I got wind of Nation United (NU) being in the tri-state area via an instagram DM from my good friend Shawndel Evans. The post showed some of their ambassadors interning at Blueprint Capital. Having spoken to NU Coach, Troy Kemp, several times, I called him and asked if they’d be interested in coming to HBO (my day job) for a tour. Troy immediately put me in touch with Nation's Director of Programs and Outreach, Jeremy Ardrey. We started throwing dates around and landed on June 26 as the day. It conveniently coincided with an event GenHBO (one of HBO’s employee resource groups) was having, where a panel of media executives were discussing the state of the industry and how it affects the younger generation of content consumers. I also happened to be shooting that GenHBO event, so it was an easy fit.
The NU ambassadors arrived promptly at 5pm, and we went to the bistro, where I got to know them individually, including their hometowns, aspirations, viewpoints, and personalities. After breaking the ice, we went to the HBOtheater, to listen to the panel discussion. The attendees received some swag (a Curb Your Enthusiasm cap) and the discussion ensued. The theater was filled to capacity with HBO and NBC employees, and the conversation was a healthy mix of technical and business topics on today’s content landscape in Media/News Entertainment. It was very much on-par with the topics I primed the NU guests with, while talking in the bistro. There I’d asked them if they knew of the AT&T acquisition of TimeWarner and its implications. Several of them knew bits and pieces of the details, so I filled in the gaps, speaking about AT&T’s global presence and their infrastructure being an ideal distribution mechanism for TimeWarner content properties (HBO, CNN, etc.) The panel discussion in the theater ended on another topic that I broached with the young men, as well; the emergence of diversity as an important component in the workplace. One of the NBC executives championed diversity, by saying that he felt the only way to get the best result in business was to have multiple, diverse voices at the table. I related the Iroquois “Story of Lacrosse” to the young men, during our icebreaker, noting the Iroquois story’s highlighting of diversity, in the variety of animals as protagonists, and how the smallest of those animals were the ones who became the heroes. All relevant and in keeping with the panel.
After the panel discussion, the ambassadors got to network with all of the event attendees, for the next hour. I stepped away for a moment to handle something at my desk, but I returned to see the young men holding court with a variety of NBC and HBO employees, building relationships and making connections. As The event came to a close, I thanked them for representing themselves and their hosts with the utmost integrity and told them they have a new uncle in New York. Indeed they do! I Salute you all for your commitment, dedication, and sacrifice to embark upon success!!!!