A photo of a man standing next to an art painting and a piano keyboard

“It was such a rush to hear my song and know that I had contributed something meaningful.”

When he was asked to write and perform a song for a company-wide conference, musician and poet Jerome Collins discovered a powerful way to connect with and inspire his colleagues.

The opening drumbeats of my song kicked off a Microsoft conference. I felt the anticipation build and knew it was from my music. It felt great to know I could share my passion for music by writing a song for my Microsoft community.

I thought back to the unlikely path that led to this moment. Some colleagues saw my music video, Generosity, which is about how we can lift each other up and succeed together. They emailed me and said, “we’d love to use your music for a video at Microsoft Ready.” Microsoft Ready is a company-wide conference where employees can network and attend a variety of sessions that help them do their jobs better. A lot of the videos that are used at the conference contain music.

Jerome CollinsI was so excited that I got busy over that weekend and wrote an original song, called Are You Ready, which ended up being used in the video at the conference to motivate everyone for the coming year. It was such a rush to hear my song and know that I had contributed something meaningful. Afterward, so many people sent me notes saying how much they liked the song. It was a great way to connect with colleagues I hadn’t met.

I love to inspire people, whether it’s through my music or my work as vice chair of the Charlotte chapter of the Blacks at Microsoft (BAM) Employee Resource Group. BAM holds events like a summer coding academy where volunteer Microsoft engineers teach engineering skills to students. We’ve also partnered with the local Charlotte YWCA to provide fun and educational programming to students. That has been a very rewarding experience for me, and I love to pay it forward by mentoring others.

I grew up on the south side of Chicago, where I learned to get up quickly after falling down. Now, I believe anything is possible if you dream big. Don’t be afraid to fail fast. And when you fall, get back up quickly because you can achieve more than you ever hoped or dreamed.

—Jerome Collins, Charlotte, North Carolina

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