Search
  • Francisco Mahfuz

E22. From Son of a Pimp and an Orphan to Successful CEO with JeVon "JT" McCormick



Below is an AI-generated transcript and therefore it may contain errors.


Francisco Mahfuz 0:00

Hi everyone, Francisco here. Just before we get started, I wanted to share something I'm really excited about. I recently launched the story powers bootcamp, a course that teaches you everything you need to know about how to find craft and tell stories that work. But it's not just an online course, because you get personalised feedback from me for all the practical activities in three hours of life coaching to work through any challenges, or focus on specific projects. So it's like if you bought a cookbook, but the chef came along with it. So go to story powers.com and click on Course, all the information you need will be there. So please check it out. And if you love the show, and would like to support us, you can go to buy me a coffee.com forward slash story powers. I drink about five coffees a day, so any support would be much appreciated. All right on with the show.


Welcome to the story powers podcast, the show about the power of stories, the people who tell them and why you should be doing it too. I'm your host, keynote speaker and storytelling coach Francisco mahfuz. My guest today is Jeevan JT McCormick Jayvon shouldn't have succeeded. He was born in a mixed race son of a drug kingpin father and an orphan single mother on welfare. He was raised in the slums of Dayton, Ohio, several incredible abuse and racism and had multiple stints in the juvenile justice system. He barely graduated high school and has no college degree. But none of that stopped him becoming the president of two multimillion dollar companies. Currently, Javan is the president and CEO of scribe media. Ladies and gentlemen, the Alexander Hamilton of modern corporate America


I'm never gonna get this out Welcome to the Shawn


Jevon "JT" McCormick 1:59

Cisco that was a man I have had God knows you. You said beginning I mean, I've been on so many podcasts in I have never been introduced me like that. That's next level. Right. They're incredibly humbled.


Francisco Mahfuz 2:15

I've been obsessed with, with Hamilton as most of America has. And then you know, he recently came out on Disney plus of watch it again. And every time I went through your, your bio, I kept getting this the song in my head in a song when, you know, how does the son of a pimp in an orphan with the name of a Scotsman living impoverished and scholar grew up to be a corporate hero and leadership scholar


Jevon "JT" McCormick 2:40

had a you know, a lot of belief in hard work. That's how.


Francisco Mahfuz 2:48

Yeah, so. So one thing I wanted to do a little differently, because as we said, a couple of times already, you've done quite a lot of podcasts. And, you know, you you wrote, you have a very powerful personal story, you wrote a book called I got there, which, which is all about your personal story. And for anyone who wants to know, all of the details of that story, there's no shortage of places to go to. So I wanted to talk, obviously, we're going to talk about that. But what I wanted to avoid doing this time around is have you repeat most of those things. Again, I can point people to the places where they can find that. And the very first thing I wanted to ask you is obviously the the main facts of that story are very strong. You know, we we say it and I know you said it with humour before but you know, your father was a drug dealing Pimp Your mother was was an orphan. So how do you go from that, in make those things as they call in storytelling terms, things signed the inciting incidents in your story, but not your whole story? How does that get you started, but not define everything you're about?


Jevon "JT" McCormick 3:59

You know, Francisco, I live by a formula and you may have heard this or seen me write this before. It's mindset choices in hard work equals success in I'll go through each one of those. So mindset, you know, every day at four 415 in the morning, when the alarm clock goes off, you know, some days I don't want to get up, I'm human in I want to stay in bed. I want to hit the snooze button. I want to go back to sleep. But I say to myself, Okay, somewhere right now, there's a person in a hospital bed, they can't get out of bed. Somewhere in this world. There's a person trying to get into this country to the to the US to create an opportunity for themselves. And when I take that mindset, I jump out of bed immediately. And I say okay, you know what, let's make the most of it. You know, I'll give you a story to that as well with with the mindset of this. So my wife and I took our four kids to Disney World, and we we've got a six year old five year old, a three year old and a one year old. So you know, there's a lot a lot of chaos going on when we were at Disney World. And our five year old was having a meltdown. He was just frustrated, he was hungry, he wanted to go ride some ride. And my wife was getting frustrated in it for a second there. I just said, Okay, stop, look over to the left. And there was a family, and they were lifting up a child that had severe cerebral palsy into the ride, and then back into the wheelchair. And I told my wife, I said, Look, this meltdown that our son's having right now, I said, it'll last 1020 minutes, but it'll pass. I said that right there. That's forever. And I said, so we have to keep the mindset and not allow ourselves to get frustrated in become angry because our child's having a meltdown at Disney World. Let's be thankful that we're here at Disney World, let's be grateful we had the opportunity to bring our children to Disney World. So it's a mindset. And we all have that, that choice of being able to to adopt the mindset, which then takes me two choices. The choice when you talk about my background, you know, I have the choice? Do I want to focus on all of the negatives and the chaos that went on in my life? Or do I want to focus on the lessons that I learned from that chaos in from those negatives, I choose to look at the positives from from my background in, even though some may see them as negatives, I see them as positives in Francisco, you've heard this. So there's one story in particular, that was one of the greatest lessons that I ever took. And it's a choice on how I want to see this story. On one occasion, when my mother and I were standing in line waiting for our welfare, check our handout of monthly handout of welfare, an older lady looked down at me, she looked at my mom, and then she spit in my mom's face, and she called her nigger lover. And in that moment, I was eight, nine years old, it hit me in it. And I remember saying to myself, Okay, no matter what I do in life, everyone is not going to like me, because I black people are gonna like me, because I'm half white, white people are gonna like me, because I'm half black, everyone is never going to like me, and I'm never going to be able to make everyone happy. So I made the choice at eight or nine years old to say, Okay, I'm not going to spend my life trying to make everybody happy. One of the greatest decisions and choices I ever made, because most people don't learn that lesson until high school, college. And God forbid, you don't learn that lesson that everyone's not going to like you until your first career. And then the third part of that formula is hard work. Francisco, I just, I'm a guy that's always going to work hard. I'm always going to go the extra effort, I'll do what other people won't do. It doesn't matter. If you're paying me to do a job, I'm going to go over and beyond what you're paying me for. I want to know how I can become better how I can do more how I can focus in on my attention to detail. So mindset choices in hard work equals success.


Francisco Mahfuz 8:15

It's very interesting. The example you used for mindset, because the first thing that occurred to me is this thing that children in Brazil, I don't know if children everywhere, but children, Brazilians that I grew up tended to hear all the time from our parents, whenever we didn't want to finish our meal. Or mothers would tell us their children starving in Africa, and you're not finishing your food. And that is absolutely true. I don't know a single child that ever heard that and said, I know you're right. I should definitely finish. Finish this broccoli, because there are children starving in Africa. Actually, I remember often. I'm not sure if I said it. Or my brother would say I'd say I'm pretty sure they wouldn't need this broccoli mom. But the reason I'm saying that is so your approach is that you are taking the gratitude is what you're going for there. And you're choosing to see, you know, all these things that we don't have to suffer should be the motivation for, for us living a better life or at least looking at our life in a better way. But how, how easy or how hard do you think most people find to actually make that connection? The way you're describing it?


Jevon "JT" McCormick 9:31

I don't know. I would say it seems like most people find it to be challenging and I don't know why and don't get me wrong, Francisco I struggle with I'll give you another story. I mean, you know, like you said that the podcast is about stories. There was a time period last year when I left work early. It was Christmas time and I left work early. I was gonna go home and watch Christmas movies with the family. We were going to make popcorn and have a good time. And so I left work early tried to try to beat the Traffic in it was probably 3435 degrees outside. So it's a little chilly, it was raining. And I get stuck in traffic in I mean, when I say stuck, it came to a dead stop, I had to put the car in park. And and I remember being so frustrated. And just First off, I text my wife, I said, I'm about to lose it. I'm pissed, I'm angry. And right as I was setting my phone down, it hit me. And I thought to myself, You know what, you you really need to grab a hold of yourself, make a choice. And think about this. You sat on bus stops when it was 30 degrees and rainy. You sat in walked in the rain, you lived when it was 30 degrees outside, you had no electricity. And here you are driving in a luxury car headed home to a gated community to a healthy family. And you're upset because you're stuck in a little bit of traffic. And so we all have moments of frustration and anger. But we it's up to us to catch ourselves catch our attitude in that moment and change it.


Francisco Mahfuz 11:07

Yeah, there's there's this work by Danny Kahneman. I'm not sure if you're familiar with it, he has a he won a Nobel Prize in the books called Thinking Fast and Slow. And he talks about two different types of self. So there is the experiencing self. So what you leave on a moment to moment basis, and the remembering self. So how you see your life. And there was this disparity between the two where you can think of your life now and say, you know, this is the great job I have, this is the family I have, this is where I live, and you can love all those things. But the moment a moment of being stuck in traffic, it's still the moment a moment of being stuck in traffic. So it's always sort it's always that battle between Can you see or can you zoom out of your life? Right? See how great it is? Or how great is in contrast to other people's or to your previous life? Versus Yes, but this asshole just caught me off guard and Pavao him?


Jevon "JT" McCormick 12:06

Well, it's so that's a great example. So he's so here, like you said, Can you zoom out and think about this, when someone cuts me off in traffic, here's my thought, immediately, I think to myself, Okay, if my, if I myself in the in the person who just cut me off, are going to the exact same place right now. They're going to get there maybe 20 seconds faster than me. And so why get frustrated, okay, they cut you off, they got in front of you. Great. They're going to get there 20 seconds before you Why be frustrated by that, why get upset. But again, it's up to us to choose how we want to look at it. And this is important because a lot of people have challenged me on this. They're like, well, JT, I don't have the background you come from I don't have those challenging stories. And truth be told, a lot of people are caught off guard by this. I actually don't think back to my own personal stories a lot when things get tough. I think about what's going on right now. And what I mean by that is, there's a mom, a single mom with two kids walking 1100 miles from Honduras to try to get into the United States to create an opportunity for self from kids. I've never experienced that. But I take the time to think about it and think to myself, Okay, I was born in this country. I'm already ahead of the game, it's up to me, I have a responsibility to succeed and find success. So I choose to look at things that are going on right now. Right now, obviously here in the United States, you know, the pandemics going on the virus disruption. And there's a lot of unemployment. And there's people standing in line for for food. I don't have that problem right now. But I do take the time to be grateful and appreciative that wow. You know, no matter how hard things are for me right now, I'm not battling on how am I going to feed my children?


Francisco Mahfuz 13:59

I guess that as someone who, who tells a lot of stories, you know this very well that you can get the same set of facts, and just derive a completely different moral from that same story, as you said at the beginning with the story with your mom, you know, you chose to see it in a certain way. I mean, you said something before I had this crazy idea that people saying I didn't have the background you did. I'm sure that there are some people that will have the exact same upbringing you have, and take a completely different view of life than you do. And there's some people that might even have some sort of twisted version of privilege where you were lucky that you gone through this and now you're a stronger person. They never had to face hardship in their life. So they have no you know, they've never developed that backbone or that sense of, of hard work that that you have. So when things that are going on now all across the world are happening this they're just unprepared. Totally


Jevon "JT" McCormick 14:58

embrace Because I I so appreciate you brought that up. Because right now here in the States, there's, there's a hot term right now, privilege, their privilege and privilege. I'm so sick of hearing the word privilege. And but here's here's the downside that no one talks about if you come in my kids will face this, if you come from a loving two parent home where you know, I'll just use my kids loving to parent home gated community always had food on the table went to private Christian schools, you had everything there for you. So kids could you know, people could look at my kids and say, Oh, they're privileged. But here's the downside of privilege. If you've never faced adversity, when it hits you, you don't know what to do. So if you've had this incredible life, to parent home, they sent you to college, and you were just set up for success. Great. But when when adversity comes in, it hits you in the mouth, what are you going to do, and so many people don't know how to respond. And I'll give you a personal example of this. When I lost all my money, I managed to accumulate a little over a million dollars. And I lost it all. And I had to go back to being broke and went to a one bedroom apartment. And I made the joke that I was negative broke because I had to borrow money from my stepdad in my my best friend to pay my rent. But it was interesting, because I knew what it was like to be broke. I knew Okay, I did this once. I can do it again. So oh my god, it sucked. I did not like the fact that I put myself back in this position. But I knew how to manage. I can't imagine if you come from a wealthy family, or even a well off family. And you go broke, you have no clue how to operate in broke when I was broke. And I was best friends with broke, we already knew each other. So there were there wasn't in a lot to overcome, it was just okay, you got to pick yourself back up and get out of the situation. Again,


Francisco Mahfuz 17:13

the case with children is is a crazy one. But it makes complete sense if you if you look into the science of how the brain works, and how essentially how character is built, which is the truth is people like you or I or you know, most people that are sort of middle class are up in a way, we are screwing our children by giving them a good life, you know, there is an argument to be made. And I'm not sure either of us are going to make it that you know if you got the pink cloths on instant vanish for long periods of your home. That might be a great learning experience for children. Obviously, we're not going to do those things. But it's also how do you how do you let them leave those stories are stories of hardship and experiences of hardship, so that they can build more resilient character because there's a good chance that that they won't be, you know, they're not having to face great challenges in life other than, I don't know, studying really hard to try and get into one particular university.


Jevon "JT" McCormick 18:16

Right? That's right now Francisco, for me, that is my greatest challenge in life. It's not making more money. It's not figuring out how do we scale the company. It's not being the best leader that I can possibly be. My greatest challenge in life is how do I give my children this incredible lifestyle and get them to appreciate it, but also teach them things will get hard, your life will get hard at times and you have to be able to bounce back, see the positive, navigate through it. And if they've never had to navigate if they've never had to face challenges, how do how you did that's my group for me, that's my greatest challenge. How do I give them everything but teach them to appreciate it?


Francisco Mahfuz 19:01

My experience there I think is one that perhaps might give you some some ideas. Because I I consider myself as much as far as privileged goes fairly privileged, and I grew up in a middle class family in Brazil. I studied English since I was very young. I had everything I possibly needed. But then I got you know, as most things happen, because of a girl I decided that it wasn't working out for me in Brazil. And then I needed a change and I ended up in in Europe. So I ended up in London and I knew I knew one person that I had seen once for half an hour. And that was it. All the advice I had gotten to how to make a living in London was terrible. None of it was any good. And in my head I was so dumb, so dumb that I spent a year and a half saving money to travel to Europe without realising that the exchange rate of the Brazilian how to the to the English pound was not the same as to the dollar. So I arrived in Europe thinking I have I had like five grand to my name, or 10 grand to my name. And I had something like two, which was two weeks, two or three weeks in London. And in obviously, all the things that I had lived through up until that point served me and and I think I had a much easier start in Europe than a lot of people do. But just going to a different country is going to provide experiences that are similar in in difficulty to a lot of the things perhaps you have to go through. And it's something that I think children that grow up in, in places like the US or most parts of Europe should definitely do send them to a to a difficult country or the poorer country, instant lesson and gratitude. And if they decide to stay there for a year or two to work their way into something, they will have difficulties that they probably would never have had in America. Yeah,


Jevon "JT" McCormick 20:49

it's, it's interesting. You said that too, because so Francesco Francisco, I've only been out of this country, one time ever, I'll be 49 years old, in eight weeks, I've only ever been out of the United States. One time it was to Monterrey Mexico to open a new office when I was with a software company. And that's the only time I've ever been out of this country. And so many people will say, Oh, JT, how can we even you've never travelled? How can we've never gone anywhere? And my answer has always been, man, there's people dying literally every day trying to get into this country. I'm not trying to leave. So but but to your point, even here in the States, you know, a lot of people will do mission trips, like I said, my kids go to private Christian school, and people will do mission trips to other countries. And I've always said to my wife, you know, you don't need to do a mission trip to another country to see what poverty looks like we haven't here in the States, I can take you to some places where there's holes in the floor, where there's no running water. You know, you look at the native reservations here, they have no running water, they have no electricity that's here in the United States. So I totally agree with you. It's really just seeing and experiencing what others are living with or living without,


Francisco Mahfuz 22:14

let me bring us back to storytelling, because this is something that, you know, arguably, this is not anything you've ever studied, officially. But it's clearly interweaved into everything you do. So I you know, I, I met you originally because of you telling stories on LinkedIn. And then everywhere I looked, it was, you know, your personal stories is the one that gets told a lot. But your blog is full of stories. And how some of them very, very easy to very easy to remember very hard to get out of my head like Uncle Bob, this time. The uncle who abandons the family when they are two minutes late. Yes. So how did that start? I mean, was there any point that you just realised you were telling the stories? Did you have any members of your family that told you stories on a regular basis?


Jevon "JT" McCormick 23:05

Now as a matter of fact, I'll give you a get a funny story. So so when I first came on with scribe in I took the role CEO, the two co founders, Tucker and Zach said to me, Hey, you're going to go out and you're going to speak at EO the entrepreneurs organisation, you're going to speak at their national conference? And I said, Who am I going to speak to? And they said, No, you're going to be on stage. And I said, the hell I had never been on stage before. So what am I going to say? They go, are you going to tell your story? I'm like, Oh, no. And you know, because at that point, the book had just come out. And I had just grown comfortable with the book even being public. When when I did that book, I never wanted it to be public for Francesca. I did that book for my children. That was it. And so I never wanted that book to be public, given some of the stories in there. So anyway, they say you're gonna go out and you're gonna speak on stage or you're gonna keynote and I'm like, okay, at first, I don't even know what a keynote is. It's


Francisco Mahfuz 24:11

nobody knows really.


Jevon "JT" McCormick 24:16

So I said, okay, and I just got a notepad wrote down some of my stories, and I tried to make it at least flow in some type of order. And then I went to YouTube, and I watched videos of the pastor Joel Olsteen, the pastor TD Jakes, Kevin Hart, the comedian, and Jerry Seinfeld, the comedian, and my takeaways were, don't look down. Don't say I'm in don't put your hands in your pockets that that weren't those were my takeaways,


Francisco Mahfuz 24:48

solid, solid advice. Exactly.


Jevon "JT" McCormick 24:50

So I go out, I do this keynote. I'm nervous is all out. I'm just just nervous getting getting on stage. And so you know, on stage I do it and literally when I finish up, I it felt to me like I ran offstage and I get you get back behind the curtain and everything. And the gentleman back there says, hey, look, and there's a screen. And I was receiving the standing ovation. I was like, Wow, that's pretty cool. And a lady runs up to me that she says to me, Francisco, she goes, Hey, who is your speaking coach? And I said to her, I said, I'm not being a smartass. I go, what's a speaking coach? And she said, who trained you on stage presence, your storytelling, and I said, Joel Osteen, TD Jakes, Kevin Hart, and Jerry Seinfeld, and she died laughing and take that a step further, Francisco, what really happened afterwards was very telling as well. After that conference, someone else invited me to speak at their conference. And they asked what my speaking fee was, I didn't know what the speaking fee was, I didn't know people got paid to be on stage and like, tell a story. And I struggled, because when they offered to pay me money to tell my story, I got very frustrated, I got offended. And the reason being was when I was a kid, and my mother and I struggled, and we didn't have any money, no one gave us any money. When I when I ate my free lunch at school on a Friday afternoon, and I didn't eat again, until Monday afternoon, when I got another free lunch. No one gave us any money. But now people wanted to pay me and give me money to get on stage and tell you about when I needed money. And that whole dynamic, the irony of it were really offended me. And I'm a god guy. And so I you know, made my peace with God said my prayers and said, Okay, you know, if this is the path that this you really want


Francisco Mahfuz 26:54

to pay me, I will. I made peace with it. So you're faced with all the money they wanted to give


Jevon "JT" McCormick 27:01

you. I did so but it was funny. I didn't need money, then, you know, I was fine. Financially, I had all the money I could ever ask for. And I did not need money. But here people wanted to pay me to hear about when I needed money and that I struggled with that in the beginning.


Francisco Mahfuz 27:16

It's also interesting that you say how when the book came out that you weren't you didn't originally intended to make those stories public. Because if we go into your website now, the very first thing it says, and I was I was just checking out I didn't get wrong, it says the successful CEO who started as the son of a pimp and an orphan again that I get to get in the habit on turning my head you gotta get so much to record it for you. That comes up not me, because I couldn't have saved my life. But know what I'm getting at is you didn't sync the stories should be public in now they are the very first thing that people find about you when they go to your website and as we were talking just before we started recording, you are even not changing our name. But you going back to using your your real name, which is divan, instead of JT so I mean, has telling your story allows you to make peace with your story.


Jevon "JT" McCormick 28:20

Oh very much it doing the book was incredibly therapeutic. There was there stories in that book that I swore, man Francisco I swore those those stories, were going to stay in the safe with chains around it with 18 Different padlocks on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Because I never wanted anyone to know those stories. And I had spent so the great majority of my life not wanting you to know who I was. I didn't want you to know my dad was a pimp. I didn't want you to know that he fathered 23 children or to this day, I still don't know where my last name comes from. I spent so much time not wanting you to know my background. But now here it was going to be completely public for for everyone. So yeah, there it was completely freeing therapeutic matter of fact, there's a page in the book my favourite page. It says my name is Giovanna Thomas McCormick. I'm half white, half black. My father was a pimp and drug dealer father 23 children. My mother was an orphan. I don't know where my last name comes from. And I barely graduated high school, I've got a GED, and I never went to college. And that's the that's just a freeing page that I my favourite page in the book and to take it a step further is another page in there as well. Where you just had to own it. Man, Francisco I sucked in relationships, man, I couldn't hold a relationship. I don't have a lot of regrets in life. But I do have remorse. And I'm very remorseful for how I treated women girls, ladies when I was in in relationships because I just didn't know how and I don't blame them. Anybody and it's no one's fault. It's my fault. You know, I did it. But man, I was a monster. And I just didn't know how to have a healthy relationship. Now here I am, I've been with my wife, almost 10 years. This is the first healthy relationship I've ever had.


Francisco Mahfuz 30:15

There is this beautiful song by a Brazilian singer called the least hygena. And it says, a bizarre way to look at variables and the somos males most evey almost almost no spice, which is, in spite of everything we've done and live through, we're still the same and we live just like our parents did. And it's, it's to me to be no surprise that if your father was a pimp, and not in order fun, you know, fun loving pimp, like the ones they show on TV impo had 23 Children, it's not surprising that your model for dealing with for relationships with women wasn't necessarily the healthiest one, you know, if you've been with her 10 years, and you got four children, you know, you might still get the other 19 It's a good chance, you're gonna have a good mother.


Jevon "JT" McCormick 31:08

We are done, man. We're medically done. There are no more children. I mean, but you know, you made a good point. Not only wasn't my dad, though, it's straightforward. I never saw a male figure, treat my mother with respect, in dignity, in love in care. So it wasn't just yeah, my father. That's a whole different story of what I saw with him. But I actually never saw anyone treat my mother that way, either. And so there just wasn't in then in the community where I came from, it was always just chaos. I never saw loving families or parents and moms and dads, most of my friends had had, you know, single moms, my best friend to this day, you know, he was raised by a single mom, you know, his dad died or died when he I believe he was eight years old. His dad was very abusive. So even my best friend, we did not have models in our lives to show us what healthy relationships look like. And he's even struggled in relationships. And we have that conversation all the time. And we've kind of learned from each other like, Okay, you made that mistake, I'm not going to do that. I made this mistake, you don't do that. And so it's just it's the power of being able to see what's possible, then in a model figure. It's incredible.


Francisco Mahfuz 32:38

It's strange, but when it's not too strange, but But it's surprising how in a country that values the self made man, right forever, how much we don't believe that anyone is truly self made. But right but but in a country that values the work and starting from nothing, arguably more than any other country in the world. I mean, it's part of the American myth, that that you know what you lived the American dream, and that you would make it and have all the the trappings of what America tends to consider successful person, but still not feel that comfortable with your story. You think that your story makes your achievement larger, and not something to hide?


Jevon "JT" McCormick 33:23

Yeah, it took off. I said, it took a while I struggled with for the longest Francisco with the fact that I didn't have a college degree. So every time I interacted with someone who had an MBA, God forbid you had a PhD, I always had a certain level, I wouldn't show it to you. But internally, I always had a certain level of intimidation because you had these academic credentials that I did not have. Even to this day, I don't hold a pencil the right way a pencil or pin. No one ever taught me how the right way for me the right way is do you get the job done period. And but no one ever taught me the proper way to hold a pencil or in what is the proper way


Francisco Mahfuz 34:06

to hold up? Ay ay. Ay, you say that. But I found out when I was in my late 20s. And I was doing a lot of client work that I had to sit across the table from a client, and they said, Are you left handed? And I said, Well, yeah, they did not. I'm hoping I'm hoping to visit with my right hand. I was like, but you write like a lefty. So it doesn't have a very unpleasant conversation with my mom where I said, Mum, did you try to make me not left handed? It was like no, oh, could you say this to me is like why do I write this way? I was like, I don't know. You're a weirdo. Don't like me.


Jevon "JT" McCormick 34:41

Exactly. I get I get the same thing all the time. When I write. It looks like I'm left handed or I have a dormitory near Yeah, exactly. It's looks like I'm trying to cover my page. Oh, yeah. And God knows nobody wanted to copy off my chest. So but yeah, I never wanted I was very intimidated by people who had the academic credentials. And so you're right for as much as we covet the come from nothing become successful in this country. For me, yeah, I did not want anyone to know my background, I tried to stay so far away from you knowing anything about my background, if you thought I was Puerto Rican, great. I was Puerto Rican. If you thought I was Middle Eastern, because I let my my facial hair grow. Great. I'm Middle Eastern, what I did whatever I had to do to get to wherever I want it to be.


Francisco Mahfuz 35:39

Yeah, no, I can I can see how particularly America now has been clearer than ever, how race relations in America being what they are, how having to own up to mix heritage might not be the easiest thing in the world. I mean, Brazil is Brazil has a lot of problems in that way. But I think there is, we're perhaps a few years or decades ahead in that it's a much bigger part of the culture in Brazil, I think there's still plenty of prejudices to place plenty of racism. But I think that it's long gone the time and someone with a mixed race parents would not proudly proclaim that to be the case. I think he actually in Brazil, it tends to be more that they will say I'm black. That's it. There is no mixed race. But But yeah, I again, we think we're past some of these things. And clearly we're very far away from from being passed on.


Jevon "JT" McCormick 36:32

It's interesting. You say that to Francisco, because even here in this country, several people have been offended when they've heard me say this. Because I am half black half white people have just designated me as black sometimes. And I go, No, I'm not just black. I'm equally as proud of being half black as I am as being half white. And if you just designate me as black, then you totally leave out the fact that I have a white mother. And so again, I'm equally as proud to be both races, half black, half white. And in fact, I can't change my race. That's why I'm proud of both of them. I've literally had people ask me when I was growing up, which would you rather be as if I had a choice, there is no choice in this. I'm half white, half black. And so it was rough growing up in the United States in the 70s being mixed race, you know, you got called half breed zebra Oreo cookie colour confused. You know, it's funny, I always make the joke. And I tell people, black people would call me white boy, because I wasn't is dark is an all black person. And then White People would call me the special inward. And it's like, I got called names on both sides. And so it was very tough to fit in. So I'm not a big win race. The conversation of race comes into play in our country. I always tell people, if you want to have a conversation about race, let me know because I'll tell you what it's like when no one likes you. At least if you're all black, you have a community that you can least embrace in you can be all black together. Like I said, there were millions of people who didn't like me because I was half white. And God knows there were millions of white people that couldn't stand me because I was half black. One thing


Francisco Mahfuz 38:22

you said, took me back to something from my childhood, which is that? So you mentioned one of the nicknames was Oreo cookie, which I never heard. But in Brazil, Oreos are not called Oreos. They're called Negresco. Which is, which is a slight variation on the word negro. Yeah. Which in Brazil doesn't have the connotation that it hasn't. Right, right. But I remember looking at that, and thinking, as soon as I came to the West was like, I can see why they changed the name. The same name? Yeah. Gonna have the same. Yes, yes. So there's something you do, which goes against what a lot of a lot of people that work in marketing, what a lot of people even that work in storytelling, love saying all the time, which is no one cares about your story. Now they care about how your story connects with them or makes them feel now, obviously, you should be the proof in the fact that you are an in demand speaker and you get very high ratings as a speaker from from all the testimonials that I've seen, but your story is not one that is necessarily that easy to relate to. For a lot of people, I don't think they're going to say oh, yeah, no, I leave that that was my childhood. So so the surprising if it wasn't in that case, but what do you think it is that that is so powerful about your story, at least in the context that you've shared it so in corporate environments, why a story that you were afraid to talk about? 10 years ago, is now something that is very powerful and very moving and very inspirational.


Jevon "JT" McCormick 40:05

It's a combination. There's not one thing, it's a combination of dynamics in, I never lose sight of this. There are people in this country who have far worse backgrounds than I have growing up. And I've got a pretty chaotic, horrible background. But there's people that even go next level of horrific backgrounds. So you so you have people who have worse backgrounds, you got a tonne of people who have been President of Software companies, you have people who have been presidents and CEOs of publishing companies, but to take my background, and to take those those business achievements, you you that just doesn't exist in our country. It's like, Okay, how did that happen? How did that even take place? And so that in itself is is part of the, I believe the fascination but behind it, and I never lose sight of that, because I know there's so many people that come from the communities that I do that have way worse backgrounds than I do. There's a lot of people who've gone on to have far more success thus far in business. And so but it's the it's the combination of the two that are that is really interesting. And then you couple that with again, we have incredible race dynamic in this country. And then so you throw race in there, and it had been half white, half black. And then you throw in my name, which people see my name is is a black name, Javan. And the fact that I changed my name from Javan to go by JT so I could further my career. So you throw in all of these different dynamics. And that's the interest in the story of how did all of that even take place. And again, I never I never wanted my story to be public. I never wanted to be a keynote speaker. I never wanted to be an author. I just wanted the book for my for my kids. And so all I've ever really cared about Francisco is working hard. Achieving success. And success is defined by each individual. No one can define success for you. So for me, success was a lot of it was tied to money because I grew up broke. And so I just wanted to be successful. I know, I know, I always wanted a happy family life, because I didn't have one. I always wanted to, you know, one of my favourite things I did I share this with you. When my wife and I had our first child, Eva, one of my favourite things that I did, as I said, I want to send out a Christmas card. When I was a kid, I always love seeing family Christmas cards where they maybe they put on the sweaters or they took a picture in front of the Christmas tree or the fireplace. And I remember I said, I want to send out a family Christmas card. Every year we send out a family Christmas card.


Francisco Mahfuz 43:03

I'm sure your children love it.


Jevon "JT" McCormick 43:04

You know, right now they do. Yeah, they're still young, they call me and ask when I say this, but if you were present under the tree, you'll continue to love it.


Francisco Mahfuz 43:17

Yes, yes, I think I think we have to find the subtle ways to keep them from putting up with some of our nonsense as the years go by. Now, one of the the other sort of contradictory things about your trajectory is that, you know, as much as you're into telling stories, particularly your story, but as I understand, you're not much of a book reader, right?


Jevon "JT" McCormick 43:41

No, no, I saw my co founder, Tucker. Yeah, Tucker, his library at his house. Man, he's got to be I asked him when he's, he's either at or he has surpassed but Tucker's got about 10,000 books in his library. I mean, this library is massive. And I walked through his whole library one day and just looked at all the books. And I had literally read read, maybe five of the books, but I had listened to a lot of the books. So I'm big on audio books, I'm big on if I hear it, I'll retain it, and I can really take action on it. And I love to listen to audiobooks, but I read so slow, it would just take me forever to be able to read a book so I'm not a big reader.


Francisco Mahfuz 44:28

The reason I asked that is because I knew our viewer had spoken to you but I hadn't actually found out that much about what described us and then I went and found out and just kind of just blew my heads clean off I mean, you're you're trying to do this better than me but can you just explain to people who don't know what exactly you guys do? I mean that the core the core business you guys have. So Francisco


Jevon "JT" McCormick 44:54

I know you've heard me say this before but even that, you know, you asked me why Why people are interested in the story. You know, here I was the president of a software company. I don't write code. I cannot write code. And now I'm the CEO of a publishing company. It can tell you an adverb from an adjective. I can't spell I read slow.


Francisco Mahfuz 45:16

But like, like a left handed person,


Jevon "JT" McCormick 45:18

I write like a left handed person. So yeah, there's there's just interest in the story, I guess. But yeah, here at scribe that we've been around almost six years now. We've worked with over 1700 authors, and we help authors, write, market and publish their, their books, and some of the big names that we've worked with. Here in the States, the ex Navy Seal, David Goggins, he had the most sought after book in America last year, second only to Michelle Obama, we've worked with the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, nucynta lab, the actress Tiffany Haddish. So we've worked with a lot of big name authors, but the great majority of our authors are CEOs, business owners, consultants, founders, and we help them tell their stories and put them in a book and we stole this from my mom. When I was a kid, my mom would say, everyone has a story, and you don't know their story. So don't judge. And that became kind of the the tagline, if you will, is we believe everyone has a story, and everyone should tell their story.


Francisco Mahfuz 46:27

Once I know the story, can I judge them, you can judge it then.


Jevon "JT" McCormick 46:33

But until you know the story, you can't you know, a lot of times it's human nature, we see somebody, maybe a homeless person, or you know, a maybe a person that's overweight, and we're quick to throw judgement, especially here in the United States. Oh, my God, we're just quick to judge people. But you don't know their story. You know, it's just like me, you can, oh, Francisco. Here's, here's a great example of judgement. On one of my posts that you talked about on LinkedIn. Somebody told me I was privileged. And I died laughing because I said, obviously, this person does not know my background. But we're so quick to judge it that it's amazing that we don't always just take the time to get to know someone before we pass judgement on them.


Francisco Mahfuz 47:19

It might be your, your Scottish surname that's throwing them after. Exactly. But the one thing about scribe that was was incredible is because I never heard of this is that if I understand correctly, one of the services you guys provide to CEOs and business people is not that you write a book for them, because it's ghost writers have been doing this for years. But isn't it just a process of you, you talk through the outline of the book, and then you go through? I don't know how many recording sessions, but essentially, the person just tells you what they think the book is and what the stories are. And then you put that together into a book.


Jevon "JT" McCormick 47:55

Yes. So what we do is we take your story, we don't want you to do any of the writing, we don't want you to put your fingers on the keyboard, sit back, grab your beverage of choice. And let us pull that content from you. Let us dig into the details that make for a great story that make for a great book, that this is this is factual. One of the hardest things to do is to think and to write at the same time. So we want to take the writing away from you. But what's key here, what's very important is we're not ghost writers in the traditional sense. What I mean by that is you Francisco, you can't say to me, JT, I want to write a book about the new iPhone, I run off and I, you know, do all this research and put together a book on the iPhone, and we slap your name on it. No, this book is your content, your tone, your voice, your book. And that's very important, because we're not just ghost writers that go off, make something up and put your name on there.


Francisco Mahfuz 48:51

It seems kind of obvious. Once we you know, once you realise that how technology has advanced, particularly transcription and things of that nature. But I You guys, were the first ones doing it. That's right. Yes, yes,


Jevon "JT" McCormick 49:04

it will. And here's the thing. There's, there's traditional publishing, and then there's self publishing, the self publishing tag, many people still think of, you're going to run down to FedEx Kinkos, the copy shop and staple a bunch of papers together when people think of self publishing. So we've created our own lane, and we call it professional publishing. It's a combination of traditional and self publishing, but you can put our books next to any traditional published book on a shelf in you don't know if it's HarperCollins if it's Penguin, or if it's lying Creston inscribe,


Francisco Mahfuz 49:44

having published my own book, I can guarantee that there is no stapling or Kinkos involved. The other thing about scribe that I wanted to just pick your brain on was that if I'm not mistaken, And then this has already happened in your previous company where the Scribe is as voted or has been voted one of the best places to work in America.


Jevon "JT" McCormick 50:11

So So Entrepreneur Magazine named as the number one company culture in America. And that's something we take great pride in. And then here in Austin, Texas, we were named the number one, the number one best place to work for in Austin. And number two best place to work for in Texas. So we take great pride in we covet our culture. So everything we do, we do it different in it's all led by people first,


Francisco Mahfuz 50:42

given that you already have gotten some type of award or recognition like that in the previous company, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that you have something to do with this thing.


Jevon "JT" McCormick 50:54

You know, I will give you the answer. It's a very sincere answer that I give to everyone that makes the connection between you know, JT, you guys want a tonne of best places to work when you were at the software company. Now you guys have won a tonne of awards at the publishing company. I say this, and I believe that every leader should believe this. I'm only as good as the great people I'm surrounded by they're the no one person makes for a great company. You have to surround the company and yourself with great people. And I never want to be the smartest person in the room. That's not That's not hard to do. But I never want to be the smartest person in the room. I asked questions. And I want to be surrounded by people far smarter than myself that I can ask these questions, take this information in and we make the best decisions possible. But there's, you know, we celebrate I know, especially here in the States, you know, we celebrate these leaders, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, bah, bah, bah. And the fact of the matter is, they're only as good as the great people. They're surrounded by Okay, yeah, they had an idea. But that idea has to be executed on the vision has to have execution behind it. I tell people all the time. My dad had a lot of great ideas. But he didn't execute his follow through was horrible. So execution is the key in that execution has to come from people who are far smarter and greater than you.


Francisco Mahfuz 52:35

And it's also true to say that some of the people you mentioned, probably didn't create the most pleasant work environments to allow for their for their achievements.


Jevon "JT" McCormick 52:47

I so thank you for saying that. It's amazing to me, that in our country, we're constantly screaming about culture and work life balance and all of these different things. People First, but we uphold Steve Jobs. It is known it is document is factual. Steve Jobs was not a nice person to work with Elon Musk Elon Musk has in his book was the part I remember reading this. It's in his book. It was Friday afternoon. And he and the team all agreed that they were going to come in on Saturday. And they had already worked not a 90 hour week by Friday afternoon. But everybody agreed they were going to come in on Saturday. So Ilan, got there at like 7am. Everybody else comes rolling in about nine. And he calls a meeting once everybody's there. And he says excuse my language, he says, We're fucking getting soft. And so I'm thinking to myself, Okay, but we hold these people up as if they're the great leaders of our country. But when it comes to culture, when it comes to putting people first, they're horrible. And so it's just amazing the hypocrisy we have in our country on the things that we claim that we value, but the people we uphold,


Francisco Mahfuz 54:11

there is a podcast that is tremendous fun, it's called behind the bastards. And they just get people that either either contemporary people, you know, like Elon Musk, or Mark Zuckerberg, or you know, the historical figures and then just do a deep dive in their history in the work practices and whatever. I think for Elon Musk, they did two episodes. For Zuckerberg they did three he did three wow and a half long episodes.


Jevon "JT" McCormick 54:40

It's interesting too, with with Mark Zuckerberg and I've said this out loud. You know, everyone, okay, great. He was the founder. Even that's questionable because some people believe you stole the idea. Okay, whatever the case may be. Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook. It is what it is. But what's interesting to me is he's CEO Mark Zuckerberg is really just the Face Boy of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg runs that company and I don't feel that she gets enough credit for what's been created with the culture with the success but a lot I just don't believe that she receives the credit she should for all things Facebook everyone sees Mark Zuckerberg because he holds the CEO title but Sheryl Sandberg runs that company


Francisco Mahfuz 55:34

well given the the grilling that they are receiving more and more I think she's just smarter of that voice she's probably happy she's not at some point jump out a few million dollars richer and go that was home mark that was Mark I didn't have any Listen, so I am sure that you are never going to appear in an episode of Behind the bastards.


Jevon "JT" McCormick 56:08

I'm gonna do my best not to ever be on there.


Francisco Mahfuz 56:11

And and I wanted to thank you for your time again. I know you're you're a very busy man. And I very much appreciate the the hour you've given me today.


Jevon "JT" McCormick 56:19

My man Francisco this is true, truly humbled, honoured, flattered to be on the show. And I always appreciate your comments on LinkedIn.


Francisco Mahfuz 56:29

Alright, everyone. Thanks for tuning in. Take care of yourselves. And until next time.


I hope you enjoy the show. And if you did, I'd love for you to subscribe and leave us a review or a rating on the Apple podcasts app. It's very easy. You open the app and find this show and scroll down a little and when you see the stars tap. I'd really appreciate it and it does help other people find this. And if you'd like to get in touch or find out more about what I do, reach out to me on LinkedIn or visit my website story powers.com



Recent Posts

See All

After 100 episodes, what storytelling lessons have I learned? Well, a few, so here are 23 for you, and they cover: why stories matter, what do you use stories for, where do you find them, how do you t