Precious Williams Defied the Odds—Surviving a Rough Childhood, Earning a Law Degree and Becoming a Master Pitcher, Speaker, Author and Corporate Trainer

May 14, 2024 | Member Spotlight


Precious Williams has an exuberance that fills up a room. She’ll usually address you with “Hey, Hey!” or, if you are a woman, “Hello Queen!” She’s a celebrated speaker, author, corporate coach and “#KillerPitchMaster.” Surprisingly, it is her openness about her struggles in life that makes her so wildly effective and successful in inspiring and helping others to pitch their ideas with confidence. After much adversity in her early life, with the love and support of her grandparents, she graduated at the top of her class and became the first person in her family to earn both a bachelor’s and advanced degree. She practiced law, founded two businesses, appeared on Shark Tank and became a 13-time national pitch champion—and then became an alcoholic and homeless until she found sobriety seven years ago. Today, Precious is the CEO and founder of Perfect Pitches by Precious, speaking, inspiring and helping others.

You are very open about your difficult early life. Can you please share about your beginnings?

Precious: I grew up in the inner city of St. Louis, Missouri. My parents were young when they had me. They served in the Army. My mother didn’t really like her life, and my father was a drug addict. My mother would often tell me that I was ugly, stupid and I’d never amount to anything. And when she threw my father out, he was no longer around to protect me. I was beaten all the time by my mom.

But inside, I just had a feeling I was somebody. I don’t know how to explain it. I just knew. I dreamed of living in New York City. I dreamed of writing the great American novel. I dreamed of hosting television shows—all the things that seem impossible in the ‘hood.

My mother threw me out of the house naked and bleeding when I was 12 years old, because she tried to kill me. I picked myself up and walked 2 miles to my aunt’s house and collapsed on her front porch. The police were called. I was taken out of her custody and sent over to live with my father and his girlfriend, and that was a nightmare in and of itself, because my dad was still a drug addict. I was angry. I felt that if I had to deal with darkness, I’d rather do it with my mom. I might be able to eat there.

When I was 15 years old, my grandparents asked my father if they could take me in, and I did not want to go. I’m glad I didn’t make that decision because, from the time I entered their home to the time I left when I was 18 to go to college, I had nothing but love. I never had to worry about where my next meal would come from. I never worried about my safety.

My grandmother drove me to school and back every day. I was never out of their sight unless I was at school. I couldn’t go over to other people’s houses because they wanted to make sure they were protecting me. They called me their “golden child.” And they were just wonderful parents. They were retired and had time. My grandmother nurtured me. She told me, “When you speak, people listen.” She believed in me. She understood the assignment! Both my grandparents were great, but my grandmother was like the best mom ever, and I’m named after her, too.

That’s truly a remarkable story. Was it difficult to adjust to such a loving home?

Precious: Yes, it was difficult at first, really difficult. I couldn’t believe it, but I eventually leaned into it. When I arrived, my soul was dark. I was angry and vengeful. One time after my grandmother yelled at me for something, I started packing myself up to leave. She came to me and asked what I was doing. I told her that I knew she was going to put me out. She snatched me up in her bosom and said, “I love you. You ain’t going nowhere. I’m not ever going to put you out, not my baby, not my golden child, not my Queen Bee.” And she never did. I remember I could smell her perfume, White Diamonds by Elizabeth Taylor. She was always smelling of White Diamonds.

You left when you went to college?

Precious: Yep. I graduated valedictorian, class of 1997 and went off to Spelman College on a full scholarship.

What did you study?

Precious: I started off as a Psychology major. But then I read the poem, “I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day” by Gerard Manley Hopkins. I became a voracious reader and switched to an English major. I read everything from Shakespeare to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and more.

You then got accepted to law school at Georgetown University. What happened there?

Precious: That was hard. I got kicked out of law school. Do you know how many people who get kicked out of law school, and are black too? I was there during September 11th. It was a stressful time to be in Washington, DC. Part of it was that stress. But the other part was that Spelman College was very welcoming, although, academically, it was quite rigorous. Georgetown is a very political university. Nobody in my family was in politics. Nobody had high-paying jobs. They’re not ambassadors, mayors or anything like that.

And the students around me seemed to only talk about the number of pages they read or how long they studied, which were not bad things. But at the time, it felt like I wasn’t meeting real people.

I thought that coming from my background, I didn’t belong there. It was a deep insecurity in me. I went away on my birthday. I got scared and didn’t want to go back. So by the time I came back on March 15, 2002, I’d been disenrolled. It was difficult. I had to go back home and live with my granddaddy. A lot of my family had told him that I really wasn’t the golden child and that it was a fluke. It was hard to deal with.

But you did go to law school after all?

Precious: Yes, one of my mentors graduated first in his class at Rutgers. I was telling him how I felt, and he sent me over to Rutgers to meet with the dean. The dean believed in me. He pointed out how I had been accepted to prestigious schools and received Presidential scholarships, and he convinced me it was not because I was black. He offered me a full scholarship, room, tuition and board and bar review expenses. And so my whole education was funded.

What kind of law did you practice after graduating?

Precious: At first, general business law and then eventually, I got into medical malpractice products and liability tax. I clerked for two judges. I had my own firm. Let’s be clear though, it was a little office, and I didn’t do it for long! I was bored. I could not imagine going to court from 9 to 5 all day, every day. I get those who can. It’s just not me. That was when I realized I never had a job last longer than a year in my entire life. Never.

The fact that I’ve been an entrepreneur all this time validates why things just never clicked with me. I need structure, but I have to have different things happening.

How did you go from practicing law to becoming a business owner?

Precious: I was still practicing law when I met three amazing brothers. One of them happened to be a famous actor. Despite me being 327 pounds, he loved me, all of me. He’s the one who inspired me to start Curvy Girlz Lingerie. The idea just came to me, and it felt right.

While I was practicing law, I started putting things together for this idea and writing the business plan. I started to do primary and secondary research. I went to the Curve Expo at the Javits Center in New York. There were a lot of things I was doing behind the scenes.

Although I was putting my all into it, I had no money. I needed an investor. My family was not interested in backing me. I ended up pitching the idea to producers at MSNBC, never once thinking it would turn into me being on Your Business with JJ Ramberg. After one 54-second pitch, I ended up walking away with half a million dollars. I went on to win 13 national pitch competitions. And then people wanted me to teach them how to do what I do naturally. I started Perfect Pitches by Precious, coaching others on how to pitch. It was a wild ride.

You have spoken openly about how you went through a very difficult time after your initial success. What happened?

Precious: When I started Curvy Girlz, I was deeply insecure. It’s hard to run something like that and create a direct home party sales model. I was ignorant about how to run a business. Also, I wasn’t very good with money. I brought in a business partner, which turned out to be a bad decision.

I was so blessed to be on Season 8 of Shark Tank. And I shot a movie about coaching in Santa Monica around the same time. But I started drinking to calm my nerves. I couldn’t believe everything was happening for me. It was a lot. I feared success. When we were filming at night, I would walk up to the market and buy some cheap champagne and make mimosas. I just could not deal, and I didn’t know how to tell anybody. Feeling like I had to be “on” like that was too much. I dealt with it the best I could at that time.

My business partner was very upset that they didn’t feature her on Shark Tank, but she didn’t pitch, and she didn’t start the company. When they came and did that home visit, that’s when I realized I’m the heart of the show. I realized they had to build the story around me. She was very mad. We got into it, and she tossed me on the street. I became homeless. I was walking around homeless with my suitcases, becoming even more stressed and drinking more.

Then the love of my life, the actor, died during this time. I was filled with grief. I really thought life was over. I was like, there’s no point in me being alive. He’s not here. My reason for living is gone. I lost everything. So I planned to go back to St. Louis and kill myself. I tried to take my life on my 38th birthday. It was real, and it was ugly.

But I’m 45 now, and thankfully that didn’t work out. Luckily, there was a queen here in New York, my social worker. She found me and talked to my aunt and to the hospital. They put me on a greyhound bus and brought me back to New York. I went to a Crisis Respite Center for four days and then eventually went to The Bowery Mission Women’s Center. I was there for almost two years. And then I went to live in my pastor’s home for five years. And I’m super grateful to now be seven years clean and sober.

That’s extraordinary. How did you rebuild your life?

Precious: I realized my life was not over and the second chapter could be better than the first. I had to believe in myself when other people didn’t. I just kept going. I knew pitching was the way. If I could teach more women I had come from rock bottom, they would believe in themselves, too. I had this sense that if I got here the first time, I was going to do it again the second time.

I restarted Perfect Pitches by Precious. The difference was that the focus wasn’t going to be on me. It was going to be on them—my clients—and making sure their dreams came true, and that they could win money to grow their businesses and scale.

Today, I’m an author, speaker and trainer to individual and corporate clients. I coach people on pitching and am known as the #KillerPitchMaster. I don’t have an Ivy League degree, and I’ve taught at Harvard and Columbia Law School and Business School. I don’t have a tech degree, and I’m training the sales teams at Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Federal Reserve Bank, HubSpot and SiriusXM!

Do you approach life differently sober?

Precious: Yes, I have a great support network. I pray. I have a therapist and psychiatrist and my true friends. If I’m struggling, I let them know. I struggle now more with anxiety or overwhelm. But if I do think about alcohol, I think the thought all the way through and where it may take me. A Snapple Mango Madness or Sprite is about as crazy as it gets now with me!

I feel I’m still here today because of my purpose. I was supposed to go through hard times. I was supposed to go through all of it to know how strong I am, but also to show other women what’s possible. I’m finally happy in my own skin.

How did NAWBO come into your life?

Precious: I applied for the NAWBO/AARP Minority Owned Women’s Business “Power Your Dream” Scholarship a few years ago, and I actually got it. Then I got to teach in the program about pitching, helping to mentor other women. Last year, NAWBO Chicago hired me to be their keynote for the 40th Annual Celebration of Achievement awards. That was such an honor and they treated me so well.

My involvement in NAWBO has been financially prosperous. It’s been relationally prosperous, too. It’s been truly the best of both worlds. NAWBO has blessed me with so many opportunities.  I want to pay it forward and tell everyone I know about it.

How was it getting your business certified by the NAWBO Institute as a Certified Women’s Business Enterprise?

Precious: The great thing about NAWBO Institute certification is that they help you through the process. Others were struggling with the process, too. But Kimberly Snodgrass and her team were able to meet us where we were at. We had meetings. Once I got that application in, I had the interview and got certified. It was such a crowning achievement. I felt like I was really a part of NAWBO.

How do you feel about being one of three finalists for NAWBO Woman Business Owner of the Year?

Precious: When I got that email, I was nearly hyperventilating because I couldn’t believe it. There are so many great women’s businesses. I just could not imagine. I’ve only been involved with NAWBO for several years. I cried for an hour! There’s a lot of things that are fake, fried and fugazi—but not this! When I told my friends, they cried, too. The other two finalists are amazing. I had graphics made up for all three of us. These are the big three!

I wasn’t supposed to be here anyway, so every day is a blessing. I am doing it right this second time around. Experience has been my greatest teacher.

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