Today on “How They Did It” I feature the Idea Alchemist herself, Mrs. Monique Mayers. Monique is an entrepreneur extraordinaire from Barbados, based currently in Toronto. Today we talk about the journey she went through to become who she is today.
This week on “How They Did It” I talked to Timothy “Timmay” Bain, Bahamian award-winning media entrepreneur and Vlogger. Timmay talks about how he founded 3 Amigos Media with his friends, the sacrifices he had to make to get to where he is today and how he was able to overcome being a student and acquiring all the equipment needed for his business by sacrificing lunch money and doing part-time jobs. Timmay didn’t finish College like his business partners. He dropped out to focus fully on his company 3AM in late 2014 and ended up finding jobs as a Social Media Coordinator for BTC and Marketing Brand Representative for KALIK. He also grew up on New Providence.
I had a conversation yesterday about business, branding, marketing advertising and a host of other topics. The discussion centered around marketers and their ability to sell anything, no matter how crappy it is. I have a different view of that topic, for me, no amount of marketing can sell a crappy product. However, it was pointed out to me that marketing sells crappy product all the time.
I was about 9 or 10 years old, in primary school (St Andrew Anglican Primary School). I remember on a daily basis, my peers will be selling different things at school at break time. Whether it was candies, cakes, tamarind balls, anything that kids in primary school will buy. The school sold snow ice, so every break time I purchased a snow ice and a cake or something else. One day I asked myself, why do I have to be the one always buying stuff. I wanted to get in on the hustle. There was a big tamarind tree close to my house, so I decided to pick tamarind and make tamarind balls. I asked my mom for one dollar to buy a pound of sugar, and it was game on.
In 2013, I became quite fascinated with Social media and the way businesses were using it to build their brands and get customers. I went all in on learning everything I needed to know about social media and today I am a proud social media strategist. After being in Canada for a little bit, I quickly realized that one of the most significant assets you can have here is “Canadian education” So I decided to pursue my Master’s Degree.
“I was in primary school, and we had a school trip. You told me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t go because you couldn’t afford it. I understood the situation, so I didn’t make a fuss, but you saw how much I wanted to go. I told my friends I wouldn’t be there. I woke up the morning of the trip started doing my housework as usual, and you walked up to me and said. “Go bathe, you going on the school trip” and you handed me the money. I don’t know what miracle you worked, but this is one of many memories that I will cherish and appreciate as long as I live. Happy Mother’s day Janice Corion, thanks for always being there.”
In 4 months, I will be finished with my Master of Digital Media. I am currently working on my Major Research Paper. The topic for my research is “Analysis of Narrative-Driven Social Media Content Use Within Successful Social Media Campaigns Across Multiple Social Platforms to Develop a Campaign Strategy.” I am basically looking at how storytelling, in particular, transmedia storytelling, impacts the success of social media campaign in Non-Profit Organizations. My hypothesis in its simplest form is if you want to be successful on social media, ensure your content tells a story and reflects the overall narrative of your organization.
I graduated with a Bachelor’s of Economics degree from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, Mexico City Campus in December 2010. After crossing the proverbial stage, I went back to Grenada and worked at the Grenada Public Service Co-operative Credit Union, now known as the Ariza Credit Union, as the officer in charge of the Grenville Branch. After 3 years, I resigned from my position and moved to Toronto Canada.
I soon realized that jobs were hard to find in Toronto. The main reasons for my difficulties were my lack of Canadian working experience and no Canadian education. Eventually, I found a job as a Claims Processing Agent in an insurance company. Because I am fluent in English and Spanish, after three months, I was promoted to the bilingual help desk to deal with all the grumpy, angry clients. During that time, I was also freelancing in the digital media world, working with clients on Facebook advertising and social media management. I then started looking at the prospect of obtaining my master’s degree to give me the extra push as an up-and-coming entrepreneur. I remember seeing the Master of Digital Media programme at Ryerson University; however, I took a while to apply. Admittedly, I initially had reservations about applying because possessing technical and creative skills appeared huge parts of the consideration for applicants and many of the past students professed about having the requisite skills.
Although I had a knack for doing business, I was technologically limited, so I must admit that I had some self-doubt. Additionally, my shortcomings were obvious because I can’t code nor use photoshop, so I thought I would not have gotten in. However, after investigating some more and speaking to some more people, I decided to apply in 2016, which I later did. To make a long story short, I got in, and I am currently pursuing the degree. Admittedly, I entered the programme thinking I would have been working on building my digital agency as a Facebook advertiser and Social Media Manager. However, after starting the programme, I instantly fell in love with transmedia storytelling. Even though I am still into social media and different digital technologies, I am now viewing those areas from a storytelling angle.
I fell in love with transmedia storytelling because I realized that many of the successful business personalities and entrepreneurs like Gary Vaynerchuk were not just experts in social media. Instead, they were storytelling on these platforms based on the context best suited for the particular platform. Additionally, from observation, it became quite clear to me that not many people understood the importance of storytelling in business, so I am willingly taking the onus on myself to spread the word.
Stories are the currencies of our conversations. If you want to persuade persons to do or buy something, the best approach would be to appeal to their emotions by telling a story. I was listening to an interview with Dave Kerpen from Likable Local, and one of the things he said was that a good story could be tested using one simple question, ”Is it shareable?”. For that reason, I have been looking closely at why stories spread. Admittedly, I do not have all the answers here; however, I will be documenting, testing, and sharing my findings in due time.
I wish to also mention, however, that one of the findings that was interesting to me was that there are what we call activation emotions which cause persons to take action such as sharing a story. Examples of these emotions are happiness and anger while sadness for instance is a deactivation emotion which leads to little or no shareability.
To end this piece, I would also say it was enlightening to find out that one of the secrets to telling stories online is to understand the context of the platforms where you are storytelling. For instance, it is unlikely to find the same videos from Buzzfeed on Facebook as you will find on Youtube. Therefore, it is important to understand people’s state of mind when they are on different platforms and share stories with them based on why they’re there. I also found that there were different types of stories namely timely, seasonal, and evergreen stories. However, I will sign off here for now and delve deeper in a subsequent post.
How Tamarind Balls, White Envelopes, and Art will Create a Successful Storytelling Entrepreneur in 2017
My life’s ultimate goal is to become a very successful storytelling entrepreneur, which I am currently preparing myself for. In my small digital marketing hustle, I assist small businesses, start-ups, and entrepreneurs with innovative digital strategies that lure and satisfy potential and returning clients. In addition, I am currently working on honing my storytelling skills, and by December 2017, at the end of my Master of Digital Media Programme, I will create a storytelling journal. The journal will include the different structures for telling stories in a digital world and demonstrate how to engineer those stories for spreadability.
From my interaction with many successful entrepreneurs, many of them share common stories about hustling and starting businesses as children such running lemonade stands and servicing paper routes. Consequently, I decided to look at my past to see if I was entrepreneurial back in the day. I started thinking about my days in Grenada when I attended St. Andrew’s Anglican Primary School. Did I do anything that was entrepreneurial there? I certainly didn’t have a lemonade stand; however, I remember my tamarind ball hustle. When I was young, I remember seeing vendors in the town of Grenville selling tamarind balls to passersby and thought to myself, what if I took the same concept but sold tamarind balls in my school? I already had access to the main ingredient because there was a huge tamarind tree next to my house, but the startup capital came in the form of a dollar I borrowed from my mom to buy the sugar for my business venture. Once everything was in place, I started making and selling tamarind balls to my schoolmates. I remember the first day I sold out. I couldn’t believe it; the feeling was indescribable. Admittedly, while writing this piece, the nostalgia reignited that said feeling, and I started smiling ridiculously.
Soon, tamarind went out of season; however, because of my initial experience, I somehow caught the entrepreneurial bug and moved on to another venture, an envelope hustle. Put simply; I sold white envelopes to my classmates. Up to this day, I can’t remember where I got the envelopes from, nor do I know why my classmates were buying them in the first place since they had no need for them. As a matter of fact, upon reflection, I now feel bad about this, but the envelope hustle didn’t last long. Firstly, before going further, however, I must admit that my next venture was the epitome of plagiarism. However, in my defense, I had no idea about that concept back then. Secondly, I must apologize to my friend Amwell for using his brother’s art for financial gains since my next business involved selling copied work. Sometimes when Amwell brought his brother’s art at school, which was generally drawings of popular cartoon characters and superheroes, I traced over his drawings then sold the duplicates to my schoolmates for 25 cents. Therefore, Amwell if you ever read this, forgive me for my ignorance. Since my conscience is now clear, I can now elaborate on the other legal businesses I later ran.
As time went on, the symptoms of the entrepreneurial bug were still evident. When I attended secondary school, I joined the Junior Achievers programme. I was the president of my company which was called “Noix de Coco Ltd”. The company was made up of students from St Andrew’s Anglican Secondary School, Grenville Secondary School, and St Joseph Convent Grenville. Our company made and sold local coconut products to the general public. The little company gave me a true sense of what entrepreneurship was all about since I experienced all of the facets of running a business such as marketing, production, book keeping, management, etc. firsthand.
Related Article- Do this in 2017 to Grow
Admittedly, there was a period when I believe the drive to enter business went away for a while, but fortunately, I got it back in my last year of university while living in Mexico. Consequently, to further assist me in my entrepreneurial journey, I am currently pursuing a Master of Digital Media degree at Ryerson University. My Major Research Project is all about storytelling and getting stories to spread from a business perspective. I want to help businesses tell their stories because I think it’s one of the most underrated skills in entrepreneurship. I am currently storytelling for small clients and the #IamGrenadian project, and so far, the result has been great. I aim to document and blog my progress as I become a master storytelling entrepreneur, and I am glad to have you along for the journey.