Back in my younger days, yes, I took it there..
Back in my younger days, I was always taught to emmulate the greats.
I was taught that if you work hard, you can achieve what someone else has, whether it be their personal or financial gains.
The older I got, no one corrected that vision. No one stepped up and said, well, thats kind of true. If you emmulate the greats, you have a higher chance of becoming successful. That you can achieve YOUR definition of success and not what society has deemed approproate for you.
Because of this blurred misconception of life, I stuggled to find a foothold, build my own lane. There were many nights that I cried and asked what I did to deserve this. Really, It was all a lesson, that learned was really a story to share.
Knowing that a lot of the mistakes that I made were based on not having an outlet or guidance, I knew that I wanted to do what I could to help others not make those decisions. I wanted to be able to show the youth another way to become successful, in their own right.
Knowing that not every superhero wears a cape or waves flag, I began the hunt to find some of the most inspirational, inspiring hope dealers around the world!
Hop in as we chat with Verlain Betofe from Team Makasi, a Youth Organization full of indivisuals dedicated to making a difference. Not only do we have insight on their organization and helping the community, we have tips and practices that help their organization go from good, to GREAT. Which, let's be honest, is a goal for everyone!
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I started Team Makasi about 6 years ago. We started with 5 athletes and have grown to over 200 athletes since our program started. Growing up in the inner city of San Diego, we didn’t have many role models to look up to. The people we looked up to were gang members, drug dealers, pimps etc. I wanted to make a difference in my community. After I was done playing football at Indiana State University, I wanted to give back to my community. Team Makasi was a way for me to really make a difference with our youth. Our motto for our organization is “A Strong Youth Is A Strong Future”. We believe our youth is the most important aspect of society. Our organization gives our youth those resources and outlets. We have helped over 150 kids receive college scholarships and have hundreds more in the near future. We are growing yearly, and we are extremely excited about our future.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your ourney? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
I faced a bunch of difficult challenges when I first started my organizations. I remember the first year I decided to put on an all-star football game. I planned it out for 5 months. I had the marketing perfect. I had a bunch of Division 1 college football recruits that committed to playing in the game. The day before the game, a group of people was mad at all the publicity the game was getting decided to call the place where I was hosting the game and told them I was a coach on the staff so it would be a conflict of interest. So, in the very last minute I had to move the game to a different location. For a second, the game was close to being canceled. I found a way last second to ensure the game still went on. 5 years later the game is an annual thing and has become the number one all-star game in the west coast and top 5 nationally.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
I don’t remember any funny mistakes when I first started. I have learned a lot from mistakes I have made and will continue learning from all the past mistakes.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Our company is different because everything we do is for the benefits of our kids. We speak to over 150 college coaches trying to help our kids get college scholarships. A story I would like to share is about one of our Makasi kids. He is a kid that has had a very hard home life. His mother and father were never around. Our Team Makasi staff decided to gather up 1,000 dollars and take this kid clothes shopping. The kid was extremely happy and excited. As a staff we do lots of little things like this to ensure our kids are doing well.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
The number one tip I would tell somebody is know your why and purpose? Never start an organization or business strictly for the money or fame. Start it because you truly want to make a difference in whatever you are doing. I think that is the recipe for success.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Yes, his name is Rolando Rivera. We all call him Coach Ro. Coach Ro is the major reason why I started my organization. I met coach Ro in high school about 17 years ago. Coach Ro had a reputation of helping kids from the inner city get to college. Once I met him, I saw how much he really did for us inner city kids. He helped over 400 kids get to college and the majority of them were inner city kids. He helped me get my football scholarship to Indiana State University. Coach Ro and I grew close over the years. He is someone I consider my mentor and owe a lot of success to him.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The title of this series is “How to take your company from good to great”. Let’s start with defining our terms. How would you define a “good” company, what does that look like? How would you define a “great” company, what does that look like?
A good company purpose is to make money and make some sort of impact. A great company sole purpose is to make an impact then the company comes secondary. The purpose of great company is to make an impact which ultimately leads to making money.
Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to lead a company from Good to Great? Please share a story or an example for each.
Make sure its purpose driven
Don’t ever do anything just for the money
Make sure you are making an impact
Always put God first
Trust your intuition
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. Can you help articulate for our readers a few reasons why a business should consider becoming a purpose driven business, or consider having a social impact angle?
I think driven purpose business always have more of a substantial impact. When something is authentic, from the heart, and meant to help people its organic. Things that organic always last longer. You will always be remembered for all you made people feel. That’s the biggest reason I love what I do because it’s all purpose driven. It’s all about the kids.
What would you advise to a business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a stand still. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?
I would say go back to the basics. Go back to the why you started the business. Go back to your original core and see what steps you did that helped you build that foundation.
Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
For me it’s always knowing my why. I am a believer in God and know God wouldn’t give me a challenge I couldn’t handle. I never started my business for the money. The money came after we made abundance amount of impact.
In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
The most underestimating part of running a company is bookkeeping. I do my own books, so I have constantly reminded myself to keep up with my books weekly.
As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies a business should use to increase conversion rates?
Be authentic. I’m not into selling anything. We let our results do the talking.
Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that a business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?
Word of mouth is the best advertisement. When you do right by people eventually other people start to take notice. The best way to build a brand is to do it authentically.
Great customer service and great customer experience are essential to build a beloved brand and essential to be successful in general. In your experience what are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience?
Be a person of your word
Always put the customer first
Never sell anything. Just be yourself
What are your thoughts about how a company should be engaged on Social Media? For example, the advisory firm EisnerAmper conducted 6 yearly surveys of United States corporate boards, and directors reported that one of their most pressing concerns was reputational risk as a result of social media. Do you share this concern? We’d love to hear your thoughts about this.
I always tell our staff social media can be a powerful tool if used right. I tell our staff to keep everything positive on social media. Social media can be a tool that helps business grow expeditiously.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
The most common mistake is people start to change once they start making money. They forget about the foundation they laid to start their business. If you want to avoid these, you have to stay grounded and don’t forget your roots. Don’t forget your why. Don’t forget your initial purpose on why you started the business.
Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Giving back to our youth. That is my movement and what I dedicated my life to.
How can our readers further follow you online?
Thank you so much for taking out the time to chat with us! We look forward to hearing more and supporting you in any way that we can.
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