June 6, 2016
BE Modern Man: Meet ‘The Urban Planner’ Danarius M. Hemphill
Name: Danarius M. Hemphill
Profession: Founder and CEO of Real Impact Detroit, budget analyst for Department of Defense.
One Word That Describes You: Visionary
What does being one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction mean to you?
BEMM has awarded me the opportunity to have a platform to share my story and experiences, in order to change the narrative of the perception of men of color. Words cannot express how honored I am to be considered one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction.
What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?
One area I struggled with as child was getting good grades in school. I believe it had a lot to do with the circumstances surrounding me: the neighborhood, my family dynamics, and being victimized. As youngster growing up in Detroit, I recall having to deal with low self-esteem, mental and physical abuse, and feeling like I had no sense of identity. I was emotionally abused for as long as I can remember. The physical abuse started when I was five, and didn’t end until my abuser was put in prison when I was 10.
I couldn’t begin to fathom the idea of being successful due to the nature of my circumstances, until I was given the opportunity to be in the company of two amazing mentors that possessed the capability to push me out of my comfort zone into a commitment zone. They were able to see in me something that I was unable to see myself.
I have learned that opposition is only there to position you for opportunity, while opportunity is preparing you for your destiny. My experiences have equipped and positioned me to make a positive impact in the next generation of young men, who are on their way to becoming progressive leaders both locally and globally.
What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?
One of the qualities I look for in a person is their willingness to invest and make a deposit in someone else. I like to call that servant leadership. I believe that the ultimate gain is the ability to provide, inspire, and encourage others, regardless of if there is any immediate gain for you.
What are some immediate projects you are working on?
I am currently working on The Changing the Narrative movement—the first project under my IMPACT foundation. The Changing the Narrative movement is the very catalyst that will create opportunity for the present and future generation of young black professionals in the city of Detroit. Through video representation, we plan to interview young, black professionals in order to capture the essence of what they feel it means to be a young, black professional in Detroit.
Additionally, I am currently in the process of finishing my Ed.D in Educational Leadership from Central Michigan University, with a focus on educating, mentoring, and empowering young people.
What is the best advice you ever received?
I was once told, “It takes courage, might, fight, and will to be exceptional. Exceptionalism is not superiority; it’s just refusing to give in to mediocrity. You must remember, you were born to be exceptional.” This quote inspired me to believe in and value myself and to realize that there is always conflict between ordinary and exceptional.
What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
I would advise other young men to invest in one’s life, one’s journey, one’s choices, and the life of other people. The reality is that we cannot live our lives to the fullest capacity without investing in the life of someone else. Your best living does not come until you invest in someone else.
How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?
Before any meeting, I do the necessary research. For example, who is my audience and what is the topic at hand? What are the issues or concerns? After conducting all the research that is needed for the meeting, I always develop a SWOT analysis chart, which assesses strength, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This ensures that I am properly equipped with the resources to make certain that I am effective, efficient, ready to be of any assistance, and prepared to provide a solution.
As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation?
One way that I unwind is disconnecting myself from work and spending quality time with family and friends. This allows me to relax and be myself and ultimately re-energizes me, so that I may be a productive, effective, and efficient employee.
If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
It has always been a childhood dream of mine to go to Disney World. My parents weren’t financially stable enough to take my siblings and I when we were younger, so it has always been a desire of mine to explore the Magic Kingdom.
Anything else you’d like to say?
Once again I want to express my sincere appreciation to Black Enterprise for selecting me to be part of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction. I have learned that in order to experience a next-level transformation, we must be willing to take the steps necessary in order to uncover our blessings, keeping in mind that man’s structures never accommodates God’s ideals.
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