George Cleveland: Channeling Faith And Family Values Into Purpose-Driven Leadership - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise magazine Fall 2019 issue

BE Modern Man: George Cleveland

Telecommunications executive; 48; Vice President, Channel Operations, AT&T’s Prepaid Portfolio (includes Cricket Wireless)

Twitter: @gfcleveland

WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN LIFE?

Marrying the love of my life and creating a solid foundation for our children. I’m able to provide for them and put them in a position to achieve their dreams without the challenges I faced growing up. I understand they will face obstacles, but my hope is that we’ve provided them with the tools to fight through and reach their full potential.

HOW HAVE YOU TURNED STRUGGLE INTO SUCCESS?

Growing up in Macon, Georgia, my parents realized early on the importance of instilling faith and family values and providing me with a quality education. They sent me to a private school where I quickly recognized the financial and social economic differences from where I was growing up to that of my more affluent peers. This experience fueled my passion to provide a more fruitful life for myself and my future family.

 

WHO WAS YOUR GREATEST MALE ROLE MODEL AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM HIM?

There were a couple of folks who were alums of Morehouse. My godfather, Thomas Hooper, was one of them who influenced me to attend Morehouse. Another person was my freshman year pre-calculus professor, Rev. Lee A. Norris, Sr., who was an educator and pastor who heavily influenced my early years as a young Morehouse Man.

HOW DO YOU DEFINE MANHOOD?

I think manhood is different for individuals based on where they are in their life. For me, my manhood is defined by my faith. My faith and family is the foundation that fuels my passion. My passion is to be the best version of myself—as a husband, father, and leader at Cricket.

WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?

A former supervisor, who continues to be a mentor to me, told me: “George, you have to find the way that works for you and for your own personality to make an impression with the people you are leading. You can’t use my style, you can’t use another person’s leadership style. You have to find that style that is authentic to you. When you find that, you will be effective because it’s yours and no one can take that away from you.”

HOW ARE YOU PAYING IT FORWARD TO SUPPORT OTHER BLACK MALES?

I’m blessed to work for a company that makes it a point to invest in the education of our youth. This allows me to volunteer with organizations like Junior Achievement, an organization that uses integrated learning models focused on career readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy to help develop future leaders, including within the telecommunications space.

In addition, I lead a mentoring circle of young professionals who are looking to advance their career within my area of expertise and/or AT&T as a whole.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT BEING A BLACK MAN?

Having attended Morehouse College, we each graduate with a sense of duty to serve and advance the efforts of those who have come before us. A true sense of “Purpose” to genuinely make things better no matter where we are planted; a responsibility to help others see the possibility that lies within each of us as black men; and to chart a course that paves the way for others to follow.

WHAT PRACTICES, TOOLS, BOOKS, ETC. DO YOU RELY ON FOR YOUR SUCCESS?

Faith is an important fabric of my being. As I mature, I daily become more aware of how delicate life is and what a special gift each day brings. Daily devotionals are a vital part of my routine in addition to long walks after each workout to center myself and reflect on the day ahead.

I’ve become a huge fan of audio books to help me stay current during my daily commutes or business travels. I’m currently reading a couple of books including, The Last Lecture (Hyperion; $22.00) [and] The Perfect Weapon (Crown, $28.00). By reading/listening to a variety of personal and professional topics, it helps me to balance priorities and interests.

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$toneP0n3y

.com/nominate/. Follow BE Modern Man on Twitter: @bemodernman and Instagram: @be_modernman.