3 friends launch a podcast and a book to guide young boys to a meaningful life
Both Gerard Droze and Michael Holoman were approached separately while shopping by young men who recognized them.
“It happened to me once while I was at Walmart,” Holoman said. “He said, ‘I know you’ and as he came closer he adjusted his clothes, looked me in the eye and gave me a proper handshake.”
Though seemingly simplistic and basic, handshake etiquette isn’t the only life skill the pair – along with their early counterpart Jabari Price – taught disadvantaged and struggling boys and young men. over the years. Everything from how to speak clearly or tie a tie, to how to set goals and achieve them, has been instilled in more than 1,000 souls since the three business acquaintances-turned-friends collaborated on the book.” The Makings of a Man”.
When the three employees of Blue Cross Blue Shield, based in Columbia, South Carolina, began spending time together during regular lunch breaks 14 years ago, conversations and observations increasingly centered on the blurred lines of male character development. They joked about baggy teenager jeans; they worried about young men of all races failing to get started; and they cried when they read negative statistical information about male responsibility. Despite their different backgrounds and upbringings, they worried about the growing culture of apathy and lack of strong moral character in the boys and young men they encountered.
Holoman shares, “We kept thinking, ‘Someone should do something about this!’ Then we realized that ‘someone’ should be us.
“We felt we came together for a reason,” he adds.
The three explored developing a tie business together as they assumed young men needed help dressing to be successful. However, a business needs capital, and everyone was growing their own family. “We just kept talking about the issues that bothered us,” Holoman said.
It gradually became clear that they needed to collaborate on a book. With Holoman’s ability to express his thoughts articulately, Price’s degree in English, and Droze’s natural gift as a writer, the three men began meeting to formulate a plan and plan.
“We quickly found that when we decided to do this, the factors started to fall into place,” Droze said.
Work began in 2009 on the manuscript of “The Makings of a Man”. After each section of the non-fiction book was completed, the three men met to read, critique, evaluate and rework the chapters. One of the main intentions of the book was to focus on basic life skills, especially for boys and young men who lacked committed male figures in their lives.
They kept their own childhood and adulthood experiences in mind during the 11-month collaboration on the 2010 New Dawning Publications book. “We wanted to make sure it included our voices,” Droze said.
“We wanted to keep the audience in mind and not let it get too academic,” Holoman said. “We wanted men of all ages to be able to follow along and get nuggets of information as they read it.”
Considered a practical manual that explores why characteristics such as planning, communication, leadership and consistency are vital to the fully developed man, “The Makings of a Man” has caught the attention of the library. and Columbia’s education system as well as the law of the area. the law enforcement and first responder communities, as well as various mentoring and tutoring organizations. An interactive program followed. Then, in 2015, the three friends wrote “The Makings of a Dream”. They realized after talking to many boys and young men that not only basic character development and life skills were needed, but also practical advice on how to turn talk of dreams and goals into action. .
Character of the building
Calling themselves the Board of Trustees, after someone at a free church-sponsored luncheon and conference commented on their business attire, Droze, Holoman, and Price began regularly presenting in person the information contained in their books and program. And although they still retain their “day jobs” at Blue Cross Blue Shield, “The Board Meeting” speaking engagements and podcasts have grown in popularity.
They talk to potential dropouts through Midlands Education and Business Alliance in Colombia. They present basic etiquette for concepts of success in churches, after-school organizations, and more. They have been guest speakers at the South Carolina Fatherhood and Male Achievement Conference.
In 2017, Price decided to focus more on his family, but Droze and Holoman still regularly educate on character development, realizing that helping boys become men is a daunting task, especially in modern times.
“The relationship that Gerard and I have has kept us balanced no matter what’s going on in the world,” Holoman said. “There is always a lesson to be learned…in every situation. And we keep the message positive. There’s a lot of evil in the world, but being manly has to do with how you behave and your situation, … learning not to be reactive. Finding solutions, not just dwelling on problems.
Often wearing t-shirts with the acronym MALE to convey “More action, less ego,” Droze and Holoman seek out the aha moment when young men reach the “turning point to see things differently,” Droze said. . “They might not like the direction they are going and want to change it. We help them through self-examination, … looking at bad examples and actions and showing them that they don’t have to go in that direction.
Holoman noted, “As men we usually suffer in silence, and this is even more the case for boys and young men. And if they’re in a toxic environment, it’s consuming; they need answers to their questions so as not to fall into the void, … into a hole. We do not try to accumulate our wisdom on them, but rather we share our experiences as parents and children. [both Holoman and Droze are raising boys] so that they understand where we are and where we have been.
“It’s a question of responsibility,” added Droze. “We decided early on that we couldn’t write and we couldn’t talk about things that we don’t practice in our own lives.” They also encourage men of strong character to seek out and be available for young men in difficulty. For Droze and Holoman to be “out of work,” so to speak, Droze indicated, “It has to be rooted in our culture to know how to be a man. …Somewhere along the way, our society has moved away from men who focus on nurture, responsibility, and character. I had my father and uncles to impart wisdom and life skills. Mike had deacons in his church to impart wisdom. Men need to teach boys, and when they don’t, we’re happy to help.
Often the impact of books, talks and podcasts is measurable. Droze recounts sharing goal-setting strategies with college kids during one of their “Manhood Academy” mentoring/tutoring sessions when one of the students decided to write and publish a graphic novel, which eventually been accepted into the local library system.
“We had handed out worksheets so they could express their own goals and how to read them, and one boy took what we talked about seriously and turned it into reality,” Droze said.
What started as a ‘someone should’ became a ‘we did’ – and the benefits have been lasting, as evidenced by boys and men meeting in random places and regular comments about lives transformed for good.
This article originally appeared in American Essence magazine.