Ghost Note Agency: The Power of Diversity

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Diversity, impact and resilience are recurring themes in the life and work of Adeleke “Ade” Omitowoju.

His focus on creating an impact and promoting diversity led to his position of Co-Founder & CFO of Ghost Note Agency, a full service digital and creative firm, and founder of Technoir, an organization founded to showcase, fund and celebrate diverse companies and ideas.

With Ghost Note, Omitowoju knows he has done his job when he is able to make a difference.

“We measure our impact by our clients. We are here because of them and we are here for them. If we can amplify their efforts, build their audiences, grow revenue or make a difference in their communities, we have done our work,” Omitowoju said.

Ghost Note’s impact measurement delves deeper than transactions, conversions or following for their client’s work.

“Bonds and relationships are organic and have to be authentic. That’s why we try our best to work with clients in industries that we understand and can effectively deliver value. The bits and bites of digital do bring in the measurements such as social and web but our goal is to make sure that our client’s brands are top of mind of the people they are trying to reach. That is what a bond is about… Beyond the transactional,” Omitowoju said.

There is a constant changing process to differentiate Ghost Note from the growing digital agency community.

“I come from a business background and every day and every week we are evolving. We are defined by our experiences and there is no playbook for competing in this space. We combine intuition, drive and passion,” Omitowoju said.

Ghost Note is currently looking for new talent to push the boundaries and provide more value to their clients.

“We are looking for creative self-starters who are passionate about marketing, communications, creative and communities. Generally, hard skills can be taught but soft skills are so essential in making sure you can connect and collaborate with people of all demographics. The unicorn candidates are hard to find but being in DC (a city of diversity), puts is in a good position to find the right fit,” Omitowoju said.

Ghost Note is in a great position to focus on building their team incorporating diversity of gender, race, culture, thinking and belief.

“It’s proven that diverse companies make more money and stay in business longer… So it’s safe to say diversity is very important to us. Being a company founded by four black male millennials puts us in the position to broaden our spectrum as we seek to onboard new talent (things get intense sometimes with 4 guys in an office). We have worked with people of all backgrounds and are amazed at how diverse worldviews and cosmologies can bring so much value to the creative process,” Omitowoju said.

Omitowoju shares his experience and perspective on diversity and entrepreneurship panels. He feels it’s essential to be prepared for the ups and downs of entrepreneurship.

“It’s a marathon. There are small hiccups and failures along the way, they are a part of the path. You have to become emotionally resilient.”

He emphasizes making “measured decisions” before taking a leap into the unknown.

“You have to know yourself. Know who you are when you’re stripped of everything. It’s feast or famine. When it’s feast you can keep moving. When it’s famine, you have to ask are you able to navigate through that intelligently,” Omitowoju said.

He says you shouldn’t let anything, including fear inhibit your ability to be your true self.

“Don’t be afraid of anybody. You should be your true self regardless of your environment.  I had dreads in business school,” Omitowoju said.

The St. Thomas native brings his own authenticity to his work with Ghost Note and Technoir. He started Technoir to become a vehicle for entrepreneurs of color.

“We (Ghost Note) saw that there weren’t more people in the space that looked like us. We knew there were black and brown entrepreneurs tackling the issues. We had 500+ people at the first event. We wanted to create a platform where people with tangible solutions could be seen. Technoir has become something of a vehicle for the audience,” Omitowoju said.

It’s not all serious at Technoir events, 2015’s “Technoir 24” included workshops at General Assembly, Lobby Day on Capitol Hill and concluded with their Innovator’s Classic, a pitch competition and networking mashup.

“We want to have fun. It’s a large tech culturally driven celebration of black and brown entrepreneurs. It’s a big party. It was built in that way to provide more value to our community. There aren’t channels and mediums for that audience. Technoir partners and supporters are also able to take action,” Omitowoju said.

If you’re interested in working for or with Ghost Note Agency you can visit their website at http://ghostnoteagency.com. You can find out more about Technoir on their website at http://wearetechnoir.com.

Babatunde Ogunfemi & Channels App: Taking it Day by Day

Balancing and taking it day by day are two concepts that are instrumental in the life and work of Babatunde “Tunde” Ogunfemi.

It was between balancing work and side projects that Ogunfemi became the Co-Founder of Channels, after creating the location-based group chat application that is a one-stop shop for posting, finding and chatting anonymously along with his roommate.

“My roommate and I were bored and felt like we were inside too much. We knew there were a lot of things to do, but wondered about, how do you know where to go to connect with others. We were bored on a Saturday afternoon and thought let’s make something,” Ogunfemi said.

Within two weeks they had their first iteration of Channels and it was called WAM an acronym for Who’s Around Me. In about a month and a half they had a Android and iOS app.

“The app wasn’t as intuitive as we wanted. There was no way to interact in the app. We wanted to include chat and we redesigned the app around chat,” Ogunfemi said.

Once, the app was relaunched as Channels it focused on anonymous location based group chats.

The idea stemmed from finding events or activities by their tags, and popularity which is based on seeing clusters of people in that area. We want (channels) to be a place where you can explore a new area and not have to worry about sharing personal information. We want to make it’s straightforward and useful,” Ogunfemi said.

When every user agreement you sign makes you more and more aware of the data you’re giving away, the channels app has removed the privacy barrier.

“We just want to give people an easy way, with no hidden schemes and with actual anonymity, to connect and share with friends and people of similar interests around the world. It’s important because everyone is so worried these days about their privacy but want more ways to connect with people for various reasons without giving up this privacy,” Ogunfemi said.

Babatunde Ogunfemi at Generation-Next office/Photo Courtesy of Getur Conway

The Scotch Plains, New Jersey native has juggled work with InnerCircle and Government Contracting, while he has pursued entrepreneurship and describes it as the American dream, but passion is a better motivation than money.

“Creating a start up is the new American Dream, so everyone wants to start one which is great, but I do believe that success only comes long term to those who are passionate about what they're building, so you'll only be successful with your start up if you have something you’re passionate about, rather than trying to come up with a problem just to create a start up and get rich,” Ogunfemi said.

He has worked to maintain balance between work and play throughout his everyday hustle.

“I generally wake up around 8, reply to some emails, head to my 9-5 job, return home to work on either a personal project, client project or part time job work until 8:30pm, head to my Kung-Fu class until 10, return home to continue working most likely or if it’s an easier day will then relax with some games, tv or working on some music, then head to bed,” Ogunfemi said.

When he’s not working and practicing martial arts, Ogunfemi spends his time working as a catalyst to help others.

I more so just make myself available to those I already know or meet in anyway I can help, and when I'm approached with something I have no expertise in I still make sure to give an effective response,” Ogunfemi said.

Motivated by the quote, “If you’re going to start something you might as well finish it.” Ogunfemi is focused on his name not being associated with things going unfinished.

I just have never liked giving up on anything so believe I should at least finish something rather than quitting it, regardless of the outcome because there's only one outcome possible if you quit, but multiple if you don't,” Ogunfemi said.

He said, that in his project experience there’s nothing worse than a project failing or losing it’s luster before it’s had an opportunity to see the light of day.

“I have heard many ideas and been a part of a few group projects that as a group we end either before its had a chance to shine, immediately after an apparent failure or worse just the enthusiasm declining over time causing the project to just fall off and never get completed. In many of these cases, you then hear about a successful project down the line that’s similar or exactly the same idea or project as what we worked on, and then realize you should have completed it but is now too late or are too far gone and that just adds another regret, so in the end it’s about finishing what you start so you at least know you gave a real effort,” Ogunfemi said.

If you’d like to try out the Channels app, It’s available in the Apple and Google Play stores or visit the website: channelsapp.co. For more information on InnerCircle visit the website: theinnercircle.it

Next up: Creator, Courtney McSwain

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When it comes to artists and creatives we tend to think of the more tangible arts such as music, painting, dance... But few arts are as truly captivating as the art of storytelling, and when it comes to that art, few artists are as studied and innovative as Courtney McSwain.

Courtney M. McSwain is a writer and feature storytelling consultant. Driven by the belief that the best of us is possible, Courtney seeks to help artists and changemakers stay on the path of their creative calling so that their best can positively impact the world. As a consultant, she helps nonprofits, social-impact businesses, creative entrepreneurs and independent artists incorporate feature storytelling into their work in order to engage audiences, build community and inspire action.

Courtney has crafted this journey of storytelling into an experience called "Courtney's Idea Factory". This workshop session takes participants (usually social impact organizations & startups) through a unique ideation process that not only helps them craft a story, but also other important brand building pieces important for non-profits and for-profit companies alike. Key questions she walks participants through such as "Who is your customer..? Who are your stakeholders..? What do you want them to know..? Who is the 'hero' in your story..? What is the world you are striving to create..?" are all questions more at home in a startup incubator more so than in a creative writing workshop; And this is the brilliance of the session.

Speaking on what drives her, Courtney says "I have this weird love of brainstorming--I just think it's fun! 'Courtney's Idea Factory' is a way for me to brainstorm with people and help them hone in on their story so they can communicate the impact of their work. It's fun for me, and hopefully people walk away with a helpful storytelling road map for their organization or enterprise."

Courtney's independent writing career builds upon a decade of work in the nonprofit sector, where she has used the written word to tell the story of social change for public policy, philanthropic and general audiences. Courtney has honed her nonprofit writing skills as a grant writer, research analyst and consultant, having crafted six-figure grant proposals, nationally disseminated policy reports and public relations materials that garnered local and national media coverage. Her passion for writing extends to her volunteer efforts, and she is an active reading and writing tutor with the Wright to Read program in Alexandria, Va. Courtney received her bachelor’s degree in sociology from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, N.C., and her master’s degree in public policy from American University in Washington, D.C.

For more on her work motivating and encouraging artists and changemakers, visit her blog on courtneymcswain.com.