By Jewelle Saunders
Driven by a desire to help people from a young age, YLAI 2018 Fellow Janeel Boon aims to empower others to see their leadership ability within themselves.
Before starting his own company, Boon’s Computer Repairs, in 2014 in St. Kitts and Nevis, Janeel came from humble beginnings. He studied computer science at a local college and worked for three years across the Caribbean region.
On top of his demanding work of technology repairs, Janeel has made the time to discover new ways to help others as a radio personality and program director at Dominion Radio since 2015 with his program IT Talks. Knowing how important technology is to every young entrepreneur, along with their leadership skills, Janeel’s passion for both came through in his interview with the YLAI Network, shared below.
What drove you to start your radio show?
I started my radio show, IT Talks, when I realized radio was an effective tool for marketing for my computer repair business. Being on an island, if everyone can associate my voice with computer repairs, then that works well for me when they know they need something fixed. Providing five-minute tips and tricks about what to do and not to do with your computer during these sessions allowed me an easy way to start educating my community as well.
When I would meet potential clients, I knew I was having an impact because they would mention lessons they’d learned from my sessions and reference how they helped them. For example, they would know why to sign out at an internet cafe after use for safety or better understand the need to let your computer fans breathe. Simple tips, but these go a long way, and at the end of the day, listeners have a better understanding of maintaining their technology.
Why do you think it is important to educate the community about technology?
My goal performing repairs is to fix a problem, but also to educate others. IT is everything. Educating others about it is important because misinformation is rampant, and educating people about issues they could easily fix on their own helps to prevent them from getting taken advantage of, so I want to provide that knowledge.
If I’m to explore my life in general, every aspect of my life, I’m helping people. In this aspect, I’m helping people fix their computers. Otherwise, what I want to do is to help people realize their leadership ability and to encourage them. My life is guided by helping people; it just so happens to have started with IT.
How has YLAI helped you in your mission?
Business-wise, YLAI has helped me to become exposed to how business is done in the United States, by my mentor in Charlottesville. I continually reference these tools, techniques and logistics of a project starting from the beginning to the end. I look back to the knowledge I gained from the 3-Day Startup courses, and I often return to the courses to sharpen my knowledge and that reference goes a long way. The action plans and business plans provided stood out to me, and have been a part of my daily life and how I currently plan and prepare for any obstacles I face. I feel as if I have an MBA in business just from learning these courses through YLAI.
YLAI also helped me to become a better leader as well, learning how to diversify, and love and appreciate the way other people do business. I have learned that I do not need to be a nonprofit to have a social impact. The opportunities I have received from YLAI have allowed me to share my knowledge, attend further seminars and learn how to help others in ways normally overlooked.
I have also started a leadership retreat, titled LEES (Leadership Empowerment & Educational Source), to be a conduit to empower others to realize their leadership potential. After YLAI, I really felt that there is influence through connection and continue to see the impact of these young leaders meeting, and I hope to continue this retreat once COVID-19 regulations allow for it.
What advice would you give to future leaders?
My advice to future leaders is that you can make an impact now. It doesn’t matter if you have a title or not, you can make an impact. Consistency compounds, even if you are updating your WhatsApp status daily with an encouraging quote, so that it will reach someone who needs it. Leadership is influence, so continue to leverage that leadership and deliver that on a plate. Put your all in it. Your value should speak louder than your voice.
Also, regarding your business, start now, seek counsel and be consistent. Move upward, and from there everything else will fall into place.
Janeel’s latest venture is The Big Ask podcast, where he speaks about leadership and entrepreneurship. Additionally, his LEES team is the host of Startup Huddle St. Kitts & Nevis, a support group setting designed to empower entrepreneurs as they pivot in this trying time. Thank you Janeel for all of the efforts you provide to educate your community and influence future leaders!
The views and opinions expressed here belong to the author or interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of the YLAI Network or the U.S. government.