BE Modern Man: Castell Barnes
Author, motivational speaker, entrepreneur; 30; Co-founder, GRTR Management
Currently, I’m continuing my entrepreneurial career as the co-founder of GRTR Management, a consultancy focused on securing branding, speaking, and investing partnerships. The team and I have done work with organizations that including LinkedIn, The Brooklyn Nets, Secret Deodorant, The City University of New York, and the New York City Department of Education. Our work stretches across 17 states and seven countries. I’m in the process of releasing my third book and knocking out my first full-marathon race, which I’m extremely excited about.
From my business and authorial endeavors, I’ve also created an entrepreneurial career curriculum that has led to the mentorship of the young and brilliant minds of The Women’s Housing And Economic Development Corporation (WHEDCo), The Boys & Girls Club of America, and Brooklyn Community Services (BCS). The program is designed to introduce practical entrepreneurial career steps, including business creation, marketing, and monetization of ideas, to those in elementary school all the way up to college. To date, we’ve served over 900 students.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN LIFE?
Without a doubt, it has to be becoming a father to my princess, Kennedy. She changed my life. Her birth created more meaning, added to my purpose, and taught me how to truly love unconditionally.
HOW HAVE YOU TURNED STRUGGLE INTO SUCCESS?
When I was younger, I was in foster care. I’d battled with doubt, insecurity, and feeling lost at a really young age, but I didn’t let that define me. I’ve pushed to tell my story as far into the world that I can. That same turmoil has turned me into the man I am today. My skin is tough, my mind is stable, and I live without any traumatic fears.
WHO WAS YOUR GREATEST MALE ROLE MODEL AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM HIM?
My grandpa, Mike Mitchell, was my role model growing up. For my entire life, I’ve witnessed him be a husband to my grandma, be a bonus father to my mother and uncles, work as a mailman and still pursue his dreams as a custom jewelry designer, all without complaining or slowing down. His doings remain my foundation for what duty, grit, ambition, and resilience are all about.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?
You can’t take education out of life’s equation.
HOW ARE YOU PAYING IT FORWARD TO SUPPORT OTHER BLACK MALES?
I support other black males by mentoring them, monetarily investing in their products and services, and being a resource for affordable means to entrepreneurship and self-development.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE MANHOOD?
Manhood is about self-awareness first, then contribution to others. Self-awareness allows you to check yourself by truly asking, “Who am I?” and to later build on any strengths or weaknesses that you may have. After that, manhood becomes a continuum of providing for those around you financially, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. It is a balance between leadership and always being a student of life.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT BEING A BLACK MAN?
I love everything about being a black man. I love our culture, our ability to adapt, our originality, our ability to dance in the fire and bring warmth in the coldness of systematic hatred. I love my skin’s ability to absorb life’s glow, while still being able to protect me from its environmental harshness. I love the fact that on every continent on Earth, you will undoubtedly find a group of proud black men, who have greatly contributed to the society that they currently occupy. I love being a black man.
To all of the Kings that are reading this: Remember that the first step is the first step. Don’t overthink applying your greatness. Get out there, put in the work, fall on your face a few times, and bounce back with lessons to push you forward. I’m just a cat from Queens Bridge Projects who decided he was bigger than what was initially given to him. Use me as a stepping stone to not be like me, but to be greater than me. Let’s making history together!
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 (www.blackenterprise.com/blackmenxcel/). Click this link to submit a nomination for BE Modern Man: https://www.blackenterprise.com/nominate/. Follow BE Modern Man on Twitter: @bemodernman and Instagram: @be_modernman.