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Take Your Shot (with Jessica O. Matthews)
About the Episode
On this week’s episode of Professional Troublemaker, we’re bringing you a conversation with Jessica O. Matthews that will give you the gems and the confidence you need to adopt this life habit of fear-fighting and professional troublemaking.
This week on I’m talking to Founder & CEO of Uncharted Power, award-winning scientist, and my Naija Voltron Squad sister Jessica O. Matthews. Her list of accolades is amazing. Some may throw around their intention to change the world; Jessica is out here doing the work.
I quickly became obsessed with her after seeing her speak at AfroTech 2016. To be honest, she reminded me of ME—and the rest is history.
Meanwhile, Jessica is MAKING history. The founder and CEO of the innovative and tech-forward energy company Uncharted Power —which raised a history-making $7 million, the most ever by a Black female startup founder—Jessica is the perfect blend of Black girl magic and science.
Jessica has two degrees from Harvard, Forbes 30 Under 30, Harvard Scientist of the Year, listed on over 12 patents and patents pending, including her first invention of the SOCCKET – an energy-generating soccer ball she invented at the age of 19. But Jessica is a professional troublemaker, not just for all she’s accomplished, but that she is committed to solving big problems and refuses to let people suffer or live a life that is less than if there is a way to solve the problem.
In this week’s episode, Jessica and I discuss how she moved past being just another Nigerian doctor wannabe (she spills some tea about her family drama), and stumbling in her freshman year, to hitting her stride at Harvard. She tells us firsthand what it’s like to feel like an imposter and how to find your confidence after a rocky start.
Jessica walks us through the school project that launched her career (a soccer ball that generates electricity) and how her Nigerian roots and unique personal experience with the country was the perfect lens for invention. She also shares how her background in psychology has informed her work in energy and tech, and what it’s really like to run a startup.
Jessica and I talk about why we feel Black women have been perfectly prepared to save the world, our shared obsession with Lovecraft Country (Hypolita!!!), and the important leaps that led to her company’s big pivot. Listen in on why—and how—you should take chances and be ready for risks. Jessica always knows what’s up and speaks straight to my soul in this episode.
• Blowing the first year at Harvard and being unprepared and intimidated.
• Two ways Jessica took control of her destiny and graduated strong at Harvard.
• How understanding Nigerians gave her the idea for a soccer ball that generates energy.
• What “luck” means to Jessica—and how she kept that energy flowing in her career.
• How you can take big risks and make mistakes—but still look cute.
• Getting a PhD in Google and the realities of running a startup.
• Why God is the investor who matters most.
• How Jessica pivoted her business plan from making energy to building healthy infrastructure, and rebranded her startup.
• Black women are the ultimate problem solvers. How they’re going to save the world.
• The gospel of Lovecraft Country.
• The beauty and power of Black men supporting Black women
• Why Jessica views herself as a professional troublemaker.
“Luck is laboring under correct knowledge.” – Jessica O. Matthews
“The trick to thinking big is to think small. Especially when you don’t really know where something’s going to go. We assume we have to have a plan fully baked out before we can launch something—but that’s not how life works.” – Jessica O. Matthews
“Maybe it’s actually good for the world to see that we’re not just magical. We’re actually just incredibly pragmatic, hard-working people. I want us to stop being so safe.” – Jessica O. Matthews
“The world is not a fixed porcelain structure. It is clay. And that’s it. There’s always a way to create something that works for you.” – Jessica O. Matthews
I use business, not as an end, but as a tool to have an impact. I treat God as my biggest investor.
What’s the ROI that you are giving God on the gifts he gave you?
Make money, do well, drive things forward. But as a person
can you look yourself in the mirror? Are you creating a better world for people?
Enough Black women need to fall. I want us to stop being so safe.
Let us look not so magical. We’re not going to move forward exponentially until we start taking some risks.
About the Guest
Jessica O. Matthews