The deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and the conversation they ignite on race relations are an obvious entry into the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium for many — but not for business strategist Erik Wahl.
“We’ve lost our ability to think like Martin Luther King Jr. and to move toward unity,” he says, evoking the symposium theme, “Unity, Not Uniformity.”
Wahl is scheduled to speak before the 2015 Business & Finance Convocation on “Embracing the Art of Change.” The talk is at 1-3 p.m. Jan 19 at Rackham Auditorium.
He says that while everyone from Fox News to the Rev. Al Sharpton may be consumed with taking sides regarding the Brown and Garner cases — his show will be about unity.
“I am a graffiti artist and I am a rebel. I am provocative with a purpose. I zig when everyone else zags,” Wahl says. “I’m there to blow them away. I’m there to give them an epic audience experience.”
His best-selling business book, “Unthink: Rediscover your Creative Genius,” was hailed by Forbes as “the blueprint to actionable creativity.” He consults as a business strategist for Disney, Microsoft and FedEx and delivers guest lectures at the London School of Business. Wahl’s graffiti art — which he produces during his onstage talks — raises money for charity.
Wahl says his MLK Symposium talk is a special opportunity to speak from his heart about King, who rose from an oppressed class to give a message of hope.
“My show will be about creating moments of light and flashes to open doors,” Wahl says. “You need to have the creativity of an artist but also the structure of a military professional to engage and build your business.”