Next, we must nurture the next generation. I wholeheartedly believe that it’s critical to embrace new blood, cultivate their talents, and provide them with opportunities to perform at the highest level. That’s why we introduced BE Next–emerging business leaders ages 21 to 35. In fact, roughly 40% of Black Enterprise employees are represented in this generation. Moreover, my children, Erika and Kristin, 19 (who were taking college exams and not available for the photo), Earl III “Gibby,” 18, and Teddy, 15, serve as my own in-house focus group on how young people communicate, live, and spend money as well as what they aspire to achieve. I have been told by each of them that they would rather text me than talk to me– they can’t be bothered!
It is the mission for entrepreneurs and executives of my generation to offer support and guidance to these rising stars in the same manner that my father’s generation mentored us. It will be our way of maintaining forward momentum related to African American participation in global business. And there are boundless reciprocal benefits: BE Nexters gain valuable insight and capital to pursue new ventures, while those who comprise the “BE Now” set acquire fresh perspectives and technological innovation. I fully expect to see those on our 40 Next list on future rosters of the be 100s and Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America.
As I’ve stated before, the past is a reference tool to help us avoid land mines and to place plans in historical context. I always follow the philosophy that “past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results.” We must move forward, fully committed to charting unexplored territory, facing new, daunting challenges, and making even greater strides in decades to come. As each of you seeks to achieve individual and collective goals, let black enterprise serve as your guide to a brighter future.