Name: Phillip A. Singleton
Profession: Founder of Singleton Consulting, Lobbyist/Government Affairs Consultant
How HE Ordinarily Impacts: Bridging the gap between the hip hop and political worlds in order to inspire generations is the primary goal of lobbyist Phillip A. Singleton. From providing an underserved community with financial, economic, and mental health benefits to building an infrastructure of life-saving policies, Singleton’s vision is clear: teach a millennial to vote and lobby and you can create a world of fair and sound changemakers.
One Word That Describes You: Power Broker
What does being one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction mean to you?
I’m speechless. It’s a humbling honor to be recognized by Black Enterprise as one of the 2017 BE Modern Men of Distinction. This recognition opens my eyes to the impact my work in politics, as the Hip Hop Lobbyist, has on our culture and communities of color throughout the nation. It is truly an honor to be recognized with these other amazing leaders.
What are you doing as a BEMM to help support black male achievement now or in the future?
As the Hip Hop Lobbyist, I work with clients looking to bridge the gap on improving the lives in the urban culture and providing opportunities for black males in their communities. Whether I’m negotiating policy or government appropriation decisions with elected officials, I focus my efforts on improving the lives of those who need it most. My clients tackle everything from creating economic development opportunities in low-income, high-poverty communities to fighting PTSD syndromes for at-risk youth living in high crime communities throughout Florida. In addition, I support black male achievement by opening opportunities for them to really learn the inner workings of government, without being an elected official. After Barack Obama’s presidency, a lot of people feel that in order to effectuate change they must be an elected official. In all honesty, that is so far from the truth. I firmly believe that we need more black lobbyists and less black politicians aka “political opportunists” to really see the change in our communities that Dr. King dreamed about.
What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?
I could easily highlight the struggle of growing up in a single-mother household or having multiple friends who fell victim to the system. In addition, I could highlight my journey into politics, taking an unpaid internship in the Florida Legislature while living off my savings, as my story of struggle to success. However, I believe that stepping out on faith to become a millennial entrepreneur and starting my own professional lobbying firm has been one of the most challenging struggles in my life.
At first, one of the biggest obstacles was changing my mindset from a check-to-check employee, chasing a raise via performance evaluations, to learning how to get clients and selling my value. That coupled with the stigma that being a black politico limits my access to the Black Caucus and the Democrats, was a major struggle when I first started my business. Two years later, as the only black millennial lobbyist in solo practice in Florida, I’ve learned to create relationships with leadership on both sides of the aisle. This has helped my firm’s efforts to secure nearly half a million dollars in state resources to create economic opportunities in urban communities and provide mental health services to at-risk youth. Through it all, I’ve realized that my success is valued in the policy changes I can negotiate to improve the quality of life for the culture.
What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?
Vision is one of the most important qualities I look for in personal and professional relationships. Being able to see the long-term solutions or goals is important because so many people are close-minded to the opportunities before them. Build relationships with people who have the vision and are willing to put in the work to make it happen.
What are some immediate projects you are working on?
My firm, Singleton Consulting L.L.C., is currently working on a Millennials in the Midterm report. The first series of reports will be a detailed analysis of the voting trends of millennials in Florida, Georgia, and Maryland during off year (non-presidential) elections. Most people know that millennials are more than one-third of the population, workforce, and an influential voting bloc in America; however, like most Fortune 500 companies and businesses, political organizations don’t really know who millennials are and how to properly engage this generation. The Millennials in the Midterm report will open eyes to not only how this generation votes, but also their political ideology and issues they are passionate about. This will give both major political parties the infrastructure and information needed for a historic turnout among millennials in the 2018 elections.
What is the best advice you ever received?
“Pain by itself is merely pain, but the experience of pain coupled with an understanding that the pain serves a worthy purpose is suffering. Suffering can be endured because there is a reason for it that is worth the effort. What is more worthy of your pain than the evolution of your soul?” – Gary Zukav, excerpt from Seat of the Soul.
What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
Regardless of what people say, trust your intuition and follow God’s will for your life. Most people will listen to naysayers and lose faith in their personal beliefs, so make sure you compartmentalize the negative so you can stay focused on your goals.
How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?
I chew two sticks of gum, preferably Winterfresh or Doublemint. It really helps with my nerves before big meetings, presenting before a political committee, speaking before a crowd, or closing a deal with a potential client. I don’t know the science behind it but as I review notes or talking points, I’m able to map out the meeting in my mind while chewing away any last minute nerves before I get in the spotlight.
As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation?
I don’t vacation much but when I do I like to unwind by playing chess, NBA 2K and cooking. One of the best vacations I had was this past December in Chicago, where friends and I watched the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears play in Soldier Field, while the fans battled a -18 degree wind chill. It was great experiencing the elements of Chicago in the winter. Seeing how beautiful the city is and of course watching Aaron Rodgers perform while keeping my toes from being frostbitten was actually pretty fun.
If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
If I could travel anywhere in the world and stay it would be Italy. I was a fan of Italy’s 14th century history in grade school and would love to experience the country once ruled by the Medici family.
Anything else you’d like to say?
There is a sense of fear in our culture when we continuously watch black men gruesomely killed in our streets, whether by the police or on WorldStarHipHop. To effectuate the real change in our community, stop the perpetual cycle of poverty, and fight against any policies from the Trump administration, we need to do more than protest. To push our culture forward, and really influence political decisions, we need more people who understand the struggle behind closed doors creating long-term strategic policy changes to address socioeconomic disparities, educational funding, healthcare issues, or creating high-wage jobs in our community. This is the only way we will ever change the dynamics and quality of life in our neighborhoods.
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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.