Passion, purpose, impact–that’s Jamila Bryant’s motto, and it is serving her and others well. Founder of Push FORWARD Development, Jamila is a ray of light and positivity, and aims to spread positivity through her books of positive quotes and affirmations, as well as her leadership and personal development trainings. Push FORWARD Development specifically provides supports for QTPOC, as these demographics are often overlooked and underrepresented in the realm of development training services. Jamila, who also goes by Jai, sat down with Juncture to talk about PFD, her own experiences with marginalization, and how these experiences have motivated her to create services that specifically work with marginalized people and populations.
Juncture: Thank you for taking the time to speak with The Juncture Mag! How are you today?
Jamila: “I’m doing well since I got this donut. I’m doing well. Life is great. A lot of people say life is good, but I try not to be like other people. So I say life is great because I’m building my dream life.”
J: That’s very awesome to hear. What do you prefer to be called and what are your preferred pronouns?
J: “My preferred pronouns are she/her/hers. But like I tell everyone, I just prefer to be called by my name. Jamila or Jai. A lot of times when I’m in these spaces out here, there are little sprinkles of color. Some people act like they can’t say my name. So when they act like they can’t, I just say, ‘call me Jai.’”
J: They should absolutely be able to pronounce your name.
J: “Right? It’s crazy.”
J: Do you identify as LGBT+ or an ally? (No pressure to answer this or any other questions.)
J: “Yes, so I am a proud card carrying member of the L in the acronym in the LGBTQ+. I’ve always been attracted to females. Just didn’t know what it was at first.”
J: I’m pretty stoked about Push FORWARD Development, and I think you all are doing big things. Can you tell everyone a little bit about PFD?
J: “So Push FORWARD is about facing our realities with fierce determination. It’s a training and development company that I started in January 2019. We focus on leadership and personal development services. We provide those services with four eight-week workshops and trainings. Sometimes I call them funshops. I also do speaking engagements. Haven’t had my first keynote speaking position yet, but soon.
Juncture: It’s coming!
J: It’s coming. I wanted to specifically focus on the LGBT community because I know some of the hardships we face. And it can be hard, due to the pressures of societies, for community leaders to stand up. I want to create a safe space to develop leadership skills and personal development. I say personal development because I think once you have personal development, professional development just naturally occurs. It’s like a byproduct of it.”
J: What are some of the services/programs you offer?
J: “I offer lunch and learns, it’s about an hour session. I do mastermind groups for four to eight weeks, which is a training curriculum about growing and learning together. I’m hoping to kick one off in the fall. I add music and dance at the beginning and looking to change up my format to make it more energized. I got that from Mo.” *laughs*
Juncture: I knew when I heard the word energized! *laughs*
J: “Yeah, I’m gonna have to hit her up after this. *laughs* I received my leadership certification from John Maxwell Team Certification program in February, 2014. So, I use a lot of his material in my workshops. However, I’m creative, so I’m trying to develop my own materials as well. I did a lunch and learn this past Tuesday called Six Ways to Build Confidence in Life and Business. I’m learning from other people, because a lot of people and speakers have top tips. I try to see what other people who are successful are doing and take pointers from them.”
J: Where do you work?
J: Currently, I do not have a brick and mortar office. I work from my dining room table. I work at libraries. I don’t go to many coffee places, because I’m not big on coffee. I typically work from home, though. My long-term goal is to have an office space in a co-working building.
When I get opportunities to work with people, it’s in their spaces. My goal is to bring on other trainers and facilitators, preferably QTPOC. I want to provide a platform for other people. I’m still visualizing what that looks like, but I do want to bring on other people to help expand Push FORWARD’s reach and impact.
My vision is to be the first training company where everyone is LGBTQ+. That’s where I see it going. I didn’t mention this earlier, but I do serve outside of the LGBTQ+ community. I’m currently building relationships with small businesses and non-profits in the area.”
J: What does diversity and inclusion look like to you? How do you strive toward more inclusion and diversity?
J: “A representation of myself. Black, lesbian, disabled veteran. I don’t know how you can get much more diverse than that.” *laughs* “To me it means, having a space and environment that’s welcoming and encompassing of everyone, you know? No judgment zones, I like spaces that are like that. I think we’re all the same once you boil down the diversity. We’re all human. We want the same things: love, a little money, we all want things out of life. I think once you stack identities then we see each other as different. But getting back to your question: my definition would be having people from different backgrounds. It’s so many ways you can make a space diverse. I think we focus too much on one thing. What I try to do is provide a space for everyone. On my site, I say this is an inclusive space to develop and be the best versions of ourselves. I struggle with having a target audience.”
Juncture: Oh my gosh, I have the same issue. I’m like, everyone’s my target audience!
J: “Right! *laughs* But I think now I’ve developed a focus for LGBTQ+ people. But I think when you select an audience, you pigeonhole yourself.”
J: This may be redundant, but do you think the work you do is important, and why?
J: “I do think the work that I do is important, that’s why I do it. One of the reasons why I’m doing this is because I’m passionate about it. Passion, purpose, impact—it is everything I do, and how I live my life. It’s because I’m passionate about it, it serves a purpose, and it has an impact. And the impact is external, but it impacts me too. When it comes down to doing what I do, those 3 aspects are my why. The reason why I wanted to do a training and development company [is] because I started to invest in myself. And once I did, I started to change the way I think, which in return changed my actions, and surrounded myself with other people. So I wanted to provide a space for people who want to develop themselves, because I know what that investment is like and the benefits. Investing in self is the most important investment you can make.
J: Do you celebrate Columbus Day?
J: “I don’t say I celebrate it. It’s not a day that’s different. It’s just another day. If I’m off from work, I’ll do something. It’s a day for some people, but it’s not a big deal to me. It never was. Columbus Day was never a big deal.”
J: Thank you for speaking with us. Is there one last message you want to send out before the interview closes?
J: “One last message would be–I’m an inspirational quote author, too, so I do a lot of inspirational quotes. So I’m trying to think of a quote. ‘When situations in life don’t go as planned, don’t change your goals, change your courses of action.’ Another one is ‘I learned in life sometimes you have to slow down before you can speed up.’”
Juncture: Oh, that’s good. You should develop an inspirational quotes app.
J: Actually, I have a book. I have a gift for you.
Jamila kindly gifted Juncture Magazine with one of her inspirational quotes books entitled Quote Junkie Diaries. Readers are encouraged to buy a copy of the book, which is conveniently pocket-sized to enjoy inspirational and positive quotes on the go!