54: An American Brand In A New Generation: Black Enterprise CEO Earl "Butch" Graves, Jr.

 
Earl "Butch" Graves, Jr., CEO of Black Enterprise, is transforming the media company his father founded as a magazine.

Earl "Butch" Graves, Jr., CEO of Black Enterprise, is transforming the media company his father founded as a magazine.

Growing up in the black community in Brooklyn and Washington, D.C. in the ‘70s and ‘80s, there were a few things you'd take for granted: 

We learned Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing, also known as the Negro National Anthem, in school. We learned there was practically nothing George Washington Carver couldn’t do with a soybean. And a middle class black family was likely to have at least four magazines in the house: Ebony and Jet, of course. And if they were a little fancy, Essence and Black Enterprise.  

These days, magazines aren’t what they used to be. (See Meredith Corp.'s purchase of Time Inc.) Like many digital publishers, Black Enterprise is undergoing a reinvention, becoming less a publication and more a live events business. Back in October I interviewed Intel's CEO at a Black Enterprise tech event outside San Francisco – an event that showcased the brand's push to evolve beyond the printed page. 

Earl Graves, Jr. – he's known as "Butch" – is the son of the founder of Black Enterprise. Now he's the CEO. I sat down with him to talk about how the brand was born, how it's trying to evolve in a digital world, and what the future looks like for minority entrepreneurs.