good things come to those who hustlePeople are amazed I was able to get my “little tech startup,” WeMontage (made in the Fox Valley of Wisconsin), featured on the TODAY Show, and most recently on NPR. They ask, “How did you do that?”

Conventional wisdom says a blog post needs to be titled, “The 3 steps to…blah, blah, blah” in order to be viewed, shared, commented on, etc. But this ain’t that.

There are no silver bullets or three steps to moving your startup forward and breaking through all the clutter to get the attention of your target market (at least not that I’ve seen).

How Did I Get Featured On The TODAY Show?

This answer is going to disappoint some people, but it really was luck, and most of all, HUSTLE.

Here is the Facebook post by NPR that started it all back in October 2013:

NPRBlacksinTech tweet screenshot


I was lucky because I didn’t see this post on Facebook, a friend did, and she texted it to me. I immediately sprang into action on Facebook and Twitter and contacted NPR since, well, I am an African American entrepreneur building an innovative tech company – at least I think so. ;p

NPR contacted me and asked me to be part of their tweet chat for the series. Of course, I agreed because I thought it would be fun and might be good exposure.

NPRBlacksinTech Page screenshot

Here’s a link to the Storify twitter recap of the day I contributed to the NPR series.


Before I agreed to participate in the NPR tweet chat, I noticed Mario Armstrong, who does the “Top 3 Cool Tech” segment on the TODAY Show, was curating the tweets. So, in my crazy, reality-distorted mind, I was like, “Maybe I could connect with Mario, and maybe I could get on the TODAY Show.”

Turns out that thought wasn’t so crazy.

I did connect with Mario and he is an awesome dude, but he’s busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest and it’s super hard to engage with him. That’s where the hustle kicked in!

I must have contacted him fifty times via email, Twitter, text messaging, etc., and I probably only got a reply five of those fifty times I reached out.

Then one Wednesday I sent him a text and I got an email from his producer 15 minutes later. They asked me if I could get them two WeMontages (custom photo collages on removable wallpaper) of Mario’s family and the TODAY Show host, Erica Hill’s family…by Saturday! Our normal turnaround time is six to eight business days, but whatevs! We got it done and they loved them!

Here’s the portion of the TODAY Show in which WeMontage was featured:

What About NPR?

I was able to parlay that initial relationship with NPR’s “Tell Me More” producers into an actual, live appearance on the radio program.

How’d that happen? Once again, luck and a little hustle.

I stayed in touch with the producer after the tweet chat and offered to help in the future, if they needed me. “Out of the blue” the producer emailed and asked if I wanted to be part of a tech round table discussion on why diversity in tech matters. Of course, I said “yes!”

Here’s the link to the audio of this interesting tech round table discussion, which took place on July 21, 2014.

Luck, Persistence, and Hustle Matter

So, there you have it. No three steps, and no silver bullets. Just unpredictable luck and lots of hustle.

And it goes without saying preparation is key. When these “lucky” opportunities present themselves, you’ve got to be ready!

Thanks for letting me bend your ear, and good luck out there.


James Oliver, Jr.
Founder & CEO

P.S. – Mario Armstrong has a FREE Facebook group for people looking to turn their passion into their life’s work. You can find it at #NeverSettleClub, if you’re interested.