G31: Yohannan Terrell

Yohannan Terrell, otherwise known as Yogi, is an award-winning marketing professional. He excels in developing and implementing impactful campaigns and strategies built for success. A graduate of the Ohio State University, Yogi has used his education in psychology to apply to his understanding of perception and human behavior as it relates to engagement. This has translated into multiple awards for innovation and impact in the branding industry.

Education and exposure are just a few words that describe Yogi’s passion for impacting his community. He serves on many impactful boards in the city of Columbus, including GCAC, Board of Trustees, Short North Alliance, Board of Directors, Lincoln Theater Board of Trustees, Nationwide Children’s Hospital Development Board, Create Columbus Commission, and also a co-founding member of BLK Hack, a platform focused on exposing and educating minority entrepreneurs in technology, entertainment, and trends. He’s also the publisher of FlyPaper Magazine, an online media network that has serviced the local community with news and information relevant to the interests of urban Millennials for 10 years.

As a kid, Yohannan remembered his dad working four jobs to give them a good life. They lived in a middle-class neighborhood for a couple of years, and this is where he was introduced to racism. They only lived in that house for two years before Yogi’s dad left them—leading to the end of that family model that he expected for the rest of his life. After that, his dad fell into drugs hard and his mom fell into alcohol. Living with his mom on welfare, they moved homes every year for the next five years. Things were very hard, and Yogi was receiving abuse from all directions of his life. The thing that kept him going was the people he had around him.

As mentioned before, education and exposure were the keys in Yohannan’s life—if you don’t see any different, you won’t know any different—a lesson he carried throughout his life. He was smart, and he was surrounded by and connecting with kids who didn’t look like him and who had different opportunities. That showed him what possibilities were available to him. And in high school, he was assigned a mentor from child services who encouraged him to apply for college, and even paid for his application. She knew that this could be a way out for him and that he would want to be close to home—he had his son at 17 years old—so he applied to Ohio State and got in on a full-ride scholarship. That one instance changed his life.

Today, Yohannan tries to create waves in the universe that start to resonate outside of himself. FlyPaper is an online publication that was created out of the need to fill the void of media that connected to the urban culture in Columbus. BLK Hack was created to respond to the lack of connectivity for Black tech and Black startups. Everything he does today is centered around community and connection. He’s also helping to support people who are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 by providing More Than A Mask.

Being in the middle and connecting the dots between resources and the people who need them is what Yohannan loves the most—and it’s his superpower. He’s helping future generations make the connections that got him out of the limitations of his own upbringing that he happened upon by chance, in hopes that more and more people can reshape their future with the power of exposure and education.

What Brett asks:

  • [03:41] Can you tell me about your early childhood?
  • [21:24] How did you manage all of these traumatic events with such maturity?
  • [34:48] What was it like being a young father while in college?
  • [42:32] How did you get into your career and begin thriving as an entrepreneur?
  • [52:17] Can you share with us about BLK Hack, FlyPaper, and everything else you have a hand in today?

Lessons for intentional living:

  • Yohannan used to always tell people he just had bad luck because of all the bad that was happening in his life. At some point, he had projected that belief so much that people started to agree with him—and that became his label. Eventually, someone older told him that, if he kept focusing on having bad luck, he would just continue to bring bad luck into his life, and he didn’t want his life to get any worse than it was. That was his first introduction to using your mindset to change your environment.