Sports Stars Making a Difference: “I have interacted with so many individuals who wished they were more politically educated” With NFL Star Walter Powell and Edward Sylvan
I dreamed about being an NFL player just like my brother and throughout my journey to this point, I have interacted with so many individuals who wished they were more politically educated. I have been able to leverage my platform and my relationships to start an education-focused company around politics, making it easier for anyone to become more familiar about our political system.
As a part of my ongoing series about sports stars who use their platform to promote important social causes, I had the pleasure to interview Walter Powell, former NFL wide receiver and co-founder of the political information app, Politicope.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I never was really interested in politics. I was all about football, that was my passion and my goal to play in the NFL just like my brother did. But one day in December 2017, my co-founder and best friend Jackson came downstairs upset about a bill that just got passed. He broke it down for me in terms I could understand and then it hit me: why not create an app that helps break down complex legislation so that the average American could understand and be more informed about politics? That very night, I went over to CVS, grabbed some printer paper and started drawing out what I wanted the app to look like. 20 pages later, Politiscope was born.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Once the prototype was out and I showed people the app, people started looking at me like I invented the light bulb. It was crazy getting the feedback I was receiving for the idea, and the more we discussed it, the better the feedback I got.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
There’s just nothing like Politiscope out there on the market. In this political climate, everyone, especially millennials, are always looking for convenient ways to find the truth. Given all of the other media outlets, they have so much inherent bias that really affects your subconscious subliminally. There’s not one place that is dedicated to politics and curbing this era of ‘fake news’ like we are doing with Politiscope and that’s why I think it has the potential to revolutionize democracy. Just knowing we have the chance to make a difference in our society today will continue to propel our success.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We have a couple things in the pipeline that you’ll find out about soon enough. No matter what, our mission of educating the people will always provide value to our country and our citizens.
What advice would you give to other C-Suite executives or founders to help their employees to thrive?
I think everyone in a startup organization has to wear a lot of hats. Sometimes, you’re going to have to do things that are out of your comfort zone and that’s something the company as a whole should embrace. The main thing is about making sure your employees buy into your company’s mission and if they can do that, they’ll be more effective at getting the job done. If they don’t, the product will never reach its potential.
How do you define “Leadership”?
For me personally, I define leadership based on education and knowledge with the ability to provide guidance, and direction given what I’ve learned. In this day and age, a leader needs to be able to communicate effectively and be receptive to constructive criticism and new ways of thinking.
What advice would you give to other C-Suite executives about the best way to manage a large team?
Understanding the value of perspective and taking others’ inputs gives the most holistic approach to leadership and decision making. In those cases where so many people are providing constructive opinions, you’re setting yourself up for success. Collaboration is key.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My older brother Brandon Williams. He’s helped through my journey from high school, college, NFL and now in the tech world. He’s been my life coach, psychiatrist, spiritual mentor, trainer, analysts, strategist and friend. He’s helped shape me into the man I am today by just being there and being a great role model to my sister and I.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I dreamed about being an NFL player just like my brother and throughout my journey to this point, I have interacted with so many individuals that wish they were more politically educated. I have been able to leverage my platform and my relationships to start an education-focused company around politics, making it easier for anyone to become more familiar about our political system.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Get an assistant ASAP — I find myself multitasking daily and getting an assistant would definitely help me be more prioritized.
2. Take advantage of your me time. My position requires me to do a lot of networking and staying in constant communication with my people. My mental energy gets drained fast so I need time to myself to relax and recharge my battery for more interaction.
3,4,5 My board of advisers help me correct and compensate for my other weaknesses.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Learn it/ Live it Knowledge Movement
If you seek to obtain “ A Lil knowledge “ each and everyday imagine how great you can become for the people around you and in your community.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Walk by faith, not by sight” — usually people have to see it to believe it, but in reality for your ideas to manifest, you have to believe it before you see it.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
LeBron James no question. When someone like him can go out and make the impact on his society he has off-the-court, using his platform to open up a school. That’s big time. He sees the big picture, that sports isn’t the end-all-be-all. Life is bigger than that. Creating a way to educate children who wouldn’t be able to otherwise, as a basketball player — there’s no one like him.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can follow us on Instagram and Twitter @politiscopeapp. Our app is also available in the app store for iOS devices to download.