We’ve all heard the cliche, “aim for the stars, the worst thing that happens is you land on the moon.”
At surface level, this might seem like generic Dove Chocolate advice, but the truth behind these words has never been more evident than in the life of Dr. Toby Malichi.
From a lower-class family in Connersville, Indiana to a seat in the Oval Office, Dr. Malichi has always aimed for the stars and his relentless pursuit of ethical excellence has helped him achieve incredible results, and he isn’t done yet (more on that later.)
This episode of Get IN. takes us from humble beginnings collecting Coke bottles to shaking hands with President Clinton.
Whether you are looking for advice on building relationships or underdog inspiration, this episode has something for everyone.
Dr. Toby Malichi is the Founding Executive Chairman of Malichi Group Worldwide, a global business diplomat, and a passionate entrepreneur, Dr. Malichi has been at the forefront of international trade and business consultancy for over four decades.
He is an expert in all things global trade. His story isn’t just a journey of personal triumph but a testament to perseverance, strategic vision, and the unyielding power of faith.
In today’s show, we are going to cover the inspiring moments that defined Dr. Malichi’s journey, the adversities that tested his resolve, and the principles that guide him in mentoring the next generation of leaders.
You’ll learn how Dr. Malichi’s early experiences shaped his global perspective, what it means to overcome personal and professional challenges, and how he’s stayed grounded through it all.
You hear firsthand about the lofty goal that has propelled his life’s work: his ambition to win the Noble Laureate and why that matters—not just to him, but to the world.
Be sure to check out these great clips from the show:
- 02:30 Dr. Malichi’s Early Life and Inspirations
- 03:28 Dr. Malichi’s Childhood Dreams and Ambitions
- 05:53 The Importance of Dreaming and Setting Goals
- 09:23 Dr. Malichi’s Early Entrepreneurial Experiences
- 11:09 The Impact of Early Mentors and Lessons Learned
- 17:53 Transitioning from High School to College
- 21:17 Dr. Malichi’s Early College Experiences
- 25:24 The Competitive Spirit and Early Career
- 25:34 Journey to General Motors
- 26:18 The Interview and Landing the Job
- 27:19 The Power of Self-Belief
- 27:57 Integrity in Business
- 28:29 The Rise to Success
- 28:38 Impact of Recognition and Awards
- 29:02 Influence of International Trade Agreements
- 29:33 Transition to International Trade
- 30:09 The Power of Visualization and Global Influence
- 30:13 Experience with World Leaders
- 32:06 Memorable Moments with World Leaders
- 39:07 The Power of Business for Peace
- 44:43 The Importance of Access to Capital
In our conversation with Dr. Malichi, you will learn about:
- The Power of Aspirations: Dr. Malichi shared his childhood memories of growing up in Connersville, Indiana, and his early aspirations of becoming a world leader. His dream of winning the Nobel Peace Prize has been a guiding force throughout his life.
- The Importance of Mentors: Dr. Malichi credits his entrepreneurial spirit to his early mentors, including Maribel Perkins, a local grocery store owner, and his great-grandmother, Grandma Dillingham. They instilled in him the value of hard work and the importance of humility. Make sure you check out our guide to mentorship.
- Creating Opportunities: Dr. Malichi emphasized the importance of taking action and creating opportunities for oneself. He shared a powerful quote from Zig Ziglar: “The only place that you’ll see success come before work is in the dictionary.”
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Links and resources mentioned in this episode:
Companies and organizations:
- Vincennes University
- DePaul University
- Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis
- Dr. Toby Malichi
- Mike Espy
- Al Gore
- Gerald Ford
- Jimmy Carter
- George W. Bush
- Thomas J. Donohue
- Tung Chee-hwa
- Ernesto Zedillo
- Eduardo Frei Montalva
- Bill Clinton
- Zig Ziglar
- Gary Brackett
- Christopher (Toph) Day
- Matt Hunckler
- Nate Spangle
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Matt: From the crossroads of America and the Hoosier state of Indiana. This is get in the podcast focused on the unfolding stories and extraordinary innovations happening right now in the heartland. I’m Matt Hunckler, CEO at Powderkeg, and I will be one of your hosts for today’s conversation. I’m joined in studio by co host Christopher “Toph” Day.
Let’s roll. Today’s going to be off the chain. Off the chain. CEO Elevate Ventures, Toph, and Nate Spangle, head of community at Powderkeg. Yeah, buddy! And our guest today is Dr. Toby Malichi, founding executive chairman of Malichi Group Worldwide, and he is He is so decorated. He has done so many amazing things.
We were talking a little bit before we hit record here. So I’m very excited about this conversation. He’s a global business diplomat, an impassioned entrepreneur. He has been on the forefront of international trade and business consult, and has had a business consultancy for over four decades.
Toby: She called one of the local guys in Connersville, Larry Alexander. She said how you feeling? She said, oh, Larry, I’m not doing too well. Do you have a TV set? Can you get CNN?
So she called the nurse and the nurse put on CNN and there was her oldest son, the first born, the chosen one, not with one, but four presidents of the United States of America.
Matt: Dr. Toby Malaich is an expert in all things, global trade. His story isn’t just a journey of personal triumph, but a testament to perseverance, strategic vision, and the. Unyielding power of faith in today’s show. We are going to cover the inspiring moments that define Dr. Malichi’s journey, the adversities that tested his resolve and the principles that guide him in mentoring.
The next generation of leaders will also learn how Dr. Malichi’s early experiences shaped his global perspective, what it means to overcome personal and professional challenges, and how he stayed grounded through it all. And of course, we’ll hear firsthand about the lofty goal that had propelled his life work.
His ambition to win. The Nobel Laureate and why that matters, not just to him, but to the world. Dr. Malachi, thank you for being here and welcome to Get In.
Toby: Oh, Matt, thank you very much. I didn’t know who you were talking about there for a moment. That guy’s awesome. Well done.
Matt: It is such a pleasure to have you here.
And obviously there’s so many things that you’ve accomplished in your career. But I know the whole thing starts at age seven or eight. That’s right. Can you take us back to that moment?
Toby: Yeah. Thanks for asking that. That’s I never get asked that question. So of the thousands of interviews around the world, around the country, the first time someone’s asked me that.
Matt: No kidding. Yeah, it’s such a cool story. I would
Toby: love to hear about it. It’s I’m originally from a small town called Connersville, Indiana. Okay. Go Spartans. Go Spartans. When Nate said that, I was like, yeah. And I don’t know we were poor, but we didn’t know we were poor. I never had a father in my household, never saw him until.
A funeral that I graduated from high school, gonna play professional baseball. And he shows up, my dad kind of stuff, my mother and aunts took baseball bats to him. True story. No kidding. Ready back to Chicago. Oh my gosh. But my great grandmother and my grandmother, my great grandmother was Irish uh, Dutch German, Cherokee and black.
Didn’t look like me, so family reunion, duh, where did I come from? Interesting. Yeah. Yeah. And until I got down to my mother and but I always for some reason had these lofty dreams I don’t know. I now know where they came from. I don’t know where they came from and My mother used to say, you’re of all my boys it was three of us and two girls.
God bless all my past but one sister He said you’re the chosen one my grandmothers and grandmothers black grandmothers back then Probably still to this day too, but back then they just would take the first, I was the first boy. First grandchild and first dark skinned person in my family. So I was spoiled.
Won a beauty, I won the most prettiest baby contest in 1950. We should have led with that. It’s funny because when I saw the picture of it in the news exam room, I couldn’t tell what it was. And, but for some reason I had just a fascination with globes. I’d see a globe or a world. I just, it just come. We had encyclopedias.
They were used. We go down to the library and get them and look at
Toph: That was the internet the entire internet was
Toby: You know what? That’s right. That’s right. That’s right. Oh and so first second grade went by and I just we had no what do you want to be and you grow up And I just the third grade.
I said I want to become a world leader Wow, and everyone look for I Know it’s God now. Yeah, but back then I think this means looking at the globe and seeing You know these pictures of globe and different people around the globe and I said, I want to do that I want to meet these people.
I think it’d be fascinating to do that and It was a turbulent time, you know back in the early 50s. So yeah, I believe in peace I believe in business for peace. And so I said I Haven’t won a Nobel Peace Prize. I want to do the eighth grade and It just stuck that the goals I’ve said I want to win a Nobel Peace Prize and I’m going to win it.
I’m going to earn it. I went back from a 55th high school reunion the end of this past October and all my kids, not my kids, the classmates from kindergarten, second, third grade, the one thing they talked about, they said, Dr. Toby, go is to win the Nobel Peace Prize. And then they had an article where I’d said that.
Wow, so third grade, I think somebody wrote it up, right? But that was just something I believe in I’ve worked towards it. The Tina worked for it
Matt: Do you think it’s important to have a big lofty goal like that?
Toby: Yeah. Yeah I think my grandmother should call me, Mastermind and I caught her mom a Francis J where she said from Peach City, Georgia Atlanta She said maybe she had a 5th grade education, maybe.
But the smartest, most intuitive, mother wit person you ever wanted to meet. And momma, I call her mom, momma called me mastermind. She says, man, so you’re always doing something, your mind never stops. It’s always just going. I’d have dreams. I’m on my own private jet. I don’t think I even had jets back then.
I just, and you have to understand it’s a three bedroom home and we had an outhouse, so eventually that got on the inside, we had one faucet, cold water, so we had to heat that on the cold stove. So it had to be God and Platonies in me. Cause I’m wanting to get my mother out of the. Area, we didn’t call them ghettos back.
There was just where blacks were relegated to live. I always had goals and dreams and I always remember getting in trouble in school. Come on Malichi, couldn’t daydreaming. I could see these world leaders and so it just kept me off.
Toph: I love that daydreaming fantasy, right? Visualizing, visualizing.
Yeah. The. I’m curious what you how you think about. So you obviously heard you’re the chosen one. Yeah, you heard these words before you probably know how to speak exactly right, and so what do you think that does for the subconscious right of children, growing up being told, you can do it, you can be anything you want to be, etc.
Building them up. I want to share a quick story before you answer that question that you made me think of a moment ago. I was at a retreat recently. And Gary Brackett, who used to play for the Colts and he was on the championship team. And one of the folks at the retreat, we’re talking about life and kids and pursuit of, your passions, et cetera.
And one of the parents said my, my child, my son is a sophomore junior and has these visions of being a camera for the baseball player, football player or something. And she’s he’s not going to achieve that. Like, how do I, how do I reset his expectations? And Gary said, you don’t.
you let him go for it. Let him dream about it.
Toby: I like that. And because if you
Toph: don’t, whatever that thing is, that lofty goal, he’s so even if that’s the lofty goal and the child doesn’t hit that and they hit here. And if you’re only listening, I’m visualizing my hands. Yes. That’s still awesome.
Yes. And so how do you think about that?
Toby: Oh, I like that. Mama, back to mom again. And thank you, Matt. That’s the, you. No one’s ever asked me that question. Mom always said, man, you can be anything and everything and just think about what you want to be. Just dream about it. Just have a vision, permission to dream. Permission to dream. I like that. I do too. And then telling kids, she always encouraged us, inspired us. And your point was well taken and Gary Brackett. Is that, let it go, don’t kill the dream. Don’t kill the kid’s dream. I didn’t know any better.
I just knew I wanted to have more than one pair of blue jeans.
Matt: A modest goal, but a good goal on the way to
Toby: Nobel laureate and it was just a natural gift. I got along with all people and then I said, times were tense back there. Like they are now, but they’re a little more tense. That’s for the 50s.
And but I’d go up to anybody and talk to anybody. I didn’t care. It just didn’t make any difference. I’d go up and just talk to them. This kid must be crazy, but he’s a kid, so you can’t, push him away. But I’d just go up and just talk. To this day, I do that. Where did you get your entrepreneurial spark?
Ah, great question. Great question. Two people, three people maybe. One was Marybell Perkins. We had one business in the black neighborhood on the hill. It was a grocery store. You remember what it was called? I should have, I don’t, but I should have. That’s all right.
Matt: We’ll research it.
Toby: Marybell Perkins and I’m all up on the hill and she would walk in there and back then uh, you can buy a knee high ball of pop for a nickel, Coca Cola for a nickel. bubble gum, five, 10 pieces for a nickel, Coca Cola, six cents. Bread was like 11 cents or a quarter of a milk, 27 cents.
And see all these things, products in the store. And I was taught by my mother to so I was the oldest of five and four or three at that particular time that she said, anything you need in life, you’re gonna have to work for it. So she made a scrubber, scrub the toilet, clean the house, dust, all that things while the other kids went out to play.
We had to do those things. She teaches discipline, didn’t she? So I go to Barry about it. She said she said, if you bring in pop bottles. Back then you got a deposit for bringing in the pop bottles. Oh, that’s right. I forgot about that. And so I said and I’d go out and I’d get me a wooden case back then, and I’d bring in pop bottles, 2 cases of pop bottles, and get money for the, for the the deposits.
Buy some candy, and I’d give my mother, a few pennies to go towards groceries. That’s great. And Maribel said, she said, you know what? You’re going to own a business one day. She said, you’re very enterprising. And then my great grandmother, grandma, great grandma, Dillingham, on Irish Cherokee and Dutch German, she used to call me get up.
I love that.
Matt: And cause we got to get up on the get in podcast.
Toby: Yeah, I love it. Back then since we were poor, everybody had coal stoves back then. Oh yeah. So I’d go down in her basements, a little skinny kid and bring coal.
I would shovel snow in the winter, I’d rake leaves during the fall, cut grass during the summer. And so it was always like, he’s always mastermind, he’s always doing something business, always doing something business. Then Frankie Baker, who cannot read or write, but when he died, he ended up having a lot of money.
He always bought a new Oldsmobile 88 every year. Drove nice clothes, but he hauled trash, really dirty, stinky trash. And he’d take me with him and I’d go with him and lift these little barrels up cause I wanted to be muscular Nate, build up, cause I was Gary box, the golden gloves, back cause I had to build up and stuff.
And I thought on the truck, I was trying to find ways to make money to help my mother. And so he said you’re going to have a business one day, you got your entrepreneur, but that’s not the word they use. You’re going to own a business. And. He taught me humility because he couldn’t read or write and he didn’t put the syllables together maybe right, and it angered me sometimes when people laugh at him.
I’d take up for him, but he was laughing all the back, and he literally signed his name with an X. Literally did. Wow. But he always had this new truck, dump truck, and then I learned how to drive the dump truck. Those two primarily, then my Godfather was Perry Cox. Who worked in a factory, but then came a barber, the late Phil Cox, who was the basketball’s, his father, and he said, he told me this, he said, Toby, he said, learn to use your mind instead of your hands.
That’s powerful. That’s powerful. Cause back then everybody worked in the factory or, that was about all we could do. And that stuck with me the whole time. So that’s where it all came out of. It just went from there. You had some great early mentors and didn’t know it. Yeah. Cause it was just like, you just didn’t know it.
Nate: You just talked through being at being a young kid hauling trash and coal and cutting lawns and all of these, all these opportunities. What advice would you have for any entrepreneur out there on spotting opportunity? Because I feel like everything you just said is just a master class on being able to identify opportunities and take action.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.
Toby: Oh, and that’s a very important question, Nate. And I hope I can give us some justice here. I tell young kids, what’s happened is when I resigned from General Motors Corporation, I became a motivational speaker and trainer. And I started doing training, works exercises, motivation exercises, trying to build my business up, up from there.
Set goals, have dreams, get up. Nothing ever happens until you get up. And I told the parents, this was in the 80s, I told the parents, I said, Look, I come from a broken home. I come up, we were poor, didn’t know we were poor, but we had everything we needed to have. It seems like back, the Marine Corps bring us toys during the Christmas time or JCs would bring us food, so we had, things to go.
We didn’t have the best of best, so I’d always at work, and then I got another part time job at Sears and Roebuck when I was able to. My grandmother worked there as a stock boy. I’m often the laundromat, and people laughed at me. They used to laugh, because it’s like, we don’t do that.
And I told the parents, yes, I want my kids to have a better, But I said, don’t forget to tell your kids how you got to where you are. And Nate, they dropped that lesson. Yeah, that’s what you’re talking about. They let go. They dropped that lesson. No, I’m going to give them anything they want.
They dropped the lesson now today. It’s even worse. I’ll say it because now it’s just like I want this. I’m going to get this any kind of way. Okay, I’ll give it to you. I’ll write a check, but you lost that discipline. You lost. You lost a big part of you. That will help you, not in your teens necessarily, but in your 60s, 70s and up.
Because there comes time, and there will come times, I’m a testimony to this, you have to draw back on those experiences. And I said, I grew up poor without. If something happens in America and we get cut off from food, electricity, water, I don’t know how to survive. Could go back to that, that training I had growing up and we’ve gotten away from that.
Matt: How do you think people could, can cultivate that skill of spotting opportunity? Cause it sounds like for you, it really came from a place of necessity. If I don’t spot the opportunity, I’m going to be working at Sears Roebuck the rest of my life. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but that wasn’t your dream.
Toby: I had loftier goals. Yeah that’s great. Now, all my kids, I taught the way I was taught and raised up. And they’re all enterprising, they’re all You know work my daughter oldest daughter. She’s international model actress works with Challenged girls, but she’ll still work two or three jobs You know my son spent time the Air Force all my kids call me all my kids got Degrees, that’s my hot five.
That’s my Greatest accomplishment right there. That’s awesome. Congratulations. But I taught him all that to work. And I used to give a motivational talk with the great Zig Ziglar.
Toph: Oh yeah, I used to listen to Zig Ziglar tapes all the time.
Toby: And Zig would take me around and speak and, Zig said something that just stuck with me.
And I’ll share this with you. He said, the only place that you’ll see success come before work is in the dictionary.
Nate: Yes. That’s awesome. There’s the title.
Toby: That’s great. Yeah. That’s great. Isn’t that awesome?
Toph: Yeah. Mic drop.
Matt: So I, I think that’s a powerful lesson. If you want opportunity, just start working.
Yeah. Just start doing things. Yeah. Yeah. Because you’re not going to find opportunity sitting on your couch. No. Or, messing around, not doing anything, sitting on your hands.
Toph: So how, so how’d you start to transition then? So you, and and and Just the wealth of knowledge that you were able to gain growing up, right?
And in the positive reinforcement. So now you’re in high school. You’re playing some sports. You’re starting to think about college. You’re starting to think about what am I going to do? Give us those stepping stones from kind of 16 17 18 years old kind of stepping the stones into your mid twenties as we approach your.
When did you start your business today?
Toby: January one, 1982
Toph: and 82. And so you were a 30
Toby: ish. I was 31, 31. Yeah.
Toph: Maybe walk
Toby: 32. It’s already set.
Toph: What were those connection points, relationships, or connection points that got you from High school. You played sports in high school, right?
It sounds like you were a rock star. No, I wasn’t. Close that gap for us, that decade, as we approach the things you’ve been working on the last four decades.
Toby: Very excellent question, and then I’ll reflect back. Anything that I wanted, I had to work for. Anything. We just didn’t have it. We just didn’t have it.
The negatives, never had the negative reinforcement. They didn’t allow it. Grades in school, no excuse, just c you’re not average. You can do better, and just on, but now you’re going to high school, you start thinking about college and of course I’m first generation went to college and I thought like most black kids do time was gonna play professional sports.
Baseball was my. Probably the best sport. I boxed the gloves, so I thought Muhammad Ali was my hero, so I was going to box. I’m a professional boxer, thought that was going to be a way to go. And then Basketball, I wasn’t, I later picked up basketball in college, became a hall of fame at IUPUI, which was now going to be Indiana University.
Matt: Casual. Just picked it up, became a hall of fame. God! Michael Jordan.
Toby: But, and I bailed hay, like I was telling Toph, I grew up bailing hay. Yeah. To make money. Bail hay, shuck corn pick corn shuck tobacco. I did all those things. Yeah. Just to work to keep my mother. Just. I was like the man of the house.
As mama used to say, she felt bad for me because I never had a childhood. I was always working to try to help my mother and my siblings out. But I had to start thinking about, I wanted to go to college. I always just wanted to go to college. I’d hear the teacher say, you can do it, you can do it.
And I talked to so many people. They’d have speakers come to our high school. Speak on stage like complications and stuff, and I’d say, I can do that. I’m not afraid to talk to a crowd. I can do that. And I’ve just, matter of fact, my high school named me. You’re gonna love this. Mr. Talkative the most talkative Mr. Talkative. Yeah. Most, most talkative was by you got the right person for the podcast. They, yeah. So it was really funny because that came up again, but I was most talkative ’cause I was always talking to people going up and I don’t care who you were, I’d want to know about you, what’s going on?
Started going through high school, thought maybe sports might be the way baseball thought it would be the way, then I got a little serious with the books, I had to get that things weren’t seeing the goal because we didn’t have any money to go to college. And so what I ended up being scouted by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
And so let’s tell the story about that. On the Pittsburgh Pirates Mr. Howard, one of the greatest gentlemen I’ve ever met in my life had nine kids. His oldest son and I played baseball together, but one of his youngest baby son was Matt Howard, who played for Butler. Oh, wow. But Mr. Howard ever since my mother died, my brother died, my sister died, my other brother died, he always would bring the kids to the funeral.
What a gentleman. So he got me to travel to Pittsburgh, Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, which was 30, 25, 30 minutes from Connersville. Me and my mother were banging heads, senior in high school. I’m 18 and I can’t wait to leave. I’m going to get out of here, and she said yeah, you’re going.
And there’s not no waiting. You’re going to go to college. You’re going to go to the army or you’re going to work. But you’re getting out of here. And she meant that was 18. I did not know until I was thirty five and a half years old. I could come back home. Wow. She said, you want to be a man? You want to be a tough guy?
You want to go out there? She said, there you go. But at 18, you’re out the door, you can’t come back. Wow. And that made me, grow up in so many ways. And so the baseball didn’t work out. So still didn’t have anything. I graduated in the top fourth of my my honor society in my high school.
And the lady name of B, B worked for the Indiana Social Security. Indiana’s Department of something, I can’t remember what it was back then. And my mother, I used to go with her to scrub people’s floors iron their clothes, she’d fix their meals. We’d clean a couple office buildings downtown in Connersville, those little small places.
And she says, I want more for you, than this. And you gotta go to college. sports wasn’t forthcoming. And then, so I started looking at different types of school business schools, but they were like one year business schools nine months and then you can come out and work, but
that didn’t seem to work.
And I went to Pittsburgh and was going to go to Pittsburgh, got cut, but then my mother called me and B had gotten me an F an academic scholarship. Your teacher? She worked for the, is is. State Social Security. I’m from the welfare office. I can’t remember what office it was, back then because they just took a liking to me and got me a neck and some academic scholarships.
The Lions Club gave me a little money. My church, Methodist Church, gave a little money. DePaul was one of the colleges. Nate, I was going to go tigers and I Just didn’t know which I just don’t want to go. Yeah. And I ended up going to the greatest thing that ever happened to me educational wise, Vincennes University.
Oh, wow. Vincennes University. And I just worked for that. And Vincennes took kids like myself, troubled, fragmented backgrounds, somewhat, not having, the best things in life and worked with us. And I ended up getting on the basketball team, not as a player because I got there too late, but the coach will be on as a trainer and a student.
I got the same scholarship. Wow. And then a guy named Mr. Cooper, he’s from Maine, was the dorm director. And I ended up going to Vincennes early that summer because I got cut from the Pirates. And I got the dates mixed up. I was down there sitting on the bench. I had no place to sleep, no place to go.
I had a little, a few money, a little money in my pocket. I had my car that I, worked for. And Mr. Cooper came out and saw me sitting there. I said I’m here to start classes. He said classes don’t start for another week or two. And what are you doing for places to stay? I said, I don’t know, sir.
I said, I’ll figure it out. And he said I’ll tell you what. I’m over the dormitories. I got a room, there’s no sheets, no blankets. I’ll get you a blanket. You can stay in a dormitory and until classes come around, start. And then he says you got housing? I said no, sir. But I, and he made me an RA.
That’s so great. Yeah.
Matt: So your story really reminds me of a quote from one of our other podcast interviews. Serial entrepreneur who’s just talking about how if what you want as someone to, to help you show that you’re doing the work, think about someone who’s got their car broken down on the side of the road.
And if they’re just sitting there, with their thumb out versus they’re there trying to push their car up the road, it’s much easier to get someone to come and help you push the car.
Toby: Oh, great. Oh, you just, boy, you guys got me going here. Something Toph said that just took me back based on the question that you just asked.
Visualization. My hometown, growing up, Collinsville, was called Little Detroit. The Duesenberg was built there. A part of the Studebaker was built there. The Avant was built there. Stamp Manufacture made all the Radio caps, back then they had DLM metal fabrication built and they had a Ford plant built there.
So I had the vision to I want to work for, but Ford was number two. I’ve always been a competitor. You were number one? I was number one, and Jeremy Morris baby was number one. And so it was my goal to go to work for Jeremy Morris Corporation. How’d you make that happen? I was working, after college, I was working for AF&B Bank back then on a career development program.
I thought I’d be a banker, because I love money, when we come up poor, you want more money. That’s right. So I don’t love money, but I just wanted, a little walking around money never hurt nobody. No, a little pocket change to do something, the girls wouldn’t go with a poor guy anyway.
So there it is strong motivator. And so I was working for the bank and I’d gone to a head hunter morally Mike Morley, Irishman, Notre Dame through and out. And I went into a clear business man’s clearing house, what it was called. And I said, Merle, Morley, I need a different job, one dump.
This is not, this is me, it’s too slow paced, I want something challenging paced like there. And he called me up. He said, General Motors is interviewing in town, so they’re going to interview about a hundred people, you have to be black, I said, okay, and can you be here at six o’clock would be, the last appointment, which is right across the street from me.
Toph: I love it. In that situation, be the last. Yeah.
Toby: The last one. And I said, Oh God, General Motors, yes, this is it. And my then girlfriend became my fiance. We got married, now divorced. I said, look, Jeremiah was in town and she’s going to pick me up. And her, she had a cousin came in from Cleveland.
So I’m gonna go over here and talk to him. When I walked, I’d done enough studying about GM back in those days, you had to be married. They wanted you to have a mortgage and some kids. And that’s the way that you’ll be with them a lifelong employee, back then. I had neither. The last guy come out of the interview was a fraternity brother of mine at IU.
Tommy Britton. Tommy was married, his wife went to school, had a baby. He worked for GM, MC, GMAC back then. And I went oh, the little self doubt started going in. Oh, he’s going to get the job because he had another. But I thought back, mama, my grandma was saying, ain’t nobody better than you.
You earn your stripes like everybody else. They put your legs on just like you do one leg at a time. So don’t you doubt yourself. And I went in, true story, and sit down, and Bud Fortman, another Dutch German, so I said, you’re in my family, I got you. And he sit there, and now back then they would say blacks, only black because they wanted affirmative action.
It’d be that 10 percent affirmative action. And I went in, sit down. I was standing up with Mr. Fortman. He said, sit down. And he said, tell me about yourself. I said, sir. I said, can I say something? He said, yeah, what? I said, Mr. Fortman, if you’re going to hire me because I’m black, you’re going to hire me for 10 percent affirmative action.
I’m not your guy. True story. He laid back in his chair and he says, how much time do you have? I said, I’ve got time. Three hours later, I left out. Wow. I’m on jet plane, General Motors plane, going to Dayton. Got the job. I was the youngest division manager at 23. I was then Frigidaire division before I came over to Chevrolet motor division.
Matt: That’s so cool. Yeah, it’s awesome. I want to make sure we get a chance to talk about your business because Your accomplishments, your accolades reads like a highlight reel of international success. Very generous, thank you. I’m curious, out of all those experience and awards, is there one that you hold particularly near and dear to your heart?
Toph: Wow. Can we set this up just real quick? Yeah. Yeah, please. And correct me if I have the words slightly wrong, if you guys remember the exact words. So to set this up, you have been involved in 95. percent of all of the small business export trade agreements, free trade agreements,
Toby: Free trade agreements over the last six consecutive White House,
Toph: Six consecutive White House administrations.
Toby: Thank you. And I’ve been asked to go with the seventh. The White House called me back in March and said, when you go two more years and give me seven consecutive White House administration. That’s amazing. Thank you. There’s a lot that stands out, and I’ll tell you, I transitioned from the motivational speaking and training business because I always wanted to be in international trade.
I served on the board of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, was on the executive committee there, and then I became the first black vice chairman and chairman of the Indiana Small Business Council. And that just got me catapulted up to the U. S. Chamber. And I just still had this thing about the world, the globes.
I just met from the third grade that there was those globes again. That’s cool. Come to my home and you’ll see globes around. Yeah. And visualization. Yep. The power of visualization. And I was asked, we’re in the White House. They called business leaders in, President this time President Clinton called business leaders in from around the country.
And they wanted us to first meet with Hillary to talk about the insurance deal they had, healthcare. And we and small business leaders didn’t like that. We still liked the agenda that she was proposing. And she finds out in a tough year next birth this, small business people can be pretty vocal.
Never! They can be pretty vocal, so I killed that. So I had us in the White House, and gonna talk about this thing called Free trade agreements and NAFTA and President Clinton kept at the looking at me. He’d walked by it he looked he come back again He would look back in he would look and my colleagues from around the country said like what’s going on he keeps looking at you and I’m going like yeah, it’s a little I said no I’ve never seen before in my life.
It’s a little unnerving, and you got the Secret Service So I’ve never been that many secret service agents in my life and we’re going back and forth again. And so we’re over this secret services keep your seat to the president leaves the room. Two guys two yahoos decide they’re gonna get up early bad mistake First time I’ve seen this the Secret Service in unison they test those guys some kind of way And boy they just dropped, went down.
So all of us like, oh we ain’t you. Pressure point. Wow, we ain’t moving. I’m a brother, I definitely ain’t moving . And so Alexis Herman ler became a secretary of Labor, came over to me, his wife, she said, and her southern voice. She said, baby, she said, the president would like to talk with you. And everybody was like, God, what’s going on?
You all right? I’m on. I said, I don’t know, . But. I’m confident, in myself, but still unnerved as the President of the United States of America. I said, he’s through this door here. It’s the hallway to the, and I go through the door and there’s Bill Clinton. Matt, this is in between you and Toph, that’s how close we were.
Wow. And I backed up and I said, yes sir, and he said I hear you’re a pretty good speaker. I said yes, Mr. President. And I hear that you know how to handle legislatures. I said I’ve had some experience back in Indiana. That’s, we do all right. We, we get things done, and he said I want you to be my lead on NAFTA for small and medium sized enterprises. Wow. I want you to be the lead speaker and advocate. Wow. That was very memorable. I bet. And then from that point on, things just shot up. Yep. And then I got to be around other world leaders. I gotta be a part of apac, Asian Pacific Economic comp Corporation WTA World Trade Organization.
I was a delegate, you know that for delegate for the US OCNN U-U-S-T-R-U-S, trader Brazil office. We had that. We had. T TAC, which is economic China, I’m dealing with world leaders and be on the board of the Chamber of Commerce. I served on the National Policy Committee for 13 years, so all kinds of world leaders, but a lot of times I’m the only black in the room.
Yeah. 99, almost 100 percent of the time I’m the only black in the room, so they would come to me and they’d talk and grew up. And that holds my skills diplomatically. How to deal with world leaders from all over. I’ve met at that time almost every world leader there was.
Toph: Who’s the, who’s the most magnetic, positive, where you got a great vibe from, world leader, and who is the what are the words I want to use, the not so magnetic, maybe Scariest. Yeah. World leader you’ve ever met that gave you the E. B. G. B. S. That’s technical.
Toby: Yeah, technical. That’s an industry term. The scariest one.
I can’t tell you because there’s something going on in the world today. Sure. But that for that was an experience. One of the ones I have the pictures of is President E. Frey of Chile. I worked on that free trade agreement. It was the first time the Chile U. S. Free Trade Agreement. And we had a big deal on the Potomac, and on the Spirit of Washington, which was the yacht.
And President E. Frey at that time, I love chili and wine. I’m a big, I’m a huge red wine drinker. Huge. I drink it every day. Oh, are you a cab guy or a mullback? Cab, mullback, or pinot. Call me anytime. Or come over. You’re welcome to come over anytime. I’ve got some for you. You’re welcome anytime. I know.
I’ll show up. I will. Yeah you’re a big guy, so we’ll try to find you something. He’s looking, so we just clicked off and I have a picture of him, I’ll try and dig it out for you. He was just fascinated with me and I was fascinated with him, just the energy just emanated from me.
President Zedillo from Mexico, when I was at the state dinner for the White House. Very memorable. That was one of the most memorable times because my work had paid off with that and he had a prided breakfast in that. And then I went to Mexico with the late Ron Brown. went to Mexico.
You couldn’t sign the NAFTA court. I was gonna say something about NAFTA here in the morning. My, my greatest moment. And then I’m gonna drop just a few more on you. I had a great time with Tung Chee-hwa. You go to my website, malachi.com. You’ll see me shaking hands with Tung Chee-hwa, which is in that diplomatic room with the US Chamber.
And Tom Donohue has a white hair, China. You see me and him shaking hands. That’s the time that he invited me to be his guest on the infamous shot in Hong Kong, when China went back to communism. Wow. It’s on my website. I’m shaking hands. He’s willing to invite me. Oh my God. And he was just taken back.
It was a Chinese and you hear different things about, race and stuff. We got along fabulously. Yeah. With it. And so that that’s a good one. There’s so many that I’ve, I have met, spent time with them, but just one quick one. Can I tell you one quick one? Please. The greatest one was all.
Was that my mother, God bless her I was the first black to move, to have a business in the AUL tower downtown, one America, and late Jerry Simlin, got me in. Oh, sure. And I ran from, I came back from Chicago and resigned from General Motors, he had some home space in Calston. Back then, Calston was the spot, so I moved in, I said, I can’t afford it, he said, we’ll work it out.
He gave me an opportunity. He said, watch me work. Watch my integrity how I had things on tap. All that things that you’re an expert at most things go into successful business right and small and so got in there and My then I moved across the street and kept us in a North Tower because you know the space was by my ice melt I brought my floor out The law firm and first of my mother ever come up, you know in Indianapolis to see my offices Wow.
That’s going to be a big moment. And I had all my plaques on the wall. God bless me. I’ve got enough to, to go around. Yeah, I bet. And she said something to me. She said, one day, one of my boys, there was three of us, was going to go to the White House. It was 1987. One of my boys was going to go to the White House, and when he does, he’s going to know how to talk.
The king’s English language not he’s gonna have to talk and his shoes are gonna be shined. Now, my mother was beautiful. Number one, we all think our mother’s beautiful, right? Cuz if a man’s shoes weren’t shined, she wouldn’t go out with him. I was that boy.
Matt: You’ve got a pin on your lapel there.
Toby: On her death bed. And Cufflinks. And Cufflinks. The president of Cufflinks. On her deathbed with cancer. Wow. I was at the White House, and she called one of the local guys in Connersville, called her, Larry Alexander, great basketball player in the 50s, called her, my mother Beener, said, Beener, he said how you feeling?
She said, oh, Larry, I’m, reports back to me not doing too well. Did you have a TV set on? She said, yeah. She said, can you get CNN? She said, so she called the nurse in, the nurse put on CNN. And there was her oldest son, the first born, the chosen one, not with one, but four presidents of the United States of America.
And I was on this front side row. That’s incredible. That was Bush, George Bush, president Carter from current and president Ford and president Clinton and Al Gore. There was only one of three black males in that room. One was late Ron Brown, and Ron Espy, former Commissary Secretary Ron Espy, was for agriculture.
It was on CNN. Your mom got to see it. And she saw that. And she got to see it. It passed shortly after that. That’s incredible. Yeah. What a moment. Making me emotional. That’s amazing. Yeah. I don’t tell you, you started it off. I appreciate you sharing. Great clip.
Matt: And I, one thing I would really regret if I didn’t ask.
Yeah. I’m really intrigued by your statement we can solve a lot of the world’s problems through business for peace and one trade deal at a time.
Can you expand a little bit on that philosophy?
Toby: Yeah representing the United States all over the world has just been an honor. Free trade agreements we’re going to have some more, coming up here, after the first of the year.
Costa Rica, as I said, I’ve been the only black who was an entrepreneur. Now there are blacks may have been there, but their career on my own small business, again, small business guy, woman, person, go ahead. And, but I always got all the world leaders. President Clinton once told me, President George W. Bush once told me, He said, we’re going to start having you coming in the room because everybody’s going to you before they come to us.
And I’m the President of the United States of America. True story for both of them. Wow. Yeah. Yeah I digress a little bit. I kept thinking, meeting all these people the world, all walks of life. I’ve met everybody literally all over the world. Literally.
And I just got along with them back in those days in Carnesville. Always talking to somebody. Always going around. And I said, man, we have these nice elaborate mills and everybody’s cool. Everybody’s, guards down a little bit. They’re talking business. We’re talking trade. Talking about how to improve trade access to markets and not about wars or battles and, I kept saying boy, there’s a, there’s an opportunity here, to know to do and each place I started going, I was doing that for the White House, for a great country in the U. S. Chamber of Commerce, for a great country going around. And I was on a plane going to Hawaii, on business it was a religious business at a particular time, side of Marine.
And we talked a little bit, and he told me where he was going at, and gave me his wife, and we talked, and his phone number, and what have you. And he said he said, words come out of your mouth are peace and trade, what you do. I said, yes sir. I said, Malichi Group Worldwide we facilitate cross border trade and investment deals.
We, we bring those deals together around the world. We’re over 70 countries around the world. And I really enjoy it and I do this for the White House and administration. And for the U. S. Chamber of Commerce and other organizations I belong to. And he said, the world’s problems can be solved over a meal.
I said, yes sir, I’ve been doing it for a lot of years and we talk about trade. And I said, wow. You can solve the world’s problems over a meal. One trade deal at a time. I
love that. Yeah, I do.
Dr. Malichi. I got the global, I got the name the Global Godfather. Yeah, Global Godfather.
Matt: I was just about to say, Dr. Malichi, Global Godfather, Mr. Talkative. Yeah. Get up Mastermind. It has been a pleasure and I could talk to you for hours if if you would allow me to do but we are. To our last couple minutes here And I was hoping we could do Nate’s favorite part of the show my favorite part of the show It’s called the lightning round.
All right, let’s do it. These are quick hit questions. No wrong answers Let’s do it
Nate: Before we get to the lightning round. I just want it we had This is in my head right now. So we had mr. Talkative senior superlative most talk. What was your senior superlative? Oh,
Toph: Lord have mercy.
Matt: I don’t even, I don’t remember. Most be beautiful. I was most beautiful. Best .
Toph: I was rebelling so hard my junior year of senior year of high school.
Toby: That’s a whole nother and that is the mark of a great entrepreneur. . And I said it’s just real re quick rebel against the system, re the system.
I just wanna say it’s real quick. Ta and I did a little resource back. We’re so honored to have you in Indiana because you are really. It’s known around the world in your venture capital business and your ventures, and you’re really our top flight. We’re glad to I’m glad to hear other people talk business circles, honors, we’re honored to have you here and what you’ve brought here.
You could have gone anywhere in the country, but you’re here with us. I appreciate that.
Nate: Yes, sir. Let’s go. I love it. It
Toph: makes me emotional all over again.
Nate: This has been a rollercoaster of an episode for me. It’s been so great. It’s spectacular. Let’s do the lightning round. Let’s do it. All right.
Outside of the amazing entrepreneurial ecosystem, what is Indiana known what is Indiana known for?
Toby: Oh, it’s gotta be quick, right? Quick. Sports Sports.
Sports Basketball. Basketball. Who’s
Toby: IUPUI because IUPUI because I’m a hall of famer
Go Go Jags.
Nate: Baby I love that. Is he also a Hall of Famer?
Broad Ripple guy? Anyone?
Toby: Yeah. I was 1970, there we go. Hall of Famer.
Nate: That’s a whole other story to go. How he went from Vincennes to IUPUI and Hall of Famer. We’ll get on that in episode two. What is a hidden gem in Indiana?
Toby: It’s people. We’re too damn quiet here. We need to brag and talk more about what we do here.
Nate: That was a high five we got on the nuts. Yeah. Yes, absolutely.
Toby: You’re so right. We got great people here. Oh my god.
Nate: And finally, who is someone we need to keep on our radar? Someone who is doing big things.
Toby: In Indiana? Doesn’t have to be. Oh. Wow. I’d say Toph. Yeah. This dude. Because, he’s the epicenter.
He’s a catalyst for what every business needs right now. Money. Access to capital. McKenzie just laid off a bunch of people, cutting back on salaries. Boston Consulting Group is. J. P. Morgan is going to do a thing that they’re looking for partners for their private equity group that they’re coming up with.
Mild Corporation, General Motors Corporation. Read Financial Times. Everybody’s looking for my right where we’re a little, we’re in need of it, we’re going to be around. So I’d have to say that it’s been something that’s carried us on close to the money. Yeah.
Matt: Christopher Day.
That’s the first on this podcast, but I
Toph: humbled here.
Toby: Right here in the nation’s nucleus and another guy that I like it’s here locally that’s doing great things is Emil Ekiyor
Matt: for three
Toby: before yeah, we all are good friends.
Oh, yeah, and he’s got credible. He’s incredible. It’s hard He’s doing things.
He doesn’t want credit for it. He’s building ecosystem. So you have You know, both sides of that equation though. Yeah, I love it.
Matt: I can’t wait to read the the headlines When you get the nobel
Toby: laureate Thank you. I invite you guys got to come. Oh, absolutely
Toph: We’ll bring some bottles of red wine, too
Toby: Oh, hey I will say can say one thing a little intimidated
Matt: to bring a good enough bottle of wine for you.
Toby: No I’m a brother if it’s red, we’ll drink it Just real quick. Dr. Mark Utzler who was a vice president of a st. Claire Christian university. The oldest sect of the Orthodox Catholic church are tied to the Vatican. Last year on my 72nd birthday, the Columbia club. Honored me with the international peace medallion.
Oh my gosh, so i’m one step closer
Matt: You’re gonna get it.
Nate: You’re gonna get it.
Matt: Thanks Congratulations, and so much for sharing your time and your stories here today. It’s been an honor having you on get in I
Toby: Tough calls. I tell him tough calls. I come and so the honors him and man, I read about you and the great things that you’re doing.
I read about Nate and the great things you’re doing and former athletes and we all and again, sports, another way to solve the world’s problems through sports. Yeah, absolutely. The coach are playing and absolutely. And so it’s just a real Time to talk about something that no one’s really ever asked me to talk about in the length of time.
Thank you, Dr. Neal. I’d love to do it again. Can I say goodbye for closing marks? Yes. Have a successful day, and think globally. We doze, but never close. I love that. Perfect.
Matt: That is a perfect way to end. Mic drop.
This has been Get In, a Powder Kik production in partnership With elevate ventures. And we want to hear from you.
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