Vincent Kabaso of PGA of America: “They Told Me It Was Impossible And I Did It Anyway”
…Most importantly trust you are a person of value and purpose. Personally, I believe in the power of prayer and predestination by God so I really try not to stress about anything as long as I believe I am doing the right thing, it’s fun.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Vincent Kabaso, PGA of America.
Vincent Kabaso is a true trailblazer, as he stands alone as the one and only PGA Professional among The Republic of Zambia’s vast population of 17 million. And, in a country with just 25 golf courses (and growing) Kabaso’s journey to PGA Membership is nothing short of miraculous. While Vincent endured several road bumps throughout his journey, his deep passion for the game of golf kept his dream alive. This year, the PGA of America selected Vincent as one of 15 PGA Members who will comprise its PGA LEAD class (2020-’21), which is the Association’s leadership development program. PGA LEAD was created in 2016 to identify, mentor and progress PGA Members from diverse backgrounds into volunteer leadership positions in the Association. Kabaso is currently living his dream as a PGA Professional.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know you’ a bit better. Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Yes, my book Raised By The World which details my journey to PGA membership and growing up in Zambia has recently been submitted to the publishers. It is scheduled to be released in September 2020. It will inspire anyone that reads it to go after their wildest dream, it will also impress a great feeling to the mind and heart of a reader looking for a beautiful story to read.
I was also recently selected to the 2020–21 PGA LEAD class. PGA LEAD is the PGA of America’s leadership development program created to identify, mentor and progress PGA Members from diverse backgrounds into volunteer leadership positions in the Association. This has been a fulfilling experience, giving me outstanding exposure while further educating myself on important organizational policies. Additionally, it’s afforded me an opportunity to interact with distinguished golf industry leaders as I aspire to assume leadership and administrative positions.
In your opinion, what do you think makes your company or organization stand out from the crowd?
My foundation Raised By The World exemplifies the greater good of humanity. We aspire to look out for people who are disadvantaged. It has been self-funded for the last two years, which demonstrates how passionate I am about empowering youths and creating opportunities for the least amongst us.
Additionally, I am a proud member of The PGA of America, and it’s truly inspiring to see the Association’s commitment to create a game and workforce that mirrors America. In addition to PGA LEAD, PGA WORKS is another strategic initiative to open doors in the golf industry, by leveraging fellowships, scholarships, career exploration events and more to educate and engage individuals from diverse backgrounds on the many employment opportunities across the golf industry.
Ok, thank you for that. I’d like to jump to the main focus of this interview. Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us? What was your idea? What was the reaction of the naysayers? And how did you overcome that?
Everyone including my family members told me pursing PGA membership was out of reach. Mainly because we didn’t have the resources. I was strongly convicted in this pursuit that I went to the UK against my parents’ will. I endured financial challenges but still graduated college. I then moved to America to pursue PGA training giving up a good job and selling everything to my name. It was equally an “impossible” mission and to be honest, I didn’t exactly know how I was going to go about it. Against all odds I persevered and achieved my goal of becoming the first PGA member from Zambia and it gives me great pride to look back and think how it so easily couldn’t have been. It was a huge risk that was never easy by any stretch, but I conquered a seemingly impossible goal and I take great pride in sharing my story.
In the end, how were all the naysayers proven wrong?
They were left in awe and didn’t have much option except to rally behind me. Lee Trevino described success so well when he said “I played the Tour in 1967 and told jokes and nobody laughed. Then I won the (U.S.) Open the next year, told the same jokes, and everybody laughed like hell.” I’ve always known that very few will support you as you pursue your goals, but everyone will want to align/associate with your success when you achieve your dreams.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Yes, Jonathan MacDonald was the Head of Golf Studies at the first college I attended in England. I sat with him in a meeting with the finance department where they basically said I would be sent back to Zambia because I didn’t have the money to pay tuition fees. After the meeting was done, he tapped my shoulder and assured me “that was never going to happen under his watch,” and he walked me over to the kitchen and lobbied for me to get my first job as a dishwasher. My entire life, my pursuit felt so lonely and personal and I didn’t think anyone cared about me. Jonathan was the first person that expressed empathy towards me and went out of his way to guide me in the right direction on many occasions. Equally when I met Hannah (wife), I was going through a pretty tough time after losing sponsorship at College and I was really not sure what I was going to do. She was a rock and asked to pray for me when I told her about my predicament. That meant a lot to me and proved I could trust and lean on her.
It must not have been easy to ignore all the naysayers. Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share the story with us?
When I started going to the golf club in Zambia, I noticed that my dad probably was the least socially standing member at the club. Everyone was an executive or operated their own business, while my dad was a general worker in the copper mines. But it fascinated me to see how he carried himself so confidently and never once expressed inferiority even when speaking with executives. I look back at those moments with a lot of pride. He definitely inspired me to always remain confident in any situation.
Based on your experience, can you share 5 strategies that people can use to harness the sense of tenacity and do what naysayers think is impossible? (Please share a story or an example for each)
1. You must trust yourself and your abilities.
2. You must understand that you’re on your own — if you don’t do it yourself, nobody will (taking absolute responsibility for your life).
3. You must be open minded, it usually never works out like you plan it, but it does work out regardless.
4. You must treat people with respect and be genuine in your interactions, you never know who’s going to help you or who you might meet and help along the way.
5. Most importantly trust you are a person of value and purpose. Personally, I believe in the power of prayer and predestination by God so I really try not to stress about anything as long as I believe I am doing the right thing, it’s fun.
What is your favorite quote or personal philosophy that relates to the concept of resilience?
It is a bible verse from john 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” I also like these quotes
1: “There is always a way”
2: “If it was easy, anybody would do it”
3: “Whoever thinks it cannot be done, must not stand in the way of those trying to do it”
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be?
You never know what your idea can trigger. It is inspired by a famous African proverb called “Ubuntu” which means “I am who I am because of who we all are.” It highlights the fact that we are all interdependent and we should live as such especially in today’s environment where we are divided on so many fronts.
Can our readers follow you on social media?
Linkedin Jabari Vincent Kabaso