How Tayo Rockson Uses TCK-ness to Uncover Identity

We learned so much from Adele Johnson in our previous article. She was open about her life and where she is now. Our next subject in the series is someone who has taken cultural experiences to a whole new level. Tayo Rockson folded all his travels and cultural endeavors into his career.

Tayo Rockson, a millennial third-culture kid (TCK), was born and raised in Nigeria. He lived in five different countries before the age of 18 (Sweden, Burkina Faso, Vietnam and the United States). He now lives in the United States and works as a speaker, consultant and media personality at UYD Management.

Tayo Rockson, Ted Talk, Culture, Travel, Multi-Cultural, TCK
Courtesy of UYD Media

Rockson grew up in a closely knit family with two Nigeria parents and two younger brothers. They heavily value family and tradition.

From sixth to ninth grade, he attended an international school that opened him up to more than 250 ethnic groups. He became quite cultured; he learned to respect others and their traditions and beliefs. In 1999, he made his first transition into a democratic society.

As tough as it might have been to pull a 180 on a political lifestyle, what was even more a challenge was entering this change during puberty. He described himself as a tall, slim, Nigerian boy that didn’t know what was going on. Rockson said, “I’d always felt like a walking contradiction.” It is hard to find yourself at such a young age.

Even though he felt at home with his culture in his own household, he found it hard to adjust outside of the house. He decided he needed to become a chameleon and blend in with those around him. How did he do so? He, like most TCKs, became observant of his surrounding environment.

Soccer, Tayo Rockson, Culture, Sports, Travel
Courtesy of ACTIVEkids — labeled for re-use.

He chose to find something in a new culture that he could relate to as a way to bond with others. He discovered he had a passion for sports. Once he watched a game of soccer, he was hooked. Soccer became his regular pursuit.

Later, he moved to an area where basketball was more popular. He instantly went to the library and read as many books on the sport as his mind could stomach. Later, he asked a friend to teach him how to play. To this day, he loves the sport.

After all his adventures in different countries and learning about different traditions, he became an open, accepting person with an expanded worldview.

Rockson said: “[It’s] not about being culturally diverse but about what you have to offer a culture.”

When you shut people out, you close yourself off from any cultural enrichment.

Rockson decided to take his experience as a TCK and curiosity for different culture to the business world. He runs UYD Management, a strategic leadership and consulting firm that helps organizations incorporate sustainable diversity and inclusion practices, in hopes of helping multi/cross-cultural people discover their identity.

Tayo Rockson, Ted Talk, Culture, Travel, Multi-Cultural, TCK

Aside from his TED Talks, blogs and video shows, he now hosts the number one cross-cultural podcast in the world that streams in more than 100 countries. His outstanding work on how to embrace your global identity has named him one of the top millennial influencers to look out for in 2018 by New Theory Magazine.

I’d say Rockson is a stand-up person with his heart in the right place. He is ready to change the world.


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