We sit down with Rod, 1/2 of The Black Guy Who Tips to talk about his experiences as a black man in Corporate America and hear his advice for engaging your own creative outlets.
The Black Guy Who Tips
Zach: What’s up, y’all? It’s Zach with Living Corporate, and yes, you’re listening to a B-Side. Now, look, yes, we’ve talked about B-Sides before, but remember, every episode is somebody’s first episode. So for our new folks, B-Sides are essentially random, looser shows in-between our larger shows. These are much less structured and somehow even more lit–yes, even more lit–than our regularly scheduled shows. If you wanna know what I mean by more lit, Sound Man gon’ drop some air horns right here. Sound Man, give ’em to me.
[Sound Man obliges]
Zach: Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about. Now, listen, sometimes, you know, we have discussions as a follow-up to the regular full-time shows just with the hosts. Sometimes it’s one host having an extended monologue, and sometimes we actually have a special guest. Yes, that’s right, a special guest, and today is no different. We actually have Rod, A.K.A. half of the show from The Black Guy Who Tips.
Rod: Hey, thanks for having me, man.
Zach: Hey, man, thank you. Man, thank you for being here. Now, look–look, look, look. Rod is an entrepreneur, a comedian, writer, and most prominently half of the firepower behind The Black Guy Who Tips. Rod, along with his lovely wife Karen Morrow, A.K.A. SayDatAgain on social media, record out of North Carolina where they talk about everything you want to hear about. With that being said, welcome to the show, Rod. How you doin’, man?
Rod: Hey, I’m happy to be here. Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate you reaching out.
Zach: Man, I appreciate you responding, bro. And it’s funny, you talk about Twitter fame–you talk about celebrity and, like, being famous, right? And I was about to make, like, a “you famous” joke, but I recognize that some people have various levels of sensitivity about that, so. [laughs] For those of us who don’t know you, man, explain the title of The Black Guy Who Tips.
Rod: The Black Guy Who Tips is a comedy podcast. The title basically started from–there’s so much anti-blackness in the service industry towards black, like, people as patrons, and my wife and I, we both co-host this podcast. My wife and I, we both used to be waiters as well. During all this time as waiters and stuff, you know, we faced–we were on the other side. We got to see what waiters and companies think of black patrons, and it’s not cool, you know? And a lot of ’em have racist attitudes, and then they go “Black people don’t tip,” you know? They treat us like trash and they expect us to not just tip but basically to overtip to compensate for the fact that we’re black. Now, the original title is from a blog I used to write. It was a comedy blog, and I called myself The Black Guy Who Tips because I was like, “I’m sick of people saying black people don’t tip.” So if you’re saying that, you know at least one black person who tips if you read my blog. It’s me, and I know I’m not–I know I’m not alone. I’m not–you know, I’m not the only one.
Zach: Absolutely not, man. Listen, I also tip, okay? And I always at least tip 15%, okay? Now–
Rod: Yeah. I overtip, and I wish I could get that out of my system because–I overtip mostly because I used to be a server, but part of it is the black thing that hangs over all black people where we feel like we’re always representing everyone, and it’s not fair that–you know, ’cause I’ve done–I’ve been in situations where I’m like, “Man, this guy was terrible. What a horrible waiter. I’m only gonna give him 20% because I am sick–” You know? Like, I should just not tip this dude. Like, he was terrible, but for some reason–I hope I get over that hang-up one day, man.
Zach: It’s funny, right, because I actually have a friend, and he worked at a Pappadeaux’s out here in Houston, and so–and he’s a white brother. So what he would do is–he said when people would come in and they’d be black people, they wouldn’t say, “Oh, we got black people over there,” they would use code language. Rod, you wanna know what the code language they used to say, “Oh, we got some black folks over here?”
Rod: I hope it wasn’t Canadians.
Zach: It was Canadians, dawg.
Rod: Aw! See? I’ve been on the other side. I’ve dealt with it. It’s the worst.
Zach: [laughs] Yes, man. They be like, “Yeah, we got some Canadians over there.” I’m curious, before you started The Black Guy Who Tips Live and before you started doing that full-time, did you have any moments, while you working in Corporate America, that you were like, “Wow, you’ve clearly never worked with a black man before,” and I ask because we’re coming off a full episode with Michael Williams, who’s a financial banking executive, and he was talking about his stories and his experiences in Corporate America, and I’m just curious, man, do you have any similar stories about like, “Wow, it’s clear that you have just never worked with a black man before.”
Rod: Uh, yeah. I have a few. You know, I worked in Corporate America for–oh, man, since I was 16 I think. I was doing internships and also during the summer working as a waiter and stuff. So yeah, I have plenty of stories. One quick one, I had a manager later in my career, like, one of the last managers I ever had. I had a manager who was a white dude from, like, New Jersey. Pretty–you know, a guy that you would see generally as a pretty progressive white man for an older white man. Like, I never felt he was overtly racist, but he was very, like, liberal racist.
Zach: Okay. [laughs]
Rod: And so he would do this thing where we’d get in a meeting and–I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a meeting like this, but some white dudes, like, really dramatize their anger. Like, anger is their thing at work.
Rod: You know, he wasn’t angry towards anyone in the room. He was never rude or mean to anyone. I never saw him snap, but he would do stuff like be angry at a situation. So he’d be like, “Oh, and this,” you know, “F-word.” Not the slur, but, like, you know.
Zach: Right, right, right.
Rod: “This mother F-word would do this, and this son of a B would do that,” and I’m like, “Okay.” So he’s angry, right, and he’s frustrated, and he has that room to do that, and so we’d be at a meeting and then, like, if I were to be like, “Well, you know, I was working with this vendor, and they did this, and I just don’t understand why they would do that because essentially it’s gonna cost them extra money, and I’m trying to convince them to do blank, and it’ll help everyone out.” He would, like, put his hand on my shoulder like, “Calm down, Rod. It’s okay.” You know? “Don’t be too upset.” I’m like, “I’m not upset.” He’s like, “Yeah. It’s okay, big fella.” I’m like, “What is happening right now?” Like, I’m gonna get upset, and it took a few of those meetings before I realized, “Oh, he’s kind of, like, afraid of me in a way that’s not–” Like, it makes me uncomfortable because it puts–he’s my manager, but he’s putting me in a position where I’m, like, an aggressor and I’m not, yet he walks around all day spouting off, you know, cuss words and all this stuff and it’s okay. So yeah, I was like, “This guy just doesn’t know black people, I guess.”
Zach: Man–so look, let’s trade a couple stories until we run out. Let’s see how awkward we can get with some of these stories about just working while black, okay? So here I–so I heard yours, so I’ma match yours with this one. So this was before I got into consulting, right? And I was working–I was working in the energy space. It was my birthday. So my boss wasn’t there for my birthday, and to your point, she was also a very liberal white woman. She would–I think by all other accounts you would consider her progressive, right? So I walk into my cubicle, and I see, like, this shadow. Like, I see, like, a shadow, like, in my cubicle. I’m like, “Who is sitting at my desk?” Now, Rod, I then walk into my cubicle, and I see this big, inflated, light-skinned monkey in my chair.
Rod: No way.
Zach: Yes way. So then I see the monkey, and I’m like, “What is this?” So then I turn the monkey around, and it has a little–like, a little necklace thing on it, like a lanyard, and it says “Happy birthday, Zach.”
Rod: Wow. Dude, that’s–that’s insane.
Zach: So I look at it, and I’m like, “What?” So then I take it and–so, you know, again, my boss isn’t there, so first–of course I take a picture. I gotta take a picture. I send it to my parents, and then I take it and I put the monkey at her desk ’cause she’s not there. So then the next day, right, she goes, “Hey, did you see my monkey?” “Did you see the monkey yet? Did you see your birthday present?” And I said, “I did. Yeah, that was really disappointing and inappropriate,” right? So, not that it would be a surprise to you at all, I then got turned into I have the attitude problem, I’m overly sensitive–
Zach: Right? She starts crying, tearing up. I’m like, “What is going on? You put a monkey at my desk, right?” And it’s just like, “Wow.” Like, “You clearly never considered,” you know? And, you know, she came out later and was like, “You know, I like monkeys.” Like, “Monkey is, like, my favorite animal,” blah blah blah blah, and I’m like, “Okay.” I mean, that’s fine for you personally, right? But for you to then give that to somebody, and such a big one too, right? It wasn’t even like a small gesture, dawg. It was huge. It was–so I’m 6’2″, so it wasn’t as big as me, but it was a big monkey, man. Like, it was big enough to when I walked around the corner I thought–I thought someone was sitting at my desk. It was crazy, man. So let me ask you something, ’cause, you know, I know you–what would you have done in that situation? I just want to–like, off the cuff, what would’ve been your reaction?
Rod: Well, see, here’s the thing. I’m not very reactionary, and I’m probably, believe it or not, one of the more patient people most people know. I probably would’ve not been too moved to anger or offense or shock, but I would’ve taken that monkey out of my cubicle for sure, put it somewhere, like, in a car or something, like, somewhere away from me, and then I would’ve pulled her to the side and been like, “Listen, I don’t know how this goes with you and other black people, but don’t do that again towards me, and you probably should never do that again with another black person because my assumption is you’re not aware but this can be perceived as racist, and this is why,” you know? And, you know, my general responses that I’ve had from checking white people on racism has not been one of too much animosity, but mostly because I’m just not–I’m very rarely triggered to anger, so for the most part I haven’t had to deal with a fragile white person breaking down crying and stuff, but yeah, I mean, you did the right–there’s nothing you did wrong, and there’s nothing–you know, like I said, I can only hope that that would be the response is that they’d be like, “My bad,” you know what I mean? ‘Cause–I mean, what else do I want at that point? If I don’t want you fired, then I just want a “My fault, playa. Won’t do it again,” and then I’m cool. It’ll become a funny story that I remember and tell people or whatever, but yeah, I don’t–you know, I probably would handle it pretty even-keel, probably wouldn’t have went to HR even though I would’ve had every right to. I’m just not that kind of person really.
Zach: You transitioned from, you know, working for somebody else to really building–so I don’t want to be hyperbolic and say an empire, right? Or a dynasty and be corny, but you’ve built something for yourself. Like, you and your wife of course, with the help of your wife, and shout out to the wives out there. I mean, my wife, she’s not on my podcast, but she definitely supports me and helps me and holds me down as I’m doing all of this stuff, but, you know, what advice would you give to people who are actively in Corporate America, black and brown folks who are trying to navigate, especially if they’re trying to navigate and they’re thinking about ways to find another avenue outside of working a 9-to-5.
Rod: Yeah, okay. Man, there’s so much I can say. I’ll start with–first, in my Corporate America stint where I got laid off twice in the span of the, like, four years I was doing the podcast while working–and maybe it was 5, but either way–the podcast I always treated like I would treat if I had a second job. Like, I made sure to make the time and the preparation, and I treated it in many ways like a full-time job before it was a full-time job, so by that I mean it was not a hobby. Now, there’s nothing wrong with a podcast as a hobby. There’s nothing wrong with anything as a hobby. We need–especially as black people, we need outlets outside of corporate structures, specifically corporate structures that are encapsulated, white spaces. So, you know, you always have these voices inside that might not get out, and you need to feed that voice ’cause it’ll die if you let it.
Rod: So for me I’ll say look, work on your craft as if you’re already doing it full-time to a certain extent. Be professional, you know? Think about your sound quality. Think about the time commitment. Consistency is key. These are all boring things I’m telling you, but the boring things are what–the boring things is basically Mr. Miyagi making you wash his car and sand his bench, but then when you become–when you make that transition into trying to monetize it, you already know, you know, wax on wax off, and that’s what keeps it working. That’s what makes it easy, the basics. So yeah, learn your craft, learn your tools, right? You learn your microphones that you use, how to get the best sound out of it. Your internet setup, how to get your best communication when you want to have guests. You’re gonna have to learn, you know, your equipment and internet hosting things, you know? Like, what are the differences on sites? All that stuff. Everything is so Google-able at this point. YouTube has so many tutorials. I use Audacity to record. It’s a basic, free software. I still use it to this day.
Zach: Same here, yeah. For sure.
Rod: Right, and I know people that would pay, like, hundreds and thousands of dollars for rigs, and you’re like–then they hit me up, “How’d you get that sound?” I’m like, “Oh, Audacity,” and they hit up–you know? So yeah, there’s plenty of ways, plenty of paths, and then the most thing that I would want you to remember from coming from a Corporate America background where they really do a job on our brains of trying to smush us all into these cubicles and these boxes and this linear thinking of “All of us should think the same way. Don’t think outside of the box. Don’t be too creative,” right? When you’re in your personal space and you’re creating something from scratch for yourself, make it for you. Make it as personal as you would like. I made the podcast I would love to have heard when I was working. I made the podcast that was gonna be with me five days a week and talk about topics that were random but could be comedic, could be serious. I made the podcast that was gonna, like, make me not feel like a crazy person in a corporate structure where you go to work and some of your people that you work with voted for Trump. Some of the people you work with, you know, you may be the only black person they know, you know? But I wanted to make a show for black and brown people all over the globe where they didn’t feel alone for a couple hours a day or whatever, so they would be like, “Oh, yeah. Okay, so you saw that too, and that was crazy to you as well. Yeah, okay, cool. You know, this is like sitting at the lunch table again,” and many podcasts have done that for me as well as a listener, working and working for myself. Those are, like, the basic things I would say.
Zach: Man, that’s dope, Rod. I appreciate it, man. I’m curious, man, before we wrap up–first of all, I have a random, unrelated question. Do you see yourself creating another video on social media that has as much vitriol as that Kit Kat video?
Rod: [laughs] I don’t think I could do that if I tried. I don’t even know–I have no idea what goes viral. There’s another video of me eating (Talenti?) where I smoked it like a heroin spoon.
Zach: Yeah, I saw that. [laughs]
Rod: Yeah, and now–and for some reason that never one goes truly viral, but I’m like, “That’s the most creative one I ever did.”
Zach: That one was wonderful.
Rod: Yeah. The Kit Kat one was just me being–I just thought it would be funny, and I have several other videos of–I had one where I tried to–I can’t remember. Oh, I tried to–[laughs] I’m sorry. I tried to snort candy corn.
Rod: [laughs] It was so ridiculous, but that one didn’t get picked up. So hey, man, I have no idea what will make people mad. I’m not trying to make ’em mad, but boy, did that one make ’em mad.
Zach: So beyond the implication of, like, you, like, actually, like, harming yourself, it’d be really funny if you melted down a Hershey’s bar and, like, injected it between your toes.
Rod: Right. [laughs] You should’ve heard the idea board that I’ve just thrown at my wife over the, like–“You know what I should do? I should take a Kit Kat, and I’ma put it in some soup or something,” and she’s just like, “Don’t do that.” I’m like, “You right. You right.”
Zach: [laughs] Man, I shared that video with my wife. I shared that video of the Kit Kat with my wife. She was like, “Oh, I’m just so offended.” Dawg, she was so mad. [laughs]
Rod: People were watching it like I, like, hurt a small child or something like that. They’re like *gasps* “Why would you do that?” I’m like, “It’s just a candy bar. You can eat it how you want.”
Zach: You also dunked on ’em at the end when you said, “Are you mad?” [laughs]
Rod: [laughs] And they were mad. Who knew? They were really mad, man. I thought we’d all have a laugh, but we did not.
Zach: Any shout outs? Any at all. Any shout outs you have at all.
Rod: I mean–well, you know, obviously my wife Karen. Could not do The Black Guy Who Tips without her.
Zach: Yes, shout out to Karen. Air horns for Karen, yes.
Rod: Ironically, like, honestly, the show would not be named The Black Guy Who Tips, but she did not–she was not sure she would make a good co-host, which anybody that has listened to our show is like, “What?”
Zach: That’s crazy, straight up.
Rod: Like, I don’t feel–like, I don’t even take it as offense anymore. It’s like, “I know nobody comes for me. They’re coming for Karen, and then I’m just out there throwing alley-oops and letting her dunk over people.” So yeah, it’s that, but it would be probably The Rod & Karen Show, which may not be nearly as–would have gotten it the same traction, so maybe it helped out even though she wasn’t trying to. Yeah, that would be the–obviously all the podcasts I listen to and all the podcast friends and family that we’ve established over the years, and black podcasters, podcasters of color in general, you know? We out here. Our voices are important. Don’t give up, man. Just keep making the show for you. Don’t look at other people’s race. Run your race, and, you know, try to be better every time you take the mic. That’s the best, realest advice I can give.
Zach: Man, Rod, we appreciate it. That does it for us here on the Living Corporate podcast. Make sure to follow us on Instagram at LivingCorporate, Twitter at LivingCorp_Pod, and subscribe to our newsletter through living-corporate.com. We also have a Patreon, so if you can spare a dollar a month–yes, just a dollar–to support content that explores the perspectives and experiences of black and brown people in Corporate America, show us some love. If you have a question you’d like for us to answer and read on the show, make sure you email us at email@example.com. My name is Zach. You’ve been listening to Rod, A.K.A. Rodimus Prime, A.K.A. half of the firepower behind The Black Guy Who Tips. Go ahead, shout ’em out one last time, Rod.
Rod: TheBlackGuyWhoTips.com. Find us, okay? You can go on Twitter at TBGWT. You can follow me on Twitter at RodimusPrime, and drop the air horns right now.
[Sound Man drops ’em]
Zach: There it is. [laughs] Peace.
Kiara: Living Corporate is a podcast by Living Corporate, LLC. Our logo was designed by David Dawkins. Our theme music was produced by Ken Brown. Additional music production by Antoine Franklin from Musical Elevation. Post-production is handled by Jeremy Jackson. Got a topic suggestion? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find us online on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and living-corporate.com. Thanks for listening. Stay tuned.