The letter D stands for the word doer, which describes the importance for a dreamer to actively engage in action that brings their dreams to life. Being a doer is pivotal regardless of the outcome of the actions. If one succeeds in their actions, there is contentment, and if one fails at their action, they’re able to learn from their mistakes, which is also very important for success.
As a part of our series about “dreamers who ignored the naysayers and did what others said was impossible”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tarick T. Walton.
Tarick Walton grew up in Spanish Town, Jamaica. A bright student with dreams of accomplishing big things, for himself and others. After being told he would never get into a prestigious American college, he was determined to prove that he could. Amidst life-altering setbacks, he persevered to successfully graduate from MIT with a degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Tarick began playing tennis at a young age, approaching the game of tennis with the same joy, perseverance, and determination as he did his studies. From school to sports, every step of Tarick’s life has been filled with challenges and obstacles, however, his joyful tenacity and persistence have allowed him to become not only successful in business but also a mentor to young people who are dedicated to following their dreams.
After MIT, Tarick received an MBA from Georgetown University, and with a diverse group of friends, he later co-founded The Walton & Friends Foundation (www.twaltongroup.com/foundation), a 501c3 non-profit organization that brings together leaders of all industries (Business, Art, Science, Non-Profit and Community) to promote STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math) education among youth and engage in corporate social partnership projects that solve real life problems. Whether in work or mentoring youth, Tarick lives by and encourages others with his motto, “Do not let the world dampen your dreams.“ He currently lives in the United States with his wife, and two sons.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know you’ a bit better. Can you tell us your ‘backstory’?
I grew up in a small town called Spanish Town which is one of the most volatile communities in Jamaica where I was exposed to poverty and violence; however since age 10, my life’s trajectory changed significantly after a unforgettable taxi ride. During that taxi ride, I had a unique encounter with my dear friend Paro who was also my classmate in school. Paro was physically disabled with 1 leg and 1 crutch. Because Paro was poor, he had to beg on the streets. During my encounter in the taxi, Paro said 4 words to me which changed my life. Paro said, “Tarick Di Prime Minister.” Although Paro sadly died 2 years later, his words have inspired me to set lofty goals and pursue them with voracity using the personal motto “Do not let the world dampen your dreams.”
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
With a goal of youth mentorship and providing opportunities to other kids so that they can avoid Paro’s fate, my latest project is the launch of my new book, Secrets From MIT, Tennis and the Umpire Above: 10 Lessons From a Poor Jamaican Boy Who Never Gave Up On the Court (September 30, 2021). This autobiographical book focuses on education, mentorship, and Jamaican culture. This book will help to inspire youths to dream big while providing a path that they can use as a guide to achieve their greatest dreams and escape today’s crippling social traps, such as narcissism. This book will also help to echo and reinforce the message of my greatest mentor Martin Luther King Jr., who has advocated for our generation to not judge by skin color but instead by service to others and the content of one’s character.
In your opinion, what do you think makes your company or organization stand out from the crowd?
In addition to our continued message of hope, what makes our organization stand out is the creative influence of Science and Arts in everything that we do. Example of this is the promotion of our new book, Secrets From MIT, Tennis and the Umpire Above, using the Trilogy Campaign. The Trilogy Campaign is a three-part video project that consists of music, storytelling, and art. In essence, the Trilogy is analogous to a music video that someone watches and then decides to buy an album. See Parts 1–3 of Trilogy: http://www.twaltongroup.com/foundation
Ok, thank you for that. I’d like to jump to the main focus of this interview. Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us? What was your idea? What was the reaction of the naysayers? And how did you overcome that?
While attending high school in Jamaica, I was preparing to apply for colleges and with my early interest in math and science, I learned about MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As I decided to apply, both my dad and specific teachers told me not to waste time in applying to MIT because I couldn’t get in. They said, “Don’t waste your time, it’s like hitting the lottery!” With the mindset and motto I crafted through Paro’s influence (“Do not let the world dampen your dreams”), I decided to pursue my goal regardless of what my dad or teachers said. Even though my dad told me not to bother applying, he was very supportive as I took extra classes which resulted in me needing to arrive at school at 6:30am and not leave until 9pm. After receiving admissions to MIT, my science teacher came to me, shook my hand, and congratulated me saying “I was wrong.”
In the end, how were all the naysayers proven wrong? 🙂
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My mom. My mother Carol was very instrumental throughout my educational growth not only as a mother but also as a teacher. My mother is a lifelong teacher with over 50 years of experience teaching at primary schools throughout Jamaica. She taught me for 2 years (grades 5 and 6) in primary school and was one of the only people who encouraged me to apply to MIT.
It must not have been easy to ignore all the naysayers. Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share the story with us?
At age 7, I participated in speech competitions in primary school. During my first speech competition, I recited a poem, and I was ultimately not successful in the competition. After going home, I was angry at myself while reflecting on how well other kids performed. After that day, I challenged myself to return to the competition next year and to learn the most difficult and powerful speech that I’ve ever witnessed in history. My teacher recommended Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream Speech.” When I saw that the speech was over 5 pages long, I said to myself at age 7, “This is it!” Although it took months of practice and memorization, I was proud to have a national gold medal in the speech competition. To see a copy of this speech performed at MIT: https://youtu.be/i5TsfPd4-sg
Based on your experience, can you share 5 strategies that people can use to harness the sense of tenacity and do what naysayers think is impossible? (Please share a story or an example for each)
My five strategies are best described by the acronym DREAM:
D. The letter D stands for the word doer, which describes the importance for a dreamer to actively engage in action that brings their dreams to life. Being a doer is pivotal regardless of the outcome of the actions. If one succeeds in their actions, there is contentment, and if one fails at their action, they’re able to learn from their mistakes, which is also very important for success.
R. The letter R stands for the word reader, which echoes the great importance of actively learning from others and their past stories of success and failure in order to gain greater understanding of how to accomplish your goal.
E. The letter E stands for the word education, which is one of the most vital aspects of realizing a dream. Education itself can be either formal or informal. Although obtaining the right education certification is necessary in a world driven by data, some of the greatest successes are obtained by individuals with an informal education that is void of the established certification. Regardless of its formality, education is very important.
A. The letter A stands for the word anything, which conveys that you can achieve and accomplish anything you desire once you are personally driven to accomplish that goal.
M. The final letter M stands for the word mentor, which serves as a reminder that guiding and mentoring the younger generation is pivotal to fully achieving one’s dream just like my financial aid donor demonstrated.
What is your favorite quote or personal philosophy that relates to the concept of resilience?
Do Not Let The World Dampen Your Dreams
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
The movement that I dream of inspiring is a movement that fuels social equality, regardless of one’s race, gender, or sexual orientation: we’re all equal. This is critical to me because as a black father with a white Jewish wife and 2 interracial sons, I want my sons to live in a world where they see both their parents as equals — neither superior nor inferior.
Can our readers follow you on social media?
Instagram — @twaltongroup, Twitter — @Tarickwalton,
Thank you for these great stories. We wish you only continued success!