As published in Legacy Magazine, July 2016

Part I

 By Kenasha Paul

For years, there has been this catchphrase “brain drain” thrown around, which is this theory that intellectually talented and giftedly trained individuals are leaving their hometowns for greener grasses and bluer beaches to seek bigger pay. Even if it was possible to find nicer beaches in the United States than in South Florida, research is showing that it is not just a theory but fact. There is a high concentration of individuals’ ages 25-34 years-old leaving South Florida for larger markets such as New York, Los Angeles and for many young black professionals (YBPs) – Atlanta.  Oh Atlanta, somehow you became the city to save all of black people’s problems. However, all these cities, especially Atlanta, I think want to tell people – “turn around, we are at capacity.”

We all can’t realistically leave (nor should we), so for whatever reason or another South Florida is known as home. And honestly we shouldn’t want to leave, every city has their issues. However, South Florida issues should be seen as opportunities and if you are a YBP, you really should see this developing city as a chance to stand apart and make your impact. Here are a couple tips on how to do just that:

See diversity as a leveraging tool

South Florida is typically depicted as very diverse region but from a Latin perspective. However, we can make this work to our advantage. Look at the different cultures and ask yourself what any great entrepreneur would ask, “What problem exists in these groups that I can fix?” The different cultures we interact with indirectly or directly can lend itself to great insight to launch the next great business venture or solution to a community problem. I can’t stress this enough, as black people, we really don’t have to limit ourselves to businesses that only cater to the black market. A black-owned business only requirement is that it be black owned. Nothing less, nothing more. Pollo Tropical was founded by two Jewish brothers, Larry and Stuart Harris. However, don’t tell anyone’s Abuela that. Those men saw that Miami was introducing a growing Latin-Caribbean market and people were going to need food that tasted like home but faster. Now, there is a Pollo Tropical in almost every major city and few would have guessed the owners were not Latin.

Learn how to build relationships – not network

South Florida is not primarily known for their networking events like D.C. Happy hours here is still a developing trend. When people do attend, some see the events as taking part in fake deep conversations which isn’t appealing. But there lies the problem, networking is more than doing an awkward exchange of business cards. Successful businesses are built on organic conversations and building trust. Often times YBPs do networking very transaction like; pitch at the event and spend 10-15 minutes talking about the idea and hope to seal the deal there. Wrong move. Your idea is great to YOU, however, what makes people decide to work together? Not the idea but the person. Spend time telling your story and taking a meaningful interest in theirs. Follow-up to discuss the idea later. Don’t just “Netflix and Chill” it, this is going to be a long-term commitment with ups and downs. You need to know who you are working with!

These are just some tips on how to navigate through South Florida as a YBP and maximize your experiences here. Stay tuned for more in Part II.

Kenasha Paul, J.D., is Founder and Chair of the Black Professionals Summit. Learn more about her at https://www.linkedin.com/in/kenasha