Photo by Bruce Hamilton, courtesy of Everette Taylor
Serial entrepreneur and risk taker Everette Taylor is no rookie to the tech and marketing world. At just age 27, Taylor serves as the chief marketing officer of Skurt, an on-demand rental car company. From being the founder of the marketing firm, MilliSense, to power moves with Microsoft, GrowthHackers, Sticker Mule, Qualaroo, and United Way, Taylor has created his own lane. Despite his busy career, Taylor still finds time to give back and speak to aspiring entrepreneurs.
Here, the Richmond, Virginia, native shares his business advice, personal growth, and thoughts on the power of millennials.
We hear the word “millennial” being used today to help leverage brands and ideas. Though we are the future, what is one connotation you wish wasn’t attached to the word millennial?
There’s this idea that millennials are entitled and impatient. Some people in the older generation can’t understand the idea of being talented and capable and wanting to aspire for more in a shorter time span. Some people in the older generation valued putting in the time and working their way up slowly but surely. Essentially wait your turn. I myself have a “why not now?” mentality.
Life is way too short to not shoot your shot. To me, the old way of thinking really didn’t make sense to me when there’s so much more opportunity. Doesn’t mean that we are entitled and impatient, I think millennials are just taking advantage of opportunities that are available now.
You work with large multinationals and small startups. You deal with people and their ideas. What’s one thing you learned from working with others?
Trust is essential. Whether it’s a small startup or a large, billion-dollar organization, being able to delegate and humble yourself enough to trust people is extremely important because you can’t do everything yourself.
Trying to do too much or not trusting people with more expertise, can be detrimental to any organization you’re a part of. Recognizing talent, trusting that talent and maximizing it to the best of their abilities allows for successful growth and even more importantly, healthy culture in a company.
Your industry is tough. Some may argue that it’s probably even tougher for someone who’s a young Black male. How do you beat the odds?
I don’t want to say I beat the odds, there’s so much of my story that hasn’t been written yet and there’s still much further I want to push. I feel like I get that pat on the back like “you’ve done really good to be a Black guy.”
I’m shooting for the Mark Zuckerbergs and Elon Musks of the world. I know that sounds crazy to most people but we have to shoot for the stars. You can’t have a sense of contentment, the moment you get comfortable is the moment you can get caught slipping. To try to beat the odds, you have to always be on and understand that you have to work that much harder. You have to be a voracious learner and be mentally strong enough to deal with the ups and downs. You have to be relentless no matter what happens. When you find some level of success and gain some knowledge, make sure to pass that on to others and try to help other people. And if you think it’s hard for a black man in the tech industry, imagine what it feels like to be a black woman.
I read in an article you did with Inc.com, that you were homeless at the age of 17 and lived out of your car before becoming the marketing maven you’re known as today. How did that experience help you in business?
It taught me empathy on a completely different level. I think some entrepreneurs and marketing executives sit in an ivory tower where they can’t relate to the everyday person. I see it a lot in Silicon Valley where people are in a bubble and can’t empathize with people that are different than them nor understand them. Being homeless just gave me a new perspective on people, allowed me to see the best and worst of people.
It also has made me extremely grateful to be in the position that I am today and has been a driving force in keeping me motivated. It’s a constant reminder of how far I have come.
Everything today is instant. How do social platforms play a role in your brand?
Everything is instant but I make sure to do things at my own pace. I don’t feel the need to post constantly or put myself out there. Building companies is my No. 1 priority when it comes to my career and brand. I think building and growing products that change the world is all the branding you really need, it speaks for itself.
With that being said, I do genuinely enjoy social media. Twitter, for instance, gives me a platform to speak out on the things I believe in, whether they are tech related or not. I use Instagram as almost a social resume. I don’t really post frivolous things, I use it as a showcase everything I have going in my career and a way to update those that support me.
I’ll post on Snapchat, Instagram Stories, and Facebook from time to time but not often. I utilize social platforms more so to grow my businesses. There’s so many positive things that can from building an engaging audience on social media which is what inspired my company GrowthPup because I saw that a lot of people were struggling with growing an authentic social media audience.
I put more energy into how I can utilize social platforms to hack growth for my company.
You have a strong social media following. What’s your favorite social media app and why?
My favorite hands down is Twitter and it’s because it has been so impactful in my life. It’s the first social network where I was able to build a strong following and audience which has been able to shift over to other platforms. Its where I stay up to date on what’s going on in the world which is extremely important to a marketer to stay culturally relevant.
I love that it’s a platform that people are appreciated more so for what they have to say then what they look like. That’s no knock on Instagram, it’s just more my style.
What are three quick entrepreneurial tips every millennial (particularly those in their 20’ where everything is up in the air) needs to know now?
- Optimize your time. In your 20s there [are] a lot of people and distractions that will try to suck your time away. This is the time that could be spent learning new skills or making progress for the business you’re trying to create. Have to manage your time better and make certain sacrifices for the long run.
- Humble yourself. As a kid and even through early adulthood, people can have this sense of self-importance. As if the world revolves around us and we’re just meant for greatness. It takes humility to understand that you’re not much different than anyone else and it’s the smallest of intangibles that can separate you from being successful and the best at what you do.
- Make sure that anything you’re building has product/market fit. It’s easy to think your idea is awesome but is it something people truly want or need. Take a step back and remember that you can do the best marketing in the world but if your product/service is mediocre or not something the people want, it’s a good chance that you will fail.
When you’re not being a marketing guru, what’s one thing you do to unwind and recharge?
I love going to comedy shows. Truly believe laughter is good for the soul, I used to go to a comedy club at least once a week and if not I’m watching some of my favorite stand-up specials at home. I’m rather introverted but I’m a big goof ball once I’m comfortable, love to laugh.
If you could tell your 17-year-old-self anything today, what would it be?
You know I was listening to the new Childish Gambino album and he has this record on there called “Stand Tall” and I wish I could’ve played that for myself back then.
“How this used to feel so far and free, now these broken souls are all I see. Fists have fallen to our side …”
Even though I didn’t grow up with much, I was still naive to what real struggle meant. Being homeless showed me a different side of the word, lot of depression and despair. Just an overall lack of hope.
But the lyrics on the hook is something I would’ve told myself. There will be a better day soon enough.
“Keep all your dreams, keep standing tall. If you are strong, you cannot fall. There is a voice inside of us all, so smile when you can …”