The Origin of Professor TAB - Part II

As I previously stated, it all began one hot evening during the summer of 1992.  There I was sitting in one of the local (Far Rockaway, Queens) community center classrooms preparing for my entrepreneurship class.  The instructor and owner of the program, Mr. K., began the class every evening with a motivational phrase that we would repeat at the beginning and at the end of the class.  The energy in the class was very high even though there were few people in attendance.  This was a shock to me due to the fact that many of the neighborhood residents often complained about the lack of educational resources available in the community center.  Classes were two hours long and we always had some type of homework to complete before the next class.  Six weeks later I received my entrepreneurship certificate after completing and submitting my very first business plan; it must have been a total of 10 pages long (double-spaced).  The business concept I created included typing resumes, school papers, and creating desktop publishing materials for local businesses.  For the first time I felt truly empowered to take control of my life, while embracing my new career path as an entrepreneur. Working at the local supermarket was no longer the goal, even though I managed to become one of the youngest assistant grocery managers there in less than a 2-year period. 

Mr. K. hired me as one of his assistants where I handled all of his company’s computer and graphical responsibilities.   Graduation from the program also bonded me with the gentleman that was passing out the flyers in front of the community center; his name was Mr. J.  He worked for New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and also accepted me as his mentee.  His mentorship was instrumental in exposing me to the youth entrepreneurship movement within NYCHA and New York City in general.

My first experience as a presenter happened in 1993 at a city-wide youth conference sponsored by Youth Force, a youth-based organization that promoted youth empowerment in New York City.  I remember being nervous, even with Mr. K. in the room with me, because of the 40 screaming and restless young adults.  Our workshop was about entrepreneurship and we discussed ideas on how they could start their own businesses.  The young adults were very excited and truly embraced the concept of starting their own candy store or t-shirt business.  I remember feeling my confidence growing after getting that workshop under my belt, but now I had to prepare for the big arena.  Within a few months I was heading down to Baltimore, Maryland to be a co-presenter at the First National Youth Entrepreneur Symposium.  I was so excited with the opportunity to travel outside of New York City for my first business trip and to be a part of a growing phenomenon that was exploding all throughout the country – youth entrepreneurship.  

During this same time period, New York City experienced significant changes within its inner-city communities such as new educational and technology-based programs (something other than the typical sports-based programs).  This seemed to be the direct result of NYC having its first and only African-American major, the Honorable David N. Dinkins (1990-1993).   Inner-city communities were growing with a buzz about youth entrepreneurship and business ownership.  The concept of “grassroots” pride and empowerment was growing at a rapid rate and I had my grandmother to be thankful for she instilled in me early on in my life such values and now I had a platform on which to grow.

The Origin of Professor TAB - Part I

My name is Troy Anthony Burgher [aka Professor TAB]; a self-proclaimed “Accidental Socialpreneur” of technology training” (I’ll share more about that later).  I am a former resident of the New York City Housing Development and that is where it all began!  Little did I know that I was about to embark on a journey that would become my career and life’s mission!  

It all started one hot summer afternoon after playing basketball with a few of my friends from the neighborhood.  Standing in front of the local community center stood a very distinguished gentleman wearing a suit and passing out flyers.  I am not sure what caught my eye the most…was it the fact that some unknown person was passing out flyers or that the individual was wearing a suit in 100-degree weather?  

So, I left my friends to inquire and to satisfy my curiosity.  I asked the gentleman why he was passing out flyers and he informed me that it was to announce a new business program at the local community center.  He mentioned that it was a course that taught people how to become business owners and entrepreneurs.  I am sure that I heard of the word entrepreneur before but asked the gentleman to explain what it meant.  He proceeded to tell me that it was simply an individual that went into business to sell a product or service rather than with partners or employees; a kind of one-person operation.  The gentleman would also go on to state that the class taught people how to make money doing something that they like to do, like a hobby, but would get paid for the things they sold or services they offered.  We talked for about 30 minutes and he invited me into the community center to meet the instructor (and business owner) of the training program to talk more about the class and to see if I would register.  It was really a no brainer…once the gentleman mentioned that I could make money doing something that I like to do, like one of my hobbies, all I needed to know was where to sign up.

We proceeded to enter the community center where I would meet the instructor and owner of the business program. He was also dressed in a suite and shared more information about the program. Wow…two people in the middle of the summer dressed in suits…that was a rarity in my community. 

I was a bit embarrassed as I was sitting there still sweating from playing basketball just 30 minutes before meeting both gentlemen.  Wishing I had showered and changed my clothes before entering the community center.  I could tell he was able to see how uncomfortable I was and reassured me that everything was OK.  He appreciated the fact that I stopped by and did not let that stop me from inquiring about the business program.

We continued our conversation, discussing my hobbies and how they could be developed into a potential business.  At the time I was caught up in the world of “hip-hop” music and working with computers.  Imagine if I would have been able to combine, back in 1994, the two hobbies into one career…anyway, I shared how interested I was in the program and I signed up right on the spot.  The classes were held during the evening and the next one would occur later that night. So, I had time to go home, take a short nap, eat and prepare for my first class on entrepreneurship.  I was very excited and anxious to begin learning how to make money doing what I loved to do (either with music or using computers).