Zach has the pleasure of chatting with Brittani Hunter, founder and CEO of The Mogul Millennial, and they discuss how to go about effectively using your voice at work. They also talk about The Mogul Millennial platform in general, what she’s looking forward to in the future, and what initially led her to its creation.
Zach: What’s up, y’all? It’s Zach with Living Corporate, and again, look, y’all know what we do. We have incredible guests all of the time. Now, this guest is pretty interesting, because, you know, as I’ve been–as we. Shout-out to Ade, shout-out to Sheneisha, shout-out to Tiffany, shout-out to Tara, shout-out to Taylor, shout-out to Tristan, you know what I’m saying? These are all sounding like random names, but these are all people that actually I work with on Living Corporate. Shout-out to Amy, okay? I see you. We have all–as we continue to really build out Living Corporate, folks, there’s one name that continues to come up. Like, “Have you talked to this person? Have you talked to this person? Have you talked to this person?” And I’m like, “Yes, I have. Yes, we’ve made a connection. Yes, we still need to interview. Yes, but I do know who that is,” and it is this individual, and this person is a LinkedIn Top Voice. They’re an entrepreneur. They’re a writer. They’re an educator. They’re a public speaker. They’re a mover. They’re a shaker, you know what I’m saying? They’re a snatcher of edges, you know what I’m saying? They out here is my point, and this person is Brittani Hunter. Brittani, welcome to the show. How are you doing?
Brittani: I’m doing really good. Thanks for having me.
Zach: No, no, no. Thank you for actually being on the show. In fact, let me go ahead and just–just a very modest, you know what I’m saying, cheer, just to welcome you, you know what I’m saying? [cheers sfx] Nothing too crazy. Just something to kind of get us started. For those of us who don’t know you–I know I kind of gave a little bit, but would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself?
Brittani: Yeah. So like you mentioned earlier, I’m an entrepreneur and also a LinkedIn Top Voice. I am also a proud HBCU grad, so if you went to PVAMU, shout-out to you. I am based here in Texas, Dallas to be exact, and I’ve been in the entrepreneur space for about 3.5 years, but full-time since January of this year. So January of 2019.
Zach: Okay, now, wait, you’re not gonna shout-out your HBCU?
Brittani: I did. You didn’t hear me? Prairie View A&M University. So PVAMU.
Brittani: [laughs] Yeah. It’s the best HBCU in my opinion, so yeah, shout-out to you if you are a PV grad as well.
Zach: Shout-out to the HBCUs. It’s so funny, ’cause, you know, no one ever goes, “Shout-out to the PWIs!” But, you know, it’s cool. Shout-out to education, and definitely shout-out to HBCUs. My dad went to Jackson State, and my mom [was Miss?] Tougaloo back in the day, you know what I’m saying? Yeah, I came from good stock is what I’m trying to say. [jokingly] You’re not the only person out here flexing in your complexion, that’s all. Okay, so look, today we’re talking about using your voice effectively. You talked about being a LinkedIn Top Voice. First of all, what does it mean to be a LinkedIn Top Voice?
Brittani: So every year, LinkedIn, they’ll select people that currently use the LinkedIn platform–hence the name LinkedIn Top Voice–and what it is is people that they recognize that are making an impact through the platform, and so an impact on the platform through their content. So yeah, to become a LinkedIn Top Voice essentially means that you’re recognized as someone who has influence and a heavy impact on the users, on the thousands and millions of users that are on LinkedIn.
Zach: Let’s talk about you being selected. Like, what did that process look like?
Brittani: It was actually a surprise. So I was literally at my old 9-to-5, um, not doing work, checking my personal email on my phone, and I saw that I had an email from one of the editors. And so LinkedIn has several editors that specifically focus on different subjects, and so the editor reached out and was pretty much saying that they love all of my content, that they, you know, on the backend they’ve been seeing how much engagement and all the high impressions that my content has been getting, whether that was my blog content–’cause, you know, LinkedIn has the publishing platform that you can publish blogs on. So whether it was that or just my normal, you know, short-form or long-form posts, and they were wanting to see if I was interested in being a part of their LinkedIn Top Voice selection. And so it was pretty much–that was really it. They required for me to write a post, so once they released the list of all of the LinkedIn Top Voices in the different categories–and by the way, I was selected in the category for Management and Culture. So yeah, once they relesaed the article with everybody that was selected, they also released a series of articles from each LinkedIn Top Voice that was selected.
Zach: That’s really, really cool. You know, what’s really interesting about what you shared is that, you know, you said you weren’t even expecting it. You were just doing what you were doing, and then it just happened, right?
Brittani: Yeah. A lot of people think that there is, like, some type of formal application or if you, like, reach out to someone that works at LinkedIn that you can get it, but it doesn’t work like that. If you just keep doing what you’re doing and just be focused on–and you’re just, like, focused on actually putting out great content, then you’ll be noticed, and if you’re lucky they’ll select you as a Top Voice.
Zach: You know what? I just–I just think it’s really incredible, and like I said from the top, everybody that I talk to, as I’ve been talking about Living Corporate, they’re like, “You know, you really need to talk to–have you talked to anybody from The Mogul Millennial?” And I’m like… but it’s just been, like, an ongoing conversation, and, you know, since then, and really frankly to this day, I’m just really excited that we were able to make this connection, you know what I mean? [to this day sfx]
Brittani: Yeah. [laughs] I love the soundbites. I love it, I love it.
Zach: No, I appreciate. So look, on your platform you share real talk, right? So the latest piece that I personally read was about black leadership at Fortune 500 companies being at its lowest, yet black celebrity partnerships are booming–and it’s so interesting because, at the time of this recording, of this podcast, you know, Jay-Z just announced that partnership that he has with the NFL for the social justice movement thing. Anyway, in it you assert that while exploring the direct and subtle implications of that fact, right? So basically you go into it, right? A lot of your pieces do this, where you have, like, this fairly, like, strong initial statement, and then you really go into the nuances and the implications of whatever you stated, right? As black creatives who are focused on content centered around business, I think there’s a line we have to decide when we’re going to, like, not cross, right? Like, and show how honest or raw that we’re being. What has that journey looked like for you specifically and how you’ve balanced, like, discomforting truths with managing a brand that extends far beyond your family and close friends?
Brittani: Yeah. So I think, for me, what I just try to, like, you know, work at towards every day is just, like, living my truth. When you’re not living your truth, you know, you’re the one that’s mostly impacted, and so whether that was–you know, whether that’s me right now as an entrepreneur or me back when I was working the traditional 9-to-5 in the workplace, I’m not going to downplay, you know, what I think or try to sugarcoat, like, my thoughts and my feelings because of someone else, and so I think it’s important that when we speak on our truths it also empowers other people to do the same. So specifically through Mogul Millennial, I like to have those types of conversations and so that way, you know, the issue at hand isn’t ignored or it’s not–you know, it’s not watered down.
Zach: And so how do you feel like that philosophy could be applied to, like, black and brown professionals in their day-to-day jobs and how they use their voice?
Brittani: I think, you know–it’s funny. So it makes me think about–like, a really quick story. When I was working at one of my last 9-to-5s, it was a predominantly white workplace, and one of my coworkers who was black, she would just, like, literally turn her personality all the way off, even from, like, the foods that she ate.
Zach: Wait. Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold on. Whoa, whoa, whoa. [record scratch sfx] What you mean the food that she ate?
Brittani: Yeah! So she wouldn’t eat things like chicken in the office or really be, like, really careful on the types of fruit that she would eat.
Zach: The types of–oh, so she wouldn’t eat, like, a banana is what you’re trying to say?
Brittani: That, watermelon. You know, like, the traditional, like, things–[haha sfx, both laugh] Yeah, like, you think about, like, black people, and it was weird. So we would have, like, potlucks at work, and if people brought chicken she would say that she was allergic to chicken, but she loved chicken.
Zach: She would say that she was allergic to chicken?
Brittani: Yeah. It was like, “Girl, why are you doing this? Just be yourself and people will like you for it,” you know?
Zach: Can we have, like, a real conversation about this though? Okay, so I was talking to my–my wife and I were talking about this. We talk about this often, and Dave Chappelle did a whole stand-up skit about it, but you know how, like, just racist–anti-black racism is so lazy. So it’s like, you really think that chicken and watermelon are, like, exclusive to black people? Do you know delicious watermelon is? Do you know how delicious chicken–like, do you know how many cultures enjoy chicken? We all love chicken. Mm-mm-mm-mm-mm. So she would not eat watermelon. She would not eat bananas. Bananas are–you know, they’re a lot of sugar, so if you’re watching your weight and you’re trying to, you know, kind of cut down on your calories, I can understand–
Brittani: Yeah, the carbs and everything. Yeah, I get it, but, you know, from that to, you know, purposely not listening to music that she wanted to in her own personal office.
Zach: She had a personal office?
Brittani: Yeah. It was just crazy. Like, do what you want to do. Like, be yourself. And so she would say all of the time, like, “Well, Brittani, you’re gonna listen to this type of music in the office?” Yes. This is my office. You know, I’ve earned my role. I’m just as qualified as the next person, and I’m not gonna feel uncomfortable at work and not do things that are true to myself, but the person next to me is, just because we’re two different skin colors, come from two different backgrounds, and, you know, upbringings. You know, it doesn’t mean that they can do something that I can’t. And so one of the things that I learned is that, you know, when you’re true to yourself, people, they like the real you. They want to know the real you. You don’t have to whiten it to be accepted. So yeah, I highly encourage people in the workplace to not, like, you know, whiten or change who they are just to quote-unquote “fit in,” because, you know, people can recognize bull**** and they know that it’s not the real you anyway.
Zach: That’s right. Now, look, this is a clean podcast, but, you know, I respect you, you know what I’m saying?
Brittani: Oh, I’m sorry.
Zach: No, no, that’s okay, but when you said it I was like–[Metal Gear Solid surprised sfx]–you know what I’m saying? Like, “Okay, wait.” But no, no, you’re absolutely right, people can recognize it, and you just want to be yourself, you know? It’s interesting. We had a conversation on Season 1. It was, like, our first episode, with Fenorris Pearson, who was–he was, like, an executive with Motorola and Dell, and he talked about the fact that he went on this plane ride, right, with, like, this very senior white executive, and he said, “Look, we can tell when y’all are putting on airs, and, like, it’s fake.” Like, “We hate that. It’s annoying. We can see right through it. It’s awkward. It’s clearly not authentic,” right? Now, I don’t want to shame anybody, because we’ve been classically–we’ve been conditioned to put on coverings and participate in respectability politics as a means of survival, so I’m not shaming anybody for doing those things, but at the same time–not but, and we also live in a time when, look, you have a voice. Use it and be yourself, right? Like, if you want to listen to Rick Ross, you know what I’m saying, do that. You want to smoke a Black and Mild on your smoke break? Go ahead and do that. Like, nobody’s gonna stop you. Like, it’s okay. It’s all right. Maybe not a Black and Mild. [both laugh] I’m trying to think of the last time I’ve seen somebody smoke a Black and Mild, like, in a work setting.
Brittani: Oh, God. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that. That’s funny.
Zach: Like a ‘rillo. That’d be like, “Ooh, what’s going on?” [both laugh] No, no, no, but anyway, let’s talk a little bit about Mogul Millennial, right? You’ve talked about the fact it’s been going on for three years. What have you been most proud of so far, and what are you looking forward to most in the next, like, six to twelve months?
Brittani: You know, when I think about, like, everything that I’ve experienced in these three years, the thing that I am mostly proud of was getting out of my [?] and realizing that I literally cannot do everything. At my last job, I was–I’ve always been in management roles, so I’m used to being, like, head over something, you know?
Zach: Hold on a second. So wait, wait, wait. You said you’ve always been in management roles?
Zach: Okay, I got you. Keep going.
Brittani: [laughs] Yeah, so when I started, you know, The Mogul Millennial, it was, you know, just, like, a side project in the beginning since I couldn’t dedicate all of my time and resources to it, but yeah, once I decided that I was gonna go full-time with it, I knew that, “Okay, well, Brittani, you can’t, like, grow this company. You can’t, like, really be as profitable as you want to be, and you’re doing everything.” So you’re doing all of the social media. You’re writing all of the blog posts. You’re the one trying to pitch yourself and your company to different brands and partners, so you can’t do it all, or you can but it’s not gonna be really worth anything, or it won’t be as good as it could be and as impactful as it could be. And so I really didn’t want to at the beginning, I decided to put out a post asking for help, and once I did that, like, our traction increased. I felt like the content got better because we just had, you know, more diverse opinions and thoughts from–like, black millennials literally all over the world were contributing, and so I think that’s what I’ve been most proud of, you know, recognizing that I don’t know everything, and that’s fine, ’cause now I have people that help me out day-to-day that are so much more better at certain things and more knowledgeable on certain topics, and I’ve learned a lot as well from those people.
[straight up sfx]
Zach: No, I feel you. Like, it’s tough when, you know, you’re at a point, you’re grinding, and you feel like you’re doing everything, right, like, to the point you’re just at your wit’s end. You’re looking at ’em like [“what more do you want from me?” sfx] You know? It’s just like, “I can’t.” Like, “I have to reach out.” That’s really important. So, you know, you not only used your voice to create your platform, but you used your voice to extend and expand your platform, ’cause you had to actually use your voice to ask for help.
Brittani: Mm-hmm, absolutely. So right now–it was crazy, ’cause when I put out the first post–so since I’m… I have the highest, like, influence on LinkedIn, so, you know, I went to what I know I’m good in. So I put a post on LinkedIn, and literally within the first, like, two weeks, we had over 150 people who were like, “I want to write!” And it was so overwhelming. So between–and remember, I was still working at my 9-to-5. So in-between meetings, like, literally as I was going to, like, meetings, either, like on-site at my job or off-site, or during my lunch break, anything–on the way to the restroom, I was having interviews with these people. ‘Cause some people, you know, I had to–I wanted to be accomodating as well, ’cause I wanted to help, and so yeah, it’s been good. It’s been really good.
Zach: So what does it look like, right, to continue and build out this platform, and–actually, let me take a step back. What did it look like when you actually left your full-time job? Like, what did that conversation look like?
Brittani: So I had actually planned to leave and was really strategic. So I–I think you and I had talked before and I mentioned that I lived in Houston for a short period of time.
Zach: For a little bit of time, yeah.
Brittani: Yeah. So originally I’m from Dallas, and I went to school at PV, which is by Houston. Went to PV, came back to Dallas, and was working at a university that’s, like, north of Dallas in a small–well, not small… well, yeah, small, but it’s [?]. So I was working there at UT Dallas and I remember being approached by my boss’s boss–well, no, my boss’s boss’s boss. So, like, three people above me, to work at the property at the University of Houston, and I denied them, like, three or four times, becausae the pay wasn’t right and I was like, “No, you’re not gonna pay me [?],” and I have to move and uproot my life, and so eventually we negotiated back and forth. I got the rate that I wanted plus more, and we–and so yeah, I specifically took that role because I knew that I wanted to quit within a year so that way I could work on Mogul Millennial full-time, ’cause we were doing really well with the site, and so–so yeah, I literally only took the promotion–well, it was like a lateral promotion, so it was the same role but different duties.
Zach: But you had got that [cha-ching sfx].
Brittani: Exactly, exactly. Making extra money, so I took it knowing that, “Okay, well, I can save money even faster and, you know, quit and be way more financially comfortable.”
Zach: I got you. So you were, like, kind of scheming on the low, but, like, you know, for yourself though.
Brittani: Yeah. I mean, they do it all of the time with us, with [?]. So I had no regrets, no shame. [laughs]
Zach: Oh, no, no. Hey, I’m not shaming you, I’m just chuckling ’cause, you know, you negotiated that deal and you’re in the background, you know, you’re shaking his hand and you’re talking about [“hehehe” sfx, both laugh]
Brittani: Yep. So no, like, I literally stayed, like, long enough as well. So the year was special because, you know, within a year you can really do–if you’re dedicated and persistent you can do some really good damage–well, not damage, but some good improvement.
Zach: No, you said what you said. It’s okay. [both laugh]
Brittani: And then also with the relocation fee, you know, that’s why it’s important that you read everything. I read in the contract for the relocation [?] I was given that you need to stay for a year. So yeah, I left within a year, and then–so it really just looked like, you know, within that time period for me working at the other location in Houston, was to just save and grow my team, and then also focus on, like, upcoming products and plan out different projects that we’re gonna actually be releasing this year, so I’m really excited about that, but it was a lot of hard work. So at my last company I was literally working, like, sometimes, like, 60, 70 hours a week, ’cause I worked in a very busy industry, but at the same time, you know, having a team was really helpful, and then I just worked crazy hours on the weekends, on my lunch breaks, before work, things like that.
Zach: That’s a blessing. It’s a blessing to find folks who are, you know, engaged and willing to support, right? You know, I think we probably need to have you back just around, like, the principles of building a team and getting started, because I think a lot of times, and I’ll say this for podcasting, podcasting is notorious for people, like, starting off really big with a splash and then being done after, like, 2.5 months, because the load of, like, getting content, researching, producing, it can get, like, tiring over time, so, like, a lot of podcasts don’t even last a year, you know what I’m saying? Let alone–
Brittani: It’s a full-time job.
Zach: It’s a full-time job, and so, you know, it’s tough. So that’s incredible. I’m so excited. I’m so thankful that you’ve been able to be on this, on our platform. Now, look, again, Brittani, you’re the first LinkedIn Top Voice that we’ve had on Living Corporate. How does that make you feel?
Brittani: You know what? It makes me feel good, but it won’t be the last. I believe in you guys.
Zach: Ow! Had to do my own Cardi B “ow,” goodness gracious. Thank you so much, I appreciate that. And, you know, I’ve gotta give you a Flex bomb just because you’ve been dropping casual just–[Flex bomb sfx] It’s just ridiculous. Like, it’s just incredible, but, like, I’m just so thankful that you’re able to be here. Before we let you go, any parting words or shout-outs?
Brittani: Yeah. So of course shout-out to my team. My editorial assistant, Alex, she came up with the name Mogul Mob and I love it, so shout-out–
Zach: Oh, The Mogul Mob? Yeah, Mogul Mob be up in that WordPress putting content together like [Cardi B “bratbratbratbrat” sfx] You know what I’m saying? We out here.
Brittani: [laughs] Yeah, so shout-out to them. They are all amazing, even–like, in their own individual lives they do so many great things, from being startup entrepreneurs, small business owners, freelancers, et cetera. Corporate bosses. They are just amazing. But the only other thing that I want to also shout-out or mention is that we gonna be launching our own online course platform through Mogul Millennial. It’s called Mogul Genius, so look out for that. It will be released to a private group of people in October, but after that we’ll be releasing it to the general public, so yeah.
Zach: Look at you. Come on, now. Well, first of all, again, you know what, just shout-out to y’all. I’ve gotta go ahead and drop these air horns right here–[air horns sfx]–for The Mogul Millennial and, you know what, for Brittani Hunter. Thank you so much for being on our show. Y’all, that does it for us on the Living Corporate podcast. Make sure you check us out on Twitter @LivingCorp_Pod, on Instagram @LivingCorporate, and on our website at living-corporate–please say the dash–dot com. Now, look, if you have any questions or any shout-outs you’d like to place on the show, you can contact us through the website or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can just DM us ’cause the DMs are wide open. Now, look, you can check us out online if you just Google Living Corporate. We’re at all of the domains. Brittani, do you know we have every single Living Corporate variation besides Living Corporate dot com?
Brittani: That’s a smart way to go. A lot of people don’t do that. I’m so glad that you do so somebody [can’t?] steal it.
Zach: Thank you. So we’ve got livingcorporate.net, livingcorporate.tv, livingcorporate.org, but we don’t have livingcorporate.com because Australia has livingcorporate.com. They’ve got, like, some apartment renting company out there.
Brittani: Oh, my God.
Zach: I’m saying, right? Now, look, one day though the brand is gonna be brolic enough we’re gonna go and we’re gonna get that domain. I just don’t know when that’s gonna be, but it’s gonna happen. I’m speaking it.
Brittani: They’ll [?] forget to pay their renewal.
Zach: They’ll mess up. Yeah, real talk. Playas mess up, and they’ll mess up too. [both laugh] You know what I’m saying? We’ve talked about Australia a little bit. I’m really trying to be careful ’cause I don’t want to create no international beef, but I very much so do want the domain, so I’m trying to figure out, like, what the best strategy is. Maybe you and I could have a conversation offline about that.
Brittani: Yeah, yeah. I could tell you a story about that.
Zach: [laughs] All right, y’all. Well, look, this has been Zach Nunn, and you’ve been listening to Brittani Hunter, CEO and founder of The Mogul Millennial. Until next time. Peace