“I’m not competing against race.”
Q. Having received a Bachelor’s degree at Howard University and then a Master’s at Harvard Business School, how has that educational balance shaped you?
A. I’m glad you asked that question because it’s something a lot of people are intrigued by. We all have choices. If you chose to go to an Ivy League graduate school, you could have also went to an Ivy League undergraduate school. Both of those educational journey’s are very different and extremely powerful for different reasons.
For me, going the HBCU route at Howard University was very much about the informative part of the education. It was also about confidence. As a kid out of Detroit, I was raised in a very strong middle class city. I didn’t need to go to an HBCU to know the strength of that environment and the success that you could achieve by going. I didn’t have to go there for that, but I went and I had a sister that went to Howard as well. I honestly believe that my confidence was enhanced because of that experience, and I think those teachers breathed such a great belief in us. They just believe in you so much. You’re not competing against them. I say that today. I don’t think I would have described it like that 10 years ago, but given what we’re up against today, I do believe it. I’m not competing against race.
I turn around and I go to Harvard Business School and I get a whole different degree of confidence. That degree of confidence comes from when you walk in the door and you wonder if you’re supposed to be there. Now, when I was at Howard, I didn’t wonder if I was supposed to be there. You walked in there knowing you were supposed to be there. You go to Harvard and wonder if you were the only one who slipped through the cracks because they strip your confidence and then build it back up. So, going there and listening to other people rave about it today gives you confidence.
Q. I view you as a triple threat. You’re an author, you’re a founding partner of Charisma Factor and then you’re also an Executive National Sales Director with Mary Kay. That’s the triple threat I’m referring to. Can you briefly touch on each of these aspects of your career and what they require of you?
A. Someone saw me speak in a room full of speakers and he said I was the best there. He chased me down for about four years, wanting me to write a book. Originally, I said “no no no.” I told him I wasn’t a writer, I was dyslexic. He then told me that he owned a publishing company — a successful publishing company — and he too was dyslexic.
So, I wrote a book and it was straight from my heart. It wasn’t ghost written. It is a book about how to have a ‘quantum leap.’ That’s one book. Then, I wrote another book about the forge of friendship and what I love about that book is that it enhances my role model mentorship on the power of relationship and how a relationship can either lift you up or take you down. People struggle with these things all the time and it’s not something we talk about a lot.
The Charisma Factor company is a company that requires partnership. Angie Onianwa and I, we started over 20 years ago and that came out of a situation like most situations. She saw me as a speaker and she said she could help me and the next thing you know we had a company. She and I have ran it for over 20 years. It’s an event speaking kind of company and we have employees and we’re headquartered in Florida. Running the company requires hard work, vision and flexibility.
28 years of Mary Kay. I’m currently No. 1 out of 3.6 million women in Mary Kay. I tell everyone I’m No. 1 in the world except for China, haha. I found Mary Kay only because my girlfriend invited me to a skin care class. I wasn’t even trying to be an entrepreneur. I’m the third of four girls and all four of us are entrepreneurs. And so, the Mary Kay piece didn’t start out with the desire to be this, but once I got into it, I was definitely thriving as a top performer.