Interview with Darien Dash, CEO of Movement Management AdvisorsMarch 13, 2020
Darien Dash has always been one-part entrepreneur and two parts activist. He has utilized his keen understanding of technology and his family connections within the entertainment industry to build a marketing and internet empire. He uses his personal belief—that American minorities deserve the same access to technology and the internet as everyone else—to inform nearly every major entrepreneurial decision of his career.
Since the inception of the internet, Darien Dash has brought accessible digital marketing and internet services to minority communities. In 1994, Dash created DME Interactive Holdings, and became the CEO of the first African American-owned internet company publicly traded on Wall Street.
Darien Dash was born in New York to a family deeply enmeshed in the entertainment industry. His cousin, Damon, is chairman of Roc-A-Fella Records, and his Step-father, Cecil Homes, is a record executive at Casablanca Records and also someone that Dash credits as inspiring his entrepreneurial spirit and passion for life.
As a freshman at the University of Southern California, Darien Dash created Roc-A-Bloc records with his cousin, Damon. The label grossed over $100K during his sophomore year and signed an up-and-coming Jay Z as well as other hip hop moguls.
In 2000, President Bill Clinton tapped Dash to help him seek ways to make the internet more accessible to “all Americans.” Through this work, Dash met Hewlett-Packard CEO, Carly Fiorina, which led to a partnership in a technology firm called Places of Color. The company sold low-cost computers to minority communities in New York and New Jersey. Places of Color was recognized as the Regional and National Technology Firm of the Year.
Currently, Darien Dash is the CEO and creator of The Movement Management firm, which focuses on providing financial and strategic business advice to clients ranging from media, sports, entertainment, cannabis, and capital market industries.
How Did You Develop The Idea For Your Company?
I’ve been advising on all sorts of strategy and the capital market approaches of CEOs, executives, marketing, high level athletes, and entertainers for so long it’s been a natural evolution of our business and for our partners that we’ve been working with.
The idea of the company grew from our day-to-day business activities that we’ve been providing for our clients for the past twenty years.
Where Do Your Ideas Come From?
It’s been an evolution. We don’t discriminate based on the status or stature of our clients. Some are just getting started and some are very successful investors or successful CEOs and executives at large corporations. We’ve grown with our clients over the years and helped them execute strategic plans.
It’s been an organic, naturally-evolving process.
Describe a Typical Day At The Office
I’m up early and at the desk early.
My phone starts ringing around 7/7:30 AM and doesn’t stop until 9/10 at night depending on where our clients are, if they’re traveling, or if they’re on the west coast.
We try to take each day with a focused schedule.
I have a really strong team of support staff around me that helps with the execution side for our clients. For me, sometimes the day is driven by whatever the fire of the day is. A metaphorical fire, of course, in terms of something pressing and urgent going on with our clients.
Sometimes, our day depends on the strategic needs of our client’s and on the process of where they are in their execution phases.
Our clients have different issues on a daily basis and when something is urgent and needs to be dealt with, it comes to the front burner.
How Do Your Plans Take Life?
We try to take an approach of finding out what’s important, every client has different kinds of needs, and ultimately, we focus on the outcome that they want to have.
We look at the assets on the board and their resources—whether it’s their strategic partners—or we look at the other side of a transaction they are working on and try to understand what is important to both our client and their partners, and then we get into layers and dig deeper into that and what the win is for the other side. The main rule is that in order for you to win, the other side doesn’t have to lose.
So we try to create a scenario with our clients where they’re building relationships that help both sides to win.
And depending on whether or not it’s a transaction, an execution plan, or an operational issue, we identify where we need to end up and build a guiding post to monitor the progress being made.
Is There Anything Newsworthy In The Industry That Has Garnered Your Attention?
I’m hoping it’s not just a trend, but what has been exciting for me is to see more and more young African American and Hispanic male and female entrepreneurs and execs becoming more active and doing business with one another.
To watch them become more active in ownership of business stakes in media, tech, telecom, and cannabis industries.
And I hope this is not just a trend but the future of business as usual for these industries.
It’s exciting to see the amount of momentum that these movements, no pun intended, take.
Between the movement going on within the entrepreneurial communities, and social justice communities, and how public and private partnerships are working together to try to make change.
I’ve seen this both in business and my day to day social interactions.. I’ve seen a lot of executives, influencers, and entertainers become concerned and prioritizing building social equity, wealth, and addressing injustice.
It’s exciting to me to see the momentum that this movement is getting.
Habits That You Recommend Every Other Entrepreneur Follow?
I’m constantly trying to retrace my steps and repeat processes that work. I’m very diligent about making sure that I’m revisiting processes over and over with what our execution strategy is and sticking to that process.
I attempt to find a balance between being flexible with my clients’ needs, but sticking to a process that works and repeating it in a dogged way.
What Do You Wish You Could Tell Yourself Before Your Current Career Began?
Trees don’t grow in the sky.
What I mean is that it’s important to stay grounded.
When you’re in the high growth of business and experience success, you have to be cognizant and aware of keeping and setting your goals. I believe that you harvest the things that you’ve grown and simply must plant your seed again.
That’s not to say that you don’t stop to enjoy and appreciate the success you’ve had. Celebrate.
But also put away income and continue to build and execute on the intent of why you started.
You have to recognize when you hit a goal and execute on what you wanted to do with that goal and the resources that come from achieving those milestones.
Recommend Something That Other Business Owners Should Do, Based On Your Experience?
Keep an eye on your P&L and your balance sheet.
I think it’s important that every business owner pay close attention to their financial statements.
There are not enough young entrepreneurs experiencing success who are also focused on paying attention to their income statements or P&L on a monthly basis. This can be detrimental to their overall success and impact their bottom line.
I think they should also spend time not just looking at their business but also their personal income statements as well as their business.
When we have these windfalls of capital that come in it is easy for us all to kind of lose track of it and it just gets out of control.
I think it’s important as you’re experiencing success that you keep score.
And that you know financially where your spending is going and where your income is coming from exactly. That you become intimately involved in that process to the extent that it becomes a habit.
That you are repetitively checking your income statement, processing your losses, etc. I think that’s an instinct that people should have to repeat on a monthly basis
How Do You Go About Growing Your Business?
I don’t know if it’s one strategy necessarily that has helped me grow my business as much as just putting the client first and being here to serve. At the end of the day, my job is to serve.
I’m another deckhand on my clients ship.. Our clients are successful people and even with our younger clients who are starting to experience success in their careers and need a lot of guidance. Our job is to serve them no matter what level they’re at.
At different times, it means different things. But for us, the most important thing is being of service to our clients.
Have You Ever Failed As An Entrepreneur?
I’ve had so many failures that I believe failing is a part of success.
You have to have a thick skin and a short memory. Whether you’re an athlete, entertainer, or executive, you have to be willing to hear “no” and be willing to learn from your failures, until failure and success almost feel the same to you.
I don’t know if it’s strange to say that part of my success is my failures. I believe you have to be flexible and have to be able to pivot. To have the tenacity to get back up and live out the commitment and faith to your vision.
To not be afraid to get back out there and not stop until your goal is achieved.
I believe that triumph and disaster are two sides of the same coin in life, and that there are no guarantees of success. I believe that for some, success can be their undoing. The more successful some people become, the more they fail in other areas of their lives.
Don’t let the highs get too high or the lows get too low. Be even-keeled to go forward and be successful.
Best Money You’ve Spent In The Last Year?
The best money I’ve spent recently would be on our vacation before my kids went back to school. Taking the time to spend time with your family and get quality time with your family is priceless. You’ll never get that time back.
Software You Couldn’t Live Without?
For me, the most important part of things I do on a day-to-day basis is on my spreadsheets on Excel. I live my life inside of a spreadsheet.
I think Excel it’s one of the best business inventions that I’ve ever worked with and it’s one of the best tools that I use every day.
For more on this versatile entrepreneur, check out Darien’s Medium where he regularly posts articles about the state of the industry.