Dr. Alex Ellis is an entrepreneur and one of the strongest voices in the movement of inspiring , motivating and transforming the lives of young black men worldwide. Powered by his non-profit organization Tied to Greatness, the Hillside New Jersey native has used his love for personal style and the ability to see the potential that lies within our youth to impact the lives of more than 10,000 inner-city high school males across the nation and abroad.
Recognized for his abilities and his work in the community for many years, Dr. Ellis has partnered with some pretty amazing organizations that target youth and community impact, such as the Disney Dreamers Academy and the Steve Harvey Mentoring Program. Aside from his speaking engagements that not only span high school, but also the corporate sector, Dr. Ellis is the author behind his award- winning book: Restoring The Male Image: A look from the Inside Out ,which focuses on the inner work that must done in order to step into the light of who we are truly destined to be in.
Though his work brings about unspeakable joy & fulfillment, Dr. Ellis prides himself on being the father and husband he watched his father be to his wife and children.
DearFathers spoke with the transformational speaker and entrepreneur about his fatherhood journey, relationship with his father and making the most of his passion for community impact.
Growing up as the youngest of five children, Dr. Ellis has benefited from being raised by a father who had tons of practice really understanding the role of true fatherhood and leadership in his household and community. Dr. Ellis reflected on the impact his father had on his life and how it has helped him as a father to his own children today, stating” My father was PRESENT, home every night and at my activities for school.” But his fathers presence and leadership extended past the four walls of their New Jersey home, his father also served as the “neighborhood dad” a man that seemed to stand as a father figure to fatherless kids in the neighborhood, someone they could look up to and receive the same type of guidance he provided to his own children. As for the man he is today, his father has made the greatest impact on his life as dad, husband, leader and entrepreneur.
” I live by the standard of keeping my family first”
You ask any father, what they love most about being a dad 9/10 you will receive back a variety of different answers, but somewhere in the conversation the word LEGACY is bound to appear, why you ask? Because while we aren’t able to carry our child, we assume the role of leadership, teaching our sons or daughters how to navigate life. ” My father never missed an opportunity to teach me a life lesson; it could be as simple as paying attention to the oil light coming on in the car and teaching me the importance of slow down, pay attention to the small details in life which are so important”. Dr. Ellis learned that using real-life/ real-time situations are an effective way to not only communicate with your child, but also teach them how life works. ” I let my kids know, that life will always try to teach you something and those lessons will repeat themselves until you learn them.”
” One of the biggest lessons I’ve come to learn is that you have to make IT happen! You just don’t sit by and let life happen to you. Stand up as man and take control of your circumstances.”
Now as a father of four, one biological daughter, Autumn (7) and three unofficially adopted sons, Dr. Ellis shared a story with me about how he and his wife were told that at one time doctors told the happily married couple that they only had a 7% chance of conceiving a child, evening with the help of vitro fertilization (IVF). For many young, in love, married couples; the dream is to get married, have children and build a family together, but when you are told that those chances are slim to none it can be devastating… essentially being denied a piece of your dream. News like this sent Dr. Ellis to a dark place, confused and wondering, ” At the time, I was traveling a lot for the non-profit, inspiring these kids and really making a difference in the lives of young men. If felt like the good that I was doing, I said, God the lease you can do is allow me the joy of being able to have a child.” And them something happened! While visiting Alcorn State University, Dr. Ellis crossed paths with a young man named Lee. A young man who had experienced the mental trauma of a toxic and addiction riddled father whom he had no real connection with.
As their relationship as mentor/ mentee develop, Lee is inclined to ask Dr. Ellis to fill a void, a void only a father could fill. Dr. Ellis was asked by Lee to be his father! Grateful and confused because this wasn’t the plan. The plan was to bare a child with his features , his name and his blood flowing through their body, but God had other plans. After talking things over with the wife, Dr. Ellis accepted Lee into is life as his son! God must have been pleased with Dr. Ellis’s faith and obedience, because he tells me ” three months after saying yes to Lee, my wife told me that she was pregnant!”
For any successful business or organization to reach it’s full potential, it must start with identifying a problem, and then providing a solution to that problem. As a custom clothier and stylist, Dr. Ellis prides himself on presenting one’s best self to the world, thus sparked the idea and creation of his non-profit, Tied to Greatness. Feeling that our young black youth were losing their way and self-respect when it came down to presentation. This was 12 years ago during the height of the sagging jeans era, where it got so bad in some states and communities, law-enforcement were beginning to police and fine the young based on them sagging their pants in public. Where did the pride of looking caring about the way you look go? How could I restore dignity back into the lives of our youth? These are questions Dr. Ellis asked himself while searching for his way to be that solution. If his is nothing else, Dr. Ellis has served as the non-judgement eyes that our youth need. Someone who see’s more than the outer appearance while helping you navigate and bring the potential in our youth.
The hustle is fun, and part of being an entrepreneur with family is taking pride in being able to provide for your family off of the strength of passion, however like anything in life there must be balance. There is no sunshine without rain. Dr. Ellis spoke to me about balancing work, while also taking care of home. Saying, ” at the end of the day.. family is all you have! You can rely on your family, so it took me putting some practical things in place that allows me to be present for my family.”
As the saying goes, ” happy wife= happy life” and that is why in the Ellis household, the First Friday of the month is designated for date night and ” During the week, I try to wrap my business up in the office around 6/7pm, so I can spend a few hours with my daughter befor she goes to bed.”
“Another thing I do is bring my family into my work! I want my daughter to see me giving back to community. I want my kids there helping at Tied To Greatness events, because we are a family that serves! They get to see what services and work really looks like.”
“service is the rent you pay while here on earth.”
Dr. Ellis, who just turned 50! Made a Instagram post in celebration of his birthday stating, ” one of the greatest lessons is that I have the ability to CREATE the life I desire to live.” A profound statement, full of life and powerful action. I asked Dr. Ellis, to share a piece of advice he would share with someone looking to take their life to the next level? He shared this piece of advice with me, ” Do the work. Spend the time, energy and money needed in order to address our inner self. That could be through therapy, self-development or counseling.”
GET TO KNOW YOU!! SPEND THAT TIME TO LEARN THE AREAS THAT NEED HEALING AND DEVELOPMENT & FOCUS ON THAT. IT’S CONTINOUS WORK!
DearFathers:If could write a letter to your father starting with ” Dear Father” what would you say?
Dr. Alex Ellis:
I don’t know how you did it. You raised five of us and made it look so easy, I have one in the house and I don’t know how you did it. Living life has taught me to appreciate all the sacrifices you’ve made for me and my siblings. You are an amazing father, husband, leader and entrepreneur. My prayer is that my life would be bring you joy in knowing that your legacy is good hands…you’ve have taught me well and I will live the rest of my life to honor your legacy!
I hope you enjoyed my interview with Dr. Alex Ellis and left feeling a little more encouraged. To continue following Dr. Alex Ellis and the work he is doing with Tied To Greatness you can stay tapped in below.