BE Modern Man: Jason V. Watts
Telecommunications professional; entrepreneur; 37; Creator of The Urban Professionals Network
Twitter: @Jason3000Watts; Instagram: @jason3000watts
My company is a multiservice studio that specializes in photography, videography, marketing, event production, and various multimedia services. In the past 13 years, we have produced over 500 events and assisted over 1,000 client marketing campaigns. Our unique and affordable approach has allowed us to enhance the experiences of a great deal of underserved minority business owners, entrepreneurs, and urban professionals.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN LIFE?
I am most proud of having a built a successful corporate career of 18 years at AT&T, a Fortune 10 company, while simultaneously being able to build my own brand, The Urban Professionals Network (UPN) which in 13 years has expanded and grown beyond my dreams. My initial goal was to make The UPN a household name in my home state of Connecticut. Thirteen years later, my UPN brand has been planted and recognized across America, South America, Europe, and Africa.
HOW HAVE YOU TURNED STRUGGLE INTO SUCCESS?
One example of turning a struggle into success is by embracing constant self-learning. I started out The Urban Professionals Network on a shoestring budget and it forced me to become very proficient in many diverse areas of business. I studied marketing techniques, taught myself how to code and build websites, learned graphic design, and taught myself how to edit video. My initial financial struggles to fund my marketing business allowed me to use my creativity and develop skills I never knew I had.
WHO WAS YOUR GREATEST MALE ROLE MODEL AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM HIM?
My greatest male role model is my father, John Watts Sr. He taught me the value of working relentlessly to achieve your goals. He taught me that if you don’t know something, to pick up a book and read up on how to make it happen. He also showed me what it meant to be the man of the house and instill the community foundation needed in today’s society. Lastly, he taught me to always be serving and to help those in need, even when the spotlight isn’t on you. To this day, I hear stories about how he has positively impacted people’s lives and looked for nothing in return. This has set the example for me and my three brothers, and we vow to continue his legacy for our future generations.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE MANHOOD?
I define manhood by the example my father set for me growing up. This was first and foremost having a spiritual foundation and being a man of God. Next, is being the ultimate provider for your family and loved ones. Finally just having an extremely hard work ethic in every area of life.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?
To always remain positive and find the good in every situation when possible. I am an eternal optimist and it has served me well when struggles come in the normal grind of life.
HOW ARE YOU PAYING IT FORWARD TO SUPPORT OTHER BLACK MALES?
I am paying it forward by reaching back to the younger generations and encouraging them to follow their dreams. I mentor many black males and give them my example of having a plan and sticking to it. I believe in one’s ability to earn an income outside of working for another person. This tends to allow me to share my entrepreneurial skills and mindset with young men who have their own passions and dreams of success.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT BEING A BLACK MAN?
I love the built-in confidence that comes with being a black man. From ever since our ancestors have been taken from our natural homeland to subsequently being enslaved, then enduring present-day discrimination, when I see another black man it shows me what perseverance is. It shows our strength and will to overcome even in the midst of many adversities. This confidence lets me know that I can achieve anything in life. Additionally, in the corporate world, it prepares me for anything that may come my way in the form of pressure.
WHAT PRACTICES, TOOLS, BOOKS, ETC. DO YOU RELY ON FOR YOUR SUCCESS?
I rely on the internet. I am a very, very, very big fan of Google as a teacher. Whether it’s instructional videos, little-known facts or history, or tutorials, almost everything is housed online to empower you to do anything you want. I do enjoy reading different self-help and motivational books. However, I would say the internet is my greatest tool. A close second would be my mentor circle and an inner circle of supporters. Having the right support system and trusted advisers can make or break your business dream coming to fruition.
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.