“Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair” –Langston Hughes
SECOND CHANCES ON A FIRST OPPORTUNITY
Growing up in an impoverished area of Kingston, Jamaica dubbed “The Jungle” – early life for Natalie Taylor was far from a fairytale. Her tender eyes witnessed crime, drugs, prostitution and all types of community and societal ills. Left to care for herself amid family dysfunction and a fragmented biological family creating great instability. By age 15, she lost her brother to gun violence and her mother had a mental breakdown which lead to homelessness and dropping out of school. It only got worse when Natalie’s oldest sister and caretaker passed away after having a preemie birth. Shortly thereafter, Natalie became pregnant losing the remnant of her innocence and childhood identity.
With a natural proclivity toward academics—she loved education and was eventually taken in by Sheila Lutjens, one of the diplomats working at the US embassy, who was advised it would be a huge mistake. Nevertheless, the new environment opened up a whole new world of possibilities as she began to dream, learn personal skills and various etiquettes. Natalie started to see life through a different set of “reality” lens. During her brief stay with Sheila, she learned that education was her ticket to success, and thus the path she pursued.
ACCESS: THE INCUBATOR FOR TRANSFORMATION
At 16, the responsibility of a new child often was overwhelming but Natalie began to develop the mindset of an overcomer. Sheila brought her to diplomatic events at the house of the US ambassador and included her in the execution of the dinner parties where Natalie would meet people from across the world. This type of exposure came with numerous benefits such as attending a top-notch private school for girls in Jamaica—where she was competitive in swimming, modeling, tennis, taekwondo, among other activities. Natalie also got her first experience fundraising for more than 200 seniors and children for a local community Christmas event for which she partnered with the US Embassy.
OVERCOMING AGAINST ALL ODDS
Among all the amazing experiences, Natalie still struggled to fit in and the constant pressure to conceal the fact that she was a teen mom, since the school she attended requested she keep it a secret. This further created identity issues as she often failed to reconcile the outgoing school girl during the days and the inexperienced mom at nights. Her education opportunity was almost aborted after she fell prey to a counselor who tried to sabotage her. However, Sheila’s belief in her ability to overcome left her with an opportunity to attend a semester at a community college. At this point in her life, “my son became my why.”
After her first year, Natalie was left in the US alone living in the basement of what she later learned was a half-way house, the only place she could afford rent based on her housing allowance. She started applying for scholarships every night. As fate would have it, she interviewed with Nasdaq’s emerging program and received a full scholarship. Within that year, she started applying for more scholarships and ultimately received over 40 scholarships in her college career. She earned 3 degrees through these opportunities.
SCHOOL DAZE IN BEAUTIFUL WAYS
Taylor attended Morgan State University on a bridge scholarship after she completed the Macklin Institute. She recalls during her 1st semester at Morgan State University. She was a part of the University’s business honors program and attended the Earl Graves School of Business and Management. Mr. Earl Graves, Jr. (Publisher of Black Enterprise) was visiting to pour back into the students at the university. She requested if she could have the pleasure to escort him around the campus. He was extremely personable and wanted to really know about the students. She shared that she was a teenage mom and her reason for being a part of the program was to create a better life for her son, Nathaniel. After Mr. Graves asked about her son, and she broke down stating that she wouldn’t be able to see him that Christmas because she couldn’t afford to book a flight for the holiday break. Mr. Graves replied, “but you will see him this year.” True to his word, Mr. Graves assistant would follow up to arrange for a first-class trip to spend Christmas with her 2-year old son.
MENTORSHIP REALLY DOES MATTER
Mr. Graves made a major impact on Natalie’s life because of his investment into the lives of others. Multiple seeds were planted into her career development and she went on to land a coveted internship with the Sponsors for Educational Opportunities, including getting placed in Credit Suites (1100 Madison). At the end of her internship, she also interviewed with 4 of the top banks on Wall Street and received two offers to work at Meryl and Lehman Brothers. Instead, she took a position with Ernst and Young where all four banks would end up being her clients. Morgan State University and Graves were instrumental in getting other persons involved. Seeding into other people’s lives is so vital. “It’s not what you leave for people, but what you leave in people.” –Earl Graves, Jr.
Which is why Natalie Taylor is so passionate about her responsibility to pay it forward. She has been paying it forward by going back to the Women’s Center—a place where young girls are empowered with information about themselves, their children and opportunities to complete their education by volunteering, investing time and resources as well as providing free workshops.
POWER OF PAYING IT FORWARD
With the debut conference and workshop series hosted in her home country, Natalie intends on helping many avoid many of her mistakes and show others how to use their experiences as fuel for their own transformation. She is leveraging her experience with 20,000 individuals who have benefited from her carefully curated events, to create a massive movement of Acceleration, and transformation. “We want to shine and make a difference not with a flashlight but with stadium lights.” Natalie expresses that “purpose trumps profits every day. If you take care of people, that’s what matters at the end of the day.” This conference is about seeding, and taps into different industries such as banking, film, music, and ministry.
According to Taylor, the Caribbean has been brain-drained, with many of the island’s best being recruited to build the economy of the great western countries with little to no reciprocity. Companies in the Caribbean are often not able to provide a competitive income which discourages many from going back to their home country. “The people aren’t broke, they’re broken.” Natalie believes that some of the world’s most creative people live in the islands. However, there is an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness for many who went the traditional root to get an education and a good job but struggle to see ends meet. The purpose of going back is to reintroduce and help them get a stronger understanding of their divine identity. Knowing who they are will not only improve their confidence and assurance, it will propel them to get outside the box and create the solutions to experience a more fulfilling life and career.
LET A NEW KIND OF FREEDOM RING
Today, Natalie’s transformed life is comprised of “content and context” – more compassion, humility, and sensitivity to others. “Once you’ve been freed, you want to see others become free. We’re building stages and working to build visions bigger than ourselves. We have enough material to build our own stage. It’s time for rebuilding and restructuring.”
Wealth Improvement Networks (WIN) presents its’ debut conference to launch in Jamaica on October 27 and 28, and continue touring in US cities throughout 2019 in Charlotte, Miami and Raleigh and more to be announced. The event is based off Natalie’s Life Architect Coaching and Empowerment workshop series to which she has added highly sought-after empowerment speakers and transformational coaches. A 2-day workshop experience designed to help you take the limits off your mind, relationships, finances, career and your joy. Granting the freedom to grow from good to great and win on another level.
Natalie and her four children reside in Charlotte, NC where her company is also headquartered.