55 Water Street

The last few days have required that I grace New York City’s financial district with my presence. Sure, it was out of convenience that I chose here to do the things I needed to do. I mean, it’s a hell of a place to get shit done. But it’s the feeling that ran up my spine when I peered out the window of the 27th floor, looking at 55 Water Street -- The Standard & Poor’s Global Headquarters -- that reminded me why this place will always hold its own special place in my heart. 

Because it is The Place Where It All Changed.

It was where I realized that me being a black man in America means my burden of success is deeper than any other. It was where I realized that I should, must, and will give back. Reach out. Bring along.

It's here that I recognized I didn't know shit about the value of a dollar. I didn't know shit about the amount of paper being moved daily and acquired incrementally by algorithms, and data points, and slick talking old men who didn't look, talk, think, nor act like me.

Because this was the Corporate America capital and no one looked like me, no one talked like me, no one came from where I come from, and no one understood nor represented me.

But it was here that I decided I wanted a seat at the table. Not in finance per se, but in Corporate America. At 13 years old I decided that I wanted what these men have. I was to begin my relentless pursuit of the opportunity to wear a suit and tie, and sit my black - cocoa butter-using - Tupac-listening - fried chicken-loving - ass in a seat in Corporate America and gladly be the catalyst for change in the life of a young person who thinks like me, looks like me, and understands me.

Because my catalyst for change was a young man in his mid 20s whose upbringing couldn’t have been more different from mine.

Never-mind the years of mentorship he’s provided me. It was the first time we ever kicked it as mentor and mentee that will forever stay with me. Simply replying “yes” to a text message changed my life.

“Hey I work in the Financial District. 55 Water Street. Would you like to stop by after school sometime?”