By N. Ali Early
Born into homelessness and forced to fend for himself before he could legally rent a hotel room, Marcus “Him 500” Barney blossomed into a self-taught millionaire through hard work and dogged determination. After mastering the art of turning credit into cash while legally developing strategies that would support his immediate family, the former cellphone repairman and real estate investor developed a movement – Recession Proof – built to create wealth in the Black community.
Whether Barney’s mentees absorb the gift that is Recession Proof totally depends on them. But make no mistake about it: The essential tools and financial resources provided during his widely popular sessions are available to any and all entrepreneurs with the desire to learn. There are no gimmicks, fees or obvious signs of nepotism – just unadulterated wisdom learned from countless hours of study and an overwhelming desire to live a luxurious existence.
Never in his wildest dreams did the 32-year-old Bay Area native think he would become a philanthropist. But there he was less than a month ago chartering two planes from Atlanta to his Miami-bound Recession Proof conference — all because Delta Airlines could not accommodate his 300 guests.
“I contacted Delta because I thought it would be cool if we could just charter a plane,” he recalls. “I wanted us to all get on one flight and fly together from Atlanta to Miami. That way we [could] network and just really build that camaraderie amongst the family. Delta told us they didn’t have enough time.
“So since Delta couldn’t accommodate us, what I did was I went out and got two Boeing 757s.”
Packed with 300 people, including mentees, leaders and new prospects, Barney and company took to the friendly skies with an air of privacy and controlled fun that set the stage for a powerful conference. The three-day event welcomed Recession Proof advocates Floyd Mayweather, Rick Ross and “Earn Your Leisure” podcast hosts Rashad Bilal and Troy Millings.
“We laughed and we created content,” Barney recalls. “We [were] telling jokes, listening to music. We had a good time and it was … almost like a Soul Plane … and we got to travel in style.”
Barney recently sat down with rolling out to discuss his business model that is actively creating Black millionaires.
What is financial literacy, and why is it so important for Black people?
When it comes to financial literacy, we have to understand that we’re behind the gun. When it comes to finances [and creating wealth], we’re behind the gun. Financial literacy is just understanding all financial aspects of the game. It starts with budgeting, then it goes into credit, and from credit understanding how to leverage credit, understanding how to invest, understanding how to build businesses and how to properly use and structure the funds.
What do people gain by joining Recession Proof?
One of the biggest things is that you gain a community and a family of other entrepreneurs and other individuals [who] are looking to better their lives. [It’s about] having that community and family base as well as the information to several different businesses — not only on how to build [but also how to] raise your funding and raise capital for yourself. You learn how to become your own bank and find your own business ventures.
What’s in it for you if you’re not getting anything on the front end? How does it work for you financially?
One of my mentors taught me, “Rookies monetize on the front end. Experts monetize on the back.” It’s not always about the up-front costs. It’s about the impact and the value that you add on the back end that impacts the community and that helps build the brand.
When people can see on the back end that you really care, [that] you’re really pouring into the community, [that] this is something that’s real, everybody wins. … I lead my program with integrity. I lead it with honesty. I lead it with love. So when you look at my program and you look at every member in the program, that’s what they lead and build with.
How did you build your business to the point where you could help other entrepreneurs? Did you know this would be the model you would use?
I never planned on telling anybody. That was never my goal. My family didn’t know what I did. They couldn’t understand how I was able to live the life that I [did]. My goal was never to tell anyone. [My mentor], Eric Thomas, is the one who told me that “if you find a way to change your family trajectory and you don’t share it with another man, [you’re] selfish.” And when he said that, it resonated a little bit different. Me just having my daughter, looking at her [and] seeing how good it felt, I was proud to be a parent … and that is what sparked [in] me to even entertain sharing information with other people.
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