I already know someone just read this title and is rolling their eyes saying, “you ain’t learn noooooo lessons” just like that, double negative and all. The truth is that I did. I learned a few lessons about business, a few about black folks and a few about me. The surprising part is that I didn’t expect any of that. My only expectation was a good time in Las Vegas (check) but I came back with so much more. Since we are all family here at BMWK I want to share with you below the things that I learned last weekend when we were invited out to attend the 2011 Hoodies by our friends at Feeding Dreams.
1) That the Hoodie Awards are so big: I had no idea how many people flocked to the Hoodies. I hear Steve Harvey and crew promote their own award show which is held in Vegas every year but I never would have imagined the scope of it until now. I can’t even begin to describe how many people attended the Freedom Friday party with Maze featuring Frankie Beverly and the sold-out Events Center that housed the actual award show had even more.
2) Piggybacking on my first point, I learned the economic impact that the Hoodies has on Las Vegas. For that weekend Mandalay Bay served as Black Mecca. After one event we sat eating in a restaurant and saw brothers and sistas streaming by in a steady thick crowd for over an hour. And that was before the party was even over. Signage was draped all over the property of course but also all round the strip and in the airport. When you think about how many hotel rooms were booked, how many flights and cars were paid for and how much was spent on food and entertainment that weekend by the Hoodie attendees it reminds you of the economic power that we possess.
3) On a business front I learned that it’s possible to do big business while still being yourself. In corporate environments many of us operate with a separate identity than we do in our own community. I see it all of the time. I think when you make a move from corporate to becoming an entrepreneur some habits can be hard to break. This past weekend I learned that you can still do business at the highest of levels and still be yourself as long as you deliver the goods. The Hoodies achieved major corporate sponsorship from brands like Ford, Wells Fargo, Feeding Dreams, AT&T, K&G and others and believe me Steve Harvey didn’t switch up one bit. The same Steve Harvey that was in your city for the Kings of Comedy was on that stage this weekend saying the same “non-corporate” types of jokes if you catch my drift. The point is when you can deliver the goods, which in this case was bodies in the seats that the brands can market to then you don’t have to pretend that you are someone that you are not. You can just be you.
4) The next lesson was that you can be highly successful by just marketing to the African American community and serving the community’s needs. This award show sold out thousands of seats to see awards given for local community categories like Best Nail Salon, Best Barbershop, Best Church Choir, Best Fried Chicken, Best Teacher and Best High School. (My beloved DC area won most of them. Shout out to WHUR)
5) I learned that I never get tired of seeing the best of us. Last weekend I saw thousands of my people dressed up, looking good and without one bit of nonsense. Everyone was there for a good time and from what I saw the mission was accomplished. From the first event that we attended (the singing finals) to the last event (the VIP Afterparty hosted by Kevin Hart) people were just enjoying themselves. Looking good and feeling good was how it went down.
6) My last lesson was something I already knew: that we can have church anywhere! Kirk Franklin opened up the Hoodies Award show and you know that he took it there from the jump (Kirk got so many hits it should be illegal). Then later in the program Marvin Sapp came out to present an award and started an impromptu performance of He Saw the Best In Me. Not sure how often you can see praise and worship in the Mandalay Bay Events Center but it was going down on Saturday night.