5 Things Your Shoes Say About You

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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.

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

RuPaul Charles: Creating Opportunities for the LGBTQ+ Community

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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

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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

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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.

How this 23-year-old became the only full-time woman trader at the New York Stock Exchange

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Working in an industry where you are one of very few women can be challenging enough — but imagine what it’s like to be the only woman on staff.

That’s the case for New York Stock Exchange trader Lauren Simmons. The 23-year-old is an equity trader for Rosenblatt Securities, and she is both the youngest and the only full-time female employee to hold that position at the NYSE.

“When I tell people what my job is they are always surprised,” she tells CNBC Make It. In fact, Simmons says that if you had told her five years ago that she’d end up working on Wall Street, she wouldn’t have believed the news herself.

“It’s surreal,” she says.

Hitting the Street

Simmons moved to New York after graduating from Kennesaw State University in December 2016. The Georgia native had interned at a local clinical treatment center in college while earning a BA in genetics with a minor in statistics. She had planned to pursue a career in the medical field, but after realizing that medicine wasn’t her passion, she started searching for opportunities in other industries.

Simmons started applying to positions in finance — she had loved numbers since high school — and eventually secured her current position at Rosenblatt Securities by applying to an opening posted on LinkedIn.

“The one thing that I love about numbers and statistics, and kind of one of the reasons I came to the New York Stock Exchange, is because numbers are a universal language,” she explains. “When you put them on a board it connects everyone, which is probably one of the reasons why the New York Stock Exchange is so iconic.”

She started her role in March 2017, but says her employment was contingent upon passing the Series 19, the exam all floor brokers must pass to earn their badge.

“I had a month to take the exam,” says Simmons, “and when I tell you a lot of people did not think I was going to pass, they really did not think I was going to pass.”

The exam is rooted in financial principles and concepts. Despite her math background Simmons had not studied finance in college, and had to hit the books — hard. When she passed (“It shocked everyone”), she says it eased her doubts about whether she could manage the role. It also proved to the men on the floor that she was equipped to work alongside them.

“When I see statistics that say ’80 percent don’t get through,’ I look at the 20 percent,” she says. “So when everyone kept saying, ‘It’s a hard test. Don’t worry if you don’t pass,’ for me, I needed to pass to prove to myself that I could do this.”

Continue onto CNBC to read the complete article.

Mellody Hobson Will Become Starbucks Vice Chair After Howard Schultz Departure

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Mellody Hobson, president of Chicago-based investment firm Ariel Investments, will be moving into a role as Starbucks’s vice chair following Executive Chairman Howard Schultz‘s departure on June 26.

A Chicago native, Hobson worked her way up after joining Ariel as a college intern in the 1990s, going on to become the company’s vice president of marketing, then a senior vice president, and eventually president at the firm. Ariel’s holdings include MSG Networks, Northern Institutional Treasury Portfolio, First American Financial Corp., and Kennametal, among others.

A member of Starbucks’ board of directors since 2005, Hobson has also served on the boards of Estée Lauder, DreamWorks Animation, and Groupon.

Throughout her career, Hobson has made financial literacy and community outreach a priority. Currently, she serves as chair on the board of directors of The Economic Club of Chicago, as well as chair of After School Matters, a Chicago nonprofit that provides teens with out-of-school time programs.

Continue onto Fortune to read the complete article.

Minority Business Enterprise (MBEs)—Get Certified Today

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business owner

Why certify? Businesses that are certified as minority owned are subject to different laws and regulations than other businesses and as such are very different entities from typical enterprises. Unlike a standard business license or registration, a minority-owned business enterprise certification is not required to run a minority-owned business, although certification can provide many benefits for a company—especially in regards to government contracting.

Below are some of the certification processes your company can expect to navigate when seeking minority-owned business enterprise certification. Also listed are the requirements that must be met by businesses that are seeking certification.

  • Manufacturers – Maximum number of employees must not surpass 500 or 1500, depending on the product being manufactured.
  • Wholesalers – Maximum number of employees must not surpass 100 or 500, depending on the product being provided.
  • Service providers – Annual sales receipts must not be higher than $2.5 or $21.5 million, depending on the service being provided.
  • Retailers – Annual sales receipts must not be higher than $5.0 or $21.0 million, depending on the product being provided.
  • General and Heavy Construction businesses – Annual sales receipts must not exceed $13.5 or $17 million, depending on the type of construction the company is engaged in.
  • Special Trade Construction businesses – Annual receipts must not be higher than $7 million.
  • Agricultural businesses – Annual sales receipts must not be higher than $0.5 to $9.0 million, depending on the agricultural product being produced.

Business Requirements

1) The company applying for certification must have a racial minority owner who owns at least 51 percent of the company.

2) The same owner must hold the highest position in the company.

3) The company must pay a fee based on company annual gross sales and also file an application that details basic company information, such as what year the business was founded.

4) The company’s primary business locations must be available for site visits.

Getting Bids

Build Relationships. When it comes to winning bids in the government contracting marketplace, contacts are everything. Business owners are advised to take the time to make connections, build relationships and network extensively. The contacts a business develops are often the key to furthering their success in government contracting. Proactively networking with larger companies, agencies and even competitors can lead to subcontracting opportunities while also showing agencies that you are a trustworthy and reliable business partner.

Subcontract. Building a reputation as a professional enterprise is crucial to the success of any business. Winning a government bid isn’t only about the monetary aspects involved with a contract; other factors are evaluated, too. An agency will often look at company financials, work history and reputation before selecting a winning organization. It helps to have contacts who can vouch for your company and the work that you do. By subcontracting, you build your reputation and gain valuable experience.

You never know when the contacts you develop will come in handy. Therefore, you should make each and every relationship meaningful because in the long run, these are the relationships that will further your company’s success.

Government RFPs are a great way for minority-owned business enterprises (MBE) to win spot and term contracts. Every year, the U.S. federal government spends more than $200 billion on goods and services, all of which are provided by private companies and many of which are minority-owned businesses. From federal to state, local and special districts, all levels of government have programs in place to increase their involvement with certified minority-owned business enterprises. Only companies who have gone through the MBE certification process are eligible for the money that is made available through such programs.

Source: BidNet

Why Black People Continue To Remain Behind

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Chess Pieces photo

by Santura Pegram

One of the most difficult things for most people to accept in any form is the truth. Although as bitterly distasteful as it usually is, truth is liberating and life-changing. Unfortunately, for change and growth to occur people must be receptive to it and willing to implement it in their daily lives.

Never has such a message been more applicable than to the lack of progressive thinking involving economic conditions facing urban and rural communities of people of color throughout the globe.

For far too long, generations of African-Americans have used the excuse of racism primarily as their lone justification for the masses of them not achieving higher levels of success. And, while it embarrassingly has been, and continues to be, a legitimate problem even in the 21st century, the fact remains racism alone is not the sole reason for holding most people of minority backgrounds back in life. Such groups of people on both sides of the equation should not continue to ignore how their own ongoing refusal to adapt to cohesive, forward-thinking is causing current and future generations great harm.

According to research, African-Americans as a group are collectively spending an eye-bulging estimated $1.3 TRILLION (with a “T”) dollars annually on everything from food/alcohol at restaurants, nightclubs and bars, clothes/shoes, automobiles, jewelry, cell phones/I-Pads/computers, haircare products and miscellaneous services like hotel/resort/spa visits or flight/travel excursions from companies which are often owned and operated by people who look nothing like them. On top of that, consider the fact that most urban and rural communities are doing worse today in many ways than they were 30-plus years ago (despite having a far greater number of black elected officials and senior executives in place who have seats at major ‘tables of discussion’), many enlightened thinkers continue to wonder when are black people going to wake up from falling asleep at the wheel of reality?

Think about it, the only tangible institutions and sectors of business black people can be considered “majority stakeholders” in today are churches, jails/prisons and cemeteries, where such entities are over-populated, especially the churches with their easy-to-manipulate people who will not think twice about giving their last dollar to a so-called “faith-based organization”(whom most have done very little or nothing impactful whatsoever for the black community). And, if not a faith-based organization, then it’s usually another sad ‘We Are The World’ quasi-humanitarian purpose, but yet those same donors are struggling with how to figure out ways to keep a roof over their head, food in their refrigerator, and cover other basic financial-related necessities from day to day, week to week.

Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu, the brilliant and noted scholar, illustrated that there are three (3) types of churches: ENTERTAINMENT, CONTAINMENT and LIBERATION. According to Dr. Kunjufu, “the entertainment church is known for singing and dancing, singing and dancing all day long throughout their services; they love to holler and shout, but they actually do very little work, if any, in the larger community outside of the church.”

The second type of church is the containment church, which are known “to open basically only on Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 pm. (and maybe for an hour or two during each week for a mid-week service) and take the millions of dollars raised collectively from each weekly service with them; at times, willing to help only a small percentage of their members. Yet, unwilling to invest anything back into their own local communities. They function, almost obliviously, to the problems of the greater community around them outside of the church and prefer to abstain far away from political, economic and/or social justice issues taking place outside of the doors or walls of their environment.”

And the third are liberation churches, which “not only have a liberation theology modeled out of Luke 4:18-19 and the 58th chapter of Isaiah, but they also attract larger numbers of men and women and whose members most often better understand, among all types of faith-based congregations, the SERIOUS need for economic empowerment.”

Keep in mind that according to researchers, black-owned companies received just 1.7% of the overall loans distributed by the U.S. Small Business Administration in 2013. (A stark difference from the 8.2% black businesses received in 2008 from SBA loan dollars). And, those statistics have not improved much since then. In knowing that, Dr. Kunjufu has proposed some very thought-provoking, although disturbing, questions in his assessment. Among them, most disturbing is his question of “WHY is the black community in its present condition with our roughly $1.3 TRILLION DOLLARS in collective economic spending potential, five million college graduates, 9,000-plus elected officials, and 85,000 churches nationwide?”

If other ethnic groups of people (who often may be unrelated) can invest together in projects and initiatives, pooling a percentage of their weekly/bi-weekly finances together to send something back to their family members in their native country on a regular basis each month, and/or use their collective resources to launch small businesses, then black people who are U.S.-born citizens should surely be doing similar acts of “pooling their resources” to start a business or invest in the stock market. * ( Read “Pooling Our Resources to Foster Black Progress: An Entrepreneurship and Impact Investing Framework” by Michael J. Isimbabi).

African-Americans cannot continue to blame the lack of togetherness, like everything else, on the “lingering effects of slavery” or other foolish cop-out excuses that hold us back. Every ethnic group of people help their own except African-Americans. Therefore, progressive-thinking faith-based congregations should be including frequent financial literacy and investment education workshops, conferences with licensed financial advisors, as well as entrepreneurial and community empowerment initiatives in their ministries if they ever expect to truly uplift generations of suffering people here in this lifetime.

Racism and classism may still be relevant obstacles today, but Starbucks Inc., Waffle House restaurants, Walt Disney World theme park, luxury clothing brands, upscale eateries, automobile brands and other establishments cannot enrich themselves while treating African-Americans less than human beings if people of color begin patronizing businesses and brands that reciprocate their financial support or opening businesses that produce the same product(s) or service(s). The future of black people depends on such concepts and churches play a critical role in our survival besides merely attempting to sell the message as being the “place to be to save our souls.”

Which leads to proposing two more closing questions: What type of church do you represent or do you attend: entertainment, containment or liberation? And, what impactful things is your church doing to make everyday conditions better for ordinary people of color outside of your church?

About the Author:
* Santura Pegram is a freelance writer and business professional. A former protégé-aide to the “Political Matriarch of the State of Florida” – M. Athalie Range – Santura often writes on topics ranging from socially relevant issues to international business to politics. He can be reached at: santura.pegram@yahoo.com

Celebrating black entrepreneurs & business owners

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Celebrity chef Roblé Ali joins Wells Fargo in a salute to African American small business owners who are working to improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods.

As early as middle school, Mandy Bowman knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur. The Brooklyn, New York, native went on to study entrepreneurship and global business management at Babson College in Massachusetts, and then took a job as a social media manager by day, while she worked on developing her own business at night.

By October 2017, Bowman was a full-time entrepreneur and had launched her business — the Official Black Wall Street app. “I wanted to support black-owned businesses in my local area, but was unable to find a directory that was current or easy to use — so I created my own,” said Bowman. The app is now the largest directory of its kind in the world, according to Black News, and allows users to find and rate black-owned businesses in their neighborhoods and nationwide.

Bowman’s business, like other small businesses, required hard work, dedication, and, most of all, support to succeed. Currently, there are more than 2.6 million black-owned businesses in the U.S., according to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Survey of Business Owners Facts (PDF). In support of these businesses, and in an effort to strengthen communities, Wells Fargo is saluting and highlighting Community Builders — the African American small business owners who go above and beyond to make things better for their businesses, their customers, and their neighborhoods.

Supporting and inspiring black entrepreneurs

“Initiatives like Community Builders help encourage and inspire black entrepreneurs, and we hope this initiative will encourage others to seek out and support the Community Builders in their neighborhoods,” said Candace McCullom Gainer, Wells Fargo’s head of African American integrated campaigns. Wells Fargo launched the Community Builders initiative in 2017 by spotlighting the stories of African American business owners nationwide who were working to give back to their local communities. In honor of Black History Month, Wells Fargo is once again celebrating Community Builders.

“Supporting small business owners is critical to the success of our communities and a priority Wells Fargo takes seriously,” said Lisa Frison, multicultural segment strategy leader. Wells Fargo has helped small businesses in local communities through focused investments and by providing small business tools and resources.

The company also supports small businesses through Wells Fargo Works for Small Business® and the Wells Fargo Works for Small Business: Diverse Community Capital program. The Diverse Community Capital program, established in 2015, provides capital to Community Development Financial Institutions, or CDFIs. CDFIs provide technical assistance, financial services, mentoring, and other resources for diverse small businesses that may not qualify for conventional bank loans.

Continue onto Wells Fargo to read the complete article.

Rahmaan Mwongozi teaches how to apply systems analysis to problems that arise in life as well as in business

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Rahmaan Mwongozi “Roc” is a motivational speaker and podcast host, as well as the author of Inner Demons. He guides individuals not only on how to ask smart questions and follow the trail to solutions, but also on how to embody a “no excuses” attitude that manifests in excellence.

His innovative approach to problem-solving, however, began as a young boy in East Oakland, where he was surrounded by poverty, gangs, violence, and drugs. Determined not to fall into the trappings of his environment, Roc followed the trail of possibility and opportunity, playing the long game and working hard. Now living the dream, Roc openly shares his story, as well as his thinking and strategy, with those who want something more from life.

Today an independent business analyst on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Roc cut his teeth on Fortune 500 corporations including Pfizer, Enron, and AT&T – where as an entry level employee in his early 20s, he solved systemic problems that had eluded management for years.

At 40, he took pause and reflected on his life to date.  A systems analyst by trade, as well as by nature, Roc was eager not only to analyze his life internally but also to offer his journey as a case study in the human experience –leading him to write his debut book, Inner Demons, with a raw and gritty transparency. While the particulars of our lives may vary according to circumstance, Roc knew, we all face universal challenges, as part of the human quest to cultivate a successful, meaningful, and authentic life.

Through Inner Demons, Roc shares his transformational journey, Inner Demonsinspiring readers to rethink life in terms of possibility, creativity, and strategy, instead of obstacles, compliance, and defeat. Not just a good read but also a work of art, the book is illustrated by tattoo artist Eva of Bang Bang NYC, whose A-list clients include Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, and Justin Bieber.

At the heart of systems analysis is the awareness of relationship, where one recognizes not only all the moving parts and the big picture, but also their position in relation to each other and to oneself. So it’s no surprise that Roc’s book reads like a love story and is, at the core, about relationship – to and between self, family, friends, lovers, work, community, and society. Offering Roc’s own relationship web, and thread of choices within that web, as a model of how to honestly face a problem, ask smart questions about it, and follow the trail of answers to the optimal solution,

Inner Demons storytelling weaves together a blueprint for self-analysis and problem solving, applicable to diverse situations in life and business. In his own case, Roc’s problem-solving and “no excuses” mindset enabled him to avoid the trappings of his East Oakland neighborhood, where poverty, gangs, violence, and drugs took many down the rabbit hole of despair. Keeping his distance and planning his escape, Roc paid attention to where the power and resources lay, then went after them with gusto –leading him to an MBA degree, work with Fortune 500 corporations, and ultimately, the good life in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Roc now leverages his power, influence, and platform to foster a community of cutting-edge artists and thinkers, who are not afraid to grab life by the lapel and “go there.”

Find out more about Roc and Inner Demons at RocsWorld.com.

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

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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.

Meet The Millennial Women Bringing Black Girl Magic To Advertising

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The ladies of 19th and Park, a creative marketing company are currently shaking up the male-dominated advertising industry, through their fresh take on video, social and experimental content. Meet Whitney Headen, Tahira White, and Nicole Januarie, affectionately coined as the trifecta of #blackgirlmagic.

These three millennial women are passionate about helping companies cut through the noise of the media industry to create lasting and compelling content targeted to their key consumers. 19th & Park is committed to consistently integrating new technologies, influencers, micro-influencers, celebrities, and creative strategy to reach the population at mass to not only sell products but sell the lifestyle that comes with it.

Headen, White, and Januarie, started 19th &Park with the intention of creating a more diverse representation on the creative and innovation side for brands and agencies, given that there is a lack of inclusion within the advertising, social media and communications industries for African-American women.

Not only does the agency offer a full-service production and execution team ran and operated by women but they also provide an extended team of experts that lend out creative consultation, brand development, budget management and project for all creative products. The trifecta adds diversity and efficiency to rooms where those positions have never really existed while reinventing the traditional contractor role by presenting a full agency as an in-house creative team.

Since 2017, 19th & Park has worked on creative campaigns with Issa Rae, Nike, Prudential, Smirnoff, Coca-Cola, and Intel, to name a few. I spoke with the ladies of 19th and Park to learn about how they provide a 360-degree multimedia branding experience, what sparks their creativity and advice for the millennial determined to make it in the marketing and advertising industries.

Dominique Fluker: Share your career journeys. From working in marketing and production at Essence Magazine to freelancing for companies like Nike and Samsung, what led you all to collectively establish 19th &Park?

19th &Park: Whitney Headen: I grew up in a small town in Virginia and graduated college at the height of the recession. I chose to move to New York City to pursue opportunities in media that I knew I wouldn’t have a chance at getting in Virginia. For an entire year, I worked odd jobs in retail and volunteered with no luck at landing any opportunities in my field. Right when I was ready to leave and head back to Virginia, I received an email that I got an internship at MTV about a year and a half after graduation. Although you had to be a student to be an intern, I knew this was my one shot to get into my field so I told them I was still in school and started interning. After working on set for about a year, I realized that that wasn’t my passion or the journey I wanted to take so at a networking event I met the head of digital at BET and was offered a job as his assistant immediately. This job introduced to the world of integrated marketing basically where you used production and marketing strategies to seamlessly integrate brands into digestible content.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Richer Than Oprah: How The Nation’s Wealthiest African-American Conquered Tech And Wall Street

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robert f smith

It’s a Saturday afternoon, at the height of vacation season, in one of South Beach’s hottest hotels, and Robert Smith, the founder of Vista Equity Partners, is dressed like exactly no one within a 100-mile radius of Miami: in a three-piece suit. His signature outfit–today, it’s gray plaid, accented by an indigo tie and a pink paisley pocket square–apparently doesn’t take a day off, and Smith isn’t taking one now either. He’s gathered dozens of CEOs from his portfolio companies, software firms all, for a semiannual weekend off-site to drill them in the ways he expects his companies to operate.

It’s not just the suit that’s unusual. Private equity firms almost never treat their portfolio companies, transactional chits by design, like an organic cohort. And until recently, PE, a field built on borrowing against cash-generating assets, wouldn’t touch software firms, which offer little that’s tangible to collateralize. Yet Smith has invested only in software over Vista’s 18-year history, as evidenced by the CEOs, like Andre Durand of the security-software maker Ping Identity and Hardeep Gulati of the education-management software company PowerSchool, who have been summoned to Miami Beach, waiting to swap insights about artificial intelligence and other pressing topics. And Smith deploys more than 100 full-time consultants to improve his companies.

“Nobody ever taught these guys the blocking and tackling of running a software company,” says Smith, an engineer by training, as he takes a lunch break at South Beach’s 1 Hotel to nibble on a plant-based burger. “And we do it better than any other institution on the planet.”

Smith includes the likes of Oracle and Microsoft in that boast, and his numbers back up the braggadocio. Since the Austin-based firm’s inception in 2000, Vista’s private equity funds have returned 22% net of fees annually to limited partners, according to PitchBook data. Smith’s annual realized returns, which reflect exits, stand at a staggering 31% net. His funds have already made distributions of $14 billion, including $4 billion in the last year alone.

Not surprisingly given those numbers, Vista has become America’s fastest-growing private equity firm, managing $31 billion across a range of buyout, credit and hedge funds. Smith is putting all that money to work at a breakneck pace, with 204 software acquisitions since 2010, more than any tech company or financial firm in the world. After finishing an $11 billion fundraising for its latest flagship buyout fund last year, Smith has already deployed more than half of it, focusing as usual on business-to-business software. “They recognize it’s a kind of central nervous system,” says Michael Milken, whose bond-market innovations basically birthed the modern private equity industry and who has been a co-investor in two Vista deals. Taken together, Vista’s portfolio, with 55,000 employees and more than $15 billion in revenue, ranks as the fourth-largest enterprise software company in the world.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

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