Three things have been constant in my life from the beginning:
- A Desire To Learn
- Building Systems
Every day I wake up I have one goal: learn something new about myself and the world.
The Early Years
Like most of us, the first people to feed my learning desire and need for mentorship were my parents.
Both understood the importance of education and passed that down to my siblings and I. We would go to the library at least once a week, but I think I was more excited about using the computers.
As a kid I loved Legos! We had 3-4 Christmas cookie tins full of Legos and would pour all the Legos on the floor and just build for hours.
I still do, but today I play with “adult legos” – building products and service for my clients.
I also loved just taking stuff apart and figure out how to put them back together. For me, the thrill was in knowing I could build ANYTHING with time and practice.
I would mainly take apart electronics. I remember learning from a kid in 3rd grade how to take apart a remote-controlled car and use the parts to make my own toys! Mind officially blown!
What I do today really goes back to these days. I still have that same thrill when I start working with new clients.
Nobody has really ever told me I couldn’t do anything…
Or maybe I was just too busy doing from an early age to pay attention.
School came easy, and I had a 4.0 most semesters from 5th-12th grade.
But in 6th grade, my best friend’s dad, and one of my original mentors got me into the gifted and talented program in the Flint Community Schools (Flint, MI).
This was a new level of challenge, and I loved it. Although my grades took a dip the first semester, once I understood how to operate in my new environment I thrived all the way through high school.
I joined mentorship groups and continued to seek out how to become a better student.
I became a business owner in 7th grade with the help of my friend’s day once again. It was a t-shirt company called Urban Reality, with a really nice logo.
I don’t even know if we went to production, but that experience still has an impact on me today.
Around this same time, I was also cutting grass, painting and doing housing repairs with my Dad and Grandfather learning what it means to put in a hard day’s work.
“I Can’t Pay For College”
Since I had great grades, my mom didn’t have any complaints about my school work.
When I started high school through my mom was straight up with me “I can’t pay for you to go to college. You will need to get scholarships.”
Still, to this day anytime somebody challenges me I have a burning desire to prove them right (or wrong lol).
So when she said that, it was game on.
And I didn’t want to just pay for college, I wanted all the scholarships!
My youth group also gave away scholarships and the seniors didn’t apply! I couldn’t believe it!
More motivation for JP.
Along with maintaining great grades, I played football, basketball, and was on the bowling team at Flint Northern High School. A number of the guys I played went played D-1 and some even went pro.
I was also involved in 4-H, National Honor Society, and Urban League plus countless other programs.
Plus I worked a number of jobs including McDonald’s, Flint Community Schools and the University of Michigan and Delphi.
Junior year I set up a system to return all scholarship applications the same day with pre-filled recommendation forms and standardized essays.
My best friend even started calling me “Gangsta Nerd” because I was ruthless with the scholarships.
But it worked…
And I got every scholarship, including becoming a Gates Millennium scholar. In total I probably got $400k.
Not bad for a few years work.
With all my scholarships I went to college to become an engineer. I always loved problem-solving, and no matter what I went on do, these skills would be valuable.
I went to Kettering University in Flint, MI for my undergrad because they had the best internship/co-op program in the country. Every three months for five years I went from the classroom to working for companies like GM, BorgWarner, and the FBI.
I also got to travel and live all over the county.
I graduated from Kettering with a BS in Electrical Engineering and a few awards from my time on campus. No surprise as I continued to be involved with groups such as Alpha Phi Alpha, the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Student Government and Kettering Honor Societies.
Right after undergrad I went and got an MS in Industrial Engineering from New York University. I got to live in New York City, a place I had always wanted to live and enjoyed my stay.
I was also still involved with NSBE and served as National Vice Chair while in grad school.
The 9-5 Life + Marriage
I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I still needed the skills to figure out how to work with people and how to build systems for sales and marketing. For six years after college, I work for great firms like Deloitte.
These jobs showed me how to operate and work for clients. Along with how to understand their requirements and test requirements against the systems we had built.
This stuff is directly related to what I do now and will be forever grateful for the experiences.
I also joined a mobile app company called CoachMe Apps where we create football and soccer playbooks. Here I really learned how to create great products through repeated testing and iterating on our designs.
We even went out and raised $280k for our business…not bad.
The startup mindset of lean customer development and continuous improvement is key to any business that has success, and I am glad I got to work with some of my best friends.
During this time I also put a ring on it…
Helping Black Millennials and Beyond
Mid 2018 my wife and I decided it was time to start our first solo ventures, quit our jobs to jump into entrepreneurship head first.
We both found work that we love, and get to help our community everyday.
I wanted to help our community avoid the mistakes, and setbacks I had with my businesses and set them up for success.
And so far so good!
My work has been very rewarding and continues to be everyday.
Plus I have been able to help my clients increase revenue in their business by thousands of dollars.
Purpose + Profit
It took longer than I would have expected, but that’s pretty much everything in life lol…
But at the end of the day I am incorporating the three things that have been constant in my life from the beginning:
A Desire To Learn – I get to meet new prospects and clients everyday. I learn about their businesses and help them with the problem of getting clients for their business. I also have to do my own research and development to make sure I have the skills and knowledge to get my clients results.
Mentorship – I work with mentors and coaches to keep me ahead. And I also do the same for my clients.
Build Systems – My business (or any) is just one big system divided into smaller systems, like legos. I help my clients understand the smaller components, how to put them together, and in the correct order.
Thanks for checking out my story. Hope to hear from you soon.