July 6, 2021

Episode 40 - Connecting Culture & Community ft. Erica Ford


Welcome to Nicky and Moose: The Podcast. Episode 40 is definitely one for the books as the Queens’ kids celebrate by bringing on a legendary Queens native and a woman who’s been leaving her mark since the 80’s…Ms. Erica Ford! 

Erica is doing renowned work on the streets of New York and works closely with the Hip Hop community to effect change. She’s worked with Tupac, Russell Simmons, Jada Pinkett Smith, presidents and ambassadors of various countries… and that doesn’t even scratch the surface.

How did she get her start? What got her in these rooms? What keeps her going after all these years? Don’t miss today’s episode to find out her secrets and what you can apply to your brand or business.

What You Will Discover:

  • People connect to your word
  • The importance of not downplaying your significance
  • The places being selfless can take you
  • The doors that are unlocked through consistency and determination
  • The keys to building relationships
  • The payoff of perseverance
  • How to tap into resources
  • How to build a team
  • The benefits of being physically fit for the work
  • Learn to take away something valuable from the people you come across
Transcript

Nicky Saunders:

What's poppin'? What's poppin'? What's poppin'? Welcome to Nicky and Moose! I'm Nicky! That's Moose! Whats up Moose?

Mostafa Ghonim:

What up y'all?

Nicky Saunders:

And we are on episode 40! You know every 10

Mostafa Ghonim:

Man, super dope human being man, I've had an episodes, well we're trying to keep it this way, we got a special guest. And when I tell you this amazing Queen knows opportunity to you know, of course, we met her at one of our every body in the world it feels like. I wanted to stay like local, but I'm gonna say in the world she knows. Like she's saving lives. She's getting people off the streets, and conferences in Miami about 18 months or so almost two years she's like, chillin with the best hip hop people in the world. If you don't know who I'm talking about, we got Ms. Erica ord in the building. Yo, Moose, ow are we feeling about this pisode? ago. And then I had an opportunity to be able to work alongside her and her team just through some of our trainings. And I'm just like, you know, the more you get to see somebody on a real level, it's like this person really is who they say they are. This is not just a online social media front. So that's always incredible to see. And, and and also, she is she's operating out of Queens. So she's you know what I'm saying, she's another Queens kid. So I'm like we got to bring her on. Yeah it's a wrap.

Nicky Saunders:

Hey, let's get into this intro. You just gotta you just got to meet her. Let's get into this intro.

Jaymie Jordan:

Two kids from Queens, cut from a different cloth. Now joining forces helping you to elevate your personal brand. Yeah I'm talking about Nicky and Moose! Bringing you a never before seen perspective into the mindset, the mentality, the behaviors, the driving force, but more importantly, the stories behind the people and brands that you know and love the most.

Nicky Saunders:

So before we get to her you know, we got to do review the week! In emoji language, fire fire fire been waiting for this already a phenomenal listen. Real quick, fast, in a hurry we had to get a quick one. Because I want to get into this this conversation because when I tell you, I'm not gonna lie. Um, when I first met her in Miami, like just stood out and I'm like, yo, who is this? Who it like and instantly knew it was from New York. So I'm like, Okay. I'm interested because why is why is the New Yorker in Miami when we normally get closer to home at any point, but super dope individual. We've been tapped in on social media for a minute. So let me let me bring on Erica Ford.

Mostafa Ghonim:

Our esteemed guest.

Nicky Saunders:

What's up lady?

Erica Ford:

Peace. How y'all doing today?

Nicky Saunders:

How are you?

Erica Ford:

I'm with two queen the Queens' champions right here. Great. Great. I been following y'all!

Nicky Saunders:

So let me say let me say we've been following you. I'm just I'm gonna state this real quick fast in a hurry. Um, I was a huge big DMX fan, right? And you know rest in peace to DMX. But anybody who saw that whole, you know, ceremony when they put them in the Barclay's and everything like that, there is just this unique individual that was right behind the monster truck with the gray hair and I'm like, how Sway? How did this happen? Like you are every... we're gonna get into it. Moose, calm me down real quick. You want to be like, how, but yeah, yeah. Go head Moose, my bad.

Mostafa Ghonim:

Yeah, no, I mean, for those who don't know Erica, I mean, just for the like Nicky says the two people somewhere and in the world who are not sure who is Erica Ford just give them a quick rundown to ensure you know what you're about. And of course pieces on lifestyle. We love all that you're about. Just give us a quick intro man who is uh, who is Erica Ford?

Erica Ford:

Well, I'm a humble servant from Queens who is here to just help, you know, give people the tools that they need to transform their lives. I grew up in Queens and the crack epidemic in the 80s took a lot of people that I know, either through jail or through the graveyard. And then I saw their children's faces after they lost out their family members and I wanted to try to help them break the cycle of pain and break the cycle of violence that was taking so many lives. And so I've dedicated my life to doing this work in 1987. And I haven't looked back and, and so when Nicky asks the question of how I know so many people from around the world, I've been going around the world, working around human rights and police brutality, incarceration, gun violence, and everything around black and Latino young people, helping them just be free from violence free from suffering free from pain free from anger for a long time.

Nicky Saunders:

So most you be, you'd be very proud of me. I did a little research I did a little bit, right. And there was this one bar that that really got me because I'm like, Yo, what got her started. Right. Erica, so you got, um, you went to this rally, right? And there was this bar that you said, like people, you know, get saved. But I went to this rally, and I got woke. Right? Yes. So can you break down what was so impactful about that rally that made you do what you do and just inspired you to just save and help the community the way you do?

Erica Ford:

I found this when you talk about DMX. This is DMX in our office, doing a prayer for our young men, right before mediation. You know, and so when you talk about what sparked me, it's the same thing. Like when I first met X, right? X was the first artists to support the work that I was doing. And so and this was in the late 80s. And so and I'm tying it back to getting woke, because you connect to the word of people, right? People say like, like you got, right. Like when I went to Florida, before I went to Florida, like we were addicted to E, right, and then to meet the people behind E, it was like, yo, that was like a double triple play cuz all y'all are dope, right. But the words that people spoke at that rally, that was the first time I was exposed to like, really black stuff, you know, I grew up my mother's from Panama. And so she had us in the church and going to Panama every summer, and just doing things chasing the drug dealers in our neighborhood is really what I did, right? And so listening to that, and knowing that there's something going on in the world that is really changing the lives of people and not you know, it just was like, wow, like, you know, and so of course, it was called getting woke then but, but meeting people like X meeting, people like Tupac meeting people like Deepak Chopra, presidents from other countries allow you to know, that there's really, you know, there's you don't compare yourself to people. And so when you talk about when you see me in a room, like when I'm in a room, I know, I'm Erica Ford, right, and no matter what happens any day, I'm Erica Ford. And so I don't put anybody above me, no matter who they are, they just have different job titles or, you know, whatever. But they're not a better person than me. They don't go to the bathroom different than me, they don't have the same needs, you know. And so, when you have that in your head, then everything else is simple. Because everything else is a process like my brother Moose, say you commit to it right and write it down. You commit to it, you go through it every day, you it's gonna become a reality because you work towards that, you know, and those people taught me how to December 12, what was the organization, and they taught me how to really believe in yourself and do things other than what you just see on TV every day, you know. And that was fabulous.

Nicky Saunders:

It's gonna be one of those days people. You're gonna hear alot of air horns coming through.

Mostafa Ghonim:

I love it. You know, Erica, one of the things that I always thought about when you know when I saw you in a space, and of course, we've had multiple one on one dialogue, yes, but I think of the length of your career. And then I think of the many other people who I've met who've had similar interest. I seem like everybody who comes from a similar background has been able to make it out. I mean, I want to go back and do you know, for my people what I wish I had, but there isn't many other organizations that have the same lifeline that you've had, you know, like you're talking about almost 40 years in the game. What was it that helps you to You to keep going. Right? Like, it could have been easy for you, oh, this was fun for a couple of years. Now let me go get a, you know...

Erica Ford:

Real job. As my mother says go get a real job.

Mostafa Ghonim:

Right, right. Right. Right. Right. And you've turned it into, we'll get into, of course, what you've done with it, you know, in a little bit, a little bit later. But man, it's like What kept you going year after year, decade after decade?

Erica Ford:

Um, I think that the question of being selfless, right, the reward wasn't with me, and I think even in the short time that you met me, that's what am I, it could be a downfall as well. I'm never thinking about myself, I'm always thinking about other people. And it's, it's, if the reward was something for me, then I would be trying to achieve that reward, you know, and so I'd be looking to get a certain amount of money or, you know, get a house and move away or, you know, but the reward is internal, it's the love for the people that keeps me going, it's my commitment to my own freedom from suffering. And in terms of the reality of the world that we live in. And, and just being selfless, you know, that keeps me going. And people like you, because when I talk to people like you, you know, you give me the sense of looking back in, and really just understanding that there's certain strategy, you got to commit to a work, right, it's so work that you have to commit to, to go higher than you were yesterday, you know, it just doesn't happen. And a lot of people don't want to put in the work. A lot of people look for self aggrandization, you know, aggrandizing, and, and, and you just ain't that type of job. You know.

Nicky Saunders:

So, oh, man, there's so many, so many parts I want to go through, but I'm gonna go through this one first. Um, so communication is, is huge for me, right. And with the work that you do, especially with, you know, getting guns off the streets, I know, you, you met with the, you know, the Biden administration, about that whole situation, but just the people in the hood, right? You literally can't just say, yo, do this, and they're going to instantly listen to you, you figured out a way of how to communicate. And that like their guard gets down, like what talk to us about the system of communicating to still go with the mission still get the goal done, by meeting them where they are in, in the way they receive some type of communication.

Erica Ford:

So I'm not going to front when I first started doing this, I was, I was like, my mother used to always like, just be over protective. And, and really just try and I think Latin people have Latin parents, or parents from the Caribbean, they were very over protected and didn't want us to go out or try to stop us from getting whatever that thing is that they thought that we were going to fall victim of. Right. And so I would try to keep young people from getting to that thing, right? That would take them to jail of graveyard, right. And so I was very, like I would, I would I was wherever they would, I would pop up. I was there, right? And it was like a lot of yelling. I was they called me The Angry Peacemaker at that time. Some people still do. But, um, and so it was I had to stop and take a look at myself and seeing you know why I was showing up like that. And then, you know, letting go of the fear that something might happen to them, and being present, as you said, to have what was happening in their life and showing up for them. And so we would do things that they wanted to do. I would still be everywhere they are everywhere they would go if they were in a club, I was showing up to the club, if they was at a concert, if they was, you know what, anywhere it was me and my little Maxima that I had at that time was showing up and I was putting them all into Maxima. And then we started throwing teen parties doing things that they'd like to do, right, but having them in control of it right so they were the ones organizing the teen parties, and they got they developed entrepreneur jobs from that. I would always understand that people, people want to be recognized and, and everybody wants to succeed, like people aren't just going out there and doing something negative because, like they're mean spirited. And there might be a few mean spirited people. But most of these young people are in pain and trauma, something happens in their life, that they didn't know how to resolve that situation. And so showing up to help them heal, and transform from the pain, and also giving them the tools that allow them to have fun. And I am hip hop, right. And so I'm Queens hip hop, right. So I grew up with a lot of hip hop artists. Pepa was down the block I used to hang out, I was the paprika I still am the paprika of the Salt-N-Pepa I called myself. And so I was always with a lot of artists. And so I use that as a as a carrot to wave in front of the young people by taking them to the shows or taking them to the basketball game Mark Jackson's over here. Kenny Smith grew up with my brother day over to Malloy. So and I'm saying all those things, because I know that you said like, how do you know a lot of these people, we literally grew up together, you know, and so I was the person. When you talk about marketing, right? I would go where the celebrities were. And the deal was, if you go near enough, they're gonna think they know you, because they see you all the time. And then you engage in conversation with them. And I remember Fat Joe used to say, Fat Joe performed at my Tupac concert, long live Tupac, before he was even Fat Joe. And, and we just, you know, we click, we clicked, and he'll be like, oh, here comes Erica, with that black stuff again, anytime he see me cuz I'm in the party, I'm going to the shows, I'm just like, with the kids, I will do the same thing with the artists, because my thing with the artists was that you're creating the culture that these young kids are following that leads them into violence, right. And so I felt that they needed to give back to the community, I was probably a little aggressive on how I was telling them that they needed to give back but nonetheless, I was everywhere. And um, you know, my friends used to manage Rakim and Eric B., so I was on the road with them. We was everywhere. Biz, everybody. You know, I used to hang out with everybody and and so hip hop is like the universal language to a lot of young people and to the work that we do. We truly most of the levels of the growth of my organization was with a different artists. So whether it was Tupac, Ja' Rule, we work a lot with Fat Joe, we do some work with Jada. We connected with Lauren and did a project. You know, there's a lot of the hip hop local guys and girls that we deal with out here, it's music is part of what we do. We have a studio on our bus called...beats, you know, it's a full recording studio where young people could go in and allow themselves to release and let their pain, you know, on beats flow. And it's always been an important part of what we do. I remember, one time, before you said, I remember Gladys Knight, and Les Brown was doing the Kiss FM radio show. And that was my target at that time. Right. And target means, I felt that his voice would be good for my young

people, I would show up at 5:

30 to the radio station so that I could catch them before they went in. And when they were leaving at 10 o'clock, I was still there every single day that week that they were there. And they did not recognize or say anything acknowledge me until the last day. And he was like, look what you get out here everyday, like what do you want? And I had my flyers ready and my little three minute conversation ready. And I spoke and the dedication and consistency is what got me through that door. And that's with a lot of the artists and celebrities. That's how it is like I don't have the fan. But I have the determination and the consistency to get to them.

Nicky Saunders:

Some of y'all not gonna be outside that many days. I'm just saying. Some of y'all not gonna be outside.

Mostafa Ghonim:

You know what's so deep and I've never heard you say this. And, and at least the way I've kind of like, translated in my mind is like, because the violence is happening, at least somewhat through some of the music that these artists are putting out. The way you've shown up in their lives is almost to hold them accountable. Yeah. And it's like, Okay, if you're contributing to this, I want to make sure I hold you accountable to continue to give back and at least solve whatever problem you may be contributing to right, which I love. Now, I want you to, if you were to be able to come up with some form of like, let's just say formula, right? What percentage is just simply knowing somebody, so you have the connection to be able to loop them back in and like we said, hold them accountable. And what percentage of relationship building is doing something of your own that's so powerful, that when you do show up, the relationship is nurtured. And they want to be involved? Because they're like, yo, right? Okay, I know her but she's doing some incredible work, right. And I want to kind of talk about also, like how you also have the re entry program tapped into this concept of getting guns off the street, because that part of it is also powerful, just so that people can get a full understanding of, Oh, she's not just doing this cool stuff. She's also helping people re enter back into, you know, so the, let me not give it away, I want you to kind of tell it, but yeah, tell us that balance a little bit of what percentage of relationship building is just knowing somebody? And what percentage of it is doing your thing and nurturing the relationship that they want to be active with you?

Erica Ford:

So 100% is doing something, right. Although people told me, nobody is gonna "f" with me if I ain't doing s***. Right. And so and my friends tell me that, like, Salt used to tell, like people will tell me that, um, I'll never forget my friend Chaka Pilgrim, she was the president of Roc Nation. And I was like, yo Chaka, why don't you get...You know, everything. I'm like, Chaka. And she was like, why don't you do something that people would want to connect with you? Because if you do something that people want to connect with you, then the rest is history. And I was like, Okay, I got you. You ain't said nothing but a word. Right. And so I never forget that when she told me that his years ago. So I make sure that the quality of our work, and the dedication is focused on work, you know, and so, although I know people, I have to have quality work. And so we not only do the re entry, we took a system to the city that helped reduce violence in New York City by over 17%. It helps make New York the safest big city in 2017. We went from, in the 90s, it was 2000 people being shot a year to 786 people shot and less than 300 killed and something that hadn't happened in 25 years in 2017. And even now, when you look at the increase of violence, the areas in which most of the sites are working across the city. And when I say sites, it's the New York City Crisis Management System. It addresses violence in a public health approach. And it's a comprehensive model. And so we have the re entry, we have the job training for young people who are highest risk to be shot or to shoot somebody. We have programming and support for families who have been directly impacted by gun violence means they lost a child, they lost a husband, they lost a daughter to gun violence, and we help them heal and transform from the pain of trauma of that violence. We were inside the schools and inside the juvenile facilities. We are at the hospitals when incidents happen to immediately stop retaliation and help those individuals connect to resources that can help them make a different decision in their life. And when you, when someone gets shot, it's the highest point of time in which retaliation will take place. And so you're there to catch those people at that point to help direct them and serve them when I talked about the Peace Mobile. We have a 35 foot RV, recreational vehicle that we turned into a healing mobile and a sister that works with us Keppra she does holistic wellness, meditation we have a yoga, young brothers and sisters who do the yoga as well as the meditation, sound baths. And we have a technology room with a to the virtual reality and a lot of other texts at study Nicky's books and all y'all stuff on social media. And then we we have healing circles for families who've lost their loved ones. And and and then we have our Keppra's kitchen that where we teach folks how to eat more alkaline and acidic and really help them in their diet and the impact that that has on on what they do and how they show up in the world. And it's just about really being holistic in the approach to and we teach like we had 19 Keys in our office today. We teach about building generational wealth. And how people can change the that thing on what they say, but people are going to be right we don't have to stay in economic status in which we are. And that's another thing which you guys, we work with you guys, you know, to teach people how to be self determined, right how to really be businessmen and women. And a lot of young people are changing their lives and becoming entrepreneurs, and really doing something because of what we showed up there's a lot of people who came out of jail 20-30 years, and had a place to go to get a job and not returned back to jail connected and families and really be upstanding citizens in the world. And so I'm proud of what we did. You know, I think it's right behind me. The mayor gave me a day, April 8 is Erica Ford Day. And, you know, we really making a difference, we're really making a difference. We got the White House this year to put $5 billion in infrastructure bill to go directly to this type of work. We got them to change the language in over five different agencies and 25 programs. And so any did an executive order where he, you know, Ban certain guns, and put more money into the work on a different kind of way. And so, we've done a lot, we've done a lot and so now, the people who I know and grew up with, are also the people who want to do work with me. And so I was able to do a 24 hour live I think you will under live with me Moose last year. And I had from Julianne Moore to Sophia Bush to Fat Joe, Jada Pinkett, Angie Martinez. I don't even remember all the people we had...a lot of people Bun B, Trae tha Truth. It was so fun. It was tiresome, but it was fun. And they all came out to help us raise money to give young people jobs over the summer. And you know, Jada Pinkett was there. And we did a wonderful job. Jada had and had me on the Red Table with Lauren, which was amazing. You know, and, and it's not about lifting self but lifting to work. Because if two sides of that one, it takes two resources to do the work, you can't do it without money, right money allows you to hire more people to go out and save more lives and give them more jobs and, and give them more access to more tools and resources. But also, it allows a mother or father or young person to even know you exist. Because if we're not able to tell our story and lift our voice, they don't know who to call. So they're gonna call 911. Or they won't call nobody because they too scared. We want people to know that we're there. So that when you're at wit's end with your child, there's somebody that you can call to come and try to help you mediate, or and today we've had five calls just today from parents not on top of everything else do we have going on.

Nicky Saunders:

So I want to talk about the time you almost stopped like it, what you do is not easy. I mean, you've been in the game for years. Like some people be like, I want to get into community service. Nah, homie, like, follow her blueprint real quick see if you really about this life, because the change that she's doing for the community for for the US period is nothing to play with. Right? But there had to be a time where you like, Oh, hold on, hold on, is Is this right? Like, is this what it is? So just break down to the people like What was that that moment that made you maybe question, but what was that thing that was like, Nah, I gotta keep, I gotta keep doing this. So person, a situation, whatever it is.

Erica Ford:

A couple of times, um, I definitely wanted to quit. I remember one time where...I get I get attacked verbally, a lot of times from people who just have their own trauma and they own stuff. I don't take it you know, personal because I know that it doesn't have nothing to do with me. But one time someone hit me in the street. And I was like, I really if if I had a gun I probably would have killed him was what I felt with the immediate rage, actually, that as soon as I left the situation I was I call my friend. I was like, Oh, what a gun buyback you want me to do with you? I'm down. Let's do it, you know, because let's get the guns off the street. But I said it's easy to retaliate. It's easy to to have somebody go touch that person, right. But it's hard to, to set forth a new way. And and I call, you know, what started the campaign Peace is a Lifestyle, right and if peace is a lifestyle, it has to be first my lifestyle. And so, you know, I said, I'm not gonna, you know, give in and respond to the situation. it you know, I said maybe it's the karma for me something I did when I was a stupid kid or something, you know, but I didn't give in right. And so because and I say that, because if I would have made that decision that is quitting, right, because I would have thrown everything away on retaliation of that individual. Other times, you know, you just get staffing. Taking care of staff is probably the thing that drives me crazy to most, most, Mostafa knows and helped me a lot, but sometimes that just gets me so frustrated that I just like I can't do this no more, I'm not good at it. I don't want it to it, you know, but I know that it's not about me. And I can't give into a temporary problem. And a permanent decision, you know, because I know that although everybody is replaceable, at that point in time, just the work that I do is valuable to a lot of lives. And we're not, you know, free it. And we have to you know, if we commit to something, we got to continue until its over. So, you know until you you garnish victory and full victory. And so I might have different phases in which I do the work, right? Like I do plan to retire from a CEO of a nonprofit. But I do want to continue doing this work and teaching and elevating the vision and the mission and just doing stuff on a on a national and global level, on how we can really control our communities and make it safe at the same time and have fun and build wealth at the same time. So I really want to look at building those models across the nation.

Mostafa Ghonim:

Yeah, let's talk about wealth building real quick, because, you know, when when we were working together last year, I think the one thing that was kind of most surprising if I if I can be honest, was how you saw nonprofit as for profit, in a sense, and not that you were in it for money. But you saw that money is just a resource. I know how to tap into it and utilize it to get people the help that they need. Right? Talk about the mindset, especially because I think a lot of people who want to do this work, they're like, oh, who? Where am I going to get money from? Money. And it's like for you, that's not an issue, right? You, you've discovered ways to do the partnership, like you said, with the mayor's office, you have other people who are contributing. But I do believe that's more of a mindset than just a know how, but at least it starts there. Talk about that a little bit, because you were like, I want to show people who are in this industry that it's, it's possible to be a nonprofit, and still live a good life. Alright, let's talk about that for a little bit.

Erica Ford:

And it goes back to what you said about the, the friends, right. And so if you have five friends that buy Starbucks every morning, every day, right? That's $5 per cup, right? That's five days a week, or seven days a week, right? They could donate three of those days to you. And it's about you selling your dream, and having somebody believe in it just as much or a fraction as much as you believe in. And when people believe that you believe in your dream, and they and you really make them a part of your dream, they got to invest in it. And so we would, we would have to, we would be in the middle of the street with buckets and or put buckets into stores and so on and so forth. And people will fill the buckets because we will always visible and present and young people sold the dream, right because it was their dream. And the businesses in the community. You exist in our community, you make money off of our community, it is imperative that you give back to your community and of course we can't like over your back. But right. You consistency allows you to win people over to that idea. Um, there's people who companies that give out money, right? And so you have to do the work. You can't be in every level of the job of whatever it is you're trying to do. You can't do it all and I had Nicky say that all the time, right? as much a team, the people you build around you, right? Because if you've got a powerful team, then you're able to go get money, somebody else is doing the marketing and selling, and the branding. And if your brand is, wherever it is, then you could be the you could not do nothing. And people donate to you because you look like you do a whole lot. Right? And so and that's one of the things with society. Now there's a lot of people who don't do no work, is all they do is branding and marketing. And I see them, I know that, right? And I'm not gonna sit in here. And that's one thing also, right, I'm not the person that goes on anything and be like this person I like, the world is trillions of people in the world, right? Don't focus on five. Especially don't focus on the five that don't like you, right? This go out into the world and meet people and allow them to believe and invest in what you believe in. And there's just too many people this. People could this guy told me today, these 20 people are giving you $100 a month, they could give you $1,000 a month, you have to convince them to give you the $1000. And listen, I was like, I even asked him to give me 100 so now I'm gonna go ask them to give me 1,000. Right. And so somebody is watching this and and I call you up an extra $1,000 Yep, I was talking about you. But you gotta put it to work and you gotta have a plan.

Nicky Saunders:

You hear that. That's too many bars. There's too many bars. Um, I got to ask, I got to ask. Tupac's on the shirt. You mentioned Tupac a few times. Give the people a Tupac story we got we got to hear it.

Erica Ford:

So actually, right behind me, it's not a couch anymore. But right behind me is where Tupac, Stretch, Supreme from the Supreme Team, Chaz from Blackhand Entertainment, and some other guys sat down with me, I sat right there. I think that chairs still there. And we talked about the code to the streets. We talked about, you know, how do you help these young people who are caught up in street life transition out of the life, right? How do you let them see the business of the street life, right, because there's lawyers, right as accountants, this stylists is because everybody want to be sharp, there's marketing because that you got to come get your drugs instead of the other person, right? There's the event planner, because somebody is planning to social because everybody's going out every night, right? Or somebody is planning your parties and, and stuff like that. And so we work to create a system around those people who have the highest potential to be at risk of being shot or shooting somebody. And that is where we talk about the first conversation of the New York City Crisis Management System came from right here in this living room. Tupac was sitting right, where I'm sitting right now was a couch though. And we planned the strategy, and that was like 90 something. I know he came he had to perform out here in '94. So sometime around there.

Nicky Saunders:

I had to ask I had ask Moose.

Mostafa Ghonim:

Re/lationships. I love it. I love it. You mentioned you mentioned obviously, team, you mentioned the concept of a team, the importance of a team and why that's the most taxing on you. Right, you still have a phenomenal team. last, last I remember, I think it was somewhere north of 30 I'm sure it's grown, you know, since but you also got people to buy into, like you said, a vision and a mission. Where typically it's hard to recruit in that industry, like people know that they're gonna work long hours. I mean, just before we started recording this podcast, you still had some of the team members at the house still doing work, right? Like it's real, like we get to see it on a daily basis. But talk about one or two lessons that you would or maybe pieces of advice that you would give to somebody when they're thinking about building their team, and they're struggling to get people on board like you know, give give, give advice to that person out there who might be having a challenge in that area.

Erica Ford:

So got the pilot

Nicky Saunders:

Talk about it! Flightassessment.com.

Erica Ford:

I met you guys two years ago. And I was like, Damn, because what you were saying was so real, right? That and sometimes I have to catch myself and what I'm talking about is the assessment, right is the understanding of who is your team? Who are the people that you're building around you. And you cannot work with everybody like, they're you. And so the sister who was just here with everybody else. I think she was a C, and it was always the other end. C right. Yeah. And I was all the way on the other end D. And, and we constantly talking to her, like, she's a D and, and she's talking to me, like, I'm a C, and she wants the details. And I'm like, let's go. We learned how to communicate more effectively with each other by taking a second to just realize who that person is, right? And how do they show up in the world. And so that you can communicate them based on who they are not who you want them to be, and not who you think they are. But literally who they are, and how they work and how they operate. Because you can keep doing it all you want your way, if it's not related to who they are, it's not going to work, you know. And so, that was one thing that helped in the team building. Um, yesterday, I'm part of this elevate prize thing, and they had Lee Cockerell, the Disney the guy who used to be the CEO of Disney. And, and the one thing that he said, which I hired, a lot of times from my heart, as opposed to, from my, you know, thinking process my brain and really, who I need by time, the best employee. He said, The reason why Disney is one of the number one companies and I know you're gonna say y'all are, but is that they hire the right person, they hire the best person for the job. And they go through what they really stickler about hiring the right person. And, and you got to hire the right person, a lot of us, especially do this work, or we feel sorry for somebody, we want to give you an opportunity, you want to help. But your your life is going to be defined by who's around you, who's your engine in your car that's making you go down the road, right? And so you're gonna keep breaking down if you don't have the right parts in it. And that's the same thing with a team, you know, you got to have the right people and you got to use them, right? You can't put the the horn inside the gas tank, you know, you got to put the pieces in the right places. And so I think those two things...

Mostafa Ghonim:

You certified out here in the streets Erica. You flight assesment certified.

Erica Ford:

We need to we need to re you know, we need to re yo E What up? Yo.

Nicky Saunders:

Um, I need to know more about this bus though. If y'all haven't seen the bus, I'm gonna put up the bus. So you guys can see it for for our YouTube viewers. But yo, talk talk to us why the bus why the bus its fire. It's fire. I've seen the inside sound saw the outside not in person, hopefully in August, in person, but um, talk to us just the origin of that. And like, why is it so important? Because it's everywhere.

Erica Ford:

You know, like I said, I'm hip hop, right. And so the tour bus, right, the hip hop artists had the tour bus, and they would go around. And so that's I wanted to take we used to always do tours, we did. I love my life tours, I'm pleased to go to high schools and parks and prisons and every place. And I always wanted to take the young people on the tour bus to make them feel like they celebrities, they VIPs you know, we always had this thing about, you know, you are a VIP, you know, we wanted to so i would i got to and plus some people can't go to some neighborhoods, so that having the mobile thing you could pull up to wherever people are. But also I would use it as a marketing tool. Right. And so it was just, it wasn't a lot of people back then it was me and maybe two other people. And so in order to keep hands on these 80 young people, I would put their pictures on the Peace Mobile. Right. And so if people see their picture, they'd be like, Oh, wait, you know, so people would help keep eyes on the young people. And so that's where it started from. And now it's about how you see the mobile units to police units also come into your neighborhood after shooting. You want to have something as an alternative to help people heal, to help people see that there's something else that they can reach out to them to Part of to help them transform to help them get information to help mediate to help you know every single thing that they need after an emergency situation. And so it's like a triple unit.

Nicky Saunders:

If you haven't seen this bus, don't worry about it. May may go, we may do a trip, and now have it all on social media. I'm gonna go live on it, and you're gonna be like, this is the one that she was talking about. Yeah.

Erica Ford:

We did that with Hot 97with Ebro in the morning.

Nicky Saunders:

Yeah, I'm dragging Moose. I'm gonna let you know that.

Mostafa Ghonim:

I'm gonna come into the office soon, though, because I am pretty local. I know. Yeah. Wait, but yeah, I'm gonna have to pull up on it pretty quick. But I love it. I mean, Erica, talk, talk to me about how you continue to take care of yourself now. Because, you know, that's always been a conversation like I think regardless of where you are, but I think people are starting to focus on it more, right? Like we got Mental Health Awareness Month, we got certain concepts that people like you said, are taking this holistic approach to just overall wellness. And they're, they're really paying attention to their mental their emotional, right, their health, their physical and fitness and all that to say, all right, if I'm going to be a high performing individual, I need to take care of me by so because I know a lot of people could be listening right now. And they're like, man, she's everywhere she's going, she probably know. But there's also a nice method that you have in terms of taking care of your own personal wellness, just talk to us about that a little bit like the importance of being physically fit for the work.

Erica Ford:

So one of the good things is we have a wellness team, and our wellness team doesn't allow us not to live a healthy life, right. And so I definitely gotta give it up to Tracy, Queen and Keppra. From our wellness team, they're one of the best. And they're trained by Queen Afua, who also helps us and then we have Deepak and Russell Simmons, who also played a role in helping us understand the importance of meditation and yoga. And so sitting still, and just, you know, centering your mind and, and breathing is very important. And, and I learned it through the years, right. I'm a very challenging type of person, right, I'm a competitor. And so when I first came upon it, you know, if you love yourself, as much as you love to breathe, then you... I love myself as much as I like to breathe. I get

up 3:

00 in the morning, I'm on the treadmill, and I'm running. So I was like, I would give me a treadmill, I'm gonna get up in the morning and like, so. So I've got a treadmill and I start to run every morning workout. And so it is the people in your, in your circle of, you know, career goals and opportunities. You see them sometimes and you also challenge yourself to, to, to push yourself because sometimes you can get caught up in just going you know, I used to go go go go go until I pass out literally, I might sleep for two days, and then I'll get up but just looking at different leaders and teachers setting a schedule for myself and a habit, a staff that forces it, um, you know, allows me to really be about wellness in the way that I'm supposed to. And then I guess because COVID you know, forced us into taking care of ourselves. And all we did during COVID was push wellness, you know, we pushed wellness. And so Keppra had us eating aloe and you know she just gave them chlorophyll and lemon water just now. So it's about the life that we're pushing. We are the first example.

Mostafa Ghonim:

Your embody it first Yeah, I love it.

Nicky Saunders:

Made me question everything I was doing real quick Hold on. My last question. Out of all the relationships that you have everything that you've done, what is what was that one influencer one celebrity one friend that Out of all the stories that really sticks out and is like, Yo, I

Erica Ford:

So I'm gonna get in trouble. I would say my mama. love this this person because of this story, like this one, like I love all of them. This one person,

Nicky Saunders:

Stay safe. No, any story, any story that you want to say that, you know really...

Erica Ford:

There's definitely a lot of people um, you know, there's definitely a lot of people who had an impact on on who I am today. There's a lady named Viola Plumber who is like a second mother to me. And she was leadership of the December 12th Movement. And she's also the person who introduced me to Tupac stepfather, which is how that relationship came in. And just that tenacity and authentic authenticity, that she carried herself. And, you know, being a petite black woman, and just being so fearless gave me a lot of my fearlessness. Russell Simmons on the health. Russell Simmons definitely pushed indescribably the yoga meditation, eating right. KRS-One, on the no meat. You know, he was the first one challenged with the wisdom and the knowledge, you know, knowledge of self. So KRS-One. Its so many. There's so many I could sit here and tell stories for days. And I think that's a story within a story. But and I apologize for anybody who, you know, you've definitely had a dramatic impact on my life.

Nicky Saunders:

All of you have been impactful, in her life and the community. We are not saying you didn't. I it's all my fault. If you did not get mentioned my fault. I need these relationships to stay intact. Its my fault that I made her pick just a few. I apologize. If she wants to keep listing cool. And she doesn't, I will personally write your letter.

Erica Ford:

I'm on your show. Right. And when I first saw Eric Thomas, I was like, who in the hell is this guy? Right? Is his like, first of all, that made me happy, because that's how I speak. And that's how I you know, so I was like, Okay, I could do this in public, right? You know, um, and, and the, the, the audience that he touched was the audience in which I served. And so he was a tool that I can use in my office to help impact men who were in jail for 30 and 20 years, who really might not want to listen to a Deepak Chopra or understand that Deepak Chopra, right, or even Russell other folks. And so, it, it brought, like the first, like, I would say, he's that the first kind of person who gangster and, you know, and elevating the mind and, and stuff. And when I say gangsta, like he he got that swag. He controls his own, you know... it's just like, and he was doing it in a diverse kind of settings, you know, and sort of athletes you always see around athletes, and, you know, that that was something that really impacted. Just the hope of there was somebody for these brothers, right. And, you know, I really met some powerful people, of presidents of countries, ambassadors, I've met a lot of great people. And I think that every single one of them have have a part of me, right. And a part of me that has and I think that something that the Sister Viola Plumbertold me, is that what you're going to meet people, and they, they're going to say a lot and do a lot. But if there's 1%, of something that they say that you can use to help grow your life, then take that 1% don't focus on the 99% put it on a shelf, you might need it later. You know, and a lot of times we focus on the 99% that we can't, use and miss the 1% that we can and I would tell people I would urge people to slow down and Listen to what people are saying, no matter whether you want to or not, because every lesson is valuable at some point in your life. every lesson is valuable at some point in your life, and people don't just come in your life by accident. It's a purpose for everybody in your life. So don't miss the purpose of anybody that's walking into your life.

Nicky Saunders:

That could have been a final word.

Mostafa Ghonim:

It's been jam packed. Erica, you mentioned COVID. Right. And I think while we want to put 2020 behind this for good, there's a lot of lessons and just like things that have been learned because of that experience. Talk to us about one of your takeaways, like what's one thing that you took away from COVID like, okay, because of this, I'm gonna change my life forever. Because, you know, like with this concept, or at least how I see the world?

Erica Ford:

Well, I want to take one thing that I'm not taking away from COVID is that Moose gave me an assignment and I didn't complete it yet. But COVID definitely, with out a doubt. You have the ability to excel in the way in which you want to if you commit yourself to it, like it really gave people an equal playing ground on some levels to really do what it is you believe in. I seen so many people prosper in 2020. I think that I, when I was I went to California to do the Red Table. I got stuck in California. But from meeting Jada, and then Lauren, and then everything that came after that when you look at that year, I ended up at the White House on the lawn right by and it's because people were in the house. To Nicky's on teaching like, Nicky, look at this right here. This just came out in 2020. Right Y'all didn't have this before 2020. Right? We saw this evolve. Like he saw this evolve, we saw Nicky give away all her lessons like this guy. Because you know, every time you're going to have that thing, we send it to three people, right? Yeah, so I sent it to this guy, this guy was like, I can't afford it. I said can't afford her, she's giving it away for free everyday what are you talking about. Like, it's so like, we will all giving away our jewels. And we saw people grow from that, right. So a lot of people grow from what we gave them and what we were able to help them do. And that is a blessing within a blessing. You know, I'm 2020 although it was a very, you know, the worst year ever even on our physical. It was also a very transformative transformative year for us all. So it taught you to, to grind. And, and really just use your engine, right, because this thing here, you can either use it to just absorb your mental space and get lost. Or you can use it to build a market and sell and sell and sell and sell and gain what you would like to gain whether it's the people or the power or the dollar, you know, you have the ability to do it.

Mostafa Ghonim:

I love it. I love it. Let me say this real quick before I hand it over to Nicks. You know Erica did this, I think this whole idea you mentioned how this concept was birthed almost through COVID the whole idea for us was to because of all that was happening. The idea was to really be intentional about giving people their flowers while they're still here. So honestly, you know, although we've only known you, you know, like you said two years to see, like I said, the person that we see online really is the person that we've met in person. And that alone is is major. So just you know on behalf of myself and I'm sure Nicky got something to say as well but just thank you you know, I'm saying thank you for being a real thank you for grinding it out all this time. And thank you for keeping the main thing the main thing where it could have been easily for you to start you know flying thing with these celebrities because they're your friends like they really are and use attention the wrong way. You've really operated with a pure heart and you know, this is you know, our opportunity to just say thank you and give you flowers here on the show. So definitely appreciate you for coming on.

Nicky Saunders:

And let me second that cuz I'm your method works. Let me dangle these little celebrities here and get your attention cuz I was like, yo, how do you know Fat Joe? How do you know this? How do you know I'm a big Nip fan. So when you had Lauren, I was like, yo, hold on, how do you. And then I started doing my research, I was like, Yo, this is this is unbelievable, your work that you do is unbelievable. And I'm so happy that you have those people not only because of their celebrity status, but because they're actually doing stuff with you as well. And so we not only see what you're doing, but we also see them in a human light and that they care about the community. And that is because of you. And that also needs its own flowers within itself because they have a certain kind of status and you bring them back down to this is where you came from. Let's do this together. Not you do it by yourself. But let's do this together. So total flowers to you. I totally appreciate you coming on our platform. Because I mean, we not we not The Breakfast Club. We not, not yet. We not Hot 97, not yet but you got on our platform. So the airhorns is here for you. Um, but tell tell the people where

Erica Ford:

Moose will tell you how much I love y'all. Yeah, they... love like... And let me just say one thing when you talk about flowers, right? A lot of people who are behind the scenes don't get flowers at all forget about when they die, they don't get flowers at all. And you guys make people... you know, if it wasn't for the work that you guys do, a lot of people would not see their greatness, you know. And so it is through the voice and light that you shine on folks through both what both of you bring to the world is why we are able to shine right? There would be no E.T. if it wasn't for his team, right? I mean, he still would be E.T. But E.T. is E.T. because of the machine that is created by people who love him and people who believe in him. And around him. You two are two critical members of that team. And just seeing how you transform 2020 in terms of the teachings in terms of showing people that you don't have to stay behind the scene and I try to tell my employees and my partners and team all the time. I am only as valuable as you like we are each other We are one. I am because we are right and so get get like what is it you want to do? Let's build on that. Let's invest in that and move snow. Like all my stuff when I was working with you guys was about helping other people shine helping other people build what it is they're trying to do. And so I just say that I appreciate the acknowledgement, but and I want to give it back to both of you as well. Because y'all are so valuable in our lives. You know, we really, like I wish I could, you know, I just appreciate you guys so much so Nicky, you ... Moose can tell you like I'm like yo but I need Nicky we need Nicky.

Nicky Saunders:

August I'm coming. I wasn't supposed to say that because my mom's gonna see this Mom, I love you. How about that? I love you. I got excited, blame blame Erica, I love you. I'm just saying we're not going to edit this out because the bars you just said. I'm not gonna edit it. She's gonna love me regardless she's gonna be like, are you coming? Yes, yes I am. I got you. Um, but tell the people where they can find you and the last bar gem you want to give to the people.

Erica Ford:

Okay, so you want me to drop bars but I'm not a superstar I'm just here on the mic with Nick and Moose you see but I'm not an animal I'm not a goose I just shoot fire into the sky because I'm the light you see I just rhyme Not tonight but every single day I spit bars because I'm not a superstar but I'm just E. Ski the one and only got the gray hair but I still got the swag you see cuz I'm from Queens you see I ain't want to brag!

Nicky Saunders:

Erica tell them where they can find you tell them where they can find you.

Erica Ford:

Google me. But LIFE Camp, Inc on all platforms. LIFE Camp, Inc on all platforms you could find me. Erica Ford, you could Google me personally and find me but the organization is LIFE Camp, Inc on all platforms.

Nicky Saunders:

You heard that, go follow her!

Erica Ford

Co-Founder Of LIFE Camp

“I co-founded LIFE Camp because the number of funerals I was attending for young people made me think there HAD to be something else. There had to be another way… Gun violence is not a problem that is specific to one neighborhood, city or state. Gun violence has permeated our national conscience. It is a disease that is spreading and needs to be stopped.I believe it’s imperative that we attempt to understand people on both sides of the pistol. They both need our help, because hurt people hurt people. This is the philosophy of LIFE Camp and this is why we have been able to stop so many potentially violent situations.” – Erica Ford

An internationally-recognized and widely-respected peacemaker, Erica Ford has been at the forefront of reducing youth and community violence in New York City and beyond for over 30 years.

Believing in the power of partnership, Erica has championed personal and systemic approaches to conflict resolution worldwide. Through LIFE Camp, Inc.’s groundbreaking programs, Erica has empowered thousands of individuals and families to break the cycle of violence and promote peace. Erica’s concept for increasing safety has been adopted and implemented by New York City resulting in a 10% reduction in violence citywide.

Through the years, Erica’s dedication to reducing violence among New Yorkers has garnered countless awards, accolades and praise by notable public figures such as former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Oprah Winfrey and hip hop mogul Russell Simmons. Her recognized leadership has brought extensive travel and teaching opportunities in prisons, community centers, high schools, college campuses and conferences throughout the world.

Erica Ford is widely respected as one of the most diligent and hardworking activists of her generation. She is uncompromisingly dedicated to improving the lives of Black and Latino youth and the community-at-large. For more than 30 years, this outstanding leader and internationally recognized peace activist has led the effort to combat violence and inspire youth in devastated communities.