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Meet AJ Carr of Building Bosses

Today we’d like to introduce you to AJ Carr.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I always say the struggles that I went through shaped me into the person I am today. At an early age, I became familiar with poverty and violence. Things like the murder of my grandmother, being homeless, dealing with discrimination, and witnessing all of the despair in the world made me want to do something positive about it and make a change as opposed to being another statistic and/or victim of the cycle.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Not. At. All. It hasn’t been a smooth road. A lot of people tell me how much they admire me because of everything I’ve accomplished at such a young age. I’m 16 years old, and I’ve already graduated high school, I’m a SAG actor and I’ve been on television shows on multiple major television networks, I’m a professional public speaker who did a TedTalk, I’m a hip hop artist and my first single “Gotta Make It” is available on Itunes & all other platforms, I’m a published author of a children’s book called “Ballardine”, and I’m a business owner. None of these things were easy to accomplish. I’ve had doors being slammed in my face due to me being young, black and passionate about what I believe in. I’ve had people who I thought was cool and trusted switch up on me. And on top of that, I’ve had my own internal struggles like dealing with loss and self-doubt. But through it all, I always make sure to remind myself of something the greatest rapper alive (Jay Z) said, which was, “a loss ain’t a loss it’s a lesson, appreciate the pain it’s a blessing.” I fully realize that nothing good comes easy so I’m glad that my path has been and still is challenging at times.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Building Bosses story. Tell us more about the business.
Building Bosses is a nonprofit I started when I was 13 years old to help my peers. I peeped that the youth aren’t being offered enough seats at the table to discuss and work on issues WE deal with, nor are we supported enough even when attempting to do something positive (especially kids of color). I also noticed how much we as young people listen to each other everyday, whether it’s bad or good, we always listen to each other as young people. We talk to each other. We love each other. We fight each other. We get inspiration from each other. We listen to each other in one way or another. This made me want to do as much as I possibly could to enlighten my peers on the potential they possess, why it’s important to serve our communities, their self-worth, and how to be a B.O.S.S., which I define as Build. Own. Serve. Succeed. I’m a professional public speaker, so I’ve been going to different places in the country motivating the youth. I started a youth empowerment tour with another amazing young person named Essynce Moore who’s also an author, artist, and entrepreneur amongst many, MANY other great things. I’ve accomplished many things on my journey, but the Youth Empowerment Tour is what I’m most proud of. I’m very proud of the loving and eye-opening responses we’ve been getting from the youth we have met on our tour. We need more support for this tour because a lot of young people have said their lives have been changed for the better after hearing us speak. This shows that it’s very powerful when these positive messages to the youth come from their actual peers. I truly believe we can make an even bigger impact if we can reach as many people as possible.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I don’t believe any of these things that have happened in my life stem from luck at all. Honestly, I get offended when people insist that. But I do believe that good, almost “miracle-like” things happen to people who are consistently hard-working, pure-hearted, level-headed and faithful even when the obstacles seem close to impossible to persevere through. A lot of people want to get to the end result of hard work, without actually doing the hard work. But there’s always a process, and you gotta trust the process, and work hard everyday. There have been many instances where things have happened for me and my family that made me go, “YO! This is completely unbelievable!”. But I truly believe that’s a result of how strong-minded, positive and hopeful I am “against all odds”, word to Tupac.

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