Earl G. Graves
"Because all decisions are not made in the boardroom, networking is key to our economic development," says Earl G. Graves, founder and publisher of BLACK ENTERPRISE Magazine, successful business owner and a leader in one of the most powerful networks in the country.
With a paid circulation of 475,000 and readership of more than 4.1 million, Earl Graves' BLACK ENTERPRISE magazine has chronicled the success and travails of entrepreneurs since 1970. It is a world he knows intimately. His circle of associates -- African American business, political and civic leaders; high-ranking corporate executives; and wealthy entertainers and sports legends -- call on one another to help put together multimillion dollar financial packages or develop strategies for a minority-owned business to compete with an industry giant.
The lessons learned through such high-level negotiations, and through Graves' participation on some of the country's leading corporate boards (including Aetna's), are translated into inspiration, direction and sometimes straight talk in his editorial risks for the magazine.
Black Enterprise magazine has also sponsored networking business education and financial seminars around the country for African Americans. They added a golf and tennis networking weekend "so we can feel comfortable on the courses and courts where many of the real business deals are made," Graves says.
Earl G. Graves served as Chairman and CEO of Pepsi-Cola of Washington, D.C., L.P., the largest minority-controlled Pepsi-Cola franchise in the United States. He acquired the $60 million franchise in July of 1990. The company covers a franchise territory of over 400 square miles including Washington, D.C. and Prince George's County, Maryland. At year-end 1998, he sold the franchise back to the parent company where he continues to be a significant stockholder and is Chairman of Pepsi's Customer Advisory and Ethnic Marketing Committee.
Graves is a staunch advocate of higher education and equal opportunity. In recognition of his support of entrepreneurial education and contributions to Morgan State University -- including a $1 million gift to advance business education -- the University renamed its school of business and management, the Earl G. Graves School of Business and Management.
Graves serves as a Director of Aetna, Inc., AMR Corporation (American Airlines), DaimlerChrysler AG Corporation, Federated Department Stores, Inc., and Rohm & Haas Corporation. In addition, he serves as a volunteer on the boards of TransAfrica Inc. and the American Museum of Natural History and Planetarium.
In 2002, Graves was named by Fortune Magazine as one of the 50 most powerful and influential African Americans in corporate America. That same year, he was appointed to serve on the Presidential Commission for the National Museum of African American History and Culture. In 1999 he received the 84th NAACP Springarn Medal, the highest achievement award for African Americans and was named one of the Top 100 Business Luminaries of the Century by TJFR, a publication that covers journalism.
He received his B.A. degree in economics from Morgan State University in Baltimore, Md., and has received honorary degrees from 53 colleges and universities, including his alma mater.
Elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2000, Mr. Graves is continually sought after as a keynote speaker. In 1997, his book, "How to Succeed in Business Without Being White", was published. The book made the Wall Street Journal Business Best Sellers lists.
As Black Enterprise readers skim through articles on wealth building, strategies of corporate success, and deal-making, they can rest assured that the advice comes from one who knows from experience.
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