Rihanna Presents Mary J. Blige With Lifetime Achievement At BET Awards

LinkedIn
Rihanna presents Mary J. Blige with award on stage at the BET Awards Show

Mary J. Blige received the highest honor at the 2019 BET Awards on Sunday. While presenting the Queen of Hip-hop and R&B with the Lifetime Achievement Award during the ceremony in Los Angeles, Rihanna praised Blige for the blueprint she set.

She changed the game with her unique style: the backwards cap, the baggy jerseys, y’all know the Mary J. look. She took it there with those thigh-high boots,” Rihanna said, going on to praise Blige for her many successes, including becoming the first person to ever be nominated for an Oscar in both music and acting in the same year.

“Happy Mary, sad Mary … we’re here for all of it,” Rihanna said. “Mary J. Blige, you have set the bar for relatable, timeless, classic music. You opened multiple doors for female artists in this industry. And on behalf of all the women that came after you, like myself, thank you for being you so we can feel comfortable being ourselves. Thank you for pouring yourself into every track and giving us a song for every feeling. Thank you for showing us that love is all that we need. But we didn’t know how much we needed you.”

Blige accepted the award and told Rihanna the feelings of inspiration were mutual. She went on to thank BET, her family, friends, Diddy, Andre Harrell, other collaborators, her team and fans.

“People always ask how do I sustain and stay relevant in this industry,” Blige said. “It’s because although I am a leader, a queen, a living legend, although I’m all of these things, I’m a servant as well and I’m here to serve. Being a servant is not always glamorous or popular, but it’s the job and assignment I was given. It’s because in order to be an authority, I had to learn how to come under authority. It’s because when the glory is placed on me, I give it back to God immediately. This journey has always been bigger than me and my job is not only to survive, right now it’s to thrive and continue to make history while I do it.”

Continue on to Huffington Post to read the complete article.

Regina King ties record for most acting Emmys won by a Black performer

LinkedIn
Regina King accepting Emmy while holding the emmy in hand

“Watchmen’s” Regina King made history at the 72nd Emmy Awards Sunday.

King’s win for lead actress in a limited series or movie for her portrayal of Angela Abar (a.k.a. Sister Night) in the HBO superhero drama is her fourth career Emmy. This ties the record held by Alfre Woodard for most acting Emmys won by a Black performer.

Created by David Lindelof, “Watchmen” is based on the acclaimed comic book series by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons but is not a direct adaptation. It is more like a sequel that follows new characters such as King’s Sister Night.

This “allowed me to tap into all those things I think are just wonderful about being a Black woman,” King previously told The Times. “[T]he blueprint that was the inspiration for Angela was probably every Black woman that ever was.”

In addition to being recognized for her performance in “Watchmen,” King has previously won the lead actress in a limited series or movie Emmy in 2018 for “Seven Seconds.” In 2015 and 2016 she won in the supporting actress in a limited series or movie category for her performances in “American Crime” (playing different characters each time). King has five career Emmy nominations so far.

Woodard, who has earned 17 Primetime Emmy nods, won in 1984, 1987, 1997 and 2003. These recognitions were in the supporting actress in a drama series category for “Hill Street Blues,” guest performer in a drama series (before there were gender-specific categories) for “L.A. Law,” lead actress in a miniseries or special for “Miss Evers’ Boys” and guest actress in a drama series for “The Practice.”

The other Black actors with four Emmy wins each are Chris Rock and Bill Cosby, but their awards include non-performance categories. Rock has won three Emmys in writing categories (1997, 1999 and 2009) in addition to his variety, music or comedy special win in 1997 for “Chris Rock: Bring The Pain.” Cosby, who is currently serving time after being convicted of sexual assault in 2018, won three consecutive lead drama series actor Emmys for “I Spy” (1966-1968) and in the variety or musical program category in 1969 for “The Bill Cosby Special.”

Continue on to the LA Times to read the complete article.

Zendaya Makes History with Her Emmy Win

LinkedIn
Zendaya poses with head looking over shoulders smiling

“She’s younger than Baby Yoda and she already has an Emmy,” Jimmy Kimmel said after a visibly shaken Zendaya, 24, became the youngest Emmy winner for best lead actress in a drama for her role as Rue on HBO’s “Euphoria.”

The breathless actress, who was surrounded by a semicircle of teary-eyed supporters and wearing a crystal bandeau top with a billowing black-and-white polka-dot skirt, clearly had not prepared an acceptance speech.

“This is pretty crazy,” Zendaya said as she clasped her hands over her statuette, as though hardly daring to believe it was real.

The Disney-actress-turned-drama-star beat out the decades-older counterparts Jennifer Aniston, Olivia Colman, Sandra Oh and Laura Linney to claim the crown — not to mention the incumbent winner, Jodie Comer, who set the record last year when she won for “Killing Eve” at age 26.

“Thank you to all of the other incredible women in this category,” Zendaya said. “I admire you so much.”

“Euphoria,” a drama series created by Sam Levinson about high-school students who navigate love, sex, drugs and identity conundrums, premiered on HBO in June 2019. It received six nominations this year, though Zendaya’s was the only one for acting. HBO announced last year that the series had been renewed for a second season.

The actress said she was inspired by others her age who were working to make a difference in the world. “I just want to say that there is hope in the young people out there,” she said. “And I just want to say to all our peers out there doing the work in the streets: I see you, I admire you, I thank you.”

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

The Newest Member of the Billionaire’s Club

LinkedIn
Tyler Perry pictured at awards ceremony smiling

Actor, producer, writer, and director Tyler Perry has officially become a billionaire, making him the seventh black billionaire in the United States.

Perry’s newfound status includes him in the same income bracket as Oprah Winfrey, Kanye West, Robert F. Smith, and Michael Jordan.

Perry earned much of his money through his productions and his investments. Though most notably known for his work in the Madea movie series, Perry is no stranger to any form of performative arts.  Not only did he direct, produce, write and star in the Madea franchise, but he has also served as an actor and writer for many of his own projects. In total, Perry has been involved in over a thousand television episodes, 22 movies, and 24 stage productions. Additionally, Perry works closely with the BET television network, earning an annual income of $150 million to create content for their live and streaming platforms.

According to Forbes, Perry’s billion-dollar net worth can be calculated into five main categories: library, cash and investments, the studio, his stake in BET, and homes and toys.

Since closing his production company in 2019, Perry has decided to invest in wealth into his community. Having recently become a spokesperson against human trafficking in Georgia, Perry wants to use his funds to provide housing for trafficked women and LGBTQ youth. He also plans to set up a financial academy for children and wants to build a Disney-like theme park with shops, restaurants, and a movie theater.

Virtual Events Take Center Stage

LinkedIn
Man giving virtual job interview online

By Innovate Marketing Group

As the live events industry awaits COVID-19 regulations, guidelines, and phase rollouts; innovations and digital opportunities arise, virtual events take center stage, and the importance of an events agency and planner sustains.

Why go virtual? Virtual events have proven to be an effective and efficient way to convey content and engage attendees. Experts shared that future events will incorporate a digital aspect as a hybrid-type model as the events industry seeks to widen their audience and maintain contingency plans. Events will see more virtual aspects embedded into their programs moving forward.

Going virtual also brings market share and new opportunities.
“Some companies that were previously on hold to wait out COVID-19 have either pivoted to virtual or seriously considering since the recovery is so uncertain. Business still needs to go on. Leadership conferences, educational and training are still vital for companies,” said Amanda Ma, chief experience officer of Innovate Marketing Group.

All of the different elements of a virtual event need to be coordinated into one impactful and engaging experience. The event agency’s role includes helping guiding businesses to pivot to the new normal, advising and adjusting contract changes, applying event strategies to help meet goals, vendor coordination and recommendations, program management and managing multiple tracks, marketing and communication, incorporating sponsors and stakeholders and the guest experience.

Some of the many benefits of pivoting to virtual include:

  • Cost savings and lower cost per guest attending
  • Access to a wider audience and reach, and not limited by location
  • Replay capabilities and reusable on demand content
  • Lower carbon footprint and less impact on the environment
  • Attendee engagement
  • Opportunity to get creative and engage viewers in new ways
  • Metrics, instant data tracking and capture, and gaining new insights
  • Virtual events eliminate the need for a venue, catering, rentals, stage, décor, photographer, videographer, transportation, etc.
  • Taking action – calls to action link in right away; connect, survey, polling, Q&A and donate

Some challenges in comparison to a live event include emotion and energy, stimulations such as touch, taste and smell, memory and recall, networking, and viewer attention span.

Innovate Marketing Group also shares top best practices in going virtual, such as setting your goals on information, education, message, attendee and sponsor engagement, networking, etc.

Format: Determine your virtual event format – webinar, webcast, pre-recorded sessions, simu-live, live streaming, networking, exhibitors.

Registration: Reconsider the registration process, including number of users who will be accessing the website, personal data, payment processing safety, and customized questions per data you would like to collect.

Keep Your Audience Engaged: with tools such as live polling, question and answer sessions, networking opportunities, gamification, live leader boards, rewards and social media feeds. Maintain your event experience by making your guests feel involved and connected to your program. We are in the planning stages of a 3,000 people walk/run event, and one of the ideas is on the day of the event to have a virtual DJ play during the walk and the organization lowers the volume if messages need to be communicated. The music is based on what the organizers want. This way while people are walking, they can stay connected as part of the program.

Pre-Event Communication & Marketing: Communication and marketing are key. Unlike an in-person event where they must get dressed up, drive to the event, and spend more time to prepare for the event, a virtual event is simply a login to a platform. Therefore, it is very important to send out reminders and build up the anticipation of the event. In a recent virtual event, we advised the client to ask for the attendee’s cell phone number.

So, in addition to email reminders, the week of event and day of, a text notification was sent out to all attendees. We received great feedback for putting that in place. It reminded folks the virtual event is coming up and to tune in. Digital marketing, promotion, advertisement, and video content is still very important for a virtual event, before broadcasting on your event day.

Surprise and Delight Before the Event: Sending a swag bag prior to the event with items relevant to the event. For an upcoming conference, we are sending a box with a blue light blocking glasses, candle, custom door handle, notebook, T-shirt, and a coffee tumbler. We have a special note to go along with this kit to kick off the conference mindset. On the day of the conference, we asked everyone to wear the shirt provided. One less worry about what to wear on “top.”

Content is King: Offer educational, relevant, timely and meaningful content that people will want to hear. It is vital to create content that captivates guests, sparks their creativity and results in productivity.

Do Not Try to Replicate Your Live Event: Instead, look for new opportunities but stay true to purpose of your event. Keep principle of why your guests were coming together, and make it part of the equation.

Test, Test, and Test Again: Technical difficulties may occur, and it often distracts from your event. Have a run through with your speakers and moderator in advance and test the virtual release on your platforms.

Too Young to Retire Couple and Their Son Bring the Top Mobile Flooring Franchise To Dallas, Texas Area

LinkedIn
Mike & Daphne Williams stand outside in front of their work vehicle

Tired of traveling. Corporate buyout. Empty nesters. Too young to retire. Take all four ingredients, mix together and you have the perfect recipe for a new career and new direction in life as a franchise owner. That’s exactly what Mike and Daphne Williams cooked up as newly minted franchisees with Floor Coverings International, visiting customers’ homes in a Mobile Flooring Showroom stocked with thousands of flooring samples from top manufacturers. The Plano, Texas couple’s Floor Coverings International North Park/Dallas franchise serves clients throughout Highland Park, University Park, Preston Hollow, Lakewood, Lake Highlands and White Rock.

Mike Williams, 55, spent 30 years in medical device sales and management and most recently was regional sales director for a global medical device manufacturer. Having tired of a rigorous travel schedule, Williams took advantage of a buyout opportunity. Daphne Williams was a stay-at-home mom to the couple’s now grown sons and always had a passion for home improvement projects. Mike’s buyout package included the services of a franchise consultant and that’s when the couple discovered Floor Coverings International. “We were too young to retire and after 30 years in the corporate world, I was ready to tap into my entrepreneurial drive and be my own boss,” said Mike. The couple’s youngest son, Miller, will also be assisting in the new family business while remotely attending college.

In Floor Coverings International, the Williams’ found a company that has tripled in size since 2005 by putting a laser focus on consumer buying habits and expressed desires, its impressive operating model, growth ability, marketing, advertising and merchandising. Floor Coverings International further separates itself from the competition through its customer experience, made up of several simple and integrated steps that exceed customers’ expectations. “People are doing more home projects now and consumer spending is shifting from vacations to home improvement, so I believe the market is very strong,” Mike Williams said.

ABOUT FLOOR COVERINGS INTERNATIONAL

Floor Coverings International is the #1 Mobile Flooring Franchise in North America. Utilizing a unique in-home experience, the mobile showroom comes directly to the customer’s door with more than 3,000 flooring choices. Floor Coverings International has 150-plus locations throughout the U.S. and Canada with plenty of opportunity for continued expansion in 2020. For franchise information, please visit www.flooring-franchise.com and to find your closest location, www.floorcoveringsinternational.com.

‘Black Panther’ star Chadwick Boseman dies of cancer at 43

LinkedIn
Chadwick Bozeman holding oscar

Actor Chadwick Boseman, well-known for his role of The Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Jackie Robinson in biopic-, 42, has passed away after a four-year-long battle with colon cancer.

Boseman was 43 years old and passed away surrounded by his wife and family.

Though Boseman acted in several smaller roles since the early 2000’s, his acting career really took off in 2013 with the release of 42, playing the lead role of Jackie Robinson. From there, Boseman went on to star in several other historical pictures such as Thurgood Marshall in the movie Marshall and James Brown in the film Get on Up. In 2016, Boseman appeared as King T’Challa aka The Black Panther in the film, Captain America: Civil War and would continue to play the character for four Marvel films.

Being a huge influence to black people, especially children, through his role as The Black Panther, Boseman was also known for going to visit children in the hospital and keeping in touch with children from the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

Though Boseman had been fighting colon cancer since 2016, very few people knew of his diagnosis. In fact, many of his friends, co-stars, and executives were unaware of his condition. Through his battle with cancer, Boseman filmed at least four movies, including the four Marvel Cinematic Universe films.

Fans, friends, political figures and organizations alike took to social media on the weekend of Boseman’s death to pay their respects and talk of the influence he had on their lives and the lives of others.

“He made everyone feel loved, heard and seen,” Black Panther co-star, Danai Gurira wrote in an Instagram post to Chadwick, “He played great, iconic roles because he possessed inside of himself that connection to greatness to be able to so richly bring them to life.”

“From his groundbreaking work in Black Panther to his portrayal of Thurgood Marshall,” Vice Presidential nominee, Kamala Harris tweeted, Chadwick Boseman helped paint a new picture of what’s possible.”

But from his influence to his talent and beyond, the legacy he left was best described by Director Ryan Coogler who said, “Whether it was through his art or through his kindness to others, Boseman’s impact on the world was great. He was a caretaker, a leader, and a man of faith, dignity and pride, he shielded his collaborators from his suffering. He lived a beautiful life. And he made great art. Day after day, year after year. That was who he was. He was an epic firework display.”

Advice for Entrepreneurs, From Entrepreneurs

LinkedIn
collage of four diverse entrepreneurs

Starting a business is tough. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes the first years of a new business can be unstable (unsurprising) and volatile.

A third of all of young companies fail within two years and about half fail within five. Although these figures seem upsetting, all hope isn’t lost. It simply indicates that good business strategies and quality management are key to pushing through the initial volatile period. If you’re hoping to strike out on your own and launch the world’s next successful start-up, you’re going to need every bit of advice and support you can get. That’s why we’ve asked successful entrepreneurs to share their advice for the next generation of young business minds.

Here’s what they had to say.

‘Surround yourself with great people’

Team spirit is the defining factor for Danny Scott’s company CoinCorner. He said: “I think the most important thing is to surround yourself with great people. “You want to be able to trust your team to tell you when you’re going in the wrong direction or to be there as support when hard times come knocking. The team makes the company at the end of the day, and you’ll want to spend your time with people who believe in you and the business.”

‘Get ideas down, however silly or small’

Leiho aims to help people feel good by doing good for others. Founder Joey Li says the company’s journey began by selling socks to help homeless people – for every pair of socks sold, Leiho gives another to a homeless person. Li said: “Our socks are also made with bamboo because we believe in sustainability and social impact.” When it comes to launching a business, Li said the most important thing to do is take that first step: “Get ideas down on a piece of paper however silly or small it is. Once you see it in front of you, that brings your idea to life and more ideas come rushing to your head. “Don’t prolong the start – try to sketch out website ideas, packaging ideas or anything that will literally make you see the potential of whatever you’re selling.”

‘Don’t fear failure’

Li also told us that mistakes and setbacks shouldn’t be treated as the end of the road. “Fail fast and fail cheap. The earlier you make mistakes and fail, the cheaper and better it is for the future of your business. Don’t be disarmed by failure and don’t fear failure. Learn to accept it and learn to improve, develop and try again.”

‘Take the criticism because you never know how helpful it might be’,

Li added: “There will be people out there who don’t believe in your idea and there will be a lot of people out there who support it. Listen to both. Take the criticism because you never know how helpful it might be. “Ask them what else you could do, what else they like about your idea and what else they would suggest. This is the best market research you could ever do – get to know your customers!”

‘Keep an eye on your cash’

Cara Holland started her business Graphic Change 13 years ago, going on to work with brands including TimeWarner and Google, and now even has an online academy with students from over 70 countries learning to work more visually. She told us: “Keep an eye on your cash. For lots of businesses, you don’t need much to get started. Start with your minimum viable product and only spend what you absolutely need to evolve.

‘Trust yourself and be true to your vision and your values’

Holland also places great important on positivity and self-belief. She said: “Trust yourself but don’t be afraid to get input from potential customers and other people whose views you respect. Don’t just ask your family and friends because they’ll never tell you the truth for fear of hurting your feelings. “Be true to your vision and your values. The right customers and clients are out there. The more authentic you are, the easier it will be for them to find you.”

‘Don’t forget to enjoy the process’

Dhruvin Patel is the founder of Ocushield, the world’s only medically rated screen protector. Ocushield protects eyes and improves sleep while protecting your digital device, by limiting the amount of blue light emitted from the screen. As a qualified optometrist, he understands the importance of blue light protection in today’s society. He said: “Since qualifying, I was able to raise investment which allowed me to grow the business, the team and improve our products. When asked for his advice for other entrepreneurs, he said: “When launching a business, too many founders can get caught up in the end goal and forget to enjoy the process. Remember that developing a start-up can truly elevate your life both professionally and personally.”

Ayo Foods Brings Authentic West-African Cuisine To Us Grocers To Spice Up Frozen Foods Category

LinkedIn
black cuisine business owners Perteet and Fred Spencer pose together

Frozen meals just got a whole lot more joyful. AYO Foods, the authentic and delicious line of West-African inspired cuisine, has developed a partnership with Whole Foods and is now available at nearly 50 locations throughout Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.

Founders Perteet & Fred Spencer have developed the brand from their family’s own recipes that have been shared across generations. The line offers nutrient-dense, flavor-infused frozen meals and presents the opportunity for grocers to attract new and existing customers – including the large West-African millennial population and growing number of ethnic explorers.

Additional grocer tension points that AYO Foods are positioned to directly address include:

  • A brand with extensive growth potential across shelf and aisles – 38 percent of customers order out ethnic cuisine at least once a week. AYO Foods provides a new, convenient, and unexpectedly authentic option at grocers. The company’s initial line of inspired West African cuisine is tailored for the Frozen Foods section, however the company has many additional products in development.

 

  • New options for consumers to meet a growing demand for frozen ethnic cuisine – Three of the top five fastest growing frozen specialty entrees at grocers are internationally inspired. AYO Foods’ brings a new experience to the set to accelerate consumer interest in the category.

Ayo foods Jollof Rice ad

  • Stand out better-for-you options that meet consumer lifestyle demands – the deeply flavorful, nutrient-dense dishes celebrate the unique produce of West Africa with are convenient entrees for healthy meals on-the go.

 

  • AYO Foods is a proud, Black-owned business – as part of the cultural conversations that are currently taking place in the US, many retailers are being asked to commit to provide shelf-space for Black-owned businesses. Founders Perteet & Fred Spencer story connects with customers.

AYO Foods initial offerings that are currently available in select Whole Foods markets include:

 

  • Cassava Leaf Soup – Ground cassava leaves, chicken and spices slow cooked into a soup. The family recipe starts by grinding the Cassava plant’s fibrous leaves and simmering them with all natural chicken, cayenne pepper and savory spices until it makes the perfect family soup.

 

  • Jollof Rice – One pot long-grain rice spiced and stewed in a flavorful tomato broth with roasted red peppers and onions. A staple throughout the region, our recipe is based on the classic version.

AYO Soup Ad

  • Egusi Seed Soup – Ground melon seeds, fresh peppers, onions and spinach slow cooked into a savory stew. This recipe is chock-full of nutrients and is high in protein and healthy fats.

AYO Foods can be found in the frozen-food section with a suggested retail price of: $5.99. The rich flavors come from sustainably-sourced ingredients inspired by Perteet and Fred’s family traditions. @AYOFoods can be found on Instagram and Facebook. For more information, please visit www.AYO-foods.com.

ABOUT AYO FOODS

Founded by Perteet and Fred Spencer in 2019, AYO Foods is a celebration of West African cuisine. AYO Means “joy” in Yoruba, one of the many languages spoken in West Africa. These savory and spicy recipes have brought joy to the Spencer family for generations. AYO foods feature nutrient-dense, flavor-infused dishes and can be found in the frozen food section at select retailers across the US. To locate a retailer, please visit the company’s website www.AYO-Foods.com. Fans are encouraged to follow @AYOFoods for brand updates on Instagram and Facebook.

Emmys 2020: Record Number of Black Actors Score Nominations

LinkedIn
collage of 2020 emmy nominees

The Television Academy nominated a record number of Black actors for Emmys recently, with 34.3% of the acting nominees being Black.

There were 102 acting nominees this year across lead, supporting and guest categories for drama, comedy and limited series/TV movie. Thirty-five of those slots went to Black actors (notably, Maya Rudolph actually accounts for two of those slots, being nominated against herself in the guest comedy actress category for her work on both “The Good Place” and “Saturday Night Live”).

Other nominees in top acting categories include Billy Porter, Sterling K. Brown, Zendaya, Anthony Anderson, Don Cheadle, Issa Rae, Tracee Ellis Ross, Regina King, Jeremy Pope, Octavia Spencer and Kerry Washington.

This is a notable increase from last year, when Black actors made up 19.8% of the nominee pool, as well as an increase from 2018, when there were 27.7% Black actors nominated — the previous highest percentage in the Academy’s history.

“2020 isn’t just about the global health crisis. This year we are also bearing witness to one of the greatest fights for social justice in history, and it is our duty to use this medium for change. That is the power and responsibility of television — not only delivering a multitude of services or a little escapism, but also amplifying the voices that must be heard and telling the stories that must be told. Because television, by its very nature, connects us all,” said Frank Scherma, chairman and CEO, Television Academy, at the start of the nominations announcement.

But the fight for inclusion is far from over, as these numbers have ticked up but are still far from parity. And although the acting categories are still split by gender, which forces parity, the writing and directing categories are not.

The writing categories fared better than directing, but only marginally, when it came to parity. Not including the variety series writing category which lists entire staffs on the ballots, the select writers scoring noms in the drama, comedy, limited series/TV movie/dramatic special, variety special and documentary or nonfiction program consisted of 40 people, 13 of which were women. This is 32.5% women nominees (67.5% men). The limited series/TV movie/dramatic special category is what really made the difference, with six of nine nominees here being women, including “Unorthodox’s” Anna Winger and “Normal People’s” Sally Rooney and Alice Birch.

Continue on to Variety to read the complete article.

Using Your Voice as a Powerful Business Tool

LinkedIn
Angelica Nwandu headshot

By Angelica Nwandu

The power of voice is an often-underestimated tool within the business world. Countless entrepreneurs have harnessed the power of their voices to create strong online brands that people trust.

By putting your voice out there, you can establish yourself as a leader in the industry—translating into endless business opportunities. If you’re an up-and-coming entrepreneur, the number one way to grow your brand is by sharing your expertise across all mediums. You’ll see the ROI in no time!

Here’s how you can use your voice as a powerful business tool through content and other means:

Find Your Niche

The first step in using your voice as a business tool is to establish your expertise. You need to establish yourself as an expert within your niche. That is the only way your audience will take your words as an authoritative resource.           

Dive into your skillset and find the area that you believe is your strongest field. What can you offer that no one else in your industry can?

Once you’ve found the place where you can set yourself apart from the rest, target in on that. Create useful and educational content surrounding your expertise. Write about things no one else besides you can write about, and find the questions no one has answered yet. By doing this, you will start to gain traction and attract a significant audience.

Have a Strong Social Presence

Social media is important for networking and discovering potential customers. Post consistently to LinkedIn and connect with prospects. Your connections will then see your expertise and hopefully consider you as a thought leader.

Always engage with your followers. Respond to comments and encourage conversation on your social profiles. Make sure every one of your social profiles is complete with a profile picture, bio, and more so that you come off as authentic and professional.

In addition to all this, feel free to join social groups on Facebook and more that you believe could bring a larger audience to your brand. Share your own personal articles and additional educational resources that would be of value to these groups.

Be Authentic

One crucial part of transforming your voice into a business tool is authenticity. In order to utilize your voice as a tool for business, you first need to establish trust. And trust only comes with authenticity.

When posting content or networking with potential clients, be sure to be authentic. If people trust you and your content, they’ll be more likely to do business with you. Post content in your personal tone and voice. Be a useful and reliable educational resource for your target audience.

Also, pass on the self-promotional content. Post and share content that your audience can truly benefit from as opposed to self-promotional advertisements. 

Post Consistently

If you want to be taken seriously in your industry, you must post consistently. Posting consistently will establish you and your brand as a trusted voice in your niche. Post educational, compelling, and unique content that will help you reach your audience. Create a posting schedule that keeps you on track to share educational content. Overall, hold yourself accountable to posting regularly.

Also, make sure your tone and quality are both consistent. You want your content to be top-notch every time you share content.

Harness the Power of Video

Video is one of the most essential mediums today. It can convey vital information more effectively while also offering more opportunities for creativity. It will communicate your voice better and stronger.

Instead of writing post after post, consider a quick one or two-minute video. Speak about topical subjects, best practices, and more. This can make you stand out in your industry and garner trust from your audience.

Seek out Speaking Opportunities

One of the best ways to use your voice as a business tool offline is to seek out speaking opportunities. If your city is hosting a conference or convention within your industry, see if there’s any way you can contribute. Volunteer for a panel and showcase your expertise. Attendees will take note of your insight, and you may be able to turn them into customers.

Overall, your voice can be a powerful business tool to attract a broad audience. Choose your words wisely and utilize your expertise to find your target market. Authenticity, trust, and consistency can go a long way, so be sure always to put your best foot forward.

Your voice is the most powerful business tool you have. Start using it today!

Angelica Nwandu is the founder of The Shade Room, a site that covers celebrity news and celebrates black culture. She was named as one of Forbes “30 under 30” in 2016 and has created a media company that inspired Refinery 29 to dub Nwandu “the Oprah of our generation.”

Former Attorney Launches First Black-Owned Stock Exchange in 230 Year US Stock Exchange History

LinkedIn
black businessman working on laptop wearing a suit smiling

When it comes to investing, estate planning, and overall generational wealth building, Black people are often at a severe disadvantage due to a shortage of knowledge, education, and access.

And while in recent years, there has been an increase in resources and opportunities for Black people to plan for their futures, grow their money, and set their children up for financial success, they are still lightyears behind compared to their white counterparts. Former attorney, Joe Cecala, recognized this and, through a partnership with Cadiz Capital Holding LLC, a minority-owned private equity firm, founded The Dream Exchange, the first Black-owned stock exchange in the 230 years of US stock exchanges.

Dream Exchange’s mission is to “focus on small business capital formation and diversity using the power of the American investing public.” The new stock exchange promises to “allow investors to empower innovators and emerging businesses in a way that has never been done before.”

In a statement, Cecala shared, “The Dream Exchange is a real solution to the long-term systemic issues plaguing our country by providing a marketplace where money flows to any organizations that help us to survive better as a society.” He hopes to provide access to the capital markets system by making it available to more individuals and businesses. Cecala also says that the Dream Exchange will list new companies with breakthrough ideas at an early stage so that investors will see the most significant potential opportunity.

William H. Ellison (Bill), Chairman of Cadiz Capital Holding LLC, said, “For years my team and I have looked for a way to help mid-size businesses participate more extensively in the US economy, we feel the Dream Exchange is that way.”

When it comes to investing, estate planning, and overall generational wealth building, Black people are often at a severe disadvantage due to a shortage of knowledge, education, and access. And while in recent years, there has been an increase in resources and opportunities for Black people to plan for their futures, grow their money, and set their children up for financial success, they are still lightyears behind compared to their white counterparts. Former attorney, Joe Cecala, recognized this and, through a partnership with Cadiz Capital Holding LLC, a minority-owned private equity firm, founded The Dream Exchange, the first Black-owned stock exchange in the 230 years of US stock exchanges.

Dream Exchange’s mission is to “focus on small business capital formation and diversity using the power of the American investing public.” The new stock exchange promises to “allow investors to empower innovators and emerging businesses in a way that has never been done before.”

In a statement, Cecala shared, “The Dream Exchange is a real solution to the long-term systemic issues plaguing our country by providing a marketplace where money flows to any organizations that help us to survive better as a society.” He hopes to provide access to the capital markets system by making it available to more individuals and businesses. Cecala also says that the Dream Exchange will list new companies with breakthrough ideas at an early stage so that investors will see the most significant potential opportunity.

William H. Ellison (Bill), Chairman of Cadiz Capital Holding LLC, said, “For years my team and I have looked for a way to help mid-size businesses participate more extensively in the US economy, we feel the Dream Exchange is that way.”

In addition, due to the current global pandemic, the Dream Exchange has been educating members of Congress on the need for venture securities, how to protect capital markets, and the creation of opportunities in the post-COVID environment.

Continue on to the Chicago Defender to read the complete article.

Who Said Woman Was Not Meant to Fly?

LinkedIn
Bronwyn Morgan pictured smiling sitting at a table

By Laurie Dowling, National Utilities Diversity Council

What do you get when a serial innovator merges her vocation and her avocation? You get Bronwyn Morgan, founder of Xeo Air, an outsourced AI-based drone services and data analytics company, and Airversity Drone Academy & Consulting.

Founded in 2019, Xeo Air is the next step in a management and entrepreneurial journey that has taken Bronwyn from strategic visioning at Fortune 100 companies like Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola, to media, academia and now aerospace futuring.

For those of us whose knowledge of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV – drones) has mostly been garnered from adventure movies, it may come as a surprise that in the next two years the commercial drone industry in the US is expected to reach $100 billion. In the four years since the Federal Aviation Administration granted more operations exemptions and flight regulations for professional drone services, they have increasingly become a part of business and civilian life, even if we aren’t always aware of them. They do and will perform functions ranging from mapping and data collection to delivery, crop fertilizing and facility disinfecting.

Xeo Air focuses on business to business solutions with inspection and mapping services with high definition video, thermography, LIDAR and infrared, for industries including civil infrastructure, oil and gas, wind, solar, utilities, construction, telecommunications, disaster response and government. Xeo Air is a young startup with an administrative team of four and 20 FAA part 107 certified pilots, and Bronwyn and her backers see it poised for growth as companies continue to embrace this game-changing geospatial data collection tool that saves businesses time and money so they can make decisions more quickly.

Additionally, to serve the growing need in public safety and corporations that need in-house capacity in unmanned aerial vehicles, a year ago, Bronwyn created a training company – Airversity Drone Academy and Consulting – which fields a team of FAA 107 certified instructors (pilots) based around the US who provide FAA exam prep and flight training.

A few questions for Bronwyn:

Are there a lot of drone companies owned by women?

I am part of a small but growing segment of the industry owned by women. Less than 10 percent of drone companies are owned by women, but the numbers are increasing, and there are more women in senior positions in larger companies as well.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced with your company so far?

Scaling up. It takes resources and time to grow your client base and to source talent, and you must sharpen your business model as the environment changes in this young industry. We also have limitations based on regulations and equipment innovation, but that is changing rapidly.

Have you had to educate potential customers on drone services because of misperceptions?

Absolutely. What most people know of drones is primarily their military usage. Our UAVs are very different and our business is different. We have to educate our potential clients about how drones can help their businesses and how we can help them make decisions faster, safer and at a lower price point than traditional services. And when you put it together with machine learning and artificial intelligence, the data becomes more actualized. There are so many uses for our services. Example: We’re able to get up and down a tower for routine inspection within an hour and capture significant data critical to immediate maintenance requirements. We can also assess damage to critical infrastructure after disasters, which can mean life and death in emergency response. Additionally, our capabilities can provide streaming information that allows customers to see real time the status of any asset. The use cases are endless.

What do you think is your competitive advantage?

We’re building an end-to-end product. We can collect data; keep you informed digitally through the processes and analyze the information for immediate use. We’re able to take care of customers end to end. And we can do it securely, with a high level of customer service. We treat our clients’ business as if it were our own.

What is in your future?

I’m working on solutions with flying passenger vehicles, to be announced soon. This is the future of aeronautics. It’s a dream job. When I was in high school, I wanted to fly fighter planes, which they didn’t allow women to do. I think my job is better!

We agree. In fact, please forgive the pun, but we think Bronwyn is soaring.

For more information on Xeo Air click here.

For more information on Airversity, click here.

For more information on NUDC and its free programs to advance diversity, click here.

America's Leading African American Business and Career Magazine

Verizon

verizon

Upcoming Events

  1. NFBPA: A Construct for Change Forum 2020
    October 8, 2020 - October 13, 2020
  2. HBCU Career Development Marketplace
    November 10, 2020 - November 12, 2020

Upcoming Events

  1. NFBPA: A Construct for Change Forum 2020
    October 8, 2020 - October 13, 2020
  2. HBCU Career Development Marketplace
    November 10, 2020 - November 12, 2020