Tell us specifically where we are standing.
We’re standing in front of a small business that represents the future of Harlem. Harlem is changing, and for many people, they feel like it’s changing for the better. Businesses are springing up, and people from all walks of life are living here; it’s actually bringing out what is best about Harlem: the culture, the art, the music, the diversity that is here. It all sort of represents who I am.
What does your organization do here in Harlem?
WIBO is helping to start many businesses in Harlem. We help them put together a business plan, help connect them with funding, and help them connect with other business development resources so their business can grow. Starting a small business can be very difficult, but being in New York actually helps, because New York has a lot of organizations that help small businesses, and we happen to be one of them.
The 10 nations hardest hit by natural disasters in 2006, in the number of people killed or otherwise affected, were all developing countries.
Take us back a little. Tell us how you ended up here from BYU.
Ever since my family moved to the U.S., when I was about twelve, I’ve always wanted to live in New York. I’ve always been interested in international relations and economic development. My dad traveled all over the world to earn an education so that he could go back home and develop the country. I grew up in that environment. Once we came to the U.S., we became Latter-day Saints, and I went to BYU for my undergrad.
While I was at BYU, I kept telling everyone that I was going to move to New York to start my business and career there. Eight months after graduation, I became very miserable. I thought, “What is my life supposed to be?” I made a bold move by quitting my job and moved to New York in two weeks. I put everything I owned in my car; if it didn’t fit in my Mazda Protégé, it didn’t come with me. I drove all the way to New York and slept on a friend’s couch for four months while I looked for a job. The first job was at Lehman Brothers, where I learned a lot about the financial world that has helped me to this day, but I was miserable.