WOVU 95.9 FM FutureLAND 2022LaToya V Smith, Founder & Executive Director of Anvaya Feats NPO
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Ms. La Toya is with me.

 

00:03

Good morning. How are you? Good morning, Mr. Jae, how are you doing today?

 

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I am, I'm peachy. I'm just wonderful.

 

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Um, you know, I-I-I wanna tell everybody this is Ms.

 

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la Toya Smith. Uh,

 

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just like tear, you know, bonified, qualified, educated.

 

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I mean, the bomb dignity's sick, andy, wiggly skit.

 

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You know all that. I know how I do that, right?

 

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Listen, we 1st of all. Ms.

 

00:36

LA Toyo. Welcome to W-O-V-U 95.9 hour voices united, a Burton bell car community radio station.

 

00:47

You had the all day experience in your own way, where you probably already in your position for what is about to take place today.

 

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Before before we go into what makes LaToya Smith be an awesome entrepreneur that is determined to elevate other entrepreneurs, open up the portals for people to reach heights that they think cause an arm in a leg, or they don't know how to do it before we go there.

 

01:30

Tell us your insight oversight of Future Land 2022..

 

01:41

Um. So future Land 2022 is a completely new concept for me.

 

01:46

I am not a not -A Cleveland native.

 

01:49

I'm from Brooklyn, New York City, a military have lived in different spaces, but this is my 1st experience with a group of entrepreneurs from the greater Cleveland area.

 

02:01

And it was very uplifting. It was very inspiring.

 

02:05

There's always room for improvement.

 

02:08

There's always room for growth. But what I experienced yesterday let me know that they are at least on the right path for taking, you know, putting Cleveland on the map, so to speak, for becoming what I believe could be the next Silicon Valley in the Midwest.

 

02:24

It was very encouraging to see so many entrepreneurs come out, also those who were presenting their concepts and their ideas and their businesses to other potential partners and clients, was very uplifting.

 

02:41

And the conversation, you know, some of it may have not exactly been my cup of tea, but the conversation was leading to bigger and deeper conversations, which was something very, I was very happy to see.

 

02:56

I'm not a big social media person.

 

02:58

I always say I need less likes and more action.

 

03:01

That's one of my hashtags. And I saw the beginnings of what could turn into huge actions yesterda.

 

 That opening platform, A breakfast with the honorable Mayor Justin Moore is Bib at Tower City.

 

03:18

And then people making their way from Tower City all the way to the Aloft, and finding such a nice space, lot of people, business cards being exchanged, conversations been renewed.

 

03:37

You have your pulse on a button that opens the doors for entrepreneurs.

 

03:47

Um, up and coming? Um, wanna be?

 

03:52

Excuse me, I said that, right? Wanna be 501c3

 

03:56

Uh, there's some positive and negatives there about being a 501c3.

 

04:03

But you are like the rubber that's on the road that everybody can't seem to have the right tracks.

 

04:15

And it seems like it's always snow or rain snow, meaning the tires just spin, rain, meaning the tires are bald and a slide, and then it's too hot and the tires just melt.

 

04:33

So set the table in what you do, and presented to us here at w over you now, for those of you that are making your way to future land, 2022, and you have the app, you have a way of connecting with Ms. LaToya hroughout the day. And she has, she has what what we

 

05:00

call those On the moment, get together, let me help you do what you need to do.

 

05:06

So tell

 

05:07

us what's going on, please. So, oh, thank you for for the introduction.

 

05:13

Um, I am the My name is Latoya Smith.

 

05:16

I am a minority woman and service disabled veteran own small business.

 

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I also am the founder

 

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and executive director of a 501c3 non profit organization.

 

05:30

Um, my business for profit is 3S Tech and Talent, where I work to leverage business organizational learning and development experience to help others achieve their career and business aspirations.

 

05:47

Started that back in 2017, literally two weeks after leaving a contract at the NASA Safety Center here in Ohio, I was the manager of learning and development.

 

05:59

Being former military, I believe that people should do what they say and be held accountable for the results that they are supposed to produce.

 

06:08

But that didn't transfer so well over into this civilian or the private sector.

 

06:13

So I decided if I wanted to be part of a business I could be proud of, and that would actually go about implementing the social changes that needed to happen, and at least the industries I could impact, that's what I was going to do, and that is how 3S was born.

 

06:30

Some may ask what 3S stands for?

 

06:33

Um Standards plus strategy, equal success.

 

06:37

It's not just a tagline. It's how I operate in all that I do, and it's the example I try to set for others so that they can see what's possible when you actually plan and execute accordingly.

 

06:49

Um, the beginning of my career, I experienced many things, but I realized that my dyslexia was actually a power that enabled me to compartmentalize and prioritize without being confused about what the ultimate goal was, and I wanted to start using that ability to help others um when I really launched my second business, which was 3SI it takes a while, and people have to realize it takes a while to find your niche, to find your fit, to find your track.

 

07:21

And it took about two years, just at the beginning of the pandemic, where I realized where I could make an impact.

 

07:29

I developed a internship program that could be implemented virtually.

 

07:35

And the main goal was to implement a program that was a 50/50 gain for both the interns and the business at large.

 

07:45

When I presented it to a former employer, the leadership team said, no, we're not interested.

 

07:50

I said, fine. I'll keep it for my own business idea.

 

07:53

And when I implemented it, I implemented it at the beginning of the shutdowns of the pandemic.

 

07:59

I am a master's grad from Full Sail University, so, you know, shut off the Full Sail and Winter Park, Florida..

 

08:07

I am not a typical grad.

 

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I went there for education, media, design and technology.

 

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I have a master of science degree.

 

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And I learned to take all of those creative talents and turn them into engaging and interactive learning assets to make learning engaging and fun.

 

08:25

Both are younger and older audiences, but my classmates were in film and music and game design.

 

08:32

Their gig opportunities were drying up as a result of the pandemic and the shutdown, so I decided to use the virtual internship programs to help them build up their portfolios and real world experience by working on projects that help them to pivot their talent and to industries that would better serve them, regardless of what was happening in the industry.

 

08:56

When I started doing that, I started meeting more individuals who had disadvantaged backgrounds and several who had disabilities.

 

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This closed and non disclosed, that we're finding it hard to find entry level work in the industries that they wanted to be a part of.

 

09:12

So I decided to focus more of the attention of what I was doing on servicing those communities and those individuals.

 

09:20

And eventually it became a passion project.

 

09:22

That passion project is on Anvaya Feats..

 

09:26

Anvaya Feats is a Sanskrit term that loosely translates into family.

 

09:33

And when I work with a group, I treat them, you know, you are with these people, the majority of your life, your work family, are a group of people, your tribe away from home, that you really should have a connection with.

 

09:47

So Anvaya Feats goes into a story, that I won't get into today, that we are writing.

 

09:51

The Anvaya Feats Virtual track for our internship provides individuals with disadvantages and disabilities an opportunity to work, probably for the first time, in the

 

10:07

creative industry, the business industry, or IT. Many of the individuals with disabilities never really get an opportunity to go for certifications or college degrees in these areas.

 

10:19

So we are giving them paid internship opportunities to build that skill set.

 

10:24

We are advocating for them throughout the interview, the career search and placement process, and we are also ensuring that beyond the internship program, they are working on a and professional development plan that will help them to achieve the lifestyle and the earning  potential that based it for themselves, not with society or others upset for them.

 

10:50

Wow. Yeah. Oh. So for those that are in the audience that have not registered or a part of FutureLand 2022, let me share with you that this was the kick off.

 

11:17

And FutureLand 2022, it's going to be going on and on and on. So, all of these tools that Ms. LaToya is sharing with us are available When the I guess you can say the presentation of this weekend is done, you're going to need a Ms. LaToya Smith in your Rolodex in your digital contact um, so you can, like be able to be apart what she brings to the table.

 

12:12

Now, here is a special insight for you. For those of you that are already registered at Futureland, she's already gave you the four one, one, I don't know how many sessions she's going to present today that allow you to tap in.

 

12:32

But for those of you that are driving and you've been like, I'd need to do that something, thinking about just next step of my life, and, um, I just can't put the puzzle together. But I have all of the components, and, um, I'm not ready to pay this outrageous fee to sit down and somebody say, well, it's gonna cost this to do this.

 

13:04

She has a team of people that can help elevate you and I to the platform that puts us in front of the people. Quick, break it down for me, because I'm getting ready to go straight hood on ‘em, Yes I am.

 

13:27 Having survived ten years in government contracting, one of the things that led me to start the business Threes immediately after leaving a government contract was the fact that many individuals who are from marginalized communities are actually entitled to set aside government contract opportunities that measure into the millions, and I mean multiple millions range.

 

13:57

But many don't know that these opportunities exist, because no one is really going into those environments, into those communities and explaining that if you legitimize your business and do the proper paperwork, you could be putting in for government contract opportunities, that are specifically satisfied for economically, socioeconomically disadvantaged business owners.

 

14:23

The process, it's daunting. It's overwhelming.

 

14:27

I have a Bachelor of Criminal Justice, and I was brought to tears by the process.

 

14:33

What I wanted to do was help other business owners get through that process.

 

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Those who don't have a college degree, don't have the understanding, and many who have disabilities get through the process so that they can get a seat at the table, to help real economic growth and real community change by going after those contracts, that they could bring the community with them, and introducing job opportunities through contracting.

 

15:00

Because the process was so complicated, I went to my team of interns and said, let's simplify it.

 

15:08

Let's automate this. And we've developed the interns, developed a web application to help small businesses develop their proposals for government contracts and proposal grants.

 

15:21

In addition, we've developed, as you were mentioning programs that walk entrepreneurs, because they're not business owners yet, through the process of getting their tax id, their business license, getting incorporated and getting registered to do business.

 

15:38

Through Small Business Administration and Sam.gov, so that they can compete for these opportunities.

 

15:45

Ms.LaToya…. But … I'm sorry, but I had to interrupt…It costs thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars. We don't have that to invest. We, as you say, we are entrepreneurs. We are someone that needs some some help. And we don't have all of that money to get all of need.

 

16:15

We don't need all of that money that with the commercial industry, that with these scammers want you to think you need to pay a few, maybe 100, maybe $200 to establish your business with your state.

 

16:32

Getting our tax id with the IRS? It's free. Registering to do business with, registering with Small Business Administration and SAM.gov, is free.

 

16:44

I even receive multiple emails each week from these companies that want to charge you hundreds and thousands of dollars to set it up for you.

 

16:52

If you have the time and the patience, you could spend a maximum of $500 for the entire process, if you want to expedite the paperwork. What the community doesn't know, hurts them in the worst way.

 

17:08

And I am often criticized for giving it away.

 

17:13

I'm not giving it away. It's already available to them.

 

17:16

I have a problem with these companies charging the underprivileged, well over the price tag required to establish themselves and really go after the opportunities that would help to improve their lifestyles and those of the members of their communities.

 

17:34

The other one thing I wanted to point out was, if you understand the paperwork, if you understand the jargon, the terminology, you can actually improve your chances of getting your application through the 1st time.

 

17:48

It took me less than three weeks to get my tax exemption from the IRS, because I understood the process.

 

17:55

It took me less than a week to go from business owner, to register, to have my tax id and be registered with SAM.gov. When you understand the paperwork, the questions, and what they're really asking for, everything else becomes simple.

 

18:11

Business owners don't need to spend their entire lives managing the paperwork for their business. Once you understand it, you understand which boxes to check, what to enter into different boxes, you can move on. But, when you stay in the dark, and you end up paying someone through the nose, for something that is relatively simplified. When you understand, this is all they really want from me… This is all I really have to enter.

 

18:41

We are also doing that with the proposal generating process. Because just like going after a job opportunity, you have to put in lots of proposals to win a contract.

 

18:53

You can't do that when you have, literally, a 150 page requests for proposals that you have to navigate on your own.

 

19:01

We are simplifying that by explaining this is what they want. This is the section you go to, click here, enter your information. When you're done going through all twelve steps, export to PDF, and then edit as necessary.

 

19:18

We've made an application that doesn't just do that for you, its accessible for NVDA and JAWS screen readers and keyboard navigation. So that our business owners with visual impairments and blindness are able to get through the process as well.

 

19:35

So, um, I'm taking a lot of tissue trying to stop my nose from bleeding.

 

19:44

Um, I am. um in awe.

 

19:50

So how do our listeners connect with you?

 

19:55

Let's, let's, let's take that to the next step.

 

19:59

Well, there are multiple ways.I am online. I spend a lot of time on LinkedIn. People ask, you know, are you on Twitter? Are you on, um, a Facebook? No, we're not on those platforms, because they're not as accessible as they can be.

 

20:18

And the other part is our audience, the people with their boots on the ground, who are trying to make a positive impact.

 

20:25

They are mostly on LinkedIn.

 

20:27

Because it's about conversations, not likes.

 

20:29

So, I am on LinkedIn, my name is LaToya V, as in Victor, Smith.

 

20:35

There are a lot of Latoya Smiths, on there.

 

20:37

We also have websites. The one for 3S is www.3STechandTalent.com.The other is www.AnvayaFeats.org.

 

21:20

Ultimately, if you just Google, Anvaya Feats, or Google 3S Tech and Talent, you'll be able to find me as well.

 

21:29

OK, so you're gonna have to do that again, yeah, because we, we have people driving, and they're trying to keep up.

 

21:43

Yeah, help them one more time, please.

 

21:47

So they can Google LaToya V, as in Victor, Smith.

 

21:52

They can Google 3S, as in Sam, Tech and Talent, or Google Anvaya Feats. Which is, A, as in apple, a-n-v-a-y-a.

 

22:15

Anvaya Feats, we are, a 501c3.

 

22:21

You can make us your favorite charity on PayPal, on Amazon, on eBay, uh, make donations via GoFundme.

 

22:31

We are doing all of the work necessary to help people find us on different platforms, but if you just Google any of those combinations, you'll be able to find me.

 

22:41

There aren't many companies with the name Anvaya, in them, right?

 

22:45

Right, 3S Tech and Talent, Cleveland.

 

22:48

You will also be able to find us.

 

22:50

Do do us a favor. And this will really help all of us in in the audience, it's a breakfast time. We have this plate that needs, you know, you know, a good… We need to fill the plate.

 

23:12

So I want you to fill our plate and cause us, as we, begin to partake from this plate throughout the day, we understand that we can do what we've been sitting on.

 

23:37

Because there's always somebody trying to tell us it won't work.

 

23:42

Right! Talk to us, please. One of the 1st things we all have to do, regardless of what community or what tribe you are from, and we have to 1st start focusing on purpose.

 

23:57

Um, it's an exercise that I do with all of my in terms, all of my clients.

 

24:02

I love what I do, and I love what I do because it brings me fulfillment, because it has purpose for the things I want to accomplish in life and the legacy I'd like to leave.

 

24:13

It doesn't mean you'll make a million dollars, but fulfillment does not carry a price tag.

 

24:18

When I start working with people, I say, tell me what it is you would like to do.

 

24:24

Who would you like to serve with your many talents, those you have and those that you are building, and identify the community you want to serve with that group. Then, you start thinking about solutions or products.

 

24:41

We have lots of businesses out there and lots of organizations out there today that have a mission, but they don't have vision, they don't have directions.

 

24:50

And we need to have that in our own personal lives before we start going about starting businesses, or calling ourselves entrepreneurs, or saying we're going to start a nonprofit.

 

25:00

It's that laser focus that will bring everything to fruition.

 

25:05

When you really are thinking about what it is you want to accomplish, don't just think short term. Start with the long term.

 

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And I need five years out. Where is it you want to be? What role do you want to be filling? What purpose do you want to be addressing?

 

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And you work backwards with all of those things that are necessary in order for you to be successful.

 

25:29

What I do is we work backwards from the five year goal, we work to the three year goal, and then we work to the twelve month goal.

 

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That's our starting point, and we break up that goal into performance and learning objectives that are going to help you to move the needle towards who it is and where it is you want to be in the future.

 

25:51

When I see people who want to start a business and don't have a business plan, don't have a business license, don't have a business checking account.

 

26:00

We're already off on the wrong foot. Start with the small things, and eventually you'll get to the big business ideas and the big organizational goals that you set up, That, those small steps will bring you so much joy and so much fulfillment that you won't be able to stop.

 

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Because you'll see the progress, you'll see the good, you'll see the goal clearly at every step of the way.

 

26:28

I know it can seem overwhelming when you look at that five and ten year plan, but when you break it up into bite size pieces. I always say, take the bits, that make up the bytes, so that you can eventually get up to the terabytes.

 

26:42

The fact that the matter is we have to compartmentalize what success looks like, so that we see what's really possible, and we see that it's also manageable.

 

26:53

If people could do that in their personal, business, romantic relationship, we could be so much further along with really living the lives that, you know, god is set for us.

 

27:06

So many people are struggling because they're looking at the finish line all the time. They're tripping up on those small pebbles that are easy to move out of your way.

 

27:17

If I leave the audience with any message, it would be, take your big goals, make them into manageable bites, so that you can really enjoy the entire pie.

 

27:28

That is what it takes to for these big companies, these big successes, to be there.

 

27:36

But we only see their success. We don't see their struggle. The struggles are the small steps, and the missteps, that occur along the way.

 

27:44

Treat them all as learning opportunities and growth opportunities, and you can't go wrong.

 

27:56

[Audible Applause] Wow, yeah, that that. That is huge. Now, for those in the audience, um, there was a huge nugget that Ms. LaToya Smith dropped on me and during our conversation on yesterday.

 

28:28

“Nothing about us without us”, that changes the whole equation.

 

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I'm always, I'm always told, Jae, if you see a turtle on a table, just know that turtle did not climb upon a table on its own.

 

28:58

Somebody had to put that turtle there. And I'm learning, in this season of my life, when I hear information like you just shared with us, and then the deposit that you are putting on our plates for us to take our time.

 

29:26

As Grandmama  say, “Baby, chew your food. Quit trying to swallow it. That's why you're choking yourself. You know, drink… drink that water over there. And now, next time, you chew those greens!”

“Yes, ma'am!”

“Nothing about us without us!”, changes the equation. Explain that to the audience, please.

 

29:54

So, it's a hashtag that is predominantly used by the disabled community, advocates, and allies.

 

30:03

And, at the core of the meaning is, you know, don't develop solutions for… And this again, is for the group of individuals with disabilities… Don't make assumptions and don't create solutions for the communities without including them in the process.

 

30:24

We have these big, big business, big tech, big government, who are, who have, developed solutions, develop products, developed software, without in without including the individuals that they say they're developing these solutions for.

 

30:43

So in this case, the disabled community.

 

30:47

They're building, so called, assisted technology and Accessibility features, without really, and I mean genuinely, including members of the disabled community in the design process.

 

31:00

Before you build it, ask them, get their input, get their approval on the design, before you go about development and implementation.

 

31:10

The same thing can be said for these programs and solutions that are being developed for marginalized communities.

 

31:18

We have the the black and browns community, BIPOC, where everyone else is telling us, “We’ve developed this for you”, but then will we go to use it…

 

31:29

There's no. It's like, “Who did you make this for? Because you didn't build it for me. Because it doesn't serve a purpose”

 

31:37

Why didn't you? And I know my mother, would say this.

 

31:40

“Why didn't you ask me before you did all of this? Because now you have to redo it or it's useless!”

 

31:48

It's a waste of time and resources, because it's not inclusive thinking, it's not inclusive design! And it costs a lot to reverse engineer many of the mistakes that are built into these solutions.

 

32:03

We see it with the welfare programs. We see it with many of these educational programs.

 

32:10

And our children are being forced into enrollment in them because, why?

 

32:15

Because the school board decided! “How many parents did you talk to? Did you bounce these ideas? Did you pilot it with a group of students from the population you are seeking to make social impact with?”

 

32:26

No! Someone higher up, someone with a brain,  the size of Texas decided, “I know what's best for everyone else. Let me make this for you. Let me make it better for you. Let me make it go away”

 

32:39

And then we end up with problems that are exacerbated, that persist, because the solutions that are being presented don't really help anyone.

 

32:48

And then we have application and enrollment and registration processes that, again, weren't we weren't consulted on, that many can't get through to access the limited resources that are being provided through these solutions.

 

33:05

So, “ Nothing about us, without us”, though it  is, um a, you know, a slogan.

 

33:12

It is a chant for the disabled community… It actually should be one for disadvantaged communities worldwide.

 

33:20

Because we have so many people thinking they know what's best for us, and the fact that a matter is they think they know what's best for us, but they've never had a real, in depth conversation, a discovery session, with these groups, ongoing conversations to make sure that what's being done will serve the greater good and is actually a useful solution. Rather than someone with a passion project who's really just patting themselves on the back and in a feel good mode… For, “I'm going to help these people because they deserve my expertise, because I'm so great, I know how to solve their problems”

 

33:53

Um, we need more people who are willing to humble themselves and say, I don't know.

 

33:57

Teach me. And then let's work together to develop a solution.

 

34:01

[Audible Applause] Wow. Wow. WOVU 95.9 Our voices.

 

34:17

You united. Jae the Gospel kid, having a candid conversation with none other than Ms. LaToya Smith. She's gonna be back on with us.

 

34:28

Um, we thank you for spending time with us.

 

34:33

And you know, I'm running with, “Nothing about us without us”

 

34:40

Um, that's gonna be my hashtag.

 

34:46

You're gonna have to do more than just come up with your plan, and you have to include us.

 

34:55

So, great, great. Fantastic. Appreciate you.

 

34:59

Thank you so much. Looking forward to having many, many conversations with you.

 

35:08

You Be blessed and be safe.

 

35:09

You too. Wow. What an awesome sister.

 

35:13

Right here on 95.9, W-O-V-U.Whoo! I’m  talking about, like, raw, 100, good… Fantastic! Things in the church to make you say, my Lord, it it's, um, it's good. It's good when you can sit down and have a conversation and people go out of their way.