182: Benjamin Alexander: From being an international DJ to trying to make the Jamaica Olympic Ski Team. What are the odds?

December 18, 2020

Benjamin Alexander

What is Benjamin Alexander’s connection to the Jamaican Olympic team? “I’m half English, half Jamaican. My father was born on the south side of the island. that’s actually why this whole thing came about. The funny thing is, as a mixed-race person, half-white and half-black, whenever you’re in a group of white people, you’re the black guy; when you’re in a group of black people, you’re the white guy. So, skiing is obviously a very very white pursuit, so that means I am the token black guy in any group of friends when we’re skiing. I’m also Jamaican, so then there’s also this movie Cool Runnings about the Jamaican bobsled team in 1988. Everyone knows this movie so there’s people always talking about Cool Runnings and Jamaican on ice. So, honestly, this whole thing just started off as a joke.”

On this episode of Finding Your Summit Podcast, we talk with Benjamin Alexander, Expert Alpine Skiier and former international DJ. “Sometimes failing is not a failure. Sometimes failing is a pivot into something that 10 years from now you look back and realize that maybe that was the better thing that you didn’t even think about because you were so focused on the first goal I don’t think there’s anything more positive than a human that is on a mission that they’re really really pumped up and jazzed up about. When you have this thing in life that is a burning passion, it creates a better version of you.”

What You Will Learn:

Benjamin Alexander dives into his love for electronic dance music and how that took him all over the world. “So, I actually started DJing 20 years ago…before YouTube. I had come across this genre of music, this underground form of electronic dance music that was really only available in nightclubs, at raves, or illegal pirate radio stations in London. Because I wasn’t of legal age, so I couldn’t get into the night clubs or the raves, the only way for me to really recreate that experience was to buy turntables and just go out there and buy the records myself and recreate it in my bedroom. This week, actually, is the 20-year anniversary of one of the first mixtapes that I put out. It just started as a hobby. My interest in it just kind of came and went. It wasn’t until I moved to Asia that I started to collect the music that was super popular at that moment.”

How did Benjamin take his basement hobby and turn it into a career? “I really enjoyed performing for people. Something that I would do casually at afterparties then turned into a bit more of a serious hobby. I was invited to play at the best nightclub in Hong Kong called Club Voila. It got to the point in early 2010 where I was working 50 hours a week in the industry of finance and wealth management, and working 5 or 6 hours a week across 2 or 3 gigs in Hong Kong and Macau, and making enough money from the djing alone to scrape by but having far more fun with the djing than the suit and tie 9 to 5. I decided to take the leap of faith in just going full-time with the creative pursuit and I just wanted to see what happened. My eyes were opened to this event called Burning man and from then everything exploded and I before I knew it I was playing all over the world. I was living in Ibiza for my summers and by the time I retired from djing at the end of 2018, I had the opportunity to perform in almost 35 countries.”

Where did Benjamin’s creative bug find him? Or did he find the bug? “Definitely was the class clown. Definitely the trouble maker. I never thought of being a performer of any sort. When I started to collect records, I really did it out of necessity. The energy that I was listening to out of these cassette tapes that were being recorded from pirate radio was like nothing else id experienced. The only way that I could get access to this thing that had this allure, this energy that I hadn’t experienced anywhere else was really just to recreate it myself. I’m an engineer by trade and I just kind of approach these problems by brute force. After a while, you find yourself in a place where without even realizing it, you’re better than 95% of everyone else that’s doing it. You weren’t doing it with the anticipation or the expectation or the desire to be doing it on stage. You were doing it because you just loved the trade and after a while, you were just so much better than everyone else that you naturally just have to follow this through.”

When did the light go off that inspired Benjamin’s goal of getting to the Olympics in 2022? “In 2018, I went to the Olympics in South Korea as an attendee and I noticed that there were only 3 Jamaicans representing the entire country and I was kind of taken by surprise by that fact. We put the Cool Runnings movie on and a lightbulb kind of went off. If there’s only 3 athletes  representing the country of Jamaica, maybe I can be plus one when we get around to the Olympics.”

What is Benjamin trying to show people about skiing and achieving their dreams in general? “The story that I’m’ trying to tell here is not only that minorities can do well in winter sports, it’s also that you can do really well even if you pick up something as athletic as skiing later on in your life. But it’s also trying to tell that skiing doesn’t have to be expensive. How many pieces of sporting equipment sit idle in a garage. If you are unafraid to just ask the people around you for help, for gear, it’s incredible. I looked at a photo of all of the things I was wearing in July and every single piece of clothing that I was wearing was a gift, a hand-me-down, or something that I was sponsored. So there are ways to make this thing inexpensive?”

Heli-Skii Trip

Where did Benjamin find the inspiration to not only get into skiing but skiing at an elite level? “So, at the end of 2015, I was invited to a heli-ski trip. I had never skied before. Without embellishing the lavishness and how amazing this thing was, on one of the days, the housecats as they called us, the 8 of us that were not skiing, had the opportunity to jump into a helicopter and join the skiers on top of the hill for lunch. I got up there, and I was just blown away by the scenery by the beauty, by the remoteness of being the only people for tens of miles if not further. Then at the end of lunch, just watching all of my skiing friends hop on their skies and just disappear down the side of the mountain. It just blew my mind. From that moment, there and then I set the intention that I would not return to that place without joining the skiing contention.”

Qualifying for the Olympics

During this episode of Finding Your Summit Podcast, Benjamin Alexander discusses his improbably rise from a 12-year-old in his room, to an international DJ, to his current pursuit to make the 2022 Olympics as a Jamaican Alpine skier. “How can it be possible that someone who just started skiing in 2016, especially someone who started skiing later in life, that he believes within 5 years he’ll be able to qualify for the Olympics? The spirit of the Olympics is that you have as many nationalities represented in as many disciplines as possible. What the Olympics does to make that possible is every nation has the ability to put forward 1 b-standard athlete. What that basically, means is, if I can get myself to the level of a really good 16-year old ski racer, you know, the cookie-cutter ski racer started skiing at the age of 2 and started racing at the age of 7 and by 16, they’re going to be at that level if they’re good that I need to get to for me to qualify for the Olympics.”

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