ThatKellieGirl was elated to be a part of the Verizon Wireless Women’s Small Business Empowerment Series featuring Cathy Hughes, Founder of Radio One and TV One and Sheila Johnson, entrepreneur and philanthropist yesterday at the National Museum of Women. These women of distinction were interviewed in front of an audience to encourage and empower women about building their businesses and following their passion.
ThatKellieGirl had an opportunity to interview Cathy Hughes and Sheila Johnson before the event. Both women were very down to earth and willing to offer words of wisdom about achieving your goals.
Co-founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET) in 1979, Ms. Johnson talked about the importance of knowing who you are and following your passion. This has led her to becoming the first African-American woman to be an owner or partner in three professional sports franchises– the Washington Capitals, the Washington Wizards, and the Washington Mystics. Johnson is also the founder and CEO of Salamander Hospitality which has three locations. She shared that the salamander is her brand because it is the only animal that can walk through fire and still live. Ms. Johnson also shared that she recently became a vegan and plans to build a clinic on her resort to promote healthy living and how to cook vegan cuisine.
Ms. Johnson now ranks second only to Oprah Winfrey among the wealthiest black women in the United States and seventh among all African-Americans. President Barack Obama recently appointed her to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, and she also sits on the board of numerous foundations and universities.
Once on stage, Ms. Johnson was interviewed by former BET reporter, Jacque Reid. Ms. Johnson talked about how she always had a mind for business. Born in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, her father was a neurosurgeon and her mother was an accountant. And both were accomplished pianists. At an early age, Ms. Johnson began playing the violin and took it very seriously. As a musician, she learned about discipline which is a necessary characteristic to succeed in business. Eventually, she began to teach others how to play violin, which was very profitable for her. Other jewels that Ms. Johnson shared were: watch who you bring into your circle, be selective who you listen to, be bold and be secure within yourself.
When I spoke with Cathy Hughes, she was very gracious and openly advised women to seek knowledge that is useful in building their companies. She talked about taking advantage of wireless and mobile devices to advance their products and services. And she was emphatic about seeing a woman follow in her footsteps– another woman in the media lane that she has pioneered in. Hughes was the first African-American female to head a publicly traded corporation. Unfortunately, she is still the only woman at the table in her industry.
Ms. Hughes also talked to me about developing skill sets based on your circumstances. Every situation is different, so there isn’t a formula. She said that women have to have an openness to new information and learning. One must seek knowledge and seek out individuals who have done it. However, there are so few women, so you might have to look at examples from white males, but you have to take from each of these individuals. You also have to have a thirst for knowledge and to learn. And you must compete regionally, nationally and globally, so equip yourself with the skills to meet your unique goals. Ms. Hughes also recommended that all women in business to read Steve Jobs’ biography.
DC’s “Washington Insider” LaToya Foster interveiwed Cathy Hughes on stage. Ms. Hughes talked about when she first started Radio One, women opened their arms to help her. Dr. Dorothy Height told her she would be, and became, a lifetime member. However, the images and perception of Black women is that we don’t work together. She admires Sheila Johnson and Oprah Winfrey, and Michelle Obama is the perfect image. However, we see incorrect images from the Housewives of Atlanta and Basketball Wives. Ms. Hughes closed out by encouraging ladies to stay ahead in business by paying attention to the bottom line and staying on the front lines, and helping more people than hurting more people in life.
The networking event was sponsored by Verizon Wireless, which took networking to another level! For our convenience, name badges were created with QR codes for all guests. With the push off a button, I scanned a namebadge and their contact information was automatically imported into my smart phone! Very impressive Verizon Wireless. 🙂 Also while networking, guests also could peruse a historical timeline display on the evolution of wireless phones. Attendees were also able to win several high tech gifts such as the Windows MicroSoft Phone and tablets. And the first 150 guests received a complimentary gift bag. Overall, I was also very impressed with professionalism of staff and the coordination of the event.
After this event, ThatKellieGirl was energized and inspired to take on the world! 🙂
And a special shout-out to Ms. Darnice Wright for providing additional coverage of the event.