Ivan Thomas is a visionary and lifestyle connoisseur who has helped to manage the brands and reputations of some of America’s top companies and individuals such as Xerox, Nielsen, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Urgent Care Group, rapper Waka Flocka Flame, NBA player Michael Beasley, NBA champion and coach Bill Cartwright, Rev. Jesse Jackson, music mogul Devyne Stephens and many others. The entrepreneur, author, and motivational speaker owns Intrigue Media Group, a PR and brand management agency, as well as a credit repair company, Credit Savant LLC. With a history of elevating lives, building connections, and garnering press coverage for companies and public figures, Ivan empowers entrepreneurs and youth through his motivational platform “Defy Gravity,” – which helps people overcome mediocrity launch into their own personal and professional greatness. As an owner of three successful companies and the author of the powerful book “Defy Gravity: Unleashing Your Greatness Within” Ivan has spoken to thousands nationally and internationally at events ranging from entrepreneur and empowerment conferences to elementary schools and colleges. His goal is to motivate, equip and empower millions, and he plans to make Defy Gravity one of the most influential motivational movements globally.
StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Ivan to discuss his journey as an entrepreneur and here’s what went down:
What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?
I am being extremely active and intentional. Boldness, strategy, and activity bring in the business. So, I am constantly engaging potential customers, having powerful conversations with potential partners for business collaborations, and promoting myself and my business through content creation.
What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness?
Instagram and Facebook are my favorite social media platforms to use for my brand. However, I will be increasing my use of YouTube in the future and establishing a larger presence on Tik Tok.
What is your experience with paid advertising, like PPC or sponsored content campaigns? Does it work?
I do not have much experience with PPC. However, I have benefitted from sponsored content campaigns because they get you in contact with a broader audience in a place they are already looking, so it doesn’t feel like they are being sold to. It doesn’t look like traditional advertising. They have been useful when promoting my book and other products and services, such as with my credit repair company.
What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware of your brand and engaging your customers? How did your business stand out?
Generating results. Nothing matters without the results. In my line of work, people want to be inspired and uplifted. They want access to opportunity, access to media, and access to people they do not currently have access to. Succeeding at doing those things draws attention to my brand and has allowed me to stand out. It attracts customers, and when those customers are satisfied with the results, they refer others to me. I also share some of my personal successes. Sometimes, you can show people better than you can tell them.
What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?
Although I own a PR agency that promotes others, utilizing my experience in publicity for my own business has proved vital. It has allowed me to establish a strong presence online. People can read up on me and my work in numerous articles, on multiple podcasts, and on other platforms. When people want to know more about me and my business, I can simply refer them to Google, my website, or my social media. Content creation has also been instrumental in showing people more of my personality and what I do behind the scenes.
What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?
The toughest decision I had to make was firing a client I have worked with for several years.
What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?
When I started my very first business, I was so anxious to get clients and make some kind of money, that I charged far less for my services than I should have to avoid losing out on a deal. I also took on any and everyone that requested my services, whether they were a good fit or not. The result was, I ended up working myself crazy and still struggled to maintain the health of my business and my life.
Although I knew those were not my ideal clients, I had a fear of not getting paid, and by continuing to make this mistake, I was compromising the integrity of my brand. I was creating the wrong expectation of what was required to work with me. My advice to others is that even if you have to work yourself up to the price point you desire, it is imperative that you value yourself enough to grow and sustain your business. All money is not good money, and if you sell yourself short, your sales will be short – bottom line.
What new business would you love to start?
I would love to start a real estate business. This will likely be the next area of business I will venture into.
If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?
I would sell my talents and skills much more. When I was getting started, I thought my work alone would speak for itself and that by looking at my website and seeing what I’d accomplished, it was enough to secure the clients I desired. I didn’t want to appear overly “tooting my own horn” or name-dropping too much, so I was modest about promoting myself. That was until I saw people with half the talent, achievements, and professionalism capturing opportunities that I had missed out on. They did exactly what they were supposed to do, make themselves sound like the best thing around.
If I could go back and do it differently, I would be bold and unapologetic about promoting who I am, what I do, and why I am great at it. If you want to instill confidence in your potential customer, you must show supreme confidence in yourself and make what you have to offer crystal clear.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
“You don’t need permission from anyone to be great.” This bit of advice helped me start my entrepreneurial journey and recognize that I was in control of creating the future I wanted for myself.
Another one is: “In order to get business, you must stay in business.” This was great advice for an entrepreneur because it is inevitable that you will endure challenging times and periods of adversity. For me, I was able to remind myself that it didn’t matter if I was holding on by a thread with only one client. If I killed it with that client, they would spread the word, or someone else would take notice, enabling me to bring in more clients.
What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
Position yourself for an opportunity. I discuss this in my book, “Defy Gravity: Unleashing Your Greatness Within.” No matter how talented you are, some of your best opportunities will come simply because you showed up and were present at the right place, at the right time. Always remember that if you are out of sight, you are out of mind. Therefore, you have to be active and present, whether in person, online, or on social media.
Network and establish relationships with the right people and try to ensure that the connections are mutually beneficial. The more value you bring to others, the more successful and in-demand you will be.
Lastly, we are in an age where it’s easier than ever to become an entrepreneur with all of the resources and technology available. However, with that said, there is also more competition. You can’t just look to exist. You can’t even look to just compete. You have to look to dominate! It all starts with your mindset.