Shonda Scott is a CEO, civic leader, TV and podcast host, producer, and philanthropist. Her company “360 Total Concept” has a portfolio of projects totaling over $1.7 billion, which has included giants such as BET, Uber, Comcast, Kaiser Permanente, major transit agencies, and several international airports. 360 has provided support services such as creating diversity spending strategies, which has helped generate over $100 million reinvestment back into historically underserved communities and increase the utilization for small businesses. We caught up with Shonda to discuss business, BLM, Barack Obama, and more.
In 2006 you created your company 360 Total Concept. Can you share with us some of the trials and tribulations that you went through as a minority business owner building your companies project portfolio?
Being a black woman in business, you are often the only person at the table that looks like you. With this being the case, it is important to me that I use this privilege and my voice to represent my community and culture. I always carry the responsibility that I am at the table to make room for others who look like me. I also realize that I am at the table to represent to others in the room the value I bring, so they understand the importance of having diverse voices at the table.
In 2012, you were appointed to President Obama’s Platform Committee based on your civic work. Can you share with us a little about that experience?
Serving on the Platform Committee of President Barack Obama was truly a blessing. Especially since I was informed that the first platform committee meeting was to vote on having slavery in America. This irony is not lost on me, a great-grand daughter of men and women born into slavery serving on the first black president’s platform committee. In fact it made serving more compelling and honorable to me.
Meeting President Barack Obama, what was that moment like for you?
It’s interesting. I first met Barack Obama when he was a Senator. Even with that first encounter, seeing him once he became President of the United States was amazing. In fact it never gets old, and I’m always excited to be in the room with President and Mrs. Obama. They are two of the most incredible and authentic people I have met, especially in the world of politics.
You have achieved numerous accomplishments in your career, including being inducted into the Alameda County’s Women’s Hall of Fame in 2018 for business acumen. What is some advice that you would like to share for individuals looking to start their own businesses?
For anyone interested in starting their own business, I’d advise them to develop their craft and skills. Become a student of learning in the area you want to open a business in. Seek knowledge from those who have achieved the success you desire, because they have the blueprint strategy on how to succeed. If you can work or volunteer for a company in the area you desire, that is a great way to develop your skills before taking the big leap into the word of entrepreneurship. Volunteering or providing in-kind service are ways to showcase your business and build relationships for future opportunities. I have a motto: Don’t do anything that you wouldn’t do for free. It’s not all about the money.
Recently a noose was found in the garage of NASCAR star Bubba Wallace at Talladega Superspeedway. What are thoughts on the numerous killings of unarmed African Americans, and what should the narrative be?
Personally, I think it is disheartening that we are still here and senseless murders are still happening in 2020. I recently wrote in an article that racism is America’s original pandemic, and now after 400 years there is a shift. It took the COVID-19 pandemic to get us to start understanding that we are all connected and “we are all in this together.” That’s why we see for the first time in NASCAR history all the drivers and crew standing with Bubba, the only African American NASCAR driver, in solidarity that racism is unacceptable. COVID-19 gave America the pause needed to stop and look at things that have been overlooked for centuries and make real, lasting change.
How do you see the industry changing after the COVID-19 pandemic is over?
COVID-19 is the paradigm shift that moved the industry and world into the 21st century where technology is how we do business. We have learned that we can truly do more with less. We will be more conscious of others, our own health, and not be so focused on business. I hope that post-COVID-19 we will come out more balanced and creative.
You are an executive producer and host of a talk show “Spotlight with Shonda Scott.” When you are selecting your guests to appear on your show, what do you look for?
I intentionally look for guests who are using their platform or position to make a positive impact on the lives of others — influencers who use their light to uplift and lead in their community, nation and world. “Spotlight with Shonda Scott” is all about sharing success stories — stories that inspire us to walk in our greatness.
You are also a lifetime member of the UCLA/CAL Alumni Association, achieving member of UCLA Bay Area Bruins, and Arthur Ashe Foundation. For the individuals that are not familiar, can you share some of the duties that come with your membership in both organizations?
It’s all in what you give to these organizations. Personally, if I’m a part of an organization, I’m involved to give my talent and resources. So membership to me means helping to bring awareness about the organization, giving back to sustain the organization’s legacy, and recruit others. All of these organizations have a scholarship components that I give to and help raise money for students.
How can Millennials and Generation Z get involved in some of the things that you are currently working on?
One way is to follow the podcast my brother and I co-host, “What Sibling Rivalry.” We talk about current affairs and things that we are working on. I’m also active on social media, Instagram, Twitter and now Tik Tok @shondascott360, and LinkedIn, in order to stay in engaged with Millennials and Gen Z.
For more on Shonda, please visit: shondascott.com.