The ripple effect
Posted July 1, 2008 3:38 am (about 4006 days ago)Although it was really brief, while in Cleveland I got to meet Mike McCartney, Paul McCartney’s brother. Mike was promoting a photo exhibition he has at the Rock Hall of Fame Museum and he seemed like a decent enough fellow; it’s hard to tell after a couple of minutes and a hand shake. I hate to describe him as “the brother of…” but that’s how he was introduced to me and as a fan of The Beatles, it definitely caused me to pause.
During my last trip to Cleveland I got to meet guys like Kool Herc and Chuck D (although I’ve met Chuck like five times and he never remembers me). For the most part, I don’t tend to get star struck, yet I’m not so jaded as to not appreciate the fact that I’ve met some historical figures or that sometimes I get to present at places like the Rock Hall of Fame. During some downtime I thought about how all of this was possible.
The main thing that struck me was the idea of networking and the need to be prepared for opportunity. They’re words I try to live by, but this trip really reiterated my belief in them. For most of us, I believe that we’re surrounded by opportunity, if we act on them. I’m not the most talented or smartest guy, but gaining the trust of the right people is key. I try to drill into my students’ heads that it’s often not what you know, but who you know. The next step is when you’re given that opportunity that you show you can back up their belief in you. So, I thought about how small conversations or an e-mail have turned into larger opportunities, benefiting not only me, but the students I work with. I’ve undoubtedly missed countless opportunities (Eminem’s manager reached out to me on the cusp of him blowing up but I never got back to him-I could’ve been rich!), but I definitely cannot complain about life.
This Cleveland connection could be traced all the way back to a random e-mail I received back in 2003, after I moved to The Bay. Carlos Mena was promoting his new CD and sent me a message saying he wanted to send me a promo copy for review on my site. I quickly realized that I had contacted him back in 1997 about doing a show in Michigan as part of the group 10 Bass T, although he didn’t remember me (the show didn’t get beyond the proposal stage). At any rate, we hit it off and did some work together, including shows with Tre Hardson of the Pharcyde and Speech of Arrested Development. So one day Carlos calls me and tells me to hurry and get up to Berkeley to meet a friend of his who was working on developing some new hip-hop organization. I met Martha Diaz and Rolondo Brown of the newly formed H2Ed but they were literally leaving for the airport so we spoke for maybe a few minutes. Carlos must’ve talked me up or something because the next thing I know, I’m on the education committee of their organization and flown to New York to present and ended up being part of a book project. As a result of this project I was invited to work on Queen Latifah’s and Bruce Willis’s film “The Hip Hop Project,” although I never meet either one nor got paid. In 2006, I was invited to present at the Rock Hall of Fame, which was set up by Martha. While there, I got to build with author Bakari Kitwana, who had heard about me from a mutual friend, Dr. Dawn-Elissa Fischer. He drove me to the airport, we chopped it up, and later he brought the Rap Sessions panel to my high school. A couple of months before it came I went down to Stanford to catch the panel and touch bases with him. While I was there I ran into the rapper Invincible, who I knew from Michigan, but hadn’t seen in nearly 10 years. She ended up doing a workshop at our school as well. And now I was back here in Cleveland, where so many opportunities have come from. Incidentally, next week I’m off to Puerto Rico as a guest of my friend Frankie and her husband Rico Pabon, who was on the Rap Sessions panel.
So, Carlos Mena=H2Ed=New York=H2Ed Curriculum Guide=Hip Hop Project Curriculum=Rock Hall of Fame=Bakari Kitwana=Invincible=Invincible at Unity=Rap Sessions at Unity=back to Rock Hall=chillin’ in the PR. I don’t know what else is going to come out of this, but it’s making good story so far.
Other examples quickly came to mind, including the following: