BE Modern Man is an integrative program that honors the essence, image, and accomplishments of today’s man of color. With features of today’s leaders, executives, creatives, students, politicians, entrepreneurs, professionals, and agents of change—these men share the common thread of creating a new normal while setting the bar in tech, art, philanthropy, business and beyond. The BE Modern Man is making a positive impact, his way, and has a story to tell.
BE Modern Man Jean Alerte
Name: Jean Alerte
Profession: Entrepreneur, Author, Brand Consultant & Owner of ACA Branding Agency
One Word That Describes You: Transparent
What does being one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction mean to you?
As a young man that grew up on Black Enterprise, being honored as part of the 100 Men of Distinction proves that when you have a vision, when you have faith, when you have patience, anything is possible. I applaud BE for showcasing distinguished men of color in various communities.
What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?
There are countless struggle-turned-into-success stories I could share as an entrepreneur for going on two decades, such as producing my first sold-out comedy concert with comedian Kevin Hart, Tony Rock, & Wil Sylvince. As an entrepreneur, the road to what society calls success is not a straight one. When you first start, out you’re full of faith, passion, ambition, and determination. You hear it from everyone: “It’s not going to be easy”; it’s a lot of sacrifice but while focusing on your process you just hear yourself.
The story that comes to mind is Brooklyn Swirl. My wife and I were determined to bring the first frozen yogurt shop to Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. We called every last franchise and when they took a look at the neighborhood in 2011 they could not see what we saw. We saw families, kids, and individuals who would love to hang out with friends to enjoy a frozen dessert. After being turned down by more than eight franchises, we decided the best thing to do is open it ourselves. On opening day—June 23, 2012—our line did not go down until we closed at 10 pm! The community that they claimed would not support frozen yogurt above the corner deli showed out! Now, after being open for over 5 years we were forced to close alongside a few more businesses do to landmark preservation. This is another struggle but we will reopen!
What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?
As a serial entrepreneur, I’ve had many different partners. The qualities I look for now is integrity, work ethic, consistency, and passion. It is important to me to know if the individual has a plan or benchmarks they would like to achieve.
What are some immediate projects you are working on?
Besides consulting with real estate professionals, attorneys and restaurateurs at ACA Branding Agency with my business partner Andrew Pryce (Web Developer), I’m currently running a program in the NYC DOE School system focusing on teaching our youth entrepreneurship at an early age. Currently, I am working with schools in Queens and Brooklyn. I was very fortunate to have been introduced to entrepreneurship at Deer Park High School, so I want to pour the same passion the educators poured in me into young scholars; show them there are other ways to build and server their communities. I also just launched a podcast with Cumulus & The OG Podcast network entitled “Faith Grind Inspire” with female entrepreneur Chyna, owner of Dollhouse Cosmetics & Beauty Bar. Our podcast is strictly focused on the mindset of entrepreneurs and interviewing them about their journey. I am also a partner at Citadelle Publishing—with Publisher Jickael Bazin—which helps individuals tell and share their stories. I’m working with the Queens Public Library on workshops and programs helping the community with the intention of opening and branding their own businesses.
What is the best advice you ever received?
You cannot un-ring a bell. This applies to everything in life! It’s simple, you cannot un-ring a bell. Think about it.
What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
Don’t wait for validation or approval from those around you. If you are walking in your purpose just walk! People will start to follow your movement. Every movement starts with one!
How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?
I’ve utilized a planner since high school and til this day I am big on writing things down. If I’m preparing for a meeting I normally spend a few days or weeks prior studying the company or individuals I’m meeting with. If your aim is to close a deal, make sure you study more than just what’s on the website. Google is your friend!
As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation? Share a story about your best vacation.
I told you the one word that describes me is transparent, so I’m not going to tell you I unwind easy. I’m naturally a worker bee and I feel alive when I’m grinding and making business deals. When I get home from a 13- or 14-hour work day, my wife of 9 years, and my 2-year-old son help me a lot in creating balance. The best vacation I had was Costa Rica! My wife and I had such an amazing time horseback riding, zip lining, doing the safari, and going to the mountain. We traveled to many parts of the world but this was probably the first time I never even checked in on my teams or even opened my laptop.
If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I would say Africa, specifically Egypt, near the Great Pyramids. Although we were able to tour many historical sites, our last trip there was very short. I felt as though it was too much to take in during a short period of time. The energy there was amazing, and just knowing that life started in Africa makes me more interested in returning.
What is your “Extraordinary Impact”?
I truly feel that my Extraordinary Impact is going into the schools and inspiring the young scholars and future entrepreneurs that anything is possible through the “Faith Grind Inspire Entrepreneurship Program.” I know I’m making a major difference in countless young lives because years later I have students contact me describing how my program and just me being present changed the course of their lives. https://youtu.be/lVI38NOUg3c
I wrote a book entitled Do Right, Do Good, which is the vehicle I use alongside my team to help send over 35 scholars to college through my “Do Right Do Good Scholarship.”
Anything else you’d like to say?
While growing up as an immigrant from Haiti, migrating to Flatbush, Brooklyn, growing up in Deer Park, Long Island, I was able to be exposed to so many different perceptions and one thing that my parents drilled in my mind was that there is tremendous opportunity in America! If there is a person that looks like you doing the very thing you dream of doing, it’s possible! Make no excuses and keep going, no matter what!
The last thing I would to like share is this. Regret is worse than fear! Fear is temporary but regret follows you for a lifetime! My fear of regret is far worse than straight fear of not taking action. I understand the sacrifice that my parents made, my wife made, and everyone else who believes in me made, so I can’t stop striving! #FaithGRINDInspire
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 2nd Annual Black Men XCEL, Aug. 29 – Sept. 2, 2018, at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.