Name: Leo LeMarcus Newman
Profession: Educator, Philanthropist, Former Professional Athlete
One Word That Describes You: Ambitious
What is your “Extraordinary Impact?”
Currently I’m the international advisor at Texas Southern University, where I help recruit students from the Middle East, help them graduate, and coordinate with their governments. My main goal is to help students graduate, not just students at Texas Southern but all student athletes. I would just say that is what I am lead to do.
What does being one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction mean to you?
It is a great honor to be chosen as a member of such an accomplished group of men who are very well respected in their industries. I remember reading many magazines but none stood out to me like Black Enterprise. I was very much inspired by the many stories in the magazine especially the section on family finance and buying homes. This is a great honor and now someone will be reading about me and feel inspired by my success story.
What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?
Growing up I struggled in school with my grades and my behavior. I was the true definition of no child left behind. I actually failed the fifth and six grades and my teacher recommended me to enroll in the resource program for students who had learning and behavioral problems in class. My parents felt that the program wasn’t a good fit so they sent me to a gentleman by the name of Alvin Boom Boom Jackson. He was famous in the Houston area for helping inner-city kids. Although I struggled, I made great strides and as a NCAA non qualifier was able to obtain a full football scholarship to Lackawanna Junior College, one of the premier football power houses in NJCAA. My struggles did not disappear. Failing out of school, I was able to graduate from community college over the summer, which was a blessing from God. But because of this I missed the opportunity to qualify by the NCAA to play football at Kansas State University, where I signed out of junior college. With the help of Coaches like Mark Duda at Lackawanna, Bill Snyder, Phil Hughes, and Phil Bennett at Kansas State, I received another opportunity to focus more on my grades and I made deans list all throughout college and graduated from Texas A&M with a GPA of 3.25. In addition I completed grad school at Texas Southern University and graduated with a 3.4 GPA.
What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?
I love motivating others and I expect to be motivated as well by people around me. I look for focused individuals who understand what it takes to work as a team. Most importantly I look to build relationships with people who are spiritually grounded and honest.
What are some immediate projects you are working on?
My goal this year is to work on a grant to help kids from other countries and for the students from the inner city in my community to explore other parts of the world through education.
I had a great meeting with the Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner where we discussed ways in which the city of Houston can have a global impact. I’m proud to say that Houston will be hosting the World Petroleum Conference in 2020! This conference is usually hosted in one of the major European countries or South East Asia but in 2020 it will be hosted in the great city of Houston, Texas.
Personally I am working on building a home from the ground up by myself. It’s a lot of planning and time but at the end of the day I can tell my kids and friends that we did it by ourselves.
What is the best advice you ever received?
I was blessed to grow up in a two-parent household . My parents, Leo and Dorothy Newman, would always say “You don’t need any hand outs” and “Don’t work for money, work hard to reach goals and then the money will follow.”
What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
My wife and I started our own foundation call the Newman Family Foundation where we help give scholarships to high school students. My main focus is to help provide students with an opportunity to achieve their goals. Also I help with NFL player engagement to support former NFL athletes go back to college and provide them resources to find jobs. My advice for men who want to make a difference is that each and every day try to learn something different and give back. Find what you want to do and stay disciplined, outline your plan, and execute as much as you can. Do not do it for the money but help people from your heart and you will be rewarded.
How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?
I research a lot. I strongly believe it’s like going into a fight or prepping for a game. You must research. You should never go into a meeting and not be prepared or know the person or people you are dealing with. You should know where they are from, what school they attended, and who you and that person have in common. When I get up on the morning of a meeting, I pray, then read a book, go for a morning jog, take a shower while listening to some soothing music and then put my clothes on. Then it’s GAME TIME!
As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation? Share a story about your best vacation.
I unwind by just relaxing either on a beach or learning about the country I am in by taking a tour. One of the best vacations was the trip I took to Ghana. It was a life changing experience and I had the opportunity to visit a slave castle and the rain forest. I was astonished by the amount of resources and talented people. I had the opportunity to visit the villages where the people knew how to speak many languages and were well aware of the current events taking place in the U.S.
If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I would love to visit Cuba or South Africa. I lived in Dubai, Kuwait, Qatar, Germany, and many other places. But if I could stay anywhere in the world it would be Dubai. I love the people and the opportunity. I speak Arabic as well so it’s very easy to navigate when you speak the language.
Anything else you’d like to say?
One of my mottos is to not burn bridges and try your best to treat people how you would like to be treated. Time and time again I see how people treat the homeless person, or custodians, or the trash pickup man or woman. We all can learn from anyone so I strongly believe in striping away the titles and looking at one’s personality and how they treat others.
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.