“’20 Years Strong’ means Atlanta Black Gay Pride is about more than just a party. It's about expanding the mind for the true meaning of Black Gay Pride; affirmation, advocacy, unity and educatioRead More Read More
Laurence Pinckney NY LiftStyle Producer
US ambassador What keeps you Motivated?
Now that is an excellent question. I guess there is no simple answer but I have always believed that we are here on this earth for a limited time. If I am still living there has to be a good reason. Life is for living and you have to have passion to make it through.
US ambassador Tell me about your business spirit that got your started in producing events?
Actually when I has 15 years old I played saxophone in one of the most popular bands in Philadelphia called “Phoenix.” We had a converted Wonder Bread truck that was our tour bus. LOL. After that, I started producing teen dances with two of my high school friends. from St. Joe’s Prep. Once I went to college I headed an organization that produced concerts for the school. I had a budget of almost $300,000 a year to spend on talent. We were fortunate enough to hire some great artists during the three years I held that post. It was an amazing time.
US ambassador Can you define if possible the difference in marketing to a diverse audience and to a specific audience and your difficulties?
Acquiring marketing money is one of the biggest challenges. It has been my experience that the people that hold the purse strings for the advertising dollars have misconceptions about the spending power of different market segments. An example is when I was brought in by NY promoter, James Saunders, to revamp and rebuild Black Pride NYC, Inc. I met with many corporate sponsors to get them to support our event. I was fortunate to have met a few open-minded executives at Verizon, Budweiser, HBO and Absolut, that were open to taking a chance on our community and gave us money and product, along with other support. This was unusual because often the corporate model is to put money into the African-American market or the gay market, but not the African-American gay market. It took some convincing to show that the African-American LGBT market was a segment worth going after. Once you find a corporation that will take that chance the bigger problem is having the African-American LGBT market deliver a result for that corporate investment. Write a letter to the company, hit their website, buy their product. Very few African-American producers were able to deliver that. Finally, there is the factor of visual imagery. I would say within the last 15 years sexual imagery has been used as the hook to promote so many African-American LGBT events. It is almost like if you don’t have a hot, sexy model on the flyer or the website the response from the community is tepid at best. That often might not fit with the corporate image or identity. So why should corporations and sponsors support the events? Don’t get me started Urban Socialites. What you are doing with your magazine is going to work. I congratulate you for breaking the model and doing it the right way. It is going to pay off.
US ambassador With building relationships with other business partner, how do you establish a trust factor?
These are some excellent questions. I was always taught from a very young age to be honest, direct and to do what you say you are going to do. I think over time if you do that people will come to trust you. Often I have been disappointed that so many of us who do not follow that philosophy. But I just follow my own set of principles. I do think it is getting better in terms of cooperation. Once we have a community come together there is nothing we cannot do.
US ambassador What was your initial mission and has it changed throughout the years?
Whew. You would have to be a little more specific with that question. It really would depend if you meant life mission or various business missions?
US ambassador If you had one event to produce, what would it be?
I would do the first free spirit cruise targeting people of color.
US ambassador Consider all things that matter, What’s important to you today and going forward?
My spiritual relationship, finding true love and happiness and having so much money I can make a big difference around the world. There are so many people that need help around the world. As I continue to develop my real estate business and the ZenBiz Travel, LLC company I hope to realize all these dreams.
US ambassador Remember a time you patted yourself and had an euphoric moment?
Brief describe it. There are honestly to many to recall. I guess the best moments are when something that I have been involved with has helped people in some meaningful way. Whether it be putting together a fundraiser for (Black Pride NYC, Batey Relief Alliance, La Casa Rosada, Hip Hop in Harlem for Ali Forney & CAASAH in Brazil), or supporting an AIDS orphanage in the Dominica Republic, or when someone I have mentored has some success. Those are the things that make me feel good.
US ambassador We all make mistakes, if a factor of growth, Can you identify one and how your progression to resolve it?
My biggest mistake was I think I underestimated the “Haters.” For too long I believed if it was a good idea that benefited many people that everyone would jump on board. It took me a long time to understand that was not so. I think I could have been more patient with people. I could have let them come in their own time, but I am a passionate person and driven for results. You don’t make many friends like that.
US ambassador How do you balance work and play?
I don’t, unfortunately. I work all the time. When you work for yourself if you don’t work you don’t eat. When I can I like to travel. I have been to many parts of the world, yet there are so many more places on God’s wonderful earth to discover.
US ambassador What guidance or mentoring would you give new producers and promoters? How would you make it not a silence voice?
I am not in a position to give guidance because the rules have changed so much. What I can tell you is what I did starting out. Anyone that could give me knowledge I would seek it out. I remember when I first decided I wanted to go into the music business I would go up to the best and convince them to let me help them for free so I could learn. My first gig was a big recording studio when I was 15. I got coffee, did cold calls, whatever but I learned so much. Then I went to the biggest promoter in Philly who ran Electric Factory Concerts in Philly. He did all the stadium show as well as clubs and I kept going back until he let me in. He allowed me to see the behind the scenes close-up. Older people have so much wisdom if you are smart enough to seek out the information. I think most importantly now more than ever new producers and promoters have to learn to do business with each other. Until we learn to do that the big money will never come. I never understood why on a major holiday you have 5 promoters giving all there money to 5 different clubs and fighting for the money. What if those same 5 promoters sat down, made a plan and put together the mega party that our Caucasian brothers and sisters do. Don’t you think all the big corporate sponsors would come a running. Think of the amount of social outreach that could be done. Lives could be saved.
US ambassador Many have seen the bright lights and music. What are your give back in regards to awareness and philanthropic?
With each event I have been involved in I always look for ways to introduce some kind of outreach to the community. With Black Pride NYC, we were able have community outreach with AIDS awareness and youth development through the Verizon Youth Agenda. From testing, counseling and just disseminating information beneficial to the community. With Dominican Island Heat we were able to get HBO to sponsor a reception in Santo Domingo that benefitted the Batey Relief Alliance, and La Casa Rosada, and AIDS orphanage. With Bahian Heat in Brazil, we donated cash to an AIDS organization.
US ambassador It is important to have mentor or a reference point? Do you have one or a model you follow?
I have many mentors. Young and old. I believe there is something to learn from everyone. Again, if I feel there is something to learn I will seek those individuals out. I believe that if you are open to it, you can learn something every day.
US ambassador How important is it to be culturally diverse?
It think it is important. Travel as much as you can. When you can expose a young teen to the joys of travel and culture. It will change there life. The earth is not that big. The more you see of it the clearer it is that we are more alike than most think.
US ambassador Suggest a book that impacted your life.
There are so many. I have to name more than one.
The Bible, Empire: The Life, Legend, and Madness of Howard Hughes , Invisible Life by E. Lynn Harris, In the Meantime by Iyanla Vanzant