23213988OK, I subscribe to all the major business news magazines & papers. I set my alerts to get any kind of corporate business information that will give me a competitive advantage. I get tons of alerts a day- so much that it annoys me to no end. But I need to do it. Tonight, as I search through the internet, I wonder why the only “black corporate news” I’ve gotten in a while was the story on Xerox’s new incoming CEO. Now, don’t get me wrong. I understand the huge significance of this. I am very proud of Ms. Burns. But where is the rest of “our news”?

I get my “black news” from Black Enterprise, Black Engineer, The Network Journal, you know the standards. But outside of that, you never ever see any black news from Wall Street, or the Fortune 500 set unless it’s about Barack or Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Robert Johnson or Magic Johnson. I never really paid much attention to it because I’ve always had my old stand by BE.

As I set out to create my Google Alerts, I did a search. Black Corporate Women as a search was almost non-existent. African American Corporate Women did no better as a search term. I know we’re out there. I don’t want to just see them when Working Mother trots them out in their “diversity” issue or the BE top Blacks in Corporate issue. I swear to you, if I didn’t know the names of many prominent Black people in Corporate America, I’d be lost. I know who to search for to find news on them. But what about others who are looking for role models and turn to the web for information only to be disappointed? I found more links on crap (sex ads, naked women, black women got attitudes) than anything of substance.

We’ve got to start holding the media outlets accountable. This is not new. As much as I love BE, I need some diversity in my reading material. Why is it I still get shocked when I see a person of color in the pages of Fortune, Forbes, Bloomberg (a rarity) or any of the news tv channels?

What are we going to do about it?

Til next time,

Adrienne Graham


wp_logo1Hello everyone! Well, I didn’t make it to the Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit in Orlando, FL this year. I am so upset. I caught the flu so I couldn’t go. I had it all planned out. I would stay at my Mom’s (free room & board!), meet some of the ladies outside of the Summit for drinks or dinner, and network my butt off! I had the sessions I wanted to attend highlighted and was ready with my business cards. I even ordered some extra copies of my book- just in case. Needless to say, I was disappointed when I realized I would not be attending. *sigh* Yes, I’m whining.

Well, a lovely friend of mine, Michelle Greene, a Director of Business Infrastructure, who I met at last year’s Summit, called me and told me to get well and stay in bed. We both wished we could get together and turn that event out, but I was too sick to make it. Michelle did something that was even better than me being there. This dear woman talked me up to anyone who would listen. You see, I advised Michelle to get some Resume Cards a few weeks ago as part of her self marketing efforts. She had some made and bought them with her to the Summit. Everyone she gave them to complimented her on a genius idea. She promptly told them that I was the one who advised her to get them AND she told them about my book. Amongst them was B. E. Editorial Director Sonia Allyene- I’m really sorry I missed her!

And as if that wasn’t enough, Michelle stood in line after a session with Carla Harris- a managing director in global capital markets at Morgan Stanley- to get an autographed copy of her new book Expect to Win: Proven Strategies for Success from a Wall Street Vet just for me. When she called me to say she had a surprise for me, I had no idea. I am so touched that she did that for me. The power of networking! I am going to be sure to send Ms. Harris a note of thanks, and I owe Michelle a dinner or something for looking out for me like she did. I am truly blessed.

Another example of my brand transcending myself is I received a call from a woman who is doing research for an article on women entrepreneurs. She left a voice message for me and in it she stated that in talking with other women, my name came up quite a few times as a person to know. She took that as her hint to look me up! I have no voice right now, but I will call her back as soon as I can speak again. I don’t know which women spoke so highly of me but I am so grateful to them for respecting me and thinking so highly enough of me to make the referral.

So see, your brand really does represent you when you aren’t there. It is important that you continue to represent yourself in the highest integrity and respect. People talk, and you want them to always speak well of you. It’s the highest form of flattery and confirmation when people share your name. Don’t disappoint them.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

1212_bus_vspink1Have you ever wondered why outside of Tyra Banks, you never saw any women of color, more specifically black women advertised anywhere in Victoris’a Secret? I love the VS brand, I really do. But it always bothered me that there wasn’t a fair representation of women of color in there.  I’ve never seen any Latina, Middle Eastern,or Asian women represented.  It’s sad that in this day and age this is still an issue. 

Victoria’s Secret launched a collegiate line including 33 schools back in June of 2008.  Only recently though, they decided to include HBCUs.  While they won’t admit it, I suspect they sped up the inclusion because of a young lady Amelia Reid who started a movement on Facebook called “HBCU Ladies Wear Victoria’s Secret Pink Too” and blogged about her displeasure that people like her were not represented. Not only is she an HBCU student, she is also an employee of Limited Brands- the parent company that owns VS.  Hhhhmmmmm. 

In any case, while late, VS is now in partnership with some HBCUs and is offering paid internships and scholarships to HBCU students. I think in theory it’s a great idea and it will help further the agenda of getting more black women educated and opportunities in the industry.  But I can’t help but wonder if this is just a move to pacify us. Yes, the CEO Richard Dent claims the company had been in talks with HBCUs way before Amelia’s blog.  I’m on the fence with that one.  We all know how the corporate heads try to cover their tracks.  I’ll definitely be watching as this unfolds. If you want to read the entire story, you can find it on Black Enterprise at http://www.blackenterprise.com/business/business-news/2008/12/16/pink-rolls-out-hbcu-apparel/

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

Well, it has been 2-3 weeks since I’ve attended the 2008 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference.  I was impressed.  Now, I’m a little bit biased because I feel the Women of Power Summit was much better.  But I was pleasantly surprised.

My sister/business partner went with me to check it out.  If I had to make a criticism, I would say that the events needed to start on time.  A few of the events ran over and affected latter events and put a slight damper on the mood.  But BE made up for it in content.  First, the workshops were informative, entertaining and educational.  The panelists gave no hold barred advice and words of wisdom to the audience.  BE made sure to cover pressing topics that face today’s entrepreneur such as technology, finances, venture capital, disaster planning, supplier diversity/procurement, rebounding from disaster, and a host of other topics.  The keynote was Janice Bryant Howroyd.  She delivered the most inspirational session of the entire conference.  She shared with us her successes and thoughts on making it in the business environment.  She came down off the stage and wanted to engage with the audience on a personal level.  That was beautifully authentic of her.  Unfortunately I did not get to meet her one on one.  She is someone in the staffing industry that although we are on different paths, I admire her fiercely.

BUT, I did get to meet Chris Gardner (Pursuit of Happyness fame).  Sonya Alleyne did the honors of a one on one chat with him during the luncheon.  He was honest, candid and shot straight from the hip.  Some people were  a little put off.  but you know what?  He spoke his mind and he has earned the right to be where he is.  Sure, there might have been the perception of arrogance.  But this man has given back in so many wonderful ways.  I gave him my card and I hope we can remain in touch.

Another bit of criticism I have actually doesn’t involve Black Enterprise.  Each year, they (BE) take the time to present to us the BE 100s.  These are the top black owned businesses in various categories such as automotive, advertising, financial services, etc.  Well this year’s BE 100 Company of the Year was none other than Harpo Productions (yes, my idol, Oprah Winfrey).  Now don’t get all worked up.  Ms. Winfrey couldn’t be there to accept her award as she was on her way to South Africa (allegedly) to participate in the process of selecting another head mistress for her leadership academy.  While I admire Oprah and I fully believe in her mission with this school, I couldn’t help feel like she might have taken the award lightly.  I was a bit disappointed that she could not be there to personally accept nor did she send a representative.  Instead, she sent a taped message.  Again, I can understand the circumstances, but a few people commented (and I somewhat agreed) that if this was Forbes or Fortune, she would have at least sent a representative.  Gail, Steadman, somebody!  I felt snubbed.  I will give Oprah the benefit of the doubt and believe that she would have been there had she been able to. Ms. Winfrey, if you by some small chance read this, please keep up the good work, but please try to “be there” for events like this.

But anywho, there were so many wonderful moments at this event, from meeting with some of the leaders of the BE 100s to making connections with other serious entrepreneurs like myself, to being inspired and re-energized to take my company to the next level.  But the ultimate moment for me was the one on one I got to experience with Mr. Earl Graves, Sr.  Yes, Mr. BE.  He came out to have lunch with the attendees (not one on one but you understand).  At first my sister and I didn’t want to bother him, as some rude chicks just interrupted his and his wife’s lunch to chit chat.  I could tell her was trying to be gracious.  I waited until everyone cleared away then asked his assistant if it was ok.  I sat down and initiated a conversation thanking him for putting together such a wonderful event.  I also let him know how BE was mandatory reading for me growing up and is in my own household now.  We chatted and he offered some very inspiring words of wisdom.  I followed up with letting him know I WILL be on the BE 100 some day.  And I meant it too! I thanked him for the exposure I have received through BE to which he commented “you are too young to have been in BE!”.  LOL  Thank you Mr. Graves!!!  🙂  I gave him my card and asked if I could take a picture.  My sister unfortunately, has very unsteady hands!!  He noted I was using my Blackberry and asked if I could really take pictures with it.  He asked me to send it to him.  Well, I’ve been sidetracked with a death in the family  since then, but I am sending it to him TODAY.  Please excuse the blurry picture.  Again, it’s my sister’s fault!

I’m so mad at her!  😦

So if you can make it next year, I highly recommend going.  It is an inspirational and motivational event where you can learn tons for starting, growing and running your business.  I have appointments with some BE100 leaders in the coming weeks.  I am so glad I went and look forward to building strong networking relationships with everyone I met.

Next up…BE Golf & Tennis Classic.  According to Mr. Graves, that is where the real house party is!  (His words…I swear).

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