Owning Your Future: Frederick Hutson On Mentors And Being In The Room When Policies Are Shaped

Kwame Som-Pimpong
Written by Kwame Som-Pimpong
Frederick Hutson
Pigeonly CEO Frederick Hutson shares some keys on finding mentors wherever you are and positioning your business to disrupt the incumbents. Photo: Anita Sanikop, Moguldom

Over the course of your career, you’ll find yourself in difficult situations and will have to decide to take the reins or let things happen to you.

In Part 1 of his conversation with GHOGH podcast show host Jamarlin Martin, Frederick Hutson shares some keys on making the most of a situation and positioning your business to disrupt the incumbents.

Hutson is CEO of Pigeonly, a tech platform that enables people to remain in touch with their loved ones who are incarcerated.

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 53: Frederick Hutson

Part 1: Jamarlin talks to justice-tech pioneer Frederick Hutson, who founded Pigeonly to create communications products for inmates and their families that reduce the destructive impact of incarceration.

A former Air Force aircraft electrician, Hutson was charged with marijuana distribution and incarcerated for five years. He used his personal experience in prison to solve a problem for millions of people — how to communicate with loved ones who are behind bars.

Frederick Hutson: Find mentors wherever you are

During his time in federal prison, Hutson remembers how he would spend his days spinning up new business ideas. With him were a lot of individuals serving time for white-collar crimes. He would seek them out for advice on how to do different things like build financial models and vet his ideas within a framework. 

This kind of growth mindset is one you can apply to wherever you are in your career, whether you are working a job you don’t like or just are not in the place in your career you’d like to be. You can still do the work of finding the people who are smarter than you and get them to teach you something that will help you push forward. 

If you can’t find a mentor, here are some resources that will help you out:

  • Mentorly – find mentors in the creative industries
  • The Cru – a platform that connects women seeking to accelerate their personal growth
  • Score – a U.S. Small Business Administration program that connects small business owners with experienced entrepreneurs

Make sure you’re in the room on the policy front

Hutson points out that if you really want to be disruptive, there’s more to it than just building innovative technology. You’ve got to make sure that you are in the room where policies are being shaped that could have an impact on the business you are building.

He gives the example of established players in his industry being able to dictate what phone provider companies and families could use to communicate with their loved ones, blocking out companies like Pigeonly. Hutson made sure Pigeonly was involved in helping to ensure that kind of practice became illegal. 

Congress.gov

National Conference of State Legislatures – organization that allows you to track law changes across the U.S.

FiscalNote – platform that helps organizations track policy and engage on issues that impact their business.

Regardless of the situation you find yourself in, look for the people around you who are smarter than you and figure out a way to get in the room that is shaping the policies that could impact your business. You can shape your and your company’s future. Let’s GHOGH!

Kwame Som-Pimpong leverages relentless research, a knack for connecting dots, human-centered design approach, and effective communications strategy to help organizations realize their strategic objectives. Over a 10-year career, Kwame has supercharged grassroots political organizing efforts, assessed the effectiveness of U.S. federal agencies, managed an international program, founded a digital media startup, and advised government agencies on delighting their end-users. He earned a BA in Political Science from Davidson College and Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia. He can be reached at kwame.som.pimpong@gmail.com.