Imagine randomly meeting Ne-Yo and having Wyclef Jean challenge you to a rap battle on the spot. Chillin’ with your people, about to watch a panel discussion for a music event and incomes Wyclef, vibrant as can be. “Yo! Which one of you got bars?” Your crew singles you out, and a freestyle battle breaks out. An exciting week for sure for SaVon, Alex, and Steph of the Need to Know Podcast. Creating a podcast and navigating the entertainment industry has placed them in a position to share such surreal and fun experiences.
The Need to Know Podcast hosted by the trio SaVon, Alex, and Steph deliver unfiltered opinions on everything culture related, music, and life. Three different personalities mesh to give listeners an experience to laugh, relate, and debate the multiple intricacies of life. Every Thursday, you can tune in to witty episodes surrounding the current events in our young lives.
SaVon, Alex, Steph, and I met up via Zoom to discuss all things surrounding The Need to Know: from the come up, trusting each other, and experiences along the way.
When creating a podcast as young entrepreneurs, there’s a lot that goes into that beyond what you see on the surface. And when having others on the journey along with you, you all must build a lasting and well-oiled creative relationship. Perhaps that was the most noticeable aspect of the Need to Know members, how much of a supportive team they were with each other.
“I think with podcasting you have to really be on the same page with people because it’s creative enough where it doesn’t have to be too formal, but the vision has to be matched up so that you all are moving in the same direction or it’s just going to fall apart.”– Steph
Ci: In the beginning, were you all prepared for the amount of work you would have to put in for The Need To Know Podcast? Was it an overwhelming experience?
Alex: “So when we first started, I was working at AT&T/T-Mobile, and it would frustrate me because things are going on in the world, and here I am locked in an eight-hour shift, and I felt disconnected. Because everything I wanted to do within the media, our podcast, and growing and here I am chillin’ at my 9-5, I HAVE to give 8 hours to. That was the one time I truly felt overwhelmed with things.”
SaVon: “I think when you believe in something, you prepare for what’s to come. One of the most challenging things was we were all still trying to figure each other out while working towards something. Alex and I went to college together, but we didn’t really know each other, and then Steph was thrown in the mix, so I think the overwhelming part was trying to figure out each other and how to handle each other. But when it comes to working, the three of us work because we embrace work. I don’t think we ever were overwhelmed with ‘Okay we gotta get this and that done’ but more so like ‘Okay am I going to get cussed out by Steph and Alex today?’”
The members eventually reached a point in their journey where they all realized they needed to quit their actual day jobs. A step many entrepreneurs eventually reach and take that leap of faith on themselves. Steph even shared her attempts at many odd jobs like being a clown at birthday parties or cleaning toilets to help fund projects. Building up the courage to bet on yourself is overwhelming, amongst other things, when you’re just starting.
Ci: What advice would you all give to someone considering leaving their 9-5 to pursue a passion?
Alex: “I’m not gonna lie; I come from an African household. It is very traditional in the sense that you go to school, get that degree(s), and get that job. As a kid, my whole mindset has always been getting money, getting money, and getting money. So it was challenging for me to quit my job, but I will say I felt a little comfortable doing it because I had some money saved. Having that security net so I could pay bills and anything that came up really helped because without anything, that would’ve been really hard for me.”
Steph: “For me, I have the benefit of living at home. I would love to have my own space, of course, but you have to make sacrifices. That’s what I would tell people, sacrifices are a part of life, and they reveal where your values are. So, be ready to make them.”
SaVon: “I think you have to have a plan, you have to do your homework, and you have to believe in yourself. If you have a plan, the amount of money in your pockets does not matter; stick to it. When you believe in yourself and your abilities, no one can tell you it’s not going to work. Like I turned down that job with the Yankees and everyone thought I was the crazy one cause that’s such a big deal! But I believed in myself.”
In the beginning, SaVon had a moment where he told Alex and Steph, “just trust me.” That statement alone carries a lot of weight when dealing with other people’s professional lives.
Ci: Can you all tell me what it was like putting your trust in another individual?
Alex: “It starts with putting your ego aside. Once you subtract your ego out of things, you realize you can move on to something better. SaVon wasn’t coming from a place of ‘oh I’m your boss,’ it was like he saw this vision if it works, it works; if not, that’s fine. But he just wanted us to hear him out. You really have to exclude your ego.”
SaVon: “One of the important things is that Alex and I respect each other on a different level. We get inspired by each other. When you subtract the ego, you can go really far with people that look just like you. I definitely agree with Alex.”
Steph: “I definitely think faith is a big part of it because you pray, you ask God, and you have a vision for your life and you meet certain people and it’s like here’s your answer. When you see it, you know it. I knew I wasn’t going to be happy in a 9-5 environment because I had worked so many restrictive to me being creative and being an artist. Plus, SaVon just has this way of making you feel like everything is going to be alright.”
Understanding that there will be some battles and/or challenges along the way is a part of the process. SaVon asking Steph and Alex to trust him was a way of ensuring them that this journey was going to work because they all were going to put in the work to make sure of that. SaVon saw the vision, and Alex and Steph were needed to keep things in motion. A team effort at its best. “Trust me, they light my ass up a lot,” laughs SaVon.
Ci: How do you manage the separation of work and home?
SaVon: “You don’t. I can’t even afford to. If I get an idea at 3 in the morning, I’m going to shoot it in the group chat. I might even triple text you if you don’t respond. You want something so bad; you have to take it home, you know.”
Steph: Yeah in addition to that, I don’t think there is a separation between work and home. It’s an all-day kind of thing, but I don’t believe you should sacrifice your sanity for the love of your craft.
Alex: Millennials are trapping off the iPhone now. It’s everything you need, so it takes away that separation most of the time. It can get overwhelming when I’m on my phone to know what’s going on in the world. When you realize it’s a way to make money, you have to suck it up.
What’s next for the The Need To Know Pod?
Starting on very different journeys in college from multiple major changes. To eventually shooting a shot in Joe Budden’s DMs for a job, and even having tried a podcast route previously. The individuals wear multiple hats in which they use to further their mission. For instance, SaVon and Alex both share the experience of working on The Joe Budden Podcast. That serves as a front-row seat to what it takes to really pivot through the podcasting sphere.
SaVon: Honestly, I got a master class at a level I doubt anyone could ever pay for. We’re trailblazing. We’re the first to do it a lot, especially within our culture. Looking at podcasting not only as an art but as a business. You want to find a way to live off of your passion, “The American Dream,” right. So what I’ve learned from them [The Joe Budden Podcast] is just resilience. Professionalism from the email threads you all have no idea about to all of the people behind the scenes.
I want to say about Joe that he has never said “No” to me. I did not know how he would feel about me starting my own podcast. He goes, “Sure!” and he gives us the freedom just to be us. I could go on for an hour, but the gist of working with them. The experience shows us the blueprint of being a young, Black, creative.
Alex: Along with what SaVon said, I think many people just assume it’s a bunch of silly guys just kickin’ it. However, people do not understand how everything is really thought out. SaVon and I try to carry over into The Need to Know podcast. It’s all just incredibly inspiring.
Steph is also spreading her talents into the producing sphere with The Confirmation Series. She shared its purpose is to share Black stories and amplify Black voices and experiences. The first episode of the docuseries is on YouTube, covering anxiety and depression topics and what it looks like for various people. An intriguing storytelling series for young Black adults that’s worth the view.
One challenge specifically for myself is finding a worthwhile Black podcast to tune into. The conversation I had with these individuals was truly a gem. In terms of process, faith, and taking chances on yourself. We laughed a ton, from teasing SaVon about looking like Ne-Yo to Steph and the wild DM’S she’s received. We discussed various topics: roadblocks such as the lack of advertising for Black podcasts, what’s upcoming for The Need to Know, and how covid has given light to even more creativity from home. It’s inspiring to see the solid foundation these three have built, which clearly shows when listening to the podcast.
Check them out today https://theneedtoknowpodcast.com/