My 1st LISC Story Slam - Turning The Page
When I was younger, I was a bit of a curious child; curious to the point my parents were concerned that I would be taken because I wandered off, often. The world and its offerings fascinated me.
Being first generation born to Haitian parents, I lived dual lives. So many pros and just as many cons. One of the cons…navigating English.
I was eight when I realized I was thinking in French, speaking in English, thinking in English, speaking in French, all while listening to English, French and Haitian creole. It became harder to grasp one language and all the rules that came with it. My cousin came to my rescue, he said that he was not concerned with me navigating another language because I was very attentive, but I needed to put the skill to a task. He told me, “Here is a camera and a roll of film, 12 exposures only. I want you to carefully take 12 pictures, and tell me what you see, the sounds that you hear, the smells in the air, make me feel like I am there with you.”
If you ask anyone throughout my life, they know me for having a camera in my hand. It became my binkie, security blanket, and how I meditated. I would see things that most ignore, I became invisible at events and key moments, I was not afraid to approach a person and ask them what are you doing, what’s that, can I try.
My parents fed my curiosity and it led to my obsession with meeting people in their own countries. I began to travel, with family, friends, and sometimes alone. I would get up in the early morning and go for a run through communities, I would watch as the city, town, or village would silently come to life as the small business owners would prepare for the day. I didn’t realize these moments would help me in my career as I started becoming an advocate for small businesses.
My career weaved through primary school educator, radio and television producer, and press secretary to a governor all providing me access to small businesses locally, nationally, and globally.
I wanted to do more to help the people that I naturally was spending time with, so I applied to get my MBA. Then the unthinkable happened during my program, the great recession of 2008 began. It quickly became apparent that I would have to go live with my MBA capstone when I was labeled overqualified for any marketing C-Suite positions that I had my eyes on. My capstone, now my small business, was real.
I had no idea how to start let alone grow a business in a recession, I was flailing. But then I thought about all the entrepreneurs and innovators in my past and present. I started reaching out and the help that I received was overwhelming.
Over the past 12 years I have gained a strong global reputation in the entrepreneur ecosystem as well as the small business community of veterans, women, families, ethnic groups, minorities, and international business owners. I have mentored and become a sounding board to countless entrepreneurs and innovators, as they seek to succeed in marketing for themselves and their businesses on their terms.
At the start of the pandemic, I watched as entrepreneurs and innovators were thrown into the forefront, with headlines stating small businesses are doomed. This time around I was mentally prepared for anything that would come, I had just been here 10 years ago, but a lot of my small business counterparts had not. Where I was thriving, they were flailing.
I quickly and easily slipped back into my media producer persona to develop a platform giving these communities an amplified voice by creating a podcast welcoming to SMBs at all levels, educating new audiences of the “people” that fuel and support our neighborhoods.
In 19 months, I had conversations with 178 entrepreneurs and innovators, small business owners, and startups in 23 countries.
Small businesses do not only need our attention when they are newly open, going out of business, during a political season, or when there is a crisis. They need us all the time.
You know the names Oprah, Jeff Bezos and Martha Stewart. But do you know the names of the folks at your dry cleaner? the neighborhood deli owner? the family that owns the appliance repair shop?
My podcast encourages folks to get to know their neighbors. And as you listen to their stories, your ears become a camera lens, zooming in on what is often too easily overlooked.