In three days, I’ll be moderating a panel entitled “Advertising: The Convergence of TV, Film and Technology.” I’ll be speaking to the members of the Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association (BESLA), in St. Thomas USVI, about how to properly leverage their brands in an increasingly interactive world, with these highly interchangeable (and intertwined) mediums.
I was asked to speak at this conference several months ago. One of the organization’s conference chairs, Elke Suber, invited me based on a discussion we had had over a year ago, when I advised her that if she ever needed a dynamic person to speak at her annual conference, that I was her man. When she called me, she referenced that call, and said that she had been waiting for the opportunity to bring me in.
The funny thing about this, is the fact that I have known Elke since 1994, when we were both student members of BESLA, attending our first conference in Aruba. We were both in the audience, listening to panelists speaking about the impact of the internet on the music industry. At one point, I had asked (what I thought was) a simple question about artists (vs labels) registering domain names, which sparked a lot of controversy among other audience members, and became a flash point for the balance of the session.
Afterwards, I was approached by several of the attendees of the session (as well as a few of the panelists), who wanted my opinion about the subject, and exchanged contact information for further discussion stateside. I found the whole thing rather amusing, since I was still in law school, and didn’t really consider myself an expert on anything, much less the topic of discussion in that session. But apparently, the way I couched my opinions and posed my questions, left the distinct impression that I knew what I was talking about.
Anyway, that’s how Elke and I met, and why she offered me this speaking opportunity.
When I reflect on that first BESLA conference, I realize that what made my opinions so impactful, was the fact that I held myself out as an authority. Even though I was still in law school at the time, I spoke with such confidence and intelligently, that I came off as ‘an expert’ on the topic being discussed. Considering the relative new-ness of the topic being discussed, and the fact that there were relatively few people assessing the overall impact of the internet on revenue streams at the time, the niche issue I raised had (apparently) never crossed the mind of the panelists (and made me look pretty cool).
I’m going to BESLA with a real sense of purpose. I’ve prepared a sweet Power Point presentation, assembled a nice crew of panelists, and outlined all the points I want to cover. I realize that there may be a bunch of audience members who may be looking at this topic from an angle that neither myself, or any of my distinguished panelists, may have considered (and who may come off like the ‘expert’ in the audience). But that’s cool (and to be expected), because, as much as I’m there to impart information on the attendees, I’m also there to promote me.