Black History Month Spotlight: Brian Graves
For this installment, we spoke with Kings Groups and Hospitality Account Manager, Brian Graves. Brian is famous around the Kings offices for his contagious energy, unwavering positivity, and larger than life passion for the work he does.
How would you describe your role with the Sacramento Kings?
I really like my role. I would say it is definitely more of a mentorship at this time. I've been doing this for 27 years working in professional sports sales.
So, a lot of the younger [sales] reps in my department and even in other departments are able to listen to me on the phone and my approach to selling and hopefully they're able to take some of what I say and use my experience and communication skills to help them sell as well.
Who have been your biggest role models in life?
I'd have to save Martin Luther King Jr. Growing up and reading about him and being a Christian man myself, I admired his approach that love and non-violence is the way to get things accomplished in this country. Some of the racial tensions that we have and things that are going on in this world, the way to defeat them is with love. So, I'd have to say that he is definitely a big hero of mine.
Also, my mother is very successful. She's retired now, but she was the vice president and Senior Creative Director for the largest African American advertising agency in the world. She was also the vice president of Motown records for a while. She’s definitely one of my heroes as well for sure.
How does she inspire you?
Being a female in the corporate world, she was successful back in the 70s, 80s, and 90s when a lot of wonderful women hadn’t made the progress that we've made now in the new millennium, so I'm proud of her for that. She was a big contributor. She worked with Bill Clinton on the Bill Clinton campaign in 1992. And she was voted one of the Top 50 African American Business Women of All Time by Essence Magazine. I'm extremely proud of her.
In what ways do you celebrate your African American heritage?
On Martin Luther King Jr. day, we generally do a walk through Sacramento. Also, my lady and I watch a lot of African American history programs, just not to forget that we've come a long way in this country as an African Americans.
Even though, obviously, there's some still some issues, if you look at where we were from slavery all the way up to civil rights to where we are now…God has been good.
What advice would you give to fellow African Americans who are striving to succeed in the Entertainment/Sports industry?
This is so cliché, but the first thing is to get your education. Education is always key. You obviously want to graduate high school, but then after that, pursue an education at a four-year university. If your route has to be junior college and then to move on to a four-year university, that's fine.
Also, find some good mentors. My grandmother told me a long time ago, and I'll never forget it, “Brian, if you want to do something, you need to get with the people that are doing it.”
My mother always taught me that if you go for your passion, the money will follow. Don't just get a job because you want to get paid a lot of money. Think about it what it is that you really want to do, what you have a passion for, and the money will follow.
Why is it important to you to continue to encourage diversity in the workplace?
I believe the more diverse we are, the better we are as an organization. Not just at the Sacramento Kings, but across the board in the NFL, the NBA, Major League Baseball, and so on. I feel like each culture brings a certain skill set. We're all different, our cultures are different, and we all have different talents. So, it’s important that you're not just getting talent from one culture or one demographic.
[Diversity] makes you better because you're able to get fresh new ideas. You can look at someone else's culture or the way they do things and find a way that you can bring that to the table of what we do. You just learn more.
I think I speak for everyone at the office when I say that you are one of the most positive people here. Where did you get such a passionate zest for life?
First of all, I just want to say thank you and God bless you. I get that simply from my faith and my belief in God. He teaches me that you're going to come up against opposition. There's going to be things that don't go your way. But, don't let that steal your joy. Believe it or not, no matter what you're going through, there's always millions of people that would love to take your place and would think that your life is great.
Sometimes, the hardest thing to do is to continue to have a great attitude and love people even when they don't reciprocate or give it back to you. But, the Lord tells me that I'm blessed regardless as long as I proactively do it. You can't control somebody else's response or what they will say or do, but it's my job to stay positive. That's what I was put on this Earth for.