Deon Graham, Chief Brand Officer of Combs Enterprises, discusses ‘The Future is Now’ theme for Revolt Summit 2022

The success of the multi-platinum hip-hop hitmaker and bankable record label executive Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs’ can be linked to a singular ace up his sleeve, his astute Chief Brand Officer Deon Graham for Combs Enterprises. Graham oversees Combs’ prestigious portfolio of businesses, brands, initiatives and investments.

Beginning his career in South Florida while studying marketing at Florida International University, Graham has become a fixture in promoting Miami’s nightlife entertainment. Through his observations, he became keenly aware that nightclub photographers strategically avoided taking pictures of black clubgoers. When he checked the club’s websites, he noticed that only white clubbers were featured, according to Business Insider.

Upon further investigation, he inquired why people like him and his friends had been omitted from the club’s promotional material and a bottle girl abruptly replied, “because you’re black”. The racist encounter sparked an idea and Graham realized an untapped business opportunity.

“I realized there was an opportunity for me to create a platform that served people who looked like me, who went out every night,” he told Business Insider.

Graham launched his own website, City Never Sleeps, specifically aimed at advertising the club industry’s underrepresented population. He worked with major nightclubs and major liquor brands, which eventually caught the eye of Combs’ Blue Flame marketing agency.

Graham quickly rose through the ranks at Combs Enterprises becoming the organization’s Chief Brand Officer where he orchestrates marketing strategies and ideas for Deleon Tequila, Cîroc Vodka, Sean John, Aquahydrate, Revolt Media and Bad Boy Entertainment. He is the executive producer of Revolt’s new show “Caresha Please” and, for the third year in a row, coordinated the Revolt Summit, a multi-city hip-hop event inspired by the former Revolt Music Conference.

“I remember a few years ago I sat down to lunch with the late Andre Harrell and Puff and I was just talking about how we’re going to evolve the Revolt Music Conference into something bigger and better that can serve the community more. We talked about what we thought people needed. RMC was always created from Jack The Rapper in those old music conferences that people used to have in the music industry and we just thought it was time to evolve from that and adding different elements, so yeah, third year, bigger and better,” he enthuses.

The success of the Revolt Summit x AT&T in 2021 was evident in the 4B+ impressions produced across all media channels, over 3,600 people attended the conference where they were able to interact with 110 celebrities, 383 one-on-one mentoring sessions at the office hour were available, attendees submitted more than 150 resumes at the job fair, nearly 10,000 social posts were uploaded during the summit, and more than 20 black-owned businesses were supported.

For this year, Graham says attendees can expect an intersection of culture, education, music and employment opportunities all happening in real time.

“We bring together like the biggest artists, innovators, activists, industry leaders, community members, and obviously, the future of Hip Hop and different people together in one room to not only get people out there, but also access information and solutions,” he says, and continues. “We wanted the summit to be solutions-focused. So you don’t just come to see talking heads on a panel, we have hours of office where you have access to executives you never would, networking opportunities, a job fair, all those different things you wouldn’t normally get at a conference. We’d like people to come take information, but also come away with a solution to the problem they are trying to solve or job opportunities, etc.

Graham and his team curated this year’s panels related to what’s happening in today’s society and how it affects blacks and browns. The theme is “The Future Is Now” which is based on Diddy’s version of carpe diem, “the time is now”. Once Graham and his staff agreed on the concept, Graham brought together different people from his staff and members of outside organizations to talk about important topics and what the community wants to achieve.

“We have a really great track on this guy named Julian Mitchell and the way he puts these panels together is just world class. I mean, once he understands the subject and he understands the direction that we’re trying to go, he’s really able to take from everyone what these signs should look like, who should be on them and what should be the subject,” Graham says.

The top boasts of landing highly sought-after roles in music, entertainment, technology, and other industries. Over the years, the conference garners impressive attendance, and young people can gain mentorship, advice, and personal contacts that can grow into working relationships beyond the walls of the symposium.

“There was State Farm, Allied Bank, Puma, Motown, all these different big companies that hired PAs, producers, project managers, and then because of what we did at the top, we were able to partner to Endeavor to create the Program of Excellence and monitoring that evolve and train budding executives. So not only is it the two to three day summit, but we’d like to make sure [it] extends beyond those two or three days and turns into lasting relationships, mentorships and jobs,” he explains.

Job seekers aren’t the only group triumphing at the heights of revolt, black-owned businesses who sign up as vendors are able to improve their products and services. Graham points to an individual named Sharod Simpson who owns the God Is Dope brand who bought the venue property, 797 Windsor after the first summit in Atlanta when he saw the conference’s potential. He converted the location into his office and now runs the facility as a multi-purpose event center and Combs Enterprises leases the space to him to host their annual event.

“It was major, for me,” exclaims Graham. “We have Empower Global, which is a new startup, we have Soulful Bowls, which are actually acai bowls. We have HPC on the green. All food trucks are black owned. Everything feels good every year.

For those who can’t attend this year, they can download the Revolt app and they can also go to the Revolt Summit where they can see some of the panels, as well as Revolt’s TV network.

“The most important thing I want to emphasize is that we are back bigger than ever. We’re here to empower our community and make sure we’re giving access and opportunity to people who normally wouldn’t have it. I like to remind people that my story and my rise at Combs Enterprises is because of the opportunity that was given to me. I am very proud to organize this event and to give people a real opportunity, not just to talk about it,” he says, leaving his last thought.

The Revolt Summit x AT&T returns to Atlanta for two days of live talks, panels, performances, competitions and your favorite Revolt shows on Saturday, September 24e-Sunday 25 Septembere at 787 Windsor St SW, Atlanta, GA 30315.

Special guests scheduled include Pretty Vee, Bobby Shmurda, Coi Leray, Gucci Mane, Boosie, Iddris Sandu, Assets Over Liabilities, Tamika D. Mallory, Rap Radar (Brian B. Dot Miller and Elliott Wilson) and Baby Jade.

For more information, visit the Uprising Summit.

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