When others try to think outside the box, as a Research and Innovation Consultant at SEEK, I turn the box into origami. I help brands use empathy internally and externally, to become more responsible organizations. Sometimes that means helping a company understand what their employees and internal stakeholders are trying to communicate. Sometimes that means helping an organization understand their consumer beyond, “spend more money on this product.”
I am a native of Washington, DC. Growing on Capitol Hill, one of Washington’s oldest neighborhoods, I learned to appreciate and respect people from various backgrounds and makeups. One moment you would meet a diplomat, and within the next moment, be introduced to a senatorial aid and a local school teacher. In my undergrad years at Syracuse University, I’d come to appreciate my desire to learn about others, their cultures, and what makes them unique. I originally began as a computer engineering major but desired a more creative outlet. Eventually I decided that a career in higher education as a professor was the path for me. I wanted to have a positive influence on students, in the same way my professors had on me. That led me to getting my MA from Syracuse University and my PhD from Howard University.
For three years I taught at one of the University of Maryland’s satellite campuses. I enjoyed teaching, but I enjoyed the side projects with Fortune 500 companies even more. I decided to pursue the work that have real world application.
“Lose Yourself” by Eminem
One of the most inspiring stories that I keep near and dear to my heart is the story of the comedian, Steve Harvey. Today, he is one of the most successful people in daytime television. To get that point he really paid his dues. He left his job in insurance to pursue a career comedy. For 3 years he lived out of his car, and washed up in hotel public bathrooms. He did not have his first car until he was 38-years-old. One day, he had to stay in a bathroom stall for several hours covered in soap, as people from a conference kept pouring in and out of the hotel bathroom. This moment brought him to the point of giving up. Just as he was about to give up, a voicemail on his answering machine (remember, this is early 1990s) invited him to a gig in New York within 48 hours. It was as the host of Showtime at the Apollo, a legendary talent showcase in the Black community that aired on television. Steve had no money to get to New York. So instead, he went city to city, performing in clubs. Each way, he would earn just enough to get to the next city. He eventually made it to New York, and the rest is history. This story inspires me because it’s a consistent reminder that success shouldn’t be compared to others. Run your own race, at your own pace. And most importantly, never give up.