How This Interior Designer Turned Paint Into Profit

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Suburban Detroit may not be the epicenter of interior design, but that’s exactly where Nicole Gibbons, the CEO and founder of Clare, a direct-to-consumer paint line, got her start.

When she was growing up, Gibbons’ mother was a decorator and although Gibbons’ first job out of college was Director of Public Relations for a mass market retailer, she launched a design blog as her creative outlet. “It was truly just a place for me to talk about all the things I loved,” said Gibbons.

For a decade, her nights and weekends were spent pursuing her side hustle: designing for clients. But in 2008 the recession hit, and it wasn’t a good time to leave her day job to take a risk on starting her own full-time business. By 2013, the economy was looking up, though, and inspired by the Martha Stewart model of bringing design to the masses, Gibbons decided to take the leap.

Her first step was to build up her interior design clientele in and around New York City. Simultaneously, Gibbons started positioning herself as a design influencer. She appeared on Rachael Ray, HGTV, and spent three seasons on Home Made Simple on the Oprah Network. “All the while I was thinking about what kind of business I could build,” she added.

By then the first wave of direct-to-consumer brands had launched, with companies like Warby Parker in 2010 and Casper in 2014. “That’s when I had a light bulb moment around paint,” she said. “It’s something that’s really painful to shop for.” So painful in fact that it took one of Gibbons’ friends two months to pick a paint color that she ended up hating in the end.

Gibbons started out by networking in the paint industry to learn as much as she could about the marketing and manufacturing of paint. In the process she learned that the paint industry hasn’t changed the way it operates or sells its products in over a century. One woman she spoke with, who worked in the paint research and development space, even admitted that she hated shopping for paint. “That was a huge vote of confidence that I was onto something,” Gibbons explained. “People kept telling me that they wished someone would figure this out.”

And that’s exactly what Gibbons set out to do when she launched Clare.

Her first goal was to create a shopping experience for paint that was a lot more inspiring than the aisles of your local hardware or big box store, where a single paint brand has more than 3,000 colors to choose from.

The typical journey for someone who wants to paint their house is this: Narrow down from thousands of colors to a handful you want to try on your wall. Buy an eight-ounce jar of paint. Go home. Paint your wall. Wait for paint to dry. All the colors look almost exactly the same. Go back to the store and test more colors until you find the right one. Wait in line to get the paint mixed. If you have a job, which many of us do, you’re probably at the store on the weekend when it’s the busiest. Next you head over to the tool aisle, which is just as confusing as the paint aisle.

Instead, Clare has only 55 of the best colors in the best finishes, Gibbons explained. No more going back and forth to the store each time you want to try a new color. The company offers peel and stick color built with a high-tech color matching system that takes into account how much natural light your space gets, your existing furniture, and the colors you already have in the room. It also eliminates the need for testing multiple paint swatches on your wall.“We’ve created a suite of high quality tools so that even an unskilled painter can achieve high quality results. We bundle together everything from paint to tools. And we also have tons of online content that offer tips and inspiration,” said Gibbons.

In 2017 Gibbons built out the business, focusing on supply chain logistics and market research. “My goal was to get the business to the place where I could raise capital,” she said.

Her first step was to talk to people who had raised capital before. “I didn’t have a physical product or any traction so I had a bigger challenge than most,” Gibbons said. “When you’re raising pre-product you have to sell a vision. You can’t just have a compelling story. You have to give investors the confidence that you can execute on your vision.”

When Gibbons first pitched Clare to investors, she already knew who her suppliers would be and she had all the relationships in place in order to execute. “I spent all year working on it. I ate, breathed and slept paint. When the time came to talk to investors, I had a really clear path forward and a clear plan.”

Gibbons took her first investor meetings in September 2017 and by the end of October she had an oversubscribed round, raising $2 million, exceeding her initial target of $1.6 million.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Black History Month Spotlight: How Eric Wise Turned His Love of Kicks & Culture Into a Career at Adidas

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Like many people who work at powerful athletic companies, Eric Wise fell in love with sneakers at an early age.

“I remember my first pair of Jordans and different Adidas product — they were status pieces,” said Wise, who joined Adidas in 2016 and is now global senior director of product for Originals. “They were social currency back then, without social media.”

Wise, now a father of four, grew up in Reading, Pa., a city with one of the highest crime rates in the state. As he tells it: “When you grow up in the inner city, unfortunately there are tons of examples of what not to do, and you grow through that. You can either do the bad stuff or have an angle around it with sports, art, music or fashion.”

For Wise, it was sports. He eventually earned a spot on the football team at Fairfield University in Connecticut. After college, with a business degree in hand, he entered the finance world in Boston, calling it “a painful experience selling mutual funds. I quickly decided it wasn’t for me.”

It’s little wonder, then, that Wise found his way back to his true passion: sneaker culture.

Here’s how it happened — and how he continues to rise through the ranks.

What made you want to pursue a career in the athletic industry? How did you break in?

“I went back to Reading in 2004, and there was a store called Sneaker Villa, which had a couple of [locations] at the time. It was family-owned, and it had all the big footwear and apparel accounts. They were a big deal and they were selling the culture — sneakers, sports and hip-hop were all clashing together. It was cool to see that marriage. I knew the owner and started working in the warehouse. They got to the point where they were looking to expand into Philadelphia. They asked if I wanted to run one of the stores or be a buyer. So I actually ended up being the first person that wasn’t a family member that could spend their money.”

Looking back on your career, what accomplishment are you most proud of?

“I’m most proud of being able to be an example to other African-Americans and minorities that may not know that these jobs exist in the industry — that there are these opportunities in the footwear business and sportswear. I didn’t know [that] growing up. I didn’t really travel out of my state until I was 18. I never got on a plane until I was in college. All these things were foreign to me. How would you know? There are tons of kids across the country in that same boat. So being able to be an example and show people that there are these opportunities in this industry, in something that you love, grew up with and is part of our culture, is something I’m proud of.”

As a minority, what has been the biggest obstacle you faced in your career?

“The lack of diversity within this industry is something that is very visible. That’s what you see. That ends up becoming an obstacle. Is there enough mentoring from people who can show you the path to go? Can you get educated on how best to navigate corporate America? In general, if you don’t have a lot of people of color in those high positions to look to as an example, to show you the way to go, or have those people to talk to, it’s harder to get into those larger positions.”

Sneakers have a diverse consumer base. Why doesn’t that diversity translate at the higher levels in greater numbers at these companies?

“I’m assuming everybody wants to have a more diverse company regardless of what industry you are in. Whether people are recruiting in the right places and things like that, I don’t know.”

So what specific steps should footwear firms take to make their ranks more diverse?

“It goes back to when you recruit — where do you cast your net? That is super-important. If you’re a company, you should look at where there’s consumption. If there is a large amount of consumption by this consumer base in certain places, that’s a good place to start. Focus on where that is. Going to where the consumer that really buys your product lives and is a brand advocate is the easiest place to start to get that pipeline going.”

Continue onto FootWearNews to read the complete article.

Increasing African-American homeownership is important to economic progress

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Cerrita-Battles-Wells-Fargo

By:  Cerita Battles, SVP, head of Retail Diverse Segments, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage

Black History Month celebrates the achievements of African Americans and the progress that has been made to achieve racial equality in this country. This also is an important time to recognize work that still needs to be done to achieve that equality.

One area is homeownership, where African Americans lag behind all other ethnic groups when it comes to owning a home.

People from rapidly growing diverse communities represent the majority of growth among potential first-time homebuyers. According to the 2010 Census Bureau, of the 14 million new households expected by 2024, 75 percent of those will be diverse. For many Americans and particularly African Americans, homeownership is an integral component of the American dream, and a way to build security and wealth for families.

However, the African-American homeownership rate does not align with the significant desire to own a home. The current homeownership rate for African Americans, about 42 percent, is the lowest among all ethnic minorities.  As one of the nation’s leading lenders with a team of mortgage professionals dedicated to helping customers achieve the dream of homeownership, Wells Fargo stepped up its efforts to positively impact African-American homeownership. During Black History Month in 2017, the company announced a 10-year commitment to help increase African-American homeownership that includes: $60 billion in purchase lending to create at least 250,000 homeowners; a focus on increasing the diversity of its sales team including African-American Home Mortgage Consultants; and dedicating $15 million toward homebuyer education and counseling initiatives. To achieve this important work, Wells Fargo is proud to have the support of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, the NAACP and the National Urban League.

It has been two years since we made that announcement. We continue to make progress on that commitment, helping more customers become educated about and prepared for the homebuying process and guiding and supporting them as they travel the journey to become homeowners.

Our commitment to increase African-American homeownership is part of Wells Fargo’s overall Advancing Homeownershipsm effort, which brings together people, partners and resources to create new opportunities for long-term, successful homeownership.  In addition to the African-American lending commitment, this effort includes programs like Neighborhood LIFT®, which helps low- to moderate-income families achieve homeownership with homebuyer education and down payment assistance. Since, LIFT programs have helped to create nearly 20,000 homeowners.

Even though we are making progress with our African-American lending commitment, we realize there is still much work to be done to raise the homeownership rate of this segment of the population. Like many Americans, African Americans desire to own homes, but are often challenged by industry barriers like affordability and lack of inventory. And even though we have seen improvements in the economy, underemployment and unemployment are factors in the inability to own a home.

In addition, there are misconceptions about homeownership and lack of knowledge about the process that create perceived barriers to owning a home. One of the most-believed myths is that is takes a 20 percent down payment in order to qualify for a loan. That’s not true. Many lenders, including Wells Fargo, offer financing options with a low down payment.  Another myth is that borrowers need perfect credit.  It’s important for aspiring homeowners to speak with a lender to separate the myths from the facts when it comes to purchasing a home. Homebuyer education and counseling are key in helping aspiring homeowners avoid myths, and create more confidence and knowledge when it comes to pursuing homeownership. That’s why investing in education is such a critical part of the African-American homeownership commitment.

Wells Fargo views homeownership as a pathway to financial success for our customers, a source of stability in communities and a key driver of our economy.  We want to help people find the place they will call home – the place where their lives will happen, where they will create memories, spend time with friends or raise their families.  We are dedicated to helping those who want to achieve homeownership, and our African-American commitment is one way we are working to do it.

For more information on home mortgage, visit WellsFargo.com.

What Black History Month Means To Me

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Gail Ricketts On Semi

As a company, ON Semiconductor celebrates differences and promotes an inclusive environment by valuing the contributions of all employees and the communities in which we serve. Part of this celebration is recognizing and honoring the cultural histories and backgrounds of our employees.

This February, we asked Gail Ricketts, CISA, CRISC, Certified CISA & CRISC Trainer, MBA, a key member of our information security and risk staff, to tell us about her life, career and what Black History Month means to her.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

Gail Ricketts (G.R.): Black History Month, also referred to as African-American History Month, is about heritage. My personal view of Black History Month is through the lens of my heritage, which comes from Suriname, South America, and the Caribbean Island of Jamaica.

What was your introduction in early life to black history in America?

G.R.: Although most Americans know little, there is rich and diverse black history woven into the fabric of America. My family provided me with a tremendous education about our history. They made me aware of the impact that black Americans had on American society.

Who are some of the people your family taught you about growing up?

G.R.: Inventors like Jan Matzeliger, whose invention the shoe making machine, patented in 1883, could make anywhere from 150 to 700 pairs of shoes per day. Garrett Morgan ,who invented the traffic signal, patented in 1923, and the gas mask, patented in 1914. Mathematicians and Scientists the likes of Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan, whose lives portrayed in the movie Hidden Figures  who wrote the mathematical calculations that went in to making John Glenn the first American man into space in 1962. To people like Fannie Lou Hamas, a Civil Rights Activist, Marian Wright Edelman, and a Children Rights Activist to John Lewis a Congressman from the state of Georgia.

While these names are not well known, they have changed America in beneficial, influential and productive ways. I believe that it is my responsibility to share my knowledge and experiences to enlighten those that I can in a positive manner of the contributions black Americans have made to this great nation.

How did your heritage and family background influence your education and career path?

G.R.: My family used these lessons to instill the importance of pursuing education and knowledge. I wanted to be a teacher but found that my interest in technology was stronger. I changed my major, accounting, to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems and graduated in 2002 with a specialization in networking from the University of Phoenix.

I obtained two professional certifications: one as an information systems auditor (CISA) in 2004 and one in information systems risk (CRISC) in 2010 from ISACA.org, for which I am certified by ISACA to teach both. So twice a year, for the last 13 years, I have the honor and pleasure of combining my two passions: teaching and technology.

I went back to school, Arizona State University, where I obtained an Executive Master’s Degree in Business Administration in 2011. Before coming to ON Semiconductor, I consulted with Fortune 500 companies, e.g., Ford Motor Company, GM, TASER, MGM Grand to name a few.

How are you working to share your knowledge in the community?

G.R.: I teach via Junior Achievement of Arizona through the relationship between ON Semiconductor and Balsz Elementary School. I also sit on the board of the Cybersecurity Council of AZ as a Co-chair as well as on the board for The Alliance of Technology and Women as the treasurer.

I am working with Arizona State University to bring an artificial intelligence camp for under privilege girls to the West Campus for a three-week, all expenses paid experience, where the students will participate on enhancing artificial intelligence. We have already received a $50K grant, a promise of another $25K, and I am currently looking to secure the last $25K to make this endeavor a reality.

How This 24-Year-Old Former NYSE Equity Trader Made History

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At 22 years old, Lauren Simmons shattered the glass ceiling by being the youngest and only full-time female equity trader on Wall Street for Rosenblatt Securities. Affectionately dubbed as the “Lone Woman On Wall Street”, Simmons was also the second African-American woman in history to sport the prestigious badge.

Graduating Kennesaw State University in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in genetics and a minor in statistics, Simmons originally aspired to go into genetic counseling. She made a decision to put that on hold. What had not changed, however, was her passion to move to New York City, where networking led her to meet Richard Rosenblatt, the CEO of Rosenblatt Securities. Beyond her many qualifications, it was ultimately Simmons’ confidence that led Rosenblatt to take her under his wing as an Equity Trader.

“Being a trader, you make decisions within microseconds,” Simmons said on meeting Rosenblatt, “So I think for him, even for me, the choice of coming onto the trading floor made sense immediately.”

The job wasn’t completely hers; she still had to pass the Series 19 exam, which is a requirement for all floor brokers to earn their badge. This test has a pass rate of 20% in a class of 10. After studying the book cover to cover for a month straight. Lauren Simmons made history. Since her story broke Lauren Simmons has been featured in various media outlets and currently, she has a movie on her journey to Wall Street starring Kiersey Clemons.

I spoke to Simmons about her journey to Wall Street, favorite moments on the trading floor and what the financial service industries can do to increase diversity and inclusion.

Dominique Fluker: Share your career journey. What inspired you to become an Equity Trader on Wall Street?

Lauren Simmons: My journey was the power of networking. I moved to New York with a genetics degree knew I wanted to do something completely different and networked like crazy. I had many people tell me no or that I didn’t have any direction because I was making the switch from genetics to statistics. And although I didn’t know what that role looked like. I was serious about it involving numbers. Ultimately becoming an equity trader was something that chose me. A job was offered to me, and I said yes. And as simple as that decision was most people often don’t say yes to roles that they once did not have training or schooling in.

Fluker: At 22 years old, you became the youngest, only full-time female employee and second-ever African-American woman working as a trader at the New York Stock Exchange. Share your process on how you broke the black ceiling.

Simmons: I never looked at my gender/race/age as a factor. At 22 I became the youngest trader (the media caught on after I had turned 23) or even imagined that I would be making history. I just wanted to do well in the role that I was given. My first month I studied for series 19 for a month straight. Didn’t talk to anyone. Originally the exam was something that anyone could pass. From what I was told you went into a room and they gave you the answers, but after the exchange went public and the exam was administered through FINRA it was a real exam. Many of the advice I was given was to just skim through the headlines of the chapters, and I would be just fine. Considering the fail rate was 80% I studied the book cover to cover. And I passed. Making history I didn’t find out till months later when I signed my name into the book, and an NYSE archivist went in front of the room with the audience and my family and informed the crowd I was the second African American women. And that moment was amazing to share with my family. And also bittersweet that in 225 I was the second African American. Amazing but eerie that things like this are still being accomplished in 2017 or 2000 anything.

Fluker: What did you love most about statistics and working on the New York Stock Exchange?

Simmons: Statistics is a universal language and through my college education of genetics and even using statistics in high school when I was going through the architectural engineering program I fell in love with numbers. Being able to interpret data to relay that information to clients was an exciting process.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Under Armour hires former Harley-Davidson exec to serve as chief culture officer

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In the wake of a promise to revamp its corporate culture, Under Armour said Wednesday that it has hired a Harley-Davidson Inc. veteran in an executive role as chief people and culture officer.

Tchernavia Rocker, who worked at Harley-Davidson for 22 years, will lead human resources and direct a culture strategy. She will report to founder and CEO Kevin Plankand start next month.

Under Armour’s previous head of human resources, Kerry D. Chandler, left the brand in November to take on a similar role at Endeavor, a Beverly Hills-based talent agency focused on sports, entertainment and fashion.

“Tchernavia brings deep industry experience in building best in class HR operations while developing strong workplace culture rooted in brand, values and transparency,” Plank said in an announcement. “We truly have the best team on the planet driving our business, and our investment in their careers is a top priority.”

Rocker spent more than 18 years in leadership roles at Harley-Davidson, most recently as vice president and chief human resources officer. Before that, she worked in human resources and operations roles at Goodyear Dunlop North America Tire Inc.

The Baltimore-based sports apparel and footwear maker has said it is working to transform its culture amid scrutiny of the #MeToo movement.

Continue onto the Baltimore-Sun to read the complete article.

How 1 Woman Strategically Used Her Talents to Go From ‘Top Model’ to Top Entrepreneur

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Talk about a career change: Dominique Reighard-Brooks started on “America’s Next Top Model.” Today, she co-owns E.E. Ward, the oldest black-owned business in America.

Dominique Reighard-Brooks is a mover, in every sense of the word.

She is presently the co-owner of award-winning moving company E.E. Ward, which is also America’s oldest black-owned business. But her career began with a lengthy run on the popular reality show competition “America’s Next Top Model,” and soared when she graced the pages of publications like Ebony and Seventeen. Then, she signed on at E.E. Ward in 2014, working alongside her husband, Brian.

To the outside observer, it may appear as though Reighard-Brooks performed a professional 180. “It’s not the sexiest business,” she freely admits. But she finds plenty of crossover between modeling and moving.

“Being a self-starter, whether in the entertainment world or working in the logistics industry, means you’ve got to be willing to take action,” she explains. When you’re a model, singer and actress, you need to learn about marketing, self-promotion and persistence — all of which comes in handy when you’re running a company.

And in Reighard-Brooks’ case, when you’re trying to “enhance and re-energize the family business,” as she puts it, knowing a few secrets from the entertainment industry is helpful. After all, even a 138-year-old company needs to cultivate a fresh appearance on social media. Under her direction, E.E. Ward maintains an active — some might even say surprisingly glamorous, for a moving company — presence on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

In the years since Reighard-Brooks made her career change and joined E.E. Ward, the company has racked up a number of new awards for quality service, and she recently oversaw its first expansion outside of its home state of Ohio.

From Top Model to Top Entrepreneur

Reighard-Brooks was born and raised in the Columbus area by a family full of entrepreneurs, from her mother to her grandparents. At age 24, she found fame as a contestant on the 2008 cycle of “America’s Next Top Model.” Though she did not win the season — she placed fourth overall — her participation was a springboard into a busy modeling and performing career. In addition to appearing in popular magazines, she modeled for fragrance J’Adore and served as the face of Brooklyn beauty brand Carol’s Daughter.

[Related: Growing Carol’s Daughter in a Brooklyn Kitchen]

She relished those opportunities, but they frequently took her abroad, and she missed her husband and children while on shoots. So she contemplated a career change that would keep her closer to home. “I wanted to explore, evolve, and use other gifts and talents that were lying dormant,” she says. So, “I made a list of everything — every skill set, every relationship I’d developed over the years in entertainment, all of that.”

That personal assessment led her to team up with her husband, who had owned E.E. Ward since 2001 after buying it from his godfather, a member of the Ward family. Not everyone, of course, gets to choose such a relatively easy path into entrepreneurship. But Reighard-Brooks believed her experience would be an asset to the family business. “In my life, I’ve been a model, a singer, a writer, a video producer, a photo editor, a writer.” she says. “And I use all of those experiences in running the business.”

Reighard-Brooks helms a bustling operation. She manages a 50-person team — 70 strong when they hire part-time work during their busiest times — spread between its Columbus, Ohio headquarters and its Grove City, Ohio hub. Under her leadership, the company expanded outside Ohio to Charlotte, North Carolina. She declined to disclose revenue figures, but says the company handles several thousand moves and deliveries each year, for both residential and commercial clients.

In addition, Reighard-Brooks is responsible for all of the content E.E. Ward produces — from social media posts and marketing campaigns to the development of its video content. A striking figure with long brunette hair, she frequently appears on E.E.Ward’s Instagram feed as the face of the company.

And in yet another unusual move for a moving company, she has also tapped into her fashion experience to launch a clothing division called 1881 Apparel. Launched last year as an offshoot of E.E. Ward, the venture “pays homage to the Ward family legacy.” The company, which sells tees and sweaters, is in its earliest stages, but Reighard-Brooks believes it has the potential to elevate the E.E. Ward brand.

Creating a Ripple Effect

When she joined E.E. Ward, Reighard-Brooks says she was wanted to cultivate the company’s unique position in history as the longest-lasting black business. She has directed the company’s ongoing involvement in philanthropic endeavors, such as its Laps for Learning fundraiser at the local YMCA. It emphasizes pool safety and has provided 393 lessons for low-income children to date.

 

Continue onto The Story Exchange to read the complete article.

Black chefs break the glass ceiling in the culinary world

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The culinary business world is as cut throat as any other. It’s also known as an industry that hasn’t always allowed for much diversity in management and ownership at its higher echelon.

However, it appears that African-Americans are finally breaking barriers, starring in many kitchens around the nation and serving up fine delicacies and treats that have those of all races and backgrounds coming back for second-helpings.

“Memphis is a foodie town with a minority-majority makeup … thoughtful discussions about equity in the food industry are at the forefront here and folks care about presentation, which is at the heart of the issue,” said Cynthia Daniels, the founder of Memphis Black Restaurant Week. “I’ve also seen the difficulty that Black-owned restaurants experience with not having big marketing budgets to advertise for new business.”

That’s why she founded Memphis Black Restaurant Week and has advised other cities to do the same.

“It’s a celebration that advocates for Black chefs, brings more awareness around their food and beverage traditions, generates new income, and moves the needle in terms of inclusivity in the culinary world,” said Daniels.

That inclusion and enthusiasm appears to have caught on.

“I am truly optimistic for the future with the culinary industry because while there are still a lot of areas in which to grow, we are slowly chipping away the stereotype of what African-American chefs have to offer,” said award-winning executive chef and QVC food stylist Kristol Bryant. “We are diversified in our skills, talents and cuisines. African American chefs are no longer just soul-food or southern cuisine chefs, we are so much more. Through education and exploration, we can finally break into areas that we never knew were there. Being seen on television is great for us but being a legitimate authority in culinary in the corporate, private and entertainment sectors is the next step.”

To read the complete article, continue on to Insight News.

Women Aren’t Running Self-Driving Car Startups; Zoox Is About To Change That

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Robo-taxi developer Zoox isn’t the biggest or best-funded player in the self-driving vehicle space and hasn’t logged the most test miles. But when a new CEO joins the Silicon Valley startup next month, it will leapfrog competitors in one important way: It will be the only autonomous vehicle tech firm led by a woman.

The Foster City, California-based company announced last week that Aicha Evans, formerly Intel’s chief strategy officer, will become its CEO on February 26. Her background as a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Senegal distinguishes her as one of the few African-Americans running a tech startup. She will also be the only woman CEO among three dozen self-driving car companies, based on a review by Forbes.

“It’s welcome news in a male-dominated field,” said Bryan Reimer, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AgeLab. “The computer science community to start with is heavily male-dominated, the auto industry is heavily male-dominated. It’s critical that if (autonomous vehicles are) to be a sustaining evolution of technology there’s going to have to be diversification in the leadership as well.”

Women and people of color remain underrepresented as leaders in the auto and tech industries. Looking back to the fabled U.S. government-sponsored DARPA Challenge races of 2005 and 2007 that ignited the robot car revolutions, rosters for the era’s two dominant teams, Carnegie Mellon University and Stanford University, include only one or two women each among dozens of brainy young engineers and computer scientists. Improving gender and ethnic diversity at tech and auto companies isn’t a superficial step – multiple studies find that it meaningfully boosts corporate performance and creates better companies.

“When organizations are represented by people who have similar backgrounds, experiences, education, it can lead to group think – so you’re not getting the most creative ideas,” said Ashley Martin, assistant professor of organizational behavior at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. “Also having social category diversity (e.g., gender, race), can lead to more information elaboration/consideration of ideas and therefore people thinking more carefully and creatively about their decisions, with the potential to lead to better performance.”

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

How two NFL players’ sweet tooths made them hands-on business owners

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It’s an odd juxtaposition to see a 6-foot-4, 257-pound NFL player with a voice deep enough to rival Barry White’s spending his offseason selling cupcakes.

It has been an eye-opening adjustment for Tennessee Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo, the new co-owner of a Gigi’s Cupcakes store located outside Austin, Texas. He has gone from seeking tackles on the field to putting red sugar crystals on strawberry shortcake cupcakes.

“I’m so aggressive at times that you have to tone that down when you’re dealing with everyday people and customers. It’s a different way of life,” Orakpo said. “I have to tone that Rak down. I’ve been more Brian these days.”

Orakpo and one of his two business partners, former Titans safety Michael Griffin, hope their venture will encourage more players to pursue entrepreneurial interests and risks.

This all started in February 2017, when Orakpo, Griffin and their good friend Bryan Hynson were eating lunch in Nashville and plotting possible business ventures. Griffin was out of football after a 10-year NFL career and looking for something to occupy his time. Orakpo, then 30, was looking ahead, eyeing potential interests after football. Hynson worked in banking.

Orakpo and Griffin loved Gigi’s Cupcakes when they were Titans teammates. They took Hynson by a Nashville location to check it out, and he was sold. All three University of Texas graduates decided to start a plan to bring their own Gigi’s Cupcakes store to the Austin area.

“It was a different side of a world that me and Brian Orakpo didn’t know anything about. We can talk football all day. But we had to learn about business,” Griffin said. “Learning how to start up a LLC to getting someone who is going to be working with your account to financing, just a lot of things we take for granted being professional athletes.”

After a year of planning and building a store from the ground up, the three friends opened their Gigi’s Cupcakes in Bee Cave, Texas, less than a month ago.

The celebratory opening was a reward for the long journey. All three partners were hands-on throughout the process. They had their own two-a-day trainings, which involved working from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. for three consecutive weeks while learning how to open the shop, decorate, bake every cupcake they sell, be the cashier and close the shop. That didn’t even include the financial side of it.

“It was harder than playing football,” said Griffin, who noted that his wife told him she sees him less now that he is a business owner than she did when he was playing football. “This was like a completely foreign language. Being professional athletes, we’re kind of spoiled. These are things we never worried about because there were large amounts of money coming in every year. It was definitely an awakening.”

Orakpo added: “It was a grueling process. We made some mistakes, but we got the hang of it now.”

Continue onto ESPN to read the complete article.

Starting a Business? Steps every entrepreneur needs to know

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Starting a business? Confused about the planning, legal and regulatory steps you should follow?

Did you know that home-based businesses are required to hold permits to operate legally in most states? What about incorporation? Many new businesses assume they need to incorporate or become an LLC from the get-go—but the truth is, more than 70 percent of small businesses are owned by unincorporated sole proprietors (although even this group is required to register their businesses).

So, variables aside, there are still some fundamental steps that any business needs to follow to get started. Below are steps that can help you plan, prepare, and manage your business—while taking care of the startup legalities. Not all these steps will apply to all businesses, but working through them will give you a sense of what needs your attention and what you can check off.

Write a Business Plan

Yeah, yeah, you know you should write a business plan whether you need to secure a business loan or not. The thing is, a business plan doesn’t have to be encyclopedic and it doesn’t have to have all the answers. A well-prepared plan—revisited often—will help you steer your business all along its growth curve. Try to think of your business plan as a living, breathing project, not a one-time document. Break it down into mini-plans—one for marketing, one for pricing, one for operations, and so on.

Get Help and Training

Starting a business can be a lonely endeavor, but there are lots of free in-person and online resources that can help advise you as you get started. Check out what’s offered at your Small Business Development Centers; SCORE (which offers free mentoring services); Women’s Business Centers, your local U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) office, or the US Business Leadership Network® (USBLN®).

Choose Your Business Location

Where you locate your business may be the single most important decision you make. Many factors come into play, such as proximity to suppliers, the competition, transportation access, demographics, and zoning regulations.

Understand Your Financing Options

You may choose to bootstrap, fall back on savings, or even keep a full-time job until your business is profitable, but if you are looking for an external source of financing, these resources explain your options.

Decide on a Business Structure

Going it alone or forming a partnership? Thinking of incorporating? What about an LLC? How you structure your business can reduce your personal liability for business losses and debts. Some choices can give you tax benefits. To help you determine the right structure for your business, the SBA can provide an overview of your options, information on how to file the necessary paperwork in your state, and the tax implications of your decision.

Register Your Business Name (“Doing Business As”)

Registering a “Doing Business As” name or “trade name” is only needed if you name your business something other than your personal name, the names of your partners, or the officially registered name of your LLC or corporation.

Get a Tax ID

Not every business needs a tax ID from the IRS (also known as an Employer Identification Number or EIN), but if you have employees, run a business partnership, a corporation or meet certain IRS criteria, you must obtain an EIN from the IRS. You’ll also need to start paying estimated taxes to the IRS; visit irs.gov for more about this process.

Register with Tax Authorities

Employment taxes, sales taxes, and state income taxes are handled at the state-level. Visit sba.gov to learn more about your state’s tax requirements and how to comply.

Apply for Permits and Licenses

All businesses, even home-based businesses, need a license or permit to operate. The SBA provides a guide explaining permits and licensing and includes a handy “Permit Me” tool that lets you determine what your permit and licensing needs are, based on your zip code and business type.

Source: SBA.gov

Siemens Celebrates Diverse Small Business Partners

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Throughout the United States, Siemens partners with more than 20,000 small business suppliers to drive innovation, achieve greater success, and play an active role in the growth of the U.S. market. As an integral part of our supply chain, we continue to celebrate these strategic partnerships like we did recently during our annual Small Business Awards Luncheon, which recognizes small business partners owned by minorities, women, veterans, and other diverse suppliers across Siemens U.S. businesses.

With the theme of “Small Business – Big Impact,” the ceremony took place in Atlanta and honored nine small business partners, selected based their performance, innovation and sustainability. All the winning suppliers contributed to Siemens’ success in fiscal year 2018 and are powerful examples of how partnering with small and diverse suppliers adds value to not only Siemens, but to our customers, the economy and the supplier themselves.

Here’s a look at the award winners.

Congratulations to the USA Small Business Award 2018 Winners

Quick-Way Manufacturing

Located in Euless, Texas, Quick-Way Manufacturing is a small business manufacturer of custom fabricated parts and stampings. Quick-Way is the “go-to” vendor when Siemens has an expedited need and is well known for its fast turnaround and great customer service.

BBM-CPG Technology, Inc.

South Carolina-based BBM-CPG Technology is a small business founded in 2004 and has fabrication, offices and warehouses with 34 employees and a main-production facility in Mexicana, Toluca, Mexico with 155 employees.

Shur-Kut Corporation

Located in Aston, Pennsylvania, Shur-Kut is a small business that serves many industries including Power Generation, Aerospace, Medical, Commercial Transportation and Automotive. The company maintains 99 percent on-time delivery and 100 percent quality metrics.

Cynthia Kay & Company

With 8 employees, Cynthia Kay & Company is a woman owned small business based in Michigan that has flown over 250,000 miles this year for Siemens to produce digital communications, developed a capability for 360 video and had two employees certified as pilots to fly drone missions for Siemens.

Logisticus Group

Logisticus Group is a small disadvantaged business specializing in Innovative Transportation, Project Management, and Technology Solutions. They constantly exhibit superb quality of service and work, strong work ethic, professionalism, transparency and reliability.

Siemens executives and City of Roswell Mayor pose togethersmall business awardees posing for picture
From left to right is Nichelle Grant, Siemens USA Chief Diversity Officer, Patric Stadtfeld, Siemens Corporation – VP & Supply Chain Head & Regions AM, City of Roswell Mayor Pro Tem Marie Willsey and Robert Suchy, Head of Pooling Siemens AG.

Axxis Building Systems, Inc.

Founded in 2011, Axxis is a woman owned and disadvantaged small business that has been committed to providing quality work and true customer service. Axxis’ performance and service was instrumental in achieving Siemen’s strategic objectives.

Alaska Imaging Solutions

Founded by Brian Niver, a veteran and former Siemens Healthineers employee, Alaska Imaging Solutions is a critical business partner for meeting high customer expectations.

OEM Fabricators, Inc.

OEM is a small business manufacturer of custom, high-performance parts. Its high level of welding and metal fabrication competence has established them as a preferred supplier of complex assemblies.

PROLIM

Classified as a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), PROLIM is a MindSphere IoT partner and leading provider of end-to-end PLM and Engineering Solutions to Global Fortune 1000 companies, with a focus on business processes and technology.

The Siemens small business and supplier diversity program is committed to developing strategic supplier sourcing with small and diverse businesses and businesses located in historically underutilized business zones. To learn more, visit siemens.com/about/supplier-at-siemens.

Former ABC President Channing Dungey joins Netflix

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In a move anticipated within the industry, Dungey is headed to the new home of two other former powerhouse ABCers: Shonda Rhimes and Kenya Barris.

Channing Dungey, the former head of ABC Entertainment who stepped down in November, is joining Netflix, where she will oversee original TV series alongside Cindy Holland, the company’s longtime head of originals.

The move was anticipated within the industry and reunites Dungey with two of her former showrunners, Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s AnatomyScandal) and Kenya Barris (Black-ish), both of whom decamped from ABC to Netflix earlier this year. At Netflix, Channing will also oversee other high-profile producers, such as the Obamas, who have a producing deal at the company; Jenji Kohan (Orange is the New BlackGlow) and Marti Noxon; as well half of the originals executive team. The other half will report to Holland.

Interestingly, sources told The Hollywood Reporter that Dungey, a TV veteran who had been at ABC since 2004, will also have a direct line of communication with Netflix’s content chief Ted Sarandos. Like other executives whom Netflix has poached from traditional entertainment companies, such as Scott Stuber, who heads Netflix’s original film division, Dungey brings experience working with talent and nurturing projects as the company invests more heavily in its own content–and begins to operate more like a traditional studio. In contrast, Holland was promoted to oversee originals in 2012, when Netflix first began making its own shows. She started at the company in DVD acquisitions and then took over domestic TV licensing.

Dungey’s exit from ABC came as its parent company, the Walt Disney Company, was preparing to merge with 21st Century Fox. The new arrangement would have united Dungey with her formal rival at Fox, Dana Walden, who was named in October as incoming Disney TV Studios chairman. Her departure also marked the end of a dramatic year at ABC. After green-lighting a remake of Roseanne that became one of the network’s biggest hits, Dungey swiftly fired the show’s star, Roseanne Barr, after she made a racist slur on Twitter. The show continued production as a spin-off (The Conners) without Barr, but has faired less spectacularly in the ratings.

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

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