What is your profession? Co-Founder & Director, Talent + Operations, Four Thirty
What is your age? 30
I have contributed to my industry by building a creative agency that connects established and emerging brands with our curated roster of talented freelancers.
It’s certainly not a secret that black men are underrepresented in many industries—technology, fashion, media and advertising to name a few. And while some people would argue that we have to continue to climb the corporate ladder and fight for diversity and inclusion in the workplace, others like Daniel Calderon, choose to create their own companies and provide unique employment opportunities for others.
“I don’t believe that men of color are championed enough in the mainstream, but I do think we have made progress over the past few years,” Calderon tells BE Modern Man. “There’s an obvious lack of representation of men of color in leadership positions. That was one of the reasons why I chose to build my company, as opposed to continuing my journey as a small fish in someone else’s pond.”
“Features like BE Modern Man are so important to our community and remind me that there are so many other successful men of color working hard to build their own success and positively impact their communities,” said Calderon. “The more we celebrate and support our own, the more we can leverage our power to change the statistics.”
After spending many years working in the human resources industry and executing record-breaking deals with household brands such as Target and Amazon, Calderon recognized a shift in the workplace. “A study by Intuit suggests that by 2020, more than 40% of the American workforce, or 60 million people, will be independent workers—freelancers, contractors, and temporary employees. So I partnered with Ronn Richardson to create Four Thirty because we saw this as a great opportunity to work with a subset of this demographic (creatives) and connect them with another rising group of people – entrepreneurs.”
“Having the courage to leave a solid career to launch my own business has been a truly rewarding and life-changing experience,” said Calderdon. “I’ve inspired people to go to college, apply for a new job or fulfill their lifelong passions. After we launched Four Thirty, we received so many kind notes about how our business model is unique and needed in the industry. Every acknowledgment, whether it’s on my Instagram account, in-person meetings or in an email, encourages me to do more. I’m also in the process of building a platform where I can use my HR knowledge to help young job-seekers acquire necessary skills to obtain and retain employment. Since many career-planning programs across the U.S. focus on placing students in traditional business roles, my efforts will be focused on youth with a desire to pursue careers in the creative industries.
When it comes to his best career advice for a younger person hoping to cultivate a successful career, Calderon says, “Never stop seeking knowledge. Whether it’s through a traditional, academic learning setting or practical, on-the-job training, always work on perfecting your craft and learning new transferable skills. Sites like Coursehorse, Skillshare, and Khan Academy provide thousands of classes and tutorials for people looking to learn or enhance skills.”
“With a wide range of topics of interest, these sites and other online learning platforms can be great assets to young professionals. Work hard, connect with like-minded people, take risks and, most importantly, help others,” he continued.”
Like most people, Calderon has had his fair share of challenges, but he doesn’t think twice about sharing his childhood story to empower the next generation of leaders. “I was kicked out of my mom’s house when I was 16 years old. Like most adolescents, I had many small disagreements with my parents, but my desire to join a non-denominational gospel group was the tipping point for my father who has opposing religious belief[s]. The group was rather liberal, and it contradicted my conservative, religious upbringing. Because I stood firm in my desire to be a part of the group, my actions were considered disobedient to my father, so my mom – who I lived with at the time – gave me an ultimatum to quit the group or leave the house. I left.”
“Over the next 3 years, I was fortunate to have support and encouragement from various friends and their families who allowed me to live with them for short periods of time, encouraged me to finish high school, enroll in college and find a job. While I was grateful for the support I received from my friends, I built up a lot of anger and resentment toward my parents. After a while, I realized that being angry was not going to solve my issues. I began to shift my thinking and learned to be self-reliant and create my own destiny, despite what others might want me to do. I realized that in order to persevere – personally and professionally– I had to work hard, be consistent and stay focused on my goals. While that was such a rough time in my life – mentally, emotionally and spiritually – it forced me to be the strong, resilient man I am today.”
Considering his journey, Calderon believes he has an obligation to share his work with the world. “I use social media to showcase my work visually in order to inspire others to action. Whether it’s announcing a new partnership, sharing a press mention, hosting a giveaway or showing pictures from my travels. I utilize Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as mediums to eradicate the boxes that society has placed people of color in. If we continue to use the tools we have to share our stories of triumph and success, the media will have no choice but to shift the way they depict us. We all have the power to change and improve the conversation.
Calderon says,”Being a BE Modern Man is an important responsibility. When you realize the impact that you can have on someone else’s life, it drives you to achieve greatness. Not just for yourself, but for everyone who is depending on your success. It is my duty to continually create, mentor, and inspire others to succeed. A BE Modern Man builds community with the intent of fostering change and encouraging growth, and I am honored to be a part of such an amazing and essential group of men.”
The Black Enterprise.com team congratulates Daniel Calderon for his commitment to charting his own path to success while making an impact within the community.
It’s our normal to be extraordinary. Follow @blackenterprise and join the BE Modern Man conversation using #BEModernMan.