63. Chasing Happiness with Robert L Johnson (Restore Black Wealth)

robert l johnson, first black billionaire, black wealth, restore black wealth, BET

It is February 1st, which means it is Black History Month here is America. We are going to focus on some commonalities between successful blacks and see if we can recognize a pattern to building wealth. The best place to start is with the first black billionaire in America, Robert L Johnson. Robert built his wealth through his media company that focused on providing entertainment to the black community.

When you observe the way television programming was done at the time, no one was focusing on the black community. It was a bold move for Robert L Johnson to invest all of his resources into creating Black Entertainment Television (BET).

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Stories of black excellence

My focus for this black history month is to share success stories from black millionaires, billionaires, and world changers. From each story, you will see a pattern and through this pattern you can discover your path to creating wealth. When you are living the achojah lifestyle of chasing happiness by rising to the challenge you are committing to a life journey. These people did not accomplish their goal overnight, nor did the quit at the first sign of turmoil. It is going to take time to bring your dream to reality. The coolest thing about building wealth is who you become to accomplish it.

Create solutions to the problem

Robert L Johnson wanted to change the way blacks were viewed through entertainment. Studies show that black and brown people were portrayed negatively up to 80% of the time. They were frequently cast as gang members, illegal immigrants or drug dealers. Robert L Johnson sought to change the perception of blacks in media. Now you may feel compelled to speak on the fact that black and brown people are still overwhelmingly portrayed in a negative light, but you would be missing the point.

Your takeaway from this message is if you see a problem then you need to work on a solution.

I run into people all the time who say they are not even going to try and change their life. They talk about how things are stacked against us and how things are not fair. While all that may be true, if you do not try to change your life, then there is no hope of things getting bettter.

Where did Robert L Johnson start?

Robert L Johnson started working in the media industry so he could learn some of the ropes of media broadcasting. This step is often overlooked whenever someone is attempting to change their life. You need to understand what is required to accomplish your goal. The best way for Robert to understand how to create his own media company was for him to work in someone else’s media company first.

Even if you are someone who wants to get promoted to a new department, you want to start by shadowing someone in the new department. You need to learn the lingo, processes, and what they require as far as education and experience. You want to know the common issues and what solutions have been offered. This information is going to help you prove your knowledge when you interview.

In addition to helping you better position yourself for success, having a better understanding of what the position entails will help you recognize if it’s right for you. You may like the work, but discover everyone works 70 hours a week and you have a family. Or you realize the position is salaried, so you now know you are going to ask for a higher salary.

Media broadcasting will never be the same

When BET was launched in January 1980, it only broadcasted for two hours a week. Then as interest grew, the company added more programming. You may recall a time when stations like BET, VH1 and MTV aired mostly music videos throughout the day. As the interest of their audience changed, the media companies started to offer more traditional programming. BET would air syndicated shows at first and are now in a place where they are offering original programming.

Businesses are like people in the sense that they grow and as they grow, they change. You notice the way fast food restaurants change their advertising today versus the way they advertised in the past. There was a point in time people were not interested in anything but speed and convienence. Now with America becoming more health conscious, fast-food restaurants are advertising cage-free or antibiotic free chicken.

BET went through a transformation as it continued to grow as well. We discuss some of the changes in programming, but there was also a change in leadership. Robert L Johnson sold his majority stake in BET to Viacom in 2000 for $3B. He continued as the company’s chairman for a few more years before completely stepping away.

Robert L Johnson selling his stake in BET made him the first black American billionaire. He would then take his money and purchase the majority stake in the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats; which would be another first for black America. He would also become the first black person to be named on Forbe’s richest list. And to think all of this started with a man and his wife wanting to provide their community something they could relate to on television.

My passion project

Ever since I read that black wealth is projected to be zero in 2053, I knew something had to be done. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Hispanic wealth is projected to his zero twenty years after black wealth does. This should not even be possible when you live in one of the wealthiest country’s in the world. For that reason, anyone who agrees that something must be done to change this projection is welcomed (and I do mean anyone). Whether you want to sit down for coffee or want me to put on a seminar or workshop, I am there.

More articles you may enjoy:

  1. Chasing Happiness by Rising to the Challenge
  2. How Chasing Happiness Will Help You Catch Greatness
  3. Taking Risks Is An Essential Part Chasing Happiness
  4. Four Steps to Create Happiness in Times of Adversity

Final thoughts

Entrepreneurship is a beautiful relationship if you are doing it the right way. It is the greatest conduit for building wealth because your wealth is directly relating to the value you provide other people. The more value you provide, the more income you will generate. Becoming a business owner and solving a problem provides you the unique ability help thousands, if not millions of people.

Then you need to reinvest and provide opportunities for others in your community. Look for opportunities to invest in new enterprises that are going to benefit others. There are stories about food deserts and a lack of funding for business enterprises within the black community.

The goal is to cooridnate projects that help a large group of people build wealth together. Think about Facebook, Apple, or Amazon. The founder was not the only one who became wealthy from this project. Instead, wealth was created for thousands of lives. The beauty of creating wealth among many is you will be the first person on everyone’s list when the next project is available. After all, you have already proven you are willing to share the wealth.

Until next time,

Dre “Better Self ,Better Wealth” Griggs


Robert L Johnson biography:  https://www.biography.com/business-figure/robert-l-johnson 

African American Wealth May Fall to Zero by 2053: https://www.blackenterprise.com/african-american-wealth-zero-2053/
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