Have you ever heard of Code2040? I’m willing to bet that you haven’t unless you’re either Black or Latinx entrepreneur, and even then, you may not know. I was unfamiliar until LionsHead Media Creative Director Corey Freeman hipped me to the importance of Code2040. It is a nonprofit organization focused on increasing Black and Latinx entrepreneurial opportunities. The organization was founded by Tristan Walker (the successful entrepreneur and man behind the Bevel system) and Laura Weidman Powers (formerly a senior advisor to President Obama’s U.S. Chief Technology Officer).
Last night, LEAP Empowerment, Inc. and Code2040 hosted entertainment mogul Walter Latham for a fireside chat at the American Underground. Latham, known in the entertainment industry as “The King of Comedy”, came up with the idea for “The Original Kings of Comedy”, the second highest-grossing stand-up film of all time. He was the promoter who launched the career of Chris Tucker and has worked with a wide range of entertainers from Robin Williams to Diddy to Tyler Perry.
At 46, the brother is truly inspirational and he provided a room full of young entrepreneurs (most being entrepreneurs of color) with some points that, regardless of the path you’re taking into creating your own legacy, are applicable. The chat, moderated by Code2040 Entrepreneur-in-Residency Doug Speight, touched on everything from Latham’s personal challenges as a father who was just making ends meet to his successful generation of hundreds of millions of dollars during his 25 years in the industry.
Out of everything that was discussed, there were some key points that will stick with me and I’d be wrong not to share them with you. So, in order of significance to me, I’ve created a “Top 10 Quotes of the Latham Fireside Chat” list:
- “You can always make more money but you can never repair damaged relationships.”
- “You never risk your own money. … So I wrote a (sponsorship) letter and sent it to 50 companies. One day, I got home and had one message and that changed everything.”
- “You can go work for 25 years for a company and make decent money and, in 25 years, they give you your watch and your pension and find a 25-year younger version of you.”
- “Chase the opportunity, be prepared for the opportunity, but you’ve got to manage the opportunity. Don’t let the opportunity manage you.”
- “There’s got to be more to it than the money. I’ve made money before.”
- “I already had the content ready, I just needed a platform to put the content on.”
- “You’ve got to feed your family but know that (your current job) is just a means to an end.”
- “It ain’t (always) about the money. (Sometimes) it’s about the exposure. Take the opportunities that will give you the exposure until you gain enough exposure to demand the money.”
- “Never let your wants become your needs.”
- “The lesson I learned is let people be who they are.”
During the closing, Speight said, “Capture all of your ideas because you never know what that will lead to down the road.” That’s powerful. I believe in taking notes whenever something crosses my mind because, even if it doesn’t work right now, when the technology or the channel comes so that I can implement it, I don’t want to have to recreate the idea or, worse, see my idea implemented by anyone else.
Following the fireside chat, Walter and Shemeka Michelle, of Turners Church News and Naked Girlz Blog (no, I’m not sending you to an adult site), had a chance to sit and talk one-on-one, at which point Walter opened up more about his personal life, the struggles of being a father and entrepreneur, and being transparent with the mistakes he has made in life so that he can keep others from some of the same pitfalls. Make sure you check out Naked Girlz Blog in the coming days for that exclusive footage.
Make professional development a priority.