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 ANTHONY WILSON
Profession: Divisional Sales Director, VMware Inc.
One Word To Describe You: Resilient
Social Media: LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anthonywilsonvmware
What does being one of the BE Modern Man 100 Honorees mean to you?
It’s an honor I am very proud of and it means that I’m getting noticed for doing what we as men are supposed to do—be committed to black families and help others while striving for success.
What are you doing as a BEMM to help support black male achievement now or in the future?
I would re-state my “extraordinary impact” statement here to answer this question. I also coach youth basketball and try to instill character, structure, and discipline as tools that will make the kids successful in hoops and in life.
What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?
In 2017, I was passed over for five promotions. I spoke candidly with my HR team and my executive sponsor. I told them that I was not leaving the company despite what happened. I also told them I would no longer interview for leadership roles as the token diversity candidate. Two weeks later I had an offer for my current role. But that resiliency and perseverance comes from my grandmother who came to America in the late 60s with five kids and no husband. She got a mortgage in a nice neighborhood when all women were being denied loans much less an immigrant seamstress from Jamaica. She built a linen business and everything I am today is built on the lessons learned from her: Adassa J Robinson.
What is your “Extraordinary Impact?”
I was the only African American sales manager when I took the role in 2013. Since then, I’ve been directly responsible for bringing seven other African American professionals into the company: two worked directly for me and five in other business units. Five of the seven are still with VMware and one of them is a strong candidate for a sales manager position. I’ll never settle to just “get mine” while others are in need of an opportunity. I’m not afraid to put my name on a candidate even if it doesn’t work out. On the personal side, I try to teach basic financial literacy to whoever needs it and will listen.
What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?
Respect, transparency, and fairness are the qualities that build lasting relationships for me. We may not always agree, but we must be respectful, fair, and open with each other.
What are some immediate projects you are working on?
I pull double duty as a facilitator for our new hire training classes. I’m polishing my skills as a certified sales trainer and executive coach for phase two of my life. Once I exit corporate America, I plan to do sales and leadership coaching and development. I also want to coach high school golf and basketball, while also teaching financial literacy to low-income groups. I’m doing some form of all those things now, but the plan is to make a living doing it in the next five to seven years.
What is the best advice you ever received?
There are two pieces of advice I try to live by. The first from my grandmother: ‘Nothing happens in the world until something is bought or sold. Be in the middle of that transaction and you will always be relevant.’ The second from U.S. President Grover Cleveland: ‘No man ever listened his way out of a job!’
What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
Just get started based on what you already know and what you’ve already done. We don’t all need special certifications or graduate degrees. If you’ve made something productive of yourself and you want to give back to others, then just start sharing your experiences.
How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?
I read as much as I can about who I’m meeting with or who will be at the event. For example, because I attended the Black Men XCEL Summit last year, I heard about and attended the Black Enterprise TechConneXt Summit in San Francisco. That’s my industry and I don’t see many like me so I wanted to network with others in the business. I researched the list of speakers and sought out Jessica O. Matthews of Uncharted Power based in Harlem. After her presentation, we talked about investor relations. After many more discussions, my business partner and I made a significant investment in her Series A round of funding.
As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation?
Best unwinding experiences are with my son at certain sporting events. We did the ACC Basketball Tournament in DC. The ACC Football Championship game in Charlotte. We’re season ticket holders for the Miami Hurricanes homes games and that atmosphere in Miami is like a vacation every weekend. But our family vacations are still top of the list. Last year we did Utah for six days. None of us had ever been skiing. We did that plus snowmobiles and ice tubing. We topped it off with a 3-mile hike up 3,000 feet to a hot spring where only a few have visited. Incredible for a kid who was raised with no father and never had any family vacations.
If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I’ve yet to hit the motherland of Africa. I’d love to do a month on the continent visiting Morocco, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Ethiopia. My heritage is diverse and we have family members from all those countries in Africa. I would love for that to be my son’s graduation gift. Forget Europe. Take it to the cradle of civilization!
Anything else you’d like to say?
I have to give a shout out to my life partner Brett Carra who nominated me and encourages me to use my communications skills for more than just corporate. She too was in corporate sales and left to run her event planning business full time, Lady Brett Events. She does corporate and social events while also taking care of our son while I’m on the road. I couldn’t do this without her love and support. And speaking of family vacations, she’s the founder of FUNding Working Families (www.fundingfamilies.org). The non-profit works with community organizations and churches to find working families that do not have enough disposable income to take a family vacation. We bless them with an all-expenses-paid 3-day/2-night theme park vacation (Disney World, Universal Studios) for up to four family members. The goal is just to inspire these families that are working hard and doing the right thing but just don’t make enough to do that extra special family bonding through a fun vacation. It’s another way we try to give back as a family unit. I’m honored to receive this award and recognition. I hope my story inspires others.
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.