BE Modern Man is an integrative program that honors the essence, image, and accomplishments of today’s man of color. With features of today’s leaders, executives, creatives, students, politicians, entrepreneurs, professionals, and agents of change—these men share the common thread of creating a new normal while setting the bar in tech, art, philanthropy, business, and beyond. The BE Modern Man is making a positive impact, his way, and has a story to tell.
BE MODERN MAN JAMERUS PAYTON
Profession: Co-founder of HBCU Wall Street, Operations Leader, Life Insurance Broker, Real Estate Investor, and Author
One Word That Describes You: Tenacious
What does being one of the BE Modern Man 100 Honorees mean to you?
For me, being a Black Enterprise Modern Man honoree is a great honor and achievement. To be in Black Enterprise is definitely a dream come true, but still feels kind of surreal. I read my first BE magazine while in undergrad at North Carolina A&T State University, and the success stories and tips from other black people really motivated me to become a change agent. BE has played a big role in my desire to become a leader, entrepreneur, and to serve my community. This selection not only shows that I am walking in my true purpose but it also demonstrates that my purpose has gained the attention of others.
What is your “Extraordinary Impact?”
I am the co-founder of HBCU Wall Street L.L.C, and our mission is to be the solution for increasing financial literacy and economic opportunities in the black community, starting with our nation’s HBCUs. At HBCU Wall Street, our adage is “Don’t just get a degree and get a good job. Get a degree and create opportunities for yourself, others and your community.” Our goal is to create an ecosystem that will help position our nation’s HBCUs to be the epicenter for black economic empowerment in their host communities. Our competitive advantage is that we first educate, and then, we provide practical economic opportunities to implement what we teach.
What are some examples of how you have turned struggle into success?
The entire reason why we started this company was because of two major struggles in our HBCU and/or black community. Initially, we recognized that no one was faithfully highlighting the business success stories of people who graduated from HBCUs. There are so many great black minds such as BE’s very own, Earl Graves (Morgan State University), Reginald F. Lewis (Virginia State University), Booker T. Washington (Hampton University), Thomas Dortch Jr. (Fort Wayne Valley State University), Oprah Winfrey (Tennessee State University), Janice Bryant Howroyd (North Carolina A&T State University), Rosalind Brewer (Spelman College) and many, many more who graduated from HBCUs, and no one was using these stories to inspire the next generation of HBCU graduates, leaders, entrepreneurs, and business professionals. We wanted to be that vessel.
Secondly, we wanted to address the financial and economic inequalities in America, particularly those affecting the black community. However, in order to do that, we first had to be honest with ourselves. Money is something that is often not discussed in many black households, whether due to guilt, lack of knowledge, poor money experiences, and/or time. Nevertheless, we wanted to create a platform to at least start conversations that would contribute to the mental paradigm shift amongst HBCU stakeholders. When I was growing up, we didn’t talk a lot about financial literacy, entrepreneurship, life insurance, investing, etc., and as a result, I made some bad financial decisions that I paid for and, in some ways, that I am still paying for. I wanted to use my struggles to help others avoid making the same mistakes.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
“Find your niche within the simplicity.” That has stuck with me because there’s no need to always reinvent the wheel. Sometimes, you just have to take something that has already been proven and present it to a new demographic in an innovative way.
What advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
Servant leaders make the best change agents. You will find your true purpose once you commit to serving others. So in all things that you do, strive to be a servant leader. This holds true for your job, in the business world, in your community, etc. Serve others and good things will happen for you, for others, and for your community.
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 2nd Annual Black Men XCEL, Aug. 29–Sept. 2, 2018, at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.