Every Human Ep 001 - Will Toms of REC Philly Talks Creator Economy, Vision Alignment & Sustaining Independence

Kaila Mathis

For our very first episode of #EveryHuman, we would like to introduce you to a conversation with our friend Will Toms, hosted by CLLCTVE CEO Kelsey Davis.

Will is the Co-Founder/Chief Creative Officer of REC Philly and the author of (Un)Common Sense. Our podcast is hosted from Black Wall Street, and tells the stories of thriving creators, entrepreneurs and leaders.

In this episode, we talked about...

1. What happens at the intersection of creativity and economics

2. The result of people deeply understanding themselves and their purpose

3. The secret ingredient to creating the life you want.

Who is Will Toms?

Kelsey Davis  0:20  Yo, yo, welcome home.

Will  0:25  Yo, thank you.

Kelsey Davis  0:27  It's good to have you in Tulsa.

Will  0:29  It's good to be here. You know, it's been what feels like a bit of a long time coming. But now that I'm here, I get it. Understand what's happening here. Yeah. And I'm so excited to be here.

Kelsey Davis  0:39  And it's been happening for over 100 years. That part of saying, you know, the soil is starting to rebuild, starting to come up, you know, in people are starting to create, we're starting to understand who we are, apparently have been. Yeah, it's a fun journey up somewhere that that's, that's dense. Yes, around work. But I think the connectivity around the intersection about the importance of like who we are, and the efficacy that we can do and work in a city like this.

Will  1:09  I love it. And I think what's so interesting is like, I think sometimes when you hear that saying, we our ancestors, wildest dreams, I think sometimes it's easy for us to be thinking back, like, hundreds of years, right. And so the folks who obviously worked extremely hard for us to get here, but it's like, just a couple generations ago, and understand that we get to borrow from that legacy and stand on the shoulders of those giants, especially in a city where folks are super understanding of the importance of that, because I feel like you know, I've had an opportunity to travel to a bunch of cities lately, but nothing's felt as potent, as what's happening right here in Tulsa. Yeah.

Kelsey Davis  1:47  So who is Will?

Will  1:50  Who am I? Yo, um, man, I mean, I'm a son, I'm a grandson, you know, I'm a creator, you know, made in the creator's image to me. And I think underneath that, like, I'm just someone who deeply believes in the power of the intersection of creativity, and economics. You know, what I'm saying, I grew up as a creative first figuring out just who I was through, like poetry, and then kind of fell in love with visual storytelling, running around director and music videos and short films. But I think I had that that wake up call really early that a lot of us creatives have where it's like, dang, if I love who I am, and how I feel when I'm close to creativity, I eventually have to figure out the money part. Right?

Kelsey Davis  2:33  That was what was that? That was in high school for you? Yeah.

Will  2:37  So um, so I started doing all the creative stuff seriously, in high school, right? I'm building a production company with my co founder, even in high school folks staying after school to try out and all that, so I started high school. So I won't say rec start in high school. But the idea of me and my co founder, Dave, building a creative business, we've been doing that since high school, we would it was nerds writing business plans, literally in 10th 11th grade, you know, saying. But once we got out of college, that's when it was like, artists is serious. Now, we got to figure out this business side. And I think we were the two and me specifically, I always fell in love with the business side, because we were playing like the pseudo management role for all the homies who are rappers, you know, singers, etc. And I think that really solidified what I felt like was my positioning as someone who could be a bridge builder, you know, someone who was willing to sit and do the research and understand where we come from, and where we're going and what models could actually help us unlock the value that we have. And then most importantly, be able to, like capture that value for ourselves. Yeah, you know what I'm saying? So that's me. I'm a systems thinker. You know what I mean? But underneath it all is someone who just deeply loves our people.

What is the Chief Creative Officer role?

Kelsey Davis  3:45  Yeah. And you're the chief creative officer?  So when I feel like when I hear everything that you just said to reference who was well, yeah, and I envisioned, okay, what is the chief creative officer? I feel like there's some synergy there. So what is that title? And then what do you do in your day to day role?

Will  4:02  Yeah, so the title, you know, it's one of those things, especially when you're building a company, it's like, I don't want to just have some dry title. Yeah. I mean, let me put a little flavor on this thing you're saying. But I think the Chief Creative Officer role, it really incompetent encapsulates a bunch of different things. You could think of me as Chief Product Officer, right. My role, really, first and foremost, is, are we building the thing that is in accordance to our vision, our mission, and ultimately, what our people that we're serving need, right, which is creators, creative entrepreneurs. So that's really my main role, making sure that we're building the thing, according to the vision. The second role is, or the partnerships we're creating, also in alignment with who we are and what our values are. And then really just leaning into the experience of all the things right. So really, at this point, my job has kind of shifted my day to day now is, as we're scaling, you know, and expanding and I'm sure we'll talk about the expansion a little bit. My role has changed drastically. Yeah, right. And part of scaling You know, yeah, and I had to learn that like, in the beginning, it was fun because I got to do everything. But now it's not do everything leadership looks way different. So now it's, I gotta be outside, I got to be, you know, waving the flag and rounding up these investors and you know, all that kind of cool stuff. So the day to day has shifted, but I think what brings me the most joy is still even doing things like this, you know, talking to creators and being able to, you know, keep sharpening the skill set,

Kelsey Davis  5:28  Yeah know, for sure. And I mean, I go way back with REC Philly, I literally so being a freelancer being a creator, you know, similar to you, like when I was in high school when I was in college, like, it's like, yeah, we're here to learn. But, you know, we're here to learn to then do a labor thing to then do a money thing. So how do we somehow integrate those things into my learning and education experience now? And I think a lot of people, younger people, especially like we're thinking about that, right? And so I know with me, like, by the time I hit a sophomore in college, I was traveling across the world producing content and working with brands. And one of those places I was, was in Philly shooting music video. Hey, Mira Fontaine, we shot a video. That's my whole camp. John. Does Syracuse. Yeah, shout out John Wick for one. Yeah. So I remember. Yeah. I remember being a creator. And a big reason why we started collective. It's like, I'm traveling across the country, producing all this content, I'm starting to see the issues of how creators and brands connect. Right. So specifically the matchmaking side of, okay, I'm bringing in all this brand demand, but I'm also trying to go to class and I'm also trying to catch it catch a Greyhound bus, right? I didn't have the individual bandwidth to manage all of that, right. And so I was like, alright, well, I have a lot of super creative friends. What would it look like if there was an easy way that I can kind of, you know, know who those people are that have these different skills and be able to get the inbound from brands and then just to be able to connect them? Right, right. We scaled into basically being a LinkedIn for creators, matchmaking technology that's able to, you know, help staff, the creator economy connect with brands. In that process, it's impossible, like I'm on a job, right. But it's impossible for me to do that thing unless I have the space to create this right in real time, literally. So it's like, I'm literally going back and forth between upstate, Philly, New York City. And one of the places I continue to find myself out was REC Philly. Explains to me why that was probably the case.

Will  7:18  Yeah, so all right. For context, right. I'm really grateful that I'm from Philly, because I feel like it was the best place in the world to build what we're building. And the reason I say that is because in Philly, when we first got started right back in 2012 2013 2014, it was very clear, there's an incredible amount of talent. But unfortunately, at that time, the narrative was at a certain point, if you wanted to be successful, you had to go to New York, you had to go to LA. Right, right. And even back then I never believed in that. Because at that time, I had an opportunity. I'm working in the agency world, I'm representing, you know, big household industry names, right? Like Eminem, Shady Records, Ice Cube, and I'm seeing the power of what would become direct to consumer, right. But the challenge was, okay, if we know, we can pull out our phones that we can build with people all across the world who believe what we believe, I gotta serve them. And usually, that's through being able to create content. And for us, we got to a point where it's like, Yo, we knew that the resources were there. But there was no central hub of like, where do I go to get everything I need? Right? In real life in real life, right? Where do I go? Like, where can I actually physically go also, to be around people who, who are like minded, where it's like, I care immensely about the culture and the creative of it. But I also care about the business side, right? Also understand that I want to be able to build wealth through.

Kelsey Davis  8:37  Otherwise it's not sustainable, right? So many times I think, especially in our culture, it's like, talent is the thing that has allowed us to survive. Yep. And this sense of labor. So culturally, for our people, our ability to I mean, more modern, you're seeing dance, yeah, ball in the hoop, right. But a couple years ago, from sharecropping, right to literally what can we do with our hands, with our voices? Like, how can we exert labor, but even then, we knew that we were never really in a position to own the thing, right? So even I have to show up every day, I have to do the labor, I know that I'm being broken off literal scraps in the context of not even getting the worth of that labor. But there's never a way that I can get it out of out of that cycle or that system. Right. Oh, we want to give out these creater stipends or Oh, we want to help, you know, here. But if we're not actually creating differences in the supply chain, and the system that we can say, hey, creators go create, yeah, they can have the safety and the trust to know that from this creation, I can scale to where I don't have to keep. Yeah, back to this.

Will  9:47  And I think the unfortunately the norm back then was if I needed to get somewhere that would have the resources, I would have to give up the vast majority of my ownership to get it right. If I need to get to the people who have access to the studios and they have access to distribution and have access to, you know, radio and all this. I gotta give them 80% Of what I owe

Kelsey Davis  10:08  My name, my likeness, my masters, publishing all of it right? I hope that at least the volume of the sales and the listens the making worth it, right.

What is REC Philly?

Will  10:17  So so for us it was like, What can we build that could really help people understand that there could be another way? Yeah, right. So for us, it was all right, you know, as a videographer myself, you know, put a found a warehouse, right, put a backdrop up, and that's where I'm shooting, build a recording studio for the homie. And then we had a couch, right, like that was our co working space. And then over time, I realized all the homies who came through, never wanted to leave. And it was clear because we all needed access to the same things. We all needed the same creative tools to a certain extent, we all needed access to this information of just like, how do we actually program ourselves to be the best entrepreneurs, we can we own YouTube University. So three and four in the morning, right studying. And we realized that the conversations we were having were the same combos other people needed to be tapped into. And that was really the seed for reckon. And now it's mature to this this space. Yeah, let's talk about what is what has matured into Yeah, so what has matured into now, you know, instead of being in a warehouse, you know, North Philly, four flights of stairs, walk up type vibe, we now have a state of the art facility in Center City, Philly, you know, in the mall that I grew up in, you know what I mean? The gallery?

Kelsey Davis  11:24 What does that feel like for you, even being around like, friends, family, neighborhood, same environment.

Will  11:31  It's a blessing, you know, and the reason I say so blessing is because there's this like figurative, but also literal flag that we've been able to plant in the center of our city that says yo, creatives will always have a place here. And I think that's important for a city like Philadelphia, but honestly, for every city, to understand how important placemaking is right? And to say, Yo, when I was growing up, I used to walk through that mall, window shopping, like literally just looking for a place to be. But the fact that now there's like a generation of young people who go downtown as a creative and say you tell your family, I'm going to work today. And you're not you're going to Center City with some pride, like, knowing that that place was built for you, you know, with the support of someone who looks like you, I believe now is there's members that walk into that space. And the first time they're there, they rethink what's possible for themselves just because the space exists. You feel me

Kelsey Davis  12:24  when you walk into somewhere. I know that was me, like when I grew up in Atlanta. And I remember for me the idea of going to New York, for screams like the biggest thing ever. Man, I went to upstate New York, Syracuse, I got I was living in New York City. And I remember being on campus, first week, freshman year just being like, like, yeah, it the window, the sky opens up in terms of what you have access to, is really do. And so it's like, you only have your frame of reference of what you can do often based on what you have access to. And that's the thing with being a creator often, right, it's like you have this vision to be actualized.

Will  12:59  And the real challenge is, it's incredibly hard to be what you can't see. So sometimes I even just having the model of like, Oh, I see somebody who's getting it differently. Now, it's like, oh, wow, if I want to be in the entertainment industry, there's so many more jobs than just the person on the stage. Right. And I think that's important, but to, you know, explicitly explain what REC is it's, we have a physical space, 10,000 square feet that we think of as a gym membership, or a YMCA for creatives, right? So you walk into this space, and instead of workout gear and yoga studios, it's recording studios, podcast studios, dance studios design, we have a Live Nation venue, you know, we have a retail store, we literally have all of the tools that creatives need to create, to be able to execute and then to be able to monetize, right. And the beauty is we also built a creative agency that allows us to work with brands of all sizes, whether that's, you know, Red Bull, or Lyft, or Comcast, and when they hire us to do different marketing services, creative services, documentaries, events, we literally go right back into our membership base, and we hire our members to do that work. So for us, the vision now is to how do we scale up to build these hubs, right, that are so important for that in real life connection and community building. We want to put those hubs and cities around the world to connect all these brilliant minds that we have in our community in our culture. So we can lean on each other in a way that makes us less dependent on some of these institutions out there for our success.

Kelsey Davis  14:23  know somebody that believes in our mission a lot. And that's been fighting their whole career to do that in their own space. It's puff. Absolutely talks about that.

Will  14:33  Yeah. So you know, fortunately, as we started to mature as a business, we realized really early, we weren't just solving affiliate problem, right? The vision from the RIP was, yeah, we know, there's creators and cities around the country and around the world who need this similar resource set and this amenity set, if we're going to be competitive in this whole revolution that's happening in the greater economy, right. And too often we've been left out of, you know, revolutions like this of economic growth, but like You mentioned when we were coming up. For me personally, one of the original creative entrepreneurs that I saw doing it at the highest level was puff. And like, we forget this sometimes, but like this man has ran through walls, industry after industry, you know, even, I can go back to Sean John Wright, one of the first, you know, black owned clothing brands that was in Times Square, right, like, we never saw that before. And I could name you know, probably five or six times that he's done things like that. And the beauty of us building the relationship with puff and combs enterprises is puff understands that he had to run through those walls to get where he got. But he knows that now he's in a position of legacy where he can invest in the things that can literally just remove those roadblocks for us as a generation, you know, so that's, that's what he kind of saw on us. He was like, Yo, I understand it, he had already had a vision for a creative space. So when we start to talk, and it was like, oh, clearly, we should be partnering up. And we could be able to really make this thing a reality and cities around the world. Yeah.

Defining Creative Vision and Knowing Your Purpose

Kelsey Davis  16:01  What happens when people who deeply understand themselves, their gifts, their purpose, their values, their position, right? Because that seems like you know who you are, right? And I think that we have to do that as individuals, first of all, to be able to thrive and accelerate as a creator. Right? You mentioned something at the beginning of this, you know, your Creator made from the Creator, right? It's something I say every day, they're like, Yo, how do you get your inspiration? Like, you know, you know, how do you learn how to create be a creator? And and, you know, for me, it's like, Well, I think the closer that I understand myself, my gifts, my pain points, what the plan that I believe God has over my life, I think that I'm able to get in alignment with myself. That's right, right. Wellness, for me is a huge part of that to make sure that I can sustain and balance the the me that I know has to exist so that I can continue to create, right? What happens? What have you seen when people who are aligned in these ways partner,

Will  17:03  yo, when you got got me about to start preaching out here, when two are gathered, when two or more are gathered, hey, by this President, there's something incredibly special that happens when people really get to tap into self and understand themselves, and then do that in community. I think all of the limitations get removed, right? Because we were jamming on this even talking briefly last night, right? Like, there's this narrative of like, Yo, you got to fake it till you make it right in our culture. But I think that's so crippling sometimes because people struggle to try to get really good at being someone else. And that really takes all your time and energy and you can never master being you. You know what I mean, but all the deepest power comes from really leaning into who you are. So for me, that's even why a place like Tulsa is important. Why? Because when you really understand who we are as a people in the history, right, it rewrites that narrative in our brains of like, where our history started, and what it looked

Kelsey Davis  18:00  like. And then we have a different ceiling in terms of the possibility I tell people all the time, it's like when you go to Tulsa, you're just a testimony to that. When you come to Tulsa and you and you see really literally get this real understanding of who you are. And it's like when I think about 100 years ago, the people that were coming to Tulsa, you know what I'm saying like a lot of people weren't from Tulsa, who came to Tulsa to build. Right, right. And a lot of people had a similar vision, mission values about what we wanted for ourselves as individuals, but also for our community for our country. That part, right. No, I love that. So for you, when do you feel the least? Like Well, Tom's and we talked about like, okay, alignment, right. Like when when we're meant to it most out of the pocket?

Will  18:40  Talk That Talk? Yeah, man. All right, look. So that's, I think that's such a beautiful question. And this has been something that I've like, wrestled with throughout the whole journey, right? Like, again, I come from the agency world, I had an amazing job doing digital strategy for entertainment brands and whatnot. But for me, the idea of being in any space where I couldn't show up fully, I had to, you know, dress a little different than I wanted to, you know, I mean, if you if you really understand the the certain experience, you know, what it means to have to put that face on when you walk into a space. And anytime I got to bend to NA, Yo, you know what I'm saying? Because then it disconnects what my where my power comes from, you know, and I'll be honest, even on some of this fundraising journey, early in the beginning, it was like doing like, I'm out here got a, you know, your

Kelsey Davis  19:34  story, we hope, right? Once you ally

Will  19:37  because people like, you know, and I think folks are starting to talk about this more now. But it's like when we think about who's out here raising capital, and who's out here getting the capital is sick. You know, it's a really hard journey for us as black founders specifically, you know what I'm saying? Even folks be like, Yo, I've raised a family and friends round. It's like, dang, well, I don't know to me and my family and friends who write me up. Check for 100k Reading 50k. You know what I'm saying?

Kelsey Davis  20:02  That bending that you talked about? How has that experience been for you as someone who also identifies in a lot of different positions and identities in the shoes of your Creator? Absolutely right. Your son? Yeah, right. You're a tech founder. Yeah. Right. What does that look like as you navigate those spaces where, you know, you know, if you're in the VC space, you're in the tech world, it's like, do you feel the need to present yourself as tech forward?

Will  20:28  Yo, straight up? It's interesting, right? Because our for Rex model, you know, it's it's a little bit of a lot of different things, right? I think as a system thinker, one of the best things, one of the best gifts I have is to see unrelated things and understand the interconnectivity between them. Right. That's one of my gifts as a visionary. But what makes that difficult is these traditional VC funds that I've experienced so far, a lot of them have their, their investment thesis, right. So some of them are like, Yo, we explicitly invest in SAS tech. That's it, right? A lot of them b2b SaaS, tech, right? That's not who we are. Right? So when you get in the room, and you want to get the money you like, alright, well, let me play up the technology piece, which is disrespectful to the power of what I already know, we're building, but it's like, Yo, we need to get the money, right? Because I need the funds, the revolution gotta be funded, right? So there was a lot of pressure for us to try to go there. Because it's like, the SAS tech people are like, oh, there's some real estate here. We don't get it, we're out. And then the real estate folks are like, Wait, this is kind of a culture and entertainment play. We're out, right. But when we finally started to get into the right rooms, there was a peace, because I started to realize, alright, as I'm pitching, and as I'm talking to, folks, I don't even have to explain to you the power of culture, I don't have to explain to you the economic value of my people who have been creating it in the entertainment space for centuries. So the whole conversation shifted, right. And I think that what I think we get twisted, sometimes is like, yes, we are at a place where, fortunately, there are way more black millionaires than there's ever been. But there's a difference between being a black millionaire, and being able to write a million dollar check.

What are we really fighting for in our community?

Kelsey Davis  22:07  and being able to say that our wealth, gap numbers are better that are I think sometimes we throw these shiny statistics, right. Hey, like, Oh, look at all these black people raising capital? Oh, look at you know, we have a black president, you know, look at what your what's your incredible things right. But when we look communally, right. You gotta look to the media of our community. I think I think a lot of people don't understand. It's like, I told you, everything I do is like I empower creators create, yeah, right. I'm trying to help creators create the life that they want. I'm trying to literally liberate the world. Right? In doing that, there are certain things that we have to be honest with about in terms of hey, like, what are we really valuing? And what are we really fighting for? Yeah, and a lot of times, it's like, if we're saying, Hey, we're the ones that are we're opening these doors, we're gonna go get the brands, we're gonna create the spaces, right, we're gonna build the technology. You know, people expect their lives to change. Right? And I know, I feel a certain level of responsibility to be a good steward around resources, leadership, everything, right? Because it's a matter of like, we are literally trying to nurture our people. But we have to do that from a position of service. Yeah, right. And not from a position of, oh, look, you know, what we want to build, but this is what we want. This is whom we want to serve, and how we will do that.

Will  23:26  I totally agree. And also want to add, you have to do it from a heart space of service, right? Servant leadership, which I think we you and I both share, but also from a place of authenticity. Because if you bend to get it, you have to stay bent to keep it. You feel me and I think there's

Kelsey Davis  23:40  I think there's a lot of people in our culture bent, and bending, right breaking.

Will  23:44  And as folks who are entrepreneurs, just like a lot of the why we're building is wanting to solve problems that aren't being solved, but too, because we want to do it the way we want to do it. Yeah. So if you then put yourself in a situation where now I'm bent out of shape in order to get this thing, it counters the whole purpose of of taking the risk that we're taking as entrepreneurs, right. So so that's been a whole journey. And like, I think deepening that inner work, you know, for myself, and things like therapy,

Kelsey Davis  24:10  but what what is that process for you in terms of how you sustain?

Will  24:15  Yeah, so look for me, man. Fortunately, I was I was raised in the church, you know, I'm saying, I'm a preacher's kid, you know, I'm saying so like, faith has always been my foundation, which I'm grateful for. As I got older, I also recognize the need for me to heal and really like embrace therapy. Right? I think sometimes, folks, we lean on God and prayer when really we also need to be going to therapy, you know, let's say like those Yeah, those can work together, right? That both the reporting and the meditation has been like a weapon for me. You know, meditation is the thing that helps me when I'm, yo I got six meetings today and a couple things that I got to develop and this and that, taking that that 12 to 20 minutes of stillness has been a game changer. And I want to Just say this, like, the power of doing that inner work doing that shadow work, doing therapy doing, you know, investing in leadership training, right? Like all of those things, I got an opportunity to really lean into most of that stuff in the middle of my first fundraising journey, while we were raising our first seed round. And it was clear as day to me how I showed up before, and how I showed up after. And I think it just goes back to a lot of what we were saying, like when you really start to understand yourself and know yourself and get the tap back into your power, you realize that like, they're, the investors are not doing you a favor,

Kelsey Davis  25:36  correct at all, if anything we're about to 10x what you just gave.

Will  25:40  that's the purpose. So in the beginning, I was showing up like, alright, they got the money. So it's, uh, I'm so excited that you're here. There's a lot of money. You know, the real The reality is all they got is the money. Yes, correct. For a lot of them, right. And hopefully, you can get smart dollars that there's relationships and support that will come with it. But a lot of the folks is like, Yo, you just got the bread. But I'm the one who's taking the risk for real. I'm the one who's actually like out here on the ground doing this.

Kelsey Davis  26:05  If we're talking about artists, labels, right, right. Writers films, right. Networks. Found founders. Yes, I think that that is the nature often creating, being a creator. Right. So we had to talk about, if there were if there were one thing that you could you could change. Right? Not about yourself. That's not what we're here to talk about. There's one thing that you can change systemically, or that you could you can almost break, if you will. Yeah. If you could almost like it was break, rebuild, or break and point people to the other direction, whether that was like legislatively, environmentally, socially.

Will  26:50  Lemme think about that for a second. I love this question. So a couple of things are coming to my mind at once. I'm gonna, I'm gonna start here. I think if I could change one thing, I wouldn't even go from a policy perspective or anything like that, I would say the, the fundamental mindset of what success looks like, for our culture. At rec, our slogan is independent doesn't mean alone. And the reason that's so important to us is because I think a lot of times I think creatives are the best example. But it's also just all throughout our culture, whether you're a creator or not, right? This idea of like, I'm out here by myself, just me, I wrote it, I shot it, I directed it, I managed

Kelsey Davis  27:41  apps, we're here, in the lunch room, we

Will  27:44  glorify, you feel me. And I think us as black people, specifically, I'm just talking about black people, because I'm black, right? Indeed, we lean so deeply into glorifying a response to scarcity. To almost defend it, when it's like yo, for real for oh, that's not the way though, put your 10,000 hours in and find your tribe, yes, because there's another person who's putting their 10,000 hours into being nice with that camera. And like in the beginning, I will say, there's a time and place to just get it done. So whatever you got to do by any means. But there's going to be a point where you can say, alright, and let me specialize and really focus on what I'm amazing at. And let me really like, develop my genius, so I can work with the other folks. So I think if I could change anything, it'd be the mindset that you got to do it by yourself. And I would shift that so folks will really understand that success is a team sport. And the sooner you find your people know yourself and play your role, the sooner you can be successful. And I think once we figure that out, and I believe we're starting to, but as we really embody that, it's going to change the game. Because for real for real. And and I'll just say this briefly, it's like, a lot of us are on this journey to build wealth as we should. But if you're not building wealth to then be able to share it with show, folks. What is we doing? Yeah, you feel me like? So there's this this beautiful idea of like, yo, let's go get these resources. And let's go get it. But like, if you're not doing it and being able to say, Yo, it's hard today, Kelsey, this one on navigating yo was so

The secret ingredient of the revolution is joy.

Kelsey Davis  29:14  building, and we could be building while we're growing. I think I know, I heard a lot from like our parents generation. And I think this is a testament to black millionaires. It's like, oh, yeah, no, like, you know, I'm gonna get it. And then after I get it, and then after I retire, I'm gonna give it back.

Will  29:29  Yeah, right. And I even used to believe in that, right? Because I was listening to hope you know what I mean? The hope is like, I can't help the poor if I'm one of them. So I you know, I get rich, then I give back to me, that's the win win. So it's like, I kind of believed in that for a little bit. But then the other part is like, Yo, the, if the journey ain't enjoyable, especially as an entrepreneur, it's hard to keep going. So it's like us

Kelsey Davis  29:53  where you feel most alone. I know at least for me, it's like it's more so those times where it's like, you know, I think we can our ego had convinced us to believe Oh no, I got to be on a solo journey. Because you know, like, I'm the one that's got to go get the bag. Yeah, I'm the one that has to go do that I'm the one that has to, you know, and then I gotta go do this. And the reality is like, oh, like there are things that we there's value that we could be driving horizontally. There are things that we need. Yeah. Beyond, it's like, yeah, we only go to the back there things along that journey, we need to still be connected to all sides. And have people that are playing all sides of the role. It's not it's not a I'm over there. I'm over there. It's like we have to be connected all of

Will  30:32  us across industry, etc. And also stay connected to our joy, right? Because for real for real, like a lot of what we're doing is revolutionary work. But to me, the secret ingredient of the revolution is joy. Yeah, you know what I'm saying? Like not, and I haven't had to remind myself of this, like, sometimes it's like, we get so caught up in the fight of what we're doing that like we let it take us over. And all of a sudden, everything is serious, everything is angry. But like, honestly, us as black people, our secret weapon has been able to find joy throughout this thing. So it's like to me like that is actually yeah, the secret. Yeah,

Kelsey Davis  31:06  I love that. And before we get out of here, I want to talk about, you know, because you know, wills, a philosopher. All right, well, we'll some degree we passed this kid. appreciate his own doctrines. I'm saying so let's talk about it. You know, you talked a little bit about your process, you know, Bucha wreck, building into a tech company, being able to expand going out to Miami now, what role has the ability to synthesize your beliefs, visions, understanding into literature? Like why literature, it's like this new creative vertical that I see you starting to get into? So talking about the book, but let's talk about like, why why literature specifically as a medium to communicate?

Create Clarity to Sustain Progress

Will  31:47  I think, I think first and foremost, the reason why it's important to just whatever the medium is get the ideas out is because again, this is a team sport. And like, I personally believe that one of the things that we have to our disposal that leaders before us didn't have is the ability, ability to spread our ideas clearly and quickly. You feel me like I can only imagine what it would have looked like if the Panthers had Twitter, you feel me like it would have been a whole different world. So for me, the idea of being able to synthesize the ideas is so if God forbid anything happens, you could just pass it to the next person I can make you feel me.

Yeah, they could just pick it up and move on, I think I think it was Dr. Henrik Clarke said, the importance of that documentation is, you know, if you're working on the journey, and unfortunately, the leader gets picked off while reading Page Six, the next step can step into the place and pick up on page seven, right? I butchered that a little bit. But the essence is, one of our best weapons that we have not picked up yet is that sustainability, that succession planning. So for me, it's like, yeah, we could all do it in our own lifetime. But if you actually can't document it, and pass it on, it makes it harder for us to win the fight, right. And then I think the second part is a selfish way to almost like scale up my own time. You know what I mean? I enjoy having conversations. And I've had a fortunate positioning to be able to, to help and guide and support so many creatives, that I found myself having the same conversation over and over again. And once I started to understand that, like, no matter what kind of actual skill set you're, you're, you're endeavoring on or where you are on your journey, I believe there were these fundamental ideas and concepts, specifically around business, that if every creative knew, we would have a clear path to success, right? So essentially, over time, I started to have homies hit me up, and they'd be like, Well, I gotta pick your brain about building my marketing plan. read chapter four. Right? Exactly. Right. So I would be like, Yo, actually, is it cool if we just document this conversation? So then that way I could, I could, you know, give it to someone else after. And then I ended up finding about 10 chapters, and put that into my book that I call Uncommon Sense, your strategy guide to creative freedom. And it's literally a blueprint and a strategy guide to what does it look like to build a profitable business around your passion? Yeah. Because

I don't believe that us as creatives are lazy, I think the only thing that slows down our progress is not having the clarity of what is the exact next step to take. So essentially, we package that up, it starts off with Who are you, right, first and foremost, to make sure like, we're gonna go on this journey from a real place. And then once we get clear on what we're trying to accomplish, how we want to show up for our people who we want to serve and who those people are and all of that, then we start to get into the digital strategy and how we do that and the revenue streams and how to build partnerships, how to build teams, how to protect our intellectual property, but it's all there in a very accessible, easy to read. format that's got places for notes and diagrams like it's for us. So for anyone who's like, I'm either just starting or I've been doing my creative thing, but I'm ready to scale it up. The book is for you.

Kelsey Davis  34:57  Yeah, we want to drop uncommon, Uncommon Sense, calm He says, Yes, that's right. We're gonna put that in the description. Make sure that we run that out. Alright, so before we leave, you know collectively always say every human is a creator. Yes.

Will  35:08  Hello? Yeah, hold on, hold on. I gotta say he was rocking this every every human has a greater shirt. Yeah, I need it I don't know. You should drop it you should drop it and I'm gonna be the first person and I don't even want it for free I want to support I want to put the cash down Yeah, cuz I gotta rip that proudly yeah now

Creators Need Space & Time to Succeed

Kelsey Davis  35:27  for show so you know every human is creator is a creator is really what we believe, you know back to the original thesis it's like we do believe that we were all made of a creator, we all have the individual ability to tap into our creative gifts to critically think to be problem solvers to have our own visions. And now the goal is how do we actualize that so we can create the life that we want? So was that question or with that statement? What What would you say? Is the one thing that would or what is one thing that would really help you thrive and ascend as a creator as an individual? As will? What would empower you to be able to create more? Higher, better faster in general?

Will  36:11  You mean me personally, personally? Huh? What is one thing that would empower me to to like create at the highest, like a higher level? Man, if I, if I could, if I could master time, a little bit, that would be helpful. Sometimes I feel like it's not enough hours in the day for for the things I want to do. Yeah, but shy of being able to manipulate time.

Kelsey Davis  36:39  That's a great question. Scaling yourself. Maybe?

Will  36:42  Yes. Yeah. I mean, honestly, right now I need I need an assistant right now. I need a manager. Yeah. All these things. Yeah. But yeah, scaling myself, because honestly, like when you say, every human is a creator, in my opinion, I feel like my life and who I am is my first masterpiece, right? And then everything else is just gonna be an extension of that. REC is literally just a piece of who I am. So if I could scale myself, you know, and be able to do that, I think. I think the world would be in a good spot. You feel me?

Kelsey Davis  37:15  as your as your friend as the homie. That's, that's all I want for you. You know, I'm saying no, for real, because I you know, at the end of the day, we need to be able to have space, you know, yes, more than anyone. Right? We need to be able to have space to think live

Will  37:31  time, space and time. Yep. Yeah. Awesome. Interesting. Yo, hold on, I want to what just came up for me when you said that, right? Like, we need space to think and to do our things. We also need time. And I think early in my journey as an entrepreneur, I used to subscribe to this whole never not working no days, you know, thing, which I think is actually super, super scarcity ridden, you know. And also, I think the cap right of us getting caught on the wheel of, of capitalism, when folks are just working that nine to five job they actually hate you know what I mean, Living for the Weekend, the biggest trap of it all is literally your body is so occupied, that your mind can't even really, you know, I'm saying it's like you can't even that is the trap. And that's been the trap. That's been the trap literally historically, since the beginning. So it's

Kelsey Davis  38:17  like you can't read and write, right? It's how do we do things that strip us from critically thinking, right?

Will  38:24  How can you how can you think about taking care of your spirit and your mental? If you still worried about watching your body? You feel me? Right? So it's like, that time is really what it's about. You know what I'm saying? So, yeah, I'm in a space of it's exciting now to know how many other amazing visionaries are out here doing this work. So that way we can work together to be able to create that time and space that all of our people deserve.

Kelsey Davis  38:50  Yeah. Awesome. CLLCTVE. Rec Philly. Kelsey, Will, to Every Human.

Kaila Mathis
Kaila graduated from Villanova University in 2021 with a B.A. in PR & Advertising and Journalism, with a minor in Spanish. She is now the Growth Manager at CLLCTVE and a Freelance Writer for Adweek.
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