If you haven’t already, I highly encourage and strongly urge you to watch The Black Godfather, Netflix’s doc on one of the most powerful black men in entertainment, Clarence Avant. It’s not just a music and entertainment doc, though. It’s a primer for a fruitful and impactful life.
I won’t go into his whole history here, but the core of Mr. Avant’s power and influence is his relationships. They've granted him a level of access and respect from entertainment to politics that few can say they enjoy.
Last week I had the pleasure of participating in a panel of professionals to discuss diversity and representation in entertainment, and I said the word “relationships” so many times – without even realizing it - that several people quoted it back to me as we were talking afterward. In the digital era, we’ve lost the art of cultivating and nurturing relationships; not just with friends, but professional ones as well. Or when we do make connections, they are often tenuous and more about a hook up than genuine building. People say they want to network or link up when they really mean they want something you can provide. It’s transactional.
When people ask me about my career path, my two part answer has been largely the same for at least the last decade:
So, you need a mentor...
I extoll the virtues of good mentorship often as one of the most important assets needed to get by in this game, but the idea of what mentoring means and who a mentor is has gotten a little convoluted. It wrote this piece about how a great mentoring relationship can give you a leg up in entertainment (or any) industry for Global Grind in 2010, and I pulled it out, dusted it off and updated it a bit, because it’s still relevant and applicable.