5 Questions with Speaker Tayo Rockson

Today’s ‘Five Questions’ series (with our fabulous Melibee speakers)  are answered by a millennial with a serious agenda. Meet Tayo Rockson!  Tayo (pronounced “tie-oh”) was an international student in the US who has since founded a consulting company that encourages clients to use their differences to make a difference. He’s a busy guy – already having delivered three TEDx talks already this year! Our own Lisa Zenno asked Tayo to share his thoughts on the value of understanding culture, self, voice and our unique stories.  Enjoy!

1. Tayo, how has social media changed your life?  

I know that there’s a lot of negative chatter about social media but for me, it was a way to stand out once I came to the United States. I knew that I would be immediately be competing with people who had more experience than me upon graduation so when Twitter and LinkedIn first came out, I spent a lot of time studying both platforms and growing my following. Once I felt comfortable with my brand identity on these social media platforms, I started to share my blogs, podcasts and videos. Initially, I wasn’t getting any traction, but I kept putting out content consistently and focused on educating people on their cultural competencies through my stories.

Tayo at the NextGenSummit with fellow millennials.

Then something magical happened, I started to get emails from people listening to my podcasts and they started telling me how much they appreciated my content. They dug more into my background, subscribed to my website and started sharing it to their communities. This led to consulting and speaking opportunities.

That’s a long winded way of saying I owe a lot of my career now to social media. It gave me autonomy to shape my brand and tell my stories.

2. How do you define ‘voice’ and how has it affected your experience as a TCK? 

Voice to me is an expression of one’s self. As a Third Culture Kid (TCK), I realized that I was a minority everywhere I went even in my passport country so understanding that my voice would be influenced with each new environment I found myself in was something I had to come to terms with.

Tayo shares a smile with his mom while they were living in Vietnam.

Once I realized that my voice was my story and I didn’t have to be a mouthpiece for my friends, family or colleagues, I learned how to embrace my identity as a global citizen with more than one home. Defining my voice really helped me get unstuck. I realized that I do have a story. It deserves to be heard and it can make an impact.

3. What tips do you have for millennials who are trying to find their voice? 

LOVE this question as I am a millennial myself who is constantly trying to defy the stereotypes that have been attached to my generation. I’ll tell my fellow millennials that we are the most diverse generations ever and that this means we have so many opportunities to learn about the world.

It also means that we have a responsibility to never play small and contribute to the world. Our generation tends to be more collaborative than previous generations.

I say all this to say that we can leverage all these multiple voices we have by sharing our stories on digital platforms like blogs, vlogs, and podcasts as well as in person by advocating for the less fortunate around us.

  • Never underestimate the power of your story- it matters
  • Explore your curiosity
  • Your inexperience isn’t a liability
  • Your worldview is an asset and
  • You are not alone

When you share your story from a true experience, it leads to belonging which leads to community which leads to making an impact.

We have the potential to be the kindest and most authentic generation so let’s all rise up to our potentials and embrace dialogue and foster more empathy. We are the next set of global leaders afterall.

This TCK now resides in NY, NY, USA.

4. You speak about 21st century Masculinity. Was there a defining moment that you had that inspired you to speak about this topic?

There was no one real defining moment for me. I grew up as the oldest of three boys partly in Nigeria so from an early age, I was told to not embarrass the family name and be an example to my brothers.

This led me down the path of wanting to understand what it meant to be a man in the 21st Century. I studied how we as men treated women, ourselves and our goals and I came to the conclusion that society has lowered the bar for masculinity.

That frustration inspired me to speak more about how we can be better as men in terms of respect, growth and identity.

5. Tell us a ‘single story’ you’d like to disarm. 

I love Ngozi Chimamanda Adichie. She is a fellow Nigerian after all… hahaha! And she is spot on with how dangerous single stories can be. They promote false narratives of who can be heroes in today’s communities and don’t expand our minds.

A single story i’d like to disarm is the idea that Africans are just poor people with pregnant bellies and low IQ. I want to show the world that Africa is a continent filled with diverse people, rich histories,  cultures and incredibly smart men and women who are currently changing the world in amazing ways.

(Want to learn more about Tayo and how to book him to speak at your company, campus, or conference?  Click here!)