June 14, 2016
BE Modern Man: Meet ‘Mr. Speaker’ Dr. Alex Ellis
Name: Dr. Alex Ellis
Profession: Motivational Speaker & Author
One Word That Describes You: Driven
What does being one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction mean to you?
Being one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction is first and foremost an honor. I am both grateful and encouraged. For me, it means I must maintain my commitment to service in excellence while continuing on the path of making a difference. This recognition provides an opportunity for me to pause and reflect on my life, celebrate this beautiful moment, and live in gratitude for this prestigious acknowledgement.
What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?
I had a growth spurt during my adolescent years. I was tall and painfully skinny, which caused me to struggle with my self-esteem. I had a habit of slouching my shoulders in a futile attempt to fit in with my peers. One day my gym teacher noticed my posture and admonished me. She said, ‘Alex, stand up straight! You should never be ashamed of your height.’ That was the pivotal moment when I began the process of accepting my height and size as an asset rather than a liability.
It didn’t come easy though. As a college student, I camouflaged my insecurity by wearing designer clothing. As I matured I learned to embrace my 6’7 height as a gift from God. It was liberating to discover and accept that I, too, was made in God’s image and likeness. Decades later I founded a non-profit organization called Tied To Greatness (TTG) to help young men present the best of who they are to the world. It’s a holistic approach to cultivating image from the inside out. Every TTG event culminates with our signature ‘tie tying ceremony,’ where local mentors are on hand to teach each young man how to tie a tie. To date, TTG has reached over 8,000 young men across the country. This is how I turned my struggle into success, by mentoring hundreds of young men and inspiring them to greatness.
What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?
Love is the most important quality I look for in my relationships with others. When love is genuine and mutually shared in relationships, fear dissipates, defenses are weakened, and barriers are broken down. Love purifies our thoughts and brings peace, joy, understanding, forgiveness into every encounter and interaction. I have learned that when genuine and unconditional love exists in my relationships, it’s easy to spot people with ulterior motives.
Those who love me for me are there in the best and worst of times. They will be there if I hit rock bottom and would come to my rescue in an instant. They are not there to take from me or just for the perks that come with being connected to me. My sentiments and actions are the same toward them. My relationships with others must be rooted in unconditional love that is mutually beneficial and liberating. Those types of relationships are very rare, but the ones I have mean the world to me
What are some immediate projects you are working on?
I have a brand new book on personal branding in the works. It’s called Tailor Made: Creating Daily Patterns to Develop a Brand New You. It provides instructions for individuals to stay true to one’s authentic self in order to build a powerful personal brand. I am also super-excited about the continued partnership between Tied To Greatness and the Steve & Majorie Harvey Foundation. His recent fundraising campaign has allowed the Steve Harvey Mentoring Camp to double the number of young men we impact this summer.
My Tied To Greatness session is always a highlight because each young man who comes from a single parent home has someone to teach him how to tie a tie. That is a big deal for the young men and for the mentors who serve them. Finally, I am looking forward to the United Negro College Fund’s Empower Me Tour. It is gearing up for another season this coming fall. We travel the nation promoting the importance of education to our young people and how to access dollars in order to make that dream of college education a reality.
What is the best advice you ever received?
The best advice I received came from the incomparable Dr. Maya Angelou. She said, ‘As you learn, teach. As you get, give!’ I have discovered the importance of sharing information, wealth, and resources that could undoubtedly benefit someone else instead of hoarding it for yourself. This intrinsically creates a continuous flow of more information for you to teach and more substance for you to give.
What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
As men, we are often measured by what we have— whether it is a car, house, significant other, etc. To me, the real measure of a man is the legacy that he leaves in the world. I would advise every man to use his influence to positively impact the next generation. If a man is successful, he is aware that he didn’t arrive there on his own. So it is incumbent upon each of us to give back. Often times we tend to wait on the President of the U.S.A., Oprah, or our pastors to make a difference. All of us have the ability to positively inspire the lives of young men through the power of mentoring. So I implore every man to be deliberate about personally engaging some young man who is void of a positive role model in his life. Truth be told what is meant to help them usually benefits us in a most meaningful way as well.
How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?
To be honest, sometimes when I am preparing for an important meeting or event, fear and self-doubt will attempt to creep in. However, I remind myself that everything in my life has prepared me for that moment and that I am well-equipped to handle the task at hand. I relax and always remain true to myself.
As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation?
My work calls for me to travel extensively, so when I go on vacation I spend my first few days unwinding by lying on the beach! I am also sure to schedule a massage or two! I also enjoy spending quality time with my family. One of my best vacations was going to The Caribbean with my wife Doreen and my then one year old daughter Autumn. To watch her experience the sand and the waves roll in from the ocean for the first time was a moment I will never forget. Being there for my daughter’s first experiences brings me so much joy.
If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
This is easy! I would travel and stay in Paris, France! My wife and I LOVE to travel and see different parts of the world. Paris is still on our bucket list. As a stylist, I look forward to seeing some of Europe’s best fashions that are found in Paris. My wife and I are also foodies and I hear that the cuisine is amazing. I would never pass up an opportunity for great jazz, fine wine, and exquisite dining in the great ‘City of Light.’ Paris is the city of love! What better place is there in the world than Paris to spend quality time with the love of my life! I travel often so I cherish the times that my wife and I spend together alone.
Anything else you’d like to say?
I believe in the power of gratitude. When I wake up, the first words out of my mouth are ‘thank you!’ So let me say thank you to Black Enterprise magazine for such an honor. May this initiative inspire more men to live to their fullest potential.
It’s our normal to be extraordinary. Follow @blackenterprise and join the BE Modern Man conversation using #BEModernMan.