All Articles Tagged "philanthropy"

Revolt TV Says “Hello Harlem” With Events Benefiting The Boys & Girls Club Of Harlem

August 5th, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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Hello Harlem Crowd Shot

Photo Credit: Stephen Knight

By 8pm, the party at the Harlem restaurant Corner Social is in full swing. The DJ is spinning, cocktails are being served, selfies are being taken. There’s even a little bit of dancing happening. How else to spend a Monday night?

It’s another Hello Harlem event. Actually the fifth of 10 that are planned, all to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Harlem (BGCH). Designed to raise awareness and support for the organization, the events bring together members of the media, philanthropists and other community leaders for a little music, a little food and some mixing and mingling. There’s also been great live music. MN Business has been to a couple of the events, the first featuring Theo Croker and last night’s with special guest Esnavi. They’ll be happening through September 8 (invite-only). Suggested donations are between $500 and $10,000, with money going towards three youth centers and an expansion of the group’s efforts.

“It’s a critical partnership. This helps put us on the map,” Shirley Lewis, chairwoman of the Board of Directors of BGCH told the New York Daily News.

Esnavi performs. Photo credit: Stephen Knight

Revolt TV, Diddy’s music channel, has been playing a large role in these events. Back in 2011, Sean Combs, a Harlem native, donated $60,000 to the organization, helping to save it from shutting down. And for “Hello Harlem,” Revolt, through a partnership with Sony, has been able to pull together a cool party with artists like the aforementioned live acts.

“He’s somebody who has always been giving, so it’s no surprise to me that Revolt TV would do this project with the Boys & Girls Club,” said Mike Houston, the VP of marketing for Revolt TV. “They’re taking music out of schools so what groups like the Boys & Girls Club are doing is important.”

To bring the point home, some of the beneficiaries of the BGCH’s work, little girls with big dreams, take to the mike to talk about their favorite activities and aspirations for the future.

“We are a network that’s for and inspired by youth culture,” Kai Wright, the network’s VP of communications, told us. “So it makes sense that we would partner with an organization that’s for youth.”

At the same time, Revolt is growing. Events like these are also an opportunity for attendees to get to know them — and each other — a little better.

“We purposely wanted to do something where networking is the focus,” Wright continued. “We’re the influence that influences the influencers.”

With that in mind, “Hello Harlem” evenings bring together all of the things that both organizations are interested in: music, philanthropy and what it means to be a part of modern Harlem.

“As New York changes, we want to remember all of its neighborhoods,” Wright said. “Music is the avenue for mobility, self-expression and empowerment. That’s important for the youth.”

Social Entrepreneur Launches Lingerie Line That Offers Underwear – & Dignity – To The Homeless

July 31st, 2014 - By Andrea Williams
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For women still trudging along the path toward total career and personal fulfillment, it’s easy to focus on what they don’t have, or have yet to achieve: a six-figure salary, a 5,000-square-foot home in the perfect neighborhood, the means to travel the world on a whim. By any stretch of the imagination, though, we are still immeasurably blessed, with the health, creativity and sound mind to strive for that ideal lifestyle we dream of. Yet there are other women who are not so fortunate, whose days are spent securing the most basic of life’s essentials.

After launching her online lingerie boutique, Naomi’s Rose, entrepreneur Katrina McDow looked to the homeless women in her Washington DC, community and instinctively knew a way to help bring a sense of dignity to their often tragic lives. The result is Purpose Panty, a philanthropic effort that provides clean panties for homeless women.

Here, McDow talks about social entrepreneurship and her inspiration for reaching her community’s most forgotten citizens – one pair of clean underwear at a time.

MadameNoire: When did you launch your online lingerie boutique? And where does the name Naomi’s Rose come from?

Katrina McDow: I launched Naomi’s Rose in 2010. The business model works well because I am a full-time career woman, who has an innate entrepreneurial spirit, which directly correlates with the story behind the name Naomi’s Rose. Naomi is my middle name and it symbolizes beauty; I was named after Naomi Simms, the first black supermodel, and, most importantly, Naomi in the Bible, whose name meant “pleasant and sweet.” Rose comes from my grandma Rosabelle, whom I never met. She was an educated business owner in Charleston, South Carolina, in the 1940s and 50s.

MN: How did you come up with the idea for the Purpose Panty? I don’t think that clean panties are at the top of the list when people consider ways to help the homeless.

KM: The Purpose Panty was inspired and driven by a young woman I would see every day when I ran after work for my daily exercise. I was in the lingerie business, selling indie lingerie brands, and I felt a yearning to do more. I wondered how I could merge the success and momentum of the Naomi’s Rose brand with philanthropy. I began researching organizations in the nation’s capital and the stats behind the homeless epidemic here. It is astounding: In 2013, there were a little under 7,000 homeless people in Washington DC; 1 in 10 people are homeless. Because I am a woman, I understand how something as small as clean, fresh underwear can improve your self-esteem and self-worth. So the Purpose Panty was born.

MN: What kind of feedback have you gotten from women who have received the Purpose Panty pack? Are clean panties really enough to make a difference for a homeless woman?

KM: The feedback has been one of intrigue. The brand gets people conversing and thinking about homelessness and their own purpose in life.  Our motto is “Giving is sexy.” As women, we sometimes don’t realize the importance of a basic necessity like underwear. When we wake up in the morning to shower, the first thing we do is open our top drawer and slip on clean panties. Nonprofits and shelters actually request undergarment donations. Where there are homeless women, there are homeless children. Young girls are beginning puberty and to have clean panties during this time in your life is so very important.

I always try to put myself in the shoes of these women, and I know for a fact it is an amazing feeling to have a week’s supply of clean panties. It is one less thing as a woman to worry about when you are preparing for a job interview or transitioning into a permanent home for you and your family.

MN: How do you fund the Purpose Panty?

KM: The Purpose Panty can be purchased online at www.lovenaomisrose.com for $19.00. For every purchase of the Purpose Panty, we supply our partnering organizations three packs of a week supply of panties. Because of my insight in the lingerie industry, I’ve established wonderful and supportive relationships with vendors that I purchase the panties from specifically for the homeless women and girls.

The Purpose Panty is also designed and manufactured in NYC. I am very proud of this.  It is worth the price points being slightly higher because we are contributing to job retention in the U.S. and giving back to domestically. It’s an awesome feeling!

MN: What are you plans to expand the Purpose Panty beyond the DC metro area?

KM: Currently, we are hosting Purpose Parties. These are parties that our fans and customers host in their homes with family and friends.  It is a creative, fun and smart way to bond, create purpose boards and also spread the mission of the Purpose Panty. Readers can visit www.lovenaomisrose.com for ideas on hosting Purpose Parties.

By 2016, we envision retail distribution in retailers that align with our business model to expand the brand and have a broader national reach to homeless shelters. Also, we are open to international partnerships that assist women and girls with health and economic sustainability.  Washington, DC, is such a perfect location to launch the Purpose Panty because it is the nation’s capital. It is the city that laws get created and social platforms are exchanged daily.

MN: What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs who want to make a difference in their local communities – or beyond – but don’t know where or how to start?

KM: There are some great resources out there. Companies such as Tom’s have done an amazing job inspiring a generation of social entrepreneurs.  My advice is to create a concrete model of giving and sharpen it. Work on explaining your brand in a simple, concrete format so people can grasp and believe in it.  And most importantly, act on your ideas. Every day do something to mold and shape your companies purpose, whatever it may be. It becomes a positive and contagious cycle when you use your blessings to create change and others want to be a part of that change.

Hello Miss March! FDNY Has First-Ever Woman In Its 2015 Charity Calendar

July 17th, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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Each year, the New York City Fire Department sells a calendar of hot fire fighters to raise money for the FDNY Foundation, which uses the funds for fire safety education. Each year, the calendar is filled with buff shirtless men. Next year will not be like other years.

The 2015 calendar features the first-ever female participant: Miss March is Danae Mines. She’s been with the fire department for 11 years and works out of a ladder company in the South Bronx. There are only 41 women on the FDNY, less than one percent of the total department.

Mines auditioned with 100 men. The cover model thinks she “could show a little more skin” (she’s wearing a tank top). But besides raising funds, Mines would like her presence among the guys to drive female recruitment.

The Calendar of Heroes is on sale for $15.99.

h/t ABC News and CBS News

Update: The Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation Raises More Than $500K At Annual Gala Event

May 6th, 2014 - By Rachael Devaney
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Hosts Steve and Marjorie Harvey attend Screen Gems Presents The Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation Gala at Cipriani Wall Street in New York. Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation

Hosts Steve and Marjorie Harvey attend Screen Gems Presents The Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation Gala at Cipriani Wall Street in New York. Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation

Update: The Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation Annual Gala raised more than $500,000, according to a press release sent to MN Business. The funds include $45,000 for a VIP package to a Los Angeles Lakers basketball game provided by Helping Hand Award honoree Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Programs including the Steve Harvey Mentoring Camp for Young Men and the Girls Who Rule the World Mentoring Weekend will benefit.

Update by Tonya Garcia

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Original post published April 25, 2014.

Brandi Harvey said she learned to “work hard and lead with love” from her father, comedian, author and radio host Steve Harvey.

With that motto in mind, Brandi, executive director of the Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation, will present the foundation’s fourth annual gala on May 3 at the Hilton Chicago along with Steve and his wife Marjorie Harvey.

Throughout the evening, the gala will showcase the Chicago Children’s Choir, a youth presentation featuring Erica Vincent and Joseph Foster, a live performance from R&B/soul singer, songwriter, and producer Kem, and an after-party soiree with DJ Timbuk2.

The gala, themed “The Power of 3: Potential, Passion & Purpose,” will also highlight its Helping Hand Award honorees: Pastor Corey Brooks of Chicago’s New Beginnings Church; Clint Culpepper, president of Screen Gems; Steve Pemberton, chief diversity officer of Walgreens; and Cookie and Magic Johnson.

Brandi said the honorees were chosen because of their impact in the lives of young men and women, which in turn encompasses the “Power of 3.”

“This year’s honorees really have shown potential, passion and purpose and they embody these powers through their lives, careers, and philanthropic work,” Brandi said. “It takes a village to raise children and communities and these people are upholding that truth and helping to build that village.”

While Brandi praised all the foundation’s honorees, Brooks captured national attention in 2012 when he camped on the roof of an abandoned Chicago hotel for 94 days, raising an astounding $580,000, even prompting Tyler Perry to donate $100,000. Later that year, Brooks again made headlines when he walked from Times Square in New York City to the Staples Center in Los Angeles where he and his team raised another $450,000. While Brooks hopes to raise $20 million to build a state of the art community center in Chicago, he said the core of his efforts is to uplift Chicago’s youth through his campaigns: The Circle of Influence 2014 and Project Hood (Helping Others Obtain Destiny).

“People don’t realize how much power, gifts and ability they have. Everybody has a circle of influence and if you can work within that circle and take small incremental steps you can make big changes,” Brooks said. “I am both humbled and honored to be recognized by the foundation and I am hoping that I can go beyond my own goals and raise enough money to support Steve and Marjorie with the success of their foundation. We plan on being long term partners in uplifting urban youth.”

Brandi agreed and said the fundraising goal for this year’s gala is to raise $1 million. Funds will go towards its projects like Girls Who Rule the World and Mentoring Weekend for Young Men.

“We want to expand globally so we can offer young people national exposure and business opportunities. We are also planning to build a holistic family center in Dallas, TX, where we can hold our camp and to have a place where people from all over the world can convene and mentor.”

With the foundation’s programs going global, the gala, sponsored by brands like Coca Cola, AT&T, and Morgan Stanley, will be the next step towards forming long lasting partnerships to give kids what Brandi calls a “global mentality.”

“We want to show our kids that service is a part of life and when you give you get so much more. We are going to push a service initiative that will teach our kids how to go out and lead, and to see that the world is so much bigger than their neighborhood,” Brandi said.

Brandi said her ability to lead comes from her father’s “genuine commitment to compassion.”

“My father is the clearest example of hard work. I have had to work hard for whatever it is that I have gotten in life and that is something he always instilled in us and into the boys and girls in our programs,” she said. “I have been blessed to have a father like him and I take everything I learned from him into my family, into my team and sometimes you have to be stern to lead but that’s what love is. It comes with toughness and that’s all right.”

With Sister-In-Law Whitney Houston In Mind, Pat Houston’s Marion P Candles Is A Labor Of Love

April 28th, 2014 - By Lauryn Stallings
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marion_01-portrait1_0118_copy[1] (1)A line of therapeutically scented candles might not seem like a product borne from the loving relationship between sisters. But that’s exactly what it is in the case of Marion P Candles, a collection of luxury soy candles inspired by the precious bond of sisters-in-law Pat and Whitney Houston.

Pat Houston managed the career of the most lauded singer in history, spending time with Whitney on the road and off.

“During the holidays, she always wanted to come to my home,” Pat Houston recalls. The women shared something that transcended their working relationship and embraced family and friendship. That alone was evident in the way Whitney addressed her manager and sister-in-law.

“It was always Marion P,” says Pat Houston. The nickname, a term of endearment from one sister to another, comes from Pat Houston’s given name, Marion Patricia.

Whitney Houston’s affection for her sister went beyond a sweet pet name. She championed branding Marion P onto something — anything — that shared Pat Houston’s kind and comforting nature. To sweeten the prospect the Grammy-winning singer, who shunned lucrative advertising offers, agreed to endorse whatever bore the name.

The concept finally came during a leg of the 2010 Nothing But Love World Tour. Ignited by Whitney’s persistent persuasion Pat, ventured to launch Marion P Candles. It’s the ideal business model for two candle enthusiasts, and Whitney immediately advocated the operation. While touring Pat Houston delved into the candle industry. A freshman in a $2 billion industry competing with everyone from Yankee Candle to personal favorite Jo Malone, she endeavoured to create a product that draws spotlight in a dense marketplace.

As Pat reviewed prospects she kept this in mind: “I knew it had to be something different and special. Not just candles, but an experience.”

While in L.A. Pat Houston arranged a meeting with a woman whose business focuses on organic aromatherapy candles. Inside the Hotel Wilshire they collaborated and eventually settled on handmade candles that melt into an oil that perfumes the home and soothes the skin. Marion P Candles are set in glass jars and packaged in biodegradable white boxes — both adorned with 24-karat gilded logos. Lighting a candle is an intimate pleasure, so each of the Marion P’s pots is scented and named to create a spiritual connection. Pat Houston, guided by her personal bond to Israel forged after a number of visits, chooses fragrances she calls “scents from the Holy Land,” such as Jordina (fig lychee) and Jericho (cedarwood amber).

However creating a loyal customer base from Hollywood to Budapest is not Pat Houston’s only goal. After noticing a disturbing trend while visiting family and friends in North Carolina, she had begun a career in community action years prior. Now she had another avenue for helping young people in need.

Faith, Football & Philanthropy: Halleemah Nash Has Crafted A Career Out Of The Things She Cares About Most

April 24th, 2014 - By Kimberly Wilson
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“I Want Her Job” is a new column written by Kimberly Wilson that will profile women of color who are doing cool jobs and running interesting businesses. Is there someone you think we should include? Email the business editor, Tonya Garcia, at tgarcia@madamenoire.com.

halleemah nash 2

Having grown up Compton, Halleemah Nash sought opportunity on the East Coast, enrolling Howard University in Washington D.C. and then later at the Duke University School of Divinity for graduate school. Her career has led her to positions at the Chicago Bulls, the Chicago Housing Authority and the Fannie Lou Hamer Project.

In 2010, seeing a need to merge her passion in sports with philanthropy Nash launched Legacy Venture Consulting, a philanthropy consulting firm for athletes and entertainers interested in enhancing their community presence. Her clients have included: Common (The CommonGround Foundation), Dwayne Wade (Miami Heat), Lance Gross (Tyler Perry Show) and Malaysia Pargo (Basketball Wives).

Most recently, she was appointed the new CEO to NFL player Israel Idonije’s Foundation. In this role, she oversees educational and recreational programming for underserved youth annually and enhance international humanitarian efforts during the NFL off-season.

I had the opportunity to meet Nash on an intimate trip to Dakar, Senegal last month for Give1 Project’s Women’s Empowerment Summit. Besides working with others on their philanthropic efforts, she’s making her own dreams come true. For instance, last year her birthday goal was to fully fund the building of a school in Kenya. In just a matter of days with 33 friends in her 33rd year she did just that.

Nash also just released the self-published work Endless Summer: Inspirations and Reflections for the Journey to Life Balance, sharing her a personal collection of reflections, devotionals, and best practices to inspire individuals across boundaries to live balanced lives.

In this interview with MadameNoire, Nash talks about her inspiration for writing Endless Summer, the challenges of practicing her faith as a woman in the sports industry and what’s next on her journey.

MadameNoire: Let’s talk about your book. What inspired Endless Summer: Inspirations and Reflections for the Journey to Life Balance?

Halleemah Nash: This past winter was brutal in Chicago where I currently reside. And during this winter, I spent some time reflecting on the idea of balance and not living in extremes. I am a California child, so I live for summer. During winter months, I experience lulls in productivity, I rarely go outdoors, I am extremely non-social, and I find myself sad in gloomy.

My gravitation toward summer became a perfect analogy for what I’d hoped to accomplish in my quest toward a greater equilibrium in my life. My search for balance was a search for consistent joy and gratefulness, along with an endless season of light. Light, joy, and gratefulness were all available to me in the winter just as they were in the summer but the discomfort of winters can make it difficult to see this clearly.

This book is a collection of reflections that I wrote on my journey toward an endless summer. In other words, this book is a journaling and recap of critical lessons I learned in my quest for balance. I wanted to share these lessons and ideas to others.

MN: What do you hope people take from the book?

HN: I hope to motivate people to build a loving relationship with uncomfortable periods of time. There is something great that can be produced in the midst of discomfort. It is in fire where gold is purified, and in pressure where coals become diamonds. And interestingly enough, it was in the winter, my most uncomfortable season, where I found my balance.

I definitely don’t wear the crown of a balanced life. We are all growing and balance is something I am constantly working toward. But, for the first time, the fierce winter was not as debilitating to me. These reflections were my intentional exercise in producing and embodying light along the backdrop of what has historically been an undesirable season.

I pray that readers find encouragement through this book and that they too, will discover more consistent seasons of balance by facing uncomfortable seasons with a different perspective.

Your Money Can Make An Impact: 10 Companies With A Social Mission

April 9th, 2014 - By Tanvier Peart
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Shutterstock

Shutterstock

When it comes to the issues where do you stand? Are you always looking for ways to alleviate hunger? Do most of your efforts go towards helping underprivileged children? Or are you burning your bra for women’s rights?

Many companies have also jumped on the philanthropic bandwagon, lending their considerable wealth and manpower to benefit causes that are tied to the brand or near and dear to business leaders.

Here are 10 companies with a social mission.

$1 Million Gift: GM Foundation Is Latest Donor To National Museum of African American History

January 26th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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via Facebook

via Facebook

When it comes to funding, African-American museums can use all the help they can get. So the recent $1 million grant the General Motors Foundation awarded to the upcoming Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture was most welcomed.

Because of the size of the gift, the GM Foundation has become a founding donor to the museum. The museum is still under construction and will be located on five acres adjacent to the Washington Monument. It is expected to open in late 2015.

“Through this grant we continue our commitment by helping to bring to life the story of African Americans who have changed our nation in so many ways,” said the foundation’s president, Vivian Pickard, in a statement.

GM’s donation will help pay for the design and installation of the museum’s permanent exhibition. It will also allow the construction remain on schedule.

Previously Oprah Winfrey also donated $13 million. Her name will go on a 350-seat theater as a thank you for her enormous gift. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and American Express have also donated to the highly-anticipated museum.

 The $500-million museum has been in the works for more than a year; it broke ground in 2012. But the museum is still shy about $100 million, having raised nearly $400 million, reports the Washington Post.

Lonnie G. Bunch, founding director, told the newspaper, every donation helps. “I jump up and down every time we get a donation, whether it’s $5 or $5 million. What I realize is, every donation is a step closer to making dreams of our ancestors real. That excites me every moment,” he said.

Social Entrepreneur Verneda White Built Her Business, Human Intonation, With Charity In Mind

November 30th, 2013 - By Tonya Garcia
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White talking about HIV prevention during the fifth anniversary of Human Intonation.

White talking about HIV prevention during the fifth anniversary of Human Intonation.

After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Verneda White saw that thousands in a place she once called home struggled to rebuild a life torn apart by the devastating storm. Just five months later, her family was forced to deal with another devastating loss — her 22-year-old cousin James succumbed to AIDS.

From this tragedy comes Human Intonation, a for-profit business that White started with the underlying expressed purpose of benefiting charity partners, most notably, organizations that address the need for HIV prevention, education, and treatment. White donates 20 percent of each sale to philanthropic groups.

Mens Human IntonationTomorrow is World AIDS Day, a time to join in the fight against this killer of millions. The World AIDS Day organization estimates that there are 34 million people around the globe living with AIDS. Despite the fact that it has risen to the level of epidemic, AIDS remains mired in stigma, and teaching people about the disease is an ongoing goal around the world.

But there is some good news. A recent UN report shows that the number of new cases of HIV infection has dropped 30 percent in recent years. The group credits better treatment and education with the decline. The UN says the former is made possible by a dramatic drop in the cost of drugs, down to $140 per year from $10,000 at one point.

Even with this progress, diligence is necessary, particularly among the black community. According to Voice of America, though African Americans make up 12 percent of the US population, they make up 50 percent of new HIV cases. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease, says homophobia in the black community puts young, gay black men at high risk. And HIV is the leading cause of death among African-American women between the ages of 25 and 34, with the rate of infection 20 times higher than that of white women.

“Despite the apparent urgency of this issue, especially in the black community, funding for AIDS prevention has stagnated in the last half decade,” The Atlantic writes.

That sense of urgency, in some ways, has diminished because of the advancements made since the 1980s. White says it “makes her cringe” when she hears statements like that.

“I remember when he told me he was HIV positive and thinking nothing of it,” White told MadameNoire Business, referring to the day she got the news from her cousin, a family member she loved immensely. “I expected him to live another 30 or 50 years. He died in five months.” Her message, and the message of others, is to get tested and, if you’re infected, to get treatment quickly.

To that end, White gives generously to organizations that benefit this cause. Continued recovery from Hurricane Katrina, education in Darfur, and help for the poor in Haiti are some of the other causes that she has become involved with. To give this much, White says she has to be aggressive about making money. “Fairly early on, I saw that I have to be a profitable business. It couldn’t only be the philanthropic part,” she said.

Look Inside Yourself In Order To Become An Influencer To Others

October 25th, 2013 - By Candace Smith
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When someone becomes a pillar of their industry, others want to learn how they got there. Whether they seek it out or not, these successful professionals —  athletes, business people, entertainers, or academics — are in demand for speaking engagements and appearances. Their advice and counsel is sought after. And the decisions they make influence the direction of the entire industry. When someone like Russell Simmons or Oprah Winfrey does something, everyone else watches to see what happens.

These days, by virtue of popularity and sway as well as some tangible measure of success, one can seek out and become a person of influence. There are three major elements that you should be aware of in order to become an influencer within your community and industry of career choice.

Number one, think about how you can improve the lives of others rather than only thinking of yourself. Life is rich when you find out what your passions are, but it can be richer when you use your passion to help others in need. For instance, when Oprah’s talk show first aired in the early 80s, the topics discussed were more tabloid in nature. It was not long before Oprah redefined her purpose to focus more on social issues that every person could relate to. Her fondness for bringing the human condition to light separated her from the pack and made her into the Oprah we all know today — an influential media mogul. People latch onto her “Oprah’s Book Club” picks, her latest on-screen interviews with pop culture figures, and anything that she touches as a film and TV producer. But more important, we are influenced by her many philanthropic efforts and her generosity, with an estimated $400 million given to others in need during her career thus far. Thinking “we” instead of “me” leads to a happier, more fulfilled life and paves the path to having a voice that others will respect and feel inspired by.

Second, cultivate your tastes. Before you can be a guiding light to others, you must be comfortable with who you are, which is achieved through exploration. A leader is consistent in their brand, their image, what they care about most, and in their curiosity about others. This type of self-realization does not happen in a day, however. Travel, try new things and meet new people. You do not have to have your life figured out by the age of 25; the process could take many years to become a reality. The current richest Black woman in the world, Folorunsho Alakija, was a bank secretary in the mid-1970s, studied fashion in London, and had her own fashion label in Nigeria before becoming an oil tycoon.

Finally, focus and engage.  We like to be listened to and feel as if we are the only person in the room. Put down your iPhone and headphones and strike up a conversation with your colleagues during your lunch hour or with the barista who knows exactly how you like your coffee every morning. Get involved with a local or national cause that is important to you and volunteer your knowledge, time, and voice. You don’t need to spend money to be a leader. If you focus on your strengths and what you are most passionate about you can help to set the bar for other generations. Just remember that an influencer achieves through action, not inaction. Harry Belafonte said it best when he declared how vital it is for African Americans to welcome “radical thoughts” in order to help solve the world’s biggest predicaments.

“What really concerns me is the ingredients of discourse. The African-American community… where is that community?  Where is that voice? I think that the black community, the black leadership need to stir it up.” If you would like to be a leader, an influence to others, use your voice and participate within society to affect positive, long-lasting change.