In 1997, my older brother was murdered in a home invasion. In 2007, my father died from liver failure. I know what it feels like to go through life as a young man and not have a model to emulate when you’re growing up.
I had no idea what it would take to start, sustain, or sacrifice for a business. What I DID know was that I had a passion inside and that the anxiety that I had from not acting was keeping me up at night. Once the spark was lit, the only thing I wondered was, “How can I encourage a young person to dream without limits?”
I don’t want to waste my life with would’ve, could’ve, should’ve!
I want to give it all I have and not live with regrets.
I want to be an example to others—showing that you can get out and be what you want to be. You, too, can be a Game Changer!
Since moving back to my hometown of Warren, OH from Honolulu, HI in 2013, a lot has changed. Within 20 years, our population has gone from 51,000 to 38,000. Jobs have been shipped. Steel mills have closed. Funding for organizations has all but dried up. And, finding resources to make a difference can be both challenging and frustrating. I have been fortunate enough to use my life experiences and the confidence gained from working in corporate America to meet with numerous decision-makers. In these meetings, I have shared my story and partnered with other organizations that also possess a focused passion and strong work ethic to make a difference. The result: we have come together on projects and collaborated to provide programs/services to youth in our community.
I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit, whether it was at the age of 10, breaking up ice and pouring Kool-Aid over it to compete with lemonade stands, using my allowance at the age of 13 to purchase my first briefcase, or at the age of 17, where I planned our senior class trip to the Bahamas. (For some, this may seem like nothing. But a group of high school students raising over $30,000 and planning the logistics for an international trip was not heard of back in the ’90s. This is when I officially fell in love with business.) I wasn’t familiar with the terminology at the time, but on a lined paper notebook, I created my first balance sheet and income statement. These instances undoubtedly helped to build my entrepreneurial acumen.
I liken my style of leadership to Ken Blanchard’s definition of Servant Leadership. While I have not always understood the ins and outs of leadership, I know for certain, now. Leading by serving others is a model that has worked for me.
I remember when Game Changers first acquired a flag football league, where I served as the administrator, we had 400 kiddos between the ages of 3-14 who participated and approximately 600 adults (coaches, spectators, or volunteers). Twice a year for a 7-week time span, we hosted people from 19 surrounding communities to support their kids in playing flag football in a safe environment. My title may have said League Administrator, but the job required being whatever someone needed. On a good day, someone would say ‘thank you.’ On most days, it was a humbling experience that kept me focused on the larger picture: it’s all about the kiddos! The only way mankind is going to be better than we were yesterday is by making the difference today!