The cavnessHR podcast – A talk with Amani Roberts of The Amani Experience
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Social Media links for Amani!!
Company FB: https://www.facebook.com/amaniexperience/
If there are any listeners out there that are interested in having Amani come
into your town, your city to do the team building activity, the enrichment
activity called The Wheels of Steel By Amani Experience. If you reference
Jason's show, cavnessHR, you will receive a special code. You'll get 20%
off the actual activity, the charge I do for the activity. That's great I just
wanna welcome people to try it out and to share their stories. I'm excited to
offer that to all that listen.
Jason: Hello and welcome to the cavnessHR podcast. I'm your host, Jason Cavness. Our guest today is Amani Roberts. Amani, are you ready to be great today?
Amani: Yes, I am.
Jason: Amani is a chief musical curator of the Amani Experience, a boutique DJ company that provides music at various events of venues across the world. Amani is also an executive consultant for Rodan + Fields where he is committed to assisting people on the journey to have better skin. He's a Principal for Woodside Media Group. This company focuses on emerging technology solutions for a wide range of clients including Fortune 500 companies, award-winning authors and musicians. In addition to the professional endeavors, Amani is a board member of LA's Best Friends, a leading after-school enrichment program and he's a proud graduate of Howard University. Amani, thank you for your time today. I really appreciate it.
Amani: Thank you for having me on, Jason. I appreciate being on your show.
Jason: Amani, you have a lot going on. Of all that stuff that you have going on, what are you actually focusing on right now?
Amani: Right now, my primary focus is on the Amani Experience. We have a group of DJs. We DJ events all over the world. We also teach people how to DJ through individual or group DJ lessons. Then we also have a really unique kind of enrichment activity where we go into people's offices and help them strengthen their teams. So instead of your traditional team building activities like ropes courses and getting in a circle and throwing yarn, we do the enrichment activity through DJ lessons. Its very fun and unique and that's one thing we have going on as well. Then we just realized a remix EP, so 11 song remix EP, our second one, my remix partner and myself. That came out a couple weeks ago on Thursday so that's kind of what we have going on right now.
Jason: Amani, what's the most off the wall place you've been to?
Amani: I'd say one of the highlights of my DJ career is when I DJ'ed during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. We were at a boutique hotel. It was a group of about 50 to 75 people, DJ'ed a party there. It was a lot of fun, very memorable and I love my time in Brazil as well.
Jason: How do you do your pricing? I'm gonna guess your price for an event in L.A. is different from a price, we'll say in Sydney, Australia, right? How do you figure out those prices?
Amani: I generally have a set price structure I like to work with. I really try to find out the client's potential budget initially. That way I make sure that I at least try to meet their budget if possible and sometimes the budget could be a lot higher than I was anticipating. I definitely don't wanna leave any money on the table as well. So I try to find out their budget. I have a set kind of price structure I work with and I generally try to really hold to my self worth and not discount prices very much and just try to work within their budget while still maintaining my self-worth.
Jason: How do you do your marketing since your a worldwide company. How do you go about doing that?
Amani: I do it primarily word of mouth and network. I do a lot of networking with different organizations I'm a part of. I'm really active say, for example, Meeting Professionals International. I'm on the board of that organization. Try to be visible, donate my services so people can see me and then just working with other DJs, other production people, event planners and just really a lot of networking. A Lot of word of mouth to try to distinguish myself cause we're a boutique agency and so we're really selective about the clients we take. It really helps us to meet like-minded professionals who are similar in thoughts and work and network with them as well.
Jason: When you and a client come up with a music list, is it a collaborative process or they pick all the songs, you pick all the songs? How does that work? Is there any music you don't like to play or what's your favorite music?
Amani: I love to play pretty much all kinds of music, even a little country, different music genres as well. For the social clients, they're a little more specific in terms of what they wanna hear. So if it's a wedding or a party they have a pretty much set playlist of songs they wanna hear and then I can fill in the blanks. Corporate clients generally say we want background music, we want it to be lively, want it to be upbeat. They give you sort of a theme for the evening and kind of let you go from there. It really depends on the clients and they trust me enough to let me kind of take their direction, their ideas, and go from there.
Amani: The favorite kind of music that I have, is I love old school hip hop, old school r&b, funk from the 70s, 80s, 90s. I love that music. That's kind of my sweet spot and then I love a lot of music nowadays as well too. Mix in a little EDM, some freestyle from back in the day. I love lots of genres, Salsa music. I'm into Latin music as well. I like to mix in a lot of different genres but those are my favorites right off the bat.
Jason: When you go to corporations with your business proposal, what kind of pushback do you get? I'm sure some people say, "Well, how does it work? Is this even possible?" How do you convince them to bring you on cause it is out of the box so to speak?
Amani: Yes, it's very out of the box unique. Usually when I go to a corporation or a company to make a presentation. I will bring a small version of the activity with me. That way they can have a little bit of experience with it, see how fun it can be. I'll show them videos. I have a couple videos of the activity as well. By participating in the activity, just an initial kind of first glance through and a look at the video. They can tell right off the bat very quickly how unique it is and how it could be fun but also build a team as well. Those two kind of strategies help me get in the door and at least have the conversation begin and start to talk about different options we can do.
Jason: You ever do anything like maybe do some kind of survey before you do your event and then surveys afterwards that way you can show the ROI
Amani: Definitely. We will do a pre-survey. Well, sometimes we do a pre-survey if it's gonna be a larger group just to understand the demographic and the age group of who we will be working with because then we can pattern our presentation to that. Absolutely once it's over, we'll do some post surveys just to get what they like, what they wanted to do more of. What they wanted to do less of, and how they interpreted the experience based on what their expectations were. Even down to the title of what we call the event. We call the event Wheels of Steel by the Armani Experience. So we're trying to refine that a little bit and see what they think about that as well. We'll ask them some questions about the title, the instructions, how it flowed, was it too long, was it too short. We do a lot of kind of surveying and request for feedback afterwards and then, in the beginning, it's just really understanding the demographic of who we're gonna be working with so we can really make sure we have songs that would kind of help throughout the activity as the activity flow.
Jason: How long have you been doing this?
Amani: So this specific activity I've been doing now for a couple years now, two years, and we're just really getting to a point now where people are starting to ask for it. We've done it for a couple major companies, even small parties, event planners. So we make some refinement. It takes a little while to kind of hit our stride but we're right at the kind of cusp of hitting the strides. That's why I'm really excited to share this with your audience and other people who are listening because I think it can be a great kind of different way to enrich your team and kind of grow your team and really get everyone together and grow together.
Jason: I know you've been different places but has the majority of your events been in California or is it an equal balance throughout the country and the world?
Amani: Majority of my events have been in California. I do a bunch in Vegas as well, so Las Vegas, San Diego, so kind of the west coast. I will have a few that are in the Washington DC area, which is where I grew up. Then we're working in a couple in both Toronto and Atlanta. We can go anywhere in the world. Also working on one in Dallas. It's just that for our beginning, we've had most success here in the west coast. But we're definitely able to go anywhere in the world. I'm working on another one that's gonna be potentially in Thailand so international, domestic, we can travel with this event and this activity. We're just ready to see people and have them experience it.
Jason: Of the people that you've done events for, how many of them come back to you for repeat customers?
Amani: I get a lot of repeat customers. We get a lot of repeat customers both for social events. If say they're having a birthday party and they want us to come back again in a couple years for another party. Hopefully, all our wedding clients are still married so we don't get repeats with the weddings, things like that. But then corporate clients, definitely a lot of repeat clients. I have found that once we can get in the door and work with people, and they learn how we operate. I learn how they operate they really wanna come back cause they trust me. I build that kind of trust factor and we just continue to build our relationship and do several events a year and just keep growing from there so that's kind of how the break down works in terms of new versus repeat client.
Jason: If someone wants to bring you on, how much advance notice do you ask for from them?
Amani: If you had called me today and said we have an event tomorrow and it's such and such and I'd be able to do it. 24 hours we can move quickly so we're very flexible. We don't need a lot of advance notice. Of course more advance notice the better. But we can move as quickly as 24 hours. Even if you called me for something tonight. I could probably do it, find a DJ, one of my DJs can get it done and get this on there. We're pretty flexible.
Jason: Okay, that's great.
Amani: And fast to act.
Jason: Amani, as I mentioned you graduated from Howard University. For our listeners, who might not know what a HBCU is, can you talk about HBCUs and your experience at Howard University?
Amani: Absolutely. HBCUs, historically black colleges and universities, there's a bunch of them across the country. I went to Howard University which is located in Washington DC, one of the first HBCUs that were ever created. What's unique about HBCUs is that traditionally the majority of the student body there is African American and it was created as a place back when African Americans weren't allowed to attend traditionally white or majority universities. It just gives people a chance to learn, grow and become who they are around people who look like them. That's very important and it really helped me with my social skills. It just helped me in terms of networking. I was fortunate that my dad was a professor at Howard University. So I had exposure to HBCUs early, early on in life, from a baby when I would go with him to work. I understand and it's all through him, the value of going to an HBCU. Just kind of being with like-minded people and people that look like you and just kind of growing together. That's what HBCUs are.
Amani: My experience at Howard was amazing. There was definitely some highs. There was definitely some lows. We had things that every university has a football team, an AV club. My Major was hospitality management with a minor in finance, got a very strong school of business there. We're known for kind of our homecoming celebrations. We have a very, very popular homecoming celebration. Where people from all over the world will come and descend on DC for this one weekend a year. Around the football game is mostly about the community of people that come there. The ideas that are exchanged. Then we have the football game, the parties, the concerts as well. That's kind of my summary of HBCUs. I think they're very valuable. They're needed. I encourage all alumni to donate and spend time and money there to help kind of continue to further that avenue of education for African Americans and minorities in the US.
Jason: Amani, as you know right now, diverse hiring is the hot topic now. Everybody wants to do diverse hires. this is my opinion but I really think recruiters and companies are actually going to HBCUs and targeting that talent. How would you convince a recruiter or a company the greatness of a talent at a HBCU and why they should develop that talent?
Amani: I would just share with them different stories from different graduates from HBCUs. They're out there, their stories are being shared. The recruiters might not be aware of them. But there are tons, millions of successful people in all different types of jobs and careers, could be doctors, lawyers, business people, actors, actresses, writers, teachers. Any kind of discipline that is out there where people work and establish their career in. There are successful people that went to HBCUs. That graduated from HBCUs, that are extremely talented. Just as talented as their colleagues or peers that have gone to Ivy League schools and other major universities across the world. We just need to share their stories. Their stories are out there, so it's our responsibility to help the recruiters get exposed to the stories. Continue to get new and different stories about different people and just continue to share. Then they'll see the value of going to HBCUs and recruiting and then they'll return because they can authentically diversify their workforce and their boardroom. I think we just gotta share the stories, just share the stories to them and that will have a domino effect.
Jason: Let's go on the other side of the equation. There's somebody from, we'll say, Howard University, with we'll say a computer science degree, and they're recruited by a company in say Seattle, Washington. Who's mainly known as a white town so to speak and they don't wanna go to Seattle because the black culture's not there. What would you tell that person?
Amani: What would I tell the student that's being recruited to go to Seattle, Washington?
Jason: Or a town that doesn't have the "black culture" like Washington DC, Atlanta, those type of places.
Amani: I say that it's your responsibility to try to expose people who might not have necessarily been exposed to you or our culture in new places and to take the risk. just because you might have to leave an Atlanta, a New York, a DC, a Chicago. You can always go back and move there for your next job. You can always go visit, but if you wanna get ahead in this business world, or really the world. You might have to take a job in a city where you might really be the only African American person there. But I'm very confident that if you went to a HBCU and you graduated, you have a certain level of aptitude and confidence and you can handle yourself.
Amani: It could just be a year or two but you never know what you an experience if you don't step outside your comfort zone. You've been in kind of a comfort zone of a HBCU for your four or five years that you took in school. Now it's time for you to go and spread your wings, learn about new cultures, expose people who might not have been exposed to African Americans besides what they've seen on television. Take the lead and blaze that trail. I think that no risk, no reward, so take that risk and go to a city that might not have a diverse population and kind of show them what you're made of.
Jason: Amani, moving on, next can you talk about a time you was successful in the past? What you learned from the success and what we can learn from this?
Amani: I would say success from the past would be starting my own business. Having the business still be alive and operational 10 years later and then being able to diversify what we're doing in the business. We don't just DJ, we also teach, we also do group activities, and we also are very active in the community. I think that just the whole evolution of the business ... I'm currently writing a book as well, it'll be my first book. That's just the whole evolution of the business to how it's morphed and evolved is a definite sign of success. We added a podcast. We've been into podcasting for over a year and a half now as well so all these little features and aspects of a business. That are still continuing to grow strong. I think that's just the definition of success and we continue to kind of keep moving forward and trying to achieve a newer level.
Jason: Amani, next can you tell me about a time you failed in the past? What you learned from this failure and what we can learn?
Amani: Definitely. One of my "favorite failures" to speak about is when I went to Scratch Academy, which is like going to get my MBA in DJing. I went there and I was probably one of the older students there. It was about seven years ago and so I went there, you go through all the classes, there are six or seven classes, takes you about a year to go through. You have to actually pass tests to get to the next class and be able to continue with your learning. I come to the final class, it's the final exam. Final class you have to get 320 out of 400 points to pass the class and graduate and get your gold record and you become a Scratch official graduate. My first time through the final class, I only got 318 points and they wouldn't pass me. I was two points away, they didn't pass.
Amani: I was quite humbled because there were people in there that were 10, 15, 18 years younger than me that were pasting. Everyone knows who passes, who doesn't pass. I missed it and that was a huge learning for me because I had a decision to make at that time. Do I swallow my pride and press forward and try again or do I just take my ball and go home? I stuck with it, I tried again, persevered through it and I had to take the next class where there's no guarantee that you will pass the class because it's very subjective. You have to go through different exercises that you might not do well, you might not mix well. you might not have sound go up. So I was able to pass the second time through. One of the highest scores ever in the program for that final class and that just taught me to keep my feet on the ground, stay humble and stay hungry.
Amani: Even today, that experience still reminds me on a daily basis to stay hungry and to not take anything that I have for granted. To be very gracious, show a lot of gratitude and just continue to learn because I can always be better. I'm not allowed to give up. I can always improve and that was a massive learning for me that I still apply to my daily life today.
Jason: Amani, I understand you have a book to recommend for our listeners.
Amani: Yes. Well, I have several books. I can pick one or two for you right now. I'll give you two books. The first book is, it's called "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron and anyone can take it. I love it for creatives because it walks you through different exercises. You do one chapter a week. You do different exercises. I recommend doing it with a partner and it really helps you kind of unblock your creativity and really kind of open your self up to get over issues from your past that have prevented you from being creative in the current and allows you to grow from there. I love that one, "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron.
Amani: Another one that I love to recommend is "Big Magic" by Elizabeth Gilbert. That's one where she just talks about doing the work and writing and just letting your creativity kind of flow out of you. I recommend getting it on audiobook where she narrates it to you. I think it's a tremendous book and I listen to it at least once or twice a year.
Jason: Amani, I also understand you have something else for our listeners.
Amani: Definitely. If there are any listeners out there that are interested in me having me come into your town, your city to do the team building activity, the enrichment activity called The Wheels of Steel By Amani Experience. If you reference Jason's show, cavnessHR, I'll give you a special code. You'll get 20% off the actual activity, the charge I do for the activity. That's a great discount. I just wanna welcome people to try it out and to share their stories. I'm excited to offer that to all that listen.
Jason: Amani, can you share your social media links for yourself and your company so people can reach out to you?
Amani: Definitely. All my social media is @amaniexperience. That's A like apple- M like Mary- A like apple-N like Nancy- I. Experience. One word. I'm active on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Linkedin is just Amani Roberts. Pinterest as well, amaniexperience. Those are kind of the main social media and then if you wanna find my podcast, just search for the Amani Experience podcast. It's on all the platforms, whether it be iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, it's all there. I love for people to take a listen and tell me what they think.
Jason: For our listeners, we have the links to his books, his social media and everything else on our show notes. You can find our show notes at www.cavnessHRblog.com. Amani, we've come to the end of our talk. Can you give our listeners any last words of wisdom or advice on any subject you'd wanna talk about?
Amani: My wisdom or words of advice is I'll kind of share one of my favorite quotes which it says that, "If you wanna get fast, go alone. If you wanna go far, go together." That's an African proverb so really you can't do this alone. Find a group of like-minded people that can kind of form your tribe, that can be there with you in the good times and the bad times. So you don't let kind of some of the tough times get you down.
Amani: If you're thinking about doing any kind of creative endeavor, whether it be maybe starting in baking your own pies and selling to people or writing a book or starting your own radio show or maybe starting your own company. I encourage you to try it out and see what you can do on the side to build up and do it because you don't wanna look up five years from now or 10 years from now and have some grip about wishing you would have done it. If you have an idea, take some steps to put the idea into action and try to share it and make it happen because the world's waiting for you to do that.
Jason: Amani, thank you for your time today. I really appreciate. You are doing some great things and you're a busy person. Thank you very much.
Amani: Thank you very much for having me, Jason. I appreciate it.
Jason: To our listeners, thank you for your time as well and remember to be great every day.