Film, Books, Music, and Live Events: T. D. Jakes Discusses His Bountiful Business Enterprise In “Black Enterprise Magazine”


T.D. (Thomas Dexter) Jakes’s latest book, Instinct: The Power to Unleash Your Inborn Drive (Hachette Book Group, FaithWorks; $24.98), was inspired by his trip to South Africa in 2008. “I was on safari with a zoologist and a Zulu. The zoologist explained everything about the elephant and its habitat, but he couldn’t find the elephant,” he recounts. “The Zulu wet his fingers and stuck his hand in the air and said to us ‘the elephant is over there.’ At that moment I was between intellect (the zoologist) and instinct (the Zulu).”

In Instinct, Bishop Jakes outlines how to get in sync with opportunities presented in life and in business. He touches on topics such as knowing when to close a deal, take a risk, and “listen to your heart” in order to succeed. “You can hire intelligence but you cannot hire instinct. Instinct can tell you what, why, and when to do something (such as when do you launch a product). You can always go out and hire someone who knows how to do it,” he explains. “I have been able to forge incredible deals and to go into ventures because I live between intellect and instinct.”

The spiritual powerhouse is referring to his first-look deal with Sony Pictures to produce movies; the release of Grammy award-winning music via his Dexterity Sounds record label partnership with Universal Music; the broadcast of his Mind, Body & Soul talk show on BET; the formation of the T.D. Jakes School of Leadership, an accredited professional and continuing education program in conjunction with Regent University; and his alliance with Oprah Winfrey to bring her Lifeclass show to his 2013 MegaFest Family Festival, which attracted more than 75,000 people and generated $70 million in revenues. A best-selling author, Jakes also has deals with publishers such as Simon & Schuster’s Atria imprint, reaching millions through some 40 books and selling more than 20 million copies in total and producing $115 million in revenues.

Over the past two decades, the bishop has expanded his brand, beginning in 1994 when he established the nonprofit T.D. Jakes Ministries Inc. to produce television sermons and conferences. In 1995, he established the media and entertainment company TDJ Enterprises L.L.P., the umbrella under which he produces his books, movies, television programs, music CDs, digital properties, leadership training, and live events designed to entertain, educate, and empower not just Christian but mainstream audiences. The following year, he founded The Potter’s House of Dallas Inc., a megachurch that has more than 30,000 members and more than 50 nonprofit community outreach ministries. He also developed real estate, including the $150 million Capella Park, a community of single-family homes and a charter school, Clay Academy.

But this pastor and entrepreneur proved he could cultivate his faith-based vision into a diversity of ventures, erecting TDJ Enterprises into a for-profit multimedia empire. All told, TDJ Enterprises has generated $399 million in revenues. “I always knew my interests exceeded how people knew me as a clergyman. I needed a vehicle through which to exercise those various interests,” says Jakes.

To manage such diverse enterprises—his literary, music, television, and film deals—requires a solid business structure and superior business talent. Jakes recruited theatrical producer Derrick Williams, who had made a name for himself in the ’90s working in collaboration with playwright David E. Talbert as Talbert’s producing partner on his urban musical productions and managing the careers of gospel artists such as Kurt Carr. Williams serves as TDJ Enterprises’ executive vice president of entertainment and is Jakes’s go-to person for his film, television, and music projects.

Williams has successfully applied to TDJ Enterprises his 360-degree approach to entertainment—turning plays into movies and movies into soundtracks. “With every project we want to look at ancillary products,” he says, “that is, to look at an intellectual property and to see how many opportunities you can maximize.”

The absolute most important thing an entrepreneur can do is to surround himself or herself with people who can help build a structure to support the business, says Jakes, who is CEO but has an executive vice president of business operations to handle day-to-day operations and a senior executive to oversee business development. “That is one of the problems that I see with a lot of small businesses. You have to build a business structure to accommodate growth.”

The growth strategy has been to leverage the T.D. Jakes brand across several different distribution platforms, says another member of Jakes’s dream team, entertainment attorney Darrell D. Miller. “The bishop is very clear that if he wants to grow and sustain his business he has to create and generate multiple streams of revenue. Not everyone is going to find him in the digital space or read one of his books or watch one of his films. But if he has a presence in all of these spaces, he is monetizing his properties within each of those silos,” explains Miller, who was named to The Hollywood Reporter’s 2013 list of Power Lawyers.

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SOURCE: Black Enterprise
Carolyn M. Brown

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