In your TED Talk, you mentioned that you grew up in a certain neighbourhood in Miami and that it's often associated with being poor and black. You also described how people like Oprah or Jay-Z managed to have fantastic careers despite coming from similarly disadvantaged places and how that can sometimes push people to do more and achieve extraordinary results. You didn't talk about your own journey there, though. So, I wonder how Vincent went from the hood in Miami to the head of Global Leadership in InVision?
Thank you for bringing that up, Jan. First, let me be clear, I never really aspired to do a TED talk. Many of my peers did, but I did not. I love TED talks. I watch them; I listen to them. I'm a fan of them, but that wasn't a part of my bucket list or my goals and accomplishments.
So, I want to start there and say that the main reason for doing it was recognizing that there's a bigger picture to what I feel like I am on this planet to do and doing the TEDx talk was bigger than me.
And I bring that up because that is the foundation of the story that speaks about how I went from where I grew up, which, as you were referencing, is a black neighbourhood in Miami that is predominantly pretty poor (in terms of class where the resources and the environment is deprived of a lot of things). And so, I grew up in that environment, but I did not let that environment dictate my journey and the present-day situation.
And so, how did that happen? Well, it happened because of a lot of people. It happened because certain people went out of their way and invested their time to expose me to opportunities that allowed me to dream. That allowed me to pursue things I did not know existed and encouraged me to do so. It actually all started with my sister.
My sister somehow saw that I enjoyed art. To this day, I don't know how she captured that. Because from my point of view, I was just like any other kid at seven or eight years old. A kid who liked to colour and liked arts and crafts and all that stuff. Either way, along with my parents, we decided to have me do an audition for Magnet Art School, which set the tone for the rest of my future.
The school application required me to present a portfolio, but being nine years old, I had never even heard the word portfolio before. So, I had no idea what that was, but I had a lot of art projects that I did in my classroom. So, I just pulled all those together, and I presented those. And then, I had to do an art exam where we had to draw and sculpt something.
That process was exciting because it awakened me to the possibility of something I didn't know existed.
People have always played an essential role throughout my entire journey, whether it was teachers or strangers sharing opportunities with me that piqued my interest and aligned with what I wanted to do, allowing me to pursue it.
I was fortunate enough to have my family's encouragement and support system to say go for it, which is not common. Especially considering both of my parents are from Tortola, BVI, located in the Caribbean, where traditionally, children aren't encouraged to do something in the arts. Preferably they are persuaded to be a doctor, lawyer, engineer or something like that.
In that sense, I am very grateful and truly blessed that I had my parents say at a very early age, "All we want you to do is be great at what it is that you do. We're not worried. And we're not concerned about whether or not you will make a living. We know that if you pursue the arts and are great at it, then we know that you will be okay."
Only a lot later, I realized that not every kid had such an environment and support, so retrospectively, I am even more grateful.