One Man Can Change the World

One Man Can Change the World

While good intentioned, it can be perceived as cliché and contrived to spotlight the stories of minorities during a specified month or period of time (like Black History Month, for example). Not because listening to the stories, triumphs, and struggles of marginalized people isn’t invaluable, but because real inclusion requires energy and compassion every day of the year. This is something that we consciously (and constantly) work to deeply engrain into our culture at Yeske Buie, and we value every opportunity to have uncomfortable conversations in pursuit of true equality.

That said, we welcome any opportunity to highlight the special people on our team, and in this space, we feature Partner and Senior Financial Planner, Yusuf Abugideiri, who vulnerably shares his thoughts and experiences as a Black man in the US and in the financial planning profession. Thank you for being you, Yusuf.

Honoring the Past

This section could be filled with dozens of stories about the challenges Yusuf has experienced as a Black man. However, it was important to Yusuf to focus on the positives, speaking volumes of who he is as a person…

“The gift of being Black – among the other parts of my ethnic background that I bring to the table – provides complexity that adds richness to my life.

My ancestors weren’t slaves. I’m not a traditional African American according to some definitions. To some I’m not ‘Black enough’ and to others I’m not ‘White enough’. I’ve had to compromise how I share myself with people many times, and my relationship with my Blackness has had to evolve.

But despite the challenges, being Black has taught me empowering life lessons. I’ve grown to a place today where I feel more comfortable with myself and with how others see me. And I feel like my Blackness – in both my personal and professional life – is not just highlighted but gives me the freedom to be ME. To live Black – to Live Big. I feel more accepted by Blacks and non-Blacks today than I have at any other point in my life.”

Celebrating the Present 

One of the most important pieces of the financial planning engagement is the robust discovery process where we endeavor to uncover a Client’s greatest hopes and dreams and to learn more about who and what matters most to them. Although Yusuf has spent his twelve-year career dedicated to listening to and discovering others, they’re not the only people he’s learned more about…

“The way that we practice discovery and financial planning at Yeske Buie focuses on creating a space to learn about another person for the specific purpose of helping them with their life and making their dreams real. Discovery, uncovering values, and making sure others feel seen and heard are critical to being a financial planner.

And the practice of guiding people through this process has helped me grow as both a financial planner and as a Black man. It’s helped me embrace my Blackness. It’s helped me feel empowered, understand myself more, and connect with people more confidently. And it’s because through discovery, I can see myself more clearly. Which helps me connect more authentically.”

Shaping the Future 

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” We’ll turn it over to Yusuf to share his thoughts on the future and believing in your dreams…

“I’ve heard some suggest an energetic shift from the idea of Black History Month to Black Futures Month. Continually thinking about Black history is a critical part of honoring our past. And the idea of Black Futures Month is to accept that Black people are powerful, and to enhance the focus on what we’re doing today in service of tomorrow and what we’re setting up for the future. This resonates with me because I’m a planner – I’m always thinking about the future!

As I look ahead for myself, I acknowledge that I am recognized and seen as a powerful Black man, and I think a lot about what I can do for others with that power and recognition. Platforms can be used to open doors for others, and I’d like to do that with mine.

I own a firm with four other White people. Relative to the composition of our profession, our firm is majority-minority owned, and yet I’m the only one who looks like me. But I don’t feel like the odd man out – I don’t feel “other”. I am a fully empowered Black man, and it’s so important to me to recognize this. Watching myself become successful, and then empowering others to do the same…it’s rewarding on a level that’s indescribable. And I can’t stop now. I have a lot more to do.”

Thank you for taking the time to engage with us on this topic, and many thanks to Yusuf for his honesty and vulnerability. We so value the opportunity to continue building a community that believes in diversity, inclusion, and equality, and we all reap the benefits of having so many different perspectives on our team and in our community. The future is bright – Live Big!

Editor’s Note: The title of this piece is a nod to a song that is a favorite of a few of our team members – you can find the video below.