BE Modern Man: Andre Barnett
Tax attorney; 38; Tax Counsel, Senate Finance Committee
During my career as a tax attorney, I have advised corporate clients who were engaged in multibillion-dollar transactions as well as individuals who had tax liabilities with the IRS. Each experience has been rewarding, as I have found it really exciting to engage in the problem-solving process. As a practitioner, it was fulfilling to be viewed as a trusted adviser. In my current role, I work on issues related to federal policies.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN LIFE?
I am most proud of my faith in God. Life can be very challenging, and, at times, it can be difficult to maintain faith and just trust God. I am most proud of my ability to lean on God–and not on my own understanding–despite the circumstances knowing that He will always make a way.
HOW HAVE YOU TURNED STRUGGLE INTO SUCCESS?
I remember graduating from college with an undergraduate degree in sociology. Initially, I struggled to find employment with a liberal arts degree and I remember working in various entry-level jobs and thinking to myself that I ultimately wanted to work in a professional environment where I was paid to be one of the thinkers in the room. I realized then that I was wasting my gift. I told my father that I wanted to become an attorney, that I was going to apply to law school. I applied, got accepted, left my home town of Charlotte, NC, for the first time in my life, and moved to Washington, D.C. My life changed forever after taking that risk.
WHO WAS YOUR GREATEST MALE ROLE MODEL AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM HIM?
My greatest male role model is my father. My father grew up in a single-parent household. Although he faced tough circumstances growing up, he did not let that stop him. He decided he wanted to create a new legacy for our family. My father made a decision that was critical to my life and the lives of my two younger brothers. He moved our family into a better environment, started his own business, joined a church, and became an active leader in the community. I am so thankful that my dad decided to change his life and, as a result, our lives. Growing up, I wanted to be just like my father so I would have naturally followed the direction he took our family. Luckily, he changed, which saved my future.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE MANHOOD?
Every man has a different standard for what manhood means. While most men will agree that the qualities of manhood include strength, courage, and the ability to provide, manhood really means acting in conformance with the standards of manhood unique to that man. It can be standards that have been passed down from past generations or standards that were created through life experiences. I believe that manhood means taking ownership of every decision and mistake you make. Manhood is living a life of integrity. In short, manhood is the standard you are expected to live up to while you are on this Earth.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?
“Know your worth.” Many men wrestle with various real or perceived barriers as they continue to advance in their careers. As you continue to climb in your career, the pressure can become more intense. Throughout the various challenges, knowing your worth will help you stay focused. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. Know that you are worthy of your dreams, worthy of your successes, and worthy to be in the room.
HOW ARE YOU PAYING IT FORWARD TO SUPPORT OTHER BLACK MALES?
This is the most exciting part of my job as a tax attorney. I have various mentees who I encourage and act as a sounding board for as they advance in their careers. I speak at various panels to students, especially those interested in becoming a tax attorney. It is always encouraging to see that with the right advice and guidance many students can achieve their goals and avoid many of the unnecessary pitfalls.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT BEING A BLACK MAN?
Black men are resilient, unique, and powerful. I like the fellowship that black men have created—the brotherhood. It is an indescribable bond.
WHAT PRACTICES, TOOLS, BOOKS, ETC. DO YOU RELY ON FOR YOUR SUCCESS?
I always pray and thank God for another day before getting out the bed. Then, my wife and I head to the gym. We listen to motivational videos while we get ready for work. It sets the tone for the day and gets us in the right mindset. We also listen to audiobooks in the car on our way to work. Currently, I am reading the following books: The Power of Presence (AMACOM, $18.95) by Kristi Hedges and Extreme Ownership (St. Martin’s Press, $27.99) by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. I also strive to practice mindfulness and positive thinking.
BE Modern Man is an online and social media campaign designed to celebrate black men making valuable contributions in every profession, industry, community, and area of endeavor. Each year, we solicit nominations in order to select men of color for inclusion in the 100 Black Enterprise Modern Men of Distinction. Our goal is to recognize men who epitomize the BEMM credo “Extraordinary is our normal” in their day-to-day lives, presenting authentic examples of the typical black man rarely seen in mainstream media. The BE Modern Men of Distinction are celebrated annually at Black Men XCEL.
Submit a nomination for BE Modern Man here.
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