Black Founder: The Hidden Power of Being an Outsider

A good building starts with a solid foundation. No matter where you go from there, that base is an opening action, an announcement, a public sign of things to come. Whether it’s a new home for humans, a hoopty, heirlooms, or the future site of industry or ideas, the foundation is the start of something exciting.

In a new business and, as in the new book, “Black Founder: The hidden Power of Being an Outsider,” by Stacy Spikes, it needs to be sound.

With high school graduation on the horizon, Stacy Spikes was itching to move. His hometown of Houston, Texas, had become “too small” to hold his dreams. Education was important in his family, but college held no interest to him, either. Instead, he was going to Los Angeles to chase a career in music and movies.

He broke the news to his parents and, with $300 in his pocket, he drove northwest.

Once in California, Spikes quickly understood that he didn’t need a job, he needed several jobs. Before he could get settled, though, he fell in with the wrong crowd and was hospitalized to help him kick drugs and alcohol abuse forever.

He returned to a job making and packaging videos for a two-in-one company in Encino. The men he worked with mentored him; it was there that he learned the need to “go to extra lengths to meet [someone] in their field.”

Spikes took acting classes and absorbed as much as he could about old-time Black comedians. He built a recording studio in his home and learned to make album covers, which led him to a job at Motown, where he went into sales and learned how to make an impression.

Entertainment trailblazer Clarence Alexander Avant, dubbed “The Black Godfather,” taught him that it was possible to talk with anyone, Black or white, with honesty. And before he founded Urbanworld Film Festival and MoviePass, thanks to Motown he saw that to succeed, “You didn’t need an army, just a small group of like-minded souls set on making a difference.”

Readers looking for a good business biography are in for a pleasant surprise when they read “Black Founder.” They’ll also get some entrepreneurial advice, though it’s not boldfaced or bulleted. You have to look for it, but the advice definitely is there.

“Transparency” is what author Stacy Spikes learned early and he applies this in his book, which is refreshing. This isn’t a book about a meteoric rise. Spikes instead writes about setbacks, both personal and professional, and times of struggle.

Readers can imagine a Parkour-like hustle that Spikes describes as he overcame seemingly catastrophic events and still landed on both feet. Such tales serve to instruct.

Though it may seem to lag a bit – especially for older readers, or those who are unfamiliar with the businesses Spikes founded – “Black Founder” is entertaining enough to read for fun, with a side dish of instruction.

Whether you’re ready to act now, or you’re just finding your inner entrepreneur to launch your idea, the book offers a solid base from which to build.