Leo Bennett's Funk Fest: A Star-Studded Concert With a Purpose
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue

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Thinking back over 10 years ago, did you ever think the festival would be around this long? 
I’m still amazed at how we’ve been able to grow the festival over the years, and it lets me know that there really is a place for live music and entertainment among African Americans. My vision is still the same now that it was when we first started, except as we’ve grown, keeping the festival accessible to all became important to me. Some music properties like ours have grown and the cost of tickets has grown with them. We want Funk Fest to remain inclusive, so we offer ticket prices that are affordable, but we also offer a premium VIP experience for those who want that too.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced and how have you overcome it?
The biggest challenge has been welcoming corporate sponsors and being mindful of their needs without compromising our brand. We create an environment that feels like a backyard BBQ with thousands of your closest family and friends, and some sponsors have been interested in refining and changing that to make it feel or seem more sophisticated. We’ve been able to forge a great relationship with Pepsi, who is currently our presenting sponsor, because they were more interested in integrating into what we’ve built and enhancing it, instead of changing it, and it’s been a win for both of us.

What are your top accomplishments?
Having an amazing wife and two wonderful, accomplished children is my biggest accomplishment. I’m also very proud that we returned to my hometown and the birthplace of Funk Fest, Mobile, AL, in 2015 after being gone for several years. 10,000 people came out and supported the event like we’d never left.

You’ve produced this event for 10 years while working a full-time job. What are the qualities that have enabled you to succeed?
Faith has been the driving force behind my success. Every decision that I make has been grounded in faith and the belief that God has my back and wants me to be successful. Next on the list would be the wisdom and humility to hire the right people. I’ve learned over the years that I don’t know everything and I can’t do everything — nor do I want to. No one can succeed alone, and having hard working, innovative people around me has been a major part of growing the brand.

What are your daily habits for success?

  • Prayer: I start and end my day giving thanks for my blessings and asking for guidance.
  • Setting Daily Goals: I identify at least three things I’d like to accomplish during each day. Sometimes these goals aren’t just business related. They may include spending time with family, exploring something new, or other things that are important to me.
  • Exercise: Many entrepreneurs don’t work out regularly because of our demanding schedules. Exercising daily helps me focus, gives me an opportunity to think and ensures that I have some balance between my health and my career.

Black Enterprise is offering Funk Fest attendees an exclusive package, including two preferred seats to the concert, two tickets to the Funk Fest New Year’s Eve Party with an open bar, two Funk Fest tour shirts, and more. Visit FunkFestTour.com for more information.

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