#MYSMS2019 - THABITI STEPHENS
Chief of Staff & International Business Development Manager, Steve Harvey GlobalSunday, October 20, 2019
What does your name mean? Did your parents explain the reason behind their choice of name?
My name is Swahili and it means true man. My father did infectious HIV and AIDS research and spent a lot of time in Africa. That is where my parents fell in love with the name. They picked the name because they loved the meaning behind it. I feel that the name fits me well because I try to always carry myself in that type of manner.
How did a 27-year old land this job?
Well, how I got the job is a long story. I attended Morehouse College and graduated top of my class. I also started a shoe company at the time called Steps by Stephens. It was founded when I was 17 and I ran it until 2015 . For every pair of shoes sold, we provided meals to women and children shelters worldwide. Our biggest drive was in Washington, DC where we fed 20,000 people. I am best friends with Steve Harvey's son Broderick, so as a friend I would always go with him to his father's annual mentorship camp in Dallas. While attending camp I built a reputation as a hard worker and a very dependable person. In 2015, I was deciding on which Ivy League school to attend for my MBA. Mr Harvey called me and asked if I had any interest in working for him; I said no initially. He asked why I was getting my MBA. I replied, “Because every person who I aspire to be like has taken this career path.” He proceeded to ask me, if I could make the same network and money without going to school, would I do it? That's how it began, I originally started out in Research & Development. While in that role I provided Mr Harvey with some information that helped him close a big deal. The day after that he asked me to be his executive assistant. While in that role I became one of his trusted advisors. I also managed his personal investment portfolio. From there, I was promoted to co-chief of staff, then chief of staff and most recently with all of our international businesses like Family Feud Africa, I earned the role of international businesses development manager. So I would say consistency, hard work and opportunity is why I'm here.
What would be your advice to a millennial wanting to follow in your footsteps?
I recommend that you work hard. Hard work and attitude require no talent. Focus on trying to find something you love and you will never work a day in your life. Always remember the true test of someone's character is how they treat someone who can do nothing for you.
Also, find a mentor! That's important.
What has been the most profound lesson learned from Steve Harvey?
Mr Harvey has taught me about hard work and faith. Try to let no one out-work you. Life is all about doing what you have to do. No one gets to do what they want to do all the time. He has also taught me the importance of vision boards and manifesting things.
Where's your happy place?
My happy place is either somewhere with my family, somewhere eating a great meal, or on a nice beach.
Nature or Nurture?
I think it's nurture for me.
Is it more important to be liked or respected?
I think it's important to be liked and respected. You earn someone's respect with your actions. Being liked is a matter of opinion, but depending on the situation, can be equally as important.
What is your greatest fear?
My greatest fear is leaving this world a worse place than I found it.
What books do you recommend most to others?
Books I recommend are:
- Who Moved My Cheese? - Spencer Johnson
- The Art of War - Sun Tzu
- Jump - Steve Harvey
- Building Atlanta: How I Broke Through Segregation to Launch a Business Empire - Bob Andelman, Herman J Russell
What lesson has been the hardest to learn?
The hardest lesson learned is that everything doesn't come when you want it to. You have to be able to roll with the punches. Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm. Also, it's hard being successful! Everyone wants it but no one wants to do the work. You have to do the work.
What food sums up happiness?
I'm a super foodie; I love food! Foods that sum up happiness for me are lemon pepper chicken wings with blue cheese dressing, mac and cheese, yams, collard greens... basically Thanksgiving dinner and ribs.
What have you never understood?
I have never understood how someone could always be negative or pessimistic. Life is so short and full of opportunities. Your attitude controls your altitude. Life is all about how you react to the things that happen to you.
What's the one thing that surprised you about Jamaica?
I love Jamaica! I was surprised by the people. Everyone was so polite and I am excited to experience Kingston because everyone said I should go there.
Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login