Employees of diverse business owners are more likely to receive robust benefits packages

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New Nationwide survey reveals more than 80 percent of both African-American and Hispanic business owners of companies under 500 employees indicate they offer some form of employee benefits.

As unemployment rates remain low across the country, strong employee benefits packages are a key driver of both recruitment and retention. Diverse business owners — specifically those owned by Hispanics and African Americans — appear to be leading the way, as they are the most likely to offer benefits that can increase employee satisfaction.

According to Nationwide’s fourth annual survey of U.S. business owners with 1-499 employees, 85 percent of African-American business owners and 81 percent of Hispanic business owners say they offer some form of an employee benefits package — well exceeding the broader business owner market (64 percent).

“We treat our employees like family,” said Natasha Pongonis, a native Argentinean who is co-owner of Nativa, a Nationwide-insured independent multicultural marketing communications agency based in Columbus. “That’s why these survey results weren’t that surprising to me. They reinforce the fact that diverse business owners are diligent not only in job creation, but also in job security.”

Across every benefit category included in Nationwide’s survey, more African-American and Hispanic business owners indicate they provide more benefits to their employees than the general population of business owners:

  • Medical insurance: Offered by 62 percent of African-American business owners, 52 percent of Hispanic business owners and 41 percent of total business owners
  • Dental insurance: Offered by 48 percent of African-American business owners, 43 percent of Hispanic business owners and 25 percent of total business owners
  • Paid time off: Offered by 45 percent of African-American business owners, 40 percent of Hispanic business owners and 33 percent of total business owners
  • Workers’ compensation: Offered by 40 percent of African-American business owners, 43 percent of Hispanic business owners and 33 percent of total business owners
  • Life insurance: Offered by 38 percent of African-American business owners, 38 percent of Hispanic business owners and 22 percent of total business owners
  • Retirement benefits: Offered by 37 percent of African-American business owners, 37 percent of Hispanic business owners and 27 percent of total business owners
  • Vision insurance: Offered by 34 percent of African-American business owners, 34 percent of Hispanic business owners and 20 percent of total business owners
  • Short-term disability: Offered by 23 percent of African-American business owners, 24 percent of Hispanic business owners and 17 percent of total business owners
  • Long-term disability: Offered by 20 percent of African-American business owners, 19 percent of Hispanic business owners and 14 percent of total business owners
  • Domestic partner benefits: Offered by 13 percent of African-American business owners, 17 percent of Hispanic business owners and 8 percent of total business owners
  • Pet insurance: Offered by 4 percent of African-American owners, 7 percent of Hispanic business owners and 2 percent of total business owners

“Employee benefits help business owners take care of their most important asset: their employees,” said Syed Rizvi, Nationwide’s chief specialty insurance officer. “And when it comes to caring for their employees, diverse business owners appear to be among the most generous. From retirement plans to workers’ compensation and even pet insurance, they are more likely to invest in their employees’ futures and personal well-being.”

Continue onto PR Newswire to read the complete article.

MBE Smart Tips: Pitch Perfect

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Businesswoman at her desk with paper looking at camera

Sixty seconds isn’t much time to make a business pitch, but often, that’s all you have. Whether it’s at a networking event, a conference or another event, you’ll want to have a one-minute pitch ready.

How can you make a good impression and convey your company’s message so it will lead to a follow-up meeting? Here are a few tips:

1 Practice and prepare. The more familiar and comfortable you are with your pitch, the more effective you’ll be. Put together a few talking points and rehearse them over and over again.

2 Focus on the basics. You want your pitch to be high-level, which means to be concise and leave the details out. In addition to describing your company’s programs and services, talk about the value you bring and how you’re different from competitors.

3 Show passion. People are attracted to others who love what they do, so be positive and enthusiastic. You’ll command their attention and they’ll likely have greater confidence in your abilities.

4 Be yourself. You want to be genuine; don’t try and be someone you’re not. Mislead them now and you won’t have another chance to get in the door.

5 Prepare for questions. Anticipate what questions will be asked after your one-minute pitch and be ready to respond. The way you respond to questions is as important as your pitch.

6 Be realistic. A one-minute pitch will not necessarily lead to a business opportunity. Use the opportunity to learn if there is enough interest to further the conversation, then follow up.

7 Call to action. After your pitch and any questions, follow up by asking if there would be an opportunity to talk in more detail to discuss your company’s offerings.

Practice your pitch at other networking events. If you’re prepared, a one-minute pitch can make a favorable impression and lead to new business ventures.

Source: SCMSDC

5 Things Every Entrepreneur Needs

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1 Transparency.
Operating with transparency used to be a luxury versus a necessity but, now, it’s quite mandatory. Millennials, in particular, who wield a tremendous amount of influence and purchasing power, make buying decisions based largely on the provenance, manufacturing processes and overall business practices of a particular company.

Because millennials are now the largest population in the United States, to say that transparency will drive how businesses are perceived is an understatement, at best. However, the good news is that establishing and maintaining transparency doesn’t have to be difficult. Simply communicating regularly with honesty and unequivocally holding yourself, your staff and your company accountable will go a long way toward fostering goodwill with not only consumers and prospects but also with vendors, strategic partners and your industry at large.

2 Loyalty.
It used to be that only airlines had “loyalty” programs. Now, everybody from giant corporations like Pepsi Co. to mom-and-pop corner coffee shops have some sort of loyalty program. And rightfully so. Every industry faces new competition on a daily basis and customers are understandably price sensitive, often buying from whoever has the best sale or perks. However, what loyalty programs really come down to is creating that coveted repeat customer. For instance, airlines offering free first-class upgrades or hotels upgrading size of the room for elite travelers often creates an allegiance that trumps price point. This principle can be applied in every business. If you’re a service company and a client is at the end of his or her agreement, offer a specific service at a discount or another deliverable with a high perceived value. Those who do business online can easily build an awards program that fosters a faithful following.

3 Crowdfunding.
The ugly truth is if you need a loan, chances are extremely high you won’t be able to get one. In fact, the recent small business study also revealed that the majority—a full 61 percent—of those who tried to get a favorable loan were unable to do so. Venture capital and private equity funding is equally, if not more, difficult to come by. While some types of capital are actually easier to procure, the interest rates are usually more aggressive, often prohibitively so. Instead, focus on crowdfunding and non-traditional lenders, such as Bond Street, Kabbage and Deal Struck. According to Massolution’s 2015CF–Crowdfunding Industry Report, global crowdfunding was anticipated to be more than $34 billion. A revenue source of that size is simply too big to ignore and not tap into.

4 Pay-for-Play Social Media.
Facebook was among the first to implement the “pay-for-play” model by removing organic reach and focusing on paid advertisement. Since being acquired by Facebook, Instagram is destined to follow. Pinterest and Twitter are also both currently growing into their pay-for-play systems and will likely make it difficult for pure organic reach as well. Unfortunately, this means entrepreneurs will need to increase their social media budget. However, Facebook’s paid ads have been shown to reach a significantly greater percentage of users than organic posts, making paid ads well worth the investment. However, social media shouldn’t only be leveraged as a form of advertising. Rather, social media is an ideal way to handle customer service in a way that not only improves marketplace loyalty but also your company’s transparency endeavor.

5 Instant Gratification.
Simply put, if you don’t offer some form of instant gratification, your prospective customer will likely go somewhere that does. This truth is particularly problematic for businesses that require information from customers, such as insurance or financial services. Having prospects fill out contact request forms to be contacted later on for products or services is becoming less and less effective in the “Age of Impatience.” To be competitive, you need to deliver to the customer instantaneously in some way, whether that be with the information they are seeking or some other deliverable that will satisfy them in the moment and keep them interested for a longer term. Even just offering quicker and more efficient processes for dealing or transacting with your company is certainly a form of instant gratification. At every available touchpoint, strive to impress the customer—an incredibly effective way of evoking that gratified feeling. No matter what industry you’re in or what type of business you run, you can still make a profit, no matter what the current economic outlook happens to be. That begins with giving customers what they want, how they want it and in a way that’s more sensitive to marketplace vs. company needs.

Source: americanbusinessmag.com

About the Author
Brian Greenberg is a multi-faceted entrepreneur who has founded and currently
spearheads an assortment of successful online businesses. He currently co-owns
and operates multiple entrepreneurial companies with his father, Elliott
Greenberg, which have each flourished for over 10 years, including Wholesale-JanitorialSupply.com, TouchFreeConcepts.com and TrueBlueLifeInsurance.com.

Shelly Bell, Founder Of Black Girl Ventures, Helps Women Of Color Gain Access To Capital

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Shelly Bell has lived many lives. She’s a computer scientist, a former high school teacher, a performance poet, a community organizer, a founder, and a CEO. She has two successful apparel printing businesses: MsPrint USA—through which she creates swag for clients like Amazon and Google with a team of women designers and printers—and Made By A Black Woman, which celebrates products made by Black women.

Every project Bell undertakes is designed to empower women, especially women of color, which is why two years ago, she began her latest enterprise, Black Girl Ventures, which helps women identifying entrepreneurs of color gain access to capital.

According to a Medium post Bell wrote in May, Black women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the United States, yet they receive less than 1% of venture capital. In 2017, women on the whole, she wrote, only received 2% of venture capital.

Black Girl Ventures (BGV), based in Washington DC, holds pitch competitions, social events, boot camps, and other forms of entrepreneurial training for women of color. Since its inception in 2016, BGV has funded 13 founders and has engaged hundreds of women.

The unique BGV Pitch Competition, of which there are 10 per year, is described on the website as “a crowdfunding meets pitch competition.” Attendees pay admission at the door, selected founders pitch for three minutes, and the audience votes. Winners receive the money raised from admission fees, in addition to other perks like a free consultation with both a lawyer and an accountant and a meeting with an investor.

While anyone can attend the pitch competitions, only women of color can do the pitching. Bell is proud, she says, of “the women we serve and their reaction to the space created for them.” She is also proud of the success many of the entrepreneurs have found after working with BGV. Founders who have participated in pitch competitions have gone on to be accepted into accelerators, receive fellowships, and raise more capital from other resources.

As BGV continues to grow, Bell hopes to do a better job serving Latinx women. “Because Black is in the name, it is definitely easy for Black women to gravitate,” she says, “but we want to make sure we are serving Black and Brown women.”

She is also currently focusing on finding more access to capital, creating more revenue streams, getting more sponsorship, and creating more partnerships. Some of her most recent successes are corporate partnerships with both Bumble and Google Cloud for Startups, who are currently sponsoring the BGV Big 4 Tour through Atlanta, Chicago, DC, and NYC.

When first starting BGV, Bell struggled with trying to do too many things at once. “I’m a creative,” she says. “I have literally at least 10 ideas per day.” Initially, Bell focused on doing both trainings and pitch competitions, but her advisors suggested she focus on getting really good at just one of those things.

So, she invested all her energy in the competitions, which she says has now positioned her well to expand BGV’s training opportunities. Through analytics and data gathered from those involved in the competitions, Bell now feels confident she knows what the women she serves are looking for.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

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

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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

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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

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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

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“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

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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.

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.

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

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