There's a book called Lucky or Smart that I recommend every aspiring entrepreneur read. In it, author Bo Peabody recounts his story from 19-year-old college student to multi-millionaire businessman.
But the best part about the story isn't Peabody's personal story, it's his underlying message: There is a difference between being lucky and being smart, but you can be smart enough to create your own luck.
There are plenty of stories that come to mind when I think of African-American entrepreneurs who have struck gold with a mix of smarts and luck.
Will Smith, then a Grammy-winning rapper, luckily met a young Hollywood writer named Barry Medina and the two collaborated on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which launched Smith's acting career. Now, he's one of Hollywood's highest paid actors.
Sean Combs started out as an intern for Uptown Records, which had recently signed a young R&B singer named Mary J. Blige. He dropped out of Howard University and less than two years later, Combs was one of Uptown's executives and helped launched Blige's Grammy-winning and multi-platinum selling career.
Bob Johnson had an idea for a television station geared directly to African Americans in the late '70s. Eleven years later, BET became the first black-owned company listed on the New York Stock Exchange and a decade later he became America's first black billionaire. He's also the only African-American to own a major professional sports team, Charlotte Bobcats.
Obviously these men all worked hard to create their success, but you can certainly bet they also had their share of luck.
These men didn't have to read Peabody's book to garner their millions and fame, but I'm sure they'd agree that it's important to "put yourself in a position to get lucky, create the right situations for success, and take advantage of every opportunity."
That said, while we have great examples of African-American entrepreneurs striking it big in entertainment, music, and sports, I hope our readers can gain similar appreciation for the entrepreneurs and businessmen and women who will be profiled in Real Role Models.