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Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference: We are all family here!!!

by: ellis j. still

As I sit in my Chicago Hilton Hotel room, a new awakening is upon me. A new desire. A new drive to succeed. Not that these things ever went away, but more so a refreshing of hope.

Black Enterprise Magazine is not just a business magazine… a semblance of graphics, articles, and advertising as a way to make money.

Black Enterprise Magazine is an institution, from which businesses that happen to be owned by African Americans can grow, support, inspire, and be inspired in business, in life, and in Spirit.

The Black Enterprise Entrepreneur Conference (BEEC) is a reflection of the magazine… a vehicle from which to leverage and to celebrate business success.

It’s about wildly successful people showing love & support to others as they would to themselves. It’s about creating genuine relationships. It’s about positioning success within arm’s reach on new entrepreneurs.

It is important to differentiate between “Black Owned” businesses, which have connotations of being and doing sub-par business, from businesses that happen to be owned by African Americans that secure a footprint in the marketplace, rivaling their non-minority counterparts.

The conference was filled with many growth opportunities, featuring a wide variety of speakers that covered an even wider variety of topics. There were many moments from which to take advantage of creating relationships with peers, mentors, and those who can catapult your business. I, myself, cannot name names, but have had extremely meaningful conversations with several people that I look forward to continuing to strengthen our relationship with.

Yet also, it was refreshing to hear successful and creative CEO level executives talk at length about their business success as it relates to their personal relationship in Christ, which, I believe, is taboo in most business settings.

The highlight of the conference was not a dynamic speaker, nor a media superstar. The highlight of the conference was a moment of despair… where one would gladly jump off the nearest cliff of if he could.

In a room filled with 1,500 people and an undetermined number of people watching via streaming online, finalists were pitching their business as part of a larger national competition to vie for a prize of $10,000.  A young man approached the microphone, and began to talk about his business.

He started strong, but began to stumble over his words. He started over at the beginning and again, he was unable to find his words.  Visibly shaken, he slowed down his speech, seemingly to try to get his mind to sync with his mouth.

It was kind of like running hurdles in Track & Field, where if you hit a hurdle, you don’t hit just one. It throws you off for the rest of the entire race, and you hit every hurdle afterwards, falling to the ground before reaching the finish line.

This is essentially what happened to this young man. He eventually stopped trying, held his head down, separated himself from the microphone, and walked off the stage dejected.

This is when the cool part happens. This is where you see the true culture and character of Black Enterprise unfold. You see, they did not let him end on that note. They bought him back out on the stage.

Kim Coles who was a judge for the competition, defined that moment in her always loving, smiling, and in this case deliberate yet stern voice, when she said to the young man…


She went on to say to the young man that one day his business will be wildly successful, and he will look back on that moment and ponder & smile at how far he had come… and laugh.

The entire room of 1,500 people promptly stood up, and graced him with thunderous applause.

This is what Black Enterprise is all about. Kindness. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others. It is not self-seeking; it keeps no record of wrongs. It rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Black enterprise is an institution that demonstrates a love for others through business.

In the coming days, I will post some of my notes from the conference. I cannot go into too much detail, and I did not attend every session, as several sessions met at the same time. I would encourage you to get the latest copy of Black Enterprise: Special 40th Anniversary Edition, which features BE’s Top 100 Businesses, as well as many of the speakers from the conference.

This was my first time attending a Black Enterprise signature event. Having attended, I have a new-found reverence for what Black Enterprise is and its desire to support African American business owners. While social media keeps you informed, in order to truly get results, the cost of attending in person definitely matches the value of what you get in return.

Question: How bad do you want to succeed? Meet us at the Black Enterprise Golf & Tennis Challenge in Florida on Labor Day Weekend and open yourself up to partnering with friendly faces who want to see you succeed.

For pictures, see our Facebook Page

You can also enroll in Black Enterprise’s (free) 2012 Small Business University Hosted by Dell

© 2012, Ellis J. Still. All rights reserved

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255


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