Earlier this summer, I talked with a young man who works for a minority-owned business based in the Triad. He congratulated me on the 16th anniversary of publishing Black Business Ink, which the magazine celebrated in May.
He said that over years that he had been reading Black Business Ink, he had become of aware of African American businesspersons in the community that he had previously been unaware.
He mentioned the businesswoman that was featured on the cover earlier this year, Lisa Moore who co-owns Partners Western Co. He mentioned how he admired an African American woman for having the courage and passion to open a store that specialized in country and western gear.
The young man said he was happy in his job and enjoyed working at a minority-owned business. He said he had greater goals and that he was destined to achieve them. He shared with me that one day he would be telling his story on the cover of Black Business Ink like so many others he’d read about that have been featured in our publication over the past 16 years. He wants his story of success to motivate others the same way so many of our stories have motivated him.
He asked about my background and how I was able to start an African American magazine that focused on black people’s positive accomplishments and success. It was uplifting, he said, to read positive articles about black men and women instead of constantly hearing about African Americans killing each other or blacks getting arrested and charged with an assortment of crimes.
My conversation with him was not unlike others I’ve had the privilege of holding with countless Black Business Ink readers.
I told the young man about my career as a journalist and a tobacco company public relations executive for several years before becoming an entrepreneur. I mentioned that my undergraduate degree from North Carolina A&T State University, an MBA from Wake Forest University, and stints at newspapers in Raleigh, New York, Washington, D.C., and Winston-Salem all prepared me for what I’m doing today – publishing a magazine and operating a PR and marketing firm.
I shared that when I was a reporter, I wanted to be the first non-emergency person to arrive on the scene of any fatal car crash, homicide investigation, or raging five-alarm fire. Back then, I bought into the old journalistic standard and school of thought that, “if it bleeds it leads.” Also, that the only people who wanted to read about a kid receiving a scholarship was his parents.
For years I adopted that journalistic philosophy. Not any longer. Because what the past 16 years have taught me is that the African American community is thirsty for positive news about positive African Americans. It runs counter to nearly everything I learned during a long and successful career as a newspaper reporter; good news does actually sell. Our growing readership and the number of magazine subscribers over the years are concrete evidence of that fact. In fact, Black Business Ink’s mission to advocate for minority-owned businesses and businesspersons has propelled Black Business Ink into the most relevant minority publication in the Piedmont Triad, thanks to supporters like the young man I encountered.
After several more minutes of talking, the young man wished me luck and promised to continue reading the magazine at every opportunity. I thanked him for his generous comments and as I drove away I reflected on the conversation. He was an interesting young man and appeared to have a bright business future. In fact, I would not be surprised if he graces the cover of Black Business Ink one day, inspiring others with his success story.
I would have loved to continue the conversation, but I had been invited to attend a middle-school spelling bee contest.
After all, good news sells.