EFOC 2024: “How To Create An Empire” Gave Insight Into Achieving Success In Business – Essence


Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for ESSENCE

The second day of the Suede Men’s Experience kicked off with an amazing conversation between the ESSENCE Festival of Culture’s Vice President Hakeem Holmes, and entrepreneurs Larry Morrow, Law Parker, and Greg “Gee Willie” Johnson. During the conversation, the panelists spoke about their respective journeys towards success, and how they’ve transformed their dreams into realities.

Appropriately titled “How To Create An Empire,” the discussion began with the moment when each of these individuals decided to embark on their entrepreneurial endeavors. With Holmes, Morrow, Parker, and Johnson all being natives of New Orleans, there were many commonalities in their stories, one of which being the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in the summer of 2005. Gee spoke about “enjoying the process” when putting together events around the city. As a notable party promoter and major event catalyst, he’s been leaving his imprint on the social scene for two decades.

EFOC 2024: “How To Create An Empire” Gave Insight Into Achieving Success In Business
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – JULY 06: Law Parker speaks onstage during the 2024 ESSENCE Festival Of Culture™ Presented By Coca-Cola® at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on July 06, 2024 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for ESSENCE)

As far as motivation, these men are more driven than most. About halfway through the panel, Holmes asked about what things inspired them to keep moving forward in business. “What keeps me going is the tenacity and spirit that we developed being from New Orleans,” Parker responded. “We love to reciprocate and see other people be successful. We love to have comradery, build connections, and see other people become successful.”

When seeing successful entrepreneurs, oftentimes outsiders think that they are singular in their careers, but it’s paramount for anyone to have a positive and loving support system, especially someone who may have demanding lifestyles. Morrow, who is an author and the owner of several restaurants and nightclubs across the city, spoke about the people that he leans on when times get a bit rough. “When building a foundation, it was more important to me to build a community around it so it has support,” the hospitality mogul said.

EFOC 2024: “How To Create An Empire” Gave Insight Into Achieving Success In Business
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – JULY 06: Greg “Gee Willie” Johnson speaks onstage during the 2024 ESSENCE Festival Of Culture™ Presented By Coca-Cola® at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on July 06, 2024 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for ESSENCE)

“My family—my mom, my wife, my daughter, my sister—they have always been my biggest support system,” Morrow continued. “That has helped me to grow and manifest into the man that I am today. When I think about the transition that I had in my life, it was all because I had a strong support system.”

For these businessmen, it’s always been about doing what you love, and being able to use that to feed themselves, as well as the people around them. “You have to find that thing,” Johnson explained. “When I say that ‘thing,’ it’s something that when you wake up everyday, you’re literally happy to go do the work. I wake up everyday, and I’m happy to build a house on the real estate side, or build that next event, it never feels like work to me.”

He concluded by saying, “If you can find that thing you enjoy, and be able to make money while doing it, your life will be amazing.”



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