We had the good fortune of connecting with Mark Hayes and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mark, what’s the most difficult decision you’ve ever had to make?
The most difficult decision I ever had to make, was deciding to walk away from an amazing career in television news which had been my life for almost 30 years. It was difficult, but I believed it was the best decision for me and our family at the time. And as I look back on it, it was absolutely the right choice for me and although I was as scared as one could possibly be, I realize today that it was without a doubt the right decision for us all. I decided that after August 17, 2016 that I no longer wanted to be in the television news business. It was the worst day of our lives, as my oldest son was charged with some very serious crimes related to a home invasion right here in metro Atlanta. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries and my heart to this day goes out to the family that suffered through this horrible event. I was shocked an amazed and never thought my children were capable of this kind of irrational behavior, but as we all know the opioid epidemic saw no boundaries and no one was immune. Not even my very smart and gifted first born, with a college degree and U.S. Naval service. It was heartbreaking. We needed to get back to the city, that we were most comfortable in after all our years of wandering around the country in pursuit of perfection. It took me a while, but I finally realized, “perfection ain’t out there!” Most of the fear, was rooted in my ability to figure out how to become a successful entrepreneur. But the smartest thing I ever did was read the book, The Success Principles by Jack Canfield and part B, was to hire a business coach. Those two pivotal events helped me move forward as an entrepreneur and continues to help us support our son through his incarceration and hopefully upon his return to society. In the year or so leading up to my departure from television news, I just felt like there was a higher calling, an opportunity to do something that was much more impactful in terms of helping people deal with the opioid crisis and deal with the pain that comes with addiction, not just for the addict but for their families as well. We were living in the Cincinnati area at the time where the opioid crisis had really decimated the area, not just urban areas but rural areas as well. It was incredibly difficult to watch and report on. I can’t tell you how heartbreaking it is to listen to children calling 9-1-1 begging for help because their mom or dad “won’t wake up!” After a few of those my mind was made up for me. I truly believe a voice is needed in that space and I’m working on reaching more and more families everyday. These families need hope and someone to help them deal with the pain. I want to be that voice, because I understand how much it hurts and I also understand that we have to move and be strong in order to get them the help they need.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Mark Hayes Consulting was born out of necessity. We simply like to say, “We make your brand famous!” And we do it through a combination of media exposure and content creation for your social media and web presence. We help you create content and tell a story all about helping your ideal consumer getting to know, like and trust you. If they know like and trust you, they’ll do business with you. What I’ve done for my clients is shared my nearly three decades of television news and shared that experience to help them best tell their brand story. The way our economy is set up these days, if we really think hard about it, when we last time we made a purchase that we hadn’t “Googled” before submitting that order. When someone “Googles” one of my clients, I want them to find amazing stories and interviews told in their voice to help that consumer understand this is right direction for their service. When people search your brand, they need to be able to hear in your own words, not just why you should purchase from them, but what makes you excited about the service or item you provide. Just being a good salesman isn’t enough these days, because it’s becoming harder and harder to get your ideal customers’ attention. So when you do get their attention you have to share a compelling and engaging story that leaves them wanting to know about who you are and what you stand for beyond just selling a particular product they’re looking for. That almost always includes video and great storytelling. A couple of my favorites subjects and the reason I fell in love with television news. It’s also what separates us from the rest of the competition. I’ve done it for a living, under pressure and when the community needed it most, I was in a position to provide valuable information that they could rely on. Now I’m taking that same skill set and helping businesses tell their story. It’s truly the best of both worlds. Getting to this point in my business has not been easy. To be honest, when I left television, I had no idea how I could help people and transfer my skill set. And that’s quite simply what I’m most proud of — the willingness to accept what I don’t know and then ask those with expertise for the help and assistance I need. And that’s involved taking courses to learn how to be an entrepreneur and even a course taught by Chicken Soup For The Soul author and creator, Jack Canfield. We met in 2019 when the Super Bowl was held here in Atlanta, and we connected on a deep emotional level. I thanked him for writing the “Chicken Soup For The Prisoner’s Soul”, which I promised myself I would do if I ever met him. It was the first book I sent my son shortly after his arrest, and he realized that there would be a tomorrow for him, despite the mountain of legal trouble he was facing. It really helped him deal with the inevitable. He couldn’t have been more gracious. He immediately gave me a copy of his book “The Success Principles” and told me to get that book to him, because he knows how transformative the book can be for those willing to do the work. He also shared his family struggles and I can’t tell you how grateful & inspired I was, that he was comfortable enough to share that with me and he never let it slow down his quest to help others and continue with his incredible success. After reading his book and taking his Train The Trainer Course, I was a brand new man with a brand new approach to life. I highly recommend the book at the course is transformational as well. But I was so excited about what I was learning that I breezed through the roughly 1,000 pages of lessons, exercises and the book itself to help create a brand new me, with a brand new routine and brand new accountability for myself that I’ve never place on myself. It lead to a 50 pound weight loss and the start of a business that has seen some success that very proud of. Needless to say, his inspiration was more than the boost I needed to overcome some of the challenges of becoming a new entrepreneur. Things like not understanding how to create your work flow on a daily basis. Seems simple, but if you’ve never done it, it can be very intimidating. Another huge hurdle was creating a sales funnel and understanding how to generate nurture and close leads. And I’m a work in progress still honing my craft and streamlining the business and figuring out how to help others. And one of the most important lessons I’ve learned throughout my adult life, in television and in entrepreneurship centers on identity and self worth. Once I realized how fragile the television industry really is, I knew that I only had my own self confidence to rely on, I’ve had to constantly remind myself that “Television is just what I do, it’s not who I am.” The same holds true in entrepreneurship, and I’m constantly reminding myself that my worth is not tied to a dollar amount, because my value can be measured in my ability to help friends, family and clients have transformational experiences through their interactions with me, and that’s far more important than a dollar figure. We want the world to know that we will never stop our relentless efforts to help you put your best foot forward when it comes to telling your story. Because we know how important it is to connect with your audience and have them come back and we also want you know that attention to detail is the hallmark of our engagements and not only do we want to be a force when it comes to getting your brand media exposure, we are much more than just Media Consultants. We are community servants as well, and this is probably the most exciting pillar of my business plan and goals for the future. I’m currently sharing my story with corporations, schools, groups or organizations, colleges and universities that can relate to the difficulty parents face each and everyday. A wise man once told me that parent-hood is the most dangerous hood we will ever travel through, and that wise man was my dad, and now I realize what he means in living color. As a parent with one son who plays professional hockey and another in a Georgia prison, I know how daunting a task raising children in the new millennium can be. From work life balance to positive parenting solutions, I want others to draw on my experience and understand there is a way to move beyond difficult parenting challenges and still find peace and comfort and confidence in your child and in you.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
When friends come to visit me here in the great city of Atlanta we begin our journey with the magic of downtown Atlanta, because there is so much see and do. Depending on the time of year it might be an outdoor concert in Centennial Olympic Park but the focus of our downtown tour would be the Georgia Aquarium. I look for any excuse to go to the aquarium because as an overly imaginative kid, I wanted to be a marine biologist and through all these years never lost my love for the ocean and the sea and all the magnificent creatures that live there. The beluga whales quickly became my favorite, the penguins are always a must see for me, and the sheer size and hammerheads and whales that live in the giant tank altogether always amazes me. But here’s our itinerary, which will feature some of the best known Atlanta historical spots and mix in the amazing food and cultural experiences. Day 1 would begin with a tour of the cradle of the civil rights movement and history right here in Atlanta. We’d start Dr. King’s home & Ebenezer Baptist Church, then head over to the amazing National Cvil Rights Museum right downtown, which is awe inspiring in it’s own right. We would end the day at one of my favorite Atlanta restaurants, and keeping our Black History theme alive, we would dine in at Paschals. The amazing history that we’ve been learning about all day long would have been discussed and planned in that very restaurant with some of the most prominent figures the world has ever known as part of the movement. From Dr. King and his lovely wife Coretta to Ralph David Abernathy to Mayor Maynard Jackson, the Fried Chicken dinner at Paschals fueled the many tireless souls that fought for equality and a better world for us all. Day 2 of our trip we’d hit up the World of Coke, because of its world wide iconic appeal and incredible history right here in Atlanta. We’d have a quick break for lunch at the Varsity and dine in, so we can soak up the full experience. I took one of my good friends from Boston to the Varsity, and ever since that visit, whenever he call’s me, the first words out of his mouth are – “What’ll you have, what’ll you have!” and it cracks me up every time. Oh and he loved the Frosted Orange, even asked me to try to send one to him in Boston. Yeah, that didn’t happen. LOL. To round out the day we would take a trip over to the Carter Center, which for me is one of the most interesting places to visit, because of my long history in television and having worked in South Georgia near his home in Plains, GA and we see how much he has accomplished, not just as President but also in his life after the Presidency as one of the world’s preeminent diplomats, a crusaders for human rights. We end our tour with an amazing steak dinner to add an exclamation point, at non other that Kevin Rathbun’s Steak. Not only is the food amazing, but he is one of the most humble and talented people you’ll ever meet. Always love to stop in his restaurant and enjoy the ambiance and the amazing food — I recommend the entire menu! And I’m not even kidding! Day 3 begins the a little outdoor activity and keeps us there for most of the day. We’d begin with a hike up Stone Mountain to be able to take in the view and of course, reflect on the history, especially in light of its close proximity to the cradle of the civil rights movement. And after the fresh air and exercise we would head over to Peidmont Park, and maybe take in a music festival or just hang out with all the eclectic personalities and do our little picnic and enjoy the park. There is something very liberating about Peidmont Park that just kind of puts you at ease and reminds you just how diverse Atlanta really is, from its landscape to the many different backgrounds of the people that make up the city. If its one thing Atlanta has that you can find at Peidmont Park, it’s the rich cultural diversity of its people, which make this city so amazing. Anchor Man 2 also shot some scenes in the Park too, which makes it all the more worth the trip. And muscle up folks with so much to see and do, we’re gonna have to jump on I-20 head west, and close down Six Flags Amusement Park. I have so many great memories there with my wife and kids and family and again the park just takes you back to the time when we were kids and life was all so simple. Day 4 begins with a big ole breakfast at Thumbs Up Diner, it’s one of my favorite places since coming to Atlanta back in 2002. Probably because of the Fried fish. Wow, it’s always served up perfectly and it was a dish I grew up eating that was one of my parents’ favorite, the Fried Fish and grits. Always a winner. And then we would head out and I’d focus on the media and the Hollywood “East Coast style”. I’d begin with a trip over near Emory for a quick stop at my old tv station, WAGA-TV. I made some incredible friendships there–and love to show people where I spent a decade of my life and cried a trail of tears on my way out in 2012. Then we’d head over to CNN, simply because most of my friends who visit — are dying to see it. After that one of my personal favorites and one of the most compelling Atlanta success stories — a trip to Tyler Perry Studios. As one of America’s newly minted billionaires, it is awe inspiring to see what he has done with the property out at what used to be Fort McPherson. Remember this is busy day, so following the tour at TPS, we would then head over to one of Atlanta’s newest attractions but one of it’s most important, when it comes to Hip Hop music, we would hit up the Trap Music Museum. You can’t come to Atlanta and not pay homage to all the musical influences and contributions made in the world of Hip Hop Music. This is a must see and do for anyone who loves hip hop music or just wants to know more about it. Then we would cap of the day with an amazing meal at Busy Bee right down off of MLK Junior Drive. Another one of my favorite spots, that I missed so much when I left Atlanta, and now any time I get near that part of town, just a few blocks west of the Mercedes Benz Dome, I have to stop in and get my eat on. I’ll let you decide on your favorite soul food meal, but be sure to a slice of the old fashioned sweet potato pie, You can grab an entire pie and save some for later or settle on just a slice. It’s all good. Day 5 is all about the sports world and the amazing sports venues in Metro Atlanta. We’d start of at the Atlanta University Center. Its near and dear to my heart because of the many homecoming events I participated in when Howard University would visit Atlanta and play Morehouse. It’s also the home of so many amazing HBCU graduates from Spelman, Morris Brown and Clark as well as the “House! So many great memories there. We’d then work our way around to the home of the Hawks and the brand new Mercedes Benz Dome, which as far as stadiums go, is second to none. We would also swing by the Braves new stadium as well and take in a game or hang at the Battery. What an awesome and fun area surrounding the stadium with neat restaurants attracting some really cool crowds, inside and outside the game. For the last day of the tour we would head north and hit up the beautiful Amicalola Falls. One of the most picturesque places in the entire state. The hike to the top of the falls ain’t easy, but the view is worth the sweat equity, trust me. On the way down we can stop at my favorite place to shop in metro Atlanta — the Georgia 400 Outlets. We can grab a snack and pick up an outfit or two and head back south toward the city. Since we are keeping up with our physical fitness theme–we could swing by the College Football Hall of Fame and then swing over to Stats Sports Bar and hang out on the roof top until the sun goes down. After a great meal and an awesome atmosphere, we head over the Skyview and take in the night sky and Atlanta’s amazing night lights, that remind you what an amazing global city Atlanta truly is and will always be. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are a couple of shout outs that I’ve got to acknowledge, folks that I have over the years thought about and can honestly say they taught me lessons to this day that have helped me become the father, husband & son that I am proud to be today. I’ll begin with my parents, who taught me the value of an honest days work and work ethic. My dad was a teacher and administrator in a school that housed wards of the court from the five boroughs of New York City and worked two jobs for as long as I can remember. My mom was a social worker in Westchester County and lead the Child Protective Services division, and later moved to a couple of different school districts to round out her career. I had excellent role models and examples in my home and followed their lead. After mom and dad, come a couple of my football coaches that helped me understand how to overcome adversity and how to be accountable for all your actions. My high school football coach named Bernard Scozzafava, was an influence on me from junior high school through my senior year in high school. He was tough and fair, and always let me know how much I could accomplish if I just my mind to it. I’ll never forget being a simple 7th grader and sitting in his health class for our first Sex Education Course. It was as funny as it was strange — trying to figure it all out but he helped us through it and watched us grow along the way. The quote that has always resonated with me from Coach Scozz was, “when I stop yelling at you, that’s when you should start worrying!” From that point on, I always found strength and motivation in our conversations and time together. He is a good man and I’m truly thankful for him. Another coach who was pivotal in my success as an athlete but even more as a man, is the legend himself Coach Willie Jeffries, from my days at Howard University. He was the first African American Division 1 head coach in the NCAA. And I’m forever grateful to “Coach J” for helping me resurrect my college football career, and looking back it was the best decision I ever made, because the life lessons I learned as a member of the Howard University football team have helped me become the success I am today. Beyond the hard work, discipline was Coach J’s hallmark and along with that discipline he demanded consistency. He drove those points home to us on a daily basis and we are better men because of it. I’ll never forget the time we spent together walking to the locker room after practice, or uncomfortable meetings when I screwed up. He let us all know on a regular basis how much he cared about us as men first, and football players second. That’s why he was so successful not only in college football but in life as well. We are still in touch to this day. Thanks to social media his daughter keeps us up to date and every chance we get to honor him at South Carolina State or Howard U, we turnout en masse. He’s a huge part of my success today and I told him as much in DC a fews back at our team’s induction into the University Hall of Fame. I will never forget his impact on my life and how much I appreciate him. When, it comes to my professional career there are two people that really stand out. As I was trying to figure out how to break into broadcasting, I met CBS News Anchor, Reggie Harris, who fast became a favorite of mine when he moved to New York. My dad watched Channel 2 so it was my favorite too, and when I met Mr. Harris, and told him about my dreams and aspirations, without hesitation he invited me down to the station, gave me the tour and mentored me and was pivotal in helping me get my start in the business. You really don’t now what you don’t know, and he showed me exactly how to get a job in tv and the rest is history. All he asked of me, was to do the same when I got in the position to help someone, and I’ve done my best to stay true to my word. He taught me about true mentorship and friendship and support. He always answered my calls — there was no texting back then (LOL). And if I left a message on his answering machine (google it if you’ve never seen one!) he would get right back to me, even though he was a big time television news anchor. I always respected him for that — and tried to walk that same walk throughout my career. He taught me how to be a pro and was a calming voice whenever I needed one right up until his untimely passing in 2000. He is truly missed, but will never be forgotten. And by far the most important blessing and the most appreciated person responsible for helping me succeed is my loving wife and college sweet heart, Latonya. We met in 1987, and have been joined at the hip ever since. We married in 1992 and I proceeded to move her all over the country with me and she never once complained, she even fit in law school during our stop in Denver, CO. We had two young kids at the time and she finished law school in two and a half years. She is amazing. And has a New York toughness about her that empowers me, because I know she’s got my back, front, side and anything else I need. She’s truly the beauty and brains of our team and has made a better human being and pushed me to better in everything we do. She’s an amazing mom, wife and best friend. I’m lucky to have her on my side.