Ben Chavis representing the interests of the black press

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Please describe your role as CEO.

As president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, I am responsible for the overall executive administration and management of the NNPA as a national trade association that represents the black American-owned print and digital press in the United States and in the Caribbean. The NNPA is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with 200 member publishers strategically doing business across America in all the top 50 metropolitan commercial markets. I am also the public spokesperson for the NNPA in national and global media platforms. In addition as CEO, I am the primary executive closer and signer for all major ad buys and corporate advertising campaigns, sponsorships and partnerships on behalf of the NNPA member publishers. Lastly, I am responsible for leading the organizations national efforts at trade and business innovations and technological advancements to the mutual benefit of all NNPA member publishers.

What is the mission of your organization?

The mission of the NNPA as a 501 c.3 nonprofit national trade organization is to articulate, represent, defend and negotiate the interests of the black press in the United States of America and internationally to ensure the economic and financial sustainability of NNPA member newspapers. Our mission is also to coordinate and foster regular professional development, training and career enhancement for NNPA members.

How do you approach business challenges?

I approach businesses challenges as “opportunities” to expand and increase market share for all our member newspapers. Given the current state of the financial status, real estate and market holdings of black America in 2014-2015, and in particular consumer spending of black America to exceed $1.2 trillion, I approach these factors as both challenges and business opportunities to substantially advance and increase the financial sustainability of black American-owned businesses with special focus on the black American print press and its digital components.

How do you evaluate talent you are hiring and what are the skills that you are looking for in this market?

From my five decades of business experience in the Civil Rights Movement, as well as an entrepreneur in both the for-profit and the nonprofit worlds of endeavor, I have learned that no business or national organization can be successful and profitable without a “world class team of experienced professionals” who remain committed to work and win as a “team.” I believe in having a team of “leaders” not a team of “followers.” Thus today for the NNPA’s national office, I am looking and searching earnestly for experienced sales and advertising leaders who all can work with me directly to build a “Global Strategic Sales Leadership Team” that will help take the NNPA and all of its members to the next level of achieving the highest point of financial and commercial success as a consequence of entering and leading the market place with the best quality print and digital products not only for black Americans but also for all people in America and throughout the world.

What are the top three benefits of being a member of your organization?

The first benefit to receive insertion orders through NNPA’s selling of national ad buys for all NNPA members in good standing and practice. The second benefit is to receive NNPA’s BlackPressUSA realtime daily wire services feeds covering more than 10 different news and feature categories. The third benefit is to a member of the NNPA’s syndicated news alerts and proprietary information that serves the business and professional interests of NNPA members.

How do you utilize technology to give yourself business advantages?

We use technology to help our NNPA members to be more efficient and effective. For example we are installing new software technology in the NNPA national headquarters that will help us to more effective and efficiently communicate directly to all NNPA members without have emails going to spam, junk mail, or to unauthorized receivers. Time is very important in the publishing world and thus we are enhancing the technology of our NNPA national office computer systems, telephone conferencing capacity, video conferencing, and expansion of the NNPA’s social and digital media performances with corresponding analytics and verification systems. We are also planning the first ever “National News and Feature Photographers” professional advancement seminars utilizing the latest photographic and digital technology for the numerous NNPA photographers that are in place across the U.S.

What technology have you used to communicate with your membership?

Beyond the traditional quarterly conference calls to the NNPA membership and periodic issue alerts to the NNPA membership, we are now in the process developing and deploying an “enterprise” NNPA App that will categorically aggregate the NNPA global, national, regional, statewide and local content and “push out” to the NNPA’s syndicated network of publishers, contacts, and social media platforms in real time. This will not only enhance the NNPA’s internal communications a trade organization, but equally important the NNPA App will enhance the NNPA’s aggregate market penetration and add value to NNPA advertisers.

What are three most important business organizational processes and documents used to become a member?

Verified publishing and circulation information and data; official audits of newspapers; and weekly or monthly repository into NNPA national headquarters copies of each newspaper respectively as proof of publication.

What are the two key factors for business successes.

1. Effective and efficient highest quality production and publication of print news that represents and articulates the “Voice of the black community;” 2. Quantification and demonstration of how advertising in the NNPA newspapers directly contributes to increase market share for NNPA advertisers.

Name your three favorite business books for insight and inspiration.

Why Should White Men Have All The Fun? by Reginald F. Lewis

The African American Entrepreneur: Then and Now by W. Sherman Rogers

 Super Rich: A Guide to Having it All by Russell Simmons
If you were giving a speech about skill sets needed in future to remain relevant to 500 workers at a retraining seminar what would the of title of your speech be and why?

The title of my speech would be “Continuous Preparation and Training Are Keys to Transforming Workers into Employers.” I once personally asked Reginald F. Lewis what was one of the most important factors that led him to become the first Black American billionaire? He answered, “It was preparation. To be successful you have to be prepared and focused.” Implicit in preparation is making sure that you have the best training, both hands on as well as academic. But the best training comes from “doing it.” That is why I want to challenge all of you to not limit your aspirations to being forever a “worker.” You should contemplate, plan and transform yourself through training and preparation to become your own boss. You should become an entrepreneur. Work your way up to become an “employer.”

Describe your leadership style.

My leadership style is strategically analytical and innovative. Before opening my first business at the age of 20, I was a trained chemist in North Carolina [and] that helped me to approach challenges, objectives and goals from an analytical perspective before taking action. In other words research and firsthand knowledge of how to be successful, effective, efficient and profitable with a degree of agility and intuitive planning all have helped to guide my innovative leadership style.

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