Athene Black and Brown Business Summit invites underrepresented business owners to ‘fill their gaps’

Before attendees at the second annual Athene Black and Brown Business Summit dove into a day of workshops and breakout sessions, keynote speaker Pamela Jolly told the group she was going to step back and look at the big picture on wealth generation for businesses owned by people of color.

She began with the reminder that wealth is more than just money, and “when you put legacy in front of wealth, it expands the narrative across generations.”

“Throughout my journey, what I’ve found is that poverty is really a lack of options. Yet we talk about it far too often when we talk about Black and brown communities. Wealth is a matter of choices, which we also talk about wealth, but we’re not very clear about the choices one has to make, to create, build, grow and expand it. What I have found is that financial repression occurs when you don’t understand your choices about wealth.”

Her primary research has spanned 10 years and included thousands of interviews and surveys in almost 100 cities, which she said has helped her “recognize patterns and causes in our wealth behaviors.”

Jolly’s directive to the business owners in the room was to overcome their individual gaps in knowledge, relationship, perspective and progress. She said taking those four steps forward throughout a career will prepare business owners to leave a legacy and “realize the promise that we have inherited.”

Below are excerpts from Jolly’s address on achieving these four steps. For more on this year’s Black and Brown Business Summit and its theme of building legacies and wealth, check out this story in the recent edition of the Business Record.

Step one: Overcome the gap in your knowledge
Legacy can be a blueprint. Get literate about what matters. Becoming a gap filler is addressing the break between income and wealth with our inherited legacy of proof. You have always created value: your family, your parents, your grandparents and your great-grandparents. It takes three generations to build legacy wealth and only one generation to lose it. Let that sink in. How far down the road can you look backwards because it shows how much equity you have stored in your roll forward. With four living generations’ perspective of wealth connecting together, the wealth wheel begins to turn. … It’s imperative to get literate about the journey that got you to where you are today. It’s just not about where you’re going. It is also about where you came from. It’s important that you bring your culturally relevant perspective to the road and to the equity table.

Step two: Overcome your gap in relationship
Wealth is a group process. I want you to get connected to your method of success. Fill the unfilled space between your life and your business with our legacy of collective impact. I want you to cross the line of just earning an income and spending some money to owning things, namely starting with you and your business. Audre Lorde said that, “There is no such thing as a single issue struggle, because we do not live single issue lives.” Wealth is a journey of a series of financial decisions to create, build, grow and expand what is possible in your life. There’s a statistic that I want you to realize 85% of your financial success is due to your personality and ability to communicate, negotiate and lead. Only 15% is due to technical knowledge. So education is important, but knowledge of self is even more important.

Step three: Overcome your gap in perspective
Wealth is a choice and that choice I want you to make is to get focused on finishing. Fill the undesirable differences in Black wealth with our legacy of resilience. Listen, life is no cakewalk. My 19 years of business, man, I was rejected more than I was accepted in the beginning. I’m grateful for my clients. I’m grateful for what I was able to do but I’m also grateful for the people who said no, the upsetments, the people that I hired as disappointed and unfortunately had to fire. I’m grateful for it all because it built me stronger and narrowed my focus on what’s important. In your lifetime what do you want to choose to focus on for your business? … Here’s the problem that I see amongst entrepreneurs and business owners. What’s the difference between a distraction and a conflict? Distractions are things that if you deal with them, you will not meet your goal. Distractions come up all the time. attractions are patterned, they’re variable. But conflicts — these are things that unless you deal with them, you will not reach your goal. I want you to think about your life. What am I often distracted by? But what’s the true conflict? The things that remain conflicts are constant. … I want you to own your conflicts and focus on getting beyond them because there are always going to be problems, conflicts, roadblocks along your road to wealth. But guess what? Businesses solve problems. So be about your business and partner with other businesses that can help you solve yours.

Step four: Overcome your gap in progress
Wealth is a series of outcomes you believe in. Fill the undesirable differences in Black wealth with your inherited and earned legacy of investment. The win-win is the wealth reset. No more you going it alone, no more you suffering in silence. I want the community to win and I want businesses to win as well. I want wealth to happen on both sides. I want us to be excited about working with each other because the reality is that the progress ignited by Black and brown communities has always been good business for America. Change is always met with resistance that once overcome gives way to a new dimension of opportunity. And so the skillful navigation of the gaps in our journey with both your head and your heart, your community and your industry — these are the rooms where it happens for us. There are rooms that are waiting for your gifts, but go in there with your head and your heart. Be authentic. Carry your community with you, look for the shared win and show your industry what you’re made of because they need to have eyes to see what the future will bring. This is your opportunity for a win-win in your community. Equity is either earned or inherited. I suggest a both hand approach when you take your seat at the table.