On Thursday, March 9th IconTalks honored Legendary Rapper, Fabolous. Days after the event, we were able to catch up with Co-Founder of IconTalks, John Burns. He spoke with us on what IconTalks is, where the inspiration came from and what we can look forward to in the future.
What is your profession?
I’m an attorney at a law firm here in DC. I do Real Estate work and entertainment work. I am also an on-air legal local pundit for radio and television. I’ve been doing TV and Radio for about 8 years now and I’ve been doing more national, the last 3 to 4 years.
What is IconTalks?
IconTalks is a number of different things kind of all rolled into one. It’s a celebrity speaker series but it’s based on inspiration and empowering content. Everything that we do combines a conversation component where we have a themed based conversation where the celebrity talks about the given theme and the whole point is to give inspirational responses around that theme. In addition to that we also have an entertainment component where we have a live performance by a well-known artist and then also in every market that we go, we also honor a local icon in that market area. We define an icon as not necessarily a person who has achieved professional success, even though we applaud that but it’s moreso someone who is committed to leaving the world a better place than when they found it.
Talking about the Celebrity aspect of IconTalks. Why did you find it was important to have a positive perspective come from the celebrity?
We’re doing these events and we need to have a platform that people will actually want to come see. And then the celebrity obviously has a following. So people want to come hear what they have to talk about. I felt that there wasn’t enough positivity out there and I think everyone has a story. You look at interviews, traditionally speaking, interviews about what they’re doing, their new album, their new movie, this, that and the other but it’s not storytelling. So for us to provide that behind the scenes look at that journey, that in it of itself is super empowering and it’s kind of like an expose of their life that they provided.
So for instance, with the event that we did last week in Brooklyn with Fab [Fabolous], the articulation of what he was saying was just so dope. I asked him who is Fabolous and who is John Jackson and he’s like you ever see superman and Clark Kent. One’s the flashy person but they’re really the same person. He was like how couldn’t you tell that Clark Kent, when he took his glasses off and put the cape on wasn’t still the same guy. So in that sense, you have these alter ego’s but when you really dig a little bit deeper, the alter ego isn’t that much different than the real person. I thought that was really cool because I think we all have these alter egos. Whether it be on social media, whether it be what we want to project to the world, we only want them to see the best of us. But you got to dig deep and hopefully that person is a true reflection of who you are.
How long have you been doing IconTalks and how hard was it to start it?
We are in our second year. It was so many no’s at first. Obviously, you get down in any situation you continuously feel no, no, no, no. Because no one initially wanted to take a risk with an unknown company that wanted to profile them and dig deep into who they are. That was somewhat challenging to get over that hurdle but Chaka Khan took a risk with us and we were so blessed. We always say that it hasn’t been just John and John, John is my business partner. It’s been really God taking the wheel. It’s been real divine intervention on this journey.
Was there any one particular situation that inspired you to start IconTalks?
Well, I started with my partner, John Hartsfield. We do a lot of community service work and we work with a lot of kids. IconTalks is the funding arm to support our nonprofit. We have a nonprofit that provides mentorship development program for kids in underserved communities. We have a number of different programs and we also do homeless outreach. For us, it initially started with the kids. We wanted to provide a platform for kids to be inspired and it’s turned into a platform with not only children become inspired but also adults become inspired by these different stories as well.
What’s the name of the foundation?
It’s called the Icon to Ican Foundation. Basically promoting the initiative that if you see these icons they can provide you with the motivation that you can overcome any type of life challenge that you are dealing with. We have been able to really impact and change some lives. And I think at the end that’s the most important thing.
What can we look forward to from IconTalks?
We have 3 to 4 more events throughout the country this year. We’re launching an Icon Talks X component where we go to colleges and universities and provide the same type of inspirational and empowering experience. We’re looking at getting more of our content online or on some other type of platforms so you know people can see it across the country and across the world. We’re just continuing to try to motivate and inspire and do whatever we can to really push the needle forward.