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2017 Lessons from Jonathon Jackson

Jonathon’s dropped some gems for us at the opening at 2018.

:book: feedback :bookmark: blavity, friends, growth :clock7: :clock3: about 9 minutes

I first met Jonathon a while ago. And when I say a while ago, it was some time (at least in current tech time cycles). I remember when I (failed to) tried to get with Blavity at the ground floor. It was a video chat I had squirreled away in one of the offices at Shutterstock with Morgan about potential opportunities. Granted now, I also wonder and reflect on what could have been.

We obviously both grew in very beautiful lanes, so no need to reflect anymore. If you don’t know, I’m a fierce advocate for the growth and expansion of Blavity. Still got the OG shirts and hoodies in the back, haha!

Follow @blavity to hear more! #upcoming

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Jonathon wrote a piece about the things he’s learned from 2017 on Blavity. If you haven’t, you should catch up on his 2015 and 2016 posts as well. Let’s walk through some of the highlights of this post.

Fake Friends

Access is earned. It can be rescinded and/or denied as necessary. — Jonathon Jackson

This is something that rings home. A lot of people pop out of the wood work when your name appears in the top results in Google’s search results. Or if you happen to trend in an area. Or even if your name’s mentioned ample times in an environment1. You know my name? Cool. You might know who I am. But if I ain’t confirm that we’re friends and not just acquaintances, then chill with the name dropping.

Community is not about your convenience. — Jonathon Jackson

Son. Hold on. Let us examine the opening sentence here.

2017 saw a rise in people obfuscating the word *community* so much that it started to sound like a synonym for a *membership* site you pay into instead of a vibrant entity that is the sum total of its inputs, both seen and unseen.

If this isn’t a word, then :shit: you might as well skip out on the rest of this entry.

Waiting until you clear your first million before you give isn’t thoughtful. — Jonathon Jackson

Reading this made me think of my immediate and then extended family. Jonathon and I share the first-gen Caribbean descent aspect. I’m not sure about the academic routes of his life (with regards to first accolades in academia) but I know that my family needed someone to pull in :money_with_wings: after things got more difficult. That instilled in the behavior of sharing whatever whenever. Whenever I negotiate pay or open a new contracting engagement, I almost always think about how the money can help those closest to me. It tends to find a way to them somehow.

Recognizing someone as valuable and treating them as valuable should never be conflated. — Jonathon Jackson

Another self-explanatory and concise one.

Love, Relationships and Courtship

Love without specific action is ambiguity that feels nice. The price for that is too high. — Jonathon Jackson

This is something to note as well. It’s become a bit of a thing (if not already) to date or engage in relationships with no true direction. This might be the analytical part of myself but direction and a working compass are things I like to bring into relationships (of any size). I’m all for knowing what the point of things are - where your head’s at and what you’d like to go.

Of course, if you need time to figure that out; it’s cool. The question now is if I’m obliged to wait for something that’s intrinsically related to you. That said, here are some other tweets that reached out to me:

Do not keep score. — Jonathon Jackson

Do not compare yourself to others who are NOT you. I can’t repeat this enough. I said something about this year last year :wink::

Career; Work + Life Balance

Being busy is the wrong measuring stick for importance. — Jonathon Jackson

I am notorious for filling my calendar up with everything I’m doing, need a reminder on. I sync my TODOs from orgmode to my personal Google calendar which can block me off from things at work (and visa versa). It’s a lot. Jonathon continues on to say:

You control your time, and you use that brush in strokes and dabs and sprinkles so you get the most out of what you need to. — Jonathon Jackson

That’s how I’ve “rationalized” my over-zealously filled calendar - by offloading what I’m doing (or more so, when); I can just focus on what I’m doing now. And it works amazingly well for me. I’m also the kind of person who needs detail as to where I’m going and why so this might play into it. If we’re meeting up, it’s in my calendar - no matter how informal it may be.

This “over-planning” doesn’t equivocate to being busy, though. It’s an aspect of wanting to knowing when I have the time to unwind whilst still producing as much impact as I can in the lives of others.

The issue is that a number makes it feel better when you are toiling in obscurity, and gives us something to hit. — Jonathon Jackson

This is the sad part of the age we live in. We’re focused on ARR, MAU, DAUCAC, SLoC, test coverage, deals closed, hiring caps, number of degrees, iPhone n, the number of miles we ran, how many bodies people “catch”, etc, that we forget to focus on the quality of things and not the quantity. A side effect of capitalism (or just plain ol’, unchecked greed).

Stop expecting grace from people who define themselves by a meritocracy you are not a part of. — Jonathon Jackson

If you know me off-line, you know that this is something I preach. These doors and pillars weren’t built for us but they were damn sure built by us. It’s anti-FUBUism to think that if we dress the same way, eat the same or speak the same; that we’d gain some kind of immunity to the bullshit that plagues the DNA of establishment that still thinks we’re 3/5th of a person.


I should just say that everything in the “Career & the Grind (You Wasn’t There)” section of that post is golden and my people need to take notes and apply them.


Emotional Intelligence

I’m not a tough guy, but I was raised to match the energy presented, and after all other options are exhausted, to use whatever means necessary to ensure my own safety and that of anyone in the vicinity. — Jonathon Jackson

Something I grew up holding tight but never really fully harnessing until a few years ago.

Compassion and empathy are not the same thing. — Jonathon Jackson

I wish Jonathon expanded on this a bit more but he did give an excellent analogy that carried the message loudly.

[D]o not deprive us of a whole you by leaving half of you somewhere where no one can find you. — Jonathon Jackson

In a nutshell. This is more than bringing your whole self to the places and relationships you enter. This is about being honest to yourself about the things that you know happened to you, that you’ve experienced and how they can reverberate back into those who care about you and want to get closer to you.

Getting Uncomfortable (and Branching Outside of Your Domain)

You don’t have to invent “haters.” People will find their way to become one all by themselves. — Jonathon Jackson

A word. No, a sentence. Because this is something that can live in a whole post in itself. When you’re doing something for yourself and your own growth, those who don’t want to tend to their own garden will snarl.

Is Confessions really better than 8701?

C’mon son. Confessions was a confirmed banger. Don’t do this, lol. That joke aside, the set of questions posed above that are some I’d want y’all to take away with and see how you can craft some of your own as you begin your descent (or ascension!) into 2018.

Jonathon, thank you for this post.

  1. This apparently happened like six times during Afrotech; I just happened to not be there this year.