Entrepreneurs: Level UP Your Influence
Updated: Oct 25, 2022
Learn from the Influence Innovator—Kenny Burns
Table of Contents
Becoming Your Favorite Influencer's Influencer
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Settle In - Why We're Here
With a wit and personality as colorful as his language, Kenny Burns is a master at commanding the room and infusing each moment with insightful clarity.
His appearance in Social Proof Podcast episode #291 was no exception. Against the backdrop of a small exclusive studio audience, Kenny Burns shared his captivating insight with humor, authenticity and an old school realness.
Whatever frustration you feel about your social media presence, or if you don't know how to develop your brand or business to reach your audience, keep reading.
Kenny's no holds barred approach is educational as it was entertaining. Grab your pen, journal and let's go!
In the rare chance you may not be familiar with Kenny Burns, let's go over some things right quick.
Take a moment and think about your favorite social media influencer. Now think about the high rates they command for appearances at some of your favorite spots featuring your favorite grown and sexy beverage.
Their success is a product of the innovative strategic thinking of Kenny Burns.
If you are a fan of singer/rapper, record producer, Akon, and the rapper Wale, their successes are from Kenny's keen ability to realize talent and bring it to the masses.
Oh, there's more.
In his twenty-year career, Kenny has consulted with some of the biggest brands, including Moet Hennessy, Puma, Heineken, and was instrumental in Sean "P. Diddy" Combs' business portfolio expansion, including REVOLT TV and CÎROC Vodka.
Now that you are familiar with all the amazing things he has done, now it's time to take time to know the man, the legend, the "Lifestyle Specialist" Kenny Burns.
Who is Kenny Burns?
A Washington, DC native, Kenny Burns began hustling in the streets as a teenager. He had aspirations to play basketball professionally, and even gained a scholarship to play in college, but an arrest during his senior year of highschool altered his path.
After a brief stint in prison, his cousin who attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA, invited him to go to Freaknik, the legendary black student spring break festival that was held annually in the 90s.
Attending this event was a turning point for Kenny. Seeing all those black faces convening in one place was eye-opening and life changing for him.
"Things happen in your life that you realize [later] really benefit you in the long run... if you're able to make it out, they become legend."
Inspired by the vibe and energy from the event, Kenny enrolled at Morris Brown College in 1992, and then he began throwing parties at local venues. These weren't just run of a mill parties, he was building an experience. More on that later.
His party promotion business became so lucrative that he withdrew from school and began to throw parties full-time. His first event drew 2,000, and he made a name for himself.
Through his events promotion, he started being in spaces with some of the greats, mainly his inspiration, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs. After all, he got the blueprint from his party promotion.
He used what Diddy was doing for parties at Howard University, made them his own, and brought it to Atlanta.
He credits black women for being his biggest promoters, and he began to design events with them as the focus. He told his team that all of their event's purpose was to attract and satisfy his primary audience—black women.
Kenny Burns soon became the number one party promoter in Atlanta, GA. He was on his way.
The Anatomy of Influence
Influence is a term that has evolved vastly in our culture in the last decade.
One word simply explained Kenny's take on influence—experience.
Kenny shares with David, The Social Proof Podcast host, that so often people want to influence others to take action in a specific industry, or in general, but they have no lived experiences.
We are currently living in a media driven society in which anyone can hop on a mic and share knowledge with anyone. Although this sets a cool precedent for creativity, it also allows folks to confuse celebrity with influence.
For example, there are many celebrities who are masters in their craft, but are not qualified to speak on topics such as social action or change.
Kenny finds himself at the intersection of influence and celebrity because of the way he does what he does. He was no mere party promoter or planner, no; he is a curator of experiences.
The more parties he threw, the more experience he gained. He elevated from promoter to event host.
He prides himself in making the moment special for his guests of his events. He does this by studying them, understanding what they want, and give it to them each time they attend a Kenny Burns event.
Mainly, he learned how to make people feel good by building their respect and trust.
Realizing that he had a gift, Kenny began pairing his knack for giving people what they need to his business partnerships. From promoting and hosting, his Rolodex of contacts grew, and he began putting folks together to make some dope branding connections.
Again, he would find a want and connect the dots to its need. He did this by listening and waiting for the right moment to make a proposition to the business entities involved.
Becoming Your Favorite Influencer's Influencer
As Kenny grew, so did his influence.
After noticing the state of fashion in hip hop, the long white t-shirts were popping at the time and Kenny wanted to offer an alternative.
"I've always shown up how I want to be received." - Kenny Burns
The way to do this was affect implementing the perception of the brothers of hip-hop. Doing this in a way only Kenny Burns would, by co-creating a line of button-down shirts called Ryan Kenny.
He did this silently, but the culture noticed. When he went to the Vibe Awards and the living legend and mogul Jay-Z was wearing his shirt, he knew he'd made a difference.
Additionally, he impacted the culture by being the first AND only business man to create influencer programs for spirit (alcohol) brands. Meaning he was helping spirit brands get influencers and on the backhand getting the influencer paired with the right brand to secure the company's ROI (return of investment).
If you know, you know.
Establishing YOUR Influence
Kenny gave had so many bars and jewels in this episode, but this entire episode should give you everything you need to influence others with your brand presence. But if you are in a hurry, this comprehensive list will give you the essentials.
Establish relationships to create buzz.
A person may change roles within the industry they work in, but that person doesn't change. Maintain that relationship!
Learn how to hustle the system, or this system will hustle you. Your "bonus" depends on your hustle.
Understand how to move the money—as Kenny says, that's what "they do in corporate America, you just aren't privy."
Build an experience by creating a moment.
BE INTENTIONAL with securing brands. Go with the brands that are aligned with YOUR brand and core beliefs.
The future for Kenny is as bright as his past. As he stands on the precipice of a new beginning, his goal is to become the voice for the culture. His YouTube show, The Kenny Burns Show and podcast, TKBS Nation, have solidified this role. Hosting the hottest name in every industry, Burns describes his show as, "a culmination of who I am as a person. I hope to inspire this generation to lead in their own unique way."
Cheers to you, Mr. Kenny Burns!
We are sure to keep watching Kenny as he continues to grow and bless the culture.