Small Giants Community

February 10, 2021

Growing with Purpose Podcast: "From the Block to the Boardroom" with Khalilah "KO" Olokunola

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On this episode of the Growing with Purpose podcast, host Paul Spiegelman talks with Khalilah Olokunola, Chief People Officer at Tru Colors, a for-profit start up brewery owned & operated by active gang members with a social mission to unify and decrease gang violence across the country.

KO was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She spent much of her teens active on the streets of Brooklyn and Troy, New York with what many view as the cities’ most notorious street gangs — Bloods, Crips and Folks. She eventually faced the consequences of her activities and lost her name for four years to a Department of Corrections number.
Throughout it all, KO remained adamant about the importance of education in her life, and spent her nights imagining the American dream she saw on television. But it wasn't about the picket fence: she simply wanted the opportunity to impact the lives of others, especially those who had walked in her shoes.

Driven by her past experiences and her innate servant leadership, KO has forged an impressive career path and today, she is Chief People Officer for TRU Colors Brewing, where she is the force that shapes its company culture and works tirelessly to cultivate both personal and professional growth for their team members. 

In this conversation, hear how KO uses an in-depth, eight-week onboarding program to train cohorts of gang members and second-chance hires in the life, social, business and beer skills they'll need to be successful. Plus, Paul and KO discuss the importance of beliefs in leadership development and how we can challenge others — and ourselves — to build more just, equitable and inclusive communities.

Want to learn from and meet inspiring purpose-driven leaders like Khalilah? Register for the 2021 Small Giants Community Summit where you'll connect with hundreds of purpose-driven business leaders for meaningful relationship sharing and interactive learning.

Tune in to KO's story here or listen below.



Show Notes: 

[2:08] Hiring 100 Gang Members & Second-Chance Hires
[6:05] How to Transition from the Block to the Boardroom
[9:57] The Healing Power of a Holistic HR Approach
[13:08] Challenging Beliefs About Ourselves and Others
[32:20] When it Comes to Inclusion, Silence Is Still a Conversation

Leadership Book that inspired KO: 
Atomic Habits
by James Clear





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About Small Giants Community

Our Purpose is to identify, connect and develop purpose-driven leaders. The Small Giants Community is a designated L3C organization, a hybrid between a for-profit and a nonprofit entity that prioritizes mission and social purpose. Passionate, purposeful business leaders from around the world come to us to train and develop future leaders in their organizations, connect with like-hearted peers, and learn how to run a values-driven business. Whether you’re a budding leader who wants to grow or a founder/CEO looking for new business best friends, there’s a place for you here.