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Marcus Johnson, Jazz and Entrepreneurship Inspired AARP Audience

3/23/2013, 3:11 p.m.

You could say it was a party with a purpose.

Marcus Johnson, musician, wine entrepreneur, publisher, and producer, blended jazz with tips, personal stories and motivational words about starting and running a business, then pointed out some of the principles that lead to success in any endeavor.

In the audience of more than 110 AARP members and friends, heads nodded and swayed with the beat, as Johnson and his band entertained them with several contemporary jazz numbers. The Brickfield Center of the AARP Building in Northwest felt like a jazz club for a while on the evening of March 12, but it soon morphed into something more like a motivational seminar. People in the audience took notes as they listened to Johnson's presentation on how to live their dreams, especially if that dream is being an entrepreneur.

"I come from a family of entrepreneurs," said Johnson. "I always saw myself controlling my own destiny. Running businesses takes a lot of work, but I don't mind doing it because it's [the business] mine."

During Johnson's PowerPoint presentation, hands shot up around the room. Mandi Smith and Anthony Wilburn resembled eager students as they shared their entrepreneurial dreams in exchange for business advice from Johnson, who holds an MBA and Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University.

Smith has an idea for a television show and Wilburn wants to open a bakery and music venue.

Johnson, who gave each of them a mini business consultation, also advised them on getting the expertise needed to launch their businesses, while encouraging the importance of hard work hard and beliefe in themselves.

AARP State Director Louis Davis Jr. said his organization sponsored the event as part of its "Work Reimagined" initiative, and that everyone who attended wants more. "This won't be the last event of this type that AARP conducts," he said.

Work Reimagined is an AARP initiative dedicated to helping experienced professionals connect to more satisfying careers by exposing them to the contacts, information, and inspiration needed to succeed in today's ever-changing workplace. Entrepreneurship is a key part of Work Reimagined. More on Work Reimagined is available at http://workreimagined.aarp.org/.