Meet UCLA’s First African American Athletic Director

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Martin Jarmond in a suit speaking at a conference

Martin Jarmond, the first and most recent athletic director at Boston College and the youngest director to ever be in the Power Five Conferences, will be breaking another record with his newest position.

On May 17, it was announced that Martin Jarmond will become the new athletic director of UCLA. This will make Jarmond the first African American man to hold the position in the school’s 101-year history.

Having an extensive background in sports both on the court and in his studies, Jarmond has quickly been able to move up the ladder of sports administration and is speculated to be the perfect fit to help UCLA fix the financial debt of the previous year’s $18.9 million deficit.

Continue on to the L.A. Times’ Website to read the complete article.

Photo Credit: Stephen Senne/Associated Press

The Newest Member of the Billionaire’s Club

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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

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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

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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.

Advice for Entrepreneurs, From Entrepreneurs

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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.”

Washington hires Jason Wright as NFL’s first Black team president

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Jason Wright headshot

Washington has hired Jason Wright as team president, making him the first Black team president in NFL history and only the fourth former player to ascend to that role.

More than any historic aspect, Wright said that what excites him is the convergence of his two worlds: football and business.

“It’s a huge moment to bring those two worlds together,” he told ESPN. “What other job would they come together at such a unique time for an organization at the point our team is? I’m just happy I landed in this role at that time. There are other reasons it’s historic, but that’s a byproduct of me being the right and qualified candidate at this time. All of that is just icing on the cake.”

But Wright said he understands the significance of his hiring.

“What it tries to signal is that, at least in this organization, the hindrances that tend to be in place around Black talent in other places are breaking down,” he said, “and that should send a signal more broadly to the shift in culture that Dan and Tanya Snyder, Coach Rivera and myself are now trying to make.”

Washington had been without a president since Bruce Allen was fired after the 2019 season. The team hired coach Ron Rivera and gave him full power, as owner Dan Snyder said he wanted a coach-centric approach.

Wright’s hiring won’t change that, as he won’t be involved in the football side like Allen was during his 10-year reign. Wright, 38, will focus only on the business side, including operations, finance, sales and marketing. Like Rivera, he will report directly to Snyder.

“[Rivera] is the chief executive of everything that happens on the football side, and I run the business side,” Wright said. “It’s super clear.”

Wright said he began talking with Snyder fairly recently about the job and called it a whirlwind.

“You could say there’s a lot going on, you sure you want to take this on? Yeah, absolutely,” Wright said. “Their actions] made me really confident I could come in here and effect change, that I’d have the ability and autonomy to make real change.”

He also embraces the challenge of coming to the NFL while facing the obstacles of a pandemic and at a time when “the Washington Football Team is at a unique moment, and the NFL, for better or worse, is at the center of so much important dialogue around the role of sport, the players finding their voice about the things they care about.”

Wright will be tasked with helping to change the culture in Washington. Another challenge will be to help locate an area to build a new stadium. Washington has been trying to find a spot in Virginia, Maryland or the District of Columbia for several years. The lease on the land at FedEx Field expires after the 2027 season.

Continue on to ESPN to read the complete article.

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

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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.

The I PROMISE Village: How Lebron James is Helping His Hometown

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LeBron James wearing #23 jersey standing on basketball court smiling

Despite the current circumstances of the world and the approaching NBA season, professional basketball star Lebron James has found another way to give back to his hometown of Akron.

Citing his hometown as an essential part of his success, James founded “The Lebron James Family Foundation” to give back some of his success to his Ohio hometown. For years, the organization has utilized tools in education to help the citizens of Akron, but as of late, has taken on one of its most ambitious projects yet: to help the disadvantaged families of the city.

On July 22, The Lebron James Foundation opened up the I PROMISE village, a transitional building set to provide families of an immediate home in the case of abuse, homelessness or other emergencies. The building will finally be opening after six months of refurbishing in partnership with 23 other companies.

Besides providing a space where families can feel safety of having a roof over their heads, the village will also be providing meals, community engagement, and life skill classes to help their tenants get back on their feet.

“This is about more than just getting kids to school,” the foundation executive director, Michele Campbell announced. “This is about keeping them alive. We’re seeing families struggling every day with very real and oftentimes unexpected issues that turn their worlds upside down. This will allow the family time and opportunities to grow while not worrying if they’ll have a roof over their heads.”

Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes now part owner of Royals

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Patrick Mahomes on football wearing the red #15 jersey smiling

Patrick Mahomes, the star quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs and reigning Super Bowl MVP, has become a member of the new ownership group of the Kansas City Royals.

The Royals announced Mahomes’ partial ownership Tuesday, noting that he “spent a lot of time in clubhouses as a kid.”

“He loves football, but he also grew up loving the game of baseball,” said John Sherman, principal owner of the Royals. “We look forward to many years of a winning partnership.”

Mahomes is the son of former major league pitcher Pat Mahomes, who pitched in more than 300 big league games, mostly as a reliever.

“I’m honored to become a part-owner of the Kansas City Royals,” Mahomes said in a statement released by the team.

“I love this city and the people of this great town. This opportunity allows me to deepen my roots in this community, which is something I’m excited to do.”

Earlier this month, Mahomes signed a 10-year extension with the Chiefs that ties him to Kansas City through the 2031 season. League sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the deal is worth $450 million over the 10-year period and could be worth up to $503 million.

The extension includes a $140 million injury guarantee, as well as a no-trade clause.

Continue on to ESPN to read the complete article.

Using Your Voice as a Powerful Business Tool

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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

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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?

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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.

What Will the Workplace Look Like After Covid-19?

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By BWISE

What will the workplace look like after the long nightmare of Covid-19 is over? While there is no way to be certain of the changes to come, it will most definitely be much different than it looked prior to it.

Companies across the country are laying off and furloughing employees in record numbers and unemployment has reached levels not seen since The Great Depression. In addition, we now have four generations in the workplace: Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Generation Z., each with their own needs and perspective on how Covid-19 has affected them. Unlike other economic downturns, this pandemic has also resulted in significant illness and loss of life for millions of people. And the devastation of small businesses is unprecedented.

How will organizations of the future handle all of this?

Companies are in the business of making money, not dealing with the fallout of a healthcare and fiscal crisis. There is not even a business function that exists to handle what corporations, government or academia is dealing with these days. While human resources might seem like the appropriate department to coordinate these efforts, it is not. After years of reductions in staff, it has neither the capacity nor the qualifications to even adequately handle what is happening now. What’s needed immediately and for the long term are experts in workplace solutions. These experts are paying attention to global social and economic trends and are advising business leaders on how not just survive, but to adapt.

The Importance of D&I

In the future, we will almost certainly see a rise in positions in life sciences as well as in supply chain management. As software began to take over the world, both industries have faced reductions in salaries and employees due to managements’ drive to cut costs. While millions of people practiced social distancing at home, we now see how essential these functions really are. And just as important is ensuring that organizations are not cutting back on their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) efforts amidst all of this. The economic disparity in race and gender has had a tremendous impact on communities of color. The rates of infection and mortality for Blacks and Hispanics far exceeds that of the population overall. Business and political leaders must prioritize plans to make sure that EVERYONE in the workforce can earn a livable wage.

Moving the Needle

Without an influx of new talent each year, the United States will far further behind other nations in innovative and technological advances. There is still a critical need for qualified technical workers, but we cannot expect women and underrepresented minorities to remain in work environments where they do not grow and thrive. We also cannot expect girls to enter fields where they do not see positive role models. It’s imperative that we stop the constant drip from the leaky STEM pipeline by working hard to retain diverse candidates from the middle to the end. Despite our best efforts to encourage future generations to become scientists and engineers, there is no guarantee they will enter or stay in the STEM workforce once their education is complete. Let’s spend more time and money to ensure we can keep those Black women who are determined enough to make science a career.

Founded by Erika Jefferson, Black Women in Science and Engineering (BWISE), which supports underrepresented women in STEM through networking, mentorship, and career development, is partnering with Cambio, a multi-faceted recruiting and diversity platform founded by Neil Patwardhan and Bob Richards. Both organizations are focused on truly moving the needle on DEI hiring in meaningful way.

Partnering for Good

BWISE, with its professional job board and network of over 15,000 scientists, engineers and technologists, can focus on guiding employers and diverse job seekers with a focus on Black women in STEM. And Cambio, through its diversity engine and analytics, can spotlight diverse candidates and focus on delivering the best. BWISE was founded with the purpose to support underrepresented women through networking, mentorship and career development. The group primarily consists of Black women from middle management through senior leadership with degrees in the sciences, math and engineering who would like to connect with others. The organization provides a platform and a space to share career experiences and be empowered.

Cambio’s mission is to create a more human experience in the world of recruiting and job searching, and to make the process more transparent by embracing the swipe culture of viral mobile applications. A powerful part of the company’s platform is the ability to surface underrepresented qualified talent to ensure recruiters get the right visibility. Cambio aims to speed up the hiring process and lead the way in diversity hiring to help companies meet their workforce goals for 2020 and beyond.

For additional information, news and updates on BWISE, visit www.bwiseusa.org.  

For additional information, news and updates on Cambio, visit www.cambiome.com.

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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