“Black Founder: The Hidden Power of Being an Outsider” by Stacy Spikes
c.2023, Dafina, $28.00, 256 pages
By Terri Schlichenmeyer
A good building starts with a substantial foundation.
No matter where you go from there, that base is an opening action, an announcement, a public sign of things to come. Whether it’s a new home for humans, hoopties, heirlooms, or the future site of industry or ideas, the foundation is the start of something exciting. In a new business and as in the new book, “Black Founder” by Stacy Spikes, it needs to be solid.
With high school graduation on the horizon, Stacy Spikes was itching to move.
His hometown of Houston, Texas, had become “too small” to hold his dreams. Education was important in his family, but college held no interest to him either. Instead, he was going to Los Angeles to chase a career in music and movies.
He broke the news to his parents and, with $300 in his pocket, he drove northwest.
Once in California, Spikes quickly understood that he didn’t need a job, he needed several of them. Before he could get settled, though, he fell in with a bad crowd and was hospitalized to help him kick drugs and alcohol abuse.
He returned to a job he had working with a two-in-one company in Encino, making and packaging videos. The men he worked with mentored him; it was there that he learned the need to “go to extra lengths to meet [someone] in their field.”
Spikes took acting classes and absorbed as much as he could about old-time Black comedians. He built a recording studio in his home and learned to make album covers, which led him to a job at Motown, where he went into sales and learned how to make an impression. The “Black Godfather” taught him that it was possible to talk with anyone, Black or white, with honesty. And before he founded Urbanworld Film Festival and MoviePass, Motown helped him see that to succeed, “You didn’t need an army, just a small group of like-minded souls set on making a difference.”
Readers looking for a good business biography are in for a nice surprise when they read “Black Founder.” They’ll also get some entrepreneurial advice. It’s not bold-face or bulleted; you’ll have to look for it, but it’s in there.
“Transparency” is what author Stacy Spikes learned early, and it’s what he applies inside this book, which is refreshing. This isn’t a book about a meteoric rise; Spikes instead writes about setbacks, both personal and professional, and times of struggle. Readers can imagine a Parkour-like hustle that Spikes describes as he overcame seemingly catastrophic events and still landed with both feet; such tales serve to instruct as much as does the actual instruction.
Though it may seem to lag a bit — especially for older readers, or those who are unfamiliar with the businesses Spikes founded — “Black Founder” is entertaining enough to read for fun, with a side dish of instruction. Whether you’re ready to act now or you’re just finding your inner entrepreneur, to launch your idea, it’s a good base.
Here’s a rags-to-riches story for you: “Never Far from Home” by Bruce Jackson (Atria, $28) is the story of Jackson’s life. He was born in Brooklyn and lived his early life in public housing. At age ten, he was arrested for robbery (which he didn’t do) and he caught the attention of drug dealers. Knowing then that that wasn’t the kind of life he wanted, Jackson worked hard to overcome his background. His story is inspiring and awe-striking.
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