This past weekend, Louis Carr, President of Media Sales at BET Networks and founder of WayMaker Magazine, hosted his WayMaker Men’s Summit, a two-day event at the Willis Tower in downtown Chicago. I had the pleasure of going to the Teen Summit, hosted by teen entrepreneur Ian Brock. This event is considered the number one empowerment conference for Black men in the country. The theme for this year was “Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone,” and it wasn’t just speakers and discussions. Besides the summit being just a cool place to relax and unwind, participants got free haircuts, massages, and manicures. There was also a station to take pictures and a podcast room. The young people in attendance for the Teen Summit, got to hang out in a massive game room with PlayStation video games, classic arcade games, as well as foosball and air hockey tables. That part of the event was clearly a fan favorite.
While there, I was able to hear from several different speakers on a wide variety of topics. Three-time NBA champion Dwyane Wade spoke to both the teens and men together, talking about succeeding outside of your comfort zone, mentioning his life after basketball and becoming a successful team owner (of the WNBA’s Chicago Sky and NBA’s Utah Jazz) and business owner. He also stressed the importance of not being afraid of the many roadblocks and detours that may stand in the way of your goals, but instead to prepare and embrace them.
After that discussion ended, it was time for the teen conversations. Shoe designers Astin Davis and Frantz Mondesir (who designs NBA star Kyrie Irving’s shoes) talked about being Black in an industry that isn’t highly populated by African-Americans. They also said that as a result, you need to carve your own path to success, because success is never just given, it’s earned. And before I left, we heard from popular content creator (and Chicagoland native) Korporate, who talked about life as a content creator and the steps to success in that field. He talked a lot about finding your own niche, and doing something completely different from everyone else, or doing something better than everyone else. I found both of the conversations very interesting and inspiring. Other guests at the summit included Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson, Nick Cannon, Derrick Rose, Jay Ellis, Ross Mac, David Mann, Dometi Pongo and Jacob Latimore.
Gaston Bittings, a senior at Lindblom Math and Science Academy, shared his thoughts on the summit. “It’s been a great event… I met Dwyane Wade, and it’s been great to fellowship with other Black men.” His big takeaway? “Always work to create wealth for yourself and your family… it’s important to create that generational wealth.”
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the summit. It was really cool to be around so many inspirational people, learning valuable lessons, and even have a little fun while doing it. Thanks to Louis Carr and WayMaker and True Star for the opportunity! It’s something I’ll never forget.
By Jermale Dabney, Junior, Lindblom Math and Science Academy
*Christopher Lockridge contributed to this article.
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