Ever just look at other folk sometimes and be like, “Dang. They’re like, really dope.”? No? Well, either a) you’re a hater or b) you need to get around some better, doper people. As I told y’all in a previous post, all I’ve been doing lately is surrounding myself with dope, like-minded people. I also recently started this new thing where I go to certain events that I’m wholeheartedly claiming to be a part of one day. Like the 40 Under 40 Awards I attended last Wednesday, for instance.
Each year, The Michigan Chronicle hosts an awards ceremony honoring the top young professionals of Michigan (under the age of 40, of course) who are making strides in and beyond their communities. In other words, goals.
What was initially supposed to be a cool, after-five event for me and one of my girls to attend together turned into yet ANOTHER solo adventure, because my friend wound up bailing on me at literally the last minute. I was a little irritated at first, because I hadn’t planned on attending this event alone. But I didn’t pay $60 for nothing. So I got out of my feelings, channeled my inner extrovert, freshened up my lipstick, got out of the car, and proudly sashayed into the event, which was being held at Detroit’s beautiful Garden Theater.
Lesson #1: Never let the no-shows stop your show.
After I checked in, I went straight to the bathroom to refreshen my lipstick (because a woman’s lips can never be too popped). I walked in to find a lady with a cute, curly afro in the mirror, freshening up her lipstick (see what I’m saying?).
“Hi, how are you?” I said with a smile, joining her at the mirror. “I love your hair!” This was my inner extrovert talking, by the way.
Lady: “I’m good, how are you? Thank you!”
Me: “No problem! I’m good, thanks.”
Then I proceeded to do what pretty much every woman does while out in public: subtly evaluate and critique other women’s ensembles. This lady had on a cute grey dress with matching grey ankle-strap pumps. She knew she was cute, too. Not in a cocky way, but in like a sassy, confident, “I know I’m somebody” kind of way. Like she was somebody I needed to be taking a picture with or something. Extrovert Kori told me that she more than likely was, so I should go ahead and introduce myself. But Introvert Kori was like, “Nah, bruh. I think you’ve said enough.” So I chilled. I would later regret this decision.
I left the restroom and headed into the room where the ceremony would be taking place. It was still cocktail hour, so people were eating, sipping and making small talk as they vibed to the old school jams blasting from the DJ’s sound booth. The VIP tables near the stage were reserved for the families and friends of the honorees, so I settled on a seat near the back. The room was pretty intimate, so I still had a good view of the stage where the honorees would be recognized. About a quarter after seven, the ceremony finally began. The hostess of the evening kicked things off by introducing the associate publisher/chief operating officer of The Michigan Chronicles.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please give a round of applause for CATHY NEDD!” Suddenly, my sassy, cute bathroom buddy strutted right onto the stage to take the podium. I immediately wanted to punch Introvert Kori in the face. This lady ran — practically owned — one of the most historic, Black-owned publications in the country.
Lesson #2: a) Introduce yourself TO EVERYONE, everywhere. Even in the bathroom. b) Always be polite to others because you never know who you’re talking to. It could be your future boss. Or the COO of a major news publication.
After Ms. Nedd gave a brief welcome speech, she turned it back over to the hostess, who began announcing the honorees one by one. The first four received the Trailblazer Award for their achievements in one of four categories: community, entertainment, journalism and fashion. Each of the Trailblazer honorees received special recognition — complete with an introductory bio video — for their significant efforts and achievements in their community and respective careers. One of the honorees included multi-platinum award winning recording artist Big Sean, who received the Entertainment Achievement Award. I got a snap of him giving some of his acceptance speech below.
The other trailblazers included Kelley L. Carter, Emmy-award winning journalist and senior entertainment editor at BuzzFeed (Goals, goals and more goals); David Woods, community advocate and founder of Enjoy Detroit; and Laurie Underwood, fashion designer and Project Runway contestant. The rest of the honorees were called one by one to the stage in graduation-like fashion to receive their award and take a picture with their certificates — and Cathy Nedd.
Seeing everyone being recognized for their outstanding efforts and achievements was a huge motivator for me. I witnessed 40 of my peers — young entrepreneurs, authors, business moguls, and community leaders — get recognized for simply walking in their purpose. Instantly I got super pumped. “I’m gonna be up on that stage next year,” I told myself. With Cathy Nedd and all.
Lesson #3: Claim your victory in advance, work towards it, and God will handle the rest. If 40 amazing people under the age of 40 can get recognized for doing what they love while making a difference, I have no excuse. And neither do you.