Edwin grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee with his younger brother and his mother. He told me a story from high school track. “My coach talked about effort. He said ‘Why be present every day and Bullsh*t? If you’re gonna be out here, you might as well be good at it.’ I apply that same concept to being a Consultant. I give it my all.” That coach’s philosophy has served Edwin well, as he’s hustled and hurdled his way to the Big Apple, New York City.
I caught up with Edwin in DC at a spot called PingPongDimSum on 7th street. We had a couple friends that sat with us for the conversation. It added an interactive audience that was fun and unique. Edwin is an avid reader, so off jump we were exchanging book suggestions and sharing profound findings from the titles we had in common. Two favorites were “The Alchemist“ and “As a Man Thinkith“ Edwin possesses strong business acumen and lives high in consciousness, qualities that he partially credits to his global travels. His list of destinations range from Rome to Columbiato Amsterdam, just to name a few. The wisdom and maturity gained through these experiences are demonstrated with his friendships, and also in his work. Edwin was put on to consulting by a coworker that told him about being a “super connector”. Since then he’s connected with people all over the World. I think it’s time I get into the act and connect the World to Edwin’s story. Please enjoy this week’s #ShineHard conversation.
What is your Passion and when did you know?
ERJ: Travel and food. One Christmas my mom had bought me a huge world atlas book, so I would spend lots of time just flipping through and wondering what it would be like to live in different places. Just being naturally curious I guess. Food has also always been something I’ve enjoyed, but once I started traveling more often I realized that a lot of people and cultures are defined by their food and visa versa. If you can understand how and what people eat you’re halfway to understanding them.
Who did you look up to as a kid?
ERJ: I had a lot of heroes, real life and fictional characters. I won’t be cliche by singling out one person, but I’ve always been attracted to visionaries at that top of their industry. Anyone who has a great story about how they fought their way to the top resonates with me. Truthfully, I like Diddy,Oprah, Ted Turner, Hank Aaron, Sam Walton, and Richard Branson.
What inspires you the most these days?
ERJ: The opportunity to live life on my own Terms. Living the type of lifestyle that I want to live. Having the good problems of the world haha.
What is the actual role of a Consultant and how do you approach your work?
ERJ: The role of a consultant in simplest terms is helping companies and your client sponsor to do something they don’t have the capability to do themselves. It starts with a problem then I have to present myself as a solution provider. You always have to keep focus on your client and listen to their needs. There’s a lot of bad consultants who do too much talking and telling a company what you can do for them. To really be effective you have to have good listening skills and a vested interest in helping your client in whatever capacity you can.
In your opinion, what is the most important quality in Leadership?
ERJ: Team Success. Making the people around me better.
What has been your biggest challenge in your career thus far?
ERJ: Realizing that you’re not owed anything. School teaches you, if you do this and that, you’ll get to the next level. That isn’t necessarily the case in consulting. Working in a competitive industry where everyone went to a “good school” and is “smart,” you soon realize if you don’t go after what you want with fervor and tenacity, you’re never going to get to where you want. You have to be hungry enough to separate yourself from the pack.
How are you able to travel the world?
ERJ: I’d be lying if I didn’t say my career doesn’t enable most of it, but the other half is understanding how to maximize your dollar and using points/promotions. There’s a lot of ways you can leverage credit cards, airline, and hotel points to travel the world for little to no money. It’s mostly about doing the research and having a solid plan. I’m always willing to share some of my tactics to anyone who wants to hear.
What lessons have you learned from your journeys?
ERJ: So most recently I was in a hostel in Amsterdam and there was a mixup with my room’s bed assignments. When I got to my room there was a guy passed out in my bed already. From the looks of it he was just an American looking black guy wearing some fresh J’s. I politely woke him up so we could resolve the issue, but I was shocked when he looked at me confused and said “Désolé, je ne parle pas anglais”. I had made a huge assumption that he was just another traveling African American- but the guy was French. After we resolved the bed situation, my travel buddy, Marion Lee, and the French dude and his homie tried to have a broken french/broken English convo. They asked us, “Who’s the best rapper?” So we threw out a couple names “Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z“. Their eyes lit up and were proclaiming Kendrick was the king of rap adding, “What about Schoolboy Q and A$AP Rocky?” It was a huge cultural shock to me. Here we were debating with to two french dudes who was the best rapper while in Amsterdam and not being able to speak each other’s language. It was then when I realized how big hip hop/African-American culture is. How global we’ve become. There’s a lot of cultural similarities that totally transcend geographical and language restrictions.
What frustrates you most about today’s culture?
ERJ: Negative people. I always think of Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Power, “Avoid the Unhappy & Unlucky.”
What is the underlying secret to success in your life?
ERJ: Prayer. Putting positive waves in the universe and allowing God’s plan to work for you. I never woke up knowing exactly what I wanted to do. I feel like a lot of people get anxious trying to find purpose. I say just follow the yes’s in your life and work your ass off!
What advice would you give to young aspiring consultants?
ERJ: Work your ass off and don’t complain. Consulting is a tough job because you deal with problems daily, difficult problems. If the problems had easy solutions, your services wouldn’t be needed. You have to hang in there, learn from your team, your client, read industry news, read whitepapers, read books in your field and fight every day to be the best consultant that you can be. If you can do that day in and day out, The Compound Effect will take place. If you build enough momentum and focus, you will look around and be proud of where you’re at.
Johnny: Yessir. If you want to be great at something, do it Everyday! Effort x Consistency x Time is the equation to become exceptional at anything. Welcome to the @ShineHardFam.
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