Name: Steve Larosiliere
Profession: STOKED Founder
One Word That Describes You: RESILIENT
What is your “Extraordinary Impact?”
In 2004 I found myself at a crossroads in my life and career. I was on the top of a mountain in Whistler, British Columbia, wanting to make an impact on the world. I’d been running a boutique marketing firm and had always carried a passion for mentoring outside of my regular business hours. It was on my last run of the last day, and while taking in that breathtaking, adrenaline pumping view, I thought of my 17-year-old mentee. I thought about how great it would be to have him there, snowboarding on the mountain. The thought, coupled with the fact that my mentee had never left the island of Manhattan, experienced the view and feeling of being on top of a mountain, nor had he ever put his feet on a snowboard, initiated the idea for STOKED. With that in mind, STOKED was created to pull kids out of their daily environment and offer the ability to think of themselves in a broader context of the world. Today, STOKED has an ever-expanding community of doers, making change and leading the charge throughout their respective industries in three cities (L.A., New York, and now Chicago).
Since 2005, we’ve served over 4,000 youth, working to close the opportunity gap. Through action sports culture and mentorship, we prepare disadvantaged youth for what’s ahead.
What does being one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction mean to you?
Being acknowledged for the lifestyle choices that I’ve made is humbling. I believe in being a person about community, finding passion and purpose in my work, being a father and role model to my kids and those in my community. I’m honored that by staying true to those beliefs, I’ve become the recipient of this incredible award.
What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?
In 2008 when the financial crisis hit, STOKED was impacted and almost forced to close the L.A. branch. Instead, we were resilient. We rallied a ton of support, created an event and made people invest. That was 11 years ago.
What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?
People that are honest, open, and can show vulnerability in their professional and personal lives. When you’re able to be vulnerable, it shows courage and strength. I like to surround myself with these types of people, because these qualities in others help me grow as a person.
What are some immediate projects you are working on?
This year, we launched STOKED in Chicago (our third city), and this summer we’re leading the city’s first ever skateboard mentorship program. We’re also in the midst of running the STOKED igniters campaign. We’ve set a lofty goal of getting 1,000 people to join the STOKED community of fearless leaders and make an impact in their community as we create a new breed of philanthropists.
What is the best advice you ever received?
The best life lessons I’ve had have come through snowboarding and skateboarding—when you fall, get back up. Perseverance. This is one of the most important pieces that STOKED teaches young people.
What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
Don’t wait to give back until you’re financially successful. You can make giving back part of your success. Being a mentor is an incredibly enriching experience. Often times, mentors gain just as much as the mentees.
How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?
I visualize the end result weeks in advance. Regardless of what happens the day-of, I’m grateful for the lesson. There’s always a lesson in failure, and always something to be gained by meeting new people and experiencing new perspectives.
As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation? Share a story about your best vacation.
I unwind by exercising, running, snowboarding in winter, and spending quality time with my wife and three kids.
If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I’m incredibly inspired on the mountain, so I’d have to say a snowboarding trip in Aspen.
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.