I remember when I saw that quote, that I’ve used as the headline for this blog post, it while browsing Instagram. You know that moment when you stumble upon the perfect quote or story that matches how you’re feeling and what you are thinking, in that very moment. So when I saw President Barack Obama in a pensive posture and I read the Humans of New York story, I stopped and let it all sink in.
You see, this February 2017, this year, is the 10th anniversary of SiliconCaribe and all that we’ve done in blogging about the Caribbean’s journey towards #DigitalCaribbean, writing and sharing the stories about the people, the products, the policies, the innovation, startups, social media, mobile, digital business and digital culture. It’s the 10th anniversary of Kingston BETA – the tech community meetup that kickstarted a movement here in Jamaica and has been helping to build the Jamaican and Caribbean Startup Ecosystem since 2007. I blinked and 10 years have passed.
And so, as it’s typical when major milestones like these approach, you reflect on what exactly have you accomplished and what did you learn from the mistakes and pauses. You question yourself and ask- what kind of impact did you have and then of course, what are you going to do next.
And as I go through videos, blog posts, photos and have conversations with my fellow entrepreneurs in the Jamaican and Caribbean Tech Community and get even a great handle on our impact ( which we will be sharing more of soon) – the big question it’s been 10 years, what do I do next and how. Do I stop, do I continue and if I do continue, how do I craft the media and event experience that it has even greater impact on who it is intended – Caribbean individuals, current and aspiring Tech Entrepreneur and Digital Creatives who want to solve problems, make things and make things better.
Since I’ve decided that I will continue, the what and how is what I’ve been reflecting on alot since the latter part of 2016, and with focus and meditation the answers have been coming…the clarity, the ideas, the insights- then follows the courage, the action, the humility and most importantly the gratitude.
The gratitude that for 10 years I’ve been doing so much of what I love to do and for the most part it has been so much fun…making art through the platform of blogging and bringing people together through events…developing a community and sharing our Jamaican and Caribbean stores.
And it all started with Susan LeeQuee, my then business partner in the company Dutchpot Interactive. She and I in our then offices at the Seymour Park Office complex, hatching the plan for a Tech Entrepreneurs Meetup because we wanted company on our journey and we also understood the power of bringing like-minded people together in a single space and regularly. So we wanted to see what would happen. Weeks later we had our first Kingston BETA event, at the Talk of the Town room at the top of the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in the New Kingston Business District. At that first event, 90 people came, paid $600jmd. We one speaker was Jamaican, one flew in from St Kitts and we beamed another Jamaican via online video from Vietnam. Sandor Panton, Rodney Browne and Mark Allen respectively.
And just like that, without any other intention but to bring together like minded entrepreneurs, digital creatives and those aspiring to be-a movement started and the tech startup community in Jamaica with hints of the Caribbean had begun. This journey has taken me personally down many paths. I travel far and often, speak and share our Caribbean Startup stories with governments, organisations and at conferences across four continents. I have received a few awards, served on boards, mentored a few young people and shared what I know about building tech communities and producing tech events with my fellow firestarters across the region. Most importantly though, over 80 Kingston BETA events we have informed, inspired and connected many Caribbean individuals in the region and in the Diaspora to the limitless possibilities of this Digital Age we are now living in. To learn, launch and prosper.
Added to that SiliconCaribe.com is still the leading Caribbean Tech blog which has also seen me writing over 1,000 posts and curating others from some of smartest and passionate Caribbean voices. We also have some cool Ecosystem and Blog resources too.
So as we kick off the 10th anniversary year of SiliconCaribe and Kingston BETA as our lead Caribbean Tech media and event brands that drove the other things we have done (Caribbean Beta Tech Conference, Conferences, hackathons, mobile app competitions, Workshops and Startup Weekends ), I no longer ask what will I do next. President Barack Obama reminds me “…if you can keep it about the work, you’ll always have a path. There’s always something to be done.”
And so yes we’re on a pretty ambitious and exciting things ahead – SiliconCaribe launched Caribbean Bloggers Week in December 2016 across 4 Caribbean and Diaspora cities and we’re gonna make it better and bigger this year. We will be staging the Caribbean Women in Tech Summit this year and watch for the digital content we will be pumping out too. I have some amazing people working with me who believe what I believe…in our emerging #DigitalCaribbean and our inevitable success in the Global Digital Economy and how that can impact on the everyday lives of our Caribbean people.
I had no idea I was going to write this today, but once again it was a convergence of a couple of things – I woke up this morning with clarity on a matter, so much so I made a decision that will decide how I spend a bunch of my time in 2017 and beyond. I was again browsing online again when an article reminded me that today January 19th, 2017 is President’s Obama’s last full day of work as the 44th American President. It was the convergence of those two things that inspired this blog post and for that I am grateful.
I celebrate having had the privilege of watching the history that is/was the Obama Presidency unfold, from here in Kingston, Jamaica, being inspired by his belief in people and in the power of community, staying true to his values and conviction when pressed hard or when he ventured down roads he thought would have yielded better. I give thanks for my convergence of his 8 years in the Oval Office with my 10 years in the Jamaican and Caribbean Tech Startup Ecosystem. Watching him, reading his words, listening to his speeches gave me life dammit, especially when I was thinking about giving up and in brief moments when I did. I give thanks for this beautiful, abundance and connection creating, idea-spreading, wealth-building tool, that is the Internet, that is Technology and all that is continues to allow me to do personally, and all that it has and will allow other Caribbean Entrepreneurs and Digital Creatives to do also.
Then, of course, it would be remiss of me not to also share that Humans of New York snippet on President Obama. May it inspire and validate some things in you too, because this is the shape-shifting power of when we hear the stories of people who look like us and we share them.
“I first ran for Congress in 1999, and I got beat. I just got whooped. I had been in the state legislature for a long time, I was in the minority party, I wasn’t getting a lot done, and I was away from my family and putting a lot of strain on Michelle. Then for me to run and lose that bad, I was thinking maybe this isn’t what I was cut out to do. I was forty years old, and I’d invested a lot of time and effort into something that didn’t seem to be working. But the thing that got me through that moment, and any other time that I’ve felt stuck, is to remind myself that it’s about the work. Because if you’re worrying about yourself—if you’re thinking: ‘Am I succeeding? Am I in the right position? Am I being appreciated?’ – then you’re going to end up feeling frustrated and stuck. But if you can keep it about the work, you’ll always have a path. There’s always something to be done.”