The Hershey Story (The New Attraction)


Johnson Says There’s No ‘Magic’ to Business Success


The basketball legend-turned-entrepreneur answers Inc. Twitter followers’ and Facebook fans’ questions about life on and off the court.

When you hear the name Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Jr., the first thing that comes to mind is basketball. Yes Johnson is a former point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers with five NBA championships, three MVP awards, and an Olympic gold medal. But the basketball hall of famer is also a philanthropist and savvy businessman.

After retiring from the NBA in 1996, he focused his attention on the Magic Johnson Foundation and Magic Johnson Enterprises (MJE), which includes a portfolio of funds to finance revitalization projects in underserved communities. He is notorious in business for having owned over 70 franchises of Starbucks and the only franchisee to own a 50 percent share. Although he recently sold his Starbucks in 2010, as well as his share of the Lakers, his name and brand is still associated with AMC Magic Johnson Theaters and 24 Hour Fitness Magic Sport centers. Johnson recently became chairman of VIBE Holdings, a multi-cultural media company that includes Vibe magazine, Uptown magazine and Soul Train brands. He is also leading the charge in bringing a football team back to Los Angeles.

Taking a break from March Madness, Johnson talked to Inc.com’s Tiffany Black about managing multiple businesses, the keys to a great comeback, advice for start-ups and minority businesses, and his love of music.

In one of your Dove Men’s Care commericals that started running during the NCAA tournament, you talked about how the statement “I can’t” motivates you. How do you motivate others?
I tell people to look at me and understand that everybody first told me that I couldn’t be a 6-foot, 9-inch point guard and I proved them wrong. Then they told me I couldn’t be a businessman and make money in urban America and I proved them wrong. And they thought I couldn’t win all these championships and I proved them wrong there as well. I motivate others by making sure that they understand to go after their dreams and don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t. If you are motivated enough and put the work in that you can achieve anything in life that you set your mind too.

You also talk about the importance of a team when it comes to winning. How can those concepts be applied for some of our readers who are one-man start-ups?
They may be a one man operation in terms of them starting their own business, but at some point they will have a team of people. When you are a successful business person, you are only as good as your team. No one can do every deal alone. I make sure that I have people who want to win, who are about winning, who are competitors, and that understand the brand and how to grow the brand. Other entrepreneurs should define what winning is to them and then tell their management team or their company what they expect and what he or she wants to see happen—and that everybody has to work as one. In most of the corporations I know that’s what happens.

You have multiple businesses and you are the personality or spokesperson for so many of them, how do you manage it all?
Again, it’s putting together a great executive team and great people who work to manage the businesses. That’s No. 1. No. 2, I do very few deals. I turn down more deals than I actually do. They have to be the right deals. They have to be the right corporations. Like this campaign I’m doing with Dove, I was already using the product before they called me. So this was a no-brainer for me to use Dove Men + Care products because I was using the body wash and the deodarant already. That made it easier for me to go ahead and do the campaign because I was already excited about the products.

Why did you sell your franchises of Starbucks?
People didn’t understand I had a contract with them to sell at that time. So it wasn’t that I did it randomly. It was an agreed upon exit at that particular time. I had a great, great time with Howard Schultz and Starbucks. We made a lot of money. We put a lot of people to work. And I want to thank Howard Schultz for that opportunity. But it was an exit that was already agreed upon.

Drew Lawrence from Facebook and @AaronMazor from Twitter asked about how your bid to bring the NFL back to LA is coming along given the current NFL lockout.
We are still working on it but we have to wait until the labor agreement is finalized by the players and the owners. So we are at a standstill, on the outside looking in, just as everyone else is to see when they reach an agreement. Nothing can happen until that happens. But I’m excited, very excited about the possibility. LA deserves a team. And everybody that lives here in Los Angeles is very, very excited about the NFL coming back to Los Angeles. It will be a great day if it happens. We already cheer for all the other teams. It’s a shame that on Sundays now we gotta go to sports bars and peoples homes and cheer for somebody else, not a team of our own.

Paul Shively, one of Inc.’s Facebook fans, asked what are the key factors to a great business comeback because you came back big time?
I think reinventing myself was really key for me. I have reinvented myself several times. I’m a guy who really understands who I am and what I want to accomplish. I think the comeback is just about staying the course and then also never getting down. Because a lot of people, when they fall down, they stay down. I’m a guy who gets right back up and says, ‘Okay, there is more I can do. There is more that I can achieve and I’m gonna go after it.’ And then you gotta have a plan. What’s your plan to comeback? You probably have to work harder than you have ever worked in your life to come back. Just look at Donald Trump, who was down and managed a come back—look at him now! So there’s a lot of people who have been down, but they came back and they came back strong because they had a plan. And because they didn’t let their prior situation keep them down.

What advice do you have for minorites who have a passion for something and want to start their own business?
We have got to, first of all, start owning our own businesses. It’s what makes Harlem go or Chicago go or any community go. It’s not enough to be passionate about it—the No. 1 thing you have to do is research to make sure there is a business there. No. 2, make sure there is demand for what you are going to have your business in. I was able to build my company because demand was already there. You also have to understand the competition and what they are doing. Make sure that you don’t have a ‘good’ staff or a ‘good’ management team, but a great one. I would encourage all minorities to start their own business. Especially because we have so many talented young people out here today. It’s really crucial for the growth of our communities. And when we own our own business then that dollar touches a lot of hands in our community because that money stays in Harlem, for example, instead of somebody owning a business and taking it out of Harlem. That’s why it’s importantto keep it in your neighborhood because you can give people jobs in your commuity. It also sends a great message to young people that they can dream to one day own their own businesses in their community as well.

Is there an opportunity for small business owners to utilize the Magic Workforce Solutions?
Yes, small business owners and small businesses [use the program for staffing]. They tell us what they are looking for and we train the people to do that job. We also manage those people on site if they need us to do that. It’s worked out very well for us. It’s in seven or eight states including Ohio, Texas, Georgia, and Michigan. It’s a business that we look forward to growing. Any businesses interested can go to the website to contact us.

I live in Harlem, New York and we have a Magic Johnson theater.  Any chance you will open a 24 Hour Fitness Magic Sport center in Harlem?
I would love to do that. As you know I love Harlem. What I love is that the people are so great and they really support your businesses. Harlem is definitely one place that I hope to expand because of the theater and Starbucks that I built there. We have a community empowerment center there. So yes, Harlem is a place that I will be looking to do a lot of business.

You already have movie theaters. Have you ever considered owning a movie studio or distribution company like Tyler Perry? John Riddick, through Facebook, noted that minorities have so few outlets for our films.
Great question. First I congratulate and salute Tyler, he’s doing a great job. Would I think about it? Of course, I’ve been thinking about it. But right now as you know and I know the studios are cutting back on producing movies. They are not doing as many movies as they used to do. I’m doing my research and homework but I don’t know if I will ever get in to it or not. If I do, hopefully the timing will be right. But if I don’t, we have Tyler. I agree that we need more because we need more minority-based movies. Tyler does a wonderful job but the problem is he may give us two movies a year and we need more than that. Minorities are underserved when it comes to family entertainment and movies.

Continuing with entertainment, you’re now involved with Vibe Holdings LLC. I told my Mom and she was so excited that you might bring Soul Train back. What are your plans with Vibe and Soul Train, in particular?
Tell your Mom that’s a great question and tell her yes we are working to bring Soul Train back. That’s No. 1 because we all grew up and learned how to dance every Saturday morning watching Soul Train. And that’s not just people of all colors. I have had people of all colors approach me about this and it’s really amazing. I didn’t really know until I bought it how people love Soul Train. Then when you think about the library, it is truly amazing the content that we have. And we have already talked to a lot of companies who want to license the content and the library and we are going to start that soon. When you think about over 300,000 photos and I wouldn’t tell you how many shows, it’s unbelievable. Soul Train has a really unique and special library. And then Vibe has always been for the young people. I’m excited about Vibe as well, and Uptown is for the wealthy and affluent African Americans. My company is going to start buying other companies as well so this is just the beginning.

Here’s a question from Kirsten Peck and Mark Myrick from the Inc. Facebook page. They love your New York Times Bestseller 32 Ways to be a Champion in Business. They want to know when are you going to do a book tour?
I will probably go back out pretty soon. Maybe in the fall or so. We have to look at it because after the NCAA Tournament then of course is the NBA Playoffs and then you never want to do a summer tour for a book or anything.  So it would probably have to be in the fall.

@MusickEd asked from Twitter if you ever played an instrument or if you could play an instrument what would it be?
No, I haven’t played an instrument. And I think it would be the bass because that’s how you dance, to the bass. I’m the biggest music lover in the world. I mean I have seen everybody. I went on tour with Michael Jackson and the Jacksons four or five times. You name them, I’ve seen them and probably a hundred times too. So when you think about Magic Johnson and the thing that relaxes me or gets me going or gets me on that dance floor, it is just some good music. I still love to dance even though I can’t do it as long as I used too. But that’s one thing I’m really passionate about, good music.

By Tiffany Black (Inc. Magazine)

Bin Laden’s gone, but what about al Qaeda’s finances?


As the world absorbs the news of Osama bin Laden’s death, government warnings of counter strikes show that the death of one man won’t kill al Qaeda. One reason: the terrorist group doesn’t need bin Laden for money.

“There are two things a brother must always have for jihad, the self and money.” — An al Qaeda operative

This truism is cited by none other than the 9/11 Commission in the detailed report that it published in 2004. One of the first and most important chapters in that document looks at how al Qaeda raises cash and moves it to its operatives around the world, weaving a financial web that the Commission said “allows the organization to support itself, its operations, and its people.”

“You can’t run a terror network without funding because it takes money to train operatives, transport them, and buy equipment,” Thomas Kean, the former New Jersey governor who chaired the Commission, tells Fortune. “When you cut off those supplies, it becomes very difficult to operate.”

Contrary to popular opinion, the death of bin Laden does not strike a blow to the organization’s financial health. “[Osama bin Laden] Does not support al Qaeda through a personal fortune or a network of businesses,” the Commission wrote in its report.

“Al Qaeda relied on fund-raising before 9/11 to a greater extent than thought at the time,” the Commission wrote. “Bin Laden did not have large sums of inherited money or extensive business resources. Rather, it appears that al Qaeda lived essentially hand to mouth.”

And yet the myth has persisted that bin Laden has been the organization’s financial pillar. This is likely because he was the son of a billionaire who used a portion of his inheritance to start al Qaeda in the 1980s and he nurtured it to become, in the words of the New York Times, “a multinational enterprise to export terror around the globe.”

But by 2004, al Qaeda financed itself by raising money from “witting and unwitting donors, mosques and sympathetic imams, and nongovernment organizations such as charities,” says the report. Intelligence reports reveal a financial web that is nearly impossible to track, as the money is distributed as fast as it is raised by a network of couriers. Each strand in the web is taken down and distributed as fast as it is woven. There is no war chest to discover and no bank from which al Qaeda draws funds.

The reality of how al Qaeda actually survives has kept intelligence officials and operatives in other countries fighting to stay one step ahead of the organization. “One lesson of 9/11 was that you can’t fight the last war,” says Kean. “We talk about a failure of imagination on 9/11 because the terrorists did something we never imagined they would do. The way they raise money is no different.”

This game of whack-a-mole has changed global finance. Banks now must take responsibility for knowing who their customers are and for sussing out unusual behavior.

Kean says the Treasury has used its powers to disrupt the flow of money to al Qaeda, including tracking down individual financial deals.

But it hasn’t stopped terrorism.

“A lot of what al Qaeda is doing now doesn’t require a lot of money, like recruiting people over the Internet,” says Kean, who notes that the amounts seem to have gotten smaller since 9/11. “That huge 9/11 operation only took $500,000 maximum.”

Bin Laden’s death is an important moral blow to al Qaeda, but it is less of a blow to the organization’s lifeline.

By Katie Benner (CNN MONEY)

Swoosh! Inside Nike Documentary


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Dr. Dre Wins Lawsuit Against Death Row Records, Digital Rights to ‘The Chronic’


The new incarnation of Death Row Records does not have the rights to sell Dr. Dre’s iconic rap album “The Chronic” digitally, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder ruling states that the rapper and producer has received far less money than he is due from online sales of the 1992 album, which also helped launch the career of Snoop Dogg.

The ruling does not call for a halt of digital sales of Dre’s music, but entitles him to receive 100 percent of the proceeds of online sales, his attorney, Howard King, told The Associated Press.

The rapper, whose real name is Andre Young, sued WIDEawke Death Row Records last year, claiming it was improperly selling “The Chronic” digitally and using some of his music on compilation albums without his permission.

Snyder’s ruling states the label, which bought the original Death Row Records’ holdings out of bankruptcy, does not have the right to put Dr. Dre’s music on compilation or any other albums.

“For years, Death Row Records forgot about Dre when they continued to distribute his music digitally and combined his hits with weaker Death Row tracks in an attempt to elevate the stature of their other artists,” King wrote in a statement. “We are gratified that the federal court has unambiguously declared that Death Row has no right to engage in such tactics, and must hold all proceeds from these illicit distributions in trust for our client.”

Phone and email messages for WIDEawake’s attorney, Michael Holtz, was not immediately returned Tuesday evening.

The rapper has a long history of battling Death Row Records, a label he co-founded but later left.

The most recent case he filed centered on his 1996 exit agreement with the label, which called for him to receive 18 percent royalties on his music created while at Death Row and gave him substantial authority over how the songs were used.

The agreement states that WIDEawake can only sell Dre’s music in the format it appeared in before the deal. Another of Dre’s attorneys, Stephen Rothschild, told Snyder during arguments in court on Monday that meant it could only appear in four formats: CD, cassette, vinyl and 8-Track.

Source: Billboard

MC Hammer Talks Social Media Interests, Getting through Bankruptcy and Web Influence


He had hits from the late ’80s to the ’90s, fromU Can’t Touch This” to “2 Legit 2 Quit,” setting records as the first hip-hop artist to hit diamond-selling (10 million units sold) status. He created a multimillion-dollar brand, from those infamous Hammer pants and dance moves to TV shows, a record-label executive post and a Christian ministry. He’s been in the news for his financial missteps, from dealing with bankruptcy [2] to recent tax woes [3]. And through it all, there were moments where Stanley “MC Hammer” Burrell [4] thrived and others where he had to survive. Now, he has taken his business and his brand into new arenas by learning to diversify.

Most recently, Hammer has reinvented himself as a social networking mogul [4]. With an audience of millions (more than 2 million on Twitter alone) and a passion for the possibilities of social media platforms,  he is often tapped to share his wisdom at prestigious universities such as Oxford, Stanford and Wharton. Calling social media a “tool of empowerment,” he believes in the power of its influence and the importance of being able to mold and control the message you want to send to the world, whether it’s political, social, or about one’s business. “People are able to mobilize, communicate and get the message out,” says Hammer, who is slated to be a speaker at this year’s Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference May 22-25 [5]. “And local governments can no longer control the messaging. As long as you can control the messaging, you can create a perception of what life is, or even of who a person is, with social media.”

In 2008, the Oakland, California, native found a way to combine social media, dance and music via DanceJam [6], an exclusive Web community where one can watch, learn, and highlight their talents among others in the industry. “It  was the culmination of some particular thoughts I had over the years in watching the social Web start to develop, in particular video-on-demand on sites such as YouTube,” he says. “I had an idea of a concept of how I’d like to see that on the Web, and that’s how DanceJam was created.”

Further adding to his portfolio, Hammer founded a mixed martial arts company, Alchemist Management, in 2010, tapping into a passion for the sports business that began when he worked as a youngster in the front office of the Oakland As. “I’ve always seen the energy around sports, and sports fans are a tremendous opportunity from a business standpoint.” With Alchemist, Hammer is able to manage, market, promote, and brand-build for fighters.

As an award-winning music industry veteran, Hammer has learned a thing or three about resilience and persistence, especially when it comes to finances. Infamously known for amassing millions and then having to file for bankruptcy in 1996–and reportedly having recent problems with the IRS [7]— Hammer attests to relying on solid business principles and forward movement to stay in the game. What got him through?  “Faith first, and then a true understanding of business second,” he says. “There was never a stopping point. The creation of new ideas and new businesses was a continuous process.” Throughout his career, with the building of relationships, getting into new ventures and using the skills he learned throughout his career to amass a multimillion-dollar fortune, he was able to keep the momentum going, he adds.

So what’s next for Hammer? With music always being part of what he does, he says fans can look for more Web-related projects, including a one based around utilizing the total potential of social media and social Web. He’s also continuing growing Alchemist Management, having recently signed two new fighters to the roster.

By Janell Hazelwood (Black Enterprise)

Building Your Brand with Social Media


Five steps to establishing a credible online presence for your small business.

Tapping the vast audience of the social Web is a low-cost way to catapult a small-business brand onto the global arena. Building your brand using social media allows you to develop new (and strengthen existing) relationships, which often leads to everything from brand awareness, loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing.

While perhaps initially daunting, the trick is to break the process into manageable pieces. From creating your online destinations to connecting with influencers, following these five steps will get you on your way to building your brand and boosting your business.

1. Create branded online destinations.

This is the first step to raising brand awareness and loyalty. Companies with the most successful social media branding surround consumers with online experiences that allow them to select how they interact with the brand.

Consider using popular, free options like blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and so on. Of course, for small-business owners without the manpower to effectively manage too many destinations, you should consider testing each of these to determine which social media service you’re most likely to stick with over the long haul. This will become your core destination. All your other online destinations should link back to the core.

2. Establish entry points.

One of the most important aspects to accomplishing this with your branded online destinations is to continually publish meaningful content that adds value to the reader’s experience. The goal is to publish useful information that people will want to talk about — and then share with their own audiences. This creates additional ways for people to find your branded destinations and it can lead to higher rankings from search engines like Google.

Here’s one way to think about it: If you have a website with 10 pages of content, there are 10 ways for search engines to find your site. If you attach a blog to that website and write a new post every day for a year, you will have 365 more ways for Google to find your site, and your brand.

I call this the compounding effect of blogging. You cannot buy that kind of access to a global audience.

3. Locate your target audience and bring them back with you.

Where does your target audience already spend time? You need to spend time in those places, too, and engage in the conversations happening there. Get started by conducting a Google search for keywords that consumers would be likely to use when searching for a business or products like yours. Follow the paths that those consumers would follow and you’re likely to find them.

Join relevant online forums and/or blogs, and write posts, publish comments and answer questions. Once that audience understands that you’re there to genuinely offer useful information and not to self-promote, you can start leading them to your own branded destinations — particularly your core branded online destination.

4. Connect with influencers.

As you search for your target audience, you should identify online influencers in those communities and get on their respective radars. To do so, leave comments on their blogs, follow them on Twitter and retweet their content. You can even email them to introduce yourself.

The key is to make sure they know your name and understand that you add value to the online conversation. This also exposes you to their audiences.

5. Give more than you receive.

Success in social media marketing depends on being useful and developing relationships. If you spend all of your time promoting then no one will want to listen to you. It’s not a short-term tactic, rather a long-term strategy that can deliver sustainable, organic growth through ongoing, consistent participation.

A good rule of thumb is to apply the 80-20 rule to your social media marketing efforts. Spend no more than 20 percent of your time in self-promotional activities and conversations, and at least 80 percent on non-self-promotional activities. In time, you’ll see your business grow from your efforts. And it starts with leveraging these fundamentals.

By Susan Gunelius (Entrepreneur.com)

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