Inside the Brain Child of Courtney Jordan
Updated: Jan 1, 2019
A five-day tour of Scenester Inc
Scenester Inc. is the brain child of entrepreneur and humanitarian Courtney Jordan. Based in Durham, NC Scenester’s mission is through an app and telecommunications to provide a better source of entertainment and a new way to choose your next outing.
Who says offices have to be boring?
Upon arriving to the Scenester HQ, I was greeted by Scenester’s “Executive in Charge of Shit” (sic). Hamilton Watts, who walked me through the restored historic converted warehouse, that transitioned from a 40’s farmers marker to the hub for global NGOs and tech revolutionaries.
From there I was introduced to Kiara Ingram, Scenester’s Director of Marketing and Executive Producer for ‘Booze News’ who is referred to as the office enforcer. “She’s a tuff one, you know that when Kiara is around she expects a certain level of accountability says Julian Jiamachello, Content Manager.
Ingram Begins to show me around the very modern office, that features an open concept, with exposed brick and open ceilings, and inspiring art work throughout. “We don’t believe in toiling the day away in a drab cubicle farm.” “Courtney has done a great job in providing us a comfortable environment to be creative and productive. From cater meetings, and freedom to scheduling, and expression.” She adds.
Kiara then proceeds to introduce me to Scenester’s Innovation Specialist, and R&B recording artist, Dre Murro, who was just fresh out the studio with Young Dolph, and who is also the star of SceneTV’s upcoming reality show “Dre’s Favorite Girl”, that will chronicle his life on tour while trying to find love.
I asked the two to tell me their favorite things about their upcoming app. “What’s even more useful is that SceneNavi, thanks to a clever Snapchat integration, offers users an opportunity to stream live videos of a place they are visiting and share them with others who use the app.
This way, when a user selects a place they want more information on, they will be able to watch live videos and get realistic impression of the atmosphere in that place. In that moment” Said Ingram.
“The real social feature of SceneNavi is that it allows its users not only to discover new places, but also to connect with new people. Users are able to find people who have similar interests, and then connect and meet with them. For example, if a user wants to see a movie, all they have to do is to use the app to find another user who also wants to see that movie and who is looking for someone to keep them company.” Adds Dre Murro.
At this point walks in Mary Bassey, Scenester CFO and longtime business partner of Courtney Jordan. She is immediately met with hugs and jokes by everyone in the office. Her presence pervasive and alluring, seemingly to lift the already high spirits of the room. With her arrival seemingly to spread like wildfire, the room seems to begin to swell with staff and officers. One being ‘Scenester’s Naomi Campbell’, Aminah Thompson, Vice President of External Communications.
Who begins talking to Bassey about a commercial shoot for Scenester’s wedding give away. Soon thereafter peers in Wendy Clark, Scenester COO, who pulls Bassey out for a meeting. As the energy shifts from playful and creative, to planning and execution you can see the machine in motion.
Lighting being set up and scripting being rehearsed with Thompson, Ingram meets with her team to go over marketing strategy and shoot times for ‘Booze News’. As well as preparing the shoot for the commercial.
Around noon, you see, Watts appear magically out of nowhere with a ‘Rise Biscuit’ bag and ‘Starbucks’ in his hand running down stairs, Ingram breaking from conversation and announcing to everyone to get ready.
Another shift seems to be happening, I see Clark and Bassey emerge, coming up the steps. With a smile looming through the cold exterior of Clark, and they pop back in with a wave in to the team, while Wendy looks on, still smiling, she asks did Hamilton get the ’Starbucks’ to which Bassey responds yes, did Ms. B, put the mail on the desk?
I think so, Clark responds. Ingram updates them on the progress of commercial, Clark seems excited about that adding, to make sure to get shots of the building.
Interrupting the conversation Clark asks is everything set up and ready.
When I asked what was going on, they simply said He’s here. Who I asked, Courtney Jordan.
With the suggestion of Ingram, I go outside to get some pictures of Courtney Jordan. There he was emerging from his Red Tesla in ray bans, a pair of jeans, and a long white sweater, like a rock star almost. His computer bag and in true Courtney Jordan fashion (as I am told) his response was who the fuck are you? And why are you taking my picture.
To which, I respond, “my apologies, I should have announced myself”, and proceeded to tell him what I was doing and who I was.
His response, oh ok yes, I was expecting you. How long have you been here, I say for about 2 hours, he asks if I was treated nicely and I said yes I am just a fly as we walk inside, you see everyone greet Courtney as he walks past down the stairs to his office, when he opens the door I walk into his massive office and see that Starbucks cup and rise bag on his desk accompanying his two massive curved computer monitors and art work .
So what are your thoughts thus far, asks Jordan, to which I respond this is such a beautiful space and filled with some awesome people. I did have one question, “what is that” asked Jordan, well I noticed Hamilton’s title is ‘Executive in Charge of Shit’ (sic) Where did that come from?
Leaning back in his desk chair he laughs and says well bc that is just Hamilton he takes care of pretty much everything we need to be done, he works hard and fast.
He handles all the shit of the day.
With the readiness of the next question to come fixed on my lips a knock on the door overshadowed the first tone slipping out of my mouth. “come in” Jordan says. In enters Watts, who briefed Jordan on the days happening and said you know they are waiting for you upstairs ha-ha, he said I know. Jordan gets up and says well let’s go.
Before heading to the door Jordan pours himself a glass of Jameson and throws it back.
Astonished not by the quickness of the disposal of the whiskey but the swiftness of the refill. His response was let’s go, with the glass in hand we walk upstairs to the Scenester office and everyone seems to flutter straight to the Founder, and Innovation Czar. Happy to update him the progress of SceneTV a concept that would launch in 2017.
Joining the digital wave of digital broadcasting. “With sales of digital antennas being up more than 500% and memberships with Hulu and Netflix on the rise it’s a sign that Millennials are cutting the cord with cable and satellite providers. When you can just buy a $20 antenna and plug it up to your tv and get local and digital channels what need would you have for cable”. Says Jordan.
As he begins to view graphics and listen to concepts you see everyone’s excitement on full display. As they go over idea concepts and plans to come. His energy which would on day two be explained to me as seductive and alluring; trapping you like a drug.
Which I must admit I myself began to feel as though I took a hit myself. Jordan then says “great, good work, keep it up. “Drinking from his tumbler of whiskey as if it were water.
Then walks in Jamila Morris a marketing coordinator for Jordan, Clark, and Bassey’s other business The New Life Company. Explaining to them the new plan for attracting clients.
“Well gotta go” I follow Jordan out as he goes back down to his office. I begin to task more about what his favorite part of the company is. He says well to be honest, it started based on the concept of SceneNavi Which would allow people to explore the scene around them before going.” “however my favorite part is the concept of digital broadcast.” The whole thing is just beautifully intriguing.”
His response then interrupted by knocks at the door. In walks Watts with lunch, soon after followed by Clark and Bassey, along with Chaun Fisher who is a project manager. He then tells me to give them a moment, instructing me to go back upstairs and get shots of the team.
As they begin to engage in the subtle pleasantries, common at most offices; “how was your weekend” “was your breakfast good” ect. Another knock at the door happens and this time it is a visit from his mother, Susan. Who comes in shocked almost at the people in the room. Stating that I can always come back later if your busy.”
To which Jordan say just come in mama” As she sits down and chats a bit with the others, I ask her opinion on scenester and her sons’ success. “he has always been this way, someone who is non-conventional, I am very proud.”
And like clockwork during me shooting the two together, a knock at the door can be heard and in pops Chaun, (New Life Project Manager, and Scheduling Assistant to Jordan) who is distracted by greeting Susan and sharing some laughs.
“Get to it Chan” Jordan say, to which his mother responds with a sigh “be nice”. Chaun informs Jordan of the presentation that was scheduled to happen. “if you don’t let him know constantly he will forget” Says Chaun. Words I would come to understand more throughout my visit.
Soon after the leaders of Jordan, Bassey, and Clarks companies in NC come into the room to hear a presentation from insurance reps. Which prompts the exit of Jordan’s Mother.
During the presentation Jordan gets an alert and begins to exit. I ask when we can block off sometime to have a more formal sit down. He then tells me to give them a moment, instructing me to go back upstairs and get shots of the team.
Hoping to get a bit more time with Jordan to speak on Scenester get some questions answered. I must say I was a bit upset with the brush off as I flew in from which had been planned since July. (at his invitation) When I would first meet him at the Fairview hotel. There he was on business sitting in the restaurant having breakfast.
A simple request to borrow the salt, spawned a 4-hour conversation that seemed like only a minute.
This explained, is part of the charm that is Courtney Jordan. “He can just get you thinking like no one else.
His words are smooth and thought provoking, he’s quick and cerebral” a more warmer Clark in says in describing this effect, on day two of my stay. Adding “it makes him who he is, a true visionary, one of the best and brightest entrepreneurs I have ever known. “ Clark seems to light up when speaking on Jordan.
Adding “it makes him who he is, a true visionary, one of the best and brightest entrepreneurs I have ever known.” “He is Innovative, a true creator; not so much an administer. Clark laughing says. “Scenester, is an exciting and fascinating endeavor. To be a part of the product of Courtney Jordan is thrilling” “It is the beginning of something amazing I can feel it.”
Soon after Hamilton instructs me Jordan is in his office. As I leave to head his office, I meet him at the top of the stairs coming up with a cup full of Jamison.
As we go into Wendy’s office, she tells him how we were talking about Innovation and Scenester.
“Innovation is one of the biggest values that Scenester has. Innovation is definitely one of the key parts of my success,” he shares. He would share with me on day three.
Jordan says that alongside the growing company, he too is growing into his leadership role, (as Innovation Czar, not being the CEO) and that the journey is almost perfect in all its challenges and successes. When it comes to the leadership side of his position, he reflects on the importance of motivating and believing in your staff.
“It’s all about challenging your team in the right way. “adds Jordan “I challenge people and motivate them and provide plenty of opportunities. And if they embrace those opportunities, the future is theirs for the taking.”
Scenester is an example of Compassion
“Compassion and Business are not contrasting differences” words by Jordan that on this day were backed by action. Wendy Clark had experienced the loss of her friend, whose funeral had happened the week prior to my arrival.
Today a flutter is a buzz by the SceneTeam as they are under direction from Jordan, to prep the multipurpose room for a party.
The party is for Wendy, a gathering of her friends and family. To show support for her during her grief. “It is a way to let her know she is not alone. That we are all here for her” “It is not to take away from the hurt ache that is death” Jordan says. “ It is just simple reminder that it is ok to smile, to laugh, and to cry” “ that in doing so people care, we care, and we will be there for her.”
A Leader in Distress
My last day with the Scenester team was marked with mixed emotions. Today I arrived, and everything seemed normal, Hamilton was just returning with Courtney’s morning breakfast, and Starbucks. The Scenester office is filled with people puttering away on content and development.
Wendy is walking to the coffee station to get her morning cup of joe. The corridors of the building are filled with smiling and mission filled faces.
However, what was not normal was later than usual arrival of Courtney. Who seemed a lot more subdued than normal. After a while sequestered in his office, Jordan emerges and come to the office with a cup a Jamison in hand.
As he sits down on the orange beanbag chair he looks up solemnly as he begins to tell his team he had just got some news….
Jordan reveals he has been diagnosed with Leiomyosarcoma a form of cancer.
The office falls silent and then tears erupt. Ingram has to step out and Jordan proceeds to take a drink back put a smile on and say don’t be sad ill fight this like everything. With God all things are possible. He steps out with Mary as Wendy comes to the door, they walk downstairs to Jordan’s office.
When Kiara comes back she is more composed, and everyone surrounds her. She says Jordan already has a condition with his heart and she just can’t take losing him.
Jordan, Clark, and Bassey come back and start thanking everyone for working so hard. They seem to just skate passed the moments that passed.
Jordan begins to hand out gifts to the scenester team. And tell them he will miss the taping of Booze News.
Before my flight Jordan asks me to walk with him downstairs, he asks me his thoughts of the time I’ve spent with Scenester.
My thoughts, I could only sum up in this way. It was truly an experience I will never forget. Words that I will attempt to use to capture the essence of the spirit of a unique and captivating team behind an equally captivating man with a big goal, an even bigger heart is something I will undoubtedly fail at.