Monday, February 27, 2012

The Unlikely Entrepreneur: A Tale of My Relationship With My Talents

Talent is a natural born or acquired ability &  you need to use yours
As I look back at my 18 month journey to entrepreneurship, the one thing that just jumps out at me is the fact that I am an unlikely entrepreneur.

At the beginning of this whole deal my goal was not to have my own business. Nor was it to "stick it to the man". Or make tons of money.

It was simply to use my talents fully, every day.

That's it.

I had a good paying progressive marketing career that started in non-profit, moved to agencies and entertainment properties finally working in corporate entities. I was happy. Making more money with each move and meeting great talented people all along the way. No intentions of ever working for myself. My family is made up of hardworking people who work for others. That's what I'd looked forward to as well. I'd envisioned a VP of Marketing title at some huge place some day. Then about 4 years ago, something happened...

I noticed that I was not doing what I was good, no,  make that BEST at on the regular. It was weird. I was in my highest paying job to date and being severely under utilized. Now it coincided with a huge strain in my personal life so I welcomed the opportunity to channel some of the energy I'd normally be exerting at work to my more pressing,  home life. However, coming out of that crisis, I was miserable vocationally speaking. And I'd engaged an executive/life coach, Rachel Weinstein just before all the personal turmoil hit and it was the best investment ever. During our time together it was clear that while I did not know exactly what I needed to be doing, I needed to be using my talents more.

So I started doing just that.

First, pitching myself to facilitate a parks and recreation workshop for women who want to tap into their passion.

Next, was running for and winning public office in the municipality where I live.

There were so many things I started doing. And each month,  I got a little closer. Until last fall, I actually ended up exactly where I started. In marketing.

Funny - I describe myself as a Wife. Mother. Marketer. Public Servant. In that order.

So it should have been no surprise to me that marketing myself as an independent marketer would be a success. Yet there I was wandering around for months trying to figure out exactly what my company should be doing.

The lesson of this tale...

Identify your talents and then commit yourself to engaging them daily.


Got a job and "they" aren't using your talents? So. Then YOU need to commit yourself to developing and utilizing your God given or acquired talents,  every day.

Who knows where that journey will take you?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Open For Business, Finally

This has got to be the longest grand opening ever but here goes....

Relationships Matter Now, LLC is open for business.

I know, I've been dabbling, teasing and even doing independent projects, collecting clients here and there for the last 2 years. But as of Feb 16, 2012 - Relationships Matter Now, LLC is taking up 100% of all my vocational energy.

It has been exhilarating and scary time. Because I hung out the shingle so long ago and have morphed and evolved what RMN is many times - here goes a little Q & A for those of you who have been around awhile.

What is Relationships Matter Now, LLC?

We are a boutique marketing consultant firm that specializes in bringing new products or services to market. This was a very easy decision. When I looked at my entire career, with the exception of my time at Sears (and there was some application there albeit really stretching), I've always been the pioneer marketer. The one who comes up with the plan and process to bring something new to market. To reach folks and lure them in for the trial.

Every single position I held in a company was a newly created position or one that I created from another role within the company. It made all the sense in the world for my venture to start by partnering with clients to bring something new to market.

We also serve as a strategic business partner for several clients providing overall business strategy consulting as well as marketing strategy, marketing planning and execution. I say we, because I have a solid team of other consultants across the US pitching in on most of the engagements we currently have.

Because relationships are our greatest asset, we have partners is various industries and use them to advance the business of our partners as well as our own.

Wasn't Relationships Matter Now, LLC gonna do something with relationships or relational wellness?

My,  do you have a great memory! Yes - two years ago at exactly this time - Relationships Matter Now was in the running for a Pepsi Refresh Everything Project grant to start bringing relational wellness programming to the forefront. We came thisclose to actually winning a grant but never did.

To answer the question - why yes, we were and are doing "something with relationships".  Relationships Matter Now is committed to leading the conversation on how relationships really work versus how we think they should work. We facilitate workshops and have led strategy sessions for clients who want to help their employees leverage relationships to boost profitability.

Helping folks strengthen their own Chain of Relationships - starting with self,  is still at the core of our values. However, partnering with clients to build and grow thriving relationships with their target customers is also a core value and competency of our firm. still has a goal to be the "WebMD" of relationships and serve as a hub for all things relationship. We are in the strategic planning stages of just how and when we march toward that goal. Stay tuned. The site will be morphing to match our current trajectory soon.

What makes Relationships Matter Now, LLC any different from anyone else out there selling marketing services?

Honestly, it's our relationships.

Starting with our relationships with our self. We know what we can do and cannot do. We operate from a place of complete integrity and are transparent with our partners thus encouraging reciprocal transparency.

And as a result of our strong relationships with self, our relationships with others are solid. The people and firms we choose to partner with are all connected to us personally. And yes, that does matter. When you operate from a place of working with people who share vision and values - not necessarily styles, you can never go wrong. There is never a need to convince. Ever. There is mutual respect for our talents and what everyone brings to the table and makes our partnerships more important that the project itself.

Will this blog change after this announcement?

Not at all. We are still committed to exploring and interacting with folks about all kinds of relationship topics. Now, the idea is to become more disciplined in posting. We'll see how that goes. This is the first week of one job focus and we're off to a great start.

So there's a glimpse of what's to come.  Thanks for being a huge part of this journey and stay tuned to see where we go.

We are about to change the world.

One relationship at a time.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Can We Have A New Relationship With Celebrities?

Whitney Houston 1963-2012

In the wake of the passing of one of the best vocalists of all time, I've made a decision.

I want us all to have new relationship with celebrities.

It came to me in my quest to learn the details surrounding the death of Whitney Houston. As I surfed channel after channel looking for answers, I was repulsed by the tone of the coverage. Tired of countless photos and video footage of her with her ex-husband Bobby Brown at her worst. Indignant over the constant references to quite possibly the worst time of her life.

Not that I ignored all that when it was going on...  I saw it and it broke my heart then. But I never indulged and watched. I think I saw half of one episode of Bravo's Being Bobby Brown. Do you wanna know why?

I was (am) a fan of Whitney Houston and admired her talent and gifts.

Plain and simple.

Never had an appetite to watch her struggle. It never gave me any pleasure to see coverage of what everyone is now calling "bizarre behavior." I refused to buy a People magazine with a disheveled picture of Whitney on the cover. I long ago tuned out whenever negative coverage of any celebrity is pushed and pushed.

What is it about us, society, that enjoys watching another human struggle? Suffer? Especially if that human has lots of money.

We all make mistakes. We all have our vices. We all have profound flaws in our character.

I am grateful I don't have to live mine out in front of the whole world. I'm also gracious enough not to judge others for the worst thing they ever did in their life. Over and over again.

We can stop this madness. We can vote with our remotes and stop supporting programming that takes advantage of the worst of the people we claim to love. We can stop buying the magazines. The paparazzi exists because of our collective demand.

After the 1997 death of Princess Diana, I opted out of madness. And it is 100 times worse now with all the new media.

We can demand a new relationship with celebrities.

Will anyone join me?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

"That's Me" and Other Things I Learned During My Relationship With Soul Train Every Saturday

Shock and profound sadness are the best two words to describe my immediate reaction to the news that entertainment legend, Don Cornelius had passed away. Perhaps there is no one who did more to introduce and promote black musicians to Americans than Mr. Cornelius. His legacy is solid and we'll be talking about his contributions for years to come.

After the sadness sunk in, the memories came rushing back. As a child of the 70's - Soul Train was a staple in our house. Before MTV (yes, MTV did play lots of Michael Jackson, Prince and other choice black acts in the early 80s)  or BET, Soul Train was a doorway into black music and culture.

"That's me!"

Sounds weird but you could hear me and my sister screaming that at the television as we watched. Throughout the hour long broadcast, beautiful black woman after beautiful black woman was flashed across the small screen in living color for all to see.  We'd "compete" to see which one of us could claim a woman "to be" for that episode. We'd follow "ourselves" the whole episode and just scream every time "we" were shown on screen.

The fashion.

The fros.

Every shade of brown, black and sometime beige skin.

The dancing.

Women who looked like me were on display. In a positive way. Every week.

I wanted to be a Soul Train dancer.

I wanted to be a Soul Train featured artist.

Watching Soul Train helped me discover my love of music and my ability to sing. Where else could I sing along to Donna Summer, Natalie Cole or Stephanie Mills? Hitting every note with Deniece Williams gave me the confidence to actually go sing her hit song "Free" in front of people and knock their socks off in the Variety Show my sophomore year of high school.

I was convinced that Don Cornelius would one day introduce me to the world. Alas, that never happened.

However, he did give me years of smiles and cultivated pride in being a black girl in America in the 1970s. I am certain my love of spontaneous dance parties with blasting dance music was inspired by the Saturday morning rush I felt throughout my childhood. And who else would start the Soul Train line at all my melanin challenged friend's parties and weddings?

Don Cornelius gave me the feeling that it was more than ok to be me but it was GOOD to me. How fitting that we start Black History Month reminiscing about Don Cornelius and Soul Train.

I am forever grateful for Soul Train and sometimes still feel tempted to shout at my TV, "That's Me! or wish folks upon my departure, Peace, Love and Soouuuuuuuuuuuulllllllllllllllll.