He’s a Music Executive, Public Speaker, Best Selling Author, Professor, Real Estate Developer, Entrepreneur who just received his doctorate degree, CEO of Music World Entertainment and the father of the world’s biggest pop star of our time Beyoncé and daughter Solange. Mathew Knowles is best known for managing Destiny’s Child and grooming his daughters Beyoncé and Solange to mega stardom from his indie label Music World Entertainment.
John Shegerian: Welcome to another edition of The Impact podcast. I am so honored to have with us today. Dr. Mathew Knowles. His mission in life is to motivate and educate and he is a best-selling author, professor, lecturer, public speaker, entrepreneur, music executive, artist manager, and founder of Music World Entertainment. Welcome to The Impact podcast, Dr. Mathew Knowles.
Dr. Mathew Knowles: Hey, John, thank you. I have to teach others how to give that introduction as quickly as precise as you did John. I love that. That was great.
John: Well, listen, it is a lot to cover and you have done so much and I first want to ask you about your journey. You grew up in Alabama. Can you share with our listeners, growing up, how that was, and how you evolve professionally once you got through college?
Mathew: Good question, John. I grew up in Gaston, Alabama, which is in the northern part, of 1952. So imagine George Wallace is our governor, Bull Connor is the commissioner and in Birmingham, Al Lingo is over the state troopers and we are in the heart of racism and desegregation is beginning to start. My mother went to high school with Coretta King in a little small town and when she moved to Gaston, she has that spirit of integration and desegregation. So as a result, John, I never went to a black school. Now imagine that and elementary school is 1958 and I am at a white elementary school then I am at a white junior high school with a thousand kids in the six blacks. Then I am at Gaston High and then I am at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where I play basketball. And then I finally transferred my junior college to a black university at Fisk University in Nashville. I have been beaten, I have been spit on, I have been hit by electric products, all the things we are talking about today is just sort of cyclical on what I grew up seeing colored water fountain, colored bathroom. Many people do not know the drive-thru restaurant, McDonald’s drive-thru concept was really brought from segregation whereas black, we have to drive our car around to the back of a restaurant, get out the car, they had a window, ring the bell, they will come, take out order, get in the car, when they are finished with their white customers, they will give us our food. That is how to drive-thru concept came off.
John: Never heard that before. Never read that, heard that in my entire life before. That is amazing. That is shocking. It is shocking and but, I mean, I am glad you said it because it is not something that is discussed in the media. It is not just a…
Mathew: Well, that is why I was so excited about having this conversation with you because I think folks need to understand and people need to know when we look at from a racial perspective, I am encouraged, John. I am in courage today becomes a young people and I tell you, our young people, they are a different breed than you and I am a little older than you, but you know my nephew and my grandson, late grew up best friends white and you know dated and so it is a different type of young person that is not afraid of social courage. It is stepping out. And so I see this nation-changing and it is really encouraging to me.
John: You were ahead of it though for many reasons that we are going to discuss but one of the things is your best-selling author and you have written many books we are going to talk about a bunch of them, but I would like to start with the book that you wrote called Racism: From the Eyes of a Child, which is more than timely right now obviously way in front of this issue. Can you share a little bit about why you wrote that book in particular and what it means to you right now?
Mathew: Well, I just really briefly tell you how the book starts, the introduction. It was night and in the summers, my mother and my brother would go to my grandparents and my mother and my grandmother were like oil and water, were oil and vinegar. They never got along. This night, they got into argument. My mother took me and my brother, we got on the dirt road to the main highway in Marion, Alabama and started walking to the nearest relative. Well in a distance, we saw these lights and as a kid, I am excited and then we begin hearing horns, and then they got closer, the horns got louder, the lights got brighter, then my mother just stopped and said, “Hey, we have to get in the bushes. We have to get in the bushes right now.” Well, I am only five or six years old. So I do not really understand what is happening. We get in but I understand fear. We get on the buses and then the lights get really bright, horns really loud. My mother gets on top of me and starts praying and I started crying she likes, “You got to be quiet. You got to be quiet.” She said to my brother Jesse, “Jesse, there was a barbed-wire fence and there were cattle on the other side.” She said, “anything happened Jesse, you take your little brother, you all get under this barbed-wire fence and you all just run as fast as you can.” And then finally the cars passed and we get out. And here I am, I do not understand what just happened and we were walking down the highway and I am picking up these confederate flags, that my mother spanks in my hand. And that is why I got the whole Racism: From the Eyes of a Child because that was my first experience.
John: Got it. Wow, what an experience. You just said the story like it happened yesterday. I feel like we are back there together and I am watching it all go down and that is you know, 60 somewhat years ago. And so that is how much that story impacted your life and seared that into your soul.
Mathew: It is crazy. I am having right now like chills just thinking about it again. I talk about it and Racism: From the Eyes of a Child, I talked about the ten years, John, that I went to therapy about racial trauma. 10 years.
John: At what point in your life did you do that? That is an interesting point. When did you do, as an adult did you realize you need that or did you start getting that even earlier?
Mathew: No, it was in my adult life and it was a period of my life that was becoming unravel and I just did not understand why it was becoming unravel and I had talked to a therapist years ago. Then I went and I remember what she said to me. She says, “You know, because of your childhood and because you were very compulsive, you know, it is the blessing and curse. You are the top sales rep, you top it all that you do but then you hit this little bottom.” And I had tremendous success where I was going, I had sold my company, I was running a huge music label and it was a lot of trial mode, there was a lot of stress and every time I would encounter some type of racial conflict because as black men, that is a daily moment occurrence almost. I subconsciously went back into these feelings that I had, a childhood that I would do destructive things. And that is when I found it and it costs me my marriage, my first marriage, it cost me a relationship with my daughter. So, fortunately, it is totally mended now. And my former wife always says, my former wife and my best friend Tina because she is a good friend of mine but trauma is real. We hear about women that wait 30 years and then they talk. I can relate to that. I can absolutely relate to that.
John: And I am sure now that we are having this conversation and they are not always easy conversations. Just listening to you, my heart’s breaking, and I am taking on a whole new level of empathy for things I never even thought about, I never even thought of racial trauma and a PTSD that stays with people after they have come through horrific experiences. I never, as you said, it is always been related to trauma with women or with war. I never heard about it, from a racial perspective, but this is the first time I am even hearing of it and understanding it and it makes total sense. It makes total sense. Wow.
Mathew: Well, it is a lot, there is a thing called a lot of size rage. I am sure you have never heard that term before. In therapy, we have to work through that. That is when you date someone just because of the color of their skin because of the race. You hear people say, “I only date this person.” “I only date black men.” “I only date white women.” Well, they do not look at them as people and that was something I had to work with. It was my eroticized great rage towards white women. So this whole thing of trauma is real. I could talk about it John because, when I am a public speaker like this, I always say at the beginning in my vulnerability lies my safety. You and I were talking about this before. We came on-air, people know when you are not out there. You know, they know when you are not out there. And I have a whole pathetic, pathetic self.
John: Yeah. No. Just what you are sharing is really really enlightening and you just shared that experience that you had with your mom which was the beginning, serves as the beginning of your book Racism: From the Eyes of a Child. When you were growing up though, you had to have grabbed onto some heroes or role models to just get you through what you were living through. Who were some of your heroes, role models that you aspire to get you through your childhood?
Mathew: Yeah. Good question. My parents first. My mom was very strong and I talked about her in my book. She was a very strong black woman. I will share one story with you, a white young insurance man. They would do the weekly premiums down in the South and licensed he went. So this new insurance, white insurance man came and he knocked on the door and we were on the porch and he was like, “Is Helen here? Is Helen Knowles here?” And my mother came to the door and she says, “Young man, you have two choices. You can either get back in your car and leave or you can get back in your car and get out and then knock on this door and say, is Mrs. Helen knows here.”
John: Good for her. Good for her.
Mathew: That was my mom. She will call you out, she did not care.
John: And she was authentic and she was square. And she did not mince words, which I love, right?
Mathew: Not at all.
Mathew: But my mom and dad, and I will tell you why. My dad made $30 a week driving a totals truck and an educated man that went to the third grade. He convinced the owners to let him keep that truck all the time and he would go and tear down all houses and sell all the metals and coppers. It was pretty common in a softback there that if your car stops you just left it in the front yard or somewhere and he will buy these cars and he will sell every part. My mom was a collared maid. She made three dollars a day. $15 a week. She would convince the white woman she worked for to ask her to ask all of her friends, any type of hand-me-down clothes, anything. She wanted them. So my mom made quotes on the weekends with two of her girlfriends. My dad was tearing out old houses, and all the scraps of the cars and that are when they made a significant entrepreneurial income. So I was taught, my grandfather was on both sides were entrepreneurs. I came from an entrepreneurial spirit and background and so my parents will be first and foremost. Then I was a minister in my life. That was my godfather and my parents had lived with him because it was common and I saw, you first got married, black couples would stay in someone’s home and rent that room. And so he always encouraged me. He always would talk to me about education and perception. He would tell me, I would say, “Reverend Walker why do you put on a suit to go to the grocery store?” And he says “Matthew it is about perception. When I walk out of this house, people have an opinion of me and I have an opinion of you. And so I am a minister of a permanent church, I have to look that role and I have to conduct myself in that role all the time.” And I remember those life lessons and then last would be in Corporate America. Although you ask my childhood, I have to say I have one real mentor that is Xerox. I was fortunate to do 20 years of Corporate America, Xerox, Phillips medical system, and Johnson & Johnson, but I moved quickly. This is my first really major job out of college and I moved to Houston. I moved quickly through the corporation to the medical division and when I was selling copiers, I would go early like 6:30 or 7 o’clock to work and I will see the New York Post, and I would grab it and read it. Actually it was the Wall Street Journal, I am sorry. That was actually, I read the business section. And then finally the branch manager was like looking around a cubbyhole like, “Who has my Wall Street.” and I was like, “Oh I am sorry. I have it” He is like, “Come into my office, Knowles.” I am thinking, “Oh shoot. Maybe I am going to get fire.” You know.
John: That is right. That does not sound like a good call of action, come into my office.
Mathew: Yeah, so I sit there and he says, “Knowles why did you get my Wall Street?” I said, “Well sir, you know, I covered downtown a lot of petroleum companies that I just want to understand, you know, the business side of the oil industry and understanding the business decisions or new companies.” He says, “I love that. I love that.” He says, “You know, what? What is your goal?” I said, “Well my goal is to be the number one sales rep in the world like Xerox, big Cadillac.” He was like, “Yeah.” He says, “I will tell you what, I want you to go to some meetings with me.” So I talked about this in another one of my books The DNA of Achievers and I go to this meeting and here is this older white men and I am like, “Why the hell am I here?” They like, “Knowles get us some coffee, you know” Then finally they would ask me a question and I answer they liked it. Well, I say it was only the president of Pennzoil, Exxon, Shell, and he gave me the opportunity to understand at a forty thousand feet level how business is done which is a lot different looking at the macro perspective of doing business. And now a lot of my success is owed to Xerox Corporation.
John: That is awesome. So when did you decide to leave a big, comfortable, iconic, worldwide iconic brand like Xerox and then put your foot into the world that you learned growing up from mom and dad, the world of entrepreneurs?
Mathew: Well, you know, but if you ask me great questions John I tell you. Actually, in the 80s, my former wife and I have started a hair salon and…
John: Where do you living then? Where was this?
John: Okay, got it.
Mathew: …Houston, Texas where I am right now speaking to you. You can see after six years of staying at home, and I said, “What is your passion?” and she said, “I love hair and beauty and I said, “I tell you what, you go school, cosmetology school and they will start a hair salon.” And we did and I share. The first million dollars we made was in 1986 with this hair salon. We grew it from 0 to 35 people. And so I had already experienced entrepreneur while in Corporate America…
John: In success, that is a lot of money back in those days. Let us be frank here.
Mathew: Yeah, and you know I have to say I was fortunate at the medical division of Xerox. Three years out of eight to be the number one sales rep worldwide selling Xeroradiography for breast cancer detection. Then I went to Phillips and one of the first blacks, not the first black to sell MRI and CT scanners in America, and then ended my career at Johnson & Johnson as a Neurosurgical specialist. Most people do not know that is my background, Diagnostic Imaging…
John: I have no idea. No idea.
Mathew: And I love that…
John: Three great brands though. Three great iconic brands that you work for. Three amazing brands.
Mathew: Yeah. How about that man. And Phillips taught me that whole multi-national. They were based in Eindhoven and New Amsterdam and so I got to see the world and how business was done in the world which really played an important factor with me. But you know Johnson & Johnson, I went from selling a 5 million dollar piece of equipment to 5 thousand dollar bunch of instruments and I was just used to that I would not use to getting up early in the morning. I went used to having a pager on the weekend and I get a dual procedure and it is Neural Surging pages me at the hospital and asked me to come to his office after the procedure. I thought maybe the patient had died because we had a protocol for that and so I am scared as hell. I get to his office and he said, “I like you, Mr. Knowles, but unfortunately, I can not use your product anymore.” He says, “The hospital has told me if I do not reduce my costs per procedure at all operating room, I will not be able to practice here.” He says, “This new thing called managed care.” After that meeting, I called my former wife and said, “I can not do this anymore. I can not sell price. I am just not used to the selling price and do not want to do that. I sell quality.” And so I had to start doing this soul-searching that I tell everybody because I believe when you live your passion, you never work a day in your life because passion is that thing that excites you, motivates you, and dreams about it, and you can not wait. You smile like I am right now because I am passionate about what I do. And I just went past it about that anymore. So I said, “What do you love? What are you passionate about now at this point in your life?” And at the same time, Beyonce’s girl group lost on Star Search which for those of you listening do not know that is kind of like American Idol today. So after they lost, I went up to Ed McMahon. I said, “Mr. McMahon, you know these kids are boohoo. I am a dad. I am not involved with this. I just came down to help them with.” He says, “Well, I tell you what, but some reason I can not explain to you out of everybody that loses, a lot of them go on to be successful.” He started naming Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, Boys to Men, Usher. I mean names we know they all lost in Star Search…
John: Right. I did not realize that either. Wow.
Mathew: He says, “What they did, Mr. Knowles, is they went back and they made changes. They refocused and rededicated.” And I never forgot that got into my head, well, when I was a kid, my dad, in Sundays, they had vinyl and he would dance with my mom in the living room, which was off-limits and my job was a have a Nickel Dime quarter to put on top of the needle for the vinyl if it is scratched because my dad was a really good dancer and really likes to get out of rhythm. That is when I start coming up with a playlist. I did not know what the hell I was doing but playlist and I could look at my dad’s mood and I would pick out the right records and I was studying the records. So I love music and I took piano lessons when I grew up. I hated my mother for making me take piano lessons. I love her. I love her now.
John: Right. Back then not so much.
Mathew: No, it was cool, man to be taking piano lessons. So you know, I love music. And I said, “Wait. I love music. I love the business part of it. I love the [inaudible] back to college and I went to every seminar I could go to and then finally I transition to being a girl’s manager.
John: No kidding. So you had it already in your background and DNA the love for music, but then you got to apply it because you also have the understanding of entrepreneurship, you also were ready to move on from big corporate structures and do more entrepreneurial work beyond the hair salon and this was the next step, the next logical step. Wow.
Mathew: And thankfully from Corporate America a lot I learned some key valuable points like the importance of branding, the importance of strategic partnerships, understanding the difference between growth and scaly. You know, I learned a whole lot from Corporate America that helped me to…
John: So, that is really interesting because here, you are so massively successful. But so many young people out there who listen to the show and way beyond the show think that going to school and getting a JD or an MBA and that is it. They are done. But what you are really saying is you have an MBA besides your college education. You have a Ph.D., but you are even saying life is constantly a learning journey and what you learned in your 20 years in the high-level corporate world was part of your finishing school. It was part of your education that obviously continues today, but help make you become what you became.
Mathew: Absolutely John and by the way in August, I am taking a leadership course. I got accepted at Harvard. So for me, it does not stop and I am teaching you to know, this is my 12 years of a college professor. So I am teaching as well at HBCU Prairie View University, but I want to continue to grow and I want to understand leadership and I can become a better and more effective leader.
John: Wow. We are going to get back to that. I want to talk about leadership in a little bit, but let us go into– So now Destiny’s Child you wrote a book on that and you are going to be bringing that story to Broadway. Share the story and that the book is called Destiny’s Child: The Untold Story. And for those who just joined us, honored to have, beyond honored to have today with us, Dr. Mathew Knowles. And to find Dr. Knowles, you could go to WWW dot Mathew and it is one T. M-A-T-H-E-W Knowles. K-N-O-W-L-E-S dot com. He has five books. He is writing his sixth which he is going to tell us about a little while. All can be found on Amazon and other great places including his own website. Dr. Knowles, tell us a little about now, the book that you have out right now Destiny’s Child: The Untold Story. Share some great stories from that book that you like our listeners here and talk a little bit about maybe next year tease us a little bit on what you want to do on Broadway.
Mathew: Yeah. Well, you know, this Destiny’s Child. It was a constant evolution. Beyonce was 19 years old when she came with these two managers, came to the hair salon, and said, “Hey, we are going to start a young version of En Vogue and back those times it was all these Jackson 5, Bobby Brown and his group, and it is just always kids crisscrossing all of these kids. So kids are what we had. Did you know that was a cool thing in the music industry? Believe it or not, not today. But so, Tina said, “Oh cool. [inaudible]” So it started out as girl’s time and that evolve to getting a deal with Babyface [inaudible] and reach partner Darryl Simmons, and they went to Atlanta and they became the dolls and they then got dropped by Elektra Records and came back. And for those of you who do not understand, got dropped. That means you got fire. So…
John: Everyone understands that.
Mathew: And then they came back, the name is changed again. Something impressive but the ladies kept working. I had to make changes. I have a partner at the time who eventually died of Lupus and did not get to see this after. We talked about that as well. But that was a lot of failures that these girls had and I talked about failure and mistakes are an opportunity to grow and not a reason to quit and every time they grew from them and we all grow when we make mistakes and failures. They did not give up. They just got better and better and better. And it was a good thing, actually, that they did make it as a kid because they would have always been you know trademark branded as that little kid groups. So it was actually a good thing but there were a lot of ups and downs and changes and challenges that we talked about before success and even when they got success there was another membership change. And even the member that came into, the new member had to be a change. So with every evolution of change and growth.
John: Is part of the success the ability to stay flexible and open to change and growth then?
Mathew: That is exactly what it is. That is being able to modify and adapt. Those were the two words that I have been using consistently due to a Coronavirus is the opportunity to modify and adapt our behavior. And that is what success is. You do not learn or I do not learn from my successes. I learned when I messed up. When I make a mistake when I fell at something. I then re-evaluate. I get information and knowledge because a lot of failures is done because we do not have the knowledge. That is why some forms of education are so important for us to have the knowledge that is needed.
John: You know, Dr. Knowles, you are in that rare air and I was sharing this with you before we started taping today, but you are in that rare air of super parent and in this goes for you and your ex-wife as well both super parents and but you are also a massively successful entrepreneur. How were you able to blend? Because everyone who hears this show who is a parent or soon to be a parent and even a grandparent now. Everyone wants to be a great parent. We want to be known as great parents to our children, especially in our children’s eyes, but even to the general of our social circles. Most people take a lot of pride in being a great parent, but you have reached that rare air of super-parent of these tons of people whether it is the Manning brothers and Archie Manning, whether it is Earl Woods or the Williams sister’s great dad and mom. I mean you are in that rare air, but how did you manage both being their business manager and being in business with your children, but also trying to be a great parent with your wife to your children as well. How difficult do the lines blur and how difficult does that make it when the lines blur for you to like you said, to come out on the other side and for them to come out on the other side and everyone be intact?
Mathew: Yeah. Well, you were reading a word out of my mind. I was thinking boy, that is difficult.
John: But you did it. So I want to here your– How do you make it through? You are here today and you are as clear as a bell and you have got some great words of wisdom. I want to hear because there is a lot of parents out there including me that want to know, how to do this? How can we be the best that we can be as a parent?
Mathew: I will tell you. You know it starts first with, I think to understand what your child’s passion is. And I think of a mistake and I do often as a college professor. A lot of students are in college because they were forced to be there by their parents and they really have other things that they are passionate about but their parents could not understand it. I can only tell you that when someone is forced to do something in life, it will fail most of the time. So we wanted to see our kids both Solange and Beyonce. We surrounded them with dance and theater and music and all types of activities to see at a young age, what were they are drawing to and it was music. And then when we saw that most teachers do not support the Arts, especially in elementary and middle school. If I am fortunate but it is a fact I say things John that sometimes makes people uncomfortable and I love that. I want people to feel uncomfortable, but that is a fact and so especially in our kids. So we then got, we saw the girls love music and dance. We got a dance court, put them in a dance troupe. Got vocal lessons and we are kind of let them explore and discover on their own. And I always say to parents how do you know if this kid is passionate about something? So let us take a young boy that wants to be a professional baseball player. He is taking softball. If you have to tell that kid to go to practice, it is a hobby. The moment you have to tell them to go to practice, it is a hobby. I have never had to tell Beyonce and Solange to go to practice when they were kids. Matter of fact they bored the hell out of me. Bored me like, “Daddy. You do not practice us to park…” That is a true indication. They are passionate about it. And it is okay to have a hobby. Hobbies are cool. There is nothing wrong with that and they will finally find their passion, but we did not force it upon them. So I think it starts there but to your point being a manager, professionally and a dad, I had a corporate experience that helped me to know how understanding, I had a fiduciary duty to not just Beyonce this was two other young ladies. So I could look out, actually, I talked about a lot of times work and Beyonce’s did not work in her favor at all because I was harder on her. But that made her better because I never wanted to show favor to them that I was putting more favoritism as their manager. But you know the thing it became a challenge is hard to separate. Work from and family and I have to tell you that it is very difficult. And when you were at a level we were at Destiny’s Child and with Beyonce, we are talking number one female group of the history of music, number one female artist today. At that level of a different kind of conversation, it becomes very difficult.
John: When did you learn that you have the gift to be a writer because you are prolific? I mean you have five books out you are working on your sixth. I want you to share what that sixth book is. But when did you even know you had that gift and that you wanted to not only share it in your public speaking abilities, which are unformidable obviously to say the least but when did you know you could also take the storytelling and put paper to pen and make that a reality as well.
Mathew: Well, I miss being in a business of music and to be fortunate to write songs. I was fortunate to co-write the number one song about Destiny’s Child Survivor…
John: I did not know that it was you. Wow.
Mathew: I co-wrote that and so at best in the industry and seeing a creative process, I have always been creative in business. My approach has always been creative. But I tell you, John, I am always that guy that strategically planning. This is what is part of the plan. Is to, okay life after the music industry, what would that look like? And for me? What was my passion? I love educating and motivating people. And so that was part of it. And part of that was I understood as to be an impactful public speaker, that you need to have books.
John: Yeah. That is true. What is the next book you are working on? I know you are writing another one. What is the new one that you are working on?
Mathew: I am actually doing a revision that I am really really loving on my first book The DNA of Achievers, which was the number one bestseller at Amazon just going through the 10 traits of highly successful people because when you find someone successful, you will see they all have these common traits of passion first and foremost and then what coexists with passion you can not have one without the other is work ethics. So that is why you see these successful people work so hard and people were like, “I work so hard.” No, they are having so much fun working so hard.
John: Right, right. I got you. You know, Warren Buffett. I was in the audience in his annual shareholder meetings a few years back with my wife and he said that he looks for three qualities for people to run his portfolio companies. Three qualities. He said intelligence and energy but he says the last one is character. And he goes if you are missing the character, the first two will kill you, the first two will just kill you.
Mathew: Amen. Amen.
John: It is always fascinating to listen to great leaders, motivators, educators like you, Warren Buffett, to listen to what you have found in all the folks that you have met to be the common themes of success of great leaders. Like you said DNA issues because those are just great points. So you are rewriting that and that is going to be coming out sometime this year or is that coming out next year?
Mathew: That is coming out this year. It would probably be the fourth quarter of this year, but absolutely coming week. I should get my final draft here any day. Actually today I am supposed to get it. But you know I was able to update it. It was really a defining moment when I look back on that book and found that I had four people because I have found a style that I have in writing. I like to interview other people in my books and get their perspective on what I am talking about. And so I had The DNA of Achievers, have 10 chapters. and I linked the chapters, but I had three people per chapter. And four of those people are dead. And I had to talk to two or three of them in a long time and we were looking through the BIOS, updating the BIOS. That is when I found a really good friend of mine, Joe Campanella who was the chairman and president of L’Oreal. We did so many commercials and deals with L’Oreal over my professional and with Jo, Jo died in April of a Coronavirus at 73.
John: Oh my gosh, that is too young in this world. That is way too young. You know we are going to talk about health then. You bring up health. We are told we are still having this conversation in this COVID-19 tragic period that everyone in the world is affected by this. No one who goes gone untouched from this in one way or another and you are not only, what I love about you, is not only your authenticity and your willingness to speak out and speak up on so many important topics, but I think there is no greater topic than health and you and I are old enough to have lived through Betty Ford making it socializing and democratizing the discussion around breast cancer and Bob Dole and other great leaders, I believe it was Bob Dole, Colin Powell, and some other great leaders did the same with prostate cancer. You recently have become a survivor of breast cancer and I would love you to share your story how you detected it, the action you took, and how you successfully got to the other side because this is not a topic that is talked about a lot yet, but hopefully you breaking it can lead to a bigger and better conversation. So more men can say safely navigate this disease as well.
Mathew: Yeah. Well, thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about this because I love talking about it. As I was talking about my corporate career, remember that eight years I was in a medical division of Xerox selling Xeroradiography in the 80s, which is the leading modality for breast cancer. So let us start there. And then I went on to MRI, which now has become a top modality in breast cancer detection as well, breast MRI. So I had some knowledge of breast cancer. I had knowledge. I had information being the number one rep, I only sold the radiologist. So I had to technically, I needed to know my facts. So one day I had a little white t-shirt and I took on the shirt at night and noticed a red dot. Literally, we had a sheet of paper and you had red pen and a dot…
John: Red little dot, that is it?
Mathew: …I did not think anything about it. The second day, I saw it and I was like, well my wife Gina, my first wife is Tina. My second wife is Gina, go figure. But you know what I mean? So I say, “Gina bought me some weird shirt [inaudible].” And so on the third day, I see it on the same spot and I said, “Hey you know, I keep seeing this red dot. Is that go along with the t-shirt?” She says, “Wait a minute, I just cleaned the sheets and I saw three red dots on the sheets.” And I said what I knew even back in the 80s when I was selling Xeroradiography about men in breast cancer. Very rare, but men do have breast cancer. Matter of fact in America, we have some 3,000 plus men that die every year. I do not call it, John, breast cancer. I am branding a new term, Male Chest Cancer.
John: That is actually great. That actually really makes more sense frankly.
Mathew: Because if we are going to let them feel comfortable, I sure did not feel comfortable opening a door that said woman’s breast center. I did not feel comfortable opening that door and I know no other man feels comfortable. And also I have respect for women. As I got to walk around with our shirts off and yeah, we look at that part of our body differently. So I just think there is a difference in how we view and say that but the point is that I had a sense that this is what it might be and I went to my doctor. I have a great team I position in Internal Medicine guy that has been with me for years now. He suggested a surgeon who specializes in and this area saw him got a mammogram got a boxy and has surgery within an eight-day period and was fortunate.
John: So speed matters. Dr. Knowles, speed matters when it comes to these things, huh?
Mathew: They are since urgency, definitely matters when it comes to health. You do not want to find any different stages of this. So I was Stage 1A and I am very grateful and very blessed that I saw those signs and I knew immediately to go to my doctor and to immediately go to a surgeon and get a biopsy person and have surgery but I found something that I did not know, John. I never had heard about BRCA to genetics. Know anything about that? BRCA to genetics?
John: I thought it is the gene that could be passed down by a family member and give you a predisposition for that type of cancer for especially in the chest area.
Mathew: Well, you are halfway accurate. We all human beings have BRCA Genes. They are supposed to…
John: I just thought it was just a woman. Frankly. I never heard it applied to men. So now I want to hear about…
Mathew: Every human being and you know, there are some theories that think that a third of the world population has mutated BRCA Genes. So these days are supposed to fight off disease, manages, mutated and you are right in that is family who hereditary DNA type of thing. And so what does that mean if my pocket too, is mutated? This is very important because I will share why it means that as a man what a block you to mutation. I have a higher risk of 40 to 50 percent greater risk for male chest cancer, prostate cancer, melanoma, and pancreatic cancer. 40 to 50 percent greater chance. As a woman, it means the same type of percentage greater chance, does not mean you are going to have it just means you have a greater chance and because you know you have a greater chance that you got to go and get these exams on a routine basis. That is the message I want to give. But for women, it is breast cancer and ovarian cancer. And so I have not had mutated. I had to call my kids my nieces and everyone and let them know go get a sample test and…
John: At the doctor’s office?
Mathew: No, no, they will mail, there are these companies like the company I used is called [inaudible] they will mail it to you, you do a saliva sample and it will give you all like cancer and cardiovascular screening to let you know if you have a higher risk. I mean, if I do not know that I would have had that like most insurance are 200 bucks. Well, do you think I want to know if I have a higher risk? Because if I know I have a higher risk, then if I am a woman, I am gonna get my mammogram. I am gonna make sure I get my routine mammogram. I am not missing a day. For me every six months, I get an MRI on my prostate. I am getting an MRI. There is a special MRI procedure for the prostate. I get one for my pancreas I go. Get all of my molds checked for my dermatologist and I do a blood test.
John: So I want to clearly have your advice out there for our listeners. Everyone who is an adult should be getting this BRCA test you are saying now…
John: Wow, and it is as easy as a saliva test that can come in the mail?
Mathew: Come in the mail, you mail it back.
John: This is great. I never knew that was even part of the protocol that I should be doing as a male or I thought it just was relegated to a woman who potentially had the predisposition for breast cancer. I just thought they were the ones who were supposed to be getting the BRCA test. Never knew that even guys were even in that category. Unbelievable.
Mathew: Well, it is a business reason why because after going to the Supreme Court, the company that had a patent on all of this testing, there were almost 12 years that they were in court. And finally like maybe eight or seven years ago, they had to give up the passing. So it is always a business decision. Right?
John: Wow. And now you are on the other side of this thing and you are doing very well? No, no evidence? Everything is gone? And you are clean and healthy now?
Mathew: Well, I always say, I am clean and healthy today, but I will certainly, August, the top of August, I would have the routine tests that I just said. I will do a mammogram. I will do it to the prostate. I will go back and get my moles. I had two moles that were biopsy last time. They were fine. I will go through it. The inconvenience is that it will cost me every six months four hours of time out of my life.
John: For your peace of mind and your productive and great health for the years to come?
Mathew: For the years to come four hours out of my life and it is something…
John: As far as I am concerned, that is a heck of an investment.
Mathew: That is the way I look at it, man. Really, like if we are on business, the return on that investment is your life.
John: Is your life. Wow. That is great advice. Never knew it. I am going to give you taking that test myself now and I never even heard of that. Never knew was even in the realm of possibilities for guys but like you said medicine is a business and business decisions are made that affect all of us unless we get knowledge and take action. Sometimes we are on the wrong side of that if we do not understand what is really at going on out there.
Mathew: Yeah. but that is what your show is all about is to give…
Mathew: I mean I research you. Trust me, I mean, I am a research guy. I know you, man. You are a good man. You had some really amazing people that you are sharing knowledge with people. And knowledge is power. It is power if you are knowledgable.
John: You talk a little bit about planning and uses that word or a couple of minutes ago. I want to go back to that. How far out in advance you have been planning and I am going to tell you my favorite planning story. When this whole Coronavirus thing hit, everyone, you know, this was all new to all of us, Dr. Knowles and we were all forced to retreat and go into our homes and other structures and try to survive or make it through and get to the other side where we are starting. It just seems like now we are starting to come back to some sort of new normal and by luck, about a year ago I had seen a documentary on Nelson Mandela. In the documentary, the interviewer asked Nelson Mandela, “How did you make it through your years in jail? How did you survive?” And I loved his answer. His answer is stuck with me since and I sort of, it is really was burning in my head throughout this COVID period. His answer was, “I did not survive. I was planning for when I got out. I was planning for when I got to…” So you did not know one and I was having a fun laugh with you before we started taping that I need three or four lifetimes to catch up to what you have already accomplished and you are still going so I am in a race now that I know I have never going to achieve but you know how was part of the art of your success, planning? And are you still constantly laying it out laying out months and years ahead for yourself to continue to achieve and leave as you have already done so well before?
Mathew: Yeah, the answer is yes, yes, yes, I have this saying, a pretty well-known saying, that failure to plan is planning to fail.
John: I love that saying.
Mathew: And you know, I plan and strategic, and I always use a strategic plan because, to me, a plan without a strategy, there is a difference. A strategy is when you utilize others to help you fulfill your goal. And so I believe in short-term planning and long-term planning. For example, I know my wife and I short term, we know we are moving from Houston to another city next year. So a year ago, we got an apartment in that city so that we can begin to start the strategic planning of buying a house in January or February when this is hopefully all behind us. So I am already planning, my ex was planning after the music industry now I meant to film in TV, selling, I actually put my record label for sale last week that is what is part of this strategic plan. Continual education is to increase my public speaking, to increase my teaching like I do not just luck. But luck is cool. But we have to be prepared when that happens, but I like having a plan of action on how I am going to get to some– I would not get on an airplane and the pilot says he has nowhere, no idea where we are going.
John: Good point that is great…
Mathew: Think about that.
John: Yeah, I mean that is actually a brilliant point. He has a plan and he has it all mapped out, where he is going and how he is getting there.
Mathew: Right and a lot of people that is their life. They are just flying, they have no idea and they run out of gas and fuel and you know, then they crash.
John: I mean besides everything you just mentioned that you are doing and finishing up your sixth book which is a rewrite of DNA of Achievers. As a revision of that, you have also said you enrolled at Harvard now. I mean, how long does that course and tell what are you hoping to get out of that? It is a leadership course and you just want to continue to polish and hone your leadership skills, I take it?
Mathew: Yeah, that is what it is. It is ethical leadership, it is part of their professional development, and you know as a professional I just want to continue to grow and leadership at this time of my age and the chapter of my life, leadership is what I am about. And I just want to hone and my skills in leadership. And being a better effective leader.
John: So let us talk about leadership then. So I know you and I both enjoyed the Michael Jordan biography, a 10-part biography that we just played on, I believe HBO or ESPN or one of those great channels, and we were chatting a little bit about this before we came on the air and the end of the eighth episode was the only time that Michael Jordan got emotional during all of his interviews that he did. He ended that eighth episode and this was his quote, “Winning has a price, and leadership has a price.” Dr. Knowles, what does that mean to you? Because he got emotional as for actually a break because winning and his strategy in his methodologies he said we are in for everybody but for those who went with it and got to the other side, there is a lot of rings and a lot of good living that came to post those Championship seasons. For all those young people that got affected and benefit from that. What does “Winning has a price and leadership has a price” to you because you are a winner and you are clearly a leader whether or not you go to Harvard. You have proven to win and lead over and over again. What does that mean with regard to your life and your journey?
Mathew: Yeah. That was a great question, John? What do I start? So you know leadership is first and foremost means that you have people that follow. People that are part of the team, people that look to you for direction. That is leadership and it requires that leader to have clear directions. We talked about that and strategy and those things but more than that, it requires empathy. It requires helping others and yourself to understand the difference between accountability and responsibility because a lot of people do not know the difference of accountability– And my company I am ultimately accountable for whatever happens, but it could be somebody in my organization that does something that makes no sense that cost the company money that they are responsible for but I am ultimately accountable. So it is about making sure everyone understands that. It is about having clear communication skills that everyone is clear on. But that empathy part becomes a very important thing. Winning, I played on the championship and maybe that plays a role in me. I was on a championship Junior and Senior year high school team. Three years of college on a championship team. So I know what is required to be a winner and a champion and what team means the most incredible thing. I think that is why Michael got emotional because to be a winner sometimes, it is the same as being a visionary. It is a lonely road being a visionary. Very lonely road.
John: I am so glad that you said that word lonely. I took that from that series when they showed him on the road in those hotels when he said he was ready. He was ready to be done with it all. The loneliness is deafening at some point, is not it for all great leaders, winners, and even entrepreneurs or athletes? It is deafening loneliness at some points.
Mathew: Yeah, he could not go out to the hotel I mean, I just know, I have seen it. I am watching one of my kids get to that point in her career where it is just you want to go back to normalcy. And so…
John: Did you feel that? During your journey as well?
Mathew: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. I was relieved when me and my oldest daughter Beyonce decided that we were going to park and I was going to become back a dad and not her manager and I enjoyed the laughter and conversation and I enjoy her asking me business questions and trusting me, but I am not dad now with her. I am not a manager and it is a beautiful thing. And I missed that part of our lives just like being a winner, you sometimes have to so tough love as well as we saw Michael show, tough love. But what I love is he was the example. I think a true leader is an example. I am not going to ever ask you to do something, John that either I have not done or I would not do I am never going to ask anybody on my team to do that. And so…
John: Is that the mark of a great leader? Is that a theme of all great leaders? Because you really can not be authentic if you are going to ask others to do what you are not willing to do. Is not that correct?
Mathew: That is absolutely correct. And integrity is paramount in leadership. It was a while in my life, John. We’ve talked about the vulnerability, that was a part of my life that I thought John that, “Man I could live this professional life and I got all of that together. I can do that in my sleep.” But in my personal life, I did not have the same level of integrity. And I had to find a hard way that those things have to run parallel in your life. Personal and professional integrity. I see true leaders have that integrity. They are truthful, John. They do not lie. They are truthful regardless of what and how the end results are.
John: Consequences do not matter as much as the truth.
John: I love it.
Mathew: And when you are telling the truth, John, it is so easy because you can just talk. I do not have to worry, like, “Oh, man. I did not say this in the last interview, you know I am going to leave this part out. I am not going to talk about that.” But we had a conversation.
John: I love it. But obviously you are a winner and you are a leader and hearing your thoughts on those on that quote means a lot to me and it means a lot to our listeners. I am going to leave you with one more and I want to hear I want to go back to the issue of what we started the show with, your great book, Racism: From the Eyes of a Child, and for our listeners out there, this has been just one of the best interviews I have ever had. It was to me before we even started the interview, I told Dr. Knowles that I have done over a thousand of these and I was looking forward to this one, maybe more than any other and I will tell you what, this one leaves a mark like none other have left. For those listeners out there that want to find Dr. Knowles please go to WWW dot Mathew with one T. M-A-T-H-E-W Knowles. K-N-O-W-L-E-S dot com. mathewknowles.com. He is got five books out. He is writing a sixth. You can book him also to speak but I want to go back to Racism: From the Eyes of a Child and what we are going through right now. This was not planned, you and I had planned this podcast way before any of the events that have occurred. But I take that as an opportunity and a blessing because to have such an articulate, great speaker with all the experiences that you have had just having a chance to speak with you and having our listeners get an opportunity to listen to your important thoughts. So as I shared with you earlier before we tape the show, when you walk into our offices when I was a little boy growing up in the 60s. My mom used to buy me some books and my four heroes where RFK, JFK, MLK, and Muhammed Ali. All four of them are stuck with me for numerous reasons, but MLK’s words are over our front door when you walk into our offices and it is in also in the sitting area so people can take it in when they wait to have a meeting here and it is, “Everyone can be great because everyone can serve.” Given the times that we are living here in the United States and around the world frankly, but you and I live in the United States and we both grew up here. What does that mean to you? How can our listeners who are confused, who are sad, who are heartbroken from what they have been observing both and social media traditional media and just in their lives? How can they be better servants to help be part of the solution to make this country a better country and to make this world a better place?
Mathew: Well, John, what a great closing question. Again, I started, you and I talking about this topic of racism and I said that I am encouraged. I am encouraged because finally, we have to get to a point where it is comfortable to say, “Hey, John, you are a white guy man.” We are different. There are some cultural differences. Let us talk about it. Tell me, this is what I observed, “Oh, you are a black guy.” Just the Grammy’s just yesterday finally had a policy that they were no longer have an award that said urban. Because urban really has always meant black. So first of all, we have to get to a part that we can begin to have these types of conversations. That we can talk about our differences and how we view, how as a black man do things and as the white man, how do you view things? And when you see these marches to see the number of white people that are saying enough is enough. That is the encouragement that I am seeing. You know Mark Cuban who I just really am a fan of. He said the other day, “The reality is to be brutally honest when people talk about the white privilege we get defensive. We have this mechanism that I call manufactured factored equivalency.” We have to talk about white privilege and how black people view that. How when police stopped us versus how they stopped me, John. How they stopped you are going to be totally different. I have got alike at 68 years old, I have got to change my whole demeanor, my whole energy, I got to make all of these changes for safety because I can not get enough at 68 years old who had a bad day, who wants to go back to the bar and brag about, “Oh, guess what I did to Beyonce’s Dad.” So those are the things I have only you know, after Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery we can go on and on and on…
John: We go on and on, it is crazy.
Mathew: Come on, guys. When are we going to stop saying, “I do not think racism exists and I think that is where we are in America.” I think we are finally to a point that most people, because they are always some differences, that most people and most good white people are saying this is enough. And by the way, my son’s best friend is black, but he has dinner hangs out and spends the night and no, enough is enough. But there are pictures we got to do. We have structural racism, John in America based on poverty, the brutality rate. Look, we talked about the health system and poor black people. It is not happenstance that blacks lead and mortality rate and cancer and cardiovascular disease…
Mathew: …diabetes but now is that we do not understand why Coronavirus, we would lead in that also? And by the way white America, let us be honest. At the very beginning of black America, a lot of my friends, we thought the Coronavirus was just white people because no blacks in the early beginning and people were saying oh. And now let us just be honest. A lot of white people say this is a black bar. That is why probably they do not wear a mask because they– but you carry it and then you kill us. It is called a [inaudible] medic. You get on the elevator with no mask on and you kill us.
John: Right. 40% of the cases are coming from asymptomatic people. That is what Dr. David Agus said the other day.
John: Yeah, you are right. This is crazy.
Mathew: So the structural racism about housing. Part of this whole Coronavirus is housing. Education that we talked about, that locked up. And the whole criminal justice system from what these men and women wear, to how they behave has to change. And it has to be…
John: Do we have it in us to make that change? Do we have it in us as a country to make this change?
Mathew: Yes, we do.
Mathew: I see it every day that people are having a social courage to stand up, speak out. People are risking their lives, you know.
John: And their careers.
Mathew: And tell me about my daughter with her career at the Super Bowl. Why people do not even know what happened to Beyonce at the Super Bowl? When she did the Black Panther and a black power sign and said black lives matter. She still has pain and hurt from that. A lot of people do not even know about the Miami Police Union head who sent out a memo to every Police Union in America to boycott Beyonce’s World Tour and not to work to give her safety. Most people do not even know about that. But Google it those of you who are listening.
John: I believe. If you said it that is the way it is. I mean you would know. I mean that is horrific. It makes no sense.
Mathew: So it is about having these types of uncomfortable discussions. If they are not uncomfortable. There will be no change. So it is uncomfortable. I like to come back and we just have a whole discussion on Race.
John: Let us do this.
John: You have been more than generous. You have been more than generous. This is the longest I have run on a show probably in the last four years, but that is because you have so much to say and share, and you really truly are a motivator and an educator. You know, I was with my son last night and I said, “I have Dr. Knowles coming on.” So I said, and he is 28, “You just graduated law school.” and I said, “What should I do? He said, “Dad, just get out of the way. Let him do his thing.” And I am glad I listened to him and I am honored to say that you were more than generous with your time and your authenticity, and your truths and you have a deal there, my friend that I would love to have you on and I am going to read through your book and full. I did not have a chance to read the whole book on racism, because I got all your books. I bought them all off actually off of Amazon and they are all on my desk, but I am going to read it through and I would love to have you back on Dr. Knowles just a show on this issue and maybe if you would like we could even bring on a few other people.
Mathew: Yeah, I would like that. I would love that…
John: I would like you to curate it. You to curate the show. How was that?…
Mathew: Let me tell you something. We connected the moment we got on the phone. I think it is important for listeners to understand. We were able to just have a conversation. Two men just having a conversation and you took the time, you took the step forward to get to know me somewhat. We just talked and that is, that you from the very beginning because I always say I have a three-second rule. In three seconds you can scam someone up. In three seconds. And you came with love and brotherhood and energy that I love so I enjoyed this, my brother.
John: The feeling is mutual. And like I said, I really would love you too and when it is convenient, I would like you to curate the show because this issue is not going to get solved overnight. And the more conversations we have on them, the better role going to be. And more conversations with really important people like you who are truly leaders and educators that is a unique melding of talents that are, there is a void in, you know everywhere. There is a void in leadership. I really feel that in America right now, in government and in so many other areas. So to have you back on and you curate the show just not you and me. You are going to tell me who we are going to invite.
Mathew: Well, thank you.
John: I am going to read your book and for our listeners out there, it is important that we do a little commercial here because this is very important, this is my gratitude to you. Please lookup, Dr. Mathew Knowles, you could buy his books on his website. You could book him to speak and obviously after 90 minutes today, you could tell he is got a lot to share. Please go to www.mathewknowles.com with one T. M-A-T-H-E-W K-N-O-W-L-E-S dot com. You could also buy his books as I did originally on Amazon. They are all over Amazon and other great places. You could buy fine books. He is got five books out. His sixth book is coming out. Dr. Mathew Knowles, I am beyond honored to have spent 90 minutes with you today. I am beyond grateful. Hopefully, I can reciprocate one day and I would love to have you on again and I would really love us to keep our word to each other and we do another show just on this important topic and you create that whole show, you will be the curator of it.
Mathew: Well, thank you so much, John. I just want to read something in ending, “Collective Hearts, when put to positive action, can start the wheels of change.” And I am proud to say that that was in Beyonce’s speech to all of the graduates last weekend. “Collective Hearts, when put to positive action, can start the Wheels of Change.”
John: I love that. That was in her 2020 online graduation speech, right?
Mathew: Yes, she wrote that, yes.
John: That is beautiful and obviously that comes from two great parents and leadership in your family and from a brave and great and ultra-successful young woman that she is and I just want to thank you for making the impact that you have made on me, on our listeners and in this in this country. We need to hear more of your voice and if it is up to me we are going to. So thank you again, Dr. Knowles. This has been a true honor today.
Mathew: Thank you, John. Have a great day.