Saturday, August 17, 2013

Difficult childhood drives Telisa Franklin to succeed in business despite a few recurring obstacles

Telisa Franklin is realizing some of her dreams after a difficult childhood forced her to grow up quickly. 

When Telisa Franklin and a team of volunteers fed more than 500 people in 2012 during the Thanksgiving holiday, the upper echelon of Memphis, the community at-large, and the news media took notice of the work that Franklin had been doing to feed the needy since 2008. Feeding the needy, she said, is her way of giving back to a community that is beset by one hardship after another, a community she knows so well.  
Hundreds of people on any given day in Memphis go hungry and as many of them don’t have a place to call home. Franklin is passionate about helping those who’re less fortunate and feels compelled to lend them a hand. Why? She grew up in a home in the Douglass community that reminds her of the daily grind to survive.
She was raised in an environment where crack addiction was all too common. Her father was brutally murdered, and her grandparents, who did not graduate from school, did their best to provide for her and protect her after they became her guardians.
“My grandparents saved me from becoming a statistic and a prey to the evildoers in my environment who sought to destroy me,” Franklin said.
Despite having to overcome those extreme difficulties, Franklin would go on to achieve some of her goals. But the path she’d traveled to get to where she is today was meandering -- not a straight path, that is before the viccitudes of her life convinced her to take a faith walk.
She’d incurred hardships both as a child and as an adult, but her determination to succeed, despite the odds against her, was much stronger than the negative forces that tried to snuff out her dreams before they could come true.
A 1993 graduate of Craigmont High School, Franklin acquired innate skills that didn’t come from academia. In fact, it was her fluency of speech, radiant personality and her bulldog determination that keeps her focused on obtaining the brass ring of success. She credits much of what she’s been able to accomplish thus far to her grandfather, a Baptist preacher, and her unwavering faith in God. 
“If it weren’t for my grandfather teaching me to choose God first, to work hard, I am not sure where I would be or what I would be doing now,” said Franklin, who chose to fight (figuratively speaking) to survive rather than give up like so many others had done in similar circumstances.
Although Franklin’s childhood memories are bittersweet, the experience only fueled her desire to overcome her wretched circumstances. But dreams do come true, and this determined warrior from Douglass is now seeing some of them come to fruition after years of toiling.
          After trial and error and a few hopes and dreams dashed along the way, the circumstances didn’t stop Franklin from reaching within and discovering what she is really made of: strength, character, fortitude, integrity and the uncanny ability to overcome obstacles.
Although the aforementioned attributes were pillars that she leaned on to survive a difficult childhood, they have essentially become the hallmarks of her success as an entrepreneur, floral designer, motivational speaker, philanthropist, TV talk show host, radio host, author, minister and now the owner of her own TV network.
On Aug. 11, Franklin officially launched her TV network on Comcast Channel 31 seven days a week. It is arguably the first female-owned African-American network based in Memphis that serves African-Americans in the coverage area of Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi, according to Franklin, president of TFC Media.
A Christian-based radio, television and social media platform, TFC Media is Franklin’s foray into communications, having owned and operated several businesses that eventually gave birth to her newest venture, cable TV.
“I have devoted time and energy to making my businesses successful,” Franklin said. “The network on Comcast Channel 31, which entrepreneurs and business owners can utilize to fulfill their dreams, is another project, or business, that I hope would bring those involved on the ground floor a measure of success.”    
Franklin and her team have since worked long hours to create an impact in the communications industry.
          “I’m determined to be somebody and leave an inheritance for my children’s children. That’s what the Bible instructs us to do,” said Franklin, who doesn’t mind being called a role model. “When I see young people looking like I looked as a child, where I had been earlier in my life, I don’t want them to see me give up. I want them to be able to see a good image in me.”
           As an entrepreneur, Franklin has owned several businesses prior to the launch of her cable television network – including “That’s Love Florist,” “That’s Love” and the “Royal Pavilion Event” facilities. In 2005, she was the recipient of “Bust-A-Move Monday” (BAMM), an initiative launched in June of 2001 by Dr. Kenneth T. Whalum, senior pastor of Olivet Baptist Church, to spend money with African-American businesses.
           Over the course of her professional career, Franklin has either owned a business, operated one, or worked in various capacities for a couple of banks, a car dealership and a videographer. In 2012, Glenn Johns Reed, founder of the long-running Juneteenth Freedom and Heritage Festival in Douglass Park, tapped Franklin to succeed her as the festival’s executive director.
            Franklin has an affinity for young people. She motivates them to dream big and to work hard, just like she’d done from 2004 to 2008 as producer of the “Prom Show Expo,” a trade show that exposed high school students to school proms, graduation, college and career training.
            “I believe children should have an opportunity to be successful in life, but the leaders of today must prepare them for their destiny,” said Franklin, who organized a Christian youth group in 2008 called Memphis Youthful Praise of Douglass, which promoted positive activity for the youth and young adults in the community.  
Despite her rigorous schedule, Franklin attends Golden Gate Cathedral on James Road where she is a licensed minister and evangelist.
          The church has become an inextricable part of Franklin’s life. She’d been a secretary and Sunday school teacher at Mt. Carmel Missionary Baptist Church; a youth leader, choir director, and praise and worship leader at Willing Souls Missionary Baptist Church; and a leadership coordinator and a media ministry coordinator at Greater New Liberty Missionary Baptist Church.  
          So what is Franklin’s ultimate goal? “I want to be able to make senior citizens’ dreams come true,” she said. “They don’t have enough money to do what they want to do. I want to build a home for them. It will be like a permanent retreat.”
She added that while children have opportunities to be successful, “older people are thrown away. They’re sometimes forgotten.” Oh, and she also hopes to grow her TV network into a mega communications outlet
Franklin didn’t forget about her three younger brothers. Although she struggled in her early years to survive, did not pursue higher education, worked tirelessly to make ends meet, she didn’t want her brothers to follow in her footsteps. So she paid for them to go to college.
One of her brothers is a student at Mississippi Valley State working on a master’s degree in criminal justice. Another one is a professional over the road commercial driver. The youngest is a student as well at Mississippi Valley State working on a bachelor’s degree.
“My brothers all know that failure is not an option,” said Franklin, the mother of a 6-year-old son, Charles Edward. “I just want them to succeed in life. That’s why I stepped in to provide a foundation from which to launch a successful career.” 

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