We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Gene Folkes a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Gene, thanks for joining us, excited to have you contributing your stories and insights. Looking back, do you think you started your business at the right time? Do you wish you had started sooner or later?
Although, I do not look back often, If I had to go back in time, I would have definitely started my business sooner. I grew up in an era where opportunities for black and brown people were intentionally nonexistent or limited in this country and I could not reconcile my desire to be a business owner one day. I recall having vivid dreams about owning a business, leaving a positive signature on my contributions to my industry, and building upon the legacy started by those innovators of color that have gone unrecognized for so long. The reality was that I had come from very meager beginnings, lacked a support system from family, or institutional authorities, that served as a foundation for a pathway to realizing my dream, I chose a different path, which led to a career in the United States Air Force. While serving, I always retained the belief that I would start my own business one day, no matter how long it took, and the Air Force offered me the kind of commitment, discipline, and strength of character that would serve me well as an Entrepreneur. If I had followed my dream of starting a business sooner, I would have established myself as a pioneer in my industry at one of the most pivotal eras in American history and would have had a lasting impact on my country, the black community, and leadership as a whole. What would have changed about my experience is that I had an extremely high interest in technology, which was emerging rapidly during the mid-eighties, early nineties, and I felt a strong connection with that sector of the economy, I was considered an “early adopter” of emerging technology and began my career in banking creating solutions that would set the stage for today’s Fintech solutions. I felt strongly that the impact computers would have on the business and the way work would evolve would be transformational, based on my exposure, however, I had no idea just how deep that influence would be at the time, I just
loved developed design systems and providing solutions to large-scale concerns. I would definitely have established a technology company and be involved in the tech industry in some capacity.
Gene, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
My name is Gene Folkes, and I am the founder of Folkes International Group, Inc. and the Host of the Folk(e)s Unfettered Podcast. FIG is a Management Consulting firm focused on integrating change management solutions for Small and Mid-Sized Organizations seeking to improve their operational processes and profitability to compete with large, global organizations by building a more efficient ecosystem built on efficiently leveraging technology to level the playing field. Our motto is “We see what others Can’t.” After decades of refining our approach, we believe we understand what products and services our clients need, and how to put the puzzle pieces together to assist them with successfully accomplishing their organizational goals. Our holistic approach to working with Executive leadership, internal and external stakeholders to obtain capital, recognize market trends, improve internal organizational efficiencies, and organizational culture, as well, as attracting, developing, and retaining top talent, makes FIG the ideal firm to help SME’s reach their objectives. At FIG, we believe in building a sustainable ecosystem for business owners to share ideas, develop strategic partnerships,
and support each other in an ever-changing, unpredictable economic environment, we believe this to be vitally important for business owners of color, who have historically been unrecognized and ignored by the business community at large. As a service to our clients, partners, and community, we developed The Folk(e)s Unfettered Podcast as a way to add value to those organizations to share their products and services to our listeners, to build a following of their own, and to inform people of their contribution to their community. We understand that not every business owner will or can be featured on CNBC, or Bloomberg, so, we developed a podcast that will evolve into an outlet that highlights, supports, and recognizes those individuals brave enough to undertake this entrepreneurial journey with us. The Folk(e)s Unfettered podcast is available on your favorite platform and our YouTube Show is being developed, in addition, you can learn more about our firm by visiting www.folkesig.com. Currently, our organization is focused on two things, we believe business owners need, leadership workshops to help them identify and cultivate their most talented team members, which provides solutions for the ‘great resignation” and we are leveraging our Investment banking experience by expanding our private equity fund in partnership to invest in small businesses.
Any stories or insights that might help us understand how you’ve built such a strong reputation?
I have successfully built my reputation within my market by adhering to my core values, which are the following:
I believe that whatever we do in life, we must live an honorable life. Honor demands that we respect ourselves and respect others. In ALL things I assert that we must act honorably and at times, honor means sacrifice. To honor means to respect a secret, accept responsibility when we fail, uphold an agreement and respect the rights of others, even if we don’t agree.
There is nothing more powerful than faith. It is the ability to recognize that there is something greater than oneself, for me that is my belief in God and those principles guide me in all my personal and professional interactions, my faith serves as the doorway to the possibility of accomplishing greater things than one could imagine.
GIVE! Whatever you have. I have always held to the idea that if I had a dollar, my loved ones would have 50 cents. When I give a gift, it isn’t something I didn’t want, it is someone that I cherish. My best item, the thing that brought me joy. The most charitable thing we can do is LISTEN to understand. Spend time with people we love, and give your time, attention and energy to those in need. Money is easy to give, giving yourself is not.
Whatever your vocation or undertaking, it means nothing if you are not passionate about it. Passion is the fuel that makes the impossible, possible. It propels a concept or idea forward and brings it to life. Often misunderstood, passion is the red thread that runs through all of the greatest inventions since the creation of the human race. Do nothing unless you are passionate about it.
MERCY & GRACE
I combine these two, because one cannot exist without the other. We often, once we are wronged, mercy & grace are the last things we think of, yet, when we wrong someone, we often seek mercy from them and ask them to treat us gracefully. Doesn’t matter what the offense, mercy not only takes the offender off the hook, but it frees the offended from being held captive by the offense. Grace should be a free-flowing gift. What good is it to not give it?The impact of showing a fellow human being grace, often pays huge dividends that will pass from generation to generation.
An overused cliche’ is I can forgive, but I can’t forget. Well, I forgive AND forget. Why hold onto a wrong done when the person has sincerely apologized? After time, not forgetting bogs down your mind and you forget, perhaps to accept a potentially deeper, stronger connection with another flawed human.
I refuse to sleepwalk through life. Wisdom is exercise for the mind. We often spend so much time reacting, that we fail to attend to the source behind all actions, intents and motivations. It is this discernment that allows us to rightly understand a situation foreign to us and to properly divide truth. Without wisdom, we will accept anything from anyone on face value and it is those ideas and concepts that often lead to cult like behavior. Wisdom sees through the veil and opens doors to that which is authentic.
I’ve worked out my entire life.. The body is a temple and one we must treat with care and respect. The body is also a machine and like any machine, if it is not properly serviced, supplied with the proper fuel and tuned-up, it will decay rapidly as it ages. I have consistently remained active and the desire to push my body to higher heights has grown stronger as I’ve aged.. Working out isn’t a choice, it’s been a lifestyle. My core values are expressed by my actions and integrated into all of my interactions with clients and stakeholders.
Do you have multiple revenue streams – if so, can you talk to us about those streams and how your developed them?
We do have multiple revenue streams that we created to provide better resources with our clients and partners, several of our most effective and productive revenue streams that Folkes International Group, Inc. is the Folk(e)s Unfettered podcast and YouTube program. Our podcast serves as a platform to showcase authors, entrepreneurs, community activists, political leaders, and celebrities about the initiatives and projects they’re working on to provide solutions to their communities in an effort to ignite change. We have interviewed some of the most interesting people to date. We also in the final stages of developing the FIG private equity fund to not only provide our investors with profits, but We also want to provide private capital to those small organizations founded by people of color who have historically been ignored by private investors, even though black owned operators have outperformed their nonwhite counterparts by 33%. Our firm is committed in building, supporting, and providing access to capital to businesses run by people of color that are seeking to expand their operations.
- Website: www.folkesig.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/folkesgene/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Folkes-Unfettered-105244047862298
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/genefolkes/
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0ZEETKGs-4RzIe8umxfzqA
- Other: https://anchor.fm/folkesunfettered