BE Modern Man Spotlights - Passion to Purpose: Jae Gardner
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue

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With so many questions and concerns swirling around the current state of education in this country, there remains one constant. The success of students. “My students are the driving force behind all my work,” Gardner tells BE Modern Man. “I like to remind my students that my success is predicated on their academic improvement. Since I am not an individual who enjoys failure, my students’ academic achievement pushes me to be a better educator, a more dynamic business person, and thoughtful person. A true feeling of euphoria always overcomes me whenever a student receives a test score or school admission that they believed was outside of their grasp.”

Gardner sees his company as his first child, and believes that it has helped him grow tremendously on a personal level. The ability to balance the financial, emotional and personal well-being of his staff and clients has forced him to raise his level of maturity at a much younger age. He tells BE Modern Man “The key piece of advice that I would offer to the younger generation is to treat every day like Monday, and constantly try to perfect your craft. Success is predicated not on your wins, but on one’s ability to withstand the downturns internally in your company and externally in the market.” One of the pitfalls Gardener encountered during his professional career was hiring friends to work at his company as instructors. Initially, it seemed like a good idea because they came from the same academic environment and had a similar outlook for providing education. However, he found that at times they would not fulfill their duties because they would believe that they had more leeway than other employees based on the nature of friendship. “These presumptions would soon cause rifts personally and professionally,” says Gardner. “I would recommend that an aspiring entrepreneur separate professional business and personal relationships.”

After working non-stop to build and grow his business, Gardner was forced to face one of his most challenging experiences. “After working with me for two years, my initial business partner wanted to pursue another profession and requested that I buy him out,” Gardner tells BE Modern Man. “Since I had bootstrapped the company, financial resources were not in abundance. Between buying out my business partner, paying my staff and handling business expenses, I barely had enough money to even buy food.” It was during this trying period in the company’s history that Gardner fell in love with the Ivy Key more, because he realized how much I was sacrificing for its success.

The sacrifice has paid off for both Gardner and the company. “Nothing warms my heart more than to have a parent call our office and thank us for the academic and social enrichment that we provided to their child,” says Gardner. “My future goal is to expand our outreach and work with more students globally, most notably in the Caribbean and Africa. I believe that are very highly-educated students in these areas of the world, and they mere need more robust instruction and services to help them reach the next level of academia.”

Unconventional in his approach to preparing students for academic and career success, Gardner believes that a BE Modern Man is an individual who strives to innovate and galvanize their community. He says, “not only through your profession, but also with your personal actions. Even though you challenge the status quo and hope to make a new America, you still adhere to the virtues of a classic gentleman. One’s ability to balance the traditions of the past and champion the ideas of future is what makes us a BE Modern man.”

The BlackEnterprise.com team salutes Jae Gardner for filling a gap that existed between affordable education and high level instruction in our most underserved communities. With a proven track record of success, we look forward to seeing Ivy Key reach students globally with instruction that will take them to the next level academically and professionally.

It’s our normal to be extraordinary. Follow @blackenterprise and join the BE Modern Man conversation using #BEModernMan.

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