Carter inspires audience at Stark


Troy Carter founder of the Atom Factoryspeaks to members of Kent State student media during a press conference held before his speaking engagement as part of The Kent State Stark 2015-2016 Featured Speakers Series at the conference center at Kent State Stark, Tuesday, October 6, 2015.

The Featured Speaker Series at Kent State Stark Campus celebrated its 25th season Tuesday night with a presentation from music industry strategist Troy Carter. 

Over the last 25 years, this series has welcomed thousands of campus and community members to take advantage of the opportunity to listen to an experienced speaker’s expert knowledge on a wide range of global and national topics.

“More than 120 personalities have shared their wisdom, regaled us with their adventures, provoked our civic spirits and entertained us with music and laughter,” said Denise A. Seachrist, the interim dean and chief administrative officer.

Carter entered the group of more than 120 personalities with his presentation detailing his history within the music industry and how it led him to be the successful entrepreneur he is now.

The authenticity of Carter’s words triggered responses of empathy, laughter and inspiration from a crowd of more than 200 people. He spoke passionately about his early obsession within all aspects of the music industry and how this led to his calling as an entrepreneur, who maintains impressive investments in technology while fostering strong relationships with talented artists. 

Carter’s Start

Carter began his speech with his home.

“I grew up on the streets of West Philly with a dream to be a rapper,” Carter said.

Carter said he and his friends would stand outside of the studio in the freezing cold, where Will Smith was recording, waiting for an opportunity to rap for Smith.

“When I met Will, I knew my life was going to change, but I could never imagine this,” he said.

Carter began to set other goals for himself. He gave up the dreams of being a rapper and wanted to get into the business side of music.

He got a job working with Smith as an assistant while Smith filmed The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. 

“I thought I was going to learn about the business,” Carter said. “But it turned into me getting donuts and coffee.”

Carter’s Rise 

Carter discussed his failures and successes in the music industry and how they shaped who he is as an entrepreneur and what his company looks for in artists and entrepreneurs.

After returning home to Philadelphia, Carter said he began hosting parties and concerts for the neighborhood.

He brought big names to the city like Jay-Z and The Notorious B.I.G. Doing his homework carefully, he studied a person who didn’t just do it, but loved it: Sean “Diddy” Combs. A few weeks later, Carter would be the assistant to Diddy. 

Carter’s Conclusion

Wrapping up his speech, he told students to be explorers and never give up. He also gave his definition of “hustle.” 

“Hustle is when the rubber hits the road,” he said. “(It means to) be as authentic as possible.” 

More than 10 students and community members gathered at the end of Carter’s presentation to ask questions about his numerous talents and areas of expertise. 

“Nothing wakes you up like cold concrete,” Carter said. “As one of my favorite quotes from Thomas Edison goes, ‘Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.’”

Joan Tomec, a former teacher at Malone University, said Carter’s speech was remarkable.

“I feel like he has a lot to offer our young kids out there,” she said. “I believe he could be one of the voices of this generation.”

The Featured Speaker Series kicked off its first season in 1991. The first nine speakers ranged from American writer and humorist Kurt Vonnegut Jr. to Shirley Chrisholm, the first black woman to serve in the United States Congress. 

Keiva Gray, a junior at Kent Stark, said she had been to her first speaker series in the 2011-2012 season to see Bill Nye. 

“I was interested in the Troy Carter series because of the business aspect,” Gray said.   

“This is a real treasure for the community and the school,” Stark County resident Gale Nagel said. “Not only have I seen great presentations, but I have met a lot of great community members and connected with them.” 

Nagel is a community member who has been attending the speaker series for more than 10 years, typically appearing at least two times each season. Her most memorable speaker was tennis player Billie Jean King, who signed dozens of tennis balls and bounced them into the crowd.

The 19th season ended with a presentation from the famous ice cream entrepreneur Jerry Greenfield of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.  

Over the past 25 years, the series has presented many other speakers, including famous CNN political broadcast journalist Anderson Cooper, American actress Olympia Dukakis and award-winning author Jodi Picoult.

Contact Katie Rush and Anthony Cornwell at [email protected] and [email protected].