597068Hi ladies. I usually try to keep this blog focused on professional development, but someone in my network, Empowered Black Women, posted a question in the forum. She asked what does it mean to be black and I had to respond from my gut. So here is my response. I hope we can start some dialog on this and hopefully a movement!

In a Corporate context I think this is a great discussion. You already know I’m of mixed parentage as well (for those who don’t know my Mom is Hispanic and my Dad was black).  For a long time I had trouble identifying with either race because of the unspoken “rules”. I wasn’t black enough to be black and I was too black to be Hispanic (I know weird right). But eventually I had to learn that I am who I am and I embraced both of my ethnicities. I am very proud of both of my heritages. I formed Empowered Black Women to both honor that side of me and to give sisters a chance to form bonds and enhance their careers as Black Women in the corporate world. There are groups, organizations, etc out there but nothing that ever lasts and the fact that Empower Me has been around 11 years is a testament. I formed the Empowered Latinas for the same exact reason. But I digress.

I’m going to be real here (and raw) so I apologize if offend anyone. A lot of girls I speak to, and even some in my own family feel ashamed to be black because of the negative images out on the internet and media. The Video Hoe image is the number one reason. The young ladies walking around with attitudes and ghettofied mentalities is the other. It hurts my heart when I do a Google search on black women the type of junk that comes up. There is hardly anything of a positive nature describing us. Even when I do an image search on Google or Yahoo or whatever, I am hard pressed to find any positive images. I have a cousin who is 25 and has her behind plastered all over Myspace. She grew up awkward and with braces and wasn’t cute by society’s standards. Today she is a beautiful young woman (with a 2 yr old child) and she has her self worth tied up in what complete strangers think of her almost naked pictures. Somewhere her mother failed.

I am so grateful to Dove & Proctor & Gamble for the My Black Is Beautiful campaign. From what I heard, it is an inspiring and uplifting program and is really taking off. But it’s not enough. We need to tell our daughters, cousins, granddaughters, nieces, friends how beautiful and unique they are…then make them see and feel it. As professionals we need to show them there is a pride and dignity that comes along with success….then be that example. We need to teach them that they are worthy and to never ever settle for less than the best. And finally we need to encourage them in their dreams and help them achieve if even through coaching them along. That is what it means, in my opinion, to be black.

We need to look at the Ursula Burns’, Michelle Obama’s and Anne Fudge’s of the world and realize we CAN do it. We need to let our girls and young women know that we CAN do it. And we can do it being proud of being Black Women. It’s time to take back our image of the Black Woman and redefine it to reflect the respect, dignity and success that comes along with it. We need to stop working against each other and start working with each other and dispel the myth that black women can’t get along or do anything for each other. We need to tell one another how beautiful we are. Stop letting our children (boys and girls) watch this nonsense on tv that degrades women and especially black women. BET, MTV, VH1 all of them need a message sent. I find things like Candy Girls, New York Gets a Job, Flavor of Love and all of those other nonsensical shows to be one of the culprits in why our girls have low images of themselves. THAT is ugly. And it makes me go on the defensive to prove that all of us are not “ugly” like that. They seem to find the girls with the most jacked up problems and exploit them on these shows. it shows them being ugly inside and out and further damages the Black Woman’s image.

I am proud of my heritage- both of them. I am a 40 year old, mother, wife, daughter, sister, cousin, friend, entrepreneur, author, recruiter…but most of all a BLACK WOMAN. I hope this answers your questions. I kind of got off on a tangent. LOL But I take this very serious.

Til next time,

Adrienne Graham

blackpeopleHi ladies.

I haven’t been blogging much these days because I have a lot going on with new exciting projects that I’m bringing to all of you throughout this year. The past few Sundays I’ve been watching Tavis Smiley’s State of the Black Union on TV One. I always watch these with a conflicted heart because each year we have this State of the Union and there’s always a lot of encouraging speech, praise and calls to action. But it seems like after all the fanfare, the Black Community falls back to where they were. Then we do it all again the next year. That saddens me. We’ve got to do better.

Now don’t view this as me dismissing this event, because I’m not. I think it is vital that we keep these going, but it got me thinking.  What I’d like to see is the same people on the panels, not only put out a call to action, but DO SOMETHING to get things moving. Holding an event is not enough. We can talk about it all day long, but if there is no real effort being made outside of showing up on tv, nothing will ever get better. Now it’s not fair for me to put it on others. Doing better starts within each one of us. We have to take a long hard look at ourselves, individually, and do an assessment. Are we living up to our potential? Are we pushing our kids to live up to their potential? Are we encouraging ourselves to take action? If the answer to any of these is “no”, then we need to take action. People, Black Women in particular, can come up with a zillion reasons why we can’t make it or why we feel things are against us. I’m here to tell you life is rough. But just like they say “it’s not what you’re called but what you answer to”, it’s not your circumstance but how you react and move on from it to prosper that counts. If you don’t instill positive thoughts in your mind, you have no chance to succeed. If you don’t take positive actions to improve your life, you can’t succeed. If you don’t start moving yourself out of negative environments and circles, you cannot succeed.

Self accountability and hard work is the starting point. We cannot continue to blame others for our misfortunes. Education and knowledge is power. It starts with you. If you have children, you can’t even get their lives straight until you get yours straight first. Kids follow by example. If you’re not setting that example of excellence, they will have a harder road. Let them know and understand that being smart and focused is not a crime. Keep them interested in always learning. It breaks my heart to see some women say “I can’t. I’m stuck with no way out”. I don’t believe that in even the most extreme cases. Education and knowledge is the great equalizer. We have way too much access these days to have excuses to fall back on. The internet has a wealth of information, mostly for free. Pick up a book. Talk to people. If you can’t afford traditional education, get a non-traditional education. You can self-educate. Just because your education isn’t from a prestigious university doesn’t mean the education or knowledge is an less valuable. Look for programs, grants and scholarships and apply if you are determined to get a traditional education. There is money out there, you just have to look. Connect with successful people you admire. Surrounding yourself with successful people is sure to put you in a positive mindset. It can be as simple as sending an email or picking up the phone to reach out. Don’t think of people in terms of being untouchable. Everyone is accessible somehow, some way. If you don’t ask, you’ll never get.

Upgrade your relationships. We all have different types of friends. The ones you go shopping with. The ones you can discuss world issues with. The ones you had from childhood. But all friendships aren’t meant to last forever. At some point we all experience a friend who is overly negative and adds nothing of value to your friendship. You dread having conversations with her because you know how they’ll turn out. These are the friends you prune from your inner circle. I know there is a lot to be said for loyalty and friendship. But you can’t allow negativity to invade your space. If you’re in a circle where you’re the smartest one, it’s time to find some smarter friends. If you’re in a circle where all they do is bitch about men and problems, it’s time to find happier friends. If you’re in a circle where all they do is cry over money woes or robs peter to pay paul with no plan to get out of the situation, it’s time to find savvier friends. You cannot allow others, no matter how long you’ve known them, to bring you down. Even the strongest of women will succomb to this negaitvity if exposed to it enough. Don’t be afraid to start over.

If you feel you cannot pull yourself up by yourself, get help. There are support groups and mentors out there willing to help. Now be careful though. If you join a support group, make sure it’s not a pity party but a group with goals on helping one another to succeed. Also be careful in choosing a mentor. Not everyone is meant to mentor people. Make sure there is good synergy between you and get at least two or three people to mentor you. Create an encouragement board. Some people call them vision boards. Cut out powerful words, affirmations, phrases and captions and put them on the board. You can also add images of what you wish to succeed. Keep it in a prominent place where you’ll constantly see it. Refer to it often, especially when you feel down.

Immerse yourself in things other than celebrity gossip or entertainment. Get politically active.  Get involved in empowering conversations. Get dialog going within your own household and talk to your kids. It has always bugged the hell out of me how women will blow up a conversation thread about Beyonce’s weave or last night’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy, hair & makeup, or the Chris Brown/Rhianna saga. You’ll find threads online 40 pages deep. But throw out a conversation about goal setting, starting a business, helping one another, or anything work related, and it gets ignored. People, we’ve got to do better. I’m not saying entertainment doesn’t have it’s place. But have an opinion about something other than idle gossip! We need more intelligent dialog.

If you are a person who has achieved success, this blog is for you too. What have you done to uplift another person? Do you mentor or otherwise give your time? What are you willing to do, as your part, in helping our community? You cannot make the mistake so many have made. You cannot get into the upper echelon then cocoon yourself away from the world saying “not my problem”. I’m not saying you have to single-handedly save the entire world or Black Community. But don’t shut yourself off. The biggest complaint I hear from women, especially Black Women is that the sisters who made it turn their backs and are unwilling to reach back to help. Let’s work to dispel this notion. Get involved and give back. Remember, you once needed a hand. If someone gave it to you, consider it paying it forward. If nobody helped you, remember that feeling and work to help others as you wised someone would have helped you.

If you want something bad enough, go out and fight for it. Nothing is given in this life. You have to fight and sweat for it. Don’t let anyone or anything keep you from achieving it. If the election of President Obama has taught us anything, it’s that anything is possible. Say it with me again ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. It’s up to you to level the playing field. Not President Obama, Black “Leaders”, the government, your boss, nobody. Only YOU. Decide what you want to do and go for it with full force. Find out what you do best and work to refine those skills and create your brand. Be confident in what you do so others will believe in you. Remember, if you don’t believe in you nobody else will. What do you want to be synonymous with? What do you want your legacy to be? What do you want your message to the world to be?  Show up, be accountable, and start talking! Most importantly, start DOING.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

My sisters, my sisters.

OK, I watched the news this evening and they showed the young lady in this video in court today.  Can I say I was beyond pissed and saddened by this.

Apparently this happened a little while back.  I’m in Atlanta but never heard of this before today.  According to the news, this young lady harrassed an elderly woman on the train. I’ll get into that in a minute.  What really infuriated me is the fact that a) someone taped this nonsense, and b) NOBODY said or did anything.  I try so hard to be positive about our younger generation but they sometimes make it so damn hard.  The mother of this young woman said she is bi-polar.  SO WHAT!  Bi-polar.  So is that what we’re using as excuses these days?

It’s bad enough that sisters, Black Women are portrayed in such negative and disgusting light.  But it makes it worse when we put ourselves smack dead in the middle of the spotlight.  When are we going to start talking to our sisters and guide them and make them realize they need to respect themselves and others?  When are we going to shake some sense into these young women and help them understand that they alone can control how people perceive them, so they need to step their game up?  When are we going to start publicly denounce such behavior?

Whenever I see a young lady acting out, I try to talk to them. Sometimes they listen, sometimes they don’t.  But I would be remiss in my duties as an Empowered Black Woman if I didn’t step up.  We set the tone for our younger generation.  If we keep turning a blind eye to this nonsense and keep quiet while crap like I Love New York and Flavor of Love and the like continue to air, we are headed down a path of destruction.  My Black Women, we are better than this.  I hope to not see this crap again.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

There was an article written on the CNBC Nightly News website about the increase in Black Women Entreprenreurs.

Please check out this video and read the accompanying article and give your thoughts. Read more here

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

Ladies, networking is one of my passions. I’ve mentioned countless times the importance of a strong network and always being accessible to your network. Everyone is in a mad dash to build their connections, link to as any people as they can, get to know countless acquaintances. But have you ever thought about beyond your networking sphere? I’ll explain.

Thursday evening I hosted a conference call. I sent out a ton of invitations to the wonderful, successful, powerful Black Women in my network. Over the years, I have built an incredible network (not just of Black Women, but overall). In February, I attended the Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit. There were phenomenal women as far as the eye could see. We chatted, networked, exchanged contact information, and vowed to keep in touch. That’s where it all came together for me. Fast forward to last week. I decided to pull together a power call. Connect all MY connections to make the network phenomenal.

Many could not attend, as schedules were already full. But the call was phenomenal. The ladies who did attend the call were excited and overjoyed at the possibilities of connecting and sharing with one another. We chatted about the power of a network, and each woman introduced herself, told us about herself and let us know her urgent networking need. I explained that often times we, as women, don’t ask for what we want. I gave these phenomenal ladies an opportunity to do just that.

Unlike at conferences and trade shows, we vowed to continue the dialog and communication so we can not only benefit ourselves, but also give back and pay it forward to one another. And it has already began. Several of the women emailed and called me the day after to express their joy over the call. They have began reaching out to one another and are eagerly awaiting the next call.

So do something FOR your network. Introduce them to one another. Make connections between your connections. Share, don’t be selfish. We are all 6 degrees from one another. Do your part to keep everyone connected. I for one am looking forward to seeing the power of MY network helping one another.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

Ladies, I’ve been in “career mode” lately.  I’ve been neglecting my entrepreneurial sisters!

Entrepreneurship is a wonderful thing.  I myself have had several business ventures in the past and currently running two to date.  My first business was a recruitment firm (surprise, surprise), then I had a part time catering business, a part time adult toy business (yes, my momma knew! lol), a virtual support business and an online eBay business.  Currently I run my recruitment consulting & career management firm as well as Empower Me.  I am very proud of both.  Empower Me! celebrates its 10th year, while Hues Consulting & Management, Inc was officially launched a little over a year ago.  Both are thriving.  HCM actually came about after several years of contracting.  I have plans for a Shoe store in a year. Multiple streams of income.

We live in the land of entrepreneurial opportunities.  Every day tons of people, especially Black Women are starting businesses at record rates.  Some successful, some not so successful.  The one thing that stands out above all else is that not everyone is cut out to be entrepreneurial.

I love to see my sisters succeed.  Part of the reason I started Empower Me! was to give us a forum to learn and grow. I look back to the days where we had no choice but to start our own businesses.  Madame CJ Walker is my idol.  For that time period, her entrepreneurial prowess was phenomenal.  She paved the way for Lisa Price (Carol’s Daughter), Janice Bryant Howroyd (Act 1 Personnel), Oprah Winfrey (Harpo) and the like.  And yes, even me too!  I’ve always been a free spirit, an entrepreneurial type.  My parents never understood it. They wanted me to settle down and get that 9-5 and stay until I retire. That’s not me.  Ever since I could read Black Enterprise, I wanted my own business.  From selling brownies to girl scout cookies to icees in the summer time.  I was always a mogul in the making.

Ladies, if you have that entrepreneurial spirit, don’t hinder it.  Explore it.  Don’t let a job or a steady paycheck keep you from trying.  It can be the most gratifying experience of your life.  It takes dedication, patience and perseverance.  But it’s a game that you have to come strong in or don’t come at all.  We also have the responsibility of raising our children to follow their entrepreneurial passions.  My parents tried to stifle that in me.  I rebelled.  I cultivate that in my own son.  I have great faith that he will turn out to be a phenomenal entrepreneur.  He has the best MBA training program ever. Mom’s Business Accumen.

What’s your passion?  What’s your dream business idea?  Stop dreaming and start doing.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

Ladies, I have not been able to attend the last few years, but I am trying to get there this year. Watch this clip of the Essence Women Who Are Shaping The World Summit and I hope you get some inspiration from it. Ms. Susan Taylor is phenomenal for pulling this summit together. I’m sad to see Ms. Taylor leave Essence, but I hope she continues to have  hand in this event.


Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

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