College, Career, Military or Jail? Pick One.

This podcast episode of “Stand Out from the Inside” features business owner Jamie Elder. This episode talks about Jamie's journey of breaking obstacles. Hear him talk about helping communities, finding mentors, and becoming a business owner.

Podcast Specific Hashtags: #racialbias #blooddonations #racialdisparities #racialequality #racialunity #racialdisparity #blackexcellance #blackowned #systematicchange #leadership #entrepreneurship #economicdevelopment

Guest(s): Jamie D. Elder

Social Media Handles: Instagram @shirleys.boy LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/jmeelder/ Email jme.elder@gmail.com Business Ownership: https://surfacepros.co/

About Our Host:

Edgar Daggett born and raised in Ann Arbor, MI. He currently serves as the Specialty Programs Marketing Associate at Versiti Blood Centers, where he focuses on direct involvement and campaign management on specialty products and diverse groups. Past family experience inspired him to begin his journey at Versiti in 2020. He knew that the need for diverse units was growing year to year, and because of his personal history, he decided to make the change – and help make a change.

Through the Stand Out From the Inside podcast, he hopes to empower new and bright individuals in his community and beyond to spread the word on the need for diverse blood products through donation and blood drives.  

“I hope you all enjoy the Stand Out from the Inside podcast presented by Versiti, where we talk about the needs of the community and ways we can become stronger!”

About - Podcast Show Series

STAND OUT FROM THE INSIDE presented by versiti™ is a podcast where—we recognize community with light, uniqueness, and identity. Edgar Daggett will talk with individuals to celebrate ethnicity and blood type — it is part of our survival. Because within our communities, we have attributes that we give and serve in our community. This is a fresh podcast that will give voice to diversity and inspiration. We will promote strength, trust, caring, inclusivity, and positivity. And will go deep on the lifesaving impact of blood donation. How do you Stand Out from the Inside? https://www.versiti.org/standout

Jamie: how we were raised, my father raised us with a depression era mentality and so did my mother, even though we had means. So it was one of those things of like, and an elder blood line. There's no excuses. The women outperformed the men. Anytime I [00:22:00] ever ran into adversity and had anxiety, or it might even been, I've been depressed before, by my circumstances. What allowed me to tap into that resiliency was knowing that my worst day of life is better than my grandfather's best day.

Edgar: [00:00:00] Welcome back to another episode, another podcast of Stand Out From the Inside presented by Versiti. Once again, I'm your host Edgar Daggett. Thank you all for tuning in. If you're new, please subscribe, hit the subscribe button, find all of our channels. And if you're brand new, also go visit all of our other podcasts to find out a little bit more about the world of Versiti, world of donating, world about being a community member. I hope you guys are having an amazing week. Super excited. We have a great episode with you with somebody who I recently met. Amazing person, amazing story that I can't wait for all of you to hear. He comes from the Midwest as well from the Milwaukee region, right now residing in Chicago, Illinois, the big windy city, home of Chicago bulls, Michael Jordan, 23. But this person has an interesting story from where he started, where he grew up to what he's doing now. And he's part of the community. He's helped out. [00:01:00] He's achieved so much in so little time, he's still young, vibrant, ready to go out there, ready to do more and more. And I'm super excited for all of you to meet him, to hear some of his biggest experience, to hear a little bit more about his history and what he's done so far. His name is Jamie Elder. He is super cool. I want to welcome him to the Stand Out From the Inside podcast. Jamie, welcome.

Jamie: Hey Edgar. Thanks for having me, man. Thank you for blessing me with this opportunity to be here today and speak with your audience.

Edgar: Thank you for coming. Thank you for calling me. As we start off this podcast, I want everybody to hear your experience to hear your journey because you are amazing. From what I've heard from the time that I've met you. An amazing story, amazing opportunity that I want to give all of my viewers, all of my subscribers to enjoy. Before we even get started with that, I have to talk. So you're from Illinois or you're right now living in [00:02:00] Illinois, correct?

Jamie: Yes, sir. From Milwaukee by living in Chicago.

Edgar: Did you get hit with that massive storm on Sunday?

Jamie: I don't think the store came through here. We've had snowfall, but nothing's really accumulated.

Edgar: Then you're lucky because here in Michigan, being in Ann Arbor, I look outside on that Sunday morning, everything's covered in white. I was like, what the heck is this? And I've been saying it from the beginning, from the summer, this winter's going to be brutal, and when I look out that window, I'm like, what is this? It looks like January. It looked like a beautiful January night or morning. All covered in white. I would open the window. It's 30 something degrees. I'm like, yeah, this cannot be it. We're still November, Thanksgiving. We have New Years, there's not supposed to be this amount of snow.

Jamie: Yeah, there's that, it's like this, I feel like this year's flown by. I feel like I didn't really build a summer. It might just be like a weird COVID year to where the year is flying by were back to the winter. I just hope we just get through it. We just go out there like, just trek through.

Edgar: I'm telling you, I think we all have to relive [00:03:00] 2021. We should start January 2021 again. Just relive it, pretend this year didn't happen because exactly what you said time has gone way too fast. I felt like summer just happened and then it flew by, it was like hot. Now the days are getting dark at, I think at, yesterday 5:14 it was dark. I was like, guys, I can't do this. I can't be waking up, maybe a little bit daytime and then as soon as I get out of it's dark. I can't be doing this.

Jamie: I agree. Yeah. I was going to say that. I got two hours to record because about 4:30 this is gonna be pitch black in here.

Edgar: Why do you think I have so many lights here? It's not because I want you to see me clearly. It's because it's dark outside and if I didn't have these lights, you wouldn't be able to see me. Awesome, awesome. Well, I really appreciate you being here. Shout out to the Milwaukee Bucks who also won last night against the Los Angeles Lakers, 109 to 102. They didn't have LeBron, one of my favorite players, we'll let that slide. Jamie, I really appreciate you being here. I wanted to start off this [00:04:00] by sharing your story before we even get involved about how we, Versiti and yourself and your organizations, your companies have helped the community and how we can bring the communities together. I want the viewers and the subscribers to hear a little bit about your story, because I loved your story. I love the passion behind it, and I wanted to get them to know a little bit about you and what you're doing today, that difference. So I'm gonna give you the stage. I'm gonna let you share your story and I'm super excited to let the viewers hear it.

Jamie: Gotcha. Yeah. I mean thank you for doing this, man. I know everybody in this world has a story, so I'm always honored to share mine. If it means something to somebody else, that's always great. But, like you said my name's Jamie Elder, I've lived in five cities in five years, well five and a half. Born and raised in Milwaukee. Moved to DC for a minute. I was in Baltimore, Fort Wayne and now I live in Chicago and half time I spent in Dallas. So in the [00:05:00] last five years alone, I like to say I moved twice for the money and twice for a honey. This current move, I definitely moved for money and that's where I'm at today. How I got here, I'm simply like a lot of people, like millions of people. I'm a product of the Midwest Migration. My father, originally from Memphis, Tennessee. My mother from Jackson, Mississippi. My father was born to my grandfather, whose name was Owen Washington Abraham Lincoln John Winston Trice Elder. He was born January 26th, 1865. He was born a slave in Arkansas. Anytime I'm faced with obstacles, I always remember how much my family have to work and sacrifice for me to be here. So when he moved to Memphis, which back then was a refugee camp for slaves. My father started out there. My grandfather died when he was 16. He left my father $6. So by the time my father went through the great depression and after the world war II. He ended up moving to Milwaukee because his brother lived in Racine, my uncle, O.W. and [00:06:00] he said, Chicago is too big, Racine is too small, let me settle on Milwaukee. He used to work 40 years at AO Smith and this is probably a whole nother podcast, but there's always a big age gap between the men and women in my family. Every year, age gap between my father and mothers, my mother was born in 1951. My father born in 1921. I, got two older sisters. I was born in 82. And again, my father worked hard at AO Smith, he only missed like five, six days. And so he took $6. His grandfather gave him a turn into a multi six-figure estate. So I had all the privileges of the luxuries of being like a, I guess, a hood rich kid. But because of what happened in the Midwest, like many other cities, especially in Milwaukee, was that the combination of industrial decline, the crack epidemic, we had a large influx of a lot of low income and a lot of violent crime that came from Chicago and Milwaukee because we're the largest city in the world within 80 miles of Chicago. As a black kid, I got caught up in [00:07:00] that. By the time I was in high school, going into my junior, probably senior high school, I was like a 2.3 GPA students at Rufus King which was known as, like a top, a hundred high school in the country at that time. I wasn't college bound, my father said you got four options, either college, career, go to the military, go to jail, but to pick one. And we had a strong 18 an out rule. Both my sisters were gone by the time they turn 18 and they were going to apply the same thing to their son. So I basically said, know what, I'm on my way to jail. I need to do something else in life. And one day I got a call from a Sergeant Moore from United States Army. It was a recruiter I thought was somebody can call from the police station because I wasn't running the streets with my friends to be like in trouble, I'm going to try to be actual gang member and go to jail, right, and do a mix tape about it. I was doing it as a playboy dog. I was doing to get girls on the cool. And so the idea of me actually getting a real trouble, was like naw I need to do something else. I had that scared, straight moment thinking that the police departments on to some of our activities. That's when I picked up the call. I took the opportunity to enlist to the [00:08:00] United States army as a 74 Bravo information system operator analyst, or as everybody said, a computer geek. And so, no, that's the scene. My senior year I graduated, I went to the army in August and then a lot of my friends are ran up with, I learned after the fact got locked up on drug charges. I was really close to being like a black stat, right. Another negative statistic that we always hear. When you talk about the lowest common denominator of the black and brown community, especially as applies to young men. Basically I had a six year contract in the army. My father died after my second year. He was 80 years old. He just had a lot of health issues as he didn't take good care of himself, probably the first 65, 70 years of his life. Which is why I think this podcast is important. So he probably would still be here today to celebrate his hundredth birthday with us, but unfortunately passed away 20 years ago. I took my inheritance that he left me and I said, no, I don't want to work 40 years in the factory like my father did, plus his job and he didn't even exist anymore. And I knew I didn't have a career in the army, definitely not as a computer help desk person. So I taught myself the stock [00:09:00] market basically start reading a bunch of books about business entrepreneurship. I read this one, I think a money magazine article or Inc magazine article where it said 80% of the multimillionaires attributed their wealth to business investment, or ownership. I said I want to go buy a business. I want to invest in the business. Coming from the hood, I didn't have anybody who could be a mentor to me. Nobody in my social network was remotely related to owning a business or invest in the business. It was kind of somebody to teach myself, just through reading, what I could find on internet and then just pure hustle. I bought my first company when I was 21, 1-800-GOT-JUNK? Franchise. It was the first in the state of Wisconsin. That's an international company back then. They were just in Toronto, Vancouver, and then like, 30 U.S. Cities. So I ran out for a couple of years. Let it go. Then started my first company in landlord concierge, which is, my first startup landlord concierge. We did real estate services for small and medium sized landlords. Ran that until 2008 [00:10:00] when the market crash and back then they didn't have all these business accelerator programs and everything to help you identify your market and how to protect your cash flow, how to do better marketing like I had to do on the fly. So by the time we found our marketplace we had too much cash burned and then when the recession hit, it just took us out. I got back into workforce, ended up at 360 Direct a marketing firm, where I met incredible Nicole Nimmer, sorry, Nicole Agen. She got married. We're still friends to this day. She's how I got plugged into this opportunity to be on this podcast. And then I was there for years is grinding away doing sales support and business development for the organization and threw my contacts I made as a business owner. And in 2012, I knew, Reggie Lusa who to this day, I thank him because I wouldn't be here today if he didn't give me the opportunity to listen to me one day in a governor's conference room in Milwaukee, back in 2011, where I said, even though the cities at war with the state because of act 10 and what Governor Walker was [00:11:00] doing, and that it was Milwaukee, Madison versus the state, and Liberals versus Conservatives, and Republicans versus Democrats. I just said, there's an opportunity for me to work with somebody I know, to be able to get resources and programs and policies that will help increase outcomes, social economic outcomes, in the inner city of Milwaukee, especially for black and brown people. So I took on that meeting with Reggie for about 45 minutes. He said he liked my ideas about economic development, social programs and entrepreneurship in Milwaukee central city. He just said, dude, we'll do a white paper. So I did a white paper. He took it, he passed around administration. I got a call a few months later from Secretary Eloise Anderson from the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families saying she wanted to appoint me. I wasn't married. Didn't have any kids. I had no idea why they wanted to bring a 29 year old black kid, single black bachelor up to the state government to work in, basically to what I looked at as the childcare agency. But you know, that whole experience changed my life because by that time I [00:12:00] was always about this market driven, capitalist driven type of entrepreneur. That really allowed me to take a more clinical approach to how I do my type of business. I take a lot more social approach to how I do business. My whole goal while I work with Department of Children and Families as the Appointed Director and Officer of Urban Development was, as she outlined mission was look at the needs, look at the barriers for employment for black and brown fathers and Milwaukee, help reduce them. Look at the needs of the labor of the business community, of how to employ, make the connection. And also how do we diversify Milwaukee's economy through entrepreneurship? And then more importantly, this is something I added, was that, and back then we were looking at fatherhood programs and I was going to this one meeting where I got to hear a hundred black boys in Wisconsin and Milwaukee to talk about their challenges. We keep labeling them as unruly and violent, and disrupt that, but we never listened to them. What was triggering that behavior. At this [00:13:00] forum that was held at University of Wisconsin Milwaukee we allowed them to speak and we just listened. I heard child after child get up there and sat on and give the same testimony that would have given at their age. And I realized that too often a society and we still do it. We look at children and we say, Hey, we challenge them to become people they don't even know exist. So we're saying, why don't you go to school and get your college degree? I was like, I never met any of my ever went to college. So I don't see the value in a college degree. Or why don't you become a doctor or a lawyer? I never met a doctor or lawyer other than in passing, in a situation where the power dynamic wasn't healthy. I was hurt and injured in the hospital, or I was brought up on charges or I was involved with some of these problem charges. Why would I want to be something that's hurting me. And so that's where I created a program about social education. It's where I wanted to get these kids exposed to people I hadn't been exposed to. Who had helped increase my aspirations and who had not just [00:14:00] said, Hey Jamie, I'm gonna speak life into you, but I'm also gonna point you in the right direction. So he can get those resources, opportunities. So you can overcome your own barriers and develop your own self sufficiency. I did that for four and a half years, did some incredible things. Met some incredible people. But by 2016, I was burning out doing that job. And I was appointee. I knew my time's going to come to a close. So one day I was reading NBCNews.com or something and they were talking about how Charles Koch the multi-billionaire, one of the leaders of Koch industries was going to create a foundation that would invest in community impact and how to reduce poverty across the country. And that's if he would have even signed it, I thought it was a joke, it wasn't even a political, it's just that I just didn't think somebody, or a white rich man from Kansas know anything about Northside Milwaukee. It didn't matter how much money he would spend. He would not be able to solve our issues. So I blind applied thinking like, okay, I'm gonna interview them and while they are interviewing me and I'm gonna tell them how wrong they are about their approach. I went to DC and I [00:15:00] clicked, at that time was with Evan and Lauren, people brought me on and so three months later they hired me. In August, 2016, I went to DC, became one of the Directors of Strategic Partnerships for the Stand Together Foundation. My whole portfolio was all the Midwestern States, Dallas, for work, San Diego, California, and then Somerset, New Jersey. Over two years I got to travel the country and then basically take this philosophy of if we had a limited resources in terms of financial organizational development and capacity building, storytelling and marketing. If we took those same resources that we give, like the Facebooks of the world and Google of the world and all these entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, what if we deployed those same resources into social entrepreneurs, innovators at ULI community organizations, and what would be their outcomes could they scale up and could they impact more lives. And can we actually start moving the needle on some of the issues of systemic poverty. I did that for two years, travel like [00:16:00] 20,000 miles a year. I had 30 different organizations I worked with. Some of the biggest ones, R.I.P. he's like my brother, Bishop Oman, Jahwar was and Antong Lucky. They were my biggest successes, Urban Specialist out in Dallas. Worked with NFL hall of Famer, Deion Sanders, still doing big things. Definitely is also like a brother to me. Working on his $21 million product five campaign. We raised that money and reinvested back into DFW. Worked all across Milwaukee PEARLS for Teen Girls, with Jerry House. But some incredible people. Because that was just taking a toll on me physically and also my relationship because of my then girlfriend at the time. She's a physician too, the smart one between us. She took a more linear approach to success. She got an opportunity to do a fellowship at Johns Hopkins. And so I left DC, we left staying together and went to Hopkins, went to Baltimore, we was there for a year. Then she had a job at Fort Wayne, Indiana, and I'm wearing the shirt right now. Representing Fort Wayne. Then we moved here, came back to the Midwest, lower cost of living. [00:17:00] She's by her family. I'm by my family, I'm by Milwaukee, which I care about. I was there for two years working at Ambassador Enterprises. I was fortunate to work with Kristen and Doug and Gerald Dalton brought me into their team that kind of do Urban Development across Barclays, Indiana. That's where I also learned how to do Private Equity at a level I can understand. So even though I was in proximity to Koch industries, I didn't know how to acquire a multi-billion dollar company and grow it. The work of Ambassador enterprises were talking about $10 million dollar and up companies. I was like, oh, this is something that in my mind. But, unfortunately got to got laid off through COVID there like a lot of people did across the country, unfortunately. But I was blessed to have enough savings and he was generous with his severance package. I said at that time, if I could go anywhere in the world and do anything, where would I go and what would I do? And it's rare that people have the opportunity to really think that critically, at my age, when I was only 38 years old, still wasn't married, no kids. And it's took me awhile, but I said, you know what? I'll probably want to go to Chicago. And I want to go with my partners, [00:18:00] John Maketto and also Isaac Macoy, great friends, also my two business partners. And I said, I want to start and impact private equity firm because all of us have what brings us together. Our shared vision and values is that we all believe in community change and community transformation. We've also shared idea that we been really good at making other people really wealthy. And so the thing is, we just said, Hey, we're probably at a place in our lives that we didn't want to no longer to work for benevolent millionaires and billionaires. We wanted to become one. That way we had to go more upstream to solve the problems we cared about because we can broker relationships, the community organizations and social entrepreneurs who can try to like, to our, to people who had wealth and means, and the corporations with the foundations and the philanthropists. The problem we saw is that we couldn't write the check ourselves. And so that was part of the problem was how funding investments was being deployed, not just how it was being executed. To solve that problem, we created ITJ Group, our [00:19:00] sorrow impact investment firm. So right now we're acquiring small businesses across the country. We just want to grow them in place. We want to preserve those companies, preserve the jobs that exist in those communities. And then eventually we want to grow the companies enough that we have enough profits so we can start reinvesting back in the community impact. Whether it takes five years, 10 years, 20 years from now that's our long-term goal. We believe in capitalism, we just want to have capitalism with a purpose and be more intentional about how we can be mutually beneficial for everybody in society. Our first acquisition was a home improvement company in Dallas. So I spent half my time in Chicago, half my time in Dallas. And then, what we was called surface pro. So we focus on the selling and installing floors, countertops, cabinets, and showers, and so far so good. It's like our first one. And we're excited to see where it goes. And again, if this doesn't work, we keep trying something else.

Edgar: Thank you for sharing. That is amazing. I hope all of you guys enjoyed that story that he gave about his life. [00:20:00] And I want to hit a couple of topics around it because you've been hit. There's been times where from your childhood you've been down, but you rose to the occasion. You always got up, you were hit again with COVID being laid off. You took a step back. You're like, what am I going to do? Whether it took you a week a month, you said three months, it could take a year, but you found something that you liked and you pursued it. And that's what's amazing. What I want to reach out is, because I want to know what was that culture like being young. You said you had families that were born in 1865, which is the last year of the Civil War. The Civil War went 1861 to 65. And what did that history within your family, what effect did that have on your life as you were growing up and does any of that effect still live within you right now?

Jamie: Yeah, I would say daily. That's where, this is were I was probably blessed and people, sometimes I think we over-generalize, what's the importance [00:21:00] of a two-parent home or having a father in the household, stuff like that. I can't speak to every particular situation cause LeBron James, as we talked about, he more than exceed everybody's expectations.

Edgar: Born in Akron, Ohio. Yep.

Jamie: So he was born to a single mother, right? I don't know if I could have done with a single parent because what happened in my situation is that I look at how my mother just left home at 18 years old was, pretty much had nothing, started at the very bottom. And then she was winning awards for volunteering, in the nineties, I was growing up, for being a teacher's aid. And then of course my father who's, his lineage is easier to track because I go to Memphis right now, look at my great-grandfather's tombstone at 1842. The thing about it is, how we were raised, my father raised us with a depression era mentality and so did my mother, even though we had means. So it was one of those things of like, and an elder blood line. There's no excuses. The women outperformed the men. Anytime I [00:22:00] ever ran into adversity and had anxiety, or it might even been, I've been depressed before, by my circumstances. What allowed me to tap into that resiliency was knowing that my worst day of life is better than my grandfather's best day. Because I have the freedom of choice in many cases to do something different and go in a different direction. It change my circles to change my opportunities. He didn't His options were limited it to what he could get on a plantation and whatever the master would give him. Even when he had freedom which was most of his life. He was born a slave, most of his life, he probably remembered being free, they were still living in a one room house, no plumbing, no electricity. They were still sharecropping. So my father picked cotton as a kid and he would tell me the horrific stories of what it would like to be a black man in the south. Have I experienced racism? Yeah. I've never experienced racism where I'm a five-year-old kid riding my bike across the bridge to work everyday at a candy store and every single day five white kids would chasing me across the bridge saying if we catch you we're going to kill you, that was [00:23:00] just growing up. For me, I run into problems all the time, but then I look at it and say, my grandfather died not knowing that was possible. I have the opportunity right now. Right now, as we're talking, I'm looking at the Sears tower, that's my view. Every day I wake up in my apartment, he never saw a skyscraper in his entire life. My grandfather did. And my father, he lived in Milwaukee. He never went to the 40th floor of the us bank building, which is the tallest one in Wisconsin. I used to go there for meetings all the time, when I was at FUEL Milwaukee. I also have to recognize my privilege. I know that's weird to say as a black person, I have privilege, but I do because I had the privilege of being the offspring and benefiting from everything on opportunities on my father and my mother and my grandfather and my sisters, and everybody created for me. And so only thing I need to do is take these opportunities, grow them, and then pass them along to my nieces and nephews. And if I'm blessed, my own children at some point in time. Most importantly, I want to be able to past onto other people, out there in society who may not have the same opportunities. [00:24:00]

Edgar: A hundred percent. And we have to say thanks that we have all these opportunities now. A lot of people didn't have in the past. Just being able to wake up in the morning and have that ability to be like, I'm done doing what I did yesterday. What else am I going to do? What can I do? Oh, I can do everything. Let me pick, you have all these available options in your life that give you the opportunity to either better yourself to improve your life, to exceed, to make you happy. We have all these opportunities. I wanted to know a little bit more about the culture within growing up, times have passed, as we go along through our life, our influences, our outside forces affect the way we think, the way we do, the way we believe. I'm assuming being in Wisconsin, it's a whole different feeling, different environment than being in Wisconsin today. I want to know a little bit about what was like being in Wisconsin back in the day and what was like your childhood like, that affected you today?

Jamie: Yeah, that's funny. I tell people all the time, so Eloise [00:25:00] Anderson, my boss, she was a Cultural Anthropologist. Right. A lot of times we don't look at the clinical way of how societies are laid out. Literally a modern day, Milwaukee. Milwaukee segregated because all the blacks live over here, not a white live over here, and our Latinos are over here, predominantly same thing with Chicago. And then we know we understand that a lot of that, how people settled in the Midwest was settled the way old Europe was settled. It was like Polish here, Italians here, Germans over here. And then as African-Americans migrated up along with the Latinos. Well, we all know, all the people from Europe, I've already said, we found our neighborhood. You needed to go find your own, but how it played out and just horrifically was just that it settled into like segregation with severe economic consequences. Because the boom era had died by the time we settled. From when I was growing up, it was the middle of the good times in Milwaukee, my father experienced post-World War II, was dying. By the time I was 10 years old, like I said, it was like Miller. It's not gonna employ the same amount of people that [00:26:00] did before. All these beer factories, Blatz, Schlitz, they were wiped out, Pabst wiped out. I hear people say if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. I say, that's a lie. If you can make it from places like Milwaukee, you can make it anywhere. Because I grew up in a city where, not just the entire city, but the entire state had low expectations of me because of my race and my place, also my gender. And not only did they have low expectations of young, black and brown mills, we had low expectations of ourselves because I can tell you to this, I mean it's changing today, but when I was growing up, it was simple. You're black do not cross to the South, you don't go past Michigan Avenue to the North, don't go past the Brown Deer Road to the East, do not go past the river. And to the West do not go past 124th Street. That was my entire world for the first 18 years of my life. If this is pre-internet right, so pre social media, and so whatever I [00:27:00] experienced and all my development came from whatever I can learn from that box. The most important thing to happen for me was going to the military because as crazy as it sounds like I remember when I was working in the army, I was working for the Chief of Staff in Fort Gordon, Georgia. That's the first time I ever met the Israeli Liaison and he was talking about Israel and give me an idea about Jewish people and how they got settled. For me, I heard of Jewish people, I didn't know any. If I had known some, I didn't know they were Jewish. I definitely didn't know there was a connection between the Jewish faith in Israel. And then I'm just like, yo, ya'll got a whole country. My whole life, I was totally like world war II. Hitler killed 6 million people. How do millions of Jewish people still exist? I had no clue because I had never left the North Side of Milwaukee. I'd never been exposed to Jewish people. Like you would have maybe New York if you're going to certain communities and other places across the country. That stunted my development in many ways, definitely my social development, but doing business, open it back up because I was like, I don't care how much a person [00:28:00] hates me. If they tell me I have to go join a chamber of commerce, I have to go join that group. I don't care how many white people are in there. If I have to go there and be successful, always within those rooms. My social network has been the greatest advantage I've had in life so far. The fact that segregation was bad, I felt like self-segregation is worse and I refuse are self-segregate. And so now when I go back to Milwaukee, I can see the differences between my friends who are saying like, you know what? We got to get outside this box on the North Side, like we got to experience not just the region, not just the state, not just the country. We gotta start experiencing the world. We can't make it seem like traveling to Atlanta is like our life's goal or going to Miami as our lives goal. We have to understand, like we live in a global economy. We have to experience not just different races of people. We have to experience different cultures within our same race. And that's when I got going to DC. I got to hear, black people spoke different languages and had different cultures, not just what I thought [00:29:00] black was. Even now when I come back, when I leave different places I traveled to that's more my vibrant or diverse and go back to Miwaukee is really that culture shock. There were a lot of people just say they kind of hang on to some of these things that they hung on to as a child. And have these limited ideas and beliefs about what's possible being black. And what's possible being black for Milwaukee.

Edgar: That's amazing. So that diversity that, people getting outside of those roots is what kind of shaped you. I hope you guys are enjoying this, but this is a two-part podcast with Jamie catch up on the second part coming out next week. Where we will be talking and diving deeper into how Jamie is affecting the community and being involved in the community. This is a Stand Out From the Inside podcast presented by Versiti. I'm your host Edgar Daggett and we will see you all next week.

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