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Woman leaps into creative side of business (video)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A few weeks ago, Tiffany Finkton gave a talk on a subject for which she might be Exhibit A: the art of balancing multiple lives.

Her talk was hosted by Digiso, a multimedia collaborative located in West Virginia State University's Economic Development Center at 1506 Kanawha Blvd. W.

About two weeks later, Finkton -- one of the founding Digiso "anchors" -- was back at the center with a launch party for her new company, Social and Digital Mediation, a consulting firm for the social-media-powered age.

All that is in addition to her existing outfit, the Talented Entertainment Group, which showcases her skills as Tiffany "Talented" Finkton, a hip-hop dancer and teacher, songwriter and music producer.

So, what's her main focus: performing or running a business? Try both.

"I'm just here to make a difference -- that's in both categories," says Finkton, a seasoned hip-hop dancer and dance battle veteran who you'd be wary to challenge in battle unless you have your best game on.

"A lot of time people say let's make a business on this creative side. The business side, I want to make a difference too," she said. "There are far too many people afraid of technology, afraid of social media."

Finkton, an Indianapolis native, came to West Virginia on a basketball scholarship at West Virginia State University, where she was a standout player. She was one of the speakers at her own graduation ceremony in December 2010.

She found work at Best Buy, where she kept up a busy schedule, helping people figure out new technology -- an iPad, say -- they had purchased but which confused and confounded them.

"But they're going to return it because part of them feels like they can't do it, they can't learn it," she said.

Someone should be there to help them, she thought, not to mention guiding people through the sprawl of social media and how best to use it in one's personal or business life: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linked In, the next new thing.

She played around with the word "media" while planning her new company -- online at www.socialdigitalmediation.com -- and then settled on "mediation" because that, in essence, was her aim.

"Really, I'm solving a dispute between technology and humans. A lot of time in the middle of that is fear," said Finkton. "That's really why I started Social and Digital Mediation."

She went to her bosses at Best Buy in June and said she was leaving to pursue some of these hopes and dreams. She was 24.

"People were looking at me like I was crazy when I said I was leaving Best Buy. The GM was, like, 'So you're going to another company?'"

No, she responded. "I think I'm just going to take the entrepreneur path."

It's not like she doesn't have enough to do. An interview with her took place the day after she had finished teaching a week-long hip-hop summer dance workshop at West Virginia State.

"I had a kid look at me yesterday and he was like, 'You're my favorite dancer, and you're my favorite teacher.' That response from a kid -- that means a lot," said Finkton.

"In my mind, I don't feel right having a dream I'm trying to reach if I'm not kind of pulling somebody else along to do the same thing. I should be inspiring someone else to do it too."

Toward that end, she hopes her creative and business ventures create opportunity not just for Talented, her stage persona, and not just for Tiffany Finkton, entrepreneur, but for other people as well.

"I really want to provide jobs, honestly. I say this thing: 'Don't create crews, create jobs.' I want to get to a point where I can actually create a job for people, where they can actually get paid for their creativity and paid for sitting around running social media -- and teach them life doesn't have to be about you sitting and working all these hours and just feeling tired and hating and dreading work."

She encourages people to stop dreaming about their dreams, which just keeps them on a back burner. It was a message she reiterated at her event on multiple lives.

"What I was trying to get across to other people was how we put things on the back burner. Or how you might have a passion that you keep putting off and putting off. A quote from John Wooden says: 'If you don't have time to do it now, when will you have time to do it right?' It says to me that no time is more perfect than now."

For her own part, she hopes to find success both as a businesswoman and artist.

"I really just want to be successful. If it's music, that will probably be my number one, because I love to perform, I love to be on stage. Other than my teaching or helping someone, no place feels better than just being on stage, in front of somebody, being nervous. It's just a good feeling to me.

"If I could take music and take dance to the next level as an artist brand, that's what I would want to do. And being able to do my side company, to have a company that I own."

Now that she has stepped out on her own, Finkton is ready for whatever comes. "I feel like I have a gift. And stepping out on faith is a gift in itself," she said.

"Hey, I don't have kids. I don't see a way to fail right now. What's the worst that could happen? Move back on my mom's couch?"

She laughs, adding: "She wants me to move back on her couch anyway."

Find Tiffany Finkton at her personal Twitter at @oddlytalented and for her social media company at @socdigmediation.

Reach Douglas Imbrogno at douglas@cnpapers.com or 304-348-3017.


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