HAS YOUR CHILDHOOD EVER INFLUENCED ANY OF YOUR VIEWS ON CREATIVITY?
My childhood has greatly impacted my views on creativity. Growing up in a small town in North Jersey I remember being selected to be in a magnet program in middle school for artistically talented students. Because of being in this program, I had the same classmates for three years so a bond was created that challenged my sense of creativity at an early age. Back then all we’d do would play basketball with dreams of going pro, watch anime shows like Dragon Ball Z and Naruto, and roast each other for our lack of a crisp hairline because $5 shape ups were expensive growing up. In every sense of the word I was forced to be creative just to outdo my classmates whether it was academically, physically through sports, or just being quick and witty with my comebacks. I think my childhood influenced how I view a lot of things now that I’m older.
HAVING THAT OUTLOOK ON CREATIVITY, DO YOU FEEL AS THOUGH OUR EXPERIENCES CREATES A FILTER FOR CREATIVITY? OR FUELS PEOPLE TO THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX AND BE INNOVATIVE AS POSSIBLE?
I think the only filters that exists for creatives are the filters we create for ourselves. Often time we shoot down our own ideas because we feel it’s already been done before but newsflash there’s nothing new under sun. “Good artists copy, great artists steal” is a line I’ve heard countless times growing up. I think it’s perfectly fair to take pre-existing ideas and incorporate your own unique style to it.
For me, I have a traditional background in marketing with a focus in entrepreneurship so I view things with a different set of eyes. Being creative for me as a marketer would mean disrupting the normal channels and funnels of how marketing is done.
“The best networking happens when people gather for a purpose other than networking, to learn and help one another grow and develop. Accomplishments can build your network only if other people are aware of them.”
WHEN WAS YOUR FIRST INTRODUCTION AND INTERACTION WITH THE MEDIA INDUSTRY?
I played sports in high school mainly football and track. I remember being on the sidelines before a football game and watched my teammates argue about who looked the “rawest.” Back then it was all about who had the best Nike cleats, VaporMax gloves and other gear. This happened so often it made me ask myself “what did Nike do as a brand to get people to be so obsessed with their products?” I did some research and learned about consumer behavior which then made me learn more about marketing which eventually became my focus in college.
It wasn’t until my junior year that I met my friend and mentor Brian Gerrard who’s like an older brother to me and introduced me to opportunities I was unaware of and gave me great career and life advice that helped me flourish through college.
My mentor really helped me learn more about the media and marketing industry and connected me with his network so I was exposed to cool young professionals that were really making moves in the industry at a young age that inspired me to be like them when I got older.
I landed my first marketing internship with the Brooklyn Nets & Barclay Center. That experience opened my eyes to the world of sports and entertainment and how the business really works. I challenged myself to make the most of my opportunity by constantly scheduling informational interviews with different executives to learn more about their background as well as ask them if they had any advice for an overly ambitious kid from Jersey.
I took their advice and the knowledge I gained to my next internship at Showtime Networks courtesy of the T. Howard Foundation, where I was a part of the digital marketing team.
I interned there throughout my senior year of college so I learned and met a lot of great people who invested in my development and gave me the opportunity to grow as a young professional. My sponsors at Showtime invested their time in me and provided me with a great level of reassurance that I vividly remember telling myself “This is definitely the industry for you! You have the experience and the support, you just have to execute!”
WHAT ARE SOME BENEFITS OF ACTIVE NETWORKING VS. DIGITAL NETWORKING?
I read this article that argued how “networking” is such an overrated term because no one really networks since it’s all about adding value.
If you admire someone that you follow on social media engaging with their content is great but it isn’t enough to create a genuine connection that’s valuable. Building a powerful network doesn’t require you to be an expert at networking. It just requires you to be an expert at something.
The best networking happens when people gather for a purpose other than networking, to learn and help one another grow and develop. Accomplishments can build your network only if other people are aware of them. So instead, focus on promoting your ideas and not yourself. Let your insights and your efforts— not your business cards — do the talking.
FOR YOUNG PROFESSIONAL WHO ARE JUST STARTING OFF IN THEIR CAREERS AND MAY FEEL AS THOUGH THEY DON’T HAVE ENOUGH EXPERIENCE FOR “NETWORKING,” WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE SOME STEPS THEY COULD TAKE TOWARDS ENHANCING THEIR VALUE?
Julian Mitchell one my favorite writers who constantly drops gems always says, “never underestimate the power of your perspective.” As young professionals, we have to realize that our opinions and thoughts carry weight. Brands pay top dollars for our perspective so we have to capitalize on our own thoughts and views.
Everyone has something unique they can offer and it goes back to identifying your talent and crafting it over time. You’re able to identify your talent based on the people your work impacts or the request you constantly get for doing things that naturally comes easy to you. Networking is all about adding value and that value could be anything.
For example, let’s just say that in your spare time you help your friends with their resumes and cover letters. Maybe you should consider turning that into a business and to further create value for people. If you’re going to a networking event and people ask you the “what do you do” question (which I hate) you could easily say “I’m passionate about professional development and in my spare time I help people with their resumes and cover letters.”
My advice to young professionals is to first not fall for the “what do you do?” trap which is a question people ask to gauge if you’re worth talking to or not. To avoid falling for that trap flip the script and talk about what inspires you? What makes you feel the fullest version of yourself? Do that and you’ll be able to make more authentic connections when you’re out and about.
WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IS YOUR GIFT?
Well that’s something I’m still trying to figure out but based on how my life is going now, I feel like I’m naturally good at connecting people; being that bridge builder. I tend to be that person that introduces people to opportunities that I know would be the right fit for them. I think I naturally find ways to add value for people I know.
If I know you’re in need of something or there’s a service I know that could be of help I make it my goal to make that connection. A part of me would just feel bad for not attempting to create an introduction especially when the connection is an obvious match. I just want people to win and if I know of a way to help facilitate that then I’ll do everything I can to make it happen.
WHAT OTHER CITY COULD YOU SEE YOURSELF THRIVING AND LIVING IN?
Well my former supervisor said I come across as the kind of person who would really thrive in San Francisco. Mind you, I’ve never been to the west coast, but he suggested that San Fran may be the place for me. So, that’s a whole “TBD” until I go out there next month for Afro Tech.
For some reason, I could really see myself out west. I’ve been in the east coast my entire life so I’m open to a new scenery and the opportunities that comes with it.
YOU TOUCHED ON CREATIVITY AS IT RELATES TO INNOVATION AND “CHANGING THE GAME.” WHAT’S YOUR DEFINITION OF CREATIVITY?
To me, creativity is synonymous with originality. Doing something that’s never been done before and being known for doing that in this day and age. Being creative is creating something that challenges the status quo and normal conventions.
In society today, we have a set way of doing things. One of the best traits that identifies a creative is their ability to flip the script and changes conventional methods. For example, Uber; is the largest market for “ride-sharing” but they physically do not own any vehicles, that’s creativity. In that example alone, the fact that Uber found a way to become the largest transportation service provider without physically owning any cars is creative to me.
One crazy thought I always had growing up was if time machines really existed could I go back in time and create all the technology that I interact with daily? Like snapchat — would I be able to create that? Would I be able to create Airbnb? Or Uber? I understand the concept of it, but can I execute it? When I think of creativity I just think about things like that. Coming up with a dope idea and then being able to execute it.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SOMEONE WHO CREATES PURELY FOR THE SAKE OF SELF EXPRESSION?
That’s easy. I’d say do you! Express yourself however you want to. No one can tell you how to feel. If you feel compelled to create something then create something and share it with the world because you can’t waste your life being someone else when you should focus on being the first you.
WHAT LEGACY WOULD YOU LIKE TO LEAVE BEHIND?
When I think of legacy I think of impact which is exactly what I want my legacy to be. I want to confidently say that I made an impact with my life and added value in lives of people I met along my journey.
Not to be morbid or anything but when you go to funerals you never hear people read off accomplishments such as how much money you made, or other superficial possessions you have.
They talk about the impact you made in the lives of others, your character, and how you lived your life and made a difference. The most important thing on your tombstone is the dash, because it symbolizes your life. I want my dash to mean something. I want it to showcase the difference I made in the world. I know God gave me a mission in life and I want my legacy to validate that mission.