Former Pretty Ricky rap group member, founder, and CEO of Adwizar Spectacular Smith embraces his entrepreneurial spirit through cultivating an urban music-inspired social media brand. Smith used his expertise in the world of music to launch a successful business that manages Facebook pages for artists such as Bow Wow, Kevin Gates, Soulja Boy, and many more. Now with Spectacular Academy, others can learn the fundamentals for starting their own businesses. In an informative interview with The Quintessential Gentleman, Smith shares his perspective on thriving amid the pandemic, common pitfalls for business owners, and the importance of mentorship, as well as many other words of wisdom.
The current pandemic has crippled businesses nationwide, and Black-owned businesses, in particular, have suffered some of the greatest setbacks during these challenging times. Despite the uphill battle, Smith remains optimistic and believes in the power of unity.
"I feel that Black businesses are in a great state in terms of collaboration, in terms of understanding that we can collaborate and be able to do anything that we really put our minds to collectively," he explains.
According to Smith, there is power in numbers, sharing resources, and forming connections that can strengthen a business community. He believes the Black Lives Matter movement is building a foundation that influences every aspect of Black life, including our businesses.
In regards to the pandemic, like many challenges, creativity is born from necessity. He offers his perspective on how content creators can continue to thrive despite living in a remote working world.
"I think it benefits content creators because they have no choice but to stay home and create content," he states. "It gives them time to reflect, and it gives them time to slow down and [grow] set into their unique ability. So as a content creator, I think this puts them in the space where it's like, this is the time and opportunity to take advantage of this free time I have. Everything I should have been focusing on before, I am focusing on now."
When reflecting on the complexities involving Black men offering guidance and providing more transparent insight into their journeys as professionals, Smith said, "I think it's just a mindset of the people that came before us. I don't think it's an issue with making it happen."
Also, he believes in the importance of imparting knowledge within a community. "Once we reprogram our minds to understand that we need to give, we need to make sure that we're helping our brothers and sisters utilize the information that we have to move forward and progress in life," he said. "And it has to come from the people with influence because those are the people that are going to spread it wide and quickly."
He refers to Harriet Tubman as an exemplary figure when considering how people can help and uplift one another without the motivation of personal gain. Inspired by her selflessness and bravery, he continues by stating, "The universe watches all, and when you put good out in the world, you get good back. That's just how it happens."
Failure is an inevitable aspect that comes with any new endeavor. Smith recognizes three pitfalls for Black businesses and advises how to avoid them.
"Every time something hot comes out, they're following the trend," he comments. "They run into it and they neglect what they’ve already started. That's one. The second thing is failing and quitting. You're going to fail, but you have to adjust and then try it again. I'm going to even throw one more in there. Fail and analyze what happened. Why did I fail? Adjust what you just learned and go at it again. Not preparing yourself is the third thing. When you're persistent and consistent with the right applied knowledge, success will happen for anybody."
When considering what he learned from his mistakes in running a business, he believes being misguided, offered misinformation, and not understanding the full spectrum of financial growth were the key factors.
"In order to have seven streams of income, one, you don't have to be the person that runs the company,” Smith advises. “They don't tell you that. They give you this one great liner and they freaking leave you out on your own. Two, you don't even have to be the person that invests in the company. You don't even have to put money up. Three, in order to create multiple sources of income, you don't even have to be the person that runs the day-to-day of the business. So what I learned was not to take your all from your business when you're doing really good."
He also warns fellow business professionals not to lose focus and encourages them to continue to live up to their full potential even during periods of success. He believes that finding a team of like-minded people who share your vision and investing in the company can lead to a big payoff in the long run.
Smith acknowledges the successes and pitfalls that occur when working with family and friends versus hirees.
"Some of the biggest companies in the world are family-owned businesses, but I haven't had success in working with family," he states. "I'm not going to say it's not possible, but for me personally, I haven't had a great experience. My best people are people that I interviewed and hired and had joined my journey. But when you first get started, some of the people that you convince to go on the roller coaster ride with you are friends and family."
Smith offers advice on how to create generational wealth.
“It's learning the skill set, mastering it, and everything you need to do to make sure you're a master of the craft,” he said. “There are three layers to wealth. One is a high-income skill. This is what's going to get you your income. The second thing is taking a high-income skill and creating a scalable business. That's what's going to create cash flow. And at the bottom of that triangle is high-return investments. That's what's going to build your network.”
When beginning a new endeavor or path in life having a mentor is essential, and Smith explains the reasons why he feels it is so important.
“Mentorship is important because it gets you to where you want to be at an accelerated pace,” he comments. “When you’ve got a mentor, you're not learning from their knowledge, you're learning from their mistakes. "
He continues with valuable life lessons that explain why being a mentor is so meaningful.
“So mentorship is everything, and how you become a great mentor is three quadrants on living your life,” he said. “One is pulling people up that are below you. That's how you become a mentor, finding out their needs, seeing what their challenges are, and giving them feedback based on your experience. It's called experience sharing. Then the second thing is peer-to-peer. I'm helping my brother, my sister, that's on the same level as me, and helping them get information that they probably won't have, so they get even further in life. Even if that means they're going to get further than me, faster than me. And then the third part of that quadrant is the people that are above you, your mentors, those people are going to pull you up."
Understanding the importance of education spurred Smith to attend Harvard and gather the tools to bring his dreams to life.
"I'm a strong believer in not reinventing the wheel," he states. "If something has already become successful or is successful, or was successful, they have a blueprint that is proven already. So, all I did was go to Harvard because I knew I was starting my own online business school. How did they teach? What were they teaching? I went for the structure, and that is what I implemented into my school, Spectacular Academy."
Photographer: Johanna Desrosiers
Stylist: Doug Hickman
Creative Director: BYoung Agency