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All of us remember, as children, seeing a copy of Ebony or Jet on a family member’s coffee table. We flipped through the pages to see the latest and greatest in Black news and pop culture. These publications, like Soul Train, The Cosby Show, The Color Purple and Beloved, are iconic parts of Black cultural history.

Desiree Rogers, the CEO of Johnson Publishing, is part of this long legacy. While she’s responsible for preserving and paying homage to the histories of these two publications, she’s also charged with making sure that they, and Fashion Fair Cosmetics, remain modern and relevant with movements in digital and continued coverage of the happenings in Black America.

From the White House, where she was Social Secretary to President Obama and the First Lady, to the nonprofit world in Chicago, her career has not been without controversy. But she keeps going no matter what. Which is why she’s a boss.

MadameNoire: Describe your job.
Desiree Rogers: CEO of Johnson Publishing – we are the curators of the African-American experience – past present and future.  We own EBONY, JET and Fashion Fair Cosmetics

What do you enjoy most about your job?
DR: The history and the incredible team I am honored to work with every day.

MN: How has your industry changed since you started your career?
DR: Both industries that we are in – publishing and cosmetics – are extremely competitive and becoming increasingly dependent on our brand relevance and strength.

MN: How do you keep up with those shifts?
DR: Read.  Read.  Read.  Most importantly you have to ensure that you surround yourself with thought leaders of all ages.  Listening is important too.

MN: What makes you a boss?
DR: The ultimate responsibility stops here.

MN: What’s your biggest failure and how did you come back?
DR: I make at least 10 mistakes a day.  You have to learn to figure out your mistakes and move on.

MN: Can a woman have it all? How do you define that?
DR: Nope.  I think we all have to make compromises and decide what are our priorities.

MN: Your favorite quote?
DR: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

MN: “Lean in” or “lean back”?
DR: I’ve been leaning in all of my life.  

MN: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, all, other, or none?
DR: Twitter, but I don’t use it much

MN: Pantsuit or skirt/dress?
DR: Pantsuit lately.  Killer shoes.

MN: Heels or flats?
DR: Heels.

MN: What’s always in your purse?
DR: Fashion Fair, of course.

If you want to be a boss, you have to think like one. Check out more on our first annual selection of MN Bosses here.

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