Genma Speaks

Entrepreneur/ Writer/ Radio-Host

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Email of Fire Ignites Gratitude

Have you ever gotten an email that included a one line zinger that was intended to burn through your firewall? I got one two weeks ago that left me scorched and smoking. I read the little hellion at least four times wondering what I had done before or after I was born to get something with words underlined to make sure I did not miss the point.

After reading the email one final time, I sent a polite response back saying “thank you”. I did not bother to point out the fact that I did not initiate the email or dispel the insinuation that I was trying to crash a private party. Prior to Hurricane Alexis, I would have hit the reply button and fired back an email that would have set the internet ablaze. After replying, I would have thrown gasoline on the fire for good measure and felt justified because I would have sent a message that you might not like me but let’s get things twisted.

Instead, I went to a meeting to discuss my friend Kurt Nichols’ latest project, I met with his marketing director who has a roster of who’s who clients. Kurt has developed a product that will be the next big thing in the athletics and my input was asked about a few marketing ideas. The meeting was scheduled for thirty minutes but lasted over an hour. I left knowing that I made a friend. We laughed and talked about Nashville’s politics and working together on future projects.

When I returned to my office, I had another email with a one liner in response to my polite reply waiting for me. I stared at my screen as if it was a child in need of discipline. I physically pushed myself away from my desk to keep from typing out a few choice words. My inbox was beginning to stalk me. The temptation to respond was so great that I left my office to get away from my keyboard. My second appointment of the day was in two hours but I was suddenly afraid of my ghoulish desire to reply. I did not want to repay ugly with evil. In my other life, I did evil emails well.

Arriving early, I decided to read for an hour. As I was quietly sitting in the lobby trying not to think unpleasant thoughts, I heard a voice calling my name. Correctly. I turned to see a friend that I had not seen in a few years. With time to kill, we decided to grab a cup of coffee. We exchange apologies and cried for allowing life to get in the way of our friendship. Questions about our children were endless and photos were shown as if we were moms with nursery age babies instead of young adults. We laughed about past crazy ventures and for the second time before noon, I was reminded of the power of staying positive. As our meeting came to an end, we planned our next outing. With appointments pending, we entered the elevator together and reached for the same floor. She inquired about my meeting. Coincidentally, my meeting was with her colleague and the giggling continued. An hour later, I left with a new client and a renewed friendship. My attention turned to a late lunch with another friend, Renee’, at a roach free restaurant.

During lunch, we sparred over all things political for ninety minutes. Renee’ is a dead ringer for Marsha Blackburn, so our political peppered conversation naturally drew glances in our direction. We debated Obama care, the Nashville convention center, the birth certificates of blue dogs, 2010 elections, kids, men, divorces, church folks, conservatives and liberals, upcoming balls and galas, donors and the elusive sponsors of anything non-profit. Our outbursts of laughter were followed by our pitiful attempts to whisper which only made our conversation even more comical. We took our determination to solve the world problems outside and talked for another fifteen minutes. After three attempted good-byes, we finally departed. The smoldering email was put out of my head.

Last week, I attended a luncheon with my daughter. She was seated at the head table. As I sat in the audience, watching my kid engage a banker as if she was forty instead of seventeen, the sender of the flaming email entered the room. For a split second, we paused before saying a cordial hello. At that moment, I realized I never want to become a professional sender of emails of fire.

I know if I had sent a rebuttal, an ugly email would have sparked a chain of nastiness that would have block any good that was intended for me or my love ones. Watching my daughter (who I have affectionately dubbed Hurricane Alexis in my posts) sitting confidently with manners and poise, helped me to realized that emails of fire should never extinguish your joy. After the luncheon, the banker came over and said he was a father of three sons and if he had a daughter he would want his daughter to be like my Hurricane Alexis. Tears came immediately to my eyes. The banker had no idea how much that meant to me or my trials with my precious category 5 child.

An email sent to belittle and put me in my place actually made me a more grateful person. Being refined by fire took on a new meaning that day. To my dear email sender, I must say “Thank you”; you have no idea how much good will and gratitude your email ignited.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Genma Holmes Speaks to Women's Council of Realtors

Genma Holmes will speak to the Nashville Chapter of the Women’s Council of Realtors on October, 7th 2009 @ the Richland Country Club on Granny White Pike. Holmes will discuss Cultural Diversity in the marketplace.

Holmes will share her experiences working in a non-traditional industry as a woman of color and ways one can grow a business through multicultural marketing and outreach.

Holmes speaks to thousands nationally and is the owner of Holmes Pest Control and GSH Consulting, LLC. Holmes has been featured in countless magazines and is a syndicated writer.

For more info about the WCR got to:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Nashville's Blogosphere bad case of Diarrhea

The Nashville blogosphere had a bad case of diarrhea last week. An incendiary title of a blog post on a political website left many speechless or scratching their heads about the message the title conveyed. The blog regarding the political campaign of Steve Turner who is challenging Rep. Mary Pruitt of District 58 went from a posting to a full page “what was I thinking” recant. The original blog was not a commentary but an intentional headline with a video of Mr. Turner asking for voters’ support. Some readers on twitter mentioned they were having a ‘discussion’ about race because they were leaving comments. Hmm…the last time I checked a discussion was not comments left on a website. Those are comments.

My twitter account was flooded with DM and my cell was blazing from followers of my blog who knew of my gastrointestinal infection I received from a website a few months back. My family and friends were suffering from clinical worry because of the backlash from a story I wrote in the Tennessee Tribune. Lil old innocent me saying something crazy…never! My folks said it was equivalent to a colonoscopy without anesthesia. Ouch.

I clicked on the links I was sent and I immediately burst into an off key version of Brittany Spear’s “Oops… I did again!” Reading the comment section, I drew the conclusions that folks had a number of pent up issues that were being “voiced”. By the end of the day, a big guy weighed in and gave his commentary on the love of all people that only added fuel to the inferno by many accounts.

I have learned from my years of ‘diversity’ training; never tell folks your list of accomplishments viewed through rose colored lenses. Now days, folks pull out that calculator and start adding. In the days of yesteryear, putting a few blacks on a few “boards”, with no power or authority, was how Nashville showed diversity. A few pictures on society pages and filling those two slots in “Nashville Leaders Now” was the pat on the back that Nashville community gave itself, as it shouted, “We have come a long way”. With a younger generation, who care less about being invited to special balls, being in special issues, and special meetings in special places, folks look at what you do and not what you say you thought you did. I will forever and ever ask companies, corporations and organizations; how many people of color you have employed this year? None. How many in the last five years? Three…geez. How many vendors of color your company hired in the last year? What is the makeup of your management? Are you window dressing or what? The comments were asking the same questions. The fruit of your efforts to diversify and embrace other cultures will actually yield diversity of thought, race and gender in your company, corporation, or organization if that is REALLY a goal. Nashville is alive with diversity; Kurds, Hispanics, Latinos, Asians. Nashville has become a melting pot of ethnics groups from around the globe.

(In my world of diversity, women are usually at the forefront of my conversations. Tennessee ranks 46th in pay equity and 50th in political participation with women.)
Working with people from all backgrounds is what makes the marketplace a wonderful place. I don’t know the hearts of individuals and I am not a mind reader. But we are seeing a national trend that race baiting is proving to draw more viewers or readers. It is in the air like a bad case of flu and it is spreading rapidly. It was a condition often attributed to the blogs that were written without journalistic standards but we are seeing more and more of it in all media forms now.

I do not write to spew hate or marginalize a group or a person. That was not my grandfather’s teaching and he is my inspiration for writing. My posts about Tavis Smiley sent him into a tizzy but I wrote commentary that was backed up with facts. I did not insinuate or send subliminal messages. You didn’t have to guess my thoughts, I told you exactly what I wanted you to know. I was not on a witch hunt with Mr. Smiley nor do I have any ill will directed at him. But I believe strongly the media, especially black media, gave him a pass and did not ask questions of his relationship with Wells Fargo. Mr. Smiley has done a lot of good but I did not hesitate to call him out.

As for the diarrhea in our blogosphere last week, I hope everyone has recovered. If Mr. Turner’s campaign is following the national trend, usually the kind of attention he got last week should have netted him extra funds for his campaign. I know I am paying closer attention to the Turner vs. Pruitt race than I was a week prior to the blog post. Good luck and stay away from blogs that are known to have regular bouts of mad men diarrhea.

Breaking News: Whoopi, Polanski IS a Pervert

I watched Whoopi Goldberg defend Roman Polanski and heard her state that Polanski did not commit “rape rape” of a 13 year old. I wondered immediately if the world of stardom included their lack of reading and comprehension of life outside of their limo rides and dressing rooms. It was as if all of “Hollywood” had taken a page out of politicians’ handbook and were using the same talking points to defend one of their own. Several times throughout the day, I heard the newly coined “rape, rape” referenced. I had the sudden urge to fly to California and rent a jack hammer and disfigure all stars on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.

A quick internet search yielded the actual documents that detailed the crimes that Polanski was accused of committing. I did not get very far in my reading because he did more than rape a child, he stole her soul. As his hideous acts of indecency to a minor child were there for all to see, I wondered if Whoopi had read any of the recent accounts of Jaycee Duggard and Elizabeth Smart. Not cases from thirty years ago but more recent headlines and foul details of men Polanski age that did the same revolting unforgivable crimes to underage girls. No, Polanski did not kidnap his victim but his criminal behavior was the same as Garrido and Mitchell. They did not have hot tubs full of famous friends but their victims have lived to tell what was done to them. Polanski may have won numerous awards for his talents as a film maker but he also deserves another award, sentencing to jail.

Since Whoopi has recanted her early statement (the hate mail was overwhelming); let’s look at her original words “rape rape” and see how Polanski actions are similar with the other creatures that have the same DNA from Satan.

1. “No, please don’t”. Polanski, Garrido, Brian Mitchell victims begged for mercy before they were kidnapped, raped, forced lewd acts upon, and/ or sodomized. They were afraid, terrorized and forced against their will.
2. Elizabeth Smart 14, Jaycee Duggard 11, and Samantha Geimer 13 were not of legal age to buy drinks, tobacco, let alone “have sex” with Mitchell, Garrido, or Polanski willingly.
3. Each offender was in relationships with women who enabled or defended the actions of each pervert. Mitchell‘s accomplice in the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart was Wanda Ileen Barzee. Phillip Garrido was married to his enabler, Nancy Garrido. Garrido met his wife while she was visiting a relative in prison. Garrido also had a neighbor who defended him publically while ignoring the missing child posters that were revisited once Jaycee was found. Polanski despite his criminal charges was married and his chorus of supporters included famous celebrities like Whoopi and Debra Winger and fellow famous predators like Wood Allen.
4. Polanski, Garrido, and Mitchell were all able to blend into society appearing normal while holding down jobs in plain sight. Polanski continued to make movies and even gave interviews in the last year where he spoke about his crime as if he was dismissing a fleeting fling. Garrido gave tips once on how to keep your child safe, and Mitchell was allowed into homes as a handyman. Mitchell did not bother to hide; he boldly walked the streets with Smart!
5. All of these men have justified their actions. Polanski said it was consensual in spite of the grand jury testimony by Samantha Geimer and hospital reports that show otherwise. Phillip Garrido, who has served time for rape and torture of women and young girls, believes that once all the sordid details of the 18 years of Jaycee’s captivity are revealed, you will hear a wonderful redemptive story. Wth? Mitchell also gives scriptural highlights for his repeated rape of a 14 year over a nine month period who he “married” in the middle of the night after he kidnapped her.

The similarities between the men are endless. Whoopi initial words revealed an evil code of silence that needed to be scrutinized. Stars live in an alternate universe that we help shaped; the rush to stand so unashamedly behind Polanski should make all of us think twice about wanting to idolize anyone.

Yes, Polanski's victim wants us to move on from this story and that is understandable. But Polanski crimes and lack of punishment tells us that until our society cherishes our young and women, these crimes will be committed again and again; openly, without shame and unpunished. We cannot “renamed” rape and allow it to be swept under the Hollywood’s red carpet.

Samantha Gruier grand jury testimony in 1977:

Elizabeth Smart testifying against in Brian Mitchell in 2009:
Asked by a prosecutor to describe Brian David Mitchell, the self-described prophet accused of holding her captive for nine months, Ms Smart replied: “Evil, wicked, manipulative, stinky, slimy, greedy, selfish, not spiritual, not religious, not close to God.”

Elizabeth’s description of Mitchell could be said of Garrido and Polanski. We must be proactive and protective our young from predators even the ones who walk the red carpet.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A wreck, pest control, and Ole Miss: the Update

I shared about last Wednesday being one of those days. I received a call informing me one of my vehicles had been involved in a wreck and one of the individuals in the accident was a teenager. The joy I was feeling earlier that day came to a screeching halt. I rushed to the scene of the accident to make sure my star bug killer was unharmed. My concern for the young teenager sent my mommy heart into overdrive. I prayed silently for everyone’s safety.

After I arrived, I met everyone involved in the accident. It looked bad but my guy looked okay. Hugs and kisses followed my relief. Hayden Morgan, the teen, drove the shiny black car. His mom came right away to make sure he was all right. I found them sitting in a SUV with an Ole Miss decal. Finding Hayden without a scratch and his mother sitting calmly, I asked about the decal. Our initial banter and greetings led me to mention the Music City Rebel Golf tournament organized by Ken Ford. Hayden’s mom informed me that he played golf for his school and I invited him to play for my team. He said yes and asked about getting other players.

I could not believe that an awful accident on I-65 would net me a golf team. Hayden’s mom was sweet and we could have talked all night. I left with more than I could have ever hoped or imagine from a car wreck of all things. I left the side of the road, minus one truck, impacted by the goodness of others. When I arrived home that evening, Hayden had emailed me to confirm he would play. I called Ken Ford to let him know of the change of plans regarding the tournament. He was concerned about us but could not believe I asked someone at the sight of an accident to play golf. I wanted to tell him so badly; I think we are going to win but I keep my thoughts to myself.

On Thursday, I heard from Hayden’s dad. The loving father reassured me that his son will be at the tournament. He also informed me that one of the players worked for him. This family was first class all the way, the follow up was impressive. I was emailed the players names which I forwarded to Ken. I mentioned my chance encounter to anyone who would listen. My twitter buddies were sharing the story with others and the wreck on I-65 was spreading around town. Hayden’s mom told me how glad she was we met even though the circumstances were not the best. I wondered how many good people I have seen on the side of the road and did not bother to help. Or how many fender benders I have been in and did not engage the other driver. Thank God for His grace to correct bad behavior.

I called Hal Cato to make sure he passed the story on to his mom who is an Ole Miss Alumni supporter. I said, “Guess who is playing for us in the tournament on Friday? The kid from the wreck…he attends Montgomery Bell Academy.” Hal immediately erupted into laughter. I was informed later that MBA’s golf team practices at the Golf Club of Tennessee. Are you kidding me? The kid from the wreck practices on one of the most exclusive golf courses in the country. Can I pick them or what? I looked up his team and believed with certainty, I picked a winner. I could close my eyes and visualize a spring fundraiser.

On Friday morning, I called Ken to let him know I will be there right away. I wanted to visit with the resident PGA pro, James Paschal and introduce my star team to James, a living legend in golf circles in Tennessee. James would be a great person to share his life with Hayden. As I stood on the back porch of the Gaylord’s golf club, I watched the young players warm up. When I saw Hayden’s swing, I knew in my gut, the trophies were coming home to the owners of the wrecked pest control truck! Ole Miss will beat Vandy on Saturday but the Ole Miss Alumni will not win a trophy at the golf tournament.

My oldest son called to give me his usual instructions on how to behave in public. “Mom, do not hug people, it is so embarrassing,” he scolded. My sons despise my public displays of affection. Lord, I couldn’t help myself, I yelled out to Hayden and greeted him as he was one of my own. I turned to the young lady checking in the players and said proudly, “I got money on that team, they are going to win.”

Like a mama eagle watching her young take flight, I stayed until they started their game. I had a tremendous amount of pride for the players I just met. I had spoken to Mrs. Morgan (Sharon) several times since our faithful encounter and we talked as if have known each other for years instead of a few days. I checked in on the team throughout the day. Their game faces were locked in place and they appeared serious about competing. These young men love of golf was obvious.

On Saturday, Ken called. He sounded like a defeated Vandy fan, “Genma, they won everything,” he proclaimed. I could hear the shock, disbelief and amusement all rolled into his Mississippi drawl. “They cleaned up”. I was laughing and yelling. I could not hold back an “I told you”. Ken had to tell everybody how they ended up in the tournament. My team, from the wreck, won the grand prize and individual trophies. Yes! When I told him that Austin was a sophomore, you could hear a pin drop. “The Rebels with a cause” were beaten by a sophomore and a junior. You can’t make this stuff up.

My next call was to Sharon, we were hysterical as soon as I said “hello”. Between chuckles, we managed to talk about her family and visiting friends' reactions. She was shocked when Hayden walked in the house with the golf irons, his share of the prizes for playing. Hayden and Austin will give the cash donations from the wager I made to the Oasis Center. What a great ending to an awful beginning. I got bragging rights for the next twenty years, I met one amazing family, and the Oasis Center will receive a monetary gift. God is good. The little things in life are often so gianormous that we can’t always put them in one story. I will never forget meeting the young man on the side of the road. I think I found a new way to engage the teens at the Oasis Center…golf and driving lessons!

Team members:
Hayden Morgan
Austin Doebler
John Markham
Derrick Centers

Ole Miss vs. Vandy 23-7


Thursday, October 1, 2009

One of those days: A wreck, pest control and Ole Miss

Yesterday was one of those days. After working in the rain for fifteen days straight, trying to catch up with everyone and everything in the sunshine was cathartic. The sun was shining brightly and all I could think about was how beautiful the Nashville’s skyline looks in the fall. I reflected on all the devastation and water I had seen over the last few weeks that made me so grateful for life. I was bubbling as I walked into several clients’ offices to say hello while dropping off proposals that had been delayed due to the downpours from the sky.

As I headed over to Gaylord to meet with a prospective client, I got a call that changed that cheerful demeanor. I was told that one of my trucks was involved in an accident. Dang...not now, I thought. I called to make sure everyone was okay. I was informed no one was hurt but a teenager was involved in the accident. My mommy heart was tugged at immediately and I whispered, “Not someone’s child”. I asked again if anyone was hurt. I know how many times I have called and tried to minimize the damage in order to keep the person on the other end of the call calm and I figured I was being given the same treatment. I was reassured that no one was hurt but I was analyzing the information I was given; four vehicles, in the middle of rush hour traffic, on I-65, with a teenager driving one of the cars sounded bad to my mommy ears. I rushed to the office to grab insurance papers and an emergency spill kit just in case chemicals were all over the highway. Even though the truck was prepared for occasions such as this, an extra kit made good sense to me.

Trying not to speed as I was driving, my Mom hat was switched to my CEO hat. I called back firing off questions trying to grasp the situation and assess liabilities. Have you checked on the other drivers? How much damage did our vehicle do to the other car? I asked for the sequence of the accident. What truck are you driving? That one…then take the signs off of the truck, we don’t need to make the news tonight. Have you spoken to the police? Have you canceled your other stops? My questions were non-stop as my mind raced ahead.

I knew I was close to the accident because traffic suddenly came to a stop. In Nashville, a fender bender can shut down an interstate so I could only imagine what four cars can do when thousands of commuters were on their way home. After endless minutes of barely moving, I was able to pick up speed. I turned the bend on I-65 to see my truck on the shoulder. A leg sticking out of the passenger side door of my green pest control truck made my heart skip a beat as I decided to put on my emergency blinkers to drive pass the slow moving gawkers. Not bothering to look dignified, I jumped from my vehicle to see what awaited me. I peered into the wrecked truck and asked, “Are you okay?” I was given a brief nod and I gave my star bug killer a big hug and a kiss. Trying to check for broken bones, he pushed me away to finish up his call with the insurance company. I looked at the truck and thought to myself that will never be repaired. It looked as if was crumbled paper instead of metal.

I checked out the car directly in front of me and I was sending up a prayer that my F-250 did not hit the smaller car. The trunk looked as if it was rolled back can of sardines.I knocked on the window to see if the driver was okay. Dressed in scrubs, the driver said she was fine and apologized about the wreck. I gave her a squeeze and thanked God no one was hurt. Continuing to check on the others, I passed by a new looking shiny BMW without an occupant and walked to the fourth vehicle, a SUV which was sporting an Ole Miss decal. I peered into the truck and introduced myself to the driver, an attractive mom who looked free from anxiety. Her son was the teenager in the accident and she came as soon as she got the call. An Ole Miss’s decal, a mom who cares, an unhurt cute son… instant friends. After shaking the hands of her son, the mom and I began conversing like we were neighbors instead of strangers. I asked the mom about the Ole Miss sign and she said her daughter attends the university. I lapsed into my “I am from Mississippi” and we asked the usual “do you know” questions. I mentioned the Music City Rebels Golf Tournament on Friday that is being chaired by my friend, Ken Ford. “Lots of Ole Miss Alumni will be in attendance,” I shared. She surprised me and said her son plays golf for his high school. Hmm…I knew blessings are often disguised but this was making me smile and giving me a few bumps. This accident was no accident. I was meeting great people on the side of the road. Why did this encounter have a familiar ring to me?

Seeing an opportunity among the wreckage, I recruited her son to play. Holmes Pest Control was a sponsor of the Music City Rebels Golf Tournament. I jokingly said as I pointed to my bug killer, “I am going to need another player.” Her son, fresh from an accident, lit up like holiday decor. He asked about his school’s golf team playing. We spent the next twenty minutes discussing the golf tournament and pest control. I was loading the mom down with pest control info for future service and her son was busy texting about the golf tournament. It was not long before we were joined by the children of the other driver. It was one happy reunion, drivers of wrecked vehicles smiling as if we had no care in the world. My children called to say they were on their way and I begged them to stay put. The party would have spilled over into the traffic if my three joined the festivities.

A wrecker arrived to tow the first car as the police was leaving. By then, we had solved every major crisis in the world. The mothers were great women who I am sure I will see them again, the police officer was genuine, I got a team for the golf tournament and my favorite bug killer just wanted to finish his route. I was grateful that no one was hurt and thrilled that I managed to sell pest control and promote a golf tournament on I-65. That fantastic happy feeling I started my day with was oozing out of my pores once again. I drove home with chemicals everywhere and one less truck in my “fleet” but blessed to have another encounter meeting wonderful people on the road less travel in my life. As I continue to meet folks on my journey, I am reminded about the goodness of people and the power that comes from having sunshine in your life.

For more info about the golf tournament:
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