Meet the First Black Commissioner of the Big Ten Conference

When it comes to the business of sports, Kevin Warren is a trailblazer. Warren was just named commissioner of the Big Ten Conference—the oldest Division I college sports conference in the nation. He is the sixth commissioner to hold the position and the first African American.

He leaves his current role as the Vikings’ chief operating officer—the highest executive position held by an African American in the NFL according to a bio on the Vikings’ website.

Warren played college basketball at the University of Pennsylvania and graduated from Grand Canyon University. He holds a law degree from the University of Notre Dame School of Law.

The Big Ten is the oldest D1 powerhouse and one of, if not the wealthiest conferences in the NCAA. Sports insiders speculate that in his new role, Warren may focus on increasing revenue sharing between the 14 schools that make up D1 and may focus on further diversifying Big Ten executive makeup (as Vikings’ COO, four women moved into executive roles with the team).

The new commissioner also helped the Vikings develop U.S. Bank Stadium for $ 1.1 billion which opened in 2016.

Vikings owners Mark and Zygi Wilf released the following statement about Warren’s new role:

“Kevin has impacted the Vikings and our family in immeasurable ways over the last 15 years. He has worked tirelessly to elevate the Vikings franchise, all with the greater good of the organization and Minneapolis-St. Paul in mind. From the very onset, Kevin helped us navigate and execute the purchase of the franchise. He then evolved as a leader of the organization in ways we never could have imagined, leading our vision for U.S. Bank Stadium and TCO Performance Center, developing a world-class fan experience, and implementing many initiatives that have transformed our franchise with the benefit of our employees and Vikings fans top of mind. Kevin has been a tremendous leader for the Vikings, and he and his family have been passionately and intricately involved in the community, enhancing the lives of so many people. We know the Big Ten and their student-athletes, coaches, and administrators are extremely fortunate to have his leadership, character, and vision and we wish Kevin and the Warren family all the best. We will work with Kevin and the Vikings management team over the next three months to help us through this transition and process how we want to move forward.”

And Warren offered his thoughts on his new position in a released statement:

I am absolutely honored to become the sixth commissioner of the Big Ten, a conference with such rich history, tradition, and respect,” said Warren. “The opportunity is an incredible and unique blend of my lifelong passion, commitment and experience. Positively impacting the lives of young adults has always been part of the fabric of my family, and I will work tirelessly with our member schools to ensure that we are providing every possible best-in-class resource to enhance our students’ educational and athletic experience, as well as empower them for success upon graduation. Jim Delany, our presidents, chancellors, athletic administrators and coaches have created an extremely strong culture and foundation from which to build. I am very grateful to work alongside Jim as I transition into my role and work to hold true the respected values of the Big Ten, as we propel our conference into the future.


Career | Black Enterprise


General Motors Gives the Iconic Chevy Blazer a Reboot with Help from This Young, Black Aerodynamics Engineer

What do you think of when you think of who typically drives a Chevy Blazer; a white dude—maybe in the Midwest or South? Someone who lives for off-roading their vehicle through dirt trails? Well, the Chevy Blazer has gotten a reboot in 2019. General Motors is targeting its new lineup of crossover Blazers to a younger, more diverse consumer market. And helping to lead that effort is someone who fits that demographic: Charles Muse—a 28-year-old aerodynamics engineer at General Motors.

“I’ve been a car guy since I was little,” says the Ohio State University grad who hails from Chicago. “I helped my dad restore his vehicle. I tore apart my car, broke it, fixed it, and broke it again,” says Muse.

He’s not just a ‘car guy’ though. Muse received both academic and sports scholarships to attend Ohio State where he played basketball. He also participated in a number of technical programs before attending college which he says fostered his love for aircrafts and flying. He ended up studying aerospace engineering.

It was at a career fair that Muse was introduced to the idea of working with General Motors. “I always thought ‘Oh, I’m an aerospace engineer major, I’ll go to Boeing, I’m going to go to Lockheed Martin – I’m going to work on aircrafts,” he recollects.

“And then I went to a career fair at General Motors and they said, ‘No, we have aerodynamicists. We work a lot with stringent fuel economy requirements that are coming out. We have a need for aero performance engineers.’”

A New Era in Crossover Vehicles

Muse spoke about his passion for the new Chevy Blazer and what it took to make the car come to life. His enthusiasm as he shows the vehicle and talks about what his role was in creating it is palpable.

“Overall, you can tell this vehicle has a very striking stance,” says Muse. “And that’s because when it was framed up we knew that we wanted to penetrate the crossover market and we wanted to do something dramatic. So we started out with the Chevrolet Camaro which is the born and bred American muscle car, and we took those proportions and we threw it into a crossover. That ideology just bloomed and grew into something that we could make functional.”

Chevy Blazer

(TalismanPHOTO for Chevrolet)

The new Chevy Blazer lineup is available in three models. The Blazer RS—is the sportiest iteration. The RS features a honeycombed grill and from the front, resembles the iconic Camaro design.

The Blazer Premier model has a bit more of a sophisticated look with more chrome detailing and a slightly sleeker design. The third version, the Blazer, has the same athletic design but not as much content packaging according to GM reps.

The demand for crossovers—vehicles that combine the features of a car with an SUV or truck— is growing. According to a report from Quartz, crossovers could make up 50% of US car sales by 2020.

That demand means it’s an ideal time for black STEM grads to land prestigious positions at car manufacturers, even if their academic majors may not seem a fit in the industry as Muse found out. He also spoke about how his aerodynamic knowledge led to implementing specific features in the new Chevy Blazer.

Aerodynamics Infused With Cars

Muse says he and his team “worked hand-in-hand with the design team” on engineering functions.

“If you [said] to me, ‘hey we got this fuel economy target,’ I know exactly what, from an aero perspective, I need to do for this vehicle to meet that target,” explains the engineer who also has a pilot’s license.

“But it’s also not going to look as pretty as I want. So I have to work with the designers and say ‘OK well, we have to maintain this feature line and this wheel base and this stance, to make it work.”

Chevy Blazer

(TalismanPHOTO for Chevrolet)

Crouching down alongside the vehicle, Muse points out various features. “Underneath the vehicle we have different panels and shielding; we have different features on the front, how we shape it – like this may just look like a little insert piece, but it’s there for function,” he says.

“We reduced the overall pressure on the vehicle. If you’ve even been on the highway and you put your hand out the window and it’s all nice and smooth – and then you turn your hand this way and it’s trying to push [it] up – [it’s] the same thing with a car and that determines your fuel economy.”

“I’ve changed things from wheels to the hood line,” he says. While the goal is to give the Blazer the athletic look, there are other considerations for engineers to work out.

“[The hood’s] height differential is purely driven by aero[dynamics] because if you have air that is flowing up –you might have seen, if you’ve driven in the rain, how the water creeps us and goes up your windshield—that determines at what point the air hits – and that’s a big enabler for aero performance,” he says.

“[We] can’t bring the hood up too much because there’s vision requirements – there’s pedestrian protection requirements – you don’t want to hit someone and then it puts that person directly into your windshield.”

From Ideation to Actualization

Muse says it can take over four years for a vehicle to go from concept to an actual production model.

Chevy Blazer

(TalismanPHOTO for Chevrolet)

“We have this design that starts as a sketch and we go to a clay model; figure out what we need to do what concepts we need to add to the vehicle; how do we need to shape it so that we can meet a certain drag number, or aero requirement that automatically translates to fuel economy,” he says.

“There’s so much you have to think about and boxes you have to stay within, but still we have an aero requirement that we need to meet. So you really exhaust all angles. It’s my job to figure out: Can I reduce the pressure of the car, get better fuel economy, and make it quiet while also maintaining the design? And the designer will come in and say, ‘yep, and we are going to make it black because that looks sexy.’”





Career | Black Enterprise


[Video] Carolynn Johnson Named CEO of DiversityInc

DiversityInc, which focuses on the benefits diversity brings to businesses, just named Carolynn Johnson as its new CEO. In addition, the company released its 2019 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list.

“We have an amazing history that goes back to when Carolynn was just 22 years old,” said DiversityInc founder Luke Visconti via a press release. “This relationship has been a long, professional development for us both. She is prepared for the job that she has been working towards. I will step back, let her lead, and support her with everything I have.”

Visconti will step down from his role as CEO and will become chairman of DiversityInc.

AT&T topped the list of best companies for diversity. Other top companies included Marriott International Inc., ADP, Hilton, Eli Lilly, Comcast, Accenture, and Mastercard.

Johnson, previously COO for DiversityInc, was a speaker at the 2019 Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit. She participated in the panel session, “An Honest Conversation About Race in the Workplace.” During the panel, she offered this memorable quote, “In order to get over our fear and shame, we have to understand the other side of racial fatigue.” Watch the video below for the entire panel with Carolynn Johnson. And click here to view the entire 2019 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list.


Career | Black Enterprise


The Woman Behind this $117.5M Venture Backed Co-Working Space is a Black CFO

The Wing is one of the most sought-after co-working spaces in the female business community. Not long after opening their doors and rolling out to multiple locations across the country did the unicorn track company raise over $ 117.5 million bringing on investors that included Kerry Washington, Valerie Jarrett, and Serena Williams. The woman behind the finances, Diedra Nelson, is a black chief financial officer.

In an interview with Black Enterprise Nelson speaks about her journey into finance, why she chose The Wing, and what advice she would give black women looking to secure a similar career path.

Black Enterprise: How did you start your career in finance?

Diedra Nelson: Growing up, many of my family members worked in medicine, so it was something I always envisioned as my part of my career path. I started out at Syracuse as a biology major, but knew immediately after my very first chemistry class that it wasn’t for me. I remember calling my mom to tell her and I changed my focus to marketing and finance the next day.

Following my gut instinct was the best decision I made. I was interested in how businesses communicate with their consumers and how they operated from a financial perspective. Understanding both has been invaluable as I have moved from more established companies to building and scaling newer companies with deeply loyal customers.

I was lucky enough to land a paid internship at General Electric (GE) for two summers while in college and worked extremely hard. I treated my time there like I was a full-time employee, which paid off because I ended up landing there after graduation.  Four years later, I was recruited to Goldman Sachs to support their Securities Division. Spending the first decade of my career in more traditional corporate environments taught me process, structure, how a P&L (profit & loss statement) works, and how to run a business efficiently and ensure the business can scale in a financially responsible way. These are all critical elements for startups — and I would not be where I am today if I hadn’t had such a solid foundation.

I became increasingly aware of the lack of women who looked like me in my industry, and so that impacted the degree in which I pursued being as successful as possible, and one day a CFO. It became part of my drive.

What have been some of your struggles as a minority woman of color in your space?

Many of the people I meet — including other business leaders and investors — can’t believe that I’m the chief financial officer of a scaling, successful, unicorn-track company. When they hear me introduce myself as CFO of The Wing,  there is almost always a visible moment of disbelief followed by a realization that their reaction was a result of the implicit bias they are harboring. It happens far too often, and as a black woman at the executive level, I know there is so much work to do in making sure more women of color are able to rise to the top of the financial totem poles at companies. Women of color represent less than 2% of corporate officers at some of the country’s leading companies, and so there is a distinct responsibility, privilege, and honor to be able to serve as an example for so many black and brown women who are thinking about getting into careers in finance or want to be in the C-suite of a successful company. The barriers exist, yes, but I know that by being in this role, I am making room for more women who look like me to be where I am one day. I am inspired by so many of the black women who are making strides in the public eye to normalize our roles as financiers and leaders like Mellody Hobson, Shonda Rhimes and Valerie Jarrett who are all Wing women!

What piqued your interest in the job as CFO of the Wing?

Being personally invested in a company’s mission and believing in the opportunity to make something better has been a guiding principle of mine. As women of color, I think so many of us are drawn to work that allows us an opportunity to make our communities better or create something that adds value to people’s lives. The Wing felt right for me because I knew that so many women were joining to organize, advance their own careers and businesses, and help others in the communities we were expanding to. The opportunity to help shape and lead the financial success of a business like that was a no brainer. And on top of that, the idea of serving as a Chief Financial Officer, a role that would allow me to pave the way for others, was amazing.

What are some of the milestones that you’ve been able to hit while in this position?

I’m extremely proud of my team and the financial infrastructure we have built. It has allowed us to keep up with the enormous interest and demand of our growing Wing community. The Wing started with 200 members in just one small location in Flatiron just a little over two years ago, and today are nearly 8,000 strong across 7 cities and scaling internationally this summer. I’m also am especially proud of the financial acumen we are instilling in our company’s culture: we are extremely transparent with our staff about the financial health and goals of the company, so they feel invested in the process and know where their department fits into the overall financial goals of the organization. It’s been great to see how motivated the staff is and how they incorporate this knowledge into their everyday strategic processes.

In December of 2018, we closed a $ 75 million Series C funding round, one of the largest rounds raised by an all-women team in recent history and an important milestone to support scaling our physical locations and digital experience. Every time we walked into a pitch meeting, I was the one who was responsible for presenting the financial health and potential to investors. It does not escape me how powerful it is to have me, a black woman, presenting the financial roadmap and successes of our business, but I know that it is incredibly important to dispel the notion that people who have this incredibly important job have to look a certain way.

What is the advice that you would give to black women looking for a career in finance?

There are not a lot of us in this field at the moment and we’re held to a different standard, period. It’s really important to know your worth and come prepared for every aspect of your job, and be prepared to work harder than others. Come to the table with an opinion and make sure that the recommendation is supported by numbers, research, and facts.

Build a personal board of directors. I have been so fortunate to have an incredible tribe who have supported, encouraged, and helped me see that I could be in a role like this because they knew I was capable and went to bat for me. Finally, know that you can get to where you want to be, but it will take a tremendous amount of work to get there. The playing field is not level for us and you will have to work both harder and smarter. But it will pay off in the end.


Career | Black Enterprise


Appointed Interim CEO of Bed, Bath & Beyond, She is the First Black Woman to Head a Fortune 500 Company Since Ursula Burns

Meet Bed, Bath & Beyond’s new interim CEO, Mary Winston. She will be the first black woman to lead a Fortune 500 company since Ursula Burns stepped down as the CEO of Xerox in 2017.

Winston has a long career as an executive. Previously, she was executive vice president and chief financial officer of family Dollar Stores. In 2015, she was listed on Black Enterprise’s roster of the ‘50 Most Powerful Women in Corporate America.’

She’s also held executive positions at Giant Eagle Inc.; Scholastic Corporation; and Pfizer. Her career began as a CPA and auditor at Arthur Anderson & Co.

Just recently brought onto Bed, Bath, & Beyond’s board of directors Winston is taking the helm after the prior CEO Steven Temares, resigned. According to a report from USA Today, the retail brand is experience some tumult. It’s facing a decline in sales due to Amazon’s sales domination and had a round of layoffs earlier this year.

“Bed Bath & Beyond has a significant opportunity to drive value creation by building on its great brands and strong customer affinity,” said Patrick Gaston, Independent Chairman of the Bed Bath & Beyond Board via a press release.

“As the Company continues its efforts to improve its financial performance and enhance its competitive position, the Board determined that now is the right time to identify the next generation of leadership. We are fortunate to have someone of Mary’s caliber to serve as Interim CEO while the Board conducts a search for a permanent successor, and are confident in her ability to lead the Company forward during this transition period,” he added.

“This is an important time for Bed Bath & Beyond and we are committed to being the leading omnichannel retailer of choice for the home and heart-felt life events,” stated Winston also through a press release.

“Together with the Board, including the members of the Business Transformation and Strategy Review Committee, the leadership team and our more than 60,000 associates, I look forward to building an even stronger future for Bed Bath & Beyond. As we continue to review our business initiatives, we will be focused on driving continued margin improvement, enhancing the in-store and online experience, and accelerating our transformation to the benefit of our shareholders, customers and other stakeholders,” she said.





Career | Black Enterprise


Airbnb Hires New Head of Global Diversity and Belonging

In an effort to move forward with efficiency and to further enact its most recent manifesto, Airbnb has hired Melissa Thomas-Hunt whose background is rooted in building inclusive, global teams. She comes from Vanderbilt University, where she served as vice provost for Inclusive Excellence.

In her previous role, Thomas-Hunt was responsible for helping advance equity, diversity, and inclusion in Vanderbilt’s academic research and community of almost 22,000 students, staff and faculty. Prior to her work at Vanderbilt, Thomas-Hunt served as global chief diversity officer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business where she was focused on ensuring that the student community was seen, heard, valued, and supported.

In her role at Airbnb, Thomas-Hunt will lead the strategy and execution of global internal diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging programs for Airbnb’s 5,000 employees around the world.

“We aspire to be a global leader in diversity and belonging—not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s core to our mission,” said Brian Chesky, co-founder, CEO, and Head of Community in a statement. “To have the impact we want on the world, we have to start inside our own walls and make sure every employee at Airbnb feels like they belong. Melissa is a visionary in this space who has spent her career exploring the causes of inequality, finding solutions to promote inclusion, and producing real change. I am incredibly grateful that she has agreed to bring her leadership and expertise to Airbnb.”

At Vanderbilt, Thomas-Hunt’s research and teaching focused on organizational behavior and the factors that unleash, leverage and amplify the talents and contributions made by women and underrepresented individuals. Prior to that, she worked at IBM as a marketing representative and received her master’s and doctoral degrees from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management and her undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from Princeton University.

“I felt deeply called by Airbnb’s mission and purpose. Increasing belonging is powerful, compelling and complex to operationalize,” said Thomas-Hunt in a statement. “By continuing to build a diverse and inclusive team around the world, we can help individuals shift and shape their trajectory to realize their full potential, and I am honored to join Airbnb to help achieve these goals.” 

In recent years, Airbnb has launched a series of initiatives like the Airbnb Community Commitment and Open Doors policies that help fight discrimination and promote belonging. Thomas-Hunt will advise Airbnb on these and other initiatives that are designed to work to fight bias and ensure the platform is open and fair for all hosts and guests.

Career | Black Enterprise


How I Landed My First TEDx Talk and How You Can Too

I often get asked this question by other entrepreneurs; “How did you get to do a TEDx talk?” My answer is simple, I pitched my idea, and after submitting my speech to the TEDx committee, I was selected as a speaker. Here are strategies you can use to share your idea and how to avoid the mistakes that I made that almost prevented me from reaching the TEDx stage.

How to Land a TEDx Talk

Shoot your shot

My goal in 2018 was to give a TEDx talk. I thought I had my talk figured out. My first talk was going to cover utilizing the power of innovation to help prevent military veteran suicides.

Although I considered myself a subject matter expert, having recently developed an award-winning mobile application that helps veterans access life-saving resources, my talk wasn’t well thought out. I pitched a local TEDx event and made it to the top seventh pick. However, I was not selected to speak and was encouraged to pitch the following year again. I was devastated, to make it that far and not have an opportunity to share my ideas.

Rather than soaking in despair, I kept the TEDx goal on my whiteboard hoping to have the opportunity to pitch my idea for another TEDx conference. In speaking with a colleague in the industry, I randomly shared an idea that I wanted to talk about. To my surprise, my colleague said my idea was a great topic to speak about and advised me to send in a speaker proposal for a TEDx event —”Shoot my shot” were her exact words. To my amazement, I was finally selected as a TEDx speaker.

Develop your idea

The TEDx organizers develop a theme for every TEDx event. Your speaking topic should reflect the theme of the event. Alter your TEDx pitch around the theme and you stand a better chance of securing your spot on the TEDx stage. TEDx themes are readily accessible on their event website.

If TEDx has been your goal, continue to stay encouraged. You never know who you will meet and present an idea to that might end with you speaking on the TEDx stage.

Career | Black Enterprise


5 Benefits You Can Gain from Executive Coaching

Coaching is a billion-dollar industry. Either companies are securing them for their executives, or individuals are paying out of their pockets to get this resource on their side. According to executiv+co, executive coaching—once looked upon with skepticism—is now embraced as the way to a more enriched workplace, and leaders have discovered that it works.

If your company invests in you in this way, you may see it as a perk; but in some cases, it is a way to correct management or leadership styles that may be veering off the tracks. No matter, coaching has been around for more than 30 years, and apparently, has only blossomed.

The Benefits You Can Gain from Executive Coaching

It’s a great EQ enhancer.

Your emotional intelligence quotient (EQ) is so incredibly important in leadership. Whether you are in the C-suite or a small business leader, it’s important to have keen self-awareness and awareness of your interpersonal and one-to-one engagement with your clients, your reports and others. Imagine, if you had a clearer understanding of self, what power you could unleash at work. An executive coach can do that. You’d know when to dial it up or dial it down. Self-awareness is key to emotional intelligence, and it will make you stronger with interpersonal interactions, thanks to the strengths assessments rooted in positive psychology that coaches engage. Knowing yourself is also a key tenant of authenticity, which will allow others to see you more clearly. You will also be able to see others more clearly. An executive coach with a keen cultural insight can also help navigate unconscious biases that may stand in the way of a company’s ultimate success because it can clear the way of filtered and sometimes inaccurate assessments of talent.

It increases empathy.

Executive coaches have the power to unleash empathy in leaders.

Understanding others or at least the capacity to understand can make you a better leader. According to some research, there really are three forms that we need to master as leaders for it to have an impact:

  • cognitive empathy – where you can imagine what it’s like in your mind to be in someone else’s “shoes”
  • social empathy – where you can immediately feel what someone else must be feeling in any given situation
  • empathetic concern – where you not only feel it or think it, but you certainly can muster concern for the other person in the form of wanting to engage and help them

It makes your goals clearer.

If you’ve ever felt that you were bogged down in work and having a hard time reaching your goals, it could be due to cognitive clutter that day-to-day work can cause. An executive coach can help you in your quest to prioritize the important and delegate or discard lower-level tasks that bog us down.

It speeds up and fuels goal-crushing.

Executive coaches can help you reach or exceed your goals faster, and who doesn’t want that? But be aware, the self-assessment that is involved may not be as attractive to some. The idea of uncovering the strengths you have may uncover the weaknesses. If you are an executive coaching client, be prepared to put ego aside in order to do the real work that will allow you to crush it faster and cement your reputation for performance excellence.

It makes you a better leader.

As you begin to know yourself and others better; you will become a better person. Better people make better leaders. Better leaders make companies better, small or large. Empathy and EQ are key to that. You will build better power relationships, leverage your strength, and achieve what you want.

Listen to the brand new episode of The Culture Soup Podcast that launched Tuesday, May 14th called “The Coaching Corner.”  L. Michelle Smith is the host executive and business coach. It airs every second Tuesday of the month and hacks your goals while tackling the pain points of corporate executives and small business owners. Smith is also an official business coach for BE FWD, June 19–22 in Charlotte, NC.

Register for FWD

Black Enterprise Contributors Network 

The post 5 Benefits You Can Gain from Executive Coaching appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


Lori Chennault, Georgia-Pacific Executive, Offers 5 Ways to Successfully Navigate a Corporate Career as a Black Woman

As the VP – IT, Consumer Products Group at Georgia-Pacific Group, Lori Chennault is an example of a black woman who found her way through the often-turbulent corporate career waters. At the 2019 Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit, Chennault shared her views on how black women can not only navigate corporate careers but how they can achieve success.

During the “An Honest Conversation About Gender in the Workplace,” a session sponsored by Georgia-Pacific and Koch Industries, Chennault, a wife of 22 years and mother of two children, offered these tips:

  • “There will be times when I have to ask for help to manage the priorities. And that is OK.”
  • “We spend so much energy on things we can’t control, and we lose sight on things we can control.”
  • “As you navigate, take time to look in the mirror and laugh at yourself. That’s the best thing—personal feedback, as well as seeking feedback.”
  • “Take time to stop and say, ‘What happened today? Were those good decisions? Did I get off-course?’ And if you get off-course, it’s OK. I haven’t met one perfect person yet.”
  • “Stop seeking titles. Take some risks and be passionate about learning to grow. When you step out there to take risks, do it with what’s in your toolbox. Find things that play to your strengths.”

Watch the entire video of the session below:

The post Lori Chennault, Georgia-Pacific Executive, Offers 5 Ways to Successfully Navigate a Corporate Career as a Black Woman appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


Mayra Ocampo, Art Director at Koch, on How Women Millennials of Color Can Move Up in Their Careers

Mayra Ocampo, art director for Koch Communications Marketing, spoke at the 2019 Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit. During her panel session, “They Got Now: What it Takes to Level Up Early,” the young corporate leader spoke about her journey as a millennial of color making her way in her career and having the “ganas,” [Spanish for ‘desire’] to make it. Take a look at the video:

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Career | Black Enterprise


Nurses Week: ‘A Love Letter to Nurses That Cared for My Dying Mom’

The day we discontinued life support for my mother turned out to be one of the most beautiful days of my life. This is a love letter to the nurses who cared for my mother around the time of her death and all the nurses around the world who are everyday heroes.

My Mom Had Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer

She was staying with me while she completed the second round of chemo. I learned after her death how much she would brag about me to the nurses who cared for her. She was proud of me and that I chose nursing as a career. I didn’t spend time with my mother during her chemo sessions and not because I was too busy–she preferred spending time with her nurses at The Cancer Treatment Center of Philadelphia. At first, it stung but after time in reflection, I understand it completely.

Upon first being diagnosed, my mom fought bravely through surgery and overcame a nasty infection that lasted months. She had a wonderful home care nurse who helped her get into fighting shape. She left her home in North Carolina to have chemo in Philadelphia and came to stay with me. She wore the Cancer Fighter T-shirts and sipped her coffee from the branded mugs. She wanted the world to know that the battle was on, but as the months wore on and her cancer spread it was clear that she was on the losing side.

Ever since I was in nursing school learning about the many roles nurses play in the lives of patients, I knew that I wanted to be a comforter for my mother in her last days. As I prepared myself emotionally for her death I imagined sitting with her at chemo, holding hands. She’d tell me stories about her life and family members long gone. It would be like in the movies and we’d do all the wonderful things people do when a loved one is close to death.

So Much for My End-of-Life Fantasies


She told me not to bother coming to chemo, said she enjoyed spending time with the nurses. What? I felt rejected and soon I became a car service transporting her to and from chemo. For the first few weeks, I was tight and resentful. All I could think was, ‘How can she not let me be there for her during this scary time?’ Then one day I noticed something.

Every time I came to pick her up from chemo she’d have a big smile on her face. The nurses and nursing assistants would have her wrapped in a warm blanket, nice and cozy in her treatment chair. Her table would be full of all her favorite snacks. On the ride home, she would share how she felt listened to and well cared for when she spent time with her nurses. My mom was happy and she wasn’t scared. This was the case every time.

A few weeks later, I received a call from an ICU doctor telling me to get to the hospital ASAP and to call my family together. I don’t remember how I kept it together but I do remember a nurse holding me up when I could barely stand. She was a complete stranger who held me close as I soaked her uniform with tears.

I Want to Take a Moment to Say, “Thank You”

I appreciate you for caring for my mother, bathing her, touching and comforting her when I couldn’t. I’m grateful to those of you who whispered in her ear and assured her that all is well. As a nurse, I’ve had the honor of being with many people during their final minutes. I’ve always appreciated and respected those sacred moments. I believe the universe paid the favor back to my family by surrounding her with superb nurses and caregivers.

You helped to keep her alive long enough for all my brothers and sisters to be present on her last day. My mother was there for each of us as we took our first breaths and we were there for her as she took her last. It was a beautiful death.

May 6—12th is National Nurses Week. Nurses are your friends, neighbors, your sisters, or brothers. You may recognize them in their scrubs or even business attire but what you won’t see is the invisible capes they wear. Nurses are your everyday superheroes. Next time you see a nurse, acknowledge them for the lives they touch and thank them for their service. Happy Nurses’ Week!

-Editors’ Note: Originally published in May 2017.

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Career | Black Enterprise


5 Critical Business Development Truths Every Black Freelance Writer Ought to Know

Choosing to become a freelance writer and turning your writing talents into a profitable career are two very different stories. You can possess excellent grammar and spelling skills, but if you can’t build a profitable business around your talents, your freelance writing dreams are likely to be nothing more than a mirage. Understanding how to turn your writing yearnings into a revenue-focused business is essential for long-term success as a freelance writer. If this is the year you transition from being a wannabe writer to a writing business owner, remember the following five critical business development truths every freelance writer ought to know.

Evaluate the ROI of Your Writing Clients

Walking away from low-ROI, high-demand freelance writing clients is OK. Not every writing relationship offers a significant return-on-investment for your writing business. Learn early on in your writing career how to evaluate the ROI of your clients. Are they helping you grow your portfolio with a byline in a respected publication? Are they paying you enough to meet your revenue-per-hour goals? Do they request multiple revisions on each project, thereby driving down your revenue-per-hour rate? The sooner you learn how to evaluate the ROI of your writing clients, the sooner you’ll build a revenue-positive writing business you can be proud of.


Combine a Niche Specialty with a Format Specialty

Chances are good you have already heard the advice to choose a niche to specialize in. However, did you know that choosing a writing format can also help increase revenues for your freelance writing business? Not only should you specialize in an industry, but you should also consider concentrating on one or two types of content. Offer white papers and case studies for the digital marketing sector. Create blog posts for SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) startups. Also, build a reputation as a sales letter copywriter for the affiliate marketing sector. Once you learn the power of combining a business niche with a content format, you’ll kick yourself for not discovering this exceptional career-development hack sooner.

Network Strategically

Your network has a significant influence on lead generation opportunities for your writing business. Find niche-specific forums via a tool like and offer helpful insights your target clients can use. Build a knowledge-based reputation within your industry, and you’ll soon have to start turning away clients for your freelance writing business.

Consistent Education Upgrades Equals Business Development Mastery

Continuing your education as a freelance writer is essential if you want to enjoy a long and profitable career as an on-demand wordsmith. Immerse yourself in new industries. Learn new writing formats. Study business sectors experiencing rapid growth. Pay attention to which startup sectors are attracting investment capital. Continually increasing your knowledge base makes good business sense. Not only will you be able to attract more clients to your writing business, but you’ll also build a reputation as an expert who can be depended upon to craft compelling content. Developing a deep knowledge base also helps you to transition your writing business and improve client quality while increasing your writing rates at the same time.

Control Your Clients

How much you charge, how you’re paid, and the revisions you offer are within your control. Professional writers don’t allow clients to tell them what a blog post will cost or how many revisions will be required in an article. Writing is a business, and you’re a business owner. You can’t tell the supermarket manager how much you’re willing to pay for your groceries. Don’t allow clients to tell you how much they’re willing to pay for your writing services. Know how much you charge for your writing services and only work with clients who respect your professionalism and honor your business practices.

Remember these five critical truths for freelance writers, and you’ll improve your odds of building a thriving and profitable writing business. Choosing to be a freelance writer is a decision not to be taken lightly. The sooner you start treating your writing career like a business, the sooner you’ll start living your freelance writing dreams.

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Career | Black Enterprise


Four Things Steve Canal Wants You to Know About Marketing and Branding

Steve Canal was a star college athlete and now is a branding expert. He’s worked with an impressive list of companies including McDonald’s, Facebook, Coors Light, Delta, and Walmart. After some stumbles in his journey, he has learned many lessons of success in marketing and branding. 

For example, Canal worked with the U.S. Army in its branding efforts. That work taught him the value of human connection. He led a national campaign that connected recruiters to potential soldiers looking for opportunities. The campaign involved wrapping hummers and jets in U.S. Army branding and turning them into interactive installations. It gave the brand identity, and made potential recruits feel invited and engaged. 

His work has led him to other marketing and branding realizations from which other entrepreneurs and marketing and PR professions can learn.

Four Things Steve Canal Wants You to Know About Marketing and Branding (In His own Words)

-What leads the campaign is research. I need to know what you’re passionate about, what motivates you, and what you’re trying to accomplish. For example, even though they may offer similar products; Company A and Company B need a unique offering that must be brought to life. You have to understand what’s important to each brand and create a package that says I’m paying attention to you, I know what’s important to you. I don’t call them clients, I call them partners because it’s a two way street.

-Who is the brand? What are they offering, and who are the people who care? Some organizations do focus groups. Take that extra step to get that insight. Times are changing, people are changing, there’s a new mindset within age demographics that don’t think like you as the brand. That’s where localizing your brand comes to play. You must find advisers and champions within those communities to get you that information, and listen to them

-It’s important to know what your strengths and weaknesses are, and find opportunities to make your weaknesses a strength. If you’re super passionate about something or you need to know something then do it. Either way, you must prioritize what’s important for you to be able to do versus what you can outsource.

-Brands need to stop thinking they have all the answers by coming up with campaigns within their walls, and not having any diversity of thought. Many times you get into these rooms to pitch, and across the table there are a bunch of like minded people coming up with campaigns without being where their customer is. Diversity of thought will make or break brands in the future. If you’re not aligned with consumers then they won’t mess with you.

Black Enterprise Contributors Network 

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Career | Black Enterprise


Want Your Voice Heard? Advice on How to Get Speaking Engagements

Courtney Sanders is a speaker and podcaster who knows a thing or two about getting her voice heard. Having had the opportunity to grace many stages – including those for the United Nations and White House, Sanders offered advice for ways to clinch major speaking engagements.

How to Get Speaking Engagements

Positioning Yourself as a Speaker

Wanting to speak publicly and even being a great speaker are not enough to clinch major speaking engagements. Sanders began positioning herself as a speaker by doing two key things – hosting her own events and telling her network that she is a speaker.

“Hosting my own events was really helpful as it gave my community an opportunity to hear me speak, as well as me an opportunity to document my speaking ability when pitching myself to other engagements,” she says.

“Simply telling my network that I was now doing public speaking was extremely helpful, as that’s how my first paid gig came my way. A colleague of mine, who also is a professional speaker, had a gig that he was no longer able to speak at so he referred me. The only reason he gave them my name was because I posted on Facebook a few days prior that I was now accepting speaking engagements. When you let people know that you speak, they will keep you in mind when opportunities come up.”

How to Get Speaking Engagements

Courtney Sanders (Photo: Jaren Collins)

It’s also important that you are a groomed speaker. While experience certainly assists to make you better at your craft, having a coach or expert friend provide you with advice is priceless. Sanders shared:

“I do not have a formal speaking coach. Though, I have a friend and colleague, Stacey Flowers, who has helped me both formally and informally with my speaking technique and career. She’s an amazing professional speaker who has graciously shared a lot of wisdom with me over the years,” said Sanders.

Pricing Yourself as a Speaker

Many speakers (women, especially) have difficulty pricing themselves. Sanders explained why she feels this is such a challenge as well as her suggestions for doing so correctly.

“I believe pricing ourselves is such a challenge because we naturally undervalue our talents. For instance, speaking comes incredibly naturally to me and I’ve been good at it since I was 4 or 5 years old. When something is both easy and enjoyable for you, it’s easy to get in the habit of undervaluing yourself because you think it’s no big deal and in the beginning, you’d gladly do it for free!”

“To avoid undercharging in the beginning, I started networking with other professional speakers and set my prices within the same range as peers who had similar experience and visibility as me. As I continue to get bigger and better speaking engagements, and thus refine my craft, I increase my prices to match the new level of value I’m able to bring to my audiences.”

Dealing with The Nerves

According to the National Social Anxiety Center, the fear of public speaking is the majority of the population’s biggest fear – ahead of spiders, heights, and even death. Public speaking anxiety, also known as glossophobia, is said to affect 73% of the population. The fear of being embarrassed of messing up in front of peers and the negative judgement of onlookers leave many paralyzed.

But what does one do when they have something of value to share with the world? They re-channel those jitters into something more positive.

“I wouldn’t say I get nervous, but I do get that “jittery” surge of energy right before I step on stage. I think everyone gets that feeling; it’s just a matter of how you frame it in your mind. For new speakers, they start to feel jittery and think ‘Oh no! I’m nervous now!’ If they’re not careful that train of thought can totally derail their delivery. For me, when I feel those jitters, I get excited and say to myself “IT’S GO TIME!” In other words, I use the physical jitters as validation that I’m about to really bring it on stage.”

If you get nervous speaking in front of a crowd, try re-channelling nervous energy. Also, practice multiple times in advance (preferably in front of family and friends or your mirror), along with taking a few deep breaths before stepping on stage. Breathe in for a count of four, hold, and out for a count of four to relax yourself a bit.

Setting Boundaries

Setting boundaries is essential for earning respect in your industry, maintaining your sanity, and enjoying your role as a public speaker. Because of this, I had to know the boundaries Sanders felt were necessary to form from the onset.

“I think the biggest boundary you have to set for yourself as a speaker, or even as an entrepreneur where your knowledge is your product, is what you will and won’t do for free. At times, speaking or giving expert advice for free can be beneficial to gain more experience and exposure. But I’ve noticed that as you get better at what you do those that are close to you will want you to speak or advise them for free, and if you’re not careful, you’ll miss out on paid opportunities because you’re committing to so many free ones.

“For me, I set boundaries by — one, getting clear on what non-monetary benefits I’m willing to exchange my time for, and two, how much time I have every quarter or year to gift my services to people and causes I care about. For instance, I was not paid to speak at the White House, but I was of course willing to do so in exchange for the experience, networking opportunities, and footage for my speaking reel. As you can imagine, speaking at the White House has opened many doors for me, including a recent speaking engagement I did at the United Nations in New York City,” she says.

Public speaking gives you a platform to share your knowledge with others and position yourself as a thought leader in your niche. If you’re really great, it increase your visibility instantly.

Black Enterprise Contributors Network 

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Career | Black Enterprise


Snapchat Gets Its First Black C-Suite Executive

Snap, the company that makes Snapchat, just named Kenny Mitchell as its new chief marketing officer. From the looks of Snap’s C-suite roster, it seems Mitchell is the company’s first African American corporate officer. Snap does have African American representation on its board—McAfee CEO Christopher Young joined its board in October 2016.

Previously, Mitchell was the vice president of brand content and engagement for McDonald’s USA. He also was the head of consumer engagement at Gatorade. While at Gatorade he led the effort to introduce Snapchat vertical video and augmented reality tools as part of the company’s consumer marketing strategy.

Some of the memorable Gatorade campaigns he was involved with include Gatorade’s Dunk AR Lens for the Super Bowl—an award-winning ad; and the Serena Williams Snap Ad game, another award-winner.

He has held other executive positions at NASCAR and Dew Tour, a division of NBC Sports Group.

He will report directly to Snap CEO Evan Spiegel. In a press release, Spiegel commented on Mitchell’s hiring;

“Kenny’s consumer marketing expertise and his deep understanding of our products will be a great combination for Snap. Throughout his career, Kenny has demonstrated his ability to successfully execute innovative, global marketing campaigns, many of which have leveraged our own vertical video and augmented reality products. He’s a natural fit to join our team and lead marketing as we continue driving the positive momentum we have in the business.”

“Snap is a great company with strong values, an inspired vision and innovative products that are empowering its global community,” Mitchell said in a press release.

“I look forward to helping Evan and Snap continue to tell their story to people around the world, and working with my new colleagues as we define the future of the camera and self-expression.”

Mitchell holds a Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth College and a Master of Business Administration from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business.

In 2017, the Snap CEO was accused of insensitive remarks in a lawsuit filed by a former employee. The lawsuit alleged Speigel said about the Snapchat app, “This app is only for rich people. I don’t want to expand into poor countries like India and Spain. Mr. Spiegel would not entertain any further discussion on the matter.”

Snap called the allegations “ridiculous,” and the accuser a “disgruntled employee,” at the time.


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Career | Black Enterprise


Prudential Financial Invests $180 Million for ‘Opportunity Youth’

Prudential Financial just announced a $ 180 million investment in what it calls ‘opportunity youth.” These are young people ages 15–29 who lack access to valuable resources including education and job training.

“Businesses like ours have a role to play in ensuring that global economic progress benefits all members of tomorrow’s workforce,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO Charles Lowrey via a press release. “Our goal is to improve young people’s lives by creating pathways for them to achieve financial wellness, strengthen their communities and ultimately help drive the global economy.”

‘Opportunity Youth’ is a global demographic of some 350 million young people who are either under or unemployed and who lack education. In the U.S., black and Native American young people comprise large segments of this population.

Prudential’s investment will extend into 2025. The financial services company is in partnership with several organizations dedicated to assisting at-risk youth including My Brother’s Keeper, YouthBuild—which teaches young people skills in the construction trades; Year Up, Andela, and its real estate investment arm, PGIM Real Estate.

Behind the numbers of the investment are real stories of people such an effort has helped. One person is Jay Hammonds, who was born to a drug-addicted mother; abandoned by his parents; and then dropped out of college.

Through Year Up, Hammonds scored an internship at Facebook. Currently, he provides IT services to Facebook executives including Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg.

“I’ve always been interested in technology, but I never thought that I could have a career in it. During the program, I was more motivated than ever. A lot of my family and friends didn’t understand what I was doing. They thought it was “too good to be true” and would say, “Where’s the scam?” They couldn’t fathom something that good, but when I got the internship at Facebook I was proof that the program was real,” says Hammonds in a statement on Year Up’s site.

Hear Jay Hammonds’ story: 


Said to be the largest private sector investment to date, Prudential’s senior vice president of Diversity, Inclusion and Impact, Lata Reddy, says that the company has seen “firsthand” how its work with its partners such as Year Up, has a “positive ripple effect.”

“Integrating this population into the workforce will drive revenue growth for businesses and the global economy. With the right skills and training, opportunity youth can be both an engine of growth and a catalyst for positive social change,” said Reddy.

Prudential was named on Black Enterprise‘s most recent “50 Best Companies for Diversity” list.

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Career | Black Enterprise


PayPal Exec, Peggy Alford, Poised to Become First Black Woman to Sit on Facebook’s Board

Peggy Alford, the senior vice president, core markets at PayPal—has been tapped to serve on Facebook’s board of directors—and is in position to become the first black woman to sit on its board.

Alford has the backing of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. In a released statement the Facebook founder said, “Peggy is one of those rare people who’s an expert across many different areas — from business management to finance operations to product development. I know she will have great ideas that help us address both the opportunities and challenges facing our company.”

She has been with PayPal since 2019 and also was the chief financial officer and head of operations for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative—a philanthropic organization founded by Mark Zuckerberg and his spouse Priscilla Chan.

A Silicon Valley veteran, Alford has also held executive positions at eBay and She hails from a family of six children. Her mother has a doctorate’s degree in mathematics and computer science from the University of Pittsburgh.

Alford has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and business administration from the University of Dayton in Ohio where she ran track and cross country. Focused on her career for much of her life, she had her first child at 41 and her second when she was 45. In an interview posted on PayPal’s website she spoke about work-life balance, “Balance can be extremely difficult for working mothers trying to find that happy medium of continuing to advance their careers and doing what they feel they need to do at home. Often women will opt out or feel like they can’t seek out that next big opportunity because it may take away from their responsibilities at home.”

“What excites me about the opportunity to join Facebook’s board is the company’s drive and desire to face hard issues head-on while continuing to improve on the amazing connection experiences they have built over the years,” she said in a statement. “I look forward to working with Mark and the other directors as the company builds new and inspiring ways to help people connect and build community.”

Alford will still have to be voted to the board during the next Facebook shareholders’ meeting. Typically, nominees, particularly ones supported by a company’s CEO are appointed to the board so her position as a board member is likely.

Upon her official appointment, Alford would be the second African American on Facebook’s board. Last year, retired American Express CEO Ken Chenault joined the social media company’s board. Zuckerberg said at the time that he has been trying to recruit Chenault “for years.”

Alford is on the Black Enterprise 2018 Registry of Corporate Directors for her role as a member of the board of The Macerich Co., a real estate investment trust.



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Career | Black Enterprise


Meet Radio Industry Vet and Community Leader Patricia Robinson

When Patricia Robinson walked into the Emmis Communications office in New York for an informational interview in 2000, she had no idea the media conglomerate owned some of the most iconic radio stations in the New York market. “When I got to the 7th floor, I was greeted with three logos on the window and the logos were Hot 97, Kiss FM, and CD 101.9,” she told BLACK ENTERPRISE. “Because I didn’t do my homework, I did not understand that Emmis Communications was the parent company of all of these amazing music brands.” Robinson also had no idea that particular interview would be the start of her 17-year ascension in broadcast media.

Before joining Emmis, Robinson worked full-time as a business accountant payable manager at a meat warehouse, but she desperately wanted change. “It just got really frustrating that I had to literally walk past slabs of meat, like the Rocky movie,” she said. “At that point, I just decided that I needed to change jobs.” That prompted her to send out her resume, which ended up in the hands of a sales manager at Emmis, who called her in for an informational interview. Despite not knowing anything about the company and lacking a college degree, Robinson made a great impression during the interview and eventually landed a business office position about six months later. “One of the things that I was able to master in that interview…was knowing what my strengths were. I knew that I was really good at math and able to produce results,” she said, adding that she had come prepared with reference letters and a portfolio highlighting her career achievements. “That was my magic secret.”

Although things were going well at her new job, her first performance review took her by surprise. “99% of that review was absolutely incredible because my work ethic was really solid,” she said. However, “when I got down to the very last line, it said, ‘Patricia is a great asset to this organization, the only limitation is that she does not have a degree.’”

Those words haunted her for weeks. “I took it personally. I could not stop focusing on this one line,” she said. “I toiled with it a little while” before taking action. “Being a full-time mom of two kids, a full-time worker, and being married, I decided to enroll [in college] at night to get an Associate’s Degree.” Two years later, she proudly showcased her degree to her manager, knowing that a lack of education would never be held against her again. She later furthered her education, earning a Bachelor’s in Business & Finance and a Masters of Management & Human Resources, both from the University of Phoenix.

Now, almost two decades later, Robinson currently works as the Director of Operations for Hot 97 (WQHT 97.1FM), 107.5 WBLS, and 1190 AM WLIB, where she plays a critical role in supporting operations management with a focus on employee relations, personnel administration, recruiting, building and facility management, and FCC reporting. She also plays a significant role in the annual Hot 97 Summer Jam, one of the largest hip hop concerts in the world. In past years, she recruited volunteers from non-profit organizations like City Year, the Veterans Aid Society, and the New York Urban League to assist with organizing the festivities. “She helps keep us rooted in the community and constantly stays on the forefront of our efforts to impact our listeners’ lives positively both on and off air,” Skip Dillard, the operations manager at WBLS and WLIB, told BE in an email. “She’s also a Linkedin wizard and attends job fairs and constantly talks to people she believes should be working for us in the future.”

olin Kaepernick

Patricia Robinson and Colin Kaepernick

Outside of work, Robinson is dedicated to giving back and helping her community. She is involved with and supports several programs in the tristate area, including the New York Police Department’s “My School Has Rhythm Not Violence” and the NYC Department of Youth & Community Development. She also serves as the Executive Director for Colin Kaepernick’s “Know Your Rights Camp,” an organization that raises awareness on higher education, self-empowerment, and instruction to properly interact with law enforcement in various scenarios. “Having [youth] understand how to interact with police and law enforcement is absolutely critical,” she said. In her role, she works directly with Kaepernick and a team to coordinate camps to empower inner-city youth through social activism, education, financial literacy, law advocacy, health and wellness, and community leadership. According to her, empowering others is something she sees as a personal “responsibility” to keep them informed about “issues that will affect their existence, whether it’s discrimination, equity, [or] fair and equal treatment.”

Robinson, who has established herself as an influential leader in the broadcast media industry and is recognized for her community work and social activism engagement, credits her success, in part, to colleagues like Bob Slade, the longtime host of WBLS’ Open Line public affairs show who died last month from kidney disease at the age of 70. “I had the pleasure to work with Bob for my entire tenure,” she said. “Not only was he a respected journalist and on-air personality, he was a dear friend to me.” He also helped her learn, grow, and push herself into becoming “a viable force in the media industry as a black woman.”

Through it all, Robinson says the most rewarding part of her career has been “the ability to impact others through my work.” She also prides herself on “the ability to be the example of excellence in the eyes of a lot of young women and young men” along with “the ability to connect people to opportunities and open doors where I can.”

The post Meet Radio Industry Vet and Community Leader Patricia Robinson appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


Four Tips on How to Give a Knockout Presentation

Giving a presentation in front of your peers, clients, or in front of a board is one of the more stress inducing tasks for most people. Getting up in front of a crowd to talk, explain, and bring forth an idea can be scary no matter the size of the group or who is in the room. However, as one who has presented in plenty of meetings, given a TEDx speech, and who has a stutter, I can tell you they are not as terrifying as you think.

Four Tips on Delivering a Great Presentation

Make eye contact

This was the first rule I learned when speaking publicly. Making eye contact engages people and makes them feel like they are being directly talked to, plus it invokes confidence. Your audience will believe that you know what you are talking about.

Have minimal info on slides 

When doing a presentation, sometimes you may want to use Microsoft Power Point or slides from a projector to show a picture, charts, quotes, etc. My advice is to keep the information as brief as you can. In my opinion, the visuals of a presentation are used to have you expound on a topic. The audience is there to hear you talk, not to read the slides.

Project your voice 

During a speech, talk, or presentation, one of the goals is to make sure everyone hears you. The room that you are speaking in may be small with a handful of people or packed with folks who cannot wait to hear what you have to say. No matter the size of the crowd, you want to speak at a volume level so everyone can hear you. The goal is for people in the back to hear what you have to say as well as those seated in the front.

Use your personality 

Some of the most boring, mundane meetings have been because the presenter was dry and spoke in a flat, almost robotic manner devoid of any personality. That will turn people off from what you have to say and possibly put folks to sleep. My suggestion is to inject who you are into the presentation. When I spoke at TEDxWilsonPark, one of the ways that I wanted to keep the audience interested is to show my goofy charm which gained laughs, and I was able to connect with the audience. This is your presentation; personalize it.

Black Enterprise Contributors Network 

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Career | Black Enterprise


Arvin Jones Accepts 2019 NSBE Lifetime Achievement in Industry Award

At the National Society of Black Engineers’ (NSBE) 45th Annual Convention held in Detroit, General Motors’ Arvin Jones received the 2019 NSBE Lifetime Achievement in Industry Award. The manufacturing executive director for Propulsion Systems and Casting Operations was able to retire from GM after 42 years of dedicated service.

During his time at the company, Jones has held a diverse array of work experiences that include industrial engineering, assistant plant manager at several locations, manufacturing manager, executive director; an interestingly enough, sales marketing and strategic planning. His first international assignment started in England for three years as a director of vehicle assembly with approximately 9,000 people under his control.

“I want to be known as a person who knew when to lead and when to be led. I want to be known as one that continually tried to learn, and I want to be known as someone who listened and had a passion for the business,” Jones stated while reflecting upon his legacy.


Gerald Johnson, executive vice president, Global Manufacturing for General Motors presented Arvin Jones, manufacturing executive director, Propulsion Systems and Casting Operations with the 2019 NSBE Lifetime Achievement in Industry Award during the National Society of Black Engineers’ (NSBE) 45th Annual Convention held in Detroit. (Image: General Motors)


So what position was he drawn to the most? “The most interesting position I had was in sales marketing and strategic planning. It gave me a different view of the company. It allowed me to grow and to learn new things and to certainly become more competitive. It was hard work, but I appreciated doing it,” stated Jones.

Throughout his career, he was able to balance his many endeavors with his family life. “In my personal life, my happiest moments were my marriage and the birth of my two sons. Professionally, my proudest accomplishment was my transition from classified employee to an executive in 1990,” continued Jones.

Under Jones’ leadership, GM has extended more than 180 job opportunities to NSBE students, with a significant majority choosing to join GM.

His commitment to people remains strong long after they start at GM. Jones has personally mentored 32 young professionals at GM. “Arvin’s mentoring group is welcoming to newcomers and known to be a forum of real talk for seekers of truth. He challenges his group to read, share, listen and give back to others. His efforts enrich mentees and help retain them within the automotive industry,” stated mentee Talona Jackson.


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Career | Black Enterprise


Black Entrepreneurs Are Leveling Up with TD Jakes

On April 6, we soared to new heights with TD Jakes in Atlanta, Georgia, as we kicked off the first installation of the SOAR Empowerment series hosted by Nationwide. Over 700 entrepreneurs, business men and women, and leaders convened at the Georgia World Congress Center to receive wealth building resources.

After remarks from BLACK ENTERPRISE president and CEO Earl “Butch” Graves Jr. and Lu Yarbrough, associate vice president, Enterprise Diverse Marketing; TD Jakes opened the morning with a powerful message on the importance of building healthy relationships and breaking gravitational pulls that hold people back.

His message resonated with the aspiring, emerging, and established entrepreneurs and professionals in the room who were looking for an uplifting word as they prepared to soar.

The event continued with remarks from Karmetria Burton, general manager of Supplier Diversity for Delta Airlines, who encouraged attendees to understand their unique value proposition as they do business. Lamar Tyler, BE Modern Man and founder of Traffic, Sakes, and Profit and TSP Live, shared how to be intentional about your passion, purpose, and profit to monetize a business idea.

Here are five questions Tyler says you should ask yourself before you start a business:

  1. Can you do this without a cheerleader?
  2. Will I invest what’s required?
  3. Will I keep going when it gets tough?
  4. Is my WHY big enough?
  5. Are you ready to soar?

Koreyelle DuBose, founder of WERK PRAY SLAY dropped massive gems during her presentation on maximizing your earning power.

Health is wealth

Eli Lily challenged event-goers to prioritize their health with a relevant conversation about diabetes prevention. Dr. Rovenia Brock followed up with an informative presentation on how to create a personalized nutrition plan.

The afternoon continued with a riveting talk given by Dr. Dennis Kimbro on what it takes to “Think and Grow Rich.”  “I’m really into wealth, not income…big difference.”

JP Morgan Chase also gave a special presentation on their program Advancing Black Pathways. And as the number one employer of Morehouse graduates — they are committed to hiring 4,000 black graduates over the next five years.

Make your money work for you

Ash “Cash” Exantus, founder and chief financial educator shared how to build a financial freedom fund to set oneself up to win. “If you are exchanging time for money, you are wasting it,” he told the audience.

Charreah K. Jackson followed up with an engaging presentation on how to negotiate your way to the top.

Dr. Michele ‘Fit Doc’ Reed gave a final presentation on how to develop and maintain a fitness lifestyle by being mentally fit and physically strong.

If you’re interested in soaring to new heights, we’ll be taking flight in multiple cities so stay tuned for more updates!

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Career | Black Enterprise


Tapped to Sit on Fed Board, Herman Cain Straddles Fence Between Business Success and Political Controversy

Perhaps no other black business person stirs up more polarizing debate than Herman Cain. The former head of Godfather’s Pizza, stepped into the political limelight in 2011 when he announced his candidacy as the Republican presidential nominee. That effort was thwarted by a series of sexual harassment allegations against Cain. Yet, he has re-emerged on the national stage as a proposed pick by President Trump to sit on the Federal Reserve Board. A success in business, yet, a failure in politics—is now the time for Herman Cain to rise to political prominence?

Herman Cain’s Business Backstory

Cain was named president of the then-failing Godfather’s Pizza chain in 1986. In an article from Black Enterprise in 1988 on Cain: “Fresh from rejuvenating Pillsbury’s Burger King chain in the Philadelphia region, the energetic, enthusiastic new president of Godfather’s went immediately to work closing weak outlets, strengthening the company’s advertising thrust, repairing relations with franchisees and swiftly resolving legal conflicts.”

Herman Cain

Black Enterprise Magazine

Without question, Cain has proven he possesses sharp business acumen. Under his leadership, Godfather’s Pizza saw a reversal in sales decline and generated $ 260 million in sales.

He demonstrated business savvy early on. The Morehouse College graduate served a short period in the Navy and then went on to complete a master’s degree in Computer Science at Purdue University. His first corporate position was as a business analyst at Coca-Cola.

Cain’s business talents came to light during his next gig at Pillsbury where he advanced to vice president status within five years.

Entrepreneurial Mindset

Although he quickly ascended the corporate ladder, Cain also had an entrepreneurial spirit. He set his sights on the fast food business—even becoming a member of a Burger King kitchen crew to learn the ins and outs of the hamburger business. Within seven months, he was promoted to regional vice president.

“You’ve got to have a passion for that business, followed by a desire to make it to the top,” he said in an interview with Black Enterprise in 1988. “Then you will do whatever you need to do in order to get there.”

He eventually bought the Godfather’s Pizza chain from its parent company, Pillsbury for an estimated $ 50 million. The transaction was the first leveraged buyout of a major fast-food company by a black executive in business history.

Political Ambitions

Cain’s political ambitions were made clear when he ran as a Republican presidential nominee. Plagued by scandal, his campaign fell flat—perhaps one of the rare failures for the businessman.

Now, with the blessings of Donald Trump, it seems that Cain is poised to assume a prominent political and economic position at the Federal Reserve. How likely is his appointment and is he the person for the job?

No, says Catherine Rampell, a columnist for The Washington Post. And it isn’t just about the troubling sexual harassment allegations that took down his presidential run, she says.

“When it comes to understanding pretty basic policy issues, Cain isn’t able,” writes Rampell.

“Most people who remember anything about Cain’s brief political career might know him for the “9-9-9” tax rate plan. Unfortunately, neither did that plan have rates that were actually 9 percent nor did it turn out to be particularly strong in its arithmetic,” she continues.

A fellow Republican, Sen. Mitt Romney, also cast doubt about Cain’s fitness for the Fed. “I doubt that will be a nomination. But if it were a nomination, you can bet [what] the interest rates he would be pushing for,” Romney said in an interview.

“If Herman Cain were on the Fed, you’d know the interest rate would soon be 9-9-9.”

Some Republicans are more optimistic. Sen. David Perdue, a Georgia Republican, said about Cain; “He’s a business guy. He’s got a great background for it. I know him personally. I think personally he’d be a great addition,” according to Fortune.

Cain’s businesses successes have seemed to elude his success in politics. Is his appointment a serious consideration or another one of the mercurial President’s whims? And if appointed to the Fed, how effective can he be? That all remains to be seen.



The post Tapped to Sit on Fed Board, Herman Cain Straddles Fence Between Business Success and Political Controversy appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


Black Women Can’t Wait 106 Years for Equal Pay

Today is National Equal Pay Day and it is only right to address the fact that black women work twice as hard as their counterparts, if not harder, yet still earn less. According to research conducted by the Institute for Women’s Research Policy, if trends in the pay gap persist like they have over the last 30 years, black women will have to continue to work hard until 2124 just to receive equal pay.

We spoke with Teresa C. Younger, president and CEO of the Ms. Foundation, about closing the pay gap and how women can persevere as they work toward receiving equal pay.

What does closing the pay gap mean for women beyond the dollar signs?

The pay gap is really about how we value women. And in this country, we have continually under-valued women. Particularly women of color and particularly black women. So for us, and as a black woman, this is how we place value on who we are and what we bring into our society.

It’s not “just” about the dollars and cents.

Although, it is about the dollars and cents because if you can pay your bills, put some money in the bank, and transfer that wealth to the next generation then that’s critical and that helps to build what our society could look like. If we can start making sure that our women are paid for their worth in our society, it will show and reflect their value. And help them uphold a level of self-confidence they will carry into other aspects of their lives.

How can women be more involved in being a part of the change they want to see?

There is so much going on in life that feels completely overwhelming. And we often ask ourselves, ‘what can any one person do?’ and ‘what can I do because this feels like so much?’

Whether you’re registered to vote; whether you’re able to talk to your manager or supervisor; how you’re able to ask a question; or whether you’re able to mentor somebody, we want women to walk out of this room today knowing that there is something that they can do. And if everyone does something that adds up to a whole lot of things and that’s how we create the momentum for change.

What advice do you have for women as they fight to close the pay gap?

There are a couple of things that we have to come to terms with when we recognize that we’re going to be about making change happen:

  1. It does not happen overnight.
  2. We do not get to be tired. We have a responsibility to those shoulders that we stand on and those generations that come behind us. We have to step in, fight wholeheartedly, and do it with full honesty and integrity to who we are. And, we have to hold other people accountable.
  3. We have to engage with people one on one. We can’t just stand outside and scream at the air—we actually have to start talking with people.

When I think about this fight for pay equity, it is about at this moment in time us finally placing value on women of color. At this moment in time, it is about holding those [people in high places] accountable. This moment in time, it’s about opening the doors so that others can come in behind us and come in strong.


The post Black Women Can’t Wait 106 Years for Equal Pay appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


5 Ways to ‘Boss Up’ Your Career with These Career-Coaching Tips

According to Forbes, career coaching is a $ 2 billion, global industry. It seems you can’t sling a hashtag without finding a career coach online. This is partially due to the internet enabling the growth and popularity of the profession within the last 15 years. It is clear that digital and social media are driving the services that coaches offer.

Recently, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing a career coach on episode 14 of The Culture Soup Podcast. In speaking with Tristan Layfield, a recent BE Modern Man, I discovered that his role isn’t always about critiquing and improving résumés. He really has to be a social media expert with a strong grounding in what it means to manage one’s personal brand.

Layfield is a former recruiting manager at a Fortune 500 and currently a project manager at IBM. In his spare time, he was helping friends and family improve their résumés, and he noticed that they were actually snapping up the jobs they were after as a result. So, he decided to take his knack for résumé writing to another level by starting a business.

career coaching

Career Coach and Résumé Writer, Tristan Layfield. (Photo: Clyde Barnett III)

Layfield provided some very useful tips on improving your résumé, personal branding, and how to leverage LinkedIn and other social platforms so that a job hunter or even people who are happy in their current position but are looking to be more marketable can improve their searchability online.


5 Career Coaching Tips to ‘Boss Up’ Your Career

Focus: Understand what you really want to do.

The internet empowers us to research what we want to be when we grow up. Before we had robust search engines like Bing and Google, we were left to figure things like this out on our own, and mostly to no success. So, Layfield says, often people just remained stuck in whatever role they found themselves. The internet allows us to dream big, look into what it will take to achieve that dream, then execute against it. It’s a new day! Seize it.

Engage strategically on social media.

If you are one to shy away from being too vocal on social media, or perhaps you aren’t that great a writer, so content creation is something you’d rather stay away from, consider engaging with other people’s content instead. Layfield says that on platforms like LinkedIn, a simple “like” of someone’s content share or even a re-share can go a long way toward positioning yourself as a thought leader in any space. Just ensure the content always aligns with your personal brand.


Own your story.

Your uniqueness is your story, and it isn’t always pretty. People like authenticity, so sharing the learning experiences as well as the wins not only makes you more approachable, but it also makes you relatable. Layfield walks that talk by sharing about how he was fired from one job, which was a catalyst for him starting his own business. He says getting fired shouldn’t be something to be ashamed of because most people have experienced this in their careers at one time or the other.


Tailor your résumé to the job description.

This extremely smart and practical tip is one that many people overlook. Layfield says that before your résumé makes it to the recruiter, they use algorithms that search your document for certain keywords—words from the position description.  His suggestion is to ensure that your résumé has those words in it and often so that your résumé will not wind up in the “no” pile before it even sees human eyes.


Be your own best advocate.

In this highly-competitive, fast-moving, digital and cluttered world that we live in, it is no longer advised to wait for someone else to merchandise your work for you. Layfield advises his clients to be their own best advocates. That means it is OK to share your successes in a grounded and non-boastful way. He told the story of how he became a BE Modern Man.  When it came down to it, he nominated himself. He reasoned that he would either live up to the requirements or not; and why not practice what he preaches to his own clients. It resulted in a prestigious recognition. What if he hadn’t entered his name?

Listen to the entire episode on The Culture Soup Podcast.

Black Enterprise Contributors Network 




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Career | Black Enterprise


Her Magic Moment: Meet the New President of Magic Johnson Enterprises

Christina Francis has made a lifelong habit of being a quiet power. The ability to lay low while doing great work, only to surge ahead at the finish, stunning her peers and competitors, has served her well. Most recently, it landed her in the lead at Magic Johnson Enterprises, where in January, she was named president.

Francis, who cut her teeth in business with strategic marketing roles at top companies including Walt Disney World, Nissan Motor Corporation, and IBM, wasn’t competing with anyone other than herself for the coveted position.

Ever since Johnson returned to the Lakers organization as president of basketball operations in February 2017, Francis has been effectively leading the company with Johnson still serving as chairman and CEO.

“Earvin had a grand plan and I just kept doing the work,” says Francis. Especially once her boss accepted the Lakers post, “He was very clear in letting me know he was ready for me to step out there, he just was waiting to see that I was ready. He’s been an amazing mentor and, yeah, I’m ready.”

Work Hard, Play Hard, Climb!

Francis first met Johnson in 2003, when she was an account manager at the multicultural advertising agency UniWorld Group, leading national campaigns for Lincoln Mercury. Johnson was impressed, and Francis was soon hired to market and run his 30 Burger King restaurants. Within two years, she was recruited by the Orange Bowl Committee to be chief marketing officer for the South Florida sports brand which, during her tenure there, logged record growth and visibility.

In 2010, Francis was tapped by the NFL Players Association to be vice president of marketing and events. In 2014, Johnson recruited Francis back to what was by then a burgeoning business empire with a growing portfolio of investments in companies focused on serving emerging multicultural communities. As senior vice president of marketing and communications at Magic Johnson Enterprises, the role brought together the broad range of experience Francis had cultivated throughout her career. It also spoke to her desire to serve a larger purpose, a core value in the New Orleans home where she was raised.

The youngest of six children, Francis earned her MBA from the University of New Orleans after majoring in political science and Spanish at HBCU Xavier University. Perhaps it was there that she perfected the art of flying under the radar.

“I was the one who sat in the back of the class, talking,” she says, laughing. “I was Christina on the yard, hanging out. But I took good notes and always had a good ear for mastering the concepts. No one knew I was headed to be valedictorian.”

Not only did Francis graduate as valedictorian in just three years, outside of her family, few were aware that she was a straight A student (save one B, in English Lit) and that her father was Norman Francis, the college’s storied president.

“I worked hard and I played hard,” Christina says of her school days. “I still do that here. When you’re doing something you love and believe in, its hard to identify what’s hard. I think the hardest part for me is, I’m actually kind of shy.”

Valuing Vision Over Visibility

The January announcement of her promotion sparked a heightened level of visibility that Francis is still processing. “It’s been the most humbling experience to have the texts, emails and LinkedIn responses,” says Francis. “I have been behind the scenes for years promoting my boss, promoting the company, the mission, and our progress. People who knew me weren’t surprised. People who didn’t were completely shocked because they had no idea what I did.”

Her transition has been seamless, underpinned by Johnson’s unqualified support. “Christina is a consummate professional and brilliant businesswoman,” the NBA legend said in a press release. “I trust her to continue growing this company to new heights and establishing new partnerships in the coming years.”

The company’s mission to do well while investing in emerging multicultural communities is sure, but Francis is still working through the rest.

“He’s put a lot in my hands” she says of her boss. “Right now I need to own where I am, and take stock of where I want the company to go. Earvin is open to change, he’s open to growth, he’s open to always finding ways to do things better. So I can’t tell you right now where you’ll see my imprint, but I know that’s why he placed me here.

“He trusts my vision,” Francis adds. “I do too.”

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Career | Black Enterprise


Black Female Executive Is a Mighty Force at Toyota: Her Story

BLACK ENTERPRISE recently revealed the upper ranks of female leadership at the nation’s largest public and private companies with the release of the 2019 Most Powerful Women in Corporate America list. One of the standouts found on this exclusive roster is Sandra Phillips Rogers, who manages an expansive portfolio at Toyota North America as group vice president, general counsel, chief legal officer, corporate secretary, and chief diversity officer.

Holding degrees in journalism and law, respectively, from the University of Texas at Austin, this brilliant legal eagle joined Toyota in 2012 after holding a series of high-powered positions at prestigious law firms and major corporations. Considered one of the company’s most valuable senior managers, she is routinely called upon to handle complex issues, ranging from global transactions and corporate inclusion to cybersecurity and intellectual property.

One of the cover subjects of our January-March Women of Power issue, Phillips Rogers shared with BE, among other details, her professional ascension and tips she gives mentees on achieving success in corporate America. The following are edited excerpts from that interview:

Throughout your career, you’ve repeatedly shifted from major corporations to high-powered law firms. Which environment did you find most rewarding?

Well, I think both have their advantages but working in a company gets you closer to the business, and that’s ultimately why my career has taken me to Toyota. When you realize as a lawyer that you have the ability to help shape the business strategy through your legal advice and then also as an executive understanding more about what some of the corporate priorities are and how you can help them achieve it, that synergy really is very exciting to me. That’s the first thing.

The second thing is when you work for a company, you’re a part of a much larger organization. I really like that. The opportunity to be a chief diversity officer, work on various community activities and be a part of how the company is going to, in the case of Toyota, transform into a mobility company, that’s all very, very exciting and satisfying. Of course, there’s the great people and great products that Toyota makes. So that’s also very, very attractive to me.



At Toyota, you serve not only as the chief legal officer but also oversee diversity. How did that dynamic evolve?

I’ll start by saying that I have been a champion of diversity and inclusion for many, many years under my legal umbrella. In 1999, I was a part of the first diversity committee at the law firm I was employed [with] at the time. It’s been a progression and a passion of mine…and frankly, an obligation I feel to help bring more diversity and inclusion in the legal profession. So when the opportunity to become the chief diversity officer presented itself, it was a natural fit for me because I’ve spent so many years moving diversity and inclusion forward in the legal profession, also within my legal team at Toyota and other organizations that I’ve been a part of. Now, it’s very exciting to do it for the entire company. It’s something I take quite seriously but it is a very big honor for me.

In terms of your legal career, what were the cases in which you were most proud?

As I look over my career, the things that I’m most proud of are issues where there was a lot at stake, a broad impact for my client in terms of not just the legal strategy but the business strategy. It was necessary to coordinate a large team to all work together, be on the same page, and have a common strategy. It wasn’t always easy bringing various interests together, but I’m most proud of that teamwork, of how we all came together to help try to solve a very important issue for the business, customers and various stakeholders in the community. That’s what really excites me: A big hairy problem which brings together people as a team and you help solve it.

As a woman professional, how did you navigate challenges to eventually reach your current senior-level position?

For me, it’s always been important to understand the challenge, and then apply what you know in the context of the culture of the company. I’ve worked in a lot of different organizations. One approach might work in one organization but might not work in another. I’ve always viewed a challenge as an opportunity to show and demonstrate my leadership and commitment to the organization. What was always fundamental is to find out where the landmines and pitfalls were because sometimes those can derail your activities before you even get going. I think the other piece is where diplomacy and respect for people come into play. Savviness, emotional intelligence. I think these are all things that have served me very well over my career. Sometimes folks want to just go boldly into the challenge. You have to step back and understand the environment, the culture, the people, and then you have to plan a strategy that takes all of that into consideration.

Who have been your mentors and how have they helped you decide on the career path you took?

The mentors I’ve had have fallen into five buckets. One would be a person who I would call your subject matter expert. They kind of show you the ropes and help you develop your chops in a particular area of expertise. The second is the navigator, someone who helps you see around corners, tells you where you may want to go for opportunity or what to avoid because it could potentially stifle your progress.

Of course, the sponsor is very, very important. These are individuals in my career who have been my bosses or other senior people of influence who can speak on my behalf and help connect me with opportunities. The other group of mentor is the personal mentor. These are my friends and people who know me well. Some are outside the organization; some are inside. They’re the ones who can tell me, “You know, Sandra. Run your presentation by me and I’ll tell you if I think that’s the right approach.” Maybe they can tell you about how to present yourself, whether it’s a dress or how you express yourself. The last group of mentors is what I call peer to peer. That’s mainly women of color I meet at conferences to just exchange stories and ideas.

So what’s your mentorship approach and what advice do you give your mentees?

First of all, I try to build a relationship to establish mutual trust so that they know that it’s safe to talk to me, open up and really get to the core of what it is that’s either troubling them or the dreams that they have. We can figure out how we can navigate to help get them there. But it’s really about seeing an opportunity to help move someone who’s already in a great place to an even better one. I try to give them the benefit of my experiences…what’s worked for me, what hasn’t worked for me. Then, I try to figure out where they are in their organization and help them navigate some of the politics and things they need to think about.

But I want to give them some practical tools to put in their kit so that they can go back and say, “OK. I need to approach my business presentations this way.” Or, “I need to make sure I make relationships with these people.” Or, “I need to make sure that I am going to volunteer so that I can develop power.” One of the things that has just been a very important part of my career development is building power outside of the organization. If you become a leader in your community or profession that can spill over into the workplace. People find out about you, and they say, “Oh, Sandra’s leading this great effort with United Way.” Sometimes, your bosses may see you in a very limited way but then they see you differently. My counsel: Build your power within but also outside of the organization.

Define your leadership style and how it evolved?

I always start with who I am as a person. I always start with being authentic, which I find helps enable the other aspects of being a good leader. Someone’s who’s trustworthy, someone that you can rely on. If you’re seen as being authentic, whether that means a strong leader, whether it means being courageous, whether it means being vulnerable, that’s really how you build your brand as a leader. The other important piece is external to you. It’s the people that you have on your team and how you empower them to succeed. I think the other part of it is just being what I call more of a servant leader, someone who models behavior and can inspire others to follow. Those are the best leaders because when times get tough, profits are down and you’re doing more with less, your ability to help move your team beyond that is going to be based on whether you’re seen as being a part of the solution, getting down with the team at the grassroots level and help do the work to bring the situation back around.

Vital to career ascension, especially for African American women, is being heard in various corporate settings. How did you develop your voice?

One of the things that is key is for everyone to know executives in a company are looking for people to help them solve problems or come up with the next great idea. If that’s the case, your voice is really the only way that that is going to happen. A lot of people will be paralyzed feeling that their voice isn’t important, no one will listen to me or I’ll say something wrong. Most senior executives are looking for ideas. Clearly, all of the ideas are not going to hit gold but you have to realize that your voice must be at that table in order to create this new pathway for business. When you realize that you’re needed, that gives you more confidence to speak up and articulate whatever it is that you feel is going to help the company succeed. It’s about confidence and not being afraid to fail. I think that that really stymies a lot of opportunity, coming from women and women of color. You just have to realize that your voice matters.



The post Black Female Executive Is a Mighty Force at Toyota: Her Story appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


How to Unlock Your Earning Power

The idea of being in control of your earning power is a huge draw for those looking to soar to new heights. Koereyelle DuBose, chief experience officer of WERKPraySlay, has been empowering women to live a life that they love through her work and annual summit WKND.

In just a few weeks, she’ll be joining BLACK ENTERPRISE in Atlanta for the launch of the SOAR Empowerment Series in partnership with TDJ Enterprises, where she’ll be speaking about taking your business to the next level.

In this interview, DuBose speaks about unlocking one’s earning power.

BLACK ENTERPRISE: How is earning power calculated?

DuBose: I always talk about work with an e (werk) because of the effort and the energy you dedicate to your own business. Your earning power is not defined by anyone outside of yourself. It’s the one thing when transitioning from being a full-time employee to a full-time entrepreneur that you are in control of. A lot of times, we think that it comes down to our credentials, degrees, or a specific skill set, but I have come across so many people with different gifts, skills, talents who have embraced the mindset that they have unlimited earning potential. That is how they created opportunities to create revenue and increase their earning potential.

What are the first steps to identifying a skill set that can be turned into a side hustle that can be monetized?

Make a list of your skills. I live by lists. Any time I am stuck on something or need clarity, I make lists. One of the lists that you can make is one of your skills. List the things that you are doing on a daily basis on your 9-to-5 and are transferable skills that you have extensive knowledge on. Those are some of the things that you can make side hustles of and generate revenue from. A lot of things that you can start a side hustle with may not be related to your degree or career but they can be things that you have skills in.

List out your passions. There are things that you’ve probably been doing since childhood, that you’ve been interested in, naturally good at, or passionate about. Think about your passions; what you’re naturally drawn to; and how can you combine your talents and service or product that you can provide that’s aligned with the things that you already know how to do and you’re already interested in. I find that when we develop a business that we’re actually excited and passionate about, it will propel us when the obstacles come up and you truly have to fight for what you want.

Can you speak more about how people can leverage who they are to tap into more earning power?

Authenticity is something that I truly want to represent. You can carve out your own lane and live a successful life beyond society’s standards doing things your own way while being able to make money, be happy, and live life on your own terms. I think for entrepreneurs it’s scary to be authentic…especially in the world of social media and reality TV when you only want people to know the good stuff. I had no choice but to be authentic. No matter what it is that I’m offering my people trust me and I think it’s because of that authenticity piece.

What advice do you have for people to unlock their earning power today?

Read the book, The Game of Life and How to Play It by Florence Scovel Shinn. It will help you set a solid foundation for your personal or professional growth.

Get real about where you are right now versus where you want to be. From there you can create an action plan for how you’re going to get there.

Find an accountability partner. Share your goal and ask for them to check in with you and hold you accountable.

Meditate. We’re living in an age where we have access to too much information. And a lot of people look outside of themselves for answers. I’ve found that when I meditate that’s when God gives me my answers instead of looking outside of myself for all of the answers.

If you want to learn more from DuBose, join BLACK ENTERPRISE at the SOAR Empowerment Series in Atlanta on April 6. Click here to register.

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Career | Black Enterprise


Meet the Black Pilot Teaching Kids How To Fly

The fear of flying (aviophobia) keeps many people from experiencing traveling. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 6.5% of the U.S. population has a fear of flying and 25% have flight anxiety.

Raymond Smith, founder of R.E.P. (Redefining, Empowering, and Preparing) U NYC, a non-profit agency that provides free educational programming for underprivileged youth in the New York area, was one of those people until an unpredictable career move forced him to step out of his comfort zone and into an aircraft as an in-flight crew member for a major airline, and ultimately overcome his fear of flying. It also sparked his interest to get into the cockpit and learn how to fly.

“After getting over my fear of flying and seeing pilots at work, I thought to myself ‘I can do this!’” Smith said. “I asked some of the pilots what should my first steps to becoming a pilot be. They said go on a discovery flight and get used to being in a small airplane. I went on two discovery flights and the first time I was scared sh*tless. But through it all, I started the process of looking for flight schools to start training,”

black pilot

Ambition can help you overcome fear

Months later, Smith dedicated 105 hours in the Poconos, at Moyer Aviation, where he received his pilot’s certificate also known as a private pilot license.

His inspiration was to teach black and brown kids how to fly and overcome any fear of flying.

“Once I started flight school, I knew that once I got my instructors license that I was going to take kids on flights and teach lessons at some point. But the actual idea of a full-fledged flight program came from one of my fraternity brothers who said my idea was bigger than I originally imagined it. He heard about all the hurdles of flight school and how expensive it is and because of my passion I should be the one to start something to make it easier for kids who don’t have any type of access to this,” said Smith.

Ever since that conversation, he has been able to take 10 kids to new heights, and now Smith is fundraising in efforts to expand his programming.

“We are currently fundraising to buy an aircraft to offset our operating expenses to ensure that our flight program will remain free for kids. We are also selling sponsorship packages for organizations to sponsor flying hours for the youth.”

The commitment to take kids to new heights 

Through social media marketing efforts, Smith has been able to garner support nationwide as the importance of creating unique opportunities for black and brown kids resonates with many.

“People in our communities often only go on a commercial flight a hand full of times. And very few think they can fly an airplane in their lifetime. Recreational flying is fun and it offers a different option than public transportation or driving. Flying on a bright sunny day is a euphoric feeling everyone should experience,” says Smith.

In addition to flying, Smith plans to continue to programming through R.E.P. U NYC and encourages black men to give back.


“Take time out of your day to show children the way. Often times we get caught up in lecturing about our experiences and pitfalls to avoid. As the age old adage goes ‘I’d rather see a sermon, than hear one any day’.”

The post Meet the Black Pilot Teaching Kids How To Fly appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


Meet the Black Woman Promoted by Elon Musk to Lead Diversity at Tesla

Executives leading the charge in diversity and inclusion are leaning more towards the practice of belonging to create more inclusive work environments. Felicia Mayo, vice president of HR & head of diversity at Tesla is one of those leaders. Her journey as a human resources professional spans over two decades with executive HR roles at PwC, Oracle, and Juniper Networks. After working 19 years in Silicon Valley, she was sought out by Tesla and promoted by its founder Elon Musk to lead their HR and diversity initiatives.

It was a simple as a phone call from someone in her network who knew she could add to and elevate the way Tesla handles business when it comes to belonging.

Business Leader Versus Diversity Leader

After getting an inside look into the company and the interviewing process, Mayo decided she wanted to engage in diversity and inclusion holistically by looking at the total business of Tesla and being able to see where she could leverage her tools which include, but aren’t limited to, HR technology, operations, compensation benefits, business strategy, and talent acquisitions.

“Once you see diversity as an add-on or a program, you fail. And that definitely is something that I’ve always tried to stay clear of them, making sure that I am seeing not just seen as this diversity and belonging or inclusive leader that I’m seen as a business leader,” said Mayo.

“Coming in as a business leader versus just as a diversity leader allowed me to have different connections with different leaders as well as it allowed me to really grow my career here at Tesla really quickly. I could be leveraged in many different ways,” says Mayo.

It was just after a year and a half at the company that Musk promoted her from senior HR director and head of diversity and inclusion to VP of the role where she reports directly and works closely with Musk and vice president Kevin Kassekert.

“Allowing Tesla employees, regardless of their demographic, to feel like they belonged to the staff, is the mission of the company, and the strategy of the future of the company is monument. And ultimately means allowing them to bring their whole selves to work every day and feeling like they belong in the workforce.”

Bringing Her ‘Whole Self’ to Work and Confronting Tesla’s Racism Allegations

As a person of color, in some tech spaces, feeling like you belong is a challenge, however, adding the automotive industry to the mix can make things more complex. That is why Mayo practices showing up to work as her authentic self to set the standard.

“I am who I am. I am Felicia. And that does not change when I walked through the door. So when you see me outside of Tesla, I am Felicia. It is refreshing to be able to work within a workforce and a company where belonging is about bringing my whole self to work.”

Despite reports that suggest a number of past black employees faced racism and discrimination at Tesla, Mayo says people within their workforce belong to the mission of contributing to the future of the world; and Tesla takes training its workforce from the top down seriously.

“I’ve even volunteered to dress in my performance wear and have worked in the factory as well as in our delivery locations just to be able to experience and see what is really occurring,” says Mayo who enforces a zero tolerance policy for discrimination.

“Diversity and inclusion is the need to sit down and have those conversations and we’ve had those conversations internally,” she adds.

In addition to being a champion for change, she is invested in creating a pipeline for young people into the tech automotive industry. The Tesla START program gives students at community colleges 12 weeks of technical automotive hands-on experience and the opportunity to be hired by the company.

“It is a way to have a pipeline of individuals regardless of background, regardless of what you know, or your trade. We want to make sure we offer up opportunities to all different types of pipelines to be able to come here to Tesla,” says Mayo.

Mayo’s Advice: Remain Open to New Possibilities

Beyond her daily responsibilities, Mayo believes wellness in the workplace is just as important as belonging and says it starts with self. In fact, meditation is what keeps her firmly rooted.

“I have to be balanced to make just and fair decisions every day. It’s really meditation; being grounded with my friends; staying grounded with my team here; my family most importantly; and being able to share some of the unfiltered fun times with them, and really going hard in those areas that keeps me on my game.”

Mayo’s advice for others to stay on top of their game is to remain open to new possibilities.

“Never be so firm on the plans that you have for yourself. I would’ve never said ‘I’m going to be an executive leader in Silicon Valley.’ I didn’t even know to dream that big. So I just went with where my journey was taking me and it was uncomfortable sometimes. So I also learned to be okay with being uncomfortable because typically if you’re uncomfortable that means that you’re moving in the right direction.”


The post Meet the Black Woman Promoted by Elon Musk to Lead Diversity at Tesla appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


Gloria Boyland, One of The Most Powerful Women in Corporate America, Drives Innovation At FedEx

BLACK ENTERPRISE recently unveiled our roster of the Most Powerful Women in Corporate America, identifying the highest-ranking female executives of the nation’s largest corporations and honoring this business elite at our 14th annual Women of Power Summit. Included among the three executives representative of this group featured on the cover of our January-March issue was Gloria Boyland, corporate VP, operations and service support for FedEx Corp., which provides millions across the globe with a range of transportation, commerce and business services.


The Savannah, Georgia native, who holds an MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, joined FedEx in 2004 as vice president of service experience and quality in which she coordinated a range of company-wide improvement initiatives, among other areas, before rising to her current position. The following are Boyland’s responses to questions on her innovative role, career journey and advice to young professionals seeking to advance to corporate leadership:

Share with us your role as corporate vice president, operations and service support? In working with members of FedEx’s Strategic Management Committee, how do you help drive innovation and improvement throughout the organization?

As corporate vice president of operations and service support for FedEx Corporation, I am responsible for the evaluation and leadership of priority advanced operations technology initiatives, service quality improvements, customer experience improvements, and new service offerings for the company.

Technology advancements, digitalization, and the explosive growth of e-commerce require companies like FedEx to respond rapidly to rising customer expectations in a cost-effective manner. My role in the innovation space is comprised of three key parts: 1) I work closely with the members of the FedEx Strategic Management Committee to define key strategic opportunities; 2) I scan the technology space to identify optimal technology partners; and 3) I lead initiatives to achieve speed and scale, such as the recently announced FedEx SameDay Bot.

Define Quality Driven Management and how that approach is a part of the company’s DNA?

Quality Driven Management, or QDM in short, is the secret sauce to the way we work at FedEx. QDM provides a set of common principles and methods that unleashes the creativity of our worldwide team of more than 450,000 team members as we deliver on our Purple Promise to “make every FedEx experience outstanding.”  QDM is like a universal translator – no matter which global region, function or title a team member has, QDM instills in us the passion and commitment to improve customer experience and business performance.

What is it like to work with FedEx founder and CEO Fred Smith? What lessons have you learned from him? How has that relationship impacted you from a professional and personal standpoint?

Mr. Smith is an amazing, transformational leader who inspires and motivates his team to perform at high levels.  He founded FedEx on a “people first” philosophy 45 years ago, and that strong corporate culture continues to be deeply embedded across the organization today. He believes that every one of our more than 450,000 team members across the globe is a vital link in the chain of success. I have learned from him how absolutely critical it is to foster loyalty, the customer’s experience and an entrepreneurial spirit with each team member.

We would like insight into your professional evolution during your formative years. What led to your interest in technology and logistics? Who and what served as your inspiration in the field? Who were your mentors?

 Over the years, I have sought and received advice and counsel from family, friends and colleagues, including my own leadership chain and the many team members who make up my organization. Research has shown that diversity of perspective is not only essential to business success, but also to personal success. I have gained perspective from the myriad of people who have mentored me throughout my career and each one was valuable in their own unique way.

 Define your management style and guiding principles.

 My direct reports are vice presidents who lead their own organizations, so I embrace a coaching management style. My team plays a vital role in the success of my overall organization – everyone matters.  At FedEx, we have adopted a new program called Coach Forward, which focuses on enhancing work performance and motivation.

I have three guiding principles: Each day, recommit to doing your best and being your best; say: do ratio must be 1:1; and, step back so others can step up. These principles ensure success and a sense of accomplishment.

BLACK ENTERPRISE has appropriately named you as one of our Most Powerful Women in Corporate America. As such, what have been some of the challenges that you faced as a woman in your career journey? How have overcoming them shaped you as a business leader?

One of my biggest personal challenges has been maintaining confidence in the midst of setbacks. It has taught me to persevere and to trust my instincts in the face of doubt from others. Persistence and patience, I have learned, are necessary as one struggles to attain and maintain relevance in the organization.  Now, as a business leader, I am confident in my decisions. I learned to find my own voice and trust in my capabilities and experience.

Provide us with your views of the state of diversity in the tech industry? How can more African American women, in particular, make gains in reaching top leadership positions in the corporate sector?

Women and minorities have a presence in the technology industry, but continue to be underrepresented as leadership roles are dominated by white and Asian men. In 2017, women made up about 26 percent of the tech industry, and black women were just 3 percent of that overall number. Leading by example, then creating opportunities for black women is the strategy for increasing our representation. We need to inspire and engage.

Leaders such as Shirley Ann Jackson at FedEx, Linda Johnson Rice at Tesla, and Debra Lee at Twitter, exemplify the importance of representation and influence through corporate board oversight and governance. Innovators like Stephanie Lampkin, founder of Blendoor, and Kimberly Bryant, founder of Black Girls Code, are executing the grassroots approach. Stephanie founded Blendoor to help eliminate racial bias in hiring. She is also publishing a data-driven report, BlendScore, which will rate companies on diversity and inclusion.

Maya Angelou said it well, “When you learn, teach. When you get, give.”  Inspiration and engagement will ignite change.

What advice do you give young professionals who aspire to achieve leadership positions in corporate America?

Be brave. Take some risk. Someone once told me never to take on a role that wasn’t fully established with a clear career path and accountabilities. I have done the exact opposite and it has served me well. We all have different paths to success. Find the path that suits you. Along the way, you’ll find people who will champion you and willingly help lift you up.


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Career | Black Enterprise


A Black Man’s View: 5 Ways To Be A Better Male Ally In The Workplace

#MeToo, #TimesUp, and terminations of high-profile executives accused of sexual misconduct has spurned a conversation among some men asking, “How can we promote gender equity in the workplace?” Here are five ways we as men can make work environments safer and more inclusive for everyone. These tips can help a man be a better ally in the workplace.

5 Ways To Be A Better Male Ally In The Workplace

Don’t ask her out

At work we interact with many different people. We may have similar interests with some women — get along and become friends. As we socialize, feelings may grow and you could start viewing her romantically. Full stop. Most women do not come to work to get a date. This is not the bar. Don’t ask for her number. She is not there to be objectified. Keep it professional.

Do not talk over her

Many times in a meeting, a man will take over the conversation and interrupt a woman when she is speaking. Whether intentional or not, this is a malicious act which sends a message that her contributions are not important and hold little value. We need to stop doing this. Let her talk and finish her thought. You can wait.

Do not gaslight

A woman’s experience in the workplace will always be different than ours. From subtle microaggressions to blatant harassment, her existence in a business environment is full of challenges we cannot imagine. This is why it is important for men to believe our female coworkers when they say they have been victims of abuse. Believe her when she says someone has been harassing her. Do not downplay it and tell her it is something she imagined. In doing so, you create a distrustful work environment by not encouraging other women to come forward.

No foul language

One of the best things a man can do when he hears misogynistic and sexist remarks from other men is to push back. Gently, but firmly, tell them those type of comments are not OK. It creates a hostile work environment, which helps no one. We need to let our fellow male coworkers know this is not acceptable, nor is the workplace the setting for that kind of language.

Hire more women

In my time in IT, there has always been an overwhelmingly male environment. I would always wonder why aren’t their more women working in technology? The simple answer is because we are not hiring them. Evia, a virtual event solutions company conducted a poll and found that women hold only 20% of tech jobs. In order for us to make the work environment more balanced and different points of view found, we as men need to hire more women.

Black Enterprise Contributors Network 

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Career | Black Enterprise


How To Become Visible Through Personal Branding in the Social Age

For some professionals, personal branding is a must—while for others it seems like a distraction in this social age. But we can assure you that it’s not. Being visible in this digital era no matter what industry you work in or your level of expertise is extremely critical for your professional and personal brand. In other words, if you want to shine where you are or want to level up, you have to position yourself to be seen on and offline.

Jacqueline Jones, head of Strategic Partnerships at LinkedIn; Rita Mitjans, chief diversity & corporate social responsibility officer at ADP; Monica W. Peterson, director of Affiliate Vehicle Planning and Pricing Product Planning & Strategy at Toyota Motor North America Inc.; and Yolanda Murphy, vice president of Communications at Northrop Grumman Technology Services dived deeply into how women can present their best-selves during the 14th Annual Women of Power Summit.

personal branding

The Visible Woman: Personal Branding in a Social Age panel at the Women of Power Summit

First things first, your online portfolio whether it’s your personal website or LinkedIn holds more value than you think.

“Make sure that you are able to articulate and present the brand that you want others to see. Social media gives you the power to represent yourself the way you want to be,” said Mitjans.

To that point, Peterson said, “be intentional about what your LinkedIn profile has in there.”

Use Social Platforms to Your Advantage:

  • Update your profile picture
  • Be clear about who you are, what you do, and the value you add in your biography
  • Make sure that your information is accurate and up to date
  • Share your expertise by blogging, engaging with other thought leaders, and sharing articles

It’s been said that the best time to look for a new job is on the first day of your new job, but, when it comes to personal branding and job searching that same logic does not apply. “You don’t just update LinkedIn when you’re looking for new jobs,” Peterson added.

And Jones couldn’t agree more as a leader at LinkedIn. She believes that social platforms give people of color the opportunity to tap into economic power.

Consistency is also key

“If your employers can see your profile and it represents a different person than you bring to work every day, you need to re-evaluate what you’re posting,” said Peterson.

Murphy got serious about personal branding in 2014 when she realized how important it was to tell her story.

“What I’ve come to learn is that it’s a form of currency. For example, look at your savings account…you’re investing so that you can get something back in return – a return on your investment. Your personal brand is no different. It’s something that is returning dividends to you and your company or those who you choose to do business with.”

Another tactic Murphy uses to manage her brand is to be selective about what she shares publicly. This allows her to engage in topics she wants to be a part of and those that serve her personal brand.

“I’ll talk about my kids, I’ll talk about communications. I don’t talk about money, faith, or politics. I set boundaries for what I will and will not talk about,” she added.

Personal branding in the social age also lends itself to the opportunity to build relationships offline so that you can land different opportunities.

“Partner with corporate communications. Pitch corporate comms your story and why you would be a great representative and how your story exemplifies what they are trying to say,” said Jones.

The general consensus when it comes to personal branding is to craft your narrative, share it, and shine! Finding the right strategy for your personal brand online comes with time but you can get started today with this expert advice.



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Career | Black Enterprise


Adtalem Global Education CEO Lisa Wardell on Being Intentional In Your Career

Lisa Wardell is the president and CEO of Adtalem Global Education and is on the 2019 Black Enterprise “The Most Powerful Women in Corporate America” list. Wardell is the only black women CEO of an S&P 500 company. 

Intentionality is a term we hear frequently in business, but it’s originally a philosophical term. It’s defined as “the quality of mental states (e.g., thoughts, beliefs, desires, hopes) that consists in their being directed toward some object or state of affairs.” To me, that means purposefully putting thoughts into actions to drive measurable results.

I have attempted to be intentional in my career by performing well in my current position, and by consistently seeking feedback and incorporating that guidance into my professional life. I seek out mentors to help me build my leadership skills, and use sponsors to assist me in advancing my career. I also set goals for one, three, and five years out, and regularly revisit those goals to keep myself on track.

As the president and CEO of Adtalem Global Education, I have the opportunity to practice intentionality on a much larger stage, leading a nearly $ 3 billion organization of 18,000 people. I seek intentionality on three focus areas: creating a performance culture, effecting diversity and inclusion, and solidifying our mission-driven focus. Measurement is an important part of being intentional, and in creating a performance culture to meet our objectives, I’ve tied executive compensation to both diversity and inclusion outcomes and to the pursuit of top talent; for top talent is intentional about their own performance and in leading teams that do so with the organization’s mission in view.

Intentionality in our three focus areas is reflected in our financial performance—Adtalem’s stock price has more than tripled in 2.5 years—and intentionality is reflected in our leading education policies, academic standards, and life-long learning programs that contribute to the global workforce in a meaningful way.

Active intentionality isn’t always easy to accomplish; even CEOs get push back. When I said I wanted every recruiting search to include ethnically diverse candidates, I was told there may not be enough qualified candidates to accomplish that goal. Of course, we know better and our organization reflects it. Our board of directors is now 44% African American and 67% combined women and people of color (POC). The Adtalem leadership team has gone from nominally diverse to 40% POC, 47% women, and 80% combined. And our pipeline of talent for future leaders is deep and growing. Recruiting is aided because talented, diverse candidates flock to a talented and diverse workforce.

While there is always more to do as Adtalem drives toward its global education mission, I’m proud our team’s intentionality is delivering improved performance by a workforce that’s reflective of those we serve in global education. Acting intentionally holds power and promise: the power to achieve our professional and organizational goals, and the promise of building stronger global communities.

The post Adtalem Global Education CEO Lisa Wardell on Being Intentional In Your Career appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


Most Powerful Women in Corporate America

A black woman may not be the image that comes to mind for most people when they hear corporate power—and it certainly won’t be the result of a Google search—but around here, we know better. Women of color are remaking the face of leadership teams and C-suites at corporations across the country and around the globe.

So we’re celebrating the fearless female executives who have managed both to stand firm in the face of hostile corporate environments and to take the bull by the metaphorical horns, powering their careers to the top.

The recent Women in the Workplace report from McKinsey and LeanIn showed that black women receive the least support of all women (and significantly less support than men) from their managers, with just 35% reporting that their managers create opportunities for them to showcase their work, promote their contributions to others, or socialize with them outside of work. 

So how have dozens of black women overcome these obstacles to make it to the top of the corporate ladder? By owning their power, of course.

“Take ownership for your own career,” says Tracey Travis, CFO of Estée Lauder.

“You have an opportunity of readying yourself and expressing an interest in those areas that the management team is looking at in terms of valued experience and trying to build relationships with the folks that run those areas to make yourself more known.”

The 136 women on the roster make up our largest ever list of the crème of the crop of the most powerful black women in corporate America. They have succeeded by leading with performance, deeply understanding their company culture, deftly navigating the corporate landscape, and—above all—wisely wielding their power to determine their own destiny.



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Divisional CEOs

[a-team-showcase id=”600453″]

Powerful Executives

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[a-team-showcase id=”634875″]



Executives must meet the following criteria to make our roster:
  • Hold companywide and industrywide influence, each list member represents the highest-ranking executives among the following universes:
    • 1,000 largest publicly traded companies
    • 100 largest international companies with significant U.S. operations
    • S&P 500 companies
    • Largest privately held companies and institutions
    • Each executive has a direct impact on ensuring their corporations are market leaders and/or play a vital leadership role in revenue generation, profitability, market share, and strategic development. As such, they hold top-tier and executive officer positions of the entire enterprise; oversee major global, national, and regional subsidiaries and divisions; and maintain significant budget authority. Positions include those with oversight of operations, sales, marketing, talent, technological infrastructure, and product development.
  • Each executive reports directly to the CEO, COO, or the executive management team or hold positions on corporate board committees.
  • Top-tier executives who serve as corporate officers or members of the senior leadership team.
  • Women who hold C-suite positions including CEO (chief executive officer); COO (chief operating
    officer); CFO (chief financial officer); CAO (chief administrative officer); CIO/CTO (chief information
    officer/chief technology officer); or another top designation on the corporate leadership
    team, senior management group, executive committee, or corporate board. Those who hold the
    positions of Chief Compliance Officer; Chief Legal Officer and/or General Counsel and Chief Human
    Resource Officer are included. Other titles include president, general manager, executive vice
    president, or other such high-ranking positions. Using our research and reporting, BE may have
    also chosen executives based on their decision-making clout and influence within a given sector
  • All executives have held their positions as of Dec. 1, 2018.

Executives who have been excluded from our list:

  • Non-executive corporate directors—regardless of board position including chairman and lead director.
  • Executives who manage local and statewide divisions.
  • Executives who work for government agencies and entities under full government control.
  • Regardless of inclusion on the executive committee, leading executives with sole responsibility for staff functions such as corporate communications, corporate affairs, investor relations, public affairs, public policy, media relations, and community affairs.
  • Although vital to global business overall, CEOs and top executives from the BE 100s—the nation’s largest black businesses—were not included. (BE has separate rankings for the BE 100s.)

The post Most Powerful Women in Corporate America appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


Are Black People Hindering Diversity and Inclusion Progress?

In January, BLACK ENTERPRISE posted an article that featured one of my Facebook posts “16 Things Black People Do to Annoy White People.” Social media tried to rip it apart. For the first time in my life, I pissed a lot of black people off.

Let’s rewind: I have spent my entire career giving black people a voice and fighting for diversity and inclusion.

Fast-forward to now: It was extremely disheartening that one of my first national forays on a black platform was negatively received, especially by black people. The article didn’t offer the context around my post, so out of context, the meaning was lost. I’m a rational person with 20-plus years in diversity and communications. So the first thing I did was go to social media to put context to the article to explain why I was compiling the information. To many — it made sense, but I soon realized many more did not care about the rationale behind the post.

The Post

In case you missed it, my original post asked white people what black people do that irritate them. I didn’t ask black people the same question because I have been black for 45 years. I have a pretty good grasp on what those things are, but I do realize black people are not all the same. I have held many forums and conversations with thousands of us to understand our different thoughts and feelings. Also, having worked in this field for as long as I have, I was pretty sure I knew the answers white people would have, but that is a part of the problem. We “think” we know how each race feels without actually speaking with them to gain understanding. After asking a few white people around the office, I posted it to see what kind of responses it would elicit.

Emotions got heated on Facebook, but it got ridiculous after BE posted it. Radio personality and actor D.L. Hughley retweeted without much comment, and from there it blew up. I was called a coon. My mother was called a coon. I was another black woman looking for a white savior. I was bringing down the entire black race by providing a platform for white people to be racist in telling us how they feel. The white people who did answer my post by sharing their thoughts were harassed, ridiculed, and disrespected.

I was hotter than fish grease. Nobody disrespects mom. Once I calmed down, I took some time to think. I was left with one burning question: Do people of color (mainly black people) bear some responsibility in hindering the progress of diversity and inclusion?

Before you get pissed off again hear me out. I know that unconscious bias plays a huge part in people of color not getting hired for jobs or earning promotions. As a diversity expert, I know systemic racism is a part of many companies and that inclusive cultures don’t truly exist. This means many of us still don’t have a voice to share ideas, to provide meaningful collaboration, or to act in opposition to how we feel.

How are Blacks Hindering Progress?

By now you’re saying, if you know all that, how is it that we are hindering progress? Regardless of how we feel, it will never be all about us. If we don’t figure out how to meet people where they are, we will continue to stifle our inclusive growth. This growth can transfer into a skill set that would enable you to have a stronger voice at work, with family and in valued relationships. It is imperative to know what others are thinking. Not because you need to validate their feelings, but because learning how each other thinks can bring about strategic change or at the very least, let you know where you stand in someone else’s mind.

If we are to move the needle toward inclusion, we cannot let the stereotypical, angry responses define us. If we do, then who are we? And how do we have open conversations with others, if we allow our emotions to overtake our good sense and humanity? A simple mental paradigm shift can make the difference in acquiring a new skill, but this won’t happen overnight. So I invite you to take this journey with me as we talk through the difficult conversations. Follow me at #RishaTalks to stay tuned and add to the conversation.

Black Enterprise Contributors Network 

The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author’s and not necessarily the opinion of Black Enterprise.

The post Are Black People Hindering Diversity and Inclusion Progress? appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


Business Titan Ken Chenault Opens Up About His Legacy and Career [VIDEO]

Kenneth I. Chenault, one of the most dynamic business leaders in modern times, opens up about his journey to the top of the corporate ladder in a televised interview produced by The HistoryMakers, the nation’s largest African American video oral history archives.

The former CEO of American Express retired in February 2018 after 16 years of leading the financial company’s innovation, transformation, and growth as chief executive. Under his leadership, American Express earned global recognition as a leader in customer service while its signature Membership Rewards program grew into one of the largest customer loyalty programs in the world. BLACK ENTERPRISE first discovered and profiled Chenault in the December 1985 issue and has followed his ascent and career milestones ever since.

Since announcing his resignation, Chenault has extended his business savvy expertise to the boards of corporate giants like Airbnb and Facebook. He also joined venture capital firm General Catalyst as chairman and a managing director last year.

An Evening With Ken Chenault

In November, Chenault spoke openly about his career and legacy with CBS sportscaster James “J.B.” Brown during a live taping at The New York Times Center in New York City. The program, titled An Evening with Ken Chenault, provides a rare inside look into his life and rise to the head of one of the world’s most successful companies. “My most important legacy that I can leave is that I made a meaningful difference in people’s lives. I hope I have been a catalytic agent for change,” he said. “I firmly believe that none of us should be satisfied by the status quo—you should always try to change the status quo.”

The hourlong program also includes exclusive interviews with business luminaries who’ve been directly inspired by Chenault’s leadership, including Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey, former Xerox CEO Ursula Burns, Merck CEO Kenneth C. Frazier, and Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr.

“He is a leader, he is competitive, and he is smart,” said Buffett, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, while describing Chenault. “The real test of leadership is when you go up the mountain and your troops follow you. They follow you because they believe in you and they believe you do see the value over the top mountain. If they don’t see it, they will still follow.”

Julieanna Richardson, the founder and president of The HistoryMakers, said in a statement that Chenault’s story has been “overlooked for far too long and deserves to be highlighted.” She added, “it is critical to show the world that African Americans have had an active role to play in both entrepreneurship and in corporate America.”

An Evening with Ken Chenault airs on PBS local station WNET on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 1 p.m. EST. It can also be viewed online. Watch below.

The post Business Titan Ken Chenault Opens Up About His Legacy and Career [VIDEO] appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


Serena Williams Serves Up Another Directorship: She Joins Poshmark’s Board of Directors

Serena Williams is flexing her influential muscles by adding another directorship under her belt—she has joined the board of directors of online social retail and reselling platform, Poshmark. This is Williams’s second directorship. In 2017, she joined the board of the online survey giant, SurveyMonkey.

The entrepreneur and sports icon is the first African American and first woman on Poshmark’s board. She will help guide the social commerce company in its plans for increased growth.

Poshmark announced her appointment to their board of directors on Wednesday, with founder and CEO Manish Chandra championing Williams as a welcome addition and a great fit for the company given her entrepreneurial prowess and passion.

“Poshmark was built by a community of strong, independent women just like Serena Williams,” said Manish Chandra, founder & CEO of Poshmark in a press release. “As both our company and community continue to grow, it’s important that we bring smart and diverse new voices to the table, and we couldn’t be more thrilled about what the future holds with Serena in our corner.”

The California-based online marketplace is powered by a community of 40 million people selling and buying used items. The platform currently hosts more than 75 million listings and also serves as a place where users can showcase their personal style. Since its founding in 2011, Poshmark says that it has distributed over $ 1 billion to its community of sellers.

Williams launched her own clothing line, SERENA, in 2018. This launch put her on Poshmark’s radar for potential involvement, and the company envisioned her to be a natural fit as it scales up its social commerce platform. Williams also saw this as an opportunity to make yet another impact.

“Poshmark is disrupting retail by making shopping and selling social again, and I love working with a company that gives anyone an opportunity to become an entrepreneur,” Williams said in a press release.

In a video about the announcement, Williams said she is excited to join Poshmark because the company speaks to her core values. “For me it was a no-brainer,” she said. Williams stated that she was already a Poshmark user for years, mostly as a buyer. But now she will officially become a seller on the platform.

In addition to joining Poshmark’s board, she is also launching a Posh Closet for Charity, benefiting the nonprofit she started in 2016, The Yetunde Price Resource Center, based in her Compton, California, hometown.

It’s a cause that’s dear to her: Empowering victims of violence by enabling them to receive access to resources that foster healing, resiliency, personal growth and transformation. The Yetunde Price Resource Center, the namesake of the Williams’s oldest sister, Yetunde, who was tragically killed by an act of violence in 2003, works with partner organizations to offer trauma-informed programs, including health and mental health providers, schools, and art therapy.

Fans will have the opportunity to shop clothing worn by Williams in her Posh Closet for Charity, including the floral kimono she wore to the 2017 French Open, dresses worn on the red carpet, a custom-made Gucci jacket, and many more items.

She will be donating all of her proceeds to the Yetunde​ ​Price Resource Center​. Those interested in shopping Serena’s closet, can check out​.

Below, see the reasons behind why Serena feels strongly about the company as she and Poshmark CEO Manish Chandra sit down to discuss her appointment to the board.

The post Serena Williams Serves Up Another Directorship: She Joins Poshmark’s Board of Directors appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


Rosalind Brewer to Sit on Amazon’s Board

CNN is reporting that Amazon has named Rosalind Brewer, the current chief operating officer of Starbucks, and one of the most influential black women corporate executives, to its board. The news was revealed in a recent SEC filing. Brewer is only the second African American woman to sit on the company’s board in its 25-year existence; the first was Myrtle Potter, who served on the board from 2004 to 2009.

Brewer made history in 2012 when she was named as the president and CEO of Sam’s Club, becoming the first African American woman to be named as a CEO at one of Walmart’s divisions. Brewer announced her retirement from that role in January and joined Starbucks’ board. Shortly thereafter, she was appointed COO of the coffee chain.

Brewer was also listed on BLACK ENTERPRISE‘s 2015 50 Most Powerful Women in Corporate America and spoke at the 2013 BE Women of Power Summit.

A Personality for Business

The Detroit native and youngest of five children graduated from Spelman College in 1984 with a chemistry degree and thoughts of pursuing a career in optometry. Yet, she built a reputation as a strong consumer packaged goods professional at Kimberly-Clark Corp., maker of brand-name consumer products such as Kleenex and Huggies.

“I started out as an organic chemist for Kimberly-Clark, but during the interviewing process I really wanted to get into the business side,” she said in a 2012 interview with BE. “At the time, they were starting a research and development group in the Atlanta area and I decided to go with my discipline to just get the job. But I realized with my personality and how I interacted with teams that I had the ability to be more on the business side.”

In 2004, Brewer became president of Kimberly-Clark’s Global Nonwoven Sector, gaining oversight of manufacturing plants in Korea, Australia, Latin America, the U.K., and the United States. Her team focused on streamlining manufacturing operations and driving product innovations with commercial brands such as Huggies and Pull-Ups diapers and Kotex feminine products. The result: sales grew 28% from $ 900 million in 2003 to $ 1.15 billion in 2005.

Taking a Career Risk

In 2006, Brewer made a risky career move. She accepted an offer to join Walmart—a company in transition at the time, with falling sales and an embattled reputation, particularly around diversity practices.

By 2010, Walmart’s senior management realigned the organization to focus on consumer engagement and increasing scale; it grouped U.S. operations into three distinct areas. Brewer was tapped as president of its Eastern business unit, responsible for generating $ 110 billion in revenue through the operation of 1,600 stores—from Puerto Rico to Maine—and the management of nearly 500,000 associates. Her next promotion would make history. After Brian Cornell resigned as head of Walmart’s Sam’s Club subsidiary, Brewer was installed as president and CEO of Walmart’s Sam’s Club, a $ 53.8 billion division representing 12% of Walmart’s business

Upon the announcement of Brewer’s appointment to Sam’s Club, one of the first congratulatory calls she received was from another powerful executive, Ursula Burns, the former chairman and CEO of Xerox Corp.

“She probably doesn’t know how much I idolize her. I wasn’t breathing while I was speaking to her on the phone,” Brewer said at the time.

“She spent time telling me some of the pitfalls and how to manage myself and how to say no to certain things.” Burns, the only African American woman to run one America’s largest publicly traded corporations, also invited the newly minted CEO to her offices for some extended mentoring.

When Brewer decided to change industries, becoming a CEO was never her goal. She has always been professionally driven by a need for autonomy and an ability to make an impact within an organization. After more than two decades at Kimberly-Clark, she hit a dead end. Brewer recalls: “I knew I needed to do something totally different. I wanted to test out the things that I’d learned. After 22 years you’re usually in a silo and jump out of desperation. I didn’t realize how prepared I was until I did it.”


Editor’s Note: This article was revised on Feb. 8, 2019, to correct the original headline and text, which incorrectly noted Rosalind Brewer as the first black woman appointed to Amazon’s board. Myrtle Potter, who served on the board from 2004 to 2009, was the first African American woman appointed to the board. Brewer is the second.



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Career | Black Enterprise


Lil’ Wayne Co-Founded Sports Agency Brings on Powerful Black Female Sports Agent In Acquisition

Nicole Lynn is in a very unique position. She is the first black female sports agent to represent top NFL agency, PlayersRep. In 2017, PlayersRep was acquired by Young Money APAA Sports Agency owned by world-renowned rapper, Lil’ Wayne. In an industry very dominated by male agents and players alike, Black Enterprise caught up with Lynn to find out how she has managed to navigate the murky waters and make it to the top.

Black Enterprise: What is it like being a black female sports agent in a male-dominated industry?

Nicole Lynn: There are over 800 certified NFLPA agents with only about 5% being women. Only a handful of those women are black, so it goes without being said that being a black woman in this industry is extremely challenging. There are so many random issues I face that my male counterparts will never understand. For example, I have to be extremely cautious about the outfits I choose. I have to find the fine line between being presentable and looking nice, but not too nice. You never want to look like you’re trying to stand out more than any other wife or mom in the room. The last thing you want to do is make a wife feel uncomfortable. So I battle with choosing a lipstick that isn’t too bright, heels that aren’t too high and a dress that isn’t too “dressy.” And to make matters worse, being a black woman who likes to change her hair frequently, I have to think of how potential clients will take it. Can I be the girl with Beyoncé weave? Will they be OK with my 3C natural hair with a twist out? Male agents never have to think about half of the potential issues black female agents silently battle.

Despite all of this, I know that I cannot let these personal challenges hinder my performance. Confidence is key in this industry. I always tell potential clients, “I can do a lot for you—get you the best deal, market the crap out of you, and work hard for your family, but there is one thing I can’t do, and that is changing the fact that I am a black woman. If you can accept that, we can make magic happen together!” I pray that my work always speaks for itself and shows that I am equally as knowledgeable, negotiate just as aggressively, and possess the tools necessary to help clients propel their career.

How did you enter into the industry?

I’ve always wanted to be a sports agent, but I didn’t quite know the name of the role. I just knew I wanted to help athletes be successful during and beyond their time in the league. With that in mind, every decision I made was extremely calculated with the same endgame in mind. I got a degree in business and then moved to New York City to work on Wall Street. My initial intention of getting into finance was to help athletes manage and retain their wealth.

While working on Wall Street I learned that the most influential person in an athlete’s life is their agent, not necessarily their financial adviser. The agent helps the athlete with the day to day needs of the athlete and helps them back the big life decision. After I determined I wanted to be a sports agent, I immediately applied to law school. I went to law school knowing I would later sit for the NFLPA agent exam. I worked at the NFLPA in Washington, D.C. before starting as an agent so I could learn everything I could about life after football.

In 2015, after passing both the Texas Bar and NFLPA exam, I started calling around to different sports agencies. Almost none returned my calls. I finally got one to answer, Ken Sarnoff. He basically told me that being a sports agent is hard and that I should rethink my plans. He even challenged me to get him a meeting with a certain NFL prospect with little faith that I would actually succeed. If you know me, then you know that I don’t give up. I called Ken back a couple hours later like “hey he’s available tomorrow, you got an opening?” From that point on, Ken understood that I had what it took to be in this industry. He hired me a week later and I joined the top 10 sports agency PlayersRep.

Two years later, Young Money APAA Sports, owned by Lil Wayne, acquired PlayersRep and we’ve been in a whirlwind since. Like how crazy is it to have Lil Wayne as your boss?! Even I couldn’t have dreamt this up! Being a sports agent is hard, to say the very least. You invest a significant amount of time and resources only to get a lot more no’s than yeses.’ However, the feeling you get when you’re able to get your client on the team of their dreams or negotiate the endorsement deal of a lifetime, it is all worth it. I love my crazy job!

Lil Wayne

Nicole Lynn and NFL client (Image: Nicole Lynn)

What do you think that you bring to the table that your male counterparts do not?

I don’t want to take anything away from the men that work in this business. There are a lot of very good male sports agents that truly care about their clients. However, I think one of the differences between me and my male counterparts is that I focus on more than just the NFL contract. I tap into the human element and the emotional aspect of the relationship with my client. I am a sports agent, but also a life coach, a financial adviser, a travel agent, a therapist, a friend, a sister, and a keeper of peace for my clients. I wear a lot of hats. Many men in this business refuse to wear those hats. I also focus from day one on life after sports. I want to make sure that my client’s transition out of the league is seamless. From the moment I sign a client, I am already having hard conversations about what is next? What is their plan when playing football is over? And I help them in executing this plan by pushing them to finish their degree, to do externships in the offseason, and to retain their wealth. I truly care about the long-term future of my clients.


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Career | Black Enterprise


Two Black Enterprise Editors Named Among Top 10 Journalists Covering Black Interests

Two legendary BLACK ENTERPRISE editors, Derek T. Dingle and Alfred Edmond Jr., have been named among the top ten most influential U.S. print journalists covering black interests, business, and culture.

The listing was compiled by Cision Media Research which maintains a database of more than 1.6 million records, including social influencers, traditional media contacts, outlets and opportunities.

Dingle is currently the senior vice president and Chief Content Officer of BE. He is responsible for the strategic planning and editorial direction of the content teams. His bio is featured in The HistoryMakers: 

He graduated from Norfolk State University with a B.A. in journalism and also completed the Magazine Management Program at New York University.

Dingle joined Black Enterprise magazine in 1983 as an assistant editor and was promoted six months later to associate editor. After he completed the New York University magazine management program in 1985, he was made a senior editor. In 1987, Dingle was promoted once again to managing editor, a position he held until 1990. He then joined the staff of Money magazine, where he wrote articles about mutual fund investment and served as senior writer and a member of the planning team for Money Special on Small Business. In 1991, Dingle co-founded Milestone Media Inc., the nation’s largest black-owned comic book company, with childhood friends Denys Cowan, Dwayne McDuffue, Michael Davis and Christopher Priest. After resigning from Money magazine in 1992, he was named Milestone’s president and CEO. One Milestone character, Static Shock, was developed into an animated series that ran from 2000 to 2005 on the WB Network and the Cartoon Network. In December of 1999, Dingle returned to Black Enterprise magazine as editor-at-large. Within a year, he was promoted to vice president and executive editor, serving until July of 2008. That year, Dingle was appointed as the senior vice president and editor-in-chief of Black Enterprise magazine, where he was responsible for the strategic planning and editorial direction of the magazine. In 2014, Dingle was named a Chief Content Officer of Black Enterprise. 

Alfred Edmond Jr. is SVP/editor-at-large of BE. He is a content leader, brand representative and expert resource for all media platforms under the BE brand, including the web site, social media, and live networking events. From 2008 through 2010, Edmond was SVP/editor-in-chief of, helping to lead the transition of BE from single-magazine publisher to digital-first multimedia company. From 1995 through 2008, Edmond was chief editor of BE magazine. He has also hosted the Urban Business Roundtable on WVON-AM in Chicago and  Money Matters, a syndicated radio feature of American Urban Radio Networks. Edmond is also an entrepreneur, speaker, author, and amateur natural bodybuilding competitor. Edmond also heads the content for the BE Modern Man franchise and spearheads the anchor team of the Black Men Xcel Summit. He co-authored Loving in the Grown Zone(Balboa Press; 28.95) with his spouse Zara Green.

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Career | Black Enterprise


5 Ways to Increase Your Net Worth Through Your Network

You’ve probably heard the saying, “your network equals your net worth,” or to put it another way—it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Those with affluence and influence tend to network with those with similar attributes. You can increase your net worth through your network.

However, networking isn’t just about connecting with people who have money but with those who have influence and can open doors for you. But how do you become a master networker?

Five Ways to Increase Your Net Worth Through Your Network 

Go where you’re most uncomfortable 

Lisa Nichols, a transformational coach says, “You will never find your next best version of you sitting inside of your comfort zone.” If the opportunity to rise to the next level means getting into rooms, showing up in places, and having conversations with those whom you wouldn’t normally talk to, then it’s time to take a deep breath and step out on that limb.

Assess your network 

Your network is bigger than you think. It’s your classmates from every level of education. As an alumnus of Northwestern University, I was able to connect with classmates, professors, and other graduates to land one of my highest paying jobs back in 2008, and increase my income by $ 25,000 when I switched jobs. Unfortunately, most people discredit their connections with their colleges even though every college has an alumni association and network. Also, don’t disregard your church connections, or people you do business with like your doctors, hair stylists, bankers, and others.

Prepare in advance for networking events 

Prepare for networking events by knowing beforehand what you want to discuss and who you want to meet.

Show up early to networking events

Busy people often show up early to networking events and don’t always stay the entire time. The person you may want to meet at an event may not be there if you arrive too late.

Follow Up 

It’s important to follow-up after a networking event. Not only with new relationships, but with those you may have met before. Another way to reconnect is to share an article that might be beneficial to them or invite them to an event that they could benefit them.

Black Enterprise Contributors Network 








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Career | Black Enterprise


Caribbean Women Reported as First All-Black Women’s Rowing Team to Cross Atlantic Ocean in Grueling Sport Competition

Four women from Antigua have just completed a grueling rowing competition and many are heralding them as the first all-black women’s rowing team to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Their official team name is Team Antigua- The Island Girls.

Competitive rowers Elvira Bell, Christal Clashing, Samara Emmanuel, and Kevinia Francis participated in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. They set course on Dec. 12 from the Canary Islands and landed in Antigua on Jan. 30—a 3,000-mile trip. A fifth member of the team, Junella King did not actively participate in the race, but trained with the others and served as an alternate.

According to the Indy100 website, the rowing race is one of the toughest in the world. Rowers burn an average of 8,000 calories during the competition.

The women competed in name of their chosen charity, Cottage of Hope, which offers short- and long-term residency to girls who are abused, neglected, or orphaned. Their goal was to raise $ 150,000 for the organization.

The nation of Antigua burst into collective celebration as the women finished the race. As per The Loop, the country’s government officials shortened a budget debate so that politicians could be present when the team arrived in their homeland. Public and private institutions closed early so that more people could meet with and congratulate the team.

The team battled sea sickness and their boat nearly capsized at one point during their journey, reports The Daily Observer. They were presented with a gift by Antigua’s Prime Minister upon their return.

The team’s website has bios of each team member. Christal Clashing is an adventure guide and travel writer. In 2004, she became the first female swimmer to represent Antigua and Barbuda at the Olympics.

Elvira Bell is a swim instructor and a certified health coach. Samara Emmanuel is the first Antiguan woman to become a certified yacht captain and has more than 12 years’ seafarer experience. She is also a certified day skipper, coastal skipper, yacht master, and boat master among a lengthy list of certifications.

Kevinia Francis is a title-winning, all-around athlete who excels in basketball, cycling, martial arts, and track-and-field.

Junella King is just 17-years-old. She juggles school and sailing while working part-time as a sailing instructor.

Register now for the Women of Power Summit taking place at The Mirage, Las Vegas on Feb. 28–March 3, 2019 

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Career | Black Enterprise


16 Things Black People Say or Do That Annoy White People at Work (And In General)

We published a list of things that white people should never say to their black co-workers. Now, Risha Grant, a public relations professional and diversity and inclusion expert, asked white people on her Facebook feed, to list the things that black people say or may do that annoy them.

Here are 16 of the top annoyances (mild and otherwise) that white people said they felt about black people mostly in the workplace, but also in general (these are posted verbatim from Risha Grant’s Facebook feed):

When you want to be friends with them at work but there are other black girls so you just can’t get close cuz ur just the white girl who is held at arms length. You get the feeling that they don’t believe you wanna be their friend. They think we are too different.

…there have been times that conversation with a Black person somehow turns to the topic of inequality…I have no way of truly knowing all the privilege that I enjoy as a white, straight male. I just know there are times, I’d like to learn more and the door closes.

…any time a black person walks into a room — say a new employee in an office — they make a beeline to the other black faces. It can be disappointing because I may know from advance notification about your hiring that you and I have a lot in common, but I have to work harder to be your friend.

On social media, a lot of my activist black friends will post complaints about “white people say …” “white people think…” “white people do …” And I always feel like saying, “Not ALL white people!”


 more common amongst my black friends than any other group. I don’t like it when black people bring up my ‘white privilege’ for the reason they aren’t as well off as they THINK I am

I feel uncomfortable joining amazing organizations if prefaced with ‘black’. Like black nurses association. These are amamazazazing colleagues I want to network with but….I’m not black.

…have noticed a lot of times when I expect the black friend of mine to follow through or follow up on a conversation, weather [sic] it be to contact someone in business or to get back with me with some information it doesn’t always happen. So I would say for me it’s follow through or follow up when conversations are made about moving forward with something.

when I was working with children it seemed more common for black adults to come down on a child for crying or having emotions (particularly when little boys and young men cried, telling them to “Man up.”)

I can say that in my traditional classrooms over the years I’ve had more black kids that seem to go right to fighting on the playground- not a lot of build up, just straight to throwing punches

“The victim.” The ones that make any non black race feel like a dog for what their ancestors may or may not have done during the periods of slavery, and act like the current period non black races owe them something for it. 

Speaking as if they are uneducated. not accents but refusing to speak correctly.

…it seems like African Americans never use a crosswalk. Even if it’s right in front of them, they will go out of their way NOT to cross at the light. Is there something there or am I imagining things?

Poor grammar

It really irritates me that y’all can dance so much better than me! (No one who witnessed it has EVER forgotten your valiant attempt to teach me the Wobble!)

…please don’t assume all white people support Trump. Because we don’t.

A white person has to walk on eggshells with caveats to keep overly sensitive people from being offended — that seems to be one thing that black people do—get offended to easily.

In an article for about her controversial Facebook question, Grant wrote that it took “almost two days to manage the 206 comments, shares, direct messages, and personal texts I received.” She went on to say, “Exercise that muscle to help you understand that regardless of how you identify, we are all a part of the human race. Once we understand that, we will better understand each other; and with that comes grace, respect, and total acceptance.”






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Career | Black Enterprise


Risha Grant: Black Women Need Allies in the Workplace

Risha Grant, the founder and CEO of Risha Grant L.L.C., an award-winning diversity and inclusion consulting and communications firm, recently posted a thought-provoking and provocative question on her Facebook page:

What do Black people do that irritate White people?

The responses from white people evoked counter-responses from black folk ranging from seething outrage to an appreciation for this open dialogue. You can read them here: 16 THINGS BLACK PEOPLE SAY OR DO THAT ANNOY WHITE PEOPLE AT WORK (AND IN GENERAL). 

However, Grant is not simply being a provocateur. For the past 18 years, she has helped major corporations tackle their people problems and solve their diversity and inclusion issues. Now she wants to help you form the relationships you need by equipping you with tools to build allies.

In an exclusive interview with Black Enterprise, Grants speaks about how black women can tap into their power and eliminate what she has coined Bias Synapse, easily remembered as BS, in the workplace.


The Foundation of Allyship


Black Enterprise: Why is building allies at work critical for black women?

Risha Grant: Black women are commonly and unfairly stereotyped as angry and uncompromising. Building a support system of allies is critical in keeping those misconceptions in check. Additionally, building authentic relationships with other co-workers can help you to excel simply because these allies will understand, support, and speak up for who you are and how you operate. From a collaborative standpoint, working with allies allows others to experience your work ethic, creativity, and problem-solving ability. This will provide your allies with the knowledge needed to tout your abilities to the leaders within your company.

In an earlier conversation, we spoke about some of the pillars of alliances being authenticity, communication, and trust. What else would you say is key to the equation of allyship?

Collaboration, strategy, and equality. All these pillars are instrumental to the success of creating allies, but collaboration is the secret sauce to creating an allyship that will boost you to the C-suite. Collaborating allows others to truly understand your superhero powers as they see you fully flexing your leadership muscles. When it comes to strategy, it’s important to always have one. The strategy keeps you on point in recognizing who you should be seeking out as allies. Create a list of the qualities and abilities you need in an ally to climb the next step on the corporate ladder. Equality is super important because being someone’s ally can be draining at times. You want to make sure that you are reciprocating what you expect from others. There is nothing worse than becoming a drain on someone else in your quest to get ahead but when you are needed, you never have time to fit them into your schedule. Make sure you are equally vested in your ally’s success. Not only will it make them want to support you more, but it will also become a point of praise regarding your personality.


How can women form authentic relationships with their co-workers?

Being open, honest, and inclusive are the keys to building authentic relationships. Women, especially black women, may find this somewhat difficult because we have not typically found that we can trust people at work. We tend to lean on and confide in other black women because we are comfortable with them but it’s important that we open our circle up and give people a chance to experience our greatness. This is done through the inclusion of others. Opening yourself up to new experiences will enrich your work and personal life. Authentic relationships should happen organically but there is nothing wrong with planning your strategy for success. Be careful with honesty. Honesty is important but brutal honesty without tact does not build relationships, it destroys them. Meet people where they are. That means, address them with your honesty in a way that it can be received with grace and not humiliation.

Getting past the BS


Some women have been mistreated in some form by co-workers, how can they move past that so that they can build some kind of trust and positive working relationship?

Grace. I heard it said that the hardest thing we will ever do as humans is to forgive people who have never asked for our forgiveness. It’s important to do this for our own peace and success. You can’t build trust without forgiveness, so don’t make that your goal. Understand who you are dealing with and then work with this co-worker in a way that makes you comfortable. You can certainly still build a positive working relationship but keeping work at the forefront is instrumental to your own level of comfort. Learn to manage through your co-worker’s weaknesses for your success and that of your team.

Can you elaborate more on what you call the “pecking order” when it comes to how black women have to select allies in the workplace?

Black women must be strategic but bold in selecting allies. White men are at the top of the hierarchy and everyone else falls in between while black women are consistently at or near the bottom of the hiring and promoting pool. Black women need to focus on finding an ally that will not be envious or have the scarcity mentality. This means that certain people feel there is not enough to go around so becoming your ally could stop them from achieving some level of success. I recommend creating allies with white men, but it needs to be white men who recognize the power and privilege bestowed to them because then they are powerful allies. They can move mountains to support you and won’t worry about how it will affect their upward climb. But, remember you always want to give back what you are getting.

Allyship is a two-way street


How can women stand with their allies when tough times arise and still protect themselves?

This is tricky. At best, you may lose standing at work with your peers and at worst, you could lose your job. This is where ethics and character take center stage. We must support each other and typically suck at it. There is power in numbers and you never know when you will need someone to stand with you. Be a voice when someone is silenced but most importantly as you stand courageously with your ally, do so respectfully but document everything. It’s better to show it than to tell it.

What are some of the office behaviors that people should stay away from as they seek allies?

Pissy Polite people! This is a phrase I coined in my book to define consistent but subtle actions that poison work environments and co-workers. These are seemingly polite people, but their actions are accompanied by a subtle sarcastic undertone that makes it apparent that they don’t really like you or it’s a behavior exuded by individuals who feel obligated to be polite but can’t fake a sincere action. Overall, follow your gut instincts and not the office gossip. You could miss out on a powerful ally and friend if you don’t get to know people for yourself.

The return on relationships


What are some of the doors that open when you have allies?

Leadership opportunities, friendships, more responsibility, promotions and an overall, more positive work experience because you know someone is down for you and wants to see you succeed.


To learn more about how you can form allies, meet us at the Women of Power Summit for a timely conversation, “Can’t We All Just Get Along? How to Cultivate Diverse Allies” hosted by Pfizer on March 1 in Las Vegas.

The post Risha Grant: Black Women Need Allies in the Workplace appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


Would You Give Up Your Job for a Night With Michelle Obama? This Mayor Did

It’s understandable to want to see former first lady Michelle Obama in the flesh because she is just that fantastic. But you might not want to go about doing so they way this former Texas mayor and her associate did.

Lyndia Thomas, the mayor of Forest Hills, Texas, and her pro-tem mayor (defined by Chron as “deputy mayor pro tem, assumes mayoral duties in the event of a mayor’s absence due to death, physical incapacity, impeachment or resignation”), Beckie Duncan Hayes quit their posts after accusations of misusing city funds to pay for tickets to see Michelle Obama.

According to The Daily Mail, the duo expensed two $ 545 tickets to see Mrs. Obama on her Becoming book tour—and were reimbursed with money from the city’s public relations fund.

Rather than being ousted from their positions by that city’s council, the two resigned. Hayes later paid back the money.

The Daily Mail reported: “I will not leave my fate in the hands of other individuals,’ Hayes told WWFA following her resignation. I am a woman of integrity, and the allegations, they have no substance. They are false.”

“We don’t get a salary, but we are entitled to be reimbursed for our expenses,” said Thomas according to the report. “We are not trying to hide anything,” she continued.

ABC News reports that the two women say “they’re being targeted for political reasons, and they both said they will plan to run for city council again. The next election is in May.”

The Forest Hills city website now shows Clara Faulkner as the Deputy Mayor Pro Tem.





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Career | Black Enterprise


Fortune 500 Company Corporate Board Diversity at All-Time High

A new report from the Alliance for Board Diversity (ABD) and Deloitte, reveals that women and people of color represent 34% of all corporate board seats in Fortune 500 companies—placing board diversity at an all-time high.

Here are some key findings from the study:

-Black woman gained 32 board seats in 2018, an increase of 26.2% from 2016.

-Black men gained 26 board seats in 2018, an increase of 8.5% from 2016.

-Black and Asian women achieved the largest increase in board seats; black women at a 44.8% increase, and Asian women at a 30.8% increase.

-Companies are increasingly re-appointing minority board members to their boards rather than seeking out new directors.

“The increase in boardroom diversity over the last two years is encouraging, but we must not overlook that Caucasian/White men still hold 66% of all Fortune 500 board seats and 91.1% of chairmanships on these boards,” said Linda Akutagawa, chair for the Alliance for Board Diversity and president and CEO, LEAP (Leadership for Asian Pacifics).

“While progress has been achieved, there is still much more work to do,” said Deb DeHaas, vice chairman and national managing partner, Deloitte Center for Board Effectiveness.

‘Wokeness’ in the Boardroom 

Corporate America has been responsive to the wave of activism, particularly across social media, in regards to racism, sexism, economic inequality, and various other societal ills. Last year, Nike interjected itself into the heated debate over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem pre-game, to protest police brutality. The athletic apparel company made the symbol of the kneeling movement, Colin Kaepernick, a star in one of its ad campaigns.

The risk of offending customers who disagree with protesting on the field seemed to be worth taking. Nike’s sales increased 31% after the Kaepernick ad backlash.

Recently, Gillette, a Procter & Gamble brand, released an ad in line with the #MeToo movement, urging men to take responsibility for sexist behavior of other men. The ad is inciting both praise and outrage.

It’s not yet known how the controversial ad will affect P&G’s bottom line; the company is set to release its Q2 earnings next week (but so far, Wall Street speculation is favorable).

Burger King is the latest company to wade into political waters after posting a tweet poking fun at a misspelled tweet of Donald Trump’s.

CNN coined this ad trend “woke advertising.” This “wokeness” has presumably made it into the corporate boardrooms as the growing diversity board diversity numbers seem to evidence.

Despite Spate of Black Executive Board Appointments, Challenges Persist

A number of high-profile black executives have been appointed to the boards of some of the world’s largest companies. Last November, Nike announced the appointment of John W. Rogers, the CEO and founder of Ariel Investments L.L.C. to its board. Retired AMEX CEO Ken Chenault sits on the boards of Facebook and Airbnb. Edith Cooper, the executive vice president and global head of human capital at Goldman Sachs was added to Silicon Valley company Slack’s board. View a full listing of black board members on BLACK ENTERPRISE’s 2018 Registry of Corporate Directors.

As progress is made, challenges remain. One issue is that most board appointments come from the C-suite level and from the pool of corporate CEOs, in particular. The number of black CEOS at the corporate level has shrunk in recent years. Chenault actually discussed this issue with BE in a recent interview.

“We have a long way to go,” said Chenault. “As I’ve said publicly, I think it’s embarrassing that the number of African American CEOs has actually been reduced from eight years ago. That’s a serious problem. From an African American perspective, we are underrepresented. We can talk all the theories we want. People talk about the complexity of this issue. I know that there are very qualified people. They just haven’t gotten the opportunity.”

While it’s important to celebrate the achievement made in diversifying American corporate boards, there is still the need to build up the pipeline of qualified black executives that can ascend to the C-suite.

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Career | Black Enterprise


Sources: Kamala Harris Will Launch A Presidential Campaign Around MLK Jr. Day

Sen. Kamala Harris may officially announce her bid for the White House sometime during MLK weekend, according to inside sources who spoke to KCBS Radio in her home state of California.

Speculation that the Democratic senator will make a run for president next year escalated when she launched a book tour promoting her new memoir, The Truths We Hold: An American Journey, which published Tuesday. When questioned about the 2020 race on her tour, Harris has repeatedly said that she is not ready to announce her decision yet. However, several sources with knowledge of her plans say she and her family are indeed ready for a run.

Sources also say that the 54-year-old freshman senator is still debating on how and where to kick off a presidential campaign. KCBS reports that “the tentative plan is for Harris to enter the race for the Democratic presidential nomination with a campaign rally, most likely in Oakland, where she was born and began her legal career.” However, a spokesperson for Harris told The Hill, that no announcement is imminent and Harris will not be in Oakland during the holiday weekend.

Nonetheless, Harris told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Wednesday that she will make a final decision about 2020 soon and that she truly believes the nation is ready for a woman of color to be president.

“We have to give the American people more credit, and we have to understand that the American public and the people of our country are smart people who will make decisions about who will be their leader based on who they believe is capable, who they believe has an honest desire to lead, to represent, to see them, to be a voice for them even if they have no power,” she said.

Harris made history in 2017 when she became the second African American woman to be sworn into Congress as a U.S. Senator. Altogether, a total of just 10 African Americans have ever served in the U.S. Senate, including former President Barack Obama and Sen. Cory Booker.

If Harris jumps into the 2020 race, she would likely join Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who recently announced an exploratory committee for a presidential bid. Other potential high-profile Democratic candidates include Sen. Booker, Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas).

The post Sources: Kamala Harris Will Launch A Presidential Campaign Around MLK Jr. Day appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


Tonie Leatherberry Is the New Chair of the Executive Leadership Council

Tonie Leatherberry, who is a principal at Deloitte & Touche L.L.P., and president of the Deloitte Foundation, has been named the new chair of the Executive Leadership Council (ELC).

“After serving on The ELC board for several years and developing programs such as The ELC CEO Academy, I am honored to have the opportunity to continue my service and work with ELC members to expand The ELC’s reach and influence,” stated Leatherberry in a press release. “Given my passion for leadership development and understanding the critical need to help prepare the next generation of black and women of color C-suite executives, I am proud of the work we’ve done together. I look forward to playing a larger role in helping advance the impact of The ELC and its programs on industry, the marketplace, our communities, and beyond.”

The ELC is an organization dedicated to creating a pipeline of black corporate executives and leaders. Its members include some of the most preeminent black CEOS, senior executives, and board members of Fortune 1000 and other prestigious companies.

Leatherberry has been with Deloitte for over 25 years. As a principal in Deloitte’s Risk and Financial Advisory practice, she is responsible for supporting key accounts across Strategy, Enterprise Risk, Human Capital and Technology services. She has also served on Deloitte Consulting’s Board of Directors and as Deloitte Consulting’s Chief Inclusion Officer and serves on several advisory boards, including Widener University Board of Trustees, Boston University College of Engineering Advisory Committee, and Boston University Board of Overseers.

“Through her experience working across Deloitte and with multiple client organizations, Tonie understands what it takes to be an effective leader,” remarked Mike Fucci, Chairman of the Board of Deloitte and Chairman of the Deloitte Foundation. “I have no doubt that she will bring these qualities to her role as ELC chair and will continue to develop a strong pipeline of future leaders. Tonie’s passion for education at the intersection of diversity and helping others succeed to their full capacity has been a driving force of the Deloitte Foundation’s efforts for the past three years. I am so proud of Tonie and I am confident she will excel in this new role.”

She is also slated to speak at this year’s Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit, hosting the session, “Are You Board Ready?” where she will provide insight into how black women can find places on corporate boards.

Receiving numerous accolades, most notably as one of the top 25 consultants by Consulting Magazine, she was named by Black Enterprise as one of the Most Powerful Women in Business. Leatherberry has also been recognized as one of Pennsylvania’s “Top 50 Women in Business,” The Network Journal’s annual list of “25 Influential Black Women in Business,” as one of Savoy magazine’s “Top 100 Most Influential Blacks in Corporate America” and one of the “Top 100 under 50 Leader” by Diversity MBA Magazine.

“Tonie has been an enthusiastic and engaged member of The ELC since 2009 and has served on The ELC board of directors for several years,” said Skip Spriggs, president and CEO of The Executive Leadership Council in a statement. “Her fellow board directors recognized and rewarded Tonie for her leadership with this appointment. In addition to continuing her support for The ELC’s CEO Academy and our work with the Alliance for Board Diversity, Tonie will lead efforts to increase the visibility and impact of the organization, and its value to our members.”




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Career | Black Enterprise


It’s National Mentoring Month! Our Top 5 Articles with the Best Mentorship Advice

January is National Mentoring Month. While the notable goal of this monthlong campaign is to recruit mentors for young people, let’s face it—we can all use a mentor through various aspects of our lives, particularly with our careers.

For that reason, we have collected our top articles with excellent advice about mentorship. Whether you are seeking a mentor or want to be a better one to someone, these articles can help you reach your mentorship goals.

Read On For the Best Mentorship Advice


Dr. Christina T. Rosenthal is a dentist, social entrepreneur, and recently named Atlantic Fellow for Health Equity, one of nearly 300 people working worldwide to build fairer, healthier, and more inclusive societies. Just one year out of dental school, she opened her first private practice, and then later launched Determined to be a Doctor Someday (DDS), an initiative to develop the next generation of healthcare professionals who will be representative of the communities they serve.


At several points throughout your career, you’ll need the advice of a trusted adviser or mentor, someone who can help you navigate career paths and transitions as well as the stages of business cycles and professional relationships. But take note, there are a lot of misconceptions about what mentorship is and who it is for—we’re here to clear a few things up.


Paul Brunson is an entrepreneur who has been co-signed by Oprah, mentored Ed Neff, and the list goes on. He has some key advice on how to land high-profile individuals as mentors.


If your desire is to procure an in-person mentoring relationship with a senior professional and/or executive, here are five key things you should understand before pursuing mentorship.


Murray Newlands: “When choosing a mentor, I sometimes just knew if she or he was the right person for the job, while other situations led me to put a lot of consideration into it, before starting a relationship. In doing so, I’ve discovered there are some criteria that you can use to determine if someone will make a good mentor for you.”


The post It’s National Mentoring Month! Our Top 5 Articles with the Best Mentorship Advice appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


Joy Reid is Taking MSNBC’s TV Viewership to New Heights

As a political analyst, author, and host, Joy Reid is known for asking the questions others shy away from and pushing people to tell the truth despite what side of the political spectrum they’re on. The Harvard graduate began her career in radio at Radio One and later transitioned into digital reporting for local and national outlets such as The Grio and the Miami Herald. In short, Reid is a Woman of Power.

And now, thanks to Reid and her team, in 2018, AM Joy scored their third straight year of growth on weekends. And the show became the No. 1 show in African American total viewers across all cable during the time period of Jan. 1 – Dec. 30, 2018.

In fact, according to Nielsen, MSNBC finished 2018 as the most-watched cable network among African Americans for the second year in a row. In sales day (Monday-Sunday 6am-2am), MSNBC averaged 255,000 African American total viewers and was No.1 among all cable networks (ahead of No. 2 BET, No. 3 ESPN, No. 4 ADSM, No. 5 CNN, and No. 62 FOX News). MSNBC was the only cable network in the Top 15 to grow (+2%) in the demographic compared to the same time period in 2017. In addition, MSNBC was the most-watched cable network among African Americans during prime (Monday–Friday 8-11pm).

Having blown other networks out of the water, MSNBC became the No. 1 cable news network in prime in December and beat FOX News for the first time in 17 years as the No.1 cable news network for the week of Dec. 17.

With strong reporters like Reid, Trymaine Lee, and a host of journalists of color—the network has been able to establish a strong presence and sense of credibility within the black community. Now more than ever, society is in need of reliable reporting—and MSNBC has proven that they are committed to delivering the truth.

The post Joy Reid is Taking MSNBC’s TV Viewership to New Heights appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


How to Own Your Career in 2019

Career ownership is an investment, just like home ownership. Adopting the concept of career ownership will give you confidence, freedom, and joy in knowing that you can determine your career success.

While in the process of creating a professional development workshop, Be the CEO of Your Career, I outlined what career ownership is:

-A conscious decision to take full responsibility for your career journey and never relying solely on others to determine your career trajectory;

-Strategically positioning yourself to reach personal career goals according to your own definition of success.

-Continuously invest in your professional development so your knowledge, skills, and abilities are in alignment with what your industry demands.

Here are four ways to own your career:

-Don’t be afraid to take on different career opportunities. Each experience is designed to teach you something different in order to prepare you for the next one. You’re not obligated to stay in any one position for a long period of time, even if that job seems perfect for you. Sometimes you must force yourself to leave your comfort zone so you can grow forward in a new direction.

-You own your knowledge, skills, and abilities and have the choice to rent your expertise in exchange for payment to employers, clients, etc. You don’t have to accept any and every job offered to you. Be sure to research and know your worth, starting with the minimum and then the maximum dollar amount you are willing to accept for the expertise you offer.

-Continue learning even if you have to pay for it yourself. Invest in books, workshops, conferences, training, coaching, and other resources that will add to your development.

Be careful not to put all your trust into promises made by others because they don’t owe you anything. Remember, while its true you will need help along your career journey, not everyone who appears to be genuinely helpful has your best interest in mind. Therefore, trust your instincts always, and that feeling in the gut of your stomach. Don’t allow your mind to talk you into something different.



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Career | Black Enterprise


Meet Anne Reid, the Black Woman Tapped As Elizabeth Warren’s Chief of Staff

In addition to taking another step toward launching a presidential run in 2020, Sen. Elizabeth Warren has named Anne Reid as her new chief of staff, making Reid one of the few African Americans to lead a U.S. Senator’s staff. Reid is also the only black woman serving as chief of staff for a Democratic senator.

“Anne is a gifted leader and committed public servant,” Warren said in a statement released Dec. 27. “Anne’s experience serving our country and working to improve the health and well-being of millions of Americans will be invaluable as we continue our fights to level the playing field.”

The announcement that Warren tapped Reid for the position is being praised as a progressive step toward diversity by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. “Black women play a critical role in our democracy, and Senator Warren’s appointment of a talented staffer like Anne Reid recognizes that Americans from all backgrounds can serve in a leadership role at the highest levels of government,” said Spencer Overton, president of the Joint Center.

“As we have seen so far during this hiring season, the face of senior staff in the House and Senate is changing because of members who recognize that it is not enough to have diversity in electoral coalitions. Diversity and inclusion must be the centerpiece of policymaking. It starts with staff,” added Don Bell, the director of the Black Talent Initiative at the Joint Center.

The move could be part of Warren’s effort to court black voters should she decided to challenge President Donald Trump in a bid for the White House next year. As for now, the Massachusetts senator has created an exploratory committee to test the waters before her potential run.

Here are five facts about Anne Reid.

She was hired and promoted by Warren within two months

Reid began serving as Sen. Warren’s Senior Advisor in Oct. 2018, just a couple of months before she was named as the senator’s new Chief of Staff.

She worked for the Obama administration

Reid began her work in D.C. politics back in 2008, working as a congressional staffer in the U.S. House of Representatives under the Obama administration.

During this time, Reid served as a staff member and legislative analyst for the House’s Energy and Commerce Committee and the Oversight & Government Reform Committee for Democrat Rep. Henry A. Waxman. In her final year on the Energy and Commerce staff, she was the lead Democratic staffer covering public health agencies and issues.

Later, she went on to work as a counselor to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, where she was a member of the senior leadership team during Barack Obama’s last years in office.

Reid previously served as a legislative assistant to U.S. Sen. Christopher A. Coons.

She co-founded a Public Health & Policy Think Tank

Following President Trump’s inauguration, Reid left government and teamed up with former Obama administration staffer Bobby Clark to create Concordis: Strategy and Analytics in June 2017. The group researches public health issues, develops policy ideas, and proposes solutions to improve health and well-being.

She has worked in the nonprofit sector

In Oct. 2017, Reid was named as the chief strategy officer at Vision To Learn, an organization that offers free eye exams and glasses to children in low-income communities.

She obtained a B.A. from Harvard and a Master’s from Chapel Hill

Reid holds a B.A. from Harvard University, where she majored in Hispanic Studies. She also holds a Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The post Meet Anne Reid, the Black Woman Tapped As Elizabeth Warren’s Chief of Staff appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


Brooklyn Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke Shares 5 Keys to Success in 2019

During this year’s second annual Success Supper—an annual family-style dinner designed to recognize and celebrate women who embody grace and fortitude while impacting their community—Brooklyn Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives and a legislative pillar in Brooklyn, New York’s 9th district, talked about the importance of communities supporting black women.

As a co-chair of the Congressional Black Caucus of Black Women and Girls, Clarke focuses on providing women with the education and entrepreneurial resources needed to become successful business owners.

Congresswoman Clarke shared five keys to success in the New Year:

Evaluate your network

“It’s about the circles you’re in, your network. We have to ask ourselves who is in our network? The challenge for our community is not one of worth, it’s one of trust. Because we’re spending money every day how much of those dollars do you spend with black entrepreneurs?”

Use your Influence

“We’re not using our influence. Were very influential. As a matter of fact, there is not a popular trend that’s been started that we have not been at the heart of.”

Trust Your Abilities

“Always trust in yourself and your abilities. Be self-aware, because understanding yourself helps you to improve your leadership.”

Stay True to Yourself

“It’s important for us to stay true to ourselves. Not everyone is going to be out here [protesting] in the street but some folk may fund the movement. Not everyone is going to be the person who is going to be out front but every leader is building an organization of support.”

Stay Focused

Stay focused enough [on your] own goals and aspirations.

The post Brooklyn Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke Shares 5 Keys to Success in 2019 appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


The 15 Top Black News Stories of 2018

BLACK ENTERPRISE covered some of the biggest black news stories in 2018 surrounding business and career. Spotify and Google put out a massive call for women of color podcasters. An NBA team got its first black woman CEO. A young man made history as Pennsylvania’s youngest judge ever. And this successful black entrepreneur paid it forward creating a massive fund for black women-owned businesses.

For every piece of negative news about the black community, there are many often untold stories of achievement, success, and giving back. Take a look at our 15 biggest black news stories of 2018.

Top Black News Stories of 2018


black news

As a student at Penn State University, Hanif Johnson, then the president of Omega Psi Phi was charged with assault in connection with a hazing allegation that earned him three weeks in jail. Although he wasn’t found guilty of the most serious charges, a judge still handed him two summary harassment charges. In 2018, he became the youngest elected judge in the state of Pennsylvania winning the magisterial seat over Republican Claude Phipps by a 73% margin in Dauphin County.


black news

Hair weaves and extensions, traditionally donned by women, are a big business, especially with black consumers and particularly with women of color. A black barber based out of Maryland, is making a lucrative business creating hair weaves for men. Thirty-five-year-old barber Wade Menendez glues natural and synthetic hair to balding men’s scalps and then styles them into their remaining hair.


black news

SheaMoisture haircare and skincare products founder Richelieu Dennis announced a $ 100 million fund for women entrepreneurs of color at the 2018 Essence Festival. The announcement was part of Dennis’ vow to create an investment fund for minority entrepreneurs, specifically women of color.


black news

Four young and focused black men partnered up to create Harlem Capital and take on the task of funding black and brown business founders. Their goal: Invest in 1,000 diverse founders over the next 20 years.


black news

Mellody Hobson, one of the most respected and knowledgeable black business leaders, was appointed vice chair at Starbucks when longtime chairman Howard Schultz stepped down in June. The ubiquitous coffee chain had a tumultuous year, marked with the scandal of the arrest of two black men at one of its Philadelphia stores.



black news

NBA superstar LeBron James debuted his latest Nike collaboration, revealing that they were inspired and designed by African American women. The sneakers were unveiled at Harlem’s Fashion Row (HFR) style awards and fashion show, an annual event that celebrates people of color in fashion and empowers minority designers with a platform to showcase their collections during New York Fashion Week.


black news

In July, Maurice Stinnett became the first black man to be appointed as vice president of Diversity and Inclusion at an NBA team with BSE Global. The company—which was formerly known as Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment Global—develops and operates state-of-the-art venues and manages premier sports franchises, including the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, NHL’s New York Islanders, and the Barclays Center.


black news

Malachi Jones, a 17-year-old wunderkind, was awarded a Gold Medal Portfolio, the highest honor of the 2018 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards presented by the nonprofit Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. Jones joined a prestigious group of former youth winners, now all household names, including Truman Capote, Sylvia Plath, Joyce Carol Oates, and Stephen King.


black news

In September, the SBA and the Milken Institute announced the Partnership for Lending in Underserved Markets (PLUM) initiative. This trailblazing program is designed to develop and test initiatives that will provide capital to minority owned-businesses more effectively, throughout the United States.


black news

Cynthia Marshall, a leading black business executive, was named interim CEO of the Dallas Mavericks in the wake of a scathing article exposing the basketball organization’s culture of sexual harassment against women, is about to give a whole new meaning to the idea of March Madness.


black news

Although our original report on this news was in December 2017, we followed up in 2018 on the program designed to revitalize distressed neighborhoods in Maryland. Local councilmembers and community advocates pushed for a government program that would sell thousands of vacant buildings in Baltimore for $ 1 each. In turn, buyers would have to promise to refurbish and live in the properties for a certain period of time.


black news

With the launch of the Google Podcasts app in June, the company is working to make it easier for people around the world to find and access podcasts. Alongside the app, Google has launched its Podcasts creator program, which aims to support these underrepresented podcasters and make it easier for people to learn how to get into this growing medium.


black news

Newscaster and TV host Tamron Hall left NBC’s ‘Today’ show in 2017, but her career is far from over. In fact, it’s been reborn. In this interview, Hall speaks about her post-Today show life and the plans for her new show.


black news

Melissa Harville-Lebron never imagined her entrepreneurial pursuits and ambitions would lead her to make history as the first African American woman to solely own a race team licensed by NASCAR. Read her compelling story. 


black news

In 2018, Spotify launched Sound Up Bootcamp, a weeklong intensive program for aspiring female podcasters of color. The company covered all expenses for a five-day workshop, which included panels, and activities around podcasting, led by experts and professionals. Travel to New York City, six nights of hotel, and breakfast and lunch were all included. Catch up on the finalists and winners here and be sure to follow Black Enterprise for Spotify’s 2019 Sound Up Bootcamp entry.


The post The 15 Top Black News Stories of 2018 appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


The Lawyer Helping Social Influencers Protect their Passion and Profits

Although social influencers and content creators are a fairly new phenomenon, their ability to inspire an audience to take action makes them highly sought after by small businesses, mega-brands, and even Hollywood film studios. But creators should take note, with a growing demand for influencers, comes an increasing need to protect your inventions; images, as well as literary and artistic works. Thankfully, there are intellectual property attorneys like Shay M. Lawson. As an intellectual property attorney, diversity expert, and founder of the Advocate Law Group PC, she’s fiercely committed to protecting a person’s passion and profits through copyright, trademarks, and contracts. “The biggest mistake I see creatives making is assuming they’re ‘too small’ to be stolen from or copied,” says Lawson. Spend the few dollars on a copyright now so you can enforce your rights against thieves who will be sorry later.”

Unlike a traditional entertainment attorney focused on television, film, music, theater, and publishing, Lawson adds social media to her area of specialization. “I’m not your run of the mill entertainment attorney because what it means to be an entertainer and how that person generates revenue is always changing,” she says. “A single client who is a multi-platinum music producer could also be a YouTube sensation from making videos of his beats, or a style influencer for how she wears her hair. Understanding how all that needs to be legally protected is going to be completely different than any other type of trademark or contract lawyers are doing. I’m probably only a handful of lawyers that can tell you how much you should negotiate for a Tweet versus an Instagram post versus a Snap story versus a YouTube video, and put you in the best position to maintain ownership of the content you create when partnering with a brand for sponsored content. I can only do that because I am a part of the culture. I grew up with the creation of each of these platforms. So as unique as my client’s needs are, I am also uniquely informed on how to best protect them from a legal standpoint.”

From Lawson’s Instagram account

Coupled with Lawson’s passion for protecting intellectual property, is her commitment to advocating for social change. “I love the overwhelming unity among women in the entertainment industry in being a voice for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, especially among women of color,” she says. What I want to see in my industry, though, is accountability and real lasting change not damage controlled reactionary change for optics. My passion for this change has been channeled into an unexpected opportunity to work with Kitti Jones as a client. Kitti is a dynamic spirit that has leveraged her dark experience with domestic violence at the hands of a major music celebrity, to now be an author and the face of a national PSA campaign to spread awareness and resources to victims.”

Lawson also sits on the board of the Lee Thompson Young Foundation that provides mental health resources to students in Atlanta-area public schools. She’s a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. where she chairs social action around issues such as voting during midterm elections. Plus she sits on the board of the Recording Academy, Atlanta Chapter as a Governor and co-chair of Advocacy where she has spent the past two years lobbying members of Congress on behalf of music creators to pass the Music Modernization Act.

Lawson’s dedication to the field speaks volumes about the power of representation. “I was inspired to go to law school by a group of environmental attorneys that came to my high school, she said. The attorneys shared their work on behalf of African communities being taken advantage of by American oil companies and corrupt governments. I actually focused my undergraduate thesis at Hampton University on Nigerian political theory and my graduate research on war crimes and international humanitarian law for the International War Crimes Tribune. So helping others and helping communities has always been on my mind. This translated into working in diversity and inclusion once I started my professional career. Any part I can play in empowering organizations to be the best and most inclusive version of themselves is a service to everyone and a cause I will always take up meaningfully.”

The post The Lawyer Helping Social Influencers Protect their Passion and Profits appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


50 Best Companies For Diversity

If you want to find companies that back up their diversity talk, look no further than the 2018 Black Enterprise 50 Best Companies for Diversity list—filled with corporations that have created measurable pathways to ensure African American representation among their workforce, senior management team, board of directors, and pool of suppliers.

Black Enterprise and the Executive Leadership Council have created this roster at a time when a number of corporate chiefs have focused on initiatives to boost the competitive metabolism of their organizations. In fact, more than 400 such leaders have signed the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion pledge. CEOs of 37 companies on our roster—JPMorgan Chase & Co., ADP, Bank of America, PepsiCo, General Motors, Macy’s, and Xerox Corp. among them—are signatories.

Although a number of D&I proponents applaud efforts to bring women, LGBT communities, and other underrepresented groups under the corporate tent, others like ELC’s CEO Otha “Skip” Spriggs III maintain that African Americans are actually losing ground—especially in the C-suite.

The most noticeable indicator has been the absence of black CEOs operating the nation’s largest publicly traded corporations. Today, there are only three black Fortune 500 CEOs versus seven in 2012. Actually, the trio—Marvin R. Ellison, chairman & CEO of Lowe’s Cos. Inc.; Roger W. Ferguson Jr., president & CEO of TIAA; and Kenneth C. Frazier, chairman & CEO of Merck & Co. Inc.—all manage companies on our Best Companies for Diversity list.

Here’s just one example of why that matters: Lowe’s, a list newcomer, tapped Ellison as its new chief executive in July. In recent months, he’s recruited another African American to its executive management ranks, and now three African Americans sit on its board of directors. And the dedication to building a leadership pipeline is evident: The company sent 22 of its brightest African American talent to ELC leadership training.

The bottom line: Opportunities for African Americans and other ethnic minorities tend to coincide with diverse leadership.

[a-team-showcase id=”628121″]


Black Enterprise’s editorial research team, in partnership with the Executive Leadership Council, sent surveys to the nation’s top 1,000 publicly traded companies to get an in-depth look at the ethnic and gender composition, as well as their programs designed to foster an inclusive working environment.

The annual survey is centered around efforts focused on African Americans but includes other ethnic minority groups as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. Any information provided by companies on diversity efforts targeted toward women, LGBT, the disabled, and veterans was used as secondary, supporting data.

BE performed a quantitative and editorial assessment of all corporate respondents and measured each company’s diversity efforts using the following criteria:

  1. BE measured companies on four key categories: employee base, senior management, board of directors, and procurement. Senior management and board of directors’ categories were given a higher weighting based on company impact across the board. Procurement was also a major factor while employee base was given a lower weighting.
  2. We reviewed the status of companies across all BE diversity and corporate leadership lists, including The Top Companies for Supplier Diversity, The 300 Most Powerful Executives, Top Executives in Corporate Diversity, as well as companies who have chief diversity officers and/or designated diversity departments.
  3. We also considered those companies in which the CEO takes an active role in diversity practices.

The post 50 Best Companies For Diversity appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


Stacey Abrams Is the Most Googled Politician of 2018

Stacey Abrams made history when she became the first black woman to run for governor in the state of Georgia. Or, as we like to call her—a political shero and Woman of Power. Her campaign journey was competitive by nature, yet she persevered despite the many challenges that arose. For the past 12 months, the world has been getting to know Abrams and as a result—she is now the most Googled politician in 2018 according to Googles 2018 list of top searches in the United States.

It goes without saying that Abrams had one hell of a year and she never fails to inspire us. She reigns among the ranks of powerful women who courageously challenged and shook up the political landscape in November.


She once said,

“Remember this in the darkest moments, when the work doesn’t seem worth it, and change seems just out of reach: out of our willingness to push through comes a tremendous power… Use it.”

In the ever-present time of voter suppression, she continues to advocate for equal voting rights for citizens of Georgia who were subjected to corruption during the midterm election with her newly established organization, Fair Fight Georgia.

And we can’t wait to hear more about each and every moment that prepared her for the campaign trail and her work on the ground as a freedom fighter at the Women of Power Summit. That’s right, the Former Georgia House Democratic Leader will be joining us during the transition from Black History Month to Women’s History Month in Las Vegas from Feb. 28 – March 3, 2019, at The Mirage.

Until then, you can continue to Google all of the great things that she’s up to! Better yet, stay tuned because we’re certain she’ll have a few messages to share with you leading up to the Summit.


The post Stacey Abrams Is the Most Googled Politician of 2018 appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


JPMorgan Chase Invests $6 Million for Tech Training D.C. Area’s Black Students

Black and minority students at five school districts in the Washington, D.C. region will be beneficiaries of a $ 6 million commitment by JPMorgan Chase to help train and equip youth to land well-paying tech jobs.

The money is coming from the banking giant’s “New Skills for Youth” program. It will support the development of new educational initiatives at Baltimore City Public Schools, DC Public Schools, Montgomery County Public Schools, Prince George’s County Public Schools, and Fairfax County Public Schools in partnership with Northern Virginia Community College.

The donation is part of a $ 350 million companywide investment by the New York-based company and nation’s largest bank in jobs and skills development globally.

The effort comes as more firms add tech jobs in the nation’s capital region. The growth is building higher demand for skilled IT workers and a need to fill the jobs. Take Amazon.

Last month the world’s largest online retailer picked New York City and Arlington, Virginia, for its second headquarters. The two areas will each get 25,000 lucrative tech jobs that Amazon is projected to bring.

While schools offer IT coursework, these courses are not always aligned with the skills, credentials, and work experiences employers demand, the bank reported. In 2017, only 3,000 individuals in the region obtained associate degrees and other sub-BA credentials in digital skills and technology but over 15,000 jobs needed those credentials. Demand for tech workers with less than a 4-year degree increased by 42% in the region between 2014 and 2017.

“We have a responsibility to build a better future for the region’s young people,” stated Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO at JPMorgan Chase. “This investment is a good example of how the public and private sectors can work together to create the opportunity for more people and grow the local economy so that everyone benefits.”

The JPMorgan Chase philanthropic investment will help to launch 16 new and revised high-quality, demand-driven IT career pathways for thousands of area students in high school through college.

This initiative aims to:

  • Help more young people in the region, particularly underrepresented populations, achieving career and economic success, with 3,200 more students participating in career pathway programs that connect with careers in fields including computer science and cybersecurity.
  • Employers providing 2,200 internships for students in IT career pathways.
  • A new system that enables educators to use regional labor market data on an ongoing basis to ensure that career pathways are aligned with employer demand.

“We need to make it clear to young people—from Anacostia, Prince George’s County to Baltimore and Virginia—that they have a future in this region—and we are working together to do just that,” stated Peter Scher, head of Corporate Responsibility and chair of the Mid-Atlantic Region, JPMorgan Chase.

“Amazon’s HQ2 announcement reinforced that companies around the globe are competing for talent, and through this investment, we are working with our partners in the public and private sectors to expand access to opportunity for young people in Greater Washington—and boost the workforce by directly aligning education and training programs with the skills needed for open technology roles here.”

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Career | Black Enterprise


Letitia James First Black New York Attorney General is Coming For Trump’s Neck — And His Family

Michael Cohen won’t be the only Trump associate serving time in the pen for breaking the law if it’s up to Letitia James. The incoming New York Attorney General revealed that she plans to ignite a fire under President Donald Trump and anyone in his camp who may have engaged in illegal activity within her jurisdiction once she steps into her new role next month.

“We will use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well,” she said in an exclusive interview with NBC News. James, who currently serves as New York City’s Public Advocate, became the first African American and the first woman to be elected as attorney general in New York, making her one of many African Americans who scored a historic win during the 2018 Midterm Election. “We want to investigate anyone in his orbit who has, in fact, violated the law,” she added.

The former New York City Councilwoman went on to outline the following probes she intends to pursue regarding the president’s namesake business, the Trump Organization, his campaign headquarters, and the Trump Tower — all of which are based in New York.

  • Any illegalities involving Trump’s real estate holdings in New York, highlighting the October New York Times investigation into the president’s finances.
  • The June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian official.
  • Examine government subsidies Trump received, which were also the subjectof Times investigative work.
  • Whether he is in violation of the emoluments clause in the U.S. Constitution through his New York businesses.
  • Continue to probe the Trump Foundation.

James is also working on passing a bill that would change New York’s double jeopardy laws so that she could potentially indict someone who allegedly violates New York state law even if they are granted a presidential pardon over federal charges or convictions.

“I think within the first 100 days this bill will be passed,” she said, adding, “It is a priority because I have concerns with respect to the possibility that this administration might pardon some individuals who might face some criminal charges, but I do not want them to be immune from state charges.”

She added, “taking on President Trump and looking at all of the violations of law I think is no match to what I have seen in my lifetime.”

Maxine Waters

Rep. Maxine Waters (Image: Flickr)

James is not the only black woman in office itching to light a fire under Trump. Rep. Maxine Waters, who has led the charge to impeach Trump, is poised to take over the House Financial Services Committee, which would give her the power to subpoena the president. As chair of the powerful banking panel, Waters could target Deutsche Bank for its past dealings with Trump and issue subpoenas to Trump allies, like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, forcing him to provide documentation regarding the president’s alleged ties to Russia.

Kamala Harris

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)(Wikimedia)

Rep. Kamala Harris is another woman who could give Trump a run for his money should she decide to jump into the 2020 presidential race. She told The Hill that she intends to make a decision about whether to run for president in 2020 over the holidays, adding that it will “ultimately be a family decision.”

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Career | Black Enterprise


You Can’t Escape Your Past, Take It From Kevin Hart

Critics have blasted Kevin Hart and all those coming to his defense over homophobic comments that the comedian made between 2009 and 2011 on Twitter. The tweets resurfaced last week after it was announced that Hart would be the master of ceremonies at the 2019 Academy Awards. The 39-year-old actor initially refused to apologize for the controversial remarks, arguing in an Instagram video that he has since “evolved” and should not be held accountable for past mistakes. He, however, later issued a public apology on Twitter and stepped down from the hosting gig.

Since then, a number of prominent high-profile black comedians have rushed to Hart’s defense, including Tony Rock, Nick Cannon, and D.L. Hughley.

“So let me get this straight, a comedian tells a joke that offends people and refuses to apologize, and people want to know what I think of that,” said Hughley. The comic then went as far as to call a transgender woman who disagreed with his opinion a sexist slur.

Although Hughley and others argue that comedians are granted a creative license to use offensive language in the spirit of telling jokes, this truth remains the same: your past can, and likely will, come back to haunt you, especially in today’s digital landscape. As a result, this can tarnish your brand and cause you to miss out on endorsement deals and other opportunities.

Here are five ways to use social media effectively and avoid a branding crisis.

1. Present Your Best Self

Like in Hart’s case, how you present yourself online could be the deciding factor for whether or not an opportunity materializes into fruition. Even if you delete a controversial social media post, nothing on the internet is truly ever erased. So keep in mind that you never know who may have taken a screenshot of your post before you publicly undermine your job or a client, rant about a colleague or boss, or document yourself while under the influence.

2. Think Before You Tweet

Many people use social media as a platform to vent and express their grievances about life and its many upsets. Although it’s perfectly OK and normal to share your gripes with others online, sometimes it’s best to avoid posting in the heat of a moment, which can cause you to say something you’ll live to regret.

3. Be Authentic

People have a low tolerance for B.S. and can oftentimes sniff out those who front for the gram, i.e., that time Bow Wow was caught lying about flying around on a private jet. Hence, it’s imperative to be true to yourself when building your social media brand—just make sure it’s your best self, as stated in point No. 1.

4. Post With Intention

Social media platforms give you the ability to control what the world thinks of you and what you represent. Be sure that you’re creating an image that you can feel proud of and posting thoughts that don’t come with a shelf life.

5. What you wear on social media matters, too

According to author and Black Enterprise contributor Gayneté Jones:

Social media wardrobe choices are etched into the minds of viewers. Employers, potential clients, contractors, romantic interests, and other concerned parties usually seek to view your social media pages in the first instance, prior to meeting you in person or giving you a call to organize an important meeting. In a brief moment of scrolling through your page, viewers have obtained a solid impression of who you are and what they believe you represent.

Style expert, Perri Furbert adds, “Your wardrobe is a form of non-verbal communication and usually acts as a deciding interaction factor. People will, unfortunately, judge you based on what they see. It’s very important to express what you want to say to the world in your apparel.”

The post You Can’t Escape Your Past, Take It From Kevin Hart appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


On the Move: KPMG’s New Diversity Chief, Michele Meyer-Shipp

In August, Michele Meyer-Shipp was named Chief Diversity Officer at KPMG.

KPMG is one of the world’s largest auditing companies along with Deloitte, Ernst & Young, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. The Amsterdam-based company employs 189,000 people and provides professional services in the areas of financial audit, taxes, and advisory.

According to a press release, Meyer-Shipp is an executive and attorney with “significant experience in inclusion strategy and employment law.” She joins KPMG as a partner.

More information on her appointment is included in the press release:

“[Meyer-Shipp] will lead the national Inclusion and Diversity (I&D) team and oversee its strategy and objectives, including growing diverse leaders and collaboration; inspiring broad perspectives and innovative client solutions; and fostering an inclusive, accessible, and vibrant workplace. She will work closely with KPMG’s leadership teams to advance its inclusive and diverse culture, which has earned the firm recognition as a top workplace by FORTUNE magazine, DiversityInc, Working Mother, and The Human Rights Campaign.”

Prior to joining KMPG, she was the chief diversity and inclusion officer at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP. She also served as vice president and counsel and then chief diversity officer at Prudential Financial.

Meyer-Shipp holds a Juris Doctorate (J.D.) degree from Seton Hall University School of Law and a Bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University. She sits on several professional boards and organizations including Twitter’s Inclusion Advisory Council, Working Mother Media’s Multicultural Women’s Advisory Board, the National Organization on Disability Board, and the Center for Talent Innovation Diversity and Inclusion Council.

“Companies with inclusive and diverse cultures are better positioned to adapt, grow, and thrive – and we take great pride in embedding these values into our programs and actions,” said Darren Burton, KPMG’s Vice Chair of Human Resources via a press release. “Our national diversity networks engage nearly half of our 30,000 people in professional development, mentoring relationships, and community service activities. Michele’s skills and experience will help us continue to enhance our efforts to recruit, develop, and retain diverse talent.”




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Career | Black Enterprise


She Says Michelle Obama’s Right, ‘Lean In’ Doesn’t Work All The Time, Especially For Black Women

Recently, Michelle Obama criticized Sheryl Sandberg’s “lean in” approach for women to advance in the workplace, saying “that s–t doesn’t work all the time.” But the former first lady isn’t the only one who has challenged Sandberg’s commonly referenced business motto, which puts the responsibility solely on women to take ownership of their career without mentioning the systemic barriers for women of color in the workplace.

Earlier this year, during an interview with Fast Company, Minda Harts, the founder of The Memo, dismantled a few career strategies from Sandberg’s New York Times best-seller.

“Lean In was well-intentioned and opened up the conversation, but, you cannot effectively talk about leaning in for black or brown women without discussing the role that race plays and the barriers to even enter the room for a seat at the table,” said Harts. “Lean In didn’t talk about race and it was written from a white-privileged women’s perspective for predominately other white women. One size doesn’t fit all.”

Black and Brown Women Still Vie for Equal Footing 

For over three years, Harts has lead the charge to help women of color secure the seat while challenging companies to acknowledge their systemic racism and how that plays into career advancement opportunities. “Many black and brown women are still trying to earn equal pay, access to good education and healthcare,” she said. “There are so many barriers in place. Lean In once again affirms that it’s up to us to change societal norms. Black and brown women have always been leaning in, so, what do you do when you lean into a system that doesn’t recognize you? That is where we are now. For women of color to get ahead, it will require intentional solutions from our employers.”

Lean in

Minda Harts, Founder of The Memo

Beyond highlighting problems, Harts is a solutions-driven career revolutionary who is using every possible platform to help women prepare for their seat at the table. Earlier this year, she endowed a scholarship at her undergraduate institution for first-generation women of color students and put it in her mother’s name to honor her. Along with her co-founder Lauren Broussard, she created The Memo, a career development platform that provides access to career boot camps, resources, and real-world career advice. She also hosts a weekly podcast called Secure “The Seat.”

To help drive real change within companies and organizations that want to invest in women of color, Harts recently created The Women of Color Equity Initiative. “I am tired of us consistently falling below 10% in most of those workplace statistics,” says Hart. “Hundreds of women of color want access to leadership opportunities and they’ve added their name to the WOC equity career-sourcing database. I’m also partnering with companies and organizations who want to intentionally hire women of color to fill open leadership roles.”

“Part of The WOC Equity Initiative is making sure a cultural shift takes place from the top down. This will require real systems change,” she continues. “This isn’t a ‘binder full of women,’ this is a partnership to create equity once they are hired and a roadmap to the C-suite. I don’t want a woman to get hired and she’s miserable because she’s the only one or dealing with microaggressions. We are too educated and experienced to let our expertise go dormant. I don’t want my sisters to lean out because companies won’t lean into them. We have worked too hard to lean out now.”


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Career | Black Enterprise


#MeToo One Year Later: Has Your Workplace Culture Changed?

About 10 years ago, Tarana Burke launched the Me Too movement—an anti-sexual assault initiative launched to support survivors of sexual abuse, assault, and harassment. For a while, the movement quietly persisted  But in 2017, multiple sexual assault and harassment allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein reignited the #MeToo movement and sparked chaos, conversation, and change across workplaces around the world.

To gain some insight into how the #MeToo movement has changed workplace culture, we interviewed Sarah Morgan, the senior human resources director for SafeStreetsUSA and founder of BuzzARooney L.L.C., a Human Resources Management, and leadership consulting company.

As an HR professional, how has #MeToo impacted workplace culture? 

In a way that didn’t exist before, the #MeToo movement created more awareness about the spectrum of sexual harassment in the workplace. We used to think these incidents were uncommon and happened infrequently. #MeToo flipped these misconceptions on their head and showed sexual harassment as commonplace and rampant, which it’s been for a long time. I have yet to meet a woman who does not have at least one #MeToo story from their career, from early professional women to women nearing retirement. The #MeToo movement no longer allowed companies to pretend like sexual harassment were someone else’s problem that happened in an isolated vacuum. #MeToo let the world know that sexual harassment in the workplace happens to all of us in one form or another.

Because of #MeToo, many of my clients and colleagues have reached out to me for guidance on how to update their orientation and annual training for employees and managers. Men seem afraid of saying or doing something that will be misconstrued as harassment or discrimination. Women seem more hyper-aware as events occur and more willing to speak up than in the past. These are both good things. We cannot eradicate harassment and discrimination without awareness and active participation from men, especially those in positions of authority and influence, which equals power. We also need women who are both willing to come forward with the stories of their experiences and willing to believe and support other women who choose to speak up.

In my work environment, I ensured our workplace harassment training for both employees and managers were very comprehensive, so we didn’t have to change much of our current practices because of #MeToo.

Why might women be afraid to speak up about harassment at work?

Women are afraid to speak up because they do not think they’ll be believed, and they do not trust action will be taken to stop the issue and/or to protect them from retaliation after the issue is reported.

As much as HR tries to protect confidentiality, it is not uncommon for word to get out and become office gossip when a claim is filed. The same victim shaming that happens to women who are victims of sexual assault happens to women who are victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. What you wore and how you behaved and what you did/didn’t do and how you could have avoided or prevented the incident(s) all impact how you’re viewed and judged both by the company and by your peers. No woman wants to go through all of that just to keep getting a check at a job that’s only paying her $ 0.50 – 0.85 for every white male $ 1. Many women choose not to report and instead they just seek work elsewhere. Once they are out of the environment, only a fraction of women report the issue or file a lawsuit.

Can you explain HR’s role in handling employee harassment claims?

HR is responsible for educating employees and managers about what is and what is not harassment in the workplace as well as the actions one should take when they are a victim or a witness to harassment in the workplace.

When an issue is brought to our attention, HR is responsible for conducting a thorough investigation to either substantiate or refute the claimant’s version of the events. During an investigation, HR will speak with and get written statements from witnesses, and review evidence, such as timesheets, emails, video and phone recordings, chat and text messages, social media messages, etc. After everything has been reviewed, HR will make recommendations for corrective action; this includes discipline up to termination and sometimes additional training for other employees who need remedial or refresher instruction. Corrective action may also include changes in schedule, supervisor, or work area to limit interactions between the parties going forward.

It is a difficult role to balance because what the complainant wants does not always match what is in the best interest of the company.

We have to balance the needs and rights of everyone involved, not just the complainant. Sometimes this means a form of corrective action other than termination for the person accused of harassment where the evidence or the severity of the issue does not support termination. HR often feels between a rock and hard place because of this.

Many HR professionals find we are unsupported by other members of management in our recommendations to have zero tolerance toward sexual harassment. I’ve been in this place at several times in my career; I can say it is awful to feel incapable of bringing some measure of justice to a person who already feels powerless. I am glad for the #MeToo movement because it makes companies think more critically about their decisions and the implications. #MeToo is forcing companies to live up to the values they espouse surrounding fairness and equity and inclusive workplaces that are free from harassment and bullying.

When we are focused on cultivating safe spaces where employees can be both creative and accountable, companies thrive and flourish and don’t fear the #MeToo movement as a threat to success.

The post #MeToo One Year Later: Has Your Workplace Culture Changed? appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


An Unexpected Lesson in Dealing With Microaggressions

Microaggressions can creep up on you at the most unexpected times. It happened to me recently as my daughter and I were enjoying lunch at the local deli. I was filling her cup up at the soda fountain when a woman asked me a question that caught me off guard. I was wearing a shirt with the French words  “Ça va?” printed on the front and the phrase “Tres bien merçi” written on the back. In English, this means “How’s it going?” and “Very well, thanks.”

Be that as it may, the woman asked me, rather pointedly, “Do you know what your shirt says?” At first, I thought maybe she wasn’t talking to me. So I turned toward her and found her eyes piercing at me. That’s when I realized that a white woman was preparing to give me an unsolicited French lesson right in the middle of Jason’s Deli. I was being charged up by a complete stranger to see if I was worthy of the shirt on my back. #WTF?

So, with all the polite firmness and with a chuckle of irony, I said, “Of course I know what my own shirt says. I’m wearing it.”

But she did not relent. “Do you know French?” she replied.

Amazed that she was still speaking to me and pursuing this line of conversation, something warmed up inside of me. I looked her dead in her eye and responded, “Je parle un peu de français,” or to translate, “I speak a little bit of French.”

Now, this was not the time to rattle off the near decade of French I took in high school and college. This was not the time to spout off my résumé for the past 5 years where diversity, inclusion, equity, and culture have literally been my line of work and are within my realm of expertise. Nor was it the time to question if she knew that there are plenty of French-speaking people who look just like me from around the globe.

I had a good mind to really disturb her lunch. Maybe it was the Diet Dr. Pepper.  Perhaps it was Jesus, but I decided instead to make it a learning moment for the woman and for my 6-year-old daughter.  Yes, that woman needed to see that I am indeed the educated woman that she didn’t mistake me for, and my daughter needed to see how to confront bias with the class, grace, and razor sharpness a situation like this calls for.

After we finished our lunch, I decided to step toward the woman’s table.  “Ma’am,” I said directly and firmly, but in a normal tone. “I have an English lesson for you. I need you to look up the word microaggression. Look up the word today, because that will help you understand why I did not take kindly to your approach to me. Do you understand?” The woman, mouth full of sandwich said, “I’m sorry.”

I grabbed my daughter’s hand, and we left the restaurant.


Psychology Today defines the word microaggressions as:

The everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership. In many cases, these hidden messages may invalidate the group identity or experiential reality of target persons, demean them on a personal or group level, communicate they are lesser human beings, suggest they do not belong with the majority group, threaten and intimidate, or relegate them to inferior status and treatment.

Microaggressions can happen to you whether you are black, Latino, Asian, a woman, a young person, a senior, someone with different abilities, LGBTQ or some other category in which society places us. And, according to Columbia University professor Derald Wing Sue, these microaggressions at work can kill your confidence. But there are some actions you can take in the workplace, whereas, on the other hand, sometimes confrontation only spawns a denial and downplays of the incident as trivial or even harmless.

In the book Microaggressions in Everyday Life: Race, Gender and Sexual Orientation, Sue writes that it is important to seek allies within the workplace who can also call out the behavior because when marginalized people do so, they are frequently told they are being too sensitive.

I don’t know all the reasons why the woman singled me out in the deli, but I discussed it with cultural and political journalist and host Jarrett Hill on a recent episode of my podcast The Culture Soup and provided a little more information about the woman who tried to charge me up over what amounted to conversational French on my shirt. Hill categorized this microaggression and other examples like it with more pointed words, but also shared that you don’t have to be white to engage in it.

The post An Unexpected Lesson in Dealing With Microaggressions appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


How to Hustle with Your Heart

So much gets lost in the everyday hustle of getting things done as a professional or business owner. You know, the important things like compassion for yourself and others; taking the time to take deep breaths when you’re feeling anxious, upset, or overwhelmed; and being mindful about the energy that you put out into the world as well as the energy you receive.

Sounds like a lot, right? But those are the things that Claude Silver, chief heart officer at VaynerMedia, says are critical to becoming whole and ultimately successful whether you’re clocking in or signing checks. Simply put, it’s called heart. We met Silver at the Smart Hustle Small Business Conference where she spoke about hustling with your heart and she shared with us in further detail how people can do just that.

As chief heart officer, Silver oversees people operations at VaynerMedia, which includes but is not limited to being responsible for talent management, employee experience and retention, learning and development, coaching, culture, internal communications, and recruitment for over 750 employees. And with more than 20 years of experience in the marketing, media, and people operations, Silver knows a thing or two about cultivating strong leaders.


Claude Silver, Chief Heart Officer, VaynerMedia (Photo: VaynerMedia)

She says that connection is the thread that weaves strong teams together in both large corporations and small businesses.

“Connection is key and when you’re going to hire people you want to make sure that you are hiring for skill set and culture addition. I don’t say culture fit anymore because that assumes that you and I are identical. And we’re not. But culture addition means that we add something to this culture whether it’s diversity of thought, ideas, or curiosity. Or, diversity in general.”

Connection can also be defined as heart. And that is one of the ways that she teaches people to hustle with their hearts.

“Connection builds trusts, builds empathy, and that all adds to teams that are resilient, accountable, and loyal,” says Silver. And it also builds character.

And what she says is just as important as connectedness is energy. While a lot of people like to focus on time management, Silver believes in energy management.

“We all have energy. The more and more that we’re aware of our energy we can know what we can afford to give and what we need to keep because we need to get through the day,” she added.

Managing your energy requires social and emotional intelligence. And when you embody that quality it is proven to help you become more efficient.

So, how can you hustle with your heart no matter what your title is? Good question. Here are three tips from Silver:

1. Actively listen.

Listen without interrupting or challenging someone.

2. Practice patience.

Be patient like the Lord infused you with it.

3. Be empathetic.

You want to make sure that you’re working on a team where things are understood because then you get a shorthand of one another.

The post How to Hustle with Your Heart appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


Tonya Berry Named VP of Operations Performance at Consumers Energy

Consumers Energy, a public utility that provides natural gas and electricity to 6.7 million people in Michigan, named Tonya Berry as its new vice president of operations performance. Starting on Nov. 16, 2018, Berry will be responsible for improving work management processes within the gas and electric groups.

Berry has 20 years of experience deploying Lean methodologies in several industries. She began working at Consumers Energy in 2012 as the productivity and quality control director. Most recently, she served as executive director of quality, where she led the Lean Office and the company’s adoption of the CE Way since 2017.

“Tonya is a true champion of our company’s purpose: World Class Performance Delivering Hometown Service as it relates to deploying lean operating principles to deliver customer value,” said Garrick Rochow, Consumers Energy’s senior vice president of operations, in a statement. “She is the natural choice and leader to take on this critical role.”

With her new role, “Berry will lead implementation of Lean methodologies—called the Consumers Energy Way—that will further enhance our Quality Assurance function and improve work management processes within the gas and electric groups,” reads the statement. Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest energy provider, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS),

Tonya Berry

Tonya Berry graces the cover of Black Enterprise’s July 2008 issue

Prior to joining Consumers Energy, Berry worked for Chrysler L.L.C. in lean operations and industrial engineering. During her stint, Chrysler was named to BLACK ENTERPRISE’s “40 Best Companies for Diversity” list in July 2008. Berry also graced the cover of the issue and was highlighted for her bold and energetic leadership.

Berry holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Michigan and an M.B.A. from Wayne State University. She is also a Six Sigma Black Belt from Lawrence Tech University.


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Career | Black Enterprise


Dignity Health CEO: How Homelessness and Racism Affect Healthcare

Lloyd Dean is at the helm of Dignity Health, the largest hospital provider in California, and the fifth largest health system in the nation. As one of the few CEOs of color in the U.S., Dean’s commitment to healthcare isn’t just business—it’s also personal.

“I have eight siblings and we grew up in Western Michigan, where our community didn’t have access to reliable healthcare,” said Dean. “I didn’t realize that other communities were different until I was bussed to a neighboring town that was more economically robust. In a bigger sense, we know that only a small percentage of your health is due to genetics. That means that our health is largely based on where we live and social determinants of health.”

Another factor contributing to healthcare inequity is homelessness. Coincidentally, Dean is fighting to reduce homelessness in San Francisco, one of the more expensive cities to live in the world, which also has one of the most severe housing problems in the state of California.

“In the United States, there are more than half a million people who are homeless on any given night; 41% of whom are African American,” said Dean. “It keeps me up at night, knowing that so many Americans of all colors and backgrounds are forced to choose between paying for rent, food, or healthcare just because they don’t have insurance or the ability to pay for their care. That is why I’ve dedicated my life to reducing inequity. We live in a first world country, where access to affordable housing shouldn’t be as big of an issue as it is. It is difficult to be healthy, if you don’t have a home. Homelessness, mental illness, substance abuse, and chronic health problems are all interrelated, and we know that we can’t tackle each issue in isolation.”

Dignity Health

Lloyd Dean

To reduce healthcare inequity, Dean believes communities must form partnerships to address each person holistically.

“I believe that healthcare is a right and not a privilege. In many cases, mental health and homelessness go hand-in-hand, which is why we work with many multifaceted partners. For example, at one of our San Francisco hospitals, St. Mary’s Medical Center, we started the San Francisco Healing Center in partnership with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), the San Francisco Mayor’s Office, San Francisco Public Health, and San Francisco Behavioral Health to provide mental health services to homeless patients in need. Helping people get into more stable environments is one of the most important ways we can help one another, which helps the overall health of our communities,” he says.

“Last year, we invested $ 1.65 billion in charitable care and community services that allow us to develop and support programs across the continuum of care. As only one example in Stockton, we provide psychiatric and chemical dependency disorder treatment to patients. We also recently committed $ 1.65 million to benefit the homeless in the Sacramento area. Of that, $ 1.2 million continued operations at the city’s triage shelter serving about 200 people. The remaining funds will go to other projects, including the City of Sacramento’s Whole Person Care program with Dignity Health Mercy General Hospital piloting coordination and transition of care from the hospital into the community. We are working on efforts all across our communities, especially to address the needs of our most vulnerable patients.”

Hospitals are another solution to improving access to healthcare and getting homeless people off the street.“ As anchors in communities, hospitals are in a unique position to help the populations they serve, said Dean.

“One of the primary problems in healthcare today is that, too often, emergency departments are used as a primary care source. We must instead look at care more holistically with the goal of keeping people well before, during, and after a medical encounter.

Dean continued: “We know that making progress isn’t always simple, but by staying in tune with the individual needs of those we serve and the communities where they live, we can continue to find sustainable solutions—this is especially true for the homeless population. We have seen that people are more likely to reach their full potential when they have community support, the security of a home, and access to health services. This is true of a small community or a large city.”

The post Dignity Health CEO: How Homelessness and Racism Affect Healthcare appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


How to Hustle with Your Heart

So much gets lost in the everyday hustle of getting things done as a professional or business owner. You know, the important things like compassion for yourself and others; taking the time to take deep breaths when you’re feeling anxious, upset, or overwhelmed; and being mindful about the energy that you put out into the world as well as the energy you receive.

Sounds like a lot, right? But those are the things that Claude Silver, chief heart officer at VaynerMedia, says are critical to becoming whole and ultimately successful whether you’re clocking in or signing checks. Simply put, it’s called heart. We met Silver at the Smart Hustle Small Business Conference where she spoke about hustling with your heart and she shared with us in further detail how people can do just that.

As chief heart officer, Silver oversees people operations at VaynerMedia, which includes but is not limited to being responsible for talent management, employee experience and retention, learning and development, coaching, culture, internal communications, and recruitment for over 750 employees. And with more than 20 years of experience in the marketing, media, and people operations, Silver knows a thing or two about cultivating strong leaders.


Claude Silver, Chief Heart Officer, VaynerMedia (Photo: VaynerMedia)

She says that connection is the thread that weaves strong teams together in both large corporations and small businesses.

“Connection is key and when you’re going to hire people you want to make sure that you are hiring for skill set and culture addition. I don’t say culture fit anymore because that assumes that you and I are identical. And we’re not. But culture addition means that we add something to this culture whether it’s diversity of thought, ideas, or curiosity. Or, diversity in general.”

Connection can also be defined as heart. And that is one of the ways that she teaches people to hustle with their hearts.

“Connection builds trusts, builds empathy, and that all adds to teams that are resilient, accountable, and loyal,” says Silver. And it also builds character.

And what she says is just as important as connectedness is energy. While a lot of people like to focus on time management, Silver believes in energy management.

“We all have energy. The more and more that we’re aware of our energy we can know what we can afford to give and what we need to keep because we need to get through the day,” she added.

Managing your energy requires social and emotional intelligence. And when you embody that quality it is proven to help you become more efficient.

So, how can you hustle with your heart no matter what your title is? Good question. Here are three tips from Silver:

1. Actively listen.

Listen without interrupting or challenging someone.

2. Practice patience.

Be patient like the Lord infused you with it.

3. Be empathetic.

You want to make sure that you’re working on a team where things are understood because then you get a shorthand of one another.

The post How to Hustle with Your Heart appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


Millennial Moves: How to Build a Digital Marketing Career

There are few people disciplined enough to teach themselves the inner workings of internet tools and turn their learning into a career. Interpersonal communication has become somewhat of an anomaly. As interactions become more digitized, there are even fewer people capable of creating relationships online that translate into practical connections. If you’re looking for a rare example of someone who’s done both then look no further than Rebecca Ijeoma, better known as Dimplez. Dimplez, the founder of IJEOMA Agency, built a digital marketing career working with Capitol Records, SXSW, Ne-Yo, and more. Capitalizing on timing, transparency, skill expansion, and opportunity brought her a career with limitless growth potential.

Capitalize on Timing

“I first got my start in undergrad, while at the University of Arizona. I began as a blogger and didn’t realize that I was onto something until ’07-’08 when some of my blogs started getting syndicated on Global Grind,” she says. “The traction my writing was gaining piqued my interest. I wanted to create more, and cover more—and wound up teaching myself photography. I eventually learned everything that went into creating and maintaining a site, including web and graphic design.”

By 2009, came to life. It served as Dimplez’ digital real estate where she could provide her perspective on cultural moments. The year 2009 was the dawn of the creativepreneur era, a time where people were turning their creative abilities into cash. Using tools like WordPress, Tumblr, and Twitter anyone could build their own site, and share content to the masses. Major outlets were syndicating independent work in a mad grab for content. It turned bloggers, graphic designers, photographers, and videographers into authoritative voices in culture. Dimplez took full advantage by teaching herself transferable skills, making her a prime candidate for opportunities in the newly formed job market of digital marketing.

Creating Community and Opportunity

Instead of shielding her learning curve from the world, Dimplez used transparency to build community. She shared the good and bad of her website building experience. It connected her with people who needed her newly acquired expertise, which turned into paid work.

“I was designing sites, creating graphics, and maintaining servers for artists and media personalities alike. People who had never met me in person got to see and trust my skills and abilities based off of what I presented and was able to create digitally.”

Employment Is Not The Enemy

Being your own boss is a millennial’s dream. When Capital Records offered Dimplez a digital marketing manager position, she happily took the job.

“Stepping into a role or position at a company you do not own is not a step back, nor does it take away from who you are as a creative,” says Dimplez. “It actually serves as an opportunity to learn a broader perspective and hone a skill set that will only benefit you in the long run.”

“Effective storytelling is the distinction between gaining a fan or just gaining a follower. Fans make an emotional investment in you, your career, or your art. A lifelong fan is worth more currency in theory and actuality, than 1,000 followers that may never truly buy into you.”

Dimplez represents what creative work and building a career in digital marketing is all about: being a self-starter and seeing the lesson in every working scenario. 


The post Millennial Moves: How to Build a Digital Marketing Career appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


13 Black Veterans Who Now Sit on Corporate Boards

Before they were placed into board service to protect assets of shareholders at some of the largest publicly traded corporations on the S&P 500, a phalanx of BLACK ENTERPRISE Registry of Corporate Directors members chose military service to secure our nation. After their tours of duty, many of these black veterans applied their leadership and strategic skills to advance in corporate America while some decided to build distinguished careers in the Armed Forces. All, however, were drafted to serve on corporate boards because they consistently exhibited the right stuff when it came to management, decisiveness, and sound judgment.

As you would expect, most of these board members are involved in technology and aerospace and defense—sectors in which equipment and processes, in some cases, have been perfected for military and government use before being modified for consumers. Corporations in other industries have clearly benefitted from leaders who spent years developing detailed plans to ensure successful outcomes and at times have done so with literally lives on the line.

In honor of Veterans Day, we salute Registry members who have proudly represented America in this capacity. Using bio information, we share their military journey. You will be fascinated by this cadre of tops guns, military geniuses, and inspirational heroes—all bound by patriotism, sacrifice, and honor.

Gen. Colin Powell


The most prominent among them: Gen. Colin Powell, who rose to become the nation’s first African American Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff—the pinnacle position in the Armed Forces—as well as the first African American to head the diplomatic corps as Secretary of State. The retired four-star Army general “found his calling” while attending the City College of New York, where he studied geology and joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). Serving as the commander of his unit, he has often been quoted saying that the opportunity helped provide him with structure and direction. After graduating in 1958, Powell was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. In the 1960s, he served two tours of duty in Vietnam and has been awarded as many 11 military decorations in all.

Black Veterans

After receiving an M.B.A. at George Washington University and gaining a White House fellowship in 1972, he would serve four presidents, holding positions in the Defense department and at the Pentagon, involved in the coordination of military campaigns over the course of three decades that included the bombing of Libya and both Iraq Wars.

Powell currently serves on the board of


Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III


Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III is a retired U.S. Army General with nearly 41 years of military service and extensive operational experience, having commanded troops in combat at the 1-, 2-, 3- and 4-star levels. As the Commander of U.S. Central Command from March 2013 through March 2016, he was responsible for the 20-country Central Region that includes Iraq, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. He was also the Combined Forces Commander in Iraq and Syria.

Black Veterans


Austin is the Class of 1951 Leadership Chair for the Study of Leadership in the Department of Behavioral Sciences & Leadership at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York for the academic years 2016-17 and 2017-18. A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy with master’s degrees from Auburn University in Education and Webster University in Business Management, he holds numerous awards and decorations, including five Defense Distinguished Service Medals, the Silver Star, and the Legion of Merit.

Austin is a corporate director on the board of Nucor Corporation.

Frank M. Clark Jr.


Frank M. Clark Jr. has been president of the Chicago Board of Education since 2015 and served as chairman and CEO of Commonwealth Edison Co. (also known as ComEd), an affiliate of Exelon Corp., from 2005 to 2012. He has held various positions at the company, ranging from governmental and community affairs to distribution services and marketing. As such, he has cemented his reputation as one of the most versatile leaders in the energy sector.

Black Veterans


The only time he did not work for the company during his 45-year career was when he was drafted in 1967, shortly after being hired for a mailroom position. He served two years in the U.S. Army, including a year in Vietnam. Once his tour was over, Clark returned to work at ComEd and at the same time, went back to school to earn bachelor and law degrees from DePaul University.

Clark serves on the boards of Waste Management Inc. and Aetna Inc.


Major Gen. Augustus Leon Collins

From his bio on Huntington Ingalls Industries’ site: “Collins served in the U.S. Army and Mississippi National Guard for more than 35 years and held numerous command and staff positions, including command of the Mississippi National Guard’s 155th Brigade Combat Team, which deployed to Iraq and was responsible for security operations in the southern and western provinces.

Black Veterans

Collins was promoted to brigadier general in 2005 and is the first African-American to attain the rank of general in the history of the Mississippi National Guard. He retired in 2016 after serving five years as the adjutant general of both the Mississippi Army National Guard and the Mississippi Air National Guard.”

Collins serves on the board of Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc.


Major Gen. Elder Granger


Major Gen. Elder Granger is currently president and CEO of The 5Ps L.L.C., a Centennial, Colorado, healthcare, education, and leadership consulting organization. Prior to his retirement from the US Army in 2009, Granger served as the deputy director and program executive officer of the TRICARE Management Activity, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs), for close to a half-decade. In that role, he was a principal adviser to the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) on the department’s health plan policy and performance and oversaw the acquisition, operation, and integration of its managed care program within the Military Health System. Engaged in planning, budgeting, and execution of the $ 22.5 billion Defense Health Program, Granger managed a staff of 1,800 to ensure high-quality, accessible healthcare for 9.2 million uniformed service members, their families, retirees, and other stakeholders worldwide.

Prior to TRICARE, Granger led the largest U.S. and multinational battlefield health system while serving as Commander, Task Force 44th Medical Command and Command Surgeon for the Multinational Corps Iraq.

Black Veterans


A graduate of Arkansas State University in 1976 and the University of Arkansas School of Medicine in 1980, Granger began his military career commissioned through ROTC. Over 40 years, the military physician, board-certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and the Board of Hematology and Oncology, rose through the ranks, gaining a series of surgical assignments and leadership roles. Among his numerous awards, decorations, and honors: The Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with three oak leaf clusters, the Bronze Star Medal, and the Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters.

Granger currently serves on the board of Express Scripts Holding Co.

Anthony W. Hall Jr.


Anthony W. Hall Jr. has been known as the “people’s lawyer” in the H for decades. As City Attorney during Houston Mayor Lee Brown’s administration. from 1998 to 2004, and then played the role of chief administrative officer for the next mayor from 2004 to 2010. Since then, Hall, who has an economics degree from Howard University and a law degree from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University, handles cases through his private practice.

Black Veterans


Before discovering law and government, he served in the U.S. Army from 1967-1971, attaining the rank of captain. Hall’s military service included tours in Berlin and Vietnam in which he was awarded the Purple Heart and three Bronze Stars.

Hall serves on the board of Kinder Morgan Inc.


Gen. Lester L. Lyles


Besides having a mechanical engineering degree from Howard University and master’s in mechanical/nuclear engineering from when he attended school in the 1960s, Gen. Lester L. Lyles studied at Defense Systems Management College, the Armed Forces Staff College, the National War College, and the National and International Security Management Course at Harvard University during the 1980s and 1990s.

Lyles, who entered the U.S. Air Force in 1968 as a distinguished graduate of the Air Force ROTC program, also gained an array of key assignments, including Special Assistant and Aide-De-Camp to the Commander of Air Force Systems Command; Avionics Division Chief in the F-16 Systems Program Office; and Program Director of the Medium-Launch Vehicles Program and Space-Launch Systems offices in 1997 during the recovery from the Challenger Space Shuttle accident.

Black Veterans


The aforementioned experiences—just a few of the highlights on his extensive résumé—and training prepared Lyles for his biggest role: Commander, Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio in 2000. The command conducts research, development, test and evaluation, acquisition management services and logistics support for the Air Force. In 2012, the retired Lyles was bestowed the General Thomas D. White Award for distinguished service in national security, from the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Lyles is a corporate director on the board of General Dynamics.


Leo S. Mackay Jr.


Leo S. Mackay, Jr. is senior vice president, Internal Audit, Ethics and Sustainability, and an elected corporate officer of Lockheed Martin Corp.

A 1983 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, he completed pilot training two years later and graduated at the top of his class. Selected to fly the F-14, he served as a member of Fighter Squadron 11 for three years, conducting operational deployments to the North Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Indian Oceans. He finished Naval Fighter Weapons School—known as “Top Gun”—and compiled 235 carrier landings and 1,000 hours in the F-14. In the 1988 operation, the highly decorated naval aviator was among the U.S. forces sent to protect civilian oil tankers targeted in the Iran/Iraq War.

Black Veterans


On the ground, his various assignments and promotions eventually led him to his role as Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs from 2001-2003, receiving the Exceptional Service Medal, the VA’s highest honor, for his service. As he made his ascent, Mackay earned a master’s degree, and a Ph.D., in public policy from Harvard University. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the Aspen Strategy Group.

Mackay serves on the board of Cognizant Tech Solutions Corp. 


Gen. Lloyd W. “Fig” Newton


Gen. Lloyd W. “Fig” Newton is the retired commander of Air Education and Training Command, headquartered at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas. As such, he is responsible for the recruiting, training, and education of Air Force personnel. Newton manages a massive operation: Air Education and Training Command consists of 13 bases, more than 43,000 active duty members and 14,000 civilians.

But as a young man, he made wartime history. Earning a degree in aviation education from Tennessee State University, he was commissioned as a distinguished graduate through ROTC in 1966. After completing pilot training at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona a year later and qualifying as a fighter pilot, he flew 269 combat missions from Da Nang Air Base in  South Vietnam, including 79 missions over North Vietnam, the dangerous stronghold of the Viet Cong. Due to his prowess, Newton became the first African American selected to join the elite U.S. Air Force Aerial Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds, in November 1974.


Black Veterans


Upon retirement, he entered the corporate world and moved up the ranks to EVP, Military Engines at Pratt & Whitney, the global leader in designing, manufacturing, and servicing of aircraft engines, space propulsion systems, and industrial gas turbines.

Newton currently serves as a corporate director on the boards of L3 Technologies Inc. and Torchmark Corp.


Charles E. Phillips Jr.


As CEO of Infor Global Solutions, Charles E. Phillips Jr. has built the company into an enterprise software giant. Prior to Infor, he was president and board member of Oracle Corp. and during his seven-and-a-half-year tenure, it tripled in size and successfully acquired 70 companies. Before that experience, Phillips was a managing director in the Technology Group at Morgan Stanley, where he was recognized as one of BLACK ENTERPRISE‘s Most Powerful Blacks on Wall Street and an Institutional Investor All-Star for 10 consecutive years. Highly respected in business and economic circles, Phillips also served on the Obama administration’s Economic Recovery Board, led by Paul Volcker.

Black Veterans


Holding a degree in computer science from the U.S. Air Force Academy, a JD from New York Law School, and an M.B.A. from Hampton University, Phillips spent some of his formative career years as part of the military. He was a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps in the 2nd Battalion, 10th Marines artillery unit before his career ascent on Wall Street and Silicon Valley. In fact, in 2012 he was invited as the keynote speaker for the Marine Corps’ 237th Birthday Ball where he addressed his unit in which he served while stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Phillips serves on the board of Viacom Inc.


Gen. Larry Spencer


As the Air Force Association’s leading executive, Gen. Larry Spencer manages the group’s staff. He has oversight of the operations of AFA, AFA Veteran Benefits Association, and Air Force Memorial Foundation. He also holds the title of publisher of Air Force Magazine, the official journal for the association’s 94,000 members.

Spencer began his military career in the enlisted ranks and rose to become a four-star general. Receiving his degree in industrial engineering technology from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. Spencer was then commissioned through Officer Training School in 1980 as a distinguished graduate. He has commanded a squadron, group, and wing, and served as Vice Commander of the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center. He made military history as the first Air Force officer to serve as the Assistant Chief of Staff in the White House Military Office.


Black Veterans


Retiring as a four-star general, Spencer spent over 40 years in the Air Force. His last assignment was as the Vice Chief of Staff of the US Air Force, reaching the second highest-rank in that branch of the armed forces. He presided over the Air Staff and served as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Requirements Oversight Council and Deputy Advisory Working Group. In that role, he assisted the Air Force’s Chief of Staff with organizing, training, and equipping of 690,000 active-duty, Guard, Reserve, and civilian forces home and abroad.

Spencer serves as a corporate director for Whirlpool Corp.

Melvin T. Stith, Ph.D.


An alumnus of Norfolk State University and a member of its Board of Visitors for the past four years, Melvin T. Stith, Ph.D. will assume the role of interim president of his alma mater beginning Jan. 1, 2018. He is also Dean Emeritus, Martin J. Whitman School of Management, Syracuse University and Dean Emeritus, College of Business, Florida State University, respectively. Before climbing the academic ranks as a professional, the Vietnam veteran served in the U.S. Army Military Intelligence Command from 1968 to 1972, achieving the rank of captain.

Black Veterans


A native of Jarratt, Virginia, he received his sociology degree from NSU in 1968 and his M.B.A. and Ph.D. in marketing from the Whitman School in 1973 and 1978, respectively.

Stith serves on the board of AFLAC Inc.


Hansel E. Tookes II


Retired, Hansel E. Tookes II had served in various senior executive positions with tech, aerospace and defense conglomerate Raytheon. Joining the company at the turn of the century, he rose quickly, serving as chairman and CEO of Raytheon Aircraft Co. as well as Raytheon International. Before joining the company, he played vital leadership roles at industrial companies United Technologies and Pratt & Whitney.


Black Veterans


Before becoming a top gun in corporate America, Tookes was a Lieutenant Commander and Military Pilot in the U.S. Navy for seven years and later served as a Commercial Pilot with United Airlines. Moreover, he holds a degree in physics from Florida State University and a master’s in aeronautical systems from the University of West Florida. He also completed the Advanced Management Program at the Harvard Business School. He served as a member of the Advisory Group to the Secretary of the Air Force and continues his membership of the National Academies – Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board. No longer in military service, Tookes still continues to serve his country.

Tookes is on the boards of NextEra Energy Inc., Corning Inc., Harris Corp.,  and Ryder System Inc.

-Additional reporting by Tiamari Whitted


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Career | Black Enterprise


A. Barry Rand, Among the First Black CEOs of a Publicly Traded Company, Dies at 73

Addison Barry Rand, known fondly as “Barry,” passed away on Thursday. Rand was an influential business leader who held many high-profile corporate positions. In fact, Rand rose to become Chairman and CEO of Avis Rent A Car Inc. in 1999, the third African American to assume the helm of one of the nation’s 500 largest publicly traded corporations.

Rand had a 31-year career at Xerox at one point heading the company’s then-$ 5-billion marketing group. During his tenure at Xerox, he went on to manage $ 18 billion in revenue and 70,000 employees in over 150 countries.

Rand was highly regarded for his business and marketing acumen. In 1968 he earned his B.S. in Marketing from American University. He first joined Xerox as a sales trainee, citing the company’s “contagious freedom of expression” where he could be “Barry Rand and not somebody’s idea of what I should be.”

He rose from sales representative to executive vice president for worldwide operations. While at Xerox, he was instrumental in ensuring minorities and women had every opportunity for advancement at the company. Under his leadership, Xerox became the most diverse company in the Fortune 50.

He left Xerox in 1999. ”Barry was one of the most loved and respected leaders here, and not just because he succeeded against the odds as an African American,” said Anne M. Mulcahy, a-then Xerox executive vice president told The New York Times in 1999.

When Rand left Xerox to head Avis, he became one of the first African Americans to achieve such a position at a Fortune 500 company and one of the first to lead a publicly-traded company. According to The New York Times, another business icon, Ken Chenault, recommended Rand to Avis.

“Avis offers a great opportunity,” Rand said at the time in a January 2000 interview with Black Enterprise magazine. “It is a Fortune 500 company. It has an international dimension. It is a company that fits my skill set…”

In 2009, AARP tapped Rand as its new chief executive. He was attracted to AARP’s dedication to fighting for the rights of older Americans. He said back then, “AARP’s resources are immense, but so are the goals that it seeks to achieve. The fight will not be easy, but if I’ve learned one thing in my career, it’s that nothing worthwhile ever is.”

The business leader also served as the volunteer chairman of Howard University’s board of trustees. At Howard University, he established the Helen Matthews Rand Endowed Scholarship. Named for his mother, a teacher and principal, the scholarship provides full tuition and a laptop to students pursuing a degree in teacher education. Recipients must make a two-year commitment to teaching in an inner-city or urban environment upon completing their degrees.

Rand is survived by a wife, daughter, and son.

Black Enterprise interview with A. Barry Rand:

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Career | Black Enterprise


Is Employee Advocacy at Odds with Building Your Personal Brand?

Within the past several years, companies have adopted digital employee advocacy as a way to harness the power of their workforce for low-cost, high-impact marketing, sales, and recruiting. But if you are an employee, you may be questioning whether your quest to be loud and proud for your company conflicts with your goal of building your personal brand.

Your Social Networks Are Your Currency

When you first tweeted in 2009, you began to piece together a following that may predate your time at your current job—including those LinkedIn contacts; classmates from your alma mater; and relationships that span the gamut of your professional existence. Your Facebook page is a virtual backyard barbecue that includes, in some cases, people with whom you even went to elementary school. Are they really that excited to hear about your company?

Your networks are your currency. Your social platforms are your real estate. They have value, and your company recognizes this. Do you?

Now, consider again if you have allowed the employee advocacy movement to come into conflict, or worse, overtake your personal brand real estate, and/or currency. It is very easy to do. If you work for a company that you are proud of, it doesn’t take much to inundate your social networks with your company news and never think twice about it.

That digital advocacy platform is just the convenient and gentle nudge you need to deliver your company’s expectations. And after all, it is opt-in; it’s pretty and user-friendly and takes little to no thought to share. No one is forcing you to post. Right?

Employees as Company Influencers

Here are some of the latest predictions for employee advocacy from Everyone Social. Among them, professional use of personal brand handles is surging. That prediction is linked to the idea that the algorithms on popular sites are putting the squeeze on brands, making it tougher for their organic content to be seen unless they fork over a sizeable spend.

Let us also consider the other popular method that brands use to hopscotch the algorithm predicament: influencer marketing. According to recent research, brands are spending billions of dollars with individuals to share their messages, products, and services with their communities, less likely reached by companies because they lack the strength of niche influence that celebrities and even micro influencers wield.

So, companies are beginning to opt for employees as influencers because outside of the cost of the platform itself, employee advocacy is essentially next-gen, mini-micro influencer marketing on a budget.

Ted Rubin, CMO of Photofy and emcee/host of Brand Innovators Summits, says digital employee advocacy—if executed correctly by the brand—can work for the company and the employee.

“If executed correctly by the brand, and it rarely if ever is, the two can work together to great advantage for both the brand and the employee,” said Rubin. “I believe employee advocacy is most often a win for the brand but can be a much bigger long-lasting win, and truly empower employees, if executed to best advantage with employee benefit at the heart.”

The Importance of Personal Branding

Is personal branding really that important? Experts say now, more than ever, positioning oneself digitally for the next opportunity is paramount, whether it is within your current company or somewhere else. It can be as simple as a powerful summary on your LinkedIn page, or as involved as contributing as a thought leader to a respected publication. Even a blog or compelling microblogging or social posts can go a long way.

And this isn’t selfish or self-promotion, despite what some may believe. This is career survival in the digital age.

Building your personal brand is also smart. Consider that with many companies right-sizing for digital transformation, or shifting to meet consumer and customer demands, often that means surplus. In June 2018 alone, many of the most recognizable brands announced layoffs. The trend will likely continue as more automation takes over like artificial intelligence.

John G. Graham Jr., employer brand and digital evangelist, suggests employee advocacy and personal branding can and should co-exist, but employee advocacy extends past social platforms through speaking opportunities and other spokesperson opportunities. He travels the world sharing how it should work.

“The promise that I offer to employees who engage in advocacy efforts on behalf of the company is visibility and exposure of their personal brand to broader audiences,” Graham said. “Yes, the employer brand is gaining visibility and exposure as a secondary benefit but the reality is you’re raising your profile by adding value to your personal networks via relevant content that resonates. It’s really a win-win.”

However, Graham warns about sharing company news on your personal social networks.

“I don’t advocate that employees share company content through their personal profiles, for a few reasons: 1) Your network isn’t that interested in your company if the content you’re sharing isn’t relevant to their own personal interests. 2) It’s viewed as disingenuous and inauthentic. 3) The company has corporate channels that employees can share content from if they choose.”

How Employees Can Control Their Personal Brands

So can this assumption that employees’ social platforms are fair game for a company hurt your chances of actually leveraging what is actually yours for a career advantage? Does it create a culture of expectation from peers and even superiors that if you aren’t sharing company news, you are not all in for the company? Can it cause colleagues or bosses to criticize posts that are solely about your career interests, thoughts, and aspirations? Do these company initiatives create unreal expectations for their employees to leverage their social capital for nothing in return?

Dare we ask, is this exploitation?

Graham says that employees can and should take control of their social handles, social equity, social media currency, communities, and networks and that can also benefit your company. He says employer brands should provide shareable digital content that will add value to the employee and their personal networks. Otherwise, companies risk jeopardizing the very trust their employees have established with their own social networks.

“Leveraging the employee network as a means of extending company content reach and engagement, in my opinion only benefits the company at the potential risk of the employee networks being turned off by corporate exploitation,” he said. “Instead, companies should seek to curate value-add content that their employees can share so as to be more credible and valuable to their networks.”

He added, “Doing so ensures that if and when their employees share company-related content, their networks are more apt to engage with it because they’ve proven themselves trustworthy and a reliable source of content worth engaging with in the past.”

Companies: Be Thoughtful about Employees’ Social Networks

Rubin shared advice on how brands can provide content that actually engages your employee’s social communities instead of turning them off with commercialism.

Set some formal guidelines, but stay fluid. Rubin says that if companies clamp down too hard on employees they may simply back away from participating. Train them, then crowdsource.

“Offer in-house social training, led by your best in-house (but only if you really have them) and local experts,” said Rubin “Consider offering incentive programs. It can be something as simple as public recognition, but reward those employees who provide the most relevant ideas and responses on how best to empower them to build and leverage their personal brands.”

Remember that your employees are your company’s best resource. Rubin says to make the most of employee passion and individuality.

“Provide content that helps them become experts, leaders, and go-to resources, he said. “They’re already social, so start thinking of how you can empower your employees to have their own voice, and you will discover many can, and will, become your company’s most active and valuable social advocates.”

Employees: Take Control of Your Social Capital

So now that you know you are one of your company’s most valued influencers, it is time to act like it. Here are three steps that I’ve learned since 2007 when most of these social platforms launched; running a small business that leveraged its employees as ambassadors online and even leveraging employee advocacy as part of communications plans for some familiar brands. They might help you navigate this brave new world of corporate employee advocacy while managing and growing your personal brand in the digital space.

Tip the scales in your own favor. Your company is great. They are doing wonderful things in the community. Awesome. They also have a marketing spend that dwarfs your own. In fact, you likely don’t have one. Engage the 80:20 rule if you just can’t help sharing about your company, or feel the pressure to from colleagues, dare I say, bosses. That 80% is for you. Spend time crafting a deliberate approach to delivering rich and useful content for your community that will benefit them. If a social share from your company aligns with your passions and brand and provided useful content, for example, tips and advice on career and leadership, share it; but do not alienate your community members who’d rather hear more about what they can relate to…most often, that is your ideas and useful shares that have meaning to you and by extension, them.

Have an informed point of view. This doesn’t mean the opinionated posts that aren’t grounded in data that have become the norm on Facebook. This is about your informed, research-driven and seasoned worldview when it comes to your industry and your business. Focus your content and shares on this sweet spot. Again, if company content aligns then share that too, but in moderation.

Guard your social real estate. It is precious. Don’t just give it away. Understand that it is the one place you have to add your unique value, tell your story, and tell it well. Have a deliberate approach that focuses on no more than three broad topic areas that align with your brand and execute against it methodically. Spend some time thinking about your purpose, and it will be apparent to your networks, recruiters, and prospects. Your job is a part of that story, but be careful not to make it the headline.

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Career | Black Enterprise


Black Mompreneurs Stand Up: One Woman’s Journey To Organize Her Own TEDx Event

At eight months pregnant, writer and special needs advocate Eraina Ferguson was set to give the speech of her life. A TEDx talk is one of the coveted roles a person can get when building their professional career. In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED has created a program called TEDx. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. The event is called TEDxDelthorneWomen, where x = independently organized TED event. At TEDxDelthorneWomen, TEDTalks video and live speakers will combine to spark deep discussion around the topic Listen to Her. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. “Women from all over the country are raving about this event, I hope to attend and meet some incredible people from all different walks of life,” stated self-care influencer, Tonnicka Gerken.

Eraina Ferguson is no stranger to hard work. After giving birth to a special needs daughter, she went on to finish her undergraduate degree and two master’s degrees, including one from Yale. “I really wanted my daughter to have a good life,” stated Ferguson. Since obtaining her degrees, she has written over 200 articles geared toward teaching parents and the general public about the importance of special needs families living a good life.


Eraina Ferguson preparing to speak at TEDx.

In June, Ferguson knew her life would change as she took the stage to do her first TEDx talk, and it did. Moments into it, the sound was choppy, while she was on a stage with a full audience. After giving her talk she was given the opportunity to redo her speech during intermission. Thankfully her film crew was able to film her talk and everything turned out well, but she knew that something else needed to be done. “Though I understood the magnitude of their responsibility, I wanted to organize my own TEDx event centered around the importance of listening to women,” stated Ferguson.

On November 30th, 2018 Ferguson is facilitating a TEDx event titled “TEDxDelthorneWomen”. The main TEDWomen event is a yearly event that’s happening simultaneously in Palm Springs. “The TEDWomen event’s theme is “Showing Up.” I wanted a theme that would coincide with theirs, but also state a truth that exists for women, the need to be listened to.” TEDxDelthorneWomen is a full-day event, taking place in the Delthorne neighborhood of Torrance, California. “Our goal is to bring together bright minds to give talks that are idea-focused, and on a wide range of subjects, to foster learning, inspiration, and wonder – and provoke conversations that matter,” further stated Ferguson.”Our speakers are men and women from all over the country committed to engaging in a discussion about the importance of listening to women,” emphatically stated Ferguson.

The event’s speakers include tech entrepreneurs, advertising executives, veterans, nationally syndicated journalists, filmmakers, and immigrants with a passion for advocating for the disenfranchised. “It is an honor to organize an event that helps to galvanize this new season for women,” stated Ferguson. To learn more about the event visit:

The post Black Mompreneurs Stand Up: One Woman’s Journey To Organize Her Own TEDx Event appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


How to Handle Difficult Conversations at Work

Conflict in the workplace is inevitable. But contrary to popular belief, not all conflict is bad. Sometimes when we embrace difficult conversations at work, it’s an opportunity to grow, innovate, and even strengthen your relationships with your colleagues. One of the most important things on how to handle difficult conversations at work is remembering the power of taking a pause before you react or respond to a situation. Ultimately, you can’t control how people react, but you always have the power to choose your response.

Dealing with Difficult Conversations at Work

Friendly reminder — not everything deserves a reaction or even a response. You can either step into conflict or step away from it; the choice is always yours. Embracing your power of pause also enables you to:

-Take a few deep breaths or walk away from the situation.

– Refrain from judgment and do a quick self-check.

-Gather your thoughts so you can ask a few clarifying questions.

-Consider the other person’s perspectives or objectives.

Think Conversation, Not Confrontation. 

Once you decide that a discussion is needed, here are a few tips to help you prepare for a difficult conversation:

Silence the noise, get rid of distractions and do a quick self-check on the story you are telling yourself.

At any given moment, we have a gazillion stories going on in our head — especially when we’re in the middle of a conflict. The biggest mistake we make is reacting off of a story we’ve told ourselves about a person or situation. Many times, we’re assuming, overthinking, and even playing out scenarios that may be true or false.   

Seek facts before feelings.

Ask yourself:

-What evidence do I have to support this story?

-Are you feeding the stories in your head based off of your past experiences? What else it could it be? Self-awareness is key: How have you contributed to the problem?

-What is your purpose for having the conversation?

-What do you want to avoid?

-Why is it important to have this conversation right now?

-What do you hope to accomplish?

-Describe your ideal outcome?

-What is the common ground or mutual interest that you both share?

Prepare to have a discussion and approach the discussion from a place of curiosity.

Starting from a place of curiosity (e.g., give a person the benefit of the doubt) helps to rebuild trust with someone who may have hurt you. Plus, it helps to create a mutual understanding about finding solutions which benefit the both of you. Also, take a few moments to imagine you don’t know anything about this person or situation. Sometimes this can help you see things from another person’s perspective and assess their needs at the time.

Watch your tone and be aware of your verbal and non-verbal communication.

For instance, typing on your computer or scrolling through emails or your social media feed while speaking to someone, sends the message that you don ‘t value a person’s time or what they have to say. 

Strive to ask more open-ended questions. Here are a few examples:

I’d really like us to get to a place where we can ______________ and avoid__________. When ___________ occurred, I felt like _____________. Can you help me understand why (describe the problem and the outcome) ________________. Take note, the more you show interest in learning about the other person’s perspectives the better chance you have at reaching a positive outcome and mutual agreement. Here’s the thing, you don’t have to agree, but validating that their views are just as important as yours sets the tone for respect and a new way ahead.

I’d like to see if we might reach a better understanding about ___________. I value you as ___________so I really want to hear your feelings about this and share my perspective as well. What are your thoughts about _________?

I notice we have different views about _____________________. So, I’d like to hear your thoughts about____________ .What challenges are you having with____________? What part of__________ makes you uncomfortable? How can we work more effectively as a team?

If we considered __________, what does success look like for you? What are the top two things you’d like to see from me?

To make sure you understand the person correctly, restate what has been said—this also sends the message that you’re actively listening to them.

The post How to Handle Difficult Conversations at Work appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


Millennial Moves: PR Professional Builds Cigars and Whiskey Experiential Event

Millennials are creating and establishing experiential event spaces to increase engagement, awareness, knowledge-building, and most importantly, including the “culture.”  At 27 years old, Kerry Smalls is a director at public relations firm The Chamber Group, and creator of lifestyle event Cigars & Whiskey. In an interview, he discusses his career trajectory and what it took to build his event brand.

Describe the concept behind your brand Cigars & Whiskey.

The sole basis for the creation of Cigars & Whiskey is the idea of connection. Through living and working in New York, I realized how many people were in my network, and also, who they were connected to but would never have the opportunity to meet because of their differing careers and personal lives. My aim is to bring different minds together to forge nontraditional relationships while enjoying a nontraditional luxury experience that millennials do not often experience: cigars and whiskey—a personal favorite.

Cigars and whiskey are associated with financial gain, wealth, business, and the pleasantries of life—things young millennials, specifically my community of African Americans, are not traditionally exposed to if they don’t go out seeking it and that’s an issue. I want to be able to provide that atmosphere for those people—an atmosphere that inspires someone to change their life.

As a millennial entrepreneur how important is an experiential event to the culture? 

Experiential events are key, especially to culture. In fact, I can’t see a brand reaching their maximum potential without some type of tangible activation or experience that the consumer can latch on to in order to connect the dots to the product or service that is being offered. We live an age where, thanks to social media, visuals mean more than anything. People want something they can feel, touch, and see for themselves.

How has your job, as head of a celebrity public relations firm, prepared you for your latest venture? 

My job, at least nowadays, is connecting the culture to the masses. Creating untraditional scenarios and narratives in order to move a brand from point A to point B. In order to do that effectively, I have to at all times know what is going on in the streets. My career in the business has taught me strategy, it’s taught me timing, it’s taught me execution. But most importantly, it’s forced me to stay ahead of trends and understand the generation that I essentially am marketing to and inviting to my events.

How does Cigars & Whiskey differ from other events geared toward millennials? If you create the environment, the people will come. Simple as put. We don’t want Cigars & Whiskey to just be seen as a party or mixer. Yes, it is social and the events are being created so that you have fun but we want our guests to walk away feeling more inspired than when they entered. We want to send our guests on their way with new relationships and experiences that they can utilize for the betterment of their personal and professional lives.

What tips can you provide to any up-and-coming millennial entrepreneurs who wish to work in your field? 

There are many tips and tricks that I’ve learned that keep me going but the few I focus on the most lately are the following:

  • Work hard, at whatever it is you do and expect nothing in return.
  • Build with like-minded people. As you get older, everyone takes up space. Surround yourself with people that offer something to your life both professionally and personally. You will see that this is effective when you are taking that first leap of faith with your business.
  • Take nothing personally when doing business. You will get hurt when things don’t pan out the way you’d wish they had.
  • Consider your pros and cons but don’t ever let the cons deter you away from making an actual decision. Usually, that means that the move is risky, and typically, that is where you could see the most reward.
  • Balance. Don’t go at that thing so hard that you burn yourself out and jeopardize your creative thinking. Self-care is real. Find enjoyment in your work, even if in small bits. And outside of work, learn to relax. Turn it off. Have fun. The second you stop having fun, you need to go back and re-evaluate why you started doing it in the first place. In that space is where you find the inspiration to keep going.

The post Millennial Moves: PR Professional Builds Cigars and Whiskey Experiential Event appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


10 of the Most Successful Black Producers in Hollywood

Just who are the most successful black producers in Hollywood?  Well, according to the Producers Guild of America they are engaged in decision-making functions, script revisions, and casting decisions, among other things. Other criteria: individuals had to have produced five or more films; at least three of those titles had to have generated at least $ 50 million at the box office and rank among the top 100 highest grossing films during the year of their theatrical release. By Hollywood standards, a film’s worth is based on its box office returns. So, the top 10 are ranked by lifetime cumulative gross box office receipts worldwide.

For example: “Think Like a Man” was a breakout hit in 2012. It recorded $ 96.1 million in box office receipts worldwide on a production budget of $ 12 million. In fact, it was No. 1 at the box office for two weekends–a sweet spot for a film with a predominantly African American cast and produced by African American power brokers Will Packer and Rob Hardy of Rainforest Films.

Regardless of that recent box office triumph, getting a film produced and distributed is difficult. The harsh reality is no one African American has the power to green-light a film.

Another somber truth is that African American filmmakers face smaller production budgets, receiving around $ 10 million to $ 12 million whereas the average cost of a major movie studio film is more than $ 90 million.

Even entertainment powerhouse Tyler Perry still needs the go-ahead from Lionsgate to get his next movie made, although his films are a bankable $ 50 million-plus on average, says Darrell D. Miller, a partner at Fox Rothschild L.L.P. and chair of the Entertainment Law Department.

Still, Perry arguably has the most leverage of any one writer-director-producer can muster in Hollywood, says Miller. And a number of other African Americans filmmakers are getting projects made with the stamp of approval from Hollywood executives and are generating box office hits often through movies that have crossover appeal and translate well for international markets.

Here is the list of established black producers who are killing it at the box office and some newer faces of Hollywood making great inroads.

10 of the Most Successful Black Producers

10. Will Packermost successful black producers

Will Packer has been a Hollywood mover and shaker with cult films such as Trois and hits like Stomp the Yard. He landed diva Beyonce Knowles for the femme fatale thriller Obsessed, and culled a star-studded cast that included Paul Walker and Zoe Saldana for the crime story Takers. Packer is at the top of his game with the hit Think Like a Man, featuring an ensemble cast led by funnyman Kevin Hart. The movie adaptation of Steve Harvey’s best-selling relationship book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, ranks among the 25 highest-grossing films of 2012–pulling down $ 96.1 million worldwide. The key to success, he says, is building solid relationships, which includes knowing how to sell to talent, financiers, and distributors. Up next: No Good Deed, and a remake of About Last Night.

$ 345.9 million (domestic),$ 382.1 million (worldwide)

“Think Like a Man”- $ 96.1 million worldwide

FILMS: “Think Like a Man,”  “Takers,” “Obsessed,” “This Christmas,” “Stomp the Yard,” “The Gospel,” “Pandora’s Box”, “Trois”


9. O’Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson

most successful black producers

Hip-hop luminaries have transcended the sound booth to become marquee favorites, but O’Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson is a rapper turned actor-producer with Hollywood staying power. While best known for creating his widely popular Friday trilogy, Jackson wanted to give younger fans family-friendly movies. The devoted husband and father of four produced “Are We There Yet?”, which critics panned but went on to gross $ 97.9 million worldwide in box office receipts. The sequel, “Are We Done Yet?”, grossed $ 58.4 million worldwide.

The franchise spawned the TBS television series “Are We There Yet?”, with Jackson serving as the show’s executive producer. Next up: another installment of the Friday series, and “Eye for an Eye,” a TV series developed with FX about a paramedic seeking vengeance.

$ 455.6 million (domestic), $ 486.6 million (worldwide)

“Are We There Yet?”- $ 97.9 million worldwide

FILMS: “First Sunday,” “The Longshots,” “Are We Done Yet?”, “Beauty Shop,” “Are We There Yet?”, “Barbershop 2,” “Friday After Next,” “All About the Benjamins,” “Next Friday,” “The Players Club,” “Friday,” “Dangerous Ground

8. Debra Martin Chase


most successful black producers

Not long after her Oscar and Emmy nods for the documentary “Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream,” Debra Martin Chase became the first African American woman to have a solo deal at a major studio: Martin Chase Productions, which is affiliated with the Walt Disney Co.

The Harvard-educated attorney’s breakout film was “The Princess Diaries,” which grossed $ 165.3 million worldwide in box office receipts. Chase executive produced one of the most successful films in the Disney Channel’s history, “The Cheetah Girls.” She also produced such urban films as the remake of “Sparkle” and “Just Wright” starring Queen Latifah, and ABC recently formalized its long-standing relationship with Martin Chase that dates back to 1997’s “Cinderella,” co-starring singers Brandy and the late Whitney Houston. Next up: working to develop series for ABC.

$ 391.5 million (domestic), $ 533.3 million (worldwide)

“The Princess Diaries”- $ 165.3 million worldwide

FILMS: “Sparkle,” “Just Wright,” “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2,” “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” “The Princess Diaries 2,” “The Princess Diaries,” “Courage Under Fire

7. Reuben Cannon

most successful black producers

Producer Reuben Cannon has earned a reputation for being an innovative and trendsetting force in Hollywood over the past three decades. He is credited with launching the movie careers of Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey, whom he cast in “The Color Purple.”

Cannon formed a production alliance with Tyler Perry Studios in 2004. That powerful collaboration resulted in record-breaking box office grosses and television ratings. He helped perfect a strong, urban domestic distribution model that included hit makers “Madea’s Family Reunion,” “Why Did I Get Married?”, and “Madea Goes to Jail.”

Last year, he split with Perry to reactivate his production company, Reuben Cannon Entertainment. RCE has a strategic relationship with Open Road, a distributor that is a joint venture between AMC and Regal theaters.

$ 575.5 million, (domestic), $ 577 million (worldwide)

Madea Goes to Jail” – $ 90.5 million domestic

“Madea’s Big Happy Family,” “Why Did I Get Married Too?”, “I Can Do Bad All by Myself,” “Madea Goes to Jail,” “The Family That Preys,” “Meet the Browns,” “Why Did I Get Married?,” “Daddy’s Little Girls,” “Madea’s Family Reunion,” “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” “Woman Thou Art Loosed,” “Love Don’t Cost a Thing,” “Get On the Bus,” “Dancing in September,” “Down in the Delta

6. Martin Lawrence


most successful black producers

Since 2000, Martin Lawrence has been riding the Big Momma’s House franchise all the way to the bank. All three installments, which credit Lawrence as a producer, were made for under $ 45 million, but collectively grossed nearly $ 395 million worldwide. His” Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat” holds the fourth spot among the highest-grossing stand-up comedy concert films. It grossed nearly $ 20 million at the box office. As executive producer and writer, Lawrence pushed the envelope with his groundbreaking Fox TV sitcom “Martin.” In 2010, Lawrence executive produced the TV One show “Love That Girl!” In the works is a new television comedy series.

LIFETIME TOTAL GROSS: $ 408.7 million (domestic), $ 605.9 million (worldwide)

HIGHEST GROSSING FILM: “Big Momma’s House” –  $ 174 million worldwide

FILMS: “Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son,” “Big Momma’s House 2,” “Rebound,” “National Security,” “Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat,” “Black Knight,” “What’s the Worst That Could Happen,” “Big Momma’s House,” “A Thin Line Between Love and Hate,” “You So Crazy”

5. Eddie Murphy

most successful black producers

Behind the scenes, Brooklyn-born comic Eddie Murphy has written and produced such films as “Norbit.” Most recentl,y he joined the production end on the comedy caper “Tower Heist.” No stranger to setting historical records, Murphy’s 1987 stand-up comedy film “Raw,” which he co-wrote and executive produced, grossed more than $ 50 million. It remains the No. 1 box office comedy concert theatrical release to date.

A cultural icon and comedic pioneer, Murphy also has conjured up silver screen magic by penning the stories for such films as “Boomerang” and “Beverly Hills Cop II.” Up next: Murphy is revamping his unique brand of humor with a “Beverly Hills Cop” television show.

$ 492 million (domestic), $ 683.1 million (worldwide)

The Nutty Professor 2″ – $ 166.3 million worldwide

“Tower Heist,” “Norbit,” “The Nutty Professor 2,” “Life,” “Vampire in Brooklyn,” “Harlem Nights,” “Eddie Murphy Raw”

4. Tyler Perry


most successful black producers

Tyler Perry built a multi-million-dollar brand by speaking to an urban audience often ignored in Hollywood. Perry made his foray into films transposing many of his straight-to-DVD stage productions into screen gems. Perry writes, produces, directs, and acts in most of his productions–cementing him as one of Hollywood’s most bankable talents. The $ 50.7 million box office success of his 2005 debut “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” secured a lucrative first-look, multi-year distribution partnership with Lionsgate.

Perry’s success extends to the small screen with TBS, producing and directing three original series. Up next: The powerhouse reunites with mentor-friend and media mogul Oprah Winfrey (the two co-produced the film “Precious”) for a multi-year partnership to produce, write, and direct the first scripted content for OWN.

LIFETIME TOTAL GROSS: $ 721.2 million (domestic), $ 738.8 million (worldwide)

HIGHEST GROSSING FILM: “Madea Goes To Jail” – $ 90.5 million domestic

FILMS: “Madea’s Witness Protection,” “Good Deeds,” “Madea’s Big Happy Family,” “For Colored Girls,” “Precious,” “Why Did I Get Married Too?”, “I Can Do Bad All by Myself,” “Madea Goes to Jail,” “The Family That Preys,” “Meet the Browns,” “Why Did I Get Married?”, “Daddy’s Little Girls,” “Madea’s Family Reunion,” “Diary of a Mad Black Woman”


3. The Wayans Bros 

most successful black producers

A family that creates together stays together. It’s a philosophy that has allowed writer-director-producer Keenen Ivory Wayans and his younger siblings to establish an entertainment dynasty in Hollywood. It was the Wayans brothers who gave birth to one of Tinseltown’s hottest franchises–the Scary Movie horror parody films.

Marlon and Shawn penned the screenplay for “Scary Movie” and “Scary Movie 2,” while Keenen directed both films.

“Scary Movie” topped $ 278 million worldwide at the box office on a $ 19 million budget, while the second installment, with Marlon and Shawn credited as co-executive producers, grossed $ 141.2 million worldwide.

The Wayans brothers also wrote, produced, and directed the buddy cop comedy “White Chicks,” a $ 113.1 million box office hit that was made on a $ 37 million budget. Collectively, the Wayans trio has grossed close to $ 750 million worldwide at the box office.

Getting movies made these days is a lot different than 20 years ago, Keenen says. “We’re in a global market now. You can’t just make movies for the states because the money is coming from overseas, so they want that film to travel to their regions. As a filmmaker you want to create as much value in your projects as possible.”

As the family’s artistic patriarch, Keenen set the family filmmaking wheels in motion. His visibility rose after hooking up with comedian Eddie Murphy, earning writing and producing credits on Murphy’s 1987 live concert feature, “Raw.” Partnering with actor-director Robert Townsend, Wayans scored his first feature film hit as a screenwriter with “Hollywood Shuffle” that same year, followed by the blaxploitation parody “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka,” which also marked his directorial debut.

But it was the Emmy Award-winning 1990 sketch comedy and variety show “In Living Color,” which ran for four years on Fox that brought big brother Wayans national prominence. Making it a family affair seemed only right with siblings Damon, Kim, Shawn, and Marlon joining the ensemble cast.

“I enjoy working with people who I love being around because at the end of the day, all you have is the experience, and I tried to make it as much fun as possible,” Keenen quips. “And having the opportunity to take your family out of poverty, who wouldn’t want to take advantage of that?”

The younger Wayans’ breakthrough film was “Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood,” which Marlon and Shawn penned, produced, and starred in. The duo also created “The Wayans Bros.” sitcom, which ran for four years on the WB network.

“When we did ‘Scary Movie’ and ‘Don’t Be a Menace,’ [Keenen] made us keep rewriting until we got it right. He groomed us to be beasts. You have to be a force of nature in this business and I’m prepared to do that,” says Marlon, adding that his latest film shows his maturity as a writer and producer.

The youngest member of the Wayans clan is flying solo these days. Marlon’s independently produced horror comedy “A Haunted House,” a send-up of the Paranormal Activity film franchise, opens in theaters next month.

LIFETIME TOTAL GROSS: $ 460.5 million (domestic), $ 747.8 million (worldwide)

HIGHEST GROSSING FILM: “Scary Movie” – $ 278 million worldwide

FILMS: “Dance Flick,” “Little Man,” “White Chicks,” “Scary Movie 2,” “Scary Movie,” “Most Wanted,” “Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood,” “Eddie Murphy Raw”

2. Broderick Johnson

most successful black producers

It was the sleeper hit The Blind Side that capitulated Broderick Johnson into the spotlight. The film was backed with a $ 29 million production budget and grossed more than $ 300 million worldwide, making it one of the most successful sports dramas in film history. The film’s Oscar nomination for Best Picture made Johnson just the third African American producer to earn an Academy Award nod in this category.

Johnson’s company has produced more than 20 films, typically costing less than $ 40 million to make and appealing to a wide mix of moviegoers. A favorable spot is Alcon’s distribution deal with Warner Bros. to finance and produce three films per year. Up next: a follow-up to the sci-fi classic “Blade Runner.”

LIFETIME TOTAL GROSS: $ 980 million (domestic), $ 1.4 billion (worldwide)

HIGHEST GROSSING FILM: “The Blind Side” –  $ 309.2 million worldwide

FILMS: “Chernobyl Diaries,” “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” “Joyful Noise,” “Dolphin Tale,” “Something Borrowed,” “Lottery Ticket,” “The Book of Eli,” “The Blind Side,” “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2,””One Missed Call,” “P.S. I Love You,” “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” “Racing Stripes,” “Chasing Liberty,” “Love Don’t Cost a Thing,” “Insomnia,” “The Affair of the Necklace,” “Dude,” “Where’s My Car?,” “My Dog Skip,” “Lost & Found”

1. James Lassiter and Will Smith


most successful black producers

Over the past 14 years, James Lassiter and Will Smith have left their golden imprint on a diverse slate of critically acclaimed and blockbuster feature films. Their extraordinary hit list includes “I Am Legend,” “Hancock,” and “The Karate Kid” remake, which grossed more than $ 359.1 million worldwide.

Smith, a two-time Academy Award nominee, also continues to reap the rewards of his close to $ 3 billion box office draw. While most of Overbrook’s films are not “black-themed,” it has produced racial and culturally sensitive films such as “The Pursuit of Happyness,” “The Secret Lives of Bees,” and “Lakeview Terrace.” Additionally, Overbrook produced the television series “All of Us,” which ran for four years on UPN and the CW. Next up: sci-fi adventure “After Earth,: co-starring Jaden Smith and directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

LIFETIME TOTAL GROSS: $ 1.4 billion (domestic), $ 3 billion (worldwide)

HIGHEST GROSSING FILM: “Hancock” – $ 624.4 million worldwide

FILMS: “This Means War,” “The Karate Kid,” “Seven Pounds,” “The Secret Life of Bees,” “Lakeview Terrace,” “Hancock,” “I Am Legend,” “The Pursuit of Happyness,” “ATL,” “Hitch,” “Saving Face,” “I, Robot,” “Showtime,” “Ali”

The post 10 of the Most Successful Black Producers in Hollywood appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


Citing Health Concerns, Dick Parsons Resigns as CBS Interim Chairman of the Board

Barely 30 days after his appointment as interim chairman of the board at CBS, Reuters is reporting that Dick Parsons has resigned from the position.

From Reuters:

Parsons, who said he had complications from a form of cancer, will be replaced by Strauss Zelnick, who founded the media-focused private equity firm Zelnick Media Capital, according to the statement.

Richard “Dick” Parsons, former Time Warner chairman and CEO, was named interim chairman weeks after Leslie Moonves stepped down as chairman and CEO of CBS amid a cascade of sexual assault allegations published in a series of articles in The New Yorker.

Parsons is a well-rounded leader noted for his sound judgment and vast experience in politics, finance, entertainment, and philanthropy. His illustrious career earned him the February 2002 cover of BLACK ENTERPRISE magazine. He also has a proven track record of driving results at large organizations during times of crisis and change.

“Among the numerous roles of this unflappable leader: Taking the helm of AOL Time Warner as the media giant was reeling from a troubled merger during the height of the dot-com boom; serving as chairman of Citigroup as the financial giant was recovering from the sector’s financial meltdown; lending his expertise to U.S. presidents over the years in tackling dire issues ranging from Social Security reform to job creation during the Great Recession; helping to resurrect the famed Apollo Theater at a time in which it was financially crippled; and assuming the role of  interim CEO  to stabilize the L.A. Clippers NBA franchise during the Donald Sterling scandal,” writes Black Enterprise Editor-in-Chief Derek T. Dingle.

According to Deadline, Parsons’ health has taken a turn for the worse in the last couple of weeks.

Watch a Black Enterprise interview with Dick Parsons from 2009 where he provides invaluable business and career tips which still apply:

The post Citing Health Concerns, Dick Parsons Resigns as CBS Interim Chairman of the Board appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise


Millennial Moves: Danielle Jeter is Building a Tribe of Women in Media in Philly

Unable to find a job after graduating from Spelman College was discouraging for Danielle P. Jeter, especially because she had done everything right. Not only was she accepted into the prestigious HBCU, but she also became a standout student and excelled during her academic career. “I had a whole résumé of experience. I studied abroad. I interned every summer. I got jobs. I worked while I was in college. I was a student leader. I was on the dance team,” Jeter, 29, told BLACK ENTERPRISE, adding that she often traveled off campus to network with working professionals. And, on top of that, the double major launched her own events planning business during her senior year. “So for me, I was like, ‘why can’t I get a job?’ I prepared. I did what was told of me to do,” she said.

Change of Plans

The reality of being jobless when she graduated from the Atlanta-based institution in Spring 2010 forced her to recalculate her post-college plans. “My vision for my life was to go from Atlanta to Los Angeles.” When that didn’t happen, she reluctantly returned to her hometown of Philadelphia and focused on growing her own business. “I always had a vision of being an entrepreneur. I knew that I was going to be a business owner, [but] I didn’t know I was going to do it so young.”

Jeter worked to expand her company, AOI Events & PR, into a full-service communications firm that executes creative marketing campaigns for clients. “When I came back home to Philly, I added on different services, including public relations, community relations, digital marketing, and strategic development.” Under AOI, she also started an internship and mentoring program called Pipeline that has helped dozens of high school students gain hands-on experience in the media field.

Women in Media

Danielle P. Jeter at the WIM 6th Annual Conference

Representation Matters

Jeter’s career trajectory, however, took another change of course in 2013 when she attended a documentary film screening about Philadelphia’s local art scene. The lack of representation in the film was so glaring that it compelled her to take action to better represent women creatives in her community. “There was only one woman represented in the film,” which profiled Philadelphia-based artists, she told BE. “I, personally, was offended by that because I’m an artist and I know plenty of artists in the city. Philadelphia [has a] large art and culture scene.” The disappointing film motivated her to create an event to showcase the work of female artists and professionals in media and entertainment. “That sparked something in me to go ahead and create something to remind women to own their voices.”

She reached out to other women working in media within her network, student organizations, and local media outlets and organized a workshop at Temple University within 60 days. Although small, the women’s empowerment event made a great impact on its attendees and inspired her to expand the half-day workshop into an annual conference for women working in media, entertainment, and the arts. “That was so powerful. People really loved their experiences and they started to ask me ‘what’s next?’”

Women In Media

Jeter also launched Women in Media Global Network (WIM Global), an organization that serves to empower and equip women who work or aspire to work in the media industry through year-round meetups and networking events. Today, the organization operates chapters in Philadelphia and Atlanta.


Angela Yee, Danielle Jeter, and members of WIM Global (Photo Credit: Rejean Wilson) Photography

Last month, the org held its sixth annual Women in Media conference at the International House in Philadelphia, which was centered on the theme, “limitless: beyond the glass ceiling.” It was co-emceed by diversity and inclusion expert Kimberly S. Reed and included a diverse mix of women making waves in the industry such as radio personality Roxy Romeo. Jeter says her favorite highlight was her fireside chat with The Breakfast Club co-host Angela Yee. “Angela Yee telling her story reminded me that there are no overnight success stories and you have to consistently work extremely hard to be great,” she said.

Day one of the conference ended with a “Women In Sports VIP Dinner” and panel held at the Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies, and featured female executives who work for the MLB team. That inspiration seemed to seep onto the field as the Phillies beat the Miami Marlins in an exciting home game later that night.

Angela Yee Women in Media

Angela Yee and Danielle Jeter at the 2018 WIM Global Conference (Courtesy of WIM)

Day two of the conferenced featured a panel session, sponsored by BLACK ENTERPRISE, of millennial women working in corporate media outlets like BET Networks and ABC’s local news affiliate. That was followed by breakout sessions. The day ended with a reception and informal session featuring male media professionals who support women in media.

Jeter thanked members of WIM for the success of the two-day summit, noting that it’s a testament of how well women can work together. “Working behind the scenes with the Women In Media Leadership Council Team Members [kept] me inspired and motivated especially during times of difficulty. To see a dedicated team of 15 women selflessly give of their time, treasure, talents, and resources to invest in other women proved many negative stereotypes of women in general wrong.”

Another rewarding moment from the event was seeing how it encouraged and impacted others. “To learn that attendees walked away with valuable jewels, tangible resources, new relationships, education, and inspiration made all of our hard work over the last year worth it,” said Jeter. “It also proved that our WIM Global platform is needed.”

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4 Ways to Get Followers and Create a Lasting Relationship

The internet is a crowded place—and it’s only becoming more crowded. There are currently around 3.03 billion social media users. The good news is, this means there are far more opportunities to connect with people and gain followers for your brand. But on the flip side, it also means there’s much more competition. If you want to stand out you’re going to have to try harder to get followers, connect with people, and make an authentic positive, lasting impression. Fortunately, there are many ways to do this.

Four Ways to Get Followers and Create Connections: 


Create Engaging Videos

YouTube is one of the internet’s biggest, most popular platforms. It currently has just over a billion users—that’s almost one-third of total Internet users—who watch more than 500 million hours of content every single day.

Creating videos for your audience to watch is far more personal than just uploading blog posts. It allows them to see many aspects of your personality that you just can’t express through words and helps to build trust.

Some users have built their entire business by creating unique and engaging YouTube videos. Bri Hall is one beauty, fashion, and lifestyle vlogger who has amassed over 600,000 followers and over 32 million unique views on her videos since she started producing content in 2013.

get followers

Bri Hall (YouTube)


On the other side of the scale, there are YouTubers like Roberto Blake who gained popularity discussing entrepreneurship with his audience on how to market themselves. His channel has amassed over 23 million views of his videos.

get followers

Roberto Blake (YouTube)


It’s becoming increasingly clear that no matter what kind of content you create, you’re likely to find an audience if your branding is on point.

Uploading Instagram Posts and Videos Regularly

If you’re not already leveraging Instagram to connect with your followers, you probably should be. The platform now has 200 million monthly active users. Engagement rates are 15 times higher than Facebook, and 20 times higher than Twitter.

Using hashtags is also a great way to build your audience and introduce more people to your content.

Uploading an Instagram post or taking a quick 15-second video is much less effort than creating an entire YouTube video or organizing a local meetup. If you’re running low on time, it’s something you can do every single day along with to keep your audience engaged.

Also, if your followers like your Instagram content, it’s likely they’ll like your other content too. This means you can leverage Instagram to promote your YouTube videos, local meetups, or webinars to your followers

Launch a Webinar

A webinar is a middle ground between creating videos and hosting a meetup. It’s effectively the best of both worlds—you can connect with your followers in real-time without being limited by geographical location.

Platforms like ClickMeeting enable you to run custom-branded webinars and engage with followers from all over the world. You can use it for virtually anything—from sharing your day, introducing new products, to hosting questions and answering videos.

The best part about webinars is you’ll get immediate feedback from your audience-direct data that will help you understand how to improve your service or what they would like to see from you.

Host Meetups in Your Local Area

This can be quite a difficult strategy to carry out, and it first requires building a substantial audience. If your followers are based in different areas around the world, it could be a while before you raise enough interest to make a local meetup worthwhile.

However, if you’re willing to travel, or if the majority of your followers are based locally it can be a great way to connect people and will take your relationship with your followers to the next level.

There is no better way to build a lasting connection than actually meeting and talking in person.

For Best Results, Try Everything

There are virtually unlimited ways to make connections with your followers. While this means you have lots of options available, it can also feel quite overwhelming at times.

Picking one or two of these methods and sticking to them will work over time, but to really stand out and reach the widest audience possible, try out multiple methods to find out which will yield the best results.

For the best results, try to combine all of these methods and after a while go with whichever one works best for your business model.


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5 Tips for Power Rapport Building for Networking

Networking is all the rage, but if you’re introverted, the idea of meeting someone cold is not appealing. So how do you optimize a brief meeting with a prospect, an industry colleague, or potential employer? In these popular speed-networking events, 5 minutes may be all the face time you get to establish a rapport — which, let’s face it, is the very beginnings of a relationship. However, it is the very foundation of strong ones.

In many ways, networking is like dating — the relationship will only take off, if there is mutual interest: #swiperight

How do you spark that interest? Here are five ways to establish a solid rapport, and they can even help a die-hard extrovert:

Set your rapport-building agenda.

As with anything, you need to have an agenda — sounds cynical, but you should know exactly what your goal is for your meeting. Ask yourself, “What do I want to get out of making this new contact?” Answer that, and crystalize it in your mind. You need no more than 2-3 items on your agenda.

Keep reading. I provide 3 proven agenda items for effective communications below.

Raise a question.

Consider a leading question that will show your new contact that you are familiar with and have an interest in what they do. But that question should also lead you down a path that makes your next step seem natural.

Example: “I read your last thought leadership piece on XYZ. I loved that you took a position on ZYX. What do you think about [insert something organic to the topic that will tee up your mission/interests/value]?”

A Harvard study has found that there is a link between asking a question and likeability. Be sure to genuinely listen to the answer and ask a follow up question or engage with the answer in some way.

Share your mission.

Some of you have been coached on how to deliver a great elevator pitch. Think of this as your mission. This is the one or two sentences that sum up who you are and the value you bring. For instance, mine is:

“I help businesses and people make money and thrive at the intersection of business, culture, and technology.”

That is bigger than a title or a job description, and it allows your contact to see your potential. When you share this value proposition, be certain to project confidence.

Call them to action.

Invite them to visit your blog, your LinkedIn page, or to look over your resume. This is your time to lead them on a path to get to know you after your brief meeting ends.

Follow up!

Your meetings are only as good as the follow up you give it. Whether it’s a phone call, an e-mail, or a LinkedIn connection, you want to ensure that your follow up is meaningful to your connection and not simply self-serving.

Now that you’ve established a rapport, it’s time to network.  Here are 5 things you can do, if you absolutely don’t like the idea of it.

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‘Un-Networking’ For People Who Hate the Other Word

Not long ago, I received a call from the chief of staff (CoS) of an officer at my company, inviting me to speak to her mentoring circle about networking. Now if you are like me, I shun the idea of classic networking. I believe that I have something in my DNA that is just simply diametrically opposed to the idea. I just wasn’t built for it. I’m certain it works for someone because people continue to push the idea. A self-proclaimed introverted extrovert, I really don’t like the idea of entering a room full of people that I do not know and striking up conversations that I feel can only be superficial at best.

Some people make excuses for not networking. Some of the most popular ones, according to The Career Experts blog, are that people fear rejection, they aren’t comfortable talking to people they don’t know, or they simply just don’t know how to do it.

My approach to networking is a little different, after more than 20 years in my career. I outlined five tips for that mentoring circle that has worked for me over the years. They seemed to be well received by the group. Hopefully, you’ll find them useful as well.

5 Networking Tips for People Who Hate Networking

Slay every day.

No need for embellishments here: this tip really is focused on performance. While it is important to look your best because first impressions can make or break you, you must complete each and every task or assignment with excellence. In other words, kill it every time, whether the initiative is big or small. Every. Single. Time. This is how good reputations are built and positive buzz about you is created inside and outside of your company. In other words, let’s give them something to talk about. The chance for a mutual spark between you and the new connection you want to make will increase the better your buzz.

Be attractive.

Again, this isn’t about the outward appearance as much as it is about ensuring that your good reputation precedes you and your personal brand is well executed so that people want to meet you and know more. There is science behind the rules of attraction. in fact, being available as a resource in business is extremely attractive, according to some research. That same research says that you can’t be boring, which means you must be memorable. Our discussion in the mentoring circle centered around the difference between brand and reputation. Your brand is what you put out into the universe proactively. These are the things that you want people to know about you. Your reputation is what people say about you when you aren’t in the room. Both can attract people to you or do the exact opposite. Take an assessment of what makes your brand a good one. Consider what is said in rooms where you are not. Do the two things add up? Is there some tweaking to your brand that may impact your reputation? Slaying every day will help.

Leverage social media for networking.

If you want to blow off that 8-minute networking event, how about spending more time on platforms like LinkedIn that actually provide you with a way to engage and connect with people without being too bold too soon? The algorithm makes this really, really simple. Every engagement affords you extended reach. So try liking content that someone in your network shared. Your entire network will see it, but be deliberate about it. Is the content aligned with your brand? Then, yes…give it a thumbs up. If you want to get a little more out there, try commenting. You don’t have to post updates or even provide long-form posts to shape your positioning. Engagement can take you places and create connections that you may not have even considered. The ultimate compliment that you can pay someone on LinkedIn? Share their content on your page. Tag them while you are at it. Then watch your reach expand to not only your network but theirs too. Their positive response won’t hurt either. By the way, if you haven’t given a thought to your digital footprint, you should. Ask yourself, “what do people see when they Google me?” Then be proactive about shaping those search results based on your one-sentence value proposition. The FairyGodBoss suggests sharing great articles online that may be applicable to the person you’d like to network with or inviting them into your Slack community.

Build a community.

So about the word community: this is where I heed the great advice of Ted Rubin: a network expands your reach, a community gives you power. So let’s look at why a community can offer you so much prowess. Communities gather around shared values, and very loosely (as is extremely obvious in social media) shared content. And those connections are made stronger by the conversations those people have about topics with which they all align. This implies that your community has more than just a passing knowledge of you. Your network may be familiar with you, but your community will vouch for you. So how about starting with the people you already know? The people who already know your work? The people who you know will actually answer when you call. Start here…see where it gets you.

Establish a great rapport.

A rapport is the very beginning of a relationship, and sometimes, a chance meeting or even a planned one can only afford you a few moments to achieve an interaction that can lead to a more fruitful exchange. Solid relationships are how business gets done. I shared the example of how I even wound up speaking to the officer’s mentoring circle, and it truly demonstrated how the first four tips led to the fifth and ultimately found me sitting before the group to which I was speaking. The CoS asked HR D&I who they recommended to share with the mentoring circle. HR D&I is one of my clients within my company. I try to slay all day for them. Apparently, it impacted their recommendation. The CoS went to the officer and provided their suggestion and said that she didn’t know me. The officer said, “You have never heard L. Michelle speak? I have.” I had been in the room with the officer twice–each time, I was presenting my work. The CoS looked me up on LinkedIn, and the post she saw first was the endorsement from my university, and with that, she picked up the phone.

The result of that conversation could have gone another way had the officer said, “You know, I’ve been in meetings with her, and I really don’t think she is a fit.” Boom…no invitation.  Establishing that rapport initially kicked down a door that may have been shut had I not performed well.

Next time we’ll further explore business relationship building for the networking averse.


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Career | Black Enterprise


Feet Don’t Lie! An Expert’s Tips on Reading Body Language

One look at how people are standing and Linda Clemons can tell the type of work they’d be best at and the outlook they typically bring to what they do. She can scan a room and spot the risk-taker, the decision maker, the most likely to be biased or to succeed.

Fake it til’ you make it? Not around Clemons. She can call out a crafty liar, even if they don’t utter a word.

The CEO of Indianapolis-based Sisterpreneur Inc., is a body language expert, certified in undercover surveillance tactics she uses to benefit clients from Southwest Airlines, Nestlé, and Major League Baseball to U.S. Customs and the FBI.

reading body language

Body language expert Linda Clemons

Petite and unassuming, she also consults with lawyers on jury selection and Fortune 500 clients seeking competitive advantages for their sales teams.

The ability to seamlessly blend into a room is a job requirement, but hand Clemons a mic and she transforms into her own version of Beyoncé’s alter ego Sasha Fierce. Entertaining and on-point in her ability to connect with audiences of all ages and backgrounds, she will have you in stitches, even as she goes about the very serious work of schooling you on the nonverbal cues that are the most telling, and useful.

Here are her top three tips on reading body language:

Feet don’t lie. The eyes may be the window to the soul but, in non-verbal communication, the most illuminating cues happen south of the face. Feet, for example, point in the direction that we really want to go. Have you ever been in a networking situation and you’re in a circle and all of a sudden someone’s foot turns out even though they seem engaged? Says Clemons: “They’re ready to get up out of there.”

Even in silence, the mouth says a lot. Biting a bottom lip or pressing the mouth together is a sure signal of holding back. Clemons explains, “It’s what you automatically do in a meeting when somebody says something and you think to yourself, `That is absolutely cray-cray.’ Then you’re asked what you think and your first response is lip compression.”

Mastering eye contact is tricky. Yes, eye contact matters and “Don’t be the first to look down,” says Clemons, “because that signifies defeat or submissiveness.” Her secret for winning at the steady-gaze game? Rather than look directly into the eyes, look slightly above the brow line. It’s easier to hold that gaze and not look away, but the effect is the same.

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Women Supporting Other Women: 4 Simple Ways

At the United State of Women Summit earlier this year, Michelle Obama said, “So many of us have gotten ourselves at the table, but we’re still too grateful to be at the table to really shake it up. It’d be nice to have a collective of black women who are opening up spaces for each other, or making strategic moves to raise the visibility of black women within the industry, and not just who’s on the cover of the magazine but behind the scenes too. I don’t think it’s solely white people’s job to do that. There needs to be more of a push from us to stand together.” I couldn’t agree more.  Whether you’re a CEO, engineer, scientist, chef, or teacher, you have the power to support and create spaces for women of color.

Supporting other women means you’re being intentional about how you show up in life and business. Showing up means you’re mentally present while listening and speaking up for yourself as well as others. Ready to take the lead? Try the tips below.

1. Bring another woman’s projects, products, services, or accomplishments into a discussion when they’re not in the room. Here are a few examples:

  • If you realize a woman wasn’t given proper credit for an idea that she shared during a meeting, speak up for her. For example, during an interview with Politico Magazine, Wendy Sherman, former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, recalled an unspoken rule she and her female colleagues demonstrated during meetings. “When any man commented by repeating something that had been said earlier by a woman, one of the other women at the table would jump in. “I’m glad you agree with what _________just said,” or “That builds nicely on the point ______made just before.”
  • If you’re attending a high profile event like an awards show or conference, wear an outfit by an up and coming fashion brand or designer. The number of influencers and celebrities who speak about women’s empowerment, but fail to demonstrate their support for other women who are underestimated or underrepresented in an industry always amazes me. Simply put, talk less, act more, and lead by example.
  • If you’re in a meeting with someone who’s looking for a new team member, recommend another woman for a project by sharing her accomplishments or experiences.

2. Look beyond numbers. When looking to hire a speaker, business coach, or new employee, there’s still a lot of pressure to have a massive social media following. Unfortunately, follower count often equates to trust and traffic, but this misconception often leads to confusion and missed opportunity. Your number of followers don’t always equate to sales, engagement, or new customers. Instead of focusing on their number of followers on social media, assess their engagement. What’s the value they deliver to their audience? What are their perspectives on challenges and trends in the field?

3. Keep it real by sharing your setbacks, resources, and connections. Go beyond dolling out fluffy advice like “just do it, never give up, or believe in yourself.” Describe the sacrifices that helped you become successful. What are the names of the tools and resources that helped you succeed? As more women keep it real about how they worked through their challenges, it helps to uplift and equip other women with the resources they need to bridge the gender gap in leadership, business, etc.

4. Choose collaboration over competition. Regardless of your role, it starts with you. Bury your ego and insecurities about sharing the spotlight because the truth is we are stronger in numbers. Plus, no one wins in life or business solely by their own efforts.

In the workplace, you can promote an environment of collaboration by asking for another person’s viewpoints. In business, a successful leader recognizes the power of identifying the gaps in their skill set, operating in their zone of genius, and confidently hiring people who can close the gap.

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New California Law Forces Board Diversity, But Is It Right?

In a push to further corporate board diversity, California has enacted new legislation requiring publicly-traded firms in the state to have at least one woman on the board of directors.

Companies have until the end of 2019 to comply or face penalties. The more directors on the board, the more women the companies are required to add. For example, if a business has five directors, the law says it must add two women by 2021—six or more directors, then three women must be added to the board.

According to CNN, it’s the first law of such kind in the United States, but similar legislation exists in Europe.

There has been a recent focus on not just diversifying companies at the executive level, but also in the boardroom.

Keeping Tabs on Board Diversity for Over Half a Decade 

A recent 2017 Deloitte survey revealed “90% of directors indicate that they want greater diversity, approximately half of the surveyed corporations ‘lack a clear process for recruiting candidates with diverse skill sets or new perspectives.’ And despite the fact that more than 90% of the respondents cite that greater board diversity would improve innovation, disruption, and overall business performance, only 16% view lack of diversity among the top challenges in enlisting new board members or succession planning,” writes Black Enterprise SVP/editor-in-chief Derek T. Dingle.

Over the past six years, Black Enterprise has identified African Americans who serve on the boards of America’s largest publicly-traded corporations. As part of our examination, we have, for the second time, reviewed the entire universe of Standard & Poor’s 500 companies to gain a more thorough assessment of boardroom diversity. As such, we have witnessed an expansion in the membership of African American board members who comprise our exclusive Black Enterprise Registry of Corporate Directors.

The latest issue of Black Enterprise magazine profiles two black women corporate directors; Lisa Wardell, is the only black woman to serve as CEO in a Fortune 1000 company, Adtalem Global Education, formerly The DeVry Education Group. She sits on that company’s board and was just appointed to Lowe’s board.

Tracy Travis, chief financial officer of The Estée Lauder Cos., sits on the board of Accenture and previously for Campbell Soup and Jo-Ann Stores.

Black Enterprise Magazine July/August 2018 Issue

Lisa Wardell, left, an Tracey Travis on the July-August cover of Black Enterprise Magazine

“I had just assumed a corporate CFO role, and I had been working with a headhunting firm to staff my team, and so the headhunter at the time said, “Have you ever thought about being on a board?” Some months went by and I used that opportunity and took some courses from the National Association of Corporate Directors to certify myself in some of the areas of board [service], like compensation committee, strategy, etc.,” Travis said in the article.

While many corporate directors subscribe to the idea of more diverse boards, not everyone agrees mandating companies is the way to go.

Is It Diversity Only for White Women?

The California Chamber of Commerce opposes the law citing it violates “the independent voting rights of corporate boards and force companies to discriminate against qualified men,” The Tribune reports.

Trump-appointed SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce also criticized the law. “Opening such a wide door introduces uncertainty and political influence into corporate operations,” she said at a conference.

And does this law in any way help get more black and brown people onto corporate boards? One of the California Chamber of Commerce’s concerns about this legislation is it prioritizes gender over other aspects of diversity, reports CNBC. Some may feel this will only put more white women on boards.

While there remains a lack of representation of women on boards, the number of black men and women corporate directors are even smaller.

Women’s presence on boards have been increasing albeit progress has been slow and incremental. Women make up about 22% of Fortune 500 boards.

People of color on boards are scarcer. In 2017, African-Americans accounted for 10.9% of new corporate directors.

Part of the problem with getting more people of color on boards is companies often want to appoint those at the c-suite level—preferably CEOs–to boards.

In the last few years, the number of black CEOs of publicly-traded companies has dwindled with several high profile business leaders stepping down from their positions, including Xerox’s Ursula Burns and former AMEX CEO Ken Chenault.

Joseph Grundfest, co-director of the Rock Center on Corporate Governance at Stanford University and a member of Directors & Boards editorial advisory board says the legislation is ‘“well intentioned,” but maintains it “will not achieve its intended effect.” It will, he adds, only lead to a trivial gain of board seats for women, “but increase the risk of judicial rulings inimical to broader affirmative action initiatives.”



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