter experts, and playing off of my strengths vs trying to do something that is outside of my lane.
An example of the research aspect from my recent Melanin60 Skincare launch is that I spent years researching ingredients and trying formulas of products before bringing them to market. I also tapped trusted estheticians and dermatologists as subject matter experts to ensure that my products would deliver the desired results. I wear a lot of hats in my businesses; however, I don’t tend to step outside of my areas of expertise. Like with PR for instance, I collaborate with experts in that space to support my clients and my efforts instead of trying to do it all myself.
Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?
It’s important to be a student of your craft, you know what you know. It’s important that you educate yourself on things that you don’t know or understand, educating yourself can prevent unnecessary hurdles. Additionally, it’s important to surround yourself with experts. you don’t know it all and it’s a good practice to look to others for guidance.
Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal focus? Please share a story or example for each.
Three good habits that help me work toward optimal focus is my ability to minimize distractions, avoid counterproductive multitasking, and make family and friends aware of my unavailability for a pre-determined amount of time.
Because I run multiple companies, I must be present. When I go from one project to the next, I like to be mindful and I tell myself to, ‘BE HERE NOW’ this way I can focus on what I’m doing. when I’m designing my sneakers for my shoe company Culture Shoes, I ensure I let people close to me know that I am unavailable because it’s one of those instances where distractions stall my creativity.
Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?
Speak with the people closest to you and let them know what you’re working on and that you may be unavailable at times, this way they aren’t offended when you don’t always have the time for them. Another practice that can be used is limiting distractions by leaving the room with the television, and when you leave it, leave your cellphone also. This way you aren’t tempted to be distracted by the constant notifications.
As a leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?
I believe that we can always achieve a state of Flow if we dedicate ourselves to doing work, we are passionate about that impacts others positively in some way. For instance, every business venture I’ve launched throughout my career is socially conscious and/or have some sort of charitable component involved. That’s what keeps me in a state of Flow.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I’d look to solve homelessness and hunger in America, I believe that those two are closely connected. I would create dedicated community-owned communities that will not only assist with hunger and housing but education. People will work, build, and use their education and skillset in the community they have ownership in.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
I’d love to have a private breakfast with JAY-Z. I’ve been a follower of his career since the beginning, he has such an amazing story and I’ve been inspired and impacted by the way he shifted the culture with his skill set and talent. I’ve watched from afar how he went from a business owner that leveraged his skill and talent to become a mogul. I would love an opportunity to sit and pick his brain. After breakfast, I’d love to meet with President Barack Obama for lunch. Beyond him being a huge inspiration in my life and our shared roots in Chicago, he’s the coolest president ever. I’d love a chance to sit and talk with him about regular stuff, things that you wouldn’t hear in an interview, or things that we wouldn’t find written about him anywhere. To be the most powerful man in the world has a feeling attached to it, I’d love to talk through that feeling.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
The best way for readers to keep up with everything I have going on across business ventures, brands, and books is by visiting https://egriffin.enterprises/brands/ and on https://instagram.com/hiphopucit.
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.