Brandon Tory On Building Something From Nothing In Times Of Adversity

Kwame Som-Pimpong
Written by Kwame Som-Pimpong
Brandon Tory
Brandon Tory is a senior Google software engineer and hip hop artist. Photo: Anita Sanikop/Moguldom

We all have our individual origin stories that shape who we are today. Brandon Tory, a software developer and musician, discusses his path from homelessness to working at Apple and Google while pursuing his passion for music in Part 1 of his conversation with GHOGH host Jamarlin Martin. Tory dropped some keys around being resourceful and the value of mentors in helping you move forward, even when the path isn’t clear. 

Find something to build

In his teenage years, Tory and his family transitioned through homelessness. During this time, he went deep into trying to build a Linux operating system. He didn’t have a lot of resources, but put together what he could that would help him build. 

Tory went from building the operating system to teaching himself to code, and then studied electrical engineering in college. He would go on to work at Apple and Google. A strong argument can be made that Tory taking initiative to build something was a linchpin in shaping the future opportunities he was able to take advantage of.

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 58: Brandon Tory

Part 1: Jamarlin talks to Brandon Tory, a hip-hop artist and senior software engineer at Google. They discuss Brandon’s journey from homelessness to teaching himself to code and working with Timbaland and Jimmy Iovine.

A great place to start when thinking about building something is Product Hunt. The site provides a daily refresh of new products, including a range of free ones you can use to work on a project. 

Brandon Tory on risking failure to find a mentor 

Tory initially hesitated to submit music to a competition. Had he not submitted, he would have missed out on a pivotal opportunity in his music career to get Timbaland as a mentor. Tory spoke about how Timbaland held him accountable for producing songs at a regular clip rather than waiting for inspiration. 

If you’re looking for a mentor, here are some resources to guide you through the process of finding one. 

Looking for a Mentor? The 7 Best Places to Start. 

How to Find (and Keep) a Mentor in 10 Not-So-Easy Steps

Things aren’t always clear when we make moves over the course of our careers as entrepreneurs, creative, or employees. Finding something to build and developing a relationship with a mentor are two ways to help you gain clarity and keep moving forward. Let’s GHOGH!

Kwame Som-Pimpong leverages relentless research, a knack for connecting dots, human-centered design approach, and effective communications strategy to help organizations realize their strategic objectives. Over a 10-year career, Kwame has supercharged grassroots political organizing efforts, assessed the effectiveness of U.S. federal agencies, managed an international program, founded a digital media startup, and advised government agencies on delighting their end-users. He earned a BA in Political Science from Davidson College and Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia. He can be reached at kwame.som.pimpong@gmail.com.