The Real Game Is Business

It’s just the prelims of the 2009 Black Enterprise Golf & Tennis Challenge and it’s already clear that once again the best and brightest moves and players in business and corporate America not only came to play–they came to win. It’s what I like most about G&T, hosted once again by title sponsor Pepsi: whether attendees are registered to play golf or tennis, or do some serious rest and relaxation at the world class spa, they know that the real name of the game is business.

This is the 16th year for this one-of-a-kind business networking event, and I’m thrilled to say that I’ve attended every one of them. Competitive golf and tennis tournaments (al0ng with social and academy packages for those playing for fun or still learning), capped off with world class entertainment every night (including Wyclef Jean and Chrisette Michelle this year), all with just one purpose in mind: to create a fertile environment for the kind of high-powered relationship-building that leads to strategic alliances, world-class executive recruiting and lucrative deal-making. This year we’re in Orlando at the J.W. Marriott Grande Lakes.

After visiting the VIP hospitality suite hosed by FedEx, I hit the gym (you know me) at the spa for a quick chest/biceps workout, before heading to the VIP reception celebrating the 100 Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America. This elite class of corporate leadership, featured in a cover story in the February 2009 issue of Black Enterprise, was represented by several members of the list, as well as Candace Matthews, the global chief marketing officer of Amway and B.E. Executive of the Year featured on the cover of the September 2009 issue of Black Enterprise. More than 100 of some of the most accomplished black corporate executives and entrepreneurs in America were on hand to acknowledge these corporate achievers as they were recognized by Black Enterprise CEO Earl “Butch” Graves Jr. and Black Enterprise Magazine Editor-in-Chief Derek T. Dingle.

This evening, five of the executives on our 100 Most Powerful Executives list were spotlighted: AIG Senior VP/AIU Personal Lines Division Jessica Isaacs, Leggett & Platt President Elliott Lyons, Leggett & Platt VP Vincent Lyons (yes, they are siblings), Progress Energy Carolinas President & CEO Lloyd Yates and KeyCorp Executive VP/Group Head, Credit Portfolio Managment Jeffery J. Weaver.

“Black Enterprise has a rich tradition of indentifying top black talent as they have ascended up the corporate ladder,” said Dingle. “It was Black Enterprise that first discovered such corporate powerhouses as Ken Chenault, Dick Parsons, Ann Fudge and Barry Rand. At a time of great economic challenge and a world that has become flatter due to globalization and technological advancement, we have identified a new breed of corporate executive that has placed an indelible stamp on global business.”

But more than just identifying the best and the brightest, Black Enterprise has a great tradition of bringing them together to make things happen. And that’s really the point of the Challenge: t0 create a competitive, recreational event that would bring business people together to establish the kinds of relationships that would help us all to win at the game really played at world-class resorts and golf clubs across the country–the game of business.

But the competition for opportunities, for connections, for productive relationships and lucrative partnerships is already on.Tomorrow is the CEO’s Golf Outing and Award’s Luncheon. And on Friday, the competitive golf and tennis competition begins. Once upon a time, we were all but banned from competing in the business mainstream. Now, we’re not only in the game, we’re changing it. And we’re in it to win.

Alfred Edmond Jr. is the editor-in-chief of