THE LEADERSHIP LIFE; IT’S ALL ABOUT SERVICE

Ever since I entered the workforce as a teenager, I have known that I am supposed to be a leader in some capacity. I never wanted to lead in the military or in corporate America, partly because of fear of failure and partly because I didn’t feel comfortable conforming to such conservative standards. I have always called myself a boss, with grand visions of running my own non-profit that makes a large profit but I guess it’s not my time yet. At least judging from my current bank account. LOL. Anyway, I don’t believe that anything is sheer coincidence and after deciding to pursue my passions back in 2010, I have been gathering knowledge on becoming a boss for real.
I became aware of this Global Leadership Summit back in 2012, while attending Bridgeway Community Church in Columbia. I was intrigued because the speakers were revered leaders from all areas of business, entertainment and the spiritual community. One of the things I love about BCC is it’s commitment to community service and they encourage their attendees to get involved in service as a way of living out personal spiritual practices. I’m down with that so I volunteered to serve on the Registration Team. I love engaging with people and this is a fast paced duty where I am on my feet and never bored. The perk of serving in this capacity is that once registration is over, we get to attend the summit and soak up all of this wisdom that hundreds of people pay hundreds of dollars for. I figured that this opportunity is God preparing me for my future TED talk or whatever platform I am given to encourage others with my stories. Y’all know I got stories…so many stories. So, although I am a leader in preparation, the principles of leadership are applicable in both the preparation and implementation stages, making this #GLS event a valuable resource.
Anyway, I have learned so much over the past few years from both the BCC team and the GLS speakers. The 2015 faculty included Ed Catmull, the Academy award winning president of Pixar Animation Studios, who really inspired me to continue blogging. Catmull explained his views on how fitting art and science together through great storytelling can change and improve the world. He explained how storytellers are the world changers because stories are how we communcate with each other and how we can connect through the emotions of a great story. I had never thought of the importance of my “gift of gab” until he broke it down that way. The lightbulb came on for me as to why people get engrossed in a good book or a well crafted movie, such as Inside Out, because of the universal ability to relate to the story. This was also my turning point to think of my storytelling ability as a service to the world, not just amusement for my friends and family. He ending his session by stating a variation of words that I had been praying for many years, “Use your stories for Good”. As a child, I took pride in telling some fantastic lies, and I thrived on being a petty criminal. Once I got older and grew a conscience, I used to ask God to change me and to use my “powers” for good. I took this a confirmation that I am on the right track with Wani’s World and my current authoring goals.

This year, one of the speakers that I was impressed by was Melinda Gates. She spoke about how the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation effectively serves women in developing nations from a perspective that is not really talked about, particularly in religious settings. She explained how one of the principles of leadership, especially when you are claiming to serve an underserved population, is the need to actually LISTEN to what the people want to be provided with. What is really going to serve their best interests instead of what Western thinking assumes is necessary. She learned, much to her surprise, what women in developing countries want is female centered birth control, such as Depo-provera shots. While sitting down with women in Africa and India, she learned that condoms are not effective because of the stigma attached to them. Women often cannot ask men to use condoms because of the assumption that if a condom has to be used then they will be accused of having AIDS or they think the man has AIDS. Also, in many countries women have no control over when or how they have sex, because they are considered powerless. Having control over the timing of their pregnancies by using birth control without their husbands knowing is an important part of empowerment for them. The option to not have babies back to back has improved the suvivability rate of both the mothers and children. Apparently there used to be wide access to Depo-provera shots that has been taken away in exchange for the widespread availability of condoms, to supposedly stem AIDS. This was so enlightening to me, how important it is to serve others through the lens of reality and not Western ideas of morality. Melinda Gates grew up Catholic so she explained that it was a struggle for her to even speak out for birth control and how she eventually realized that in this instance, it was God’s will for her to use her resources to serve in this way.
My final takeaway from her talk was that unfortunately, there is so much more that can be done by so many more celebrities and millionaire business owners. She mentioned how Warren Buffet was the one to give her the idea of coordinating a group of millionaires, both believers and non-believers, to fund charitable efforts that would impact the world greatly. It’s so crazy how many of us, especially in America, have a multitude of resources that we amass over a lifetime and we can’t take them with us when we die, yet we don’t even think of donating even a small portion of it to less fortunate communities. Umm, rappers and Ballers I’m looking right at you. I mean how many Jordan’s and Bugatti’s can you own, and really enjoy? We have got to do better folks. For real though. But, that’s another post, for now I am looking forward to tomorrow’s lesson at the #GLS2016. Hope your day was productive, Stay Prayed Up!

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The Leadership Life; It’s All About Service

Ever since I entered the workforce as a teenager, I have known that I am supposed to be a leader in some capacity. I never wanted to lead in the military or in corporate America, partly because of fear of failure and partly because I didn’t feel comfortable conforming to such conservative standards. I have always called myself a boss, with grand visions of running my own non-profit that makes a large profit but I guess it’s not my time yet. At least judging from my current bank account. LOL. Anyway, I don’t believe that anything is sheer coincidence and after deciding to pursue my passions back in 2010, I have been gathering knowledge on becoming a boss for real.
I became aware of this Global Leadership Summit back in 2012, while attending Bridgeway Community Church in Columbia. I was intrigued because the speakers were revered leaders from all areas of business, entertainment and the spiritual community. One of the things I love about BCC is it’s commitment to community service and they encourage their attendees to get involved in service as a way of living out personal spiritual practices. I’m down with that so I volunteered to serve on the Registration Team. I love engaging with people and this is a fast paced duty where I am on my feet and never bored. The perk of serving in this capacity is that once registration is over, we get to attend the summit and soak up all of this wisdom that hundreds of people pay hundreds of dollars for. I figured that this opportunity is God preparing me for my future TED talk or whatever platform I am given to encourage others with my stories. Y’all know I got stories…so many stories. So, although I am a leader in preparation, the principles of leadership are applicable in both the preparation and implementation stages, making this #GLS event a valuable resource.
Anyway, I have learned so much over the past few years from both the BCC team and the GLS speakers. The 2015 faculty included Ed Catmull, the Academy award winning president of Pixar Animation Studios, who really inspired me to continue blogging. Catmull explained his views on how fitting art and science together through great storytelling can change and improve the world. He explained how storytellers are the world changers because stories are how we communcate with each other and how we can connect through the emotions of a great story. I had never thought of the importance of my “gift of gab” until he broke it down that way. The lightbulb came on for me as to why people get engrossed in a good book or a well crafted movie, such as Inside Out, because of the universal ability to relate to the story. This was also my turning point to think of my storytelling ability as a service to the world, not just amusement for my friends and family. He ending his session by stating a variation of words that I had been praying for many years, “Use your stories for Good”. As a child, I took pride in telling some fantastic lies, and I thrived on being a petty criminal. Once I got older and grew a conscience, I used to ask God to change me and to use my “powers” for good. I took this a confirmation that I am on the right track with Wani’s World and my current authoring goals.

This year, one of the speakers that I was impressed by was Melinda Gates. She spoke about how the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation effectively serves women in developing nations from a perspective that is not really talked about, particularly in religious settings. She explained how one of the principles of leadership, especially when you are claiming to serve an underserved population, is the need to actually LISTEN to what the people want to be provided with. What is really going to serve their best interests instead of what Western thinking assumes is necessary. She learned, much to her surprise, what women in developing countries want is female centered birth control, such as Depo-provera shots. While sitting down with women in Africa and India, she learned that condoms are not effective because of the stigma attached to them. Women often cannot ask men to use condoms because of the assumption that if a condom has to be used then they will be accused of having AIDS or they think the man has AIDS. Also, in many countries women have no control over when or how they have sex, because they are considered powerless. Having control over the timing of their pregnancies by using birth control without their husbands knowing is an important part of empowerment for them. The option to not have babies back to back has improved the suvivability rate of both the mothers and children. Apparently there used to be wide access to Depo-provera shots that has been taken away in exchange for the widespread availability of condoms, to supposedly stem AIDS. This was so enlightening to me, how important it is to serve others through the lens of reality and not Western ideas of morality. Melinda Gates grew up Catholic so she explained that it was a struggle for her to even speak out for birth control and how she eventually realized that in this instance, it was God’s will for her to use her resources to serve in this way.
My final takeaway from her talk was that unfortunately, there is so much more that can be done by so many more celebrities and millionaire business owners. She mentioned how Warren Buffet was the one to give her the idea of coordinating a group of millionaires, both believers and non-believers, to fund charitable efforts that would impact the world greatly. It’s so crazy how many of us, especially in America, have a multitude of resources that we amass over a lifetime and we can’t take them with us when we die, yet we don’t even think of donating even a small portion of it to less fortunate communities. Umm, rappers and Ballers I’m looking right at you. I mean how many Jordan’s and Bugatti’s can you own, and really enjoy? We have got to do better folks. For real though. But, that’s another post, for now I am looking forward to tomorrow’s lesson at the #GLS2016. Hope your day was productive, Stay Prayed Up!

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My Caribana 2016 Trip: Cayonne Legacy Coming Full Circle

 

So, this past weekend I got to check off another long time item on my God Box list. My God Box consists of items that I long for but don’t see any realistic way for them to come to fruition, so I leave them in the box and let God handle them supernaturally.

I met my father, John Cayonne, back in 1993 after an unlikely encounter at the Baltimore Caribbean Carnival celebration. My mother had told me very little about him and their relationship, but she did mention that she met him while singing with La Petit Musicale, a prestigious group of folk singers formed originally in Trinidad. This particular group had actually come to perform at Carnival that year and many of the members looked to be around my mother’s age or older and I wondered if that could possibly be the same group of singers. My sister, Jiku, was with me and she was like, “Wouldn’t it be crazy if your father was here and you could meet him?”. I was a bit reluctant because I really didn’t know anything about him except his name and my experiences up to that point with father figures had not been the greatest. Anyway, she dragged me up to the stage area and Mama tagged along, also reluctantly I guess based upon their relationship. Once we got to the stage my sister asked one of the group members if he knew where Johnny Cayonne was and when the man looked at me, it was like he saw a ghost. I immediately knew that I must look like my father. He explained that he didn’t make it that year because he was sick but that once the group returned to Toronto, he would relay the message and my information to him. My mother gave him our number and let him know we would be awaiting the phone call. The next evening the phone rang and my mother answered, I heard her say, quite coldly, “ Hello, remember when you gave me money to have that abortion? Well, I never had it, hold on.” She handed me the phone very unceremoniously and walked away. WTF?

So, I took the phone and my father was chuckling on the other end. He said he knew this would happen one day and that I probably had other brothers or sisters that he didn’t even know about around the world. We laughed and agreed to keep in touch and he told me that he lived in Toronto and I had 3 sisters, one older and 2 younger and a brother. He sent me pictures and I even made it up to Toronto to meet them in person later that year. He tried to open up a relationship with me but since I was scarred from my stepfather’s abuse, I really didn’t know how to relate to a man, especially a father. My older sister, Yveanna, became my go between as communicator and eventually she told me that my father got ill, had a stroke and no longer remembered me. So I stopped trying to keep up the relationship.

Over the years, I wondered what happened to my other siblings but it seemed like the family was irreparably fractured, at least from her point of view and I lost touch.  After Yveanna passed away in 2012, I longed for a connection to my siblings because it seemed like there was always a missing piece to my family background. I followed my brother, an actor,on social media and wondered about my sisters. The idea of a close family is dear to me and since I never had kids, I always fancied myself the family connector. I placed my request for a family reunion of the Cayonne side of the family in my God Box back in 2010 and I guess the timing was finally right for it all to come together.

So about last weekend, the whole Caribana experience was awesome! I had always wanted to experience Caribana ever since I found out that my father was one of the founders of this significant cultural event. I am in the process of writing my memoirs and I thought it would be so fabulous to see where I get my love of pageantry and Trinidadian culture from.

After learning of his creative and artistic history, I figured it was literally in my DNA. The bonus of the trip was getting to hang out with my sisters Ramona and Juanita, who also solidified my belief in gifts and interests being passed through the bloodline. First of all, the foodie thing runs real strong in this bunch! Whether cooking, eating or both…we all love some food. The other commonalities are these intuitive gifts and being drawn to spiritual practices. It’s so crazy how we did not grow up together but we share many personality traits and interests, the good and the not so good. I was actually comforted to know that I do have siblings that share my eccentricity because my brothers and sisters that I grew up with always tease me for being quite different from them. I guess I take a lot from my father’s side including his looks and career aspirations. My mother was more the practical one and my father was the artistic one, I clearly lean toward the artistic unconventional spectrum. I once asked my Mother why she never pushed me towards a particular career and she answered that she assumed that I would pursue the arts like my father. Although she never told me about his acting, writing, singing or artwork, I guess she figured it would come naturally to me. After reading his rich history, I see why she said that. One of my regrets is that I never pursued dance or theater because I really loved it. I always say that if I had my life to do over, I would be a choreographer. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that was one of my father’s talents as well. The other crazy thing is I was always drawn to holistic healing and metaphysical beliefs and I found out that he was into all of that as well. Apparently he had natural spiritual gifts that allowed him to manipulate plants with his mind. I’m still working on my gifts, I wonder if I can manipulate my bank account to add some commas and zeros to that joint?

Once again I am in awe of God’s timing and sense of humor. All my life I jokingly claimed my love of Weed, Women and Song, and apparently I couldn’t help my habits if I tried. LOL. I’m not sure about the weed thing for my father but the other two, most definitely. I always felt scattered because I could never decide on which artistic talent or spiritual gift to pursue. I thought that it was impossible to really possess such diverse interests and be a sane individual. I wish that I was able to get to know him so I could form my own opinion of my father, but I can’t question God’s Divine timing. It has worked out for the best because I now have a relationship with my beautiful sisters and nieces. I have so much more to tell but I’ll save that for the book. Suffice it to say that I am looking forward to my Trinidad trip this October so I can put all of the genealogy pieces of the puzzle together. Check my Facebook and Instagram feeds for pictures, I am still learning the mechanics of WordPress when adding to the blog page. Until next time, Peace and Blessings!

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