“I’m kind of like Batman, I like to fight in the shadows.”
When we think of Greatness, we are often drawn to images of grandeur. We conjure the traditional tropes that society has conditioned us to believe in, which often revolve around the spotlight. But Greatness comes in many forms and often lurks in the shadows.
“Batman fights for justice. No one really knows who he is, because he is just doing things for the wellbeing of others. And then Bruce Wayne is kind of like the front. He’s the wealthy persona in front of it all.”
When you meet Squint, the first thing out of his mouth won’t be his profession, and that’s by design. And that is because he is more than his profession: he’s a man of God, a husband, a father, a brother, a business partner, an advisor.
But his professional persona, which has been largely influenced by his Bay Area upbringing, also makes him an Entrepreneur, Creator, Storyteller, and Film Director, telling rich stories through the lens of a camera.
Squint was raised in Palo Alto, California, which is perhaps best known for being the home of Stanford University. But at a young age this city taught him a valuable lesson and one that would ultimately lead to him picking up a camera.
At the age of six, Squint and his younger brother witnessed a traumatic episode of violence in their neighborhood. Later that evening, his family checked the local news expecting to hear the story, but their anticipation was met with silence. This story was not worth being told, or so the local news outlet decided.
There was a disconnect between the world he saw and the way his world was portrayed. This when Squint realized the power of the camera. As a photographer, he did not have to rely on someone else to tell his truth, instead he could capture the realities of his environment and embrace the radical act of storytelling on his own terms.
“It’s not my gift. I’m just the one operating the camera. But it’s God who gives me the perspective.”
From that point on, art and creative expression became Squint’s passion. “I think when you’re growing up at a young age and you don’t have a lot, your imagination just runs wild.” His parents fueled his imagination and gave him the tools that he needed to support his creative interest. “We would just sit around the table and sketch for hours. Eventually, I became more of an emotional artist and drawing and painting was too slow for me. Somewhere around the age of 8, I got exposed to cinematography and worked at local public access channel. I watched a lot of documentaries growing up. We probably saw more documentaries than we did sitcoms, and that’s kind of what shaped me.”
Squint’s artistic talents from his youth planted the seeds for a path that would forge partnerships with athletes, influencers, record labels, and film studios in adulthood. “It’s not my gift. I’m just the one operating the camera. But it’s God who gives me the perspective.” Humility is on the menu with this brother.
Ultimately, and perhaps more importantly for Squint, this journey led him to connect with his four business partners, or brothers, as he prefers to call them. What unites their brotherhood is a powerful shared mindset that our legacy will be defined by what we leave behind for others. And so together, they founded Trillicon Valley, a collection of socially driven businesses that aim to inspire and empower future generations to be prepared for Greatness.
“I think it’s our job, especially with Trillicon Valley, to inspire not just blacks but people all over the world to (re)align their lives to integrity, to love, to avoiding any form of self-seeking selfish ambition, and really to building up one another.”
What is so beautiful about Trillicon Valley’s work is the collaboration that defines their mission. The individual businesses that fall under the Trillicon Valley umbrella are finding creative ways to tie together youth culture, technology, and diversity in order to set the next generation up for success. This strong sense of community through collaboration is something Squint credits to the Bay Area.
You get a sense when talking to Squint that his motivation for success is two-fold. His primary focus is selflessly caring for the well-being of others, and doing so with a pure, loving heart. This is the Batman piece of the equation. But secondarily, he understands the importance of showcasing his success and accepts the responsibility of serving as a role model for others. This is the Bruce Wayne piece of the equation. Ok, probably more like Alfred, but you get the point!
“There are a lot of children I interact with, especially black children, who did not have fathers growing up. And I think it’s really important that we have strong individuals, that they see good examples of men who care for their well-being. And that these role models don’t say ‘don’t be like me’, but that they say ‘be better than me.’”