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Q. In what years did you attend Fatima, and what influenced your choice of Fatima College for your Secondary School?
A. I entered Fatima in 2003 and went on to do Form 6 in 2008. While in Primary School I met Father Gregory who would say Mass at my school pretty frequently. One day he told me that I needed to attend Fatima College after SEA, and following that, my parents and I were hard set on my attending Fatima.
Q. Tell us about your memories at Fatima – pleasant and/or non-pleasant? Fondest/Strangest memories? What is the worst mischief you got up to? Any memorable nicknames?
A. Fatima was one of the best periods of my life. It really shaped my as a person. I learned about camaraderie and how to express myself confidently. At first when I entered it was very different for me because I went to a mixed primary school. So, being in an all-boys school was an adjustment…but eventually not that big.
My fondest memory is an easy one: It was my birthday on April 15th, 2008, and I was enjoying my Easter holidays. The first year of Lower 6 was about to begin and I was excited about the new challenge. Father G called me to wish me a happy birthday and to share some exciting news that I would be the next Head Prefect. That moment will forever be stamped in my mind.
Worst mischief would definitely be the slap wars and random water fights we got into. Our teachers were really getting fed up with our wildness. In my year there were many nicknames for boys as we went up the different forms but we really stuck to calling each other by our last names. So I was simply know as Francis mainly.
Q. Which teacher(s) positively impacted your school experience and life the most and which one(s) did you give the most trouble?
A. Churaman, I would say, impacted my school experience in the most positive way. She taught me biology from Form 5 straight up to Upper 6. She really challenged me to push myself, to not slack off and she solidified in my head that even though I had a talent for the subject, I would be nothing if I did not put in the hard work. That lesson really carried me through life.
And of course, there was Ms. Duff. She was a ‘haven’ for my year group when we were in Form 6. Allowing us to use her office as our hideaway to relax and escape the stresses of the day. I gave Mr. De Gale the most trouble. He was pretty new when he taught us so we felt as though we needed to challenge him at every turn. He proved himself to be an excellent teacher.
Q. Did you play any sports or take part in any extracurricular activities at Fatima? What sports do you follow now and what are your favourite teams?
A. Yes, I played table-tennis and football, but my main love was basketball. I played the majority of the time I was in Fatima and even helped the team through some successful seasons. I follow the NBA and international football very closely. My favorite basketball team is the Lakers and my favorite football team is Barcelona.
Q. What is the most valuable lesson you learned at Fatima? How have you applied this in your career?
A. The most valuable lesson I learned was how to persevere under tough conditions. In my year, we had to do the CAPE exams all together after two years. To this date, that was the most stressful period of my life. This however helped me to rally my classmates together as a team, help and support each other. It was an unexpected lesson in leadership. In my life as an entrepreneur it has helped me to be persistent, positive, resilient, and creative. I always give my all, and when times get tough I push even more because I know there is success in my future––so why quit?
Q. Have you been able to maintain friendships with your classmates since school? Did your class year ever have a Reunion?
A. I have a main group of about 10-15 friends from Fatima whom I speak to almost daily. They are my core friends and we encourage and help each other along our journeys. There are also other pockets of classmates––I see them from time to time but we always pick up as though we are still in school and chat like old friends. We attempted to have a 10-Year Anniversary of those who graduated Form 5, but because of everybody’s different busy schedules, it was a bit more difficult to organize than we had expected. I started a group, meeting with some of the guys from my year every two to three months––just so we can catch up. It’s not exactly a support group but we just try to keep up with each other.
Q. Tell us about your life and career after Fatima.
A. After Fatima, I took a year off to do my SATs and I got a full scholarship based on that and my extracurricular activities to attend a school called Loyola University in New Orleans. Those four years were eye-opening, amazing and I was able to make great new friendships. I graduated with a Biology degree and a minor in Latin American Studies. The plan was to return to Trinidad and start medicine but when I returned I was unable to commit to applying. Lost and confused I worked miserably for two years until I finally asked my parents for help.
Luckily, they are leadership development coaches and they prompted me to do my first ever personal development program. It changed my life. I found my purpose through the course, became more goal-oriented, and had a new verve for life. That began my journey as a personal development coach. Along the way I also joined an event company called EEEmpire that has had huge success in the Event sphere. We even threw ‘Sekon Sunday’ on Fatima Grounds, allowing Nesta and me to ‘return home’–– which was a great experience! I became a host of an online show called “Up in Yuh Business”, where I interview young entrepreneurs in Trinidad and Tobago on an online network called “Trinidad and Tobago Good News Network”.
Then in late 2019, I committed to writing a book called “The Millennial Mind: Success Secrets for Unlocking Your Full Potential”. It was launched on my birthday, 15th April 2020, and has been widely successful.
Q. We know that anyone born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 23 to 38 in 2019) is considered a Millennial…so tell us the background to book.
A. This book was my way of reaching the all those Millennials that I wanted to help but could not. As a coach for the previous four years, I would hear Millennials express their problems, and I started to realize the connection between specific core challenges and the negative behavior they were expressing. The book serves to capture this, and the hope was to create an easy to read book that would speak directly to our challenges, and trigger some much-needed introspection in the lives of today’s Millennials. The book gets into some of our biggest challenges, such as: lack of patience, feelings of entitlement, instant gratification, and more. I also made sure to make it practical in that each chapter ends with exercises to allow the reader to create tangible steps that they can use to move their lives forward.
Q. The official book launch was planned to take place at Fatima College, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you were forced to have instead a virtual book launch on April 30th. Tell us about that and other challenges you have faced with the ongoing pandemic.
A. When COVID-19 made its way to our shores, I kept my fingers crossed that I would still be able to have my launch at Fatima on April 15th. I was crushed when the government announced that all non-essential businesses would be closed and we could not gather in groups larger than 5. I had made these plans almost six months before so it was really a crushing blow. I took some time to absorb the reality and accept that I would not be able to do this how I had originally planned. I then dusted myself off and challenged myself to make this great somehow. That is where the idea of the first-ever virtual book launch came from. It was streamed through Instagram live and had all the bells and whistles of a book launch but with a Trinbago twist.
I had Keevo the entertainer as the host, held the live at a well-lit studio, observed the social distancing policy of no more than 5 people in a group, and had all the entertainment join in live from the comfort of their homes. I read an excerpt from my book, gave a speech, had a violinist serenade my audience, a spoken-word artist give a lyrical performance, and even had Nesta (Sekon Sta) say some words during the event. It all ended with a virtual after-party where Nailah Blackman performed and we ended with DJ Charlotte and Kris Kennedy playing us off. It concretized in my mind that anything is possible once you put your mind to it.
So even though I am getting challenges with distributing my book during this pandemic, I am still able to crush the typical statistics of a first-time author. The stats show that first-time authors only sell about 250-500 books in their first year of publication. We are close to the end of May and I am almost at 500 books sold––after approximately one month!. We have to get creative with the times that we are in, and we must reframe our circumstances to stop seeing the negative and see the opportunities in front of us.
Q. How has feedback been thus far on the book and where is it available?
A. The feedback has been phenomenal. Readers have told me they feel as though I am speaking directly to them, that I have snapped them awake. It has accomplished the main goal that I had of making Millennials think about their lives in a deep and meaningful way and to make the positive changes they need to make in order to get where they want to go. The book is available on Amazon.com but it is also available on the Printree TT website (https://www.printreett.com/The-Millennial-Mind-by-Daniel-Francis/) where persons can order their copy and then collect it from the Printree office when it is ready. I also do weekly deliveries of my book and interested persons just need to reach out through my Instagram or Facebook page (rebit limited).
Q. If COVID-19 had impacted us before or while you wrote the book, is there any material that you would have changed?
A. Honestly, no. It’s weird but the book seems perfect for the times that we are in. There is a chapter that talks about things not going our way, and showing the reader that regaining control is all about controlling what you can––which i: your emotions and behaviors. It speaks directly to the times that we are in.
Q. Given the likelihood that we will be living in a ‘COVID-19 world’ for quite some time (some medical experts say a timeline of up to 18 months), what, if any, do you consider major challenge(s) for Millenials down the road?
A. Besides the obvious financial challenges and uncertainty where the job market is concerned, I see that mental health will be a major challenge for Millennials down the road. The taboo surrounding mental health is decreasing slowly, but these times are putting Millennials in a very negative headspace. Without proper help and facilities, there could be a lot of Millennials out there suffering alone and without help.
Q. Do you have any recommendations to FOBA as to what benefits you appreciate as an alum?
A. I see the newsletters, and love reading the updates of what’s going on in the school. I would say it’s more on me to get more involved.
Q. What do you do for leisure? Any guilty pleasures?
A. I play basketball, lime with my friends, and play video games (for sometimes too long!). I have weakness for Haagen Daz ice-cream that if left unchecked would see me polishing of a whole carton by myself…unfortunately. (But I would like to think that I exercise self-control.)
Q. Favorite Sunday lunch food?
A. Shepherd’s pie, festive rice, callaloo, and stewed lamb!
Q. Any closing remarks?
A. Fatima College had the greatest positive impact on my life. I did not realize it when I was attending the school how blessed I was to go there! Sure it is not perfect, but the experience we were given was next to nothing and I am proud to call myself a Fatima Boy in any circle! I am especially proud to see how much the school has improved its facilities over the years, and that is a real testament to Father Gregory’s leadership and the great work by FOBA.
Let’s keep it up––because I will, of course, be sending my future male children to my alma mater!