For the past few weeks our thoughts have been about What and Who inspires greatness and success, especially among the most prominent of men today. What we found in doing a number of the IN CONVERSATION WITH… feature profiles were determined, and thoughtful men who were either reared with a positive masculine influence in their youth or driven by the absence of one.

 This concluded us to believe that, like the path of success having multiple roads, there is no definitive father so we are choosing this Father’s Day to shine a light on the village of some inspired men who are in the business of being inspiring: STEVE HARVEY, NICK CANNON, and JAY ELLIS.




If my father had not been in my life I would not be where I am today. When I look at young boys who don’t have fathers or male role models that the journey for them has got to be tough. There are so many intricacies to manhood that only another man can teach you. Without the proper role model, sometimes it’s TV or a verse in a song that teaches you and that is not it at all.

If you are a man and you do what you say you are going to do you get everybody’s respect. I mean, who doesn’t respect that? The only way you change the outlook and direction of these young African American boys-you gotta have men to do that. We set them on this course. We forgot to teach the generation behind us what manhood was. We are the only race of men who degrade our women in our music because we forgot to teach them that the love songs we wrote in the 60s and 70s is really how we felt about women, and therefore what we feel about ourselves.




“My father is definitely the first person to tell me to say ‘I’m A Man.’ I remember being four years old and him telling me you're brilliant, you’re the best of the best. You’re quicker than quick. Tell them!” ICON MANN salutes, Mr. James Cannon for empowering his son to live his truth. Rest in Power, Mr. Cannon.



Photography by Matt Sayles

Photography by Matt Sayles


Best piece of advice your dad has ever given you? 

My pops is always dropping jewels, but I think the best things I've ever gotten from him is his work ethic and unwavering integrity. I've never once heard my dad complain about work. He's always had to get up at crazy hours and work ridiculously long days. He's rarely late. Never misses or calls out. He's a craftsman. Constantly working and learning everything that his craft requires. I dig it. It's that put your head down and do the work mentality and when you look up your on top of the mountain.  

Growing from adolescents to adulthood is humbling experience. Can you recall a moment when you've missed the mark, or when you've had to apologize to your dad for something?  Please tell us about that moment you stepped up to the plate and own it. 

I'm sure there are ton of things that I've done, but nothing jumps out. To be honest I never wanted to disappoint my parents. My parents were so young when I was born that I was with them through their struggle. So, I know what they had to sacrifice to make a better situation for us. I never wanted what they went through to be in vain. It's almost like the first generation guilt where you fight and work hard because you realize what your parents had to do to get here. I will say I wish I was better at seeing my extended family. I don't get to get back to them often and I know that is something that is important to my dad.  

How do you show love? 

Ha, I have no clue. You'd have to ask my parents.  

Editors Note: We took that as an invitation and did in fact ask the Papa Ellis ‘How does Jay show love?’, and this is what he said, “In answering your question...one of the qualities I most admire in my son is his expression of love by being confident enough to be that touchy, feely type who likes to hug everyone.  To see that compassion aligned with his strength warms my heart as his father. As an only child it was very difficult for us to see him move so far away from home but we knew as a young man he was in pursuit of his destiny. That's not an easy journey and we admire him for following and staying true to his purpose.  His continued love is expressed in his desire to have my wife and I be "active participants" in his life and to be apart of his journey both personally and professionally.   That is an expression of love that every parent secretly hopes and prays for with their children.  It's an amazing blessing for us as parents.  We are not a perfect family but we are a humble family.  Humbled by the blessings that have been given to us.” Mr. Wendell Ellis

What's the most important lesson a father can teach his son? 

Love, responsibility, work ethic, integrity, respect...  

When you become a father, what will be your greatest wish for your children? 

That I'm at least half as great of a father to them that my father has been to me. Outside of that love, true happiness, and for them to live their dreams in a world better than ours. 



Images of  Fathers  book courtesy of Twenty Eight Ink Click the image above to learn more about  Fathers

Images of Fathers book courtesy of Twenty Eight Ink
Click the image above to learn more about Fathers


We want to know who is the ICON MANN in your life—the one that inspires you. Write us below and let’s shine a collective light on him, throughout the year.

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