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Kawanna Brown Speaks on Building a Brand and Working with “Magic”

Kawanna Brown at the Dean's Executive Leadership SeriesKawanna Brown addresses students
and alumni at the Dean's Executive
Leadership Series.

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Kawanna Brown, chief operating officer for Magic Johnson Enterprises, was featured on May 22, 2007 as the final speaker in the 2006-07 Dean's Executive Leadership Series.  Ms. Brown discussed her rise in the company from an entry-level receptionist 11 years ago to leading a company with more than 20,000 employees today.  She also recounted what it is like to work side-by-side with the iconic basketball star-turned-entrepreneur, Earvin "Magic" Johnson.

The Heart of Magic Johnson Enterprises

As COO, Ms. Brown is responsible for the overall leadership of the company and has played a critical role in partnering with top businesses such as Lincoln Mercury, Burger King, Cadbury Schweppes, and Mandalay Entertainment.  She has been credited with making Johnson Enterprises the number one urban brand in America and is the recipient of The Network Journal's 40-Under-Forty Achievement Award and the University of Southern California Association Award for Distinguished Community Service.

Ms. Brown is proud that Magic Johnson Enterprises has helped changed the minds of corporate America about investing in the urban market.  "We were the first to go into Harlem, we were the first to really create change in the Los Angeles Crenshaw community—we overcame perceptions that these communities could not be profitable," she said.  "We had a difficult time overcoming those obstacles.  And now we have corporations calling us to partner."

Sound Advice for Tomorrow's Leaders

Kawanna Brown mingles with guestsKawanna Brown mingles with guests.

Ms. Brown left students and alumni with valuable advice for up-and-coming entrepreneurs or small businesspersons:  "Focus on one thing and be great at it.  And from there you can grow your business."

Additionally, she quoted one of Magic Johnson's own personal sayings:  "You are the only one who can make a difference.  And whatever your dream is, go for it.  Challenge yourself and go for it."

Check back soon for information on speakers for the 2007-08 Dean's Executive Leadership Series.  Also check out our podcast featuring past speaker William George, professor at Harvard Business School and former CEO and chair of Medtronic, Inc.