The Emerge Summit, a conference for young professionals on leadership, business strategy, and personal branding, was presented by Greater New Orleans, Inc., in July. Among the dynamic group of speakers were Calvin Wells, a venture capitalist featured in the Netflix Fyre Festival documentary, New Orleans Bounce sensation Big Freedia and Jacob Landry of Urban South Brewery. Topics included “Managing Expectations in a Post-Truth World,” achieving national success, “Building a Personal Brand at Work,” blogging as a career and entrepreneurship. Below are the highlights from the conference.

Managing Expectations in a Post-Truth World

Calvin Wells, a venture capitalist featured in the Netflix Fyre Festival documentary, discussed “Managing Expectations in a Post-Truth World,” warning of the risks of misrepresentations in social media and emphasizing the need for “slow news,” informed debate and consumer initiative to look critically at what is being presented on social medial and in the news to determine if the story makes sense. He also discussed his thoughts on the economy and suggested that investors prepare for a downturn by reducing leverage, particularly with variable rates, and investing in stable, cash flowing assets rather than equities.

Achieving National Success

Reid Martin of MidCitizen Entertainment interviewed bounce music phenomenon Big Freedia about striving for and achieving success. Freedia emphasized the importance of faith, hard work and being willing to capitalize on all available opportunities as factors in achieving national success outside of the local New Orleans market. Freedia candidly discussed the need for humility and consistency in the music industry. 

Building a Personal Brand at Work

Goldie Chan, a LinkedIn Top Voice and Forbes contributor, discussed “Building a Personal Brand at Work,” noting that consistency, knowing your audience and having a distinct point of view for your content is essential. She suggested that LinkedIn is the essential social media outlet for professional purposes, but Twitter can provide good press opportunities and Instagram is important for more visual fields. She advised that high quality content is far more important than volume of content and a consistent schedule of posting new content a few times per week is ideal.

Blogging as a Career

Rocio Mora of the RisasRizos blog discussed the practicalities of blogging as a career, including how she monetizes her blog through AdSense on YouTube, affiliate links, sponsored content, brand ambassadorships, sponsored events and selling photography content. She emphasized the need to consistently publish content, regardless of whether money is coming in, and the need to develop a specific niche that you can reference when you pitch to sponsors who may not be focused on that niche but may be trying to reach that audience anyway. She also discussed the importance of maintaining visually pleasing documentation of campaigns and events, which can be used to market to other future sponsors. Finally, she suggested that bloggers share information, which helps them better price their content.


Jacob Landry of Urban South Brewery and Austin Sherman of Big Easy Bucha kombucha were interviewed regarding entrepreneurship. They discussed finding a balance between managing growth from a local to regional to national market, including the need to not grow too fast but also the need to take advantage of opportunities for growth when presented. They emphasized the need for persistence and tolerance for risk in entrepreneurship, particularly because financing can be difficult to find and often requires personal investment and fundraising. Finally, they discussed their focus on paying employees fairly and treating them well in an effort to both give back to the community and encourage employee buy-in to the missions of their companies.

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