This article first appeared in The Alt on September 20, 2017.
It’s 6:30 a.m. on a Tuesday. Most people haven’t started their day, and the sun hasn’t fully illuminated the sky, but a group of people have gathered—as they do the same time every week at various locations—to help each other successfully attain their goals. This weekly meeting, called “Power Breakfast,” has been around for less than a year, but continues to grow, mostly through word of mouth and social media.
The idea for Power Breakfast was sparked after Jessica Wayde Coles read an article about what powerful and productive people do differently than everyone else.
“The article talked about how in New York City some of the most powerful business people come together once a month in the morning and they network, they talk about what projects they are working on and they hold each other accountable and they collaborate,” Coles said.
She reached out to two of her friends, Jamel Mosely and Roberta Singleton, about doing something similar, but instead of a monthly gathering, she wanted to do it every day. Eventually they settled on a weekly meeting.
“The idea was to be around like-minded individuals who are working on stuff,” Singleton said. “It’s like you are your company, you are who you surround yourself with.”
James Mitchell has been attending Power Breakfast for a month and also believes in the power of being around people who are all doing positive things.
“If you put me in a room with five sick people I’m going to become sick—even if I’m healthy as hell,” said Mitchell, a youth enlightener who runs his own non-profit organization focusing on art and educational programs for children. “But if you put me in a room with people who are upwardly mobile, are trying to better themselves, are entrepreneurs and are the future leaders of this area then obviously…I’ll be trying to do the same.”
Each week the group gets together and discusses the keys to being successful–usually facilitated through informative topics such as financial planning, open source software, being overworked and overwhelmed, balancing your life, decluttering, planning and journaling, budgeting, self-care, relationships and the current state of affairs in today’s social and political climate.
“With topics it’s like, here’s what we are going to talk about and here’s a few solutions,” said Singleton, who is starting an event planning company with Coles. “We do have conversations where it’s just flowing and it’s just more like let’s just brain dump. We have a brain dump of ideas, books, articles, or podcasts we’re listening to. When I think of topics that I want to discuss with people, I think of how can we all collaboratively come up with solutions.”
In addition to the topics discussed, Power Breakfast provides networking opportunities, allowing people to meet others who may be able to help them in whatever ventures they are working on.
“The biggest part when we first started was making connections,” Mosely said. “If someone was like, ‘Oh, I need help with my finances,’ well, we know this finance guy or, ‘I need help with graphic design,’ well, we know this graphic design person.”
Ashley Whiteside, a student at SUNY Albany from Buffalo, began attending Power Breakfast this past spring after hearing about it from her friends.
“I’ve picked up a lot of business and entrepreneurial skills,” said Whiteside. “I’ve just started a podcast and I had no idea about the business side of anything. So I’ve learned about branding and marketing. I’ve also picked up a lot of good friends in the process, and I’ve found a new community here in Troy and Albany because I am not from this area. That was really important to me.”
The first Power Breakfast had six people, but over time it has grown to anywhere from 35 to 40 people with more every week. The increase in popularity stems from word of mouth, a Facebook group page, and what Mosely describes as people wanting to be a part of something unique and secretive.
“People always want to be a part of something that they feel is exclusive,” said Mosely, who is the owner and creative director of Mel eMedia, a multimedia company. “We started to get people saying, ‘Oh I feel like it’s a secret and how could I be a part of it.'”
The people who come to Power Breakfast are a diverse group, ranging in age from early 20s to 40s and even 60s. They are from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, with the majority being African-American. They are artists, entrepreneurs, educators, and college students.
“I was so tired of hearing this narrative that there’s nothing to do in our community, the people in our generation are lazy, or we’re not interested in things,” said Coles, a special education teacher and a doctoral student at SUNY Albany. “For me, I was like, ‘I have so many amazing people in my life,’ and my father would always say to me, ‘Well, what are you doing about it?’ So, to be able to have us all in one space is amazing to me.”
When Power Breakfast first started, Psychedelicatessen, a popular bagel shop in downtown Troy, was one of the only places open early enough for them, and the staff allowed them to arrange the dining area to accommodate the group. Now Power Breakfast is held in a different location every week, though usually in Troy. Other locations have included Spillin’ the Beans, Troy Kitchen, the Daily Grind, Troy Innovation Garage, Konie’s Broadway Kafe, Stacks on Broadway in Albany, and Eden Café in Loudonville.
“When more people started to come, more businesses were willing to open their doors for us,” said Coles. “But it also allowed people who have been walking past businesses and not feeling like there was a place for them inside to go to these spots and check them out.”
The trio of Coles, Singleton, and Mosely also occasionally host Power Hour, a more relaxed get-together than the breakfast, which takes place once a month in the evening, and have also put together a wellness retreat.
“It’s a lot of work that we put out to host these events because we want them to speak to what Power Breakfast is to us and to continue with our vision,” said Coles.
To join Power Breakfast, visit their Facebook.