“I do whatever I need to do, to get the money to go, where I want to go.” – Tara James
Welcome back Story Tellers! Today’s main character is Tara James (@bymsjames).
When Tara was younger, her father would buy her greeting cards filled with black imagery and messaging she could relate to. At the time, Tara felt the cards were “super corny,” and never understood why giving her a card with a black image gracing the cover and a message on the inside she could relate to, meant so much to her father.
As is often the case, Tara’s perspective has changed with time, particularly with the birth of her son. Like her father, Tara had a burning desire to recreate and (re)inspire others with positive and relatable images of black people.
By Ms James is a paper goods and greeting card company based on the real life experiences and adventures of Tara James. Like Tara, each card contains a funny, honest, quirky, lovable and extremely relatable message. Her beliefs are her own but are shared with and by many.
Millennials are easily the most scrutinized and misunderstood generation of my lifetime. Often labeled as entitled, self adsorbed, and lazy, Jonathan is out to shatter these notions by living on purpose. He’s on a mission to empower and inspire students and millennials with his weekly “Process to success series,” keynote presentations, and student development sessions. Truly on a mission to help millennials and students achieve success, Jonathon wrote Process, 14 Surprisingly Simple Behaviors to Skyrocket Millennials to Success.
Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Jonathan Jones is the youngest of two boys. Always encouraged by his loving parents to reach for the stars, Jonathan attended Richland College and played for the men’s 2009 Junior College National Championship basketball team while earning an Associate Degree. Jonathan has always had the heart to serve others but especially wants to facilitate youth to pursue a better tomorrow.
“I wasn’t willing to trade my time wholesale to someone who would then retail it out.” -Greg Henzel
Welcome back Story Tellers! Today’s main character is Greg Henzel, aka The Saving Swami (@savingswami).
A serial entrepreneur and ultimate hustler, Greg has always had a passion for building businesses from the ground up. As Saving Swami, helping businesses and families save money is a top priority. All businesses, large and small, can benefit from The Saving Swami’s negotiating expertise and complementary wise counsel. While at the bargaining table lowering your monthly invoices, the Swami will make sure there are no errors or mistakes made by your vendors.
“I have a deep life long love for food.” -Jawed Halepota
Welcome back Story Tellers! Today’s main character is chef Jawed Halepota (@ja_wed_chef).
A former high-school dropout, Jawed has built lifelong relationships which have afforded him the opportunity to travel to Europe and South America as personal chef to former NY Knick, Kevin Seraphin, execute private dinner parties for members of the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots, and most recently, become the personal chef to Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics.
Jawed credits much of his success to building strong relationships, surrounding himself with winners, and taking full advantage of life changing opportunities that come his way.
“The way I was living wasn’t the way.”- Kayode Enwerem
Welcome back Story Tellers! Today’s main character is Kayode Enwerem(@kayodeenwerem).
Growing up, Kayode lived a life that most would envy. He had a loving family, a bevy of friends, and could always be seen wearing the latest fashion of his native Nigeria. At the age of 14, all of that changed when Kayode and his family moved to Hyattsville, Maryland. He and his family had to start from the beginning, rebuilding their lives.
Adjusting to a new culture was hard for Kayode and he quickly went from being popular at school to having no friends. Enduring the mocking of his peers, Kayode sought comfort in music. It was through music that Kayode was able to express himself and find his voice. Truly believing that the lyrics of his favorite rappers were representing the life they were leading, Kayode sought to emulate his role models. He began trying to live a life his favorite rappers spoke about and soon made friends with the wrong crowd.
After a life changing experience in 2008, Kayode made a vow to God that if he were given a second chance he would use his talent to glorify God. He wanted to create music with a positive message, giving listeners an alternative that he did not have and influencing them to do the right thing. God answered his prayers and he has kept his promise.
In 2009, Donna utilized her 15 years of professional sales and marketing experience to launch Vision Board Media, a Social Media, Executive Branding, and Internet Marketing consulting firm dedicated to assisting individuals and small businesses in establishing a powerful presence on the Internets.
Donna pioneered the concept of LinkedIn profile optimization, and is the author of the book LinkedIn Profile Optimization For Dummies, published by Wiley. Since 2009, Donna has helped executives, entrepreneurs, sales stars, business leaders, and professionals from around the world create professionally branded LinkedIn profiles.
“I was on the forced Jenny Craig Plan. You go to bed early and wake up late in order to avoid eating.” -Jason Panda
In this powerful addition of “Tell Your Story,” I caught up with Jason Panda, CEO and founder of B Condoms. Jason and I first met freshman year (1997) while attending Boston University. However, after one year of taking the “T” up and down Commonwealth Ave, we both decided to move on from the university. I transferred to Northeastern University after BU dropped the football program (more on this another time), and Jason transferred to Morehouse College; eventually graduating with a bachelors degree in biology . The Brockton Mass native went on to earn a law degree from Georgetown despite knowing early on that law was not the career path for him.
Through social media, I’ve been able to keep tabs on Jason throughout the years. Admittedly, when I reached out to Jason to discuss the idea of telling his story, I thought the narrative would center around his decision to leave law to start his own condom company. Think about that for a second. A successful attorney making great money decides to leave corporate law to start a condom business makes for a pretty interesting story. However, the journey of overcoming multiple failures, and lost partnerships is what makes Jason’s story both compelling and inspirational.