On this week's podcast, Marcus sits down with Leavie D King III, MS with CoachUp. From competing in speaking competitions to figuring out how to make a living off it and learning how to motivate yourself and others, listen to this week's podcast and hear all about it!
Leavie: My name is Leavie King, and I'm with Coached Up. I am a professional speaker, and we are a professional development company.
Marcus: Well, it is awesome to have you here, Leavie.
Leavie: Thank you, Marcus. Good to be here, thank you.
Marcus: So, you reached out to me a couple weeks ... it was probably about two weeks ago, and just invited me to coffee. So we're starting to get to know each other.
Leavie: We are.
Marcus: But I was very intrigued by your story and what it is that you're doing, so I wanted to invite you to be on the podcast and share that with everybody, so thank you for being here.
Leavie: Thank you for the invite. I appreciate it, Marcus.
Marcus: Normally the way that we like to start this is we like to hear a little bit about the backstory of who it is that we're talking to, and so why don't you tell our listeners where you're from, where'd you go to school ... Did you graduate from high school, did you graduate from college? Are you married? Anything that's really pertinent to them understanding who it is that you are.
Leavie: Great, great. Well, thank you, Marcus. I am a native Mobilian, graduated in 1990 from John S. Shaw High School. It's so good that they actually had to close my school down, it was such a great school. So, left there in 1990, joined the Marine Corps for four years, gave four years of my life back to the country. I came home, I started my educational career, graduated from Faulkner University in Montgomery, earned my bachelor's in business administration, earned my master's in ... a master of science with a concentration on business. 20 years married now. Married my young lady that I met soon after I graduated high school in 1990, by the name of Tammy. We've been married 20 years now, and we have two wonderful kids, a sophomore and a fifth grader. And we have a just a great new [crosstalk 00:01:57].
Marcus: [crosstalk 00:01:58] and a fifth grader.
Leavie: A sophomore and a fifth grader. The five year gap is wonderful, I'll tell you. But, yes, and the majority of my family is here, and my parents and my in-laws, so that's who I am. That's my small background of being a Mobilian. But I've also lived many other places as well.
Marcus: Well, let me say, thank you for your service. I don't take that lightly.
Leavie: Thank you.
Marcus: Tell us, what was your first job? And I always tell people, I don't mean your first job out of college. I mean your first crap job waiting tables or cleaning floors or doing whatever, and what were some of the lessons you learned from that?
Leavie: So my first job was ... Several people from Mobile may notice this, but there was a company that was a barbecue joint on Dolphin Street. And ... right where Taco Bell and Chik-Fil-A sits today. And they had this large bull out front, and on the side of the bull, it actually says, here's the beef. It was a pun off of Wendy's "where's the beef" back in the '80s. So that's where I worked. My first job, sweeping, mopping, working the drive-through window, and learning that food service was not going to be my career. But it taught me some life lessons as well, that if you work hard and you may not truly enjoy the position, but it pays the bills. So it taught me that lesson at a very young age.
Marcus: Yeah, sometimes you have to do what necessary in order to make it through.
Leavie: I agree.
Marcus: And keep your eyes on what may be next.
Leavie: Yes. Follow the dream, that's for sure.
Leavie: I agree.
Marcus: Now, how did you get started in professional speaking and in coaching, and how did you start your business?
Leavie: So back in 2000-ish or so, I worked at a company here called DCS. It was a money management company, I was a regional manager, and one of the responsibilities for my position was to go out and represent the company at different weekend functions, financial functions, and my job was to talk about money management. And fate came about where there were some nice ladies there that heard me speak, and I had never spoken professionally ever, and they recruited me to an organization with the end goal of having me compete in the oratorical competition. So I joined, competed here locally, won, no training at all. Went to Atlanta, won, no training at all, and actually sent me to the national competition in New York. And my wife actually went with my on that trip, and I competed, and I lost. And I'll never forget, it was really no big deal to me because it was free trip and it was just enjoyment for me. And months later, I received some scores in the mail, four scores. And the four judges, three judges gave me 95+, and the last judge gave me a 72.
Leavie: So right then and there I said, never again will that ever happen to me. I will never allow anyone else to push me away like that to lose an oratorical competition. So I found the local Toastmasters, joined, allowed them to hone my skills, teach me how to put things together, and I've done 15 more, and I've never lost another competition over the last couple years.
Marcus: Was there any feedback on why, 'cause that seems really weird.
Leavie: No feedback. No feedback. So let me premise this for you. So we were in New York, which is the northeast region.
Leavie: The gentleman that won was out of Philadelphia, which was the northeast region.
Marcus: So he was the hometown favorite.
Leavie: And my wife said I was good. She said it should've been either him or you. I came in third. I didn't even come in second. Anyway, so I come home and I join Toastmasters, and I just started enjoying speaking, and people would ask me to come speak at lunches and different things of that nature, and I said, hey. Maybe I can do this professionally one day. So for many years, I did it, and I worked. I did it and I worked, and I could never really breathe, 'cause I had a job. And then back in 2013, my wife and I made a decision to say, listen, what do you want to do? And I'm thinking, I don't want to work for anybody ever again. She said, what do you want to do? I want to speak. She's like, okay. She says, you've got one year. She said, if you can make it in one year, you can keep going. So January 1, 2014, I walked away and haven't looked back yet. She's continued to give me the stamp of approval every year now, so we continue to move forward. So that's really how it got into this business. And when I did that, I decided that I couldn't focus on motivational speaking, 'cause I didn't have a big name, so no one's going to keep calling me for conferences without a big name. So I had to find a way to be able to build that income speaking. So then I transitioned to professional development, 'cause that's truly where the relationship is with the client, is the coming in and doing the professional development services, the leadership, the customer service, the communication skills. And so I focused more on that in the beginning, the professional development, but I continue to do the motivational speeches and the commencements and the conferences. But I focus more on professional development, 'cause I knew that was going to give me the solid foundation that I needed in business when I stepped out in 2014.
Marcus: Nice. I want to touch on something that you ... And forgive me, 'cause I'm going to take a little tangent here, and then we'll get back on track. But when you talk about this person that gave you the lower score, the reason why I keyed in on that is because this past weekend, I had a ... Full disclosure, I just had a bunch of shirts I had to iron. So I was listening to some podcasts, ironing my clothes, and one of the podcasts, which is MFCEO, and if you have a sensitive ear, then don't listen, because it's not safe for work ... But Andy Frisella was talking about using situations that might not be ideal to fuel your desire to move forward. And specifically, he was talking about a young lady in high school that rejected him, and how he used that in some way, shape, or form to fuel his ... He now owns a $200-ish million empire of sports supplements and stuff like that. And so he was talking about how he, from a dark place, he was using anger that he felt over the rejection that his woman had for him to fuel his desire to become something. And it wasn't like he was being petty or anything like that, but he was just like, I'm going to use this to drive my energies into a more positive direction. So it's interesting, because even in your story, you're not identifying it as such, but that did fuel you in some way, shape, or form.
Leavie: It did, it did. It definitely motivated me. It motivated me to make sure that I was the person in control, to make sure that I had every skill possible to control my destiny when it came to competing professionally. So I've taken that same drive and I use it today. I try to be the best speaker, the best presenter. I try to make sure that when I leave, people are saying, hey, when is this guy coming back? His genuineness, his authenticity, just shines through. So I still use it today.
Marcus: If you were talking to someone who wanted to get started in running their own business, what's the one bit of wisdom that you would impart to them?
Leavie: Proper planning. Plan, plan, plan. On the front end, plan in the middle, and continue to plan every day. I think that's really just one of the biggest things I could tell a person. And also, I would tell someone to have a mentor. I believe a mentor reduces your learning curve immensely, and I think so many business owners and entrepreneurs, I think they begin, and they think that they know it all because they've earned a degree and they've worked for so many years, and they think they know it all. But you really don't until you take on this cloak of entrepreneurship, you really don't know. So, proper planning and a mentor can really help a person be successful with starting a business.
Marcus: Yeah, that's really good stuff. I oftentimes tell people ... And I have some people that I bounce things off of as well ... But even books and magazines and stuff like that are smaller versions of having a mentor because you're shortcutting, you're learning from somebody else's experiences and you're taking that information and making it your own.
Leavie: Definitely, definitely.
Marcus: And moving forward.
Leavie: And I've had great people who have given me good advice and good direction, and I've sifted through it and used what I thought was going to help me be the entrepreneur that I wanted to be.
Marcus: Are you currently working on anything exciting for your business?
Leavie: Yes, I am. Yes, I am. Actually, I've been working with the NBA Players Association for the couple years, trying to ... It's just back and forth, trying to make sure that I'm giving them exactly what they think they need at a specific point in time, and so if that comes through, that's going to be fantastic. That is something that we should be able to roll out after the season ends next year. I'm very excited about that. And then hopefully that will allow me to tap into the NBA as a whole. So we'll start with the Players Association.
Marcus: That's no small goal there.
Leavie: No small goals at all, I tell you. But that is very exciting, that is something that ... Just the conversation that I've had back and forth with that group, a lot of different people I've had to communicate with, with them, and convince that, hey, I'm good. But they've never, ever brought in a speaker or trainer or corporate trainer ever, and this is specifically for the employees of the Players Association. So outside of the team representatives, they've never done that before, and they've reached out to me. And hopefully they're going to give me that opportunity to do so. So, very excited about that. Very excited, very excited.
Marcus: Very cool. If you were to look to the business world, is there a person or maybe two people that motivate you or you look to and you're like, man, I'd really like ... They've got something that I aspire to.
Leavie: To me, that's a twofold response. The first person would be ... And this is a gentleman that I've always held in high esteem. This was my high school principal by the name of Albert Lowry. He's actually ... I just saw him the other day at my fraternity meeting. So Mr. Lowry actually showed me what an educated African American male could accomplish.
Marcus: That's cool.
Leavie: And he didn't even know what he was showing me these things, and so he always encouraged me, but always ... I always look back and say, hey, he was always professional. He was always courteous. But at the center of everything, he had our best interests at heart. And I think I've taken that along with me on my journey is, whenever I sit down with someone, whether it's mentorship, whether it's just encouraging someone, or whether I'm sitting down with a potential client, I try to let them know, to be able to see at the center of everything, I want to take care of you. I want to help you be successful on whatever plane that I can help you with. Professionally, there's a person that's close to my heart here in Mobile, actually, that I look towards. And this person-
Marcus: Aw, shucks, man. I mean, really, you shouldn't have. No, who is it?
Leavie: But this guy is a person that is really close to me, and he's been in banking for years, and he's by the name of Joel Biden. And he's since moved on to other areas, but this guy was an entrepreneur that I met personally many, many years ago. He actually sat me down. He says, Leavie, you can be more than what you are right now. And I'm thinking, dude, I'm working at FedEx making fantastic money. What are we talking about here? He's like, hey, you've gotta look beyond what you can actually see that's in your front, what's your vision?
Marcus: End goal.
Leavie: What's your big goal? I didn't know it. And he realized that I didn't know it. And I heard him speak at a function one time, and I said, hey, you are great. He says, do you think you can do what I just did? I'm thinking, what are you talking about? He said, do you think you can command a group? He didn't ask me whether I could speak. He says, do you think you can command a group?
Marcus: There's a huge difference in those two.
Leavie: Huge difference. And I'm thinking, yeah, I can do that. And he just began to give me the tutelage that I needed, and the confidence that I needed. The reprimanding and the discipline that I needed as well. And he really motivated me. He's since moved to Houston now, but he was fantastic. We still stay in touch, and he's always saying, Leavie, I see you on Facebook and on social media. You're doing great things. I knew you could do it. I'm 46 and he's still telling me, I knew you could do it.
Marcus: I don't care how old you are.
Leavie: It doesn't matter.
Marcus: You still need to be exhorted. Even as a man, you need to be exhorted, and you need to be lifted up.
Leavie: Yes, you do.
Marcus: You need it from your wife, you need it from your peers, you need it from your mentors. You need to hear those things.
Leavie: You need that positive reinforcement, it only helps.
Marcus: And it doesn't matter what you've accomplished, I think you still need to hear those things.
Leavie: I agree.
Marcus: Any books, podcasts, people, or organizations that have been helpful? Skip the people, 'cause you already mentioned that. But books, podcasts, or organizations that have been helpful in moving you forward.
Leavie: I read several books. But I think one of the most motivating books I've ever read is The Traveler's Gift by Andy Andrews.
Marcus: Okay. I haven't read that one.
Leavie: And that book specifically, it is fantastic. And I read a lot of self-help books, but this book talks about you individually. And it talks about these things that are here physically really doesn't matter. What matters is the legacy that you leave behind. What are you leaving, what footprint are you leaving in this world? And it really opened my eyes to so many different things. So I try to focus on, what am I giving to this world? While I'm still trying to grow my business ... But I think my business actually gives back to this world as well, because I think when I leave a group of people from a session, they either grow professionally or personally, or either both ways at the same exact time. And I love that. So when I walk away, I think I'm leaving the impression that Andy is actually referencing in his book The Traveler's Gift. It is a fantastic read, it is.
Marcus: And I want to ... You'll find, sorry, you'll find that I take these little tangents, so just indulge me here. But one of the things that I want people to hear when they listen, pay attention to, when they hear that, is that it doesn't matter what your position is. It doesn't matter whether you're a speaker or a personal development coach, that you still have that ability to touch people and leave them better off than when you found them, and that can be your legacy. It's just a matter of showing kindness. It doesn't matter whether it's the waitress that's serving you at the local Thai food restaurant who you just quickly connect with over a couple of minutes and find out a little bit about their lives, and show them that you view them as a person that has value, or whether it's the CEO of some large corporation that you are trying to work with. Really, it doesn't matter. Just treat people with kindness.
Leavie: I agree, couldn't agree more. Definitely.
Marcus: What's the most important thing that you've learned about running a business?
Leavie: The most important thing that I've learned ...
Marcus: It's a hard question, man. Come on.
Leavie: It's difficult, 'cause I learned so much over my journey. But I think that the biggest thing that I've learned running a business is that you can't do it all by yourself. I think that even when you start off as a team of one, because I did that, I was the bookkeeper, the CEO, the accountant, the janitor. I did it all. I did whatever was necessary to make sure that I was going to be successful. But as I was expanding the organization, I realized that, hey, in order for me to be successful, I can't continue to do everything myself. So I think a lot of leaders, a lot of entrepreneurs, have to take that leap of faith and stop holding everything, all of the knowledge within, and bring people onto the team that they can trust to share a little bit of that knowledge to help the overall organization to reach higher heights. I truly believe that. So sharing the knowledge that you have with other people within your group allows the entire organization just to skyrocket. I really believe that. So that's probably the one thing that took me longer to learn than I would've hoped, but I learned it. And now my organization is growing even faster, because I have great team members that are specific and do what they do extremely well, which allows me to do what I do more often, and even better.
Marcus: Yeah. That's good stuff. It took me a while to learn that I needed help too, but now that I have it, I can't ...
Leavie: It's priceless. It is priceless.
Marcus: I can't imagine going back... So as business owners, oftentimes, if I say to you, what do you do in your downtime, you laugh at me. But if I say, how do you like to unwind, what would you respond?
Leavie: Well, hopefully my mother's not listening to the podcast.
Marcus: No, she's all right.
Leavie: So my only ... The one thing that I use to unwind is just a nice Macanudo. A nice cigar. Every Saturday, I do one.
Marcus: I love it, dude.
Leavie: Every Saturday, I step out on the balcony and I just try to decompress. My wife knows that's my only vice, and she doesn't bother me about it. It's only one.
Marcus: I'm totally judging you, 'cause there should be at least a little sip of bourbon or scotch or something like that.
Leavie: Just one Macanudo. And I was open to the Macanudo Gold this past weekend. So it was even better than the normal ones. But that's really what I do, and I just sit down and try to decompress. But another vice that I use to decompress is I read. That's really a decompression for me. Reading someone else's successes. Honestly. Not their failures, because I think that can actually put a negative connotation in your conscience at times. So I try to read other people's successes as far as magazines, entrepreneur magazines, and it doesn't necessarily have to be my same industry. Just another person out here grinding every day. What have they succeeded in? And when I read those things, it just really lets me know that, hey, I'm not in this by myself. And it shows me another kinship to a person that I've never even met in the first place. So that's the two things I use to really unwind.
Marcus: That's really good, man. Well, tell people where they can find you.
Leavie: So you can find me on social media at any time. You can find us at coachedup2success.com. And you can also reach us by phone, (251) 554-7238. You can reach me or any one of my team members here in Mobile.
Leavie: Yes, we are.
Marcus: So if someone wants to find you or connect, they can connect with you through that mechanism as well. Well, I want to thank you again for coming on the podcast. Wrap up, any final thoughts or comments you'd like to share?
Leavie: Well, I'll tell you more because I appreciate the opportunity today, it's been fun. It has been more relaxed than what I thought it was going to be, I appreciate that very much. But this is great. I just encourage you guys to keep doing this, this is fantastic. And just reach out to more business owners, more entrepreneurs in the area that would love to share their stories and their journeys. And I think that Mobile is a city full of potential and hidden gems. We're out here. So I'll encourage everyone. If you're going to do business with a firm, always look local first. That helps us all grow as a full community.
Marcus: For sure.
Leavie: So thank you guys for having me today, I appreciate it.
Marcus: We need to keep the brains here and we need to keep the money here to the extent that we possibly can.
Leavie: Right, I agree. I couldn't agree more.
Marcus: Well, Leavie, I appreciate your willingness to sit with me and share your journey as a business owner and an entrepreneur. It's been great talking with you, man.
Leavie: Same with you, Marcus. Thank you.