Production manager, NewAperio; associate director, Rebuilding Together Baton Rouge
Josh Howard is passionate about striving for self-improvement and sharing his story in hopes of motivating others to achieve their dreams. He encourages young people as a student life director and pastor at HeartsEase Family Life Church, and as a mentor for the Baton Rouge Youth Coalition. He serves on the fundraising committee for Up Alliance and the gala committee for Children’s Cup. He’s a member of the 2014 class of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber Leadership Program and earlier this year completed the Council for A Better Louisiana’s Leadership Louisiana program. Along with his work with NewAperio and Rebuilding Together Baton Rouge, he’s a partner in a project called 2BRokeGuys, which works with businesses and nonprofit organizations on events and projects.
NAME THREE MAJOR PROFESSIONAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS.
- Through my first business, 2BRokeGuys, and in conjunction with LSU and LUBA, I co-coordinated a citywide grassroots campaign that generated awareness about the city’s hunger needs. We helped increase the inventory, alongside Trevor Sims’ initial campaign, and raised funds for the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank.
- At 27, I began leading Better Schools for Better Futures, a local PAC concerning education reform, in the local school board elections and the most recent BESE elections.
- Led the office of recruitment at Baton Rouge Community College in garnering its highest enrollment from 2011 to 2013.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR VOLUNTEER & COMMUNITY AFFILIATIONS AND INVOLVEMENT.
Student life Director and pastor, HeartsEase Family Life Church; Community partnership/service chair, Leadership Baton Rouge Alumni Board of Directors; Gala committee, Children’s Cup; Mentor, Baton Rouge Youth Coalition; Fundraiser committee, Up Alliance; Leadership Louisiana (2016), Dancing for Big Buddy participant, Big Buddy of Baton Rouge (2016); Board member, Playmakers of Baton Rouge Board of Directors (2014 to 2016); Dining in the Dark committee, Lighthouse Louisiana (2014 and 2015).
NAME ONE BOOK THAT HAS INSPIRED YOU PROFESSIONALLY.
Do Over by John Acuff.
WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD, WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP?
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB, HOW OLD WERE YOU AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM IT?
I was 15 and worked at JCPenney’s Optical Center in the Mall of Louisiana. I learned that people in the mall really didn’t want to be bothered. Through pestering, I learned to not be afraid to approach people to get what you want.
WHAT IS THE STRANGEST JOB YOU’VE EVER HAD?
I was a basketball manager for the LSU men’s basketball team while in college. There were a lot of strange moments, but they also made for memorable ones.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE FOR A BUSINESS LUNCH IN BATON ROUGE, AND WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DISH THERE?
Serop’s Express. I get a No. 8, crispy. It’s shawarma, salad and hummus. If I’m feeling extra special, I’ll get extra feta.
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT?
Losing over 260 pounds. It hasn’t been easy, but thanks to my personal trainer and discipline, I’ve kept it off … for the most part.
HOW DO YOU GET PUMPED UP BEFORE A BIG MEETING, PRESENTATION OR PITCH?
Depending on the meeting, I’ll either listen to worship music and pray. Or, I’ll play something hard and do push-ups. Regardless, I always text some friends to talk through what I’m about to do or to distract me.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST FULFILLING MOMENT IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?
I’ve been able to mentor and pastor hundreds of young people in the past seven years. Seeing them prosper and thrive in their respective areas keeps me pushing forward each day.
WHAT WAS YOUR PROFESSIONAL “AHA MOMENT?”
To date, it has been when I finished my certification in Emergenetics and taught my first session. I had the best exhausted feeling. That’s when I knew I was on the right path.
WHAT IS YOUR BEST PRODUCTIVITY HACK?
Everything has to go into a calendar. If it’s not in one of them, then we might be in some trouble.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED THE HARD WAY?
I would never be satisfied by simply living to please others and not being honest with myself.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR JOB WOULD SHOCK CUSTOMERS OR CLIENTS IF THEY KNEW ABOUT IT?
I get most of my work done between the hours of 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. I mentally shut down around 3 p.m. and go work out so I can relax. I pick back up around 7 p.m.
HOW DO YOU TYPICALLY DRESS FOR WORK—CASUAL? PROFESSIONAL? BUSINESS CASUAL? OTHER?
Most days, I wear jeans and a shirt. On meeting days, it’s professional. When I get to work from one of my coffee offices, I’ll probably be wearing T-shirt, gym shorts and a hat.
WHAT PART OF YOUR JOB DO YOU LOVE? WHAT PART DO YOU HATE?
I love interacting with clients. When I ask, “How are things?” I really want to know. I don’t enjoy chasing people down, paper trails and deadlines.
WHAT IS THE BEST COMPLIMENT YOU’VE EVER GOTTEN FROM A COLLEAGUE OR BOSS?
“We are a much better organization and better people because of you.” One of my first mentors and bosses, Jeff Wright at WrightFeigley Communications told me that. I will always treasure the moments and impact he had on my life.
MAC OR PC?
ARE YOU ACTIVE ON SOCIAL MEDIA? IF SO, ON WHICH PLATFORMS ARE YOU MOST ACTIVE?
I go through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter fairly equally. I have a Snapchat, but it still weirds me out so don’t count on that one too much.
HOW MANY TEXTS DO YOU SEND ON AN AVERAGE DAY? HOW MANY EMAILS?
I’m admittedly a millennial so I text quite a bit throughout the day. I send well over 100 texts a day. Emails average between 10 to 25.
HOW LOW WILL YOU ALLOW YOUR REMAINING PHONE OR COMPUTER BATTERY LIFE GET IN % BEFORE YOU HAVE AN ANXIETY ATTACK?
HOW MANY UNREAD MESSAGES ARE IN YOUR INBOX RIGHT NOW?
Which email account? Let’s just say, there are over 3,000 combined.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE APP AT THE MOMENT?
Waze is the best. I travel a lot. When dealing with Baton Rouge traffic, you need any extra help you can get.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENT OF THE PAST DECADE?
WHAT TECHNOLOGY DO YOU WISH WAS NEVER INVENTED?
Smartwatches. When someone checks his or her watch, I can’t tell if he or she is being rude or acknowledging a notification.
WHAT TIME DO YOU GET UP ON WORKDAY MORNINGS?
Depends on the day. Lately, I’ve been trying to transition from a night owl to an early bird, so it’s around 7 a.m.
BREAKFAST AT HOME? BREAKFAST ON THE GO? BREAKFAST AT YOUR DESK? NO BREAKFAST AT ALL?
Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. It doesn’t matter where or how I get it so long as I get it.
THE SAYING GOES: “BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD.” SPECIFICALLY, WHAT ARE YOU “BEING” TO MAKE BATON ROUGE BETTER?
I hope to continue mentoring the next generation in hopes they realize their fullest potential.
WHEN DID YOU REALIZE YOU WERE “GROWN UP”?
When the teenagers I pastor didn’t know what Saved by the Bell was when I used it as an illustration.
WHAT WAS THE BEST VACATION YOU HAVE EVER TAKEN?
La Romana, Dominican Republic. I speak Spanish so everything it was great to practice the language and enjoy the culture.
FAVORITE GIFT YOU WERE GIVEN AS A CHILD?
A talkboy. Who didn’t want to be Macaulay Caulkin in Home Alone?
WHICH TALENT OR SUPERPOWER WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO HAVE AND WHY?
Mind control. You can do a lot with that.
WHAT’S A NICKNAME YOUR FRIENDS OR FAMILY MEMBERS HAVE FOR YOU?
“JJ.” My niece couldn’t say my name when she was two and it has stuck ever since.
WHAT ARE YOU SUPERSTITIOUS ABOUT?
Not much. I have my quirks, but I don’t get too caught up on superstition, unless it’s the Stevie Wonder song.
WHO FASCINATES YOU?
WHICH FICTIONAL CHARACTER DO YOU MOST IDENTIFY WITH?
The genie from Aladdin.
Coffee. Specifically, a dark roast made black, and at times, with a shot or two of espresso.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BAND OR SONG?
Tough to pick one, but typically any song from the late 90s/early 00s gets me every time.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE?
The Godfather Trilogy. Can’t separate them; and yes, even the third one.
WHO WOULD PLAY YOU IN A MOVIE?
Jamie Foxx now, and the guy who played Michael Orr in The Blind Side would play the early years.
WHAT SCARED YOU AS A CHILD, AND WHAT SCARES YOU NOW?
Because I was overweight growing up, I was always scared of being labeled “dumb.” Now, I fear not trusting my gut, and the close proximity of frogs.
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR 18-YEAR-OLD SELF?
You’ll be fine. Take the big risks. Save a little bit more. Trust your gut.
I’ll watch them for you, but I can’t be a “dad” to one right now.
HAVE YOU HAD ANY MEMORABLE CELEBRITY ENCOUNTERS? WHAT HAPPENED?
Toss up between Shaq and Steve Harvey. Shaq pointed me out once when I was a manager for the LSU basketball team and used me as an illustration for being the “big buy.” I got a free date as part of a segment on the Steve Harvey Show called “United Dates of America.” I went out after Steve gave us both some advice. I don’t know how well that’s working out.
TELL US ABOUT A MOMENT THAT CHANGED YOUR LIFE.
June 16, 2009. I was lying on the surgery table about to go under for my gastric bypass procedure. I remember realizing my whole life was going to change from this point forward; and it has.
WHAT’S THE NEXT BIG PERSONAL OR CAREER CHALLENGE YOU PLAN TO TAKE ON?
I have had the opportunity to travel to speak at a couple conferences around the country, recently. I’d love to explore that more. I enjoy telling my story in hopes of encouraging others to follow their dreams.
WHAT CONCERNS YOU MOST ABOUT THE FUTURE?
My concerns about the future are also my motivators. It’s all about the unknown.
WHAT GIVES YOU THE MOST HOPE ABOUT THE FUTURE?
I know where my hope and trust lies, and that’s in the Big Man upstairs. If I didn’t have that, I’d be hopeless and fearful.
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR ADVICE FOR FUTURE FORTY UNDER 40 HONOREES?
You’re made it for a reason. Keep pushing and never doubt yourself for a moment.
DO YOU PLAN TO BE IN THE CAPITAL REGION FIVE YEARS FROM NOW? WHY OR WHY NOT?
Our city has so much to offer and I want to continue being a part of our progression for as long as I can.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST HOPE FOR BATON ROUGE?
By way of unfortunate events, we have a wonderful opportunity to unite the great divide that exists across our parish. We need each other to be at their best, however that looks, and that’ll take everyone looking beyond themselves and their biases.
DO YOU HAVE A BUCKET LIST? IF SO, WHAT ARE THE TOP 3 THINGS ON IT?
- To make it on Jeopardy!. I made it to the second round of auditions in high school, and I ould love to be on either it, Survivor or The Amazing Race.
- To become a coffee connoisseur.
- To compete in the physique portion of a fitness show.