Using hope to achieve the impossible

Marlon Parker urged finance professionals to use hope to unlock innovation in their organisations.

Founder of RLabs and social entrepreneur Marlon Parker advised conference attendees at the Finance Indaba held on 4 October 2018 at the Sandton Convention Centre to have hope even in times of despair because that is the only way they will succeed and make a difference in the world.

In a side-splitting account of his own life story, Marlon told the audience that hope propels one to do things that they couldn’t do before.

He said:

“When you do something you’ve never done before, that’s when you grow. Your circumstances don’t take away from where you need to go.”

Marlon himself had a tough childhood growing up in abject poverty but he didn’t let that stop him from achieving his dreams. Hope kept him going. He aptly described hope as the certainty in today and expectation for tomorrow.

“My first introduction to hope was when my mother fell in love as a teenager,” said Marlon. “She was one of four children and was meant to be the beacon of hope but fell pregnant.”

Marlon went on to explain how his father tried to force his mother to abort the baby threatening to leave her if she didn’t but she decided to keep him. Hearing his mother re-tell the story gave him hope because she decided to bring him into this world despite her circumstances.

In his teenage years Marlon worked as a trolley pusher at the airport and always dreamt of working as white-collar worker. “My aspiration was to work in an office and wear a shirt and tie because I thought people who wear a shirt and tie were important,” said Marlon.

Marlon recalled how he was once called for an interview for an office job. He was so excited and pre-empted getting the job. He bought the whitest shirt and reddest tie, but unfortunately he wasn’t successful.

But he did not let this experience get him down. He later enrolled at the University of Cape Peninsula to study IT. Life was not smooth sailing at university; he failed dismally in his first year, but his grades improved as time went on.

By the time he was in his third year, he was asked to be a lecturer at the university and was finally able to wear his white shirt and red tie.

He said:

“Sometimes a challenge is not there to break you but to define you.”

Today Marlon runs RLabs in a marginalised community known as Bridgetown in Cape Town. He creates systems and environments where young people’s lives can be changed through hope, technology, innovation, training and economic opportunities. RLabs has impacted the lives of more than 100,000 community members in Cape Town and plans to launch a fund to help 100 township entrepreneurs in a few weeks.

Marlon’s mission in life is to make hope contagious. He started the non-profit organisation because he believed hope has to be shared and that hope that is not shared is not hope.

He said:

“I wanted to build a legacy. I realised that people don’t remember those who have great careers but those who leave a legacy.”

Marlon encouraged the audience to unleash the hope within them and be extraordinary.