Earvin “Magic” Johnson
By Simeon Gant
High School and College students received a few basic principles on how to succeed in business from legendary basketball star Earvin “Magic” Johnson at the recent Ron Brown Youth Entrepreneur Summit.
Expaining how he moved from athlete to businessman, Johnson said, “I was once poor, but I didn’t have poor dreams. My work ethic was off the chart. I grew up in a three-room house with six sisters and three brothers, six pants and three shirts, Kool-Aid and no sugar.”
In an inspiring one-hour presentation at the San Diego summit, Johnson related to the youth’s current plight as budding entrepreneurs. “I’m from the hood, too. Every experience will prepare you for success. Information is the key to succeed and education is the key for success.”
The summit offered African American youth from throughout the state a one-day workshop to build their skills and explore the possibility of developing their own business and setting lofty goals with a plan to achieve them.
One of the young men, 17-year-old Christopher Wilson from Los Angeles, aspires to own his own basketball team one day.
“I really like playing basketball, but I‘m always looking for a backup plan,” he said. “I really like what Magic had to say about working hard and not letting people tell me what I can’t do. Before today, I never thought about owning a basketball team.”
Johnson’s story inspires both youth and adults alike. He said his nickname came from a high school coach who was amazed at his efforts defeating a team that he was supposed to lose to.
“I followed my mentors Greg Eaton and Joe Ferguson. These were men from my hood that owned buildings. I knew then that would be something I wanted to do,” he said.
He encouraged the youth to get mentors and stay the course. He mentioned “haters” abound.
“Many of my own teammates and friends said I would not be a businessman after my playing days were over,” he continued, “You have to believe in yourself.”
Johnson’s belief garnered him 105 Starbucks, numerous TGI Fridays franchises, more than 50,000 employees of color, former ownership of the Los Angeles Lakers and currently part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Ron Brown Business and Economic Summit is an annual tribute to former U.S. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown. The summit provides business skill-building workshops and professional networking opportunities for African American entrepreneurs.