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Uber Celebrates Bozoma Saint John

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Bozoma Saint John is one of the most sought after brand marketing influencers in the tech industry by far.  From Apple to now Uber's Chief Brands Officer, when Saint John speaks people are definitely all ears.  One will never miss Saint John's beauty and style because no matter where you see her, regardless of the occasion, she is giving a 'I'm in here' presence without words.

It was no surprise that Saint John was a part of the stellar line-up of speakers at the Black Enterprise Magazine Tech ConneXt 2017.  Her interview schooled many and for others they were drawn into her enchanting and engaging conversation.  Saint John shared a few comments about her new role at Uber, but of them all, this one statement was refreshing and at the same time a bit hard to swallow.  "It was the first time in my entire career when I walked in the door {Uber} where I was celebrated", said Saint John.  When we look back on Saint John's past endeavors including Apple, we are excited, proud and feel just a bit more powerful that while Saint John was in these various roles, she still thrived knowing the celebration of her being present was not where maybe it should have been. Still I Rise and that she did.  Black Girl Magic at its best!  #blackgirlmagic

Another profound moment during the interview was Saint John's around performance interviews - "I've never had a good review.  There was always something negative on my reviews".  What?  For many it's assumed that given Saint John's remarkable career as a music industry influencer, she ranked very high when it came to job performance reviews, hence her high demand in the tech industry.  Not the case at all.  This is inspiring news for thriving and aspiring career enthusiasts, don't get hung up on thinking because you're doing a great job at your company, that when it's review time that you will see nothing but 'exceeding expectations' marks through and through.  Let's just say, that if according to the powers that be you need improvement in some areas, embrace that opportunity to continue to refine your skills and talents.  Let perfection be a journey, not a destination.

And go!

THE MoAD Afropolitan BALL RAISES $1M to keep black culture in san francisco

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When the Hiplet Ballerinas of Chicago, IL get the party started at a gala, you know you're in for an absolute treat.  The MoAD Afropolitan 2017 Gala took place on October 28, 2017 at the Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco and it was outstanding as expected.  Hundreds attended and more than $1M was raised towards MoAD's goal of keeping Black Art & Culture in the City of San Francisco.  It's no secret that the African American population in San Francisco has decreased tremendously over the last 20 years, so while the people, in many cases, have been forced to make an exodus from the city, keeping the black history and culture that made the city what it is today, is extremely important.

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It was very refreshing to see so many young professionals attending the MoAD Afropolitan Gala this year.  MoAD's commitment to advancing the message of the need to elevate the voice of black art in San Francisco is critical to this movement - a movement as I call it.  MoAD understands the value of embracing young professionals and millennials in the conversation as they will soon be, or they already are, those 'next in line' to bring the message full circle, not just in San Francisco, but nationally.  MoAD's Vanguard Leadership Council has the charge of outreach to young professionals throughout the Bay Area, many who don't know about the museum and others who have desired to find a place to share their artistic talent and other professional skills that the museum can use.

The honorees of the evening were Betye Saar – Lifetime Achievement in the Arts and Fred Blackwell – Visionary Leader in Philanthropy.  It would be great to see next year a young philanthropic professional honored as this would even further elevate the reach to a group of people who are open to being included and can bring money and talent to the table.

And go!

Y'Anad Burrell on Huff Post HERE

Melody Hobson @ Dreamforce 2017

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Melody Hobson, President, Ariel Investments

Each and every time I have an opportunity to hear Melody Hobson speak, I jump at the chance.  She never disappoints shares great insight on her career journey and she always gives very candid and 'real-time' thoughts on the state of America at the time of her presentation.

Many have wondered how at a very young age she was tapped as the president of a multi-billion dollar investment firm when it was her first job after graduating from Princeton University in 1991.  Well, let's just pause and take note that the aforementioned university is no small endeavor so I am sure that alone played a key role.  Hobson joined Ariel Investments as an intern and rose to become the firm's senior vice president and director of marketing.  In 2000, she ascended to become the president of Ariel, a Chicago investment firm that manages over $13 billion in assets. It is also one of the largest African American-owned money management and mutual fund companies in the United States.

During her interview by Tony Prophet, Salesforce's Equality Chief, Hobson shared that as a child she always had a curious nature and had a thirst for knowledge.  When landing her position at Ariel Investment, for two years she came into the office every Saturday and sort out the mail.  This was not Hobson's job, but she was very interested in the mail that came in for the president at that time.  Hobson would have the mail ready for him to review because he also came in on Saturdays.  That consistency and tenacious attitude caught the eye of the president and one day he introduced her to colleagues as the next president of the firm.  This was very much to her surprise, but she embraced it with open arms.

On the question of Hobson's thoughts with regard to the racism barometer today, she encourages us not to be 'color blind' but 'color brave', and she explained those terms in her 2006 TED Talk.  Being color blind is a way to ignore and avoid the hard and uncomfortable race conversation, a discussion we must have from our dinner tables to the lunchrooms in our workplaces.  We have to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.  Hobson also makes the statement that 'everyone is Black now', as she explains how millions of people now, not just Black people, are experiencing that racial tension and disruption that Blacks have experienced for many years.  And no, the election of a Black president was not going to solve the hundreds of years of racism in America.

Here are just a few aaaahhhaaa moments that grabbed my attention during Hobson's interview at Dreamforce 2017.  While just a few, they give tremendous insight on who Hobson is to the core:

1.  While living at home, Hobson used the bathroom  toilet seat as a desk and she would run the water in the tub to drown out the noise in her house so she could study.

2.  Hobson lived in a 850 sq. ft. apartment for 14 years because she did not like moving.  Even though she could afford a larger place, the thought of moving was the hindrance.

3.  Hobson knew as a child that she had to get a good education if she wanted to be in control.

Hobson is brilliant, beautiful and bold.  She makes #blackgirlmagic everyday!

And go!

See coverage of other events HERE!

Black Violin's UNITY Tour - Stanford University Bing Concert Hall

Kevin Sylvester and Wil Baptist have been hidden gems for a while and that will definitely change overnight.  From playing on tracks by super star artist Jay Z to performing at the White House for President Barak Obama's Inauguration, it goes without saying that the Violin and Viola will quickly become the most sought after instrument of choice to learn among children, youth and young adults.  Why?  Because these gentlemen have mastered the art of blending their trained classical music skills with their love of hip hop music to break society's stereotype, and it's only the beginning.

Black Violin at Bing Conert Hall

Enjoy these clips from their performance on January 28, 2017 at Stanford University's Bing Concert Hall.  It's an enjoyable ride so hold on to your seats.  And go!

How the party started at Bing Concert Hall at Stanford University - https://youtu.be/0kLYhrceGjI

An original never rehearsed piece by Black Violin - https://youtu.be/K7RpS6TfmJA

Do you recognize this familiar piece? A Black Violin Moment - https://youtu.be/ggZGXXsLxGA

Black Enterprise Tech ConneXt 2016 - The Business of Tech at its Best!

Samara Lynn

Now, how many people do you know own more than 3,000 comic books?  I was beyond thrilled to hear this when I interviewed Samara Lynn, Tech Editor for Black Enterprise Magazine.  Samara's adventure into collecting comic books started at the age of 13, while living in the suburbs of Long Island, New York.  The neighborhood kids, at that time, were into comic books and Samara took a liking right along with them growing up.  While she stopped collecting comic books around the age of 30, she is very clear that her favs were, at that time, The (Avengers), X-Men and Spider-Man.

This year BE's Tech ConneXt Summit takes place October 10 - 11, 2016 at the Marriott Hotel, Burlingame, CA (SF airport location).  Samara has had ample time to prepare for this year's summit, which is very different from last year when it was her third day on the job when she was given the assignment to travel to the West Coast to BE's first Tech ConneXt.  Diving right into the splash, while it was a surprise, it was certainly not unfamiliar territory for Samara.  She was able to hit the ground running and was pleased the conference went very well.  This year, Samara says, "There are a few things that will be different, one of them being that Black Enterprise wants to make the conference much more 'tech engagement' focused by way of expanding the exhibition space to more interactive technology opportunities.  Also, when it comes to the student engagement and their hackathon period, it will be around the clock, 24 hrs., which is far different from last year where there were stops and starts throughout the day with workshops, etc. for the students."  Samara also says that there will be a stronger relationship with partners where the students will have a connection year-round in addition to what they experience onsite during their tours.  The Toyota Research Institute is one major partner that will be further developed this year as will again have an opportunity to tour the facility during Tech ConneXtand Black Enterprise will build stronger bridges with Toyota to continue the student engagement for months beyond the conference.

I attended Tech ConneXt last year and was very impressed with the information shared by the panelists and the student presentations were very high level and engaging.  This conference is certainly the missing link that is hugely visible in the tech space in Silicon Valley, as it elevates the skills, talents and resources that people of color, particularly African Americans, have to contribute to the technology industry.  Also, and more importantly, this summit shows aspiring youth, first hand, who are interested in a STEM education and future, how they can make those dreams a reality.

Samara is excited about what the conference will bring this year and she is confident the outcomes will be favorable.  I would tend to agree that this year will be quiet the tech conference, especially when there is a line-up of confirmed speakers that include Ryan Leslie, CEO, MZRT; Tristan Walker, CEO Founder, Walker & Company; Ime Archibong, Director of Global Partnerships, Facebook and many others.

Samara Lynn has over 15 years experience in Information Technology and is the technology editor for Black Enterprise. She was a technology editor for the prestigious CRN Test Center and lead Networking and Business Analyst for PCMag.com (formerly PC Magazine).  Lynn has appeared as a technology commentator on Fox Business News, National Business Report (NBR), and Reuters TV. She is the author of "Windows Server 2012: Up and Running" and received the Small Business Influencer Top 100 Champion award in 2013 under the "Journalists" category.