AND THE WORD IS—Billionaire and business pundit Robert L. Johnson shares his expertise.
“You will never get a good return if you don’t take risk. The biggest risk I took is when I left the National Cable Association and started BET.”
Headquartered in Bethesda, Md. with offices throughout the United States, RJS Cos. is defined as a diverse portfolio of companies in the financial services, real estate, hospitality, professional sports, film production, automotive and gaming industries.
Along with serving as a speaker, Johnson’s participation in the conference included receiving its highest honor, the A.G. Gaston Lifetime Achievement during the BE 100s Anniversary Celebration and Awards Dinner. The A.G. Gaston Lifetime Achievement Award is named for Arthur G. Gaston, the legendary entrepreneur and one of America’s first Black millionaires, whose empire included communications, real estate and insurance business operations. Gaston, who passed in 1996 at the age of 103, was named Entrepreneur of the Century by Black Enterprise in 1992.
Hosted by noted filmmaker, actor and entrepreneur Robert Townsend, the Elevator Pitch Competition was a big hit during the conference. Ten contestants competed for $10,000. Judges were BE’s president and CEO, Earl “Butch” Graves, Jr.; Navarrow Wright, president of Maximum Leverage Solutions; Craig Wayans,’ founder of Second Generation Entertainment; and MC Lyte, hip-hop entertainer.
The Deal Makers Expo with corporate exhibitors provided face-to-face exchanges with attendees and break-out activities.
The Teenpreneur Conference was held in conjunction with the Entrepreneurs Conference and Expo. The fun-filled business program was designed for youth ages 13 to 17. Teenpreneur registrants were divided into two levels of instruction: Future CEOs for ages 13 to 15 and Junior Executives ages 16 to 17.
In its 18th year, Graves said this was the first time it was held in Columbus.
“Ohio is where accomplished entrepreneurs have made their mark,” he said.
He identified Hightowers Petroleum, the 2013 Black Enterprise Industrial/Service Company of the Year, as making its mark as a leader of the Black Enterprise 100s, and the nation’s largest Black-owned companies.
It was not determined as of the end of the event where the 2014 conference will be held, Graves said there is a great possibility that it will return to Columbus, the capital of Ohio again. Its major sponsor Nationwide Insurance is based in Columbus.
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