Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Nicole's Commentary 2 January 2009

As I reflect on this year, I realized that college prepared me to be an employee. The last 2 and ½ years books from Barnes and Noble, Borders and prepared me to be an entrepreneur. I know there is a million dollar business somewhere in my soul and the knowledge that I feed my mind (like the food that I feed my body) is the key to bringing it out. This is how I plan on educating the next generation of entrepreneurs and growing my business.

Our children will go to college and study in the Business School for People who Like Helping People (Robert Kiyosaki). At college, they will learn how to become Campus CEO's (Dr. Randall Pinkett). To become campus CEOs, they must Think and Grow Rich (Napoleon Hill) and get straight A's in Relationships 101 (John C. Maxwell). They also need to learn How To Win Friends and Influence People (Dale Carnegie) so they can reverse The E-Myth Revisited trend that 50% of all businesses fail within the first 5 years. The Secret (Rhonda Bryne) is out - wealth is attracted, and I have been blessed to understand the The Slight Edge (Jeff Olson) principles of changing my philosophy into self-disciplines that create habits. These habits I used to attain an MBA, build my health and to build Newman Networks.

Philadelphia in 2009 is on the verge of The Tipping Point (Malcolm Galdwell) to connect the city of neighborhoods into a united community. At the same time, Newman Networks has completed the first half (employee and self-employed) of The Cash Flow Quadrant (Robert Kiyosaki). Through network marketing, I am learning how to become a leader with the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership (John C. Maxwell). Now it is time to move to the business owner quadrant and use The Blue Ocean Strategy (W. Chan Kim) of cohesiveness and business coalitions to embark on my true calling which was found in A Purpose Driven Life (Rick Warren). This will allow me to live as a Go Giver (John David Mann & Bob Burg) and then DiversePhilly will be seen as a network of Endless Referrals (Bob Burg). I have The Audacity of Hope (Barack Obama) that I can help my mentor and friend, Sulaiman Rahman, realize his vision of making Philadelphia a better place to live, work and play.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Nicole's Commentary 15 December 2008

I just returned back from Hollywood, Florida where our friend, Stacy Straughter, allowed me to see the big event. Stacy is the marketing manager for the national Count Me In Campaign. Count Me In was started by Nell Merlino, founder of Take Your Daughter to Work Day (my mom had been doing this for years.....). Count Me In's mission is to economically empower women by creating 1 million women who own businesses with revenues of 1 million dollars. As Nell explained, 41% of women owned businesses generate revenues of 10,000 or less. 73% of women owned businesses generate revenues of $50,000 or less. Only 3% or 250,000 women owned businesses have revenues of over 1 million dollars. I went to the national event where I got the chance to hear a 2007 winner tell how her business was generating $800,000 last year to just under 6 million this year.
As Oprah says, that was my Ahh-Ahh moment. This is where I realized why network marketing is driven by getting people to the big event. This event showed the potential to grow my company into a million dollar business. I must admit, I did not go to our big event when I first joined but I now make sure my registration is paid for way in advance. For 2008, Count Me In is creating the Make Mine a Million Race (how appropriate for the marathon runner!). Business ownership is not a sprint; it is a marathon. To run a marathon, we must reach training goals along the way. There are three categories for this year's race. The walker is the business owner with the goal of $250,000. The jogger is the business owner with the goal of $500,000 and the runner has the goal of $1,000,000 for 2009. For the $100.00 registration fee, we will receive mentoring and tracking logs so every month we can see how we measure against the goal of 1 million (or $250,000 in my case).
My network marketing business is already preparing me for the challenges of 2009. Robert Kiyosaki talked about how to create business owners in his book, CashFlow Quadrant. The cycle of life is about moving a person through the cash flow of employee to self-employed to business owner to investor. As I transitioned from employee to business owner, I understood that it was necessary to go through self-employed stage. This is where we document all the jobs in the company and find ways to create a team to execute the jobs effectively. The key to execution of any job is LEADERSHIP. Companies live and die on leadership skills of the business owner. If I own the company but I am not setting the guidelines and finding ways to motivate employees then eventually the company will not attract good talent and the company will cease to exist. I feel truly blessed to be able to attend a 2 day leadership retreat where we will study under John C. Maxwell and prepare for the challenges of managing exponential growth in 2009. Leadership is influence and leaders learn how to influence people to perform to the best of their abilities and face their fears (usually of change) that hinder growth (both personally and professionally).
What network marketing does and Newman Networks does and what Deloitte did was invest in people. I made a promise that I will not attend the big event alone. We will create a team of leaders who get trained on leadership. These leaders will be the ones who set the goals to make their business a million dollar business by registering for the
Make Mine a Million Race and plan on attending the next big event. With the system of each one, teach one we will work together because "team work makes the dream work". Nell Merlino had a conversation with the Barack Obama transition team because just as during World War II, when the men left to fight for our country, it was the ladies who put on the hard hats and made the supplies and planes to keep this country moving. As this economic crisis continues, now is the time for the ladies to step up to the challenge and create million dollar businesses which create jobs and will keep this country moving again!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Nicole's Commentary on 20 questions

The holidays are here and it is a time of giving thanks for making 2008 such an outstanding year. As I have grown as a person (thank you UrbanPhilly and Paliani Consulting), I have seen my business grow! One thing I do not like to do is mail out cards. Thanks to Tara Colquitt, The Credit Woman, DiversePhilly has been introduced to Send Out Cards. Originally, the program was purchased for a one-time $99 fee to use as a Contact Management System, but now we can use this tool to automate sending out my Thank You cards! Send Out Cards allows me to add the DiversePhilly logo (thank you Universal Concept) to my cards! (subliminal marketing). This is my list of 20 questions:

1) How do I say thanks to LadyBug Marketing and UrbanPhilly for showing me the ropes of the marketing in Philadelphia?

2) How do I say thanks to The Hospital of University of Pennsylvania and The Enterprise Center for my first company contracts?

3) How do I say thanks to Whitney Thomas (my headshot) and Sabr Enterprises (Project Great Potential Graduate) for providing the marketing materials for my company?

4) How do I say thanks to Abundant Home Inspection, Dove Holiday, Enon Tabernacle Capital Fund, Bo's Tire and Rim Shop, Philadelphia Business Journal (especially Sharon Oliver), the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce (Kate Bay) for becoming silent partners and supporting DiversePhilly?

5) How do I say thanks to HDMS and Technically Speaking Radio for producing and broadcasting the DiversePhilly commercials?

6) How do I say thanks to I Won, SIS Fitness, Brian Williams, Exit BenchMark Realty, Professional Insurance Planners for allowing me to talk about DiversePhilly on their radio programs?

7) How do I say thanks to French Mobile Notary, Sovereign Bank (Jonas Tart), Colin M. Williams, JSPN & Company, KMM Financial Services, Soul Purpose by Veronica Freeman for becoming DiversePhilly business partners?

8) How do I say thanks to our DiversePhilly restaurants Delilah's, Bottom of the Sea and Yono's Bayou Cafe for making us feel welcome when we come to the table?

9) How do I say thanks to Eatible Delight, Elohim Cleaning Contractors, Girlfriends, Tomika Bryant, for being such success stories and paying for their DiversePhilly listings for the entire year (cash flow is king to a small business)?

10) How do I say thanks to RL Snaggs, Whole Unit Artistic Development Inc., Whole Unit Studios, Sanders Studio, Yo Darkroom! for creating the successful Wine and Cheese networking events?

11) How do I say thanks to our vendors, 1 Dynasty, Agel, Mylisa Flowers, Full Circle Aestethics, Hackett Global Marketing, Gandomera Business, Abdul Karim, Be Empowered, Agape World Wide Travel for being there as our vendors of choice?

12) How do I say thanks to our Attorneys Athena Dooley and Real World Law for making sure Diversephilly businesses have resources and know-how to legally define our businesses as a separate entity?

13) How do I say thanks for Hair 4 U (Masterman Alum), Can U Handle the Truth?, and Soles, a shoe experience for just believing in me?

14) How do I say thanks to Archer Benefits, AmeriPlan by Marlon Freeman, and CIGNA for making sure we are properly protected from the catastrophic costs of illness?

15) How do I say thanks to CAMP CAYA and Tonya Ladipo as they make sure we have built up our self-esteem which is an extremely important ingredient for marketing?

16) How do I say thanks to First Financial Group/Mass Mutual, Desiree Richardson, Prescott and Associates and May Financial Services who make sure we are doing the proper activity to create generational wealth?

17) How do I say thanks to Orchid Blue Salon, Professional Academy of Cosmetology, Roots Hair Studio, Kazoo's School of Hard Knox, Dr. Smith's Foot Care and Not Just Nails for taking care of our appearances so that we are properly representing our businesses well (as we all know, image is everything)?

18) How do I say thanks to the African American Chamber of Commerce and their members Raymond Holman Jr. Photography, Spruce Hill Properties, Alpha Office Supplies who leveraged multiple networks to grow their business?

19) How do I say thanks to Team-Clean for breaking the glass ceiling and reaching back to grab Nicole Newman and move DiversePhilly to the next level?

20) How do I say to Radiant Properties LLC, Ultimate Concrete LLC, Eley Electrical Contractors, Precision Plus Plumbing, JHL Enterprises as they make sure our real estate assets are developed?

Bonus Question! To JeterActive: How do I say thanks for being the web developer who brought my vision of DiversePhilly and Newman Networks to life? We say Thanks the best way we know how, by marketing your business in the DiversePhilly newsletter. We look forward to creating exciting synergies and sending out our cards this holiday season!

Many Blessings,

Nicole Newman

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Marketing Tips shared at the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce

Be sure to join us next month as we share more tips with our Montthly Breakfast with Fran event from 7:30 am - 10:00 am on Tuesday, December 16th, 2008!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Nicole's Commentary 14 November 2008

With the new year looming, now is the time to plan for the next 3-5 years of growth. While we were discussing the foundation with a fellow business owner, she said "The last few years I have been working as an employee. My business has not been set up right so I have a lot of fear. Even though I can't afford you, I can't afford to not have you if I want to grow my business". She has been in business over 15 years, but she did not incorporate the business, there is no an accounting system, and she did not track her customers. One method to get over the fear of success is to lay a solid foundation.

Even though, the newsletter is distributed to 1200 business owners, only 240 (20%) choose to open and read the newsletter. For those owners who want to save both time and money, here are a few ways to lay a solid foundation for success!

1) Build your network and garner quality recommendations (see marketing tips above). Business relationships, on average, take 18-24 months. Join us at the Greater Philadelphia Chamber to associate with like minded businesses who understand that we have to grow together. This is where the relationships are built to do business at the next level. The Greater Philadelphia Chamber and The Enterprise Center exposed my business to the President of an 18 year old, large minority owned firm with over 500 employees. Now that is a person I want to associate with.
2) Set up your DUNS number to enter the database. This is the database that corporations and the federal, local, state government use to find qualified vendors for procurement opportunities. As I learned at the Supplier Diversity Network, there are 1.43 million companies registered with Dun and Bradstreet but only 471,000 are in CCR. That means my business eliminated a million competitors by just registering!
3) Build your business credit. My first company loan will be a small one just so we can establish a credit history and show that Newman Networks has the accounting systems in place to handle expected capacity. Michael Bing from The Enterprise Capital Corporation, (another relationship that started a few years ago) my application is on it's way!
4) Become minority and/or women owned certified with the City of Philadelphia. This is a free service and the newly created Office of Economic Opportunity has made the application process much easier. I personally use this as a credible guide to show my business is incorporated, licensed properly, has a business bank account and has the business mindset to get the job done.

For me, the best way to get over my apprehensions is to go out and just do it!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Attitude is everything

Success in life is determined mainly by your attitude. Network Marketing taught me that 80% of success is determined by attitude and only 20% is determined by skill. Attitude is what drives the underlying philosophy into behaviors. Applying these behaviors over time creates habits.

Business ownership offers the choice to live your passion. The philosophies that make your character will determine the success of your business. The philosophies that I hold in my heart are:

1) We are all connected. Newman Networks exists to build relationships and we do this by connecting people. If you view my profile on, I guarantee we know at least 1 person in common. On average every person knows 300 people. 300 people multiplied by the 300 people they know, multiplied by the 300 people they know equals 27 million people. As the Philadelphia community is a 5% fraction of that number, we can truly adhere to our tagline as the City of Brotherly Love.

2) People do business with people. The average business relationship takes 18-24 months with at least 5 separate exposures (that is why networking is critical). Knowing who knows who vastly shortens the relationship building timeline which means business can move at a faster pace. J.P Getty said “the wealthy build networks while everyone else looks for work”. We are now positioned to use technology tools like DiversePhilly, Facebook and LinkedIn to build and connect our networks.

3) Live life in the mindset of abundance. The current financial crisis on the country has had a negative affect on the bottom line but a positive effect on my approach. The nature of business is cyclical and I have learned to have the same attitude in a recession as I did in a surplus. The marketing budget and the church collection plate should not dry up in a recession. I learned a long time ago, that when we close our hand to hold onto our possessions, we also close our hand to the abundance that the Creator wishes to provide. Relationship building through marketing creates the momentum that will drive the success of your business.

Those philosophies allow us (Newman Networks, RSVP Me Inc, and Eatible Delights) to appreciate the supporters and clients who continue to give on November 23rd, 2008 from 3-6PM at The Gathering Place even in the face of a recession!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Feast or Famine!

One of the newsletters I read is from the go big network. This week’s article is titled "Go Big or Go Home". A downsized economy will sort out business owners who create opportunity from those who disengage and eventually perish. The retail sector will hurt this holiday season as sales are predicted to slump with the unemployment rate steadily increasing (168,000 people lost their jobs last month) and a credit crunch that continues to limit capacity for businesses. It is your network of resources that will keep your business afloat and even thriving. As we learned at the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce networking event, to survive in this economy, utilize your network (Diversephilly, the various chambers, your associations – Michael, I will make an appointment for TEC’s Capital Corporation) and diversify your customer base. Think creatively about how to generate revenue from small businesses, corporate businesses, non-profit agencies and government clients.

ClearPoint Technology and the Greater Philadelphia Chamber emphasized that the businesses who are not operating on the Internet (see Gypsy Lane Technologies, Universal Concept), and do not have a professional email addresses are not even considered being in business ( When your business is properly incorporated (Real World Law, Athena Dooley Esquire) , has business assets separated from personal assets (see Sovereign Bank), has financial statements for the last 3 years (Goldflam and Associates, Williams Accounting) and has a course level understanding of the intricate operations for your business plan(See Enon Tabernacle Capital Fund's IE3 Institute for Entrepreneurship), then your business can go from a start-up business to an established business.

What I learned from the MED Week Conference was that we need to be entered into the database to be considered for corporate and government clients and have a profile in the Dun and Bradstreet reporting agency. I will continue to advance my business by learning what it takes to build an enterprise and share that information with the businesses on DiversePhilly. Newman Networks operates with corporate clients (Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania), small businesses and non-profit organizations (The Enterprise Center). Government clients are the missing piece for a diversified client list. It is time to add the City of Philadelphia’s, newly created Office of Economic Opportunity to my appointment book and learn what is necessary to work with the City of Brotherly Love.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Nicole's Commentary - A tale of 2 sons

My kids are the greatest teachers. Omar, the middle child, lives in the OR world. He is always asking - Is it red or blue? Can I have an apple or an orange? When there is nothing to compare, he adds - OR NOT to make a comparison. He will ask, "Can I play on your computer or not?" Nasir, my youngest child lives in the AND world. If I ask, "Do you want a pretzel or a water ice?", He will say, "I want a pretzel AND a water ice." He wants it all - there is never a choice for him. Our Saturday routine involves going to the corner store and getting donuts (that way the kids can stop asking for donuts Monday through Friday). Omar wanted the mini donuts from the store. I asked Nasir, "Do you want the mini-donuts or a big donut?" He said "I want the mini donuts AND a big donut". I said, "You can only have one." So he thought for a while and he said, "I want a big donut".

Even though I said this to him, I know in my heart that I too live in the AND world. I want a profitable AND a socially conscious company (see triple bottom line with social venture institute). I want to run my own company AND be a part of a team. I want to be a mentor to teach AND a mentee to learn. I want a traditional business AND a network marketing business. I want to stay connected to my heritage AND be able to work with everybody. I want to be a career woman AND a work at home mom. Being an entrepreneur is the only way I could achieve the time freedom to teach and learn from my children AND the financial freedom to build generational wealth. Being a member of both the African American Chamber of Commerce AND the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce allows me to tap resources from inside AND outside of my community to achieve this goal.

I bought Omar and Sahar, my daughter, the mini donuts. Nasir creatively found a way to get everything he wanted. He got a mini donut from his big brother and his big sister and the big donut for himself. In essence, he is just like me and he got it all - That's my boy!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Nicole's Commentary 15 September 2008

As I watch my children learn from me, I reflect on my greatest mentor, my mom. I really cannot put all the lessons she taught me here but I will focus on a very important one - Believe In Yourself.

My mom told me all the time that I could do anything. She said don't let your current circumstances dictate your life. Not only did she say this but she went out and through her drive and determination changed our circumstances.

We moved about every 3 years to a better place. (I thought we were the Jeffersons!). When the administrators at the school district told my mom that we missed the deadline to apply to Masterman, I got accepted in spite of the deadline. (Clue - administrative assistants have all the power). When the financial aid officers at University of NC at Greensboro said I needed to have $3000 dollars to attend school, my mom found a way to get the money in 2 days. She believed it would happen and once the mind believes the universe aligns to make it happen (add The Secret to your bookshelf).

That same attitude resonates in me. My mom taught me to believe in myself and so it is very hard to think I can't do something. The answer "no" is not congruent with my beliefs. Marketing is the belief in yourself and your product transferred to someone else. We must show through our marketing efforts that we offer the best value (price point, social impact) and that belief will be transferred by using our products consistently. One of the ways to transfer to belief is attending networking events and exchanging business cards. This shows that you are willing to talk about your business.

Now as a parent, I have a responsibility to teach my children that they can do anything they want in their lifetime. My job is to build belief in them by leading by example and proving that an idea, a desire to work hard, communication skills, and belief in yourself are all the tools you need to be successful entrepreneur. The bank might not give you a loan or you might not have the right skill set but these setbacks are only temporary. With these characteristics, you will attract like-minded individuals (i.e. the businesses on DiversePhilly) who are all striving to make the vision a reality. With patience and mentoring through the rough patches, you will make it to your destiny. As my network marketing business likes to say "You can not stop a man or a woman who will not quit".

Thank you Mom for believing in my abilities and leading by example to instill the entreprenuerial spirit that anything is possible.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Nicole's Commentary 2 September 2008

Recently, I went to meet a client at one of my favorite Wi-Fi restaurants, Cornbread and Coffee in West Oak Lane. (I also frequent Yono's Bayou Café in Logan and Kaffa Crossing in West Philadelphia) My server who has seen my weight loss over the past 2 years, commented "You have been keeping your weight off very well".
Little does he know, the world and I operate on checks and balances.
Almost 2 years ago, I purchased an
Ankh Ring from DiversePhilly's Bold Urge. While I was training for the Philadelphia Marathon, it kept falling off my ring finger so I added the ring to my middle finger. That ring has been on my middle finger for over a year - Now I can't even take it off. When the ring gets tight, I don't eat that piece of cake; when the ring gets tight, I add an extra workout to my routine. That ring keeps me in check of my fitness goals.
As I knew I would need to check on spending for my business. My first partner in business is my accounting firm,
Whole Unit Artistic Development Inc. They keep me in check of my spending habits, (I have a thing for Soles, a shoe experience. Every time I visit the store, I wind up with a new pair of shoes). They operate my business on a secure financial platform called a budget. We have an exact amount of how much income is needed to have a profitable month, profitable quarter and profitable year. When I ask for the world, which I often do, we prioritize the financial goals and analyze the decisions to help the company run smoothly. It is the conversation that keeps me in check.
What I found through my relationship with my mentor is the check I was looking for to be a better person. Like the E-Myth Revisited states "Your business is a reflection of you" - so I will improve my business by becoming a better person. As we all know, behind every great man stands a phenomenal woman and my mentor chose a truly phenomenal woman in his wife, Celia. Her beauty shows from the inside out. One of the important lessons I have learned from her is proper etiquette. As Marcet and I discussed on,
"Are You listening" Radio Show on WNWR 1540 AM, people judge you on how you look and how well you speak.
Last month at a special 2 day training, I walked in 10 minutes late. Celia questioned my tardiness; I responded to my tardiness with unkind words. To add insult to injury, I did this in front of another team member. With gracious manners, she did not get offended and said another kind word. Pastor Creflo Dollar taught me that " We create character in every choice we make". I knew immediately that I had made a bad choice but the training began. I don't remember anything about those two hours because I was constantly thinking about the incident and the bad choice I used in that situation. At the break, I went over and apologized for the poor choice of words and took full responsibility for my tardiness.
Just in that moment, I recognized the change in behavior I need to become a better person. I need to show up on time and have a greater sense of humility. The check and balance to operate a business requires relationships with people. I still have lessons to learn to become the humble, servant leader so I can serve my customers (the businesses on DiversePhilly) by providing information to get us across the digital divide and take our businesses to the next level.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Nicole's Commentary 18 August 2008

I had the pleasure of seeing the award-winning Documentary "First Person". Six students from Philadelphia's public high schools talk in first person about their journey to college. Their journey was full of twists and turns from life on the streets. One of the students in the film attended the screening and said the thing that stopped her from going to college was a mentor. Today, let's set the record straight about my relationship with my mentor, UrbanPhilly's, Sulaiman Rahman.

I actually met Sulaiman through the website ConnectingBlack about 2 years ago and always respected him from afar. When he called me last year, I knew this was a special person entering my life. At the Conversation on Civic Engagement and Politics with BET's Jeff Johnson (Thanks again Urban Philly Professional Network), Jeff talked about creating institutions to educate each other. The institution has already been created, we just need to see it as an institution. Since August 2007, I have been attending weekly training on Tuesday where Sulaiman taught class on how to be a better person which turns into better business owners. He not only did that, but went above and beyond by spending his personal time to travel with me to Washington DC to meet my family, attend DiversePhilly events and also give tips on how to make DiversePhilly better. If we counted his time as money, because time equals money, he has spent about $40,000 mentoring me. Now at that price I could not afford his tutorlage, but he used a network marketing institution to share his knowledge with me.

If it was not for network marketing, DiversePhilly would not exist. When I was introduced to network marketing, I was a frustrated 250 lb single mom trying to make it work. My favorite author, Robert Kiyosaki endorses network marketing in the book, The Business School for People Who Like Helping People. It was through my first network marketing opportunity, Quixstar that the idea of DiversePhilly came to mind. Sulaiman likes to call network marketing - "personal development with a compensation plan attached". That is why network marketing has been so attractive. I was doing all types of wrong in the world and the idea of learning a system of how to be a better person was quite intriguing. As a business owner - YOU are the product. That was proven when I was explaining DiversePhilly to a prospective business owner over e-mail and he said "I don't want to advertise with you". He did not think of DiversePhilly as an advertising vehicle, he specifically said Nicole Newman.

Luckily for me, I was involved in a network marketing business which taught me how important it was to be personally developed. Entrepreneurship requires a different skill set than the corporate America. You have to believe in yourself and your product without a shadow of a doubt. My last day at Deloitte was July 5th, 2007 so I had not developed the skills necessary when Sulaiman called me the next month. Through Sulaiman's network marketing institution, I developed a thick skin and a positive mental attitude. Being an entrepreneur is not easy and he was able to mentor me on the bumps that happen along the way. So when the bumps occured, I was prepared (Murphy's Committee). It did not stop me on my journey of becoming a better person.

Sulaiman has a goal of creating 100 full-time entrepreneurs and as all network marketers should know "TEAM work makes the DREAM work". Everybody cannot run UrbanPhilly or DiversePhilly but everyone has the capacity to use network marketing as a institution where we can learn the skills necessary to mentor each other as successful business owners. Sulaiman, thank you for paying it forward by mentoring me and I will pay it forward by leading by example and teaming with you to make your vision of creating more full-time entrepreneurs a reality.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Nicole's Commentary 4 March 2008

Lately, I have been wondering why am I destined to become an entrepreneur. Last year, I finally understood that entrepreneur’s spirit is in my genes. My grandfather, Robert Newman (who passed away in 1992), was an entrepreneur and owned a paving company out on the main line. Today, I want to focus on my grandmother, Mrs. Marion Payne. She was a South Philadelphia native and a teenage mom. She managed to raise 9 children as a widower. She had a huge heart and was always doing for somebody (including me). She was active in the church, a tither, and raised various other children including my two cousins. I fondly remember staying down in her big house every summer during my middle school years. Her 6 bedroom twin house was the only house with a driveway in the Petworth neighborhood of Washington DC. Though I went to her retirement party from the government, I never understood what she did. I just assumed she was a secretary. A few years ago she mentioned that she was a cleaning lady. I was completely shocked. I asked her how she was able to afford the big house on a cleaning ladies salary. She told me the secret of success. She told me that she took care of the lady who owned in the house and moved all 9 of her children in. When the lady passed, she gave my grandmother the house. My grandmother understood the success in life lies in the relationships. She also understood that the person you give to is not always the person you receive from. Since she had been blessed with a house for her family, she went out of her way to give to others. That is why networking is crucial to the success of our businesses. Business owners are the largest consumer group in the United States. In addition to shopping for our homes, we have to shop for our businesses (which is why banks love business accounts). So we have to lead by example and support ourselves before the Philadelphia population follows suit.

There are many businesses like HDMS, UrbanPhilly, Newman Networks, JeterActive, Universal Concept, Technically Speaking Radio, The Black Business Directory, Royal Bay Mortgage, Whole Unit Studios, RL Snaggs and Whole Unit Artistic Development Inc contributing to each other’s success. On March 28th, 2008 at Yo Darkroom, we get a chance meet and find new cross marketing opportunities to contribute to each other’s success!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Nicole's Commentary 2 August 2008

Two weeks ago, I sent my 6-year-old daughter to DC to visit her dad and grandmother. When my daughter found out she was going, she was so excited! Everyday she would tell me how many days it was until Thursday, the day of her trip. A friend plaited her hair, and my daughter packed her own clothes and told her brothers how she was going to ride in daddy's truck. It reminded me of the time when I was her age and my daddy was going to take me to Great Adventure. Since I was an only child, I told all my girlfriends who were also from single parent homes (statistically, a girl is more likely to be in a single parent home than a boy) that my daddy was coming. My friends and I looked forward to his visit because when one father showed up it was like everyone's father showed up. On the big day, I wore my best dress, my mom combed my hair and my friends and I played outside while we waited for my dad. Unfortunately, I played outside until my mom called me in at 9 PM at night. Unlike Sahar's father, my dad did not show up; there was not even a phone call. That was the day my little heart was broken and that was the day my mom told me that she decided not to have any more children. She vowed she would never experience another child's pain like that again.

My girlfriends and I never again talked about the disappointment of that day - it was our code of silence. I really thought that I had moved past the heartache. In retrospect, it is clear that I made decisions so no man would break my heart again. My father lowered the bar on what a "good" man is and I, in turn, looked for men who were not above that bar. In my view, a father is supposed to let his children (especially his girls) know that no man can love them more than he can. Most women compare her mate's actions to her father's and select mates that can live up to the standard he set. My father showed me that it was ok to lie and cheat and I, in turn, never selected a mate who was above the low standard of my father. Not to say that "good" men did not try to be with me; I would push them away thinking they were too good for me.

Since then, my love and respect for my dad or any other man is conditional. This has great implications on my daughter's future relationships with men. All this new understanding came as a result of DiversePhilly's own subscriber, Paliani Consulting's REAL Program. Since all business is the relationship between two entities (business and customer, business and vendor, business and employee, etc.), I sought new ways to make our relationships more meaningful, which would result in increased profitability. What I learned through the program is that our relationships are dependent on how well we know ourselves.

With this new knowledge, I set out to heal my relationship with my dad (who lives less than 2 miles away and whom I have seen only once in 2008). My instructor from the REAL program said "Most relationships break up not from what is said but what is not said." So I was determined to talk with him and share my feelings. When I call, he does not answer. When I go to his house, he is not available. When I schedule a time to talk, he does not show up (surprise!). So I will heal myself right here with a love letter to him that will forever be stored on this blog.

"Dad, I know you don't want to remember but you left a daughter with a broken heart. Even though I am all grown up and trying to hold things together, I still need you. Your love and affection cannot be matched by any man and that makes you the center of my world. It is not too late to kiss and make-up because I love you. Everyday I find a new habit in myself and my children (especially Omar) that reminds me of you. I am here to share in your life because we are linked and you will always be right here held close in my heart because a big part of me is you."

Thank you Daddy University for bringing to light the importance fathers play in the role of personal development. Thank you to The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce who introduced me to Paliani Consulting . Thank you Paliani Consulting for showing the business community how to have greater relationships which lead to more profitable businesses by showing our REAL, authentic selves.

I welcome comments to this blog.

Nicole's Commentary on Barack Obama January 2008

As we look to 2008, Philadelphia on the verge of a great tipping point. It is just a few people (300 or so..) and a new attitude of hope that can turn around the social ills of this community. The city has already decided that Michael Nutter will change the city and the country made news by voting Barack Obama the democratic winner in Iowa. I take a lot of lessons from how Mr. Obama used a grass roots movement of young entrepreneurs (I mean, voters) to fund a campaign without advertising sponsors (I mean, lobbyists) and used the power of the internet to change the business (I mean, political) game of pay to play. Let’s look at his speech in Iowa and see if we can apply it to Philadelphia….

“You have done what America can do in this New Year, 2008. In lines that stretched around schools and churches; in small suburban communities and well established neighborhoods; you came together as Big Businesses, Medium Sized Businesses and Small Businesses to stand up and say that we are one business community; we are one people; and our time for change has come.

You said that the time has come to move beyond the bitterness and pettiness and anger that's consumed Philadelphia; to end the business strategy that's been all about division and instead make it about addition - to build a coalition for change that stretches through local business association’s to the Mayor’s Office --- and that's how we'll finally meet the challenges (economically and socially) that we face as a community. We're choosing unity over division, and sending a powerful message that change is coming to Philadelphia. Hope is the bedrock of this community; the belief that our destiny will not be written for us, but by us; by all those men and women who are not content to settle for the business community as it is; who have the courage to remake the business community as it should be.

As,, , and work together to ensure your success – Let’s show a united community at Haru on January 18th, 2008!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Nicole's Commentary August 27th, 2007

Just the other day, I sat with my business advisor, who is one of the businesses on the website. We were talking about ways to improve and market the website. She said that when she sent out an e-mail to her distribution list telling her she can be found on DiversePhilly, some of responses came back telling her that she was too professional to be associated with the businesses on the website. I started rubbing my eyebrows in frustration and I kindly said “It’s that exact attitude that got us here in the first place” Those businesses that you think are not professional enough need your skills to become successful. If we say that our business is too good to be listed with other businesses, then we are turning our backs on ourselves. Your business is judged by how people view the good and bad habits of people who have the same color of your skin.

When I worked at Deloitte, I was the first minority in my department. I knew if I did a bad job, another person would be denied yet another opportunity. My track record allowed Deloitte to judge my successor by the content of his resume not the color of his skin. My successor in fact was a minority person. We have to stop pretending that these kids committing crime and those businesses who don’t have a certain look are not “our” people. The sooner we realize that we are all in this together, the more successful we will all be. By being listed on this website, your business is exposed to the businesses in your category. Hopefully, we can learn what it takes to measure up. Just by listing your business, we can mentor each other.

It is not fair to criticize people when they have not been empowered with your knowledge. We have to learn that there is a formula to success and current business owners are missing an opportunity to teach the next generation of business owners how to navigate the roadblocks that come in starting a business.

I am my brother’s keeper? UrbanPhilly and Ladybug Marketing, two of the businesses that had been in the internet marketing business a lot longer, allowed me to enter into their networks to create DiversePhilly. They did not have the crabs in a barrel mentality; they understood that everybody can share something with someone else. I, in turn, acknowledge their help and support every chance I get. The world is changing by leaps and bounds in the digital age and some people are being left out. My measure of success is not how much money my company makes but how many businesses/consumers are brought into the digital age to take advantage of the internet. Let's see how we can work together to cross the digital divide.

Nicole's Commentary July 25th, 2007

I use the familiarity of the DiversePhilly businesses to add self-love and capability as character development for my children. We all know that children learn by what they experience so I use the internet to give them that experience. In the past, the businesses in the community created jobs for the neighborhood kids and were the leaders in the community. We have a whole generation of lost children killing and shooting each other because of lack of opportunity (high unemployment) while a new culture and a new business model is forming right under our noses on the internet. My children and this generation of children are growing up in the digital age – they are not going to search for a business using the phone book (nor access the internet from the computer). Our businesses must leverage technology to sustain ourselves. We have to learn the new generation customers, who were born in the digital age, and tailor our business to meet their needs. By growing relationships with this generation, we will in turn grow our business. We go to Mimmo’s because I went there as a child. That long standing relationship cannot be broken by Pizza Hut no matter how many commercials come on TV or coupons come in the newspaper. The key to our success is how we build and maintain relationships.