It is painfully obvious that any African American aspiring to achieve the pinnacle of entrepreneurship by taking a company public will be hard pressed to find any significant inspiration from movies or books presented from a Black perspective. Not because success stories of Black people don’t exists, but because very few writers have ventured off into this niche to explore the successes within the Black business community.
In comes Brett Pulley…
Pulley has done what I consider one of the greatest services for the Black community a writer could possibly do. Pulley has provided what is sure to become a source of inspiration to millions of budding Black entrepreneurs. His book, The Billion Dollar BET: Robert Johnson and the Inside Story of Black Entertainment Television is not only an inspiration, but has set the standard for Black business literature by becoming one of the few books in print that provide an in-depth analysis of the inner-working of a Black business from its conception.
From Robert Johnson’s start in the media industry as a lobbyist for the National Cable Television Association to his attaining Billionaire status by selling BET to Viacom, author Brett Pulley does a masterful job of presenting a narrative full of anecdotes and fact bites that gracefully guides the reader chronologically through a somewhat complex story.
It is important to note before you start reading this book that Robert Johnson refused to cooperative with Pulley in this book’s writing and that Pulley choose to tell this story with mostly a one sided negative opinion of him. This fact won’t ruffle the feathers of most as Johnson has a less than favorable opinion among African Americans because of the poor programming he pushed on BET; however after reading this book I personally feel Johnson deserves more credit.
Think what you want about the programming on BET, the bottom line is that it wasn’t Black people funding Robert Johnson’s efforts, they were only criticizing him.
In fact, it is reported that many of the established Black businessmen of the 80s including Johnson Publishing Company’s founder John H. Johnson refused to form strategic partnerships with BET while the company was still in its infancy. I am willing to give Robert Johnson the benefit of the doubt on his lack of social consciousnesses. With little to no financial support coming from his own community, he wasn’t left with many choices but to focus on profits by making tough business decisions.
Nevertheless, regardless of how you feel about BET and its founder, both have become landmarks in American business history. No matter how distasteful you may find the current state of affairs of what is now a sister station to MTV and VH1 under the Viacom umbrella, Robert Johnson’s entrepreneurial savvy remains unparalleled.
This book is highly recommended to all seeking inspiration on building a successful business from scratch.
This book can not only serve as that inspiration, but if read carefully and intently, it will also provide a “how to” guide for creating a business, funding its growth, and selling it for large profits.
All I can say is I can’t wait for the movie!