Thank You GOD It’s Friday.
In keeping with the spirit of things entrepreneurial, today’s ‘Millennial on a Mission’ is a creative and driven dreamer with a passion for music that dates back to when he was a kid. He’s also an aspiring writer and change agent that is passionate about social good initiatives that make the world a better place. I can honestly say that this particular spotlight couldn’t have come at a better time to give me the encouragement that I need. The one thing that I admire most about him is his tenacity and ability to never give up on himself, no matter how tough things may get.
I’d like for you to meet Jemar ‘Meezy’ Souza.
A native of Bronx, New York, Jemar attended Syracuse University and studied entrepreneurship and finance. Although he didn’t like it at first, he felt in love with it while taking an introductory course with Dr. Boyce Watkins. “I’m not a big fan of the finance industry at all — you can even say I hate it,” he says. “But money is still the official language of the world, so you gotta learn it, especially as a dreamer that doesn’t want to be taken advantage of by greedy suits.” Jemar first had his real taste of running his own business in 2009 when he and a group of his classmates competed in the Panasci Business Plan Competition with an idea called SwaggerDap. It was going to serve as an online community for lovers of street fashion, with certain brands having free profile pages to interface with fans, paying SwaggerDap to sell their products. And even though it was hard to find a team of investors to bring the idea to life, he’s still proud that he and his peers placed 2nd out of 50 teams.
On what inspired his writing project, #MyDecade
My Decade was mainly inspired by three things. Advice from my friend and music mentor, Ibe, Paul Arden’s book, “It’s Not How Good You Are, Its How Good You Want to Be.” and Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers”. As an aspiring songwriter with an interesting taste in music, Ibe told me that I should start my own music blog. He also gave me advice that pretty much changed my life, “just keep writing…every day write something”.
I was an aspiring songwriter that still had much to learn about the craft AND at the same time I was struggling to find collaborators to bring my ideas to life. So I guess I had to practice my writing as a poet. I used to sporadically write poems when I was younger and throughout high school and college that were inspired by anything – random thoughts, tweets from people, photos on the internet, encounters I had in real life, the love and heartbreaks I was going through with girls and chasing this dream to be writer.
Then, out of nowhere on March 6th, 2010 it hit me. My purpose is to become the best writer that I can be. I had read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers and recalled the point that it takes about 10,000 hours, about 10 years to hone your craft. And I knew that most artists and their critics don’t entertain the idea of them being among the best until at least 10 years in the game. So you know what? March 6th, 2010 was the start of MY DECADE. I’m going to be the best writer that I can be.
So I went for it. The collection was first published on January 15th 2011 as a plain PDF on Scribd and a now dead usershare link. But the vision to make it a real dynamically designed book was still real. The book is now being sold online and I sell it in person too [thanks Square!] I’m currently working on the music album and its kickstarter is running right now. (Ends February 2nd!) Next, I plan to start the apparel and merchandise phase and then get the entire brand (yep, it’s a brand) into local stores like Reedspace, Urban Outfitters, Barnes & Nobles, and the like.
In addition to bringing his dreams as a writer to life, Jemar works full-time in social media. Around the same time that I was looking for a new position last July, I spotlighted him in the blog post “How To Survive The #JobHunt” to get his perspective on what it was like to be on the grind for his dream position. The best piece of advice he gave? “Do whatever it takes to remind yourself that you’re the sh*t.” Every day Meezy. Every. damn. day.
On going after what he’s most passionate about, and finding his true purpose:
Based on my (dream) job hunting experiences, I’ve learned that I’m really really bad at giving up. It’s just something I’m not wired for. I’m terrible at settling. If I really want something, I’m going to be possessed by it until I get it. Otherwise, I didn’t really want it that much to begin with. That’s one thing I learned. But the entire experience of struggling to find a job despite doing everything I was told to do (get good grades, go to college, network, etc) taught me that life is still one big crap shoot. It doesn’t matter how talented or determined you are in a given moment or situation because chance and luck are still huge factors to great success.
You just have to keep doing what you gotta do to make sure you’re ready for your chance when it comes. Keep doing things for yourself. The problem with the way society is for us right now though, is that unfortunately millenials aren’t being given enough chances – much less the right chances.
Recognizing this flaw in the system and believing in some of the things I read in Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers inspired me to not only keep pushing to achieve my personal creative ambitions and dreams, but to keep inspiring my peers to do the same. And beyond that, I’m inspired to fix the flaws that are holding us back. I guess you can say I learned that I can be very passionate about this which sometimes turns into anger. I do my best to turn it into a positive thing, though.
To Jemar, being a “Millennial on a Mission” means accepting the terrible cards we’re dealt and making it a winning hand. “You gotta be ready for all kinds of obstacles and opportunities that our parents and grandparents could never imagine and will never understand,” he says. “That means you have to be ready to accept being misunderstood, accept being called entitled, accept being called lazy, accept all these things – but don’t let them affect your trajectory.” Jemar wants to encourage his fellow millennials to keep doing what we know in our hearts is the right thing, because it’s gonna work out for us. He believes that this is our decade to make a difference in how this world works, and it all starts with how we treat each other. “Let’s grind together on what we truly believe in and keep at it until these old dinosaurs get it or get out of the way – which unfortunately might not be until they die. But hey, we’re gonna still be here to keep the dream alive.”