Sunday, May 22, 2011

Success is Right Under Your Nose - Valorie Burton

Week 21:  Success is Right Under Your Nose
Dear Friend,

I feel led this week to give you a few words of inspiration about how your words can propel you to success rather than sabotage your efforts. Success often comes to those who know what to say, when to say it and how to say it. Those with talent who don't communicate effectively often never get the satisfaction of fulfilling their potential. Are you a wise communicator?

In the busyness of life and work, we can sometimes forget the impact of our words. A few words spoken hastily can ruin a relationship or an opportunity. So can a few words gone unspoken. Sometimes the people around you need to hear you speak clearly about where you stand on certain issues or how you feel about them. The missing piece that will solidify success is in your relationships, job or entrepreneurial endeavors may be right under your nose! I have five simple ideas to share with you this week about the words that come out of your mouth: 

1.  Learn when to be quiet.
Some of us are more inclined to speak than others, but those who find the most success are often those who know when to be quiet. There may be a situation in your life right now that is hindered and not helped by more talking. Don't be afraid of silence. Sometimes life's best answers appear when we are quiet enough to listen. 

2. Give yourself time to think. We have all heard the saying, "think before you speak." Consider this a reminder that it is always wise to consider the impact your words will have after they are spoken. Think of the best way to communicate what you need to say before you even open your mouth. Even when you are in a conversation and must respond immediately, take a few seconds first to gather your thoughts. You will come across as being more thoughtful, and you will feel more confident about what you say. If you need more time to think about how to respond, simply say, "Let me give that some thought."

3. Refuse to murmur and complain.
We can always find something to complain about if we focus on the negative. Make a decision to appreciate the blessings in every situation and refuse to waste your words complaining and murmuring. Instead, ask, "What solution would help me eliminate the challenges I find myself complaining about?" Complaints drain your energy - and the energy of the people around you! Use your words to renew your energy, not deplete it. 

4. Tell me something good!
In the seventies, Chaka Khan had a funky song that became her first hit, "Tell me somethin' good." I still love to sing it when I hear it on the radio. A few of months ago, I wrote a newsletter asking you to ask yourself and others everyday, "What's the best thing that's happened to you lately?" Are you still asking yourself that question regularly? Stay in the habit of acknowledging the good things that are going on, so that you don't find your conversation out of balance and focused solely on the negative realities you may face.

5. Speak your goals into existence.
One of the most common reasons many people never reach their goals is that they don't really believe they can. Not only do they not believe it, but they speak negatively about their chances for success. Sometimes you have to speak your way into believing all that is possible for you. Speak positively about your vision for your life. "I will accomplish my goal by doing XYZ ...". Even if you hear your doubts swirling around in your head ("You can't do that!" "Who do you think you are?!"), refuse to verbalize them. Eventually your thoughts will catch up with your words!
Watch what you say.  Your words have tremendous power.  
Journaling Assignment:
In what way(s) are your words hurting more than helping you?  What specifically will you commit to doing differently this week when it comes to your words?  

Until next time...

Warm wishes, 

Valorie's Signature

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fresh out of college - women still make less than men

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Sweet Smell of Success - What mom taught Lisa Price, founder of Carol's Daughter

My ideas about how I want to run my business grew out of the way I was raised. None of my successes would have been possible without my family. I may feel frightened or scared or unsure about what I'm supposed to do next, but I have never felt alone. My grandparents emigrated from Trinidad. My mom's mom and dad had seven children; my mom was the baby. The seven children raised their children the way they were raised, so my cousins are like brothers and sisters to me.
I have loved fragrance since I was a small child. I used my allowance to buy perfume, not clothes. I was a huge Prince fan, and I read that he had a fragrance bar on his dresser so he could mix scents. So I found a way to make my own fragrances blending perfume oils.
Over the years, it became something I did to relax. My mother was the one who suggested I start selling my body cream at a church flea market in the summer of 1993.

By the end of that first day, I was pretty much sold out. I made another batch and spent most of that summer at street fairs and flea markets, paying close attention to my customers. I noticed that they were looking for hair products. So I started making things for hair to keep them from walking away from my table.

My day job was in television and film production, but customers started to call me for refills. The weather was too cold for flea markets, so I had them come to my apartment. I continued selling out of my home until 1996, when I was expecting my first child. I quit TV because I knew I couldn't do that, be a mom, be a wife and do this business.
I came up with the name at the very beginning. I made a list of things that I was and a list of things I wanted to become. There were other things on the list, like Robert's daughter and Gordon's girlfriend. But when I said Carol's daughter, I got goose bumps. It sounded right.
My mother and I used to joke about it over the years. She would say, "Have you made enough money for me to sue you for using my name?" When she died, someone at her wake said to me, "It's so wonderful that you honored your mother while she was still here." My mother spent most of her adult life sick. When she was in her early 20s, she was diagnosed with polymyositis. It's a collagen vascular disease, and it attacks the muscles and the nervous system. She never complained, but I can remember times when I would hear her scream because her legs had cramped up. We would have to massage her legs and help her breathe through it.
As I was growing the business, I would sometimes feel overwhelmed. But my mother taught me to smile through adversity, to know that I wouldn't be given the job if I couldn't do it. It's appropriate that the company is named after her.

The other important person in my company's growth is Steve Stoute. He is a hardworking, self-made entrepreneur who began in the music business. He is also a brilliant marketer who has helped me take things to the next level by recruiting celebrity investors and spokesmodels like Jada Pinkett Smith and Mary J. Blige. We wouldn't be in Sephora if I were still on my own. We wouldn't be in Macy's. That's what you give up equity for. You do that to grow.

Carol's Daughter has made other people in the beauty business look at African American consumers in a different way. When I first started to do this, the black products were always at the back of the drugstore on the lower shelves. They were always dusty, dirty and sticky; they looked like nobody ever touched them. That's changing. I can't begin to tell you how amazing it is that my products are in Sephora. It's great to be part of that shift.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What Type Of Financing Is Right For Your Business?

A Belle in Brooklyn

Unlike most bloggers who fell into the field of writing, Demetria L. Lucas has been a professional journalist for the better part of her career. A graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, the English major, who earned her Master’s Degree in Journalism from New York University, started off penning entertainment stories for national magazines but eventually found her voice in the world of relationships in 2007. As the creator of the award-winning blog A Belle in Brooklyn, Lucas, 31, has carved out a lane for herself as the “go-to girl” on relationship advice and issues geared towards women. A licensed life coach, she’s shared her perspective on CNN (Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell), VH1 (Let’s Talk About Pep) and BET (Being Terry Kennedy) and been a guest speaker at Princeton University, Harvard College, Spelman College, and the Congressional Black Caucus.

Continuing to expand her brand beyond the blog platform, Lucas also hosts several annual events—including Brunch with Belle, Cocktails with Belle and the Belle Affair—that are centered around networking and female empowerment. Her latest brand extension is in the world of book publishing with A Belle in Brooklyn: Your Go-To Girl For Advice on Living Your Best Single Life (Atria), which will be released in June. As kicks off its first annual Black Blogger Month, Demetria L. Lucas shares the secrets of her success.

I started blogging because…
I was looking for a place in the media where my friends and I were represented and I wasn’t finding it… I really liked Sex & the City and it had a big impact on me; I felt like so many of the issues that those four women were going through were things that I could relate to but it really bothered me that there were no Black women featured. It was like only White women have these lives, and then you start talking about Black women and dating and it becomes something daunting and tragic instead of fun and adventurous and light… I was waiting around for another show, or a book, or a blog… something to give voice to what I was feeling and it wasn’t happening. So I just started blogging and people started reading, and I kept on writing.
I realized blogging was a business when…
A Belle in Brooklyn logo
Lucas' brand power
I moved my blog [over from a BlogSpot domain] to my own site and maybe four months in I got an email about an interview, and I was like, “Oh, you want to interview me because I have a blog? That's weird.” I realized what I was talking about was more than writing and I was becoming like an outlet for people. It was more about being a writer and providing a safe space… I realized that people depend on me for something and I wasn’t quite sure what that was. I started to do more interviews and I started to get calls [for appearances]. One of the first places I made an appearance was Princeton. They sent me an email through my blog, like, “Hey we’re doing something about female leaders; would you like to come speak to the Black female population?” Then people started paying me to show up places and host. I totally wasn’t expecting it; but I definitely went with it.
Building a brand is important because…
It tells people what they’re going to get before you even open your mouth, before they even click on the page. Like anytime you see the A Belle in Brooklyn logo, whether you see it on Twitter or Formspring or Facebook or you hear of one of the events, Brunch with Belle, Cocktails with Belle… you know that you’re going to be getting something that’s empowering for women, you’re going to get something that’s well written, you’re going to get something that’s classy and uplifting, and you’re going to get something that someone actually took the time to put some thought behind. A brand is how you represent yourself, it means everything.
People trust the A Belle in Brooklyn brand because…
I write about my life; not as much as I used to, but when I do I put it out there flaws and all... I really put it out there and people trust me because it’s relatable, it’s not holier than thou, it’s not disgusting made-for-TV drama. It’s not salacious where it’s sex, sex, sex. I think people relate to it because they know it’s a real woman writing real feelings. And I think my realness is relatable to their lives.
In business, you should never be afraid to…

From blog to book: A Belle in Brooklyn
Say what you want. A lot of times, especially women, we tend to be afraid to ask for what we want. One of the things I’ve been able to do with the blog is to do a bunch of events. Belvedere has sponsored multiple events, Essence has come in and sponsored events, but the idea of that just sounded crazy for some folks, like, “You’re just going to ask them to sponsor your event?” Well, yeah. Some of those things have been entirely easy. Honestly just saying, This is my demo and this is what I want to do, I’ve lined everything up and here it is on a platter I just need XYZ from you to make it hot and then it happens. But asking for what you want, that’s like a really huge thing.
I measure my success by…
I tell you, getting a book deal off my blog was a huge marker—it’s not the only measure of success but, professionally, that was a huge thing. I’ve wanted to be a writer my whole life. I wanted to be an author as well but that seems so farfetched to writers sometimes and so when I was able to make that happen that was everything. Like, I can’t wait to hold it in my hands and be like, “Oh, my gosh, I wrote this.” It’s great to see things on screen, it’s great to see them in magazines but that’s a collaborative effort that everyone puts together. On the screen it’s not something tangible that you can see, like, you don’t feel the words, you don’t feel the screen but to have a book and to see my name on the spine that’s kind of a big deal.
If you want to know more about Demetria Lucas - check out the rest of the story at