Name: Eric Martin
One Word That Describes You: Intrepid
What is your “Extraordinary Impact?”
One of my most extraordinary accomplishments to date is the creation of Black & Abroad, a cultural collective committed to celebrating and encouraging black travel. I co-created the start-up in early 2015 along with my business partner. Since then we’ve seen a presence in over 120 countries throughout all seven continents. Through our efforts, we’ve been able to identify and secure destinations for our anticipated Black & Abroad Journeys. We’ve fostered relationships with tourism boards around the world to put beautiful, black, familiar faces in unfamiliar places. I could’ve never imagined that the response to this initiative would be so well received by so many—so quickly. I’m humbled to say the least.
What does being one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction mean to you?
It means to be proud and honored. Particularly because I grew up reading the publication, flipping through my parents’ monthly subscription absorbing everything I read like a sponge. I can remember the cover of the June 1997 edition, featuring Mr. Graves along with 5 other male CEOs and thinking to my 6th grade self that I someday wanted to be a part of whatever special group this was. That special group was a few members from the BE 100s. Fast-forward the tape 20 years and here I am amongst the BEMM 100. So yeah—it’s definitely an honor.
What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?
I generally start by taking inventory of the things that I have direct control over. I always try to remain cognizant of my response to adversity; that’s the one thing that I can directly control. As with any startup though, struggles are inevitable. It is your response and recovery time to the unforeseen that will ultimately dictate whether you win or lose. For example, a few years back, we had an issue with one of our vendors. For some reason they could not master the dimensions of a design we sent. After about seven or eight errors, they finally got it right. We ended up losing a bit of revenue behind the mishap, but it was from this mistake that a new design was born. Thanks to this new design we ended up recouping our losses, and our relationship with the vendor got stronger.
What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?
Whether business or personal, I only look to build relationships with people that harbor a growth mindset. These are people who believe that through hard work, practice, and strategy, that new talents can be created and developed. Regardless of age, upbringing, or financial background, they are constantly working to tap into the best versions of themselves. My close circle is full of these kinds of personalities. That kind of energy is contagious and tends to bring out the best in other people.
What are some immediate projects you are working on?
As Q2 of 2017 comes to a close, I’m pleased to announce that we’re introducing Black & Abroad Journeys to the fold. Our journeys are tailored to those looking to enhance their lives through unique travel experiences. Through these journeys, we aim to shy away from empty, touristy interactions but rather engage with the locals on a much deeper level. We’ve spent years cultivating solid relationships with local merchants, restaurateurs, and vendors to not only invest into these local communities, but to send our travelers back home with a newfound appreciation for each destination, along with a few lifelong friendships. Our next journey will be in Johannesburg from 12/28 to 01/03. To join us, you can sign up on our website.
What is the best advice you ever received?
I meet a lot of good people in passing, but the best advice I’ve ever received came unexpectedly from a recent trip I took to New Orleans. I was staying at the Hubbard Mansion (the only black owned bed & breakfast in New Orleans), and got a chance to sit down with the owner, Mr. Hubbard, about his life and accomplishments. One of the things that intrigued me the most about him was his story of resilience throughout his life and career. When I asked him for a few nuggets to take along my journey, he kept it simple, noting that “everybody is good at something. Keep your personal abilities sharpened so that you can navigate through any industry with ease.” Best advice ever.
What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
In the beginning, it only takes is a handful of people to believe in you, including yourself. Find what comes natural to you, and do it. Have fun doing it. Then keep doing it. This applies to any industry. You may not notice it in the beginning, but people will be paying attention. You’ll start to inspire people. Then more people will start to pay attention. They’ll see and admire your drive, and it will inspire them to either go manifest their own ideas, or support yours. As with any grand idea, the end result will take time. Be patient, steer clear of distractions, surround yourself with good people, and don’t get discouraged.
How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?
Research. I usually hit up Google in search of info about the company, brand, or contact that I’ll be meeting with. This helps me to get a better understanding of any recent announcements, events, or changes that may impact the direction of our meeting. It also gives me better insight on how we can benefit each other. I also like to remind myself to walk into the situation with positive yet realistic expectations, and a full-on understanding that things may or may not go the way both parties planned. Either way, the blessing came in the form of the opportunity.
As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation? Share a story about your best vacation.
I unwind by completely disconnecting from all digital technology to fully enjoy the moment. I may or may not bring along my Phantom drone to catch some dope aerial shots (if that particular country allows), and I always try to learn the customs and traditions of the region. One of my illest experiences was a trip I took to Cuba a few years back. There was literally no internet connection. The average millennial would’ve lost their mind, yet I ended up making more meaningful connections, and a lot of new friends, thanks to the absence of phones and Wi-Fi.
If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
One place that I’ve always wanted to hit is this obscure Yemeni island between Yemen and Somalia called Socotra Island. It’s pretty dope because its vegetation dates back 20 million years and has never changed since. People who’ve visited before call it an ‘alien island’ because its known as the most alien looking place on earth. They call it the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean because of its extreme vegetation and biodiversity. Google it when you have a chance.
Anything else you’d like to say?
Another one of our initiatives is to dispel the common myth that few black men venture outside of their comfort zones as it relates to travel. For whatever reason, that’s been the sentiment within the travel world. We’re definitely out here in large numbers; it’s just hard to find us all in one place. To help unify our traveling bros out here, we’ve created the The Black & Abroad Man, a Facebook group where guys can hang out to exchange travel hacks and tips, relate through their travel experiences, and much more. Through this group, the goal is to unify our black male travelers. Find us on Facebook by searching “The Black & Abroad Man.”
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.