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 Erik Farley

Age: 37

Profession: Dean of Student Leadership and Community Engagement

One Word That Describes You: Achiever

Social Media: Twitter: @19BLACKMAN81 | LinkedIn:


What does being one of the BE Modern Man 100 Honorees mean to you?

It is an honor. I appreciate Black Enterprise for intentionally disrupting the problematic narrative being promoted about black men in America. We are confident, proud, civic-minded and devoted to our families. If my profile can inspire one person, I’m pleased.

What is your “Extraordinary Impact?”

I strive to be a catalyst. I help people advance from one stage to another in life through appreciative advising, critical feedback, and connecting them to needed resources. I listen deeply without judgement or threat of reprisal.

What are you doing as a BEMM to help support black male achievement now or in the future?

I actively mentor black males who attend my undergraduate alma mater. I am very familiar with the experience of attending a predominantly white, private, coeducational, and residential four-year liberal arts college. Aiding them in their journey to become self-actualized brings me great joy.

What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?

I used to think being an introvert was negative. Thankfully, through self-reflection and research, I learned that introverts are insightful, self-motivated, and team-oriented—all qualities highly regarded and sought after by employers and leaders. A delicate balance of social and alone time is paramount to my success.

What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?

Empathy. Improving the human condition demands that we not tolerate, but respect and understand the lived experiences of others. You cannot begin to know yourself until you juxtapose your experience with others.

What are some immediate projects you are working on?

Outside of work, I split my time between the national programs of my fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, and board service with the African American Leadership Academy in Columbus, Ohio. Both experiences provide opportunities to mentor and cultivate leadership skills in burgeoning change-makers.

What is the best advice you ever received?

“It is not the stimulus, it is the response that is important.” This quote asserts that we are responsible for our actions and outcomes. Simply put, take control of your life!

What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?

Your contribution to a movement should align your natural strengths with your passion(s). Don’t worry about what other people are doing. Chart your own path.

How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?

Context is a strength of mine. I understand the present by researching history. I mine data and look for trends and possibilities.

(Photo: Michelle Farley)


As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation?

These moments are far rarer than I care to admit. I enjoy a nice cigar and aged bourbon. My best vacations always involve my wife, a beach (or a pool), reading and enjoying each other’s company.

If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

South Africa or West Africa. As a black male, I feel an [inexplicable] connection to [the] continent of Africa. I owe it to my ancestors to return home one day.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Thank you for this honor. I have been reading Black Enterprise for many years. Each issue leaves me with a sense of pride and the will to push forward.

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.