BE Modern Man: Meet ‘Athlete-Turned-Financial-Guru,’ Isaac M. Cooper

BE Modern Man is an integrative program that honors the essence, image, and accomplishments of today’s man of color. With features of today’s leaders, executives, creatives, students, politicians, entrepreneurs, professionals, and agents of change—these men share the common thread of creating a new normal while setting the bar in tech, art, philanthropy, business, and beyond. The BE Modern Man is making a positive impact, his way, and has a story to tell.

BE MODERN MAN ISAAC M. COOPER

Name: Isaac M. Cooper

Age: 28

Profession: CEO. Financial Guru. Speaker. Former D1 Athlete. Entrepreneur.

One Word that Describes you: Intentional

Social Media handles: Instagram: @planning__22  Twitter: @planning__22 Facebook: @isaac.cooper.509

What does being one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction mean to you?

It’s uplifting, knowing that ultimately, I stand on the shoulders of the millions of Black Men of Distinction who laid the foundation and operated in their purpose prior to my existence. Since 1970, Black Enterprise has been a pillar in cultivating excellence in the black community as it pertains to business, people, and passion. I’m honored to stand shoulder to shoulder with brothers who are continuing the movement dedicated to empowerment.

What are some examples of how you have turned struggle into success?

The biggest struggle we face on a day-to-day basis is the ability to manage our mindset in the midst of turmoil, disappointment, or in perceived powerless situations. By the time I was in high school in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, I had made up my mind about which route I wanted to take, which was football.

The other career paths I considered emerged from what I saw and what was celebrated—the entertainer (rapper or actor) or the entrepreneur who doesn’t pay taxes. If you look at what is considered “success” when it comes to young men of color, you’ll see nice cars, clothes, houses, and nine times out of 10, pretty girls. Whenever I turned on the television or listened to the radio, it was athletes who got the praise, accolades, and million-dollar contracts. My older brother played professionally and was an All-American and All-SEC football player at Mississippi State. That’s what I knew, so that’s where I focused my time and energy, also knowing that the entrepreneur route would not, and could not be long-term. After receiving a full athletic scholarship to Samford University from former Heisman Trophy Winner and then-head football coach Pat Sullivan, I thought I was on my way to the NFL. Then injuries forced me to change course. I’ll never forget the day after our last game when we played Auburn University. I cried like a baby. Not necessarily because it was over, but because I had no clue what I was going to do, and what I wanted to do was no longer an option.

In this very moment of struggle, uncertainty, and disappointment, God began to reveal why I exist, in what was probably one of the most painful moments of my life. In turn, I had to identify my God-given talent as it pertained to what I could give to others. I’ve always been good and comfortable with numbers. I’ve always had a heart to help people but never knew how I could marry the two. Immediately, I transitioned into the financial industry with the goal to help clients navigate and make smart financial decisions. After transitioning from a Fortune 100 company, I founded IMC Financial Consulting, LLC with the intention of leaving an impactful legacy not only for my family but also for the families of the clients we serve. Our clients range from business owners to professional athletes and anyone in between whose focus is to better themselves and the lives of those who come after them. Since being founded, we’ve been fortunate to be featured in NASDAQ, NerdWallet, Atlanta Blackstar, and other outlets. Ultimately, my pain, which I still revisit, helped propel me toward my purpose.

What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?

Authenticity. Regardless of what we talk about, whether we agree or disagree, I know that what I am hearing and seeing is what it is. Just be who you are.

What are some of the immediate projects you are working on?

In April of 2018, I transitioned as founder and president of the Samford Black Alumni Association. We were the first black alumni association in school history which recently celebrated 50 years of integration. As with any transition of leadership, this is a critical space to ensure the imprint of legacy will sustain for the alumni, students, and faculty we serve. This is actually one of my favorite times of the year because I get to work on Next Level Football Camp. Last year, we provided a free breakfast and lunch for more than 500 kids in Birmingham, Alabama. This is a one-day camp that has the power to change the other 364 days of their lives. I leave every year physically exhausted, voice shot, and spiritually overjoyed because of the impact we make in these kids’ lives.

What is the best advice you ever received?

You are enough.

What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?

Don’t discount quiet time. Some people like to call it meditation. Regardless, if you’re looking to make a difference in some form or fashion, you will be sowing seeds in the manner that is aligned with your purpose. In order to sow, you have to create a space to ensure the seed you are sewing is coming from the right source. When you are on good ground, and assuming every man who is reading this is, any seed you sow in yourself, good or bad, will grow. When you know you are making a difference, you have to be sure you don’t lose that value through your quiet time and to ensure you are getting the right instruction.

How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?

Prior to any meeting, I always do my research and essentially imagine watching myself perform in the meeting, almost as if I were watching film to prepare for a football game. Once I have the necessary paperwork and process laid out, I’m listening to music, depending upon the type of meeting, possibly some trap music.

As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation? Share a story about your best vacation.

There’s something about the water that brings stillness to the soul. But I have to be very transparent when I say this. As long as the wife has some chips, I have something sweet to eat. A staycation with the lady is good enough for me.

If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Of course, that would be Jamaica for me. I’m Jamaican by blood and Floridian by birth, so a majority of my existence has been here in the States. Ninety-five percent of my family is overseas between Jamaica and Europe. I’ve visited Jamaica before, but it would be nice to stay for a while.

What is your “Extraordinary Impact?”

At IMC, our goal is to keep it simple. We have two major milestones we’re working toward in the next quarter of a century. Over the next 25 years, we will have a $2 billion impact in the black community through exposure, education, and more importantly, execution that we will guide our clients through. We have clients of all ethnicities and races, but we feel as a firm, it is important that we have a tangible impact on the black community that will be a game changer for future generations. Another goal we are working toward is related to impacting the bankruptcy rate for NFL players. An estimated 78–80% of NFL players go bankrupt three to five years after their last game. Over the next 25 years, we have a very strategic goal to reduce that to less than 50%. The quicker these athletes understand the NFL is not a career, but more so an experience to create career-type opportunities, the quicker we’ll alleviate that number. Emphasizing the importance of financial literacy, leveraging their personal brand, and ensuring they can navigate through life events will allow them to transition from executing from the neck down at a high level, to executing from the neck up. These principles, accompanied by a focus on the community, will empower them to have a multi-generational effect on their bloodline.

Anything else you’d like to say?

I’m always humbled and appreciative of those who take time to learn about my purpose. Thank you!

 

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