Name: Ronn Richardson
What is your profession? Co-Founder & Creative Director, Four Thirty
What is your age? 29
I have contributed to my industry by: Launching a creative agency that provides emerging and established brands access to some of the best creative freelancers on the market.
“Don’t find fault, find a remedy,” is the quote which best describes Ronn Richardson’s journey from employee to entrepreneurial excellence. “I spent 7 years working for agencies focused on social and digital communications,” Richardson tells BE Modern Man. ‘But I grew tired of hearing, ‘I know social media is important, but do we really need it?’ and ‘Why do we need a photographer? Can’t we use stock photos?’ I felt my creative freedom was stifled. The dreamer in me always thinks big and I wanted to help brands launch innovative and successful campaigns. Despite my lofty ideas, I quickly realized that many of my colleagues, clients and superiors were complacent with producing mediocre work, which oftentimes resulted in mediocre results. I wanted to create without limits, so I was forced to make a drastic move.”
These experiences led Richardson, along with Daniel Calderon, to create Four Thirty, a company that provides start-ups, small businesses and entrepreneurs with access to talented creative marketing professionals.
“The businesses we help build today will be the catalysts for economic growth in the future,” said Richardson. “Large companies often have the budgets to hire employees or agencies to handle their digital and creative needs. But we believe start-ups, small businesses and entrepreneurs deserve the same access to creative marketing professionals who produce quality work, are strategic and professional.”
When BE Modern Man asked Richardson about the importance of spotlighting men in the field of communications he said, “It’s no secret that there is a lack of diversity in the communications industry, and it is a huge issue. I’ve worked at various agencies and can count on two hands the amount of colleagues and clients who were men of color. Most of them were in junior roles; not decision-making roles that truly drive impact and organizational change. This is why it’s critical that the BE Modern Men in leadership positions across the communications industry use their platforms to open doors and pave the way for the next generation of multicultural communications professionals. We represent the reality of America, and if we continue to allow our voices to be silenced and not strive for positions that drive influence, then the cultural nuances of this nation will be compromised,” he says.
“I’ve learned to look beyond the ‘mainstream’ to find sources of inspiration. There are so many sites, social media accounts and lists (like BE Modern Man) that highlight stories of men of color who are making strides in their industries and excelling despite adversity. The mainstream media has a lot of power and ability to shape people’s perceptions. But our actions as a community are an equal, if not greater, force.”
While many people would applaud Richardson’s dedication for remaining true to an industry where there is a lack of minority representation, Richardson touts his ability to confidently walk away from his 9-5 job to launch his own company as his greatest accomplishment. “Everyone talks about the risks involved in leaving the comfort of a secure career, but the rewards are often unspoken,” said Richardson. “While I had many friends, associates and colleagues try to convince me to reconsider or wait for the ‘right moment,’ I knew that [the] time would never be ‘right.’ Despite the doubt and opposition I faced, I followed my heart and passion and a year later, I know it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
When it comes to his best advice for making an impact as a young fearless leader, Richardson drops this knowledge: “I’ve learned that collaboration not only has the power to make us better, but it also enables us to conquer more than we could on our own and increase our reach and impact. That was the main reason I partnered with Daniel Calderon to launch Four Thirty. Since the company has a dual focus of producing brand development and talent management, I knew his expertise in HR would compliment my experience in the creative industry.”
“Even if no one else supports or encourages you, you’ve got to believe in yourself. A lot of us look for validation from our families, communities, and peers. But the truth is, we are not always going to get it, so self-belief is crucial. It’s important to identify the positive influences in your life, and keep them close, but if you’re not your biggest fan, success is going to be hard to attain.”
If there’s one thing we can all learn from Richardson’s journey it’s that your attitude determines your success. “At the same time that I launched Four Thirty, my mother was suffering from heart disease and a hemorrhagic stroke. Things were not looking good. My emotions were split in two because I was excited that something I’d dreamed about for years had finally come to fruition, but I was also watching my mom suffer on a daily basis. When I wasn’t taking calls and responding to texts from friends and colleagues congratulating me on the launch of the business, I was talking to my mom’s doctors and nurses who didn’t think she would make it. While I was devastated at the thought of possibly losing my mother, I kept going. I got my emotions in check and continued building my dream and made sure I was always there when she needed me most. I’m glad I pushed through and so grateful that she did as well. Her tenacity and perseverance over the past several years have undoubtedly encouraged me to continue chasing my dreams and I’ll never give up.”
With a masters of professional studies from Georgetown University in PR and corporate communications, Richardson is passionate about living his life according to his own rules. Richardson says “A BE Modern Man works hard to achieve success, but also accepts his responsibility as a role model and influence in his community by mentoring, educating and leading by example. I’m honored to be amongst a league of great men and will work vehemently to uphold my commitment to self and others.”
The Black Enterprise.com team salutes Ronn Richardson for his unwavering commitment to providing opportunities for others while carving his own lane for success.
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