Business & Leadership 5 Minute read
Today, the business environment has become increasingly complex. New ideas, business models, a changing population and advances in technology are shaping our world at an incredibly fast pace. Inevitably, new leaders emerge asserting the passion, vision, commitment and skills to positively impact the world and inspire those around them. In that spirit, Magic Johnson’s 32 Under 32 recognizes and highlights individuals who exhibit the professionalism, hard work, values and talents to lead the reimagining of possibilities for tomorrow’s business culture.
For the second year, I’m spotlighting difference makers of the future all under the age of 32 in varying industries. With a broad and diverse range of personal backgrounds, these young men and women have made noteworthy achievements in fields ranging from education, community service and healthcare, to technology, entertainment, entrepreneurship and business leadership.
Over the course of the next three weeks, The Playbook by Magic Johnson will share the stories of 32 individuals to keep an eye on in 2018 and provide insight into how they are making strides in their lives and careers.
Keep following as we highlight individuals weekly throughout the month of December.Sincerely,
Earvin "Magic" Johnson
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Magic Johnson Enterprises
Bryant Kirk White, 27
Executive Director & Founder, A.Bevy
Bryant Kirk White lives his purpose through creating experiences that lead youth to follow their passion. At 27, he has continuous career wins with granting scholarships and having created a successful nonprofit that positively impacts lives.
At 19, Bryant Kirk White brilliantly created A.Bevy, Inc., an arts and education organization that produces creative media, events, and opportunities in order to increase self-awareness for individuals that suffer from self-awareness issues, including difficulties with self-expression and self-regulation. A.Bevy provides distinct experiences for high school to young professional aged individuals to inspire and aid in their growth both introspectively and to live a purposive life.
KNOW YOUR PURPOSE
One of my earliest career wins was the success of our YRUAlive?, a motivational college tour. Giving our 1st of 16 scholarships and having successful introspective events were all uplifting, but our 2015 YRUAlive? College Tour was definitely the most fruitful turning point for the organization. During my first year of graduate school at Savannah College of Art and Design, I strayed away from the belief that A.Bevy was the avenue for my career. Entering into my studies I had convinced myself that A.Bevy was something that I needed to put to the side. The tour was the turning point in realizing that A.Bevy is my passion, my career, my life, and most importantly - my purpose while on this Earth.
The YRUAlive? Tour took A.Bevy's story, mission, pillars, and principles to 20 collegiate institutions across seven states. I went from being alone and questioning the organization's relevancy in the community to standing in front of crowds of 5 to 250 students. In the past, majority of the organization's support came from individuals who believed in me as Bryant Kirk White - this was different. With every stop I came across individuals whom I had never met that believed in A.Bevy, shed tears in the thought of "change, progression, and growth", and provided reassurance that A.Bevy can prosper to the utmost and should never just be something that's put to the side. Ever.
My biggest lesson as an entrepreneur who created nonprofit is to face your fears head on. I had a professor during my undergraduate years at the University of South Carolina whose perception was that heading a nonprofits is not a feasible career path to a fulfilled life and that nonprofits should always be "side jobs". His reasoning behind this was based heavily on the challenge of fundraising. This version of "no, you can't do it" became a recurring theme, challenging my faith during my journey with A.Bevy.
Fundraising has definitely proven to be a continuous obstacle, it took me years to first learn how nonprofits work and to make sure everything behind the scenes were up to par. However, the more difficult part came when it was time to go into the world and share these things with people whom we needed support from.
In believing in my organization more than anyone else, I feared rejection, confusion, and negativity. Overtime I learned that these fears are the fuel that point you in the right direction, and once faced - are the most gratifying moments of your journey. My biggest lesson was how to face my fears, and the lesson can be summed up with words from my mother that I'll never forget - "If it doesn't scare you, then it's probably not worth it." Ever since then everything has been worth it.
The best piece of career advice I have received is that you're not done working until you're dead.
My favorite Bible verse is Jeremiah 29:10. It states:
This is what the Lord says: 'When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place.'
Many people admire the promise of fulfillment and happiness that is outlined in Jeremiah 29:11, but before that occurs, we have to recognize the work that has to be done to get there. "Seventy years". Wake up and work, wake up and work - that's something I tell myself every day. A masonic mentor once told me, "You’re not finished until you're dead. God isn't done with you until you're dead. That's the ultimate victory - knowing you did and gave all you could while you were alive." I took this ideal in the form of advice and I never wake up looking for a break.
LEAVE A LEGACY
One of my favorite quotes is one of my own:Life isn't about what you have while you're here, but more so about what you leave when you're gone.
In questioning life after my grandfather's death, this was the answer that I found within myself, wrote down to remind myself, and exclaimed to express myself on why I am so glad to be alive every day. In a nation built on uplifting self-gain, the benefit that comes from helping others gets placed in the dark. A.Bevy was created with a vision to shine a light on altruism through creative, educational experiences - where in true self-awareness you find that the ultimate fulfillment comes in having compassion for others. In everything you do, do it with an outward motive instead of just an inner gain. One day we all will be gone, and what we had won't matter - just what we taught, gave, and left. To learn more visit www.abevy.org and follow A. Bevy on Twitter and Instagram.
Natalie King, 30
Medical Science Liaison, Valeant Women’s Healthcare
Dr. Natalie King, Ph.D., is a doctor, fashion model, author, and public speaker, who works as the Medical Science Liaison at Valeant Women’s Healthcare. Her experience has taught her that to achieve success you’ve got to learn the subtle art of networking by asking questions and learning from the best. This Renaissance woman knows that with a solid playbook you can achieve goals and improve yourself along the way.
Take each opportunity (good or bad) as a way to propel yourself forward and learn about yourself and others in the process.
ASK QUESTIONS AND LEARN FROM THE BEST
When I was launching my career in a new direction and leaving the business startup world, I was not afraid to ask questions and learn from the best. My decision to attempt to break into the competitive healthcare consulting industry led me to send out a lot of cold emails in hopes that just one person would answer and share their insight on how they were successful. Not one, but several people responded and it taught me a lesson in boldness, in going after what I want, and never stopping when someone initially tells me no. One of those calls turned into the opportunity I currently have as a Medical Science Liaison at Valeant Women’s Healthcare. I am now able to serve on a team of incredible doctors and witness incredible leadership every day.
The numbers of women, especially women of color, choosing to pursue and stick with careers in the STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology, and Math) fields are still disproportionately low even after years of people working to change those statistics. Knowing that detail and being one of the youngest in my field to have been given an opportunity to earn an advanced degree in neuroscience, it is important I surround myself with dynamic women in this space who are working to change the world through the hard sciences. One organization that does this very well is Women in Bio. This organization works hard to promote careers, leadership, and entrepreneurship for women in the life sciences and by being a member as well as serving on a committee, my goal is to do my part in influencing the next generation of female leaders in STEM.
For me, Michelle Obama is the epitome of success. Not only is she incredibly intelligent, she also has an enormous heart for others as we were able to see during her time spent supporting her husband, the President of the United States Barack Obama, at the White House. She is poised, exudes strength and confidence while making her presence known, and respects her position of power and influence. I aspire to exhibit those qualities along with the clear grace and dignity she carries with her to each new opportunity. I value the practice of the visualizing and Michelle Obama always remains in center focus because she ultimately represents the balance that one should have when being in a position of power, the scales should always tip toward the service of others.
LEARN THE SUBTLE ART OF NETWORKING
The number one organization that has helped me both launch and excel at my professional goals is the Medical Science Liaison Society. Not only were they helpful in teaching me the skills of presentation, both professional and personal brand representation in interview, but I have also been included in this year’s cohort to their highly distinguished mentoring program, which includes leaders from some of the biggest names in healthcare. I look forward to being able to learn and pass that knowledge onto others.
Building solid relationships is the #1 way to achieve anything in business. Learning the subtle art of networking and finding a way to practice social and emotional intelligence in my daily life, while providing value to others, is key. It’s not always about me and as I work to improve medical education in women’s health, specifically female sexual health, it is important I know how to connect with local and regional leaders to effect real change in the larger healthcare landscape.
TODAY’S AN OPPORTUNITY TO BE BETTER THAN YESTERDAY
I view winning and losing through the lens of one’s mindset. I am an avid personal development junkie and one of my favorite quotes by Jim Rohn is “learn to work harder on yourself than you do on your job.” Every day we have an opportunity to do and be better than our last, what other species gets to do that? Being aware that I am imperfect, and as a neuroscientist knowing the human brain tends to naturally gravitate toward negative messaging, my personal strategy is to engage my brain with twice as many positive messages and content daily in order to train myself into focusing on where I ultimately want to go and being the best person I can be. Pairing this mindset with impeccable work ethic allows me to achieve just about anything I set out to accomplish. To me, this is winning.
In comparison, a losing mindset is one that always orients toward what cannot get accomplished and focuses on limitations and setbacks instead. Everyone will experience obstacles throughout their lives and careers but even in a less than ideal situation, one can always learn valuable insights about others, themselves, ways to avoid those conditions the next time around, and skills in how to accomplish things a different way. Right out of graduate school, I helped to create and launch an emotional and social intelligence training and development startup company and although we did pretty well in the marketplace, it proved to be an imperfect fit for me in the end and I moved on to another experience. Some could look at this as a failure considering I was walking away from something I helped to build but the skills I learned while there are still serving me today in how I interact with and connect with thought leaders in the medical field. Mindset is everything.
Take each opportunity (good or bad) as a way to propel yourself forward and learn about yourself and others in the process.
USE A GAME PLAN TO SET FOCUSED GOALS
It is important for me to have a playbook in my everyday life as a medical science liaison because I serve as an important connector between product development, academia, and the larger healthcare industry. By working with top thought leaders who are physicians, community health leaders, medical directors etc., I bring ultimate value when I can share my scientific expertise in a way that promotes patient choice and increases collaboration in ways that may not have been thought of before.
In regards to my larger professional ambitions, a playbook is absolutely key to helping me understand where I am ultimately trying to go and exactly how I am going to get there. Not only am I using that game plan to set focused goals for leading growth in my region so I can move into executive leadership positions within the industry, I am also applying those same principles to other endeavors like working towards creating a social enterprise venture. Using my background in mental health and neurodevelopment research and love for art and fashion, I will be launching a neuroscience and art collaborative that works to solve the larger social problems of stigma and healthcare disparity around the world. Follow Natalie on Twitter and Instagram.
Gianni Graham, 11
Founder/Ceo of Dolls For Dolls Inc.
Gianni Graham’s thoughtfulness has lead her on a journey of entrepreneurship and philanthropy at the age of 11. She has a wonderful mission to help those in need. Wanting to bring joy, confidence, and comfort to girls who are homeless, she created an organization called Dolls For Dolls Inc. bringing one doll to each young homeless girl.
At ten years old Gianni Graham founded an organization called, “Dolls for Dolls” whose mission is to collect Barbie dolls and distribute them to the less fortunate around the world. The inspiration for this organization came from Gianni while playing with her own Barbie dolls, she wanted to give Barbies to little girls who don’t have homes to remind them that they are pretty and loved, and to have a friend when they feel like they have no one.
Along with the sense of companionship and comfort that the Barbies will provide, this kind hearted girl also hand writes encouraging letters to each girl. Her vision escalated quickly with countless others wanting to help and support Dolls for Dolls and she has exceeded her initial goal of donating 5,000 dolls. Her recognition on the T.D. Jakes Talk Show, HLN, Good Morning America, Inside Edition, The Root, ABC News, The Huffington Post, and Woman’s World Magazine allowed her to reach her goal and continue giving to those in need. Gianni’s organization has reached so much support that the US Navy collected dolls, and Barbies were even selling out in stores.
In an effort to continue to bring happiness to these girls, Dolls for Dolls has recently begun a campaign to get 10,000 dolls to more little girls in need across the country and Gianni plans to hand-deliver the gifts herself. She will also be having an “Impact the World” tour where she will be conducting empowerment speeches to youth nationwide. There are big plans for the future of Dolls for Dolls, as they will also be opening a Dollhouse Learning Center offering summer and afterschool programs for young aspiring entrepreneurs and philanthropists.
Moziah Bridges, 15
Founder/CEO, Mo’s Bows
Not many CEOs founded their companies at 9-years-old, but that’s just what Moziah Bridges did. At a young age the fashionable Mo fell in love with bow ties but realized that the market didn’t have a great selection for kids, thus Mo’s Bows was born. Mo says that “designing a colorful bow tie is just part of my vision to make the world a fun and happier place." Now with a lucrative NBA licensing deal, the teenage entrepreneur is headed for bigger things. He’s still frequently asked the same question: How do I tie a bow tie? Don’t worry Mo has got you covered. (VIDEO) Get yourself a bow tie at his website, and keep up with Mo’s Bows on Instagram.
Emily Weiss, 32
This former beauty blogger was able to turn her social media following into full-fledged entrepreneurship with a line of beauty products. After years as a model and blogger, Emily Weiss used her experience to found Glossier, “a beauty movement that celebrates real girls, in real life.” Now Weiss and her team of 45+ employees are on a mission to “rethink, reclaim, and redefine beauty.” She is addicted to using Instagram for inspiration, meeting new people, and engaging her online community. Follow Emily Weiss on Instagram, read more at her blog Into The Gloss, and shop Glossier online.
Miguel Garza, 29
Cofounder, Siete Family Foods
Dinners at Miguel Garza’s household in Laredo, Texas, were always traditional Mexican-American meals, minus one major staple: flour tortillas. That’s because Miguel’s sister Veronica, had an autoimmune disease that required her to cut all grain from her diet. This inspired Garza’s mission to create a tortilla alternative that would be both grain-free and abuela-approved. Now Garza’s company Siete Family Foods specializes in tortillas and tortilla chips that are paleo, gluten-free, and preservative-free. They’re not just for his family any more, Forbes reports that “Siete Family Foods is among the just 2% of Latino-owned businesses doing north of $1 million in revenue each year.” Get yourself some chia tortillas at Siete Family Foods, and follow their journey on Facebook.
Yara Shahidi, 17
Actress and Social Activist
Social activist, teenage TV actress, and model Yara Shahidi co-stars as Zoey on the hit sitcom Black-ish, and the forthcoming spinoff Grown-ish. Her new show takes Shahidi’s Zoey to college where she’ll explore the complexities of race and class that she navigated on Black-Ish. Coincidentally Shahidi herself is heading off to university. She’ll be attending Harvard, in part from a letter of recommendation from Michelle Obama. Follow her adventures on-set and at college on Instagram.
Elaine Welteroth, 29
Editor in Chief, Teen Vogue
Elaine Welteroth is the 29-year-old editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue, making her the youngest person to achieve this title in Condé Nast’s 107-year history. She’s also only the second African-American to ever become an editor-in-chief at a Condé Nast publication. Since taking over Teen Vogue, Welteroth is credited for increasing Teen Vogue’s coverage of social justice issues, and inspiring her audience to become more civically-engaged. Follow Elaine Welteroth on Twitter & Instagram.
Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, 30
California State Assembly member, 54th District
Sebastian Ridley-Thomas’s commitment to public service came to him at a young age. The 30-year-old California State Assemblymember was inspired by his parents. His mother is a pioneer in conflict resolution, and his father is a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Assemblymember Ridley-Thomas focuses his legislative priorities on creating jobs, providing access to high-quality and affordable education, and making sure that healthcare is accessible to all Californians. Follow Assemblymember Sebastian Ridley-Thomas on Twitter.
Eliana Murillo, 29
Head of Multicultural Marketing, Google
Eliana Murillo heads up Google’s multicultural marketing department where she focuses on cross-product strategy to engage multicultural users and business owners. This Harvard grad has developed many key marketing initiatives for Google, including making their election features available in Spanish for the presidential debate. As if being a creative executive weren’t already a full-time job, Murillo is also the CMO of her family’s business: Tequila Alquimia, a USDA-certified 100% organic tequila that is also totally sustainable. Follow her on Twitter.
Erin Schrode, 26
Activist, Social Entrepreneur and Co-Founder, Turning Green
Erin Schrode is a citizen activist, social entrepreneur, and writer. Last November the 26-year-old ran for congress, because millennials are not appropriately represented in Washington. Though she didn’t win the seat, this rabble rousing optimist is working on big sustainability projects that empower young people to make the world a better place.
Strive and aspire for tomorrow, but let it evolve; those are words I have long lived by.
The Necessity of This Work
Environmentalism affects us all – knowing no bounds of geography, socioeconomic status, race, or faith. The health and inhabitability of our shared planet is far from an issue for a select few.
Accomplishments at a Young Age
When we held our first meeting in January 2005, I never imagined “Safe Cosmetics 101” would grow to be the non-profit Turning Green of which I am a proud co-founder thirteen years later. If I knew at age 13 what I know now about going up against a multi-billion dollar beauty industry, I never would have launched our non-profit, Turning Green. If I knew at 24 what it actually meant to take on the political establishment, I never would have run for office. There exists magic in the naïveté of youth, when combined with experience, intelligence, partnership, conviction and strategy.
What Success Looks Like
When I think of success, I think of my mother, Judi Shils She has not only bettered one life, she has tangibly improved the lives of countless, with a focus on the health and futures of children. She is a bold dreamer and a fiercely committed doer.
Change The World With a Committed Purpose
Purpose over position, always. I am steadfast in my purpose, allowing for a diverse array of action, approaches and avenues for maximum impact within the contextual framework. Strive and aspire for tomorrow, but let it evolve; those are words I have long lived by.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead
Jeremy Fall, 27
CEO & Co-Founder, J. Fall Group
Jeremy Fall, 27, the LA- based restaurateur, learned the fundamentals of hospitality as an 11-year-old server. At 27, his vision is constantly evolving at his forward-thinking hotspot concepts like Tinfoil: Liquor & Grocery and Nighthawk: Breakfast Bar. He knows that success comes, but to stay successful you can never lose your focus.
My vision is constantly evolving because I think it's important to continuously think and reevaluate what you're doing.
Convey Your Ethos
My first job was as a server when I was eleven years old. It taught me most of the hospitality fundamentals that I apply today throughout all my restaurants, ranging from interaction with customers to the importance of how to convey your ethos through your team. A lot of people don't realize that being a restaurateur is a craft in itself. There are so many different creative facets in a restaurant ranging from food & beverage, to design, to all the curation that goes into creating a vibe.
Success is Following Your Dreams
I consider anyone who is following their dreams and doing what they love successful. I think the biggest issue with entrepreneurship is that it's very often calculated monetarily, and it's important to find other ways to measure success. Whether it’s achieving creative goals or being open-minded to change, the key is to never solely focus on money— it’s just becomes a bonus for already finding success in what you love to live and breathe.
“The ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” - Steve Jobs
Don’t Try To Appeal To Everyone
Someone once told me to create things that appeal to every type of consumer. I love the idea of making people happy, but there would be no innovation or progress if everyone were to recreate the same thing over and over again. My vision is constantly evolving because I think it's important to continuously think and reevaluate what you're doing. I don't believe that you should doubt yourself as an entrepreneur but more so try to find a way to do everything you do well even better.
Staying Successful is Harder Than Becoming Successful
My biggest lesson in business has been that success isn't something that lasts forever, for anyone. It's a lot more difficult to remain successful than to become successful and you should never lose focus.
Gabrielle Jordan, 17
CEO, Gabrielle Jordan International
After starting her jewelry business, Gabrielle Jordan became a best selling author at the age of 12 and inspiring youth to be entrepreneurs despite their age. Now at 17, Gabrielle is a motivational speaker throughout the globe.
Gabrielle Jordan began her career while most kids were out on the playground. By 12 years old she had published her own book, The Making Of A Young Entrepreneur: A Kid's Guide To Developing The Mindset For Success. Like any other entrepreneur, she found a gap in the market and filled a need because there weren’t many books on the subject. At 11, Gabrielle had powerfully developed a book to inspire and share her message with the youth so that they may also follow in her footsteps. By 12, Gabrielle was a bestselling author. Still very much a teenager, Gabrielle proves that age is only a number. Currently she is a inspirational speaker, jewelry designer, and entrepreneur all at 17. Keep reading to be inspired by her journey!
Makings of a CEO
One of my earliest career wins was becoming a bestselling author. When I started my jewelry business, Jewelz of Jordan, youth entrepreneurship was not making the news as it is now and there were very few books on the topic let alone, business books written by kids. I felt it was important for me to share my message with other young people so they can see what a young person is capable of accomplishing.
My book, “The Making Of A Young Entrepreneur: A Kid's Guide To Developing The Mindset For Success" hit #1 on Amazon (Juvenile category) when I was 12 years old and was a top 100 among all business books. Seeing my book, that was written by a kid, among names like Dave Ramsey and Lori Greiner confirmed that you do not have to wait to be an adult to make an impact. An eleven-year-old had something to say and people wanted to hear what it was.
Be Unique, be you
One of the biggest business lessons that I've learned is to not focus on competition. It's important to know your competition but it's more important to focus on what’s authentic to you so you can create distinct value that sets you apart from others.
It's a lesson I've had to apply to all aspects of my businesses as a designer, entrepreneur and speaker. It's so easy to find yourself looking at other companies/people and thinking that you need to do things the way they are doing it. But as a designer, my clients value my unique jewelry designs and the quality of service they receive. As a inspirational speaker, organizations bring me in because of the unique message I am bringing to their audience. If I tried to be like anyone else, the world would miss out on those unique elements.
Flexibility takes you to new heights
The best piece of career advice that I've received would be that it's important to have a vision for what you want but you must be flexible in order to receive opportunities and experiences that you need. I had a vision for myself as a jewelry designer and for my brand but I never would have imagined that I would be traveling throughout the United States and internationally, speaking on major stages. Speaking on stage in front of people was completely outside of my comfort zone but, I had to be flexible when I saw that there was a need and an opportunity to make a difference and expand my brand.
Age is only a number
My age has allowed me to stand out as an entrepreneur and designer. In the beginning, I struggled with the concern that people would not take me seriously and of course, some did not. Once I decided to not let that bother me and focus on the fact that I took myself seriously, I was able to exude confidence through my products and services. That confidence associated with the work that I've been doing at my age has created opportunities that may not have been available at a later age.
Daisy Robinton, Ph.D., 30
Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University
Daisy Robinton, Ph.D., is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University. She’s a developmental biologist who has published on stem cell research and liver cancer. Robinton is also a science storyteller, fitness and lifestyle model. She is an all-around life enthusiast.
I believe that anyone making progress in the pursuit of a meaningful life is successful.
Science Demands Perseverance & Creativity
Science is an incredibly demanding, difficult field of work. After all, scientists are generally in pursuit of new knowledge that has never been uncovered or understood. Because of this, many – if not most – experiments will fail, or will require a lot of technical tweaking and optimization before working. There is little tangible reward along the way, so being able to persevere throughout the challenges that come with this kind of undertaking, and being able to find joy in the little successes along the way, is crucial to success.
I think many people underestimate the creativity of scientists. In order to see the world in a new way, ask important questions, and solve unanswered mysteries of biology and the greater universe, scientists are imaginative, inventive, and resourceful. Ingenuity and creativity are key features of people who have transformed the world, scientists included!
Mentorship and Models for Success
While schooling has been essential, I would say that my mentors have had the biggest impact on my development as a person, scientist, speaker, and storyteller. Being able to have access to their insight and support throughout my development has enabled me to grow and have a far greater impact than I would have been able to on my own!
I believe that anyone making progress in the pursuit of a meaningful life is successful. There are easy big-name examples of this, like Malala Yousafzai or Michelle Obama, but many less famous people have been successful and incredibly influential in my life.
Jennifer Doudna is a fabulous example of success, being the co-pioneer behind CRISPR genetic engineering technology. Her scientific work has been transformative to biological and biomedical research, and she’s traveled the world speaking and educating the public about the impact of and ethics behind this technology – an incredibly important aspect of her work.
I’m also inspired by Marcel Proust’s quote: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
Lessons From a First Job
When I was 14 years old I landed my first job at Williams Sonoma as a back-of-house employee in charge of stocking and gift-wrap. I had so much fun working with my colleagues and it was here that I learned that any task (at any level) could be enjoyable with great people, solid leadership, and a well-functioning team surrounding you.
Being Intentional Leads to More Wins
To me, winning means that you have achieved or are achieving a goal you set for yourself or your community/organization. It is entirely dependent on your own perspective and ambition.
Losing, on the other hand, is being unable to learn and grow from your failures. We all fail. If we cannot grow from that experience, then we have lost.
I think strategic planning is incredibly important in achieving success. Being intentional about where our time and energy are spent is critical to transforming our dreams into reality.
Morgan DeBaun, 27
Cofounder and CEO of Blavity
Morgan DeBaun started her entrepreneurial endeavors at a young age. Her middle school did not have vending machines, so she used this opportunity to launch her first business venture: selling snacks to fellow classmates. In 2014, noting that the media landscape lacked black millennial voices she turned this into an opportunity, and co-founded Blavity, a tech and media company, created by and for black millennials, that reaches millions of people. She is among the first African-American female founders to have raised more than $1 million in venture capital. Her success is being recognized. She and Blavity co-founder Aaron Samuels were recently recognized by the Forbes 30 Under 30 list as “young people transforming the future of America.” Follow Morgan DeBaun on Twitter and visit Blavity online.
Marcela Sapone, 31
Cofounder and CEO of Hello Alfred
Marcela Sapone is the CEO and co-founder of HelloAlfred, a technology-driven butler service that sends dedicated home managers to coordinate and manage tasks and errands around the house. As an executive in the sharing economy, Sapone has been vocal about the need for disruptors to be socially-conscious about their labor force. She’s been a staunch advocate for pro-labor policies, and has written about the importance of meaningful work and a living wage for workers. Her thought leadership has been recognized by the Brookings Institute, Goldman Sachs, and the Obama White House. Check out Hello Alfred online, and find Marcela Sapone on Twitter.
Desi Williams, 27
Doctor of Physical Therapy and Television Personality
Desi Williams is a doctor of physical therapy, who also happens to be Miss Virginia USA 2016, and a castaway on this season of Survivor. Williams, formerly a assistant professor at Hampton University, experienced an early career win when she became the Director of the Williams R. Harvey Leadership Institute (WRHLI) at Hampton University, a program that prepares young professionals to be effective and ethical leaders in their career and community. This summer she made the decision to move to Los Angeles to pursue a career in television hosting, a passion she has pursued on the side for many years. “Some might think I’m crazy to leave my stable job as a professor to enter the uncertain world of entertainment,” she says. “However, according to my rules, this is exactly where I belong.” Follow Desi’s journey on Twitter.
Ryan Coogler, 31
Ryan Coogler is a director and screenwriter. He is the mind behind Sundance-winning Fruitvale Station, the 2015 Rocky spinoff Creed, and the forthcoming Marvel film Black Panther. Coogler initially started college on a football scholarship with an interested in chemistry, but a professor saw his talent and encouraged him to pursue screenwriting. Coogler eventually graduated from USC’s film school. While he is a true cinematic auteur, Coogler takes time to give back. Since the age of 21, Coogler has worked with incarcerated youth at San Francisco’s Juvenile Hall, following in the footsteps of his father who has also worked there for many years. Follow Coogler’s new film Black Panther on Twitter, it’s set to debut in 2018.
Alaa Murabit, 28
Physician and UN High-Level Commissioner
Alaa Murabit, is a physician and United Nations high-level commissioner. She started medical school at age 15, which prompted Jon Stewart to call her “the Libyan Doogie Howser.” In her final year of medical school, she founded a Voice of Libyan Women, a non-govermental organization (NGO) that seeks to empower women affected by the conflict in Libya. Murabit also gave an influential TED talk called “What my religion really says about women.” It has garnered more than 2 million views. Keep up with all of Murabit’s inspiring work on Twitter.
Edgar Corona, 27
Manager of NFL’s Hispanic Marketing
Edgar Corona manages the NFL’s Hispanic marketing and fan strategy. The Georgetown grad, develops, executes, and optimizes strategies to grow and engage the football league’s Hispanic audience. Corona works with key NFL departments and outside partners to develop long-term marketing strategies and is the lead contact to Spanish Language media partners. He has been the marketing lead for the league's initiatives like Hispanic Heritage Month, NFL Play 60 and Tazon Latino. Learn more about how the NFL supports Hispanic Heritage, and find Edgar Corona on Linkedin.
Dominique Sensabaugh, 28
Founder & Creative Director of Refined Precision Consulting
Dominique Sensabaugh is the philanthropic, socially-conscious Creative Director of Refined Precision Consultants, a full service consulting firm specializing in program design & implementation, marketing campaigns and organizing philanthropic endeavors. Dominique takes pride in using her creative spirit to address the needs of vulnerable communities domestically and abroad.
Experience, whether negative or positive, is the best teacher. True leaders understand that the knowledge obtained from each and every trial is invaluable.
Learn To Love The Process
I have experienced opportunities that individuals three times my age have yet to encounter. But with great blessings comes great responsibility. While immersed in these experiences I must pursue the knowledge required to create moments like this for the younger generations. Great leaders create spaces and moments for others to succeed.
Success is by one's ability to progress despite the noise and distractions surrounding them. My husband, Coty Sensabaugh, is a devout believer, amazing father, phenomenal professional athlete and one of the most successful individuals I know. His triumph directly correlates with his resilient and unwavering ability to conquer the odds he has encountered in his personal and professional life. Performing and sustaining at a high level requires a positive attitude, relentless work ethic, and most importantly, as my husband would say: “the ability to love the process.”
When you love the process; the late nights, the early mornings, the sacrifices, the sweat and the tears, will all yield hard earned results. His work ethic and passion are contagious and his leadership creates a solid model for our household.
Discipline Always Trumps Natural Ability
My greatest lesson in business is understanding that discipline always trumps natural ability. Many possess talent, but unfaltering work ethic exists in a small few. This quality elevates good to great and great to exceptional. Leaders who demonstrate this characteristic typically allow it to manifest in every facet of their lives.
My favorite life mantra comes from a longtime friend, motivational speaker and author, Patrick Walker-Reese. He fervently states that, “The person I want to be in the future, I must work like that person today. The dreams I want to achieve in the future, must be relentlessly pursued, today. The successful leader and entrepreneur that is my pinnacle, I am that person, today.”
Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers was also a game changer for me. This book made me evaluate the roles that intelligence versus opportunity plays in an individual’s success. Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule taught me that I would have to pour serious time and effort into my work in order to be truly impactful. Gladwell also helped me understand that our setbacks, normally designed to be a hindrance, can serve as a catalyst to our overall success. Because my mom was a single parent, my siblings and I were forced to be more independent than your average grade school children. Today, that same forced independence, required to survive as a child, allows me to thrive as an entrepreneur. No one has to encourage me to do the things I need to do to in order to achieve my goals; the motivation is inherent.
Our Society Thrives Through Communication
Instagram is my favorite productivity app because it inspires creativity through connection. Our society thrives through communication via social media. I am a firm believer in the transference of energy, and that the energy you create can be read through your social media content. In order for me to follow a brand or an influencer, I must feel motivated by the sights, sounds and information being shared. If the energy is false, negative or shallow, that will reflect in the content produced. If the content produced is authentic, intentional and genuine, that energy will resonate throughout. I try to solely follow those that inspire me to be better, do better, learn more, see more, and love more.
Fuel Your Hustle With a Playbook
Velocity is defined as the speed of something in a given direction. Many individuals are hustling in circles, exerting useless energy without an endgame. Success requires a direction that fuels hustle and a playbook outlines the specific direction in which we move towards developing leadership and entrepreneurship. As the saying goes: “fail to plan, plan to fail.” Therefore, I must be specific in my goals and map out steps to achieve small victories to get me there. If I am secure about my desired destination, the playbook holds me accountable and helps me devise a feasible plan to lead me through my journey.
Your perspective determines your outlook on winning or losing. Experience, whether negative or positive, is the best teacher. True leaders understand that the knowledge obtained from each and every trial is invaluable. They realize the best way to turn a difficult situation into an advantage is to allow that experience to garner the courage to push through adversity. Experiencing the setback of failure is just the staging of an opportunity to demonstrate your strength and resilience in a major comeback. When you view life through that lens, nothing can defeat you.
Keiana Cave, 19
Inventor, Scientist and University of Michigan Student
Keiana Cave is an entrepreneur and inventor making the world a cleaner place. At 15, she independently researched the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, which led her to discover a new method for detecting toxins. She also invented a molecule that better disperses oil. Now 19-years old, she is currently studying chemical engineering at University of Michigan.
Anyone who has courage and self-discipline is successful. You need courage to set moonshot goals, and the self-discipline to reach them.
How It All Started
I learned about entrepreneurship in high school when I joined the “Crazy Ideas Team” hosted by Idea Village. They taught me the fundamentals of running a business, and I was able to play around with several mock companies. Later, I attended the MIT Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp where I took a deep dive into the startup world, and it led me to turn my research into a business.
Success is Improving Billions of Lives
Anyone who has courage and self-discipline is successful. You need courage to set moonshot goals, and the self-discipline to reach them.
“To be a billionaire is not to make billions of dollars, but to affect the lives of billions of people.” -Jason Silva
Being the Youngest Person In The Room
Research takes time. I started my project on oil spills when I was 15. I’m 19 now, and still working on the same project. The process might be frustrating sometimes, but it will be so worth it once I finally reach my goal.
My peers are typically much older than me, and my age has worked to my advantage because I have to work twice as hard as them to prove myself. I’m constantly growing as a person, scientist, and engineer.
Scientists Are Normal People Too
When people hear scientist, they think of a person wearing goggles and a lab coat. While I might be wearing goggles for 60% of my day, I eventually leave the lab and become a normal person. I hang out with my friends, do yoga, and even model for several fashion brands.
"Trip Lee" Barefield, 29
Rapper, Author and Pastor
Trip Lee is a rapper and pastor who has released five studio albums and two books. He has spoken and performed around the world. When he was younger Trip Lee would rap about “random stuff.. how hot I was, how many girls I could pull” but his focus shifted at age 14. It was then that he found religion and his lyrics transformed into ministry. Now his primary passion is building a healthy church that meets its constituents where they are and that can build a stronger community. Find Trip Lee on Twitter
Josh Bruno, 30
Co-Founder and CEO, Hometeam
Josh Bruno is on a journey to disrupt the senior in-home care industry, through his innovative startup Hometeam. Bruno founded the company after watching his family struggle to care for his 93-year-old WWII veteran grandfather. This experience led him to believe “that home care should go beyond the basics to provide a safe, reliable and interactive service that creates happier days for seniors.” Hometeam sets itself apart from competitors because of its proprietary technology and rigorous vetting process, however, being the best in the industry isn’t all that drives him. This is a personal mission for Bruno: fix the system that failed his grandfather. Learn more about Hometeam, and follow Josh Bruno on Twitter.
Beatrice Fischel-Bock, 26
Co-Founder and CEO, Hutch
Beatrice Fischel-Bock is the CEO & co-founder of Hutch, an app that allows customers to reimagine their spaces without having to do any heavy lifting. Users take photos, choose a filter, and then swipe in pieces of furniture to see how it will look in the room. “Furnishing your home is either a huge headache or extremely expensive,” says Fischel-Bock. “We are offering a solution for free that empowers everyone to bring creativity into their lives and homes.” Fischel-Bock has already raised over $7.2 million for Hutch, and her recent TED talk has made her a thought leader in her field. Her motto is simple: “Fail fast, fix fast, and learn fast.” She knows that in business failure is inevitable, but you’ve got to learn from the failures, and quickly pick yourself up and start again. Find Beatrice Fischel-Bock on Instagram.
Chelsea Evans, 25
Editor-In-Chief of South Carolina Law Review
Chelsea Evans of North Myrtle Beach, SC is a second-year law student at University of South Carolina School of Law. In March, she was elected as the editor-in-chief ofSouth Carolina Law Review, the principal legal publication in South Carolina. Evan’s editorship is particularly important because she is the first African American to head the SCLR in its 69-year history. “I’m incredibly humbled to be elected editor-in-chief, and I hope that my election encourages more women and people of color to pursue law degrees, journal membership and the position of editor in chief,” Evans said. Follow the Chelsea Evans’ helmed S.C. Law Review on Twitter.
Angel Rich, 31
CEO and Co-Founder, The Wealth Factory, Inc.
Angel Rich might be the next Steve Jobs. Where Jobs revolutionized how we use our phones, Rich wants to revolutionize how our economy works. She is doing this through her ed-tech start-up The Wealth Factory, Inc. which aims to reduce poverty by providing equal access to quality financial literacy tools. Their app Credit Stackerr is a fun way to help users with financial literacy education through online gaming, adaptive testing and other means. Credit Stacker received more than 200,000 downloads within its first two weeks of launch. Angel Rich faces added struggles in a world where black women founders receive less than 1% of VC funding, but Rich who’s nickname is “queen bootstrapper” is up to the challenge. She says that these challenges have allowed her “to build a lean company on limited resources; which makes us more sustainable for the future, and a great investment.” Download theCredit Stacker app, and follow Angel Rich on her Wealthy Life Twitter.
Shani Hilton, 31
VP of News and Programming, Buzzfeed News
Shani Hilton is Head of US News for BuzzFeed News. Hilton runs the day-to-day operations on the US-side of the news website and oversees a staff of more than 70 employees. Inspired by her journalist father, Hilton started her own journalism career in middle school, then worked on papers in high school and at Howard University, where she studied journalism. In 2014, she wrote a popular Medium post entitled “Building A Diverse Newsroom Is Work.” The piece has been widely-cited as heralding what the future of journalism ought to look like. Find Shani on Twitter and on BuzzFeed.
Melissa Villaseñor, 30
Actress and Comedian
Melissa Villaseñor is an actress, impressionist, stand-up comedian, and cast member on Saturday Night Live. Villaseñor is the first Latina cast member in the show’s 43 season history. She got her first big break doing impressions on America’s Got Talent (Season 6). Villaseñor has also voiced characters on Family Guy and Adventure Time. She actively tours throughout the country, having headlined over 100 clubs and colleges. Recently Villaseñor has partnered with Más Mejor, a premium comedy studio powered by Latino voices. Follow the funnywoman on Twitter.
Vicente Fernández, 25
At the University of Chicago, Vicente Fernandez played defensive back on the football team and was the sports editor for the school paper. Now he’s using his degree and his love for athletics as the co-founder of one of the fastest growing sports apps in history. SportsManias is an app for sports fanatics that curates real-time news, rumors, scores, and standings tailor-made for your favorite team. The success of his business has taught Fernandez a few lessons on what it means to be an entrepreneur. “What I’ve learned in creating a company is to have the ability to constantly learn and learn quickly to adapt, but that can be used in all aspects of life.” Follow Fernandez and SportsMania on Twitter.
Leslye Davis, 26
Photo and Video Journalist, NY Times
Leslye Davis is an award-winning photo and video journalist at The New York Times. She has covered the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, stories about LGBTQ equality, and the 2016 Paris terrorist attacks. Her team’s coverage of the Paris attacks led them to be awarded the Overseas Press Club’s David Kaplan Award and made them finalists for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting. Follow Leslye Davis’s compelling work on Instagram and Twitter.
Andrea Dashiell, 29
CEO, Honeecakes Bakery
For Honeecakes Bakery CEO Andrea Dashiell, entrepreneurship started off as more than just satisfying the sweet tooth of her local community— it was about thinking independently and using her imagination. In 2004, while still in high school, Dashiell began producing and selling baked goods. This allowed her products to speak for themselves and grow her business by word of mouth. A successful thirteen years later, Honeecakes Bakery has been featured in Black Enterprise and Business-Newsweek as well as honored by the National Coalition of 100 Black Women. Currently working towards her Doctoral degree in Strategic Leadership at Regent University, Dashiell uses her business experience to provide mentorship to entrepreneurial students throughout the Washington area. Learn more about their mentorship program and connect with Dashiell on Facebook.
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