Editor’s Note: This is the second in an eleven-part blog series sharing some behind-the-scenes moments with each of the profiles from, Dare Mighty Things: A Field Guide for Millennial Entrepreneurs!
When I first met Sekou Andrews, he was speaking in Atlanta. I traveled there to specifically watch him perform and chat him up. Experiencing him on stage for the first time that day, he blew my mind with his performance and his unique style. But he also impressed me afterward during our two-hour long conversation in the hotel lobby with his perspective and adventurer attitude.
The second meeting with Sekou was just last week when he walked on stage with an inspiring performance at the ribbon cutting for the brand new Little Caesars Arena. Again, he and I spoke afterward and I continue to be amazed and inspired by both his story and his ability to really be a rulebreaker and by reinventing an entire speaking category.
Watching Sekou perform in front of a Detroit audience was a great reminder on how “Dare Mighty Things” serves as a touch-point for all things that appear to be impossible on the surface, but are almost always possible with the right attitude. When naysayers claim a goal can’t be achieved, I point to the Teddy Roosevelt quote and remind them that it’s only impossible if they believe it is. For those select few who are willing to dare — the impossible can, and does, happen! (As a personal note, it often seems that Detroiters are much more likely to embrace the DMT concept.)
This realization hit me hard as I listened to Sekou during the ceremony and his words struck a chord. Sekou was not born or raised in Detroit. He spent most of his time growing up and attending school near Los Angeles. After college he worked as a law clerk, a high school teacher and a part-time wanna-be rapper before he found his footing as a spoken-word performance artist. What became very clear to me is that he understands the Detroit attitude, and last week he embodied the spirit of a Detroiter. He spoke about the risktakers, rulebreakers and visionaries who were responsible for making the Detroit resurgence possible. Spending plenty of time highlighting one of our cities’ most courageous DMT’ers — Mike Ilitch.
Part of his performance included the line:
“I find myself inspired by your city, even when this is not the city a person calls home fighting for what we all love … it’s in that space where we find our oneness….. You heard the words: It was not supposed to be possible. But here in Detroit, you all made it possible.”
Sekou mesmerized the audience with his message of hope and pride that should resonate with the Detroiter in all of us. In just about 15 minutes, Sekou captured the spirit of Mr. I his love for Detroit, and the original DMT attitude he has demonstrated since the 1950’s. Sekou also reminded us that inclusion beats exclusion. Love beats hate. Tolerance beats bias.
As I sat there, I found myself irrationally swelling with pride that I might have had even a small part in helping bring this talented man to Detroit. After the event, as I chatted with him near the stage, he commented on how visiting here helped him better understand how a Detroiter might be motivated to write a book about risk-takers and daredevils and rulebreakers — because the city was clearly build on the backs of those types of people. People with last names like Ilitch and Gilbert and Pasky. But also, names like Scott and Clark and Price and Vermiglio. Yesterday’s risk-takers like Parks and Gordy Jr., and new thinkers like O’Dell & Hoff from Floyd’s.
Yes, sir! This is Detroit and these are people — from yesterday, today and tomorrow — who know the meaning of Dare Mighty Things!
You can read more about Sekou and risk-takers just like him, including plenty from Detroit in my book: Dare Mighty Things: A Field Guide for Millennial Entrepreneurs. And if you hit the buy button and use the code PINKBIKE you will get a bonus surprise!