Building longevity and cultivating knowledge is the consistent theme and mission of the B.L.A.C.K. Alumni Networking Expo, hosted by The Network DC. The Network DC is ‘a group of young professionals that fancy social networking as a means for professional development and entertainment.’ The organization has branded the expo as one of their premier events. This year, the event was filled with gem dropping workshops, vendors, and speakers that cater to all industries, as well as promote personal growth and branding.
The eventful weekend started with a quaint panel dinner discussion at the National Press Club. The evening began with a warm and stimulating welcome from The Network DC’s CEO, Jarrett Walker. Jarrett addressed the room full of entrepreneurs with words that not only set the tone for the evening using relatable situations, but set the tone for moving forward with social action challenges and gentle reminders that “there is still work to do after this discussion.”
Moderator Britt Wright, former news reporter and a 2016 DMV Top 30 Under 30 honoree, opened the conversation with a basic question for the panelists, “what wakes you up?” Most of the answers between the invited guest were synonymous thoughts of passion, tenacity, and family. Jasmine Crowe, CEO and Founder of Black Celebrity Giving had a simpler answer, her alarm clock. However, it’s not a regular alarm. It’s an alarm that reminds her when she wakes up (and several other times throughout the day) to give thanks. She goes on to say that during the course of her day, she is faced with a lot of rejection due to the nature of her business, asking people and organizations for money. Through it all, the abrupt interruptions keep her grounded in faith that all will work out as it should.
What’s an event without having a guest provide the heavy? The points in conversation where you’ve stopped in your tracks to consider another way of thinking. Author Rob Hill Sr., affectionately known as ‘The Heart Healer’, always delivers the heavy. His contribution to the forum was nothing short of what he gives you on his various outlets. Mr. Wright posed this question to the panel, What are two things you wish you knew five years ago? To which Mr. Hill responded, he wishes he knew how to say that he is not okay and how to be honest about his weaknesses. He continues with the notion of aligning yourself with individuals that you can confide in that will not expose your areas of challenge, but rather challenge them to be strengths. These are people that you have to respect and feel comfortable submitting to as experts in areas that you consider yourself vulnerable.
Earlier this year, The Washingtonian reported that it would cost approximately $83,104 to live comfortably in The District. During the conversation, it’s noted that in the next 5 years Millennials will be the largest spending group in the world. That notion is followed up with the question, how do we get to a point of financial freedom, a comfortable lifestyle, and working towards home ownership? Tonya Rapley, certified financial educator and creator of My Fab Finance, shared tools that will help anyone get to a place of financial stability and freedom. Tonya told the story of her early stages of finance coaching, and the importance of creating a community of change. She noted that most of her clients are bashful and ashamed of their financial situation, and since joining her financial safe haven, those same clients have created a place of understanding among like minds. Tonya also mentioned the importance of understanding your relationship with money in order to move forward, much like other areas of life that could be considered problematic.
I could go on about the immense amount of wisdom the panelist bestowed upon the eager and ambitious hustlers in the room, but would serve no purpose. The Network DC has plenty of events throughout the year that spark conversation, reignite your ambition, and make you refocus on your passion; help elevate yourself by participating in any of their upcoming events.
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