Today we’d like to introduce you to Khaliah Guillory.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
So, check it. This story began December 24th, 2001. I will never forget that date. I was home for two days on break from team captain duties for the University of Central Florida’s Women’s Basketball team…GO KNIGHTS!! It was the day my mom, Cynthia A. Guillory aka Woogie told me life altering news. She was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. After researching what ALS was, I realized my hero had 12 months (or less) to live. I was devastated. Eleven months later Woogie lost the fight against ALS just two weeks after I celebrated my 23rd birthday.
I went dark. Literally. I sat on the couch for a year. Ate hot wings, hamburgers, chips, you name it. Gained 50 lbs. and didn’t understand how I could “live” without my best friend, the BEST MOM EVER.
A year later my big sister called and said, “Enough is enough.” Is this how you plan to repay mom for all the sacrifices she made for us? We initially bumped heads then I realized she was right. Thinking about all the sacrifices my mother made for me I CAN’T PLAY SMALL.
You see, I grew up in a small town, Port Arthur, TX. I remember shopping for Christmas gifts in Central Mall asking mom, “Why are there ornaments on the Christmas tree with names on it?” She shared there were families in our community who fell on hard times and needed assistance during the holidays. In that moment, the Guillory Giving Tree was born. My mom had the biggest giving heart. She would give the shirt off her back if asked. She was the friend you want—tell you exactly what you need to hear (even when you don’t want to hear it knowing it’s the truth). Just because she physically wasn’t here, I wanted her spirit to remain and touch those all over the world.
In December 2011, I founded, The Cynthia A. Guillory Foundation (CAG). We are dedicated to making a difference in the lives of others by continuing my mother’s legacy through the gift of giving and increase ALS awareness in Houston and surrounding areas. Woogie planted the gift of giving seed which has grown into annual Backpack and Book Drives, Giving Tree and Pay It Forward Saturdays just to name a few. Our goal is to continue to impact lives throughout the community in honor of Woogie’s legacy.
Remember the part of the story when my sister asked if I was going to sit on the couch forever? I owe a lot to my big sister. Not only did she motivate me to get off the couch, she also had a hand in introducing me to Wachovia Bank, a Wells Fargo Company. Thirteen years later I am serving as the Marketing Program Manager supporting the footprint. I’ve survived the biggest merger in banking history…check! I was told my goal to achieve Vice President before I hit 30 was “pie in the sky” …. Check!
I’ve always had a passion for speaking. My strengths are developing strategies to elevate engagement, leadership and performance productivity amongst our teams. One meeting, as I was taking my seat, the Senior HR Director leaned over and said, “I have no idea why we pay motivational speakers thousands of dollars to rally the troops when we have you on payroll.” As I leaned back with a smile I thought, “You shole right, lady!” In that moment, KOG & Company was formed. KOG is a people empowerment platform built to encourage the masses to operate outside of their fears and summon up the unmitigated gall to courageously pursue their purpose and passions in life.
Today, the Unleash Your Dopeness Tour (UYDT) is on a quest to spark a 7-billion-person global transformation and inspire humanity to show up at 100% everywhere and fire their representative. What is a representative you ask? A person carrying around manufactured labels that society has placed on them.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The main struggle was consistent self-care. What I have learned thus far on my journey to entrepreneurship is you MUST protect your creative space. Guard it like it’s your last prized possession!
Another struggle I faced along the way was believing the universe was conspiring on my behalf hence there is no such a thing as a missed opportunity. Because I didn’t realize this prematurely, I experienced frequent “burn out” in my first year of business. I felt somehow I would be “punished” if I didn’t attend every networking mixer, join several groups/chambers.
I’ve turned all the mishaps, missteps, learning opportunities, growing pains and formulated Startup Masters with Garry Lee, Founder of The Sphere Podcast Network.
Startup Masters was developed as a platform to share best practices and how to avoid pitfalls with a community of entrepreneurs or those thinking about starting a business.
Please tell us about KOG & Company.
KOG & Company operates under an umbrella with three main focuses—speaking. Philanthropy. Filmmaking.
I’ve dubbed myself a Corpreneur. Meaning I have a main hustle operating from the C-Suite assisting small business customers to improve their cash flow. In addition, my side hustle is inspiring individuals to Unleash Your Dopeness™! This is done through several vehicles but not limited to:
1. Unleash Your Dopeness Tour (UYDT)
2. I AM YOU: Dimensions of Diversity, a three-part documentary
3. The Huffington Post Contributor
We specialize in impacting lives through the Unleash Your Dopeness Tour by providing speaking engagements in corporate America, Colleges/Universities and the community. UYDT is offered domestically and internationally. Topics range from:
• Performance productivity
• Change Management
• Diversity & Inclusion
We are most proud of the diversity and inclusion branch of the company. In 2016, I created, I AM YOU: Dimensions of Diversity—a three-part documentary. KOG collaborated with two filmmakers, Traci Rooks and Cherhona Gunn, with ROWDYGUNNSHY PRODUCTIONS to bring my vision to life.
I have learned through personal experiences that society divides us by race, religion, age, gender and mental health. The reality is that once we remove all the manufactured labels we realize our uniqueness isn’t a divider, but a necessary woven piece of the human fabric.
I AM YOU: Dimensions of Diversity intention is to inspire us to human to human connections, embrace our uniqueness and identify personal misconceptions and unconscious biases.
What sets us apart from others?
Our business model adopts the customer centric approach.
Each participant shares their personal story as it relates but not limited to: military sexual trauma, mental health and white privilege. Our niche? We focus on an array of dimensions of diversity compared to some of our competitors that focus on just one.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
If it doesn’t set my soul on fire….DON’T DO IT, KG!
Assemble virtual board of experts, STAT!
Find community of rechargers — people who will pour into you and recharge your batteries. These people could be, like-minded entrepreneurs, spiritual advisors, kickboxing crew at the gym or social media groups that offer support to keep going as you navigate grit. Simply put, find your people!
Speaking of virtual board of experts, I would’ve invested in “VIP” passes to be in the same room with speaking experts who have traveled the journey I am embarking on. The upgraded “VIP” passes would have afforded me the opportunity to connect with mentors 1:1. Knowing what I know now, with the mentors who have taken me under their wings, I would have gained valuable insights and wisdom.
Take Entrepreneurial Course at the local community college.
Outsource & leverage platforms like Upwork for administrative and task I have zero passions for (i.e. social media strategy, video editing, content creation for newsletter,)
Fail fast. Like lightning fast. Trust the process and know there is no such a thing as mistakes, only learning opportunities.
A/B test like crazy!
- Website: www.kogpassion.com
- Phone: 281-217-3155
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kogspeaks/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/khaliahguillory
- Other: https://www.linkedin.com/in/khaliahguillory/
April L Reed