FRANKFORT — Amir Windom immediately engaged Kentucky State University (KSU) students with his rise from working as a part-time janitor at Bad Boy Records to becoming a Grammy Award-winning record executive on Thursday, February 16, at KSU’s Bradford Hall. Windom has been in the music industry for over 13 years. He was the featured speaker during KSU’s Men’s Conference Week.
“I got offered an opportunity to work for Bad Boy Records as an intern in marketing. But then I was told they needed help keeping the place clean and then I was doing janitorial work,” he said. “At first I thought, ‘Me? You want me to clean?’ But then I had to realize that this was a test for me and I did it every day with a smile.”
Windom, 32, is considered one of the top entertainment and record executives of his generation. During his career, he has worked with top artists such as the band Fun, T.I., Trey Songz, Pharrell Williams, Lupe Fiasco, Madonna, Bruno Mars, B.O.B., and Kanye West. He has also worked on several Grammy Award-winning albums, songs, and soundtracks that have earned a high status in the entertainment business.
Windom urged students to know the difference between a hobby and a career. He spoke from experience as a former football player at Florida A&M University (FAMU) in Tallahassee, an HBCU (historically black college and university).
“I realized that football wasn’t a career for me, it was more of a hobby; something I enjoyed doing. I realized quickly this wasn’t for me,” he said.
Windom also encouraged students to choose your friends carefully and dare to be different.
“If you are the greatest person in your circle, then that’s a problem,” he said. “You should surround yourself with friends who will challenge you and make you want to step up your game to be better and do better.”
Windom also spoke to more than 20 high school male students from Carter G. Woodson Academy in Lexington, Kentucky. The high school students were able to ask questions about his personal experiences in the industry and also about his college life at an HBCU during a luncheon in KSU’s Student Center.
“Man, I really enjoyed college. I remember going to FAMU for homecoming and I saw what it was like and thought to myself, ‘Man, is it always like this?’ And I knew then I would like going to an HBCU,” he said.
Sophomore class president and music major Michael Weaver enjoyed Windom’s inspiring message about the importance of being “significant rather than being successful.”
“I think this was a good message for the men — to be more than mediocre. This really relates to this week as we celebrate Men’s Conference Week,” he said. “People look up to us men on campus, so we should always keep that in mind.’’
Senior Jalen Brown said Windom made his story personable and related well with KSU students.
“He could have easily acted like a celebrity and not engage with anyone, but he didn’t. He answered all of our questions and really got to know the students here at KSU,” Brown said. “One of the biggest things I took from him speaking at the convocation was to be yourself. It may take some time to figure out who you are but once you do, nothing can stop you — and I liked that.”
— Alea Cardenas