“Thinking of a master plan.” Paid in Full, Eric B. and Rakim
It’s been thirteen years since Dr. Rick Kittles and I sat down to talk through logistics around his idea to uncover his genetic roots, and for all Black people. We first met in New York while I was working as an independent contractor after leaving my career in branding after turning down a role with Palmolive Dish Liquid. I decided to use the money my Dad told me to save for when I had enough of corporate America. I’m glad I did. It was a courageous decision but looking back I learned the skills to build a successful business on someone else’s dime. My career in marketing, packaged goods and sales prepared me for that fateful meeting with Rick’s genetics, identity and science background. When people ask me why my ancestors are dope, it’s because they are intentional. When I needed help, I asked and I’ve always received. That’s what’s lead African Ancestry, knowing who we are and why it’s important. Our identity matters.
In 2000 there were more than sixteen million small business in the U.S. I wasn’t’ nervous or scared. I was actually excited about starting GPG Strategic Resources as a marketing consultant, project management and new product development for companies including Colgate. It was another step in the right direction, towards building a company. It meant living at home at thirty-seven, taxing my notion of independence- a key element of my identity. I worked late and started early. I wasn’t in anyone’s way for the five years I lived there. I’m the oldest, youngest and favorite. My parents were the first investors in my identity and African Ancestry, they didn’t charge me rent and let me stay five years!
Entrepreneurship requires courage. Small business typically assumes significant amounts of risk. It is not for the faint of heart. You must be willing to give up everything (or at least a lot) to achieve your dream.
Leave your ego at the door. Take advantage of generosity. Learn how to work with people. Present ideas, concepts and results. Develop presentations, and negotiation skills. Think creatively.
Know what you don’t want to do. After leaving Sara Lee, I decided that I didn’t want to work in product management anymore. I felt like I had learned a lot and knew for sure that I didn’t want to become a Director. I didn’t want a president title.
Set your own chart and be open. I didn’t want to work on a brand, let alone the frickin’ flagship of the company, where all eyes were on the brand! Thirteen years later I am the face and business lead for our company.