In this episode I had the chance to speak with a friend of mine, and someone who was very compassionate toward me in my early days of recovery, Cheri Garcia. She is the founder of Cornbread Hustle and our conversation was very raw, very vulnerable and opened my eyes to the movement around second chance hiring that’s growing quickly here in America.
Cornbread Hustle is a staffing agency for second chances (people getting out of prison or living in recovery). Cheri is passionate about helping felons, and people in recovery find transformation through employment or entrepreneurship.
Cheri’s story of addiction to methamphetamines, and alcohol resonated with me and her story of finding sobriety is going to be helpful to many people. Cheri talks about how she educated herself as to exactly what the alcohol was doing to her body, and when she realized that it was increasing her anxiety, instead of numbing it, she quickly found the necessary motivation to get help in AA.
Cheri found her own transformation and recovery through starting a business and eventually building a career in the TV news industry. As she progressed along this path, she developed a number of skills in marketing and PR. She now uses those to help individuals getting out of prison re-brand themselves to become the person they want to be and get noticed by the people they want to meet.
Cheri is also a PR consultant for Mark Cuban companies, and provides strategy plans and media opportunities for a variety of Shark Tank companies.
Here are some of the things we talked about:
- Cheri tells her story of getting over her meth addiction in 2007. She talks about how she didn’t really get into the recovery community but replaced her addiction with a love of success and money which led to a whole set of other problems for her.
- She talked about why she felt a need to use drugs and drink, and what she was trying to escape from with that numbing. Many things led to her falling into addiction including lacking healthy boundaries, people pleasing and wanting people to like her because she didn’t like herself.
- Cheri opens up to us about what she felt like when she got a DUI, how she found herself in that situation, and what it meant as the founder and CEO of a second chance hiring business.
- We talked about why she got help and sought sobriety. Cheri talks about how someone reached out to her and mentioned their concern. She downloaded a book on trying to control alcohol. As she learned about what alcohol withdrawals look like, she learned that a lot of the anxiety in her life was because of the alcohol, not relieving her from the anxiety.
- Cheri’s business is, “Cornbread Hustle,” a staffing agency for second chances. Cheri’s team helps people getting out of prison and people who are living in recovery, find jobs. We talk a lot about what kind of jobs she helps them get, where those jobs are, and how she places them. Her work is truly inspiring and she’s doing amazing things.
- Cheri talks about how it wasn’t popular to be helping felons a few years ago when she started. Recently, with celebrities like Kim Kardashian and others talking about this cause, it’s become more mainstream. She talks about how a lot of people discouraged her from creating this business.
- She talks about how she doesn’t go out and pitch companies to hire her people, but that companies are proactively coming to her. She does spend a lot of time hearing employers talk about how they want someone with a non-violent background, and Cheri talks about how she gets those employers to be more open-minded about who they will and won’t work with.
- What kinds of jobs do you place second chance hires into? We talked a lot about the types of jobs she is placing felons, drug dealers, former doctors, and others in.
- We talked about how many of the people getting out of prison may be very well suited to be founders of startups. Cheri talks about her vision for where this idea can go and how this could turn into an entire ecosystem of its own adjacent to what she’s doing with the staffing business.