Welcome to Gentleman of the Month, volume four. This ongoing series highlights the notable men of our generation who deserve recognition for supreme effort and achievement in their chosen craft. For our August edition, we’ve chosen to laud a man with an acute awareness of what it means to give back to the world: Ricardo Sebastian, the Founder and Project Manager of Luxury Management. Not only does he go above and beyond in various aspects of his humanitarian work, but does so quite fashionably. We invite you to familiarize yourself with him further below!
Why did you choose to live in Chicago?
I was born and raised in Chicago- so not really a choice initially but I did decide to build and headquarter my company here. This is an incredible city with so much to offer. It’s amazing to see how Chicago has evolved and grown over one lifespan—very proud and grateful to be from Chicago and to have my company headquartered here! I’d say my favorite aspect of this city is the combination of hustle and hospitality with its people.
What is the most important thing to you regarding personal connections and family?
While every relationship I have brings out a different side in me, and is unique in its own way, I would say being able to be authentically me is the most important—whether it is on my worst or best days. We all have something positive to contribute to this world and we all have our downfalls.
It’s important to surround ourselves with people who will be there for you unconditionally. We live in a world driven by instant gratification and that mentality has made it challenging to build meaningful relationships for many. I’ve noticed how quick everyone is to move on when they’re not getting what they want out of people. That’s not what life is about. We’re in this together and that’s why I think it’s important to build unconditional type relationships.
On a more personal level—being gay, I have experienced what it’s like to edit myself in order to fit in, to feel loved and to just have friends. It’s been a long time since I last had to edit myself but the feeling of freedom still exists to this day when I think about all the people in my life who empower me to be simply me—and I think that’s a reasonable expectation for anyone to have of those around them.
What is your most important business philosophy?
Communication is Key: I know that’s might not be most original-eye opening philosophy but I think a lot of people
tend to overlook how effective being clear about ones wants, needs and expectations can be. The more you’re able to articulate yourself then the more effective you will be in achieving your goals and objectives, whether you’re working independently or in a team.
What is the most important thing to you regarding philanthropic service?
Results. I’ve been working with Habitat for Humanity for a long time and I love it because you can quantify results in a very specific way. From how donations are spent to how many hours it takes to build a home, to how many families become homeowners. “Feeling good” about contributing isn’t enough if the work of the organization isn’t generating social and/or economic change.
Tell us a little about your involvement with Habitat for Humanity and why you’re so passionate.
My first volunteer experience was with Habitat for Humanity 10 years ago. I was a sophomore in college and President of our International Business Club. Through this club I raised enough money to create a scholarship fund and few 10 of my peers to New Orleans. We worked on building 5 homes during our time. In 2013 I became the Chair for Habitat’s Young Professionals Committee in Chicagoland and now sit on the National Advisory Council for Habitat’s Young Professionals initiative.
My passion stems from humble beginnings. My family moved around a lot when I was growing up—went to 6 different schools by the time I was in 6th grade, which was the year my parents bought our home. Becoming homeowners changed the entire dynamic of our family. We now had stability and a place to build memories together. It also put us in a position better to help others. I’ve experienced firsthand what having a place to call home can do and it’s built a connection to the 1.6 million families who have been given access to affordable housing through Habitat for Humanity.
I’m currently working on the international expansion of Three Stops for Humanity (#3S4H). This is an awareness and fundraising initiative that started via Habitat for Humanity Chicagoland’s Young Professionals Committee. We are recruiting up to 30 Taste Makers, Community Leaders and Habitat Young Professionals to raise funds/awareness in Chicago, NY and LA through October. We will then fly to South America for our first #3S4H International Build & Experience. More info is available here: https://share.habitat.org/gv17234
What is your favorite piece of clothing and why?
I recently got this amazing snapback by @shopnastyAL. It’s bold in color and floral print, but the best part is the patch that says “Have a Nice Day”. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it and can’t help but to notice the reaction it gets out of people—random strangers will smile at it (not me but the hat).
Smiles are contagious. So, for me, it’s about instigating happiness and sending positive vibes. The world is intense right now. We are surrounded by disparity, terrorism, violence and a lot of madness. I think we’ve gotten to a point, as a society, where a lot of people have forgotten the power and influence of smiling or just being happy.
It’s impossible to be happy all day-everyday. Life will always through us curveballs. So I like to think this hat has the power to interject some happiness into the lives of others—even if it’s just for a moment in time.
What is a life lesson you’ve picked up along the way?
OMG. Seriously, one lesson? I’m definitely a work in progress. Many lessons have been learned through my own mistakes and through the lives of others. Maybe the most important one is learning how to take responsibility for our own actions. We all make mistakes. It’s inevitable.
An old friend once told me it’s impossible for two people to know each other and to never hurt, upset or offend each other. We are each so uniquely sensitive and often times we learn of others sensitivity too late. There is a lot of power in acknowledging and embracing this, by doing so we can resolve a lot of conflict. This also goes hand in hand with basic tolerance and acceptance. Everyone is different. Learning to live and let live, accepting each other’s difference and considering the perspectives of others are some great ways to make this world a better place.