Finding His Groove in Hip Hop Entrepreneurship: Lessons from Tom Hill of FFEA

IMG_20160507_195953.jpg

As an executive coach and organizational development practitioner, I have always been intrigued by entrepreneurs and their journey.  Back in 2010, I met Tom “Showbiz” Hill the founder of Fuzion Force Entertainment Academy, Charlotte’s top hiphop dance studio for kids.  The Charlotte Bobcats (now the Hornets) had announced try-outs for a new junior dance team that would dance during timeouts and at halftime during some of the Bobcat games.  The try-outs for the “Paw Patrol” were held at a dance studio in Matthews and attracted about seventy five kids age six to twelve.  My daughter who had no formal dance training was determined to try out having heard about the auditions.  Reluctantly, we brought her to the auditions.  After a three hour training session and audition the team of fourteen was announced.  I was super excited that my daughter had made the team.  In addition to several excited parents, there was this one guy high fiving several of the kids who made the team.  I soon learned that the energetic mid-40s guy was Tom Hill.  Tom had been training five of the fourteen kids who made the team.  He was a hiphop dancer himself and a restaurant manager who also did several odd jobs.  He had started working with boys and girls who wanted to learn to hiphop dance.  Without a studio he relied on the small gym yoga room at his apartment complex off Harris Boulevard.

The five boys and girls who had been training with Tom were amazing dancers.  My daughter was clearly not at their level, but nor were the rest of the Paw Patrol kids.  As they learned choreography and trained for the Bobcat performances, Tom would attend and cheer on the entire group.  He sought out my daughter, Olivia and asked that she dance at his gym/studio with the other kids.  He promised to get them other opportunities to dance in Charlotte and to prepare them for the junior competition circuit.  From the start, I loved Tom’s positive energy and the way he encouraged the kids.  He used positive reinforcement to bring out the best in the kids while focusing on the technical components of being a good dancer.  Tom referred to the kids and the parents as a “Dance Family”.  The success of the Paw Patrol attracted other kids to Tom’s gym and soon he began renting studio space at Pops, a dance studio off Gilead Rd.  Within a few months, Fuzion Force began to take off.  Tom went from six dancers to over twenty and needed his own space.

Fast forward to 2018 and Tom has two Charlotte, NC based dance studios and is expanding into a new larger main studio.  He has over 300 kids who dance at Fuzion Force and he has build an amazing reputation for Fuzion Force.  His dance teams have won regionals, nationals and even world titles.  Fuzion Force has opened the Charlotte Thanksgiving Day Parade, performed half time shows at the Carolina Panthers, performed at Bobcats games, performed at the CIAA and hundreds of other events in and around the Queen City.  Several kids from FFEA have moved to Hollywood to pursue entertainment careers.

Tom has a secret sauce that enables him to be so successful.  In the podcast below he shares his learnings and insights.  To learn more about Fuzion Force Entertainment Academy visit Fuzionforce.com