Jefferson Noel is only 23, but he has accomplished more than most people his age. Noel is an author and the founder of a social organization, Barbershop Speaks, where community leaders and residents come together to express their opinions and spread information that affect Black Miami.
The young entrepreneur is modest about his accomplishments but proud of his Blackness.
“I am royalty, and I am someone who lives with an understanding that I have the ability to make a significant and measurable impact in the world,” he said.
A debate over who is the better basketball player – LeBron James or Stephen Curry – in a barbershop turned into the epiphany that led to Noel organizing his first event. “I was like, you know what, this is an interesting argument,” said Noel. “But I was thinking, ‘what would be more interesting?’ What if we had the same passion about something that mattered?” he said.
For more than a year, Barbershop Speaks facilitates discussions about politics, race, education, financial literacy, law and women empowerment in Liberty City, North Miami Beach, North Miami, Little Haiti and Opa-locka.
Noel has also given motivational talks at local high schools and Florida International University. He has also created a scholarship fund for local high school seniors through his organization. As a teenager growing up in North Miami, Noel did not know exactly what he wanted to be. He just knew that he wanted to earn his own paycheck. “All of my friends were set and focus on their goals. I was looking at myself like what’s wrong with me,” said Noel. “I just knew that I wanted to be successful. I just had no idea what that would be.”
Ramces Noel, Jefferson Noel’s father said that it doesn’t surprise him that his son cares so much about the betterment of others. When Ramces Noel left Haiti for Miami for “a better life” in 1981, he knew that he may not be able to obtain all his goals, but that he knew he could pave the way for his future family.
“I believed it would be a better life because you are able to care for yourself and family, help others who can’t help themselves and be useful to society,” he said.
Jefferson Noel has already exceeded his father’s expectations. He has not only been a positive contribution to society through his Barbershop Speaks events, but he also published a book that he says will help people over- come their worse fear—public speaking. Published in November 2017, “Powerful Presenting: How to Overcome One of the Nation’s Greatest Fears” is a guide on the basics of crafting the best speeches.
But Jefferson Noel is not stopping there. He is writing his second book, “Go, How to Cross the Starting Line” a motivational book about taking chances and goal setting. “Most people never cross the finish line because they never get past the starting line,” Jefferson Noel said.
The young entrepreneur graduated with his bachelor’s degree in communication arts in December 2017 and is now working on his master’s degree in global strategic communications.
As a young Black man, Jefferson Noel has beaten the odds, and he wants other young men to know that they can do so also. “There are a lot of reasons to not become who you want to be,” he said noting the achievement gaps for Black males. “At the same time, I do believe we have all that is needed to accomplish our goals.”
Jefferson Noel continued, “We have enough examples to live by and enough people who care about us to win…If we focus on disparaging circumstances, we will forever be a victim of those circumstances.”