Name: Stephen A. Hart
Profession: Marketing manager, media cybernetics and founding host of the Trailblazers.FM podcast
One Word That Describes You: Resilient
What does being one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction mean to you?
Being selected as a Black Enterprise Modern Man 100 Men of Distinction is a blessing. As I reflect on my journey to this point, it has been filled with joy and success, but also detours and challenges. This acknowledgement serves as a signal that my core values are valued, my purpose has meaning, and my passion connects with others.
What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?
My life’s defining struggle came by way of a prior trading advisory that I co-founded and managed, which experienced a loss of nearly $7 million. To make a bad situation worse, the loss came about three weeks into my marriage.
Despite that very dark season, I found a way through that perfect storm of emotional, financial, marital, and spiritual sufferings. Thankfully, my new wife chose not to back out of her month-old commitment to me. Instead, we doubled down and worked even harder through that season. Today, we’re happily married and about to celebrate our eighth wedding anniversary, with two kids, and a beautiful home of our own. My business partner and I also decided to stand and face that storm. It took tremendous perseverance and devotion, working practically 12-18 hours a day, seven days a week for a couple years, with little to no real income. Our hard work paid off, and I was able to exit that business a few years ago with my head held high, knowing that I didn’t give up in the valley. And despite my exit, that company is thriving today, thanks to the decisions we made back then to not throw in the towel during that challenging period.
What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?
Passion. Experience has taught me that in business and in life, people will come and go. But those who are passionate about their purpose and their relationships are likely to succeed at both.
What are some immediate projects you are working on?
In February 2016, I successfully launched the Trailblazers.FM podcast, a brand new business and educational podcast that explores the stories of successful black professionals, entrepreneurs, and corporate leaders. In just four months, we have been downloaded in 43 countries around the world and have interviewed professionals in many different industries and occupations, including the CEO of one of the nation’s largest black-owned businesses, a banker turned barber and men’s grooming expert who’s redefining the possibilities for his trade, the CEO of the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, and many more.
Through this platform, we are able to help aspiring youth and professionals extract the knowledge, resources, and tools of today’s most accomplished trailblazers, and in turn help them gain the know-how, confidence, and motivation they need to blaze their trails.
For those interested, you’re invited to learn more at tbpod.com.
What is the best advice you ever received?
I was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, and there’s a famous Jamaican proverb that says, “When cloud shadow come, sun no set.” This basically means that one rough time does not mean all hope is lost. That’s a proverb that has carried me through many of life’s adversities and reminded me to keep getting up. This proverb aligns with a quote of wisdom from one of my favorite motivational speakers, Les Brown, that says, “If you fall down, try to land on your back, because if you can look up, you can get up.” Again, another reminder that hope is not lost, but you’ve got to keep pushing to realize the victory.
It’s never easy when you’re in that season to see your way out. When you do find yourself facing these difficult seasons of life, you can stand on the best advice of all, that comes from the Bible, reminding us all that, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
Live your life with passionate intention. We aren’t promised to see the end of today, and so we have got to be aggressive about maximizing every opportunity we are given and live out our lives on purpose. Your life is a book and you are its author, so don’t just scribble things in your book so that your children and others behind you can’t make sense of. Write your book so it’ll be the next New York Times best seller, so that many generations after you will be able to reflect on your life’s work and take inspiration from it and apply it to the way they carry out their lives.
As much as you’re able, you should give all you can back to this world before you leave it. The most successful people I’ve interviewed give back of their time, their talents, and their treasures. I have personally experienced that giving to others results in receiving so much more in return that often can’t be measured.
How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?
Preparation is the key. I begin by researching all that I can. I’ve got to understand who I’m presenting to, and how I can best deliver a presentation that will connect with the needs and expectations of all involved. Lastly, I try to keep my presentation simple, but memorable. If nothing else is gained, it’s always my hope that my meeting provides clarity, purpose, and actionable steps forward.
As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation? Share a story about your best vacation.
On vacation, I like to unwind by allowing myself to be present in the moment. It’s often a healthy time to minimize the use of technology and re-connect with those around me that matter most.
On one of my most memorable times in Jamaica, we decided to drive around ¾ of the island in an older car that had no working radio. We eventually ended up in Negril, and on our first night there, realized we booked a hotel room that looked nothing like the reservation on a famous travel website had promised us. Luckily, we found a small but cozy alternative, a cabin above the white sands of Negril’s beaches. We enjoyed the sun and fun, the food, the adventure (went paragliding for the first time), and just enjoyed great conversations with the many characters that engaged with us during that time.
If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
My hope is to be able to travel the world as much as possible. I have learned so much from other cultures and customs that have helped define my life’s purpose. My wife Kristin, while attending Georgetown University for undergrad, had the opportunity to study abroad in South Africa. I’ve always heard tales of her experiences there, and I look forward to a day when we can visit this amazing country together and share in some of those experiences, while creating new memories in the process.
Anything else you’d like to say?
This world doesn’t need more men of mediocrity. We need more men that will push the limits of what’s possible. There is something inside of you that only you can give to this world. Don’t let it die with you. The graveyard already has enough grand ideas that never made it out of the minds of those that have passed, but you have the ability to make it happen right now.
Rise above, go way beyond, and begin to blaze your trail today!
I’d love to invite you to visit the Trailblazers.FM podcast at tbpod.com and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram @tbpod.
It’s our normal to be extraordinary. Follow @blackenterprise and join the BE Modern Man conversation using #BEModernMan.
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