Name: Justin Johnson
Profession: Financial Adviser / Philanthropy
One Word That Describes You: Passionate
What does being one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction mean to you?
It is extremely exciting, but also motivating. This opportunity serves as a great platform to highlight those of us who are using nontraditional ways to get involved in our communities. The sense of relatability is greatly heightened when the people you see giving back actually look like you.
What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?
Things can definitely become challenging when, like me, you have never worked a 9-to-5 or salaried job. The thought that is always in the mind of most entrepreneurs’ is wavering between the unlimited potential vs. the comfort and security of a job.
My toughest year happened to be in 2015. I lost a childhood friend and my grandfather, ended a long-term relationship, and then ruptured my Achilles Tendon, having to have emergency surgery. Not only was last year a mental whirlwind, financially it set me back to say the least. I was lost in so many ways, but never questioned my faith. God sat me down for a reason. After months of rehab things started to turn around. Our nonprofit secured some amazing partnerships that allowed us to finally operate without personal funds. We feel we are in a great position and looking forward to the future impact we will have.
What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?
Genuineness. It is so important and critical to building sincere, lasting relationships (regardless the relationship type). If people enter into a relationship solely looking to gain something (i.e., money, referrals, etc.) and that ‘thing’ leaves, then the relationship will never be the same. I do believe, though, that most aware people can feel ingenious situations. Where we are in 2016, there are so many distractions, so I always try to find real connectors with the people that I want to grow with. A part of this process is realizing and accepting the fact that some people are not always a good fit.
What are some immediate projects you are working on?
A few different things. One, I am tightening the relationships I have with the clients I choose to work with and help advise financially. Aside from that, our nonprofit program, Kicks 4 the City, is gearing up for its 5th Annual Shoe Drive that will impact 10 major U.S. cities. It is amazing to see how organically the program has grown. With that, we are already piecing together details for our 2017 AGORA Sneakerball in Chicago, IL. Other cool, fun projects include our Be Powerful Group launching a purposeful clothing line, and we will also curate events that mix our personal networks together. The opportunities we have over the next 12 months keep me pretty focused and up late at night.
What is the best advice you ever received?
Energy never lies. Never second guess it.
What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
Pray, visualize, create, remain diligent, and always grow your network. Things do not happen overnight and if creating was easy, everyone would be doing it. Keep solid, sincere people around you who will challenge your ideas with an attempt to help grow you.
How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?
The situation dictates the preparation and presentation. I always try to put myself in the shoes of those that I am meeting with. I ask internal questions such as, ‘What would I want to see and hear if I were in their shoes? What questions or objections might they have?’ This dialogue guides my decisions; from what I decide to wear to the tone, and feel I choose to maintain throughout the meeting. In most cases, performance is a direct correlation of preparation.
As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation?
I enjoy going on vacation with no scheduled plans. I don’t believe in having commitments unless it’s a must-do/see that has to be scheduled in advance. Other than that, I like to be free and make decisions on the fly when vacationing. I do like to create and filter my ideas when the scenery is different and traveling helps do that.
If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
There is so much of the world I have not yet seen and would love to explore. I also really enjoy expanding my perspective, so learning from new cultures is always fun, but as far as long-term living, I’ll be here in America.
Anything else you’d like to say?
Time waits for none of us and we only get one life on this earth. I constantly think about the legacy I will leave when the Lord calls me home. With so many labeling our generation as lost, there is still hope for us to live a life of significance. My mother and father would constantly reference the question, ‘Will others say that they are a better person because you came their way?’ That can be a deep question, a question that we should all aspire to answer yes to.
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