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RapidChat: Atikh Bana

At a pure glance of his resume, you can see that current Grand Valley State University student, Atikh Bana, has some pretty impressive credentials. As the producer and director of 'Happy Grand Rapids', it's not only his creative mind that sets him apart from the rest. At the young age of 21, he is also wise beyond his years. 
Atikh Bana

With one glance at his resume, you can see that current Grand Valley State University student Atikh Bana has some pretty impressive credentials. As the producer and director of 'Happy Grand Rapids', it's not only his creative mind that sets him apart from the rest. At the young age of 21, he is also wise beyond his years. 
Rapid Growth: For being 21 years old, you have accomplished quite a lot during your ‘career’. What is one of your favorite projects you have worked on to date?
 
Atikh Bana: Thank you, Jenna. It has been a journey jumping into some various projects! Each one sort of leaves you with something different. It may not be apparent or easily concluded instantly, but the experiences are certainly impactful. One of my favorite projects to date has been Happy Grand Rapids. To some, it’s simply a lip dub with a Pharrell song. However, the emotional connection is so great for me. I listen to it every day and it reminds me of the incredible experience. I even had watery eyes the first time I saw the video on TV.
 
RG: Where did your inspiration for that project come from?
 
AB: AH! The inspiration really came from Pharrell. His message, the creative video, the catchiness of the song – it all was inspiring. What he did was create a moment for the world to share – and through my friends and gained experiences, I felt we had a responsibility in sharing the happiness.
 
It was also finally a project that was bigger than myself. I mean, I pop in for a few seconds at the end, but the project is about something bigger. It’s the recognition of Grand Rapids’ vibrancy, people and enthusiasm. It’s a place we love – and we found a neat way to share it. And a neat way to be reminded of it. 
 
RG: You also were a part of the team that won the Ford ‘Go Further’ video challenge. What was one of your biggest takeaways from working on that project?
 
AB: I was! It was a really unique experience. My professor Frank Blossom, whom I am fortunate to be well connected with, reached out to me to work on the project early fall 2013. We had a solid team. We won a gold Addy last night too!
 
I really gained tremendously from the project. First, in being reminded that you are always capable of more than you think. And while deadlines and parameters may challenge your capability, it’s really about believing in greater possibility. Team Detroit expected we finish in like four weeks. We thought it was impossible – but we did it. And did it well! All about setting higher limits for ourselves.
 
It was also interesting to work with such a dynamic team. However, the dynamism does not have to come in complementing skill-sets, but rather an understanding of how one can be more valuable for a greater goal. I didn’t dream of being a second camera op. I also did not recommend the story we documented. However, I recognized how I can aid us in accomplishing what we did – and so did the rest of us.
 
It is not always about being great at what I do, but rather in finding out how I can help in making us greater. Sometimes it’ll involve what you’re great at, other times it’ll mean organizing footage and tearing down set. 
 
In many ways, collective collaboration trumps individual talent.
 
RG: You stated that “the dynamism does not have to come in complementing skill-sets, but rather an understanding of how one can be more valuable for a greater goal”, which is an amazing thing to understand. But what is your advice to those who struggle with working on a team?
 
AB: For those who struggle working with teams, there are a few things. First, communication is paramount, coupled with a great transparency in your communication. We all have to learn to speak up and be honest. However, it is equally important to understand compromise and to work in the best interest of others. At times, we feel we have to sacrifice our genius because someone might not agree or something – and at the moment, you feel upset. But when it’s all said and done – and the work is great, you have no reason to be.
 
Trust is also really important. So find ways to trust people. However, if you are all open in your communication and honest, trust shouldn’t be as difficult.
 
And lastly, collaboration will result in great work! Don’t forget that! There’s a great African proverb – “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
 
RG: Where do you look for creative inspiration, personally?
 
AB: Creative inspiration is…everywhere. Life is full of inspiration. That’s why we are constantly told to live in the present – to fully experience the beauty that we exist in. Once you are able to appreciate and focus on the moment, your mind captures. And those captured moments are later referenced in thought. It’s a cycle, in some ways.
 
I also believe that creative inspiration really stems from other people – and to be more creative, you’ve got to surround yourself with different people. It’s crazy how much impact people have on us. I constantly challenge myself to appreciate all people – and to learn about them as much as I can.
 
In all, creative inspiration comes in listening and absorbing, not thinking or brainstorming.
 
RG: What are some of your plans for after you graduate from Grand Valley State University this spring?
 
AB: Upon graduation, I’ll be taking some time off, and then assuming a full-time role as a Marketing Communications Specialist at Open Systems Technologies, where I’ve interned for the past two years. I also plan to continue working on an exciting project I’m in the midst of. 

Jenna Morton is the RapidChat correspondent for Rapid Growth Media.
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