The Yoenis Cespedes Success Guide To #NABJ14 In Boston

Look at the picture above.

First, there's David Ortiz on the left. Boston legend. Full of accomplishment, prestige, icon status, gregariousness, and a man who simply commands respect from everyone who works with him. Next to Big Papi, there's Yoenis Cespedes. The Boston newbie. A young lion, full of promise, a cannon of an arm and a yeoman-like swing of the bat, ambition and a man who simply wants to prove that he can compete at the highest level.

At the 2014 National Association of Black Journalists conference in Boston, this was the first time that I felt like I was able to be an influencer while still being a sponge at the same time. You'll remember that two years ago I wrote about my experience in New Orleans, and one of the key points that resonated then was the fact that you never know who you'll have the opportunity to talk to next. It could be someone like David Aldridge sharing a few quiet minutes with you about the history of the Boston Celtics back in the day, or it could be a college student who just wants to say that they appreciate your work and insightful commentary following a panel. The ability to influence is a powerful tool, and it's a tool that was wielded with regularity during my time in Boston.

This is the third NABJ conference I've attended in four years (Philly, New Orleans, Boston), and this is the first time I've felt like Big Papi at times. My first two pilgrimages to the black media mecca were meant for me to do the following: shut the hell up, listen and introduce myself to everybody. Be a sponge. Take it all in. Now that I'm six years in the blogging/journalism game, I've learned a thing or three. When I feel like there's something worth sharing with a group of young journalists, I'm going to share responsibly. It's my duty to do that, just like anyone else who's gained experience and found success in their endeavors should.

With that being said, I'm going to repeat (with a few tweaks) the same exact words I wrote two years ago because the message needs to be heard. If you’re a blogger, journalist or someone who truly has an interest in working in the media, do yourself a favor and talk to folks involved in NABJ, The Society of Professional Journalists, The National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Asian American Journalists Association, National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, etc.. Check for a local chapter, creative writing group or locally like-minded writers that you respect as well. Consider attending the 2015 NABJ convention in Minneapolis. Of course it can be expensive, but so is that trip you planned for Spring Break when you spent your bottom dollar doing God knows what. There’s no progress without process, so make it happen.

Now, it's time for my annual side notes following another NABJ conference...

ONE: Seeing Fenway Park up close and in person is an amazing experience. If you're ever in Boston, do what you have to do to make it happen.

TWO: There are plenty of rendezvous points for you to meet anyone and everyone associated with the conference. However, if you want to save yourself a lot of time and energy, just hang out in the host hotel's lobby. I'm convinced you could accomplish anything in that lobby. More on this later.

THREE: Morgan and Marcus are evil gentlemen. How dare they not allow me to watch the Sergey Kovalev fight with them? Selfish dudes they are.

FOUR: One time to Bomani for immediately cracking jokes on my hairline and making an En Vogue reference after seeing him for the first time.

FIVE: The Sports Task Force know how to throw a party. House of Blues was off the freakin' chain and Boston came out and supported. With entry starting at $20 a head and over 1,100 people in attendance, that's a lot of scholarship funds being raised for young journalists. Incredible.

SIX: Seeing Bill Simmons at said party was also incredible. (And I think he might've been gaming up a few chicks, but that's none of my business, though. Word to Kermit.)

SEVEN: More importantly about the Sports Task Force, their Sam Lacy Awards Banquet and their honoring of Larry Whiteside was even better. (If you want to have some fun, Google "Larry Whiteside Blacklist" and learn something)

EIGHT: There's never a shortage of good-looking people at this conference. Goodness gracious.

NINE: Watching Roland Martin sashay and strut through the hotel lobby has to be one of the most hilarious and entertaining sights I've ever seen in my life. My man looked like he was walking the runway during the "Player's Ball" episode of Martin. That's my frat brother though, so he can get away with it. (Kinda.)

TEN: Tom "Satch" Sanders might be the coolest old man I've met in a really long time. Seeing him, Cedric Maxwell and Randy Auerbach (Red's daughter) talk at the Black Celtics panel was a real honor.

ELEVEN: One time to Michael Smith, a.k.a. the man currently ranked #5 on the Light Skinned Coalition Power Rankings, for rocking the Air Jordan XI Gammas in full flourish mode on Friday night. Respect.

TWELVE: Is Boston a city filled with racist history? Absolutely. Did I see some things during my time in Beantown to reaffirm that historical precedent? Absolutely. But then I remembered that I'm born and raised from Oklahoma and I lived in Ohio for 6 years. Racist stuff happens there all the time as well, so maybe my thoughts about Boston were slightly overblown. (Also, I currently live in California. You know what else? California's kinda great.)

THIRTEEN: Roland Martin really did sashay and strut through the damn hotel lobby with that ascot in full display and three different types of linen material on with his suit. I'm pretty sure he uses Hawaiian Silky on his hair too. Might've been the best moment of the conference.

I want to thank Morgan, Syreeta and DJ for supporting me in my Saturday morning panel, and I want to say thanks to everyone I linked up with in Boston. Good times were had, and as long as the Lord is willing, I'll be taking my talents up to Minneapolis in 2015 to do it all again.

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