Louis Carr, the president of media sales for BET Networks, visited By The Hand Club For Kids, 415 Laramie Ave. in Austin, last Thursday, to deliver a brief motivational speech to an audience of around 100 students.
Carr, a native of Austin, “is responsible for more advertising dollars targeting African-American consumers than any other professional or company in history,” according to his personal website. The author of Dirty Little Secrets: Daily Motivation for Business & Personal Growth, talked about his life growing up on the West Side and how he made it out. Below are excerpts of his speech:
‘You are young, gifted and brown’
You guys don’t realize the opportunities you have on your hands and how advanced you are. When I look at these two buildings and the people supporting you and working with you, you are truly blessed. You are young, gifted and brown.
What an opportunity. You are the world’s cherished gift. A lot of people don’t know this, but in the business I’m in I know that everybody wants to understand you, they want to follow your habits and your lifestyle, your taste in music, your taste in fashion, your technology habits. They all want to understand you and they all want to learn from you.
We have more people trying to understand young people of color than you can imagine.
Pushed to greatness
When I was young, running up and down Madison, Lake, Washington, Central, Cicero, Columbus Park, I was just having fun. Believe it or not, I had no desire to go to college. None. Zero.
I didn’t know anybody who went to college. Nobody in my family went to college. I didn’t know what it could do for me. I had zero expectations. I had no technology. I didn’t have an iPhone or a computer. I couldn’t see what the rest of the world was doing.
At that time there was nobody of color on the TV. Cosby didn’t come on until the early 1980s, so we couldn’t see ourselves being very successful. We didn’t know anybody outside of our neighborhoods who had done anything great. We didn’t.
So I just happened to have a bunch of people who saw something in me before I saw it in myself. There were a lot of people who saw greatness in me before I saw it in myself. They were coaches, neighbors. They all wanted me to be great.
Mentors vs. advocates
You want to be special. You want to be singled out for the right reasons. You want advocates. I did an interview on WGN and they asked me, ‘What’s the difference between a mentor and an advocate?’ A mentor tells you how to be great. An advocate tells everybody else how great you are. Mentors will tell you do this, don’t do that. An advocate will tell somebody else, ‘This kid is great.’ You want both mentors and advocates.
On the motivation for writing his book
If you can’t be anything else in life, be a great communicator. Be able to articulate your life experience.
One day, I happened to sit next to a guy on the plane and everybody on the plane knew who he was except for me. Everybody who got on said, ‘Can I have your autograph? Can I take a picture with you?’ And I’m sitting next to him like, ‘Who is this guy?’
Finally I turned to him and said, ‘I apologize. I don’t know who you are.’ He said, ‘My name is Harvey Mackay and I wrote a book called Swimming with the Sharks and I wrote another book called Beware of the Naked Man Who Offers You His Shirt.’
We talked during the ride and as the plane was landing he said, “When are you going to write a book.’ I said never. He said, ‘Every living person has a book inside of them, because everyone has as a special journey. Everyone has something different to share.