On Friday, August 7th, the New Nerd speaker series hosted by Ian Brock, interviewed the first Black billionaire, first black NBA team owner and the founder and chairman of the RLJ companies, Bob Johnson. Mr. Johnson is also the founder of BET, or Black Entertainment Television, which he sold to Viacom in 2001 for a reported $3 billion.
During the panel, Brock asked many questions about being “the first” since he is the first of quite a few things. One of his questions was, “Were you driven to be the first of something?” Given the fact that he was born ninth out of 10 children, he may have felt a need to be better then them. To answer this question, Mr. Johnson responded saying that it wasn’t that he was driven to be first. He noted that most people that are the first of something aren’t always trying to be the first, they are just doing things that they feel passionate about and are doing things that they want to see happen and also believe should happen.
Johnson also went on to tell the audience what it took to become successful. He said, “In order to be successful, you have to work really hard, not much is handed to you.” Also, “Don’t make money be why you do something. Chase after what you care about, and the money will follow.” When he created BET, he wasn’t doing it for the money, he was doing it because he truly believed it was something that needed to be done. Same thing when he became the first African American NBA team owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, which he later sold to Micheal Jordan.
Johnson has been, and is an inspiration to the African American community, and he continues to inspire young people today, by showing us how to be successful adults in the future.
By Devin Foster, Sophomore, Bradley University
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