BE Modern Man: Meet "Mr. Satire" Baratunde Thurston - Page 2 of 3 - Black Enterprise

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Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

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BE Modern Man - Baratunde Thurston 3

Photo Credit: Stuart Tracte

Invited multiple times to the Obama White House to advise them on communications and digital strategies, Thurston’s work resonates through its mix of instinct, intuition, personal history and passion. “Active listening has played a large role in my success,” says Thurston’s. “I’ve had years of practice ingesting information, processing it, and returning something to the world that tries to explain or reframe what’s going on. Listening is the most important step in that process.”

Traditional or non-traditional, success will not be found if you do not educate yourself and learn your craft. There are those who value learning versus those who do not, and the latter will have difficulties finding equal success in life. “Whether learning comes in the structure of formal education or lived experience matters a lot less to me,” Thurston tells BE Modern Man. “Learning can happen anywhere if the student has a mind attuned to glean things of value from his or her world.”

The importance should be placed on the learning, and BE Modern Man hopefuls should pay attention to how they can create value. “Don’t worry about the money in the beginning,” says Thurston. “Take mental and physical notes on how those around and above you operate. Identify flaws in whatever system you’re in, and consider them as opportunities for you to step up and improve things. But most importantly be patient and avoid white walkers.

In the spring of 2014 Thurston suffered a concussion that forced him to be patient. Unable to use a computer, work, and even think at the levels needed to live his life, the injury forced him to slow down significantly. “I had to lean on other people in ways I was not used to, and I missed a trip to Brazil with my boys to see the world cup. It was horrible,” says Thurston. His advice for everyone. “Don’t hit your head on things, people! Wear a helmet ALL. THE. TIME.”

A member of the media, Thurston sees the consequences of main stream media beating helmet-less people in the head with images that are far off from reality. “The mainstream image of men of color is entirely wrong, and it’s damaging because these overwhelmingly inaccurate portraits affect how we all (including men of color) approach the world,” Thurston tells BE Modern Man. “How we hire, and love, and forgive, and trust is all affected”.

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