Full Transcript: Culture Genesis Co-Founder Cedric Rogers On GHOGH Podcast Part 2

Full Transcript: Culture Genesis Co-Founder Cedric Rogers On GHOGH Podcast Part 2

cedric rogers
Co-founder of Culture Genesis, Cedric Rogers compares the startup game to the rap game. Image: Anita Sanikop

In episode 62 of the GHOGH podcast, Jamarlin Martin continues his talk with Cedric Rogers, co-founder of Culture Genesis, a digital studio focused on remixing technology for underserved audiences.

They discuss founders being honest with investors about the health of their startups, and whether Zion Williamson and the NCAA sports industrial complex stole $1T of wealth from Black America.

They also compare the startup game to the rap game with heavy PR fluff and Theranos-like elements in the private tech market.

You can listen to the entire conversation right now in the audio player below. If you prefer to listen on your phone, GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin is available wherever you listen to podcasts — including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, and SoundCloud.

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 62: Cedric Rogers
Part 2: Jamarlin continues his talk with Cedric Rogers, co-founder of Culture Genesis, a digital studio focused on remixing technology for underserved audiences. They discuss founders being honest with investors about the health of their startups, and whether Zion Williamson and the NCAA sports industrial complex stole $1T of wealth from Black America. They also compare the startup game to the rap game with heavy PR fluff and Theranos-like elements in the private tech market.

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This is a full transcript of the conversation which has been lightly edited for clarity.

Jamarlin Martin: You’re listening to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin. We have a go hard or go home approach as we talk to the leading tech leaders, politicians and influencers. This is part two of the interview. Let’s GHOGH! You went to Emory for B School, extremely selective B School. Do you think because of some of these kind of market forces that we’re talking about and structural issues, that you would short B School for people who want to be successful, who wants to be a CEO or do great things? Would you be short or long business degrees net-net, B School degrees net-net?

Cedric Rogers: Man, that’s a tough one for me. I will tell you why it’s tough for me because, I mean, at the end of the day, no, you don’t need to have an MBA. Shaun is a super, super bright guy. He can run circles around a lot of people I know that do have MBAs and he doesn’t need one. I may not have needed one, but I’ll tell you what I got out of it. Oftentimes when you’re considering MBAs, usually what you’re trying to do is find upward mobility in the organization you’re in or an opportunity to find a career change. That’s usually that two reasons why people get an MBA. And for myself, it was interesting, I was one of the few people in my cohort that really wasn’t there for either of the two. I was at a great place at Apple, I was already getting upper mobility, but I kind of was already thinking about doing a startup, doing my own thing. And I think that’s what I was there for. I had an engineering degree, so I didn’t take certain business classes. And so like finance was like nothing I took, accounting, I didn’t take accounting, so I was there to really expand my knowledge base. So now when I’m sitting and Shaun and I are looking at numbers, I know numbers, but I know numbers in a way that it makes sense for running a business where I wouldn’t have otherwise. Now, of course I could have learned a lot of that too on the internet, taken my own individual time to learn it that way. But for me being in that educational setting was good and quite frankly, there’s a lot of people in my cohort and it was a network building thing for me too. One of our advisors, his name is Andrew McCaskill, another one of your Morehouse brothers. Andrew is a senior vice president of Nielsen and focused on multicultural marketing. So he and I used to sit in the back of the class talking about multicultural marketing and how these platforms need to be built. So a lot of my thinking that has spawned Shaun and I building Culture Genesis started back there and through Andrew, who’s now an advisor for our startup. So I feel like those relationships and networking, those things are kind of something that’s kind of hard to go duplicate, especially a great program with really smart people which is what Emory provided me. So I would say just once again, education, I think it’s an intimate thing. It depends on what you personally need. But I would tell anyone that said to me, “Do I have to have one,” the answer’s an emphatic no. But depending on who you are as a person, it may be a great experience for you, but it’s expensive. Right? So like I said, I got mine paid for. So, if you could find a way to get it paid for, the Black Consortium is a great opportunity to go through some of these great programs and get it paid for. I’m all for it. But if you have to spit out a lot of money, it may not be worth the investment.

Jamarlin Martin: As a founder, for the audience, what mistake have you made that could be helpful with the audience in terms of, hey, I have this business idea, I want to, you know, put together a team, possibly raise money, develop the product. What’s the biggest mistake you could share with the audience that you learned from?

04:00 —Cedric Rogers: I started laughing at you with this question, because I’ve probably got like 50 million mistakes I’ve made. First of all, my father recently passed and one thing he always told me, and it’s very, very important to the startup world and just business in general is that, work hard and never give up. It’s just that simple. You have to have that kind of mentality to make it in general. So, that’s one thing, you have to have your mind really made up and be fully passionate, but that doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes. I think my biggest mistake, man, because I’m doing this venture now with Shaun and I know what it’s like to have a really good partner, I can honestly tell you probably my biggest mistakes has been not partnering with the right people because when you partner with the right person, you offset each other. Right? And as you’re doing it solo, then there are other mistakes you can make, right? I honestly would not recommend doing a startup solo. Quite frankly. I would say if you can’t convince someone to come alongside you to go work on what you think is big enough, then it may not be big enough if you can’t convince somebody to work alongside you. That’s the first. Second, you got to find the right person and that person that offsets you. Like you won’t necessarily have to always think exactly alike.

Jamarlin Martin: You want someone who compliments you.

Cedric Rogers: Yeah. Where you might be anxious in this way, that person’s calm in that way or vice versa. There’s just little things that it takes to find success that I think a very good business partner is kind of good solve for. And I think being patient and humble, and really putting a lot of focus on the, when I was getting my MBA, they talked about EQ all the time, emotional intelligence, emotional intelligence, and you go on through school, you hear things and you kind of see it and you see how it works when you’re working for corporate America. But I think it’s actually even more important in a startup environment because you’re trying to build a team, a culture, and trying to motivate people. And I think it was just recently, I read this wonderful article, they said the best founders are all the biggest cheerleaders to their team, they’re always cheering them on, always bringing that positive energy to…

Jamarlin Martin: Like a coach.

Cedric Rogers: Yeah, some of the best coaches are always speaking life into you, right? Just saying, yeah, you could do this. They push you, but they also speak life into you.

Jamarlin Martin: And the reverse of that is your coach is giving you, you talk about speaking life, a bad entrepreneur or CEO is speaking death into the organization.

Cedric Rogers: Yes. Yeah. And getting in the way of themselves and the organization. Sometimes I think people, when I say humble, I think sometimes people get into the startup game, especially, you’re a part of a great thing and also it could be a problem sometimes. I’ll tell you why? Because this is a nice podcast. Some people come to this and they want to promote themselves, right? And it becomes more about them than what they’re building.

Jamarlin Martin: Yeah.

Cedric Rogers: And it’s like, “Well, what are you really doing?” It is unfortunately more and more of that happening where you’re seeing people just really kind of, what is this for?

Jamarlin Martin: A kind of PR, like my business is PR. You’re seeing a lot of fluff in the market.

Cedric Rogers: I’m not here to point fingers and name names, but there’s just more and more of that happening and to me, people get excited about the fact that they’re inspiring other people. Right. And it starts to become about that and nothing else. You’ve got to build a successful business.

Jamarlin Martin: Where’s the product? Where are the profits? Where’s the cash? Where are the downloads? Where are the metrics? Do you have a viewpoint about entrepreneurs understanding, cause you know there’s a lot of younger folks out there where you missed the 2000 dotcom crash. You weren’t around to see how many people got hurt and how the financial conditions in the United States can tighten up really quick. And in 2008, some people, they weren’t really active in entrepreneurship or in tech, and they didn’t really have that experience of living through a boom and bust cycle and the crash of 2008/2009. We’re more than 10 years into this bull market, this economic cycle. You talked about, you’re seeing stuff out there where people, there is more fluff, more talk of raising money, more PR stuff than cash, profits, app downloads, product development. Where are we at, you think, in the economic cycle?

09:04 —Cedric Rogers: I’ll say this, I’ll add one more thing to the preface of the question is that, the startup game is kind of like the rap game. There’s a lot of people out here talking about their records and they got cash in their pocket and they’re faking it till they make it, right? There’s a lot of that in the rap game and also in the tech game. And to be honest, what’s so funny is, it knows no color bounds. Right. You look at your girl that did the Theranos. She was out there lying her butt off about…

Jamarlin Martin: Psychopath. At least, looks like a psychopath to me.

Cedric Rogers: Straight lying about what she thought she was building and had nothing, zero. Juicero, there’s a lot of fraud out there.

Jamarlin Martin: A lot of easy money, and you get the fraud.

Cedric Rogers: The hustlers. Right. And so I don’t see that changing ever. I think that’s a part of the game. I think it’ll be that way from now till the end of time. And so I don’t want to necessarily marry that to what the market is. Right. But where the market is interesting enough, I think there’s still a lot of opportunity.

Jamarlin Martin: Whether this thing busts or not there’s going to be opportunity. Do you think it matters for entrepreneurs to, if they didn’t live through the prior boom and bust cycles where stuff starts to tighten up and investors not talking to anybody, meaning that stuff is really blowing up in the economy, does the entrepreneur need to appreciate the cycle that they’re in or, hey, build something amazing, it does not matter what part of the cycle you’re in. Because, let me just add to that that some venture capitalists in prior cycles, they said, look, this market looks very frothy. The type of multiples we’re seeing, they sent a deck, this is one of the prestigious VC firms at a point. They sent a deck around that spooked a lot of people. They said, raise your next round now, we think this stuff is about to start tightening up and blowing up. And they’re educating the entrepreneurs that hey, because of the macro environment, possibly a pending recession, this stuff is going to blow up based on what we’ve seen over the last 30 years. This stuff always blows up. Go ahead and start being lean. Tighten up now. Possibly pull back on some of your hiring or move a little slower because of the macro environment. Do you think that that’s a bad way to look at things generally?

Cedric Rogers: I mentioned I went through Y Combinator and one of the mantras there is build something that people want. And when you’re doing that, there’s inherent value and when there’s an inherent value, it will always live through the test of time, whether it’s in a good market or bad market right. Now, the reality is if you’re in a bad market, you can’t raise money, you gotta be at a place where, have you raised enough money to get through that period of time is a real question. And so every good CEO and co-founders should be thinking about that. And, the reality is, I think Shaun and I have run our company lean, right? We run lean. I think, because of our experiences prior to this have told us to always be lean.

Jamarlin Martin: So you’re not thinking if you’re leaned up as you’re talking to, it doesn’t matter. I’m already lean, there’s nothing to optimize. I’m running this business tight. Yeah.

Cedric Rogers: So I think that’s the key to any entrepreneur. I would tell them, even if you got, I mean a lot of the major startups, you start to look, they’ve raised a lot of money and not burning any of the cash. The guys here in L.A. Goat, I don’t know if you’re familiar with them. It’s an e-commerce platform. These guys are killing it, but they haven’t been burning into their cash. But they’ve raised, they’re staying lean. And I think that is kind of the name of the game for the most part because it brings shareholder value, of course with investors, they always want to get into something that they can’t, right. So the moment you do these things, that are actually all great things just to do in general practice, no matter what the economy is because you want investors to feel like they have to fight to give you money, not the other way around.

Jamarlin Martin: Yeah. That sounds like a slogan for entrepreneurs where Fat Joe may say, “lean back, lean back”, but “get leaned up, get leaned up”. You’re not going to go wrong running your business lean.

13:45 —Cedric Rogers: And I’ll say that’s the reason why he’s had to stay humble though, right? Because what happens is you attract capital, you see that money and your eyes get big and he’s like, “Oh, I can do this. I can do that.” That’s why humility and just being practical is very important to this game.

Jamarlin Martin: If the cycle does turn, which I believe within the next 12 months, if the cycle does turn in an aggressive way, why we may want to appreciate economic cycles a little bit more is, the old saying from our grandparents and parents is, “Hey, when white folks catch a cold, you’re catching the flu. When white folks catch a cold. You’re catching Zika.”

Cedric Rogers: I say pneumonia. Yeah, I feel you. I’ve heard that.

Jamarlin Martin: So if folks start to get laid off in the, media industry, of course we saw about 2,500 over the past 60 days, Buzzfeed and some others, that when these layoffs start and the investors start tightening up, you’re not raising your next round. There’s a general way to look at this where maybe that’s not as important, but possibly as a Black entrepreneur and you have a business, it may take three years to get profitable, five years to get profitable. It’s most likely going to be harder in this environment if there’s an economic downturn for you to get your capital. So you may want to talk to people who’ve been around through economic cycles, very smart people like yourself about the risk and how can you get leaned up and kind of prepare yourself no matter where this thing goes.

Cedric Rogers: Yeah, I think you always want to be looking at your op ex and just be thinking about where is there opportunity for me to cut back on this or that. That’s one thing. And then the second thing is you want a really consider that you want to be fundraising always. That’s another secret that a lot of people don’t talk about, which means, just because you’ve raised a round, closed a round, doesn’t mean that you’re not staying in contact with investors. They should always know where you are, what you’re doing because that keeps you well suited for additional capital if needed. Right. And I think that’s one of the ways that I didn’t realize that until I got into YC and then started talking to these big time. One of the best things about a YC is that they put you in a room and you start to get other CEOs to other startups who have actually made it right. The Instacarts, the Airbnbs and all these guys are coming through and they started sharing what they’ve done and you start to realize, “Wow, okay, there’s a lot more to this than I know.” And I think that’s the biggest part that keeps us out of the game sometimes is who’s coaching us, who’s telling us these little secrets that we otherwise wouldn’t know. Right? And that is the biggest challenge really, that and the capital are I think the two things that are hardest for Black entrepreneurs to get that coaching and of course the capital to go along with it so you can execute.

Jamarlin Martin: Back to running lean and de-risking the business regardless of the macro environment. I want to build something special, that’s going to work in a recession, bear market, bull market. I don’t care. But can you talk to one way to de-risk your business as an entrepreneur is, if you do have an investor or investors who back you, who support you, who risked their own capital, you have to be honest with the investor and investors about the good and the bad. If you lose a big client putting the business at risk, if you’re raising capital and you’re not seeing traction and you have trouble with the product, there’s cost overruns. If things start to tighten up for you or in the macro environment, you may desperately need to go back to those investors. And so, if you’re not providing timely, honest reports about your wins and your losses, oftentimes they hear stuff, they read stuff and so you’re gonna blow up future support you may need. You may be desperate for that capital and it’s going to be easier for you to get capital from people you’re already linked to, people who have already supported you, obviously. But what I see with some entrepreneurs is that they’re not honest with the investors. They don’t give the investor the good and the bad. But the thing is, good investors, if they are in your cap table, they know bad stuff is going wrong. You’re not fooling them. Can you talk about that?

18:51 — Cedric Rogers: Wow. There’s a lot to say right there. So I think there’s a couple things, so if we’re talking right now to other entrepreneurs who have gone through this. I would say as you hear my voice to tell you that listen, you’re going to go through hard times, you’re going to go through good times. But the key is to be real with yourself first. See, oftentimes, I think entrepreneurs have a way of fooling ourselves first. I was like, “Oh, it’s okay. I’m going to make it, this is going to work.” And that’s not always true. And the best way to be honest with yourself is to talk, to your point, to your investors because they are the ones that took the risk on you. They are the ones that should have some understanding of your business and can actually help you. Once again, I hate to keep going back to YC, but one thing they always tell us is that the moment they stop hearing from a portfolio company, that means they’re failing and they don’t want to talk. And that means they are just waiting to hear them die, about to die. And you don’t want to be that person. You would rather sit with your investors and be completely transparent, good, bad, indifferent so they can help you. And a great example of this, I’ll use Goat again. Goat is now scaling to well over hundreds of millions of dollars as far as a startup. But let me tell you, they are now today an e-commerce platform for sneakers to be sold. But that’s not what he started off being. They were trying to do food delivery. Now they got money from here out of L.A. through Upfront Venture, here in L.A.. And their partner who had made the initial investment in them was looking at them floundering and was like, “This is not going to work.” But he had another idea, wanted to take their expertise and say, “Hey, you guys can go focus on this market and what’s happening in sneakers.” He was able to help them pivot into the right thing and look at them today. But if you’re not talking and working with your investors, they can’t help you. And I think that’s always the challenge of why I keep saying you have to be humble because you can’t get prideful and think you’re gonna be able to figure it out on your own. You’ve gotta be honest with yourself about what the situation really is that you’re dealing with. And when you do that, you’re able to really find your way out. Because like I said, a lot of startups, they don’t die to competition. They usually die to their own self-inflicted wounds. And the only way to get out of that is to literally have people who can help you. Whether it’s a leadership issue in the organization, we need new people maybe to execute. The idea isn’t as good as you thought or the market isn’t as strong. There are people who are investors and the wonderful thing about a good investors is that they should be seeing a lot of deal flow. They should be seeing everything that’s going on around you. So they’re the perfect person to talk to to say, “Hey, you might want to think about doing this because this is what I’m seeing.” So as an example, we talk to all of our investors literally once a week. Everyone says you should be sending out those emails, updating people. We do that. But, I’m a little bit more than that.

Jamarlin Martin: More touch.

22:01 — Cedric Rogers: I rather more touch. I can send those update emails and say, “Hey, if you could help me with this reply.” Those are good. But for me, I’d rather sit down and give them a 20-minute conversation, 15-minute conversation about what’s going on so they can give me real-time feedback. That’s proven to do well for us.

Jamarlin Martin: OK. Let’s go back to Theranos as we finish up. Elizabeth Holmes is a white woman who the Silicon Valley establishment crowned a genius and she rolled out products related to blood tests. It was exposed as a fraud, including, I believe, the Department of Justice, investigating Theranos for fraud, lying to investors. Do you have a political take on the fact that after she’s being investigated for fraud, being exposed for fraud, that there are still prominent investors in Silicon Valley who say she’s misunderstood and, she still great, where there’s some investors who still defend her and some people in our community, we may say, “Look, a Black woman is never going to be able to get that far doing that much fraud, that much criminality where you’re getting more investors, a Ponzi scheme on top of Ponzi scheme of fraud, and you’re getting hundreds of millions of dollars from investors. Do you have a opinion on that?

Cedric Rogers: I’ll double down on that and just say that there’s also in the same, right, that’s a great example, but there’s other ones of where you see frat boy behavior, right? And some of these known entrepreneurs who may have had a certain type of behavior, but yet they still can go start another startup and still get capital, right? They still can find their way, but they’re white males and you say, well, how come they can go raise money and they’ve had even a bad track record and yet I can give you an entrepreneur of color who may not be able to raise or you were mentioning Theranos and her fraud and she could still get support. I think there is a harsh reality. Go ahead.

Jamarlin Martin: Yeah, I was going to say that, what if I responded by saying, “Look, all that stuff sounds good, but the way this game is played at a high level ethics are not going to get it in a way of my 50x return or my big return that I know that we may say certain stuff, but at the end of the day, if there’s a talented entrepreneur that has a gray or, I’m not going to see a Black spot, a white spot on ethics, that it’s naive to think that that’s going to get away of us making a lot of money because people have a certain view on their ethics or morality.

Cedric Rogers: Yeah. I think the reality is that some of these investors look at that behavior and actually look at it as a positive. Sometimes they look at it as like, this is…

Jamarlin Martin: Be more like Zuckerberg. He’s a killer. He’s a psychopath.

25:28 —Cedric Rogers: They look at it as a positive. They say they’re aggressive, they’re innovative. They’re not comfortable with the status quo. They come with these other code words to say that the behaviors may be okay. Whatever it is, whether it’s inappropriate behavior in the workplace with women, whatever it may be, that they give them a pass on these behaviors. And I think a lot of it stems from when we look at who’s making the investments right, who they look at someone, and they kind of can say, I see some of myself in that person is what they do. Right. And they give them a pass. But they don’t see some of themselves in me. I mean, very few will, but I will say that, that is a harsh reality of what you’re dealing with because as much as we want to say investments should be very much about analyzing the numbers and looking at the four things that everyone says you should really be focused on. It’s the marketplace, the product. Does it have traction and who is the team working on it? That’s usually the four things they say you should be 100 percent making the investments based on, but the reality is not really true. A lot of the investments are made off of relationships, do they trust that person? And all those things are very subjective. It’s not based off of things that when you walk into a room and sit down with an investor, you can even just prove to them in a 30-minute conversation, no, they usually have have to already have met you, heard about you, engaged with you. And so it tends to lend itself in a place where people who are outside the circle are at a disadvantage. Now there are more and more investors emerging that are trying to be objective with their investing. But it’s still very far and few between compared to the ones that are still very subjective. So I say all that to say that it’s a harsh reality. I don’t have an answer for it because I think to your point, you bring up Theranos and how some of those investors are still cutting their slack and that and you can’t stop them. The only people that can stop them are the LPs, right? They can say, “Why’d you make that investment? This is definitely a risk that you brought to me that I don’t understand why you did it.” But the LPs are not going to do that if they’re still seeing a significant return overall from the fund. They’re not looking at the individual investments that the fund is making. They’re just looking at the overall return of the fund. So it can be a hundred investments made, so the one in Theranos, that gets covered up. And so with all that being the case, I just say that the reality is raising capital is difficult, is subjective, is getting better, and that only answer I know to it is for more people of color to get into that side of the house and make investments in people of color or more women getting into this place and making more investments in women. That is the long term answer, but it’s not a silver bullet. It’s not going to solve it overnight. But I think that is truly the resolution that has to happen. Otherwise we’ll still be chasing our tail. We can’t force anybody to give you money.

Jamarlin Martin: We’re going to finish talking about the number one college basketball player in the nation. Zion for Duke. So he recently got hurt. And some people are calling him the next LeBron or the next Colby, that this guy’s game is obviously on another level. And so the industrial college sports complex, of course, they profit massively, billions off of our players and athletes. And they get an education, maybe a couple of years. They risk getting hurt without an insurance hedge where this guy, if you were to value him, he could be worth $300 million, right now in terms of future earnings, and that can be valued now. How does the college sports industrial complex reinforce wealth inequality where you have so many kids and you got so much energy in the Black community to get into the professional sports game and hey, there’s a lot of wealth that we’re not getting on the college side that we should be getting? And then that kind of reinforces the inequality.

30:09 — Cedric Rogers: And then you look at two things I’ll add to that is like, look at the brands and how they are profiting from it, right? So of course Nike is taking a Black guy now because his shoe exploded. But before that, he was wearing Nike brand of course, which is one more free post-rise person wearing their sneakers. Right? I think what’s interesting is the person that I think is growing up in this more so than ever before, so technology’s a big part of this, right? Technology, social media, making everything even more in front of the consumer. When you look at Mars Reel, which is some brothers who created that startup and it’s all about reporting high school sports or there’s Overtime Sports, another one that is reporting high school sports. So you’ve got these kids that are getting professional-level coverage in high school, right? And, so technology is a big enabler of this new world we live in. And I think LeBron James was probably the first to really explode in this new world. And even he didn’t have as much social media coverage as Zion. He already has over a million followers before he even went into college, Zion. And yet he can’t get any brand sponsors or anything like that because it takes away his eligibility to play ball. I feel like it’s a system that’s doomed to have to change and evolve because it just has to. I feel like when you look at LeBron as I was mentioning earlier, he’s the one person that is really taking everything back and people don’t like it at all. I mean, you think about who he has as his agent, who he has as his manager. He went ahead and got all his boys, he put them through school and now has his own you platform enterprise where he’s got management, he’s got everything right.

Jamarlin Martin: He’s helping other people come up.

Cedric Rogers: And so a lot of people have a problem with that. But I think…

Jamarlin Martin: So you’re saying that the establishment, there’s just having a problem with this guy, he’s the Malcolm X of kind of professional athletes in terms of he wants to do it a new Black majority-owned, properly value me way, and you’re saying that the establishment, they don’t like it.

Cedric Rogers: They hate it, but I believe that is the answer though. What he’s doing is the answer. I think eventually we’re going to have to get into some conversation as far as the country is gonna change. Can a high school ball player skip having to do that one year eligibility, the NBA is gonna have to keep addressing that. It’s not going to go away. I feel like the interesting conversation though is that there are a large majority of collegiate sports athletes like myself who benefited from having a scholarship and going through college. So there is a benefit to some of us, but those who are extraordinary talents like the Zions of the world, it’s totally a disservice to them because they cannot go and truly monetize their brand, their worth, their value coming right out of high school and he should have been afforded that. And in any other sport you can, tennis you can, golf you can, all the country club sports, right? You can do it. So why are we not allowing it in football and basketball?

Jamarlin Martin: The Republicans and these people say, “You say you love a free market. Proper value needs to be assigned to free market assets.” If you were to go back the last 30 years and we were to say that, okay, we’re going to come up with an estimate that if the NCAA had to pay the market rate, the market value for these players and they’re taking in the advertising and Nike and all these people pimping the Black athletes. If we were to go back and say, “Hey, you have to pay full price for that value. You have to share that wealth that’s being created on their backs.” How many billions do you think we’re talking over the last 30 years if market forces had to pay the proper value for what they’re getting?

34:33 —Cedric Rogers: Yeah. I don’t even have a context on that honestly, because it’s so massive.

Jamarlin Martin: It’s talking about something over easily, $250 billion.

Cedric Rogers: How long has Jordan been out of the league? We going back to when, when, when did he retire? If you’re counting from his period of time until today.

Jamarlin Martin: Yeah, I am.

Cedric Rogers: That’s massive because even when Jordan, even though Jordan wasn’t where LeBron was in a way of branding. But Jordan even way back then was a super sought-after athlete and he got the Nike contract his first year in the league. So you knew that he was about to blow up before then. There’s tons and tons and tons of, like a Deion Sanders. Think about Deion Sanders in college when you want to stay. He was a marketing machine. There’s tons and tons of athletes across all those sports that tells me that could easily be in the trillions of dollars.

Jamarlin Martin: I love that answer in terms of putting it in the trillions. If America was there ever give black America reparations and people are talking about a couple of trillion, the Black athletes alone over the last 30 years, you could be talking about a $1 trillion in the proper way to value our athleticism and the profit that’s made on the back of the athletes. You’ve got to start looking at the share prices of Nike, share prices of Fox.

Cedric Rogers: You can go look at all these brands Chick-Filet that does all the bowls. Dr Pepper that does all the bowl games. And so think about, when you bring this up at that span of time, think about the Fab Five when Jalen Rose and all those boys, when all of them, the Black Nike sneakers and socks.

Jamarlin Martin: They’re bringing in new fans into the game, they’re cool.

Cedric Rogers: And it wasn’t just apparel. It became a whole fashion statement that led to what a lot of brands did. It wasn’t just Nike. And you start to say to yourself like, man, you can’t even, it’s really gets to a point where it’s hard to even calculate the influence. And so that goes, once again, I’ll say this about black and Brown influence in America. When you think about, Shaun alluded to it earlier, the number one genre of music in America and now across the world is hip hop, R&B. You look at what’s happening in film. You look at “Crazy Rich Asians” or “Black Panther” and what those films have been able to do massively. You look at fashion, Virgil Abloh on his own, he’s completely flipping what’s happening in fashion, right? He went to the fashion house, Louis Vuitton and look at what they’ve done. Now they’ve taken and adopted everything street culture, street fashion, right? And so you see the influence and then you also see it in technology. You look at gaming. “Fortnite”, what is “Fortnite” doing to appropriate all the dances and the songs and put it into technology and they’re monetizing and profiting from it. So I think this influence you’re talking about, you’re talking about college sports, but I can argue it’s happening everywhere. Everything around us.

Jamarlin Martin: Everywhere.

Cedric Rogers: Everywhere bro. So the only way I know to change it is for us to make stuff for us, by us. I mean that’s really the true answer to a lot of this.

Jamarlin Martin: And does that tie into your answer before where you’re saying, hey, we have to do the majority on our side versus looking to Zuckerberg or Google or Sales Force to bring us along, to save us? We need to beg the big tech companies to save us. Are you thinking with the sports issue, it is on us to change it? We’ve got the value.

38:27 —Cedric Rogers: Listen, in every relationship I look at it’s like, what’s the incentive for someone to act a different way, right? You go into a relationship with anyone and you sit there and you’re working together. They have to have an incentive to do things. So what is the incentive of, name whatever Fortune 500 company, to change their behavior towards a group of people, unless that group of people changes what they will do from the other side of it. So like this whole fashion brouhaha that is going on. Prada and who else, Gucci, that did these Black face things. Unless we stop making it hot, they’re not going to care. The moment we stopped making it hot, now they’re worried, right? They’re like, no, we can’t lose that influence in that consumer base because they’re dictating hardline numbers and sales. I mean this goes back to the civil rights movement. We had to do the sit-ins or the boycotting. This hasn’t really changed and it doesn’t necessarily mean a boycott. That’s the thing I feel like sometimes people get all spun up on social media talking about boycotts. To me it’s not a boycott. It should be like anything else. If you want to be a healthy person, you’re going to eat a certain way, not just one day, every day, if you want to have a healthy lifestyle. Consumerization should be the same thing and we’re looking at, we want to see more people respect us as a consumer and see the kind of things we want, then we have to dictate that. I don’t expect anyone to do that for me.

Jamarlin Martin: Let me give you an example of what I think you’re saying. You’re saying that it’s on Colby or possibly Zion or LeBron to come and say, look, you’re providing me with the salary or whatever, but 10 of the hottest players, Black players in the NBA saying, look, these franchises, they have grown in value and they’re worth billions of dollars. We’re going to need stock and equity in the franchise like you got at Apple and like all these people, the employees and executives coming up in Silicon Valley, with shares and options, we’re going to need something beyond salary to properly value what we bring to the table. I want to own a percentage.

Cedric Rogers: The only problem with that, right as the NBA, NFL will argue that they are private entities, they’re not going to give up the equity, it’s a little bit different because they are not publicly traded. Yeah. But to your point though, I do feel like the NBA is better about this than NFL as far as what their players have been able to negotiate and get for themselves.

Jamarlin Martin: If 10 of the hottest players were saying, if they were committed and they said, hey look, we’re not going forward with the old way, that you guys are going to have to start offering some type of equity and if I’m going to play for the team for five, six years, if the value of the franchise goes up and I help create that, I want a piece of the ownership. You don’t think that…

Cedric Rogers: I think they could definitely ask for and try to get together and get the players association…

Jamarlin Martin: There’s not enough leverage?

41:40 —Cedric Rogers: But you see the problem is it’s not enough leverage for a couple of reasons. One is it happens anytime you have lockouts. We’ve had these things happen in the NFL, you still wind up seeing replacement players emerge, to still want to play because they’re happy to get a check even though they’re not as good as the other players. And I feel like to me it starts, yes, I would put it on an athlete to kind of ask and demand for more. But I really think, to me it’s a bigger conversation that the entire community needs to be dictating and asking for more when it comes to any product, whether now we’re talking about sports and entertainment, but I don’t think it’s any different than the water we’re drinking or whatever we want. We have to dictate what we were willing to accept as a people and until we are able to come together like that, your influence and leverage is limited. And we’ve done it. That’s the thing though. I want to make sure I’m always positive. I’ve seen instances where we have come together and we have said, this is not going to work for us, and when we do that, things change. And I think that’s just what has to happen.

Jamarlin Martin: I want to thank Cedric Rogers for coming on the show. Where can people find you online and learn more information about Culture Genesis?

Cedric Rogers: Yeah. It’s easy to find me. my name is Cedric J. Rogers. And so have you put that in on all the Twitter feed, all your handles, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, all that other good stuff, you’ll find me. And when it comes to Culture Genesis, we are @CultureGenesis as well, across all feeds. We have actually had a great opportunity to get a lot of press lately, so things are going well. You can find us and learn more about us and we ask that you support our first product Trivia Mob. It’s a live game show. It’s every Sunday night, you can come with some cash. We got some cool things that we’re doing there.

Jamarlin Martin: Do they have to download the app?

Cedric Rogers: Yes, yes. Definitely. Download the app on the App Store. Android is coming in the next few weeks, so things are going really well for us and we’re giving away money. I mean, who wants to win money? It’s 15 minutes to win cash.

Jamarlin Martin: Thanks for coming on the show.

Cedric Rogers: Thanks for having me. This was great.

Jamarlin Martin: Let’s GHOGH! Thanks everybody for listening to GHOGH. You can check me out @JamarlinMartin on Twitter and also come check us out at Moguldom.com. That’s M O G U L D O M.com. Be sure to subscribe to our daily newsletter. You can get the latest information on crypto, tech, economic empowerment and politics. Let’s GHOGH!