Everybody Eats. Staying Hungry at Dallas’ Entrepreneurs Dinner

This past weekend I was afforded the opportunity to be a part of a private, hand-crafted Entrepreneurs Dinner in Downtown Dallas, Texas. The dinner brought together entrepreneurs of many industries and backgrounds to share what their business is, their business challenges, and how they can help others.

Between the networking, the drinks, the food, and an atmosphere the entire experience was one-of-a-kind.

Above all else I left the dinner with a new community and new business (and life) lessons.

Collabetition is key.

Yes, you read that correctly — collabetition is now a “thing.” There were numerous entrepreneurs representing a myriad of industries at entrepreneurs dinner, but of course there were a few that are essentially, competitors. For example, Greg Keathley of MOAR is a graphic designer like myself who divulged a lot of information about his business (i.e. my competition). Learning about him and his business undoubtedly helped me think about how I run mine, but also how we can work together in the future.

Let’s rewind to when you learned about natural selection in high school. Natural selection is the order in which organisms better adapted to their environment thrive and those ill-equipped eventually die off. If you are truly passionate about your industry you will do what you must to thrive in your environment and often times that is collaborating with your competition. In the grand scheme of things this will force all those in collaboration to continue innovating and adapting forcing these businesses to stay relevant.

Everyone knows something you don’t.

Entrepreneurs’ Dinner, reiterated one of the most important concepts behind networking. Every single person walking on this planet knows something you don’t, has a story to tell, and has insight that can help you along your journey.

One of the most common (and awkward) questions I ask strangers is, “So what’s your story?” I’m often met with a puzzled look followed by an auto-response of, “What do you mean?” When you corner someone in to telling you something you don’t know, you are bound to extract something useful — a new, memorable connection at the very the least.

Photo credit: Bryson Gamble + Brenden Williams

Get out of your own bubble.

Guess what? I’m Black and I’m an entrepreneur.

The biggest problem with that is that I often find myself in circles of other Black, entrepreneurs. It’s great and it sucks simultaneously. If you know me, you know I am one of the biggest proponents for diversity — but just because African Americans are a diverse segment surrounding yourself by only African Americans is not diversity.

Being surrounded by entrepreneurs that consisted of: young martial artist, white musicians, Hispanic neurolinguist psychologist, African American event planners, Asian podcasters, and so much more was refreshing, enlightening, and imperative for my own growth.

The power of mastermind.

A moderately intelligent man by the name of Aristotle once said:

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

We all have problems and challenges that we need to solve in order to be successful, and more often than not we try to solve these problems in a silo. Maybe its America’s machismo culture, but we have an innate problem with being vulnerable. What I appreciated about Entrepreneurs’ dinner was that — you had no option but to be vulnerable.

A part of the invitation application and cocktail hour networking activity was to divulge your biggest challenge our hurdle. What was even better was that you had to also divulge how you can best help others. After going around the room you knew everyone’s biggest business struggle and biggest business asset.

This newly formed Mastermind Group (look up Napoleon Hill if you need to), is now a community for advisement, cross-promotion, and collaboration.

Photo credit: Bryson Gamble + Brenden Williams

You’re more important than you think.

Did you read the section on, Everyone Knows Something You Don’t? That means you, yes YOU, know something that can benefit every single person walking this planet — you’re kind of a big deal. Cary yourself as such.

I’m painfully tired of hearing, “Oh I’m just starting out, I’m not a big deal,” “I’m still trying to grow,” “I’m not poppin’ like you,” “I can’t wait until people notice me,” etc.

Shut up.

You’re important and have lessons that others’ need to learn; after talking to an entrepreneur about this very topic we came to the epiphany (I’m slightly exaggerating) that whether we like it or not people are looking up to us, we can no longer drop our head or belittle our accomplishments, and you shouldn’t either.

You’re not as important as you think.

You’re probably a little confused at this title after reading the last section, right? Hear me out.

Humility and confidence are not mutually exclusive. There’s a whole world out there, and you’re probably not the best at what you do (I could be wrong), so be humble and learn. If you are the best at what you do, be humble, or no one will like you.

That’s it.

Speak genuinely, be you.

There are two entrepreneurs that I will never forget from this dinner 1) because they had me deep-belly-laughing, and 2) they said whatever they wanted to say. One professed a profound statement to the entire group in a voice significantly louder than a whisper, something along the lines of:

“Oh, so you’re old as fuck!”

Ashli Owen and Daniel DiPiazza (of Rich 20 Something) — thank you for being you.

I actually spoke to both of them about how your business has a personality, if your audience doesn’t like your business’ personality they wont patronize your business.

No matter how crass, polite, shy, outgoing, or particular you may be there is an inherent respect you recieve for being yourself and not trying to be what you think you should be.

Take cold showers.

Over dinner, AJ Amyx, probably the coolest business coach I’ve come across, told me to take cold showers.

And I told him, “No.”

AJ explained how forcing yourself to take cold showers disciplines your mind; when you force yourself to do something you brain is telling you not to, you are then strengthening your control and response to fear and discomfort (this probably where that whole “mind over matter” concept came from). Consider cold showers as exercise for whenever you face a “I really should do this, but I don’t want to” situation.

After his explanation, I may, consider taking cold showers.

Fear is bullshit.

I don’t think I can provide any more clarity to the aforementioned statement, but Will Smith did a pretty eloquent job:

“Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity. Do not misunderstand me danger is very real but fear is a choice.” — Will Smith

I spoke with one entrepreneur, who is currently between two jobs, and is contemplating opening up her self-owned event planning business again; the only reason she hasn’t is because she is afraid. I believe, through her countless conversations over the course of the evening, she is no longer afraid, and she shouldn’t be because she is equally talented and passionate. If you are passionate about something you’ll make it happen, fear is bullshit.

Photo credit: Bryson Gamble + Brenden Williams

A special thanks to Robert James Collier for curating such an important and impactful event.

If you are interested in attending future Entrepreneurs Dinner event, apply to meet with successful entrepreneurs at a future dinner here: www.entrepreneursdinner.com/apply

If you haven’t realized I learned immeasurably more than I thought I would at Entrepreneurs’ Dinner and left with a new appreciation for entrepreneurship, new motivation for my own businesses, a new network to lean on, and new lessons to learn from.

There are numerous mastermind groups, GroupMes, MeetUps, and dinners like the one I attended. Have you been to any? What lessons did you learn?

Be sure to connect with me at www.brandonemiller.com