Blog – We Evolve Beyond One Place
“You're a nobody in this business until you've told someone you can't pay them.”
I was next to my executive director Shannon Cummings at the time, working the Free Geek Toronto table, helping to sell the brand at CSI Annex. “We recycle electronic waste and refurbish the computers back into the community at affordable prices.” A lot of people saw Shannon that day, but she stood out to me. She had an epic scarf on, fiery curls--eye of the storm kind of thing. Through the body’s languages in our vicinity I recognized right away that this person was important.
We Evolve Beyond One Place
I had worked on projects, but they all had failed. I remember that summer vividly; I was all caught up in my woes (going through the 6 with my woes just dropped and that was literally my soundtrack for that year.
That's when I met Shannon at the Public Library at the Waterfront.
How did I get here?
What I have learned about life is that the philosophy of the caterpillar is a constant evolution of self. That life goes in circles and the calendar is a recording of those circles. Years break down to months, months turn to weeks, then weeks to days, and eventually life becomes seconds. Seconds are fleeting. By the time we become aware of the seconds, another cycle has already started.
And that's life: a caterpillar in a constant state of turning in to a butterfly. That's what success is. Success, often times will present itself in the form of chaos. Recognizing the chaos before it overwhelms us makes us the eye of the storm.
A Poetry Ago
My journey starts back at Central Tech high school when a teacher would tell me to go across the street to the church. She loved my poetry. Happy-go-lucky at the time, I was throwing parties and selling t-shirts in stores; I'd call it SannaJinn Clothing company - Freedom and versatility of the open mind. We were high school kids barely out of middle school, learning business tactics when brick-sized beepers were still cool.
Eventually those projects would fall through, losses were deep, lessons were painful, and I am not even discussing life itself and the heartbreaks it brings in. Eventually I found myself burned out and looking for answers.
Free Geek Toronto in December
Answers came in the form of people; a friend of mine told me I should stop separating the jobs I take on from entrepreneurship and start doing business development for startups. He told me that I have enough sales experiences from having worked on these projects and jobs. A couple of months later I met Shannon, the executive director at Free Geek Toronto at the time.
By October, November I became the business development manager at Free Geek Toronto and by December we were at a show hosted at CSI Annex. It all happened quickly.
Always A Padewan
Some of the most memorable aspects of that job were in the morning meetings where we’d discuss our goals, our day-to-day struggles, her as a lesbian and me as a black man. We’d discuss leadership, business, and then start our day.
Working at Free Geek Toronto was like working the starship enterprise; we were a social enterprise on the frontier of E Waste trying to solve this trillion-dollar problem that’s threatening our planet on multiple fronts. Every day was a new adventure, every day our money was running out and every day we’d wake up and come to work, sometimes 16 hour shifts.
“You're a nobody in this business until you've told your staff you can't pay them”.
That line was enough to convince me to join CSI because it showed me that Tonya is a human being who’s gone through the gauntlet but stayed strong enough to light up the room.
Jazz, that's what I would call this place if you told me to summarize it down to 1 word.
An ever-changing mosaic of entrepreneurs making up different songs through the day. Every 2 hours the building hits a crescendo and DECAS must mobilize. I usually sit on the 3rd floor when the sun sets, to meditate through my thoughts, my dreams, and my nightmares while I convert the energy into the projects I work on. The next day the sun would set again.
We evolve beyond one place
Shannon alongside a myriad of things came together and made me understand failure; I don't fear failure anymore because that’s what life is: a caterpillar in a constant state of turning in to a butterfly
It made me understand that a plan and foundation are important, but execution is equally important and that failure is part of the game. Sometimes success requires throwing a calculated assumption to gauge how reality will react to it, and then making adjustments.
Business is 75% course correction a constant cycle of molding us into the next version of ourselves, the butterfly.
I’m an artist at heart an Operations Manager at CreativeUTO and Business Developer through my organization FMiMBranding.com. I have over 5 years of experience implementing strategies to improve the results and impact of organizations. These have included improvements in areas such as: customer service, web development, social media, advertising, sales and design