Original article at http://voyagela.com/interview/meet-gerald-garth-management-group-nationally/
Today we’d like to introduce you to Gerald Garth.
Gerald, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I have always had a passion for people. I’ve always been connected to volunteerism, leadership development, and storytelling. Yet, I officially began my work in people services with the Black AIDS Institute in 2013 and stayed four years. I began in finance and communications, but got vested quickly in the work and the mission and moved into programs. In my time there, I was promoted from program specialist to program coordinator to program manager.
I attribute the growth path to preparation, meeting opportunity, meeting humility and consistency. I consistently looked for ways to grow and engage and would often go into projects looking at what I could bring to them as well as what I could get out of them. And not in a self-serving way, but as an opportunity to build myself, to be better at my work, to make a stronger impact in my role. My time at BAI truly solidified my passion to connect to people, to solve problems, and to strengthen community.
I currently serve as Manager of Programs, Policy, and Training with the AMAAD Institute (Arming Minorities Against Addiction & Disease), an organization providing programs, services, and events for the communities of South Los Angeles. In this role, I am able to fully build programs, strategies, and efforts that speak to the unique needs of these communities.
My most recent editorial role was editor in chief of Chill Magazine, a print, digital, and social brand designed for the millennial man of color notwithstanding labels of race, sexuality, or culture. I recognize these are key components of our existence—of our humanity, so looking at ways to highlight and celebrate our intersectionality is key to me. I say all the time, “I am to invite people into spaces they might not normally go.”
A consistent thread for me in this work is to operate as a storyteller. From policy to programs to original content, I recognize the power of words—and using them effectively, tactfully, and skillfully.
Recognizing my unique and special opportunities to engage and grow community-based organizations and talented individuals, I started Garth Management Group. We have a central focus in developing strategies and content as well as talent training and management to engage and build capacity for diverse and specialized needs and experiences of clients.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I’m reminded of the line from Langston Hughes’ poem “Mother to Son” “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair,” because it hasn’t! I’m grateful for my journey but it’s been a rough one. I was raised pretty poor in the projects of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I’m the oldest son of three brothers to a single mother, so I knew responsibility early on. I don’t remember a time when I did not have to work. I remember freshman year in high school, I mowed lawns and apprenticed for a construction company. I would do my homework during school hours because I knew I would not have time after school. So my first half classes homework, I did at lunch, second half I would do during the seventh period… or not at all.
Of course, my grades suffered, but for my family, we could not afford for me not to work. The money I made went to food and necessities for the house.
My mother worked overnight, so I’d get home at about 9:00 pm or so missing her by about a half-hour. I would try to finish my homework, but of course, I’d be exhausted. Nonetheless, I kept decent grades. I was in strings and band. I was student government treasurer. I always felt some need to be active. I felt like, among all these activities, something would get us forward.
When I was 15, I was able to get a job at a local clothing store. My schedule was to go to school in the morning, take the city bus to work directly after school, get off at 9, get home at about 10, nap until about 2:00 or 3:00 am, wake up and spend about 2 hours on my homework, and depending on how long it took, would sleep a few more hours, or stay up and start my school day all over again. And I maintained that schedule throughout all of high school.
And even with all that, money was still always tight. I had bad clothes, bad shoes, bad haircuts– just bad. I’ve always been tall, so nothing ever fit right; nothing was ever stylish. And the toll that has on teen, as we know, can be detrimental. So, I continued to find my identity in aiming to do a lot and do a lot well, thinking people would see past what I wasn’t to see what I was. And oddly enough, I was quite popular and liked in high school; yet there was so much pain behind the smiles.
Despite it all, I finished high school with honors and moved on to college, of course, to face a whole new world of challenges heaped onto those before, but I made it!
My mother, to this day, is still my greatest inspiration. I look back and always remind my mother just how grateful I am to her, being able to see three young Black sons through this life healthy and well in this country. It wasn’t easy, though. She would say (and still says), “It’s worth it all.” And I believe that, the challenges, the struggles, the tears.
I see every day, the level of relatability and connection my truth, in all its forms, bring to those I work with, those I serve, those who share their stories and experiences with me. I had one mentee tell me, “Can’t nobody who ain’t been through nothing tell me nothing.” And I believe that. I believe that our journey, more often than not, is not about us at all, and we never know who’s destiny is connected to ours.
Garth Management Group – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Garth Management Group examines what organizations and individuals are doing to stay relevant and competitive in this fast-paced world, and which ones are doing it best. We then strategize using smart tools and global resources in order to understand the implications of every choice our clients can make. It’s important to me to be able to adapt and customize these tools for each of our clients.
GMG combines insights and skills to transform clients’ processes and strategies, and in turn, your company. We’re proud to help shape and improve how our clients’ structure and manage their business.
GMG takes your business to the next level, particularly working with startups and talent looking to grow their brand or increase their business acumen. One reason why I started Garth Management Group is because I know so many talent people who just need some support on the business side—from publicity to talent management to business administration. I believe a team is necessary. It gives people space to do what they do and to do it well. As talent, you should be able to focus on your craft and trust that your business is supported and managed well and trustworthily.
Our work specializes with nonprofits, startups, and individual talent, and we also do work with seasoned organizations and professionals as well to bring fresh ideas, planning, and energy.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I’m excited to be able to use lived experience along with educational opportunities– formal and informal — to create a brand truly designed to grow and strengthen creatives and agencies, tapping into inspiration and passion to marry with tact and skill. I’m looking forward to more effective, authentic, and unapologetic storytelling through my work with Garth Management Group and the AMAAD Institute.