Renaissance man: an interview with Fonzworth Bentley
blog by Kathryn Przybyla • March 01, 2012 @ 8:00am
“Whatever you do, strive to do it so well that no man living and no man dead, and no man yet to be born can do it any better.”
This is a quote from Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, that Fonzworth Bentley has focused his life around. It’s his motto, his mission statement and how he approaches every obstacle, project and opportunity. The Atlanta native spoke to students at Buffalo State about confidence, etiquette, looking the part and natural swagger. Once known as P. Diddy’s personal assistant and umbrella holder, Bentley has made a name for himself as a pop icon and style maven.
We got a chance to speak to Mr. Bentley prior to to his “advance your swagger” chat and here’s what he had to say.
Where can someone draw inspiration from, for their own personal style and swagg?
Fonzworth Bentley: Style comes, first and foremost, from within. You must have a true understanding of who you are. It’s all about looking like a prospect, not a suspect. A lot of focus ends up on trends in the fashion industry, but folks need to be more concerned with building a wardrobe instead.
After college, you are expected to show up for work and be professional with excellence. Over four years, you should be able to knock the wardrobe and style essentials off your list so that you’re prepared. Chip away at the things you’ll need.
What is the key to being confident and successful?
FB: Confidence comes from spending time doing something and getting comfortable with it. Like this couch we’re sitting on. We’ve sat on enough couches before to be confident in the fact that it will hold us up. Leaving college, everyone should have their 15 second pitch set.
There is a ten out of 10 chance that, moving forward, you’ll run into someone who can help you along the way. It can be intimidating, but it’s all about understanding proper etiquette in all social situations.
When it comes to success, that’s a tricky word. There is no one who is excellent, that is not successful. Success is all about how well you are achieving your assignment on earth.
What upcoming projects are you currently working on?
FB: I have some television shows in development, but can’t really talk too much about them. For people who watched “G’s to Gents,” it’ll be about getting to the heart of an individual. There’s also a shoe line I have in the work’s for Gregory’s, for men and women.
And I ‘m always working on my curriculum. The curriculum is about getting that competitive advantage, perception and how you approach opportunities. I approached everything with excellence. With that, your confidence will come. I want to teach these methods to students and young people so that they go and spread it.
Sophomore year in college is really the perfect year for it. It’s the transitional space. Your not a freshman anymore, but you’re not set in your upperclassman ways yet. They can be ambassadors. With a common goal for everyone to work together in social situations, the change could be powerful.
With so many interests, what is your true passion?
FB: I’m more than a renaissance man. I’m really a catalyst for pushing people to their destiny and excellence. With conventional wisdom, you go to school, you get a job and then you become a CEO. That’s not the way it is these days. You have to be a CEO now. You have to be a CEO of your own business and your own brand.
Swagger needed to be redefined and business is done over dining. It’s not just about the office. A different level of excellence is needed today and I want to help young people achieve that.
Bentley’s “Advance Your Swagger” is a full guide to using manners, style and confidence to get ahead. Inside the book, you’ll learn:
• manners and the magic of Please and Thank You
• the art of eating well, from which glass to use to handling the napkin
• the basics of fine dining, whether you’re a host or a guest
• the do’s and “oh no you di’int’s” of cell phones, e-mail, and text messaging
• projecting confidence through your body language
• the power of introductions, even when you can’t remember someone’s name
• what to do before, during, and after a job interview
• body maintenance, from hair to toes to pearly whites
• the principles of timeless fashion, so you never go out of style
• 15 things every man and 15 things every woman must have in his or her closet
Photo credit: Donald Schwartz