What am I doing with very attractive, ambitious, young career-oriented business women outside the Ritz Bar?
Would you believe this is a business meeting and I have been retained to provide some experienced business advice.
Well, that is my story. And I am sticking to it.
But first I must provide a little back story.
I describe myself, as above, as a merchant banker/consultant/writer.
As a merchant banker, I am basically an intermediary, between financial institutions or private finance companies that want to lend and private companies that want to borrow funds to expand their business, buy equipment or buy other companies. I also act as an intermediary between American and Canadian private equity groups that wish to buy Canadian companies and private Canadian companies that are looking for investors and/or ultimate exit strategies.
As a consultant, I focus on small business owners who are looking to expand or sell their business. And entrepreneurs who retain me to assist them in buying businesses or starting businesses from scratch.
The latter situation applies to Morgan on the left and Alex on the right. See photo.
These two women are successful marketing, sales and communications types, employed in current companies.
But they have dreams. And together they are exploring owning and running their own online business.
What I love about being a consultant is every client and every file is different. And the hours are not limited to 9am to 5pm. In fact, since my clients have other jobs, my biz meetings are often in the after hours.
And occasionally, 9pm to 5 am. Say what?
In the case of Morgan and Alex, they are considering going after the 20-40 year old downtown urban market: in terms of lifestyles of the ambitious, young and professional- the fashions, the foods, the restos, bars, the fitness clubs, and the dance clubs.
Whereas in real estate, the mantra is, “location, location, location’.
My advice to young and budding entrepreneurs, thinking of investing in or starting a new business, is “research, research, research”.
And there is no substitute to getting your hands dirty and actually going out into the field. Or in this case, getting down low and dancing to Drizzy in the “6”.
So Morgan, Alex and me- Ubered, Mohammed, a local driver. And we hit some local hot spots in the “6” (Toronto) ie Eveleigh, Brassaii and The Citizen.
Mohammed turned out to be a very funny and charming fellow. And a real good sport in chauffeuring us around from club to club, as if we were major ballers. It was so sick.
(Note to self, possible lifestyle show starring the same Mohammed, “Rolling with Mohammed”, the story of a hustling Muslim Uber driver and his wacky fares. Jamie B. of Frantic Films, is sure to pull the trigger on a 13 webisode secretly sponsored by Uber- Ka-Ching ).
Fast forward to the highlight of the evening. Actually the early morning.
So after hanging out at the above three clubs, Mohammed pulled up to our last stop, The Bloke on King.
The crowd at Bloke- not exactly regulars at the very Waspy White Rosedale Toronto Lawn tennis club.
First Morgan and Alex were carded by a mean black burly tackle for the Hamilton Tigercats.
Since we were the only white folks in the line, we were clearly a very visible minority. And the carding- racial profiling- Obvi.
Also these very clean cut, sweet young women from the burbs looked like they just came from their high school prom.
The black bouncer as a joke asked for my ID together with passport and my Old Age pension. The guy was clearly-jokes.
You know that this was not the Ritz, as two other bouncers proceeded to pat us down for hidden knives, shivs, and automatic AK47 shotguns.
Fortunately, that night, I was not packing.
Once inside Bloke, as suspected, the crowd consisted of predominantly sidewalk hostesses, accompanied by their doting personal managers.
Whatever. We were there to dance to Drizzy ( Drake).
Inevitably in these situations, two good-looking white women and an older white man attract some unwanted attention.
Several black men challenged me as to my raison d’etre. “Why are you, here, White Boy?”
The two women, Morgan and Alex suggested that since I was clearly an older white dude, I should pretend that I was one of the owners of the building.
Morgan suggested to some inquiring black folk, that I was Drake’s white producer.
All of a sudden I was surrounded by many tough-looking black Super dads. Looking for that special Drake magic.
I simply stated to the growing thong of ballers, that I was neither an owner nor a producer, but I was just some average joe, who had come to dance hip hop.
That response, for some reason, met with increasing hilarity, apparently at my expense.
Collectively, the crowd, questioned my manhood and my ability to dance.
“Hey, white boy, get off the dance floor. You can’t dance”!
Instead, I pulled Morgan and Alex on the on the dance floor and we proceeded to bust some moves. R+B, Stevie Wonder circa 1970. As a perfect threesome.
The black chicks were clearly aghast to see some white dude, moving in perfect harmony. Getting busy with the Drizzy.
Next I was joined by some twerking triplets and we grinded in rhythm , Dirty Dancing, Swayze style.
By this time, I had made my bones and bona fides.
Common consensus among the male and female bangers, that I was pretty fly for a white guy.
I am not sure what Morgan and Alex learned from this experience. It was strictly- ghetto.
But I learned that Morgan and Alex clearly had drive and commitment, to humor me til 4 am.
And that the Drake has a massive influence. All the participants, last night, knew all the words to all of Drake’s lyrics and quoted Drake like he was a modern day Shakespeare.
I believed Drake was the key to unlock what these young men and women needed, wanted and desired.
To be continued.