Today, I want to focus on why a had to start the let’s connect conference. I am truly excited for the next evolution of the company as NDUB brand, and how it evolved from NW Associates. And then from there, how “Let’s Talk Marketing” evolved out of the “Social Entrepreneur with Nathan Webster”.
So there’s been a constant evolution and let me give you a little bit of context on why I started the conference. That context is what I did a post on LinkedIn a couple of days ago but in case you missed it, here we go.
I currently live in Vancouver Washington and this is where I was born and raised. And like maybe six, or seven years ago, I was like, you know what? This is my home, but it’s not a comfy home. And I’ve done everything that I could to do this and to do that. I’d listened to people, and blah, blah, blah and I just got tired of not being accepted. I got tired of not being welcomed. I’m like, wait, hold up. Look, I’m proud to be Black. I’m proud to be what’s called a tall, dark, and handsome chocolate man living in a world where I don’t really believe that our differences should stop us from loving and helping each other and being in a harmonious relationship.
This was always a war with me. And it was frustrating because it shouldn’t be this way, right? But for some reason, I wasn’t welcomed. I was killing things ( in a good way) taking concepts from an innitaitla business plan to creation, from helping other schools because I had ran a nonprofit at the time. Let me add some context to this. My nonprofit would go into middle and high schools and help students identify and pursue their passions. I even allowed folks to come with me. It was one group in particular that made a comment at a school, basically saying that the students didn’t look “ at risk” to them.
At first, I looked at them kind of crazy until I realized that they associated “ at risk” students with people of color and/or Black and Brown youth. And that moment is something that I will never forget. This, I gotta fix because if I feel this way, I know other people feel this way and that’s not cool. Which again, is why I had to start this conference because too many of what I would call exceptional black professionals in this area just do not get the “second look”. Look, this is not just Southwest Washington or Clark county or a suburb of Portland, Oregon, this is happening all over the place.
As a professional, I was tired of not getting the recognition I deserved. I’ll keep it real, there is one instance where a funding entity gave another entity $25,000 for a prgram I helped build. I didn’t see a single penny of that. My company helped built the program and I did it for pretty much free. It’s frustrating because I was being tokenized and backstabed, while they exclaimed they couldn’t hep with the issue. So I was like, you know what, let’s change this around.
It all started back in 2019 when I got my downtown office and when I’m telling the story, I’m
telling the whole entire story for those who question why i’m doing this conference. I tried helping as a contractor on a retainer by a couple of different firms to do white labels and I did the work and then they didn’t end up paying me for it. So I moved forward by saying fine, and I went back to my company, and I did this with two different firms. I dried up my funnel and I didn’t have anything to fall back on, except for my existing clientele, which were people of color, women, vets and allies.
So I didn’t know if I was going to be able to rejuvenate the business, but I wasn’t all doom and gloom about it. I decided to go back to the people that supported me and I focused on that specific niche.
So I built my segment and I began targeting my company to this niche with the right messaging and promoted myself to them in my own way. When it came down to the conference, this was a
couple of years of me realizing how we were all in a silo and Vancouver, Washington is a commuter community. It was not built for a metropolitan and everywhere you go, you have to have some form of transportation. That means there’s no critical masses of any specific niche groups.
The conference came from me just being an outcast token that was there for the benefit of the
company, but they didn’t want me at the table. I realized there’s business owners, business leaders, and business learners that wanted to be in the game. They wanted to play but first had to learn how to. If they’re an owner, they need employees, they need other folks to sharpen them and build those networks.
I was like, why am I going over to Portland? Or why do I have to go to Seattle, San Francisco, LA, and other places in the country rather than my own backyard. So I said I was going to make it happen. Then Covid hit…..
It’s important for you to understand, that this conference is for everyone. However, I’m inviting anyone that identifies as a minority, as a woman, as a veteran, as an outlier or anyone that wants to be around like‑minded people. And if you’re in the Pacific Northwest, which is not like other places in the United States, I want you to know that you’re invited. But if you also are not in the Pacific Northwest and you feel the same, well, guess what? You belong at the Let’s Connect Conference. I have a website that I just started so folks can go to it and check it out.
Make sure you listen to the whole podcast on iTunes or Soundcloud below.
Nathan Webster, MBA