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 DAVID BENOIT
Profession: Sports & Entertainment Marketing, Consultant
One Word That Describes You: Authentic
What does being one of the BE Modern Man 100 Honorees mean to you?
I try not to use this word, but being one of the BE Modern Man 100 would give me some sense of validation that my work and identity is appreciated, and would be a big sense of encouragement to do even more. Help more. Rise more. Break barriers more, and bring others with me.
What is your “Extraordinary Impact?”
My “Extraordinary Impact” is in both my professional and day-to-day personal life; that above all the challenges that life has given me, the pressures of conforming to society’s standards, and even the positive accomplishments I’ve achieved, I steadfastly remain authentic to myself and those around me. I can tell you that whether it’s having a tough conversation with a co-worker or close friend, or sharing an opinion that may not be popular, I choose to be as authentic and as honest as possible. I believe that’s a big impact in today’s world because it is very easy to conform and have groupthink when you like you’re in the minority. Being around someone like myself who remains authentic can help others in doing the same.
What are you doing as a BEMM to help support black male achievement now or in the future?
As a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, I consistently am thinking about ways I can serve others. For example, while in my earlier years in New York, five close friends I started what was originally an accountability group called #LockedIn. We would meet constantly and talk through challenges we face as a person of color in our roles within sports and entertainment, how to overcome those challenges, and ways we can get better. This has now turned into a true brotherhood centered on helping others. We actively mentor and speak to kids, sharing that you can be successful without having to be a player or entertainer in these industries. Specifically, I mentor a young black boy at a local charter school in Harlem (Storefront Academy Harlem).
What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?
Getting into the DeVos Sports Business Management program at The University of Central Florida was a big dream of mine as a freshman at UCF. I catered my entire undergrad coursework, internships, and jobs around getting into this program, as it was recognized as a top 5 sports management grad school program in the country. I first applied right out of undergrad in 2007, and to my dismay, I did not get in. I did, however, get into some other less notable and accomplished programs, so I faced a crossroad. Do I work hard and wait to get my steak and reapply for the program at a later time, or do I do “settle for Hamburger Helper” and accept an offer at a lesser program? Nothing beats a good medium rare steak, so I didn’t accept any offers to other programs. I took additional internships, and worked in the sports industry for two years, and reapplied. I can proudly say I was part of the 2011 graduating class of the DeVos Sports Business Management Program. Not to mention, I was class president.
What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?
Authenticity and honesty, whether personally or professionally, are the biggest qualities I look for in a person. Nothing more aggravating than someone who throws rocks and hides their hands, or someone who isn’t truthful about their intentions. On the flipside, there is nothing more refreshing than someone who is honest with you, good or bad.
What are some immediate projects you are working on?
Outside of work, I’m focusing as much time as I can on service, specifically with my mentoring at Storefront Academy Harlem. I really enjoy building my relationship with my student, so I want to see how I can grow that with other students, and possibly create an actual program around mentorship.
What is the best advice you ever received?
It actually not who you know, or even who knows you. What’s most important is what those people say about you when you’re not in the room. That is your true brand.
What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
Never be afraid to be yourself, no matter what that is, the platform, or where you are in life. People gravitate to people who are truthful with themselves. When you have that vibe, you have a voice to speak up!
How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?
I’m a big fan of checklists. I create checklists for EVERYTHING. Writing the answers to this questionnaire was on my checklist. I’m often process oriented, so when I create a checklist it gives me the chance to think through all facets of an event/project, look out for trouble areas, get ahead of tactical objectives, and align with objectives/KPIs.
As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation?
I’m an avid traveler. I LOVE traveling. I’ve been to about 20 countries in my life, including 10 in the last two years. I’ve recently been to countries like Brazil, Spain, Japan, and Cuba, to name a few. Traveling gives me a chance to unwind with my closest friends, learn from a new culture, and cut up! A funny story is around my Brazil trip. My friends (initially 15 of us committed to the trip, coming from all over the country) have been planning this 2016 Rio Olympics trip to Brazil for almost a year. I previously used a travel agent to get cheap deals on flights, so I urged my group to use him to secure our flights and lodging since he should get us a great deal. His process is a bit “quirky,” to say the least, but the group trusted me, as I trusted him. So we begin to pay him monthly installments for our trip that totaled about $15K. Fast forward to about two weeks prior to our trip, and my travel agent still has no flights or lodging confirmed. We’re anxious, and concerned, but he continues to reassure us that he will have it sorted. Fast forward some more to the night before we’re due to fly out and he drops the bomb that he does not and will not have them for us. We’re LIVID! Some of the group is upset with me, naturally, and I felt horrible. Among many threats flung toward the travel agent was the demand to get our money back, but that was going to take time. It seemed more and more that this person actually scammed us. Despite this, there is a core of us (seven total) that still want to go on this trip. When will we ever see Usain Bolt run his last Olympic race (we had tickets to this), or see the Olympics in Rio again while we’re alive? So the seven of us buck up and buy all new flights, and find a cheap Airbnb on Copacabana beach. Two long flights, a 1-hour Uber ride later we end up in Rio the next day! And I can tell you this trip was the best trip of my life! Seeing Usain, the food, the beach, the cultural experiences, connecting with locals. The combination of overcoming the travel agent theft, on top of being in Rio at such a historic time makes this the best trip of my life. AND we got all of our $15K back in full.
If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Out of all the countries I have visited, I think I would actually travel to and live in Barcelona. As a guy who grew up predominantly in South Florida, Barcelona gives me a strong Miami vibe. A lot of culture, fun, tourism, and a bit of carefree/live life atmosphere. Having been in the concrete jungle that is New York City for the past almost eight years, I can see myself looking for a more relaxed atmosphere, but in another country. Barcelona for sure is a must visit again. Maybe even stay.
Anything else you’d like to say?
I live my life by my favorite (and popular) quote: “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” If it’s too easy, I want nothing to do with it. Having said that, I want to thank Black Enterprise again for giving me this opportunity to continue to “struggle” and “progress” to greatness!
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.