An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

I believe everyone needs a coach or consultant. Consultants have been down the road you are trying to travel. Why struggle when you can have a guide. Some would complain that a consultant will cost too much money. To this I have two things to say.

As a part of our series called “Making Something From Nothing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tammie L. Otukwu, an Author, U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Retiree, Certified Life Coach and she currently works for the Veteran’s Administration as a Legal Administrative Specialist. She holds a master’s degree in Psychology and Management, a Green Belt Certification in Lean Six Sigma and has taken numerous military and civilian training courses. She received a certificate of Appreciation from President Barack Obama upon her retirement from the Army after serving over 26 years. She was recognized by “Strathmore’s Who’s Who Worldwide” and featured on the Ty Bentli Show’s segment of “Get a Hero Hired” in 2015.

Her book, “War after the Military” has been featured in Pretty Women Hustle, Soigne and Swank and Authority Magazines. She was as a guest on Dreamspire Media’s Author’s Lounge. She is a member of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women and spends much of her time volunteering in the community.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?

Yes, my childhood was bittersweet. I grew up in a military family. I got to travel the world as we moved from base to base. My father was a career soldier and I watched him work hard to advance amongst the ranks despite the many obstacles that were placed in his way as a Black man in the 60’s. Yet, he had one vice that would eventually send my life into a spiral of uncertainty.

When I was a teenager, my father’s gambling addiction had become too much for my mother and our family was split apart. My mother and I would leave the comfort and amenities of the Army bases and move to the south. We were homeless but thankfully found shelter in the home of my grandmother and other family members. Those tough times instilled a strong desire for stability and success that would drive me to future success.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My life lesson quote is “if you stay ready, you won’t have to get ready.” The military life of a soldier can be very challenging in that it is ever-changing. Soldiers are often assigned positions and required to perform tasks that are well above their capability. Throughout my military career, I challenged myself to put education and training on the forefront because when I was faced with challenges, I had already prepared myself to excel.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

The Bible is a book that has made a significant impact on me. As a child I was taught to read the Bible and learn about God’s protection and what a significant relationship it is to have with Him. As a young adult I continued to seek out the word of God and I realized and began to appreciate what a Guide for life the Bible was for me. Presently, I rely on God’s word as I face life’s challenges and know that the word of God does not fail and has been a consistent in my life.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. There is no shortage of good ideas out there. Many people have good ideas all the time. But people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. Can you share a few ideas from your experience about how to overcome this challenge?

Absolutely, it is my firm belief that manifesting good ideas into actual business begins with the unseen, intangible qualities. These qualities are encapsuled in the alphabets ABCDE.

AB: Absolute belief: You must have absolute belief in your idea before you can bring it into reality. Many people say they believe in their ideas, but their actions speak differently. Belief is simply not enough. Most people believe texting while driving is dangerous, but they do it anyway. Yet, absolute belief impacts the way we behave and see the world. When you have absolute belief in something your actions will reflect those beliefs. A person who absolutely believes that they will be successful will act on that belief. They will act whether they have time, money, or ability. They won’t rest until they are moving closer to their absolute belief.

C: Commitment. Once you have developed an absolute belief in your idea, you must commit to it. You must develop a determination that no matter what comes, you will see your vision to its conclusion.

D. Decision: Making a definitive decision is essential to realizing your idea. You must decide what you want with clarity and emotion. There are so many people who don’t like the results they are getting in life, but they have yet to decide what they want. Decide with specificity what you want and when you want it. Write your decision on paper. When a person makes a definitive decision, all of heaven and earth will shift to bring that reality to fruition.

E. Execution: The Bible states “Faith without works is dead.” Execution is the engine to success. You must make it a priority to execute at least one step daily. Even if you can only make a call, write a page of your book, or hammer a nail in a piece of wood. Do something to execute the plans and goals that you have written.

Often when people think of a new idea, they dismiss it saying someone else must have thought of it before. How would you recommend that someone go about researching whether their idea has already been created?

We live in a world where every thought, idea, and question can be found with the click of a button. Google is so entrenched in our daily lives, that you can literally find out anything you want to know. My suggestion starts first with the admonition to stop seeking reasons why your idea won’t work and start looking for ways to make it work. A simple google search for your idea will let you know if anyone has your idea or if there are any ideas like yours. However, more important than worrying about whether someone has thought about your idea, your focus should be how to make your idea as unique as possible. Someone may have thought of your idea, so what. You can refine your idea to be better. If people stopped at the mere thought that someone else has thought of an idea, there would only be one car manufacturer in the world. There would only be one airplane fleet. There would only be one hamburger restaurant and clothier. The world is filled with billions of people. There are bound to be redundant ideas. Keep moving forward. Make yours better than those before.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Started Leading My Company” and why?

I wish someone would have told me that I can’t be everything to my business. The surest way to destroy a business is to neglect building a proper team. In the beginning of my business, I was the CEO, secretary, CFO, COO, mail carrier, IT tech. It doesn’t take a genius to know that at some point the slightest blow of wind would knock that house of cards down. As a businessperson, it is imperative that you find help to carry the load.

I wish someone would have told me the importance of networking. We’ve all heard the saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Studies have shown that people earn within 15% of what their peer circle earns. If you want to grow in your business, you must hang with people who are in that industry.

I wish some would have told me the power of words. As I have grown as a businesswoman, I have come to realize the tangible benefits and consequences of the words I speak over my business. As the Bible states, “Life and death are in the power of your tongue.” Success is directly impacted by the positive, constructive words you speak.

I wish someone would have told me to enjoy the journey more than destination. Success and accomplishment happen during the process. The end is simply the result of the habits and strength built up in preparation for the destination. The person who wants to run a marathon has already achieved the goal of running 26.5 during the many weeks and months of running in preparation for it. They are already successful marathon runners. The final marathon is just proof for others to see.

Lastly, I wish someone would have told me the power of failure. Denzel Washington once gave a commencement speech encouraging graduating students to “fail forward.” So many times, I was so afraid to fail, I failed to try. Failure is an important part of the learning process. You cannot avoid it. You can only prolong your journey to success by trying to bypass it. Failure is not a bad thing. It is to success what falling is to the baby learning to walk. Without it, there is no growth.

Let’s imagine that a reader reading this interview has an idea for a product that they would like to invent. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?

Step 1: write it out. Writing down your thoughts is the first step of manifesting the unseen.

Step 2: Count the cost. Find out what it cost in money, time, and energy.

Step 3: Gather the people, resources, and organizations you’ll need to make your idea a reality.

There are many invention development consultants. Would you recommend that a person with a new idea hire such a consultant, or should they try to strike out on their own?

I believe everyone needs a coach or consultant. Consultants have been down the road you are trying to travel. Why struggle when you can have a guide. Some would complain that a consultant will cost too much money. To this I have two things to say.

One, I would suggest that if you’re not willing to invest in your vision, then you don’t deserve to achieve it. A farmer who is unwilling to put his seed in the ground does not deserve a harvest.

Secondly. I would suggest that if you’re not willing to invest in your vision, you really don’t believe in it. If you’re telling everyone you have a million-dollar idea, but you’re not willing to invest $10,000 into bringing it to reality, do you really believe you have a million-dollar idea?

What are your thoughts about bootstrapping vs looking for venture capital? What is the best way to decide if you should do either one?

Bootstrapping and venture capital are two vehicles to the same destination. One (bootstrapping) is slow and, in most cases, less risky for those who don’t like the idea of being responsible with other people’s money. They also may not like the idea of having to share their rewards. Venture Capital is a risk but can provide the money you need faster. I would not suggest taking any money unless you have fully laid out your plan and are extremely organized and disciplined.

Ok. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

I use my success daily to make the world a better place by helping one person at a time. There is an old proverb that states “When you throw a pebble in the ocean, you change the tide.” The fact is, when we help one person, we have helped the world. When we change the course or direction of one person’s life, there is a ripple effect that you may never see, but it is just as important to the course of history as the contributions of the greatest historical figures in the world. Think of the person who told Abraham Lincoln, “Yes, Abe. I think you should run for president.” Or the first person who asked Martin Luther King, Jr. for help which stirred within him a desire to help those who couldn’t help themselves. These small moments don’t make it into the history books, but they were the impetus that created the reality we enjoy today.

You are an inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

As I do daily, I want to help those men and women who have fought for the freedoms we enjoy in this country. If we celebrated the true heroes of our country — those who sacrifice their minds, bodies, and lives — the way we celebrate sports and entertainment figures, I believe we would change the world as we know it.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

I would love an opportunity to sit and speak with Oprah Winfrey. I would love to understand the source of her power of will, determination, and perseverance. I would love to understand how she develops her vision to Make Something from Nothing.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

Making Something From Nothing: Author Tammie Otukwu On How To Go From Idea To Launch was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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