Johnny’s early childhood saw him transition from Virginia to Denver, and back to Virginia many times by himself. For some, such movement could have created a sense of loss or displacement. With Johnny, the relocations provided a larger sense of self-purpose, an unquenchable thirst to travel the world and embrace the people and challenges in it. Credit that to the role of his grandparents who raised him in Petersburg, Virginia, after he was 10. But also credit that to the role of sports, which he has played since youth.

A two-time state champion in track at Colonial Heights High School earned him a track scholarship to Hampton University. His talents quickly led to HU capturing a MEAC title in 2004. While athletics define a portion of the man his friends affectionally call “JB,” they’re only a portion of a diverse young man with an ever-expanding portfolio. JB received his Bachelor’s in Sports Management from HU and quickly obtained his Masters in Business from Virginia State University. Like most men and women attempting to navigate life after college in the late 2000’s, Johnny’s resume is littered with jobs and experiences, all of which he gained valuable lessons. His biggest impact, however, has come through one of the world’s most recognizable companies: Nike. Currently, JB serves as a Brand Manager for Nike and once drove cross country as part of The Swoosh’s iD Hoops Tour. Yet, remember, John has never been defined by one passion or one career. He’s always thinking, always progressing.

Hence how the #ShineHard series was born. An offspring of his successful website, JBsFood4Thought.com, the online interview series became an anticipated weekly occurrence. JB spoke with several young minority voices in the fields of technology, cultural arts, education, law, music, medicine, journalism, sports and more. Interviewing one person is difficult. Doing it for 52 consecutive weeks is a testament to JB’s obsession with achieving goals. Of course, however, concluding the series by interviewing Johnny, himself, only made sense. He’s the conductor on a train which has only gained an incredible amount steam over the past year. What makes him tick? What are his fears? What are his ambitions in 2015 and beyond? The answers are literally at your fingertips in this week’s #ShineHard Conversation.


What is your Passion and when did you Know?

Johnny: Thanks for the intro Justin. Honestly, to sum it all up, I like to say success is my passion. I’m passionate about personal development and helping other people be successful. I think everyone knows I’m nuts about traveling. I love creativity, branding, and strategizing. It’s just surreal when you’re able to think of something with your mind, then use vision and effort to bring that idea to life. I’m addicted to that process. I’m also passionate about connecting people. That’s special to me.

Man, thinking back to grade school, I’ve always been looked at as a leader and sometimes a rebel. I guess because I was an only child, I was never afraid of going my own way or asking, “why? why? why?” I had buddies in different groups, which was kind of unique because I was able to bring different friends together for one big game. It was a gift and a curse because then it became my “job” to always organize stuff! But yeah, when we did play, I was always pretty intense when it came to winning. Spades, Basketball, Mario Kart, whatever. My ego and reputation were on the line every time *laughs*.

Who are your current mentors and whom do you hope to have as mentors in the next 2-3 years?

Johnny: I look up to my Grandfather, he has a ton of life gems. I have two great mentors in the sports industry. I really owe a lot to them for the opportunities and connections they’ve provided me. Aside from them, I have virtual mentors; Jim Rohn, Ziglar, Brian Tracy, John Maxwell, Napoleon Hill, Brendon Burchard, Sean Combs, Sean Carter. That’s most of them. In the next years? I don’t know. Hopefully I will attract the right people into the picture.

What has been your biggest challenge? What attribute about yourself do you consider to be the strongest?

JohnnyMy biggest challenge is patience. At times, I can be so intense about my goals that I stress myself out. It’s like, “I want what’s coming to me and I want it NOW!” Or when people underestimate the abundance in my vision, that’s frustrating to me. I’m a kind of a perfectionist, but the #Food4Thought movement, more than anything, has taught me patience. I’m focused on the journey and not the destination. My strength is that I’m a strategic visionary with insane work ethic. I can see several steps ahead. I see opportunity in chaos. I see the results in unfinished work. I’m dangerous because once I can see it, I can create it, and once I start it, I don’t quit.

Why is #ShineHard important? Of all the stories to tell, why those of the 25-30 year age group?

Johnny: I created #ShineHard to motivate, educate, and celebrate. One thing I remember when I interviewed my boy Carson Byrd, he said, “We gotta create our own CNN,” referring to us as African Americans. It’s true. It’s up to us to create platforms to honor and recognize our own people. No one is going to do that for us. #ShineHard wasn’t created to be CNN, but it is a platform in the right direction. I chose this age group because these are my peers. I’m familiar with the triumphs and struggles of this decade. The 20’s are known as the “Defining Decade.” These are years where one small exposure can lead to a dramatic transformation! I just hope to be a catalyst for growth in my peers and people that see my work.

They say to be successful at something you have to be the first to do it, Best to do it, or do it Differently. Of the 3, how do you hope to become successful?

JohnnyI believe Ecclesiastes 1:4-11, “There’s nothing new under the sun.” It’s never what you do, but how it’s done. I take samples from things I’ve seen, read, and created myself and then I do it my way. Innovation! There’s never any traffic when you stay in your lane.

What was your best moment of your life and why?

Johnny: Sheesh that’s tough bro! We’re all blessed man. Life is filled with so many great experiences. Probably one of my most defining moments was winning the two state championships in high school. When my mom passed, I poured my heart into sports. Coming from Colonial Heights, a school not known for athletics, all I wanted was to win states. From sophomore year on, I fantasized about it. I failed many times at the state meet and that disappointment hurt bad. It infuriated me in a good way. Bruh, when I finally won, not one, but TWO titles, I learned then what I still believe today; I can make ANY dream my reality. That day changed my life.

What inspires you and where does your constant motivation come from?

Johnny: I’m inspired by talent. I’m inspired by underestimaters. I’m inspired by people’s feedback. I’m inspired by progress. I’m inspired by the work of my mentors and those who came before me. — What motivates me is my bucket list! It’s my personal/professional/spiritual checklist and there’s still a lot of blank boxes. I work so hard because there’s nothing I’d rather be doing than creating a better life for myself and others. To me, that’s my purpose.

What is your biggest goal? What do you ultimately see yourself doing and being known for?

Johnny: My biggest goal is legacy. Living the RIGHT NOW for how people will remember me when I’m gone. I’m just trying to maximize the gifts that God gave me. At the end of our days we’re all going to ask, “Did I live? Did I love? Did I make a difference?”

In 10 years, what will you be most proud of accomplishing?

Johnny: Kind of hard to say. Maybe Husband? Father? Community Leader? High-Level Connector? Black Enterprise Top 40under40? Millionaire? I don’t know. Ask me in ten years and I will gladly let you know!

If you had to start your journey from the beginning what would you change about it using the knowledge you have today?

Johnny: I really wouldn’t change anything. I mean, there are a couple jobs I really wanted and a few girls I never got, but the knowledge I have today reminds me that nothing is in vain. Everything I’m not made me everything I am.

I imagine everyone walking this earth has a dream or vision. What separates those who have turned dreams into a reality vs. those who haven’t?

Johnny: Desire, Courage, Commitment. There’s nothing magical about success. One, you have to crave your dream! This means purging excuses. Two, you gotta conquer Fear. Get over the fear of failure, the fear of what other people might say, the fear of the unknown. Three, you can’t give up when things get hard. Quitting is man’s most harmful abuse to his future self. A lot of people don’t come back from that.

What advice you would give someone trying to build their brand or start a business?

Johnny: Only choose a “product”  that you have the skills or resources to maintain. Plan it out thoroughly. Don’t make announcements before your foundation work is complete. Don’t rush. Understand who your consumer is and how you’ll add value to them. Study the landscape; find who else is doing what you’re doing and what makes you different. Do more than enough work behind the scenes to ensure that your ball never stops rolling. Momentum is God-like and consistency is king. @ShineHardFamily Season 2 coming soon 2015!