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Exclusive Q&A, Part II: ‘The Movement That Changed The Narrative Of Black People In America’

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In the Part I of this interview, we sat down with four ex-roommates who built one of the fastest-growing Instagram accounts on the internet. But there’s more to the quartet than going viral.

“We want this to go down in history as the movement that changed the narrative of Black people in America,” Jared Spiller, one of the co-founders, said in Part I. 

We’re of course talking about the founders of @BlackWealthRenaissance.

Ex-roommates in college, Jalen Clark, David Bellard, Jared Spiller and Kelly Rhodes started this as a passion project; they’ve since grown this 209K+ followers in about a year, with one of the most engaging audience on the ‘Gram.

In part II of this Q&A, the four co-founders expound on their mission to change the “narrative of Black people in America,” why social media is important and what lies ahead.

(Editor’s note: This interview was done by WealthLAB editor-in-chief/real estate developer Philip Michael.)

How are you using social media — and why? 

David: We mostly are using social media to build a platform that we feel is needed to highlight the people in our culture showing that what we are talking about is real—and attainable—if you are willing to put the work in.

Why does this work?

I feel like it’s been effective because it provides a mix of motivation, education, and culture in a way that is true to the message of normalizing black wealth and the conversations around building wealth.

As one of our friends told us its like The Shade Room but for financial literacy. (Laughs.)

I can see that! What say you, Kelly?

Kelly: Social media to me is not just an app, it’s a powerful tool that we can use to help network with people across the globe. I think for Black Wealth Renaissance we really started to grow when we used videos, because our videos consisted of people that are looked at as wise in the African American community such as Jay-Z, Oprah, and Will Smith.

This helped people relate because its someone that looks like them and someone coming from similar background who we deem as financially successful. It allows African Americans to dream which turns into goals motivating us to achieve similar success.  

And that’s so much easier to spread on IG, I take it?

Jalen: We are using social media the way it was created and intended to be used. We are networking across the country and globe with people we would never had the opportunity to meet if it were not for social media. We are using it to spread positive messages and show the masses what is actually possible with self control and will power.

We are also shining light on parts of the culture the media does not shine light on.  We are showing [black] entertainers that are doing work within their communities; that are giving back and making a difference for those that have less.

We are able to mix personal finance tips with memes and topics that are related to the average person thats the reason I believe it has been effective. 

You guys talk about real estate quite a bit; that’s how I found your channel. So why real estate in the wealth-generation conversation? 

David: We’ve all heard the quote that 90% of millionaires were created through real estate and one of our main focuses is generating wealth for future generations. So real estate is something we promote because it is one of the best ways to accomplish those goals. There are so many different ways to get in and win in real estate, it really all goes back to an abundance mindset. 

Love that. I talk about that all the time. Wealth is really a mindset more so than a “tactic” that will work for you. That said, real estate is the pillar of every millionaire and billionaire’s portfolio.

Kelly: Yes, most millionaires own some part, or have some stake in real estate. Real estate is relatable to most people because everyone has a home whether you are renting or actually own your own home you can relate.

In my opinion, if 90% of millionaires made their money in the stock market it wouldn’t be as popular as real estate because it’s not something that your every-day person would be able to relate to.

Real estate is something everyone is already apart of and owning property could be as simple as owning your own home. Plus there is thousands of ways to make deals and structure deals to get into real estate.  

Jalen: Real Estate has always been something in my mind as a young child. I wanted to own land for some reason but once we realized the benefits and advantages of owning real estate, it was solidified that this is something we need to do.

What are the benefits to real estate, in your opinion?

Jalen: Land is not being produced anymore so it’s going to constantly appreciate over time. There’s tax advantages to owning land. Lastly real estate is the foundation to building and creating wealth it’s not the end all be all but it definitely gives you the freedom to start focusing on different streams of income. 

What’s the main thing you’d like to change and/or impact with BWR?  

David: I would like to change black people’s perception of wealth and understanding of money—the process of acquiring it. From my experience, too many of us sum it up to a person “getting lucky”—and that’s just not the case.

By understanding the principles used to acquire wealth, we can spark a necessary change in our community. It has been predicted that the net worth of the black family is expected to be $0 by 2053.

And that racial wealth gap really comes from not owning real estate.

Yes. And that’s in my lifetime. So I want to do everything in my power to ensure that this doesn’t happen—and the best way to accomplish that is through education.

One of our major goals is to teach financial literacy to the youth so that they can avoid some of the pitfalls and mistakes that we’ve made on our own journeys.

Kelly: I would like for Black Wealth Renaissance to change, or at least create a movement, on a mindset that black people can actually achieve financial success without rap or going to the [NBA]. I want African Americans to understand that it’s OK to be an entrepreneur—and that you can become very successful doing it.

I just want at least one person to say hey those guys at Black Wealth Renaissance changed my perspective on money and I actually learned how to become financially literate. That in my opinion would be my ultimate success. 

You, Jalen? What do you want to impact?

Jalen: One thing I would like to change or impact in my life time is the idea that the only way to obtain wealth with in our community is through becoming an athlete, a rapper, a drug dealer or anything else we have been stereotyped for.

I also want us to love and embrace our communities; we need to respect and take pride in where we are from. There’s no reason the “hood” should look run down. Just because we are not getting funding from the government does not mean we have to live in the worst possible conditions. We need to “beautify” and keep our neighbors clean.

I want to impose the will and spirit of self love within our community and teach our people how to love one another with compassion. 

Entrepreneurs

4 Types Of People To Be Around That Will Make The Hustle More Fun

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(Editor’s Note: The following article is a guest post by superstar entrepreneur and tech investor Jonathan Schultz.) 

We all know that hard work and dedication are keys to success. The more you’re willing to sacrifice and go the extra mile, the greater your chances are of reaching your personal goals and passions.

While there’s no denying that hard work does play a major role in reaching success, surrounding yourself with the right people will always help. We’ve all heard the saying, “it’s not what you know, but who you know” … In my career, whenever I push myself to be around the positive thinkers and go-getters, it’s always up-leveled me and gave me more confidence to in turn fulfill my own dreams and ambitions.

Finding your network through all the different stages of your life and career is not only helpful in progressing your career, but it also creates amazing relationships and opportunities.

So, what type of people should you be surrounding yourself with?

THE PUZZLE PIECES

Find the network that is your perfect complement —the people that have the skills and abilities you strive for. Not only will this give you more confidence, it will help you learn the skills and abilities you may be lacking.

THE POSITIVE PEOPLE

Who doesn’t want to be around someone who’s happy and optimistic? Even though that doesn’t have to be all the time.

Surrounding yourself with positive and grateful people can have an incredible impact on your life, making you feel happier and more confident. Also, positive people are more likely to encourage you to take smart risks or move up the business ladder.

THE INNOVATORS

Dreamers and innovators are the people pushing society forward. They are the people interested in coming up with new and improved ways to solve problems and achieve success. Regardless of what field they’re working in, it’s never a bad idea to have a few outside-the-box thinkers in your social circle to help you look at things from a different perspective.

THE ANSWER SEEKERS

Just like innovators, people who constantly ask questions are the reason why we challenge old ways and come up with new ideas. When you’re surrounded by people who constantly ask questions, you’re more likely to come across the answers that you never knew you needed.

Ultimately, the people you keep in your inner circle can influence you in a number of different ways, including how you approach problems or whether you’re motivated to achieve greater things or not. Of course, this isn’t to say that everyone around you needs to be someone who’s working those extra-long hours to get to the next phase in life.

However, when you have a few business-minded people in your life, you’re more likely to inherit some of their drive, benefit from their knowledge, and even network in some of the same circles. For that reason, it’s always important to make friends who have the same goals and aspirations as yourself. It might just help you get to the top quicker.

Jonathan Schultz is an entrepreneur, real estate tech investor and influencer. He’s the co-founder of Onyx Equities, a leading private equity real estate firm, and has been voted one of the most powerful people in real estate. Follow Jon’s blog here

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Business

This Mogul Became America’s 1st Black Billion-Dollar Businesswoman

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Sheila Johnson.

Where to start?

She’s the first black billion-dollar businesswoman. Before Oprah Winfrey.

She started as a TV executive, founding Black Entertainment Television (BET), the first TV network targeting African Americans. She then became a real estate mogul.

Oh, she also owns a stake in three major sports franchises, the NBA Wizards, NHL Capitals and the WNBA Mystics, the African American, period, to boast that claim.

In honor of Black History Month, let’s dive into her remarkable career.

FAST FACTS:

  • Born Sheila Crump in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, Johnson co-founded BET in 1979 with then-husband Robert Johnson. The couple sold it to Viacom in 2000 for $2.9B
  • Sheila Crump Johnson became the first African American woman on the Forbes’ Billionaire list in 2000—beating Oprah Winfrey to the distinction.
  • Per Forbes, Johnson has an $820M net worth as of 2019

 GIPHY

Foray into real estate…

After closing the sale to Viacom, Robert and Sheila pocketed around $1.5B each. Johnson used that windfall as seed money to build a hospitality real estate empire in 2005.

“There’s a disparity in paychecks between whites and blacks,” she told the Wall Street Journal. “I will never forget that.”

As CEO of Salamander Hotels and Resorts, Sheila controls a spectacular portfolio of six luxury hotels in Florida, Virginia and South Carolina. And she’s built it from the ground up—literally—in her own spirit.

“I’ve been to many hotels, not only in the US, but all over the world,” she told Forbes last year. “And I wanted to find something that was going to really make Salamander stand out beyond all of these hotels.”

So what does that mean?

“You have to understand, there are a lot of people, investment companies, with very deep pockets,” she says. “They can do it, but they don’t have the experiences that we’re able to bring. I am constantly trying to find a way to help Salamander Resort & Spa stand out head over heels above any other hotel — not only in the area, but in the nation.

“I want them to leave that resort wanting to come back and not just say, ‘I’ll be back in six months.’ I want them to come back all the time.”

And so far it’s worked. In fact, on Forbes Travel Guide’s 61st list of Star-Rated hotels, Johnson’s Salamander Resort & Spa outside of Washington, DC earned a Five-Star distinction.

Image Credit: Salamander Resort & Spa

Forbes: “Everything [she] touches turns to gold.”

That’s a real quote. From Forbes. Last year. It’s also true.

BET? Billion-dollar exit. Washington Capitals? Stanley Cup.

And Roma. Won 10 Oscars. Who showed it before a single soul started caring? Johnson’s Middleburg Film Festival. (Which, by the way, has 32 films and counting in Academy Award contention.)

Remember her golf resort at Innisbrook? Oh, yeah. Hosts the Valspar Championship, one of the PGA calendar’s most-anticipated tournaments.

Becoming a billionaire comes with a new level of clout as well. “When you don’t have money, you’re not invited to special events; you really don’t matter,” she told WSJ. “It’s a society thing.”

So instead, she’s turned to giving back. Her Sheila Johnson Fellowship’s paid for more then 40 scholarships at Harvard University for students who otherwise wouldn’t afford to attend.

Image result for sheila johnson"

Breaking glass ceilings. 

There’s an alarming statistic in business and diversity—especially as it pertains to women. According to research by investor Richard Kerby, 18% of all VCs are women—and only 3% are black. In addition, less than 50 black women ever have raised $1M in funding.

“When I got started,” Johnson says, “I couldn’t get a loan. I had to use my own money to get Salamander Resort and Spa.”

She explained to WSJ last year that men can go to any bank with a bank proposal. And no matter how “wacky” the idea is, she said, “they’re going to get the financing. Women do not have that ability.”

Johnson’s taken it upon herself to do something about that, becoming one of the founding partners of WE Capital, an investment firm that invests in female entrepreneurs.

“I started out in a very unique position where I had my own capital to be able to get started,” she says. “But there have got to be banks and investors that believe in helping women who want to be entrepreneurs in the hospitality business.

“And it’s just really, really important that they really take a look at this.”

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Entrepreneurs

Exclusive Q&A: How These 4 College Roommates Built One Of The Top Black Wealth Channels On Instagram

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It’s one of the more shocking stats that exist in America: Despite trillions in spending power, minorities are at the bottom when it comes to wealth. As of 2020, there’s a wealth gap that will take 228 years to close.

That said. There’s currently a movement on social media where a handful of Instagram channels provide real financial and wealth-building advice, particularly in the black community.

We spoke to the founders of one of our favorite channels, @BlackWealthRenaissance.

Ex-roommates in college, Jalen Clark, David Bellard, Jared Spiller and Kelly Rhodes started this as a passion project; they’ve since grown this 209K+ followers in about a year, with one of the most engaging audience on the ‘Gram.

In this two-part Q&A, they break down the importance of wealth building, their mission and why it’s important to make your own table.

(Editor’s note: This interview was done by WealthLAB editor-in-chief/real estate developer Philip Michael.)

Congrats on all your success. In such a short time. So tell people. What is Black Wealth Renaissance?

Jared: Black Wealth Renaissance is a movement. Our goal is to normalize the topics and conversations around wealth growth and educate African American people through education and awareness through social media.

We will educate as many people as we can reach on ways to achieve financial freedom and positive examples of people who have or are on their way to financial freedom. 

David: Like Jared said, it’s a movement. We want to encourage those in our community to take action, educate themselves on finances and personal development, learn how to invest, understand the abundance of opportunity out there, and exhibit unity through practicing self love and group economics.

It’s really about embracing an abundance mindset and understanding that we can change our realities if we change our thinking.

So that’s the mission tied to the brand?

Kelly: Black Wealth Renaissance is more than just a brand; it’s part of a change in culture. We wanted to continue this movement on African Americans learning financial literacy because it’s not taught in schools.

And most parents don’t even understand some financial literacy concepts to be able to teach to their children. So we created this brand to generate a space where everyone can learn how to build generational wealth. 

It’s a really cool name, too.

Jalen: Black Wealth Renaissance is more than just a catchy name or an Instagram account. We are seeing a time of enlightenment in our community—as well as culture—so we decided to highlight the positive energy and impact that is currently happening around us.

What are some of the core messages you guys are trying to push?

Jalen: We want to take away the stigma of money being the root of all evil within our community and show people how it can be a tool of empowerment and ever-lasting change.

That’s dope. 

Jalen: To sum it up BWR is a shift from asking for what we want to going out and grabbing life by the horns and taking control of your own destiny. 

How did the mission come about; why did you start it?

David: The mission began really more-so as a passion project. Jared, Kelly, and I were roommates in college and this is the type of stuff we were always talking about at home.

So how did it become an actual idea?

David: The idea of creating an IG page had been something that we floated around because it was a lot of knowledge that we were gaining that we wish we had known earlier—and wanted to share it with others.

One day while having one of our many conversations on the topics of culture and finance, I told Jared, “Man, let’s just go ahead and make the page” and here we are seven months later.

Jared: The mission came about after myself and my roommates, Kelly and David, read Rich Dad, Poor Dad.

A classic!

Jared: Yes. We began researching different avenues to create passive income and experimented with many different projects that we never knew would lead up to Black Wealth Renaissance. 

One day, David and I were talking about different ideas and concepts we had heard from our favorite podcast and were talking about how we wanted to spread the word about financial freedom. And he told me to go ahead and start the page.

What happened next?

Jared: From there, we’ve grown as a team and continue to push towards our goal of educating as many people as possible and exposing them to various pathways to financial freedom. 

Kelly: I noticed that Jared and David created a page that had some good inspirational quotes on it, but I did not fully understand what their goals were in the page.

I called them one night after I got an idea about creating a financial literacy page to help build a brand so we can start a podcast we always talked about.

They told me that was the plan of the page they already created and that they wanted me to be part of this movement.

I think the biggest thing for us growing like we did is from the beginning we focused on helping and teaching to better their financial situations that has always been—and will be—the goal. 

What was your role in all this, Jalen?

Jalen: I was in the background when the page got started, but I was always there since David and I are such good friends; we’re constantly around each other, so I would hear him talking to Jared, discussing certain things and would give my input on the topics.

So it wasn’t your plan to join right away? 

Eventually I couldn’t fight it because I was just as passionate about the things they were talking about and doing. Once the page started to really growing, I jumped on board and haven’t looked back. 

I’ve said this publicly, my goal is to help create 100K new investors create generational wealth through real estate. What’s the goal behind your mission?

David: Short term goal is to encourage the conversation of building wealth, while providing tools and resources that can help people take actionable steps to achieve that wealth.

Long term goal is creating an education system to teach financial literacy to the black masses, providing a platform where we can come together to invest in each other’s companies.

To create economic independence in our community so that we can begin to implement the changes our people have long sought.

Instead of continually asking for it, because obviously that ain’t working. We want this to go down in history as the movement that changed the narrative of Black people in America.

Incredible. Love it.

Jared: To help people. We truly believe that through education we can change the narrative around a lot of problems and hurdles in the African American community.

Once we can change these types of conversations into everyday topics, a lot of things will change for our communities.

I always believed the number one difference between wealth in cultures is what’s discussed around the dinner table, those everyday conversions. 

Jared: We just want to get the conversations around financial freedom normalized amongst the African American community.  

Kelly: The goal behind Black Wealth Renaissance is to help—and teach—others how to create generational wealth. Most people would read that and think we want just everyone to have a ton of money—which is nice—but is not our specific goal.

It’s about understanding money. So many things that aren’t being taught.

Kelly: We want to have African Americans learn financial literacy so they can teach the next generation; so the learning curve for them won’t be as steep.

We also want people to be able to pass on businesses, land, real estate, etc. to the next generation, ultimately changing the financial status of not only them but their heritage. 

Jalen: When I think on the mission, I think of it as “to normalize black wealth and share helpful resources and tips we believe will be useful in attaining and maintaining generational wealth.”

That’s it exactly.

Jalen: It creates an image in my head of more couples and families that look like the Carters and the Obamas.

I think instead of hearing this person is the “first black person to do such-and-such,” you’re going to hear more of this person was “the first person to ever do this.”

I always thought it was so limiting to say that.

Jalen: Right. We won’t have to compete for a spot at the table; we are creating our own table. And a spot at other tables will become an open invitation that we have the right to accept or refuse.

That’s true freedom right there.

Jalen: We want the topic of personal finance and financial education to be held and taught to the youth and elderly so it is no longer a taboo or sore subject within our community.

We want to break the social molding of “looking like money,” while struggling to pay the bills.

The mission is also deeper than creating wealth through money this mission is to become wealthy in all walks of life personal, mentality, collectively, and spiritual. 

 

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