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 www.urbanphilly.com, www.supportblackbusinesses.com, www.diversephilly.com , and www.hdms.net work together to ensure your success – Let’s show a united community at Haru on January 18th, 2008!