HotChat Featuring Robert L. Johnson, America’s first Black Billionaire

About the Episode:

Welcome to another Hotchat with Robert Johnson, the first black American billionaire. In this episode, Robert, a.k.a. Bob, explains his journey and childhood inspiration from his parents, who instilled the mindset of believing in himself and embracing good work ethics. He explains how the black community’s discrimination led him to start several business avenues, including the first national cable television channel, BET. He reveals the milestones it has taken to champion and embrace diversity, inclusion, equality, and equity of minority groups in the country. Know more about the lessons he has learned in the entrepreneurial journey and what has helped him become the first black American billionaire.


Robert L. Johnson is the Founder and Chairman of The RLJ Companies, LLC, an innovative business network. He owns or holds interests in businesses operating in hotel real estate, private equity, 401k fintech services, automobile dealerships, content streaming, gaming, and sports betting. Before forming The RLJ Companies, Mr. Johnson was the founder and chairman of Black Entertainment Television (BET), the nation’s first Black-owned cable television network. In 2001, Johnson sold BET to Viacom for approximately $3 billion. In July 2007, Johnson was named by USA Today as one of “The 25 Most Influential Business Leaders of the Past 25 Years.” 

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Here’s What You’ll Get In This Episode

[00:10] Episode intro and a quick bio of today’s guest; Robert Johnson-First black billionaire

[03:45] Three key lessons Bob has learned in his incredible journey

[06:18] How Bob’s decision to enter into the entertainment space was inspired

[09:31] The power of vision and what sets you for success

[12:15] Why partnership is key for the success of black American businesses

[17:34] Why a “fully black-owned” business mentality can’t survive

[20:44] Deals that Bob regrets allowing to pass

[24:32] Robert’s next leap in helping humanity

[30:57] Bob’s predictions of the future from an economic standpoint

[43:58] Robert’s golden nuggets and advice to entrepreneurs

[46:07] Ending the show and call to action

Notable Quotes

  • The most important asset in your life is of believing in yourself.
  • No one is an island. Every successful person becomes so through others’ inspiration and help.
  • There’s no limit to innovation. As long as somebody is born, there’s always an idea born with them. 
  • Visionaries always see things that nobody has ever seen before, and they devote their whole passion to its pursuit. 
  • Look over the hills, see what needs to be done, and then walk in the abyss and get it done.
  • Strategic partnerships work in the best interest of both partners, which is an important component for the success of black American businesses. 
  • Every entrepreneur that wants to keep their business up and successful should keep their revenues up and operating costs down.

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