We celebrated our 2nd birthday party for Localeur last night. The party was truly epic. I am quite satisfied with the turnout, which seems to be what most people measure at events like these. We had some of the best DJs in Texas and New York there along with a crowd full of movers, shakers, doers, storytellers, creatives and, of course, locals. It was the best party I've ever thrown and people were having a ton of fun throughout the night by the looks (and sweatiness) of it. Thank you if you were able to join us last night.
But a birthday for Localeur means so much than a big party. It means an idea hasn't died. The spark has turned into a fire still burning and the temperature and power of the flame is only rising. Chase changed my life by bringing his idea to me, and I too have changed his by helping him bring that idea to life.
Each day Localeur lives on, is another day that a little idea of mine lives on too.
When I was four years old, I became acutely aware of the negative cycle within my family as a result of a lack of education, a lack of family and financial stability, a lack of fatherhood, a lack of ambition matched with drive, poise and resilience to make it happen. My family was full of love, but love is hard to fully appreciate with so many failed aspirations, failed accomplishments and failure-tinged attitudes.
So from kindergarten on, I knew that the only thing within my control in this world were two things: 1) educating myself not just in school, but in life. Being a life learner, trying new things, experiencing things not just because that's what my family or friends did but because that's something that would teach me or bring a new point of view into my life. Black kids said I was acting white because I didn't only listen to rap and R&B or play with other black kids. White kids couldn't fully relate to my upbringing with food stamps, no father and no "professional" within my family to emulate. I was between two worlds so to speak, but as a result I managed to learn the lessons that my middle-class friends learned from watching their parents and the lessons my family learned through misguided decisions be it having children too early or not taking school seriously enough.
And 2) having a plan for success because too many people have only plans for failure which start with the decision and choice not to pursue their goals whole-heartedly. That was not going to be me.
When I was 11, taking what I'd spent the last 6 or so years identifying as things that could potentially hinder my ability to kill the familial cycle of failure, I made a plan for my life. A plan not only for myself, but a plan for how I could - in one generation - advance my family's history untold years.
I've made so many mistakes. I've failed plenty. I've done stupid shit just like everyone else. I have gotten off track several times over.
But my plan is still in tact.
1. Surround myself with amazing people.
2. Be a lifelong learner.
3. Find my God-given purpose and pursue it fully until the day I die.
4. Give back more than I take, to my friendships, relationships and community.
5. Live life to the fullest. I have a tattoo that says "Experience Everything" and I truly mean it.
I made this plan at 11 years old based on a single idea:
That I could advance my family's standing in the world not just one generation but three generations in a single lifetime. I don't have children yet, but this is important to me and always has been because I was so keenly aware of what happened as a result of three generations where purposes were not discovered and potential not yet reached. My mom and her singular focus on raising me and my brothers to be good men was the start, but I have to carry the torch much much further now.
Money doesn't motivate me, but I understand it's role in providing the kind of access and experiences that I missed out on, that my mom missed out on, that my grandparents missed out on, and the ones that I most certainly will provide to my own children some day.
I'm not talking fancy cars and mansions, but access to education, financial stability, a sense of history and tradition, philanthropy and community engagement, political activism and participation, and travel that doesn't just give you a good tan or a good Instagram feed, but travel that opens up your sense of the world, enhances your perspective, and helps you realize how much we all have in common, no matter what race, religion, sexual orientation, occupation, lifestyle or ambition we have.
Last night, we celebrated Localeur's 2nd Birthday, but I also privately celebrated the fact that this company continues to play a big role in me fulfilling my own dream, me pursuing my own idea, and me reaching my own potential for greatness.
Last night at the party I got a small taste of what that greatness feels like in the form of the kind of quiet satisfaction that comes from knowing that when people say "you can do anything you put your mind to" in a 6th grade assembly hall in a low-income school in a working class school district, you can fast forward 20 years and know that it's 100 percent true. You can. And that you have to get your mind prepared for the next day, too.