AJ Leon , from United States of America

Cynics may rule the world, but misfits will change it!

Nomads. Changemakers. Artists. The Ajala Project doesn’t only showcase people who fit these labels but also those who define new ones. This week, we put a spotlight on the story of A J Leon, traveler and founder of Misfit Inc, an agency that specializes in designing handcrafted web and mobile experiences and campaigns that actually matters. Every year they hold an intimate handcrafted event (Misfit Con) in Fargo exclusively designed for rabble-rousers, troublemakers, nonconformists and the general riff-raffs. It is an experience that centers around a mixture of inspiring and tactical talks given by some of the galaxy’s most brilliant minds, but wrapped in film, art, music, performance and culinary thoughtfulness. The profile of some of the attendees and speakers include designers, Novelists, Farmers, Lawyers, Developers, CMO’s, Beekeepers, Venture Capitalists and even a Blacksmith from Western Ireland- in total 22 States and 8 countries have been represented at the Misfit Con.

What inspired him to choose a nomadic life over a life of convenience and material comfort? Why does he believe that one should give much more than what they receive? You might find the answer to that, through the personal story of the man himself. In his mid 20s AJ was living the perfect life; as per worldly standards — a six-figure salary job, corner office facing the Manhattan skyline and a rising career; yet AJ felt dissatisfied with his everyday life. He had zero passion for his job and hated the work he did, though he was making good money. Right before his next promotion and four days away from his wedding, he decided to take a leap of faith and take the road less traveled. He quit the Manhattan high life and decided to live the life of an explorer. During his stint at corporate life he had dreams of helping the needy and making the world a better place, once he was out of it, he did just that.

AJ has been on a quest around the world for over 5 years now, traveling mostly overland. He and Melissa organized projects in remote parts of Tanzania, Sudan, England and most parts of the US including. gathering funds for a school in Kenya. They set up Misfit Inc,a digital agency that works for conscious brands and ethical organization, while supporting digital storytellers in remote parts of Africa and Asia to raise awareness about their social initiatives and create streams of opportunities for the less privileged. Misfit Inc isn’t the only organization that the misfit couples Melissa and AJ created. Misfit Foundation is another, they raised funds for a medical trust that would provide life improving supplements and medications to orphans, widows and individuals who were terminally ill and lived in rural villages in the Isiolo Region of Northern Kenya. In the last four years, they’ve helped raise over $6,000,000 for water, education, microfinance and health and wellness programs that have directly benefited communities across the world. They started an artisan technology incubator that partners with social entrepreneurs to launch solutions that makes the world a more delightful place and goes by…yea you guessed it, Misfit!

Currently, they travel with buses, motorcycles, tuk-tuks and other forms of transport that can connect them from one village to the next in the best manner possible, we need to find out if they also rode on water buffalos or donkeys :). AJ believes that “your life is always one brief moment of audacity away from remarkable” and Misfit Inc follows just that. He is working on his self-published book titled “How to be a Remarkable Misfit”. I am reading a collection of his essays about changing the world “The Life and Times of A Remarkable Fit” and the first advice he gives “Don’t follow well-lit paths, grab a machete and hack down your own” is now my personal mantra! You can read more about him and his boutique agency on www.misfit-inc.com and www.aj-leon.com/pursuitofeverything.

The AJALA Project is an initiative that uses art to raise awareness about social causes and support those making a difference in marginal communities from proceeds from the sales of artworks ONLINE and through EXHIBITIONS.

Find out more theajalaproject.com and reach out to change@theajalaproject.com to get your story featured or work with us!

This story was written by Supriya Bohra and edited by Bayo Hassan Bello.

Supriya is an Engineer by degree, management student by profession and a reader by passion. She was born and brought up in the UAE. Hailing from a large Indian family she graduated from Amity University Rajasthan and MBA in Marketing from Manipal Dubai. She swears by the philosophy of ‘Live and let live’ and stands up for anything she believes in. An advocate for gender equality, Supriya has had experience in anchoring and event management and now looks forward to making a creative career in Event Organization. She loves writing about things that matter and hopes to write up a book ‘that will change the world’.

Bayo Hassan Bello is a bohemian, an individual anarchist, a multiculturalist and a counterculture activist.