I’ve said it before, and I will say it over and over again, us tall people usually have a unspoken connection that relates to us being tall. It can be randomly running into someone at the grocery store or the car wash, and all it takes is being taller than the average, and you feel the bond of understanding all things height related. I connected with this month’s interviewee, Donavan S. West via social media after having a debate on the topic of relationships. I later asked him if he would be interested in being interviewed for, "The TALLK".
Jump forward to the weekend of the "We Been Rockin" panel discussion and netoworking mixer, we had a photoshoot scheduled the day before the event for rahmosley.com, and it would be our first time meeting in person. We met up before the shoot so we could pull clothing, and also discuss another project we are working on together (details coming soon). It instantly felt like catching up with an old friend, which made the photoshoot a breeze and us working together flow effortlessly! In the time that I’ve known Donavan, I can honestly say that I admire his drive, professionalism, ability to work a room networking, public speaking, directness, business acumen, having a good listening ear, and a lowkey therapist lol! I’m honored to now call him a friend, and now I present to you "THE TALLK" featuring, Donavan S. West.
Name: Donavan S. West
Height: 6 6’
Marital Status: In a relationship
Occupation: CEO of Culturally Congruent Solutions COO of People For People
Who is Donavan S. West?
Donavan S. West is a passionate professional that believes in moving people forward by leveraging his purpose, skills and gifts. A Caribbean King that believes enlarging his territory through positive influence and impact while also shattering stereotypes at every opportunity he gets. A proud father that takes pride in being his daughters weekend chauffeur as he goes from dance class to choir rehearsal to cooking! A leader that will develop other leaders because he would rather live a legacy than leave one.
When was the first time you realized you were tall? How do you feel your height made you different?
I was always tall for my age as a youth but there was a moment when I became glaringly and painfully evident. At the ripe age of 12 I was 6 feet tall and totally oblivious to just how big I’d become. One warm afternoon, I recall seeing my mother posted at the front door people-watching while getting some air. Somehow, I came up with the genius idea to surprise, or should I say, scare her. Now don’t get it twisted; as a 6-footer with size 12 feet, I knew I was a long way from being an average 12-year old’s size. But it was this same 12-year-old giant that crouched and crept up with ninja-panther-like cadence up to his unassuming mother. So, when I approached the porch entrance and was within striking/scaring distance; I pounced only to crack my head on the doorframe of the porch. With a 6-inch gash in my head and blood everywhere, there I sat in shock (literally) as my poor mom, startled by the thump and crashing sound coupled by an image of her son staring in shock through streams of blood. An ambulance and a handful of stitches later; I became painfully aware that I was tall.
My height made me different because I was very young. By the age of 13, I grew to 6 4’ so I instantly stood out amongst my peers. I was often the source of the jokes because of the size and cultural (how I talked, dressed etc.) differences. As a book junkie with a mustache growing in, you couldn’t tell me I wasn’t older. My mom had the arduous task of trying to remind me.
What’s the most annoying question you get asked as a tall man?
The most annoying question I get asked as a tall person isn’t “Do you play sports?”. I’ve been around many sports figures and there’s absolutely no difference in how we look so I’ve learned to be ok with that question. I’m annoyed when I get “How’s the weather up there?”. I know that people are just joking but it’s a tad bit hearing the same joke for 30 years!!!!
photo by: @iampriincess
How did your height impact your life differently than others?
I believe that my height has created an opportunity for me to get attention in a world that has a very short attention span. As a youth, my height was unusual but welcomed when I played sports. However, there were times when due to my height it was expected that I just play sports rather than pursue my interest in Law or Psychology. I believe my height also impacted my life positively when I learned that many people in leadership are tall. I felt like my unique height was an indicator for the unique path I would take in life. My height didn’t afford me the opportunity to blend in and that forced me to be mindful of what I do and more aware of my impact. There’s a lot to be said about “presence”; and as a tall man, I’m aware that what I do with my presence can be the distinguishing factor between being received as a Superhero or Villain in the eyes of my circle of influence.
What are some of your biggest challenges when it comes to shopping?
My biggest challenge is often, selection. I find that what I pick up and what’s available are two different things. Going to most stores is usually just exercise or practice because the selection is sparse at best. All the good stuff is in smaller sizes. Although the marketplace is changing, it’s still hard to find great close that have a more “athletic” fit. Big and Tall clothing often is too wide or sometimes too long which becomes an exercise in patience because you need to get it tailored. For that reason, all of my business attire is tailored but I’m as happy as the next person when I can find a great fitting pair of jeans, shirts, or a jacket.
How would you describe your style?
Dapper Giant with a blend of yesterday and tomorrow! Although it’s not mandatory that I wear a suit every day; I enjoy putting together a nice ensemble. It’s a cool challenge to find new combinations and looks because it can get monotonous quickly.
What are some brands that you always wear?
A ton of my clothes are tailored so let me take a moment to shout out my guys like: @Thomastillmanbespoke, @Eminentstylecustoms, @Bigmanculture, @morronisr, @bespokeensemble and @thehollandgirl aka Danielle from Enzo Customs, to name a few. I like Volare, No Kids Weekend, and pick various pieces from DXL. When it comes to shoes my first choice in dress/casual footwear is definitely Cole Haan and Mezlan.
We did a photo shoot for this interview and you wore a nicely crafted tuxedo blazer who’s the designer?
Thank you. Thomas Tillman crafted the tuxedo. He does amazing work and although he has a showroom, came to my office to fit me due to my crazy schedule. That’s that VIP treatment I’m a sucker for.
What are your top 5 fashion must-haves as a tall guy?
Kicks- Identify a great pair of shoes that you can build your wardrobe around. While it’s not your intent to run them into the ground; avoid shoes that are so uniquely colored or designed that they only serve one ensemble.Timepiece – Some would refer to a watch as an accessory, but I believe it is a main component of your attire. It shoes that you’re not only coordinated but a person that values your time.Core Suit- Get a suit that allows you to build around it so that you’re ready to go on that interview, the club or family functionJeans- A great pair of jeans will allow you to be flexible and can create the right kind of balance between the streets and the boardroomGrooming- How you attend to your hair, skin and nails, is as fashionably important as the clothes you wear
Where did you attend college/grad school and how was your college years? Did you place sports?
I attended Penn State University during my undergraduate years and Eastern University for my graduate degree. I played basketball and thought about trying out for Football but didn’t after I broke my knee my sophomore year. Although I wasn’t the tallest player on my team, I won the Center position because of how aggressive I was in the paint. They called me “Baby Shaq”..lol
College was a great experience. During my undergraduate journey, I became president and vice president of various organizations and completed an extended internship on Capitol Hill for Senator Carolyn Mosely Braun while taking a moot-court law-course a George Mason. As a COO at my organization, I pursued a graduate degree to further invest in my development at a managerial position so it wasn’t as exciting but definitely necessary!
Can you tell us about Project DAD?
Project D.A.D.(Developing Active Dads) is a federal, 5 yr, $10,000,000.00 project that focuses on providing 2,500 fathers, responsible fatherhood, healthy relationship and economic stability training. This includes 3 certifications; OSHA 10, ServSaf, and forklift operation coupled with interview skills training, job readiness & placement support, suits, transportation support and lunch.
For so many years now black men have been the targeted by police brutality, what are your views, and do you think it’s possible to end it?
Police brutality is one of the most detrimental stains on the fabric of this country. It undermines and eliminates the potential for people of color to trust authority figures and feel safe in their communities. This can invite escalated forms of violence and anarchy if frustration continues to build between all parties without any aggressive attempt to address the core issues. While it is a small percentage of the overall force that are abusing their power to oppress minorities, the overall lack of action to correct the matter from law enforcement entities is disheartening and causes the negative sentiment towards the police to grow virally.
The problem can be solved if you do the following:
Police sensitivity courses- The courses should be mandatory with exams to ensure police are culturally sensitiveE.I.I.-Emotional Intelligence Inventory/Assessments that would include situational training to see how they are responding to situations involving people of color.Participating partnerships- Police and Community organizations need to regularly participate in events and activities that further humanize both parties and create stronger relationshipsNo tolerance- All offenders of police brutality should be adjudicated full extent of the law and receive harsher punishment for violating their oath and abusing their power.
You’re a father to a beautiful young lady, what are the most important values that fathers should instill in their daughters?
1.Nurturing- Show that you care and most of all you care about them and be transparent about the energy, time and money you leverage to be present in their life.
2. Humility to listen- Teach the ability to listen effectively by showing humility. Admitting that you don’t know is a key to learning how to be an effective listener.
3.Emotional Intelligence- Teach her the ability to process crisis and handle issues without falling apart.
4. Service- Learn how to serve others and the benefits of giving.
5.Grit- To fight through obstacles and challenges and respond to adversity with determination
Walking into the world of XL Influencers what do you hope to accomplish?
I hope to provide and gain additional perspective, encouragement, inspiration and capacity. I’d like to forge some great partnerships and friendships with people of like spirit for the sake of having a greater impact on the people who need it more!
What advice would you give someone looking to become an XL Influencer/social media blogger?
I’d tell that person to keep it authentic. Learn how to distinguish your opinion from fact so that your audience can trust you. Don’t be afraid to be a scientist that comes to the conclusion organically, even at the risk of contradicting your initial beliefs. Your audience will appreciate you and grow from the real perspective you share!
1. Summer or Winter? Summer
2. Night Owl or Early Bird? Both , I hate the afternoon 😊
3. Nike or Adidas Adidas
4. Whitley Gilbert or Jalicia Vincent Whitley Gilbert
5. Nas or Jay Z Jay Z
6. Rap or R&B Workout Rap, Working R & B
7. iphone or Android iPhone
8. Soul Food or Caribbean C’mon man …Caribbean all day
9. Condo or House Condo
10. Favorite food? Oxtail, Rice and Peas with greens
Ladies Choice Questions:
Can a relationship survive after the trust is broken?It can if the person that has been betrayed can forgive while the person that’s the betrayer demonstrates, a consistent change in deceitful behavior. The key is to ensure the betrayed experiences the difference and can eventually build trust ..
Does long distance relationship work long term?Long distance relationships can work long term but only with a select kind of couple that can really appreciate one another and create rules for engagement that they can equally appreciate and follow. Without a plan and schedule for regular communication/interaction; the relationship is in jeopardy.
What advice would you give young athletes heading to college? Stay focused on your education, then the sports. A smart player is the best player and there’s greater value in being more than an athlete. The best athletes are smart and disciplined so education and sports provide the right combination of tools to equip them for a great future.
Sex on the first date? Is it a deal breaker? I believe in authentic and powerful chemistry cleverly disguised as “love at first sight” but the reality is that most times the outcome will be nothing of serious substance. Like most things we may crave, it makes sense to read the ingredients first. Get to know them first and read their label. If you like what you see and it appears it’s good for you, then proceed….
Lastly, is there anything else you would like for my readers to know about you Mr. West?
I never run away from a good question so if there are any questions your audience has on topics concerning relationship dynamics or life overall, I’d be happy to offer some undocumented and validated but solid sounding input. 😊
Thanks for taking time to talk with us Donavan!
We at rahmosley.com would love to hear some feedback from our readers, so please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org! We’re looking forward to hearing you! Thank you