Position / Job Title - Co-founder, Prime Produce Apprentice Cooperative. Global Community Cultivator, House of Genius. Image Maker, The Faun Group
BLK SHP origin story - I was born and bred in San Antonio, Texas. My friend Mark Zamora and I started my first company, a lawn mowing business, when we were 11. It was official the moment we printed out business cards and walked in the summer sun to spread the word about our grassy venture. An obsession with Indiana Jones coupled with an only child's active imagination led me to quest in search of new tastes and new people.
BLK SHP mission statement - To gather unlike minds with like hearts. I want to create safe, but not sterile spaces for people to connect, experiment, share, innovate, and invent. The projects that draw me cultivate practices and rituals of hospitality, where the strange person, strange idea, or strange feeling is welcomed and celebrated, and friends are not always quickly made.
BLK SHP traits: I enjoy learning about creative, slightly off kilter ways of looking at the world. I'm either a quick study or a thick study. I will understand something really fast or dreadfully slow. I ask a lot of questions.
BLK SHP skills - After seeing a photo of a rock climber backlit by the setting sun somewhere in the desert of Yemen, my dream has been to recreate it. I've been a rock and mountain climber for the past 7 years and am still hankering for an opportunity to climb in the desert. Closer to the ground, I have a passion for long-exposure photography and using time as a paint brush and people as pigments. My work was featured and sold in a solo show produced by Pembroke College, Oxford University in the Fall and Winter of 2016.
What advice do you have for other BLK SHP -Turn shit into fertilizer.
BLK SHP Nickname - Sottsass
BLK SHP origin story - I was born in New Haven, Connecticut but grew up in Northern California. I'm a writer, editor, strategist, and creative director. I build brands big and small. I love making things happen and simply making things. Whether it’s the largest skateboard ramp in Northern California, the modern architecture bible, Dwell, a column about trash for the New York Times, a hyper-local/mega-global Craigslist, or an identity for one of the “World’s Best Hotels,” I specialize in bringing great ideas to life.
BLK SHP mission statement - Always listen. Always learn. Always have a sense of humor.
BLK SHP traits - A questioning mind, a loving heart, and a keen eye for the intricate answers that are right in front of all of us if we just take the time to really open our eyes.
BLK SHP skills - (Almost) always see the glass half full. Give me a dry dirt field and I'll see the most mesmerizing place you would never imagine. With my rose colored glasses I bring a great love for the realities of the world. I always aim to bring those two skills together in a seamless fashion.
What advice do you have for other BLK SHP? - Don't believe the hype. Especially your own. Question everything always.
Position / Job Title - Singer/Artist
BLK SHP origin story - I attended my first BLK SHP dinner in 2016. I remember being blown away by who was sitting at the table and the kind of conversations we were having about the state of the world. I appreciated the range of views and backgrounds. I was gracious to have my voice heard and to be welcomed as an artist to the table.
BLK SHP traits - I don't want to participate in the status quo of the current music industry. Binta Brown and I cofounded the label Big Mouth Records because we believe artists should own their masters, have creative control, and should be treated as partners in creating and releasing their art into the world. I want to be out spoken for others and build a platform to help give voice to what's right and to lift other people up.
BLK SHP skills - I don't give up. I like finding way to solve problems. I'm here to use my creativity and imagination for good.
What advice do you have for other BLK SHP? - Ask a lot of questions and big deep into conversations. Go below the surface and find ways to take action with the knowledge and platform you have.
Job title / position - Artivist
Position / Job Title – Pianist - Entertainer - Speaker
BLK SHP origin story – I was first introduced to BLK SHP through Peter Sims many years ago. We met at a studio in Times Square named Platinum Sound. By chance and coincidence, we discovered that we were both on the panel for Public Radio International's Annual Ambassador's Conference, just weeks after meeting each other. We've been friends ever since.
BLK SHP mission statement – To reach as many people as I can throughout the world. To change as many lives as I can through sharing my story and experience. Together, we can create the world that we want to live in, one day at a time.
BLK SHP traits – I love meeting new people. I'm very engaging and outgoing, but at times can be very internal as well. I love learning things. Every time I learn something new, it's a chance to experience being a beginner again. An opportunity for growth. I believe that keeps us young at heart.
BLK SHP skills – Musician, composer, producer, dancer, martial artist, bodyworker, public speaker, actor, casual magician, and Rubik's Cube guy.
What advice do you have for other BLK SHP? This is something I say to myself every day. I ask of my higher power to grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. I believe that this is a good practice for anyone in any position, level, or status to have.
Photo credit: Nichole Washington
Position / Job Title - Independent Contractor - Project Management // Business Development Manager, Paradigm Shift
BLK SHP origin story - I am Indian by ethnicity, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and grew up in South Africa. After winning the Green Card Lottery, my family and I moved to Tulsa, OK, where I attended and graduated from Oral Roberts University. As one of America’s newest citizens, I still live in Tulsa and work as an independent contractor for various clients. I spend a majority of my time working with first generation college students in the education sector, as well as with working professionals in the corporate sector doing experiential-based leadership training and development.
BLK SHP mission statement - To encourage and empower leaders of all ages to reach their full potential no matter their background or current circumstances. “Change Your Paradigm, Change your World.” I believe in doing business with a purpose. Those we work with are striving to reach new heights, so we intentionally frame our workshops in ways that will empower them to do so.
BLK SHP traits - My verb is to “challenge”. Whether it is a goal, a thought, an idea, or a fear - I enjoy helping others make sure that they are doing their part to be the best version of themselves. Live with excellence.
BLK SHP skills - My strengths finder results explain me to a tee. Top 5: Harmony, Includer, Achiever, Consistency, and Adaptability. I love to make things happen.
What advice do you have for other BLK SHP? - Doubt will get you more than once. When it does, even the most unrealistic fears start to become so probably. It will do whatever it can to pollute your dreams, Dream anyway. When you have a dream, be intentional about how you’re going to get what you want. Your methods may be unconventional, but sometimes it’s the craziest ideas that work the best.
BLK SHP origin story - A pivotal moment for me growing up was in high school: my teacher said he would give an automatic “A” for the year to the winner of our statewide science fair. The project I decided to do was called, “Carnival Games: Why Can’t I Win?” where I explored how these games are designed with math and physics principles that make it difficult to win while appearing so easy. It was a spectacle: I built life-sized carnival games, complete with the booth, balloons and darts - and I ended up winning! Looking back, this was my first foray into mechanical engineering and marketing, and it set me on the path to where I am today.
BLK SHP mission statement - I started GoldieBlox to disrupt the “pink aisle” and get girls interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects. Engineering is largely missing the female perspective as only 14% are women — that’s the equation we’re trying to change.
BLK SHP traits - I have secret comedic aspirations! In college, I wrote for the Stanford Chapparal, our campus humor magazine, and I even joined an improv group when I lived in Seattle. I obviously ended up choosing a different career path, but those skills have definitely helped me build confidence by pushing me to go outside of my comfort zone.
BLK SHP skills - I am freakishly good at carving Jack-O-Lanterns. One year I carved the Mona Lisa.
What advice do you have for other BLK SHP? I was lucky enough to hear Steve Jobs’ infamous commencement speech at my Stanford graduation. The message, “never settle” really stuck with me since that day. Before GoldieBlox, I had a pretty circuitous career path - from branding the New York Knicks, to volunteering in India, to working at a jewelry company. But I never settled until I found my true passion, and it’s an amazing feeling to know what you were meant to do with your life.
BLK SHP nickname - "C-topher" Position / Job Title - CEO, Forward Impact, Co-founder, Forward Cities, Innovator in Residence, Center for Creative Leadership, Innovation & Entrepreneurship Fellow, Duke University BLK SHP origin story - Born to politics in DC; shaped by social justice in South Africa; focused as a journalist for CNN; awakened by starting a bar in Santiago, Chile; inspired by scaling education ventures and writing a book about Life Entrepreneurs; working to harness the power of change-making leaders in communities across NC and beyond BLK SHP traits - Super passionate and high energy, peripatetic by nature, trying hard to deepen impact, loving husband and father BLK SHP skills - Translating vision into action What advice do you have for other BLK SHP? Dream big but make sure to do
Position / Job Title - President & CEO, Council on Foundations
BLK SHP origin story - I’ve lived all over the world, “growing global” was how I was raised, first as an Army brat and then as the daughter of a corporate Dad. Living in many places taught me to quickly adapt to a range of diverse circumstances and gave me a great appreciation for people and their differences.
BLK SHP mission statement - I’m a pragmatic advocate for change. I’m an entrepreneur who believes in the power of institutions: bridging from old to new, complex to clear, complicated to simple.
BLK SHP traits - I see patterns, connections and trends ahead of others and though lonely, the place from which I lead. I translate what is complex into what is powerful.
BLK SHP skills - I am impatient and patient; know what to wait for but eager to arrive.
What advice do you have for other BLK SHP? Stay true to your inner compass. It knows what you need. Build it and they will come.
Position / Job Title - Founder and Chief Catalyst, Curious Catalyst // Challenge Faculty Director, THNK School of Creative Leadership
BLK SHP Origin Story - As the daughter of two rocket scientists, I've always been curious about everything - from chemistry to photography, ballet to kickboxing. I left Boston to become a filmmaker in Hollywood by way of a psychology detour at Stanford. And the circuitous path to large scale systems innovation has included R&D with emerging technology platforms, a stint as the "chief" of a sustainable tourism project in Fiji, solving cross-disciplinary problems in the digital agency space, strategy and operations for early social media innovators and then an open-source cloud computing powerhouse focused on the developing world. I self-published an email tale in the form of a mixed media book that grew out of time in the LA spoken word poetry scene, made a short film around the nuance of veterans' rights, and founded Curious Catalyst to marry investigation with action, bringing a new take to the business of social impact through my experience in agile approaches.
BLK SHP Skills - ScrumMaster! Relentlessly curious! Rabble-rouser! Connector! And a huge proponent of sharing knowledge, via open sourcing or otherwise, to increase our ability to evolve faster, better, together!
What advice do you have for other BLK SHP? Never forget the journey is the destination - so how we get there is as important as where we're going. And asking the questions is more important than the answers....