The Dream Is In Your Hands: An Entertainment Entrepreneur’s Vision For The Youth
As an entrepreneur, the dream is in your hands and it’s up to you to make that dream come true. Social media has been a huge culprit as to why many young entrepreneurs are successful in today’s age, but what about those who rose to the top of their caliber without social media. Many embark on the entrepreneurial journey but only a few prevail.
Serial Entrepreneur Kenneth Monroe made his dream come true for over fifteen years in the entertainment industry without the help of social media and has reinvented himself into a branding mogul.
THE JOURNEY BEGINS
The Chicago native decided early in his adulthood that entrepreneurship was what his heart desired and at the age of nineteen he moved out to Los Angeles for a fresh start. Moving to another state can be the downfall for some, but the one-man army was determined to rise to the occasion. Being in a cut-throat city, he needed a name that represented strength and power and decided to go by his last name, Monroe.
Monroe got his first break in the industry working on a few shows for MTV which later allowed him to work with other companies and brands such as Cadillac, Playboy, Fox, Roc Nation, New Balance, Complex, Sony, and more; along with celebrity music artists, professional athletes, and record labels. With his charisma and swag, prestigious executives started extending high-end party invitations for him to attend.
“I was getting invited to a lot of different high-end parties. So I started telling myself, if I get invited in these same rooms, by all these prestigious people, then they have me here for a reason. So let me use this reason they had me at this party and make it into my own experience. Along with that, I’m going to attract this type of crowd moving forward to get me in other doors” he said.
The socialite took full advantage of these opportunities and started hosting his own high-end parties. Diversity was the key to the success of his events. He took his creative experience to create lavish themed parties which he later became known for in the nightlife scene in cities like Los Angeles, Miami, South Beach, Las Vegas, and New York.
With a ten-year run of upscale parties with A-list celebrities and top-notch partygoers in the hottest cities, Monroe decided to step off the throne when his beautiful daughter was born. Although he was on a hiatus, Monroe still managed to stay relevant and successful as a serial entrepreneur without the help of social media.
“I stay relevant because I was who I was before social media got started and I’m going to continue to be who I am”.
Taking pride in being mysterious and mystique, Monroe never worried about not having a successful business with the use of social media.
“Being on social media doesn’t affect my business because I’m twenty years in the game. I went through the fire, my resume is strong, my connections around the world are strong, I’m who I am, personality-wise, I’m a leader and everybody knows what I bring to the table” he said.
“I’m in a lot of doors and a lot of circles with a lot of prestigious people that many people on social media that have big followings are not in those doors. Throughout the years, they called me to get them in those doors!”
Monroe knew he did not need social media to remain successful and be at the top of his game as a leader.
Loving to take on new challenges, the media maven developed a partnership with renowned children’s book author Karen Kilpatrick and has upcoming collaborations with top-tier publishing companies; HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Karen’s company Genius Cat Books also signed a distribution deal with Two Rivers, a part of Ingram Content Group, which is the largest distributor for independent publishers.
“The first time Karen and I talked it was instant chemistry, over a two-hour call. She then mailed a bunch of her books. Each one was written out to my daughter, with inspirational quotes. She went out of her way to give it a personal touch. From there she had my loyalty and I knew our bond would grow way beyond books” he expressed.
“It was a perfect match with us. We’re from completely different industries and upbringing; but our passion, creativity, work ethic, and personalities couldn’t have aligned better. We brought value into each other’s life and that should always be the priority in a partnership; making each other better.”
Embarking on this new journey inspired by his daughter, Monroe wanted to create two children’s book series that spoke to two different groups of children. His first book which is based on a true story is about the struggles two children faced growing up in a gang-infested city and how they overcome those challenges and the other book is about the behind-the-scenes of Hollywood kid star’s perspectives.
“Monroe is a big thinker with a ton of ideas. He’s always looking to create something positive and push projects forward. Both personally and in business, you can tell that he cares about the people he is working with. He’s determined and puts his heart into his work but never loses sight of what he considers most important, which are his relationships” Karen said.
With two powerful story ideas to inspire the youths, Monroe searched for a powerful title to match, when he then birthed the idea “The Dream Is In Your Hands”. Excited about his discovery, he shared the title with Karen who was blown away by the title and concept.
“It’s a powerful message for kids to hear and hopefully understand. Sharing the ups and downs and journeys of role models with kids is so important. It can open up their eyes to what’s possible in life and let them see that they have the power to shape their futures” she said.
Inspired and motivated by the title “The Dream Is In Your Hands”, Monroe wanted to expand the idea and turn it into a powerhouse.
Being on a five-year hiatus, Monroe was yearning to come back to the event scene but in a new and improved way. With the concept of The Dream Is In Your Hands lingering on his mind, he brilliantly collided his old world (event planning) and new world (philanthropy) to create The Dream Is In Your Hands Conference.
The Dream Is In Your Hands Conference was a vision Monroe was determined to see through but with the pandemic being prevalent, he had to enhance his creativity and strategic efforts.
With the surge of virtual events in the pandemic, it was a no-brainer for the conference to be done virtually. Searching Linkedin for ideas, Monroe realized that most of the webinars were done in one day, had about 1–2 categories with 10 participants and a few panels.
“I was looking at the webinars on LinkedIn and people were covering one subject or two subjects. They might have ten speakers, all these big company brands and logos on the posters…But the difference with me is anybody can hide behind a brand or a company, but everybody can’t stand alone” he said.
Using his extensive experience in event planning, Monroe knew he had to set the bar high for his virtual conference. Working with major companies, brands, and celebrities on big events and producing his own, diversity was one of Monroe’s strong points.
Leaning into his strengths, he decided to make The Dream Is In Your Hands concept into a two-day virtual conference with 16 categories and have over 40 participants. He wanted to use this conference to create a gateway for the next generation to learn from the experts in their fields and give them opportunities of a lifetime.
Hence the tagline ‘Dropping Jewels On The Next Generation’.
“I’ve collaborated with major companies and brands but I have just as much influence with standing alone,” he said.
“I didn’t want this to be about money, business, or politics at all. I wanted to get back in the game after my hiatus and show people my influence. I wanted to show them I can do this and do it at the highest level, bring 50 speakers from all over the world, different nationalities, different industries without the help of a brand, sponsor, or an investor.
I stand on my name, I stand alone and that’s what I wanted to show people coming out the gate. I wanted to prove a point and not fit in” he expressed.
A mass text was sent to his contact list asking them if they would be a part of this new project he was putting together for kids, and without hesitation, everyone agreed to do it. Each person was chosen strategically for each category he envisioned and with a personality and swag like Monroe, there’s no shock that his network has love and respect for him and his vision.
“80% of those people are my friends, business partners, and clients that have been knowing me throughout the years from different places. My networking is strong so I knew that I could rely on the people that love and respect me to do this.
Then the handful of new people I met had conversations with me before deciding to come on board. They felt my energy and that love! They were like this dude is legit, we might not know him like these other people, but we want to be a part of what he’s doing because we love the presentation. We love his spirit” he expressed.
As he started putting together the concept and speakers for the conference, he realized that he would soon need help with the virtual aspect of the conference. Being away from social media for many years, Monroe understood his weakness and delegated that task to his production team, Ashley.
Ashley aka Nova Cashh is a rising serial entrepreneur in the entertainment industry who’s worked for companies like Entercom, VP Records and worked on projects with artists and well-known brands. Monroe knew Ashley would be the Ying to his Yang for the conference with her knowledge in digital marketing and her experience in smaller virtual events.
“My production team is Ashley and myself. I’ve been mentoring and taken her under my wings for the past couple of years…This thing is all about trust and she has built up a lot of trust with me the past couple of years, she’s smart and I knew she was ready for this moment” Monroe said.
Driven by her passion and respect for Monroe, she understood his vision for the conference and agreed to help.
“Monroe is more than a mentor, I consider him my big brother. When Monroe brought the idea to me, I instantly saw the vision and was honored to be allowed to work on such a big virtual event like this. I realized that this was more than a conference, but a movement in the making so, of course, I was on board.” Ashley said.
As the brand started developing, it was time to find moderators who will help bring the vision to life. Ashley learned the power of networking from her mentor Monroe and looked within her network to find the perfect moderators.
“At first Monroe was adamant about me being one of the moderators because he knew me for my personality work, however, I knew this was my moment to showcase my producer skills.
Although I never was in the position to lead a team, Monroe saw leadership qualities that I couldn’t see in myself. Many days, I felt the pressure to find the right moderators who would take on the challenge. However, I used my experience in interviewing and hosting as a guideline to find the perfect moderators and through the pressure, I found rare gems within my network that shined bright in the conference!” Ashley said.
As a leader, you have to lead by example and Monroe was confident he had set the tone for Ashley to execute.
“I let her be a decision-maker without micromanaging. As a leader; my job is to give you the game, pick you up when falling, inspire you when needed, show you what success looks like, and let you leave the nest to fly on your own. I was the coach, she was my star player and the moderators were great role players. They all executed my vision, game plan, followed my leadership, and left people with an emotional experience. Real leaders understand what it takes to build leaders and I take mentorship very seriously” Monroe said.
Being on the opposite side of the country in LA, Monroe trusted Ashley’s abilities to put together the rest of the team.
“Her being ready for that moment allowed her to go find the other team members, which were the moderators. You know, Ashley and the moderators came from New York City” he said.
“What I love about New Yorkers is the passion they have about life and they're not soft. New York people are strong, they have grit, they don’t play any games and they are not scared of anything. It’s not a laid-back city, they go through the fire and they are hungry out there. When you live in a city like New York, with so much competition, your network, your energy, and your drive to win are at a high level.” he continued.
There was a science behind how each moderator was selected and how the schedule, segments, and panels were put together. There were speakers from different states, different ethnicities, ages, and international speakers from countries like Trinidad and Tobago.
For instance, Karen Kilpatrick was the first participant to open the show with the toy and literary category since the concept of The Dream Is In Your Hands started with her. Each panel was put together based upon similarities in their fields and the topics that were given.
“I’ve done TV shows where I have a celebrity on there and I have to create the storylines and questions the host is going to ask them. That’s why I was able to write all those great questions for the moderators. I didn’t send any of the speakers the questions on purpose because from my experience in TV when you ask questions on the spot, you get a pure reaction…So the questions were positioned in a strategic way where everyone got asked the same last question, which was the title before they left” he said.
Coming down the final days of the conference was a lot of pressure for the Dream Team. From doing test runs, rehearsals, meetings, execution plans, and final changes, they surely had their work cut out for them.
“My team and I were up all three days prior, going over game plans, going over execution, and making sure the zooms work. Different speakers were going through different things. One of the speakers had COVID and I didn’t know if she was going to be feeling better. Another speaker, a good friend of mine, had just flown in from Nigeria from a 20-hour flight. I didn’t know how tired she was going to be. Another speaker was dealing with a newborn baby. She was at the house all day trying to juggle that and it was so much going on with different speakers in their lives that you roll the dice and you put your best foot forward” he said.
Day 1 and 2 of the conference finally arrived and the pressure was on. However, all the speakers showed up and gave their all. The ladies dressed to impress with their makeup slayed, luxurious pearls, and showcasing their natural beauty, while the men showed up with swag, style, and grace. Their first impressions were indeed impressionable! With powerful topics like “Unlock the key to life” and “Forward Thinking” the meaningful conversations were heart-felt and many of the speakers showed a vulnerable side which was astonishing.
Speakers shared information from affirmations, the importance of education, the real facts about addiction, dealing with disorders, and awareness of gun violence in the communities just to name a few. The amount of jewels that was dropped on the next generation can surely be passed down to the following gen.
Heartfelt moments from the conference were prevalent when many of the speakers spoke. However, the most impactful moment for Monroe was his mentee, Vernon Hill.
Vernon Hill’s segment was about finding the right mentor. Vernon expressed his gratitude for Monroe helping change his life for the better. He shared how Monroe helped him in all aspects of his life and helped him expand his resume with notable names and brands in the industry. The emotional segment left many watered-eyed and allowed students to see the benefits of having a mentor.
Monroe felt overwhelmed with emotions as he witnessed Vernon pouring his heart out.
“I took him under my wing and mentored him about five years ago and he wasn’t even twenty-one yet. He was a young kid from the suburbs that had a lot of raw talent, but he didn’t have any direction personally and professionally. I took him under my wing, got his resume to where it is now and I’ve changed his whole outlook on life personally. It goes beyond professionally!
His mother told me I changed her son’s life and nobody has ever changed his life like this and can see my influence in him. Somebody can tell you that, but when it comes to somebody’s mother, it was just a whole different feeling” he expressed.
Vernon was always vocal about his appreciation for his mentor but to Monroe’s surprise, Vernon wasn’t afraid to share his experience with the world.
“He tells me how much he loved me and what I mean to him all the time, but that was my first time seeing him tell somebody else that. Not only tell somebody else like a private conversation but tell somebody else that on the interview. The things he was saying about me in the interview, I was bawling like a baby. To see when you play an influential part in somebody’s life like that and they showed that type of appreciation and love it just nothing you can do but get emotional. I was like a proud father, or like a proud big brother.
You know, that’s probably my favorite interview, just because of the bias situation, because I know what I meant to him in his life as a mentor” he added.
THE GIFT OF GIVING
With all the knowledge, gratitude, emotions, and vulnerability displayed for both days of the conference, the students were the biggest factors in the event. To get free knowledge for over ten hours straight plus internships is a chance of a lifetime many students did not take for granted. High school seniors and college students from across the country were able to ask participants questions and were offered the opportunity of remote internships.
Although Monore never completed college, he understood that everyone’s journey is different finding their dream. Encouraging the students to go to college, he also wanted to give students the ability to get access to real-life hands-on experience in the work field.
“I didn’t want the conference to be rhetorical, you go to school to learn how to do the technical aspect of a job. We wanted to give you the most game you have ever gotten in your lifetime. There is no teacher nor university in the world that can teach a kid more game than what I have in the footage of this conference. That footage we have is a gold mine!” he said.
“I wanted us to do that because I feel like game shouldn’t always be paid for. That’s what college is for, you pay this big tuition to get game and learn how to do something, but why do you always have to pay for that? Why can’t game be free? Why do kids have to grow up thinking they have to pay for game? I’m not into charging kids for game. I’m going to give you all the game I can and I’m going to take my professional friends and have them give you game too with hopes that you can use this game and apply it to your life.”
Footage from the conference has been sent off to schools around the country, giving students lifetime access to the informational content. Internships are also offered to students who meet the requirements, including a 2.8 GPA or higher, an essay, and watching the footage from the conference.
The Dream Team celebrated their success after the Kevin Harris Sr. emotional segment. Tears of joy overcame the team as they reflected on months of planning and execution.
“Later that evening, after day two of the conference, when everything was over, me and my partner, Ashley had a recap for about two hours on the phone, just to recap everything. After I got off the phone with her, I went to take a shower, and in there I was having a conversation with God about everything and I just started crying. I know what I had just accomplished… I knew what I had just done. I knew what I had just done for different reasons. I knew what I had just done for myself, Ashley, the moderators, and those students” Monroe expressed.
With only his network, team, and dream, the one-man army brought together factors from all walks of life and created history. He chose not to involve any brands, sponsors, social media, or accept any financial contributions, and was able to create a brand from scratch…which many cannot achieve in this lifetime.
Filled with excitement, participants were blown away by the Dream experience from the professionalism, execution, the exclusive backstage, the crew, and the overall conference.
“Monroe had a message to deliver and he found a way to deliver it. It’s inspiring to see the work he did to share his vision” Karen Kilpatrick said.
All the hard work and dedication paid off as the participants shared their appreciation and praises for the production and the team.
“I know everyone gave me the praise because I’m the head honcho, but Ashley was the real star of the conference. A young queen who displayed true black girl magic. She made the energy of that conference dance to perfection” Monroe said.
“I threw her in the fire, she took the pressure head-on and brought home the jewelry. Many people her age wouldn’t have been ready for that moment. I was confident that she wasn’t going to fold. Ashley is loyal to the core and is truly a special person to me. Mother’s Day is this weekend and she has a young son. Wow, what a Mother he is growing up under” he added.
Monroe passed the baton to Ashley and she didn’t hesitate to get the win for the team. From creating the creative assets to running the technical aspect of the show, Ashley showcased her versatility in different skills.
“I was under a lot of pressure because I did not want to let Monroe down. I knew this conference meant more than two days and I wanted to make sure everything went as plan. However, everything went better than expected! Although I felt the heat, I never folded. I learned qualities about myself that I never knew I possess and I am so thankful to get the experience to explore these new traits” she said.
“I lead my team to success, whether that was helping Monroe, motivating the moderators, or acting on the fly when something glitched. I came through with a positive vibe and created an experience backstage and on stage that the participants and students would never forget.
I am appreciative of my brother Monroe for allowing me to be a part of his team. He trusted me with his baby and I nurtured it until it blossomed into a beautiful masterpiece. I’m in this for the long haul and I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor and friend” she added.
The conference left many inspired, including the participants. After the insightful event, participants started offering their resources and expressed anticipation for an in-person conference. The conference has also grabbed the attention of brands and companies looking to collaborate for future endeavors. A point that has been proven by the head honcho indeed.
The mastermind behind this elaborate conference isn’t done yet! With the momentum of the event, Monroe has more surprises down the pipeline for The Dream brand.
“Hopefully, we’ll have the live conference in 2022 and The Dream Is In Your Hands documentary is coming soon. That’s why the footage is recorded. Something powerful, with this much emotion, you got to do a documentary. You know, this is my world, the entertainment world. So the documentary is going to be so heartfelt. We’re also doing a podcast and the children’s books will be coming out this year.”
A man of his word and a networking wiz encourages anyone who loves to be inspired and loves to inspire the youth to be a part of the Dream movement.
“We’re going to touch kids and people for years to come! Anybody that has a heart, that loves to be inspired, loves to inspire, and loves to be a part of the youth, give me a holler… We showed in this conference how great we can make things and I’m a man of my word”.
THE JOURNEY CONTINUES
The simplistic but thought-provoking question The Dream Is In Your Hands, what does that mean to you, has puzzled many participants during the conference. We can conclude that this complex question has struck many others as well.
Although the brand “The Dream is In Your Hands” is a new brand the serial entrepreneur created, he has been living by this term for over fifteen years. Being successful in the entertainment industry as an independent entity to reinventing himself into a philanthropist, Monroe took his dream and manifested it into reality.
When asked “The Dream Is In Your Hands, what does that mean to you”, he answered:
“The dream is in your hands, what that means to me is…In life when you going through your journey, the dream is going to change. You’re going to have to know how to play different hands. You’re going to have to know how to reinvent that dream. When you chasing that dream and you’re driving down that road to get to the destination, which is your dream, you’re going to go through rain, thunderstorms, snow, blizzards, cold weather, and sunny weather. The weather is always going to change when you drive to your destination. When you drive, you might get a flat tire, have to pull over to the side of the road, change the tire and keep it going.
You have to stop and go get something to eat, you have to stop to reflect, you know, there’s a lot of things you have to do when you’re taking a road trip. That’s what a dream is; you’re taking a road trip to your destination. The dream is in your hands means you have to know how to play your hand, switch hands. You have to know how to reinvent that dream because you’re going to be faced with different roadblocks, as you’re chasing the dream. Then you have to know how to overcome that and overcoming that is reinventing yourself. When something doesn’t work, know how to reinvent yourself, to make it work another way, another route. When your driving and you get lost, you have to take the exit and find your way back, right?
So that’s what a dream is. Sometimes you get lost from your dreams, with a lot of temptation. None of us are perfect and we all get lost at times, but how are we going to find our way back to that dream? The dream is in your hands is reinventing your dream at all costs and when you get lost at times and you need that inspiration, find your way back until that happens. When you find your way back to that happiness, that dream is going to remain in your hands and it’s on you…what you’re going to do with it?”
Wise, charming, smart, and stylish, Monroe is a man of character and poise. He’s a father, brother, friend, business partner, and mentor to many and an inspiration to those far. The Dream Is In Your Hands started with a dream and Monroe manifested it into existence. Truly an inspiring story and motivation for the next generation to fulfill their dream.
As the journey continues, The Dream Team will become a force to be reckoned with. With an ever-growing network, supporters, and visionaries, the sky is the limit for Monroe and his team.
Now the question to you is..the dream is in your hands, what are you going to do with it….
Happy Birthday, Monroe!
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See the list of participants here: https://rsvpdreambig.wixsite.com/dream
Listen to our playlist from the conference below