Name: Justin Adu
Profession: Associate Creative Director of Digital & Social Media at Carol H. Williams Advertising
One Word That Describes You: Creative
What does being one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction mean to you?
It is really an honor. When you think about the landscape of black men and the current landscape of the world, it’s not often that we are celebrated. Especially when it comes to the media! Living in a day and age where police brutality is at an all-time high or our character is constantly being broadcast in a negative light, it is refreshing to know that BE wants to showcase men in the community and various industries doing outstanding things. This is an honor that I don’t take lightly so it’s good to know that I am a part of a group of men who believe in doing positive things not only in the industry that I work in but also the community.
What are you doing as a BEMM to help support black male achievement now or in the future?
Opening doors, making connections, and introducing other black to opportunities. I remember when I was roughly 20, 21 and I had all the potential in the world but I was just missing the opportunity. The opportunity is the hardest thing to come across, not the skills or education to get the job done. I always find it interesting even when employers say it is hard to find African Americans to fill vacant roles because I am constantly surrounded by so many men doing outstanding things in the community and constantly giving back so I make sure that whenever I am presented an opportunity I share it with my brothers who are either looking for an opportunity to grow or expose them to a network that may not be within reach. I will go hungry before others are at the table eating with me.
What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?
I think that half of the struggle for minorities in society is figuring out how to navigate through various situations in which you are the odd ball out, and what I have found to be successful is owning my position in the room regardless of what others think which has ultimately been helpful in many cases. All in all, remaining true to who you are is important.
How do you ordinarily impact?
I’m just honest with the people around me and always make it a point to provide clear feedback.
What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?
Sincerity—individuals with sincere intentions who realize the importance of friendship and family! I always tell people that I don’t have any friends but I have tons of family and I say this to say that there are so many people around me that encourage and motivate me on the day to day. They are caring and sincere in their intentions when it comes to encouraging me through any obstacles that I may face and for me this is extremely important. So having people around me who are sincere with their intentions is a trait that I take very seriously.
What are some immediate projects you are working on?
Last November I released my first book, “Don’t Insert Title Here: The Guide Towards Creative Freedom & Success” and it has been an amazing journey. Already the book has sold over 5,000 copies and I just made it available overseas. It has been rewarding to talk about my creative journey with small and large organizations all over the nation. And I am already working on my next project, which will consist of a digital art exhibition … can’t give away everything but it will indeed be something new and exciting.
What is the best advice you ever received?
To “write your own story,” being the author of your story and your life. You will interact with so many people on the day to day and everyone always wants to tell you what you can or can not do, what you should say or not say, and on social media what you should post or not post. You and God are the only people who can write your story and your life journey.
What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
Think about your 15-year-old self. Think about the time when you were a young black boy trying to make a difference and a name for yourself. At least for myself, I would look around and wish that I had more black men in my life to look up to and to guide me through life. It doesn’t get any easier, however, we must make sure that we are constantly encouraging and motivating each other to exceed all possibilities when it comes to our personal and professional goals.
How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?
Easy… (*cues any song by Future)
As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation?
I have had a few but it’s hard to say. I think that if you are a Modern Man technically you are always on vacation. I try to live a drama and stress-free life as much as I can and find joy in every single day that I am alive. The interesting thing about that is so often people ask me “Adu! When are you working?!” my answer is all the time however I enjoy what I do for a living and it is very seamless.
If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Ghana. I would love to be closer to family.
Anything else you’d like to say?
As we move forward in life we must never forget our unarmed brothers who we have lost due to the state of police brutality thus we still have a battle to fight and those of us who are in positions of power must always honor and salute our brothers who weren’t fortunate enough to live out their life goals. #BlackLivesMatter
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.