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Andrew Nguyen is a serial entrepreneur, MBA graduate from Hampton University, and proud brother of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. who has set out on a mission to create the most diverse and respected group of millennial business leaders, owners, and entrepreneurs in the world. The 27-year-old CEO recently wrapped up his Build Your Own Brand Tour (via @BYOBSociety) across America which brought together some extremely successful athletes, brands, and business owners together to give back through workshops.

We at Watch The Yard love the work this brother is doing so we got ahold of him to ask him more about his background, inspiration, goals and of course his beloved alma mater and fraternity.

So first tell us why you came up with the idea for the tour?

Honestly, it was extremely random. The idea for the tour literally came up less than 1-2 months before we started. From idea phase to execution, it was all planned, booked, and implemented in less than 60 days. As an entrepreneur, I’ve had the privilege of teaching and speaking to lots of audiences. In one particular group on a Tuesday night session, I realized that we had a lot of young and hungry millennials from all around the country. From there it sparked the idea to conduct a live workshop/event because I wanted to physically see and connect with people, in real life! I think there is so much value especially in today’s digital landscape that online interactions get extremely saturated. So instead of truly connecting with people, we have tons of surface level relationships. A lot of people who know you, but less who care. There are deeper connections, possibilities, and potential when physically talking and working with someone face to face. Everything we’ve done from the panelists we invited to the networking game (which we have a strict no business card rule) helped with the “awkward interactions” that people tend to go through when networking. We gave everyone BYOB styrofoam cups and connected people based on their strengths and weaknesses. We even told people who they should talk to! So it was extremely interactive, fun, and resourceful. You didn’t leave with 5-10 business cards that will never see daylight again, you left with 2-3 connects that can actually form a mutually beneficial relationship.

This is the first time you’ve done a tour like this and there were some pretty big names and multiple cities. How did you pull this off?

I would be lying if I said I didn’t have one of the biggest support groups within my Hampton family. Literally attending HU has changed my life for the better and our support for each other in my opinion is unmatchable. Truly a family #plug #plug #plug. lol We rented a car, took a team of 4 (3 of whom graduates of Hampton U) and for the next 30 days drove 7,500+ miles starting from Atlanta, to Charlotte, DC, Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Dallas, and finally Los Angeles. We had upwards of 100-200 guests in each city and brought out some good friends of ours as speakers for example, Pro-Bowl Quarterback -Tyrod Taylor (@tytaylor), Jim Jones Fitness Trainer – Darrell Paterson (@iamtherealdp), Founder of @BossBabes.Inc – Alex Wolf (@alexwolfco) and a slew of other 6-7 figure millennial business owners who are relatable and have real knowledge to share. The relationships with everyone comes from a genuine place of helping each other. Whether it’s through my current marketing agency @theOagency as a client or through a mutual interest in moving the culture and millennials forward, that’s where brand partnerships make the most sense. We talk about vibe and peace a lot, nothing is forced, if it makes sense it happens not for my benefit, but for the benefit of all parties involved, ALWAYS.

You’re the CEO of the O Agency and you are only 27, why did you decide to start your own company?

Very few people know my story, when I was at Hampton I used to sleep in my car, snuck into dorm rooms to shower, bartered with the cafeteria ladies in order to eat because I didn’t have any money! My parents left me, didn’t support my decision to stay at HU and for me that was my rock bottom at age 18. For some reason though, I knew this was the right place for me and I felt like there was so much potential here. When I want something, I go after it and put everything on the line for it. I even went down to bootcamp to try and get some money for school. I guess it was the right decision because I started 3 businesses at Hampton, on-demand barbering, DJ’ing, and event planning. My life kept going up and it was a direct correlation with my belief, to bet on myself and do whatever is necessary to succeed or stay alive at that point. I ended up graduating from the 5-Year MBA program at HU, took a fortune 500 job to learn the in’s and out’s of corporate America and within one year left to pursue what I love to do most throughout everything I’ve done in the past, and that was Branding & Marketing. I don’t know if this is a started-from-the bottom story or not, but I didn’t grow up privileged, I am first generational for many things like other minorities, my parents are immigrants that didn’t even know the English language when they got here. If anything I started my own company and continue to achieve more because I would love to inspire and show people how to do it also. Show people you can start with $50 in your bank account and this is EXACTLY how you should build year after year after year. I didn’t read this out of a book, everything I’ve learned has been through real life experiences and there is information you will never get until you go through it yourself. Ultimately, that is the goal of our latest venture at www.byobsociety.com, It’s about giving back and truly helping millennials who are lost or need real access and real knowledge on adulting, corporate leadership, and business ownership.  This isn’t about money for us, this is about IMPACT. This is why I enjoy starting companies.

You’re a brother of Alpha Phi Alpha, what made you gravitate to the fraternity?

They say you are the company the keep. Most people gravitate towards their role models, towards the qualities they want in life and to be around like minded individuals. Without repeating the general info, that’s what it comes down to, short term and long term when I decided to become a brother of the fraternity. It is the greatest bond of leaders that I truly believed in.

What is this biggest thing you have learned from the fraternity?

Personally, I’ve learned to support and to lean on when necessary. At the end of the day we’re all trying to figure it out, and as self-made as many can claim to be we all need each other. It’s the essence of any community, to understand, connect, and gain valuable perspective from each other is why I am successful today. Every person, every peer, every brother I’ve connected with makes me who I am.

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Activism

20 Powerful Quotes From the Legendary Dick Gregory

  1. I never learned hate at home, or shame. I had to go to school for that.
  2. I never believed in Santa Claus because I knew no white dude would come into my neighborhood after dark.
  3. Hell hath no fury like a liberal scorned.
  4. I am really enjoying the new Martin Luther King Jr stamp – just think about all those white bigots, licking the backside of a black man.
  5. Political promises are much like marriage vows. They are made at the beginning of the relationship between candidate and voter, but are quickly forgotten.
  6. In most places in the country, voting is looked upon as a right and a duty, but in Chicago it’s a sport.
  7. Just being a Negro doesn’t qualify you to understand the race situation any more than being sick makes you an expert on medicine.
  8. When you have a good mother and no father, God kind of sits in. It’s not enough, but it helps.
  9. And we love to dance, especially that new one called the Civil War Twist. The Northern part of you stands still while the Southern part tries to secede.
  10. I wouldn’t mind paying taxes – if I knew they were going to a friendly country.
  11. Revolution ain’t nothing but an extent of evolution; Evolution is a fact of nature. So when old folks tell me that they don’t understand hip hop and the music is too loud, well I guess it means you’re not supposed to be in there.
  12. Because I’m a civil rights activist, I am also an animal rights activist. Animals and humans suffer and die alike. Violence causes the same pain, the same spilling of blood, the same stench of death, the same arrogant, cruel and vicious taking of life. We shouldn’t be a part of it.
  13. America will tolerate the taking of a human life without giving it a second thought. But don’t misuse a household pet.
  14. I waited at the counter of a white restaurant for eleven years. When they finally integrated, they didn’t have what I wanted.
  15. Last time I was down South I walked into this restaurant, and this white waitress came up to me and said: ‘We don’t serve colored people here.’ I said: ‘that’s all right, I don’t eat colored people. Bring me a whole fried chicken.’
  16. When you’ve got something really good, you don’t have to force it on people. They will steal it!
  17. If they took all the drugs, nicotine, alcohol and caffeine off the market for six days, they’d have to bring out the tanks to control you.
  18. I personally would say that the quickest way to wipe out a group of people is to put them on a soul food diet. One of the tragedies is that the very folks in the black community who are most sophisticated in terms of the political realities in this country are nonetheless advocates of “soul food.” They will lay down a heavy rap on genocide in America with regard to black folks, then walk into a soul food restaurant and help the genocide along.
  19. The only good thing about the good old days is they’re gone.
  20. If democracy is such a good thing, let’s have more of it.

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Alphas

Dick Gregory was a man of Alpha Phi Alpha.

On Saturday, Dick Gregory, a pioneering force of comedy in the 1960s who later became an iconic social and political activist died of heart failure at the age of 84.

“It is with enormous sadness that the Gregory family confirms that their father, comedic legend and civil rights activist Mr. Dick Gregory, departed this earth tonight in Washington, D.C.,” his son Christian Gregory said via a statement from his father’s rep. “The family appreciates the outpouring of support and love and respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.”

Before his fame, Gregory was a 1954 initiate of the Beta Eta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha at Southern Illinois University.

In the chapter photo below you will see him in the back row, third from the left.

Upon learning of their brother’s passing, Alpha Phi Alpha’s international Facebook page posted their condolences to the family.

As we celebrate the legacy of Brother Dick Gregory let us reflect on the following quote as we continue his legacy as men of Alpha in pursuit of justice and equality.
‘One of the things I keep learning is that the secret of being happy is doing things for other people’

Gregory’s home chapter, the Beta Eta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha at Southern Illinois University also took to Twitter to memorialize their chapter brother.

We ask that you keep Gregory’s family, friends, and fraternity brothers in your thoughts. We also ask that you share this and leave your condolences and memories of him as a brother of Alpha Phi Alpha and a member of the Black greek community so that others can see how much he meant to all of us.

“Not all great men are Alphas, but all Alphas are great men.”

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Activism

Alpha Phi Alpha Lawmaker Files Legislation to Remove All Confederate Monuments From Florida Public Property

Photo Credit: twitter.com/ShevrinJones

Florida Representative Shevrin Jones (D-West Park) a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. says he will file legislation to immediately remove all Confederate statues, signs and names from public property in Florida.

“William Faulkner once stated that ‘The past is never dead,’ but I’m here to tell you that it can damn well be buried,” the 33-year-old lawmaker said in a statement that he released this week.

“Rather than being held up as figures of celebration, it is past time we relegate these symbols of oppression and bigotry to the halls of museums where their proper context can be articulated. As one of the most proudly diverse states in our nation, Florida needs to show our citizens that we value everyone equally and will not be divided by the voices of bigotry and racism. Let’s move forward, not continue to look back, ” he stated.

While removing all of the Confederate statues, signs, and names from public property in Florida seems like a mammoth task.  Jones has succeeded at doing this on a smaller scale by being part of the successful fight to rename three streets in Hollywood, Florida, that were named after Confederate generals, Gen. Robert E. Lee, who led the Confederate Army during the Civil War, Gen. John B. Hood, a division commander at the Battle of Antietam, and Nathan Bedford Forrest, a lieutenant general said to be the first Grand Wizard of the KKK.

According to the statement he released, the vote will take place on August 30th.

Rep. Jones is a Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives, representing the 101st District, which includes southeastern Broward County. Rep. Jones is a graduate of Florida A&M University and a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha.

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