Danilo Batson of Spicy Green Book: “Proper things to make that change”

A movement of being intentional. In order for anything to happen you have to be intentional about your choices. From what you buy, support, watch, read, who you surround yourself with, etc. Those decisions matter. They influence the makeup of your environment in so many ways. So if you want something to change you have […]

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A movement of being intentional. In order for anything to happen you have to be intentional about your choices. From what you buy, support, watch, read, who you surround yourself with, etc. Those decisions matter. They influence the makeup of your environment in so many ways. So if you want something to change you have to be intentional on doing the proper things to make that change.

I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Danilo Batson, founder and primary director of Spicy Green Book. He started Spicy Green Book with the vision to reinvest in the Black community in order to create wealth and job opportunities. As an activist, Mr. Batson brings his lived experiences and passion for his community, as well as the cumulative value of nine years working in the food and beverage industry. Danilo has carefully curated his staff and volunteers in order to uphold his vision, and makes sure to continue to add talented staff for continued growth as the company expands. These dedicated members have launched Spicy Green Book to heights beyond his original vision, and he and the talented members of his team will continue to work diligently to make real change towards helping the community.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Circumstance really. That’s the truth when you mention specifics. When it comes to making an impact in my community, that is something I have wanted to do for a long time. I’ve had to constantly reflect on how I could be the change that I wanted to see. The hurdle for many of us who want to make such an impact is how do we get the platform and the opportunity. It wasn’t until the murder of George Floyd that I was able to look around and see the shift in the people around me. This includes people who were now ready to put their time, talent, and skills to work to make some good happen.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

The most interesting that has happened to me is the volume of willing contributors. Spicy Green Book has only grown because of the many people who have reached out to help. I never had the slightest idea or intention of expanding outside of my local area. It was the people who found us from all over the world that were all asking to be involved that have allowed Spicy Green Book to grow. We are a team and I am grateful for everyone who has had a hand in our growth. Seeing everyone wanting to be a part of this has been mind-blowing.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Well I don’t have any funny mistakes as of yet. I hope to keep this trend going. We have so many hard-working professionals on our team and I try to get their input as much as I can. Before we make any decisions I want to listen to different perspectives and take advice from those who are kind enough to share their wisdom. Our collaborative approach on our decision making has kept us above water in so many ways and we plan to continue this approach as we progress.

Can you share three reasons with our readers about why it’s really important for a business to have a diverse executive team?

Not only is it important to have a diverse executive team, you should aim to have diverse personal relationships. One person cannot see anything from all perspectives. Meanwhile your audience or market may be just that, varying perspectives. So in order for your message as a business to come across clearly it is a must that your executive team is diverse. Businesses need to ask themselves, “Is the message I am trying to convey independent or dependent on the person who is receiving this message?”. A diverse executive can help you:

1. Broaden your audience

2. Increase the engagement of your audience

3. Prevent potential loss

More broadly can you describe how this can have an effect on our culture?

This can be huge for our culture. We can begin to recognize where our partnerships reside and how important they are. Truly, we all need each other. A lot of time, effort, and collaboration went into building some of the negative systemic problems arising from our history that are still present today. So we will need an equivalent amount of output to alter that system for the better.

Can you recommend three things the community/society/the industry can do help address the root of the diversity issues in executive leadership?

We can assume this would happen in the hiring process. I could see why some may hire those who came from similar backgrounds as themselves. The downside of that is, as a company you may find it near impossible to break into new markets being that your perspective may be drastically narrowed. That being said, those leading the hiring process must:

1. Be intentional on looking to bring people of different backgrounds than your own on board

2. Take interest in their interest. Many people choose to go with one employer over another because the company too believes in something they are passionate about.

3. Where possible, hire based on skills or production and not just what’s on the resume. There is a lot of self-taught talent in the world that has brought on tremendous innovation.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

There are many ways to lead. To me, the best form of leadership is being transparent. In my experience, people will look to you to be able to answer any questions and describe the plan to them. A true leader does not take that trust for granted. I will try to give an example.

Imagine going somewhere with your friend. You often follow them to your event destination in a separate car. Before every event you usually ask them where the event is taking place. Each time they just ask you to follow them. How many of those trips of the two of you getting lost does it take before you start attempting to map it out on your own and not follow them?

Now imagine that same scenario, but this time when you ask your friend where the event is your friend tells you, “I am not sure where this event is but I will make sure to ask someone so we can get it mapped and get all the details before we leave”. Thus, when you follow them this time, the two of you arrive without any hiccups.

Now, moving forward in your subsequent trips you will feel confident knowing that when they lead, they may not have all the answers but you trust that each time they don’t have every answer they will have a plan to ask and seek out these answers. You’ll feel confident following them in your following trips.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

1. Learn to be where you’re wanted.

In the beginning I spent so much time and effort trying to convince people on how what Spicy Green Book could offer their business could help them. Sometimes that time I spent trying to help them may have caused delays in getting to service people who actually wanted our help. People who were much more grateful of what services we could provide.

2. Make limits for yourself

It is easy to spend countless hours working on something you really care about. All that comes at a cost. Now I try to set limits for myself. Before I start working on my tasks for the day I will give myself hours. I’ll say I am going to stop working at 6 today. Anything I don’t finish I know will have to wait until the next day. The work will still be there for me. Otherwise I will be up all night trying to get ahead of my workload. That begins to take its toll on you physically and mentally.

3. The “who” can be just as, if not more, important than the what.

Often ideas of optimization can tend to float around in discussion. The team may feel we should use a different software to manage your data for example. As great as that idea may be, who is going to be managing this implementation? I should have asked, who is coordinating the use of this new software? Do I have the people? Because what I would soon realize is that great proposed idea just became another responsibility I unfortunately added on my plate.

4. You have to be your biggest cheerleader

In founding anything, it is hard to help others see your vision of expansion like you do. You have to work to keep everyone’s motivation high that you are on the right path and let the results speak for themselves. Share and celebrate those accomplishments to keep the team together.

5. Record your original vision

Sometimes in bringing in people to help your project, you tend to go in all different directions. New ideas come and you have to ask yourself, “How does this speak to and compliment my original vision?”

You have to be able to take a step back and see a bird’s eye view. This can be very difficult when working on your business if you don’t first record your original vision.

You are a person of enormous influence. 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. 🙂

A movement of being intentional. In order for anything to happen you have to be intentional about your choices. From what you buy, support, watch, read, who you surround yourself with, etc. Those decisions matter. They influence the makeup of your environment in so many ways. So if you want something to change you have to be intentional on doing the proper things to make that change.

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

I am not sure if it is my favorite but the first one that comes to mind is by Muhammad Ali. “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”

We have enough self-servicing products here on earth. The world doesn’t need another app on how you’re going to get your goods, service, or content even faster now. We don’t need another app that gives me even more access to your daily life. We have enough. We live in abundance.

We need to focus on how we can use what we have to be a service to others. We need to work on bringing back the idea of paying it forward. Your service to others is something people remember. People will remember how you made them feel when you were able to help them when they were in need.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I would love to have lunch with LeBron James. He is such an inspiration to me on everything he does for his community off the court. He is so much more than a basketball player. There so much I can learn from spending time with him and getting to talk about his passions.

How can our readers follow you on social media?
They can follow Spicy Green Book on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @spicygreenbook

This was very meaningful, thank you so much!

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