I fell deep into nostalgia this morning upon seeing a Facebook memory post and article published about these events two years ago. This picture represents my introduction to Cincinnati’s entrepreneurship community, and a turning point in my life.
My First Mentor in Cincinnati:
Micheal likes getting to know people, hence his tradition of walking attendees from Centrifuse to a neighborhood drinking joint for 'after parties'. I went along.
When it was time to leave, Michael walked me to my car, and asked me 21 questions until 2:30 in the morning. The next day, I woke up feeling like somebody had just injected me with a massive dose of self worth serum.
Even though he said he would, I was surprised when he called to invite me back to Centrifuse further our conversation.
Michael then declared that he was ready to invest personal time as my mentor, even though he had a lot going on. I was honored. He said he was impressed that I'd already accomplished so much alone without anyone’s help. He believed that my business model and upcoming membership website would indeed be a catalyst for individuals and organizations to generate additional streams of income, while supporting the poorest people in the world.
As a side note, ‘The Inspirit Arts Village To Vendor Pipeline’ will have three parts designed to build symbiotic connections between
(1) VILLAGE ARTISANS in developing countries who need customers, and
(2) MERCHANDISE VENDORS in the US who need sales training, and
(3) AFFILIATE MARKETERS around the world who need fast selling ethically sourced products to promote for global distribution.
Micheal encouraged me to apply for the Founder Institute's three month business incubator. I did, and scored so high on the application’s ‘entrepreneur DNA test’, that the headquarters in Silicon Valley gave me a fellowship. I gladly accepted.
For several reasons, I decided not to graduate from The Founder Institute, but I did followed their program two years in a row and would do it again. The curriculum thrusted me into action, and forced me to do things that I’d procrastinated on for years.
Micheal is a tech brainiac Not only does he know something about everything, he also knows somebody every where. I can't even keep up with all the local leaders he wants me to introduce myself to.
There’s so much good happening at Centrifuse, that I’ll never leave. It’s not just all the free food and drinks that keeps me coming back, it’s the community.
My First Community Connections
David asked for my thoughts about capital investing. Then he actually looked disappointed when I said I wasn’t ready for an investor because I was still worried about finding the right business partners. (By the way, I’m still open and eager for partnerships.)
Because David Cain was an active mentor at Founder Institute, I had the opportunity to interact with him almost weekly. That’s when I realized the depth of his passion for investing time and money to uplifting people like me. Men of his calibre and financial resources, don’t usually have time to spare. What impressed me most was his willingness and availability to get down-to-earth, roll-up-his-sleeves and get-stuff-done.
To be honest, I was just so stunned at the prospect of getting an investor’s interest (without even trying) that I had to take a step back to assess who he really was and why he keep saying I’m a “magnificent person”. Somehow during the process of scrutinizing David, we’d become caring and loving friends.
Besides being good looking, fashionable and lots of fun, Zack is a deep thinker and problem solver. I grew up around prodigies and super high IQ's intellectuals, so I recognize exceptional talent and genius when I see it.
What touches me the most about Zack is his outspoken willingness to stick his neck out to enlighten his peers about closing the racial divide and leveling the privilege field in Cincinnati, the USA, and the world.
I was touched when he reached out, emailing me interesting articles about the latest advances in developing countries that he wanted to discuss with me next time we had a ‘sit down’.
I lost touch with Zack when his popularity exploded and he started traveling the world. None-the-less, I still consider him fondly as part of my support network, along with Michael Hiles, David Cain and others.
You're probably wondering why I'm gushing about these guys.
The Facebook memory post caused me to tear up just thinking about how much all three of them have encouraged me. Until I met them, nobody had ever given me such concrete feedback about the my value of my work. To be honest, I've been harboring an outdated belief that nobody would ever help me or my business.
I’m writing this blog hoping to assure other women and blacks that they must not hesitate to show up if they are curious about the start up community in Cincinnati. Sure, it’s dominated by white men, but in my experience, they are the kind of white men you want to know.
This is a huge statement coming from me. I developed serious safety issues after 18 years abroad dealing with extreme overt racism while living in France, post colonial Kenya, and South Africa during apartheid.
I had to put my work schedule on pause just to express my feelings and experiences in this blog. It’s worth it if I can inspire anybody who might feel abused by “minority” business programs, to cross the color line and go to Centrifuse to make better connections. The safe zone for people of color doesn't extend the whole block on Vine Street.
I’m not saying that ‘black on black violence’ in the norm in our fledgling ’minority’ business community. I’m just saying to be careful if you’re shopping for business support here. Choose carefully. Don’t get fooled by the inspirational messages on quality marketing videos like I did.
Writing this is therapeutic, as I remind myself that there are good people in the world, and some of them are on my side. On the other hand, some people are happy to be 'anti-forces' to break me down and block me from expressing life's work.
I considered keeping my mouth shut, but my Minister and long term business collaborator both advised me to get it off my chest for the sake of my own healing, and the sake of warning others.
If you follow me on Facebook, you probably already know that I’m recovering from a horrendous down hill experience from engaging with two directors of a black run non-profit business accelerator program in Cincinnati. Their mission is to create opportunities for under-served entrepreneurs to succeed.
Well, I just had the opportunity to spend the past eleven months being jerked around as they repetitively made offers and business promises to me for financial, branding and marketing support. Then they reneged while systematically breaking every single last one of those promises. To make it worse, they just emailed me another set of incredibly vague and minimalistic offers, even though I have the first set in writing. I wasn't expecting them to do anything they didn't tell me they would do - the ordinary perks for graduates.
Now, I’m forced to scramble at the last minute, without a Kiva loan endorsement, to find people to help me. I urgently need branding, web building, marketing and advertising. Please call me if you, or somebody you know can help. (937) 546-9400.
My other 'Rock'.
Around 2015, I visited the The Urban League who set an appointment for me to meet Larry Brown at the Small Business Development Corporation. I canceled the appointment and never rescheduled. Though ‘better late than never’, I regret missing out on years of his support and guidance.
You won’t find a gentler soul or better listener. He exudes so much wisdom and understanding that I feel comfortable telling him anything, good or bad. Even though he is patient, I push myself complete weekly assignments from him as fast as I can because I respect him too much to waste his time, and also because I know the value of an accountability partner. Our meetings are the highlight of my week because I enjoy them, and he keeps me on track.
I'm flabbergasted over getting quality service for free at the SBDC, when I couldn't get the same support after paying for it elsewhere.
My Drive and Determination.
The ‘Healing Headcovers’ campaign is important because it's the first step towards raising enough money through crowdfunding to launch the ‘Inspirit Arts Village to Vendor Pipeline’ website in January. Allow me to elaborate.
I have an idea for rewarding donors that’s better than giving them prizes. My idea is to ‘pay it forward’ by giving away hats, headbands and head scarves on behalf of any donor that contributes $50 or more to the fundraiser.
If you're intrigued by concepts like 'Social Enterprise' & 'Compassionate Commerce', please come learn more in The Inspirit Arts Village To Vendor Pipeline Facebook Group.
I'm calling all big hearted humanitarians to consider joining our league of ‘Healing Headcover Delivery Angels’.
Help us visit elders who may be lonely in senior care facilities over the holidays. Come learn how to teach hair loss patients in cancer centers to how to tie stylish and comfortable headwraps to cover their baldness.
The Long Term Plan
I’m excited to start paying refer-a-friend reward dollars to affiliate marketers when they link shoppers to over 750 products. I’m in the process of packaging and posting them now.
Click here to have a look at Inspirit Arts customer pictures. If you go futher to explore this site, but please don’t judge me. It's my first attempt to build a website and it's not fully functional. It's about to be replaced by a newer website that is much more customer friendly in design.
Already while writing this, I’ve had to stop for several crying breaks. I can’t imagine stopping in the middle of a video recording, to dry my eyes and blow my nose, and then start again. I'd look like a mad woman.
I assure you, I'm not a mad woman. I'm just very passionate about my service, and overly grateful for the people who supporting me.
"How Miss NebSa Graduated from The School of Hard Knocks"
The idea is to expose my progress, failures, insights, fears and feelings while on this entrepreneurial journey of spiritual development. I'm comfortable being transparent and vulnerable, which I'm told is inspiring to others.
What do you think? Should I go public? Should I reveal my process of overcoming struggles and set backs? Should I be raw and real, or careful and curated?
Please comment your reaction and anything else you want to share. I'd appreciate it if you bring my attention to any typos.
That's all for now,
"Stay Inspired, Be Inspirit"
Sylvia NebSa Harmon