Name: Marcus Allan Noel
Profession: Entrepreneur + Youth Activist Founder of Heart of Man Ventures + World Series of Entrepreneurship
One Word That Describes You: Visionary
What is your “Extraordinary Impact?”
The bedrock of our country has been and continues to be the ingenuity, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit of Americans from all walks of life who bring and give their all. While we often think of those who are bringing new and innovative products to the market as those in their 20s, 30s and older, there is a new generation of young people who are bringing their ideas to solve the business challenges of today and tomorrow. My job is to activate them! I’m bringing something very disruptive to the system. Uplifting the best and brightest, teaching youth to not conform while radically redefining and forcing entire industries to take notice. We must create a new market where the youth rule and their brilliance is amplified.
As an entrepreneur myself, I recognized that if it had not been for key individuals in my life, opportunity, and some blessings, I would not have been able to be on this journey. This journey has been tough but rewarding and has put me in spaces and places I couldn’t imagine being. Speaking at the Obama White House, accepting an invitation to Camp David, receiving a Forbes 30 Under 30 nomination, and traveling around the country working with nearly 1,000 young adults.
What does being one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction mean to you?
It’s truly an honor to be included on a list with such prestigious and distinguished individuals. I am also humbled to be able to do work that I believe inspires others through my journey of simply following my heart, hence the name of my company. For me, it’s all about the journey that makes the vision real. My faith allows me to slay giants, and I’m humbled by the mere idea that someone is following my journey and cheering for me to make it happen.
What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?
I grew up an only child in a working-class family in a predominantly black community with all the typical struggles we face as African Americans, such as limited educational opportunity, drugs, and very little economic mobility. We didn’t have money growing up, but I had tons of love and support from my family. Even though my mother could not afford it, I attended spiritually based private schools my whole life. . She had a vision for me and invested in my spiritual life, education, and competitive sports. I went on to attend Morehouse College and became my family’s first college graduate on Mother’s Day that year just before my maternal grandmother passed away. It was a very special moment and much bigger than me.
My dad, the world traveling creative guy, gave me culture, strength, spiritual knowledge beyond measure, and a pan-African spirit. While in high school I almost lost him to a rare autoimmune disease. Seeing my dad suffer was the hardest thing for me emotionally, but he is a conqueror. I can ecstatically say he is a three-time cancer survivor, wears a smile like a champ, and truly enjoys life. He is my inspiration as a creative, an activist, and an entrepreneur.
What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?
I value people with good hearts, people that are believers. We live in a very selfish, ego-driven world where people don’t really care about each other. We care more about our social media likes from “friends” that we don’t know or are concerned with associating with “friends” for status. We are super transactional these days, with few people being genuine. I only have capacity to be friends with, date, or do business with those who are real and guided by “the light.” I value those with a proper spiritual and moral compass.
What are some immediate projects you are working on?
I just recently launched the first-ever World Series of Entrepreneurship Competition, which is the premier league of youth entrepreneurship. This competition series is for high school students who have developed entrepreneurial ventures, providing them a platform to compete for funding and scholarship dollars, mentorship, and internship opportunities. The competition was sponsored in part by the David and Mikel Blair Foundation, Katherine and David Bradley, and Industrial Bank with awards of more than $34,000 to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. youth entrepreneurs. During the competition, in a surprise announcement to the audience and contestants, Rick Wade, former advisor to Obama and who now runs the Wade Group, announced that the winners would have a chance to pitch their business to a large group of Chinese investors he will convene later this month. We are scaling this model to 12 more cities nationally and students will compete for a national championship.
What is the best advice you ever received?
“Believe in yourself.” People will often push back initially or not believe in what you see but that’s normal to a visionary person. We see things that have not fully manifested yet but have the faith to live them out. Stick with it, put your heart in it, and it all will connect and make sense in the end.
What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
You are a spiritual being first, but living a natural experience so your source of change is in your heart, your soul, your beliefs, and your value system. Spend time talking to your creator to hear and understand your calling and purpose. We all have a divine assignment but we must place ourselves in the space to receive it. Kill the white noise and listen to your heart.
How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?
I pray first, I shower to a T.D. Jake’s sermon or Toure Roberts then I blast Kanye West, Andre 3000, Kendrick Lamar, Gil Scott-Heron, Nina Simone, Sir the Baptist, and Chance the Rapper on repeat. I then watch YouTube videos featuring Ray Lewis, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali— those are my favorites. While looking in the mirror, I shake my hair out (for the record, they are all natural), gorilla pound my chest, and say “Let’s Go Hank!” That’s my nickname, lol. It’s kind of weird.
As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation? Share a story about your best vacation.
I travel a lot and I’ve been to tons of places, but I don’t really get a chance to take a “vacation” very often. A vacation that really stands out was my winter ski trip to kick off this year in Park City, Utah, with the 7X Collective family. It was about 55 young creative people of color that are all doing dope things in the world seeking to impact culture. We rented several houses, hit the slopes, had a crazy ’90s party, shared our dreams, and intensely watched my playoff Cowboys (even though we took that tough L). It was just amazing and refreshing.
If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Ethiopia, Ghana, South Africa, Cuba, and Australia. These are all places that have a very unique history and culture that I want to learn more about, experience, and meet the native people.
Anything else you’d like to say?
Mediocre people watch the news and feel paralyzed by what they see happening then use that as an excuse to why they can’t progress or change things. So let’s raise some hell until we reach heaven’s gates.
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 first-ever Black Men XCEL Summit, Aug. 30 – Sept. 3, at the PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.