Here's What I Learned From My Meeting with Charlamagne Tha God...
Alright, so as you can already tell by the title, yes, I had a one-on-one chat with Charlamagne Tha God of Power 105.1’s hit morning show, the Breakfast Club. Although it didn't turn out how I had hoped, it proved to provide a life lesson that I think EVERY MILLENNIAL needs to know; just keep reading.
How I Got the Meeting: My Follow-Up Game is Strong
I’ve met Charlamagne in passing about 3 times before landing my official meeting. The last encounter took place on the first stop of his book tour in Brooklyn, NY. At the time, I made a point to introduce myself to his assistant and briefly picked her brain about how she got his attention and eventually became his assistant. She was gracious and informative, which I greatly appreciated, and in retrospect, this initial encounter would play a huge role in landing me a meeting.
After leaving her, it was my turn to get my Black Privilege book signed. When I got to Charlamagne, I made it a point to let him know that I would work to get a one-on-one chat with him and he agreed to make it happen.
We were already following each other on Twitter from the last time we met, so getting in contact with him through his DMs was a breeze; it was getting him to respond that was the hard part. After a little over a month of no reply, I took matters into my own hands and talked to my sister about it (lol). Every morning, the Breakfast Club has a segment on their show called, "Tell Us Why You Mad," which allows listeners to call in and share with DJ Envy, Angela Yee, and CTG what has them "mad." So being the brilliant human that my sister is, she recommended that I call into the station to tell them why I was "mad" about Charlamagne not answering my DMs. (Graciously, of course)
The Monday following my sister’s recommendation, I made sure I was up bright and early to be the first to call into the station. I got through, told him who I was and what I wanted. He was really nice about it and told me what I needed to do to get the meeting. As soon as I got off the line, I contacted the people I needed to contact and over the course of maybe a business week, I had my meeting on lock.
Getting There: My Trek Back to the City
As you may be aware of from following my blog regularly, I recently moved from New York City, back home to South Carolina for some time (read here). Because of this, getting back to the city required me to wake up at 3:30am to catch a 6am flight to Newark, New Jersey for our 11pm meeting in Soho. (Annnddd, my flight back home was 2 hours behind schedule, so exhausted is not the word). I arrived at the iHeart Radio building around 10:30, and waited downstairs until I was able to be escorted upstairs for my meeting. There, I caught up with his assistant and chilled until Charlamagne was ready to meet me.
So... What Went Down?
I get into the studio, like the actual studio where some of the greatest pop culture moments of our time took place. Funny thing is, prior to the meeting, I was cool as a cucumber, but I soon as I sat down in that rolling chair, all of my nervousness bubbled up. I was finally face-to-face with one of my biggest role models, so you can only image how I felt.
Because of the time I was allotted, I came prepared with 3 strong questions (ones I couldn’t get the answers from in his book) and 2 recommendations for him (which I’ll explain in a sec). He answered each thoroughly, gave me his undivided attention and seemed pretty receptive to my recommendations.
But that was it.
No, "feel free to reach out to me if you need anything." No, "check in from time to time." Nothing. I left the meeting feeling like I came all this way (and dropped all these coins) only to leave “empty handed.” I honestly hoped that somehow he would see all that I did to make the meeting happen, see that I was someone from his hometown that is trying to make a better life for herself, take a liking to me and in some way want to help. But when that didn’t happen, not even a little, I thought, what could I have done differently to have had another outcome… been more impressive, etc. But the truth is: there was nothing I could have done to of had a different outcome, here’s why:
What I Learned and What A Lot of Us Millenials Can Take From This:
For some reason, when we, as in young folk coming up in the game, are looking for guidance and mentorship, we tend to want to go straight to the source. Straight to the C-level people in our industry. But you see, when people reach a certain caliber in their career, they’re schedule gets busier, the have speaking engagements to attend, book tours that consume their availability... so having the flexibility to invest time and attention into a new potential relationship just isn’t reasonable.
You have to ask yourself, “Self: what do I really need to get from them in a face-to-face chat that I can’t already get from watching how they move, listening to their podcasts, reading their books?" We’re in the age of the internet and have an unlimited source of FREE information; do we really need to take up these people’s time?
Why do we overlook the mid-level people that have just as much insight, experience, and guidance to share and go straight to the Charlamagne’s of the world, who are simply unable to provide that level of attention because of the high demand of their schedule? What about the people around them, in their circle, at their company? These are the people who tend to have more time to invest in you.
Pro Tips: Trust Me On This One
The next time you think about reaching out to these people for insight or to "pick their brain," make sure that you’re coming with something to ofter them and not just looking for what they can do for you (which explains by 2 recommendations). A successful business woman I’ve been in brief contact with shared this gem with me: “Always ask yourself how you can add value to his/her personal life? How can you elevate their business and personal endeavors.” Simply put, what are you bringing to the table? Honestly, if the answer is “I don’t know,” or “Nothing,” then I would hold off on reaching out until you have something.
Wrapping Things Up
I may be coming off a little brass in this post, but I really want us to understand this: we have to chill out on asking our role models for a minute of their time, because they really don’t have it to give. I had to learn this and if I can save you the time, I will.
Look within your own community and jobs for mentorships. Start building with your peers, classmates, friends. That’s how you develop a tribe, that’s how you shift culture, venture off into new frontiers, and build empires. You're the next Diddy of the world. Your homegirl is the next Issa Rae. Build inward, then out, and later down the line, you’ll run into your role model right where you’re hard work and diligence put you: at the top.
Before you go: I am extremely grateful for the opportunity I had to speak with Charlamagne, which proved to be a huge life lesson. Leave a comment below letting me know your thoughts on this topic; have you had a similar experience with your role model? I’d love to hear!
Peace, peace, peace