The Catalyze podcast: SEVEN Talk, by Antonio McBroom ’08: “Pardon My Passion”

Podcast | February 7, 2023
Antonio McBroom ’08 delivering his SEVEN Talk at the 2022 Alumni Forum in Chapel Hill. (Photo by Leon Godwin)

Today’s episode is a recording of a SEVEN Talk from the 2022 Alumni Forum. This talk, given by Antonio McBroom ’08, is entitled, “Pardon My Passion.” Antonio is a franchise developer at Ben & Jerry’s.

Listen to the episode.

You can watch all of the SEVEN Talks on our YouTube channel.

More about Antonio

Antonio McBroom ’08 is the franchise developer of Ben & Jerry’s with multi-unit double-digit retail and business locations throughout the Southeast and Midwest. Antonio grew up in rural North Carolina and began his journey with Ben & Jerry’s while he was a scholar at Carolina, “scooping his way up” from minimum-wage scooper to shift leader to shop manager. In 2008, he seized the opportunity to purchase the Chapel Hill shop, becoming the youngest franchisee in the company’s history. Antonio and his “Team Primo” have propelled and innovated the off-premise catering category by double-digit sales growth annually.

While becoming a business owner, Antonio taught mathematics through the Teach For America program in North Carolina, as well as internationally with World Teach in South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. His passion for education continues through the Myron Headen Scholarship Program, founded in honor of his mother.

As a partner with the Vickers Bennett Group, Antonio is the lead curator and developer for multiple 100+ acre land assemblages. He plays an instrumental role in the Vickers Village mixed-use development project, by creating innovative affordable housing solutions with a community of 180+ homes, dozens of condos, and a commercial retail village center.

Antonio’s strength of character makes him a standout beyond his business endeavors, including his outstanding volunteerism in the communities in which he does business. In addition to serving others, he is involved with “we are” (working to extend anti-racist education) for social justice reform. Since 2020, Antonio has served as a member of the board of the Chatham Economic Development Corporation (EDC). Antonio’s professional and civic leadership has earned him many accolades; most notable are: the 2018 Black Enterprise Franchisee of the Year Award, the 2021 UNC Black Alumni’s Harvey E. Beech Outstanding Alumni Award, and the prestigious Ben & Jerry’s “Big O” 2021 Operator of the Year Award. Antonio holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and African American Studies from the University of North Carolina. He currently resides in North Carolina with his wife, Katie, and their two children.

How to listen

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Catalyze is hosted and produced by Sarah O’Carroll for the Morehead-Cain Foundation, home of the first merit scholarship program in the United States and located at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. You can let us know what you thought of the episode by finding us on Twitter or Instagram at @moreheadcain or you can email us at

Episode Transcription

So since we’ve got the same uncle and we’re cousins, we can have a little family talk, right? I named my first company Primo, and primo is a double entendre in black urban culture. Primo means top shelf crème de la crème, if you will. But in Spanish, primo is cousins. So we’re primos, you are my Morehead primos. We have a similar DNA, and with that, we run on the same operating system, if you will. Like Apple products run on Mac OS, but without the a, MC OS in all operating systems, they need updates and upgrades, right? Like this triennial is a major system upgrade. I mean, the conversations we have, the ideas that are shared are second to none. So I want to give you some other ways that you can make sure you stay MC OS optimized between now and our next triennial. So, first thing’s first: big annual reboots. Think about it. This is in the very fabric of our program and how it’s designed. Think about how impactful your summer experience was on you and your perspective. I argue you need this every single year.

So several years ago, I got a 40 Under 40 award, and with that came this scholarship to attend the John Grinnell Executive Leadership Jumpstart Program in Wilmington. So it was like a $10,000 scholarship, right? And as a young professional, I would have never invested in my reboot at that time, but boy, this experience was next level. I mean, not only did it allow me to put the phone to the side and unplug from technology for a week or so, which I needed, it also really helped me with self-awareness and learning more about my professional strengths and some of my blind spots. And most importantly, it really, through kind of hypnosis and coaching and therapy, tapped into my subconscious and helped me learn about some of those false negative and limiting beliefs that were holding me down. I mean, this was an impact amplifier for me. So much so, I’ve sent, on my own dime, ten people from my organization through this program. And there are countless programs like this that’s just waiting on you to plug into it. I mean, Outward Bound has a professional series that I’ve done, and one of my favorites right now, it’s a little vacation and some development and rejuvenation. It’s called Rancho La Puerta. It’s in Tacate, Mexico. And this is like an alternative wellness and learning retreat.

So pick your flavor, no pun intended from the ice cream guy, but big annual reboot is a must. All right, app number two that you need to download on your MC OS is what I call tours of duty. This is inspired by a book called The Alliance, written by one of the cofounders of LinkedIn, and it talks about the work and endeavors we have. It’s kind of like tours of duty, like the military almost, right? And there are three different kinds of tours of duty. You’ve got transitional tours of duty. These are kind of like stop gaps. Like, normally six to twelve months transitioning. Then you’ve got transformational tours of duty, just like they sound. This is a tour that you’re supposed to be transformed and you’re supposed to transform something about the endeavor that you’re working on. These are normally three to five years in time. And then the final tour of duty is called a foundational tour of duty. This is kind of like a marriage, right? Like at the core, we’re connected. I am the endeavor. The endeavor is me. And so why is this important for Morehead-Cain? Well, the other side of this passion sword that we carry around is that you guys can get really dialed into about any and everything sometimes.

And it’s important that you know what kind of tour you’re embarking on. You don’t want to take a transitional tour and just carry it on and on and on because of your passion, right? You don’t want to bring transformational energy to transitional endeavors. So I’d ask the room, think about one of your main endeavors right now. What kind of tour of duty is it? Is it a transitional tour that maybe it’s time to graduate up from, or is it a transformational tour? And if it’s a transformational tour, where are you on the tour right now? Are you on the first leg? Are you in the middle or toward the end? If you’re in the middle or toward the end, I’d encourage you to start talking about and having some conversations about what’s my next tour, what’s my next tour of duty as I complete this one.

So my third and final app for Morehead-Cain OS optimization. This one is kind of like a suite of tools like Microsoft Office and you’ve got Excel and Word. And so this is a suite of tools. You’ve got SAVERS, Pyramid of Mastery, and PQ. We’ll walk you through each three of these tools.

SAVERS, it’s a routine. It’s a morning routine that as many days as you can start your day like this. It’s great. It plugs in perfectly with Morehead-Cain. It’s an acronym: Silence Affirmations Visualizations Exercise Reading and Scribing. Now, the reason this is so good with MC OS is because it’s flexible like you. Can do a five minute SAVER routine, or you can go mega-zen like I do. Sometimes I go five hours, right? But it’s very flexible. Google it, look it up, and see if it fits with what you’re doing. It’s highly compatible with MC OS.

The next one is called the Pyramid of Mastery. And this is world-renowned author and motivational speaker Tony Robbins’s best brainchild, if you ask me. The Pyramid of Mastery, it talks about these seven areas of our life that we’re in constant pursuit of mastery and balance in. It’s kind of shaped like a pyramid, right? And so you’ve got physiology, emotions, relationships, time, work. Finance is separate and then contribution, and they’re really connected. Like, I can’t be the best that I can be emotionally if I’m not physically feeling well. It’s hard to do. In order for me to show up as a leader, I need to be in my personal and professional relationships.

I need to be pretty straight, emotionally myself. In order for me to truly be a master at time management, I can’t have relationships that waste a lot of my time, right. And I tend to do pretty good at work whenever I’m using my time wisely. And when I do good at work, my finances grow, and I’m able to contribute in major ways to my church and Morehead and things that I’m passionate about. So this for me is like every 90 days, every quarter, like, mirror that I self-reflect in. And so this is the Pyramid of Mastery.

And so the last of these tools that I share with you today is something called PQ, or Positive intelligence. So this is based on the research and book by an author named Shirzad. And it really talks about your brain and your mind and positive intelligence, kind of like you’ve got these two areas of your brain. You’ve got the saboteur region and the sage region, okay? The saboteur region is kind of your fear area. It’s your reptilian brain, where characteristics like being controlling. Like, not that anybody in this room knows anything about that, right? But if you did, being controlling is back here in the saboteur region, or being a stickler or, the most common one, being judgmental. It says we spend so much time not even consciously doing it, but judging ourselves, judging others, judging circumstances, right? So all that’s here in the saboteur.

Now, the sage region is where positive characteristics like creativity and empathy and innovation live. And if you imagine being in a gym and for years, day after day, you just lift with one arm over and over and maybe you do something here every 90, but you do this like every day. That’s your gym routine at some point, like, you get really weak and you get really strong, innocent imbalance. And so PQ is an actual app on your phone. It’s like a six week basic training boot camp for your mind and your mental fitness, and it helps you become more aware of this saboteur behavior so you can turn it off and stop building that muscle and really build this sage region up. And so I’ll give you ways, like, I finished the boot camp several years ago, but I still use some of these tactics in my training right now.

One of the things I do, I find myself in conundrums quite often, right, as an entrepreneur business person, getting into sticky situations. And what I do is I consult with my elder wiser self. Literally, I’ve got a meditation room at my house here. My wife, she’s very mad about me taking a whole room just for meditation. I’ve got a meditation room in my house, and I go in there, and I talk with my elder, wiser self. What would Antonio 20 years from now say about this conundrum? And here’s, I think, the best one I do, and it’s really good for Morehead-Cain because we can be really hard on ourselves. We can really be hard on ourselves. And the other one I do is I love myself. Like, literally, I get a picture of some time when you were a child, sometime before the age of ten, and, like, spend some time loving that picture, loving that child, looking at that child, and appreciating the curiosity and the creativity of that child, because that child is you. And so, in closing, it should be clear I’m a super advocate for strengths-based leadership as Morehead-Cain primos.

Our key strength is our passion. So I want you to cultivate it with habits like PQ and SAVERS. I want you to protect it with tours of duty, and I want you to upgrade it every freaking year, because, you have to forgive me for my passion, but Morehead-Cain is a foundational tour of duty for me. And you being your best self is directly connected with my legacy. As our president Chris often champions, Ubuntu is a South African proverb. I am who I am because you are who you are. So Ubuntu, thank you, and may God bless each and every one of you.