We had the good fortune of connecting with Damion Walker and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Damion, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
After being incarcerated for 17 years, from ages 16 to 33, I faced many barriers to employment. It is easier for formerly incarcerated individuals to own businesses than attain employment at times. Though I have a degree from the University of Houston and have been able to find employment, moving up in a company is difficult because of having the stigma on being in prison.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Again, my path has been different. I had no experience working so I was easily molded by trustworthy supervisors. After years of selling cars and being very successful I desired to change career paths. I now work for a nonprofit as a career coach, where I assist formerly incarcerated men and women in their path to sustainable employment. It was not easy giving up the big money in auto sales but the value in waking up every morning knowing that I can assist someone through my expertise and experience is ultimately rewarding. Switching professions came with challenging adjustments. Going from a money charged to purpose driven profession was eye opening. I looked to be the best nonprofit professional and worked towards understanding the goals and not just achieving the numbers. I have learned late in life that balance is key to being the best you. We al have different balances and balance is personal to your peace, which has to be protected by you.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
The best soul food in Houston is Farmer’s Fresh Meat on Cullen Blvd. The turkey necks, greens and macaroni are always amazing. Houston has great parks to stay active at. Tom Bass park in south Houston offers a lot of space and scenery to spend time with family. Also, Discovery Green in downtown Houston is socially active with events everyday as well as great restaurants in the vicinity.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
MeLinda McMahan hired me at my first job in my life. I was 33 and she was a new manager at an H&R Block store. As I attended UofH full time and worked full time while living at a transitional facility MeLinda mentored me. Also, Richard Battles who hired me as a car salesman. I know nothing about auto sale but Rich mentored and advised me to be a professional. This was my first true taste of becoming a businessman. He taught me how to treat my day and customers as if I was working for myself, This advise gave me the foundation and desire to begin my own business.