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.