by La’Kayra Larramore | Photography by Dave Barfield
Seth Fiegerman, editor of the blog OpeningLines.org, said it best: “When you see someone who’s very successful, you almost imagine that it was a foregone conclusion, that they’re a genius, that they were destined for great things. We never look into the background story.” Most of us glorify a person’s success. We dream and wish to take over their present life but make the common mistake of skipping their past. Eric Friall, founder of Aeson Group, is deeply glorified for his accomplishments. When asked what three terms described his life he simply stated: average, amazing and mentorship.
Possessing a dynamic work ethic, you wouldn’t believe Eric Friall, President of the FSU Black Alumni Association, considered himself to be average. The life he lives today was not predetermined. Ironically, a lot of Eric Friall’s decision-making was made by influence; he did not have a mentor to guide him. “I was bad at setting goals because of my environment,” explained Friall, “My first goal was to make one thousand dollars for every year, that I was old.” Now, he is determined to guide young men; furthering their mindsets and opening their eyes to bigger things. He currently serves as the President for the 100 Black Men of Tallahassee, which is a mentoring organization built around four pillars: economic empowerment, health and wellness, education and mentoring. Established in 1992 by Tommy Mitchell, the men who pledged their lives to 100 Black Men of Tallahassee alongside Friall, extend the idea of advancement to their young pupils. “Looking at your current situation and saying you want to be the best, is not enough; you can be bigger than that, you can be bigger than what you imagine.”
In this day and age Friall is a mentor at heart, teaching young men that they should never be afraid to ask for help, to never “clam up or shut down because things will always get tough around us, but you can never give up.” After graduating with his B.A. in International Affairs and Economics, he went on to collecting multiple titles within his career. Mentoring the youth is a life-time commitment he has made to Tallahassee and to himself. The organization empowers young men and women. They provide programs such as the Saturday Academy, where participants meet two Saturdays out of the month, for two hours, to participate in learning seminars. These programs help to shape the lives of the active participants; advancing their social skills and life skills, and enhancing their futures by helping them network. These programs are only the beginning. They grow bonds with their mentees by spending quality time and making sure they merge themselves into their personal lives.
“When you really peel the layers back we have lived an amazing life,” said Friall. With his wife, whom he met in 1989 at Florida State University, and his daughter, who was elected student council president for the Maclay Lower School, Friall’s commitment to shaping the youth extends further than the 100 Black Men of Tallahassee; you could find Friall mentoring students in the Leon County School District, and giving his time to support the Boys Choir of Tallahassee where he served as the past Board member and choir Vice President.