Influencer Alton Paas
Interview April 2019
Alton Paas has become a brand in Curaçao, you are making a difference, that is why I wanted to interview you as we consider you to be an Influencer. Alton, could you share with me some information of your family life?
My name is Alton Paas. I have 1 sister and 1 brother. My sister is married and has 3 daughters, and my brother lives in Holland. Both my parents are well and healthy. I live with my mother and father and my better half for 8 years now. I am born and raised in Curaçao. I did travel a lot since I was a child, but always loved being on my native island.
Alton could you share with us some of your educational background?
I started kindergarten ‘Mi Pret’i wowo’ then to MM Römerschool. After that I went to Maria College for two years and then to St Jozef VSBO. At St Jozef, we had the opportunity to choose a sector at which we could get more practice and at that time i chose administration. After St Jozef, I went to Frater Aurelio SBO and their I switched and studied ICT.
Alton, I have come to know you in 2016 when we interviewed you in the National Library, the video link we never used as we changed our concept by now interviewing Influencers personally. For us it has been a journey to find this formula. You inspire lots of people and we wonder where does that come from?
After the car accident I had in 2009, I became aware of the impact each individual can have on a person. That was because of some of the messages I started to receive from family, friends and colleagues. Despite of not being able to move my body they were still being inspired by the smile on my face on some pictures and that was not a pleasant time. Those experiences with the people around me, let me realize that everything we do, will always have an effect on someone else. Even if we know it or not. So at that time, I made a conscious decision that I wanted to have a positive effect in the lives of people around me. That is when I started to use my story or experiences during those tough times to inspire others, that despite any hardships you can still move forward and overcome.
During the last three years, I have been really passionate about the process of having an idea and turning that into something physical or making a dream come true. That sounds better than it truly is, but it does get me excited to create something or build something that has never existed before. That is one of the reasons, that I’m motivated to do the things that I’m doing. The other reason is to make a difference in the lives of others. As I said that our lives affect everyone around us. so the reason for our existence is, to be there for others. There is no such a thing as having a party with only one person. The greatest memories of our lives are always those we have with other people or when we can share experiences with other people. Those are the two things that really gets me going.
You have your own foundation and do you collaborate with other organizations in teaching people their limitless potential and teach them about the power of their minds?
Yes. The foundation I have does different things. Since the beginning, we had different projects and depending on the projects, we search for partners to collaborate for a bigger impact. Recently, we’ve partnered with the Rehabilitation Center in Curaçao to develop an educational platform in Curaçao regarding spinal cord injury for professionals in the health sector and people with spinal cord injury and their families. We will now start a Caribbean spinal cord injury network, so that the islands in the Caribbean, as well, can exchange data and resources for the good and betterment of those people with a spinal cord injury.We have now partnered as well with a world-renowned company on activity-based training.
We now have two certified neuro ex activity based trainers, that are the first and only trainers in the Caribbean that can give that type of training, which is the activation of the neuromuscular system below the level of the injury with the aim of retraining the nervous system to restore a specific motor task. With this expertise, we also did a project in collaboration with the Brucker Bio Feedback center. They have a special method that focuses on the connectivity between the brain and the muscles to train the brain to improve and coordinate those connections. Those are some of the examples of collaborations that we have, but we are consistently improving and networking with organizations because of the needs of people with a disability on the island makes you more creative to get funds and find people whom really do the work, to ultimately make a difference.
How are you trying also to keep up with your skills? Do you like reading books, follow courses, invest in networks and people that might help you further your knowledge and skills level?
Yes, I do read books. Mostly on leadership, but I don’t read books as much as I read on the internet. I follow different blogs and educational platforms online related to nonprofit, personal development, marketing and sales. Almost every morning I read 10 pages of a book. I recently finished the book of John Maxwell ‘Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn’ but I could read an average of 3 blogs or articles on a day, that I get through subscriptions, that I have and some of them have YouTube video or online seminars as well.
What are your other strengths?
I believe I have developed the ability to see the good in every situation. I am good with words, I can sing not only in the bathroom btw.
Do you have hobbies or interests that you are also passionate about?
Some hobbies are watching movies, exercise and also, I started to get more curious to understand some of the things that are happening around us, for example the advances of Robotics and A.I. (Artificial Intelligence), the Universe, human behavior and the history of Curaçao.
If you as Alton, would meet a stranger if you would travel outside of Curaçao and they would ask you to introduce yourself what would you answer?
My name is Alton Paas. 28 years old gentleman who loves to smile and with a passion to make a difference in the world.
How would you describe Alton Paas in one word or one sentence?
A positive individual with a heart to serve others.
Whom are the persons that have inspired you the most in your career?
My family has been my biggest inspiration. Growing up with my mother and father I have learned so much from them. But also my partner, we are almost 10 years together. She has also been an inspiration to me, her life experiences and also her support to help me stay true, to my words.
Where they always positive role models or where their also negative role models that you didn’t want to identify with?
That I can remember, there were always positive people around me thanks to my family. There were some people, that I didn’t like, but they didn’t had a bad influence in my life.
What are some of the challenges, lessons learned, that you have encountered in your life when you ultimately discovered your talents and strengths? What was a defining moment in your life, a setback that later turned out to be a great blessing?
The biggest defining moment was between 2009 and 2011. Those were the two years after my accident, that started the shift to where I am now. During those years, each day was a lesson. I recently read a quote that said about people that have been through deep hardships, develop a profound compassion for others. That is something that now, as I look back, I could relate with, because I had to go through so much during those two years and no one can actually understand what that feels like. They can’t feel the pain or the emotions as I did. Neither can I feel or understand their emotions seeing me in a wheelchair, so I had to learn to deal with my emotions and understand that others also can have difficulties and I can never compare which is worse and therefore I’ve learned how to stop judging others.
Where do you want to be 10 to 15 years from now with your career?
That my foundation would be self-reliant, that we could help more instead of asking for help to help others. That I was able to develop and become a respected investor and leader owning different business that also can have a positive impact in the life of others.
What would you want your Loved Ones, family, friends and others to say about you let’s say 20 years from now?
He did everything, he said he would!
What makes you stay optimistic about the future of Curaçao?
The future is not pre-written, it’s an imagination. I am a believer in the idea that our thoughts become our reality and my imagination for the future of Curaçao makes me stay optimistic. It’s not that easy to see the picture when you’re in the frame, so we don’t always see or recognize our opportunities or our potential, but we can do it.
Do you want to share anything else that might be relevant for those reading this blog?
Make it happen!
One of the 250 Community Influnecers
As the core group of Share2Uplift we love and deeply respect Alton Paas, for his positive mindset to create what he thinks of in his minds-eye. We respect him for the work he is doing through his Foundation named after him, for all those with a spinal cord injury not only locally, but also in the Caribbean region. We love his tenacity and resilience as he has overcome major setbacks in his young life and we applaud him for his abilitiy to collaborate, create value and his ambitions for the future. We definitely consider him one of the 250 ethical leaders of our Island, that continuously works at influencing people’s mindsets for the better, in our society.