Have you ever found yourself stuck between two worlds? The feeling of always having to constantly adjust who you are to fit in or not even knowing who you are in the first place? Well, that person was me.
Your culture is important.
My name is Malcolm Whye and this is my Crystal Stair.
I was born in Denver, Colorado, but was raised in New York. New York runs a million miles a minute, while Denver gives you time to relax and reflect..in other words it’s a bit slower. When I was in Denver with my white friends, I admittedly felt like I needed to act a certain way, and when I was in New York and, of course, around more black people – I had to switch it up again. So the first lesson I learned by splitting “home” across 2 states was that your culture is important but equally as important is finding out who you are and determining who you want to be.
In 2017, I met up with a friend to have a conversation around ideas and what we envisioned for our respective futures. It was so impactful and inspiring because we figured, surely there are other like-minded, young individuals that were interested in changing their circumstances. But what we found was much more.
Generally, society tells us to go to school, get a degree, and work 9-5 for 30 years before retiring —and although it was a tried and true plan—we saw that a lot of young people in Denver weren’t happy following that game plan. This was especially true if education and opportunities weren’t readily available. What started as a conversation between two friends, in less than a year grew into us hosting workshops in Denver with hundreds of People. The group was aptly named: The Mindset of a Hustler.
We had two points we wanted to establish:
1. You are often times your own biggest enemy. There is no reason to believe that you can’t influence your future.
2. Mindset is 100% of everything that you do. It’s more than just putting your mind to a certain task, it’s you believing in what you do— and not just in terms of success—but in life, in good times and in bad.
I too thought I had to abide by what society said was the “right” path. After playing football in college, I was working my 9-5, moved into a house, had a girlfriend, a dog – all fo that, but eventually found I wasn’t fulfilled. It took my brother needing open-heart surgery and almost dying for me to realize that I wanted, no needed…to do something that was going to be meaningful to me.
The Mindset of a Hustler was built on the idea of community building; bridging the gap between where someone is and where they want to be. Unlike the multi-ethic community of New York, it was harder to find that community of black men In Denver. I found that it was hard to be taken seriously as a business person and thought leader especially in an industry dominated by older white guys. Fortunately, our tribe has continued to grow over time and consists of some of the best and brightest minds not only in Denver but around the world.
I believe we are living in one of the most opportune times in our history. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t more work to be done especially within the black community and by black business owners. We have to make a conscious effort to support one another and build each other up. We need to be a voice for the voiceless and continue to work towards equality for all people.