All Articles Tagged "business"

Enter Our “Be The Boss” Contest For A Chance To Win A Free Makeover From Strength Of Nature

August 24th, 2015 - By Madame Noire
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Are you a woman who's about her business or know someone who is? We want to hear from you!

MadameNoire is providing two women a chance to win a makeover by Strength of Nature for sharing their story of their journey to becoming a boss with us. To get your name in the running, upload a video of yourself or a family or friend you want to nominate to Facebook or Instagram explaining how this person is a boss why they should be picked for the makeover and be sure to use #BeTheBossMN hashtag. Then send an email studios@moguldom.com with the following:

- subject headline: #BeTheBossMN Contest Entry
- Link to your video on FB/Instagram
- headshot of the person nominated
- Full name
- Age
- Location
- A short paragraph explaining why the nominee should win the makeover

Check out the video above for more details and good luck!

Diner Owner Yells At Toddler For Crying In Restaurant: “This Has Got To Stop!”

July 21st, 2015 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Shutterstock

Shutterstock

The owner and chief cook of Marcy’s Diner, located in Maine, Darla Neugebauer received backlash via social media for yelling at a toddler for crying incessantly during a recent visit. Neugebauer wrote on Facebook that the girl had been crying for over 40 minutes, when she slammed her hands down on the counter and told the young child, “This has got to stop!”

The Associated Press reports, Neugebauer observed the parents of the 21-month-old child during their visit. They ordered three pancakes for their daughter but didn’t feed her when the food arrived. Neugebauer said of her behavior, “Life’s full of choices and you’ve got to live with all of them, I chose to yell at a kid, it made her shut up, which made me happy, it made my staff happy, it made the 75 other people dining here happy, and they left. They may never come back, other people may not come in. Their loss really.”

The child’s mother, Tara Carson, wrote on Facebook that people should understand crying is normal for children to do, especially if they waited a long time for food. Carson added that she turned to her daughter after Neugebauer yelled at her and said she is not raising her child to become someone like the owner of the diner: “I felt helpless as a mom that, you know, I couldn’t do anything to help her, because I can’t explain why there’s crazy people in this world that behave like that.”

Although tons of people have added their two cents on the Marcy’s Diner Facebook page, Neugebauer seems #unbothered. In many of the diner’s Facebook posts, Neugebauer notes she gets “sh*t done” and her supporters have left encouraging messages, noting they will continue to support her business.

Should business owners ask families with crying children to be quiet?


ABC US News | World News

Why Getting Fired Could Be The Best Thing For Your Career

June 4th, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: Tumblr

Image Source: Tumblr

Getting fired can feel like the worst thing in the world. But it doesn’t have to. See getting fired as an opportunity and it could be just what you need to jump-start your career.

Publicist Sasha Brookner Shares Her Keys For Launching Successful Artists & PR Firms

June 1st, 2015 - By Rana Campbell
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photo credit Djeneba Aduayom

Photo credit: Djeneba Aduayom

As anyone involved in the music industry knows, public relations is an ever-important part of launching (and maintaining) one’s career. How you handle your relationship with your target market could either help or hurt, so having someone on your team whose job it is to manage and leverage those relationships is crucial.

Meet Sasha Brookner founder of boutique public relations firm Helio PR. Over the past 16 years, Brookner has worked with artists such Ceelo, N’Dambi, Katt Williams, Goapele, Ledisi, and Lira. We chatted with Sasha about her background, what it’s like being a publicist, and how she believes the branding and publicity paradigms are changing for emerging and established artists.

Check out the interview below!

MadameNoire (MN): What inspired you to be come an entrepreneur and launch your own PR firm?
Sasha Brookner (SB):  When I was growing up, my mother and grandfather both had their own businesses. I was able to see the freedom they had as business owners. That was always in the back of my mind.

I went to UCLA and majored in history. During my last  year, I didn’t have enough credits to graduate on time, so I decided to do some internships in publishing, A&R, promotion, and the last one was publicity. It was cool because I was working directly with writers to develop stories.  I didn’t have to deal directly with the politics of music executives and labels. That was the beginning where I figured out I could do this.

As soon as I graduated, I got a job at Red Ant, a subsidiary of BMG, as an assistant publicist. When Red Ant went under, an associate called me up and wanted me to come over to The Courtney Barnes Group. I worked there for a couple of years and branched out and started my own company.

MN: What were some challenges you faced early on?
SB: When you start your own business, you have to be the rainmaker.  At the time, I had saved up enough money so that I really wasn’t stressing it that much. Public relations is great because there wasn’t a lot of overhead. I started working at home. There weren’t a lot of hurdles because I was already seasoned as a publicist. Everyone told me that if I really did a good job and focused on whatever I was doing, things would spread word of mouth.

Another challenge was that I had to be very creative because I was working with independent  grassroots artists who didn’t have radio, marketing, or worldwide tours. We were up against corporate firms who are already established and working with major label artists. In the beginning, you had to be much more creative with pitching.

MN: Who was your first client?
SB: N’Dambi. She had such an interesting story. Before we knew it, we got her in L’Uomo Vogue and Vogue Hommes. She was getting so much press even Erykah Badu (who she sang background for) was like “Wait, who’s doing your press?” This was before the female neo-soul thing took off.  Now, it would be almost impossible to get a background singer selling CDs out the trunk of her car into these outlets.

We get 85 percent of our clients through referral. That started with N’Dambi. Then, Ledisi and Goapele were calling me. I saw artists that were falling short in marketing. That was our niche in the beginning. We expanded to painters, graphic designers, actors, and spoken word artists.

Sasha Brookner 2

MN: What is it like to work with mainstream celebrity clients versus more grassroots artists?
SB: It’s easier. We started working with Katt Williams during the end of his Wildin’ Out season on MTV. He was taking off with Pimp Chronicles. When you’re working with someone who everyone wants to interview, it’s more work, but it’s not as challenging. It’s not like you have to pitch. Then again, there are problems such as personalities and missing photo shoots. When there’s a lot of money involved, there are a lot of issues and then you have to do crisis management.

Grassroots artists are my favorite and more satisfying. You’re taking people who normally wouldn’t get this type of exposure who are seasoned in their craft and helping them get to a plateau that they probably would not have.

With bigger artists you don’t want to over-saturate the market because you are getting so many requests. With independent artists, you want to do as much as you can that is quality press.

MN: How has the PR world changed over the years?
SB: The biggest shift has been the digital world. When we first started off, it was just magazines and television. Magazines worked four-to-five months in advance. Now, you can do a story and 24 hours later the story is up on an online site. The pieces are much more topical and newsworthy.

When I started off with music artists, they were just in musical publications talking about music. Now, the majority of my clients are all using fashion (and other creative avenues) as outlets to promote whatever projects they have.

MN: Why has celebrity branding become so prominent in our culture?
SB: The word “branding” has become a buzz word. I like my clients to be more fluid. I like to go and let it happen organically as opposed to typecasting  someone, putting them in a box, and then selling that to the media.

However, I understand the importance of creating an identity that is recognizable to the people and the fans. Some people skip over the “Why are you important? What void do you fill?” You definitely have to live your brand, master your craft, and be known for something.

If it doesn’t match your personal brand, you shouldn’t do it. There are people like Taylor Swift who turn down movie scripts all the time that don’t reflect who she is. Or, someone like Immortal Technique, a rapper, who turns down corporate endorsement deals.

Reinvent yourself. Beyonce is the paragon of this. Do it so that it is an evolution and not a marketing scheme.

MN: How would you advise the everyday woman trying to build her brand?
SB: Interacting on social media is important. You have to figure out a way to mix the professional and personal. I’m really big on presentation. Find a good photographer and good writer for your bio.

That’s really important and is the first thing that you should do. When you’re dealing with media, they are top-notch English majors that went to journalism school and know their stuff. You can’t just hit them with something that is wack.

Network. I’m on Facebook all the time. I realized that all these people (like editors at Vogue) who may not have gotten back to me before were following my political tirades on Facebook. They loved my radical ideas and were like, “If you need anything, just shoot me over an email.” I realized that I was creating more relationships when I wasn’t even trying to.

Go to the sites that you want to be on and look for the Contact or About Us in the masthead. You can reach out to editors just to establish a relationship.

MN: What has allowed you to get so far in your career?
SB: Picking clients wisely is important. I won’t take on a client if I don’t think I can get them any press. I don’t care how much they’re paying. The industry is so small. People talk. We get 85 to 90 percent of our clients via word-of-mouth. I don’t want anyone unhappy. We’re very selective, however, yes, you do have some pay-your-bill clients.

Be proactive. Meet people. I always tell people, “Be careful. You could meet a guy at a party. He could have on ripped jeans and Birkenstocks and you pay him no attention. He could be the brother of the CEO of Coca Cola.  You never know who somebody is.”

Be organized and get back to people. There are a lot of publicists I know who don’t. Even if I get back to say that an artist isn’t available or we can’t do it at this time, I make a point of trying to get back to people. I know publicists who worked at major labels and ignored everyone. Then, they branched off and started their own PR firms and those same editors won’t deal with them.

Sasha Brookner 2

MN: Where do you see Helio PR going in the next few years?
SB: People have been asking me that for years, but it’s really just been consistently what I’m doing such as finding new acts that are dope. I don’t see myself being in a high-rise or corporate entity.

Although I only have four to six clients at a time, they are clients we are really invested into. What I do sustains my lifestyle. I get a lot of freedom. I get massages. I sleep eight to nine hours. What I do affords me the ability to live my life and do what I want to do.

Rana Campbell is a freelance writer and marketing/branding strategist. Connect with her on TwitterFacebook, Instagram, Linkedin or visit ranacampbell.com

Keep The Drama On The Stage Brunch: Put These Kids To Work!

April 28th, 2015 - By Rich
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Recently, I had the pleasure of taking my daughter to a brunch with a group of young, Black female actors in Harlem. What an experience it was. The interesting fact most all of these young ladies were “working actors.” Some, like Eden Duncan-Smith, had been in movies like “Annie” and others had been in Broadway plays. My friend deduced that all were divas. My daughter has enjoyed many things, but I’ve found that her desire to act is her only true passion to date. So, I told her…”lets go to work!”

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When I came up, I always “worked” even as as kid. My dad offered me my first job and subsequently was the first person to fire me too. He was an industrial arts teacher that was a builder on the side. He would build onto existing houses and my brother and I were his helpers. Even though that was not my passion, it taught my a lesson that would thread through my life: you gotta hustle. It also thought me the importance of setting work ethic early on. Last, but definitely not least, it taught me that business-for-self was the way to go.

At the “Keep The Drama On The Stage” brunch, young ladies 18 and under celebrate their ability to work together in the business and not fight each other as they rise to the top. It seemed to be working. The girls were taking selfies, eating, and being openly mentored by other women. Olamide Faison, an extremely talented musician, even serenaded the girls. It was all great fun.

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I had another agenda that lurked underneath the obvious.

I want my daughter to get to working now. It took me a long time to get myself going in life, but when I did, I went to work. I openly admit, I was not the best student. In college though, you couldn’t find a person “worked” harder than I did in college. I did the the Black student paper, the regular paper, was a DJ at the school’s radio station, helped book artists on campus, programmed events through several organizations, and even had a few hobbies. And then I had a jobs that paid me like stacking books at the library or being a camp counselor for kids. One thing is for certain, I went to work. In this day and age, we have to instill these values in our kids – that they must learn the value of hard work.

For me, I also want to teach my daughter the value of entrepreneurship and doing for self.

Over the past few years, I have taken my daughter with me to “work.” This means she attends some of my speaking engagements or is present when I have having meetings. She seems me working all the time. An odd thing happened when it came to the actual “Take Your Child To Work Day” last week. We really didn’t have anything to “do.” I could have taken her to my office, but I typically don’t go to the office my parenting days. Thanks to the internet, AllHipHop.com allows me to come and go as I please for the most part. I totally flipped the script on her. I put her to work.

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She started to write her first script and I helped her lay down the foundation. I drew a clear line between this effort and the other mini-movies she’s done with her cousin and friends. After the script is done, we’re going to shoot this summer. I also let her sit in on my meetings and we talked extensively about business. This is important stuff. All the actresses at the KTDOTS brunch are little businesses within themselves. They may have parents that guide that business, but ultimately the guardians are only a part of the echo system around the business. We have to teach them business and their value in it.

Most of our kids are smarter than we were, but the world they are growing up in will be harder if we parent don’t do our job well. They need to start working now so they can get a head start on good habits, work ethic and maybe…just maybe…they will strike gold on the way to adulthood. I know the young ladies at brunch are betting on it.

Special shout out to clothing store RUUM clothing store in Tribeca and TweenGirlStyle.com

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Yve-Car Momperousse’s Kreyol Essence Provides For Natural Hair & The People Of Haiti

April 13th, 2015 - By Rochelle Burnley
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KE YveCar headshotHaitian-American business owner Yve-Car Momperousse started her international business, Kreyol Essence, after a visit to the hair salon that didn’t turn out quite as planned. As a woman with natural hair, Yve-Car understands the importance of hair care and ensuring that your tresses are strong and healthy. As a woman of Haitian descent, she understands the importance of hard work and making a social impact. Thus, Kreyol Essence was established. This line of eco-luxury beauty and personal care products is made exclusively in Haiti using organic and natural ingredients and provides many women and men in Haiti with employment and financial security.

Yve- Car spoke with MadameNoire about the impact that owning an international business has had on her and Haiti.

MadameNoire: What inspired you to create Kreyol Essence?
Yve-Car Momperousse: One is I had what I call a “hair catastrophe.” I was going to an event and wanted to look my best and I went to go get my hair straightened. You know, using the old hot comb, and the hairdresser did a great job. My hair looked wonderful, but two days later when I went to wash out the press, my hair came out with it. And you can imagine that that was quite an experience to see your hair falling out in clumps.

So after crying, I pulled myself together and like any good millennial I went online to try to understand what caused my hair to fall out. It was then that I learned about heat damage and when I was thinking about what I could use to regrow my hair, it dawned on me that there was an oil that my mom used to use which essentially solved every issue in the house. It was put in our hair, it was put on our skin if it was dry; it was like our Robitussin. And I couldn’t think of what it was called and I called her up and she said, “Oh it’s Lwil Maskriti” which translates to Haitian Black Castor Oil.

I went to the store thinking, “Ok, I live in Philadelphia… There are plenty of Africans and Caribbean folks there. I should be able to find the product.” What I found was castor oil from China, India, and other places. They were all refined. They had hexane, bleach, and other additives. So, I jokingly said to my mom, “This is crazy. Can I get some of your stash from Haiti? How wonderful would it be if women could have access it?” And she said “That’s a good idea.” When we started thinking about what the social benefits to the country would be as a result of making a business out of this, that’s what really inspired me to start Kreyol Essence.

Kreyol Essence PhotoMN: What was the process like of starting your own international business?
YM: There is never a dull moment. When we first started off, it didn’t even dawn on me that what I was actually building was an international business. And coming to Haiti and making sure that I understood the process of actually creating the oil. Which means that I had to be willing to go up and down mountains. I had to be willing to sit there with the local women and understand how to make the oil, how long to grill it, all the details/cultural nuances. When doing business in the country, there was definitely a learning curve around it.

And then, also understanding how to translate that into marketing and operation in the States. So I have two lawyers, two accountants, and pretty much two of everything. I have learned a lot along the way, but it certainly was a challenge that I am happy to say that we’ve been victorious in learning.

MN: Can you speak on some of the obstacles and rewards you’ve had while working with Haiti?
YM: One obstacle, the first one I remember, I was going into a meeting with a possible supplier, and the American way of thinking is the more you buy, the lower the price. Right? Pretty much how people think in business. So, I’m sitting here going into a negotiation with that mindset. The supplier is telling me the more I buy, the price goes up. I couldn’t even comprehend that that was what he was saying to me. I’m responding in one way, he’s responding in another, and my cousin, who is a local, says to me “Stop talking.” And he proceeds to sort of mediate and I watch how he’s negotiating with the supplier, but essentially, this is a cultural norm where this is a belief in the U.S. and certain international parts. Even though I am Haitian-American and I’m speaking the language and all that, but not understanding the cultural norms was big.

On the rewarding end, I have to say that the most rewarding part is working and hiring women in the business. There are a lot of hair, skin, and body companies, but in addition to having a great product, the social side of our company, we’re very intentional with what we do. I specifically focused on hiring women in Haiti because even though 40 percent of women are the head of household in Haiti, most women are abused emotionally and physically. I remember one woman telling us when we first hired her how, for one, she was able to make sure that she could go and buy water, something that simple, for her and her family. And how she didn’t have to worry about fighting men or others for the public water, but she actually could afford to just get water. And how much pride she felt that she could do things for her kids herself that at times her lazy behind husband may not be able to do. The fact that she had an income commanded a certain respect in the house.

MN:  Are there certain procedures/regulations you must follow while working with Haiti?
YM: There are a number of procedures that we must follow because we are an agribusiness. Again, I always say the back-end of the company, it’s not just beauty products, [and] we are vertically integrated. We grow everything from A to Z. When you’re bringing an agricultural product into the United States or into Europe, you have to get your product tested. You have to make sure that what you’re planting is not going to have an adverse effect on the environment. Registering a business in Haiti is not for the faint of heart. It’s a process that takes four to six months whereas in the States, it takes two weeks. And the cost is double here. I would say that things are a little bit easier now than when I started a few years ago, but we had to go through the hurdles when we first started.

MN: Can you discuss the social impact that Kreyol Essence has had in its communities?
YM: In Haiti, one of the impacts is environmental. Haiti only has one percent of its tree covered lash. What that means is that you’ll hear a lot of people dying of mudslides. You will hear that farmers are not able to cultivate crop which they need in order to eat and live and to help provide material in the country. By us planting castor beans in Haiti, we’re helping with some of those environmental issues like soil erosion, deforestation, and greenhouse gas emissions and all of the things that we talk about in the States when it comes to global warming.

Another impact is the economic development. We are slated to create 400 jobs in the next two years right here in Haiti. Most of those who work for us, not only will they have employment, but when we think about the farmers that we will employ, they will make three to five times more than what they’ve made in the past because of our structure.

…And then lastly, economic development from the standpoint of exporting. Part of how a country runs and is able to have money in their system is based on their GDP (gross domestic product). Part of that comes from exporting. Haiti does not have a large export business, so by us exporting our product that’s huge. It also adds to country branding because unfortunately, when people think of Haiti, they think about the earthquakes, they think about poverty, they think about all of the negative. I think when you see our marketing and you see our products, people are surprised and they say, “I didn’t know that this type of richness and beauty exist in Haiti.” We have to start changing the images that are portrayed for the country so that people can come visit and enjoy and see what we have to offer.

MN: What makes your products unique from other brands?
YM: In addition to the ingredients, it’s our formulation. The fact that we really stay true to being as natural and organic as possible, and the formulation, comes from ingredients that are unique.

I think we are one of the few that actually infuse so much castor oil into our whole line. Oftentimes with these different beauty products, if they put a half a milliliter of something, they throw it on to the label and create a whole marketing piece out of it. We are actually using the maximum amount of shea butter, castor oil, aloe vera, and all of the other ingredients. When it comes to our products, which is associated with a particular type of woman. It’s a woman who not only wants to look and feel great, but a woman who also does care about the world that she lives in. The fact that we really work hard to have a social impact and connect that to beauty, I think tends to resonate and appeal to our customers.

Learn more and shop Kreyol Essence at www.kreyolessence.com.

Career Crushing: How To Get Ahead By Treating You Work Life Like Your Love Life

April 3rd, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

Are you in love with your job? Chances are your boss can tell. But what if we all invested in our jobs the way we invest in our relationships. Career crushing might be just the key to getting your career to love you back.

5 Personal Branding Mistakes You Should Avoid

March 20th, 2015 - By Rana Campbell
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personal branding mistakes


According to Amanda Miller Littlejohn, a Washington,DC – based personal branding coach and creator of The Branding Box, a personal brand home study system designed to help individuals clarify their message, position their expertise and increase their visibility, “This is a great time to be a Black woman.”

“Women are embracing their natural hair, getting into shape and shedding generations-long bad eating  habits. It’s like a renewal. We are embracing digital tools, starting websites, and expressing ourselves,” says Littlejohn. However, are you ensuring that the brand called YOU is clearly defined? Can it be leveraged to bring you new opportunities?

We spoke with Littlejohn about some of the personal branding mistakes she’s seen individuals make over the years.  Check out the blunders she identified as well as her tips on how you can turn these mistakes into successes and starting building your personal brand today.

1. Having an “Employee Mentality”

Amanda Miller Littlejohn (AML): Many are comfortable marketing and promoting the company or person they work for, but have hesitation when it comes to promoting themselves. They think of self-promotion as braggy, obnoxious or self-serving, when in fact they would do the same thing, if not more  for their employer, especially, if they are in a marketing role. People who go out and decide to do their own thing and start their own business can still suffer  from that mentality when they don’t want to step out of the shadows. They might want to promote the work of something bigger, instead of promoting their own brand. They sometimes forget that they are the bigger brand.

To fix this,  embrace the spotlight. Speak up when people ask you questions. Step out when you are invited to speak. Look for opportunities to share what you know. At the end of the day, your brand may be all that you have in the next fifteen years.

2. Waiting Until The Last Minute To Build Your Brand

AML: Many times individuals may wait until they are ready to switch jobs or get new clients to start building a brand. A lot of people come to me in that situation. They need to start building a brand immediately because they need an opportunity. That’s a backwards way to go about doing it. Building your brand steadily is more authentic. Opportunities will come to you.

College is a good time to start building your brand. Work on your Linkedin profile (and build your experience) during your undergraduate years. Collect recommendations from advisors and professors. Build the social proof that you need to create credibility around who you are. Although most people won’t be able to look at your college transcript, they can look at your Linkedin profile and see if you are highly recommended, dependable, punctual, etc. Nowadays, everyone is previewing Linkedin profiles before they hire you.  That’s a  really easy place to put positive information about yourself.

3. Not Being Proactive

AML: It’s a great thing to get opportunities that come your way. A better thing is to go after opportunities. The best thing to do is to create opportunities. For example, an example of me waiting for an opportunity would me waiting for you (the reporter) to reach out to me to schedule an interview. Me being proactive (or going after the opportunity) is me calling you up and [pitching] my expertise directly, and saying, “ I know you write for MadameNoire, would you like to interview me?” Me making an opportunity would be realizing that you may not be interested in me at the current time, but [deciding] to create a blog and write something that is reflective and fills a need for the audience I am trying to attract.

People have to be more proactive now because the barrier to entry to create have fallen drastically in the last 15 years. When I was in high school, if you wanted a magazine, website, or newsletter, you had to go to people to make that happen for you. Now, anything you want to do is within reach. If you want a TV show, you can create a YouTube channel. If you want to write a book, you can type it up and submit it to Create Space. This is a response to the technological advances we are experiencing. There are no excuses for  the person that has something to say and wants to create a platform.

4. Using social media only to “be social”

AML: A lot of people use social media for recreation and as a way to keep in touch, but don’t use it as away to make it work for them. I love seeing funny things on Instagram, but are you also putting out your expertise and services? Are you making it for you? I use Instagram to create more awareness around my brand, what I’m doing, what I offer, and what I can do for a new client. I am building an audience. If your social is just fun and games, it’s like you are working for it. It’s not working for you. I don’t think people think strategically. Everyone doesn’t have to use social to create new clients or new business opportunities, but you should be thinking about how social can help you get the things that you want. How can you use it to connect with people across the country or around the world? Use it to create for more credibility for yourself. Your biggest fan might become your biggest customer.”

5. You don’t invest in your brand

AML: In the next 15  years, people who have taken the time to make sure people know who they are and what they can do are going to have a much bigger advantage over those who haven’t. The work world is getting leaner and more efficient. Companies are getting smaller because we have all these tools. In the workplace, questions that test your proficiency with WordPress, digital photography, page layout, video or sound editing will be commonplace. It’s because tools are universally available, inexpensive, or even free. If you don’t know how to use them, you will be behind the times. It may get more cutthroat as far as where opportunities go. For people who are creating opportunities and building their brand, they will have a big advantage over others who are waiting for things to come to them. Investing takes time, thought, and sometimes money. Don’t be afraid to take courses and fill in some skill gaps. These are investments that appreciate. Once you have knowledge and understand how to position and promote yourself, your career always benefits. We invest a lot in how we look, but how are much are we investing in how we “look” in the perceptions of the marketplace? How much are you investing in your reputation and how you come across to other people?

Rana Campbell is a freelance writer and marketing/branding strategist. Connect with her on TwitterFacebook, Instagram, Linkedin or visit ranacampbell.com

Your Time is Now!: 19 Ways To Answer Your Calling This Year

January 13th, 2015 - By Rich
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Self-love Lesson: How to launch yourself and make an impact.

Do you have a message or mission that you have been yearning to give birth to? Many of us do. Get clear about your purpose, and once you have this clarity, get clear about who you serve. According to the Center for Women’s Business Research, African American and Latina women are the fastest growing entrepreneurial segment and more likely to start a business than the rest of the population. Yes! This really is our time.

As your self-worth midwife, I call this passion you want to give birth to “your calling.” Your calling may be teaching healthy eating like cookbook author Rhonda Peters, helping women tune into their sensuality like Carmen Victorino of Le Femme Suite pole fitness, empowering single mothers like Tinzley Bradford, or guiding writers to find a voice like Cherise Davis Fisher of Scribe’s Window.

At a recent party, I was talking to a woman (let’s call her Miss Jackie) who kept going on about how open-minded she is. Most people who say that turn out to be the most judgmental folks! Miss Jackie, a retired elementary school teacher, told me that her 10-year-old granddaughter wanted to be a writer. To her, this was a calamity. She told her granddaughter, “No! Get a real profession and then you can be a writer on the side like your mom.”

I happen to know Miss Jackie’s daughter, the child’s mom; let’s call her Becky. Becky is a lawyer and pretty much miserable. She has spent the majority of her legal career secretly plotting her exit but never has the courage to make a leap. It may look like she makes a big income but she has a scarcity mindset so she is often complaining about money and lives like she doesn’t have two nickels to rub together. Writing the book Miss Jackie was referring to had been the greatest bright spot in Becky’s life, but she was still stuck. Most likely Miss Jackie’s programming was stopping her from making the next move. I didn’t accept Becky as a coaching client when referred by someone else because she seemed heavily invested in her own negativity and limitations.

Somehow in the conversation it came up that my dad is a professional writer. Miss Jackie asked me what his day job had been and seemed flabbergasted that he spent the last 40 years as a professional writer, speaker, and international expert on a topic he was passionate about.

Now, it’s your turn to tune out the Miss Jackie’s and make an impact! Ready to reinvent yourself and create your future? You can do it.

How to start your mission this year:

1. Claim your unique vision.

Your way to change the world may look completely different than your bestie’s. Starting a franchise or a credit union may support an under-served community. Using your passion for math to create a tutoring business can help others to rise and shine. You may be able to build an empire with your passion for fitness. Whether your passion is makeup or politics, you owe no apology for what makes your heart sing. The fastest way to get what you want is to help others to get what they want.

2. Become an expert.

What you majored in may have nothing to do with the business that you want to start. That’s okay. While you are alive you can be furthering your education. Grab your Kindle and start reading. Listen to audiobooks while you’re driving. Watch training programs from those who teach what you want to learn. Read biographies and autobiographies of gurus who are living their dreams. Commit to reading 100 books in your field and you will be an expert.

3. Write a book.

Every day someone asks me how they can get started writing. My biggest advice as a professional writer is JUST WRITE. Twenty-five minutes a day is a great place to begin. If there is a story within you that you want to tell, tell it. If you wrote just 1,000 words a day (half the length of this article!), you’d have a pretty meaty manuscript in a year. The best thing to turn up is your voice.

4. Take a stand.

You may have unpopular beliefs but change is made by those who have the courage of their convictions. Taking a stand doesn’t require being fearless. It requires harnessing your fear into positive energy and moving forward on your mission. Many of us are people pleasers. We were taught to be nice and not make waves. We want people to like us. Growing up is realizing that no matter what, you will never have everyone like you. You might as well stand firmly for what you believe.

5. Write a letter to the editor.

Don’t just read the news, be the news. Instead of sitting around waiting for the news to declare that you are worthy, declare it yourself. Almost every publication shares letters to the editor. The New York Times and The Washington Post feature opinion sections called the OpEd. You can get your voice into the world.

6. Blog it out.

You can start a blog in 60 seconds. Ideally, you put more energy and thought into it than that. However, in our current media climate, if it didn’t happen online it doesn’t exist. The great thing about that is that you can answer your calling from your sofa. Ebony Magazine’s dedicated and thought-provoking Jamilah Lemieux created her own award-winning platform and launched herself by blogging. There are natural hair bloggers, gossip bloggers, and business bloggers creating their own publishing — and product — empires. Stop waiting for someone to pass you the mic. Take it!

7. Podcast it.

The podcast is the multimedia syndicated approach to blogging. Most podcasts are audio, like talk radio shows, although they can be video as well. I created my first inspirational podcast, The Goddess Factory, way back in 2005. People are still listening to it on iTunes today! If your calling is poetry, maybe you interview top poets. If music makes you sing, maybe your podcast  is a showcase with valuable critiques for emerging musical artists. There’s something for everyone. The creators of a podcast called “Drunk History” have been invited to major news networks from CNN to FOX.

8. Launch a YouTube channel.

If you have a phone with a camera, and who doesn’t these days, you can launch a YouTube broadcast. There really is no excuse for not getting your voice into the world. Making sure you have something to say that is worth listening to is another conversation. The brilliant Issa Rae used her “Awkward Black Girl” channel to launch her into career as a writer and actor who is now working with HBO and producer Shonda Rhimes. You can use your YouTube channel to broadcast news, give reviews or give advice.

9. Start a hashtag movement.

A hashtag is basically a way of indexing an idea on social media and across the web. It is also the way to organize with people you don’t know around an issue. Movements like #BringBackOurGirls, #YesAllWomen and #BlackLivesMatter were powerful and attention-getting in 2014. Hashtag activism may sound like activism lite, but it is a powerful way to galvanize people everywhere to important ideas and causes.

10. Create a weekly meetup.

I’ve heard defeatist people complain about not being able to “get ahead” because it’s about “who you know.” If that’s the case, get to know some people! Who are you spending time with? If the people you spend your time with are small-minded thinkers, you will be a small-minded thinker without even knowing it. There’s no need to be limited by the people you already have access to. Use Meetup.com and social media to meet new like-minded folks. The resourceful Scott Dinsmore launched the inspirational “Live Your Legend” movement by creating meetups worldwide.

11. Change your own life and teach others how to do the same.

Change your own life and then show others how to do what you did as a teacher, trainer, coach, speaker, or writer. We want to learn from those who are doing it. For example, I can teach other introverts how to conquer fears around public speaking because I’ve done it. Your ministry can be based on your own internal or external transformation.

12. Learn something new and share about your missteps.

Along those lines, you don’t have to wait until your transformation is complete to consider yourself answering your calling. Maybe you’re learning how to sew so you can become a designer and you take us on the journey. Remember the movie and book “Julie and Julia” about a woman blogging her way messily through Julia Child’s masterful cooking. Overcome your challenges and we will all be rooting for you – and learning from your journey.

13. Start a business.

Your business may be a for profit or non-profit enterprise. It may be a franchise or you may be a solopreneur. Do the research, get educated, and go for it! Stay away from non-believers and other low vibrational energy folks. Be clear about who you are serving. Don’t be afraid to be specific. As they say, the riches are in the niches.

14. Get a mentor.

Here’s where a lot of us get twisted. Stop approaching people and telling them what you want them to do for you. Asking to pick someone’s brain is insulting. Author Michelle Y. Talbert of @BlackLoveRules and #HerPowerHustle calls picking someone’s brain picking their pockets. Instead, ask yourself, what can you do for them? What are you offering? Do you want to interview them? Feature them on your blog? Guest post on their blog? Take their training course? You will get a lot further with this approach. Another way to go is to join a professional mentorship group in your field.

15. Join an organization.

There is networking everywhere from the church pews to the National Urban League. Join an organization of others who are answering a calling similar to yours. Your objective here is not shoving your business card in people’s faces or taking about yourself, but developing genuine relationships. Real relationships and referrals are the power center for anyone trying to make an impact.

16. Get coaching and support.

If Serena Williams and Oprah Winfrey have coaches and advisers, why would you think that you don’t need support?  You don’t have to be in an “Iyanla, Fix My Life” crisis to invest in your own personal Iyanla. There is a coach for every person and every need. Other famous coaches include AJ Johnson, Tony Robbins, and Lisa Nichols, who all help very different tribes of women. Their are love coaches, career coaches, and grief coaches. My Hear Me Roar Coaching Club is all about helping my sacred bombshell spiritpreneur sisters to answer their calling. If you want to get unstuck, enlist a life coach or business coach to help you move forward.

17. Speak from the “stage.”

Just like I said if you want to write just write, if you want to speak just speak. As my mom would say, “stand up and be counted. Speak up and be heard.” Malcolm X started out speaking on street corners. In our multimedia, multi-platform society, you can 10x that. If your passion is poetry, rent a spot monthly, invite other poets, and make it happen. If you’re a financial or legal wizard, rent a space weekly or monthly and give seminars. Speak for free in the beginning and then charge as much as you want. The marketplace will pay you for the value you provide.

17. Start a challenge.

The ALS ice bucket challenge was pretty memorable, wasn’t it? Create your own challenge that people everywhere can join. Partner your cause with a visual representation and tag folks. Alicia Keys’ #WeAreHere peace movement educates and subtly publicizes her music. Adam Bouska’s #NOH8 challenge educated people about marriage equality and helped him to make an impact.

18. Start a weekly Tweetup.

You want to begin to answer your calling from your kitchen? Start a Tweetup or a facebook group of aspiring vegans. This is the online version of a meetup. With a Tweetup or Twitter party, you meet weekly online organizing around a specific hashtag and ask or answer questions. You can develop a following around your message, mission or movement and spread your mojo, miracles, and magic throughout the universe.

19. Most importantly, believe in yourself.

Stop waiting for the world to give you permission. Our parents were living in a whole different time. There are almost no 40-year safety jobs anymore. It is okay to reinvent yourself.

The world is waiting for what you have to offer. Figure out what you want to do, learn how to do it, then move forward and monetize it. Don’t stay stuck in eternal preparation mode. You want to answer your sacred calling and start a movement? Just do it, Miss Noire!

Abiola Abrams is the author of the award-winning guide The Sacred Bombshell Handbook of Self-Love and founder of SacredBombshell.com, where she offers empowerment coaching. 

Photo of Abiola Abrams by Ken Jones

Will You Buy Into Their Vision? 9 Fast-Food Companies Making Changes In 2015

January 6th, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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Each year companies embark on a new mission to entice more customers to try their products. They’ll step up their game when it comes to advertising and even try new marketing tactics in hopes of obtaining their goals. The fast-food industry in particular will be quite busy in efforts to change their “bad food” image. Here’s what you can expect to see in 2015.

As we progress into the year, we’ll keep you up to speed on important announcements.