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Reboot Podcast #53 — Transform your hustle


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Almost all successful entrepreneurs will fail – if not fail, fail, fail, and fail again – on their path to success. Every human being made choices in their lives which they regret, are embarrassed of and have caused them deep shame. What would your life be like if you were known only by the worst thing you had ever done?

Catherine Hoke is the founder of Defy Ventures, a program that helps incarcerated individuals transform their hustle to entrepreneurial ventures. Following a chance visit (as a guest) to a prison at the age of 26, Catherine left behind a successful investment career to launch a program to build on what she recognized were valuable entrepreneurial skills – simply applied to illegal businesses. Through the journey of building two wildly successful organizations, Cat had her own personal experience of failure, great shame and having to grant herself grace, and a second chance.

Nestled in this conversation about failure, mercy and second chances, is an important second discussion. Joined by investor Brad Feld, this episode also includes a heartfelt reflection on the lottery of birth, acknowledging our own privilege, and what we can do when confronted with these realizations.

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Reboot Podcast #53 — Transform your hustle

  1. 1. Reboot053_Transform_Your_Hustle_transcript Page 1 of 18 JerryColonna: Cat, Brad, it'sgreat to see youbothhere today.Before we getstarted,if we can justtake a momentandeach of you introduce yourselves.Catherine,who are you? Catherine Hoke : Catherine Hoke orCat, FounderandCEO of DefyVentures,anonprofit organizationthattransformsthe hustle of menandwomenwithcriminal histories.I'masocial entrepreneur.Ihave nofinancial upside,butotherthan that, I'm like aregularentrepreneur. JerryColonna: Wow.Good. Brad? Brad Feld: Brad Feld.I'ma partnerat FoundryGroup.I'm co-founderof Techstars.I investinearlystage companies.I've writtenabunchof books.I recently joinedthe boardof DefyVenturesatCat andthe board's invitation. JerryColonna: Oh,fantastic. Catherine Hoke : Big win. JerryColonna: I'm reallyexcitedabouthavingyouonthe show.It's a little bitdifferentto have twofolkshere.Iknow that Defyisprobablygoingtobe somethingthat's newto manyof the folkswhoare listening.Ithoughtitwouldbe goodtotell us a little bitmore aboutwhatDefyisand more important,yourstory,your journey,Cat,andwhyit's importanttoyou. Give me the missionline again. That 10 secondline thatyouused. Catherine Hoke : We transformthe hustle of menandwomenwithcriminal histories. We work withpeople inside prisonandoutside prison.Youcan thinkof us as an incubatorof businessesandof raw talent.We come alongside people who have failedbigtime publicly,whooftenthinkthattheyare failuresand cannot getback on theirfeet because societywritesthese peopleoff sometimesforamistake thattheymade 30 yearsago. Theysee themas nothingmore thanjusta label. JerryColonna: Right. Catherine Hoke : We come alongside them, shine themupandhelpputthembackin the fight. We use entrepreneurshipasatool that bringspeople togethertocelebrate success.People like Bradandyouand many otherentrepreneursandVCs. Entrepreneurshipisthe carrotthat we dangle thatgets people excited.The more importantworkof DefyVenturesisholisticlife transformationand makingpeople feel humanforthe firsttime inalongtime.Makingthemsee that theyhave worthand potential andthattheycan do itand bringing healinginthe livesof people whohave gone throughalot.
  2. 2. Reboot053_Transform_Your_Hustle_transcript Page 2 of 18 JerryColonna: You know,I'll ownupto the fact that we metCat abouttwo yearsago I think. You broughtsome of the folkswhohave come throughyourprogram intomy office.We dida talkthere.Iwill tell youthattheirfacesare still etchedinmy brain.They're still etchedinmyheart.There'sjusta guy,a Latino man.I don't evenrememberhisname. Catherine Hoke : Ellioy? JerryColonna: Ellioy.Ijustrememberhistears. Catherine Hoke : Yeah. JerryColonna: I rememberthe sensationthathe hadwhenI spoke tohim notas a former inmate,butas an entrepreneur.Youcouldviscerallyfeel thisexperience of beingrespondedtoasanotherhumanbeing.DidIget that right? Catherine Hoke : Yeah.They're so usedto beingthrownawaybypeople andlookeddown uponthat thenwhenpeople like youcome andsay,"I getit. I've made mistakestoo,"andlookat themas a human being,it'sthe mostempowering, life-givingexperience thattransforms. JerryColonna: I thinkitwouldbe helpful if the group...If the audience reallyunderstooda little bitaboutyourstoryand how you came to do Defybecause I'mgoingto name what theycan't see.Youpresentasa typical,capable,privilegedwhite woman.What the hell are youdoinghangingoutwiththese folks? Catherine Hoke : Yeah.I neverina millionyearsthoughtIwouldendupdoingthiswork.When I was 12 yearsold,a reallygoodfriendof mine wasbrutallymurderedbytwo 16-year-oldboys.Theywere sentencedtofive and10 yearseach.Theywere sentencedasjuveniles.TodayI'mthankful thattheywere sentencedaskids but whenIwas 12, I thoughttheyshouldgetthe deathpenalty.Iwasso withoutanymercyor grace. Lock themup andthrow awaythe key.The fact that I do thisworknow was surprisingtome.WhenI was26, I was invitedon a prisonvisit.Atthe time I wasworkinginprivate equity.WhenIgotinvited on a prisonvisit,itwasinTexas.I was livinginNew YorkCity.Ihad to flytoa prison. Inevercaredto go to Texas.I nevercaredto go to prison.My first thoughtwas,"No thanks." The personwhoinvitedme startedtotell me that somany people ...Not everybodyinprisonbutsomanywant nothingmore thana secondchance. Today I've learnedtosee thatit's reallyabouta legitimatefirstchance. JerryColonna: I was justgoingto say,it's probablymore a firstchance. Catherine Hoke : For manyif you saw how theygrew up.I endedupsayingyesreluctantlyand not withthe purest of motives.IwouldsayI wentjustoutof curiosity.I
  3. 3. Reboot053_Transform_Your_Hustle_transcript Page 3 of 18 actuallythoughtI wasgoingon thiswildzootourto see caged animals.She spoke aboutit- JerryColonna: How kindof you. Catherine Hoke : I know. JerryColonna: I'm beingsarcastic. Catherine Hoke : I know. JerryColonna: Right. Catherine Hoke : I thinkbecause myheartwas sohardenedandI had such an uglyperspective of people inprison,that'swhatsmackedme inthe face on my firstprison visit.Icriedmy waythroughthe three daysinTexas,notbecause I feltsorry for the people Imet.Ifeltsorryfor myself,how assomeone wholovesgrace and isgrateful formanysecondchancesthat I've had in mylife,how Icould be so hardenedandhow my experience of one couldleadme towrite off millionsof people.Onthatfirstvisit,the firstpersonImet,hisname was Johnny.WhenJohnnywaseightyearsold,he saw hisgrandfathermurderhis fatherinfront of him.UnfortunatelyJohnny'sstoryisnotveryunique.Most of ourguys losttheirinnocence whentheywere 10yearsold or six.Not shockingly,Johnnyjumpedintoagang and startedsellingdrugs.Bythe age of 18, he was lockedup. I askedmyself the question,"If Ihadbeenraisedinthese circumstances,how wouldInot endup on thispathtoo?" That ledme to have seriousempathy for thispopulation.Thentothisday,Iam fascinatedbythe entrepreneurial storiesof the people thatIwork with.Irealizedonthatvisitforthe firsttime that manypeople whoare incarceratedare natural born hustlers.Theyare actuallyincredible entrepreneurs.Again,notall of thembutI learnedforthe firsttime as a white privilegedgirl thatmanygangsand drug ringsare runby boardsof directors.Theyhave managementteamsandtheyhave bookkeepersandaccountantsandthey're for-profitorganizations.They understandfirstmoveradvantagesandeverybusinessprinciple.They weren'tgreatat riskmanagementbecause theyall gotbustedandendedup behindbars,butI asked,"Whatwouldhappenif theytransformedtheir hustle?" That ledme to jumpshipfrommy fancyNew York job,give upmy everything, all of myfinances,cashoutmy 401(k) to go all in,move to Texasand start my firstorganizationoutthere. JerryColonna: Right.That's not the whole story.
  4. 4. Reboot053_Transform_Your_Hustle_transcript Page 4 of 18 Catherine Hoke : Yeah. JerryColonna: Right.Up until that point,itfeelslikeMotherTheresa. Catherine Hoke : I'm not. JerryColonna: None of us are.Not evenMotherTheresa.What'sthe otherhalf of the story? To me,knowingabit aboutthis... Thisisa familiartermtothe folkswho listentothispodcast.The experience of yourfriend'smurderwasone of your superpowersbutthere's anothersuperpowerhere.Isn'tthere?Thatiswhat happened.What'sthe restof the story? Catherine Hoke : My ownfailure Iguessismyown superpower.Iledthatorganizationcalled PrisonEntrepreneurshipPrograminTexasforfive years.We achieved incrediblesuccessandstatisticsthatwowedeverybody.ThenIscrewedup everything.Ihadbeenmarriedfornine years.Iwasdivorcedatthe age of 31, five yearsintoleadingthisorganization.Mydivorce came unexpectedlyto me.Thenin the wake of my divorce,Imade decisionsthatIregretto thisday. I endeduphavingsome relationshipswithpeople whohadbeenreleased fromprison.Theywere graduatesfrommyownprogram. It wasnot illegal but I knewbetter.Iknew thatthe Texasprisonsystemwouldnotappreciate my choices. I wentthroughan extremelypublicshaming.Deeplyhumiliatingresignation process.TheyforcedmyresignationafterIwashonestaboutmy choices.My newswentoutinthe newsnationallyandthenglobally.WhenIsaw what people were writingaboutme onthe internet...Iusedto ask people,"What woulditbe like if youwere onlyknownforthe worstthingyou've done?" That became mystory. I wasso ashamedthatI wantedto justweardark sunglassesandahat and hide.Itwas so badI triedto kill myself.Isaw no visionformyself beyondwhatIhaddone.I saw itas ... I feel likethisworkis totallymycalling.Iknow it'smy calling.Iscrewedupmy calling,mylife purpose.Ilosteverything.I've neverhadaplan B. The organizationthatI startedinTexaswas my everythingandIlostmy everything.Ilostmyidentity as a wife,asa leaderandI letso many people down.Iwentthroughthe deepestdepressionof mylife.Thatwassevenyearsago.Icouldn'tsee a future. JerryColonna: I knewsome partsof that story.I didn'tknow the fullnessof thatstory.When we firstmetand youtold me some of this,it alwaysstruckme as illustrative of thisdeepwell of strengththatisevidentwhenyoucome intoaroom. That's what I meanwhenItalkabout superpowerhere.It'sunderstanding something.Thisisabitof a projectiononmypart. Rejectitif it'snot true,but I imagine whenyougoquietandyourememberthatfeeling,there'san experience thatyouhave whenyou're facingthe nextJohnnythat'sinfront of you.
  5. 5. Reboot053_Transform_Your_Hustle_transcript Page 5 of 18 Catherine Hoke : Yeah. JerryColonna: You're nodding.Doesthatresonate? Catherine Hoke : Yeah.No,I believe thatI'ma lotbetterat doingmy workthe secondtime aroundbecause I usedtoalwayspreachgrace but I didn'tapplyitto myself.I didn'tunderstandit.Now thatI have beengivenareal secondchance,I was lovedbackto life.Ihaven'tbeenincarceratedmyself butnow thatI've had such a personal experience withshame andself-hatredandall that,Ican just relate totheirstoriesandtheyfeel like Icanrelate.TheysayI'm one of them. JerryColonna: Yeah. Catherine Hoke : The compassionandempathythatI have andthat I bringnot onlyto the people thatwe serve butalsoto myteam ...I am more human toa lotof otherpeople because of this.EvenwhenIspeaktoaudiencesof entrepreneurs,Ithinkeveryone canrelate to a storyof failure andfeelingnot goodenoughand lettingeveryonedown.Because mine wasinthe news,I actuallyhave the freedomof talkingaboutitwhereasalotof people just have to keeptheirsecrets.Theyfeelliketheyhave tokeepthemsuppressed because if theycame out ...I meanwhat leaderhasn'tdone somethingat some pointthatif itcame out,it mightforce yourresignationorcause great shame?A lot of people live inthatsecrecy,whichcausesmore shame.Today I have actual freedomand joy,eventhoughIstill have deeppainaboutmy past. JerryColonna: Yeah. Catherine Hoke : That's a giftthat I have. JerryColonna: That's right.That's a giftthatyou have that yougive to othersbecause you connectwiththat humanexperience.There'sathoughtthat comesinwhich isbetterhumansmake betterentrepreneurs.Beingmore humanisthe path. Beingmore real.Beingconnectedtothe realityof yourownexperience makesus betterentrepreneursanditmakesusbetterleaders. Catherine Hoke : Aftermyresignation,one of the mediastoriesthatcame outaboutme was titledIthink"Human,All TooHuman." JerryColonna: Yeah.We shouldturnthat intoa tattoo. Catherine Hoke : Nota bad ideaformy nextone. JerryColonna: That's right.One last piece andthenI'dlike toexpandthe conversationand reallyinvite Bradinandtalka little bitaboutthe recentexperience.Many people knowI'ma BuddhistandI oftenthinkaboutBuddhism.Myfavorite Buddhistbodhisattvasaint isaguynamedMilarepa.Milarepawatchedhis
  6. 6. Reboot053_Transform_Your_Hustle_transcript Page 6 of 18 familygetmurderedwhenhe wasaboy.He himself became suchanotorious murdererthathe wouldwearthe fingerbonesof hisvictimsinanecklace aroundhisneck.He was transformedwhenhe metMarpa.Marpa usedto kickhisass. He became one of the great saintsof Buddhism.He'swritten enormouspoetryandsongs.The songsof Milarepaare incrediblypowerful. He's the keycharacter inone of my favorite storiesaboutfacingourown demonsandputtingourhead up to the mouth of the demon.The worst possible thing.Inthiscase itmightbe shame andhumiliationandsaying,"Eat me if youwish."Transformingthatexperience.Milarepacame intomymind whenyouwere tellingyourstoryandthe storyof some of the folksthat you workwith. Catherine Hoke : Yeah.I thinkone of myfavorite reasonsforworkingwithourmenand womenisthey're sohungryand coachable andpartlybecause of theirshame. That leadsto real humility.Theydon'tevenknow theirincredible talents. Theydon't recognize itbecause they'vebeensothrownaway,butthenthe resultinghungerfromthatleadstothe most beautifulthings.Thatcomes fromthe deeppain. JerryColonna: Yeah.Well there'salsoa commonelement.Brad,youandI didthisevent yesterday.We hada local supportgroup.A couple of the folksthere spoke to the fact that a numberof the parents,fathersinparticular,were alcoholics. Here'sthe truismthat my partner, KhalidHalimoftenspeaksto,whichisthat entrepreneursandnow itsoundslike folkswhoare inthe prisonsystem share a particularcommontrait,whichwe refertoas premature promotion. Theyare thrustintobeingan adultlongbefore theyare preparedtobe that. Oftentimesthey're thrustintopositionsof havingtotake care of.That can be a powerthat doesdestructive things,butitcan alsobe a powerthatcreates powerful constructive thingsinpeople'slives.Itturnsthemintoearlyleaders. Doesthisresonate withyouinyourexperience,Catherine? Catherine Hoke : Yeah.Our guyswere prettymuchall raisedinpovertyandviolence,which created...It forcedthemintoscrappinessandhustlingaschildren.Theydid not have childhoods.Theyweresellingthings,illegal things- JerryColonna: Justto survive. Catherine Hoke : Yeah,to survive andfinda way. JerryColonna: Right. Catherine Hoke : That's whythey're natural entrepreneurs,becausetheywere notspoon-fed. Theyhad to finda wayto earlyinlife,butthatwhenrefinedtogolegal,itcan alsoproduce such amazingoutcomes. JerryColonna: Right.Let's expandthe circle alittle bit.Brad,thankyoufor givingCatthe space because I thinkthatthat story isa reallyimportantstory.Iknow that youhad a recentexperienceandyouspoke aboutit.What wasthe
  7. 7. Reboot053_Transform_Your_Hustle_transcript Page 7 of 18 experience?Whathappened? Brad Feld: The specificexperience thatwasincrediblypowerful forme wasspendinga day inprisonwithDefywithabout50 EITs,entrepreneurs-in-training,and about75 volunteersthatcame on a tripthat was sponsoredbyme and Mark SusterfromUpfront.It's actuallylinkedtoa couple of thingsthathappenedin abouta three-monthperiod.MyfirstintroductiontoCatandDefywas throughTechstars.Last year Techstarsstarteda foundationandwe give grants to otherorganizations,nonprofits,tohelpincrease diversityin entrepreneurship.Ourfirstbatchof five grants,one of themwas to Defy.As the board of the Techstarsfoundationwasmakingthe grantsanddeciding whatto do, eachof us adoptedanorganization.There were twoof usthat signedupforDefy,me and JeremyShure,whoisone of the otherboard membersof the foundation.Ihadn'tmetCat. I wasn'tpart of the decision processbecause Allie,who- JerryColonna: Allie Berman? Brad Feld: Allie Bermanranthe foundationinthe firstyearof the foundation.She did the whole process.Itjustcapturedmy imagination.Ihadhad two experienceswiththe prisonsystemuptothatpointin mylife.Ihave two friendswhowere bothincarcerated.Bothwere white-collarcrimes.One was checkhiding.The otherwastax evasion,butthe personwhowas incarceratedwasnot the tax evader.Itwas the ownerof the companyhe was the presidentof.Itwasverycomplicatedinteractions.IhadbeentoBoulder Jail a handful of times.Ihad beendowntoFlorence andthe prisonin Florence,butthe minimumsecurityprison.Ihadneverreallybeeninthat kindof environmentbutIhadsome touch pointstoit.It capturedmy attention. Maybe a monthafterwe made the grant or twomonthsafterwe made the grant, Cat came out and spentsome time outhere andmetwitha bunch of people.We satdownforabout an hour.It was awesome.Iheardherstory. The pitch wasnot a pitch.The pitchwas a conversationaboutthe importance of whatshe was doingandwhyshe was doingit.It includedthe deep intensityaroundherownstoryandthenthe creationof DefyVenturesfive yearsago. Catherine Hoke : Six. Brad Feld: Six yearsago as inCat's words,her secondchance. JerryColonna: Right. Brad Feld: Thisviewof ...So many thingslinkedtogetherforme,right?The spiritof the entrepreneur,the intensityof thiswomanwhoIwasnow sittingacrossfrom for 15 or 20 minutes,the emotional intensityof herstory.Notjustof herself, but of the work she wascalledto andwas doing.The linktodiversity,the link
  8. 8. Reboot053_Transform_Your_Hustle_transcript Page 8 of 18 to entrepreneurship.Allof these thingsweretogether.Afterabout30 minutes,IthinkIsaidsomethinglike,"Hey,Cat.Stop.I'min.You got me. What can I do?" She said,"The bestthingyou coulddo to reallygetinvolved inthisand to understanditisto come to prisonfor a day."I said,"Done." Catherine Hoke : My jawdropped. Brad Feld: Yeah. Catherine Hoke : It was soeasy. Brad Feld: "Do I have to tell youmore?""No,no,no.When?"We organizedadate for the graduationof the EIT program or the DefyProgramwiththe EITs. It was a six-monthprogram.Thiswasa graduationdayinLandcaster,at the prisonin Landcasterjustoutside the Mojave Desertarea.What isit,about an hour north of L.A.or somethinglike that? Catherine Hoke : Yeah. Brad Feld: Mark Suster,whohadgone to anotherDefyeventalready...Thiswashis second.He and I invitedabunchof I wouldsaycombinationentrepreneurs and VCs.Prettybroadrange in San Francisco,L.A.mostly,buta few from elsewhere andthensome fromColorado.A groupfromTechstarscame with me from here.We wentoutand we had a day that I wouldcharacterize asa top 10 peaklife experience.Itwasn'tbestlife experience butpeakinthe contextof the emotional intensity,whatIlearnedfromit,whatitcausedme to reflectonat manydifferentlevelsversusjustyouhave thisamazing experience butit'sone-dimensional amazingexperience.Thiswasamulti- dimensional amazingexperience anditwasina contextthatwas insome wayscompletelyforeignbecause itwasinthe gymnasiumata maximum securityprison. JerryColonna: Right. Brad Feld: Afterawhile,youforget.Youfeellikeyou're inthe gymnasiuminyourhigh school.Thenyoulookup andyou see the cage uptop witha guy witha gun overyou watching. JerryColonna: Right. Brad Feld: Whenyouhave food,you realize thatyou're eatinginatotallyseparate area fromthe EITs.They're not able to eatyour food.Whenyougo to the bathroom,yourealize thatthey're havingtogo to the bathroomsomewhere else.Youhave these brief moments thatremindyoubutinthiscontextof feelingcompletelylikepeers.Notfeelinglike peersbutbeingpeers.Being involvedfullywithasetof people whoare notpart of your normal experience inlife.
  9. 9. Reboot053_Transform_Your_Hustle_transcript Page 9 of 18 JerryColonna: Right. Brad Feld: Again,youtake thiscontextacross many,manydifferentdimensionsof learning.One thatstandsoutfor me,I thinkthat wasthe one ... Like yousaid, it smacksyouin the face.Whichwas the one that smackedme in the face? There were 20 or 30 throughoutthe day,but I rememberhavingositdown afterthisone.LiterallyIwanderedover.There wasanareawhere there was some chairs,where there were some snacks.Ijustwentoverandsat in that area forabout five minutesandregrouped.The discussionwasthe following. It was midwaythroughthe day.We had alreadydone a thingcalledWalkthe Line,whichIwrote about inmy blogpost,whichforcedme to reallyconfront the notionof privilege andthe ideathatit'sveryeasyas a successful white male whogrewup ina middle classfamilywithlovingparentsandwenttoa great college ...All of thatstuff.It'seasyto talkaboutit. It's a whole otherthingtoimmerse yourself inacontextwhere itstandsout and shinesthisgiantline onyou.The Walkthe Line exercise ispartof that, where youreallystartto grok it.ThenI have thismomentwhere I'mtalking to ...I don't rememberthe EIT'sname but I rememberhisfaceswell.You don't reallywalkuptosomeone andsay,"So whatare youin for?"It's not that kindof a conversationbutyou're havingaconversation.Idon't rememberwhattriggereditbuthe startedto tell me hisstory.Hisstory was the following.Whenhe was10, hisoldersisterwasrapedin frontof him.He decidedat10 that hisjobwas to protecthisoldersister.Whenhe was17, his oldersisterwasbeingregularlybeatenupbyherboyfriend.He decided,"My jobis to protectmy oldersister."Eventhoughthe oldersisterwouldsay,"No, no,no," he decidedtogo kickthe shitout of the boyfriendsohe did. In the middle of it,the boyfriendhadagun.The boyfriendpulledthe gunon thiskid.He knocksthe gun outof the boyfriend'shand.Gunfallsonthe ground.Theyscramble forthe gun. Right?Loose gun.You're goingto scramble forthe gun. The gun goesoff.It shootsthe boyfriendinthe leg. Doesnot kill the boyfriend.Justshootshiminthe leg.Breakupthe fight. Copscome.He endsup witha 60-year prisonsentence. JerryColonna: Jesus.60 years? Brad Feld: 60-year prisonsentence.The kidis17 at the time.Now we finishedour conversation.Isatdownand whatI thoughtabout forfive minuteswas, "What wouldbe the storyif in the absence of hisupbringingat17, I wasthe kidthat got inthe fightand wrestledforthe otherkid'sgun,whichwentoff and shotthe other kidinthe leg?"I'd be a fuckinghero.I'd be the frontpage of the newspaper."WhiteKidSavesOlderSisterfromBadBoyfriend."Right?I justsat there withit.That was mymoment.Iwent, "Yep.I don't evenhave a beginningof anunderstandingof this."It'sfuckedupand it'snot right.That persondoesn'tdeserve this.Notonlydoeshe notdeserve this.Independent of that,he deservesmyrespect.He'sanotherperson.He wasina situation,
  10. 10. Reboot053_Transform_Your_Hustle_transcript Page 10 of 18 circumstance,a setof experiencesthatresultedinhimbeingincarceratedfor probablymostof hisadultlife.Justthatdynamicshockedme. JerryColonna: Well letme tell youmyreaction.Ihave six brothersand sisters.I'mnumber six of seven.My youngestbrother,myonlyyoungbrother,isJohn.WhenI was 12 and he was10, we livedinan apartmentonthe secondfloorin Brooklyninthishouse.Iwas lookingoutthe backwindow andI saw thisboy on the otherside of the backyard throwingrocksat my brother.My jobwas to defendmybrotherbecause Igrew upin a lotof violence athome.WhatI internalizedwas,"Theycanhitme but they're notgoingto hithim."I raced downstairsandI grabbedthatkid.I pulledhimoverthe fence andIbeathis face up. I oftenthinkof thatstory because there'saHulkinside of me.That's one of mysuperpowers. Whenyouwere tellingthatstory,there'saHulkinside of thatboy because he'sstill a boy.The onlydifferencebetweenhimandme isthat there wasn't a gun because Iwouldhave killedhim.Iwouldhave killedhim.WhatIcome away withfromthat story,andwe'll go there ina second,isnotjust the fuckedupnessof ourprisonsystem.It'sso well-discussedinthat documentary,13th,the Netflix documentary,orthe inherentracismorthe economicdiscriminationthatexistsinoursociety.The similarity...Cat,from your story,Brad,from yourstory,from my reaction,the similarityof all of our experiences.It'sreallyonlyminordifferencesthat thencreate these major differencesinoutcome.It'sadifference of circumstance.It'sadifference of timing.It'sa difference of meansandmotive. The emotional base of wantingtoprotecta sibling,youdon'thave tohave gone to prisonto be able to connectthat experience.The emotional base of feelingwipedoutbyhumiliationandhavingyourself-loathingtriggeredby shame,youdon't have tohave gone to prisonto rememberthatfeeling. Brad Feld: Take that thoughtand now do that 20 more timesondifferentdimensions overthe course of 12 hours.That's what the tripwas. Catherine Hoke : While hearingabunchof businesspitches. Brad Feld: While hearingabunchof businesspitches. Catherine Hoke : Thisis the Shark Tankcompetition. Brad Feld: Right.Let me go to that.It was 19 more differentvectors. JerryColonna: Right. Brad Feld: Theyweren'tdifferentstories.Theywere totallydifferentvectorsof layersof oneself againstthe back.I'll give youapositive one tohangonto that's an example againstthe backdropof aday of SharkTank-like pitchcompetitions.
  11. 11. Reboot053_Transform_Your_Hustle_transcript Page 11 of 18 We startedwith45. That wentdownto15 that gave pitches.Again,there's 75 volunteers.We've got15 differentplaceswherethey're all pitching.That thengoesto the semifinals.Orthe 15 goesto the finalsof five thatthenpitch to everybody.There'sone winner.Thisisinterrelievedwithabunchof activitiesandinteractions,like the Walkthe Line interactionthatItalk about on myblogpost aboutprivilege.Again,18otherthings.Atthe endthey graduate.Theyweara cap andgown. Catherine Hoke : Most of themforthe firsttime intheirlives. Brad Feld: Yeah,I know.Justtake a breath.Firsttime intheirlives.Theymatriculate so theywalkacross the stage withthe cheering,theirname beingcalled.They geta certificate fromaprogram at BaylorUniversity.Theyactuallygeta tangible certificate likeyouwould.One of the guyssays,"Thisisthe firsttime I've beenona stage since Iwas inkindergarten." JerryColonna: Oh mygod. Brad Feld: I don't know.He was inhis30s. Those kindsof momentswhere youthink aboutthe difference ...Oh,bythe way,the unambiguousandcomplete and total joyand pride on thisman'sface inthat moment.Complete.The most radiantjoyyou can see fromanyone ina situationwhere withinanhour,he getsto go back intohissix-by-eightcell andIgetto withmy friendsgetinthe SUV that drove usthere and takesusto the airportand we geton our plane and flyhome. JerryColonna: Right. Brad Feld: That kindof intensity,itdoesn'tleave.ThiswasaFridaythat we didthis.Lots of email overthe weekendwith75of my closestfriendsandMark'sclosest friends.Lotsof people Iknew butIhad nevermetbefore.That'sinteresting. Thisis the firstplace you've everphysicallyspenttimetogetherwasinthis context.Almosteveryone Iinteractedwith,evenby Sunday,wasstill not evenbeginningtofinishprocessing. JerryColonna: Right. Brad Feld: Notjust at an emotional level,anintellectual ...Whatam I goingtodo with this?How doI want to relate tothis?In our superbusylives,where everybodyisdoingwhatevertheywantandpickyourentrepreneurialcliché, whichyoudo such a magnificent jobof holdingupandlightingonfire over and overagain,all of a suddentohave thisdroppedinthe middle of that.It changesyourperspective notina,"Oh mygosh. My life ismeaningless.I mustdo somethingelse."It'slike,"Well time out.Thatdeal that'snot happening,thatcustomerIdidn'tget,the software release that'stwoweeks later.Time out."Change yourview onwhat isactuallymeaningful inthatand howyou relate toit.
  12. 12. Reboot053_Transform_Your_Hustle_transcript Page 12 of 18 JerryColonna: Yeah.Cat, anythingtoadd to whatBrad said?What's yourreaction? Catherine Hoke : I heartheirstorieseverydaybutI didn'tknow thisstory aboutthe guy shootingthe guyinthe leg.It'swhat I see everyday.Iwantto cry butI want to cry because mybloodisboiling.A lotof what makesme goodat my work ismy rage.I stay reallyclose tothe rage. I intentionallyengageinthingsthat make me mad. EverymorningI reada newslettercalledThe Marshall Project that talksaboutthe injusticesinoursector.It's calledthe criminal justice sectorbut the injustice thatplaguesitiswhatkeepsme angry.A lot of people hearstorieslike thisorthey'll watch13th and they'll say,"Oh,thatsucks. That's screwedup."I like togetmad so that I dothings. JerryColonna: Right. Catherine Hoke : I have to do things. Brad Feld: It's yourfuel. Catherine Hoke : It's my fuel.Istayreallyclose toit because thenI'mjust...I'm so driven.I'm so impatienttocreate change everyday. JerryColonna: Right.Brad and I justgave each othera look.Rememberthe conversation yesterdaywe were havingwiththispeergroupaboutthe value of anger.One of the pointsImade,and I have oftenmade thispoint,isthankthe fucking Lord that Martin LutherKinggot angry. Catherine Hoke : I'm a veryangry person. JerryColonna: Right.Thankthe Lord that RosaParks wasjust fuckingpissedoff. Catherine Hoke : Yeah. JerryColonna: There isa place forrage. There isa place for anger.WhenI was 12, that was an inappropriate expressionof myrage butmy rage was appropriate.Change happensIthinkwhenwe findthe jetfuel of passion.Rage happens.The rage you're talkingabouthappenswhenwe give afuck. Catherine Hoke : Well it'snot onlythatthisguy isin prisonfor60 years.It's alsothe way that he'sviewedbyotherhumansasbeingsubhuman.I'msure that hischarge was probablyattemptedmurderorsomethinglikethat.The menandwomen that we workwithhave made mistakesbutthenthe waythat theyare labeledandseenandthe interestingblogpostsaboutourwork,people who neversayit to myface butwho talkaboutmy people asbeingdisgustingand horrible andirredeemable,ithurtsme andmakesme more angry. I justwant the worldto see whatthey're missing. JerryColonna: You know,overthe summerIdid a podcastconversationwithanincredible
  13. 13. Reboot053_Transform_Your_Hustle_transcript Page 13 of 18 womannamedKondaMason. KondarunsImpact HUB Oakland.Itwas a powerful experience forme because ultimatelywhat we endedupspeaking aboutwas the otheringthatoccurs in our lives. Catherine Hoke : Yeah. JerryColonna: Thisis yetanotherpopulationthatwe "other"withacapital O and we make otherthan ourselves,more thanlikelytoprotectourselves. Catherine Hoke : Yeah. JerryColonna: Right.From the possibilitythat...Justas I saidto Kondaduringthe summer,I have my biases.Ihave myracism.It is part and parcel of whoI am.I have my rage.My rage can expressitself ininappropriatewaysanditcan expressitself inappropriate ways.Partof my learningtobe an adultislearninghow tobe intouch withmyown feelings. Catherine Hoke : Yeah,I was justas guiltyof this.I talkedaboutmyfriendwhowaskilledand my feelingsthatresultedfromthatsoI understandwhere thatcomesfrom.I thinkthe lack of awarenessinourcountry... 30% of 23-year-oldsalready have a criminal history. 30%. JerryColonna: Well here'sastatisticthat I justsaw.Again,I justwatched13th. The United Statesis5% of the world'spopulationand25% of its inmates. Catherine Hoke : Yeah.Once you go behindbars,youhave a 76.6% chance of beingrearrested withinfive years.The statthatmakesme the saddestisthat 70% of the childrenof people inprisonfollowintheirparents'footstepstoprison.It'sa generational legacythatishandeddownandthat isaccepted.That's the otherpart of mywhy's thatI believe thatone of the biggestproblemsinour countryis a lack of positive male role modelsforboyswhoare growingupin the communitieswherewe serve.Iwastaught to take mySATs and to geta goodjob.They were taughtthatgoingto prisonis a rite of passage.It's actuallylookedatas a cool thingto do a lot of timesor the onlypath where youearn yourstripes.Thenwhentheyactuallygetthere,theyrealize thatit's not whatit's made outto be.Then theythinkthatthere'sno otherpath because people are notlike youandBrad. JerryColonna: Right. Catherine Hoke : There are notmany rehabilitationopportunities.Almostnoone seesthat these guys,manyof themare the diamondinthe rough.Theyholdso much opportunityandpossibility. JerryColonna: You know,anotherpointthatI oftenmake isthe universal desiresforlove, safetyandbelonging.
  14. 14. Reboot053_Transform_Your_Hustle_transcript Page 14 of 18 Catherine Hoke : Yeah. JerryColonna: One of the many,manyexpressionsof the complicationsof beinghumanis that we can pervertthe wishesforlove,safetyandbelongingintoreplication of that,whichwe see.The seven-year-oldgirl whowatchesherfathercommit an act of crime,inorderto feel thatfairhuman needforlove,safetyand belongingfromthe primaryfocus,those parental figures,mayinfact replicate the experience inone formoranother.It'sthe perversionof the wishto belongthatmaybe infact for me the most heartbreakingbecause maybe at some level whatyoubothare tryingto do withDefyisto create an alternate universeinwhichpeople getasense of love,safetyandbelonging. Whentheywalkthe line,theywalkawayfeelingloved,feelinglikethey belongandfinallyfeelinglike they're safe. Catherine Hoke : Well inthat line exercise,we walkthrough45 minutesof reallydifficult statements.People steptothe line if the statementistrue.It'sthingslike,"I heardgunshotsinmy neighborhoodgrowingup,"or,"Iwas convictedof murder."I've done arrestable thingseventhoughIhaven'tbeenarrested. People are revealingverydifficultthingsabouttheirpast.Thenat the endof the exercise,one of the questionsthatIask is,"EventhoughI have made myself vulnerableinthisexercise andIhave exposedthingsthatIwould nevernormallytalkabout,here todayrightnow,Ifeel safe,acceptedand loved."Idon'tthinkI've everhad a situationwhere ...100% of the people on bothsidesof the line,the executivesandthe EITs,are at the line onthat and theystart to celebrate because we're inamaximumsecurityprisonwitha guy witha gunshot...The gun above,the correctional officerwatchingusand people are feelingsafe,acceptedandloved.That'swhatIlive for. JerryColonna: Right.You know,togo back to Milarepafor a moment,noone is irredeemable.Noone isgarbage.There are acts that are incrediblypainful that have hurt thousandsandthousandsof people.The humanstorydoesn't endthere. Catherine Hoke : Yeah. JerryColonna: I thinkwhatyou're doing...We haven'teventalkedaboutthe arc of entrepreneurshipasa meansfortransformationbutIthinkwhat you're doing here issuch a brave reframingof yourown experience,Cat,andputting yourself onthe line bydoingthat.I can justimagine someoneislisteningto thispodcastright now and like youat12 issaying,"Butyou don't understand."Letme speaktothat personfora moment.We do.We know yousuffered.Imyself have hadthe shitkickedoutof me.I've beenrobbed.I grewup ina roughneighborhoodinBrooklyn.We were robbedonaregular basis.My fatherwas beaten,hadhislegbrokeninthree places.Isaw him carriedintomy home.The answerto thatviolence insocietyisnotmore violence.Everysingle wisdomtraditionthatI've everbeenexposedto teachesthat.People willcite the OldTestaments,"Aneye foraneye."That's not the full story.
  15. 15. Reboot053_Transform_Your_Hustle_transcript Page 15 of 18 Catherine Hoke : Right.The realityforthe people thatwe serve is95% of themgetout, even aftermurderor whatevercrime ...Today'sinmate istomorrow'sneighbor. What kindof neighbordoyouwant cominghome to you? JerryColonna: Right. Catherine Hoke : Punishmentalonedoesn'twork.Anadulttime outishealthyforpeople who needone,whichmostof my guysneededanadulttime out,butthenwhat? WhenI hear aboutthe crimesthat theycommitted,andmanyof themare worse thanthe situationthatBraddescribed, Icry as I feel painfortheir victims.Theyfeel the painfortheirvictims. JerryColonna: Yeah. Catherine Hoke : We nevertake awayfromthe fact that theyhave done damagingthings.I have done damagingthingsinmylife.Theyhave done damagingthingsin theirlives.Theymade badchoices.WhenIunderstandthe whythatledthem to those choices,Ialmostalwaysunderstandwhatledthemthere.Mylimits of grace have beentestedmanytimes.I'll tell youwhenIheardthe very worstthingsthat I've seen.Iwentto Rwandaand I wasthere for about10 days.I was touringgenocide memorialsandseeingliterallyblood-stained clothingof babiesandwomenwhohadhad theirheadshackedoff by machetes.Onthe lastday of mytrip inRwanda,I was invited toaRwandan prison.Thiswasafterspendingnine dayscryingonbehalf of the victimsof the genocide. I was there 15 years afterthe genocide hadoccurredroughly.The waythat people were sentenced...If theywere caughtforparticipatinginthe genocide forbasicallytakingmachetesandhackingoff heads,theywere givena max of 15 yearsinprison,those whowere caught.WhenI wentinto the prison,I metwhatI had alreadybelievedwere the sickestmonstersthat had everwalkedthe face of the Earth. If you can cut off the headsof babies... I've neverseensomethingworse thanthat.Iwentintothat prisonwiththe sickestfeelinginmystomach.Idon't know whathappenedtome but as I sat across fromthese perpetratorsandheardtheirstories, Ifoundmyselffeeling empathy,eventhoughIwasso disgustedbythe actsthat theyhad committed.Manyof themwere teenagerswhentheywerebrainwashedinto thismilitia,beingtaughtthatthe people whotheykilledwerethe enemyand that theywere nothumanbeings. JerryColonna: Right. Catherine Hoke : That in factif theydidn'tparticipate inthisgenocide,thattheywouldbe killedaswell.Theyweretrainedtolookatotherpeople asnotbeinghuman beings.Itdidn'tevermake whattheydidokaywithme,but I thought,"What happensif these guysare notrehabilitated?"They've beeninprisonfor15 years,probablywithnightmareseverynightof the actsthat theycommitted.
  16. 16. Reboot053_Transform_Your_Hustle_transcript Page 16 of 18 If theydon't getredemptionintheirlives,whatcouldhappenagain?They're beingreleased.They're beingreleased. JerryColonna: Wow.I want to thankyou bothfor sharing.Brad,I don't know if there'sany lastwordsyou wantto share before we startto winddown. Brad Feld: I'll justendwithone more example thatreallysticksinmyheadthatwas profoundforme.There wasanother... I'm goingto call hima kidbecause he couldn'thave beenmore than22 or 23. One of the thingshe didup on stage was he reada beautiful poemthathe hadwrittenthatday or maybe the day before.Itwasa beautifulpoem.Articulate,powerful.AsIwassittingthere ... I had knownhisstorybecause Ihad talkedtohim earlier.He wasinfor triple murder.He had had a conversation...Ibelieve he wasthe same guythathad a conversationwithone of the friendsthathadcome withme who wasa woman.He had saidto her as theywere talking,"Were youuncomfortable here todaycominghere?"She said,"Yeah,Iwas a little uncomfortable whenI came here."He said,"Well youshouldbe.Ikilledthreepeople."The conversationbetweenthe veryattractive,white,30something-year-oldand the tough,muscley23-year-oldblackkid. At 17 he didthat because that'show he earnedhiswayintohisgang. There was a lotmore to the story.Like,"Iwas supposedtokill one personandit turnedintoa biggerthing.Ikilledthree andgotcaught."In thiscontext,in thiscultural contextwhere likethe Rwandastory,thatwas the cultural norm he was in. JerryColonna: Right. Brad Feld: I rememberhimreadingthispoemandIstartedto cry because he readthe poemand if I hadn'tknownthe story andI wasn't inthiscontextand he was standingona stage at Harvard withhisclassmates,itwouldhave been...I couldmap to that view soeasily. JerryColonna: Yeah. Brad Feld: Again,the linkage between...Ithinkthe word'empathy'isa magnificentone inthat context.Didhe do somethingterrible?Of course.Shouldhe be punishedforthe terrible thingthathe did?Yes.Is he unredeemable, irredeemable,whateverthe rightwordis?No. JerryColonna: Right. Brad Feld: Do we setthingsup withthe currentsystemandstructure that we have in such a way as to make itverydifficulttohave itevolve inapositive way?Yes. Are there lessonsseparate fromthiscontext?The contextof prisonandthe environmentthatwe can applyto otherelementsof ourlife.Fuckyeah.
  17. 17. Reboot053_Transform_Your_Hustle_transcript Page 17 of 18 JerryColonna: Yeah. Brad Feld: Right?The injustice thatisn'ta murder.Why dowe react to it? JerryColonna: Right. Brad Feld: The personwhoscrewsup or offendsus.Whycan't she forgive? JerryColonna: Right. Brad Feld: The failure thatyouhave,that one has ina certaincontext,whyshouldthat generate self-hate? JerryColonna: Right. Brad Feld: Keepongoing.I saidearlier,the thingthatwasso powerful aboutthisone day wasnot one of these experiencesonone dimension.Itwassomany experienceson20 plusdimensionsthatI'mstill processingtwomonthslater. JerryColonna: Wow. Catherine Hoke : Can I ... JerryColonna: Yeah,go ahead. Catherine Hoke : A lotof thistalkhas beenaboutthe sadnessandthe rage and all that. JerryColonna: That's my thing. Catherine Hoke : I knowbut I can't help...I don'twant to be pullingona hairbut I do wantto talkabout the joyfor one minute. JerryColonna: Sure. Catherine Hoke : 95% of the people thatwe serve at Defyhave beenconvictedof violent crime.Whentheygetout, we workwiththemandthe joythat I see from seeingthemsucceedisamazing.Ourrecidivismrate islessthanfive percent. JerryColonna: Wow. Catherine Hoke : Almostall of themmake it.Recidivismaloneisjustthe measure of failure.I am not intothat.I like tosee successtoo.We have incubatedandfinanced 165 of theirbusinessesaftertheygetout.Theybecome ourverybest employers.Ourguyshave created350 jobsfor othergrads and otherpeople intheircommunities.Theybecome giversof opportunityandlifetoother stigmatizedpeople.It'ssocool to watch themmake it.This weekIwasin NewYork at our post-release SharkTankcompetition,where we actually
  18. 18. Reboot053_Transform_Your_Hustle_transcript Page 18 of 18 award seriousfinancialprizesandhelpthemtoraise equityfrominvestors because theirbusinessesare real.We have a guy whostarteda tailoring business.Innine monthsnow,he'salreadydone $150,000 inrevenue and he'shiredI think10 or 11 people. Thenwe see theirchildrenaswell.Ilive forthatdaywhen...It happensa lot, whenI meetthe kidandthe kidsays, "I'mgoingto be justlike mydaddy.I'm takingoverthe familybusinesswhenIgrow up."To see the oddschange completely,it'swhywe're calledDefy.Defythe oddsandthe stereotypesand the perceptions.That'salsowhatI live for. JerryColonna: Wow.Well thankyou.That was a beautiful note toendon.We will endit here.