I can do all things
I catch up with my long time friend Ime, we talk about his INSANE journey leaving silicon valley to become a Travel Producer, Videographer, Photographer amplifying voices in the black community through his craft. Ime takes us through some breathtaking moment while he travels the world. The strong imagery of being at a desk in silicon valley and then jet setting conquering the world through storytelling and photography. We also have some fun around taking these bold steps as a Nigerian American, how culture and customs play into carrying his story forward. We insert a few nutmegs about soccer and catching sunsets! Ime's story is truly inspiring he takes us along moments that were tough, and how his life philosophy of "I Can Do All Things" have been professed from as long as he remembers. This episode too comes with a lot of laughter, 2 friends who have known each other for a very long time, tied in a way by destiny or sheer coincidence from Baltimore to Seattle, caught in a magic moment combining their undying love for media into a single art form of a podcast.
How to find IME
Ken: welcome to TWDS podcast. It still feels so new and it's still as impressive to me, to be able to press on the record button and bring you this. So I'm bringing to you a pretty cool episode today. I bring you a story from my friend, Ime, about his journey from Silicon Valley to being hands down.
One of the Fest creatives I've seen, and Ime and I have known each other for quite some time, almost feels like a lifetime. We met in college about 10 years ago. Ime was on the soccer team. I was just going around in hallways, looking for free food. And yeah, we instantaneously became friends and fast forward, maybe eight or seven years down the journey we both ended up in Seattle. Ime actually played a very big role in me coming out to Seattle.
He was the very first one to host me here. When I came down for a conference and coming out here and being introduced to his social and professional circles were really an eye opener and made me want to make the move. And it's very fitting that when I'm starting a journey on what seems to be a little different from my regular track, He again becomes an influential character on the road to that journeys.
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The things you don't see live beyond a specific story. In this episode. It is an entire journey. It's the joys of chasing your dreams, where it go hard, keeping your purpose as a compass and tons of giggles because to be honest, Ime, and I haven't caught up on a video call for that long. And so on this episode, you are about to hear things that I did not know.
And there are a couple of moments like that. What is more powerful as the things you don't say than, living through a story? Thanks for tuning in. Today. I'm excited to introduce a friend of my Ime tuning in live from Baltimore. If you know anything about me, I rock with that city first love Ime. How you doing brother,
Ken, thanks so much for having me, my brother. Thank you so much. Yeah. Shout out to Baltimore. That's where we met miss, actually, where I've been for the past couple of months since traveling. I'm so happy to be here, man. So happy to learn more about what you're doing and share my story.
Ken: Yeah, thank you so much.
So let me give a little preview to the audience about what excites me about Ime's story today. It goes from a life-changing idea, but there are other components to that. There are the joys and the challenges there is the cries, the laughter, the expectation. Self expectation, is expectation of others and how the idea of doing something magnificent for yourself, lives through the people who are around you.
So I'm really excited to record this and have email a little bit, tell us about the things that had led him on this path. So. Ime, how did this happen?
Ime: So where do I even start with that. There's so much going on, but I think I'll start with what I'm doing now. And then take a step back today. I am a full-time content creator that spans everything from design to videography, to editing, thinking way back to where this started.
Just my love for creation. It was really back in my first year in college. So my first year in college, Of course my love of up until that point was soccer, but my dad gave me a camera that I picked up and I just started going around Baltimore and started shooting everything myself, my school, UMBC, the ALK library.
And I started putting some of those pictures online and eventually my cousin saw some pictures and she hired me as a photographer to come and shoot her husband's 25th birthday at that point. And then from there, I think a light bulb went off that. Actually started carrying me a little bit away from soccer.
And then, then into the creative world and photography. After I graduated, I worked for about nine years in corporate America, and I always felt just something calling me to a greater purpose. And I knew I loved travel. I was exposed at an early age, going to Nigeria with my family and I wanted to travel and also wanted to share my story because I wanted to inspire people.
So that began by me just having the same curiosity as I did in my freshman year at Urin BC has started taking pictures and sharing them online. And. I eventually got calls and people said, Hey, could you come out and do this?
Ken: I remember those pictures vividly. You know what? I actually remember the most about your first pictures, the branding you used to raise your name in the corner in cursive, you will take the picture and you kind of like narrow it down a little bit, but the outside would be black.
And that's where you draw your signature. At that point, you were at the beginning of your journey. And to me, this dude is like a pro photographer. He showed up doing what he wants to do. Like it's just amazing. So you are in corporate America nine years.
Ime: Yeah, man doing my time.
Ken: I love that concept. You're listening to this voice.
That's calling you out there to go out and. Get established. At what point did you feel sitting on that chair in those offices? I am ready to do this.
Yeah, man, I think more than anything. One of the things that I've always believed in throughout any circumstance or any challenge in my life is that if I'm going to bet on anybody, I'm going to bet on myself.
So it got to a point for me that I knew I wanted to travel. I knew I wanted to see the world. I knew I wanted something different. Even up until that point. I was so fortunate enough to, to do some amazing work. I work with some amazing teams, worked on some problems that really nobody's ever thought about.
And. That prepared me, that prepared me to take this step because every challenge that came up in corporate America with my career, I busted right through it. And I went to the next level. So I think for me, yeah, the last couple of weeks, when I actually made the decision, it was more about just reaffirming that I can do this.
I can do anything that I put my mind to and that anything that doesn't scare me is probably not a big enough goal that I'm chasing. So. In order to leave everything behind. I think it probably took me two to three months to really be comfortable in that the whole American dream and do things in this way.
It's not applicable to everybody and believing yourself at the end of the day, as cliche as it sounds. Well, I always say that chase, your dreams is dopest thing that you can ever do because you won't actually know if you can actually get there. So you try. So in those moments, getting ready to leave, those are the things that were going through my mind.
Just reaffirming that I can do this.
There's a sense of security that you get from. Being in corporate America, especially, I think that's very different from the creative world where contracts are crazy. Everything has its specific value. Right? How do you go from, I have this sense of security to, okay, now I'm going to go do this thing and yes, you are going to be completely fulfilled, but then you're like, wait a second though.
The trip back, I need to figure out how to afford that. Like how did you rreconcile both?
Ime: You know, th there's a lot. That's a really good question, man. There's a lot of variables there. Even my approach to soccer, I was afforded and played a little winger, but I was always attacking for me. It was almost this uphill battle.
I watching the ball cover from the defense, like all the way up and making sure that your run was timing and then boom, you go. So I think that thing that really worked for me was okay, now let's go time. And when I was traveling, so my first. I would say two months of travel, I went to Nigeria, went to Hong Kong, spent some time in Thailand.
That was my time to first just say, Hey man, like I've been going to school since I was like four years old and afterschool I've been working. Like I literally have not had a chance to own my own days since I can remember. So really that first two to three months, even though it was 12 weeks. Yeah. It was a time for me just to relax, just to know what it feels like to wake up at 11:30 AM and go to the beach and do what I wanted.
So I think I realized after that point of the true vacation, that in terms of being a creator, if I want to wake up. At 2:00 PM one day, or I want to sleep in that's exactly what I'm going to get out of it. Right. But if I wake up at six, if I wake up at five, if I'm creating these videos, if I'm reaching out to people if i'm writing down my ideas and bringing them to life, that's going to push me forward.
So I think from going to vacation mode to now, okay, I got to build this business. It was really just really understanding the value of my time and how much I could get done in a day. So yeah. Some days it might be more, more busy. Some days might be more or less. So I have that time to think, but yeah, man, I think just, just understanding that, okay, now it's in my hands now.
Now I have to build this and just to be consistent and be committed to the cause. And also remember why I started in the first place.
Ken: Did you at the beginning feel some type of pressure you are at the beginning of this. And you went to Nigeria and Thailand. You had the time to reset. You were back, and you were about to maybe face your first few projects.
You're on the computer, probably deep at night, somewhere like in a coffee shop. Somewhere,
how does in Thailand? Yes. Cause I did see some beautiful pictures from there. Eh,
how does it feel like? What is going through your mind?
Ime: You know, I think it's really about perception because after leaving Silicon Valley, after working there in terms of my take on what I was bringing in at the end of the year, that I've never seen that much money in my life.
And it was certainly a level of comfort that I really enjoy. And I think now my mindset has changed because it's not how much can I make per year, but how much can I see? What is my experience and what are the, what are the things that I can take with me? And for me, that's memories and that's good times.
And that's vibes that I feel that I try to portray on my work. So in terms of pressure, I would think initially, yes, because I was thinking all a man, well, traditionally, if I left that job and I was making this much, then I need to be able to make this much. It's a marathon, not a race. And I'm going back to a place where I am, again, learning something for the very first time.
And that's exciting to me. I tend to run towards challenges. So, yeah, pressure, I would say not really at all. Once I was able to, to really realize what my true purpose was to uplift, to amplify voices in the black community. there's no amount of money that, that could ever replace that there's no amount of money that could ever replace me getting on a plane for the first time.
And because of my camera, there are companies paying for me to go there. It's it's just, those are like world cup wins, man. So, so yeah, no, no pressure for me.
Ken: So for people who don't watch soccer or football, there is this exhilarating feeling when your team has won the world cup and it's. As a fan, you don't even need to be from that place.
I remember like France, 1998, I still can list you all of the 23 players. So like when Ime, Ime, like talks to you about like winning world cups. That's that is such an essential part of this journey. It is. So so big and, and I really love that piece of the story. You're essentially presenting to us: I was fed out a ways.
It wasn't about the monetary aspect. Yes. Now I'm doing an impact in the community and yes. Now I'm also seeing the world. That feeling of landing and going to places that you've never seen before connecting with awesome folks as email is telling me this now, now I want to quit my job now. Still love you employer.
Ime: Hey man. secure the bag.
Oh my gosh.
Ken: Piece of this that I wanted to touch on also, which is emotions and people in your life. So you are in Silicon Valley and, made connections over there. You have close friends, relatives, family, you are telling them I'll still be connected with you, but I'll be connected from the artist side of the world.
Ken: How did you get to that point? Is there anything in your, in your journey that made it easier, harder to just tell family I'm gone?
Ime: Yeah. Yeah. The emotions is definitely a big part of it, man. And I mean, I'm not sure if anybody can tell from my work, but I put all of my emotions into everything that I do.
I think for me being able to step away and tell my family, Hey, I'm going to be gone for a couple of months. You're not going to be seeing me as much, fortunately for me, because I moved to Seattle from Baltimore. It wasn't like a daily thing that they were seeingme. So I think. It was a little bit less hard hitting for me saying I was going to broad, try to come back every three or four months to Baltimore at that time.
But now that I'm traveling for a year straight, they were more prepared for that. I think more than anything, my parents were concerned about the countries that I was going to and this and that, but I assured them just as much as any child would that. Mom. I'm okay. Like dad, dad. I'm good. And, I would just try to show them what I was doing on our group chats had pictures and videos to sort of relieve their stress of their son traveling the world.
So, but my emotions, yeah. I would say if anything. I think being a solo traveler, being a true solo traveler and not traveling with anybody there's, there's only, but so many sunsets you can watch by yourself. And, I definitely watch a lot of sunsets, five myself. And I'm glad I did that. And I'm glad I got it out the way, because I think when I ended that first year and a half and preparing for the second, I knew that I want to be able to share this with somebody.
I'm super happy that in 2021, I will be doing a lot of travel with my girlfriend and, we're going to this. Then I dropped the, I dropped the volume.
Ken: This is freaky.
Ime: Oh, my God man. So, so yeah, man, you'll be seeing that. You'll, you'll definitely be seeing a lot of me in Africa, but if I'm smiling extra hard now, you know, why is because I can share this experience.
So, so yeah, I'm looking forward to that for sure.
Ken: Yeah. I knew, I knew this was coming because I follow your content in a different way than most people do I think. And. When you were in Nigeria, you had this Ime, I know, go get her. You were in the village. Where were the kids? You were playing a lot of Igwe, like feel to it, culture, kingdom, and all that.
And then fast forward to a few weeks ago, man, the way you panning over Baltimore, there's something in the heart rate. Something is. This hates you different. And are you just talking about that's? It's just fantastic. Congratulations. This is, yeah. We love those stories.
Ime: Yeah. I'm a tell those stories too, man.
People need to see that I'm born in Baltimore to a Nigerian father, mother from Baltimore. So my gift outside of the photography and the videography is being able to speak to both sides of me, of what makes me I'm the African-American community here. In the U S and then also my Nigerian community and family there.
So those are the stories that are really loved telling, and I feel like it brings the world closer together. And yeah, you just like Baltimore. I want you guys to imagine that drone going over, Nigeria, going over Ghana. Going over ivory coast. Those are the countries that are really want to put a light on and put a spotlight on it.
Ken: no, I totally feel you. And there is a little bit of momentbut I feel like there's so much to be done in there. I am excited in the description of this podcast. We're going to drop all your links, any promo thing that you got, you got go it out there, you know, please go out and support a brother, but I wanted to hit on something else.
Okay. You said Nigerian father. We talked a little bit about Nigeria and so on Facebook. I did see a little bit of drama brewing through your timeline while you were leaving. I feel like a lot of your family who was deeply in Nigeria and who wasn't the US family here. Didn't know or understand your journey.
And so they're thinking, well, our son, what is going, Oh, I don't know if I remember. Maybe it was an auntie or something somebody dropped in there, like, and your dad had to step in there. I remember right at the comment section, your dad, your dad went in there. It was just like, I trust my son. Yeah. And I trust that my son right now is pursuing his dream and he is doing big things as being a child of an African man.
It was so suited. I know it was, it was directed to you. I received the blessing to perfect. You, me, we all needed to hear that. Like that's support right there. Man. It was a blessing
Ime: and I mean, you hit it right on the head. So coming from an African parent, either you're accountant, you're engineer, or you're the president or a lawyer or something.
Right. And, it's just, I'm so grateful for that. And I'm so grateful that even my dad was, was able to express that publicly because even though I'm sure you thought that was for me is you received a blessing and I hope that it actually. Brings other people, peace brings other people understand it because I know that's one of the things that even growing up, I mean, don't get me wrong.
This has been a long time coming, but that was always something in the back of our minds. Okay. Do this, master grand master PhD. It's like, man, can I just get through middle school to be able to see that man, it's just. I'm blessed man. And that certainly goes into the fuel that keeps me, that keeps me going when my parents, my friends and I have that support from the community.
So don't ever think the comments or the DMS, or, you checking up on me that, that stuff goes on notice because. It means the most, especially the folks ken like yourself, you see me like this doesn't start today. We go back years, we have to support each other and bring each other up. So yeah, I appreciate that, man.
Ken: That hits home right there in that. We're not saying anything else about
Mike drop, like, like legitly did, we've talked about various aspects of your journey, but I want you to kind of give us. A little sense of what really got hard. You did this stories thing on your, on your page. You were just posting up all of these different moments. I still wonder how you were able to make it out of that.
Give us a preview of like, what was really, really, really hard. And what did you struggle with?
Ime: Yeah, no, that's a good question, man. I think, certainly given this year in 2020, this has been a challenging year. This is what's supposed to be my breakout year, supposed to be traveling across the world and shoot in different video projects.
And by the time March came around, I was in Thailand and things were getting really bad. And man, This wasn't on my vision board. That was definitely challenged, not being able to travel, but for me, all of my projects were, were canceled this year that I was supposed to travel. And this is after just a few months of starting my, my business and getting these contracts and things like that.
So outside of that, I mean, thinking about that and thinking about how I responded to that in this year, it was, again, going back to the, I can do all things, I'm I know that I'm never going to be put in a situation that I can't get out of. And me being a creative, in a really good background in project management, I knew that there.
Was always going to be a way out of that. And I just use that energy to turn it into a pivot. So instead of being able to travel actively and presently, I, I repurpose a lot of my old content. One of the first videos that I put out was traveling from home and I took a situation where. I was at home and even I couldn't travel because, we were on lock down in the pandemic.
I would open up my hard drives and I would look at the memories and the drone shots and the people in the pictures. And that's how I was treated, traveling through the first part of this year and actually created video out of it. That is actually one of my favorite pieces to date. But yeah, understanding what the challenge is.
I think realizing that this is out of my control. Right. This is, this is something that has actually put the world on pause and staying true to myself and saying, Hey, why did I get into this? What do I want to do next? And I started focusing on repurposing and started focusing on telling more stories, and then amplifying.
Voices within the black community here in Baltimore. So I'm, I'm just super glad I was able to pivot, as a creator. And yeah, that was, that was certainly the biggest challenge losing all of my business for 2020 was a very good humbling. Yeah, it was super humbling.
Ken: Ime is one of these dude. You are in a high pressure situation.
You're freaking out. You're in like almost a breaking point and the guy just steps in and then he does this thing with his voice was good. You repossess yourself. Surely like, you know what? Yeah, what's good. What's puffy.
Ime: it's all good, man.
Ken: Exactly like that. It's all good, man. And I knew that's not, it's not manufactured.
It's being real. It's being showing over and over again for the past 10 years. I wanted to also talk about the journey itself. Some of the fun places that you've been, because right now we just ironed out, like everything that was difficult, there was some like amazing stuff I've seen, but where were maybe top two, three places.
And just the way those places made you feel like what connected you to the world?
Ime: Yeah, I'm imagining right now and I'm thinking places, but I'm also thinking feelings too, because I got to experience, just spiritually, mentally, physically in those places, things that I'll never forget. The two places that come to mind for me right now, I would say Bali or Nusa Penida Island.
And of course Nigeria. And that's when I came back to Nigeria at the end of 2019. I'll talk about Bali first and that's in Southeast Asia. So before going to Bali, I was in Tyler for a few months and I went down just to see what it was. I think I was only supposed to spend two or three weeks there. Ended up going to the small Island called Nusa Penida.
It's about a 30 minute of fast boat ride off the off the Island Nusa Penida is very small and very secluded, but there's beautiful. Just beautiful scenery, waterfalls, just everything. It's amazing. And I remember the moment. Sitting down. I think it was during sunset and I was on this rock, just overlooking the ocean and the sunset.
It literally looked like a screensaver. Like I'm not even making this up. And I remember thinking, I used to dream about this at my desk, the planning that went into it, I used to want to be here in. Now I'm here. And I think at that moment, I definitely shed it thug tear, but I was just grateful. I was like, man, I could have been anywhere.
If not for my friends, if not for my family, if not for it's like I could have been doing who knows what, but I'm here just really enjoying life. And this is. A moment that some people may not ever get. And, I just remember being so thankful and just so connected, with where I was and being present in that moment, not thinking about, Oh, I got to meetting.
Oh, I got to get back to this email or I gotta, it was just, you know what? You are a here. Yes. You're a kid from Baltimore, but you deserve to be here and enjoy this moment. So that would be number one, I think. The number two biggest moment for me. So I started my journey in November, 2018. I left the Bay and then I went down to LA and then I went to Nigeria from there.
And then from there, I went all around the world, Bali included Thailand and all that. And then in December, 2019, I actually returned to Nigeria. So for me, Just taking a step back and thinking, Hey, young black man, you just traveled the world. Like you left from the village from where you're from, where your name originates, where your people originate in the motherland in Nigeria, in Ikot Udo Esang, my village in Akwa Ibom.
You went around the world and you came back. And that moment. Yeah, I was just like in a year, that's a year of straight travel, like a year straight. I thought I was only going to travel for six months. Right. Cause I was like, I was looking at my account. Like, I don't even know how this goes right now.
Things started coming in and I started doing work and I was like, okay, I can, I can, I can do this. And to return to the village, having traveled the world. I mean, I was ready to run through a brick wall, man. I don't know what I can't do because all my fears and all those things that are made up in my mind and I'm going to run out of money or I don't know how I'm going to get work or this and that.
It didn't happen. People saw my gift and they brought me on to help tell their stories. And I started learning more and I started teaching myself more and yeah. To be back in Nigeria and experienced that, man, it's just, again, I'm so thankful of me, allowing myself to take that risk back in 2018 and say, I can do this.
So it's a blessing, man. And even talking about it today, but that might be number three moment, man. Like talking about it right now. It's just. Yeah,
Ken: but I could feel the emotions i'm getting goosebumps all over. Just hearing you say that. Yeah. Especially when you set up the Bali scene, there is a feeling traveling while black, that when you go to places, you just have this feeling of almost not belonging there.
And when you heat those words, I am a kid of Baltimore and I deserve.
Ken: to be here. It is different. Like, I really hope the audience appreciates like the nuances of that. And then of course leaving the village, like that's almost biblical. And then coming back like that,
Ime: didn't have any real scares or any real, super huge challenges.
I didn't get sick. Just for me to be able to be there after a year and return safely. I just knew that so many people were just keeping me in their thoughts and in their prayers and, and, and just wishing that I will have a safe and a safe journey. But for me, again, just be, it's like a homecoming, right?
It's like coming back for a homecoming and just feeling the love from my family and my friends and my cousins back in Nigeria, that it really taught me that, Hey, I can do anything. And if I put my mind to it and I stay focused and I stay grounded and humble, really the sky is limit. When
Ken: you say that can't do anything, you reminded me of something I'm about to put you on blast Seattle.
What was written on your mirror? If you tell the audience how, how long you have been professing this
Ime: man? Since honestly, since I was a kid, man, I can do all things, man. Philippians 4:13. That was a, a scripture that I was given at an early age. And I used that through my soccer career, through my professional career through life is that I know that wherever I go, wherever I move wherever I am, that I'm protected.
And, that's just something that I've always kept with me and something that I definitely remembered upon turning right. To, to the village in 2019 that I can do all things
Ken: amen to that. Listen, this whole thing is just being bars, dropping from the beginning to where we are right now. This, this is amazing.
Another thing that I really appreciated about your content these days is the stuff that is not even meant to be content. When you, when you did the soccer game with your family, Everybody wearing the Jersey in a park in Baltimore, you're running after kids, kids holding like water balloons or whatever it was, they were holding I know.
It's not meant to be content, but like that genuine expression of what you're doing through your life right now, especially during COVID, especially during the time where business may be a little different. Another thing that I really appreciate is when you went. Back to Baltimore. To me, that was, I was thinking that from the get-go, as soon as COVID hit and we couldn't travel, I was like, damn emails out there in one of the places that I would have loved youth to land.
He was exactly there. And the way you're mixing that, like passion of we've done like five or six soccer references already, anybody who has a big bet on it. And you followed away, always, always finding a way home.
Ime: Always man, always, I think that's so important that you called that out, man, because especially when you're traveling a lot, you might get caught up in, Oh, this, this new place in is, it looks nice.
And it's spending not as much money as I wouldn't have United States, but you know, at the end of the day, The things that are here. My family, my friends, the folks, the UMBC friends, like that has seen the growth, those coming back in here and from our group of friends and be like, man, like what you're doing is inspiring.
Like keep going, like we traveling through you. And these are things that man can, I would say to you, man, like, hold on, where are you at right now? What's going on? So it's I think. obviously it's, it's so gratifying to be there, but when you realize that you're helping other people and that you're inspiring other people or that, my old coworker was like, Hey, like we saw your stuff on Thailand now.
I'm about to book my honeymoon there. What? So it goes so much beyond just pressing the record button and snapping a picture because you never know who's watching and you never know who you can inspire. And, again, that's my goal to, to make this world feel a little bit smaller.
Ken: One of the reasons why I also wanted to do this platform.
Our stories need to be told by us, and we need to be in a space where we can bring content to people in the most genuine way as possible, and at the most connected way. And. And you you've been doing that, which is freaking amazing. Thank you so much. Unfortunately, I don't think any of my interviews are going to say it this way.
Like the connection we have, the excitement in my voice. Like I just, I might have to rerecord this and just be like, this is not, this is honest
Ime: in that man. You know what, and the thing about it. Yeah. You are putting it into action. Right. I just loved that even out of this pandemic, a lot of us creators, even if we've never been created, as I always knew you were creator at heart.
I see pics, man. Like I, I see the, I see the Google pixel coming through, man. I see you. I see the edit. So I think, coming out of this and seeing that this is coming from something that I know you wanted to do for a, in a certain way. Cause I think both of us share the same qualities that. We always want to amplify voices and we look at something like, man, that's cool.
Other people should know about this. And, I just appreciate that support so much. And I, I can't wait to see what you do with this in where this goes and takes off. And it's an honor to be on here, man. we have our conversations all throughout the years. And to bring what we love. Both of us are what we love together in this format, man, that's a blessing.
Ken: Yeah. Priceless, priceless. There's too many pieces of this, I've lived right off from talking to you, but this, this has been really, really amazing. Thank you so, so
Ime: much pleasure, pleasure. The best is yet to come, man.