Gordon Swaby

On becoming 27…

“We tell people to follow their dreams, but you can only dream of what you can imagine, and, depending on where you come from, your imagination can be quite limited. The highest rung of what’s possible is far beyond the world you can see” – @Trevornoah

As a kid growing up in a middle class family in rural Jamaica I was afforded opportunities that many of my peers weren’t. My exposure to certain things gave my dreams scope and breadth, but certainly not the scope and breadth that my life is and has been.

Many things I’ve experienced as an adult have been beyond my wildest dreams, hopes and aspirations. The above quote from Trevor Noah encapsulates my thinking on the matter. The more you achieve, the more your eyes open to the possibilities of what is possible and what you can accomplish. Experiencing any kind of success, especially success that you’ve longed for gives you a kind confidence that is unparalleled. Experiencing success that you never thought possible? Next level.

I remember driving into Kingston with my father as a child, and in my child-eyes Kingston was big, impressive, chaotic and confusing. My hopes, dreams and aspirations began and ended in Kingston. I never thought my life would have scope beyond the capital city. If I ever did think so, I would have, for example, taken my Spanish classes more seriously in high school, but in my limited dreaming I never saw the need for it. Why would I ever need to learn Spanish? Why would I ever need to learn a second language?! I never thought that I’d travel often and if I did, it probably wouldn’t be beyond America.

I’ve never liked traveling. I remember in Prep school I was in the Cub Scouts and we had the opportunity to travel to St. Vincent to climb a Volcano. Travel to St. Vincent to climb a mountain? Hell no! As an adult I regret that decision. I still don’t like traveling, but traveling gives you scope. It opens up your mind to new possibilities.

In all honesty, I started EduFocal because I thought it was a cool idea and that I’d get the opportunity to be in the press and make a lot of money! I had no grand plan. Oh, how limited my imagination was! Five and a half years later and we’ve been featured on every major (and many minor ones!) radio station in Jamaica, every major newspaper in Jamaica and also every major TV station. We’ve also been featured in major press regionally and internationally; from Virgin to BBC to the UK Guardian and many others. My limited imagination couldn’t think beyond my original ambitions. We’ve accomplished so much more since my original selfish ambitions. We’ve transformed thousands of lives, provided employment for Jamaicans and along the way we’ve given back to both our country and others. And guess what? We’re just getting started.

EduFocal celebrated five years at our home base at the Technology Innovation Centre on the UTech campus. Five years later and it still feels like day one. Thank you to our teachers, students, parents, principals, team members, board and every other stakeholder for trusting us, believing in us and supporting us. My scope of what I thought possible was limited, however, if you’ve interacted with me in any way over the last five years, you have helped to expand my mind and show me what’s possible. We at EduFocal have touched so many lives in a positive way, and for me that has been a truly humbling experience.


Thanks to Project Binario, EduFocal had the opportunity to showcase its offering at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco; if you’re not familiar, TC Disrupt is the equivalent of the Super Bowl for startups. It was such an amazing experience and once in a life time experience.

This year, I visited 3 countries and 8 cities. Of the 3 countries, 2 were new. The two new ones are China and Bolivia. The final was the USA. In terms of cities, I visited Beijing (China),  Fort Lauderdale (USA), Shanghai (China), Miami (USA), San Francisco (USA), New York (USA), Miami ( USA), Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Bolivia). I’ve always wanted to visit China and I was very happy that the opportunity presented itself this year.

In 2017, I found myself in new and exciting professional circles that I’m grateful for. Thanks to the Inter-American Development Bank for my appointment to their Civil Society Consulting Group and also to the US Embassy in Jamaica for my appointment to their Social Media Working Group

My big highlight for 2017 was the deepening of friendships. I made new friends and grew closer to old ones. Strengthening friendships was something I committed to doing going into 2017, and I am happy that at the end of the year, I have meaningful relationships with some amazing people .

Whatever you’re doing, whatever you’ve done is just a small fraction of what you think you can do and what’s possible. I’m grateful to have exceeded what I thought I was capable of, but I know that I’m still capable of much more. 2017 was a really great year, but also a challenging both personally and professionally. I’m still struggling with weight loss and I got sick more often than I would have liked, primarily because of chronic sinusitis.  I did lose some weight, but not as much as I would have wanted. Fortunately, I’m going into 2018 with more support in that department. Professionally some key deals that I would have wanted to happen, did not.

I’m excited about 2018; if I was to sum up my expectations for 2018 in one word it would be scale. More personal and professional growth and just generally pushing myself beyond what I think that I’m capable of. Here’s to a great 2018 and beyond!


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 Saturday, November 18th, 2017 at 4:21 pm. Filed under Entrepreneurship, Personal.

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