Updated: Apr 2, 2018
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend Ernest Dukes' first stop of The Earnest Living Tour and it was the best panel/workshop I've been to thus far.
I know this is a grand generalization BUT, I stand by it and after talking to attendees--from industry vets to new entrepreneurs--after the panel discussions ended, they shared similar sentiments.
Ernest is an award winning publicist, founder of boutique PR firm--The Nottingham Group--and TV producer (From The Bottom Up - BET, Snoop Dogg and Tami Roman's new show, and more). I've been following him on Instagram for the past two to three months, and what I find most appealing is his positive attitude while living life and his grind (not that fake social media crap ya'll be doing. He has YEARSSS of legit experience. Hey, the shade don't apply if you about that life. Yew feel meh?)
So when he posted the promo video announcing the tour back in February, my immediate thoughts were "okay, this is something I WILL invest in." And so, I bought my VIP ticket.
About two weeks prior to the NY date, Ernest went on Instagram live to answer branding and business questions from viewers. I appreciated his transparency, tell-it-like-it-is wit and humble demeanor. It made me feel like he was the cool dude next door that I knew since childhood. And the workshop/panel was no different.
Scheduled for four hours, the event kicked off with all VIP attendees (which was everyone) having an open floor discussion with Ernest. We all got to hear about each other's businesses, struggles, accomplishments and what we hoped to get out of the workshop--which definitely created a sense of community that lasted throughout the EN. TIYAAAAH event. Seriously. We joked around, applauded each other and listened intently as each person spoke about their experiences.
After the warm greeting, Certified Public Accountant - Shaquanna Brooks aka Ms. Business, Coach PR of Shade 45 and Ladun Thompson, an actor and owner of Body of God, gave insight on the Millennial Mogul panel. This dialogue covered:
Why financial literacy is key
How faith can guide you to success and,
Ways you could effectively (and non-awkwardly) approach an industry vet
I appreciated that this panel came prior to the conversation with le stars because I felt connected to the panelists sitting in front of me. Based on the stage I'm at in my entrepreneurial journey, I felt like their vocalized challenges, gems and tenacity were more applicable and tangible to me. With the audience being primarily filled with young, hungry millennials, I think this was a solid way to kick off the exchange of knowledge.
During the last two hours, we were able to hear from guest speakers: Kyla Pratt (Actress), Tamika Wright (TV personality), Jackie Christie (Author, Entrepreneur and TV Personality), Jasmine Brand (Founder of entertainment site, JasmineBRAND.com); as well as keynote speaker, Mona Scott-Young (CEO, Executive Producer).
Both conversations included moderated questions as well as an Q&A with the audience that covered:
The importance of branding
How to balance an entrepreneurial lifestyle with other responsibilities
Staying focused despite life's adversity
Real life. With real examples. In yo face. The personification of those Google searches that sometimes just aren't as convincing as you need them to be. REAL talk. Professional but raw--I loved it. It was easy to tell that the attendees did too.
The true stand out factor for me, was the meet and greet portion that followed (which was accompanied by tunes from the hysterical, go-getter, Paris Phillips). Each attendee got a chance to take a picture with the panelists, make genuine conversations with them AND more importantly, connect with everyone else in the room. The event was scheduled from 1pm-5pm. I arrived around 1:45pm and left at 7:30pm. No joke.
It was amazing to see a room full of people of color connecting and uplifting each other to do great things. Literally, everywhere I turned someone was talking to someone else. It was pretty freaking cool. When 6pm rolled around, and I noticed that a good portion of people were still lingering and connecting (and no guards were ushering us out), I thought wow, this is so great.
The Earnest Living Tour wasn't just soundbites I could repeat for one day and then forget... it wasn't just about feeling empowered for a few hours and then feeling doubtful about the legacy I'm trying to create...No. I left with connectionS (this is not a typo), conversations I'll always remember from go-getters of all levels, affirmations, insight into people's journeys... AND feeling empowered is the add-on.
There are more moments I could share about this tour that demonstrates how dope, selfless and down for the millennial cause Ernest is, but instead, I'll say you have to go.
I would advise you to attend one of the upcoming tour dates if you can. I don't know what else Ernest and his beautiful, witty and ambitious partner, Emerald, have in store. (Thanks to social media, I got a glimpse into their D.C. stop which included creating vision boards prior to the panel!). But go. Just go. As you should with any networking event, work the room and make the most of your experience. I guarantee, you'll leave with so much more than you paid for at The Earnest Living Tour.
Congrats Ernest and Emerald!
(Left to right: Jackie Christie, Kyla Pratt, Me, Mona Scott-Young, and Jasmine Brand).
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