Updated: Aug 17, 2019
My Spectacular Birth
I was born in a Cameroon, a small country in Central Africa. My birth is said to have been nothing less than spectacular. On a sunny Monday, February 3rd, my mother was at a remote village called Ngoumou only with her Aunt. On this day, her Aunt decided to go to the farm to get some food. My mother was left home alone. She proceeded to go to the bathroom assuming that it was Nature's call, just to quickly realize that it was a different type of call from Nature. It was a much bigger and living call! She mustered the courage to call her cousin and told her that they had to go, NOW.
After gathering few loincloths, they proceeded to walk to the hospital since there are no other means of transportation in the village. My mother summoned all her strength to fight against my apparent urge to take my own first breath of fresh air. They managed to get to the hospital grounds. As soon as they set foot on the green grass on the front yard, afraid that she may suffocate me during our battle between me wanting to exit and her telling me to wait, she decided to let the gate open. Without further due, I came out head first and my first contact with mother earth was with my head landing on the grass. It is absolutely accurate to say that my first contact with mother earth was literally "head-on". Maybe this explains why I am hardheaded.
I grew without ever knowing my father and to date, I don't know his name and never saw his picture. There were times where, during my childhood, I wish I had a father just like many of my friends or not so friends who called me "Bastard". I was lucky because I started leaving by myself at the early age of 13, away from any parent or relative going to school. This allowed me to become responsible a lot earlier, grow up faster, and mature quickly.
I was raised primarily by my mother who never married, had to work really hard and generally long hours to make sure that we had shelter and food on the table. My brother and I had to do our best to follow our mother's instructions, cook, do house chores, while going to school. It is fair to say that life was extremely kind to me by allowing me to learn the hard lessons since the tender age. Not having a father ceased to bother me when I realized that even some children with both parents went to jail, got in trouble, and were sometime worst off than me. The longing for father vanished and I started to believe that I was lucky not to have a father because I could have ended up like the other kids that were worst off with both parents.
During my childhood, I traveled around the country and lived with different family members and other relatives. I did not spend too much time at a specific location but managed to make good few friends. After graduating high-school, my best friend at the time invited me to come to Yaounde to attend University. He welcomed me and treated me like a brother, showing me the ropes, and at times, covering my expenses. We were both very spiritual and I think it is the reason we became friends. Originally, he was my brother's friend but our friendship grew from the fact that we were both very spiritually involved in the Catholic Church and we were both entrepreneurs selling stuffs on the roadside.
Winning the Lottery
One day, my friend suggested that we play the US Diversity Lottery for a chance to win the US Green Card. At that time, I did not have any money but my friend offered to pay for both of us. I must say that based on our own standards, my friend's application looked better that mine since my picture didn't seem perfect. A year had passed since we submitted our applications and we gave up since we didn't hear back. One day, as we were returning from town where we were selling stuff, we decided to stop by the shop that we listed on our applications as our P.O. Box. We were both stunned to see that my name was on the list, meaning there was a letter or a package for me. Once we got the big white envelop, we quickly noticed that it was sent from Plymouth. We wondered who we knew in Europe or the US could send me a letter. We rushed to our apartment and discretely opened the letter with a lot of curiosity. The cover letter stated: "Congratulations!, You have been randomly selected for the 2000 Diversity Lotery". It was so surreal that my friend and I decided to set it aside, go eat and have a drink to make sure that we were not hallucinating. Upon our return, we finished reading it and barely go the just of it since none of us spoke English.
Coming to America
My best friend went above and beyond to help me secure the funds that were needed not only to complete the Green Card process but to buy my plane ticket. I ended up traveling to the US in October without any change of cloths but only with a simple suitcase containing my diplomas and other personal paperwork. This was the first time for me to travel by plane. I came through New York with my final destination being Minnesota. My trip was uneventful since I was absorbing everything that the experience had to offer.
Once in America, I joined the US Army
I moved to the US in 2,000 and decided to join the US Army in 2001. I joined because one day, I saw a commercial showing people jumping out of a helicopter, running in the woods, and the commercial provided a number to call. As French Speaking individual, I concluded that the Army was the best and quick way to learn English, immerse myself in the Culture, Make Friends, and have fun, so I called.
Fourteen years later, I was put on Medical Retirement. I can honestly say that Joining the Army was the first best decision I made for myself after moving to this beautiful country. I deployed three (3) times, visited several countries around the world, made a lot of friends, learned many disciplines, and became fluent in English. It was with heavy heart that I had to leave the Military.
It is counter intuitive for someone who did not serve to understand why it is difficult for Soldiers to leave the Military or why they would want to go back to combat. While many cite the comradery as the reason, I can personally say that it is more the set of common standards, rules and regulations that are in place to govern Soldiers behavior regardless of the rank. These rules and regulations make life easy and more predictable to the point that Soldiers must only focus on performing their duty at their best. This eliminates the need to question the intends of the person to your left, right, behind, above, or in front. This type of environment creates a unique level of trust that one can only experience. This explains why Soldiers are willing to protect their unit and fellow Soldiers even at the cost of their own live. Transitioning back to a civilian life that is unstructured without common standards is really difficult.
My Entrepreneurship Journey: Silicon Valley
Since 2009, I have been actively involved in Entrepreneurship as Founder, Co-Founder, Mentor and anything else in between. One of my startup ideas even took us to Silicon Valley. We were being promised all kinds of stuff and in the end, we almost lost our business and my partners were willing to kick me out of my own business idea for empty financial promises. This experience allowed me to understand that money is a powerful catalyst that reveals human being true nature and character.
My Entrepreneurship Journey: Quit My Job
From 2010 to 2015, I worked as a supervisor with 17 staffs under my supervision managing two (2) different programs: One Federal and another State. Based on the feedback that I received, I was good at my job, made decent money but I was not fulfilled and didn’t feel like the job allowed me to take full advantage to my full potential. After being sent to Military Retirement, I ended up quitting my job to return to school where I found a renewed passion for entrepreneurship. This experience allowed me to understand to never settle for less than what truly makes me happy.
My Entrepreneurship Journey: My Second Startup
In 2016, I founded a new company that was intended to be a place where I could develop all my business ideas and spin the promising ones into their own companies. I met an individual who expressed interest in joining my company. I accepted and made him a Co-Founder. With his expertise, the company started to generate revenue, but the money was not being used as we originally agreed. We agreed to part ways and I ended up starting a new business. This experience reinforced what I had originally learned about money and people. In addition, I learned to primarily rely on myself and focus on my own dream.
My Entrepreneurship Journey: My third Startup
In 2018, I founded a new company that was one of my multiple ideas that I was exploring both as student at University of Wisconsin Milwaukee (UWM) and during my second startup. The concept is called "Lean Vertical Organizer" and it is a solution that is designed to make the closet space more efficient. Since inception, I have been able to develop a proof of concept (prototype) for shoes and a commercial-grade prototype for belts. The prototypes could be found at www.leanvo.com and I am hoping to manufacture a limited inventory and test the market by the end of Year 2019. I learned from this business that tangible goods are very capital intensive upfront. I also learned that no one will invest in your product regardless of how good but every investor will invest in you. I also learned that most investors are more interested in businesses that are already generating revenue.
Major Life Change: My Divorce
After quitting my job in 2015 and funding several startups out of pocket, it became very difficult for me to keep up with my house expenses such as my mortgage and other bills. I asked my wife to start helping by contributing towards the mortgage and my wife refused stating that I knew what I was getting into when I decided to quit my job. I reverted to credit cards to keep afloat until all the credit cards were maxed out. Meanwhile my marriage was on shaking grounds. I went back to my wife to tell her that if she was not going to help, we will have no other choice but to sell the house. She reluctantly started contributing. Shortly after, we agreed to separate, and my wife went on to file for divorce. Without any money to pay for legal fees I decided to represent myself against my wife who stated allegations of violence and sexual abuse. I successfully defended myself, but this victory was short living, and translated into a bitterness from my wife who instantly made new allegations of child abuse and violence against my own children. I was forced to get legal representation and the divorce ended up costing me everything to include my own children. This experience helped me understand that there are two types of Justices: Human justice and God’s Justice. Human justice is nothing less than a business with the power of extortion. I also learned that some individuals are capable of descending low just for material gains. In addition, I fully experienced the saying “The Truth will set you free”. This experience was also the manifestation of the advice “You are better off alone than in bad company” that was given to me by my cousin.
Major Life Change: Finding My Voice
In 2018, after maximizing all my credit cards, left with only $50 with bills to pay, I had to figure out another source of revenue. I decided to sign up for Uber and Lyft. Driving for Lyft and Uber has proven to be one of the most rewarding decision I made in my life. After 13 months, I drove more than 10,000 individuals in my vehicle and had meaningful conversations. This experience allowed me to understand that many people are trapped by the norms of our society. They live the life of their fears and not that of their dreams and aspirations. I was able to listen to countless stories and give the best advice possible in addition to words of encouragement. From this experience I learned that some human being are willing to enslave their fellow human through the notion of money in exchange for their time and freedom. Since then, I can say that I have found my voice regarding the message of Freedom and Happiness that I want to share with the world. I received countless "Thank Yous" but the words that I kept hearing from many riders are "You have no idea, I really needed to hear that". I also hear "When are you going to write your book?".
New beginnings as Talk Show Host
It is generally said that when one door is shut, another opens. I've always wanted to launch a successful business so that it could support my sincere desire to focus on writing and become a public speaker and inspirational individual. Throughout these endeavors, I've always been drawn to writing and sharing my knowledge one way or another. I started to feel the urge to write, then I started writing some articles on LinkedIn as a way to capture my thoughts and refine my own voice. It is through my writings on LinkedIn that someone reached out to me from www.voiceamerica.com for a possibility to host a Talk Show. This was literally like a miracle. After a brief interview with my Executive Producer, we both agreed that it was the right thing to do. The production was postponed due to the fact that I was undergoing my divorce. Now we are set for the first episode to air on September 9, 2019.
New beginnings as Local Chapter Director: www.startupgrind.com
In 2018, I applied and was selected to start a local chapter for Startup Grind. Startup Grind is a global community for Entrepreneurs and it is in Partnership with Google For Entrepreneurs. After hosting my very first event, I had to take a break so that I could focus on my divorce. Last month, I reached out and was once again authorized to launch the Milwaukee Chapter for Startup Grind.
Giving Back to the Community: Lean Entrepreneurs Community
"To whom much is given, much is expected". Given my humble beginnings in life and everything that I have had the opportunity to learn from life, I feel to belong to a close circle of the few who have had a rich and eventful life. It is therefore important to give back by sharing the wisdom and knowledge. I created the Lean Entrepreneurs Community as a meetup group to help aspiring entrepreneurs explore their business idea by showing them the same tools and techniques that most successful startup use to create multi-million dollars businesses.
Giving Back to the Community: Million Millionaires Change Agents
My heavy involvement with Entrepreneurship has helped me understand that money is just a concept, a notion and that there is nothing tangible that exists as Money. Yet, everyone goes to work for money in exchange for their time and freedom. My goal is to help individuals understand the concepts of money Vs currency and how to create value by building wealth. My goal is to encourage one million individual to become millionaires so that they can help build a better society where value is shifted from the concept of money to happiness for our fellow human being.
Giving Back to the Community: Why In City Milwaukee
Milwaukee is beautiful community that is not always positively portrayed in news media. In order to change the narrative about our city, I built the platform www.whyincitymke.com for local people to tell the positive story about Milwaukee. I believe in change through overwhelming positivism. It starts by acknowledging the good stuff that we have going on and building upon it.
Giving Back to the Community: Ride 2 Rise
The Ride2Rise program is also known as Life Coach on Wheels, exclusively for all my Uber/Lyft Passengers. Thought meaningful conversations, my goal is for each passenger to enter my vehicle with whatever major life situation is bothering them, share it with me while we are riding. I will give them my best advice, drive their problems away with me, and hope that they will be better off than when they entered my vehicle, and rise anew after the ride. What my passengers have shared with me is absolutely priceless and the least I can do is give back words of encouragement and wisdom.