I am sitting in the offices of Matchfire Dallas writing this blog as I look through a wide frame glass panel window down on Jackson Street, adjacent to a green area where kids play in the mornings and people sit and take five minutes to rest at various points of the day. It’s 12:30pm and the sun is at the right point in the sky to give the city a certain glow. I just finished a particularly informative meeting, and I can’t help but feel extremely blessed.
Before I started writing, I took a few minutes to reflect, mentally trotting through the last 32 years and five months of my life that brought me here, and I am more excited about my life and my business—Point Global Marketing Limited (the company that I started just under five years ago)—than I have ever been. Why am I excited? I am excited because in many ways, my selection for the Young Leaders’ of Americas Professional Fellowship (YLAI) is validation for starting Point Global Marketing in the first place. And I am excited because it feels like as we approach our five-year mark as a company in February, that we are at the right place for growth and expansion and I am precisely where I am meant to be—in a city where the business community is so open and giving of advice and best practices. This openness is most evident in Matchfire assisting with plunging me into the business community and other agency leaders in Dallas.
In 2011, after ten years of working in sales, marketing, and strategy for MCIS, owned by one of the largest financial groups in Jamaica – JN Group, Capital & Credit Merchant Bank, and Edgechem Jamaica Limited, a conversation with my mother changed my life.
For much of my life, my mother ran several small businesses. She had no formal business training, but her tenacity and propensity for hard work made up for it. Her businesses sent four children to school and gave us all a roof over our heads. Her hard work laid the foundation for my being able to attend the University of the West Indies, ultimately completing my undergraduate degree in Political Science and Economics. Her emphasis on education made me employable, which led to me being able to work for great Jamaican companies—giving them sound advice and direction on the best way to attract new customers and tell their stories.
My light bulb moment came during a conversation with my mother where I realized that her businesses did not grow beyond a certain level because she didn’t benefit from the type of expertise that I had. This, too, would be the case for any other business similar to hers. My mother had worked all her life, but was still too small for traditional marketing agencies or business consultancies to target. She also didn’t naturally think to look at working with a consultant on her business, because in her mind, her business just wasn’t big enough for them to want to help.
This conversation laid the mental seed for Point Global Marketing to be born. It took a year of writing and rewriting my business plan, figuring out my business model, and designing an approach to help emerging businesses. In 2012, Point Global Marketing was launched. Today, we are a Pan-Caribbean integrated marketing agency with a global outlook and roots deep in the Jamaican and Caribbean landscape. I am particularly proud of work we have done for clients like The Competitiveness Company in helping to design packaging material for the launch of their ornamental fish program. This program sees The Competitiveness Company growing ornamental fish in Jamaica for the export market creating employment for many in the sector.
I am also overjoyed at the work we have done with Mavis Bank Coffee Company Limited to launch their instant coffee brand True Brew and the work we have done and continue to do on digital for C&WJ Cooperative Credit Union (C&WJCCU), recently ranked by Financial Brand as one of the top 100 Credit Unions on Facebook worldwide in its 2015 survey.
And our work in providing overall marketing strategy to Vein Centers of Jamaica—bringing them from business concept to the largest vein and vascular practice in the Caribbean in just under four years.
These wins for Point and our clients make me particularly proud.
However, while the sparks and the goals that got me started and kept me going so far still burned bright, the start of 2016 up to the point of my selection for the YLAI program was tough. The YLAI program came at the mid-point of a tough year of change for Point. The tough realities of making choices about how to ensure growth, while maneuvering the changes of the ending of what was to be a high value partnership, having to change office locations and all the other challenges of running Point was taking a toll and started to grey my outlook. In the midst of that, YLAI’s mission of building linkages between young leaders across the hemisphere, while helping to address the opportunity gaps which exist by empowering entrepreneurs and civil society leaders with training, tools, networks and resources, was the light I needed, when things felt flat and the new modalities to power a next phase of growth were missing or out of my grasp.
I was placed in Dallas for my fellowship. While I have been travelling to the U.S. for many years, my knowledge of the city consisted of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team owned by billionaire Mark Cuban, the Dallas Cowboys NFL team, and the fact that Dallas is in Texas. I got here arriving in Addison first and was blown away by the energy innovation and kindness of 248 other entrepreneurs and social change makers in the YLAI program, as well as the business community in both Addison and Dallas, and I immediately felt that this was possibly the most business-friendly and open place I have ever been in my life.
The orientation program for YLAI in Addison, my engagement session with the other YLAI fellows, and the business networking events, all pointed to growth and connections.
I met Brian Powell and Kelsey George of Matchfire, my placement organization for my Fellowship, at one of the networking events organized by Meridian International and the State Department for welcoming YLAI Fellows, and immediately felt welcomed and plugged in. A few days later I arrived at Matchfire’s office in Dallas on Jackson Street, where I got a desk near the window that gives me a great view of the people and activities below. I was welcomed by the Matchfire team in the Dallas office and elsewhere through teleconferencing, and I knew that this would be the best place to reboot and recast Point as an organization going into the next five years with strong growth and connections.
After several chats with Brian, several meetings with other agencies in Dallas to learn about them and their work, many chats with my fellow YLAI Dallas fellows, and a few professional training and building sessions, I am so happy that I have been placed in Dallas with Matchfire because it’s exactly the right place to ignite a flame!