BE Modern Man: Keron Williams
Tech and design entrepreneur, former pro football player (NFL, CFL); 34; CEO, KDW Designs and Technology
As the founder of a tech and design business, I have a passion for collaborating with innovative people to identify solutions at both a strategic and functional level, ultimately enhancing companies and products for front-facing consumers. I make it my priority to create beautiful user-centered applications that deliver an intuitive, organic experience. My efforts have made an impact in the community, as I recently won the Texas Black Expo Millennial on the Move Award presented by the mayor of Houston.
As a tech and design entrepreneur, my appreciation for branding and flair for uniquely aesthetic design stem from a sharp and simple focus on what truly matters: people! This is why volunteerism is so vital to my success, because it allows me to understand people at a cellular level, where I can discover new ways of communication to create change.
HOW HAVE YOU TURNED STRUGGLE INTO SUCCESS?
A stranger to responsibilities, I closed out the end of my freshman semester in college with a 0.75 GPA. These three numbers will never leave my memory because of what followed after: the realization of the importance of accountability and responsibility. I worked rigorously for the next four years to avoid academic probation, stay eligible, and not lose my athletic scholarship.
I never took time off for summers, winters, or spring breaks, to make up for the deficit I placed on myself. Though it was one of the most difficult times in my life, I gained a mindset that carried me throughout the course of my life. The effort that I exerted in the classroom transitioned onto the football field. It was that lesson that opened the door for me to fulfill my dreams of playing professional football and achieving my current success as a tech entrepreneur.
It has been a few years since I’ve left the game, and I have now migrated to Houston, a city that’s not short on opportunity and is quickly becoming one of the biggest tech hubs in America. My journey has placed my tech and design company here, where I can continue to grow and build solid relationships with businesses and people who share a passion for solving problems and setting the tone for creating a better tomorrow. I’m extremely humbled every chance I get to reflect on the transitions of my journey, the ups, the downs, the shortcomings, and the success.
WHO WAS YOUR GREATEST MALE ROLE MODEL AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM HIM?
My greatest male role model is Dr. Dana Carson, overseer of the R.O.C.K. Church. I’ve learned the importance of having a personal relationship with God and what it means to imitate your leader. Dr. Carson is a juggernaut in the arena of academia; he is the only African American clergy to hold an M.B.A. from the Fuqua School of Duke University. He has written over 200 books and is passionate about equipping leaders to carrying out their calling.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE MANHOOD?
I define manhood in three categories: as a protector, a provider, and a priest. Protector is one who has integrity and honesty, and values the union of family, knowing that their legacy is dependent on his devotion to his sense of responsibility. The provider sees to it that those relying on him are taken care of above himself, but understands that in order for him to take care of others he must first know how to take care of himself. The priest is the government that handles the identity of the minds he is shaping based on his success and failures; knowing that his journey will change the lives of those who choose to follow him.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?
The best advice I’ve ever received came from Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, on innovation: Be stubborn on your vision but flexible on the details.
HOW ARE YOU PAYING IT FORWARD TO SUPPORT OTHER BLACK MALES?
Growing up in a single-parent household, with two younger brothers looking up to me for guidance, I faced a lot of disadvantages on our path to adulthood. In our society, I’ve grown to see a pattern of lessons we as black men tend to be deprived of. From being financially undereducated to relationships in broken homes, we tend to be at the back end of a lot of pertinent information. This is why I offer up my time to teach from my own life lessons. I also help other black males who are looking to break into the tech and design industry. I believe it’s important for us to know that knowledge is power, but knowledge coupled with exposure and experience creates the power we need for change.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT BEING A BLACK MAN?
I like the fact the everyone wants to be the new black! Black is strong, it’s powerful, it’s decisive, it’s overwhelming, it’s infectious, it’s the mother of all things, and being a black man carries a different level of confidence that comes in the form of an unspoken language.
WHAT PRACTICES, TOOLS, BOOKS, ETC. DO YOU RELY ON FOR YOUR SUCCESS?
One of my go-to books to get back to the fundamentals of tech and design is a Steve Krug book titled Don’t Make Me Think. This book introduces the methods creating of good software program or web site that let users accomplish their intended tasks as easily and directly as possible. Another book that I rely on is Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss. This book illustrates the art of negotiating and how to put yourself in position to persuade your audience.
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.