13 Questions with Jamaica's Top CEOs | Emprezz Golding

Starting a business can be hard, but there are no limits on who can become a great CEO, entrepreneur, or leader.  Let’s be frank, just like Bill Gates "Harvard's most successful dropout" & founder of Microsoft, Ellen DeGeneres, college drop out and worked odd jobs until entering the world of stand-up comedy, or even Ted Turner, founder of CNN, who was expelled for having a female student in his dorm room.  You don't necessarily need a college degree, a bunch of money in the bank or even business experience to start something that could become the next major success. However, what you do need is a strong plan and the drive to see it through.

For many high-achieving professionals, the ultimate career goal is to become a chief executive officer. While anyone who climbs the corporate ladder or starts their own company can hold this title, it takes an outstanding type of leader to truly embody what it means to be a CEO. This coveted position is more than simply "calling the shots" – it means earning respect and inspiring your entire organization to do their best work for the good of the company, the community and country in which they serve.

But, what is it like being a CEO. How did they start and what are some of the challenges? Youths Inspiring Positive Change sat down with the energetic, dynamic, passionate and outspoken Emprezz Golding, in our 13 Questions with Jamaica’s Top CEO’s series to find how!!

1.       Tell us a little bit about yourself, don’t be shy share the fun facts?

I am an Entrepreneur, Corporate Social Responsibility Consultant, Motivational Speaker, Youth Advocate, Adolescent Programs Director, Board Director; Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, Board Chair; Maxfield Park Children's Home, Broadcaster & Television Executive, wife and a mother and I simply love my family.  My mission is to improve communities, identify & tackle social issues by developing products & programmes via media & social enterprises."

Growing up I always wanted to be a singer, a lawyer and a TV host. In my own way, I am doing it all. I did not pursue law, but I did pursue and take the path of business and media.

The wannabe lawyer in me negotiates deals for my business contracts, and I defend the rights of young people by ‘Talking’ like I am in the courtroom. I hear the different sides, build an advocacy case and speak on behalf of the youth.  I advise them on their rights and practice advocacy on their behalf in the media landscape. I actually never made it as a singer. However, I had a record deal once, and I sing every time someone hands me a MIC and a band. I feel like I’m not of this ‘normal’ world. I am a very radical thinker. If you could hear my thoughts, you may say I am crazy. The closest people to me know I have many conspiracy theories about what we all see as normal and ok.

Oh, I love to BURP and talk at the same time. (Few people have heard me do this) It makes my son laugh, and laughter is medicine for the soul. I love making children feel like they are Superheroes. I am a 100% UNIA supporter and member.

2.      What’s a typical day like for you?

I am dizzy thinking about it.

•    Wake 4 am, or 6 am.

•    Sort out the kids, breakfast, then get myself ready for work.

•    Work is either to TVJ studios or dropping my son to school, then I am off in traffic for a work meeting or project execution.

•    Every day is a different activity. I have a variety of enterprise initiatives, so nothing in my work life is the same. With a multiplicity of projects in front of me. I have to be very flexible, and I have to multitask a lot. 

•    I go to bed very late. After I put the children to bed by 8 pm, then my me time starts, and my creative juices start flowing. I then go into my next shift to complete documents, respond to emails, check in on my team, spend time with my husband and then I’m knock out to prepare to wake again and face a new day.

3.      How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?

I stay motivated by my mission to empower and lift our youth. Every day I accomplish a new goal, I am motivated. When someone says “Emprezz you changed my life and made me see myself as important” I am motivated. When my husband says “Babe, I love you and our children” I am motivated.

4.      Do you have any fears?

I have so many fears and every time they appear, I #StepPonFear. I am human, so I fear the loss of a loved one. Then I say but hold on, death is inevitable so prepare for it. I fear I may not accomplish my ultimate goals, where the youth are empowered enough to make the best decisions, build wealth and be protected from harm, but then I say 'at least I committed my life to starting the process.'

5.      As a powerhouse in media, how do you balance being a mother, wife, business owner, youth advocate and mentor to so many youths?

I don’t balance. I JUGGLE.  I am continuously tossing a dream or activity in the air and catching another, keeping at least one in the air while handling the others.

6.      What are your concerns for youth in Jamaica?

I am concerned that many of our youths feel hopeless and helpless to take this country in their hands and build it for them. The lack of interest in the development of Jamaica politically, economically, socially and spiritually is also worrying because they are going to be the beneficiaries of whatever happens now in Jamaica. I am worried about our young men, and I am determined to make an actual change in the disappointing statistics concerning our young men.   

7.      Do You Think Jamaicans Are Really Listening To The Voices Of Our Young People, Twelve Months Of The Year? If Not, Why Not?

Since 'Talk Up Yout' started and set the trend to “Give the Youth a Voice” I have observed other NGO’s and individuals promoting and encouraging the same. This is good. It was one of our goals to have a cultural shift where youth felt confident to talk about their issues, and that gave us DATA to identify the needs and then implementing programs to address them. Yes, people are listening but not enough. We use TALK as a means of therapy for the youth. So as long as they are getting it out, it is a start. Next is the collective voice of our youth through advocacy. I encourage our young people to come together because where there is strength in numbers with a goal to bring change where change is needed, change will come. You can’t ignore 500,000 plus youth that stands up together to lobby the government, change a system or law, and fight for justice and accountably from adults and stakeholder agencies. Your voice is important. #TALKUPYOUT

8.      How do you feel about the number of young lives you have touched over the years?

Overwhelmed. Happy. Blessed. I having been given a gift and I use it to help young people. I don’t have money to offer, but I have the heart.

9.      What’s your involvement in using creative arts to expose youths at the Maxfield Park Children's Home?

We recently completed an art project with the National Gallery and Japan’s Farah Okada from KIDS EARTH FUND.  Our last activity focused on drawing to let children express themselves and pull out their creative expression. We are using music, dance and excursions to allow some of our children to be exposed to different things.  The board is working on other activities, and as chair, I can tell you that I know the power of creativity to bring change. So whenever a request comes to me for excursions or programs for the youth to get involved in at our home, after careful review, I am very supportive.

10.  What’s unique about the service that you provide?

There is none like us. I just realized this year the ultimate power I have to connect and influence individuals to find their best self. Everything I do is guided by the need to serve, help, inspire, innovate, motivate, share and lift my people out of poverty and I am using media as a tool to do it. I am all about the outcome.  Recently a colleague & advisor that I highly respect told me that I am ‘Connector’ so I may be adding this one to my title. Sounds progressive right? Emprezz Golding, Connector. I am stuck on this response. Why? This could be a new career path for others and me… Let me run with it now.

11.  Describe a major business or other challenges you had and how you resolved it.

Every business has its challenges. The mistakes and the failed business ventures have all created a guiding set of streetlights for me to light my path.  I now know what to do and what not to do in certain situations.  It is so hard when you are an entrepreneur. You have to invest in yourself, and your business. This investment is in time and finances. Finding the capital and investment takes a lot of time, energy and commitment. I have wanted to give up many times after crying at my failures, setbacks, and rejections, however, I kept going. You have to enter new uncertain waters, and this can be horrifying, especially if you are not a risk taker.  I am a risk taker and thrill chaser, so I overcome uncertainty very quickly after a few setbacks.  A significant challenge is managing your team. This is a particular skill you have to master.  Jamaicans have a culture of being late. I have a lot of young people on work contracts, and my biggest issue with them is that many of them they are always late.  This slows down my productivity, and I spend so much time coaching them about the approach to work. So I had to implement an 'if your late' the fine is $5000 from your check. I have and still have challenges managing some personality types. I am a little too nice sometimes, and I accept a lot of underperformance and CRAP from some staff members, but that is about to STOP TODAY otherwise you end up paying people who are not performing and adding any value to your business. You have to evaluate, access your leadership style regularly and sometimes adjust by self-evaluating.

Business is HARD. There are so many things to consider. Getting that break in the ‘System’ is a fight and a struggle. I am still learning, still fighting and still trying. I want to be a billionaire; I want to create wealth for my enterprises and the people I employ. I want to train and employ thousands of young people. I want to solve Jamaica’s problem with Talk Up Yout, Ackee Walk, and my other endeavors. I have a dream and the passion, so this is how I resolve the challenges I face.

12.  If you had to start over from scratch, knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?

NOTHING! I am defined by my experiences. But I can always create and design a new me. This is the power. Mi Nuh Dead yet!

13.  .    What’s your advice for upcoming youth, youth leaders and advocates?

Get your mind right. There is a reason behind every action a young person makes. Find the patterns that don’t work. Look at the history, the story and ask WHY. Is it trauma? Mental health issues? Financial struggles? And ASK yourself, how can I help that person or help myself.  Find out the needs of youth, find out what drives them. Let them know they are worth more than they think they are.  Let the youth know that things can change. But they have to believe it and get up to make it work. Find your direction.  If your heart is clean, walk into uncertainty to find certainty. 

Remember we are going to be dead longer than we live. So LIVE! The time is now. We all make mistakes, and we all have regrets. This makes us human. But forgive yourself andkeep on running, chasing and walking in your purpose.

  •     Get addicted to positivity!

  •      LOVE YOURSELF

  •      Advocate, Stand up for something

  •       Look beyond what is presented to you.

  •      Get “Fully Bright”

  •     Read Marcus Garvey and book a lecture with my husband Steven Golding, President of the UNIA

  •     Re-Write the colonizers’ history books and know that Columbus did not discover Jamaica.