Gordon Swaby

On becoming 26…

Today I celebrate my twenty-sixth birthday. Like every year for the last few years, I use the occasion of my birthday to reflect on the last 12 months of my life and also to speak about the year ahead.

I lost my grandmother this year and it hurt like hell. I still cry about it.

She lived a full life. She accomplished a lot, prayed a lot and touched the lives of many. She was a truly selfless person and I miss her dearly. My grandmother, my god-mother and the person who gave me my name, rest in peace.

I accomplished a lot in 2016 and I know that my grandmother would have been proud of me. After she died and we started packing away her belongings, I came across a scrap book with newspaper clippings of my past accomplishments. She was always excited to read about me in the newspaper and listen to me on the radio. She was my cheerleader and I know that she supported me in all my endeavours.

Death is hard, but it gives us the opportunity to reflect on our own life and, cherish the best memories of those we love who have passed, and also treasure and value the time spent with those that are still with us.

I have to say it again, 2016 was kind to me; truly my best year yet. EduFocal grew, I grew and my relationship grew. I won’t speak at length about my relationship here, but I can’t write about my year without mentioning the most significant part of it. I’m fortunate to be with a strong, kind and loving woman that I have so much respect for. She’s better than I am in more ways than I can count.

What I do professionally isn’t work. At least, it doesn’t feel like work. I’m fortunate to lead a strong and growing team and I cannot speak about my accomplishments without mentioning them. Thank you to Paul, EduFocal’s co-founder. Thank you to Godiva, Sheldon and the newest addition to the team, Krysta-Leigh. Thank you to my board for their guidance and the solid advice that they always give. Thank you to my parents who always support me. And last, but not least, thank you to old friends and new ones who are honest, loyal and supportive of me and my work.

EduFocal grew by leaps and bounds. Every previous key performance indicator was destroyed this year, and really, we’re just getting started. In May I got the opportunity, via a feature on BBC, to leverage a very big platform where I shared EduFocal’s story and our future plans with the world. Many people provided positive feedback, for which I am grateful. Because of this interview, I have connected with valuable new partners that will help to push EduFocal forward.

In June, I got the opportunity to speak at President Obama’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit at Stanford University. It was truly an amazing event and opportunity. Thanks to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for providing this opportunity. It was my first time in San Francisco and I excitedly took the opportunity to do a tour of LinkedIn and Google. Visiting the campuses of companies that I use on a regular basis was mind blowing.

This year was also a year of board appointments for me; wow! I was appointed to the Jamaica Library Service board, the National ICT Council and the NCB Foundation board. All very different boards, but each an opportunity to contribute and learn. Thank you to everybody who has given me these opportunities.

On the subject of contributing and giving back. I believe that I am privileged and therefore I have a responsibility to give back. This year I have given a lot of my time through speaking engagements, one-on-one sessions with aspiring entrepreneurs and through financial contributions to schools and students. We also executed our 4th Annual EduFocal Excellence Awards ceremony; our largest one yet.

This year, I traveled more than I usually do. 2016 saw me travelling to 5 countries and 8 cities across North America, Europe, the Caribbean and Africa (I actually travel to Africa a few days after this is published). I traveled to the USA, England, the Bahamas, Scotland and Nigeria. In terms of cities, I traveled to Charlotte, New York, Lagos*, San Francisco, Nassau, Miami, York, London and Edinburgh. I truly enjoyed traveling this year, and if you know me, you know I hate travelling. I particularly enjoyed Edinburgh and the time I spent there with my partner.

Life is about balance, so if there were successes, there must have been some ‘failures’. My biggest challenge and failure in 2016 was my inability to lose weight. Weight loss is a major challenge for me and constant struggle. I will try again in 2017. I’d also say that my relationship with God isn’t where I wanted it to be in 2016. I intend to work on that in 2017.

This exercise in reflection annually on my birthday is always something I enjoy. It’s always good to search my mind and smile about everything that I’ve experienced. Sometimes I catch myself saying “Wow, this happened this year!”

To conclude, it’s been a great year for learning and growth. I look forward to 2017 and all the successes and challenges that it will bring. I plan to double down on all my relationships, focus on my goals and push EduFocal on a clear path to an initial public offering.

*I travel to Lagos a few days after this is published

Written by Gordon Swaby

Gordon Swaby

Founder and CEO of social learning service EduFocal.com. I’m passionate about technology, the internet and the use of technology in education. I am a recipient of Governor General’s Youth Award, the PSOJ’s 50 Under 50 Award, The commonwealth Youth Award and many others.


Lovingly made on Friday, November 18th, 2016 at 2:05 pm. Filed under Personal.

  • Samara

    Congrats Gordon. This is a really good piece. Its been a pleasure getting to know you 🙂

  • Krystal Tomlinson

    Congratulations GS! You are a priceless treasure, perfectly positioned to change the face of our education system. Kudos to JLS, NCB and the National ICT Council for seeing the value you can and must add to national development. Blessings to you for 2017. <3

  • Terisa Thompson

    Clear….relaxed and concise I enjoyed this read.The clarity the honesty the inspiration what is a #26? POW ! You have made such an indelible mark in your short life …keep at it …imagine 30? I’m excited to see that Gordon too! Another year for another go at the not so great ones I love that you were so open and honest YOU WILL GET THERE…;) ! Determined Gordon. Happy Birthday again!



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