Johnny Hackett Jr’s pivot from corporate life to impacting lives with Black Dollar Corp

Johnny Hackett Jr was doing well in corporate:

Good money, decent hours, healthcare, and a respected title.

Everything was going great, except Johnny felt like he wasn’t making a true impact on the community. So right before he was about to get a nice bonus, he left to make a difference.

Johnny Hackett Jr is the founder and CEO of Black Friday Market and Black Dollar Corp.

Listen in on his journey toward Black Dollar, the lessons he learned along the way, and some exciting next steps for his business!


This transcript has been edited for clarity and readability.


Alisa Herr: Welcome to Inside Impact, where we give you a behind-the-scenes peek at how organizations can create positive change in their communities. 

I’m Alisa Herr, founder of Unity Web Agency. On the show today is Johnny Hackett Jr. from Black Dollar Corp and Black Friday Market, who comes on to share what he’s been doing to impact the black entrepreneurship community. 

Johnny and I have known each other for years now. We met back in 2018 when he actually applied to work with me at Unity!

Johnny Hackett: I was a business systems analyst at Blue Cross at the time. I was getting paid great money through Blue Cross, but it just wasn’t challenging. 

I wanted to do something different that actually made a difference, so I took less money to come work with Alisa [and Unity Web Agency]. I even left Blue Cross a month before I was about to get a huge bonus. 

I didn’t want to do it. 

I was ready to get out of there.

Alisa Herr: We were lucky enough to be a part of the “Johnny Hackett Experience” for almost two years before he went out on his own with Black Dollar. 

That company is an online directory of over 1100 black-owned businesses. 

That’s right, 1100, which is just incredible. 

Then during the pandemic, Johnny started the Black Friday market retail space in downtown Raleigh.


Johnny Hackett: A lot of people know about the Black Friday market now. 

The retail store basically makes the directory a real place for retail businesses anyway. 

A lot of people call it “Black Walmart,” and we do have an official partnership with Walmart right now! 

Alisa Herr: Wow!

Johnny Hackett: I announced it just now.

Alisa Herr: I didn’t know that.

Johnny Hackett: Yeah, exactly. 

It’s the first time I’ve like publicly spoken.

Alisa Herr: That’s so cool

Johnny Hackett: You need to put some stuff out there. 

We wanted retail stores across the U.S. so that if you’re in South Carolina and you want to shop local, you can go to a Black Friday Market, right? 

And then there are all these different things within that Black Friday supermarket — with the retail, the grocery stuff, the Black Friday Express small kiosks — that we rent out to other business owners. 

You mentioned earlier about the directory and going more than just North Carolina. 

The original plan for the directory was to create a black-owned business directory for the entire U.S. 

But after doing some research and talking to other people who had their own directories, I noticed that most of their businesses were located in the state that they were in. So it made sense for us to just say, “let’s just focus on North Carolina, let’s not try to attack the whole U.S. just yet.” 

Since we need boots on the ground, we’ll start with North Carolina and then expand to the entire U.S. 

So that’s still the goal. 

We want to be everywhere with it. 

So our 10-year plan is more stores and a bigger presence on the directory. In this new project we’ve got going on, we want to grow that as well.

Alisa Herr: That’s exciting. 

What’s your favorite success story of a business that has worked with the Black Friday Market or Black Dollar?

Johnny Hackett: Oh man, so the store is an easy one to pick. I think a lot of people pay attention to the number of sales that we get, which is cool.

But the biggest success story is seeing other business owners that move on from our store and open their own store. We’ve had four or five business owners who, through the success or exposure that they were getting from being in Black Friday market, now have their own storefront and opened up their own physical property. 

And that’s what it’s about for our goals for business owners and the Black Friday Market:

Either open your own store or connect you to a Walmart, Target, or Belts and get your products in there. 

That’s kind of our end goal and what true success looks like for us. From a directory standpoint, there are about 300 people a day going to that website now looking for black-owned businesses. So we always get messages from business owners thanking us for the directory, and they continue to hit-up people on the directory. 

From organizations to consumers. 

So, again, we just want to keep those numbers climbing and grow it across the U.S., and I think it’d be good.

Alisa Herr: Yeah. So how do people get on the directory?

Johnny Hackett: It’s free and it takes 10 minutes at a time.

So you go to and you’ll see a button that says “list business.” 

Again, doesn’t cost anything but maybe 10 minutes of your time. 

You go through and fill out basic info: business name, social media info, a description, physical address if you have one, and then you can upload your logo, a couple of pictures, and stuff like that. And then you’ve done everything you can do, and we’ll do the rest. 

There’s this cool map feature as well and if you do have a physical business, you can open up the map on the website and actually find and locate businesses,  just like you would on Google Maps. 

You can zoom in, you can do searches through the map, and pull up driving directions. 

So that’s pretty cool.

Alisa Herr: Yeah. And they’re all black-owned businesses?

Johnny Hackett: Yeah, the directory is full of black-owned businesses. A little over 1100 businesses total, although we have lost a few in the last couple of years. 

Alisa Herr: Yeah. That’s exciting! 

All right, so the first physical store that you opened was in downtown Raleigh, and it’s the Black Friday Market. 

Can tell us just a little bit about how did you get that store opened?

Johnny Hackett: Yeah! So much credit goes back to the things that we worked on leading up to that, but our partnership with Black Flea Market has been key. 

They do these market events all around Raleigh and they have become one of the biggest market event organizers in Raleigh for small business owners. They did that in the latter part of 2019 and early 2020.

Even through the pandemic, there was a little pause, and we had to get back out there for small business owners. 

And then our directory kept going and growing! 

We were doing a lot through our partnership with the City of Raleigh and DRA, and they reached out after the summer. 

It was a stressful summer too, with George Floyd passing away, more violence, more vandalism, stuff like that. Downtown was a wreck. 

So in October, DRA reached out and said”

“Hey, what would you guys think about opening up a temporary pop-up shop?” 

After thinking about our whole team and our whole network, I’m like: 

“Yeah, let’s do it, and let’s do it right.” 

So we put a plan together and we presented it to DRA city rally folks. We got connected to Empire Properties, who’ve been awesome for us from the beginning. My man, Ben Steel, I met him down at 23 West Hartford Street one day. We were talking and he said: 

“Look man, I know there is this corner spot in downtown Raleigh retail. If you take this, we want you to be here permanently. How do you feel about that?” 

I’m like “yeah, let’s do it!” 

So we got creative on a lease and decided I will do it for a couple of months. If it doesn’t work out, we can back away without any long-term commitment. But if it’s working, we can let it automatically roll into a multi-year lease, and that’s that’s exactly what we did. 

So we got the keys to that place on December 2, 2020, and we opened the doors on December 15. It only took us 13 days to get the store looking what it looks now. Less than two weeks to open that store and it was booming, and it’s been booming ever since. 

It’s been nonstop. 

The partners that we’ve had are incredible. We couldn’t do this without a team of support. And that’s why we can accomplish so many things, because there are so many of us. 

We all banded together and in 13 days, opened those doors. It’s been rocking and rolling for small business owners ever since.

Alisa Herr: That’s great! 

I remember coming out there and seeing you towards the beginning. I think you were even sleeping in there. 

You were just there all the time trying to make it work.

Johnny Hackett: Yeah.

Alisa Herr: Yeah, it’s working.

Johnny Hackett: Yeah, Clark gets on me about that. He says, I sleep upside down in there, something like that. 

I spent a lot of nights.

Alisa Herr: I know you want to be Batman.

Johnny Hackett: I know! I spent a lot of nights there and it’s cool. Because for me as a leader, I don’t want to ask anybody to do something I’m not doing, so I’m always going to be one of those guys that are “the first to get there, last to leave.” 

I’m gonna pull my weight. I’ve been blessed to lead, and now they have an example to follow. 

So that’s what I do.

Alisa Herr: So one of the things that we talked about, probably around a year ago, is for you to expand into Durham. 

I think Wilson was maybe on the list as well?

Johnny Hackett: Yeah, yeah.

Alisa Herr: Tell us a little bit about what’s next. 

What’s coming up next for Black Friday Market?

Johnny Hackett: So for the Black Friday Market, we launched the Black Friday express a couple of months ago. It’s a small kiosk that business owners can rent out themselves. 

Through a partnership with downtown Durham Inc. and the CO Thompson — they’ve been great — we’ve obtained a 300 square feet space right on Main Street. We’re going to allow business owners to operate that space on their own and turn it into a physical storefront. 

We kind of use it like an incubator space where we provide folks with the same things that were done for us. Folks who are thinking about going into their own space, come up with a creative lease plan that allows them some early access to it, and then allow it to roll into something more long term if they’re comfortable in doing that. 

So those Black Friday Expresses are popping up everywhere. 

We also have The Factory — shout out to David Meeker, Kate Charles, and their group — that is being built right behind Trophy Brewing in downtown Raleigh in the Morgan West district. We’re moving into their in April, and we’ll be opening up the factory to the public shortly after! 

It is a co-manufacturing space that will be filled with the retail equipment that business owners need to automate their products. So you’ll have:

  • Heat press machine 
  • Screen-printing 
  • Embroidery 
  • Bottle filling machines 
  • Electric mixers 

All the stuff that they need to help sell their products in a store and in the Black Friday Market, they’re going to have a facility to help make them. So if they sell candles or something else, they can make them on-site and have them shipped out or take them to the store. 

Plus, our company is growing and we needed a headquarters. We need a place to actually sit and work, and this building has enough space for that. 

We also want to create a social network and host engaging events, like we used to do pre-pandemic. 

Basically, we want The Factory to be for business owners to come to network, engage with folks, raise capital, do some creative pitch events, and other things that we want to do at the space on a consistent basis. 

Recurring business owners need more than just one opportunity to do something. The Factory is going be a place where we can make a hub for events, education, and co-manufacturing. 

We’re excited about that, and it’s keeping me up at night too.

Alisa Herr: It sounds like it’s coming down to the wire for it getting open?

Johnny Hackett: Yeah, it is. 

You definitely got to come by. 

We’re going to be doing a lot of community events there as we’re building this stuff up. So people won’t just come in and see a finished product, and we’ve allowed people to come through now and help us with ideas and designs. 

We’ll ask them “how should we furnish this?” or  “what paint should we put over there?” 

It’ll be that type of thing, because we want the community to be involved in actually building up The Factory as well. They’re gonna have a sense of ownership over this space when it’s complete. We didn’t want to unveil a finished product and have people not feel attached to it in some way. 

So, we’ve been doing a little bit of that already. 

We’re going to start doing even more of that in the next couple of days actually. And we look forward to the surrounding community literally helping us build that place up. 

It’s going be cool.

Alisa Herr: That is amazing! 

All right, let’s talk Durham. 

So there’s been something in the works for a long time in East Durham?

Johnny Hackett: Yeah, it has been since last year in June, July-ish maybe? 

East Durham has a building called the People’s Bank. I think it was built in 1905? Don’t quote me on it, but I think it’s around that time. I think it’s currently called the Garland Millwork building, but it used to be the People’s Bank and part of East Durham. It was a black-owned bank, and they had a whole community there.

Obviously, through time the building has gone through its struggles due to wear and tear. But it’s looking to get revitalized now, and we were actually brought to the table for that project. 

My guy Will Clark, who is unbelievable, does a lot of development projects. He’s really passionate about doing things the right way and has been in this real estate space for a long time. He’s also a product of Durham and wants to see Durham come back even stronger in some ways, especially as it relates to how residential projects or commercial projects are carried out. 

He came and found me, and the idea was introduced to me through another mutual friend of ours Clark Reinhardt. 

Shout out to Clark! Loading dock Innovate Raleigh extraordinaire. 

We got a chance to meet and Will did his homework on everything we were doing as a company, as well as everything I was doing. He was very impressed with the network and the community that we have built up to this point. 

He brought us to the table with this project in East Durham and the People’s Bank and put so much in our hands. We had a say in the usage and the utilization of the building because we wanted restaurants, bars, and maybe an even Black Friday Market. The building also had a second floor, big open courtyard space. 

There are all these components, right, and him and his team have entrusted that to us. They’ve given us ownership in that building and in that project, which is something you don’t see very often. 

Now we have a job to do. 

When we talk about gentrification and different things like that, that is never something that you see:

People come in and buy the building or they buy up all the houses, but give the community a piece of the ownership that they never had. 

So for Will Clark and the Garland team to think of us — even if it wasn’t us and they were just thinking that way — was a huge eye-opener for me. It was awesome for us. 

So yeah, we’re excited, but it’s a long process. And like I said, this has been going on since last summer. There are a lot of folks who partner with us who’ve been going through this journey with us, and we’re turning the corner here now. 

The building looks amazing and it is coming together. In the next couple of months, there will be some more formal announcements on what was going on at the People’s Bank.

Alisa Herr: Yeah! It’s exciting too because East Durham has gone through a lot of changes over time. 

I used to work at a company that was in the Golden Belt!

Alisa Herr: Right. And so now, even just like 10 years ago, there was a white-owned bakery there. And it was a successful little bakery.

Johnny Hackett: Yeah.

Alisa Herr: But then Review of Books came in, right?

Johnny Hackett: Right. Right.

Alisa Herr: About two years ago, was it?

Johnny Hackett: I think so? Something like that.

Alisa Herr: It’s really going back to the community now because it was black-owned businesses who are starting to take a bigger stake in the available real estate there. 

It’s so exciting to see these buildings that were just empty and vacant for so long, and now there’s gonna be this hub!

Johnny Hackett: Yeah, manufacturing and like…

Alisa Herr:  …and that kind of thing! 

So when is this opening?

Johnny Hackett: East Durham is really starting to come back! 

So the buildings, we’re hoping, should be open in September. Around Labor Day. 

By the way, I’m glad you mentioned Review of Books. If y’all haven’t been [to this location], please stop by there. I’m glad you mentioned them because they’re a staple right there. We’re trying to build on that. 

We want to give them a surrounding community that supports them. 

Right across the street from Murphy, there are a few shops right there. They have some good business owners. Derek, who’s running that business, is someone you probably should pay attention to the next. 

Then there’s a TNP fitness and Russell. This guy’s a former NFL player and a hardcore fitness freak. He’s got a fitness studio right there. 

And then there’s Mike Dee’s Barbecue that’s right by there as well! This guy will build you any type of grill you want. He’ll do it in crates too, from the sauces, the spices for barbecue, and more. But if you’re looking for somebody to have a grill built, Mike Dee will get it done.

He is amazing. 

Anyways, that’s just a view of the business owners that are right there. When we come in, we’re trying to build on what they’re already doing and support that area. Ultimately, we want to drive traffic to each one of these businesses and create a sense of community there that people can be proud of.

Alisa Herr: That’s exciting.

Johnny Hackett: Yeah, it is. 

It is.

Alisa Herr: So that’s September-ish, what about the one on Main Street? The Black Friday Express?

Johnny Hackett: So the Black Friday Express on Main Street is actually going to open next month. 

We should be ready for that next month. 

They just finished the last little touch-ups on the front of the door at the kiosk, but it’s ready to go. I may stop over there when I leave here! 

But we’re looking to have a business in there next month as soon as we can.

Alisa Herr: Before we get into more of your background, can you talk about this Walmart thing? Are you allowed to?

Johnny Hackett: Yeah, yeah, most definitely.

Alisa Herr: Okay, I want to hear about this! Tell us!

Johnny Hackett: The Walmart partnership is literally an exclusive, right? 

We got it, and we need to put it out more. I got to be better about that. 

But last year, our partner seat spot is a business that’s a top-five business accelerator in DC. They exist to educate minority and small business owners andget them ready to go.

We met them through the city of Raleigh. And through that partnership, they reached out to Zach, who’s the CEO of Seed Spot.

When he reached out in June, he was like: 

“Hey, Walmart has this grant man. And I think we should apply for it together because you’re doing everything that the grant suggests that you should do for the partnership.”

He continues:

“If we partner together, we may have a good shot at this thing.” 

I have my own feelings about the grant, and we work on it for the next couple of months. 

I think after we submitted the application, we were named a finalist two weeks later. And then maybe another two weeks after that, I get a phone call from Zach. 

He shares: 

“We got the partnership! We got the grants!” 

I was like: 

“Are you serious?!” 

And so from October through January, it was all of us trying to finalize all the details with Walmart.

They’ve invested in both Black Dollar Corp as well as Seed Spot, and the grant comes with this access to everything that is Walmart. 

So starting in January, I’m getting emails from Walmart saying that they are looking for black-owned food producers. They asked us to put this in our network. 

We’re getting that information and we’re putting it out there in the network. 

Now, Walmart is looking for other minority business owners in retail. Walmart is doing this master class on retail with Walmart execs and stuff, and we’re putting all this in our network in our newsletter. 

And that has been the most amazing part of this whole thing.

Even outside of the finances, being able to connect these retailers to that type of information. 

Our goal starting this store was:

We want to get you to Walmart.

Alisa Herr: Right.

Johnny Hackett: And now we literally have Walmart! Do you know what I’m saying?

Alisa Herr: That’s so cool.

Johnny Hackett: They’re asking for these recommendations and stuff like that. 

It’s been awesome. 

I don’t even know if I’ve had time to really sit back and process it since we haven’t announced it.

Alisa Herr: Yeah.

Johnny Hackett: Walmart did make an announcement, which included us. It was a press release that they put out. 

They did put that information out, and I think there’s a link out there. But we haven’t announced it till now. 

I think it’s incredible because I was thinking the other day like: 

“Man, we need to now watch this. Talk about it.”

Alisa Herr: So is Walmart’s goal to get these products that are currently just at Black Dollar, Black Friday Market, or black businesses that are in North Carolina into the shelves of Walmart? Is it across the country or is it regionally?

Johnny Hackett: I think it’s a thing across the company. It’s a corporate-wide initiative for them. 

You know, the last couple of years have been crazy through the health pandemic, the social pandemic, through all this stuff. There’s been a focus on supporting African American business owners, and it’s been a focus on minority-owned business owners. There’s been a focus on supporting local business owners too, right? 

So I think it’s one of those things were Walmart’s sat back and came to the realization that: 

“Hey, maybe we could do more? Maybe we need to put our money and the access to us you where our mouth is?”

Alisa Herr: Yeah.

Johnny Hackett: They say certain things, right. So…

Alisa Herr: I can’t wait to see it.

Johnny Hackett: Yeah, I think that’s what led to that. 

Again, we aren’t the only ones blessed enough to benefit from this partnership. So I think they’re looking for minority-owned products across the board, across the country. They’ve kind of opened this access up to a few businesses where we can get businesses to them. They’ve also opened up classes too, like that Master Class.

I think they’re just trying to open up that window and get all types of feedback and products in. And I think I think it’s a good thing, man. I think it’s good for them to support these business owners in that way. 

And like I said, it gives us an avenue to connect business owners. 

It’s really cool.

Alisa Herr: I can’t wait to see the success story of that.

Johnny Hackett: Yeah, yeah.

Alisa Herr: I think it’s so cool that you’re opening The Factory and there will be companies there that want to be part of this Walmart initiative. They’ll think “well, we don’t have the resources to be able to ramp up our production to get them the quantity they want,” when they actually do due to The Factory!

Johnny Hackett: Exactly, exactly.

Alisa Herr: Then you’ve got The Factory that has your bottle fillers, mixers, and everything in general. Now, they have the resources or better resources that maybe they had before to be able to create the bulk quantities that you would need to be able to sell in a store like Walmart.

Johnny Hackett: Exactly. 

And that’s why I want to join this. I’m trying to get up to speed with some of Walmart’s policies so that we can help educate business owners. 

You gotta be able to meet a certain type of demand, or maybe they’re just other quirky requirements or red tape that business owners have to meet to be able to have their products in Walmart. 

We want to be able to help with that, too. So I gotta get up to speed on some of those practices. And then we can help shepherd business owners to it.

Alisa Herr: That’s cool. 

So it’s just starting out, but maybe a year from now, we’ll meet again and talk about it like: 

“Well, look at these 300 businesses we’ve got to get over to Walmart.”

Johnny Hackett: Exactly. That’s what I’m hoping for. It’s really cool.

Alisa Herr: Yeah! 

So when did you start Black Dollar? In 2018?

Johnny Hackett: 2019 is when we officially launched. In February 2019.

Alisa Herr: And before that, you were at Unity?

Johnny Hackett: Yeah.

Alisa Herr: But then you had all these experiences at giant companies like Xerox, IBM, Blue Cross, Wells Fargo, etc. 

All these places.

Johnny Hackett: Right, right.

Alisa Herr: Were you nervous to go out on your own?

Johnny Hackett: I wasn’t. 

I wasn’t nervous, and I think it’s because I did it before in 2008 with the Life Foundation.

Alisa Herr: Yes.

Johnny Hackett: You know, I took the jump and went out there. 

And it failed. 

We did some good work, but we couldn’t sustain it. 

So I’ve had some failures, but I did think what is different with this one? The Black Dollar Corp? 

And, you know, I do give a lot of credit to my lodge with a sunlight’s number four, which you know.

Alisa Herr: I know them

Johnny Hackett: Yeah, I’ve talked a lot about that. 

Yeah, you know them, right. 

So they gave me the confidence to really believe and think: 

“Hey dude, you got it. Step in front of that and we’re gonna let you do things here at the lodge. Do your events and implement your ideas.”

He continues: 

“And you know, it comes with this group of brothers who will be there for you. To support you through all these ideas you have.” 

Some of my ideas before didn’t pan out because I didn’t have “the soldiers” that I needed, right? 

And then widow son lives number four comes along and, you know, changes the narrative in the book on that. 

Now we move differently. 

And I think that is the difference here. 

I was never nervous, and now my confidence was just through the roof when I thought about the support system I had in my Lodge and number four in Wilson. 

So from that standpoint, I felt like I could do anything. 

I was jumping man. 

So that’s how it is.

Alisa Herr: That’s amazing. That’s how this community is around you. You were part of that lodge for years, right?

Johnny Hackett: Yeah

Alisa Herr: And so like, you’ve been involved in the community in Raleigh through your Mason…

Johnny Hackett: Yeah, yeah.

Alisa Herr: Right. 

So by being a Mason, it really means that you’re deeply embedded in the community and the work that you’re doing through that is giving back and supporting. 

I remember I came to the MLK Day breakfast one year.

Johnny Hackett: Yeah, yeah

Alisa Herr: And that was like such a huge community event. 

And of course, it’s pre-COVID.

Johnny Hackett: Right, right.

Alisa Herr: It was always so amazing to see how much you would do for the community. 

And it’s great that they would come back and lift you up when you need it.

Johnny Hackett: Yeah.

Alisa Herr: And this feeds itself.

Johnny Hackett: That’s what I was about to say. 

It does. 

You know it’s not just me. It’s literally a network of all these different guys. Brothers in this community that help pull things off like these community events. 

They have this saying that “you get out of it, what you put into it.” And when I joined in 2015, I was just a nonstop worker, you know? Whatever community event was going on, whatever was needed, I was there. 

I put a lot into it because I wanted to say “I like serving my community.” 

So yeah, it was big.

It just it gave me that confidence to feel like I could really go out there and do anything. 

So yeah.

Alisa Herr: Yeah. And I remember even at Unity, you were always a big part of the initiatives that we did at our company for giving back like…

Johnny Hackett: …what we did for the school.

Alisa Herr: We went to that high school! 

Johnny Hackett: It was a design school, but I can’t fully remember.

Alisa Herr: It was a private school. 

Johnny Hackett: Yeah!

Alisa Herr: It was this high school that did this amazing class where they got students in his class Adobe certifications.

Johnny Hackett: Right, right, right.

Alisa Herr: Yeah, it was so cool. I feel like that was like a big thing that you helped bring us to do.

Johnny Hackett: And the students are a passion for me. 

Because that’s a reminder of the first business I started, which was for teenage youth.

Alisa Herr: That was the Life Foundation?

Johnny Hackett: Yeah! 

The Life Foundation. So we taught students about credit, health insurance, and banking resumes.

Alisa Herr: Gosh, that’s so helpful.

Johnny Hackett: Right. 

We wanted to make sure that they don’t make the same mistakes I made. 

The youth and shepherding the next generation is always a passion for me, you know? 

When I did Innovate Raleigh last year, I told the whole crowd:

 “It is on y’all to help shepherd the next wave of entrepreneurs and students. So make time and do job shadowing programs, or just invite them out for a day and show them what you do.” 

“You guys are the boss, you can do it.” 

Alisa Herr: Yeah, and then the mentoring that we did for that school was for seniors and a capstone project at NC Central.

Johnny Hackett: Yeah!  I’m forgetting about all the stuff we were doing.

Alisa Herr: I know.

Johnny Hackett: Yeah, Alisa volunteered her time.

We all did. 

But I mean, you allowed us to do that. 

Through your company and even through times when we’re working on websites, you allocated time for us to do that. 

You don’t find that everywhere. 

I had a friend that was at Central working on his capstone project with his whole team. I think they had to build a website, and they were just struggling. 

So he hit me up, and I asked you about it. I said: 

“Hey, how would you feel about having a class just come into the office and kind of help them with their website stuff?” 

You did not hesitate. You just said: 

“Let’s just get it on a calendar.”

Alisa Herr: Yeah.

Johnny Hackett: And so now, we’re at the office and we’ve got like eight or nine students coming in and asking all these questions. 

Alisa is helping, Bud’s helping. I’m helping. Lexi is helping. 

Oh man, that was so much fun.

Alisa Herr: Yeah, you’re such a connector. Like, you seem to know everybody. 

Johnny Hackett: Yeah, yeah.

Alisa Herr: It’s awesome. 

For you as an entrepreneur and with the Life Foundation, the kind of education that you’re trying to bring for these kids regarding life skills, what are things that as an entrepreneur you want to make sure that they learn?

Johnny Hackett: The PIE formula.

Alisa Herr: I don’t know about it, but I like pie!

Johnny Hackett: Yeah, everybody likes the PIE

Typically, when you say “pie formula,” people automatically go “3.14” because that’s the onl Pie the formula that people have heard of. 

But there’s this other PIE formula that is: 

Performance, Image, and Exposure. 

It was created by a guy that worked at IBM for a bunch of years. He never got promoted and ends up quitting. Instead, he starts developing this PIE formula and he writes about it. Now he’s like a millionaire and gives speeches about it. 

But this formula he developed seems pretty true. I don’t like it as much, but it seems true. 

It’s basically the formula for success. 

So for “performance,” it’s only 10% of the equation according to this guy. 

For example, if you and I both have 4.0 GPAs and our transcript by the high school looks the same, that’s performance. Regarding that, we’re exactly equal..

That’s when you move to the “I,” which is “Image.” Your image is 30% of the equation. 

So how you talk, how you dress, what you look like,  your beliefs, etc. All this stuff, right? 

If we both have the same grade and same performance, then how do you start to differentiate us? It’s not going to be performance. If it’s too similar or completely identical, it’s going to be “Image” that people look at next. 

That’s what people do. 

So then those two things build on each other, and then you go to “Exposure,” which is 60% of the equation. 

So your performance and your image, these are things people talk about. These are the things, whether you’re in the room or not, that people are talking about. It can be positive or negative, but it can be controlled by you as best as you can. 

I didn’t learn that formula until I was like 26 years old, and I felt like I was done a disservice by not knowing that formula sooner. Because I’d made mistakes in corporate early in my career. 

I was very good at my performance, and my performance was everything. That’s what I thought it was. 

I mean, my mom always said for years: 

Go to school, get good grades. All just focused on performance. 

But I actually do want to be with the cool kids and have a good image too. My mom didn’t harp on it though, she just harped on the report card. 

And then I get older, and I’m in this environment in the corporate world. 

I’m doing the best work ever, but I drive a 1990 Crown Vic Caprice with 22 spokes on it, and I come through the parking lot blasting my music. 

These types of things start to negatively impact me, and I struggled with them for a long time. Finally, I had a mentor break it down for me and understand the formula. 

Now, that’s not to say that I would do anything differently because I am who I am. But had I understood that formula a little sooner, maybe there are slight differences. May I approach things differently or whatever. 

But that’s what I would want to know right now. 

It’s kind of at the top of my list of things I would like to impart to future entrepreneurs, future people who are building a career, and just people who want to have their own business. 

Alisa Herr: That’s cool!

So the last question I like to ask is: 

What person or company doing good has had the biggest impact on you?

Johnny Hackett: Oh, man. 

You know what? 

It’s funny because Billy Warden and I did a piece together for WHO Tech Wire and he asked me a similar question. I feel like I gotta go with the same answers: 

This fictional character — Bell Morales from A Most Violent Year — just because he was someone that everybody around him was encouraging him to do illegal and immoral things. They were pushing him to do those things…and he just did not do it. 

He didn’t want to, and I just loved his character in that. 

As for real people, Jay Z and Young Dolph. 

These are guys who knew what they were and knew what they were going to become. 

Young Dolph turned down millions to stay independent and make his own money because he knew what he was doing. 

As for Jay Z, he is thee example. He’s just like the prime example to me. 

So just trying to do things like them as best as I can and learn from them at the same time? 

So yeah, that’s all I’m gonna say.

Alisa Herr: That actually reminded me of something:

Are you paying yourself?

Johnny Hackett: Yeah, a little bit, but not too much.

Alisa Herr: Alright. 

Was taking that pay cut part of your story? You had this great paying job, but you weren’t happy?

Johnny Hackett: When I left my old job for Blue Cross, that decision was made for money, and it was the worst decision I ever made. 

I left an environment at IBM where everybody there is great and is a tech genius. 

For Blue Cross Blue Shield, they only have a tech department because 2022 demands that you do. But if they could file paper claims like it was 1958, they would be glad to do that.

Alisa Herr: I worked at a place like that.

Johnny Hackett: Yeah. It’s an insurance company. They’re not a tech company. 

I was just not happy, and they didn’t want to listen to people who came from places like IBM or whatever. They wanted to keep doing things their own way. So fine, you guys keep doing that. 

I was just unhappy. That’s why I left money on the table. I left and didn’t take it because I don’t care about that.

Alisa Herr: So then you were at Unity?

Johnny Hackett: Yeah, I was at Unity just to be happier with work.

Alisa Herr: Right. It was great! 

But then you had this dream that you knew you needed to pursue, so you left Unity. And I remember you were not paying yourself.

Johnny Hackett: Yeah.

Alisa Herr: So it’s good to hear that you are now.

Johnny Hackett: We make a little bit more now, so there’s a little more to go around. 

But the team is first. Everyone in my team knows that everybody gets taken care of first. 

I’ll be okay.

Alisa Herr: That’s how it is.

It’s the business, it’s your baby. 

And then all the people that work for you, you’re like caretaking?

Johnny Hackett: Yeah, exactly. 

Like me paying myself just happened over the last couple of months. 

But we take care of our people first, and I remember watching you do it. I learned everything that I’m doing from you. 

I learned a lot of things from Alisa.

Alisa Herr: You make me cry.

Johnny Hackett: Both design-wise, tech-wise, as well as just leadership-wise and running a small business.

It was the last piece of the puzzle for me in terms of being fully ready.

The knowledge, the things you taught me, and just your encouragement were all huge for me. The way you would sacrifice for us was just huge. 

It taught me how to lead and what I wanted to do.

Alisa Herr: That’s amazing. 

Well, thank you again for joining me, Johnny.

Johnny Hackett: Yeah!

Alisa Herr: It’s always awesome to see you and chat with you. 

If people want to learn more about you, what you’re up to, and hear about these amazing announcements, how do they connect with you?

Johnny Hackett: I would say our newsletter first, definitely sign up for our newsletter. 

Again, the website is The NC stands for North Carolina. 

You scroll all the way to the bottom and you’ll see “Newsletter Sign Up.” 

You can also find us on social media! Just follow us on Instagram at OfficialBlackDollar or BLKFridayMarket. For LinkedIn, it’s the Black Dollar Corp. And on Facebook, it’s BLK Friday Morning.


Thank you so much to Johnny Hackett Jr, for coming on the Inside Impact podcast. 

For more information on how everything is going at Black Dollar, visit the 

And thank you for listening to Inside Impact! 

If you like the show, we’d love it if you would give us a rating and review on whatever podcast app you’re using right now. For all of you making an impact in your communities, let’s hear about it. Send us an email to, and we’ll be sure to mention what you’re doing on the show or even have you on as a guest. 

This podcast was edited and produced by Earfluence. 

I’m Alisa Herr, and we’ll see you again soon on Inside Impact.