I’ve been examining the definition, elements and obstacles of courage on my own for a decade to understand what pushes young people forward or holds them back. I get excited about figuring out how to conjure the virtue and help youth and young adults apply it to school, work and play.
I’ve spoken to over 10,000 youth and young adults in conferences and workshops, where I’m often described as “unique, relatable and memorable.” The American Camp Association, UNC Chapel Hill and SUNY Plattsburg are a few of my clients.
When I’m not speaking, I’m usually designing my line of Pep Talker greeting cards — sold online and in select Atlanta-based stores — daydreaming about my next global experience, or dancing in front of my bathroom mirror. (I’ll be ready when Dancing With The Stars calls.)
People often want to know how in the world I started doing this.
According to my mom, I’ve always had something to say and never minded a microphone or a crowd.
I started a 15-year career in marketing, with a focus on the food industry, after graduating from UNC Chapel Hill. I convinced customers that burritos and burgers from the global brands I worked for were better than other fast casual options on the market, and I racked up loads of awards and free food along the way. But, those weren’t the best parts of the job. (The free food was a close second.)
The most impactful and transformative aspects were leading my teammates to stand up for an idea amid opposition, to give and receive feedback in support of growth, and to unapologetically be themselves — especially when being themselves was unpopular.
I was able to be a mentor and a champion of risk-taking throughout my career because I started learning about courage long before. I was a kid from Columbia, South Carolina, hemmed between stereotypes and expectations. I was often accused of being the wrong brand of black: either too black or not black enough. But, attempts to rise (or rather stoop) to the labels felt disingenuous. In the arduous and uncomfortable process of siding with myself, I discovered that developing the courage to be is foundational to harnessing the courage to do.
What I’ve done is traveled the world solo, auditioned for professional NFL and NBA dance teams (without formal dance experience), left behind a successful marketing job to take an independent year and unfollowed other “rules” that didn’t support my shine. What I’m doing now is breaking down courage in relatable, digestible ways to inspire youth and young adults to conjure their own courage — to manage their fear, step outside of their comfort zones and develop into better versions of themselves.
“Courage is a virtue that must be discussed with and developed in youth because their ability (or inability) to conjure it will impact the adults they become. Period.”
So, that’s how I got here, and I’m here for the long haul.
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Thank you for taking the time to visit and learn about me. I’m thrilled about getting to know you and the youth you serve in the journey ahead.
Courage over everything,