Businesses and Hip Hip
Transcript Season 1: Episode 14

This is a written Transcription for the episode: What Small Businesses can Learn From Hip Hip

Full Written Transcript of The Episode

Matt Tompkins: Hello and welcome to the Omaha podcast, where Omaha’s most successful entrepreneurs help your business grow. I’m your host, Matt Tompkins of Two Brothers Creative. And if you want to appear right here on the podcast at the end of this episode, I’ll tell you how you can do just that. So what can hip hop teach business owners? Becoming a success in the culture of hip hop requires every single quality of entrepreneurship drive, grit, determination, creativity, innovation, risk taking, vision, and a willingness to grind it out every day.

On this episode, we are joined by Omaha legend Houston Alexander, MMA Fighter, bareknuckle champion and founder of the Houston Alexander Foundation’s Culture Shock Tour. I just hope he doesn’t knock me out today. I’m also very fortunate to call Houston a close friend, although I’m pretty sure he will deny that if you ask him. But we are. We are. We’re very close. Houston has been at the forefront of hip hop culture for decades, from bowing to emceeing, deejaying and, of course, you know, knocking people out in the ring. In this episode, we’ll see what business owners need to learn from the ultimate entrepreneurs of hip hop. We’re joined now by Houston, Alexander Houston, the assassin. Alexander.

Houston Alexander: Why do you always call me the assassin?

Matt Tompkins: That’s your name. In the MMA, you have SeaWorld Bellator. He’s a bare knuckle fighter. I mean, you’re fighting. I won’t ask your age because I know you don’t ask a woman our race, but.

Houston Alexander: I don’t care.

Matt Tompkins: About you. What? Coming up on 50. You’re still knocking.

Houston Alexander: Lot. I am 50.

Matt Tompkins: 50 years old and he’s still knocking people out in the ring.

Houston Alexander: That’s because people don’t have the work ethic and work ethic. No, they don’t.

Matt Tompkins: I’m also scared. I’m going to be honest with you. Like I would be afraid to.

Houston Alexander: Why do you hang with you? Why do you have the 12:00 shot?

Matt Tompkins: Well, that’s you know, it’s deception. I got to fool people to think that I’m like a grizzly, tough guy. So, Houston, Alexander, we’ve known each other for, I don’t know, probably 15 years or so, maybe.

Houston Alexander: Even for a while.

Matt Tompkins: Good friend of mine. We’ve did the TV show Omaha Life Together and had a lot of fun with that. And I’ve had the privilege of working on some some cool projects for you with your Houston Alexander Foundation with the Culture Shock Tour.

Houston Alexander: And I know I learned a lot from you through radio.

Matt Tompkins: I’m sorry about that.

Houston Alexander: Sorry. You know, especially on the political side, because a lot of people don’t know that you know a lot about politics.

Matt Tompkins: I know that’s the other deception. People think I’m you know, I don’t know what I’m talking about. And then they hear me and then they’re like, what is he reading a script? What’s going on here? But yeah, you came on my my old news talk show for, you know, probably two or three times a week, which was pretty fun. But you are heavily involved and you have been your entire life in, I guess, hip hop culture in the black community here in Omaha, Nebraska.

Houston Alexander: Not even just again, the black community, just hip hop, the hip hop community.

Matt Tompkins: I mean, you started off back in the day from everything from, you know, B-Boy dancing to deejaying. You still DJ today, art, graffiti artist. You’re an incredible graffiti.

Houston Alexander: Artist and doing helping people help rappers out, you know, on my radio show. Yeah, that’s a little bit of everything.

Matt Tompkins: And you do the Culture Shock tour with your foundation specifically to go to schools.

Houston Alexander: And teach the kids about hip hop.

Matt Tompkins: Culture. Yeah, mostly in Omaha, but really everywhere you’re expanding your reach.

Houston Alexander: Well, we’re hoping to expand.

Matt Tompkins: Yeah, well, that’s what we were kind of helping you with. With doing a virtual tour. You good experience online. But I think it’s really cool because you’re focusing on on teaching kids the power of hip hop culture, how positive it is, how much of an influence it is truly had on literally every aspect of our lives.

Houston Alexander: Because because what is what has happened to the culture itself? You’ve had the culture go in a negative.

Matt Tompkins: Well, it’s portrayed in a negative light by, I think, the media and others. And, you know, some people want to monetize that and say, you know, this is what hip hop is. So I’m going to portray this character, you know, But I think what you’re doing is the direction it should be or the thing it should be recognized for.

And so we wanted to have you on here on the Omaha podcast today to talk about your experience in all those areas, because, you know, if you’re if you’re a business owner here, a local business owner in Omaha, you may be thinking, well, what can I learn? What can I take away from a hip hop artist or a graffiti artist or a B-Boy dancer or any of this, that hip hop culture? But actually you could take away a lot about is pretty. 12 years ago, Forbes had an article where they they listed the top ten ways to market and advertise your business. And number one on that list was market yourself like a band. And that’s what I want to talk about today, because you know firsthand better than anyone. I used to play in a band, so I kind of know. But the struggles of being having nothing, having no influence.

Houston Alexander: Zero.

Matt Tompkins: No money to buy ads or market, you got to get creative to market your business. Or if you’re a hip hop artist, that is your business. And so today I want to learn how to market a business like a hip hop artist. So and I include hip hop, I include the whole culture in that in that statement.

Houston Alexander: And it’s it’s weird. It’s weird to keep you. You hear you keep saying hip hop artists when and when hip hop is actually the culture.

Matt Tompkins: It is.

Houston Alexander: Yeah, it’s actually the culture. And people keep saying hip hop artists when you have to be more specific, like a rapper.

Matt Tompkins: Yeah, when I say hip hop artist, I include graffiti artists.

Houston Alexander: Dj So you’re including.

Matt Tompkins: The whole culture. Yeah. So walk us back to the beginning when you were starting out and what is, what are some of the most what are the I guess the, the common themes you saw with those who made it success made a success of themselves because believe it or not, in Omaha in the nineties, hip hop was huge. It was massive. You were driving five or 10,000 people to a show every single week. And so what led to their success that you can pinpoint when they started with nothing, didn’t have any recognition or money or any of the things we were mentioning there, and we’re then drawing 5 to 10000 people every week.

Houston Alexander: You know why? I think it was the I think we talked about this before work ethic. And I think with me, I’ve always had that that that work ethic to where I want it better and say I think and within within myself and I think within other people who are. Who are actually doing the actual act. You got to have the work ethic to want to want to get stuff done. That’s first. And I think watching all all that expand and all that, all that come up when I was coming up, especially in the in the culture itself, I watch people working their butts off, passing out flyers hand to hand. They were doing the word of mouth thing and I think it was actually touching people.

And I tell people this all the time, especially when I do shows and I see artists and I see people doing all the things I tell them, you have to start talking to people. So self promotion is the best promotion, you know, you got to got and I get this all the time with from coaches, you got to let it be. A lot of you have to let people know how great you are or want to be. So. So I think it was the work ethic and letting people know who you are.

Matt Tompkins: And I think too, with that, like referral marketing is the best form of marketing and that is just me referring you and vice versa. And we get caught up in with social media. I think we use it as a crutch instead of a tool. I remember when my wife, we actually met and she would literally follow us around in her car as my brother and I would put flyers in thousands and thousands of.

Houston Alexander: Exactly.

Matt Tompkins: Under the wipers on the on the windshield. And it maybe drew one or two people, you know, But we we put in that work. And I think today we think, well, I’ll just make a social media post or send out a mass email.

Houston Alexander: And think people are going to come.

Matt Tompkins: See you and nobody responds. Why is that? You know? Well, that’s because there’s no connection. There’s no you’re not building a relationship. So instead put in the work and send a direct message or email to that specific person. And it’s a lot of work to do that with thousands or hundreds of people, but that will pay off.

Houston Alexander: But I still think it’s face to face. Yeah. Is that it’s shaking hands and kissing babies. You know, that’s why politicians still do that. You know, that’s why you still got to go out and you have to meet the people. Because again, as an artist, as a business owner, you still have to go out and you have to meet people.

Matt Tompkins: So you start off with a dream, Right? And one of my favorite one of my favorite quotes is that a a goal without a plan is just a wish, right? So if you think you know.

Houston Alexander: From where you get that from, I.

Matt Tompkins: Mean, no, I remember Coach Tomlin, a senator, somebody I don’t know. But it’s a great quote that stuck with me. And and it’s true. I mean, I saw this in comedy and entertainment and I’m sure you’ve seen on it and can speak to it in the hip hop culture of. Yeah, a lot of people, everybody has a dream, but it’s those who are willing to actually put forth a plan to make that dream a reality. So what have you seen like in hip hop culture here in Omaha that translates to businesses as far as people actually treating this like a legit operation that we’re going to actually accomplish this?

Houston Alexander: Well, you start you start off with the dream, and I can base it kind of on what you’ve been doing. So you’ve been wanting to have this, you know, a great studio like this that we’re in right now. You start out you started your dream off with a small idea and now you’ve got a great studio. So but the same thing with an artist. You have a dream, but you’ve got to have a great support group.

That’s that’s number one. And so you I think you surrounded yourself with with a great support group, or if you’re an artist out there or a business owner, find a great support group of people that can help you because you know your dream need help. The dream needs help. So find a good support group. And I think with with myself, even though I was, I’m pretty self-sufficient. You got to have your your it’s a support group.

Matt Tompkins: Yeah that’s I think that’s 100% accurate And whether that’s your family friends and I also say like, have you seen yourself and other successful people in the hip hop culture community here in Omaha surround themselves like they say, like the five people you surround yourself with is surround yourself with or who you are going to become.

You’re kind of a manifestation of all those things. So if you like, and it’s true when I surrounded myself with negative influences, people who, you know, when I was going through my addiction, people who were abusing themselves and doing things that were not healthy, I found myself doing the same things. And now I surround myself with people like you and, you know, friends of mine, successful business people. But yeah, I mean, you’re the only one who probably can kick my butt. But yeah, but, but it’s true. I see that OC my circle of.

Houston Alexander: Influence has changed yourself.

Matt Tompkins: Do you see that? Have you seen that as well as well.

Houston Alexander: Absolutely, yeah. I’ve seen a lot of people who, you know, for instance, Terence Crawford, a good boxer, but I believe him coming up in the ranks of boxing here in Omaha. He had a great support group, a great support group of coaches, of family and friends. And that’s why he’s in the position that he’s in now. Because, again, you got you got to have that support group for whether it be hip hop, boxing, sports or businesses have a support group.

Matt Tompkins: So he talked about, you know, the work ethic. That’s a major component, the having the passion and having the. Hussle, Right. I mean, that’s such a great word.

Houston Alexander: I mean, you said that, but, you know, that’s a great word to bring up. Passion. Yeah. You don’t have passion for your dream then. You mean you’re not going you’re going to quit.

Matt Tompkins: Well, like and because you coach a lot of people, too. And when we coach people here, when we’re helping them develop their podcast and for two brothers creative and with 316 strategy group, I the one thing I tell them we can’t control is your passion. I can’t control how passionate you are, how bad you want it, right. I can’t control that. You know, we can give you all the right tools and help you in every way possible, but that’s the X factor. And that’s I mean, that’s the difference between, I think, a successful hip hop artist or a successful business. I mean, is are you going to have that passion? And it’s 24 seven, man, it’s.

Houston Alexander: Never off showing up. Yeah, it’s half the battle.

Matt Tompkins: Oh, it’s like 80%, man.

Houston Alexander: You know, because again, when we did the when we did Omaha Live have half, half of the, the show itself was just showing up.

Matt Tompkins: It is so it’s showing up. And it amazes me too, because I saw this in radio with when I managed our internship program for about eight years and I would see there was like two interns out of all the 40 interns we had come through, that actually stuck it out past two weeks and actually showed up. And guess what? Those two people ended up getting jobs in the industry. And, you know, I mean, you.

Houston Alexander: Probably could’ve done the same thing because of their passion.

Matt Tompkins: Well, yeah, you show up. I mean, I remember spending my friends would just make fun of me at the time because they’d be going out. I’m 23, 24 years old. They’re going out partying and going to the bars and clubs every Friday, Saturday night, and I’m up at the radio station, learn how to make stupid jingles and learn how to edit with Adobe Audition. And you know, I did the same thing with learning how to video edit. I mean, talk about the work you put in and you see can you see that in in the potential like that in somebody like I can see they’ve got that pass.

Houston Alexander: Well see well let’s switch our lanes to my mama for instance. I get a lot of people coming up to me man. All I want to be an MMA fighter, etc., etc.. And what I tell them is this and I want to train with you, Houston Alexander, and I tell them this.

Meet me at the gym at 630 in the morning. You know, I get oh, I’m just a little early. Like, well, then this this is what it takes to, to be, you know, and any type of mixed martial artist. I don’t I don’t care if you’re a wrestler or boxer, you you got to have some type of passion for what you’re doing. You just can’t watch TV and think you can just do something. You can try it, but where is your passion? And I tell people all the time, meet me at the gym at 630 and you usually have the time, or most of the time they don’t meet. Be there.

Matt Tompkins: And I’m glad.

Houston Alexander: You know.

Matt Tompkins: Passion. I’m glad you brought it up, MMA, because that’s kind of where I wanted to go next because we can use you segue way. Good job shop, right? Yeah.

Houston Alexander: Now just get us.

Matt Tompkins: Let’s use, let’s use you let’s use use an Alexander as a prime example of this. Talk about those those days when you didn’t want to get up. What drove you to get up. What did you focus on to get you through some I mean, to be doing this at 50, you don’t even look 50, by the way. I mean, you could easily pass to like 49, but I mean, you I mean, you’re still Jack, still in great shape. You’re still nine people out. It’s incredible. I mean, it really is. And so, you know, I think there’s something to some sort of secret to your success, if you will. What what was it that you focused on to get you keep you going.

Houston Alexander: Through all that? I think, you know, when I first started off in in May, I think it was the money. Yeah, well, money’s always a great motivator, but but let’s see. I’ve always been able to to wrestle in boxing and do it. I was always a physical guy as far as sports. So when, when I was introduced to MMA, that was easy because I was probably one of the best street fighters out there at the time. And when I got introduced to it, it was just my I already had the passion with hip hop. So all I did was just take that same passion for hip hop and just.

Matt Tompkins: Kind of rinse.

Houston Alexander: And repeat right over to man. So once I started getting paid for it and saw that I can get paid for it, that that made my passion and may made me more, more, want more. Yeah. So what did I do? I was already going to the gym already because I was I was, you know, dancing at the time. So I’d stayed in the gym and all all that hip hop switched over to MMA. And so that that’s where you get, that’s where you get my passion coming from.

Matt Tompkins: So it’s that determination. I think discipline is a key I’m hearing there from.

Houston Alexander: You know, you got to have that and you got to have discipline because then, you know, once you start getting into these these mixed martial arts, you got to have some type of discipline or you will get hurt. You know? And I think having discipline is another way to mentally get just so tough mentally for focus on on kind of being a good person.

Matt Tompkins: Well, I mean, discipline. That’s right. One area I struggle with, just like with I mean, just with health, physical fitness, a lot of people do. It’s like it’s creating those new healthy routines. And I’m a big I’m a big proponent of boundaries and routines. And that just means like, okay, I’m going to I’m going to set a boundary here. Like, this is my time off. This is what I’m working. And so I can’t flip flop those two. I can’t say I’m just going to I’m going to sleep in 2 hours, like, No, this is my time. I said I was going to be.

Houston Alexander: Are you finally saying to yourself, Yeah.

Matt Tompkins: I did. I did, you know? And then I set a boundary. I go, Hey, Houston, you can’t call me three in the morning anymore. I’m not going to go to the gym with you at five. But but it’s I think we think physical fitness with a lot of those routines, but it works in every part of your life.

Houston Alexander: And it’s weird to me that I mentioned that because I was just talking to a guy at the gym this morning and he was telling me how he he lives for being at the gym now because back then, you know, he he went from, you know, smoking and drinking heavily. And once he got once he started physically putting himself together, he just started to stop doing all that.

Matt Tompkins: Well, yeah. When you turn it, I think it was like it takes like 21 days or something like that to build a a healthy routine, right? To break a negative habit, like to quit smoking or to stop drinking or to create start something healthy. Because you’re right, once you get going with it, then it’s like the day you don’t go to the gym, you just don’t feel the same. You’re like, Man, I really miss that.

Houston Alexander: Remember when you said when you first started, you saying, I want to I want to go back to the gym. And so I think ever since then you’ve been going to the gym since then.

Matt Tompkins: One secret I would say here that with with building a new routine, like when you want to create a new one, that really helps. And I did this because I did, I lost about £45 and changed my nutrition and diet.

But going to the gym was tough and like, so I just started just going and psychologist back this stuff, you just go, Oh, we just go walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes, go home next day, do the same thing, and then maybe the next day I go and I listen weights and then eventually it builds up into a new healthy routine where it’s like second nature. I’m not even thinking about it. Right.

Houston Alexander: So true story. I think when Nike first came out with the the the ad, just do it and I saw it on TV. I’m like, that’s a stupid that does a stupid ad. And then then as I got the training people and I got to doing the doing routines like you’re saying you’re doing, I told this person, just do it. I’m like, Oh, oh man. And I just felt like an idiot after that, because that that has to be the best slogan ever for people to just do it. Just get up and do what no matter what it is. Yeah, just do it.

Matt Tompkins: Our old manager and they had to change this after HR got wind of it, but he had printed all these signs and put a ball all over the building and said, Hey, FDI and it’s dad for actually f ing do it. They changed that obviously because wait, what’s the f stand for?

But it’s true. It’s true. I mean, I know everybody has a good or maybe a great idea, but it’s the difference is who those people who actually try who actually actually show up and put in the work. Those are the ones who have a chance at succeeding. Right.

Houston Alexander: And so as it was weird, we’re talking about all these different things, but but it’s just really it’s real simple passion showing up and moving forward.

Matt Tompkins: Yeah, absolutely. So before we get some takeaways, your last thing I want to talk to you about is the maybe the big missteps that you’ve seen. You know, we talk we were talking earlier about using sports as an analogy. You know, Tom Brady isn’t the most talented quarterback to ever play the game, but it’s his work ethic. You know, LeBron James has the talent, but then he put in the work here, that work ethic and that discipline. And most of the time, it’s it’s not the most talented person that that gets the gig that finds success. Because if you have a lot of talent, it’s easy to become kind of lazy, use it as a crutch and not too much. So, you know, Michael Jordan is a great example.

Like he had the talent, but he put in the discipline to where every move and step down to the inch was perfected. So let’s talk about the missteps that you see, the missed opportunities where you see somebody who has some talent, but or maybe they have a dream or a goal. But these are some of the things you’ve seen that can derail that success.

Houston Alexander: You know what’s funny? A lot of people who have talent sometimes get lazy. A lot of people do. I who I know who are super, super talented or you might be super talented when you’re doing graphic designs, you might be super talented DJing or you might be super talented and radio. I see a lot of people who are so talented they get lazy. Yeah. So. So this is where you need to just get up off your butt and just do it. Yeah, it’s going, going back to that recurring thing or just throwing doing it. And I think that for me, I just, I just had to get up. Yeah. And I wanted better.

So these people have to want better. And if you’re, if you’re not wanting better, you know that’s good. That’s a that’s a mishap. Yeah. If you’re not wanting better for yourself, if you’re not wanting to get up in the morning or if you’re not wanting to, to, to have the work ethic to do it. Those are the things that I see a lot of people having missteps on.

Matt Tompkins: It’s all decisions and choices we’re making. You know, I mean, I know that like, okay, if I stay out late till midnight, I’m making a choice that I can’t get up as early tomorrow. You know, if I you know, if I want to improve on my craft, am I making the choice to not practice? I mean, with music, you know, the talented musicians, the songwriters they put in, they set a time, the hours a day, they’re dedicated to it.

Houston Alexander: How do you how do you invite these people to to move in that direction? How do you motivate them?

Matt Tompkins: I think part of that is just their own passion. Know that we can’t control but phrase. I think to kind of bring this all around full circle that isn’t a copyright infringement is when I like to say. And that is we’re doing it, we’re doing this.

Houston Alexander: We’re doing.

Matt Tompkins: It, we’re doing this. Okay, now you’re doing something.

Houston Alexander: Completely.

Matt Tompkins: Different than doing.

Houston Alexander: That’s a bad.

Matt Tompkins: You’re doing this. You’re doing something that’s totally different than what I’m doing, but we’re doing it together. And I think that’s what this podcast is and that’s what we hope it is for for, for people here in the Omaha community, the business owners and entrepreneurs, no matter what area, if that’s if your business is music or AMA or, you know, running a donut shop, that I’m going to end up frequently going frequenting way too often.

But the point is this is a place where we could all encourage and support each other to keep that keep that passion up, you know, because it is hard to just do it all yourself. And so like you mentioned, having a team, the support system, that’s what this is. This is the.

Houston Alexander: Sport. You have to be the head of the team. You have. You have to be that person to add to that. They’re looking, looking up to to move forward with.

Matt Tompkins: So let’s let’s wrap this up. What would you say is your top takeaways you would send out now to a an entrepreneur or a business owner right here in Omaha and what you would recommend to them to create their own success story.

Houston Alexander: Again, starting off, you got to you got to have a great support team. Okay, that’s starting off. But even before you even get to that, you’ve got to have the passion, you have to have the work ethic and you got to you get you got to want more than than what what you have. And and you just you just got to and I don’t want to use the the that.

Matt Tompkins: We’re doing this.

Houston Alexander: Oh, we’re doing this. There you go. Where you got to have that we’re doing this attitude and if you if you if you don’t have the attitude to get it done, you’re not going to be successful. You know, we are doing this like, you know, if we’ve if we wanted to go out and go film something, we’re doing this now. If I wanted to go out and do go to the gym, we’re done. We let’s go. Let’s not even think about it. Don’t think about it. Move forward.

Matt Tompkins: Yeah, It’s amazing how that can just naturally change how you react and perceive things. Because with the TV shows, like, you know, we had a couple of months before it started, one camera, four Lights, it was just me and Ben. My brother didn’t have a clue what we were going to do, but we said, Nope, we’re.

Houston Alexander: Doing this is doing it, doing this, Just.

Matt Tompkins: Figure it out. We’ll figure it out.

Houston Alexander: Figure it out on the.

Matt Tompkins: Way, you know? And sometimes you figure it out and it’s a success. Sometimes you don’t. And it’s a it’s a failure, failure, failure that you’re going to learn even more from than you would if it was a success story.

Houston Alexander: If you’re watching, it’s all.

Matt Tompkins: Part of the.

Houston Alexander: Path. Yeah. You know, watching this podcast, you can hear the passion in your voice. You can hear the passion in my voice, you know, to a certain degree, because, you know, we’re we’re not quitters. Don’t quit. And you just you just got to have that. We’re doing this. Yeah.

Matt Tompkins: Attitude. Yeah. Houston Alexander you can check him out at Houston Alexander Foundation dot org. That’s his foundation of course wins your radio show and you’re doing a podcast and some other stuff here in too.

Houston Alexander: I know we’re still working on the radio show because that’s in the works and then the podcast, we’re working on that. So there’s a lot of things that we’re working on as well. But again, we’re just doing it. Yeah. Anyway, we’re we’re.

Matt Tompkins: Just going to follow Houston, of course, on.

Houston Alexander: Facebook.

Matt Tompkins: Instagram, all the social channels. So we’ll put all that info and links for you in the show notes for this episode. And when’s your next fight?

Houston Alexander: I don’t know. No.

Matt Tompkins: I’m sure that’s coming up. Is it? I mean, because I.

Houston Alexander: Know, sir. No, we’re not. We’re not getting paid.

Matt Tompkins: Right? No, there there is a showdown.

Houston Alexander: I’m not doing that with parents either.

Matt Tompkins: Me either. Smart decision. See, you’ve learned. You’ve learned along the way.

Houston Alexander: And I said, Well, there’s.

Matt Tompkins: Something you don’t want to.

Houston Alexander: Know. But here’s the thing. And you said, like you said, I couldn’t say the other thing.

Matt Tompkins: He’s breaking out the wisdom.

Houston Alexander: I’m going to see that he’s he’s.

Matt Tompkins: Been doing this on me for, I think, like eight years now. Yeah. Blowing the.

Houston Alexander: Whistle like.

Matt Tompkins: That’s a classic dad joke. And just like said, they think it’s funnier than it actually is, but that’s all right. You know, we’ll we’ll go with it. All right. He used to take so much, man. Appreciate you coming in here, man.

Houston Alexander: Though.

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