In an intimate interview with the Huffington Post, radio legend Cathy Hughes reflected on her rise from teenage mother to head of Radio One–the largest Black-owned radio company in the United States.
Hughes gave birth to her son, Alfred Liggins, at the tender age of 16. Liggins now heads Interactive One. However, his birth lead to her being thrown out of her mother’s home, an event she told the Huffington Post that left her “in shock.”
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Though Hughes vowed that she would not let that “shock” derail her resolve to reach her fullest potential in life. “It was the reason I took my life seriously for the first time as a teenager and made a promise to myself, my son and God that he would not become a black statistic,” she told the Huffington Post.
Today, Hughes can point to several “Black Statistics” for Radio One that she can be very proud of: 53 broadcast stations located in 15 urban markets in the United States; 1,500 employees; $433.5 million in projected 2012 revenues.
When asked whether she felt at the time if the pregnancy would ruin her life, Hughes had this to say:
Everyone in my world thought I should have an abortion, and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I couldn’t penalize another human being with the mistake I made, even though I realized I didn’t have the education and financial resources I needed. Having that baby forced me to put someone else ahead of my own selfish desires.
I became an entrepreneur because of him. One day, he had a fever and my employer said “if you walk out that door, don’t come back.” That’s when I decided I needed to be in control of my professional environment so I could be there for my child.
The interviewer also asked Hughes what business lessons she learned from being a teen mom. She pointed to the necessity of concentration:
Focus. An elderly woman who provided child care told me the secret to successful parenting was to keep your attention focused on your children. And one of the key characteristics of an effective manager is to not have your attention distracted from your employees, goals and objectives. You have to keep your eye on the prize, whether that’s running a business or rearing a child.