One Dark Night, Second Chances, and Three-Part Narratives – Unstuck in September

5 min read

September is a month which produces lively colours through its magnificent foliage. In the spirit of the season we had our most vibrant mix of guests on the Unstuck podcast. Two of our guests spent several years in the advertising world and used their experience to shape new careers. We had our first repeat guests that came back to tell us the true story behind their food enterprise. Their motto “everybody has a seat at their table” is deep and genuine. It pulls people up off the ground and offers hope and renewal. Fittingly, it was the capacity to offer redemption which gave one of our September guests a second chance at life. This is a story that will truly stop you in your tracks.

The Three-Part Narrative

Jon Suarez Davis – SVP, Marketing Strategy & Innovation at Salesforce

More commonly known by his three initials, Jon Suarez Davis tells his story as a “three-part narrative”. Having viewed the business world from “three distinct positions”, JSD has experienced life as a creator, a client, and a corporation. He began his career in advertising at the famous Ogilvy & Mather network. JSD describes his time in the advertising world as the “best training ground” for a young marketer. He got to experience life from a creator’s perspective and learned how the greatest advertisements are born and made.

JSD spent 15 years in the advertising industry, putting down roots in five different agencies. After leaving Leo Burnett in 2009, JSD jumped the fence into the corporate world. He took a senior role at the Kellogg Company where he led digital strategy. This was a “hybrid role” according to JSD. He was still working closely with agencies – existing somewhere between the agency realm and the corporate world. He finally loosened his grip on the agency space when he earned a Senior Vice President position at Salesforce through acquisition.

The Salesforce SVP believes little actions can lead to major improvements as “you only need to move the dial slightly to make huge improvements”. In this episode, he also discusses how AI and machine learning will have “life changing effects” as companies break down cultural, geographical, and other barriers. Tune in below to hear more from the impressive Jon Suarez Davis!

Vietnam Five

Tuan Huynh – Founder at VietFive Coffee & Activist

In truth, we could have dedicated a series to telling the story of Tuan Huynh. A feature from Chicago Magazine described it as “a story about the sustained sustainability of an individual who in truth none of you are supposed to be reading about. Recidivism interrupted.” This sets the tone for an extraordinary conversation between Tuan and our host Clive.

He recalls his childhood in war-ravaged Vietnam where Tuan’s family were on the run from a despot government. Following the fall of Saigon, the family were displaced to the central highlands of Vietnam where they began producing coffee. He wasn’t aware of it then, but the coffee farms and the pervasive hostility would both play significant roles in what was to come. Tuan’s family eventually escaped Vietnam and made it to the United States. Their arrival and assimilation were far from an American dream. The only people that welcomed him to the US were the refugee gangs looking for new recruits. On his 18th birthday Tuan made a decision that would change many lives. Words prove inadequate in describing these events, so we recommend you listen to Tuan and hear his account first-hand.

Once you’ve heard this chapter of Tuan’s life you will assume it effectively ended there. It’s remarkable that we can now reintroduce Tuan as a hugely successful Creative Director. His Chicago creative career included successful stints at Leo Burnett, Naomi Burnett, and a creative consultancy. He now runs his own coffee shop, VietFive, which stocks Robusta beans from his family farm in Vietnam. It a space to enjoy an espresso while meeting creative folk and building connections. When not making coffee, Tuan is often found driving initiatives for Chicago Peace. He is now guiding the youth of Chicago down a different path. He knows better than anyone what can happen when the darkness takes hold.

A Seat for Everybody!

Trish Thomas and Nichole Wilson – Co-Founders, Every Body Eat®

Unstuck regulars will remember that we met Trish Thomas and Nichole Wilson before. On episode 9, we heard about their growing healthy snack company Every Body Eat®. They have made great strides since then as they secured nationwide distribution with Sprout and are now stocked in Whole Foods across the entire mid-west! Trish and Nichole are back to tell us about their recent success and the value they’ve found in event marketing. If you truly believe in your product, then a sample or trial can quickly create customers!

Our host Clive reveals that the main reason Trish and Nichole were asked back was not to discuss business. In between the meat and bones of the previous podcast with the pair, the true story behind Every Body Eat somehow went unheard. The company’s goal is to “bring people together over a shared love of delicious food”. Their mission sounds similar but has a far deeper meaning. “Everybody has a seat the table means everybody” says Nichole. “At Every Body Eat, your past does not dictate your future with us”.

In a fitting follow up to episode 28, we hear about how Trish and Nichole are providing career opportunities for people who usually don’t get them. Every Body Eat finds new team members in disinvested neighbourhoods, the criminal justice system, and traumatic living environments. In tackling ‘privilege by proxy’, the pair provide extensive support to their co-workers. This includes budgeting advice, credit references, or general advice on loans and finance. It’s no wonder that Trish and Nichole are idolised by their team. Retention rates at Every Body Eat are proof of this. Listen below to hear how one company can transform a community.

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