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What I Learned by Launching a Book The Same Day As Will Smith

Yesterday was a big day. The biggest movie star in Hollywood released his book. We released ours too.

They both have covers featuring commissioned art work from talented African-American artists, but seem very different in every other way. Ours is a work of non-fiction featuring the stories of more than a hundred entrepreneurs, storytellers, educators and activists. Will is about one man’s story, with universal lessons for us all.

I didn’t know until recently that we would share the same launch day, but for years I have admired Will Smith as an individual, father and performer. I am halfway through his new memoir and it is excellent.

As I share my latest book co-authored with Jennifer Brown (she/her/hers), I thought it fitting to promote it alongside a memoir that Oprah called the “best she’s ever read” … because at the end of the day, Beyond Diversity isn’t a book about my experience. Or about Jennifer’s experience. Or any of our six other contributors. It is about celebrating the stories and experiences of others, and taking lessons from them to build a better world for us all.

The beautiful thing about a memoir is that is takes you behind the scenes of someone’s life to inspire you. The powerful thing about a guide book is that it gives you the tools and advice on you can do next.

In his book, Will writes:

“Some of the most impactful lessons I’ve ever received, I’ve had to learn in spite of myself. I resisted them, I denied them, but ultimately the weight of their truth became unavoidable.”

The process of writing a book about diversity, and hosting the ambitious summit that inspired Beyond Diversity was a bit like that. We challenged ourselves to rethink the language we used, the stories we chose to share and the people we interviewed. The book was our journey, and a compilation of what we learned along the way.

In it’s own way, I suppose that could describe memoirs like Will as well. As a reader, the books that resonate most for me are the ones that help me imagine and realize a change in myself as a result of reading them. Will Smith wrote a book like that. I believe we have done the same thing. If you get a chance to read them both, let me know if you agree.

Artists Links:

  • BMike – Illustration for Will
  • Zharia Shinn – Illustration for Beyond Diversity
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About Rohit

A keynote speaker on trends, innovation, marketing, storytelling and diversity.

Rohit Bhargava is on a mission to inspire more non-obvious thinking in the world. He is the #1 Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of eight books and is widely considered one of the most entertaining and original speakers on disruption, trends and marketing in the world.

Rohit has been invited to keynote events in 32 countries … and over the past year, given more than 100 virtual talks from his home studio. He previously spent 15 years as a marketing strategist at Ogilvy and Leo Burnett and also teaches marketing and storytelling as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University.

He loves the Olympics, actively hates cauliflower and is a proud dad of boys.

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Rohit is the author of 8 books on trends, the future of business, building a more human brand with storytelling and how to create a more diverse and inclusive world.

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