In a new year of resolutions and renewal, everyday black men with extraordinary experiences should be at the forefront of inspiring our generation.
For 38-year old Philadelphia native David Anderson, his life story represents the kind of comeback that often gets brushed aside by glossy celebrity tales that aren't easily relatable. Yet, Anderson's early spotlights being featured in Ebony Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Tom Joyner Morning Show, with a prolific career for other major media companies came with the cost of unforeseen circumstances that nearly cost him everything.
But his resilience is the kind of brilliance that can inspire young and old and help counter the stereotypes of black men facing adversity. Here's five ways Dave Anderson is working to redefine such resilience.
1) He's unashamed of opening up about his battle with depression.
"I struggled with depression and I'm not going to deny the chance to let others know black men aren't exempt from feeling helplessness," Anderson said after facing years of self-doubt professionally and emotionally. "Lots of Black men suffer in silence and never get the tools necessary to cope." His early years as a Temple University graduate paved the way for him to connect with local media mentors and land some huge internships as a result. Yet, the once rising media star that would go on to work on hit radio programs as The Rickey Smiley Show and at various stations from coast-to-coast hit rock bottom after lay-offs and the brutal nature of the business. "The media industry is a tough business that's not built for the meek," he said jokingly, yet sincere. "Folks will like you until they feel threated by your ambitions and then sudden the phone calls stopped coming." By 33, Dave was unemployed, divorced, overweight, and homeless. The symptoms of a dream deferred made him feel useless and put him in situations that were self-destructive.
2) He's dealt with body image struggles.
"I'm not going to lie, I ate away at my problems...two large pizzas at one whole setting at times," Dave said about responding to his depression. He was living in his truck, and bathing in public gas station bathrooms. He became very unpleased with his life that began to use food as a coping mechanism that led to him surpassing 200 pounds overweight. "The excessive eating was the only thing that made me feel like I had some control in my life, until that got out of control," he said. "People in our community don't understand the extent of unhealthy eating and poverty - it works hand-in-hand."
3) He's had to face his ego and deflate his bruised pride to recover.
"There was a moment when I had to get off my ass and tell myself I wanted live," Dave said of the time he turned life around. This required him swallowing his pride and working jobs he never though his level of education degree would put him through. Once he landed a temporary job at call center selling credit card processing machines, he discovered new talents about himself from the humbling experience. "I realized that I could be a resource to people at a higher capacity than just through media...I needed to get back on my feet and pursue this," he said. But first, he had to save up his funds while stuck in Texas to drive his truck back to Philadelphia. By then, it had been close to three years, and he was finally ready to be open to new opportunities and seek help beyond himself.
4) He recognizes that family saved his life.
"My new family gave me a reason to stay optimistic, confident and alive," Dave said of remarrying after returning back to Philadelphia. It was his new marriage and being a father that got him back in the gym and talking to physicians about getting his health back on track. "I lost over 100 pounds and I'm not stopping until I reach my own personal goal," Dave said excitedly. "I have a family, led by my beautiful wife, that supports me each step of the way and I have to make sure that I stay proactive for them in return." It was this newfound confidence that empowered him to start his own business entitled iBrandU that is geared towards helping entrepreneurs and small businesses who don't have any resources to sell and market effectively. He's also taken up work in life skills ministry, motivational speaking, and as an author of various popular books. His work has even caught the attention of notable motivational speaker Les Brown who said Dave's work "will transform your life."
5) He's committed to teaching others how to reach their fullest potential.
Today, Dave has used his previous setbacks to push him forward. "I'm not letting my obstacles only propel my goals alone - our community need our brothers and sisters to be financially literate, informed, motivated and supported," he said. "I have lived experiences that I want to relate and inspire to those who've been there." His comeback has gotten led to him speaking in front of a million people, a current major city book tour, and the opportunity to mentor and coach hundreds of new professionals of color who are looking for a start. "I've been blessed to have a second chance in life," he said grinning. "Through the ups and downs and comeback ups, I'm fortunate to be there for my people again."