If I had to describe 2019 in one word it would be “Transitional.” From moving into my own place, moving on from a 2-year relationship, moving from my job to pursue entrepreneurship full-time to my mother making her move to heaven. 

All of these transitions have one thing in common, forward movement. Although, change can be tough and painful at times, I believe it’s the key ingredient to personally and professionally growth that truly requires faith. 

2019 was a complete rollercoaster that challenged my faith in every shape and form but throughout the year I transformed these challenges into valuable life lessons that made my faith even stronger. 

Challenge #1 – Getting Out Of My Comfort Zone 

Speaking Engagements 

When I started my first company Event Tent, I wanted to stay behind the scenes and let my work speak for itself. We won multiple pitch competitions but outside of that, whenever I spoke in front of larger groups I would get super nervous and stumble over my words.

The past two years I have been hosting and moderating my own events, under Surthrive, to gain more confidence in speaking in front of crowds. And in 2019, I’m proud to say that I had three paid speaking engagements and spoke to an audience of 500+! 🙌🏾


I was born and raised in the Metro Atlanta area and thought Atlanta was the best city in the world, so I wanted to challenge that hypothesis by traveling to different major cities to experience their culture for myself. This idea to travel and learn transformed into The Cloud Project Tour, which consisted of me going to a total of 6 conferences (3 in Atlanta and 3 in other cities). 

  • Brooklyn, NYCulture Con: This was by far the best and my favorite event I attended in 2019. The Creative Collective NYC did an amazing job in curating this unforgettable experience for black creatives. Learned about the power of black consumer spending.
  • San Francisco, CASOCAP: First trip to SF was a success. Loved diving deep on impact investing and meeting people who are changing the world. 
  • Oakland, CAAfroTech: Being surrounded by thousands of young like-minded black people in tech from around the country was something special. 

Turns out Atlanta is still the best city in the world ha! (in my opinion) but in all seriousness each city had its own unique flavor of style, business, and hustle in which I thoroughly enjoyed learning new information and building meaningful relationships with the people there. 

Challenge #2 – Managing Time 

I would consider myself a pretty organized person but traveling, speaking, running a business and managing a program while helping my mom who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done in my life. 

My Dad told my “You have 24-hours in a day. Run your personal life like it’s your business and run your business like a true CEO.” 

I took that advice. Delegated tasks and hired project managers so I could spend more time with my mom. 

Challenge #3 – Betting On Myself 

Personal Brand 

When I was in college, Peter Sorckoff (Former CCO of the Atlanta Hawks) came to speak and he said something that always stuck with me; “As a marketer, if you can’t market yourself then what makes you think you can market a business?” 

In August, I officially and intentionally launched my personal brand entitled, The Cloud Project. Which essentially highlights my continuous growth and evolution in a series of curated content. Learn more at justinmcleod.co


It has been such an honor building Atlanta’s emerging startup ecosystem as the Diversity and Inclusion Program Manager at Atlanta Tech Village these last two years. Together, we have broken barriers, opened doors, and shined light on 40 dynamic startups led by women and people of color through the It Takes A Village Pre-Accelerator!

The success of this program may be shown in the numbers but I am truly grateful for the genuine relationships and friendships that I’ve built that will last for years to come.

I’m thankful for the opportunity Karen Houghton and David Lightburn gave me to shape Atlanta Tech Village’s first D&I initiatives, which eventually turned my passion into my purpose. While I will always be a champion and advocate to Atlanta Tech Village, in 2020 I will still be continuing my work in building a more diverse and inclusive startup community in the following ways… 

Next Move 
  1. Doubling down and building up my company, Surthrive
  2. Mentoring at TechStars’ newest Social Impact Accelerator
  3. Launching an accelerated incubator for first-time founders, Square One. (More Details coming soon⚡️)

My Ask 

Surthrive is now accepting 2020 clients seeking to partner with a modern-day communications consultancy to activate their Go-To-Market strategy, branding, and inclusive innovation efforts. Get Started Today

Applications are open for Square One, please share the link with your network of first-time founders. If you’re interested in becoming a coach, mentor, or partner I’d be happy to share more details, let’s chat

2020 is going to be BIG and like my momma always said “KEEP IT MOVIN’” !