Author And Advocate Imani Kaliid Shares His Experience Through Writing

Please introduce yourself. What do you do? Why? What do you want people to know about you?

I’m a proud L.A. native, digital production veteran who through luck, sheer determination, and optimism, I now find myself in a wonderful position of adding days to people’s lives around the world.

Many people don’t “know” me, but that will be changing very soon. My passion for advocacy for victims of violent trauma is enormous and I can’t wait for my foundation’s future impact and content creation centered around it to materialize.

For years, I didn’t quite understand why my life started as an inner-city kid from Los Angeles, took a detour in the world as a student-athlete, make a home in corporate America, and recently crested as an author and entrepreneur.

I’m most certainly a guy people will need to know and it has little to do with me, but everything to do with the positive impact I’ll have on people around the world. This is not about vanity, because frankly, I do not desire nor need that type of attention. It’s really all about service to others for me.

What qualities make you different and unique from everyone else in the industry?

It’s hard to imagine there being many guys walking the planet with my specific background. Professionally, I carry a unique lens and sensibility based on my experience in the corporate world through business affairs, licensing, and more recently, digital supply chain and production. If we throw my graduate studies in Business Competitiveness and Innovation into the mix, I see the inner clockwork differently than others – especially being an African American person of color.

I come from the very gritty world of South Central Los Angeles as a student-athlete and am familiar with intense violence, racial inequality, economic and social struggles. Yet I’m perfectly comfortable in corporate and/or international settings. Having lived abroad and traveled internationally has helped shape my understanding of the world.

Having experienced such a varied and diverse life, I’m increasingly seeing more figurative stars in the world’s constellation. I’m constantly connecting the dots, broadening my understanding of people and myself.

A few days ago, I jokingly explained how in hindsight, I feel my life had been akin to a character named Andy Dufresne played by Tim Robbins in the film, “Shawshank Redemption.” There’s a great scene where he crawls through the prison’s 500-yard long sewage line to reach freedom. I say that because oddly, I was trekking along in my own figurative sewage line until about five or six years ago.

Everything I’ve been through has shaped my life to where I am truly understanding where my purpose and life motivations are. Let me be clear in saying that I am not bitter or resentful of my experiences. Instead, I look past challenges as a big martial arts film. I have been unknowingly battling underlings and mini-bosses for years. Now, I’m coming for the “big boss.”

Describe THAT moment when you realized you’re doing what you were born to do.

Oh, boy. I’ve had some pretty intense challenges with my life being threatened as a younger man, my father’s passing three weeks before college, caring for my mother through terminal cancer, being overlooked and undervalued in the workplace, romantic disappointments, etc. I’ve come to count on a “Me 2.0, 2.1, 2.2, etc” after passing each challenge. With that, I think a defining moment happened about five or so years ago.

There was a close call where I thought I was a hair away from a serious street altercation with another gentleman. Luckily, I was wrong, but it was a tipping point in that it signaled to me that something deeper was going on with me.

I completely misread this guy’s body language and drew a comparison to every street altercation I had as a younger man and had seen develop with others back in South Central. This lead me to deep introspection and I learned that I had been overlooking years of trauma via domestic and street violence.

I would later pen my first book, “There Was Violence” (a gritty memoir based on my life), launch The InVia Foundation – a non-profit dedicated to tech and services for victims of violence and lastly, made plans for the launch of a new weekly program later this spring entitled, “Survivor Stories” – a forum dedicated to expert interviews, conversations and information in support of victims of violent trauma across all backgrounds.

I never imagined any of this, but I allowed myself to be carried by life’s current, and here I am – Author, Entrepreneur, content creator, and advocate. What gets me so pumped is that not only will this be huge, there is so much more to come.

What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve had to go through and how did you grow through it?

The passing of my mother was the toughest challenge for me. A guy once said, “I thought I was tough until I saw my mother lying in a coffin.” I totally agree. That whole experience tore me apart inside. I had never experienced that level of depression and uncertainty in my own life ever.

My entire world was turned upside down which caused me to re-evaluate life’s priorities. Losing both parents brings your mortality into greater focus and you question how life will look going forward. And I have to say – I consider myself as a person with exceptional mental toughness, but there I was – this heartbroken man.

Fortunately, there’s something in me that doesn’t allow sadness and disappointment to have permanent residence in my life. To call back on “Shawshank Redemption”, there’s a great line repeated by Morgan Freeman’s character, Red – “Get busy living or get busy dying.” There was no way I’d allow my future, Eighty-something self to look back on that stage of life as someone that had just given up.

I went through grief counseling and got busy figuring out where my curiosities lead me. I re-evaluated my habits, priorities, relationships and slowly began ridding myself of anything that wasn’t serving me. Soon after, I rededicated myself to a slow and measured pace of learning more about the tech world, studying abroad, improving as a writer, and most of all, getting to know myself on a deeper level.

Who are the TOP 3 people you’d want to meet that could elevate your career or business? Why these specific individuals?

From a storytelling point of view, I’d put Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry as they seem to thoroughly understand the generational struggles of African Americans, which is central to my book, “There Was Violence.”

Funny how my mother would always naively say, “Why don’t you just call Oprah” to pitch this idea as if I had easy access to her. However, I do feel that others describe my book as “powerful” because in reflecting on my past struggles with violent trauma, I’m also taking an approach of empathy to evaluate how my own family and others in my environment were negatively impacted.

I’m essentially modeling the difficult process of identifying and coming to terms with my trauma, which others can replicate through their own healing.

I’d also add Gary Vaynerchuk with respect to my business ambitions of entrepreneurship in the non-profit space. The guy is insanely positive, “get’s it,” is authentic, and seems to always come from a place of common sense, which I love. I’ve never watched a piece of his content and wasn’t genuinely inspired and informed.

Drop your social media links!

Facebook: TherWasViolence

Vianka Petines
Vianka Petines
Vianka is a bright, savvy, and capable marketing publicist. She brings a breath of fresh air with a very sound approach to strategy and campaign development. We're excited to have her on the team :)


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