‘Generation Next’: Meet Steve Harvey’s right hand, Thabiti Stephens
With Atlanta-bred hustle and an emphasis on relationships, Thabiti Stephens landed a leading role at Steve Harvey Global.
Generation Next is a four-part series hosted by Will Toms on theGrio, highlighting influential young leaders in entertainment, sports, and music.
For our third episode of theGrio’s new series, “Generation Next,” entrepreneur and moderator Will Toms sat down with the chief strategy officer/international business director for Steve Harvey Global and founder of Stephens Group, Thabiti Stephens.
Stephens’ entrepreneurial journey dates back to his childhood in Atlanta. Surrounded by many Black-owned businesses, he was fascinated by the hustle from a young age, motivated to make a name for himself.
Atlanta instilled a level of confidence that made him feel like he could do anything, and Stephens’ ambition continued to grow as he took on as many internship opportunities as time allowed. From each opportunity, he gleaned more insight into what it took to succeed in the world of business.
“I interned at a Black-owned art shop, so I learned to value art depreciation. I interned at the Black-owned bakery across the street, where I learned [about] cost and food savings. I interned at the Black-owned consignment shop next door. Then, I interned at the white-owned attorney firm, where I was allowed to read all their documents and agreements. During these types of internships, I was picking up different little traits about business.” Stephens reminisces.
His mentality was, “If they can do it, I can do it … I was really inspired by seeing people do amazing things.”
The day he graduated from high school, Stephens took all the money he had earned interning and started his own sneaker manufacturing and distribution company, Steps by Stephens. Even as a teenager, Stephens knew the value of investing in both his business and himself.
While attending Morehouse College, Stephens became best friends with Broderick Harvey, Steve Harvey’s son. The two forged a sincere friendship built on a foundation of shared interests, morals, and ethics. When asked if Harvey’s celebrity background played a role in their relationship, Stephens confidently responds, “I wasn’t his friend because Steve Harvey’s his dad … relationships are worth way more than money.”
Stephens’ business relationship with Steve Harvey blossomed at one of the comedian’s SHMP (Steve Harvey Mentoring Program) camps. SHMP strives to teach the principles of manhood and help young men realize their potential for a robust and productive future. Stephens helped Broderick work the event, soon building a reputation for being a hard worker. Steve Harvey took a liking to the driven young entrepreneur and soon after asked Stephens to be his executive assistant, sparking his interest in research and development. Seeing Stephens’ ambition, Harvey promised the opportunity for upward mobility for as long as they worked together.
For his first eight months of work, Stephens sacrificed a salary to work for free, ultimately believing that the experience of working around Harvey and his exceptional team was valuable in itself. By the time Stephens turned 22, Harvey had hired him full-time, offering him a promotion to co-chief of staff at Steve Harvey Global Media.
Throughout that first year, Stephens helped produce 200 episodes of “Family Feud” and over 30 episodes of “Judge Steve Harvey.” He also assists with Harvey’s radio show, which airs 225 days a year. If that doesn’t sound like a busy enough schedule, Stephens also oversees Harvey’s 40 other subsidiary businesses worldwide. In running this global conglomerate, Stephens works hand in hand with Brandon Williams, COO of Steve Harvey Global.
With global development in mind, Harvey sent Stephens and Williams to spend almost five months between Africa and the Middle East, learning the intricacies of these new markets. The power duo secured the rights to “Family Feud Africa,” specifically “Family Feud Ghana” and “Family Feud South Africa.” When it debuted in 2020, it was the No. 1 show in both countries.
Stephens’ story personifies the Atlanta mentality that shaped him. He encourages young go-getters to be themselves, reiterating that every experience is a valuable learning experience if you are determined to make it one. Like Stephens’ admiration for the leaders he encountered growing up, he is now poised to be admired by Atlanta’s next generation and well beyond.
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