Name: John Lewis
Profession: Motivational Health Consultant/CEO and founder of Bad Ass Vegan/Speaker
One Word That Describes You: Deference
What does being one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction mean to you?
This is a major milestone in my life. I have been a reader of the magazine since I was in undergraduate studies at a historically black school by the name of Harris Stowe State College (now University). I have always been encouraged and motivated by the stories shared within the magazine, so to be featured in a way that may motivate others is a major accomplishment for me.
What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?
Well, I would have to say that struggle started for me at birth. I was born to a drug-addicted mother who tried to sell me for drug money. Fortunately enough for me my grandmother stepped in and adored me at birth. I look back on that moment as a reminder that nothing is as rough as we view it and that we can get through anything. I was once 315 pounds as a freshman in high school and managed to get the weight off and eventually was a part of my starting lineup for my college basketball team.
What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?
Work ethic is the most important quality I look for in others. Because without work ethic one can not become the best version of themselves. And when I say work ethic I don’t just mean in the office… I mean how hard do they work on their relationships, how hard do they work on being happy, how hard do they work on staying healthy physically and mentally. All of these things will show you the true character of a person.
What are some immediate projects you are working on?
Right now we are in the process of globally expanding VeganSmart, the protein shake company I am the owner of. We currently sell in CVS and Vitamin Shoppe nationwide and are in Whole Foods within select regions. I am currently working on my first documentary, which will be focused on my life growing up in Ferguson, Missouri, and how what we eat has a direct impact on how we think and act. It will also have a major focus on hip-hop as a culture and how its invention was to save lives. I will be interviewing hip-hop and R&B artists that are also vegan/plant-based artists to see why they made that decision and why they think that others should do it also. I am also working on my gaming app company, which has one game already in the Apple App Store and Google Play. I will have three to four more games available before the end of the year. In addition I am still developing my first shoe to go along with my already established clothing brand and I am working on bringing more plant-based foods to local grocery stores.
What is the best advice you ever received?
“Impossible is just a big word used by small men.” Meaning nothing is impossible and if you are willing to work for it and grind for it, then it shall be.
What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
Simply find something that you care about that is bigger than yourself. When all of the sleepless nights, countless meetings, being told no, stacking bills, others who don’t believe in your vision and call you crazy starts to add up, it won’t even matter because you realize you have to keep going because others depend on you to show up.
How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?
I prepare for important events or meetings by simply having a pep talk with myself. I truly believe in the power of self-motivation. I believe in my abilities and that my story can help impact someone that may not believe in themselves just yet. I know that I must share my story for them, no matter how nervous, tired, or lazy I feel that day. My mission is bigger than me.
As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation? Share a story about your best vacation.
With my travel schedule so hectic, my best vacations are with my family. Recently we went on a road trip to Jacksonville, Florida. While we didn’t do anything extravagant, it was just amazing to be with my loved ones and talk and sing and laugh in the car and enjoy our time while being away from my hectic life in Miami.
If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
That is a close tie between The Cyclades in Greece and Cape Town in South Africa. Both, for their beauty and long rich heritage and history. And of course who could forget about the food!
What is your “Extraordinary Impact?”
For me it is embodying the simple fact that we all can make a difference in this world. And that we can all help each other. I believe that every soul I meet is another chance to make this world better. I want to positively make a change in everyone’s life that I meet. Whether it’s for five seconds or for five hours, I will make a positive impact on you. I know that I was born into this messed up crazy place and vowed to make every effort to leave it a better place than how I found it.
Anything else you’d like to say?
To anyone who is looking to improve your life, do it. Believe that you possess the power to achieve amazing things. No matter how many times you have been told no, or that you can’t, don’t believe it. You can start that, you can get that degree, you can get in shape, you can change your eating habits, you can learn that new language, or whatever dreams come into your head. Because those dreams are there for a reason, they are there in your mind for a reason. They could have gone to anyone else but those dreams picked you because they knew you possess the power to make sure they come to life.
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.