Dion Clarke, CEO of Harlem Fine Arts Show, talks ‘cultural nutrition’


Dion Clarke
CEO, Harlem Fine Arts Show

Please describe your leadership style as CEO.
I create environments in which individuals can contribute and see their work come to life. I cultivate individual relationships with my team and help them reach their goals. A good leader manages the talent of their team, not the tasks.

What is your mission statement?
To bring a cultural awareness of the African diaspora.

What three skill sets are critical for the future executive that you hire for your organization?
Strategic thinker

How does having an advanced degree benefit you and your clients?
Furthering an education is always a plus, no matter how you approach it. For me, the decision to get my master’s degree at Clark Atlanta University provided multiple layers of success. The first was the increased knowledge I gained, which supported my career in marketing and media. The second was establishing personal relationships while attending CAU. The third — and probably most valuable — are all the relationships I’ve maintained with individuals from my days at CAU. I’ve worked for and certainly learned from a good many of these people, and they’ve helped me excel professionally and expand by business. They’ve also opened doors that weren’t even visible to me. Our clients benefit from this tremendously, because they know their brand is being handled with care, and they also know we have a reach beyond our organizational walls. Having access to some of the best business leaders anywhere provides our clients and our team that leg-up we need to continue thriving in an extremely competitive marketplace.

How do you utilize technology to benefit your organization?
As an organization we embrace efficiency — and with that comes the increased use of technology. We utilize technology to automate repeat tasks, to decrease human error, and to generate greater awareness of our company. Our marketing and PR agency regularly suggests ways to respond faster and be seen even more broadly. Technology has triggered significant growth of our business.

Finish the sentences
Team work is important because …
It divides the task and multiplies the success. No one ever succeeds alone.

The best way to recruit great talent is …
To be a great leader.

Speaking a second language is important because …
The word we live in is multifaceted; it isn’t one-sided.

What social media platforms do you engage in the most?
As an organization we primarily focus on three — Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We find our audience spends most of its time on these utilities.

What professional organizations do you support?
National Black MBA

Describe your networking style.
When I network with and meet people, I am more interested in what I can do for them than what they can do for me. I’ve learned over the years that when you value relationships with people, you rarely have to ask them to help you. They’ll actually ask you.

If you were giving a graduation speech to college students, what would the title of your speech be? Give three reasons for the title.
The title would undoubtedly be “The Gift of Cultural Nutrition.”
Understanding the cultures of others is key to understanding the world around and ahead of you. It allows you to think outside yourself, which leads to thinking outside the box. As a college graduate, you need to know what lies ahead and how you can integrate yourself within the opportunities that present themselves.

Exposure to culture is a gift. You are provided access into the minds and lives of others, which will help you deal with individuals in a different way. You will appreciate the input of others and they will give you their best, because you comprehend what makes them who they are.

In line with one of my favorite quotes, you need to understand who you are to be a successful individual. Like a tree, you must know your roots so you can grow to be truly all you can be.

Name your two favorite vacation destinations to relax and recharge and explain why they appeal to you.
My favorites are the West Indies and South Africa, and the explanation is simple. No one can reach me, and I am surrounded by and exposed to cultural experiences completely unavailable in my routine, day-to-day life.

What are you reading? What are your two favorite books?
My favorite books are The Autobiography of Malcolm X and Jack: Straight from the Gut, by Jack Welch [former General Electric CEO].

I’m currently reading just about everything available about art. With the expansion of my company, my focus has to be squarely on the art market.

Name three  business and political leaders who inspire you.
Don King
Jack Welch
The late Percy Sutton

These three leaders inspire me because each had his own battle to fight against long odds. And each persevered. As a CEO, you must have examples to look toward when times get tough or when you need to initiate change in order to achieve your mission. What I have learned from each of these great men is you have to believe in yourself … even when no one else does.

Favorite sports team and hobbies?
Teams – Knicks and Jets
Hobbies – Swimming

Two favorite quotes that motivate you?
When life knocks you down, try to land on your back. Because if you can look up, you can get up. Let your reason get you back up. ~ Les Brown

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots. ~ Marcus Garvey


Munson Steed
Munson Steed

Founder and publisher of rolling out's parent company Steed Media Group.

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