Black Entrepreneurs Launch “Be Great University,” a Digital Community

We were operating under the belief that community builds champions, and that influenced how we connected with the neighborhood a
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[Champions Barbering Institute\Be Great University]
Be Great University offers two levels of membership. Becoming a member of the BU online community costs $249 annually and offers a gathering place where like-minded people can come together and discuss structured topics.
Photo: Chris Crabb

Jamaal and Christina Lane are well known in the Portland Metropolitan region as the husband-and-wife team behind three successful barbershops and a barber institute.

In response to the pandemic-enforced shutdown, they have taken lessons they’ve learned as Black business owners and launched a digital platform called “Be Great University,” where they will offer foundational curriculum paired with a supportive community for like-minded individuals striving for greatness.

The Lanes virtually cut the ribbon on Be Great University (BU) earlier this month, building on their success with Champions Barbershops and Champions Barbering Institute and going beyond to share their wisdom, insight and guidance with others looking to pursue what Christina calls a “master’s in self.“

“Through operating Champions Barbering Institute, we learned that we could bring out the best in students beyond teaching technical skills,” said Jamaal. “Barbering was the draw, but we realized students were looking up to us and trusting us to help with their transition to become professionals. They were rebuilding and restructuring who they were and where they could go with confidence. We have seen the appreciation and the impact, and we want to share that same inspiration with others.”

Be Great University’s core program, called Cultivating Greatness, focuses on personal development as an essential key to professional success. The initial five-week, self-led workshop delves into how to cultivate greatness from within using proven foundational methods.

According to BU community member and Cultivating Greatness participant Dylan Cruz, “Be Great University created an atmosphere where I was able to connect with people during the prime time of the Covid-19 pandemic. It gave me the ability to change, not only how I work and operate, but also how I view my perception and take steps toward my version of success. I was able to write my book because of the accountability I received via the group. The Lanes have created a step by step process on how to find your inner purpose through growth and development."

Be Great University offers two levels of membership. Becoming a member of the BU online community costs $249 annually and offers a gathering place where like-minded people can come together and discuss structured topics. Enrolling in the Cultivating Greatness program, which includes annual community membership, costs $699.

The Lanes believe the typical BU member might be a professional who is looking to pivot to a different model in response to the pandemic, someone who needs to get creative to make the necessary shift. Having the fortitude and optimism to make a necessary shift, even in the face of daunting circumstances, has been Jamaal’s route to success throughout his professional life. He opened his first shop in 2008 on Portland’s Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in the middle of an economic recession. He and Christina went all in to make it a luxury shop with special touches to attract a wide range of customers. The shop thrived.

“We were operating under the belief that community builds champions, and that influenced how we connected with the neighborhood as a business,” said Jamaal. “We understood that there would be no ‘Champions’ without the community’s support. We stand up for them, and the community stands up for us.”

BU will allow the Lanes to continue what is most important to them: building community. The couple plans to use BU as a way to help people who have the mindset to invest in their personal and professional development to go to a deeper level.

“The idea is to empower people to use their unique talents and inner strength to overcome any obstacles they find in their way,” Christina said. “We are ready to coach up great people using the mental systems and methods that have proven to be a success in our personal and professional endeavors.”

Considering the turmoil facing the nation now––with the pandemic, economic fallout, divisive politics, and nationwide protests for equity and justice––Jamaal and Christina have faith that the time is right for BU. Added Jamaal, “We want to tap into each person’s inner resolve to live life on their own terms; to find and define their pathway to success––a pathway that starts within. We are on a mission to help 2,000 members empower themselves by 2021 with Cultivating Greatness.”

BeGreat.life | @be.great.u

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