054: Getting a Presidential Appointment from Barack Obama with Tameka Montgomery

On this episode of Build Your Network, Host Travis Chappell interviews Tameka Montgomery, founder of the podcast – Raising Entrepreneurs and CEO of Core Strategy Partners.

Here’s what Travis and Tameka discuss in this episode:

  • About Tameka Montgomery
    • She’s the founder of the podcast Raising Entrepreneurs.
    • Has spent 17 years in the entrepreneurial development space.
    • She’s helping parent raise their children up to think entrepreneurially.
    • She was appointed to lead the Small Business Administrations Office of Entrepreneurial Development by President Obama in 2013.
      • She’s originally from Colorado and had lived for a few years in the D.C. Area working in a program to get on a fast track into the upper levels of government.
      • Finished her degree at Columbia and was working with the Office of Justice.
      • She quit after two years and moved back to Colorado.
      • Met a woman who had acquired a 37-acre property. She wanted to redevelop it.
        • She developed a property into a business incubator.
        • She asked Tameka if she would run the incubator, and she did.
        • Including refinishing the building, developing the program, and recruiting businesses.
        • She built up her network and relationships here.
        • Left this organization and was hired to become the Director of the Denver small businesses office.
        • Started to feel like it was time to move on.
      • In 2012, the SBDC that she ran was named number one by the US Small Business Administration.
  • Got word that an official was coming, and she went to meet them.
    • She put together a bag of swag for the official.
  • He asked her if she’d thought about working for the government.
    • She was unsure if she wanted to do it.
    • He wanted to meet in D.C. and talk.
  • A few months later, she went to D.C. and met with this guy and said that an opportunity would open up at SBA Headquarters.
  • She went back to Denver.
  • The position opened up in D.C. and she thought she could consider it, she applied for it.
  • She was offered a position to lead a foundation to educate business leaders on civic issues.
    • The day she started that job, she called the SBA to pull her application.
      • They wanted her to come out anyway, she was their top candidate.
      • This was in August of 2012.
  • A few months later, the gentlemen reaches out to her again to talk.
    • He said when they met he felt that she would be really good for the agency.
    • He asked if she knew how presidential appointments work, she wasn’t involved on politics in that way.
    • A person that’s in the administration reaches out to another person that they think would be good for the administration.
      • He asked if she was interested in learning more and talking.
      • She was hesitant, she was in a new role with a new business.
      • Her husband encouraged her to learn more, so she called him back to talk.
    • He revealed that the position he wanted to recruit her for was his position. He had been an appointee and was ready to move on.
    • She flew out to D.C. to meet with people and speak about the job.
    • She ended up being offered the position.
    • The initial position he wanted her for ended up reporting to her in the new role.
  • How important and how crucial do you think your ability to build relationships was to getting that position offered?
    • Business is all about relationships at the end of the day.
    • The man she spoke to had a professional career for decades before he met her.
    • After just two encounters, he remembered Tameka.
    • That only happened because she went up to Colorado Springs and approached him.
    • It’s only because she stepped out of her comfort zone.
  • Do you believe that what you know or who you know is more important, and why?
    • She values doing great work and performing your best, BUT, you can have a person who’s a stellar employee, but if they don’t get out and make people aware of them, they’re not able to move up in the ranks.
    • You also have people who are mediocre, but they’re always out there and bringing in business.
  • When you look at your appointed position, did you feel that you were underqualified to be there?
    • She does that all the time. She underestimates herself often.
    • From a knowledge base, she was qualified. Where she felt unqualified was on the political savvy side.
    • When she was starting to interview for the role, she went online to do research on her predecessor.
      • He had to testify before Congress, she wasn’t sure if she could do that.
    • She was nervous and doubtful of her abilities, but she did it and made it happen.
  • Was there a specific mindset you adopted to overcome the feeling of “imposter syndrome.”
    • She feels like she suffers from imposter syndrome all the time.
    • She just presses forward and “fakes it ‘til she makes it.”
    • When she started the business incubator, she had never done that before.
    • She knows she’ll go out and figure things out.
    • If you don’t believe that you can do it, then you can’t do it.
  • What’s the one tip you’d give for someone to begin practicing?
    • Consistently reach out and strengthen relationships.
    • It’s easy for us to neglect relationships.
    • People that you’ve met want to keep abreast of what you’re doing and they can all feed into your future success.
    • Since leaving the administration, she’s been asked to speak back in Colorado because she’s maintained those relationships.
  • Throughout your career, how important have mentorships been?
    • Mentors have been really important, not necessarily the formal kind, rather having relationships with individuals.
      • Reach out and ask for advice from people in your network.
      • Some people can feel intimidated about reaching out for a person.
      • She created something called the “Main Street Mentor Walk.”
  • Paired up startup and early stage business owners with existing business owners and they would walk and talk and develop a relationship with.
  • What do you say to someone who’s fearful of reaching out?
    • Just do it.
      • You can learn to step outside of your comfort zone. Entrepreneurs can be born and made.
      • You have to understand the value of getting out and connecting with people.
      • The only way to get confident is to do it.
  • You will have people who say no and you have to forget about it and move on to the next one.
  • The Random Round
    • What profession other than your own do you think it would be fun to attempt?
      • Criminal psychologist.
    • If you could sit on a park bench for any hour with anyone past or present, who would it be?
      • Frederick Douglas, what he came out of and the fire that he had to abolish slavery is amazing.
    • How do you like to learn best, books, blogs, podcasts or video?
      • Books and podcasts
    • Favorite books and podcasts?
      • Book: The One Thing by Gary Keller
      • Podcast: Snap Judgement
    • Give us a glimpse of your morning routine:
      • Wake up around 5am, sometimes before
      • Go to the gym
      • Eat, have devotion
      • Get to work
    • What is your go-to pump up song:
      • Mary J. Blige’s “Fine”
    • What are you not very good at?
      • Singing
    • Find Tameka on Facebook at Tameka Montgomery

Tweetable Quotes:

  • “If you don’t believe that you can do it, then you can’t do it.”
  • “It’s easy for us to neglect relationships.”

Resources Mentioned:

Buildyournetwork.com – Podcast website

Raising Entrepreneurs Podcast – Tameka’s Podcast

Core Strategic Partners – Tameka is CEO of this company

The One Thing – Book by Gary Keller

Snap Judgement – Tameka’s favorite podcast

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