In the past year, C-Suite Coach has developed a prototype, entered conversations for pilot partnerships, and been a finalist in two pitch competitions. In Village Capital’s EdTech Forum, we were one of 11 finalists, out of over 100 applicants and in Silicon Harlem’s International Pitchfest, we competed against Netherlands based businesses in front of a panel of local and international judges. We’ve demo-ed our business at Google and we’ve been accepted into a women’s accelerator. Most recently, we’ve received commitments for family and friends funding! It has been a busy and exciting year and this was a great opportunity to celebrate what has happened and what is in store for the next year.
During the reception, the newly released Instagram Stories update was used to post real-time photos and videos from the event to those who couldn’t make it but wanted to follow along. The update is still rolling out globally, however we were excited to try it the first day of its release and stay connected and up to date with the latest technologies that matter to our audience.
Angelina Darrisaw, Founder of C-Suite Coach, shared opening remarks and introduced the 30-minute Power Panel featuring Samara Lynn, Tech Editor at Black Enterprise, and Gene Waddy, C-Suite Coach Advisor and Diversant CEO.
Combining his business ingenuity with his desires to help others, Waddy developed transformative programs that promote diversity in the workforce and supply chain. Diversant, now the nations largest African-American owned IT staffing and solutions firm, has developed a reputation of excellence among numerous Fortune 500 companies.
Lynn opened the panel asking Waddy why and how he started his business, as well as his top tips for entrepreneurs. As CEO of a business that has stood the test of time, especially during a nationwide downturn, Waddy noted that talent (a strong workforce) is the only stable advantage in business. His firm specializes in diversifying their clients’ staff, so he is focused on preparing and training strong talent. “I surround myself with the best. I am shameless about stealing talent from competitors,” he said.
He reflected on his time as a working professional where he noted that he constantly looked up to people until he realized there are three simple but important differences between an employee and their employer. Employers are more resourceful, they have a bigger network and they are essentially more fearless. To him the key to success was getting over being impressed by people all the time, “You have to see (visualize yourself doing) it, in order to do it.”
Lynn shared some highlights on the growing market for coaching and the lack of access for many young people of color. Waddy agreed, based on his experiences and articulated why he chooses to advise C-Suite Coach. In addition to believing in her business value, he noted the passion he saw in Angelina when she first described her business plan for C-Suite Coach and said the combination is what led to him becoming her advisor. To him, “that passion and spark is what everyone needs in business.”
When starting his own business, Waddy did not have an advisor and felt discouraged by his community and peer group for his decision to pursue a less traveled path. He felt that this was and can still be common for budding entrepreneurs, especially from communities of color and affirmed this is why his role as an advisor is so critical. In pursuing his path, however, paying the bills and having a stable income to support his family was a must. He created a picture in his mind of where he saw himself, his family and his community 12 years ago and he’s been striving to reach that goal ever since.
As an advisor and successful business owner, with accolades like holding the 29th spot on the 2016 BE 100 list, his top pieces of advice for new entrepreneurs are to have passion for what they’re doing, be competent and pay their dues, and most importantly believe in something bigger than themselves.
Host Samara Lynn asked how he will know his job as an advisor is done. He smiled and said his job is done when Angelina and C-Suite Coach make it on the Black Enterprise 100 list.
Let this event may be the first of many...
Thank you to everyone who came to celebrate and support the one- year anniversary of C-Suite Coach. Thank you again to Wix Lounge, Black Enterprise, Manhattan Valley Wine and Spirits, Seasoned Vegan, and Breather for help making this event happen.