The iGen iEverything Train is Coming, but Are You Ready?

LinkedIn

Technology is being consumed at an ever increasing rate causing executives, managers, and process improvement experts on the factory floor to re-define the methods of training and dissemination that have become obsolete.

Critical skills and tribal knowledge are being lost as boomers retire and training plans for new employees fall short of preparing workers for the sophistication of the new manufacturing environment.

Move over millennials, here comes the IGen! Born between 1995 and 2005 this group of tech savvy natives is the next cohort and are just now entering the workforce. IGen, or Gen Z as they are often referred, have grown up in a world of social media where Youtube, Instagram, and Twitter reign supreme. These kids are a force to be reckoned with and require access to information in ways that are familiar, immediate, and actionable. Our success depends on them because as the IGen goes, so goes the manufacturing industry, the nation, and the world.

Alliance Resource Group, in partnership with Sify Technologies has pulled together experts from manufacturing, academia and automated methodologies to develop a solution that addresses the manufacturing challenge of this next generation and identifies the key components of a successful framework including content management, dissemination methodology, scalability, and integration with current learning management systems. These components constitute a micro-learning strategy that facilitates current and future state requirements.

Alliance Resource Group (ARG), is a service disabled veteran owned business located in Newport Beach California. With a foundation in resource management, recruiting, and consulting,  ARG provides services to small and medium size companies throughout the United States.

View the ARG White Paper here! Better be prepared for total process transformation if you want to remain competitive.

TIAA Unveils the TIAA Difference Maker 100 Recognizing Extraordinary People Helping to Create a Better Tomorrow

LinkedIn
Laila-Ali-TIAA

TIAA recently announced the TIAA Difference Maker 100 Honorees – 100 individuals working in the nonprofit sector who have made significant contributions in their communities and throughout the world. TIAA will recognize each of the 100 honorees with a $10,000 donation in their name to the nonprofit organization they support, totaling $1 million in contributions.

The Difference Maker 100 program launched earlier this year as part of TIAA’s centennial to recognize the positive impact nonprofit employees have on the world. Individuals were invited to submit their own story or recommend others for consideration. The final Difference Maker 100 Honorees were selected by a panel of judges based on their impact, creativity, perseverance and motive.

“We could think of no better way to commemorate our centennial than to celebrate the people we have a mission to serve – the millions of nonprofit professionals driven by purpose and service – and to help enable them to continue having a positive impact on the world,” said Roger W. Ferguson, Jr., president and CEO of TIAA. “We were delighted to receive over 4,000 submissions.  Each represents an inspiring story that epitomizes what it means to be a difference maker.”

The 100 honorees represent a wide range of nonprofit organizations from across the United States focused on social impact issues, health and wellness, education and technology, arts and culture, and the environment. TIAA teamed up with Oath and RYOT Studio to create and produce the TIAA Difference Maker 100 program.

Laila Ali, pictured, world-class athlete and a prominent supporter of charitable organizations, served as the ambassador for the program.

“I had the opportunity to review many of the amazing stories submitted by people working in nonprofit organizations across the country and was inspired by each and every one,” said Laila Ali. “The individuals who are being recognized today are selfless in their commitment to serving others. I am sure their stories will move more people to do good in the world.”

As part of its centennial celebration, TIAA also hosted a companywide “100 Days of Difference” campaign that enabled TIAA employees to take part in philanthropic and community service-oriented projects across the country. It was the largest employee volunteerism program in the company’s 100-year history. More than 9,550 employees across 51 offices completed 389 service projects that impacted 717,548 lives in 100 days.

For more information about the TIAA Difference Maker 100 Honorees and the program, visit TIAADifferenceMaker100.org.

The TIAA Difference Maker 100 Honorees include:
Ismail Abdurrashid (Boston, Mass.) – College Bound Dorchester
Chike Aguh (Beltsville, Md.) – EveryoneOn
Jeanne Alter (Astoria, N.Y.) – Kennedy Children’s Center
Kimberly Appelt (New Canaan, Conn.) – Harlem Lacrosse and Leadership Corporation
Suzanne Baker (Livonia, Mich.) – Blessings in a Backpack-Livonia
Nancy Ballard (Petaluma, Calif.) – Rooms That Rock 4 Chemo, Inc.
Susan Binkley (Monteagle, Tenn.) – Blue Monarch
Melissa Blackmon (Clayton, N.C.) – Donate Life North Carolina
Eva Bornstein (New York, N.Y.) – Lehman College Center for the Performing Arts, Inc.
Caroline Boudreaux (Austin, Texas) – Miracle Foundation
Garry Bowie (Long Beach, Calif.) – Being Alive: People Living with AIDS Action Coalition
Breanna Branch (Oakland, Calif.) – uAspire
Stephanie Burch (Hampton, Va.) – Virginia Beach Justice Initiative
Ron Byrne (Altamont, N.Y.) – Umbrella of the Capital District, Inc.
Evelyn Calip (Harbor City, Calif.) – Evelyn’s Breast Friends Forever, Inc.
Rebecca Campbell (Sarasota, Fla.) – Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund, Inc.
Laura Capello (Phoenix, Ariz.) – Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona
Marcelo Cardarelli (Fairfax, Va.) – The William Novick Global Cardiac Alliance
Christopher Cooley (Pittsburg, Pa.) – Serving Other Souls, Inc.
Gary Cornwell (Gainesville, Fla.) – Florida Camp for Children and Youth with Diabetes, Inc.
Paula Daniels (LaVergne, Tenn.) – Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency
Sharon Darling (Louisville, Ky.) – National Center for Families Learning
Lisa DeSantis (Paramus, N.J.) – Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers
Liz Dunbar (Tacoma, Wash.) – Tacoma Community House
Grace Feldman (New Haven, Conn.) – Neighborhood Music School
Mary Ellen Fitzgerald (Abington, Pa.) – Breathing Room Foundation
Sister Teresa Fitzgerald (Astoria, N.Y.) – Hour Children, Inc.
Jaclyn Fratangelo (Pleasanton, Calif.) – Abilities United
Sarah Garman (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) – North Campus Food Pantry for Students
Roger Gonzalez (El Paso, Texas) – LIMBS International
Debbie Greenberg (St. Louis, Mo.) – A Million Stars, Inc. DBA College Bound St. Louis
Inger Griffin (Livonia, Mich.) – The Emily Ann Griffin Foundation
Pete Griffin (Nashville, Tenn.) – Musicians On Call
Abigail Harrison (Wellesley, Mass.) – The Mars Generation
Tera Hilliard (Hawthorne, Calif.) – Forgotten Children, Inc.
Barbara Hoffman (Gilbert, Ariz.) – Red Means Stop Coalition
Nancy Hughes (Eugene, Ore.) – StoveTeam International, Ore.
Jill Isenbarger (Pelham, N.Y.) – The Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture
Kanti Jain (Alpine, N.J.) – International Human Benefit Services
Rosemarie Jefferson (Philadelphia, Pa.) – Inn Dwelling
Mary Keane (Yonkers, N.Y.) – You Gotta Believe
Alex Landberg (Des Plaines, Ill.) – Chicago Run
Marianne Legato (New York, N.Y.) – Foundation Gender-Specific Medicine
Shari Lewis (Chicago, Ill.) – Project H.O.O.D.
Dan Lill (Rochester, N.Y.) – R Community Bikes, Inc.
Danielle Maloof (Glendora, Calif.) – Save the Heartbeat, Calif.
Albert Manero (Orlando, Fla.) – Limbitless Solutions
Jerria Martin (Selma, Ala.) – Drug Free Communities of Dallas County
Kerri Martin (Asbury Park, N.J.) – Second Life Bikes
Kyle Matthews (Tampa, Fla.) – Beat Nb Cancer Foundation, Inc.
Michael McGuire (Jacksonville, Fla.) – River Oak Center
Gayle McPherson (Winfield, Kan.) – Eagle Nest, Inc.
Jennifer McVoy (Grand Haven Township, Mich.) – Out Side In, Inc.
Jeri Millard (Jacksonville, Fla.) – In the Pink Boutique, Inc.
Stacy Moore (Philomath, Ore.) – Institute for Applied Ecology
Brian Morello (Oakland, N.J.) – Family Reach Foundation
Sheila Morovati (Santa Monica, Calif.) – Crayon Collection
Rick Nahmias (Van Nuys, Calif.) – Food Forward
Darlene Nakayama (Honolulu, Hawaii) – Palolo Chinese Home
Staci Nichols (Little Falls, N.Y.) – Herkimer County Chapter, NYSARC, Inc. DBA Arc Herkimer
Keith Norris (Elkton, Va.) – World Hope International
Gary Oberstein (Walpole, Mass.) – Above the Clouds
Elizabeth O’Donnell (Hamburg, N.Y.) – Gliding Stars, Inc.
Jodi O’Donnell-Ames (Titusville, N.J.) – Hope Loves Company, Inc.
Lynn Olson (Minneapolis, Minn.) – Language Central, Inc.
John Orr (Philadelphia, Pa.) – Art-Reach, Inc.
Robert Picard (Pocatello, Idaho) – Health West, Inc.
Lee Ponsky, MD (Moreland Hills, Ohio) – MedWish International
Cathy Poznik (Twinsburg, Ohio) – Chiari and Syringomyelia Foundation
Tyler Radford (Kew Gardens, N.Y) – Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team
Julie Rasmuson (Stewartstown, Pa.) – Autism York
Diana Richardson (Eugene, Ore.) – Makindu Children’s Program
Michelle Roberts (Powhatan, Va.) – Miracles in Motion
Heather Rossi (Cary, N.C.) – Centerstone Military Services
Sharon Runge (Catonsville, Md.) – Kenya Connect
Nicole Russell (Guttenberg, N.J.) – Precious Dreams Foundation
David Sack (Fallston, Md.) – Child Health Foundation
Miesha Sanders (Saint Paul, Minn.) – Parent Teacher Home Visits
Jessica Schreiber (New York, N.Y.) – FABSCRAP, Inc.
Angela Settle (Charleston, W.Va.) – West Virginia Health Right, Inc.
Bette Sherman (Denton, Texas) – Denton Animal Support Foundation, Inc.
James Short (La Jolla, Calif.) – Padres Pedal the Cause
Aaron Slatton (New Haven, Ind.) – Indiana Institute of Technology
Michael Slaymaker (Orlando, Fla.) – Orlando Youth Alliance
Julia Sleeper-Whiting (Lewiston, Maine) – Tree Street Youth
Robin Smalley (Los Angeles, Calif.) – mothers2mothers
Timothy Solberg (St. Louis, Mo.) – Project Medishare for Haiti
Sister Peg Spindler (Gary, Ind.) – Sojourner Truth House
Nicole Steele (Lawrenceville, Ga.) – Diamond In The Rough Youth Development Program, Inc.
Jarrett Stein (Philadelphia, Pa.) – Rebel Ventures
Elizabeth Swiman (Tallahassee, Fla.) – Florida State University
Kyle Thomas (Crested Butte, Colo.) – Peace of Adventure
Christine Thompson (Boydton, Va.) – Humanity Road, Inc.
Marianna Tu (Brooklyn, N.Y.) – America Needs You
Kathleen Webb (Wichita, Kan.) – Children First CEO Kansas

Sophie Wysocki (Broomfield, Colo.) – Agape International Missions

About TIAA
With an award-winning 1 track record for consistent investment performance, TIAA (TIAA.org) is the leading provider of financial services in the academic, research, medical, cultural and government fields. TIAA has $1 trillion in assets under management (as of 6/30/2018 2) and offers a wide range of financial solutions, including investing, banking, advice and education, and retirement services.

This black female entrepreneur is rebuilding D.C. with foreign dollars—and a dream

LinkedIn

Angelique Brunner was once the only African American woman in VC from NYC to Atlanta. Now, she runs a $500 million investment firm that is revitalizing D.C.

When Angelique Brunner moved to the nation’s capital two decades ago, she was shocked to find neighborhoods with no stores, no services, and burned-out buildings.

“I started asking around about what is going on here, people told me it was the riots,” she tells Fast Company. “I said, ‘Oh, what riots?’ They said, ‘The Martin Luther King riots.’ I said, ‘The riots were in 1968. So, this is why D.C. doesn’t have grocery stores, and it’s giving away houses for a dollar?’”

The local city government was, in fact, selling off long-abandoned homes for a buck to developers who had the money to rebuild. Some of Washington’s once vibrant black neighborhoods never quite recovered from the unrest in the days following the assassination of the civil rights leader and the subsequent departure of the middle class.

Brunner was stunned and, armed with her degrees in public policy from Brown and Princeton, started learning the ropes in venture capital and then real estate development—determined to make a difference.

And she is making a difference, bringing jobs, homes, and new business to once blighted streets.

As president of EB5 Capital, which she founded a decade ago, Brunner is now one of the driving forces in the revitalization of D.C., leveraging a controversial program that puts rich foreign investors on a path to citizenship in return for their investment dollars.

FOUNDING HER OWN COMPANY

The road to founding her own firm was paved during those first years, initially at a VC firm. “I  was the only African American female from New York to Atlanta that was in venture capital.” She later moved to Fannie Mae (the Federal National Mortgage Association), where she became an expert in community investing.

“Laypeople might assume that urban areas struggle to get development dollars because no one wants to build there. I learned through the late 1990s and early 2000s that there has always been interest, just not the financing needed to actually execute,” she says.

It was during this time that she became familiar with the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program and saw an opportunity to bring development dollars to neighborhoods that others did not want to touch. So with the gap in money needed persisting to complete urban projects, and the scars from the riots still showing, she founded EB5 Capital.

“I felt motivated to address this, which is why my second project ever was a grocery store on 7th Street in Northwest D.C. that also had an affordable senior housing component,” she says.

Since then, Brunner has helped connect foreign investors with several major D.C. gems, including City Market at O Street, bringing new residential and commercial life to a once dilapidated but beloved historic city site. Brunner is also behind D.C.’s Columbia Place development, bringing two new Marriott hotels to the downtown convention center area.

JOB CREATOR

Brunner sees her mission as twofold: Rebuilding the capital’s neighborhoods and bringing new jobs to people who desperately need them. And she is an unabashed fan of the EB-5 program, which is up for renewal—and reform—in U.S. Congress. Job creation is at the core of the program, which was founded in 1990 and is administered by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It offers foreign investors green cards in return for job-creating investments in domestic development projects.

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

Make the Most of Your National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) Certification

LinkedIn
Brenda and Carlton Oneal

Brenda H. Oneal and Carlton L. Oneal
Light Speed, LLC

eLearning and multimedia design, development and production

How has the NMSDC helped your business?
The NMSDC has helped our business by providing access to corporate personnel and information about business opportunities that we may not have gotten through any other mechanism.

In many cases, the people with whom I interact through the NMSDC at the National and Regional level are interested in doing business with minority suppliers based upon their knowledge of the responsiveness and innovation that many of our firms provide.

In what unique way did you win your last contract?
The service being provided as a result of the last contract we won is unique. At an NMSDC event, a discussion was being held about how supplier diversity personnel are training the employees in their corporation on the subject of supplier diversity. A client of ours was part of that conversation and recommended that her colleague seeking the service call our firm because we offer a unique eLearning course series on supplier diversity. The courses we provide are designed to teach employees, leaders and other stakeholders the overall business rationale for supplier diversity in addition to many other facts about the subject. Once the person seeking the service talked to two of her other trusted colleagues about the subject and they gave her the same response, “call Light Speed,” she told me she was convinced we were the ones to seek for the information we could provide.

What advice can you give others?
Be very clear on the key products and services you provide. Once you are clear, be certain that you accept requests for work that will keep you in, or very closely tied to what you do extremely well. When companies start to stray from providing anything other than what will result in an excellent client experience, you are putting your reputation at risk.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned?
Develop as many relationships in an organization that you can. As you do this, seek to develop those relationships at different levels in the company. If you depend on a single relationship in a company, years of effort will be lost if that single contact person gets transferred out of the area of chooses to leave their company.

Ronald E. Damper

DAMRON CorporationRonald Damper
Tea supplier to McDonald’s, retail and food service

How has the NMSDC helped your business?    
The NMSDC offers the forum to meet key decision makers and establish mutually beneficial relationships. We have formed lasting relationships with organizations with whom we do business and hope to do business. The networking and referral opportunities are endless.

In what unique way did you win your last contract?
In the past, we experienced difficulty connecting with a particular decision maker. DAMRON exhibited at council trade fair with a booth directly behind the company of interest. This Supplier Diversity person represents an organization that contract feeds many corporations. Our line was long and our aromatic tea wafted in her direction. We shared a cup of tea with her, and she was hooked! We have since been invited, on her behalf, to several company specific vendor fairs and am now supplying organic tea to a major IT corporation with more to follow.

What advice can you give others?
Be impeccable with your word. Deliver what you say you will deliver and always give your best. Become the caliber supplier with whom you would like to do business. Attention to detail is key!

What is the biggest lesson you have learned:
Not right now does not mean no. Stay the course and do not become discouraged.  Continue to stay engaged. Your time is coming.

Learn more about the National Minority Supplier Development Council at nmsdc.org

Kobe Bryant and nine other athletes have been supersmart investors

LinkedIn

“What comes next? What is my next passion?”

Those are the two questions retired NBA star and Academy Award winner Kobe Bryant claims athletes have to ask themselves.

The answer — for Bryant, 40, and many other retired sports stars — is investing.

In mid-August, the news that Bryant’s 2014 investment of $6 million in sports drink BodyArmor had morphed into $200 million after Cola-Cola purchased the company garnered lots of attention. In 2016, the five-time NBA champion partnered with Jeff Stibel, former CEO of Web.com, to form the venture capital fund Bryant Stibel. Other investments under Bryant Stibel include online education platform VIPKid and restaurant booking company Reserve.

Bryant’s return on investment is a boon to the ideology of athletes’ soaring interests in technology investments and beyond. But he’s not the only player who has taken the savvy approach to declaring his or her next passion.

More than 30 years ago, NBA Hall of Famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson, now the president of basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers, started Magic Johnson Enterprises and invested in technology staffing company Jopwell. For decades he has maintained ownership in movie theaters, Burger King, TGI Fridays and other franchises, teams and startups.

Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter invested in the video conference service Blue Jeans Network and the anti-bullying app StopIt. He also founded sports website The Players’ Tribune. NBA big man and Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal sat down with talk show host Ellen DeGeneres in June to discuss investing in Google. O’Neal has also invested in burger chain Five Guys, 24 Hour Fitness and Apple.

Here are nine superjocks who use their brainpower, access and finances to make their money work for them.

Serena Williams

The new mother and tennis champion took interest in the meal delivery service Daily Harvest. During a 2017 episode of talk series Kneading Dough, she also expressed to Maverick Carter some interest in investment properties.

“I have the weirdest one, it’s property,” Serena Williams said. “For me, investments are really important in terms of who are the other investors: What does their portfolio look like? Have they been successful? If they’re a new company, are they a good product? Is it something you believe in? I never do something if I don’t really believe in the product.”

Venus Williams

Venus Williams is an investor in Ellevest, a financial app that empowers women and provides tips on saving.

Kevin Durant

When the Golden State Warriors All-Star found himself leaving Oklahoma City for Silicon Valley, he’d already developed a portfolio that included stakes in delivery service PostmatesAcorns, an investment app geared to millennials; drone company Skydio; and scooter brand LimeBike. Kevin Durant usually prefers to make his investments at the early stages.

Maya Moore

Maya Moore’s desire to promote healthy eating habits encouraged her to become involved with the frozen-juice company Chloe’s Fruit and the plant-based protein meat substitute company Beyond Meat.

“I think from early on in my career, I wanted to be someone who promotes health and wellness and nutrition,” Moore told WCCO4 CBS Minnesota. “These two companies definitely fit all those things.”

Continue onto The Undefeated to read about the complete list of athletes.

Netflix creates new executive position focused on inclusion and diversity

LinkedIn

Netflix is creating a new executive position that will focus on inclusion and diversity among employees of the streaming entertainment giant.


Vernā Myers has been appointed to the newly created role of vice president for inclusion strategy, Netflix announced Wednesday. The company said Myers will help devise and implement strategies that integrate cultural diversity, inclusion and equity into all aspects of Netflix’s operations worldwide.

Prior to joining Netflix, Myers worked as a consultant at the Vernā Myers Co., where she advised corporations and organizations on issues including race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation.

Her appointment comes two months after Netflix fired its chief communications officer after he used a racial slur on at least two occasions in the workplace. Jonathan Friedland, who had served as Netflix’s top spokesperson for the past seven years, acknowledged that he had spoken in an “insensitive” way.

“Leaders have to be beyond reproach in the example we set and unfortunately I fell short of that standard when I was insensitive in speaking to my team about words that offend in comedy,” he wrote on Twitter in June.

Earlier this week, Los Gatos, Calif.-based Netflix named Rachel Whetstone — a veteran of Facebook, Uber and Google — to succeed Friedland as chief communications officer.

Diversity executives have become increasingly common at major corporations. Silicon Valley in particular has become the focus of media scrutiny for what some workers have described as a lack of gender and racial diversity at technology and internet companies.

Myers has previously consulted for Netflix, the company said. “Having worked closely with Vernā as a consultant on a range of organizational issues, we are thrilled that she has agreed to bring her talents to this new and important role,” said Jessica Neal, Netflix’s chief talent officer.

Continue onto the Los Angles Times to read the complete article.

Sharon Caples McDougle is somewhat of a “hidden figure”

LinkedIn
Sharon McDougle with Mae Jamison

Everyone knows that Dr. Mae Jemison was the first African American woman to travel into space – but many don’t know that an African American woman “suited her up”. McDougle was Jemison’s suit tech for the historic mission STS-47 aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor September 12, 1992.

McDougle worked closely with her during her training leading up to launch, as well as actual launch day and landing of the space shuttle – taking care of all of her assigned crew escape equipment – her suit, helmet, writing utensils, even her diaper.

McDougle joined the NASA family through Boeing Aerospace Operations in 1990 where she worked as a Flight Equipment Processing Contract team member in the Space Shuttle Crew Escape Equipment (CEE) department. She began her career as a CEE Suit Technician and was responsible for processing the orange launch and entry suit (LES) assemblies worn by all NASA space shuttle astronauts. She was assigned to her first mission STS-37 within a year.  McDougle was one of only two women CEE Suit Technicians and the only African American technician when she began her career.

In 1994 McDougle was promoted to the position of Crew Chief making her the first female and first African American Crew Chief in CEE. In her new position she was responsible for leading a team of technicians to suit up astronaut crews. She was responsible for leading her team and ensuring the astronaut crews were provided with outstanding support during suited astronaut training, launch, and landing events. In 1998, United Space Alliance (USA) absorbed the Boeing Aerospace Operations contract and McDougle continued in her position as a CEE Crew Chief employed by USA.  She traveled to Kennedy Space Center quite often where she worked in support of many space shuttle launches.  As Crew Chief McDougle had the honor of leading the first and only all-female suit tech crew supporting space shuttle mission STS-78.

In 2004 McDougle became the first female and first African American promoted to the position of Manager of the CEE Processing department. In this position, she managed the team of 25+ employees responsible for processing the Advanced Crew Escape Suit (ACES) and related equipment worn by the astronaut crews aboard the space shuttle. Her team assisted the astronaut Sharon McDougle and Lt. Uhuracrews in donning/doffing the suit, testing the equipment, strapping the astronauts into the space shuttle before launch, and recovering the crew upon landing. She held this position until the Space Shuttle Program ended in 2011. Sharon continued working until 2012 to help close-out the program, ending an illustrious 22 year career with the space shuttle program.

Other notable African-American astronauts McDougle has suited up: Charles Bolden, Frederick Gregory, and Dr. Bernard Harris.

During her career she was recognized with the Astronaut “Silver Snoopy” Award, Space Flight Awareness Honoree Award, USA Employee of the Month Teamwork Award, USA Employee of the Month Community Service Award, and the coveted Women of Color in Flight Award from Dr. Mae Jemison recognizing her career as the first and only African American woman suit tech/crew chief in her field. She absolutely loved her job and is proud to have been a part of our nation’s historic Space Shuttle Program.

McDougle was recognized by her home state as a 2018 Mississippi Trailblazer at the 16th Annual Mississippi Trailblazers Awards Ceremony and Black Tie Gala where she received two awards: the Calvin “Buck” Buchanan “FIRST” Award named for Mississippi’s first United States Attorney for the Northern District – honoring a Mississippian who holds the distinction of being the “first” in their profession and the Dr. Cindy Ayers “Legacy” Award honoring a Trailblazer whose singular work and contributions will leave a legacy long after their life has ended.

Most recently, McDougle received the Lifetime Achievement award from the Moss Point Visionary Circle during their 6th Annual Living Legends Ball for her military service and NASA career.

McDougle is also a United States Air Force (USAF) veteran, which is where she began her aerospace career in 1982 after graduating from high school. She served proudly in the Strategic Air Command (SAC) as an Aerospace Physiology Specialist at Beale Air Force Base, CA (1982-1990), reaching the rank of Sergeant (E-4).

During her enlistment she was a member of the Physiological Support Division (PSD). McDougle was responsible for training the SR-71 and U-2/TR-1 (“spy planes”) reconnaissance aircraft pilots on high altitude operations. She performed hazardous duty as an inside observer chamber technician and as a chamber operations team member during hypobaric (altitude) and hyperbaric (dive) chamber operations. During the hypobaric chamber flights crewmembers learned firsthand how hypoxia affects their judgment while flying an aircraft. The crewmembers were taught and practiced how they would handle these types of situations and the importance of wearing all equipment correctly.

McDougle also inspected and maintained flight equipment used for the SR-71 and U-2/TR-1 missions. The equipment included full pressure suit ensembles (helmet, gloves, boots, etc.), harness assemblies, and survival equipment (seat kits and parachutes, and emergency oxygen systems). She sized and fitted crewmembers’ pressure suits, assisted crewmembers in donning and doffing their suits, and performed functional tests before takeoff.  She also loaded the survival seat kits and parachutes into the aircraft, strapped-in the crewmembers before take-off, and recovered the crew upon landing.

• 1982 – Graduated from Moss Point High School (Moss Point, MS)
• 1982-1990 – served in the United States Air Force as an Aerospace Physiology Specialist
• 1990 – Joined Boeing Aerospace Operations/Space Shuttle Crew Escape Equipment (CEE), becoming the first African American CEE Suit Technician
• 1992 – Suited up Dr. Mae Jemison, the first woman of color to travel into space (STS-47)
• 1994 – Promoted to Crew Chief, becoming first African American (male or female) CEE Crew Chief
• 1996 – Led the first and only all-female suit tech crew (STS-78)
• 2004 – First and only African American (male or female) promoted to the position of Manager of the CEE department

McDougle spent much of her enlistment on temporary assignment traveling abroad to Greece, Korea, Japan, and England, as well as stateside locations, in support of the SR-71 and U-2/TR-1 reconnaissance aircraft missions.  She separated from the Air Force in 1990 with an honorable discharge. During her enlistment she was awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (2 devices), Good Conduct Medal (1 oak leaf cluster), Training Ribbon, NCO Professional Military Education Ribbon, Longevity Service Award, and was also recognized as Airman of the Month.

Tech Has A Huge Diversity Problem. This Woman Is Determined To Fix It.

LinkedIn

Valeisha Butterfield-Jones is a political advisor-turned-tech exec, with a goal to change Google.

“I want to create something that will outlive me,” says Google’s Valeisha Butterfield-Jones. “I want to leave behind a legacy. I’m not sure what it is yet, but I want to build something that can empower a community, and I know it’s going to be centered around women.”

If Butterfield-Jones makes fulfilling sky-high ambitions sound deceptively easy, perhaps it’s because of the heights she has already achieved. A former senior-level Obama campaign consultant, she was hired by Google in 2016 for a newly created position: Global Head of Women and Black Community Engagement.

It’s well-known that tech has a gender and a racial diversity problem. As of 2016, the most recent year for which figures are available, Google’s workforce was only 2% black and 31% female. Butterfield-Jones has been tasked with helping the company better reflect the diverse world it works in. “It’s trying to disrupt the status quo,” she says, with a smile that belies her determination.

Butterfield-Jones grew up in small-town North Carolina. Her parents are both prominent politicians: her father, G.K. Butterfield, is a member of congress, and up until recently was the head of the Congressional Black Caucus. Her mother, Jean Farmer-Butterfield, is a North Carolina state legislator. When Butterfield-Jones was in high school, her father was a judge. “I remember going to public school and seeing some of my friends actually have to go in front of my dad in court,” she says. “It was just this serious, I would say, awakening for me. I realized that if you don’t have the right people in leadership positions, then sometimes the right thing doesn’t always happen.”

When it comes to increasing diversity in tech, Butterfield-Jones thinks the greatest challenge is “decoding what the real barriers to entry are, for people of color and for women.” To that end, as one of her first projects at Google, she organized an event called Decoding Race, which took place at nine of the company’s offices around the world. Van Jones spoke with Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond, and over 15,000 employees took part in facilitated discussions about race, gender, access, and equality. She has also founded a program that connects talented students at historically black colleges and universities with Google internships.

“I’m proud to work for a company that really wants to get it right and figure it out,” Butterfield-Jones says. She thinks tech’s diversity problem is a legacy of the conditions under which the industry’s leading companies were founded. “I really don’t believe that as an industry, it’s coming from a place of hate at all,” she says. “I really don’t. I think these companies were just set up by friends of friends of friends, who hired their friends. They scaled and grew so fast that now we’re trying to fix a problem that started at the core of the foundation.”

Continue onto Harper’s Bazaar to read the complete article.

Why Women Should Invest and How to Get Started

LinkedIn
Professional Woman

by Madison Blancaflor

Lately, women hear a lot about gaps: how to combat the gender pay gap, how to avoid a resumé gap when you take time off to raise children, whether or not a thigh gap matters (it doesn’t). One “gap” that isn’t discussed enough is the gender investing gap.

Women Are Less Likely to Invest Than Men, and That’s a Problem. According to Ellevest, an investment platform created by women for women, “of all the assets controlled by women, 71% is in cash – aka not invested.” Statistically, women are less likely to invest, and even those who do invest tend to wait until they are older to start.

Most women don’t think they know enough about investing to properly grow their savings; therefore, they wait to start investing until they feel they’re more financially stable and believe they can risk the possibility of losing money. A common misconception around investing is that you have to be an expert in the industry to succeed when the reality is that there are so many tools and resources that make easy to start investing with as little as your pocket change.

Why Should Every Woman Invest?

According to a study by Merrill Lynch, 41% of women wish they invested more of their money. But why is it such a necessary part of personal finance?

Financial Equality

First and foremost, it’s important for women to be able to achieve a sense of financial equality and independence. In the face of issues like the gender pay gap and the pink tax, investing is one of the best ways for women to ensure that they have the potential to accumulate the same amount of wealth as men.

“It’s important for women to be able to walk away from situations that are hurting or not serving them – whether that’s a bad job or a bad relationship,” comments Ellevest’s Susan Thompson. “You should be able to have your own financial power to make decisions that enable you to care for yourself.”

Reaching Financial Goals

Whether you are looking to go back to school, save up an emergency fund, send your kids to college, save up for a large spend like a house or wedding, or just grow your overall wealth, investing is arguably the best way to reach those goals.

Saving for Retirement

Women earn approximately 83 cents to every dollar a man earns, on average. That means that even if we’re saving the same percentage of our income as men, we’re not going to save the same amount. In addition, women also tend to live longer. Basically, less money has to last longer when women simply save their money without an investing strategy.

Many employers do a match on a 401(k) or similar retirement savings plan. If you’re unsure about whether or not investing is really a good option for you, enroll in your employer’s program and watch as your savings grow.

Why Is a Savings Account Alone Not Enough?

Cash that sits in a checking account, safety deposit box, or under the mattress is actually depreciating in value year-over-year because of inflation. That means you’re essentially losing money when you aren’t actively growing your savings.

Check out the chart below, and you can see that a solid investments strategy can help you grow your savings exponentially over the course of 10, 20, and 30 years.

Men are five times more likely to name investing as their number one financial goal, meaning that more men are achieving those exponential returns throughout their lifetime than women. Investing allows women to earn more money than a savings account alone, even with small monthly deposits.

How to “Invest Like A Woman”

Despite the stereotypical belief that we aren’t good investors, women actually tend to possess quite a few qualities that give us an edge in the market.

Kiplinger’s article on the secrets of women investors puts it perfectly: “Studies show that men are more inclined to behave like baseball sluggers, who swing for the fences, even if it means running the risk of striking out far more often. Women, by contrast, are more like contact hitters, who are satisfied with a string of singles.”

Because women approach risk differently, we’re less likely to see large swings in our portfolio values, meaning a steadier growth over time.

Studies have also found that women are:

  • Less likely to trade investments, which translates into almost a 1% higher increase in investment earnings per year than men (who trade 45% more frequently than women).
  • Long-term planners, meaning we focus on our specific growth goals rather than chasing risky returns that may end up costing us.
  • More likely to ask for financial help. Just because 60% of men think they are experts at investing does not mean they know everything there is to know about the market. Women being more willing to seek out trusted financial advice from experts in the industry give us more opportunities to grow our wealth.

So, how do you leverage these qualities in your investments strategy?

Choose a Strategy That Works for You

Not all investing strategies are created equal, and unfortunately, most of the “gender-neutral” investing tools available to the public ultimately hinder the potential earnings for women.

Ellevest released a side-by-side comparison of a retirement scenario where a man and a woman both started saving at 30 years old, earning $85,000, and investing 10% of their salaries over the course of 37 years.

The study found that because of the gender pay gap and the natural progression of women’s careers (our salaries tend to peak at 40 while men’s salaries tend to peak at 55, and women are much more likely to take long career breaks), the woman would have about $320,000 less by the time she retires based on average market returns. That means she’ll have less money to live off of even though she’s likely to live years longer than the man.

Take these differences into consideration when you’re defining your goals, retirement plan, and investment strategies.

Figure Out Budget Allocation

Experts suggest a 50/30/20 philosophy when allocating your budget. You should strive to keep your “needs” at 50 percent of your income – food, rent/mortgage, clothes, utilities, etc. Then, 30% should be dedicated to self-care. Have some fun, get a manicure, go out to eat with friends. Lastly, 20% should be saved or invested.

Figuring out how much you should invest vs. set aside in a short-term savings account comes down to how much risk you’re willing to undertake. Year over year, the market has been steadily rising, but that doesn’t mean that a return is guaranteed. The golden rule is to never invest more than you’re willing to lose, especially if you’re going after aggressive or volatile markets.

Once you decide, Susan Thompson suggests setting up automatic withdrawals each month, even if it’s only $20 a month.

“In our mind, investing should be a ritual like any other that we undertake,” said Thompson. “Make a habit of putting money back towards your future, even if it’s a small amount.”

Know the Basics

Even though you don’t have to be a stock market expert, knowing the basics can help you communicate your goals and understand what’s happening with your money.

Some of the different types of assets you can invest in:

Stocks. They represent a part ownership in a company or corporation, also known as business equity. Basically, when a company performs well, the stock tends to increase in value. Stocks tend to be more volatile investments, meaning they can give you a high return on your investment long-term but tend to have larger swings in value in the short-term.

Bonds. Also known as fixed-income investments, bonds are one of the most popular assets for conservative portfolios. While they tend to be more stable than stocks or other volatile investments, they also have a lower return potential.

Money Market Accounts. When investing in these types of accounts, you’re allowing the bank to make low-risk investments into certificates of deposit (CDs) or government securities. The best money market accounts are low-return, yet stable investment assets.

Real Estate. Property has a tendency to rise in value over time, and there is a subset of investors who specialize in transforming real estate investments into high returns.
Cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin and blockchain technologies are continuing to grow in popularity.

Conservative vs. Aggressive Investment Strategies

Investing and portfolio strategies are typically broken down into two main categories: aggressive and conservative. Aggressive strategies will put more money into stocks or other volatile markets such as cryptocurrencies. Conservative strategies will put more into bonds and money market accounts.

Aggressive investments typically get you a much higher return over time, but they’re also riskier. By contrast, conservative investments are more stable, but without the opportunity for the maximum return.

Your personal strategy can be a mix of both, and your strategy should ultimately be based on your financial goals, timeline, and risk tolerance.

If you’re looking at short-term financial goals such as saving up for a wedding or looking to pull together an emergency fund, a more conservative route will work best. This limits the risk of you losing money while still promising a good return.

However, if you’re looking to save for retirement over the course of 20 or 30 years, an aggressive strategy is going to get you the best return possible. While aggressive markets tend to fluctuate widely in the short term, the overall market trends upward an average of 10% each year. When you can afford to be patient in the market (something women are proven to be better at than men), an aggressive strategy can definitely pay off in your favor.

Also, remember that your investment strategy is not set in stone. As your financial goals change and as you get closer to when you plan on pulling money out of your investment accounts, it’s important to readjust your priorities and risk tolerance.

Choose the Right Investment Platform

If you don’t consider yourself an investment expert (and frankly, even if you do), getting professional help is a good idea. There are a lot of options out there for both the DIY-er and someone looking for one-on-one help. However, be careful about who you choose to trust with your money.

  1. Choose a fiduciary.

A fiduciary is a company or organization that is legally bound to do the right thing by their clients. Not all brokers or investment firms classify as a fiduciary, so make sure to ask before officially signing with anyone. If you find a great firm that isn’t a fiduciary, just make sure that they put client security and well-being above personal gain.

  1. Know their strategy.

Talk to any potential firms about their strategy for investments. Some firms craft personalized portfolios that you have a heavy hand in selecting. Others use a formula and automated system for choosing your investments. Every firm and platform is different, so make sure that the firm you choose uses a strategy that will work best for you.

For example, most robo-investment platforms use an investment algorithm that is based on a man’s salary projections and career lifetime, so they aren’t always the best choices for a personalized approach to fit a woman’s financial goals for the long-term.

  1. Consider your budget.

Take a serious look at the minimum balance requirements and fees for each platform or firm you’re considering. If you have a tighter budget, it will be worth it to find a platform or firm structured like Ellevest, where you can choose an account

  1. Trust your gut.

If you get an “off” feeling about a firm or platform that you’re considering, trust it. You are trusting a company with your financial future, and in order to do that, you have to trust that they are acting in your best interest. Take the time to find a platform or firm that serves you and your financial goals.

  1. Look for firms that support women.

While women investors are on the rise, there is still a gap between the number of men and women are in the investments market. Make sure you’re choosing a firm that will support your financial goals and understand the unique challenges that women face in the industry. Also take a look at the companies that these firms and platforms invest in. Are any of them led by women? Do they support women? While it may not immediately affect the return you get, choosing a firm or platform with a pro-women mindset will help us gain financial equality in the long-run.

Continue on to The Simple Dollar for the complete article

RuPaul Charles: Creating Opportunities for the LGBTQ+ Community

LinkedIn
RuPaul speaks at the LA Pride Resist March

by Mackenna Cummings

You may recognize RuPaul Charles from his global phenomenon hit show, RuPaul’s Drag Race, or as one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.

RuPaul has been paving the runway and the world for tolerance and education of the LGBTQ+ community. He is a prominent figure and has supported LGBTQ+ rights and has fought for equality throughout his career.

Many members of the LGBTQ+ community credit RuPaul with bringing drag into the spotlight. In 2018, he was the first drag queen to earn a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. RuPaul paved the way as the first openly gay national television host on The RuPaul Show on VH1 in 1996. Currently, as the host of RuPaul’s Drag Race, he has helped launch the careers of more than 120 drag queens. He was also the first face of M.A.C. Cosmetics and, as its spokesperson, helped raise money for AIDs epidemic awareness. The fund has raised more than $400 million to date. While changing the world through tolerance and representation is one thing, it is all done while looking flawless and being true to himself, which makes RuPaul stand out even more.

RuPaul makes a surprise appearance onstage during "RuPaul's Drag Race" Season 9 Premiere Party. (Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images)
RuPaul makes a surprise appearance onstage during “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 9 Premiere Party. (Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images)

RuPaul’s mantra for his entire career spanning more than 35 years has been to “love yourself.” During his sendoff at the end of each of episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race, he addresses fans and contestants alike with the advice, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you going to love someone else?” He is an avid promoter of self-love. His fans are of all ages, races, genders, and sexualities, and these lessons and this encouragement to embrace and accept oneself are critical for the LGBTQ+ community that is often misunderstood and criticized.

Not only does RuPaul continue to empower the LGBTQ+ community through championing for rights on each of his platforms, but he has also created an environment of support and growth for those on his show. He recognizes the need for finding “your tribe”—as he calls it—a support group of others who share your passions and interests, which is why he has created other outlets for people to connect outside of his shows and podcast, RuPaul: What’s the Tee with Michelle Visage. Another outlet is RuPaul’s DragCon bringing people together in both Los Angeles and New York, where RuPaul says that many of his younger fans are able to attend, represent themselves, and find their community. At the Los Angeles 2018 event, RuPaul said, “All the queens here represent the American spirit of being an entrepreneur and following your dream—no matter what anyone else has to say about it.”

RuPaul Performs at the World Theater. (Photo by James Crump/WireImage)
RuPaul Performs at the World Theater. (Photo by James Crump/WireImage)

RuPaul’s Drag Race is helping both the contestants and the viewers understand how to love themselves more, which is why the show has become such a celebrated part of television. RuPaul coined the phrase, “You’re born naked and the rest is drag,” advocating that for all of us, our clothing is a means of expression, and everything else we put on our bodies is drag.

RuPaul’s Drag Race brings forward authenticity by showcasing what contestants create, and because of that, how drag is a part of themselves. “Drag can help you understand what you are, how amazing it is to have a human body, and what you can do with it,” he said in an interview with Oprah for the February 2018 issue of O Magazine. RuPaul highlights the beauty and art behind drag culture in his show, airing on VH1, which has drawn in millions of viewers.

Ru Paul attends the signing of his book 'Workin' It'. (Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images)
Ru Paul attends the signing of his book ‘Workin’ It’. (Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images)

RuPaul also says that drag is helping fight the patriarchy and the dangers of strict definitions of masculinity. Through drag, no one else has to adhere to one identity, which allows people of multiple races and orientations to fit in by standing out. By not being afraid to embrace who he is and share that with the world, RuPaul has given so many others a platform to also represent their non-conforming and beautiful selves. In addition to RuPaul’s Drag Race and RuPaul’s DragCon, he will be starring in the new Netflix scripted comedy series AJ and the Queen, his book GuRu will be released in the fall on Dey Street Books, and he will be releasing a cosmetic line with Mally Beauty in 2019. An ever-positive figure, RuPaul shows no signs of slowing down his success and support for self-expression and love.

Stacy Brown-Philpot of TaskRabbit on Being a Black Woman in Silicon Valley

LinkedIn

The Detroit native studied at Penn and Stanford, worked for Goldman and Google, and now runs the gig economy pioneer that Ikea acquired in 2017.

Stacy Brown-Philpot didn’t grow up aspiring to be the chief executive of a technology company. Instead, she wanted to be an accountant.

While interning at an accounting firm in the 1990s, Ms. Brown-Philpot — who was raised by her mother in Detroit — worked for a partner who happened to be African-American. “I was like, ‘OK, there’s a black person who is a partner at this firm. This is something that I can accomplish.’”

But as Ms. Brown-Philpot acquired more experience and education, her ambitions grew, too. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business in 1997, did a stint as an accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers, then became an investment banker at Goldman Sachs in 1999.

She went back to college to get her graduate degree from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, then in 2003 joined Google, where Sheryl Sandberg became a mentor. At Google, Ms. Brown-Philpot assumed a series of leadership roles and founded the Black Googlers Network, an employee resource group.

After nine years at Google, she joined TaskRabbit — which lets people hire freelancers for odd jobs — as chief operating officer. She became chief executive in 2016, and last year, she sold the company to Ikea, the Swedish furniture giant.

This interview, which was condensed and edited for clarity, was conducted at TaskRabbit headquarters in San Francisco.

Tell me about your upbringing.

I grew up on the West Side of Detroit. My mom raised my brother and me by herself. We didn’t have a lot. My mother worked a job that didn’t pay a whole lot of money, so she had to make a lot of sacrifices. But she prioritized education. She would fall asleep helping us with our homework at night. She always taught us that no one can take your learning away from you. And with that, you can go anywhere and do anything.

So I focused on getting good grades. I wasn’t always a popular kid. I didn’t have the best clothes. But I was a smart kid. It’s cool to be smart in Silicon Valley. It’s not cool to be smart on the West Side of Detroit.

What was your first job?

I had a paper route with my brother. I would help him collect the money. I was like the C.F.O. of that operation, making sure we got paid.

And then you went to Penn.

I had no idea what an Ivy League school was. I was a fish out of water. My high school was 98 percent black. Penn was 6 percent black. So I had to find community. I had to figure out how was I going to succeed in this environment where most people don’t look like me, and don’t come from where I came from.

So where’d you find community?

There was a black college house. I didn’t live there. I would just go over there and spend time just sitting around with people that, you know, ate collard greens and fried chicken, just like I did growing up. It just made it safer for me and more confident for me to walk into a classroom and know I knew the answers and speak up.

Continue onto the New York Times to read the complete article.

Black-Owned Alkaline Water Brand Becomes the First To Be Sold At Walmart

LinkedIn

Dr. Shayla Creer and Robert McCray are the founders behind Live Alkaline Water, which is now the first Black-owned water brand to be sold in Walmart. 

With its headquarters based in Jacksonville, Florida, the company uses water that comes from a natural alkaline water spring that McCray’s family has owned in North Carolina for more than 100 years. McCray told First Coast News that his aunt once took him out to the spring and said “you’re the blood of your ancestors crying out for you and you’re responsible for this.”

According to Black Enterprise, “the water is sourced from a natural underground spring, an aquifer, and a mineral rock bed that lies 800 feet below the ground making it extremely pure and fresh to the taste.”

McCray went on to team up with Dr. Creer to develop the water brand. “I called … many Walmarts, and finally we got a hold of one who allowed us to do a presentation,” Dr. Creer said.

After a successful presentation, the water went on to sell out within a month of hitting shelves, and is now sold in a total of three Walmart locations in northern Florida. The retail giant intends to continue to sell the water and hopes to add the products to even more of its stores.

“Healthy people make a healthy community,” McCray said. “Eat right, drink right and you begin to think right, as a people.”

Continue onto Because Of Them We Can to read the complete article.

5 Things Your Shoes Say About You

LinkedIn
Cedrick McDonald

What you wear on your feet reflects your personality, status If there is one thing that most women love, it is shoes. Look in the closet of most women and you will see a collection of shoes that they are proud of. Online shopping opportunities for shoes have even further pushed the growth of the industry, with IBIS World reporting that in the last five years shoe sales online have surged, with the revenue now reaching $14 billion. It’s an industry that will continue to thrive, and for good reason. Shoes say a lot about the person wearing them, even if you have to temper what you wear with them, they always give people a way to let their personality shine through.

“I believe that shoes are a work of art and should express something profound about the person wearing them,” explains Cedrick McDonald, owner of Exotics by Cedrick. “That’s why I put my heart and soul as an artist into every pair of shoes I design. I want the person wearing them to feel like I captured the essence of their personality with every shoe.”

McDonald is a bit of a pioneer in the shoe industry, having created a style that is unique enough to earn a U.S. patent. His line of designer footwear features high-fashion pumps with 4-6” heels that have an eye-catching snakeskin outsole that is encrusted with Swarovski crystals on the bottom of every shoe. They are shoes that help make a statement not only about the designer, but about the person wearing them.

Our shoes give non-verbal cues to those who see us wearing them. Those symbolic messages give woman wearing Cedrick designer shoeclues as to what type of personality you have, as well as how successful you may be. Here are 5 things that your shoes say about you:

1. Designer shoes. Those wearing designer shoes make a bold statement about status. Designer shoes are a status symbol, and these people are comfortable with being in their own skin and are not afraid to show off their high level of success.

2. High heels. It takes a confident, driven woman to wear high heels. They are for those who are attractive, have excellent taste, and have endless determination. If anyone is running the show, it’s usually the woman in the designer high heels.

3. Expensive shoes. The amount someone pays for their shoes says a lot about what they can afford, their level of success, and their taste for the finer things in life. Expensive shoes are synonymous with good taste, success, and earning a lot of money.

4. Colors and prints. While shoes come in all types of colors and prints, those who opt for the bolder options are not afraid to be bold themselves. They could be extroverts who want to be heard or they could be introverts who are silent, yet very confident and comfortable with who they are. Even the quiet ones desire to be noticed, and bold colors and prints will help them do just that.

5. Custom designs. Those who seek out custom designs or unique shoe lines are leaders, rather than followers. They want to help set the trends and styles and want to be seen. They love how custom designs ignite conversations, giving them a chance to flex their forward-thinking fashion moves.

“Your shoes should help make you feel beautiful,” added McDonald. “If they are not doing that, then they are not worth your time. As an artist who designs shoes, it is my mission to bring out the beauty in every step my customers may take. I want them to truly live life through their soul!”

Cedrick McDonald designerStarted in 2016, Exotics by Cedrick is high-fashion shoe line that has been turning heads from the Golden Globes to the MTV Movie and TV Awards. The company motto is Live Life Through Your Soles, and he’s created unique-looking soles that stand out and make a statement. McDonald is a serial entrepreneur who owns several businesses in addition to Exotics by Cedrick. From the Tampa area, he aims to help set the trends in the high-fashion world. To create his shoes he starts with a hand sketch, usually in the middle of the night, and then creates the rendered design on CAD. Cedrick is also dedicated to giving back to help causes he cares about, donating proceeds from the sale of the shoes to the AIDS Foundation to help combat the global disease.

About Exotics by Cedrick
Owned by Cedrick McDonald, Exotics by Cedrick, a celebrity fashion and footwear designer, is a Tampa-based high-fashion high heel shoe company. The company has a patent for its unique design, which features a snakeskin outsole that is encrusted with Swarovski crystals. Since the company was started in 2016, the trend-setting shoes have made their way into many celebrity hands. To learn more about Exotics by Cedrick, visit the site at exoticsbycedrick.com.

# # #

Source:
IBIS World. Online shoe sales. ibisworld.com

America's Leading African American Business and Career Magazine