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 SHEG ARANMOLATE
Profession: Physician, Entrepreneur, Molecular Biologist, Author
One Word That Describes You: Polymath.
What does being one of the BE Modern Man 100 Honorees mean to you?
It is amazing and exciting to be one of the BE Modern Man 100 honorees, and it is so humbling to know that I was selected out of thousands of other accomplished black men in the world. This nomination further validates my belief and attitude toward achieving success, which is to keep pushing on toward your goals even when the tunnel appears dark and without an end in sight and continue to create value for society as a whole. In due time, people will recognize you and pay you for your contributions and distinctions.
What is your “Extraordinary Impact?”
I’m a firm believer of constantly creating value and working on ways to improve the world. As a writer, I wrote an award-nominated book titled, Bountiful Famine, which highlights the plight of child soldiers in the world. As a research scientist, I have a patent for potential anti-microbial compounds that were discovered while working at Vanderbilt University. As a physician, I recently worked with my father and co-authored a new surgical approach in the Journal of Craniofacial Surgery for repairing facial deformities in children. We also have a foundation that provides free surgery to poor African children. Finally, using proprietary botanical extracts, I started a skincare company that helps people with skin problems and issues.
What are you doing as a BEMM to help support black male achievement now or in the future?
The internet is a powerful communication tool that allows information to spread faster than any time in human history. This is an incredible feat because, to a large extent, the internet levels the playing field and gives anyone access to information and knowledge for self-improvement. On the other hand, the internet also allows the propagation of negative stereotypes, particularly black men in America. With the multiple videos of mass incarceration, mug shots and homicide reports, black men are pretty much portrayed as some sort of human subgroup that is prone to violence, criminality, and aggression. As a physician, a novelist, molecular biologist, entrepreneur, husband and father, I strive to use my knowledge and image along with the power of the internet to educate the masses, and most importantly, debunk the negative stereotypes of black men in America. I hope to constantly show the world that we are intelligent, hard-working, compassionate and kind human beings who just happen to have more of the natural sunscreen and skin-cancer preventing melanin pigmentation in our skin.
What are some examples of how you have turned struggle into success?
I came alone to the United States at the age of 18 in hopes of becoming an American-trained physician. Not too many people know this, but I applied to medical school four separate times before finally getting an admission. During those moments and every time, I opened those rejection letters, a part of me felt that I should give up on my dreams or perhaps I didn’t have what it takes to become a doctor. However, with great advice from my family and with God on my side, I decided to take “NO” for an answer and continued to improve myself (my résumé, appearance, posture, interview skills, etc.) until I finally obtained an admission to the University of Tennessee School of Medicine along with a $40,000.00 medical school scholarship after the fourth try! Today, after many long hours of studying, sweating, and hustling, I finally have an “MD” in after my name. In short, never give up on your dreams!
What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?
As a physician and entrepreneur, I constantly have the opportunity to build two types of relationships with people, short-term and long-term. Regardless, I always look for a sense of pride for working hard, integrity, compassion, honesty, and respect for others, and this is not unidirectional! I’m a firm believer that we should always treat others exactly how we want or would like to be treated in our most vulnerable moments. Yes, it sounds easier said than done, but on the days when I’m exhausted and perhaps feeling drained and grumpy, I often have to hype myself and pretty much “fake it to make it.” What this means is that I put aside my emotions and portray the best version of myself with the end game in mind.
What are some immediate projects you are working on?
I recently started a skincare company called Leovard. The skin is the largest organ of the body and it is also the first organ we see when we meet a person. Skin problems, especially of the face, can cause shame and self-esteem issues, and for years ethnic and black skincare has not received its fair share of attention and development. Due to our thicker skin with more collagen and curly hair, black and ethnic skin is more prone to razor bumps and irritation. Our aftershave skincare system, which includes a tonic and serum, and is exclusively available on Amazon, helps clear razor bumps, skin irritation, and provides anti-aging benefits.
What is the best advice you ever received?
I’m blessed to have an inspirational father as a role model. Similarly, at a young age, my father obtained a scholarship to study medicine in Russia. Not only did he have to adapt to the frigid Eastern European temperatures and culture shock, he also had to learn how to speak and read the Russian language in a few months before starting medical school. He succeeded and he is a plastic and reconstructive surgeon. The best advice that I have received from him is that “if you truly want to accomplish something in life, never let anyone or any circumstance take away your dream. Work hard and keep rising!”
What advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
Wanting to make a positive difference in the world is an awesome, powerful, and honorable thing. The bitter truth is that not everyone will be excited about your ideas or even want to see you succeed. A quick glance at history will show you that many of the black icons in American history (Martin Luther King, Muhammad Ali, Booker T. Washington, and even Obama) faced tremendous obstacles and opposition to their progressive ideas. Nevertheless, it is important to see the bigger picture and the humanitarian benefits of your disruptive and innovative ideas. At the end of the day, there are way more people in need than there are haters or obstacles; well, except if your idea just totally sucks! I’m kidding. I’m kidding.
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.