Back and RISE



Greetings!  To say I’m glad and relieved to be through (hopefully) with the Texas bar *knock on wood* is an understatement.  Controlled fugue state comes mind.  The two and half days of testing intense flashed so fast.  In any event, it’s out of my life for the time being.

So what now?

Filling the void left by the export of so much (alleged) legal knowledge from my mind is a high task.  But a few goals surfaced this weekend that had been shelved for bar preparations.  A major one, and an endeavor that has been on going since coming back to Austin is community involvement.  There’s still so much about my town (since the 3rd grade) that I’ve yet to take part in.  Which brings me to RISE.


RISE is a week long series of “free conference[s] for entrepreneurs of all types, providing a forum where you can connect and exchange ideas that inspire the entrepreneurial spirit.”  I heard about this coincidentally at my first post-bar event at Goodwill of Central Texas’s Hall of Honor.

While not an entrepreneur, yet, there is still a lot to be gleamed from attending a conference or two.  First, you expose yourself to new ideas.  Second, you have the opportunity to NETWORK with like minded individuals (or not-so-likeminded individuals).  And lastly, because the cost of attending any of the RISE conferences FREE.

Yes, FREE.

You will have to put down on $20 deposit when you register, but you only lose it if you fail to attend.  A fair deal.  Conferences are hosted all over Austin, and you can view them by numerous categories but key are location (mine are all downtown) and time (all of mine are first thing in the morning, 8 am).

I’ll be attending three, “Gaining Momentum Through Public Relations,” “Design Your Value Proposition To Separate Yourself From Competitors,” and “Bootstrap 101.”

I believe in these uncertain times, for everyone, but especially for Gen-Y, knowledge, along with your networks, is the most powerful tools in your employment arsenal.  But not just a certain knowledge and specific networks, but those that are cross-blended among many fields; better suited to optimally receive opportunities presented, and contribute value to others in your networks (along with yourself).

So, check out RISE, find something your interested in, and check it out.  For FREE!

Glad to be a part of the world again.



Big News: Austinist Contributor

Austinist Cupcakes by I am K.E.B.

Photo Credit

Last Monday I received some great news (sorry for the belated posting, I’ve been preoccupied).  Austinist selected me to be a contributor!

What is Austinist?  I’ll let them tell you:

After its launch in March 2005, Austinist has “quickly become the local scenester’s essential online arbiter of taste” according to The Austin Chronicle after its readers voted the site as the Best Local Website for Fun. Austinist is a site that “knows Austin, and Austinites love it for its bite-sized news of local events, food, art, and entertainment.” Austinist has been listed in the Best of Austin multiple times, by readers of as well as the critics at The Austin Chronicle who praise a blogger on the site for bringing “a refreshing, sometimes contrary perspective.”

Blogging for someone, other than myself, was a big goal for 2010; I was very pleased to get this news.  More so because Austinist is very connected to the city.

I’m looking forward to the work (and play) ahead!  A big thanks to LuAnn for informing of this great opportunity.

More to come as things develop.


TEDxAustin is coming!

TEDx Lake Como - Como 04.11.09 by Andrea  Perotti.

(From TEDxLake Como)  Photo Credit

It’s like SXSW without the commitment

Does a week of SXSW “Industry” panels and discussions put a strain on your attention span, and your bank account?  Not a problem.  Enter TEDxAustin.

TEDxAustin is a harbinger of the many conferences and panel discussions set for the 2010 SXSW, in March.  Scheduled for February 20, 2010, TEDxAustin (think SXSW’s Music, Film, and Interactive week of panels rolled into a day) will, “unite 300 of our community’s progressive, positive, and passionate thinker and doers to Play Big.”

TED was founded in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design.  It’s a nonprofit self-proclaimed to be devoted to “ideas worth spreading.” Invited speakers share ideas, limited to 18 minutes (at most), ranging from the globalized nature of modern terrorism, to political satire, to artistic performances, amongst others.  Along with the annual TED Conference in Long Beach, California, there is the TEDGlobal conference in Oxford.  TEDx is the newest incarnation.

Whereas TED tends to focus on global issues, TEDx focuses on local communities, organizations and people, giving them the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences.

Hosted at the Austin City Limits studio at KLRU on UT’s (the real UT) campus, TEDxAustin will be the city’s first official TEDx experience (thought I predict not the last).

The theme of this inaugural TEDxAustin is to “Play Big.”  Play Big how? Apparently that’s up to you to decide.  For me it conjures up visions of Austin’s future.  Whether for good or bad, our city is changing.  For long-term residents like myself (well, since the 3rd grade) and recent transplants alike, the future of Austin—and of what Austin will continue to contribute to the world–should be a concern for us all.

While speakers have not yet been announced, given the depth of talented people across many fields calling Austin home, TEDxAustin isn’t likely to disappoint.

Here’s to expect:

  • TED’s celebrated format: A suite of short, carefully prepared talks, demonstrations and performances on a wide range of subjects to foster learning, inspiration and wonder — and to provoke conversations that matter.
  • TEDTalks videos: A minimum of two pre-recorded talks from the acclaimed TEDTalks video series will be shown (these talks are available free on
  • Bias-free programming: Lack of any commercial, religious or political agenda (Again, something for EVERYONE).

There’s just one catch to attending TEDxAustin. You must apply, and be accepted, before you can register. TEDxAustin is limited to 300 attendees, so folks interested in attending should register online here. While they promise not to select attendees on resume alone, they are looking to handpick an influential and diverse audience.

Applications must be received no later than January 15, 2010 at 11pm CST. Invitations to register for TEDxAustin will then be sent via email on January 25, 2010.

The cost at registration is $50.


p.s. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, Charles!

Plus Ultra, or What A.J. and Spain have in common.

PLUS ULTRA_02 by santacrucero.Photo Credit

Plus Ultra

This was my motto for the last half of 2009, and will be on into 2010 and beyond (at least one of the top ones).

Plus ultra is Latin for, “further beyond, further yet, more beyond or yet beyond,” and is an accurate description of my mindset each day.  It is the bedrock of everything I try, this blog for example; and keeps  me in the zone when I’m losing focus.

Expansion and Authentic Influence

It is open-ended to the extreme.  No boundaries.  It was also motto of Spain (hence the title) at the height of the Holy Roman Empire (Under Charles V and still is to this day), used to encourage the Emperor to take risks in expanding the Empire to the New World.

We are all trying to create our own empires.  Only instead of conquering new lands and convert the “natives,” we’re trying expand ourselves, ideas and influence beyond what is was the day before.

By expanding ourselves, I’m talking about the new blogs you read, networks you join, or presentations you watch (like TED’s).  Real purposeful growth, each day.  For me it’s also an inward quest to conquer myself daily.  To zone out the din of self-doubt, fear, procrastination, fatigue, amongst other feelings and emotions.

I’m not talking about being stoic, just not get in my own way when I need to move forward.

By influence I mean connecting with the many-spheres (of influence) out there and planting your flag.  Authentic influence, through trust, and not “do as I say because you are heathens” of the colonial powers.  Essentially two-way communication and transparency, which in social media so argue, like here, is the only way to go (I agree, within acceptable boundaries).

Influence, though.  That was goal of every colonial power, and that root motivation remains in the Internet age.  Case in point, Chris Brogan calls for us to set-up “outposts” on social networks.  Anyone with a semi-serious blog probably has links to their other social media accounts (check mine under A.J. Elsewhere).

Asking, “How?”

If plus ultra, “further beyond,” is the daily focus; each night the question becomes, “how far?”  That is the ebb and flow.  The bit of dissatisfaction that keeps driving you forward, over the hump.  And then again asking, “how will I got further still?”  Whether it is emailing one new, or old contact, each day; having a conversation (networking or just a chat) with three new faces daily; guest posting; or writing longer posts.  I’ve used it in thinking up ideas for new content on this blog (ex. interviews).

Plus ultra works as mantra as well in an unfamiliar networking event, or any social situation where you are alone (REMEMBER, fear is not an excuse) and need that confidence step into the fray.  Keep in mind, you should have something to say or be somewhat interesting and not awkward, but repeating plus ultra should at least get you threw the doors.

No Racing

Plus ultra today, again differing from the old colonial powers, is not about a race to the top.  It is a personal reflective tool on your endeavors and accomplishments.  We all, hopefully, have a unique view of success and how we conduct ourselves to get there.  Again, just to be clear, life is not a race.  Plus ultra is about reaching beyond your normal range, when you would stop.

Thus, that is plus ultra, my motto (and Spain’s).

What is your motto for 2010 and beyond?


Interview Series: Jade Holmes

I’ve been on Jade about this interview for a while.  She’s an ambitious individual, and like many of us trying to rise-up.  I didn’t know her at Wake Forest too well, and only reconnected over the last two years.  Since then though, she has continuously impressed and inspired me.

I present Jade Holmes.


My parents always stressed the value and importance of a work-life balance. They worked hard while seeing us off to school everyday, attending all of our extracurricular activities, and eating family dinner every night.  Not a day went by where I wasn’t told that I was loved and capable of achieving anything.  My family is my biggest support system, and it’s huge!

I grew up very close to most of my family in Prince George’s County, MD, which in addition to being a suburb of Washington, DC, is also the home of a large concentration of upper middle to upper class black families.  Because of this, from an early age, I was always very in tune with the diversity within the Black community.

I saw the spectrum of careers and incomes and complexions, so I didn’t allow the media to define for me what black was; I saw it firsthand.  I’ve also lived in Philadelphia, Winston-Salem, Atlanta and Boston.

While I didn’t appreciate going to private schools at the time; looking back, my mix of public and private school education was a rich experience that allowed me to befriend people from different backgrounds while also developing a greater appreciation for my culture.  I remember actually teaching black history to my middle school classmates, and in high school choreographing dances and writing plays for Black History month.  I loved expressing this aspect of myself artistically.

I think it goes without say that being black is a major part of my identity, but I don’t see this as something that limits me. Instead it motivates me to portray in the media, the multi- facetedness that I know exists.

I’m a believer in God, love, service, optimism and change.

When did you become interested in film?

I’ve always been an artist.  From dancing to piano to photography, almost every hobby of mine did, and still does involve art.

When I first went to Wake Forest, I wanted to get into advertising field, specifically commercials. I think somewhere between the exciting lifestyle portrayed in movies and the lack of varied images I witnessed on TV, I thought I could find a career there.

During junior year, Eric Watts, my advisor, suggested that I think about a film studies minor so I could learn all of the aspects behind making commercials. I took one class and immediately fell in love.

There was something special about stories and events that could be captured, lived and retold through the medium of film and that attracted me.  Making films, which is essentially storytelling, for me is very similar to choreography.  In both I weave different aspects together which come out as one varied experience for each viewer— my idea of universal.

What led you to Boston University’s Film School?

After graduating from Wake Forest with a new passion for film,  I wanted to learn everything I could about the film-making industry.  I moved to Atlanta to intern at Rainforest Films (Stomp The Yard, This Christmas, Obsessed).  Throughout my time at the company, I was able to work closely with everyone at the company which taught me everything about the creative side of film.

During my year in Atlanta I applied to multiple programs, but most wanted me to make more films before accepting me. I needed to learn, not hone and BU embraced my infancy.  I wanted to go to a school that taught me how to make films so I could learn trial and error with the support and resources to immediately pick up and try again.

I really liked the freedom their Master of Fine Arts program, its community atmosphere and Alumni base at the College of Communication, and Boston.  There were so many places to photograph! Also, with one of its nicknames being the ”City of Academia, ” I knew the city would provide opportunities to learn from, and network and with a lot of brilliant minds.

How was working for Tyler Perry?

Working at Tyler Perry Studios was a great learning experience.  I was in Atlanta, which is now a mecca for black film.  I worked with a lot of creative media makers and I learned the technical aspects of how a major studio ran.

Working at both Tyler Perry Studios, and Rainforest Films, I learned that film-making is 75% passion.  Both companies began from the ground up and devoted to telling stories involving underrepresented groups.

I would later learn that the other is 25% is who you know. (Some may argue this percentage).

It’s difficult, even in a good economy, to break into the film industry.  What has been your experience in current economic downtown?

Well film-making is definitely not for the weak at heart, so as an emerging filmmaker, I can’t really tell if it’s the recession or the hazing process that is making funding so difficult!

For my thesis (most recent) film, I sent out a fundraising letter to EVERYONE I knew and asked for a minimum donation.  The love poured!  Being a student with 501c(3) status didn’t hurt.

For my next film, I don’t think I will be so lucky.  Everyday I look for investors, you really have to be creative with how you seek funding. While a lot of organizations have suspended their programs there are still a ton out there looking for a project to support.

And you want direct?

Yes.  I just finished my thesis film, required for the Master of Fine Arts degree designed to demonstrate my professional competence as a filmmaker.

Tell me about the film you just wrapped.

My short film (it’s about 25 minutes long), Three Blind Mice, is an original story I wrote, set in Washington, DC.  The story is about three Black men who literally and figuratively travel the same path during the course of one day and deals with individuality in the midst of stereotypes.

I always wanted to tell this story so I really enjoyed watching it come to life. I love working with actors and the leads, Dorian Missick, Al Thompson and Gavin-Keith Umeh made my job so much fun.  It premieres this February in DC and will hopefully screen nationally at different festivals.

I like the creative aspect of writing and directing and the technical aspect of producing.  I always considered myself a producer-director, but making this film made me realize that I cannot devote myself 100% to each position.  So for now, while I’m still open development and producing opportunities, I’ve decided to focus on directing.

How important has networking been for you? Can you elaborate on specific moments?

Networking is incredibly important in film-making.  As I mentioned earlier, the industry is at least 25% who you know. Each stepping stone in my career has been because of networking.  My last film entirely built on networking.  However, because I move around so much, networking has been difficult. Film-making is sort of out of sight/out of mind, so if you don’t keep up, you will be left out.

My goal for 2010, now that the film is done, is reconnecting with school contacts that I have neglected.

Who inspires you?

Being a woman inspires me. Being a young adult inspires me. Being from DC inspires me.  The faith others have in me inspires me.  The faith I have in myself inspires me.  In terms of who, other than my family, my inspiration is constantly changing. Recently, I was inspired by all of the little girls in tiaras and dresses at Disney’s premiere of  “The Princess and The Frog”.  This film experience, like the films I hope to make, was a simple story, with a simple message, but what it meant/represented was priceless.  Some of those little girls left dreaming bigger because they saw someone who looked like them in a positive major role, similar to the Obama effect, and it reminded me of why I make films. I just watched “March of the Penguins”, so who knows how I will be inspired tomorrow!

Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, and 20 years?

I always fear this question because for me things usually happen at a different time than what I plan, so here are my goals.

In 5 years, being married with at least one child would be a blessing!  I would also love to have made two feature films, one narrative and one documentary, and have a major role in both a recognizable non-profit and production company.

In 10 years,  an (any) award for filmmaking, more movies, more causes, more kids.

20: I’m not sure if I will ever retire but I would love to go back and teach filmmaking at Wake, Howard and BU. I also plan to never stop dancing.

What keeps you hungry to get there?

”The love of the game!” I really enjoy what I do and knowing that I am a few steps away makes me want to get to a level of national recognition so my stories can be told.

Also, I would really like to give back to my parents in some form for everything they do for me. They never questioned my dream or my talent, but always worked we me to figure out how to get where I wanted to be.  They are always proud but I know they would love to go on a few all expense paid vacations and an awards show or two!

Lastly, what is the Jade Holmes Brand?  What is the authentic Jade?

Authentic Jade tells stories that are diverse, socially relevant and content driven. I’m not married to a specific type of media, but I want to teach, inspire and/or foster dialogue with every film. A Jade Holmes project is one that takes creative risks to tell simple stories in a different way: vital stories, artfully told.  After studying film in Sydney, Australia, I learned that film is a universal bridge among cultures and I would love for my work to be apart of that bridge.

Thanks for sharing!

Read more about what Jade’s up to here.


Growth for Better Living: 12 Times A Day

Balancing lady by orangebrompton.Photo Credit

Here’s a great quote from Abraham Maslow a preeminent American psychologist:

“Life is an ongoing process of choosing between safety (out of fear and need for defense) and risk (for the sake of progress and growth): Make the growth choice a dozen times a day.” (courtesy of Derek Sivers blog),

I make calculations each day in my personal and professional life, which essentially come down to safety and risk.  We all do.

Playing it safe, if you have any ambition, any wants, in life will get you nowhere.  Progress requires risk.  I’ve made that mistake in the past, many times, and might still in the future.  Fear is hard to overcome.

However  just being cognizant of why you’re making that decision to not make that speech, or knock on a few doors about job leads, or go to that networking event (i.e. time crunch or fear of the crowd), can go a long way towards your growth, on all fronts.

I don’t keep count of how many growth decisions I make daily but on average I do alright, I think.  It would be a neat experiment to tally your decisions daily (aiming for 12) for a month (mental note for a future blog post) and compare with the previous month.

In any event, Maslow’s quote is something to contemplate.


Related Posts:

Out of your comfort zone, No excuses

Born to Do: It is Not Too Late

In Times of Job Uncertainty

Top 3 Strategies for Google Wave (thus far).

three steps white door by limonada.

Photo Credit

I finally got Google Wave and all it took was a post.  Anyways here are my three strategies:

  1. Be Selective With Invites. Don’t just invite your best friends.  You only have eight invites, and to make the most out of Google Wave you want people who (a) Have a willingness to use it, and (b) Will USE IT.  I haven’t given mine all out yet (still have three more), but the ones I have sent were to people I collaborate with in someone way and/or have a demonstrated interest in “Web 2.0”.
  2. Have Ideas. My friend James started a Wave to discuss/critique his latest song, and Linda has started a book club Wave.  I’d like to start a peer-mentor Wave or something network (always) related.
  3. Have Fun. These first days with Google Wave were like the my very first day of school.  I was just trying to figure out how it all worked and where I fit.  Most likely I’m not alone in that.  However it has been fun figuring out ways to leverage this new tool, and seeing the direction my friends are taking it.

That’s what I got so far!