Full transcript of digital marketing consultant Eugene Hennie’s TEDx Talk: How to Find Your Passion and Inner Awesomenes at TEDxMMU conference.
Slides for this presentation: By Eugene Hennie
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Eugene Hennie – Entrepreneur & digital marketing consultant
OK, so first of all, I’d like to thank everybody that set this event up. This is pretty cool. When I was given the invitation to speak, I kind of didn’t know what I was going to talk about. But I came to the realization that I really don’t have to make anything up. I can just give my story and hopefully that’ll be inspiring to a lot of people here.
So my talk today is going to be on: how to find your passion and inner awesomeness. A lot of people in university, especially if you’re students here, you’re in that transition point where you really don’t know what you want to do and you kind of have to make changes and decisions that are going to dictate your entire life. So it’s kind of daunting, it’s kind of scary.
But before I go into anything, I want to give you guys a chance to get to know me a little bit and understand a little bit more about me.
I was born and raised in Harlem. Now, Harlem is in New York City and Harlem starts at 110th Street and goes all the way to 159th Street. Now when I was growing up in Harlem, there were a couple of things that I had to learn quick, right. I had to learn how to be charismatic. I had to learn how to speak fast. I had to learn how to be real quick and witty.
But I also learned that it’s good to have an imagination. When I was young, I had an awesome imagination. And I’m sure that many of you think about it, go back when you were around 6, 7 even younger than that, you had a great imagination. So who you used to draw? Anybody? Show of hands. Who you used to draw when you were younger?
These are a couple of things I used to draw. But do you remember when you used to draw on a lot of things that you drew they sucked, right? But nobody told you they sucked, like you would give your mother the drawing and she really didn’t know what it was but she will put it on a refrigerator for you, right? Nobody ever told you that what you did wasn’t good. Nobody never told you that you were — that you were not awesome. So you stuck with it.
OK, so when I used to draw, I used to sketch, I used to do photo manipulation and right there on the bottom left, that’s actual animation I did. I used to spend hours creating these elaborate stories coming up with characters, coming up with plots. And nobody never told me that these things weren’t cool. So I continued to do them.
OK, so I had fun and I took risk. So if you look at this right here, don’t get scared but on the left this is a competition that me and my fraternity brothers did. We used to do performances every year for the university. I went to Florida State University and I’m a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated. So on the left we’re doing Resident Evil. We did our kind of reenactment of Resident Evil, it was Zombies versus SWAT. On the right we did Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and we had some sick twisted thing and all the [open workers] were kidnapped by Willy Wonka and forced to work in a factory. But nobody never told us that this wasn’t cool. And it came to our — when we did the performances people loved it. We performed in front of thousands of people and won these competitions.
So I was always told to be rough when I questioned everything. So if you guys look at this picture, this is actually very funny picture to me, because if you see me right there I’m the only one making a real silly face, right. And if you go into my parents house, you actually see that this is the first picture you see when you come into my mother’s house. And what was cool about this picture was, before we actually took the picture that teacher told me, she said everybody when a photographer says smile, smile. So I said, “Teacher, why do we have to smile? Is there a reason we have to smile? We’re kids, we’re young; why do we have to wear suits? Why all the guys in suits, all the women in dresses? We don’t want to be adults”. She said don’t worry about it, just smile. And I said, OK, well you don’t want to tell me why I have to smile. I want to do something funny.
So when the photographer said, cheese, said smile, I did that face. OK but something happened. When I grew up and I started to get older and older, I forgot that I was awesome. I’ll get to what this code means in a second. But I was in a Fortune 500 leadership development program when I got out of college, “I was corporate”. I had a title, I was an account manager, I was making good money, I was making $60,000 out of college, so I could brag to friends. My mother was proud, my father was proud. I could go on trips once a year. But I realize that this isn’t what I wanted.
Now back to this code: eh976a. This was the actual code that I was identified by in my company. So when they wanted to email me, they didn’t email me at Eugene Hennie, they emailed me at eh976a. When they wanted to look up my sales records, they looked up eh976a. I started to think why don’t you guys just call me eh976a. Because that’s how you identify me anyway.
So I realized I was a part of a system, I wasn’t no longer a person, I was no longer Eugene. So this is what society wanted. They wanted the clean-cut Eugene. They wanted Eugene that wore suits, that wore glasses, that wore specs. I was all proper but this is what I wanted. I wanted to do flips, I wanted to travel, I wanted to hang out with cool people. I want to experience life. I had to escape life’s cubicle. I was working nine-to-five, I was young and I hated it. I was putting on something that I didn’t want to carry every day. And I will come home emotionally drained, spiritually drained because I was trying to please everybody else instead of pleasing myself.