June 2009

23685003Hi ladies.

I have a challenge to you. It’s a big one. The reason for us being here is to network and learn from one another. To grow and gain knowledge as well as give of ourselves and time. We sometimes get lost in our own little microcosm of the world and forget that others look to us for guidance and advice.

I’m asking everyone to sit down and take an inventory. Look around you and figure out who in your network needs help or may benefit from knowing someone you know. Make a list of people you can faciliate introductions to. Choose wisely. Think about the needs of the people within your inner circle and think about how someone else in your network can help them. It could be a job lead, recommendation of a client, help with a class, a volunteer opportunity, anything. The key is to facilitate the connection and let networking nature takes its course.

I also ask that you find a young woman, like a college student, and become her mentor. Take her under your wing and help her by giving her your time and insight into your expertise. In talking with my interns, they expressed that they (and other young ladies in their age group) want guidance, they want a mentor that will help them navigate through the corporate jungle. And I don’t blame them. We all send so much time with our head down and nose to the grindstone, we sometimes forget to extend a hand to our upcoming generation. It can be as simple as taking them out to lunch once per month and letting them pick your brain. Make yourself available via email and phone before or after work hours. To make things better for the next generation, we must help in grooming them to prepare for the world of business.

So tell me ladies, are you up to the challenge? Be sure to come back to the blog and give us an update.

Adrienne Graham


24036885Hi ladies!

It’s that time of year again.  It’s almost the end of June. Have you met your goals and objectives for 2009 yet?  I usually stop and take a look at my progress at the mid-point in the year to see where I have succeeded and where I may need some help. I’m pleased to say, I’m on track!

At the beginning of the year, I made some decisions that I didn’t know I’d be able to accomplish this year. I have to admit, at times I felt discouraged and overwhelmed, and felt like I was in over my head. Admittedly, even with this network, I felt like I was failing. Maybe I was missing something. But you know, at one point I had to shake that #$&^%$ off!  For one thing, I have a ton of great and hugely supportive people behind me. I am eternally grateful to them for sticking by me every step of the way of this journey. Even when I feel “blah” they are wildly excited about the things I’m doing.

I have a strong determination to succeed. This country has been hit with some pretty brutal times this year. We all know there is no quick fix and that we have a long road ahead of us. But I proudly stood up and declared “I will NOT participate in this recession”.  Some folks say “easier said than done”. True, to an extent. But I think attitude and mentality play a huge role in success. It is often said that times like this is when great companies are formed, and when people reach down deep and come up with that fighting spirit to succeed. I’ve had that in me and continue to have it in me. And it is my hope that you all have it in you…or dig down and find it and bring it to the surface. I run two businesses, a recruitment firm and the publishing/media/professional network company that is Empower Me. Recruiting has taken a hit, but strangely, I am not phased by it. I continue to have clients, just not as intensely as before. I know that the market will pick back up. I’ve been through this before. Not as intense, but I have. Ironically, other opportunities have surfaced. I’ve seen an uptick in coaching (or rather strategy consulting) and brand building through social media. So my consulting firm is working itself out. In fact I have recruiting clients in the wings for when the economy picks back up.

In terms of Empower Me, wow, what can I say. I’m AHEAD of my goals. While the network part is still moving along slowly (I’ve learned to not blame that on myself as much), other areas are picking up. My first book was written and released this year. I’m working on two more to be released by fall. I’ve developed a whole brand based on the premise of the first book Go Ahead Talk to Strangers- The Modern Girl’s Guide to Fearless Networking, which is Fearless Networking. Participation in the webinars and requests for the book and companions books are growing. I’ve been asked to speak at events and conferences and share my knowledge of Fearless Networking. I’ve been traveling meeting new people to network with and in some cases, taking our online relationships offline (finally). I debuted my radio show Views From the Top. I had NO idea I’d be doing a radio show at the beginning of the year, but it was a pleasant and scary surprise. I’ve been getting some wonderful feedback on the show. We are 6 shows in and I am just getting started. I’m very excited about the upcoming show. I’m in talks to consult on a pending tv show idea. I won’t go too much into that as not to jinx it. But this was another unexpected twist that wasn’t in the plan. I’m loving it!  And the plans are underway to launch the magazine! That has long since been my dream and I am pleased to say that it is well on it’s way. Look for a January launch! This one is more personal to me because it’s something I wanted to do for years and to see it unfolding now brings tears to my eyes.  So Empower Me is morphing into this publishing/media/professional network. Just watch out for what’s next. Trust me, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

Am I done yet? Heck no! This is only June. I can’t wait to see where this road leads me. And while I’m not a millionaire (yet) I’m enjoying the ride.  It’s not about money for me. That will come in time. My son has graduated from high school (May) and on his way to college this fall. So now my parental role shifts and will allow me to step into the mogul/businesswoman/power broker role that I can freely assume. Life without restraints…wow, what a concept. I hope you all come along for the ride with me.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

maraHi all. This week I am visiting Los Angeles on business. I’ve always loved coming out here. Not to see the movies stars or celebrities (well I wouldn’t mind running into The Rock- Duane Johnson). But because I’ve always had great business relationships out here. And contrary to what some folks may believe, the entertainment industry is a huge business. In fact, I want to specifically address the entertainment industry, in particular, women of color and their (lack of) influence and voice.

It’s no secret that over the last few years, black television has all but disappeared from main stream media. Sure we have BET and TV One, but I will refrain from showing my disdain for the programming made available.  We had one Latino show for a while, the George Lopez Show, which is also gone. There is a noticeable void in ethnic programming. One example of this is the recent fight that writer/producer/show creator Mara Brock Akil was embroiled in with the CW Network in keeping her second show with them from being canceled…The Game.  She has her show Girlfriends abruptly canceled on her last year with no closure to the audience and fans. Now the Powers that be have decided, even in light of the massive online fan movement to save the show, to cancel it. While admittedly I hardly watched the show, I understand the significance of this slap in the face. Mara has had a stellar track record with some pretty prominent show. Someone with her track record deserves more respect than she’s been given.

As I look around Hollywood, I can see a noticeable absence of recognized Women of Color in the business. Sure we see people like Jada Pinkett Smith, Shonda Rhimes, Tracey Edmonds, Tyra Banks, Oprah Winfrey and Christina Norman. But they are the “known” power brok(h)ers in Hollywood. For each of them, there are at least 20 more unknowns or “unsungs”. That really bothers me. For years, I’ve been reading about the women of Hollywood fighting the good fight to get more sisters in front of AND behind the cameras.  I haven’t felt it as much as I do right now.  As I drive through the city, I can’t help but notice the lack of color on the billboards.  I’m not a big tv watcher but the lack of diversity on the small screen isn’t lost on me.  In fact it frustrates the hell out of me. Networks can buy into bullshit like Flavor of Love, Charm School, New York does whatever and so on. You have Oxygen showing crap like Bad Girls. When you have strong positive women like the ladies I mentioned above, why isn’t their images portrayed? Why can’t we show positive women of color? True we have Jada on her new show Hawthorne, but it’s on cable, not any of the major networks. I pray that the show lasts because I think it has promise after watching the first episode. She is not only the lead BLACK female lead, but also the Executive Producer. We have Grey’s Anatomy & Private Practice, but we have two Black women and one Asian woman, and one Hispanic woman between the two shows. I’m grateful for at last that much diversity. I have a feeling that’s credited to Shonda. But can we have some more please?

I am advocating for more diversity in Hollywood.  Black Women, Hispanic Women, Asian Women, Middle Eastern Women. We are all beautiful women of color. Hollywood has to do better or at least start promoting and talking about more of them. We have to do better in holding the right people accountable. Mara had the right idea in taking the fight to the web. It is such a great, powerful tool. But here’s the thing. We need to get to our own young ladies and demand that they expect better and do better for themselves. Fighting over Flavor Flav (regardless of ethnicity), shaking their ass in videos like video hoes, and either allowing themselves to be disrespected or disrespecting themselves is not acceptable. If we had more positive programming featuring, showcasing and celebrating women of color, there would be a lot less of them making asses of themselves on tv.  TV shows like Candy Girls does not represent women of color in the right light. Our young ladies have to know and understand that we can be successful in entertainment without shaking our asses or fighting over an idiot on tv.

So Mara, what can I do to help further your cause?  This is my open letter to you.  How can I make this “our” cause?  What can I do to help? To the general public, how can we get more Latinas in front of the camera and in power positions outside of Univision? How can we get more Asian women and Middle Eastern Women their recognition as well? How do we get more diversity in front of and behind the camera?  Help me please, because I’m at a loss. I’m a Recruiter, so I can find the top talent. But how can we get the “brass” to take notice and the media to start reporting on them?

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

Hi all. I’ve been busy, busy busy. With my son graduating High School two weeks ago and my workload, I’m swamped. But I have some down time and wanted to share a story with you. A cautionary tale if you would, from the perspective of a Mom and Recruiter.

As I mentioned, my son graduated from high school recently. He’s 18 and “free” (yeah whatever that means) and ready to take on the world. He has some time before he reports for college this fall, so he decided to look for a part time job in addition to his side business. I have no problem with that. Hey, I was 18, and I know what it’s like to be “free” but broke.  So as his RecruiterMom, I sat him down to give him some job search advice. I mean I’ve only been a Recruiter for 16 years and his Mom for 18. I think I know a little something. Well the young man stopped me a quarter of the way through the conversation to tell me “it’s OK Mom. I got this. I know enough to find a job. You already taught me how to present myself and all that good stuff. Trust me to do this on my own”.

Well as a Mom, it was tough. He’s been under my watch for the last 18 years. My husband tells me it’s time to let the baby bird fly. As a Recruiter, I respected that some of my words have sunken into his head and he felt ready to do this alone. So I stepped back and let him do what he needed to do.  He had received a letter in the mail from Vector Marketing. Yes, I’m naming names, as I am very upset by the whole incident.  They apparently bought mailing lists of graduating seniors and college students, because I know he didn’t reach out to them. As a Recruiter, that’s a proactive move and I can’t be mad at them. But when I saw the letter, my red flags went up. I talked to my husband and he said to let the child..excuse me, young man..work it out.  So I sat back.

My son got up early on Wednesday morning and got dressed to the nines. He had a suit and tie, his best shoes, a leather portfolio I had lent him, copies of his resume and a gold pen of mine that he borrowed. He was intent on making a good impression on the recruiter. So off he goes. About three hours later, I get a call from my very excited son “Mom, I got the job!” I think, wow that’s great! He promised to share the details when he got home. I had a nagging feeling that something wasn’t right. I went to my trusty friend Google and looked up this company. I realized my son got involved in Network Marketing/MLM/whatever you want to call it, and called my husband immediately. Again, I was told to let him find his way. So he comes home with the information and says he has to attend training Thursday, Friday & Saturday. I thought OK, fine. When he hears what he needs to do he’ll quit. They told him they’d pay him $16 per APPOINTMENT, not per hour as he thought. There would be no hourly rate. Off he went the first day of training. He comes home and tells me about the “Cutco Way” and asks about scheduling appointments to sell me knives. WHAT!? My spidey sense was tingling..scratch that, it was hollaring! I asked him again if he was ok with this “job”. He said sure, I’ll give it a try. It seems easy enough.

So off he goes the second day. He comes home last night and says hey Mom, I need $140 for a deposit to buy the items to sell.  WHAT!! So I asked him to tell me about the interview process. He said “you know mom, they didn’t ask for my resume at all. I gave it to him and he was shocked. They didn’t take any ID. They had us go to individual and group “interviews” then told me I was hired”. I asked did they at least have him fill out an application or ask for references and he said no.  At this moment I asked him, “did you really think this through?”.  He told me he was starting to feel funny about this “job”. Every ten minutes, he’d come back in my office with another “AHA moment” about something that should have tipped him off.  So I sat him down and we surfed the internet.

There were TONS of reports about this company and they weren’t very pretty. Well my son decided that since he hadn’t signed anything he would not be returning.  Ordinarily I would advise him to handle it differently, but in this case, I couldn’t blame him. I told him he could find a REAL job.  Here’s my issue. On their website, they talk about the process and mention that they tell applicants at the interview that there is an “investment”.  They NEVER disclosed that to my son or any of the others. The so called “recruiter” should have explained to those kids (because that’s what they are) everything about the position AND the policies of the company.

Now, I don’t begrudge anyone a chance to make money. But don’t prey on kids who don’t know any better.  We all know that as Recruiters, you have to disclose certain information to candidates when hiring.  We also know that references, background checks, W4s and I9s are all part of the process. They did NONE of this with my son or anyone else.  In this tight economy, I find it reprehensible that companies like this are allowed to prey (yes I used the word again) on young kids.  My son was lucky. He figured it all out before he got in too deep. Plus he has me as his Recruiter/Mom to minimize the damage. But what about those who aren’t as lucky?  And what kind of so-called “recruiters” are these?  They didn’t do their “job” as recruiters, they did a job as a salesperson.  They suckered these kids into thinking that they had these wonderful jobs when all they did was suck them into their pyramid schemes.  I am disgusted that companies like this are allowed to advertise along side legitimate companies and legitimate jobs.

I will be placing two calls on Monday. One to the high school for selling this information without permission, and Vector Marketing for being so disgusting. I don’t generally disparage any company. When I have an issue, I may allude to it without mentioning names. But this economy is not the right time to have people get taken.  I know I’ll get hate mail from the MLM crowd, but I don’t care. I’m not putting down that line of work. Only the unscrupulous ways some of them use to “recruit”. I for one don’t want my title/job/reputation as a Recruiter to be confused with theirs. There are ways for teens and college students to make money. Let’s take the time to properly educate them so they can make the best decisions for themselves.

Til next time. Watch your back people!

Adrienne Graham