Jodi-Tatiana Charles – Founder and CEO of The Embargo List

[quote style=”boxed”]I take pieces from my surroundings, my experiences, and the people that fill my life.[/quote]

Jodi-Tatiana Charles has enjoyed bringing people and companies together for over three decades. As a strategic marketing & branding specialist she has combined her passion for branding with her love of business development. While completing her Global MBA at Babson College, she developed La Capoise Galerie, a unique brand and marketing firm dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and professionals on the importance of their personal brand in their fields of business. She gained wide recognition for her expertise in achieving national and global attention for MassChallenge and its 362 finalist from its inception in 2010 thru 2013.

Prior to creating La Capoise and The Embargo List, Jodi-Tatiana managed and coordinated the Massachusetts Conference for Women, a one day event providing a forum for more than 7500 women, engaged as Deputy Press Secretary to Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, produced the award winning NECN program NewsNight hosted by Chet Curtis and Jim Braude, and demonstrated her leadership as WXKS Associate Producer for the legendary radio program The Matty in the Morning Show, where she was nominated “Producer of the Year”.

What are you working on right now?

I am currently working on the fourth branch of my company The Embargo List (TEL), an alternative PR firm that bridges the gap between high growth/ high impact entrepreneurs, industry specific experts and reputable media outlets.

Where did the idea for The Embargo List come from?

The idea came from three distinct situations that happened to me less than three months ago.

1. I was having dinner with several former media colleagues from various outlets and they spoke of their frustrations of finding strong and fresh content. When I brought up working with entrepreneurs, they spoke loudly on how difficult it was to gain access to industry experts in the entrepreneurial eco-system in a timely and organized fashion to meet their deadlines.

2. Coming upon my last months as the Media & Community Outreach Coordinator for MassChallenge Inc where I supported 362 startups from its inception in 2010 thru 2013, I was asked the same question from teams and supporters that I formed relationships with throughout the years, “Who will now garner the high tier media attention that we as high impact entrepreneurs need?”

3. After the events of the 2013 Marathon Bombings, I was contacted by media friends around the globe looking for me to put on my “producer” hat and help them find diverse industry experts that could provide content to support their stories. By the time I was able to fulfill all the needs, the story was no longer a story.

These situations highlighted a need in the industry that I knew I could correct. There continues to be a disconnect between entrepreneurs and reporters. My aim is to close that gap. TEL bridges the gap by streamlining communication between the experts in both eco-systems.

How do you make money?

TEL is a subscription based platform.

What does your typical day look like?

My days begins at 5am, I started my career as a morning radio producer and I love this time of day to catch up on everything going on in the news and answer emails. I then commute 45min into Boston to meet with our first client around 7:30am. These meetings are an hour each throughout the morning and finish at about 1pm. From here I check in with my team on pending and new projects get client updates across the four branches of my companies (The Embargo List, La Capoise Galerie, La Capoise Photos and Media Bootcamps) and grab a pseudo healthy lunch (my favorite is soup). I spend the rest of the day setting up meetings, guiding my team, and completing the many day-to-day operations of building businesses. Evenings are split between networking events, some sort of exercise and family and friend time. I TRY to be in bed by 11pm and do it all over again six of the seven days of the week (Thursdays are all about me days).

How do you bring ideas to life?

I take pieces from my surroundings, my experiences, and the people that fill my life.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

Knowing that traditional media is not dead and if the end user is educated to navigate between traditional and new media the most amazing opportunities can and will land in their laps.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

Hmmmm, every job I’ve ever had has been demanding, stressful, but also very rewarding – teacher, radio & television producer, press secretary to former MA governor, conference program director and now founder of four startups. I have always taken tough jobs that required the most out of me because I like to challenge myself. All of these experiences have strengthened me and made me who I am today. Oh, wait I just thought of the worst job. I was 18 and knew everything; I didn’t want to go to college right away so I went from part-time register girl at ADAP auto parts at $7hrs to assembly line worker at $15hrs. My mother freaked and I made a bet I would stay there for years, I was there for a week…she won.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

It’s difficult to say. I’ve started over many times in my life by changing industries. Each time it is my past experiences that help to make me successful and I have used the knowledge that I have gained moving forward in my new endeavors. I don’t think I would do anything differently.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Every entrepreneur has had this beaten into their heads – “perfect your pitch!” However, my advice would be to perfect your PERSONAL pitch. I – me, myself & I, came before the schooling, career and business. I know my story. It shocks me every time I ask someone “tell me who you are?” and they go into their business. Know how to tell YOUR story. You are more than your company (although more than often, it doesn’t feel that way). Know how to market yourself just as well as you can market and pitch your idea or company.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Not firing someone fast enough. As an entrepreneur you are working 105mph. Sometimes you hire a person that just does not fit the startup world, but out of the kindness of your heart you keep them on for another day, week, or month. Before you know it, you are so behind in your work because you are constantly doing their work. I’ve learned to embrace these two sayings, “hire molasses slow and fire lighting fast” and remember “it’s not personal it’s YOUR business”.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I will let you know when I think of one, stay tuned.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?

I would require that everyone travel to at least three countries in their lifetime. The experiences and challenges that one would encounter would be amazing for personal growth. Why three, if you have a bad experience in one, you still have two other opportunities for a better outcome.

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

When I was the morning show producer for WXKS radio, it took me 3½ years to get Oprah Winfrey on our show after EVERYONE said it couldn’t happen. After 3½ years of creative approaches and marketing pitches – I made it happen…determination at its best!

What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?

My interns could easily answer the first one for me: GOOGLE! I know I am not that old, but most times I reference a person, place, thing or moment in time, to get a point across and I get a blank stare from some to all of my team members. My dad used to spell out dictionary; I am a big fan of screaming GOOGLE IT!!!!

The other two I wish I could combine as one mega platform; Asana with Dropbox for keeping our team organized and on track at all times, in real time.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

An oldie but goodie – Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell’s main focus is that people are products of their surroundings. Intelligence, ambition, personal culture, and society all affect one’s level of success. Being an entrepreneur, it really sheds light on how/why I enjoy being a self-proclaimed “workaholic” and how hard work can put you in front of the right people at the right time.

Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?

Full disclosure I am not avidly on twitter (I’m a former TV & radio producer – I still get media alerts and hundreds of texts, this is my version on tweeting), BUT if I were to follow every tweet of three I would follow;

• Jon Stewart, he changed the way real news is digested by bringing the frustrations of the viewers to the forefront.
• Sir Richard Branson, I have followed him throughout my life, allllllllllll his pitfalls and how he picked himself up each and every time better than the last.
• If she was still alive, Lucille Ball – comedienne, model, film and television actress AND the first woman to head a major studio, and one of the most powerful women in Hollywood at the time…Trail Blazer!

When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?

I laugh a lot, most recently it was this past Friday when I was working directly with my interns and watch them work through an assignment. My team is truly the breakfast club, the way they take on a task and come to a conclusion cracks me up each and every time. What better way to end my week, than to laugh with them the entire day.

Who is your hero?

My dad is my hero (LOVE you Mom!!!!). I once asked him why he didn’t travel as much as my mom and my sibling. He told me, “I wanted to provide my family with the opportunities and resources to see the world and through your travels you will succeed in life. Watching and hearing of your stories, is better than going to the location itself”. I wouldn’t be where I am today without his help and support.

What is the most important element of branding to you?

Storytelling, you are the only person that can tell your story. This is the most important part of branding because it humanizes your brand and it allows consumers to relate with your company.

What inspires you to do what you do?

Seeing a problem and solving it like a good puzzle, educating my peers and clients, not doing it for them (teach a man to fish…), strong work ethics – it starts when you are young, and a powerful support system (friends, family and colleagues) that no one or thing can penetrate.


Jodi-Tatiana Charles on LinkedIn:
The Embargo List on Facebook:
La Capoise Galerie on LinkedIn: