The best selling author and entrepreneur discusses why his latest endeavor, GENTLEWOMAN is an etiquette and lifestyle guide as opposed to a relationship manual. He shares insight on expanding your network and knowing your worth.
Born and raised in San Jose, California, the heart of Silicon Valley, Enitan O. Bereola II always had an affinity for information technology. He attended FAMU (Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University) where he studied computer information systems. After several internships which included HP (Hewlett-Packard) and Bereola, who defines himself as an extrovert decided he didn’t want to be confined to a cubicle. “I didn’t feel like it was enough for me,” he says.
“I listened to advice from mentors about writing a lifestyle guide that was inline with my perspective and the way I lived my life.” His first book, Bereolaesque: The Contemporary Gentleman & Etiquette Book For The Urban Sophisticate, debuted in the top 5 on iTunes self improvement book list in 2009 and became and Amazon Kindle bestseller.
Now 32, Bereola initially began writing his first book around age 25. When asked where did he learn how to be so dapper, he attributes his mannerisms to his upbringing. “My tastes have always been above my years in terms of what I was attracted to. In high school I would wear suits that rivaled my professors just because, I got satisfaction from knowing my tie and my dress shirt goes harder than some of these professors even when I was 16. I was always fascinated with things beyond my years.”
He continues, “My mother made sure my siblings and I were surrounded by the arts and that we had an opportunity to travel. That exposure created an atmosphere for diversity. I never felt like I have to like certain things because I’m black. I think a lot of us are held back by certain stereotypes. I’ve never subscribed to that philosophy that I have to act a certain way because I’m part of a culture.”
On the writing process behind GENTLEWOMAN Bereola says he initially had reservations about writing the book because he knew penning a book about women can oftentimes be a controversial topic. “I knew I was entering a sensitive territory and the market is already saturated with a lot of self-help content.”
However, the writing process allowed him to be honest about things he wasn’t able to say to those he cared about. “In the scenarios, you can’t necessarily tell who I’m talking to but the readers can connect to it. The whole book flows in the manner where people have said they feel like I’m talking directly to them.” Celebrities including Hill Harper, Meagan Good, Bryan-Michael Cox and Michelle Williams shared insight to inform, educate and empower womanhood. When asked how their contributions to the book came about, Bereola emphasized the importance of nurturing personal and professional relationships. “I always made sure I contributed to the relationships I was building. I made sure I wasn’t always looking for a hand out.”
He shares this advice that has served him well over the years. “I have a vast network of people in various industries. For example, I’ll know a musician or an athlete and I may not need them in terms of business but when another colleague is in town I would offer them tickets to a game or a show; I would extend my network.” He continues, “When you reach out to people for no reason and offer them concert tickets, they say ‘thanks for thinking of me’. When you build that type of value in a relationship, when you need a favor those types of people will look out. I don’t do it for the purpose of the favors, it just works both ways.”
When asked how he would describe GENTLEWOMAN , Bereola made sure to clarify that it is not a relationship manual, though he does touch on dating, the book is an etiquette and lifestyle guide. He explains, “Relationships are a form of etiquette but it’s not an external “how to…”, its deeper than that. It touches on things you may be afraid to approach and deal with on your own; I try to bring those topics to the surface.”
Bereola says the take away of GENTLEWOMAN is as follows, “If you don’t know who you are, once you get to the end of the book you’ll find out. You approach the world differently when you know who you are. This book could serve as a reminder, if you’ve gotten off course; sometimes we can be distracted with social media and we want to take short cuts to our success. Sometimes there’s an innate pressure that something is wrong if things in your life aren’t happening as fast as you want them to. GENTLEWOMAN is a reminder for women not to grow weary, continue on your path.”
In 2015, Bereola will continue to tour with the book and it has been given to a screenwriter to adapt into a movie. Though he’s had immense success as an author and entrepreneur, Bereola shares this insight on the perseverance he’s had to have to make it this far. “I’ve heard every type of ‘no’ and ‘not yet’ but it never stopped me. A lot of people can’t handle that type of rejection or that number of doors closing. If someone says there’s absolutely no way to get this done, that doesn’t register to me, it doesn’t make sense; there’s always a way to get it done.”
He continues, “Respect the process. There’s so much treasure and beauty in the sweat and in the journey that people overlook when they’re going thru the storm. Once you’re on the other side of it, you can really reflect on how far you’ve come. On your journey, make sure you don’t compare yourself to others.” On what keeps him motivated in the midst of difficulty Bereola says, “I think about a situation that seemed impossible and how God brought me through it. God’s record is impeccable. So why at 32 years old would I ever worry about a thing when I know that God’s promises are right on time. Remembering that keeps me motivated.”