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 ENITAN BEREOLA II
Profession: Bestselling & Award-Winning Storyteller, Director, President at The Bereolaesque Group and Founder of Exhibit Gray
One Word That Describes You: Thoughtful
What does being one of the BE Modern Man 100 Honorees mean to you?
Confirmation—fullness in my spirit and joy in my soul! The idea that there are countless brothers out here doing ground-level work, and Black Enterprise recognizes me as one of them, is a testament to God’s grace. I’m thankful to Alfred Edmond Jr. who continues to inspire me.
What is your “Extraordinary Impact?”
A beautiful sentence drops in my mind. I’m present, so I write it down. Five minutes later, a picture-perfect paragraph paints a smirk across my face as I navigate metaphors through alliteration delivering an endless entendre that carries the cadence of a catchy song you’d keep on repeat. You hear it all the time when you listen to the still voice that quietly hammers how capable you are, how possible this is, and how real it gets when you commit. I am that extraordinarily impactful voice for a generation.
What are you doing as a BEMM to help support black male achievement now or in the future?
I’m writing, creating, and producing the stories that tell the truth about what it means to be black in this world. My first book is proof I was doing it for the culture before the cool slogan. Bereolaesque: The Contemporary Gentleman & Etiquette Book for the Urban Sophisticate lent my voice to hundreds of thousands of males at over 50 colleges and universities. The book is a required part of Bermuda College and Kansas State University’s curricula. Gentlewoman: Etiquette for a Lady from a Gentleman reminds us that when women win, society wins. Black women are out here winning—it’s time we join them! The Gray: A Relationship Etiquette Study is a deep dive into real relationships and where we went wrong. It carries the intent to improve our interaction because black male achievement begins with black male relationships. Hill Harper and I are working on something dope for black boys and men.
What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?
I don’t trust people who don’t cry. In 2008, I was fired from my office job. I wanted a reason to leave but needed capital to invest in my ideas and an excuse to keep my parents proud. I was the highest-performing employee at the office, but likely the most miserable. I felt I was greater than the job, but knew God had me there for a reason. Everyday at 4:59 p.m., I’d rush home to focus on writing Bereolaesque. I’d stay up writing until it was time for work the next morning. I skipped lunch on breaks for conference calls with the book’s art director (Parsons—who’s now the official photographer for Kendrick Lamar). That’s how hungry I was. When that sweet lady came to my desk to regretfully inform me of the decision to let me go, I shook her hand and thanked her for setting me free. I told everyone in my department that I’d miss them, but they’d see me soon. Sometimes answered prayers sound like: “No,” “You’re fired,” or “I’m leaving you.” Those words let me know I’m on the right path because struggle comes before success in the dictionary, and life. I’ve learned to see God in these moments and listen with a discerning ear to the message. Give God praise regardless of your feelings and He’ll give you joy regardless of your circumstance. Today, I only have time for what’s devastatingly beautiful and in line with my life’s purpose. I look forward to Mondays because I’m excited about the flow I feel. There’s beauty in struggle. Pain shouldn’t paralyze us; it should improve us. Pain lets us know what to do better next time. Pain is the vaccine that allows you to make it through your next attack. Embrace it. Be free and unafraid. Stop doing it in your head and do it in real life. Don’t be the part of culture waiting on something and doing nothing. Stop watching and start working. You are God’s masterpiece. You’re beloved. You’re chosen. You’re an overcomer. You were born that way. No single person can do what you’ve been called to do better than you because your sole “competition” is in the mirror. Comfortable isn’t cool anymore. Struggle.
What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?
Vulnerability. Authenticity. Reciprocity.
What are some immediate projects you are working on?
Book [No.] 4; Exhibit Gray International Tour; Media & Tech Conference this fall; 2019 co-ed wellness retreat; movie script; several ghostwriting projects; an audio book like you’ve never heard before; dope project with Jidenna; really cool brand partnerships; and a comprehensive rebranding of Bereolaesque.
What is the best advice you ever received?
“Fail until you succeed.” —Luther Jackson
What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
Do something. Do it today. Do it for a cause—not for applause. The real work is handled offline. Start small, but start now. If you can’t think of anyone to improve, the difference starts with you.
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.