7 Life Lessons Learned From Mara Brock Akil during Essence Fest

If you only have one question to ask…Make it good!

While I was at Essence Fest this weekend I had the esteemed privilege to ask one of the dopest TV writers of our time a simple question: What advice would you give a young man who just turned 30!?!? I should have recorded her response, but I will sum up what she said.

1. Work on building a legacy. 
She was just so adamant about this. Your legacy becomes your character!!! Hopefully, I am not misquoting. But either way, I get it. Build something around your name. Build something that you can pass down to the next generation or class behind you. You were put here for more my friends. Not just to live and breathe and to wither away. My advice is every single day you should ONE more thing that brings you closer to your dreams. Just ONE.

2. Build a foundation under your feet.
You need a foundation before you begin your journey. Which for me meant, start somewhere. Start networking at the places where you want to be. Or in the groups you want to be in. Find business groups, or groups for doctors, lawyers, etc on Facebook. Or, reach out to professionals and ask questions about your industry who are further than you. And of course, just get started. Can’t have a stable house if the foundation is weak.

3. Live Below Your Means
Mara discusses how she would take advantage of those home cook meals from Grandma. Those meals would become lunch for Monday, Tuesday, And Wednesday. Live below your means. Live Below Your Means! She couldn’t stop repeating the phrase. As entrepreneurs or dreamers sometimes we have to be super scrappy and this is a great way to do it.

4. Create Space
When Mara begins writing she puts on music that she loves and she cleans the house. She wants to make sure she is always working in an open space. So, if you are wanting to create something amazing create the space you are going to work in.

5. Make Deadlines
Mara stresses making “fake” deadlines for herself. Forcing herself into deadlines has pushed her to produce some of her best work!!! Stop being SUCH a “Free” spirit. Sometimes you need to make deadlines and hold yourself accountable.

That’s the advice John Singleton gave her while standing in his garage. You want to be a writer? Write!! At first she thought it was such a JERK like response, but then she later realized how PROFOUND the statement was. You can’t be a writer if you don’t write. And apply that to any other area in your life as well.

7. You get what you Deserve
Also, she learned that no one else will PUT her on, but herself. She thought that getting to meet and connect with John Singleton was going to be her big break. It was far from that. You are going to get what you deserve. Those were her final words.

I hope this helps someone! Ya’ll be good. Essence Fest was amazing for me. I celebrated my 30th bday with the city of New Orleans whether they knew it or not! :-)


Alex “Nemo” Hanse
Young Nemo.

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