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Show 029

Building a Social Enterprise with Scot Tatelman

On this week’s episode of Taste For Tenacity, we hear from Scot Tatelman. Scot is the founder of State Bags, a social enterprise that focuses on helping American families in ways they actually need. He started the #WhatDoWeTellTheKids campaign to build empathy around challenging social issues. Scot shares what it’s like to build a social enterprise and how important it is to provide assistance in ways that actually help.

Transcription

0:00  

This is Taste For Tenacity Show number 29!

What is going on everybody? My name is Ben Trela and this is Taste For Tenacity. This week on the show we chat with Scot Tatelman. Scot is a social entrepreneur and has made it his life’s work to balance profitable business ventures with making the world a better place. He first kicked off in 2005, where he collaborated with the Mark Wahlberg Foundation, and the Boys and Girls Club to create Camp Northbound, which is a residential camp for kids growing up in inner city, Boston. Following its success, he wanted to do something similar in New York City. And he created Camp Power, now in 10 years this volunteer-based nonprofit organization has provided life-changing experiences, positive role models and scholarships, college scholarships to thousands of kids.

After seeing that Camp Power kids were carrying their belongings in ripped garbage bags. He and his wife founded State Bags, which is a Brooklyn-born bag brand, lot of alliteration there, that uses the power of business to give back and support American children and families in need. He is a graduate of UVM and a Boston native and he currently resides in Brooklyn with his wife and two kids and a dog named Pokey. Scot, welcome to the show!

1:33  

A nice job that was long-winded. I’m sorry.

1:36  

Long winded but we made it through. So, I have to ask the most important question first. What kind of dog is Pokey?

1:44  

Pokey is actually one of the OG doodles. I got her when she’s 14. She’s a gold noodle. And it was kind of before the whole craze took place. And so she still looks like she’s two which is great. Yeah, now you see doodles all over the place. And I like to think that, you know, Pokey was one of the first..

2:06  

Kind of a hipster doodle on that front. Alright, so let’s start by kind of winding the clock back. Now, it says here you went to UVM where you always planning to go the college route, or was that something that sort of came up and you decided to go with it?

2:26  

Yeah, you know, my sister went to college and because my parents both went to college, it was kind of just a natural progression, where I grew up, and I was fortunate enough to be able to. I worked really hard in high school. I didn’t get the best grades, but I always worked very hard. Took me a long time to study and to write and all that stuff. But you know, I was excited about going to UVM because it was far enough from home but not too far. So it was like annoying enough to get in the car to go home. But it’s also possible. Yeah. I love the idea of being in Burlington, Vermont, which is just a beautiful, beautiful town on Lake Champlain right in the mountains. And, it was a move. I don’t know if I would do it totally over again, to be honest, but I met some great friends and had a great time. 

3:21  

Gotcha! So, it was always sort of a standard path for you when you started in school. What were you majoring in? Did you have a major and did you switch it all during your time at UVM?

3:32  

I chose to major in Sociology, which actually at the time, I didn’t totally know what that meant and where that would get me. I also had a minor in Marketing and the truth is, is looking back on it, that was the perfect major and minor for me, because that’s basically what I do every single day of my life is some sort of sociological kind of work and I do a lot of, I help with a lot of the marketing at State Bags. It was definitely a process for me of like I did not go into school with the intention of majoring or minor in certain things I kind of had to like really feel it out and test it out and kind of like land on something in sophomore year. And I went with it and you know, I think it was the right choice, actually. 

4:23 

Okay, now did you work when you’re in school or were you solely a student? 

4:27  

I did a lot of volunteer work. I always loved working with kids. That’s kind of been my passion, my wheelhouse forever. So, I was a big brother, like part of the Big Brother Big Sister program and I used to hang out with a kid who was just living locally, take him to movies and just kind of play sports with them and stuff like that. I ended up taking up this whole family, like packing in like 12 kids into a car a lot of times. I probably shouldn’t say on a podcast, it’s illegal and kids like hanging out the window, but, yeah, you know, I worked in the summer, I worked at a summer camp in Maine throughout college and then that carried over into after college as well. 

5:19  

Gotcha! Okay, so now throughout school, you’re in Social Work with a minor in Marketing. Was it, what you were sort of expecting out of that major minor combo? What was your time in school like?

5:32  

Honestly, really long time ago, unfortunately.

5:35  

Fair enough. 

5:37

I remember, I do remember studying a lot. When I was in, I want to say second or third grade I was diagnosed with a learning disability. And that meant that I just had to work a lot harder than a lot of my peers so I had on time testing, throughout Middle School and High School and College. And that just meant, like, for me to read two chapters meant I would have to start like really early in the day, and probably going too deep at night and a lot of highlighting a lot of note taking in class.

You know, my sister and I were always really, she has a learning disability too. We always really hard workers, because we knew that things weren’t just going to be handed to us. We had, we went to school with a lot of kids who would literally just like show up to tests and ace them and pass, that was never possible for us. We always have to put the work in and so in a lot of ways, I think about it now, just like, you know, as tough as it was to kind of have to deal with that adversity. It gave me a sense of work ethic and understanding what it means to like, really dive into something and to put the work in so that the results is what you want it to be.

7:04  

Yeah, so you definitely were trained in a strong work ethic from early on.

7:09  

Yeah, no one was pushing us like my parents were pretty laid back about grades. No one was like on us about having perfect grade point average in SAT’s and stuff like that. Our parents obviously want us to do well, but they hated the fact that we put so much pressure on ourselves, which is so interesting that we just kind of we’re those types of people. But again, we watched, you know, our dad work really hard, and I guess it just is kind of a natural thing for us.

7:39  

Gotcha! Okay, so now, school is winding down. What did you do after graduation? What was it like kind of trying to figure out that fun question of what do you want to do with your life? 

7:51 

Oh, my God! I figured out what I wanted to do in my life like just a couple of years ago. But, everybody in our class was heading to California. Everybody wanted to live in San Diego, Santa Barbara, like do the whole California thing because when you go to school at UVM, not only are you like frosted at the end of the experience but you go to school with skiers and you know then that leads to wanting to serve and all the sports so a lot of our friends went to California and my friend and I were like, you know what, let’s not follow the pack. Let’s go even further. So, we decided that we were going to live in Hawaii and we lived in Hawaii for like six months. Yeah, like four to six months. Been there in a while for a couple of months and ended up working at a YMCA after school program for kids and just kind of living the life in Hawaii. It was pretty interesting! Also, feels like it was decades ago which it was. 

8:57 

Yeah. So, now you’re in Hawaii living it up and I also think it’s kind of funny you, rather than just kind of sticking with the crowd, you took it to an even more of an extreme which I get growing up in Michigan I get wanting to be away from the cold for a little while.

9:17  

Yeah, I was never a cold guy, I actually wasn’t even a skier, it’s just the whole idea of being in in a like Arctic Tundra for me. So, we wanted to kind of thought out and it was a pretty cool experience. 

9:35  

Yeah, you picked a hell of a place to do it. So, now, you’re out there working with the YMCA. Were you always sort of inclined to work and help kids or was that experience? I know you said you did a lot of volunteer work. What was it like in your first like paid experience working with kids?

9:57  

Well, this wasn’t my first paid experience. I have actually been working at a summer camp as a camp counselor for years. I kind of wanted to like, when we were out there, we really didn’t have a plan. We knew we thought about bartending, but like it was kind of hard to get those jobs. I had never even bartending before. And I’m like, not really a drinker. So I was like, not the right guy for that. I was like, I’m just going to do what I do, which is like, work with kids. And I ended up at this after school program. And this was like, I want to say the first taste for me of experiencing what it felt like to be kind of the minority in the group. The feelings that local Hawaiians have for mainlanders, I guess you could call them is interesting. Like, it’s not a really hunky-dory relationship. There’s a lot of tension and there’s a lot of wanna say weirdness, but it’s like, it’s definitely palpable, and I was, to be totally honest, I think the only white staff member on the team. And a lot of parents and even fellow staff members were very questionable of me and like, what my motives were and like,  if I had any hidden agenda or anything to be doing this, and I just showed up every day, and ended up being the favorite, like all the kids wanted to be in my group, and I was always playing football and basketball and all types of sports with them. And over time, I just had to prove that like, you know, I was who I was, and I just really enjoyed working with kids. And I also really enjoyed learning about the culture of these kids and these families.

But the first couple weeks were really eye opening, like, I remember a couple times like we would do pick up and you know, parents would come and pick their kids up and I would try to engage with some of the parents and I wouldn’t really get much and not even look in the eye. And I kind of had to understand, like, kind of winning people over with just authenticity. And it was a really good experience for me because I always felt like I could work with any group of kids and any parent would kind of fall in love with me, because if their kids like me, then the parents like me, which is kind of how it always went. That wasn’t really the case. So I had to, like, kind of reinvent myself in some ways and challenge myself. And it was probably one of the best experiences for me just as a child development.

12:43  

Yeah, it was. It was a totally different set of circumstances to work in where before, like you said, you get the parent, you get the kids, you get the parents, but now you’re coming into a totally new environment that you’re to an extent kind of the odd man out.

12:59  

Yeah. And I think that’s where a lot of my learning came on like, I’m almost paranoid every day of being tone deaf. Like, when I do the work that I do here at state and I talked to organizations and communities and nonprofit directors about the vision that I have, initiative or whatever, the first thing I do is listen. Because the last thing I want to come off as is this guy who’s got all the answers and like, I know what you’re going through, you don’t need to tell me about your struggles. I’ve read about them in the newspaper. Like, that’s not how I approach things. And I think I learned that in Hawaii because I just sensed that there was some tension and I understood it to a degree but I had to kind of listen and process and observe to understand it even more. Because again, the last thing I wanted to do is come off as like some guy who, they thought was one way and ended up being that way. And that’s like, that’s not how I operate. 

14:07  

Yeah, you want it to be truly cognizant and truly sensitive and understanding to the environment that you’re in. 

14:15  

Yeah, I think authenticity is everything. And I think that was a good lesson learned there. 

14:20  

Yeah, for sure. So now you’re spending time at at the Y. How long were you there? And then what did you move into next?

14:28 

I was there probably for like, four or five hours a day like kids get out of school and then they’d hang out from like two to six o’clock or seven o’clock and just, you know, controlled chaos, which is kind of counselor that’s kind of what you’re used to. And then we ended up, I think the program ended or school year went into break or something and then we moved to Maui. And I didn’t do much there, to be honest with you. There was a lot of hanging around, there was a lot of trying to serve. Just kind of like meeting new people. We ended up meeting a girl there and like, had a girlfriend for a while, which was kind of unexpected. And obviously that didn’t work out because I started a business with my wife here. And I don’t think this is that type of podcast, right? Like, tell us about your past flings in Hawaii. 

15:24

Yeah. Typically not the the subject matter.

15:29  

But Maui was great. My roommate and  I moved out there with applying to medical school. I actually ended up spending a lot of time by myself, which was like, cool, but then I was like, I gotta get out of here. I didn’t know that many people. And so I ended up moving back to Boston in 2003. 

15:57

Okay, so you move back to Boston. What did you work on while you were there? Did you come back and have a job lined up? Or did you just sort of figure it out along the way?

16:06  

I ended up working at Reebok which has their corporate HQ there, outside of Boston. I was in the entertainment marketing division. So I was working on like, at the time Jay Z, Shakira all had their own shoe line and Caroline and stuff like that. And I was on the team that would basically just supply them with whatever they needed. Yeah. Which sounds a lot cooler on paper than it actually was. I was kind of like, you know, the gofer, literally getting on planes to New York to like, drop off of a bag of shoes and then getting right back on a plane and like, it was interesting to understand the corporate culture and to understand what it’s like to like, be on the bottom of the totem pole and kind of like, you know, hustle and work your way around. And so I did that for about a year. And then I ended up going back to summer camp. So, I started working full time for a camp in Maine. And that was based in Boston during the offseason. I did that with my sister, which was a dream. And we worked together for like seven years and I did all the recruiting of kids and staff and marketing. And I was the boys head counselor during the summertime. So, kind of like a full time role that blended into a camp counselor job in the summer.

17:40  

So, then what were you working on, you know, sort of in that full time role?

17:47  

My sister and I and some others in the office were really spearheading recruiting new families, managing the relationships of the existing families. So, a lot of traveling. Just like check in with families and like, you know, meet with them about the previous summer and talk about the next summer staff so every camp is only as good as its staff. So we had to recruit the right staff, curate the right staff, and then a lot of marketing so, you know, how do your families find out about you? And you know, this began, this was before social media. So, there was no like Facebook ads and Instagram ads and stuff. So, I was using, taking out print ads, and, you know, newspapers and Google ads and stuff like that. So, that was the beginning of the marketing world for me a little bit. 

18:46 

Gotcha! So, now you’re able to sort of flex the muscles and use the skills you had learned with that marketing minor.

18:53  

Yeah, and you can, when you can speak to it on such a personal level, like I was running the boys area. It was, like, you know, 150 kids or so and like 75 staff, so 250 something around that. And so, you know, when I would recruit staff and recruit new families and take out, you know, ads, I could talk to it from like such a personal level, because I watched how powerful summer camp was for kids. And I can really speak to it on a level that not, you know, an ad agency couldn’t do.

19:32  

Yeah, you had that firsthand experience and exposure to the benefits that these kids would start seeing by having that sort of experience. 

19:40  

Yeah.

19:41  

Awesome! So, then, now in in 2005, we see here that you collaborated with the Mark Wahlberg Foundation and the Boys and Girls Club to create a new camp. Did you know you had wanted to create a new camp or did they approach you? How did that come up?

19:59  

I just remember one summer after all of our kids left, just walking around this like empty camp where the grass was still green, the weather was still beautiful. It was late August, and the facilities looked incredible. And I was like, thinking about the gift that Camp had given me and how it had impacted me as a human being. And kind of just like thinking about how there’s so many kids out there that never would have that gift and opportunity. And just kind of like wheels started turning and I had a relationship or connection to Walberg family. I pitched Jim who’s Mark’s brother that runs his foundation on the idea of opening up our camp to 150 kids from Dorchester and Roxbury.

And he loved it. It was like a no-brainer. This was probably in like September, October, and then we spent the majority of the year putting things in place so 2005 camp ended for you know, the full time kids. And then like three days later, 150 kids from Boston’s underfunded neighborhoods came in with staff and all that from Boys and Girls Club and it was like, it hit me like a bag of bricks. I was like, Oh my god, this is what I want to do. Like, I love working with all kids, but I really, really, really love being the one that can help put these types of experiences and moments together for kids who otherwise never would have had it. 

21:42  

Yeah. And it’s creating a new opportunity for those tasks that might not have had it to begin with or ever would have thought that it could have been a good fit for him. Yeah, I mean, we just watched kids, you know, rolling in the grass and you know about trying to get up on water skis and climbing a rock wall. And I was like, this is unbelievable. Like, this is life changing just the experience of like falling asleep. You hear in the background Broadway of New York City and like, kids growing up in the city just hear noise all night and sirens all night and they don’t get to see the stars they don’t get to hear with peace and quiet here feels like and what the trees smell like and just all these little things and we just watched it happened during the week and it kind of like, it hit me hard. And it caught me in a way that just like, changed my life instantly. And then the the course of my life changed drastically after that. 

22:45

So then what did you pivot to and what was your next move from there?

22:50  

So, Camp Northbound got off the ground and was a great success. It’s still going on and it’s I think 15 summer this year, upcoming summer and I moved to New York just to kind of like, try things out. And, you know, see what else I could do. I started working for a nonprofit organization that took me to like every underfunded community across the city. And that opened my eyes to the need here in New York. And, you know, I started thinking, I should just adapt the model of Camp Northbound to kids here in this city. You know, I had this kind of template. And, you know, I needed to figure it out. And so I told my bosses at the non-profit that I was going to pursue this and they thought I was nuts in it, and I left that job in March and Camp Power was launched in April of 2009. That like four months, five months after. So, yeah, I mean, it took a lot of work. I had to find the right organization to partner with, to find the right community to serve, I had to find the money. I had to find the camp. And we did all that. And you know, now we’re going into our 12th summer and serve thousands of kids across the city. And you know, it’s been equally life-changing for me as it has been for the kids. 

24:26  

Yeah. And I’m kind of curious, what are some of I guess the perspective shifts or the payoff and the experiences that you’ve seen these kids have? Like, how have you seen it impact their growth and in their lives? 

24:42  

Yeah. I mean, you hear about it? Well, first of all, the goal has always been to watch campers turn into counselors, like, that’s the ultimate achievement is if you can, you know, bring kids into the camp who never thought of going to camp and then they climb the ladder all the way to being from a camper to a counselor in training to a junior counselor to a counselor, and all of a sudden the roles flip. So, they watched all of these counselors role modeling for them. And now they’re role modeling for the next generation. And I’ve watched that happened for kids that I’ve, you know, they started coming to camp at 10 years old and are now group leaders, and they’re running, you know, walking around with 10 year olds. And it’s  wild. I mean, I guess it’s just part of getting older. But it’s also the beauty of camp. I’m such a believer in role models. And, you know, I think a simple role model can change your life. And we’ve just really worked very hard to provide not only experiences that hopefully change kids lives, but the people who can do that as well. And being very mindful about who those people are. So, you know, the staff are comprised of a very eclectic group. So, it’s people like me who didn’t grow up in the inner city, but are running a business and have a family and live in Brooklyn. And then there’s a bunch of volunteers who are chefs and who are real estate brokers, and all types of all types of, all walks of life. And then there’s other parts of staff that work in these communities day in and day out, have grown up in these communities have successfully risen from these communities and can talk about those experiences of being a kid, living in East New York or Brownsville or Red Oak or Bed Stuy and the parts of the Bronx and so if you kind of combine all those people it creates for a very powerful experience for kids and for staff to where everybody’s just being inspired by each other and is feeling like there is hope and belief in each other. And that’s what’s happened. 

27:07  

So, you launch Camp Power, you’re spending all this time you spent, what, four months to get all those pieces in place. That is awesome! That’s an impressive timeline in and of itself. And so, now, you have kids and you’re building this incredible camp. But then you start to notice what these kids are carrying. And could you kind of walk us through what was going through your head throughout that time? 

27:32  

Yeah, so we do a lot of things with the kids throughout the school year. We take them, we have a Thanksgiving feast in Brooklyn for everybody, we take them over to Brooklyn Bowl for reunion event, we take them to ice skating Prospect Park, we take them to Boston or Philadelphia for our scholarship award winners trip and there’s a trip that happened like two or three summers into Camp hours existence and we’re rushing to the train to try and get the kids back to the city after a weekend in Boston. And a couple kids were like run into to get to the train, we’re all hustling and their bag just popped open and everything that they brought for the weekend just sprayed out all over the sidewalk. And it was like a Duane Reed shopping bag. And, you know, for a weekend trip, and we were like scrambling and we happen to have these like old backpacks in our car, actually. And we just like, shoved all of this stuff into the bag and just like put them on the train and like, open our eyes to something and then we started kind of looking for it. And then the following summer we noticed that a couple kids were coming to camp with their belongings and trash bags or rip shopping bags, and we were like, you know, all these companies are doing great work for kids overseas, but not a lot of we’re focusing on kids here locally. So, we want to, if you take the one for one model and adapted to kids here in the US. So, to do so in the way of you know that we do with camp hour sort of bring the energy and the spirit of role modeling and the experiences into the experience of the donation. So it wasn’t just like, we weren’t just another company that was just like handing stuff out. Like that was never interesting to me. And that yeah, that wasn’t a life-changing. So, we launched the company State Bags in 2013 with as a one for one, which we’ve recently shifted away from to make an even bigger impact. But yeah, that was the intention behind it. The backstory.

29:43 

So, what was it like, kind of putting together this business idea because you’re coming from a traditional marketing and social work background, you’ve worked with kids your whole life, up till that point. What did you notice was different about building business compared to all of the other experiences that you’d have.

30:05  

Well, it was very different. I mean, we had never, Jacqueline and I have never started a for-profit company before. Jacq’s background in fashion is extensive. She’s basically been in the industry since she was a baby walking around her mom’s clothing boutique, like in high heels in a diaper. But like, we really didn’t know what to do. What our best thought was to surround ourselves with smart people who could guide us in putting together this plan, business plan, marketing plan, financial plan, all types of stuff and kind of show us the way.

We learned pretty quickly that, you know, as passionate as we were about our mission, the public doesn’t really share that passion as much. And so, we had to kind of pivot when we launched, we were very heavy on the mission. And it was, you know about our backdrop events and imagery around those and but if the product isn’t winning people over then nobody’s going to buy anything, which means we can’t give anything which means water. So, about a year and we had to completely rebrand, changed our logo, and change our website and kind of like, restructured the whole thing. And that was the beginning of having to pivot basically every day of our lives because it’s an endless pivot in running a business, but it’s been super exciting and, you know, terrifying and daunting and exhilarating, and all the things. 

31:47  

Yeah, so So you said recently, you’ve moved away from that traditional one for one model. What really caused that shift if you can talk about it, in how are you structuring things now? 

31:59  

Yeah. So, as of January 1st 2019, we are for every bag sold, we support American kids and families and communities in need, but in the ways they need it most. And the reason we shifted away from the one for one was that I did a big initiative in Flint, Michigan two summers ago for back to school where we donated 10,000 bags. And we did a big backdrop event in the community during back to school and we highlighted the city’s unsung heroes through What Do We Tell The Kids Project? And I was laying out the vision for this initiative to an educator in Flint. And she responded basically saying this all sounds great, but what we really need is for people to know that our water is still poisoned. And I was kind of like, you know, this was a moment where like humility is, lead is then mixed with authenticity were like we had to realize that what we were doing, we could be really proud of we had done a lot of good, we’ve donated hundreds of thousands of bags and all that stuff. But we could be a lot better be listening to our partners much more intently and giving them what they need. So when we come to them, we wouldn’t just say, hey, we can donate a bunch of bags, and we can do a backdrop and we can do this, we can do that. But now we can support them with funds that we’ve been able to raise through like portion of proceeds, we can use the resources to do an interesting what do we tell the kids project that, you know, beautifully tells the stories that need to be told there that often are overlooked. Or, if it’s bags, and we can do that, too. So, it provides us flexibility to work with our partners in the ways they need it most. 

33:50  

And that’s interesting too, because it kind of reminds me and harkens back a little to your experience in Hawaii because you know, you could come in and say, oh, yeah, I have all the answers. We know exactly how we have to do this. But, instead, you’re doing it now with an approach of what do you need the most you’re doing it from from an understanding perspective?

34:13  

Yeah, I mean, I think if there’s anything the world is lacking right now, it’s empathy. And it’s an understanding of what people are feeling and needing, and I am never one to sit back and say, I have all the answers like I need to today in and to talk to people and to, you know, understand what those answers are before we can make a move to help.

So yeah, like I just, I love the fact that we’re now a business that listens first before acting. I think, there’s a lot of great businesses doing really genuine work out there. But I think there just needs to be a little bit more listening and attention to the needs of those that you know, missions were built to serve. 

35:01  

Definitely. And now you mentioned and I wanted to circle back to this, What Do We Tell The Kids Platform? Where did that come from? And what’s it about?

35:11  

You know, in summer of 2016, at Camp Hour it, was a really tough summer around police brutality. It was the summer after Trayvon and Tamir Rice. And it was there where protests happening all across Baltimore, and all across the country. And there was a lot of talk about Black Lives Matter. And their kids were asking questions like, do I matter? And why don’t I matter? And I was watching these trained educators and child wellness specialist teachers, social workers, like literally fumbling on their words. They didn’t know how to answer these questions. And I just felt like that that was something that needed to be shared, like this idea of like, what do you tell the kids like, if you can’t explain something, then, why is it happening? Like, if it’s impossible to explain to kids then it shouldn’t be? It exists. So we launched our first Where We Tell The Kids Project around Black Lives Matter. And we interviewed educators in these communities who are having these struggling conversations. We put it on our Instagram, we sent an email, it was kind of a risky move for a business that is looking to gain followers as opposed to lose followers. But, you know, we’ve always said that we’re not a company that’s just going to sell stuff. I’m not interested in making a zillion dollars, like I want to stand on the right side of history. And I want to have a platform and I want to have a voice and if if we can be that voice to people who are marginalized, not feeling heard, and we can do it authentically, then, I know that my kids can be proud of me and the communities that we serve can feel like they can believe in us and and so since then we’ve done projects around LGBTQ issues and people with disabilities and mass incarceration in Flint water crisis, Colin Kaepernick, like just a lot of different polarizing tough issues. And, just with the focus of sharing stories and shedding light.

37:25  

Definitely. So, as a way of sort of bringing everything into reality and bringing things back down to earth to see the real world impacts of what’s happening. Love it. So, let’s kind of gear up and shift into the second portion of our show here, which focuses on understanding what you’ve learned from your experiences. So, what are some of the key takeaways from your career and projects so far?

 37:57  

I would say that sense of leading with authenticity. That humbleness, I think, has been able to be really positive for us because we’re able to tell authentic stories, and we’re able to do so in a way where our customers realize that we’re not trying to create some facade that we like are secretly trying to sell something. When we do these things, there’s types of projects, there’s no mention of product or even like really brand stuff, it’s more just about like, we just want to do something right and use the resources that we have to do so. So that’s been really positive for us because like it’s enabled us to partner with some really big names and I think we wouldn’t have been able to it. People saw us as being disingenuous and like phony. People want to work with real people and and that’s shown. 

39:12  

Definitely. Now, what piece of advice would you give to your 20 year old self?

 39:19  

Man, I would say, it’s okay to embrace what you’re really good at and to let go of the things that you’re trying to be good at. I tell a story a lot of times of like,  my grandpa had one grandson amongst many girls and I was him and he saw he called me Tiger. And I tried to live up to that persona of like being this like macho, like, especially in the business world. Not really personally but more so like this wheeling dealing businessman and I never was that.  My dad was also really smart marketing mind and I tried to live up to that. And so, you know, I think for the majority of my early career I was trying to pave my own path, while at the same time trying to be somebody I wasn’t. And now, what I do at State is exactly what I was put on this earth to do, which is, support people and  who could use help and to use our platform to do so. And I’m like, I’m okay with letting go of the idea of not being like the CEO. 

40:42  

So yeah, sometimes you gotta let someone else be a tiger.

40:47  

Yeah, for sure. And that’s, it’s been okay for me.

 40:52  

Now, what is one book or resource that has helped you along in your journey?

 40:59  

I talk about this book all the time. It wasn’t like one of those like NBA books like how to start a business like, but it was super on point and inspiring for me. It was called The Short And Tragic Life of Robert Peace, about this guy who grew up in Newark, the inner cities of Newark, and ended up going to Yale. And like, just an incredible human being, but also like, speaks to not only the struggles of those communities, but more so like the love and the community and the togetherness that I see a lot in these communities. And I don’t think gets enough ,gets talked about enough. I think people always want to talk about the dark side and the struggles and the violence and the you know, hopelessness and all that and it’s like, I think there’s there’s a lot obviously that needs to be talked about in those communities in that respect, but there’s also so much love and hope and like just a feeling of like, this is our neighborhood and there’s so much pride and that book really shed light on that. I loved it so much.

 42:15  

Awesome! And now Scott, where can people learn more about you and State Bags too, because that’s pretty cool project.

 42:24 

Yeah, we’re just in StateBags.com. Just launched our new holiday collection, which is pretty cool. Which is supporting an organization that is trying to end the stigma around mental health. So we’re trying to use our resources to help them and you can also check out Camp Hour.org. We’re always looking for good volunteers. 

 42:49  

Love it! Well, Scott is one of the founders of State Bags. He’s a social entrepreneur and has dedicated his life to balancing business ventures with making the world a better place. And we can see that throughout his story, Scot, it’s been a pleasure chatting with you. 

 43:08  

Thanks for having me, man. Appreciate it!

43:12  

And that does it for our show with Scot Tatelman, one of the founders of State Bags. Now, Scot is a really great example of social entrepreneurship. It’s building a business with the inherent mission to do good in the world. And that’s really what he’s aim to do is to blend building strong, successful businesses with doing good things in the world and doing good work in the world. We saw that through him working with the Boys and Girls Club with the YMCA. Throughout his story, he really showed how you can bring together both business and personal interest in doing the right thing. And so Scot’s a really great example much like Dorothy was, a few shows back of people who are doing in creating with the intention of building something strong for others and having a positive impact, he also highlights how important it is to understand the local community that you’re working with, and not assume that you can fly in and have all the answers. He takes an approach in all of his work of understanding and empathy. He takes a step into a new community, and really evaluates what’s actually going on. He gets to know the people, he gets to know the locals, gets to know the people he’s actually trying to help so that he can really bring them what they need. A lot of times we move to a new place in southern, we suddenly claim more from there. But instead of that, and really just taking that ownership and assuming we have all the right answers, Scot advocates for getting to know the local culture and community and the environment that you’re actually operating in to identify what needs you can help fill. That’s  it for this week’s show from Taste For Tenacity Show number 29.

45:00  

This is Ben Trela. Thanks for listening!

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