In an insightful ABFF session moderated by journalist and author Shaun Robinson, T. D. Jakes, one of the most influential voices in America, discussed his latest faith-genre film and television entertainment ventures, his extraordinary journey, and how faith remains the center of his universe.
Many know Jakes from his ministries and The Potter’s House; but the business lessons that he lays out go beyond the faith-based community and extend to content creators worldwide.
Here are a few takeaways:
- “Failure helps you find your destiny.” A little known facts—a young boy, T.D. Jakes had his mind set on playing the piano. He discovered that he wasn’t very good at playing, but he found out that he enjoyed the announcement portion. He found his passion in preaching. He started his church with seven people in a very small town in West Virginia, and his congregation eventually grew to around 1,000 when moved to Charleston
- Don’t limit yourself. Jakes always had a strong entrepreneurial spirit. He started T.D. Jakes Enterprises because he didn’t want to be limited and be confined to being a pastor; “At my core, I am a storyteller.” Jakes started writing and producing gospel plays. At one point, he collaborated with Tyler Perry to take those plays to next level.
- Creatives—stay in the business room. Jakes understands the desire to focus on the creative, however it should not come at the cost of your business. “If you’re not business savvy, you don’t survive. Do the business first, then you have the structure for the creative.”
- If you understand your consumer, you can understand your business. Jakes emphasizes that it’s possible to grow your audience and business at the same time, and it also creates opportunity to be taken seriously. When first starting his entertainment ventures, his threw various events for beauticians and barber shops. Those grassroots events stimulated conversation and eventually caught fire on social media .
- Everything begins and ends with relationships. Jakes reiterated that relationships are everything. You never know where your journey will take you, and no matter how big or small, relationships are capital. “If you don’t guard those, you’ll go bankrupt. My greatest protection is integrity.”