IAM870 – Special 2021 Episode with Gresh

Podcast Episode with Gresh

Gresham “Gresh” W. Harkless Jr. is the founder of CBNation and Blue 16 Media. CBNation is a business-to-business (B2B) Brand focused on increasing the business success rate through content including blogs, podcasts, and videos. CBNation consists of blogs (, podcasts (, and videos ( The brand focuses on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business owners. Blue 16 Media is a digital marketing agency providing digital marketing services including web design & SEO to small to medium-sized businesses and organizations. Central to his marketing philosophy is that You Are a Media Company: Developing a Marketing Strategy to Connect with Your Target and Reach Your Goals. Gresham is a proud graduate of Howard University & Georgetown University.

  • CEO Hack: Connection- I AM CEO community Facebook group
  • CEO Nugget: Take on the mamba mentality and incorporate it into whatever you do
  • CEO Defined: Tapping into your zone of genius and making sure you lead that way

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00:02 – Intro

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of. This is the I AM CEO Podcast.

00:43 – Gresham Harkless

Hello. Hello. Hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and this is the first episode of the new year 2021. So happy new year. I hope you are doing as well as can be. It's been a crazy year, to say the least. There's been definitely a lot of positive things that have happened for some people. There's been a lot of negative things that have happened to other people. But one of the things that I always try to hold true and near and dear to me, and what I do is that we can control a lot of our perspectives. So if we can maybe find the seeds of opportunities for things to grow, that will serve us better.

I think the best way for me to start is how I found it CB Nation and CEO Blog Nation started out as a site called Herepreneur. Here and entrepreneur together in one word. But I started out on that site largely because I was freelance writing for years. So even before that, when I did my master's degree from Georgetown after I graduated from Howard I studied sports, the sports industry. So I had like a capstone project or a thesis and I did mine on sports entrepreneurship. So I interviewed entrepreneurs and business owners who were in the sports industry but also read books from people like Ted Leonsis, who owns the Washington Wizards and the Washington Capitals.

And looked at those people and I basically pulled out about 10 or so common elements or common characteristics of successful CEOs and entrepreneurs and business owners in the sports industry. So I did that and fast forward after I graduated, I ended up getting a job working at the United States Postal Service in a sales position. And I just knew that it wasn't where I should be. So I got antsy and I ended up quitting my job after not too much time and about 45 days after I quit about 15 or about 2 weeks after my insurance ran out I tore my Achilles tendon so I was definitely you know frustrated I was doing at that time in between freelance writing, I worked for this publication called Patch and it had an entrepreneurial spotlight column.

So I would interview entrepreneurs and business owners, to find out why they started their businesses and all the things that they did to be successful. And that's where my Achilles did it. And it was definitely one of the most frustrating things that I had. Definitely, I hadn't had a lot of injuries before, and I would play basketball before. But I got that injury. It was extremely painful. It literally feels like somebody takes a hammer and slams it in the back of your leg. And I was just frustrated. I was frustrated because I said that I wanted to do something bold, I wanted to go against the grain, I wanted to do all those things, and it didn't work out exactly how I wanted it to work out.

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So the reason that I bring all that up is that, not the only thing that I did in order to leave me here, but it's one of those pivotal moments that I found myself extremely frustrated in bed, mad at life, and mad at anybody that would talk to me, and just embarrassed to be very honest, because I felt like I did something bold, I did what I wanted to do, and it didn't work out the way that I wanted it to. But while I was kind of laying in bed and you know figuring all those things out, that's where CEO Blog Nation eventually came out. It started out as an entrepreneur, then evolved into CEO Blog Nation and now we have CB Nation. So it's definitely grown and evolved from there, but it probably would not have happened if I hadn't toured my Achilles tendon, to be very honest.

And it's those frustrating, less-than-ideal moments that a lot of times plant seeds that allow us to grow bigger and sometimes better in the future. So I always go back to that anytime I'm frustrated or things don't go the way that I want them to go. And for many of us, maybe we'll look at 2020 as that less than ideal time, the opportunity where we wanted to grow in a certain way and it didn't happen, potentially even maybe gone out of business, had loved ones that were sick or potentially even passed away. So hopefully not to say that stuff is positive, but hopefully, we can take what has happened in 2020 and take what has happened potentially even prior to that or even what might come up in 2021 and come back bigger, stronger, and better.

Not without a little frustration, not without a little, a certain amount of tears or any of that, but with the desire and the understanding that you can't really stop until you stop. You can't lose until you stop. You can keep going and our perspective is so huge on that. So with that being said, what you're gonna see from us in 2021 is gonna be a lot of automation on the backend. So we're gonna try to take our small team and try to multiply our efforts by being able to ask and answer some of the questions that you might hear on a regular basis. So you'll see maybe on the back end some of that automation. You're gonna see loads of sponsored posts from us, so we're gonna offer different ways in different mediums.

Of course, we have our written sponsored posts in blog format, but we're also going to do and introduce podcasts and video-sponsored content as well too across our sites. We're going to go really strongly into our CEO hack site, so providing those resources to help you Maximize your day just like we're trying to do. You're gonna see loads of that information. And as you probably already know, I also have a digital marketing company called Blue 16 Media. The plan as of this recording is for Blue 16 Media to be more of an umbrella brand of the different properties that we have. So CB Nation is one of them.

You're going to probably see a spin-off of Blue 16 Media into Blue 16 Marketing, which is going to be one of those brands underneath Blue 16 Media. So expect to kind of see that transition. I'm a big sports fan, a big Cowboys fan. So I always usually talk trash to people on the Washington football team. And I read an article where it says for them to change from the Redskins, their previous name, to the football team or to whatever name they ended up choosing could take up to 2 years. So that's not something that's going to happen overnight, not to compare ourselves to that massive brand, but at the same time, we're going to evolve it over time.

But that's just something that you might see Blue 16 marketing coming out under Blue 16 media. And every podcast always asks for the secret sauce. And our secret sauce, as you've heard me say multiple times is that you're in the media business. You are a media company and one of the things that we try to do at CB Nation and it goes right in line with what we do from Blue 60 Media on all different aspects is visibility plus resources times connection equals success. So we're trying to help our people, our entrepreneurs and business owners, the individuals within these organizations be successful in so many different ways.

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So each post you're going to get visibility, you're going to get resources that can help you be successful, or you're going to get that opportunity to connect, which is basically that thing that takes it over to an entirely different level. And I had somebody on the podcast and she said that she said if content is king, connections are queen. So that's really big to me personally, that opportunity to connect and you're going to see it even more through the podcast, through the blog posts, through Blue 16 Media as a whole as it evolves. The whole purpose of that is to create an underlying connection amongst all the properties and things. Less silos, more integration between each of the different properties, but also the people that we're serving as well too.

So that's, you know, just interactions, maybe different events and things like that to make sure that everything, everybody has the opportunity to connect, which is super important to me. And as always, I'm switching gears into the second part of the interview. I always call it the pay it forward section, is that opportunity for you to walk away with tactical things that can help make you more effective and efficient. So the very first of those is what I call a CEO hack. So the CEO hack can be like an app, a book, or a habit that you have, but it's something that makes you more effective and efficient. And the whole idea of the CEO hack is that it's something that allows you to be and usually spend more time in your zone of genius.

So a lot of times when people are on the podcast they say oh I don't have anything grand or anything tremendously impactful that I use or I lean on on a regular basis I just do this or I just do that that's exactly what a hack is a hack isn't something that completely always transforms your business A lot of times we look for the home run hack. The thing that we do that has been an absolute game changer once we downloaded it or once we started to implement, it completely changed our business, completely changed our life. The beauty of the hack is it's often those small things that we do that save us time and energy so that we can spend more time on our gift, our zone of genius, the thing that we do better than anything else.

So I basically mentioned the connection piece that I want to push more into 2021, but also definitely forward. And the thing that you may not know about is we have a Facebook group called the IMCEO community. So that's on Facebook. That's our really glue piece, I think. It's going to be a really pivotal piece. It's going to evolve from just the Facebook group. But like I mentioned, you know, doing events, having interactions and things like that, you're going to see us spending more time there, hopefully integrating a lot of what we're doing into that community piece and that's just one leg, excuse me, of the stool so to speak but the whole idea is really to allow that to happen so that people can interact.

They can connect, they can promote themselves, they can promote others, they can get resources, they can get other hacks, they can do all those things that help them to level up their business and to spend more time in their zone of genius, because if we spend more time in our zone of genius then that's going to allow us that opportunity to be bigger and better. So with that, you know in mind that's exactly you know what we're trying to do is to help people to connect and build those relationships. Right after that, I have what is called the CEO nugget and every year I usually pick a focus.

This year has been such a crazy year. I can't remember offhand exactly what my focus was, but if you, you know, have talked to me long enough, I used to play basketball. I was probably after the Michael Jordan time when he retired in 1998, I believe. The first time or the second time actually from the Chicago Bulls. I basically started to watch a lot of Kobe videos. I used to record them and watch them on VHS tapes and practice his moves, all those things. I was kind of obsessed with Kobe, especially hoping to grow up to be 6'7″. I didn't quite make it there.

But with that being said, I really appreciated his approach to what he did. As he grew older, he started to talk more about not just how you can have what I call and what he calls the mamba mentality in basketball but in so many different ways. So my nugget, my CEO nugget is to basically take on the mamba mentality and incorporate that into whatever it is that you do. When I talk about that secret sauce, I talk about that Zona genius, the thing you do better than anybody else, that is where you should focus that mentality. That thing you feel like you do better than anything else.

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I just pulled up a really quick kind of summary. I have it. I listen to it every night, exactly what it means. But the mom mentality is a term Brian coined to describe the level of intense focus and relentless approach he took both in preparation and competition. It's all about basically being great at what it is that you do, whether it be running your business, whether it be content creation, whether it be Being a son or being a mother or being a father or grandson or a grandparent whatever that might be Approach that mama mentality in relation to your gift to the thing that you feel like sets you apart It makes you unique and that's what I'm looking at as my theme into 2021.

I've had different things like the one thing, the other one in reference to a book called Chase the Lion that was one of my themes as well too because and hopefully in you know the celebration of the impact that you know Kobe had on me you know from a very far away place That's something that I want to do in 2021. So I just basically say, chase the greatness that's within you. Don't chase anybody else's greatness. I always say, run your own race, because if you run your race, you'll never lose. So find that race that you need to run and then double down on that and do that to the best ability that you have and you'll have peace you know knowing that you left it all on the field or on the court so to speak.

With that being said, the last and final thing is, the question I always ask on every episode is, what does being a CEO mean to you? The goal of the I Am CEO podcast, CEO Blog Nation, and CB Nation TV, is really to change the way that we look at business and entrepreneurship. There's no better time to do that than during a disruptive time where you're gonna see businesses probably contract extremely and to an extreme degree with technology with all these innovations that are happening, you're going to see teams grow smaller, I believe, and be even more efficient and effective because they're able to cover more ground with these technologies that we have.

So with that being said, you know, CEO to me is really tapping into your zone of genius, tapping into what it is that you feel like you do better than anybody else and making sure that you lead that way so that others can lead in their own way as well too. And by their way, I mean their race. So as a CEO, leadership is at the forefront in terms of making sure the people that are around you, the people that you see, the people that you impact and don't see are conducting themselves in a way that they can be great. Whether that's in business in a nonprofit organization or as an individual, tapping into that CEO mentality is all about being the greatest that you can be and going after and getting things done to achieve that goal.

And I think so many times we get caught up in the number of employees and the number of businesses, but that's at the heart of everything that I think that we should try to do. So this is Gresh signing out. I hope you enjoy this. I want to wish you a Happy New Year again and I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

16:31 – Outro

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO Podcast powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes Google Play and everywhere you listen to podcasts, SUBSCRIBE, and leave us a five-star rating grab CEO gear at This has been the I AM CEO Podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.


Mercy - CBNation Team

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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