TABARI BRANNON • BE EXCELLENT IN BAKERSFIELD
Read what inspires Tabari in Bakersfield and why he believes that, with the right kind of efforts, we can make tremendous progress toward personal and professional goals.
Tabari Brannon • Cofounder of Mesh CoWork
I moved to Bakersfield from Allentown, Pennsylvania about 5 years ago for a staff chaplain position at a local hospital. Initially, I wanted to stay in Pennsylvania and work my way up to being a supervisor chaplain. Nonetheless, I decided to take the leap and make the move permanently to Bakersfield. I’ve decided to stay and make this place my home for many reasons. One reason is my family. I’m originally from Fresno, so a lot of my family lives just 2 hours away. I’ve also established great friendships and a community in Bakersfield. In addition to the people I love dearly, the opportunity I see in this town excites me, so there are no plans to move.
I get excited when I see a blank canvas or clean slate. It speaks of endless opportunities--a fresh start to create something excellent in our town. The potential that engulfs this city inspires me. There are many new things developing here, and I see this town bubbling with opportunity and potential. Mesh CoWork was the brainchild of such inspiration.
When I first came to Bakersfield, my mission was to find a community of entrepreneurs. I wanted to bounce ideas off of like-minded people, connect with startups and work alongside aspiring business owners. I decided to start a Meetup group to develop this community. I booked a room at a local hotel and three people showed up--myself, my wife and one other person. I quickly learned this was not the best way to build the community I desired.
I dove into some research and discovered coworking spaces. I realized Bakersfield lacked this type of collaborative new work environment that was popping up in other cities as an answer for digital nomads and remote workers. An undertaking like this is a feat, and I knew I couldn’t do it alone. I searched for those who craved this type of work environment. While on Reddit, I found groups of people who were interested in cowork spaces. In one specific group, I found Scott Burton. Scott and I shared the vision of creating a cowork space in Bakersfield from the ground up. Scott Burton and I co-founded Mesh to grow the technology sector, and now it has expanded to include service-based businesses, creatives and entrepreneurs. Scott and I saw the potential and worked hard to make it something excellent in Bakersfield.
I have a propensity to be very optimistic and hold onto the hope of what things can be, what our city can look like and what a new company can do for Bakersfield. I believe we possess more control of the variables than we think we do. More often than not, people around me don’t share that same optimism, but their negative opinions come from a place of hopelessness. When I can see a vision beyond what is immediately in front of me, I don’t lose hope. Not to say it is easy and doesn’t have its challenges, but not losing sight of the end goal helps me persevere.
If you’re like me, I encourage you to keep that optimism despite the naysayers. Regardless of if they can see your vision, you need to press forward and strive for excellence.
I remember when I decided to run a marathon while I was in college. When I first put on my running shoes, there was no way I could finish 26.2 miles. I ran long-distance in high school but had never attempted such a long distance. The feat felt impossible. I had to keep my mind focused on envisioning myself finishing the marathon and believing it was possible. I developed my own training schedule where I could run a little each day. I didn’t see much improvement in the beginning. Soon, enough weeks had gone by, and then months, that I was able to see tremendous growth. Progress is making small, consistent, persistent efforts in one clear direction. Progress toward your goal is about persevering each day through the struggles--especially when the struggle is within yourself.
When we started Mesh, I knew I had to take the marathon-training approach. Mesh has seen the most growth in its 4th year of business. It’s sad to think we wouldn’t be here if we gave up at the 2nd or 3rd-year mark. We would’ve missed our potential if we didn’t persevere.
I have a lot of hope for Bakersfield. Because my business is based downtown, I often see vacant buildings where I know there could be something great. It really pains my heart to see old buildings sitting empty, looking tired and run-down. I hope we continue to make Bakersfield a place that is attractive to entrepreneurs and inviting for creatives. I hope we create a community in Bakersfield that millennials want to be part of. I hope they stay here, take advantage of the empty spaces and make something that we can all benefit from. The vacant buildings tell me the potential is there.
It would be amazing for us to develop the reputation of an innovative city. Instead of people saying, “Oh, you live in Bakersfield?” with a negative tone, they could say, “Oh! You live in Bakersfield?!” with positivity and a hint of jealousy. I don’t know yet how we’re going to do that, but I refuse to lose hope that it can happen if we stay consistent and persistent.