Cory Booker urges small business owners to be 'audaciously imaginative'

By Amanda Eisenberg | The Jersey Journal
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on July 15, 2014


If Sen. Cory Booker is known for one thing, it's his love of social media. The former Newark mayor has close to 1.5 million Twitter followers, and knows how to engage an audience.

This became evident for the approximately 400 attendees at a technological and social innovation small business forum hosted at Stevens Institute of Technology last week.

"We need to stop thinking of ourselves by which sector we're in," Booker said, citing business or government.

"We all have multi-disciplinary talents [and] we have to use all of them."

Booker then shared a humorous anecdote from when he was mayor of Newark that resonated with the audience.

"I was hanging out with these two fellas — Ben and Jerry — at the end of the day," Booker began.

From his couch, he said he watched comedian and talk show host Conan O'Brien joke about Newark.

Booker said Conan's audience that night was 2.5 million, and the mayor had a formidable following of 1 million Twitter followers at the time.

Using his "entrepreneurial spirit," Booker taped a video banning Conan from Newark Airport, stating the talk show host should "try JFK."

The video went viral and sparked a social media feud between the two men, and ended with Conan donating $100,000 to Newark charities on his show, Booker concluded.

Social media is vital for businesses to flourish in today's forum, Booker said.
"Tory Burch, a billion-dollar business ... has never done traditional marketing," Booker said. "You would never see a Tory Burch commercial on TV.

"Companies like Pinterest are launching her business further and further out there," Booker added.

The senator encouraged all the attendees to think of themselves as entrepreneurs and look for innovative solutions in a market that counts for two-thirds of U.S. job growth.

"The idea of location, location, location is no longer the case," Booker said. "The limits of what you can accomplish is defined by the courage of our imaginations."

"I felt like he was talking about me," attendee and artist Margie Johnson said after the presentation. "He's the reason I came."

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