Name: Marcel Benson
Profession: Consultant, Entrepreneur, Founder of Benson Watch Company
One Word That Describes You: Determined
What does being one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction mean to you?
Being a Black Enterprise Modern Man means everything to me, but not for the accolades and attention it attracts. The distinction means everything because of the hope and vision that it may provide another young man of my community. There are so many smart, intelligent, creative, and brave young men in our community that only get exposure to occupations they see on TV. So many are convinced that if they don’t make it in entertainment or sports, that there are no other alternatives to leading the life that they aspire to lead. Being a BEMM gives me the platform to show that you can build a great life around whatever you’re passionate about. Change starts with inspiration, and to be afforded the opportunity to provide that inspiration means everything.
What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?
Growing up, money was tight. Though I came from a middle class family, there were many times that my parents really struggled to make ends meet. This was heightened when I went off to school at Morehouse College. I remember not being able to pay the rent or even not knowing how I was going to get my next meal, at times. Each semester, I had to reach out to alumni and financial aid to help me just one more time. Each year, I contemplated whether or not school was something that was even worth it. I never had adequate supplies, and I always missed the first week of school trying to figure out what I was going to do. After a couple of years of this, I decided that I needed to do something and fast. If I did not earn some money, I would have to drop out of school and move back home.
Nevertheless, I began looking in newspapers and online in effort to find quick, money-making opportunities. After weeks of searching, I came across a sign on the side of the road. The sign read, “Accepting real estate mentees. Make 10k a month investing in real estate.” I called the number immediately, scheduled an interview, and then attended the seminar. During the conference, the owner of the real estate company painted a great picture of the opportunities that lied ahead of anyone who planned to sign up. I used 500 dollars that I borrowed from various people, to see if I could make something happen quickly. Consequently, I was taken advantage of. I lost a lot of time and money, ultimately landing in an even worse position than I when I started. Furthermore, I ended up having to leave school.
I went home, got a job, and worked thinking that this may just be my life—a college drop-out. It was then that I began to examine every alternative. I made a commitment that I would continue my matriculation at all costs. It was in this moment when I began developing the trait that would propel me into success; perseverance. The financial struggles that I faced early in life and throughout college were catalytic in developing the desire to keep going. Successes ranging from my degree from Morehouse, landing my first job as a consultant, and building a successful watch brand all required perseverance.
What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?
An important quality I look for in others is respect. Respect is the foundation for all sustainable relationships; it breeds a host of other positive qualities that support a relationship. A relationship with respect is mutually beneficial.
What are some immediate projects you are working on?
I am currently working on the release of my next line of timepieces, the Phoenix Collection. The Phoenix Collection is a collection of luxury timepieces produced in limited quantities. There will be 100 pieces made, each branded with our mantra, “Time should be spent doing what you love,” and the production number. Each watch purchased will contribute to providing high school-aged entrepreneurs from our community with the funding needed to start their business ventures; essentially providing them with the opportunity to spend time doing what they love.
What is the best advice you ever received?
The best advice I have ever received is to listen. Really, listen to people, for there is something to be learned from everyone.
What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
As cliché as it sounds, be the change you wish to see. There is nothing more discouraging to someone depending on someone else for hope, than to witness that person not practicing what they preach. Lead a principle centered life, and the rest will fall into place.
How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?
I do not think nervousness ever goes away when you have a major meeting or you’re pitching an idea to someone. However, being well prepared can decrease anxiety and aid in projecting your most confident self. While preparing, I attempt to learn as much as I can about the respective audience. Whether it is a group of individuals or a single person, I make an effort to learn as much about their interests, demographics, and accomplishments. This exercise could greatly shape the tone and style of my presentation. Next, I make sure that I am comfortable enough with the subject matter that it can be taught to a young child. This assures me that my message will be communicated effectively.
As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation? Share a story about your best vacation.
I was always told that one must have balance in their life. So, if you work hard, you should be able to enjoy your leisure time with the same intensity. When I am on vacation, I typically like to disconnect from the world. I abandon all social media, email, and even screen my text messages. This puts me in my most relaxed and comfortable state, and allows me to be present and completely take in the moment. My best vacation was to San Diego—where I did just that! I was disconnected and enjoyed great scenery and amazing food!
If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
If I could travel and stay anywhere in the world, it would have to be San Diego, California—solely for its near perfect weather.
Anything else you’d like to say?
For more information visit bensonwatch.com and follow me @BensonWatch on Instagram and Facebook.
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