by Simeon Gant
For New Pittsburgh Courier
(NNPA) San Diego, Calif.—High School and College students received a few basic principles on how to succeed in business from legendary basketball star, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, earlier this week. With candor, wit and all seriousness, the Hall of Fame “hooper” explained to more than 80 youth at the Ron Brown Youth Entrepreneur Summit his kernels of success and how he matriculated from athlete to businessman.
He said, “I was once poor, but I didn’t have poor dreams. My work ethic was off the chart. I grew up in a three-room house with six sisters and three brothers, six pants and three shirts, Kool-Aid and no sugar.”
In an inspiring one hour presentation meandering through the doe eyed youth and away from the podium, Johnson proved to relate to the youth’s current plight as budding entrepreneurs. “I’m from the hood too. Every experience will prepare you for success. Information is the key to succeed and education is the key for success.”
The summit offered African-American youth from throughout the state, a one-day workshop to build their skills and explore the possibility of developing their own business and setting lofty goals with a plan to achieve them.
Seventeen-year-old, Christopher Wilson from Los Angeles aspires to own his own basketball team one day. He told the OBSERVER, “I really like playing basketball, but I‘m always looking for a backup plan. I really like what Magic had to say about working hard and not letting people tell me what I can’t do. Before today, I never thought about owning a basketball team.”
Johnson’s story inspires both youth and adults alike. He said his nickname came from a high school coach who was amazed at his efforts defeating a team that he was supposed to lose to. Then he said, “I followed my mentors Greg Eaton and Joe Ferguson. These were men from my hood that owned buildings. I knew then that would be something I wanted to do.”
He encouraged the youth to get mentors and stay the course. He mentioned “haters” abound. “Many of my own teammates and friends said I would not be a businessman after my playing days are over,” he continued, “You have to believe in yourself.”
Johnson’s belief garnered him 105 Starbucks, numerous TGI Fridays franchises, more than 50,000 employees of color, former ownership of the Los Angeles Lakers and currently part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He recently launched a television channel on Comcast, currently playing on the east coast and soon to come to the west coast of the United States.”
California Black Chamber of Commerce President Aubry Stone said, “Magic’s story embraces my personal appeal to Black youth, ‘Don’t get a job, create a job.’”
Johnson made a point to remind youth to give back to their community once they have succeeded. “Work hard and over-deliver.” He said, “Make yourself indispensable. Stick to your principles and don’t change who you are.”
The Ron Brown Business and Economic Summit is an annual tribute to former U.S. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown. The summit provides business skill-building workshops and professional networking opportunities for African-American entrepreneurs.