February is known as black history month, where traditionally African Americans are recognized for their contributions to the world. Over the next 28 days, I as an African American photographer/artist will take the opportunity to highlight numerous people of color from the South Florida community whom I feel have made great contributions to their community. These individuals in my opinion are movers and shakers in their own rights and in a society where there isn’t a lot of positive imagery and media about people of this caliber (specifically people of color), I’m providing my platform for that missing element of recognition. The chosen 28 have been interviewed and provided answers representing their views and experiences. Hope you learn a little about these cool and interesting people.
February 1, 2015
Name: John D. Saunders
City: Miami, FL
Profession: Digital Marketing Strategist | Founder of 5Four Digital
An exceptional digital marketer, who is always sharing his knowledge and expertise. He is also a respectable and humble entrepreneur; the first of many in my spotlight this month.
Where Are You From? I was born in Brooklyn, New York, but [my family] moved to South Florida when I was 8 to start fresh in a new environment. My Mother, an immigrant from Barbados, had really wanted to leave New York so my father could escape the environment that engulfed so many of his friends. She had visited a family friend a couple years prior and fell in love with Florida. He agreed.
How Long Have You Lived in The City: Most of my life. I love it here. South Florida is emerging as a technology powerhouse and I’m excited to be a part of the movement. With incubators opening up everywhere, it’s a conducive environment with so much opportunity for growth, and local businesses are really receptive to the ever-changing digital market. Plus, it’s beach weather. ALL. YEAR. ‘ROUND.
What Are You Passionate About & Why? Technology and the ways to promote products and businesses via strategic online channels like web design, search engine optimization and social media marketing strategies. Technology is the driving force of our culture and a pivotal piece in how we evolve and advance as a society. My Mom, being ambitious as she was, wanted to start a business a decade ago. I told her I would build a website to promote her product (which I’ve redesigned and is still LIVE today) with no prior design or HTML experience. It was then that I found online courses, YouTube videos and tutorials to help me complete the project. After a month, I had built an interactive platform for my Mom to push her product. I researched strategies and delved in for hours finding the perfect marketing niche to create a demand for her services. I think that’s where my passion stemmed. I fell in LOVE with what I was doing and stayed up long into the night to help her business reach its goals.
If you were a superhero, what would your super power be? I’m a comic geek, so this one is a no-brainer! I think Spider-man and I have more in common than most would think. Peter Parker, the secret identity of Spider-man, has a power called “Spidey Sense”. He can sense something going awry around him and circumvent the event with his agility and web slinging skills. I like to think I mirror that with “marketing sense”. Through competitive research, the dissection of online content and a review of businesses and their strategies, I think I can circumvent a lot of the woes businesses might have by providing marketing solutions to their problems.
How would/do you use your super powers to accomplish your goals? I use my super powers to help local businesses in their rebranding focuses online. There are still thousands of businesses with arbitrary websites and a miseducation of the online space. I think it starts with educating the business owner and helping them achieve online exposure by coinciding with their goals. There are so many marketers that sell the world to their clients. I like to take businesses online and provide them with the knowledge and strategies to understand and excel in the space.
What was your most significant achievement in 2014/life? Becoming an entrepreneur was something I always wanted to do because I felt I could reach and help so many more people by creating my own path. When I was younger, I was frightened of the unknown. I feared the failure that came with mistakes, and I vowed to never do anything I wasn’t 100% vested in. I’ve learned to embrace the unknown. I appreciate the fear, as it instills a sense of drive in me. I want to succeed. Late nights and early mornings are nothing when you’re working toward a goal.
What, if anything, do you hope to contribute to Miami? I want what we do as Digital Marketers to be a catalyst for change. There are so many kids out there who want to be ball players and rappers, because their exposure is limited. I want to provide them with another outlet. Web Design, Graphic Design and Marketing Strategies are all exciting verticals for kids to learn about. Have an idea for an app? If you have a passion for computers and a willingness to learn, the opportunity is there for everyone. I just want kids in areas that aren’t exposed to these types of educational options given an outlet. It’s one of the main reasons I present to students about what I do and how they can change the landscape for people of color.