Though the MillerCoors-sponsored “Business & Beer” series has been billed as a national networking event, when it made its way to The Gathering Spot on Thursday, it often played more like a spirit-filled gospel sermon.

An evening filled with sage advice, positive energy, fellowship, and free beer, the venue was filled to capacity with nearly 300 in its audience. Within the first 10 minutes of the panel discussion, radio veteran and television host Rashan Ali delivered a testimony so powerful it brought the entire audience to its feet in roaring applause.

“I have been through the wringer; I have been through the fire, so when I walk out there on that stage every day at ‘Sister Circle,’ I’m like, ‘Man I deserve to be here because I put in the work,’” she said in earnest. Ali serves as moderator of TV ONE’s “Sister Circle Live.” “Yes, I’ve been guided by a higher power, but faith without work is dead – and I’ve put in the work!”

Ali’s anecdote set the tone for the evening, which was themed “Breaking Barriers: Turning Our Stories Into Your Tools,” and also featured Atlanta Hawks co-owner and NBA Hall Of Famer Grant Hill; rapper and activist Michael “Killer Mike” Render; music industry vet and podcast entrepreneur Donald Albright; and Marcus Harvey, celebrity barber and ambassador for the Bevel hair and skincare system.

Although the discussion was relatively free-flowing, the panelists’ recollections centered around five points: perseverance, self-discovery, team-building, ownership, and philanthropy:

  • Ali recalled the times she’s had to keep pushing forward in the face of lost wages and damaged pride.
  • Render talked about his decision to leave the major label system in favor of creating music independently because controlling his destiny trumped just getting a fatter check.
  • Harvey spoke on the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people – what he called a “success cluster” – and the difficult-but-necessary task of cutting dead weight from your circle.
  • Albright stressed how “it’s not enough to own your business, you have to own your product,” and that trading ownership of your creations for a simple commission was a fool’s plan.
  • All the panelists agreed that giving back, be it time or money, is a vital part of being successful.


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