Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Week with Me!


My boys, Franz and Cornelius Holmes

What a month! I have been running since May 1. Just to give you a peek at what life is like with me, I thought I would share part of my schedule from the last week.

May 14th -The Tin Roof. The Tin Roof had their 5th Annual Music Feast. When you have a good customer who pays on time and refers clients often, you better support their events.

May 15th -Norm Miller, Interstate Batteries CEO. Many hours went into planning this fundraiser. Mr. Miller was great and the one-on-one time with him was enlightening. I learned more about NASCAR and batteries than I care to admit but he was great to work with. Working with his marketing team opened doors for me and my efforts were worth the contacts that have come after the event.

May 16th -Divas Nashvegas. I was a ‘Do Right Diva” this year. This was a great honor. But to be honest it felt surreal. It was hard for me to go from working an event for several years to receiving an award from the organization. The Oasis students’ tributes were heartfelt and the best part of the evening for me. I am humbled by the love shown to me by the teens, the staff and the board. Wynonna gave a show like no other with Mama Judd. Watching them perform gave me hope for all mother-daughter relationships. And who knew that Kenny Rogers would sing until midnight? What a night and one heck of a fundraiser for the Oasis Center!

May 18th Baby Boy’s Graduation. My baby boy graduated from Hillsboro High School! He strutted tall and proud and wore his state championship ring! His graduation helped me experience grace and mercy. Family, from near and far, was in town. My folks from Mississippi always leave me trying to explain ‘family’ to my kids. I have come to the realization that my kids know my folks are “special”. No more coded conversations; they know exactly what I mean. I am thankful that both sets of grandparents were together for the momentous event. Baby Boy’s graduation helped seal the deal that he is a favorite grandchild because everyone came together to celebrate his accomplishments. They marveled over his bling on his finger while I fretted that he still has not finished his paperwork for college. His smile, his strut across the stage, and nonstop texting to everyone said it all…I am done with high school!


May 19th -Williamson County Red Cross Breakfast.
Baby Boy and I had barely put our heads on the pillow before 5:00 am rolled around. We were volunteers for the Red Cross Breakfast. The Titans’ General Manager, Mike Reinfeldt, was the keynote. Asking folks to help you with sponsorship for fundraisers gives them the right to ask you for help. My friend, Jennifer W., asked me to get donors for the 2009 Breakfast. After juggling two events back to back, Norm Miller’s and Divas for Oasis, I managed to drag folks out of the bed for the 6:45 a.m. kick off. The event was great and Baby Boy, who did not want to go, won the autographed Titans’ Helmet from Mike Reinfeldt and scored an interview for summer employment with the Titans. I have taught him to take advantage of every opportunity, every time!


May 20th- CEO Networking. I meet with a group of business executives twice a month that are committed to helping grow our businesses. As I have matured as a business owner, I look for smaller groups with mighty voices. The business owners are seasoned and genuine and the relationships are deep and sincere. One of our members sold Donald Trump the Trump Tower many moons ago. Now, what are the odds of me sitting in a meeting with someone who sells property to individuals of that statue? I am always amazed at the power of early morning networking vs. going to ‘galas’ that produce drama and no business.

May 21st- JUMP’s Mixer for Oasis.
Sharon Hurt and the Board of JUMP welcomed the Oasis Center to the neighborhood. Stillwater Café and the band provided good food and great music that calmed the soul. It was a great atmosphere for both boards to meet each other. Many are unaware but the original plan was to build the YOC on Jefferson Street. Each group agreed that our youth of today and tomorrow are our future and agreed to work together to help reach our teens. This was the work of Sharon Hurt who is an example of one of our community Sheroes.

My Baby Boy’s graduation was a major milestone for me. My child that never complains, stays out of trouble, and took a back seat while I tried to sort out his siblings issues; finally, was the center of the family’s attention. I am proud him. He wants to major in sports journalism so the contact with the Titans will be valuable. By taking him with me to Brentwood, he saw the example of the early bird getting the worm. I have all summer to spend with him and I plan to savor every moment of it. Hopefully, he will see more examples that will help him on his journey in life. Many individuals encouraged, pushed, and kicked his butt the last four years to help get him across that stage. I am eternally grateful. I cannot wait to see the future holds for him. No matter what, he will ALWAYS be my Baby Boy!

Thanks for allowing me to share my life, opinions and views with you. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

TAP Recognizes Community Heroes




TAP's (Tennessee Alliance for Progress) annual Long Haul Awards Celebration on Saturday May 9th was a major success with a record-breaking number of people in attendance. Irish Diva Maura O'Connell was soulful and everyone was deeply inspired by keynote speaker, Rev. Ed Sanders. Delicious food, wine by Le Vine Cellars and toe tapping music by Shelby Bottom String Band rounded out the inspirational night.

My favorite unsung hero, Brandon Hill of the Oasis Center, received TAP’s 2009 Young Leader award. I have previously written about Brandon’s work at the Oasis Center and our community at large. It was nice to see many community leaders who have fought for justice from the Civil Rights era receiving awards along with young community leaders who have the same heart and determination and who currently represent the youth of today and tomorrow. The evening’s events reminded me of talented musicians who can sing beautifully alone but when you put them together with others, you have a glorious choir that can be heard for miles and miles.

Brandon Hill works with the Youth Engagement & Action program at Oasis Center. His work connects youth with community and city leaders to effectively address social problems within the city of Nashville. Brandon was born and raised in Nashville. He spent a good deal of his childhood in the infamous James A. Cayce Homes. Living in one of Nashville’s poorest neighborhoods and attending some of the city’s lowest-performing schools prepared him to work with young people who face these challenges today. After graduating from high school, Brandon returned to the James A. Cayce Homes, still a teen himself, to work with youth in his old neighborhood. After college at the age of 21, he was given the task of leading the Teen Outreach program at the Martha O’ Bryan Center.

Brandon says: “Young people have always been, and will continue to be, one of our community’s greatest resources. Unfortunately, they are also one of our most over-looked, under-appreciated, and under-valued resources. Much of this is due to a distorted perception of youth. Many times youth are seen as destructive, violent, and void of any desire to improve their lives or the lives of others. Because of these views, adults are convinced that they must create ways to “fix” youth, which leads to a never-ending cycle of negativity and cynicism. My ultimate goal is to end this cycle. My work is about creating better connections between young people and the communities in which they live in. I hope to inspire young people and adults to find better ways to communicate and work together to offer solutions to the problems we face as a community.”

Brandon was in good company with honorees who received the 2009 TAP Lifetime Achievement Long Haul; Rev. Bill Barnes, Elizabeth Barger, Guy and Candy Carawan, George Grider, Dora Rucker, Margaret G. Scrivens, and my dear friend Jim Zralek. Other young folks were honored as well for their activism; Jacob Flowers, Conrad Honiker, and Jennifer Tlumak.

TAP is a think/act tank with a mission to create healthy families and communities in Tennessee. TAP believes in true political and economic democracy, that people should participate in decisions that affect their lives. For more information about the group, go to www.tennesseeallianceforprogress.org.

Thanks to the honorees for all the work they do every day for their communities and a big special thank you for all you do for our youth, Brandon Hill. You are a hero to so many!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Divas Nashvegas is Back!


Divas Nashvegas is back! The event that has been celebrated as one of the Hottest Parties of the year in 2007 and 2008 by NFocus Magazine is the party that you will not want to miss in 2009.

This year we are excited to have our first ever “He-va” Kenny Rogers, one of America’s top music icons with a five decade career that includes more than 25 #1 hit records. Performing with Kenny will be Oasis Center’s favorite diva, country music icon and vocal powerhouse Wynonna. Wynonna will be joined on staged by the Noami, who will be performing for the first time in ten years. Our emcees for this year's event will be Nashville's critically celebrated, hit comedy country duo Doyle and Debbie. As has been the case for the past few years, you can definitely count on a few surprise guests to grace our stage. This year's event will be taking place in Nashville’s hottest new party venue, the Loveless Cafe.

This year’s event is dedicated to six of Nashville’s best “Do Right Divas” who have made this community a better place for children and youth: Genma Holmes, Ellen Martin, Jana Davis, Tammy Genovese, Sally Shepherd, and Renata Soto.

Genma Holmes, CEO of Holmes Pest Control, will be the first Oasis Center's board member to be honored at their annual fund raiser. For more information on this event got too, www.oasiscenter.org/divas2009.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

New Realities, New Rules, New Opportunities


When I am asked advice about how to grow a business, I always reference my experiences at the Black Enterprise Entrepreneur Conference (BEEC). As I plan my business strategies at the beginning of the year, BEEC is always at the top of the must do list. Even when times have been lean, I have managed to find a way to attend the ONLY entrepreneurial conference that helps make me money.

For the last few years, I have been able to get my fellow brothers in the pest control industry to the conference as well. Each passing year, we have become more determined to work together on larger contracts and grow our companies together. What I have learned the most by attending the conferences is the power of collaborating and working together for the greater good. Being in an industry where there are few women in leadership roles and even fewer minorities as key influencers, it is even more evident to me the power of connecting with others who are visionaries and rain makers.

When you are in the presence of those who want to see you succeed, who teach you to think successfully, and who create venues to help you not only network but to close the deal, you are affected in a positive way. You leave the conference WANTING to be successful. And when you are hungry enough and have drive and ambition, you will walk in your destiny no matter what the economic barometer says.

When I started Holmes Pest Control, there were no black mentors for black pest control operators. I mentioned this to several editors at Black Enterprise one year and the response was what’s stopping you from getting an organization started to help others? I thought for a second and asked the same question. "Minorities in Pest Management" was founded shortly after that conference. The idea to network with other pest control operators of color across the country seemed farfetched back in 2000 but now we are not only networking and sharing our business knowledge with one another but actually doing business with one another. We are steadily building a network of small companies working together to bid on larger national accounts, one contract at a time.

The idea had been discussed often but we needed creditability and resources to make it happen. Implementation and being able to move forward from great ideas to actual contracts were fostered by many contacts met through a series of meetings held at events sponsored by Black Enterprise. Black Enterprise helped open the door to large corporations that usually take years to cut through because of all the diversity/small business/minority/certification alphabet soup jargon.

Networking and building solid relationships with giants like David L. Steward of Worldwide Technology and learning the art of negotiating from hotel builder R. Don Peebles has helped me bring pest management from the back of the room to the forefront. Being able to share resources with other pest management firms, large and small, helps me leverage those relationship to help change the rules on how business is done with minority owned businesses, especially pest control companies.

Another valuable tool I have learned from attending the Black Enterprise Conference is the power of micro lending. Micro lending is often the only way businesses in third world countries get credit to finance their companies. Several businesses loan small amounts to help a company get started, work as a bridge for slow cash flow, or to help avert a crisis. Micro lending was first introduced to me by another pest control owner in 2005, when a young man wanted to start a company but was short on capital. A larger pest control company loaned him the start up capital and mentored the PMP for one year. The lender invested $3,500 and had two other friends to invest $1,500 each. All were paid back in full with a nominal loan fee.

Three years ago, several pest control companies wanted to not only attend BEEC but exhibit as well. Not everyone was prepared mentally or financially to take off a week and attend the conference in the middle of swarm season. After much discussion, e pooled our monies to cover the exhibition and accommodation fees for those who wanted to attend. We worked relentlessly to help each other rearrange our schedules to make sure our customers were covered for that week.

Surprisingly, the trip paid for itself for many very quickly and was a boost to our psyche to be in an atmosphere that was very supportive and encouraging of our efforts to network with national and international conglomerates. The companies that participated in the endeavor in 2005 were the same companies that have funded other ventures to help support and mentor new pest management professionals and have also raised thousands in scholarships dollars for minority students interested in fields related to the pest control industry.

The conference has helped us face the realities of business. We faced our realities; we were not going to grow our companies if we did not work together. We saw that the rules for doing business with minority firms had changed; diversity is not a department and it must start with the CEO and the board of directors. We had to look for new opportunities to bring business to the table; going to local events that attracted only your neighbors, being referred to anonymous websites, and waiting for government agencies to hold a meeting s for minority firms had become a bit dated and mundane. We are shifting gears and driving our businesses into larger markets with greater profit margins.

This year at the conference, many favorites are back and some new faces are being profiled. Brandon and Lorielle Broussard, Simon Bailey, R. Donahue Peebles, Chris Bryant, Chares J.Ogletree Jr., Judge Glenda Hatchett, and Genma Holmes to name a few. BEEC is being hosted by General Motors and Exxon Mobil May 17-20 in Detroit Michigan.

Some of the event highlights this year will be; the Town Hall discussing President Obama’s Economic Agenda, Small Business Boot Camp, B.E. 100s Awards Gala, the ever popular Elevator Pitch and more than 16 sessions on growth and development, securing capital, new trends, social technology, and more.

The conference promises to teach attendees how to be more innovative in a down economy. When times get tough, people become smarter is what Daddy taught me. With as many small companies in Tennessee that are tier 1 and tier 2 companies to the auto industry, I would think that many folks from the volunteer state are already in Detroit. But if you are considering going and your wallet is crying, I thought I would kick some stimulus money your way. Use code EC2009 when registering online to save $100 off the early bird special. Look for me, I will be there because I cannot afford to miss this one.

www.blackenterprise.com