Name: Aquanza Cadogan
Profession: Author / Public Speaker / Mentor/ Activist
One Word That Describes You: Purpose
What is your extraordinary impact?
I am a self-published author, mentor, father, and public speaker. Carrying on the oral tradition of our ancestors and educating society about the influential greatness of our past is my greatest impact. Telling powerful and relevant stories that present everyday problems and then provide a solution for the listeners to explore is a refreshing change from the negative narrative portrayed on television and social media. My goal is to impact kids every day by showing them they can create change simply by telling the truth and standing with integrity.
What does being one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction mean to you?
It’s an honor and a humbling experience to be considered one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction. When I began writing books and trying to uplift our youth with positive visions of our culture, I never expected anyone to stop and take notice. It’s refreshing to have a publication such as this that is seeking out new talents and visions from men of color.
What are you doing as a BEMM to help support black male achievement now or in the future?
The Big Brother and Big Sister program was the first stepping stone in my journey towards creating black male achievement within our youth. Changing the direction of one life in a positive way was something I wanted to share with other young professionals in my area. My plan for the future is my newest project called “Well Said,” a program that will empower young people to speak up for injustice and social change in their communities.
What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?
Literacy has long been a struggle for people of color. The struggle can no longer exist in the 21st century, so I created a Truth Telling movement—a program that will teach young people how to become better speakers and leaders while inspiring the next generation of Truth Tellers.
What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?
We have an opportunity to learn from every person we come in contact with, whether it’s good or bad. I tend to look for people who follow through on their promises and work with purpose and not just for a paycheck.
What are some immediate projects you are working on?
The Soap Box Project: The Truth Teller Experience – a traveling soap box that uses music and the power of words as a platform for purpose.
Say It Loud: The Truth Teller Experience – a narrated show that showcases black business and artists while using socially conscious topics, Afrocentric artwork, and music that inspires people of all ages and nationalities about black culture.
Well Said: The Truth Teller Experience – a program I intend on getting into schools to teach young people to use their voices to become better leaders and inspire other youth with the power of words.
What is the best advice you ever received?
“Our job as conscious people is not to teach the unconscious to be conscious but to make them conscious of their unconscious behavior.” ∼Kwame Touré. The new revolution is to make the unconscious conscious of their unconscious behavior.
What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
Give without expecting to receive, impact others without expecting to be recognized, and stay the course even when the change you’re making isn’t happening as quickly as you’d like.
How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?
I usually start a few weeks prior to an event. I begin by researching the group I will be speaking to, the setting I will be speaking in, and the message I plan to deliver. All of these methods help me present a memorable, enlightening, and uplifting speech for everyone listening.
As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation?
Photography is how I unwind on vacation. Traveling to different neighborhoods and documenting their way of living helps me keep my mind off of day-to-day things. The most memorable vacation I’ve had was when my parents took me to their hometown of Georgetown, Guyana, a country still trying to find its economic footing. It was an eye-opening experience for me to see the humble beginnings of my parents and a large reason why I strive to educate young people about life outside of their neighborhoods.
If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
It is my lifelong dream to travel throughout Africa. Africa is in my blood, and the opportunity to visit the continent of my origin and impact the youth there would be an experience of a lifetime.
Anything else you’d like to say?
I’ve learned to become an activist in the new millennia you can no longer tell people what to do or suggest what they’re doing is wrong. Instead, show them a different perspective, tell them things they’ve never heard, and take them places they’ve never been. Let them make the choice of change.
It’s our normal to be extraordinary. Follow @BEModernMan and join the conversation using #BEModernMan.
Come celebrate the BE Modern Man 100 Men of Distinction at the first-ever Black Men XCEL Summit, Aug. 30 – Sept. 3, at the PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.