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Showing posts with label Business. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Business. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

There Are Too Many Black People Without Insurance. This Startup Intends to Help With That

With a lack of insurance holders in the black community, Dennis McKinley saw an opportunity in the market. He launched Milk Insurance in order to allow everyone especially, people of color, to obtain insurance in any state that they reside in, as easy as possible.

Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, Milk offers auto, home, umbrella, renters, life, pet, travel, and ID theft insurance all online from most major companies. In an interview with BLACK ENTERPRISE, McKinley discuses the reasons he launched the agency and why it’s so important for black people to obtain insurance. 

BE: Why did you start an insurance company?

Dennis McKinley: Personally, the process of obtaining car insurance was just too time-consuming. It was just too much info and red tape involved for something that I thought was just so simple. I recently thought of the concept at the end of last year. I knew that I had the resources to provide a better way for everyone. So I partnered with the leader in Insurtech, Bindable. We made insurance a lot easier for people, especially people of color.

What has been the response?

We, as consumers, are leaning more and more towards the internet & our devices to make transactions. It has been mostly geared toward products; but now, what about insurance? What about the important stuff — the things that truly matter? So the response has been great. The opportunity to be connected to the important stuff like insurance and get it bound done via phone or the web; it’s easy & everyone likes easy.

black people without insurance

(milkinsurance.com)

Where do you see the biggest disconnect in black culture when it comes to obtaining insurance?

We look at insurance as a what if? We can’t see it, we can’t touch it, so we feel like it’s unnecessary. Until we need it, it’s too late. We need to always plan for the future and make sure we are covered on all fronts. Insurances should be looked at like a necessity.

Why is it important for black people to obtain insurance?

Insurance simply protects you against all risks of day to day life — with things of value and most importantly, yourself. Anything that you have that’s worth value including your life, needs to be protected at all times.

For more information, click here.



Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Kamala Harris Vows to Fine Companies That Pay Women Workers Less Than Men

Presidential candidate Kamala Harris unveiled her plan to close the gender pay gap by fining companies that pay women employees less than men for equal work. The U.S. senator announced the proposal during a campaign stop in California on May 19, noting that white women working full-time make 80 cents for every dollar a white man is paid, while women of color earn even less.

“In America today, women for the same work – for the equal work, on average, make 80 cents on the dollar,” said Harris, reports CBS News. “Black women make 61 cents on the dollar. Latinas make 53 cents on the dollar and this has got to end.”

Under Harris’ proposal, corporations with over 100 employees would have to obtain an “Equal Pay Certification” from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within a certain timeframe. Companies would also be required to prove existing pay gaps are not based on gender, but merit, performance, or seniority. Companies that don’t meet the standard to become certified would be fined 1% of their daily profits for every 1% of the wage gap allowed to persist.

“Companies that fail to receive this certification will face a fine for every day they discriminate against their workers,” explained a senior campaign official in an email to BLACK ENTERPRISE. “Harris’ plan will force corporations to be accountable and transparent.”

Over the next decade, Harris’ campaign projects that the fines would generate $180 billion, which would then be used to help fund paid family and medical leave. The proposal aims to eliminate pay disparities between men and women on corporations by placing the responsibility on companies rather than on employees, who, under current law, must file lawsuits if and when they find they’re not being compensated fairly. According to Politico, Harris’ plan also mandates companies to report the percentage of women in leadership positions and how many are among the highest paid employees at the company.

The Harris campaign added that if Congress fails to pass the proposal, she would use executive power to force companies that apply for federal contracts to comply.

Earlier this month, Harris introduced legislation to help students from underrepresented communities gain access to educational materials, mentorships, and work experience related to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Under the 21st Century STEM for Girls and Underrepresented Minorities Act, $40 million would be authorized to fund a competitive grant program for school districts to improve participation in STEM education among girls, students of color, LGBTQ students, disabled students, and kids from low-income neighborhoods.

 



Not Reaching! A Pouch to Combat Police Brutality

Philando Castille was murdered on the day Jackie Carter was celebrating her son’s birthdayCarter told NBC BLK, “I’m more fearful for my son in a car here in America than when he’s serving in Afghanistan.” Castille and others, were killed by police as they reached for the proof that was requested of them. These tragedies, many deemed incidents of police brutality, led her to create something that can assist in providing a solution to these all-too-frequent crimes; because she too fears for the life of young black men and women. 

In taking steps to protect her son, Carter created a small, clear identification pouch which attaches to the driver’s side air vent of any vehicle. The pouches holds a person’s license, registration, and other necessary documents that may be needed in a random traffic stop. She calls it the “Not Reaching!” pouch; hopefully it will help in decreasing potentially dangerous interactions with police who seem to have a deep seated, intrinsic fear of black men and women. According to NBC Washington, Carter has so far sold over 1,000 units since launching the product in 2016.

The website where the Not Reaching! pouch is sold, is not just an e-commerce entity, but also a place for statistical information about the disproportionate number of traffic stops and potentially fatal encounters with police affecting black drivers in comparison to white drivers, and the bare minimum black drivers can do to protect themselves and hopefully make a random traffic stop as easy as humanly possible. The website has this message:

‘Not Reaching’ Pouch: A Solution

A solution to the fatal traffic stops experienced particularly by young, minority males throughout the country. Not Reaching! is an identification system allowing motorists to remain stationary in their vehicles during a traffic stop by eliminating reaching for identification after the request of law enforcement. Not Reaching is a start to a safe traffic stop and helps to de-escalate a tense situation.

no reaching pouch

(Instagram)

One of the biggest fans of this invention is Philando Castille’s mother, Valerie Castille, who has lent her full support to Jackie Carter’s product. She is, no doubt, still grieving the death of her innocent son.

If the Not Reaching! pouch is something you’re unable to invest in, then simply go to Staples, or any other store, and purchase a clear pouch where the important information is easily accessible.

Additionally, in the aftermath of recent violent confrontations during police traffic stops, AAA is offering guidelines on what to do and what not to do during a traffic stop:

  • Keep hands in plain view of the officer.
  • Avoid reaching or making sudden movements.
  • Never reach under your seat. Always carry proper identification: a valid driver’s license, proof of vehicle registration and current proof of insurance. Do not retrieve or reach for documentation until instructed.

Black Enterprise Contributors Network 



Monday, May 20, 2019

Billionaire Robert F. Smith Has History of Financial Activism Beyond Morehouse

By now, you’ve probably heard the astonishing announcement made by Morehouse 2019 commencement speaker Robert F. Smith. The black billionaire, who is CEO of Vista Equity Partners, committed to paying off the student debt of the entire Morehouse 2019 graduating class.

“My family is going to create a grant to eliminate your student loans,” Smith said during his commencement address, reports USA Today. “You great Morehouse men are bound only by the limits of your own conviction and creativity.”

Smith, who was recognized with an honorary degree from Morehouse along with award-winning actress Angela Basset, has been involved in a flurry of charitable acts involving education.

Earlier this year, he donated $1.5 million to Morehouse. A million dollars of the money will go toward creating the Robert Frederick Smith Scholars Program. The remainder will be used to the design and creation of a park that will serve as a new outdoor study area for students.

In 2016, Smith made a $50 million commitment to Cornell University’s School Of Engineering, his alma mater.

The school has since been renamed as the Robert Frederick Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Cornell. The donation also funded the Robert Frederick Smith Tech Scholars Program. The program focuses on providing financial aid—particularly for minority and female students.

Smith is the founder, chairman, and chief executive of Vista Equity Partners. His company is No. 1 on the BE100s (BLACK ENTERPRISE’s annual list of the most successful black-owned companies) Private Equity list with $14 billion in capital under management. His company has been named to the BE 100s list for about a decade. Vista Equity Partners was BE‘s 2013 Financial Services Company of the Year.

He was also named to the Forbes 400—the magazine’s annual list of the 400 richest Americans.

Heralded as a private equity titan and Wall Street wiz, Smith started his early life out as a computer geek and even interned at Bell Labs. Although he worked in the STEM field for some time after earning a degree in chemical engineering from Cornell, the financial world beckoned. He attended Columbia Business School and ended up at Goldman Sachs. He served as the co-chief of the investment banking division.

After Goldman Sachs’ IPO, Smith founded Vista Equity Partners in 2000, investing in technology companies. In 2013, BE named the firm BE100s Financial Services Company of the Year and Smith as one of the Most Powerful Blacks on Wall Street. Smith made a shrewd move in acquiring Sunquest Information Systems Inc. for a relative bargain price of $327 million–$200 million in equity and $127 million in debt.

In a recent transaction, a Vista Equity-acquired company, Marketo, was sold to Adobe for $4.7 billion. The acquisition was just one of many acquisitions made by Smith, who compiled mass wealth by buying companies in the technology space.

At an event last year at the Oakland, California, home of business strategist Carl Hackney, Smith spoke with a gathering of mostly black politicians, venture capitalists, tech entrepreneurs, and philanthropists. He weighed in on the importance of investing in communities and his advice for future generations.

“Love your community by voting,” he said. “Love your community by taking care of your community. Love your community by actually doing something wherever you can.”

“Think about what is it that you uniquely bring to a community that changes that community. Sometimes, it is words of inspiration. Most of the time it’s acts of inspiration. It is doing something, it is leading, it is taking advantage of what it is you have to provide. Sometimes what you have to provide is walking a child home every night so they feel safe. Sometimes it’s making sure a child is read to at night because their parent is at work. Sometimes it’s a scholarship. Sometimes it’s the encouragement to go dream big, go take the test, go try something different, go get an internship. Or it’s creating an internship, like the internship I got at Bell Labs when I was 17 years old, that allows them to stretch their imaginations,” he also said at the time.

-Additional reporting by Caroline Clarke and Selena Hill

 

 



Sunday, May 19, 2019

Millennials Will Work Longer Than Their Parents If They Fail to Do This

How long do you plan to be in the workforce? Does retirement sound like a distant dream? How much money would you like to have tucked away for retirement? If you’re a millennial who has no idea how much money you need to retire and when you plan to leave the workforce, your retirement date may be later than expected.

According to research conducted by Aon, 2 in 3 workers will not have enough saved to retire comfortably by age 67. While many baby boomers and Gen Xers will be able to retire in their late 60s, most millennials won’t be prepared for retirement until age 70 or later.

Reports show that nearly 40% of young adults believe saving for retirement can wait. “Many millennials just starting out may struggle to balance paying down debts and saving money, especially for retirement,” said Julie Wilson, head of research for Navient, in a press release that shared the findings of the study of 3,000 millennials aged 22 to 35.

RELATED: 7 BLACK MILLENNIAL FINANCIAL EXPERTS TO FOLLOW ON INSTAGRAM IN 2019

Instead of saving for retirement, millennials are prioritizing goals that bring instant gratification such as homeownership, paying down debt, building an emergency fund, and saving for a vacation.

All of these choices come with a cost—some more than others. If millennials continue to prolong their retirement strategy, they will be forced to stay in the workforce longer than their parents.

What’s the solution? A simple conversation. The grim retirement numbers alone won’t get millennials motivated about developing a strategy but a conversation with a friend, family member, financial coach, adviser, or retirement planner can be life-changing and put things into perspective.

The reluctance to talk about personal finances and retirement goals on a regular basis in the black community is putting us at risk of not being financially secure during retirement. Money can’t be a taboo topic anymore. It has to become the norm in order for us to reach the levels of financial independence we hope to achieve.

In order to adequately plan for retirement, you need to know how much you should contribute, the best way to allocate your retirement funds, and the best strategies to meet your desired lifestyle goals. Sitting down with a finance or retirement professional can bring some clarity to one of the most important decisions you have to make during your lifetime.

“The generic default of a 3% contribution rate for retirement, used by many employers, is woefully insufficient and ill-fitting for most American households,” reports Stephen Wendel, Morningstar’s head of Behavioral Science at the 2018 Morningstar Investment Conference. “The right answer isn’t a new default: it’s a personalized analysis of what each household needs. Americans pay the price for not having advice tailored for their needs.”

In Wendel’s article, he points out that financial planning, investing, and investing behavior can increase an individual’s retirement readiness. Morningstar researchers note that all of these tools are most effective when more than one is implemented at the same time. If you are looking for the perfect combination of actions to take, personalized financial advice is essential to your success.

Most importantly, start taking action now. Or you’ll have to pay for it later by working longer.


Black Enterprise Contributors Network 



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.



Saturday, May 18, 2019

The CEO of The Stork Bag Delivers Products to Pregnant Women Globally with E-commerce Business

Many people may be familiar with the story of the birds and the bees, but Ericka Perry has reimagined the story of the stork for mothers and moms to be as the founder and CEO of The Stork Bag. In 2014, the millennial boss and mompreneur created a curated reusable bag of thoughtful products tailored for expecting women. And over the past five years, she has been able to grow her brand internationally through her e-Commerce store, community, and social media marketing.

“The Stork Bag starts out similar to that of the birds and the bees.” says Perry. “The Stork Bag was created out of a personal need. When searching for a convenient solution to gift my pregnant friend, I was shocked when I noticed there was nothing on the market to streamline prenatal shopping, other than gifts for the unborn child, and maternity clothes,”

From that need, The Stork Bag was born.

The Stork Bag

The Stork Bag (Photo: The Stork Bag)

“When I came up with the idea for The Stork Bag, my first thought was coming up with something synonymous with pregnancy. Immediately, a stork came to mind, then I started to think outside the box a little and staying in line with the stork delivering a bundle. We decided to place our products in reusable bags as opposed to a cardboard box which people typically toss after they remove the products,” says Perry.

By paying attention to the world of retail, the influence of Amazon, and shopping trends, Perry began selling The Stork Bag exclusively online.

Understand the market and your audience 

“As a millennial, I knew that my generation and the generations directly before and after me relied heavily on the ease and convenience of online shopping. With my product, since we focus so heavily on providing gifting solutions, we felt that online would help us attract customers from all over the world, as opposed to being a regional product with a limited reach. Aside from those main reasons, having a product that started out centered around the subscription-based model, e-commerce was an integral part of our strategy to infiltrate the market,” says Perry.

As a result of doing business online, The Stork Bag has customers globally.

Perry’s unique packaging and branding (and products, of course) has set The Stork Bag apart from competitors and won over customers.

“Our Stork Bag branding has been a great benefit for our brand recognition. Our customers now easily recognize our brand just by our colors, specifically our ‘Stork Bag Pink,” she adds.

Aside from the branding, Perry and her team are intentional about what goes into the bag which requires time and research.

The Stork Bag

The second trimester Stork Bag

“In the beginning up until last year, my team used to go out and find particular products to fit into our bags based on trimester needs. Once they found the products online, they would reach out to the companies and request pricing samples, etc., and we would determine if the product would be a good fit based on product size, pricing, and perishability,”

With a growth mindset, Perry created a product submission process for prospect wholesale partners.

“Once the prospective partner submits their application, my team then reviews the application, paying close attention to things like, MOQ, wholesale/volume pricing, product turnaround times, exclusivity, and insurance. If there is interest after reviewing the application, we then request samples and base our final decision on size, packaging, and production ability,” says Perry

Always be learning

As a businesswoman, Perry highlights the importance of remaining teachable in order to sustain and scale her business.

“I’ve learned the importance of paying attention to margins, which is so very important for growth. I’ve also learned to pay close attention to shelf life when selecting products. Shelf life is extremely important when it comes to projecting how a particular product will sell. If it doesn’t sell as quickly as you thought, that could become very costly. I’ve also learned the importance of choosing the right manufacturers to work with.”

Interestingly enough, Perry works exclusively with women entrepreneurs and investors to make The Stork Bag possible. And under her corporation, MommyMaiDD, Inc., she has several trademarked brands and sells select products to her customers which set her apart from competitors.

With great success over the past five years, Perry wants to help you learn how to do business online and have a global reach through e-Commerce.

Join her at FWD in Charlotte, on June 20, to get the tools you need to build your business on your smartphone. Click here to get your tickets today to move your business forward next month!



Here’s How You Can Win A $5 Million Investment in Your Business

43North, a startup competition and accelerator program, is looking to invest $5 million in high-growth companies willing to relocate to Buffalo, New York. Since 2014, the initiative has invested in 44 companies with $800 million total in their portfolio and created 400 plus jobs in Western New York.

What’s the criteria?

  • Your company must be in the seed or post-seed stage
  • The founders and/or company team must be uniquely qualified to solve a problem
  • The company must have had earned revenue or have a clear path to revenue within the next 12 months
  • The company must have a deployable product.

In addition to a financial investment, the winners of the competition will receive free workspace in their incubator, the opportunity to operate free of state taxes through STARTUP-NY,* mentorship from industry leaders, access to their network of investors, customers, vendors, and alumni and marketing and recruiting support. 

So what do they want in return?

The company must provide 5% equity to 43North and the CEO and at least 50% of the company staff must relocate to Buffalo for 12 months.

43North believes that Buffalo’s strategic location, infrastructure, and workforce make it a place where startups can truly make their mark. They boast that it’s not only an amazing place to live—with great nightlife, world-class art, an eclectic food scene, vibrant waterfront, and super-affordable housing—but is also quickly becoming a startup hub.

Back in 2017, two black founding teams took part in the competition and they both came out on top. The teams were Femi Secrets, a company that provides the ultimate protection to women of all ages during their monthly menstrual cycle, and Squire, a B2B all-in-one platform that powers barbershop operations.

Buffalo

Femi Secrets, Founder, Davielle Jackson (Image: 43North)

Combined, the two companies took home a total of $1,150,000. This was also the first time in the history of the competition that two African American teams took home top prizes simultaneously.

To apply, click here.

 



LeBron James Joins Forces with Walmart to Provide 1 Billion Meals to Feed the Hungry

LeBron James is known for putting his money where his heart is and making good on promises. Since opening the I Promise School in Akron, Ohio, James has been committed to enriching the lives of students and their families through education and community building.

The I Promise School’s mission is to “positively affect the lives of children and young adults through education and co-curricular educational initiatives. We believe that an education and living an active, healthy lifestyle is pivotal to the development of children and young adults.”

With that mission in mind, James has partnered with Walmart and Sam’s Club for the Fight Hunger. Spark Change. campaign to help America secure a billion meals for local food banks. This announcement follows James’ $1 million grant to promote physical activity at his school.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one in eight Americans experience food insecurity. That’s nearly 40 million people who don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

“Growing up in Akron, the whole city supported my dreams; supported my friends’ dreams; gave us shelter; gave us food. We always felt like we had that support. Partnering with Walmart is about the commitment to the community. Walmart has done so many great things all over the world, but, it starts in their hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas—the same as me starting in my hometown of Akron, Ohio. We don’t forget where we come from.” said James in a video announcing the partnership.

As a part of Walmart’s five-year partnership with Feeding America, they have been able to provide 749 million meals to hungry Americans. And through this campaign, 150 million Walmart customers and Americans are being encouraged to purchase featured food items and make monetary donations towards the effort.

“As we go into our sixth year of the Fight Hunger. Spark Change. campaign, it’s exciting to approach the 1 billion mark in terms of charitable meals secured by Feeding America over the life of the program,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, chief sustainability officer for Walmart. “Food insecurity continues to affect communities across the United States. Working with Feeding America, our customers, members, associates and suppliers, Walmart and Sam’s Club aim to be part of the solution.”

With 251 million meals to go, James is determined to help them meet their 1 billion meal goal.

“The Feeding America nationwide network of 200 member food banks serves people in every single county in the United States. Food banks are not just providing food to our neighbors in need, they are providing nourishment, hope, and dignity. We are tremendously grateful to Walmart, Sam’s Clubs, and the 18 dedicated campaign suppliers for coming together through Fight Hunger. Spark Change. to help people who struggle to put food on their tables and for providing everyone the opportunity to give back.” said Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America.

In addition to the campaign, Walmart will gift food to the I Promise School’s pantry with toiletries, clothing items, and other necessities to support students and their families.

Click here to learn more about how you can help end hunger in America with James.



7 Ways Soft Skills Keep Employees Engaged and Connected

Demetra Moore is the founder and CEO of Moore Out of Life based in Charlotte, North Carolina. As a certified professional coach and energy leadership master practitioner, she trains and consults organizations across the nation. When collaborating with organizations, Moore emphasizes how important it is for leaders to master their soft skills in order to keep their employees engaged and connected.

“It’s important for employees to have effective communication, leadership, confidence, a positive attitude, relatability, emotional awareness, problem-solving skills, and time management,” she told BLACK ENTERPRISE. “We call these key success skills, also known as soft skills.”

According to Moore, when company leaders lack soft skills, this can have a negative trickle-down effect on the company’s employees, culture, and bottom line. When employees don’t have good leadership to motivate them to meet expectations and deliver a great customer experience, then the brand essence can suffer substantially. The brand essence is how clients or customers feel about an organization and their experience when working with them. For example, a negative experience can be shared with thousands or even millions via social media within a matter of seconds. This can lead to a decrease in customer referrals, enterprise expansion, and profits.

Moore shared seven advantages that soft skills have in shaping a company’s culture and keeping employees engaged and connected.

Demetra Moore

Demetra Moore, founder of Moore Out of Life (Photo Courtesy: Adina Starke of Enchantment Designs)

Fairness

This ensures that management addresses the needs of everyone on the team by taking an interest in who they are and the value they bring to the team. This will allow them to have access to more opportunities in the future.

Engagement

Companies with higher employee engagement have less turnover and higher percentages of customer loyalty, profitability, and revenues.

Confidence

Soft skills put people at ease and allow space to build confidence and trust in the workplace. Confidence and trust in the workplace allows more opportunity for creativity, appreciation of colleagues, and support on projects.

Time

Burnout seems to be prevalent among both leaders and employees. Learning and employing the essentials of time management, work days can become less taxing, more productive, and this produces greater work-life balance.

Growth

Being intentional about creating a space for professional development really builds strong employees and saves organizations money. It can cost up to 33% of an employee’s salary to replace him/her.  However, if the employee feels there’s opportunity for growth and advancement, the likelihood of them staying is higher.

Communication

Clear communication allows employees to know their expectations, company vision, and values. It paints a clearer picture of how success is defined. It’s challenging to perform well and be productive when they don’t understand their role and more precisely, how their role fits in the overall scheme of the organization.

Stability

Unpredictability can be mitigated when using the right soft skills. Volatility within the organization can cripple your team and can lead to problems from employees disrupting other employees to not supporting initiatives altogether.



Friday, May 17, 2019

Network Like a Boss and Move Your Business Forward In Charlotte with These Tips

Charlotte has been listed over the past few years as one of the top cities for black millennials and entrepreneurs. For the second year in a row, BLACK ENTERPRISE will #BEintheQC to do business. This year, we’re helping innovators, creators, and founders move their businesses FWD and we’ve got the city behind us.

This year’s host Carlos V. Davis, founder and CEO of Stand & Deliver, LLC, will take the stage at FWD and he cannot wait to meet you. Davis is known as a connector within the community, and his company consults with individuals, organizations, and major corporations, helping them show up as their best-selves and deliver professionally. He wants to help you do just that. The networking expert and businessman has a few tips for you as you prepare to do business in Charlotte.

Carlos Davis Charlotte

Carlos V. Davis (Photo Courtesy of Stand & Deliver, LLC)

Move your business forward with these networking tips:

  1. Understand that networking is really about mindset versus strategy.
  1. Make your networking more about service and less about self: A lot of people make the mistake that networking is about promoting self and getting a certain about of cards. People don’t care about what you want to do, but, they do care if you have vested interest in what they’re trying to do and how you can help them. By implementing this strategy, you’ll really see the difference in how people see you and how they’ll become more attracted to you.
  1. Talk less and listen more: One of the most common misconceptions about networking is that you have to have the sharpest elevator pitch out there. If you’re willing to take a step back, listen, and ask more questions about what someone needs, people will be more apt to connect.
  1. Find ways to be resourceful: Many people tend to talk about how amazing they are, but sometimes their skill set may not be aligned with who they encounter.
  1. Networking is always about being an asset and bringing something of value to the table instead of always trying to get what you need.

If you want to move your business forward, meet BE and Carlos Davis in Charlotte June 19-22 at the Charlotte Convention Center for FWD. Grab your tickets today!

The post Network Like a Boss and Move Your Business Forward In Charlotte with These Tips appeared first on Black Enterprise.



Black Residents and Businesses Could Benefit Greatly from JPMorgan Chase’s New $125 Million Investment

Black consumers and entrepreneurs are intended to be big recipients of a $125 million investment by JPMorgan Chase to enhance the financial health of underserved communities.
The new five-year global commitment by the nation’s largest bank will assist those individuals in multiple U.S. cities, including San Francisco, Boston, and Oakland—to name a few.

Through collaboration with community groups, the investment also could advance the development of products and services to make banking available to more people. The bank will identify, evaluate, and help expand fintech solutions, and financial coaching programs to help people improve their personal finances.

A JPMorgan Chase spokesperson says black residents—including small business owners—are a key target group for the investment. And many of the targeted areas will be black communities.

The goal: Help people boost their savings, reduce debt, build credit, and reach short-term and long-term financial goals, whether it’s used for such purposes as college financing or getting a home.

JPMorgan Chase is investing in programs such as Compass Working Capital. The $ 500,000 commitment is to help public housing residents in Boston reduce debt in addition to building savings and improving their credit scores. More than 50% of the people that Compass serves are black—and the vast majority of them are women. The bank added 30% of its new branches which will be in low- and middle-income communities.

Chase’s investment runs through 2023 and amounts to roughly $25 million annually on average. The bank’s strategy is to conduct research and test what works for each segment of the population in each area before scaling it up to reach more people. The bank’s exact annual spend will depend on that.

The new philanthropic investment is part of the bank’s efforts to drive economic opportunity in cities globally.

“When we create opportunities that make prosperity possible for more people, we become stronger as a country,” said Thasunda Brown Duckett, CEO of Consumer Banking at Chase.

“Our firm is being intentional in our approach by bringing together our people, our products and branches, our digital tools, and our community investments so we can serve everyone, including those who need it most.”

The new services are needed to help improve the financial state of many Americans. Over 1 billion adults across the world struggle with managing their financial lives, according to the World Bank’s Findex. In the U.S., new research from JPMorgan Chase and Morning Consult found that:

  • More than 1 in 5 Americans are not saving on a monthly basis.
  • 52% of Americans do not have enough money saved or on hand for a $500 emergency.

That aligns with findings from the JPMorgan Chase Institute that most households do not have sufficient liquid assets to weather 90% of income and expense fluctuations.

JPMorgan Chase says the $125 million investment will help tackle these issues for underserved communities—including low-income women, immigrants, people of color and the aging—by supporting the creation, testing, and enhancement of innovative fintech tools that address their unique financial needs.

In addition, it will support the development and expansion of proven financial coaching and just-in-time resources that can help people weather unexpected emergencies and meet their long-term financial goals—from building credit to buying a home.

“Good financial health is a key component of creating economic opportunity for residents,” said Clarence E. Anthony, CEO and executive director at National League of Cities.

“JPMorgan Chase’s leadership and investments to help new Americans improve their financial lives ensure that everyone has the opportunity to fulfill their economic potential, live their dreams, and contribute their part in making America better.”

“Helping more communities access the tools that they need to manage their financial lives and meet their goals is a critical component of ensuring that more people benefit from economic growth,” said Colleen Briggs, head of Community Innovation at JPMorgan Chase. “Through this effort, we will test and scale promising financial solutions to support the prosperity of households and communities around the world.”

The post Black Residents and Businesses Could Benefit Greatly from JPMorgan Chase’s New $125 Million Investment appeared first on Black Enterprise.



BLACK ENTERPRISE, Minority Business Development Agency Partner To Help Black Businesses Gain Access To Innovation and Financing

BLACK ENTERPRISE and Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) have agreed to partner in order to expand the flow of information and resources to African American entrepreneurs, enabling them to gain much-needed access to technical expertise and capital to grow their enterprises. Today, BE president and CEO Earl “Butch” Graves, Jr. and MBDA National Director Henry Childs II signed a joint Memorandum of Understanding, entering into a strategic alliance to “collaborate and leverage capabilities” to help such companies scale up and build capacity to realize, among other areas, greater contracting opportunities, revenue growth, and market share expansion.

The Minority Business Development Agency and Black Enterprise are aligned in many ways. They are celebrating their 50th anniversary, focusing on helping and assisting minority-owned businesses to get them into the ecosystem of what’s happening in corporate America as a whole, and Black Enterprise, next year, will be celebrating our 50th year anniversary, focusing on African American business development. The majority of the businesses that MBDA services are African American-owned businesses,” says Graves. “We’re delighted to have MBDA as one of the sponsors of FWD. I think we will be successful in really serving as a barometer for how minority business development has changed and evolved over time.”

minority business development agency

Asserts Childs: “This is a historic event. I’m very proud to be partnering with Black Enterprise. I believe that the black community really needs black business people. In the past, success in the black community has been historically entertainers, athletes, musicians – which is great. But, I think we really need a face of the black community of someone in business. As we know, the greatest way to create wealth is to be an entrepreneur…I just want to get more positive images of successful black people so that our kids can see that it is possible.”

He adds: “What was signed today was an agreement to take a step into the future. We know that by the year 2024, minorities will be the majority population in the United States. And we know that minority businesses are growing at a much faster rate than non-minority businesses. The question is how do we get minority businesses to size and scale? Because right now, only 2% of all minority businesses have annual gross revenue of $1 million of more. So we’re growing, but we’re not getting to that size or scale.”

The three-year agreement seeks to use digital technology, social media, and events, among other mediums, to provide comprehensive information and businesses services for black-owned companies. And the MBDA will participate in FWD, BE‘s  flagship business conference that will bring together more than 1,200 entrepreneurs at the Charlotte Convention Center June 19-22. At the event, the agency will share its history in a dynamic BIzHUb exhibit as well as engage in BE‘s SistersInc Immersive, offering details of its “Enterprising Women of Color” initiative. Says Graves:

Childs is excited by the MBDA’s role at FWD. “I am looking forward to seeing the young people [at FWD]. Our youth are so energetic and so passionate. They don’t tend to talk about barriers. They tend to say, ‘hey, give me a chance. Give me an opportunity, and I’m going to go after it,’ and I love it…I just want to be there to empower, maybe motivate, maybe mentor because I believe that our young people are in this country, especially minorities, are ready to crush the future.”

minority business development agency

MBDA members and Black Enterprise staff

As the sole federal agency that promotes the expansion and competitiveness of minority-owned businesses, this arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce was originally established as the Office of Minority Business Enterprise when President Nixon signed Executive Order 11458 on March 5, 1969. Its enactment ushered in the “Black Capitalism” thrust, and the creation of the minority enterprise small business investment companies or MESBICs that financed a phalanx of black-owned companies and the noncompetitive 8(a) minority set asides program to help minority firms gain a larger share of federal contracts. In fact, these programs helped spawn and elevate a significant number of companies to achieve status among BE’s rankings of the nation’s largest black-owned businesses in the 1970s and 1980s.

At the commemorative event held at Commerce’s Herbert Hoover Building earlier this year, BE was prominent among the roughly 700 business leaders, government officials, and entrepreneurs assembled there. Among the activities was recognition of past national directors as well as a tribute to Robert J. Brown, the former Special Assistant to Nixon who encouraged the presidential action that helped change the business landscape. In government and as a private consultant, Brown would serve as a vocal advocate and collaborator with business leaders – including BE founder and chairman Earl G. Graves, Sr. – to implement inclusive initiatives to expand minority business development and procurement participation.

As MBDA’s current National Director, Childs has designed the agency’s platform today to emphasize tech innovation through its expansive network of Minority Business Centers. His focus: “Winning The Future.” Under that banner, he has urged minority business owners to fully embrace advanced tech and target the fast-growing aviation and aeronautics sector for business opportunities. In addition to bolstering women-owned businesses, Childs has been the driver of what he calls its “hub and spokes” strategy, forming alliances with the National Minority Supplier Development Council, National Business League, U.S. Chamber of Commerce; and BE to enable the MBDA to expand its reach. “It’s just leaning into the future and making sure that the next generation has more opportunities than the current generation.”

Graves agrees: “We really believe that black-owned businesses are on the precipice of doing something significant and having an opportunity really play in a new arena.”

Register for FWD! 

The post BLACK ENTERPRISE, Minority Business Development Agency Partner To Help Black Businesses Gain Access To Innovation and Financing appeared first on Black Enterprise.



Amazon Offers Employees $10K to Start a Delivery Business

Amazon has a proposition for its employee: Become a delivery entrepreneur. According to CBNC, the tech giant is offering its employees $10,000 to set up their delivery business.

These employees, would of course, be delivering on behalf of Amazon. The company is attempting to scale operations to stay competitive with other delivery services by providing their employees the opportunity to be delivery service providers.

“We received overwhelming interest from tens of thousands of individuals who applied to be part of the Delivery Service Partner program, including many employees,” said Dave Clark, senior vice president of worldwide operations. “We’ve heard from associates that they want to participate in the program but struggled with the transition. Now we have a path for those associates with an appetite for opportunities to own their own businesses.”

How would it all work? Amazon plans to take an active role in helping interested employees launch their own package delivery businesses. An employee will leave their role at Amazon to build their business knowing they will have consistent delivery volume from Amazon, access to the company’s sophisticated delivery technology, hands-on training, and discounts on a suite of assets and services. They will also have Amazon-branded vans customized for delivery, branded uniforms, and comprehensive insurance.

Additionally, Amazon will cover up to $10,000 in startup costs for employees who are accepted into their program, and allow them to lease their signature blue vans customized for delivery, access branded uniforms, and obtain comprehensive insurance. They will also offer participants three months worth of their salary. The offer extends to warehouse workers who pack and ship orders but excludes Whole Foods employees.

This program is the latest example of Amazon initiatives aimed at encouraging employees to develop and advance their careers. Across the U.S., more than 12,000 people have already taken part in Amazon’s Career Choice program where Amazon pre-pays up to 95% of tuition for courses related to in-demand fields, up to $12,000, regardless of whether the skills are relevant to a career at Amazon.

 

 

 

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Abortion Bans Are a Health Crisis. For Black Women, They Mean Devastation

As President Trump promised during the 2016 campaign, he would make overturning Roe v. Wade—the landmark court case giving women the constitutional right to have an abortion—part of his mission. Six states thus far, have passed or are trying to pass draconian laws banning abortions. Abortion ban is bad for all women and a crisis for black women.

It’s well-established that there is inequity in healthcare. “The sexual and reproductive health of African American women has been compromised due to multiple experiences of racism, including discriminatory healthcare practices from slavery through the post-Civil Rights era,” writes researchers in the report Racism, African American Women, and Their Sexual and Reproductive Health: A Review of Historical and Contemporary Evidence and Implications for Health Equity.

Those discriminatory practices exist today. Black women, many with limited resources, often have unequal access to quality healthcare. For example, the above study found that black women often are subjected to unnecessary hysterectomies. Infant mortality, pregnancy complications, and access to vital prenatal care are all issues affecting black women’s reproductive health.

And it doesn’t matter if you are a rich and famous black woman as we discovered when Serena Williams opened up about her life-threatening pregnancy complications. In fact, black woman’s reproductive health status is at such a red alert that Sen. Kamala Harris introduced legislation to address the black maternal mortality crisis.

What the anti-choice advocates conveniently leave out of their hateful, misogynistic narrative is that the same facilities that provide abortions are also safe havens for women to receive prenatal care, sexual education, and pregnancy care. These facilities are particularly crucial to low-income black women and those in rural areas.

Yet, the states with high populations of black women—and some with the worst records on black women’s healthcare—are the ones pushing hardest for abortion bans: Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, and Georgia. As a result, many of these states are closing facilities that not only provide abortions but other critical women’s health services. Currently, only one abortion clinic remains in Missouri; three in Alabama; and one in Mississippi.

Missouri, Alabama, Ohio are ranked among the worst states for black infant mortality rates in the aforementioned study. From that report, “Mississippi has the largest proportion of babies born with low birth weight among Black women as well as all women (16.1% and 11.5%,  respectively). The states with the next largest proportions of babies born with low birth weight to Black women are Louisiana, West Virginia, Colorado, and Alabama.”

What is the impetus to place women’s reproductive freedom back 50 years? Anti-choicers cite their religious beliefs as justification—bestowing personhood onto fetuses.

But perhaps the underlying reasons are even more sinister. America is becoming browner. With the influx of immigrants from Latin America, and more people open to the idea of interracial relationships, millennials and Gen Z are the most diverse generations ever.

It stands to reason that the powers that be, the network of old white boys, are panicking over the darkened hue of the American populace; and over the demands for economic and political diversity and equity. And there is power in numbers. Force more white women to have white babies and make America white again…perhaps?

Of course, that is speculation. What isn’t: Abortion bans do not stop women from having abortions. These bans only make it more dangerous and expensive for women to terminate pregnancies. These bans shut down healthcare facilities that provide reproductive services and support that extends far beyond abortions. These bans, while detrimental to all women, will be devastating to the well-being of black women, as we still struggle to gain equal footing in a world that is so quick to hate us.


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

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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Black Entrepreneurs: Here’s Why Your Digital Footprint is Essential To Your Success

Black entrepreneurs: With the ability to have your brand be searchable through Google and other search engines, (and/or customers) can learn more about you and your brand. Here are some strategies to help expand your brand’s digital footprint.

Don’t Sell Your Story Locally Without Pitching National Publications

I always suggest pitching your story to major publications initially. Not only will you learn what works and what doesn’t work through pitching the editors of national media, but you will also have the opportunity to reach more readers (if your story is picked up). After securing national press, you can then pitch the local publications and have somewhat of a follow-up feature. The local newspapers will be impressed with the fact that you have been published in national newspapers and jump in on the opportunity to introduce you to their local readers.

I employed this strategy when pitching my technology company. After securing significant media features, I pitched my local business journal and secured additional media buzz. The features not only increased my brands’ exposure on multiple levels and platforms; it also established my company as a hot new startup in the city. Simply put, don’t shy away from pitching notable publications, you can always go local after expanding through a national market.

All Publicity Isn’t Good Publicity

Research the publications before pitching. If the publication has a large reader base but lacks industry credibility, you can tarnish your brand’s image. Even after a feature is posted in print, it will typically have a home digitally.

Podcasts

Look into being featured on podcasts seeking entrepreneur guests on their show. This is a great way to learn the art of pitching producers, hosts, and editors.

Keep in mind that your brand deserves the most notable exposure. You can use the publicity as social proof to differentiate your business from your competitors.

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You Could Win $50K at the National Black MBA Association Scale-Up Pitch Challenge!

Do you have a big idea that you would like to get in front of early-stage investors and venture capitalists? Here is your chance. Applications are now open for the 2019 National Black MBA Association Scale-Up Pitch Challenge. The winning team will be awarded a $50,000 grand prize. Additional prizes will be given to second place ($10,000), third place ($1,500), and the People’s Choice winner ($1,000).

It’s not a secret that black startup founders struggle to gain visibility and funding in the venture capital world. According to a 2015 CB Insights analysis, black founders received just 1% of the funding provided by VCs, and the statistics haven’t gained much momentum since then.

That’s why the National Black MBA Association Scale-Up Pitch Challenge was launched in 2017. The goal is to award $2 million in business grants to members as part of the 2020 Vision.

Last year, a young millennial entrepreneur walked away from the 40th Annual National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) Conference with $50K to scale his startup.

“A friend who was a National Black MBA member really pushed us to apply last year and then we were skeptical [this year]. But we’re happy that we did it,” says Kwame Boler, the co-founder and CEO at NEU Inc.

If you meet the eligibility requirements, submit your application by Monday, July 15 at 11:59 p.m. EST. Top 15 finalists will be notified in August and receive complimentary conference registration, $500 for travel expenses, and lodging.

You’ll need to upload a 90-second elevator pitch, complete the business canvas, create an Angel List profile, and send in your submission form. At least one member of your Scale-Up Pitch Challenge team must be a member of the NBMBAA.

Semi-finalists will present their pitch in front of a panel of judges during the NBMBAA conference. The 41st Annual NBMBAA Conference and Exposition will be hosted in Houston from Sept. 24–28. The Scale-Up Pitch Challenge will be announced after the finalists round on Thursday, Sept. 26.


Black Enterprise Contributors Network 

 

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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 

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Get the Real Wendy Williams Experience at Black Enterprise Event

Mother, media mogul, fashion designer, philanthropist, entrepreneur, performer, and best-selling author, Wendy Williams will be a featured speaker at BLACK ENTERPRISE‘s conference for entrepreneurs, FWD.

During her session at FWD, ‘Wendy Williams: More Than Just Talk,’ moderated by BLACK ENTERPRISE‘s Chief Branding Officer of Women of Power, Caroline Clarke—the Queen of All Media will talk about her entrepreneurial journey. The session is your perfect chance to “Ask Wendy.”

Decades of Media Success

Wendy is best known for her long-running Daytime Emmy nominated talk show, The Wendy Williams Show. Recently extended through 2020, the show has been nominated for multiple daytime Emmy awards, has memorabilia in the Smithsonian Museum, and broadcasts in 53 countries.

Taped live in New York City, the show reflects Wendy’s entertaining personality and distinctive sense of humor. The focus on entertainment and pop culture exemplifies Wendy’s passion for those topics, and the show’s signature segments include “Hot Topics” with Wendy’s take on the juiciest celebrity headlines; “Trendy at Wendy,” showcasing the hottest brands; and “Ask Wendy,” where Wendy offers real advice to audience members.

The show also includes a diverse mix of interviews with celebrity guests from television, film, music, and sports. In 2015, both Wendy and the show earned Daytime Emmy nominations for “Best Talk Show Host” and “Best Entertainment Talk Show.”

Prior to achieving success in daytime television, Wendy built a devoted fan base throughout a successful 23-year career in radio, with “The Wendy Williams Experience,” a top-rated daily radio show. Syndicated nationally, it aired on WBLS in New York and was listened to by an audience of more than 12 million. One of the most popular personalities in radio, Wendy was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in November of 2009 – one of only a handful of women with that honor.

Wendy Williams: Entrepreneur

Expanding her media footprint, Wendy and her husband Kevin launched the non-fiction television programming company, Wendy Williams Productions (WWP) in 2013. Recent projects include the Lifetime original movie Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B and Death by Gossip with Wendy Williams, which premiered on Investigation Discovery.

With TV, Broadway and film to her name, Wendy is a seasoned performer — both as herself and in character. Her television credits include appearances on NBC’s 30 Rock as herself, competing on Season 12 of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars, hosting Game Show Network’s original series Love Triangle, and appearing as a featured guest on ABC’s One Life to Live and Lifetime’s Drop Dead Diva. Wendy also appeared in the major motion picture Think Like a Man, Think Like A Man Too, and took center stage as Mama Morton in the Tony-winning revival of the musical Chicago.

In the spring of 2014, Wendy released her seventh book and first romance novel, Hold Me in Contempt (Harper Collins; $14.99). The book became a New York Times Best-Seller the day of its release and sales continue to thrive among her fans.

In recent years, Wendy has also added fashion designer to her resume, becoming a number one selling brand with HSN through her Wendy Williams collection.

Register Now for FWD

 

 

 

 

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Mentoring For Impact: Imparting Values Of Manhood As A Force To Be Reckoned With

BE Modern Man: Louis Macarthur

Mentor/Volunteer, 31, Actor/Model/Creative Director

Twitter: @LouisMacarthur_; Instagram: @louismacarthur

My focus for 2019 has been to give directly back to the Los Angeles communities with a goal of mentoring for impact. Two organizations that I volunteer with, Peggy Beatrice Foundation (Skid Row) and Engage The Vision (Inner-City LA), offer the opportunity to make an immediate impact every week. This is along with continuing my iLead mentoring series in my hometown of Cleveland, Tennessee—where I actively mentor high school athletes and help them pursue higher education and excel in the college admissions/recruiting process.

On Tuesdays, I am in downtown L.A. distributing and serving food, clothes, prayers, and love to hundreds of homeless individuals who make up the infamous Skid Row district. On Fridays, I am inside the inner-city elementary school—mentoring young boys ages 9-11. This is an interactive program that allows us to impart values of manhood that these young kids may not receive anywhere else. These minority youth all are from low-income households. An invaluable impact from being involved in these organizations has been the discovery of the influence I have as a black man. The power to enforce and make change lies in our ability to be of service. When integrity aligns with work ethic, your impact is inevitable. That’s what mentoring for impact is about.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN LIFE?

Aside from being a proud father to my talented daughter, Crimson, witnessing the reveal of “Dream” by German sculptor Julian Voss-Andreae was a dream come true! “Dream” is Quantum Sculpture created from an exact replica of my body and physical likeness; constructed in stainless steel. The eight-foot statue was presented at Miami Art Basel for the 2018 Edition of Art Miami | CONTEXT Art Miami.

HOW HAVE YOU TURNED STRUGGLE INTO SUCCESS?

My biological mom abandoned me as an infant due to her ongoing addiction to drugs. My dad was in and out of jail much of my childhood. I was labeled a “bad kid”—an active juvenile delinquent. Expelled from middle school. Sent to an alternative school. I dealt with anger issues surrounding my insecurities with abandonment and love. I was able to fake it enough to get through high school using sports and involvement [in activities] to mask my family issues. In college, I started visiting the sports psychologist; this is when I began to identify and heal—I took my hardships and fueled my passions. I begin to explore the world, traveling internationally, take creative, professional risks; life has been telling a beautiful story ever since.

WHO IS YOUR GREATEST MALE ROLE MODEL AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM HIM?

One of my greatest male role models has been my dad. Growing up, I focused on his shortcomings, mishaps, and mistakes; I always molded my actions to do things opposite of how I viewed him. However, as I got into my 20s, I started to communicate with my dad about the problems I had with him. He talked back. We created a dynamic of a relationship that I needed to be the man I am destined to be. As a man with my own struggles, I was able to identify with his struggles; I embodied and admired his perseverance. Now I respect him for the journey and legacy he has established.

HOW ARE YOU PAYING IT FORWARD TO SUPPORT OTHER BLACK MALES?

Mentoring with impact means making it a point to stay active with young black males from middle school ages to undergraduate; more specifically, those with minority and/or low socioeconomic backgrounds. Using my personal experiences, I find it easy to relate and connect with inner passions—encouraging youth to take hardships to fuel their ambitions; focusing on education as an invaluable tool.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT BEING A BLACK MAN?

I embrace the power and presence of being a black man. The black man is one of the most sought after creatures on the face of this Earth. My energy can shift any environment I step into. I love the ability to demand respect without saying much. I enjoy that as a black man, I was created as a force to be reckoned with.

 

 

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