Worldwide Wes Is The Clarence Avant of Sports
What I Learned From The Great Authenticators of Culture
“Shoutout to Worldwide Wes. Everywhere we go we leave a worldwide mess.” -Jay Z
The news of Leon Rose becoming new President of New York Knicks should be exciting for Knick fans. According to reports Knicks will also bring over “Worldwide Wes” whose government name is William Wesley but that’s a name never used by those of us in the know. What’s exciting is that a guy I have known for 20+ years is now running a basketball team in NYC, the mega-media market in the world. Also exciting is another legend / OG from my world has “some of his story” out in the public and my “John Henry-like” stories of another Authenticator have gone mainstream. My career is both built on and patterned after the great co-signers in culture. Starting with Clarence Avant whose work I admired after meeting him in the early 90’s to Worldwide Wes who I would meet in the mid 90’s while trying to convince his friend Michael Jordan to listen to my at the time unknown Columbia Records artists (Fugees, Destiny’s Child, Kenny Lattimore) advance albums these heavily influential men would shape my understanding of the true concept of “Third Door” in culture at an early point in my career
What makes both of these guys special and similar at the same time is their hearts. Wes and Clarence fight for the creative and influential. In a world that is full of money grabbers and the "not to be trusted" they have built their careers on the values of being a voice for those who needed voice, power and support. In a world where becoming famous, rich and culturally powerful comes with dealing with people that don't look like you, talk like you or understand where you come from, their currency is their ability to speak uptown and downtown, Harvard Club to Harlem. I know without a doubt I have learned valuable lessons from men in my community like this and pattern matching after greatness.
What I Learned From The Great Authenticators of Culture
Delivering Results Matters More Than Being Famous: These two guys deliver massive results without ANY and I mean any noise. In a world where so many are hungry chasing headlines and Instagram likes, the stories of guys like Wes and Clarence until recently have been unknown unless you are supposed to know and you only know them if you need to. I remember Clarence telling me a story about Diddy “shouting him out on the mic” at a party and Clarence in Clarence fashion pulling him to the side checking him saying “I’m Clarence Avant son, I don’t do shout-outs”
Caring About Your Title Is A Distraction: What I learned a long time ago is that “title chasing” is for people who have “day jobs” not for entrepreneurs, hustlers and risk takers. While Wes had a CAA position most recently and Clarence spent time at Motown, nobody inside knew or cared what their job titles were, those folks were just happy they were on their side.
Collect Your Money “At The Door” Every NBA All Star weekend for over a decade, the party you wanted to be at was the Michael Jordan party. MJ’s birthday falls on NBA All Star weekend and for many years Wes and his partner Adolf would throw the ultimate culture experience called “The Michael Jordan party.” One year I went and Wes was at the front door collecting the money. Clarence Avant in “The Black Godfather” spells it out plain and simple around making sure you get what’s due to you. He says about his lessons from Joe Glaser, a contemporary of Al Capone “Keep your mouth shut about what you know – and ask for as much money as possible without mumbling your words.”
Your Network Is Your Net Worth: One of my favorite lessons from the Authenticators that helped build my career is not “the number of people” they knew but the diversity of geography, industry, age and ethnicity in their network. I like to joke that my network runs “Rappers To Royals” because that’s actually the case and I learned all of that from their moves. Anyone who knows Wes knows that from Presidents of The United States (he hangs with multiple) to Presidents of massive companies to Jay Z, a hang with Wes will have you in the company of all giants. It’s this kind of “network diversity” that made Clarence Avant, who are his age pioneered this style of hustle for those us in culture. If you haven’t seen “The Black Godfather” we can’t even be friends and I was honored to have produced a premiere with my partners at Valence in honor of my mentor and OG Clarence Avant last year. I’m thankful to have met some fascinating people through Wes and even to have tasted his good cooking a few times at his place in Chicago. These guys made me feel early on that it was cool that my background was both Oakland and Palo Alto and how to bob and weave in and around that uniqueness.
You Don’t Have Problems When You Have Friends: An all too valuable proverb, spoken in truth. I have had some of the best times and some challenging moments in my career. When life, career and even “haters” have tried to take me out it has been my syndicate of close relationships I have built over my 25 year career who have come to my rescue. I am so thankful for my network that I have built and continue to build today. There are literally people in my network that I still do deals with today that were my interns, my assistants and even my high school English teacher. (Wow I have the "Black Godfather" and "The Godmother of Silicon Valley" on my squad!). I feel divinely protected and an affiliate of some super amazing people / leaders and heroes