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Business Ideas: How to Grow, Be Opportunistic, and Ignore Your Critics Like Robert Johnson by Evan Carmichael
Today we’re going to look at how a boy from a family of 10 in Mississippi kept his eyes open for opportunities and turned a $15,000 investment into multi-billion dollar empire. This is the story of Robert Johnson from B.E.T. and the top 3 lessons that you can learn from his success.
“Anything that has to do with money, I want to be in that business.” – Robert Johnson
Robert L. Johnson (born April 8, 1946) is an American businessman, best known for being the founder of television network Black Entertainment Television (BET). In 2001 Johnson became the first African American billionaire, and the first black person to be listed on any of Forbes world’s rich list.
Eleven years after its initial launch, BET became the first black-owned company to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Today, BET has spinoff channels and is the largest black-owned cable company in history. Johnson bought back all the BET stock seven years after it went public for $1 billion. He then sold it to media giant Viacom two years later for $3 billion.
Action Item #1: Always Be Growing
Johnson has been called a serial entrepreneur thanks to his love of starting new businesses on the fly. Throughout his career, however, if there is one thing he has learned it is this: there are always new customers to go after.
According to Johnson: “If there’s something I can do and I feel it should be done, I just want to do it. I just don’t want to leave it undone because I’ll sit back and say, why didn’t I do that? Why didn’t I start that business?”
Action Item #2: Be Opportunistic
Where Johnson sees the chance to make money, he jumps at it. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. And, while his critics use that fact as one more chance to knock him down, Johnson attributes his success largely to his opportunism. Johnson is an entrepreneur, plain and simple. He wanted to make money — and lots of it.
According to Johnson: “Whenever I see an opportunity and a chance to change something, I go at it… BET was never a legacy event for me. BET was something I started as an investment and I knew someday I would sell it.”
Action Item #3: Ignore Your Critics
Johnson had a lot of critics as he built his business. One of his greatest successes in his own mind is being an African American who succeeded at the highest level – since he felt that “nobody expects minorities to be there.” As much as others tried to paint his career in terms of black and white, Johnson has refused to let others identify him as anything other than an entrepreneur — and a good one at that.
According to Johnson: “Today, if I were to put on jeans and walk into a jewellery store, and I could probably buy the jewellery store ten times over. But the jeweller’s going to look at me as a black guy in jeans who probably can’t afford it, and maybe who just might steal something.”