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Dedicated to Making a Difference : Team Makasi, From Good to Great..
Back in my younger days, yes, I took it there.. Back in my younger days, I was always taught to emmulate the greats. I was taught that if you work hard, you can achieve what someone else has, whether it be their personal or financial gains. The older I got, no one corrected that vision. No one stepped up and said, well, thats kind of true. If you emmulate the greats, you have a higher chance of becoming successful. That you can achieve YOUR definition of success and not what society has deemed approproate for you. Because of this blurred misconception of life, I struggled to find a foothold, build my own lane. There were many nights that I cried and asked what I did to deserve this. Really, It was all a lesson, that learned was really a story to share. Knowing that a lot of the mistakes that I made were based on not having an outlet or guidance, I knew that I wanted to do what I could to help others not make those decisions. I wanted to be able to show the youth another way to become successful, in their own right. Knowing that not every superhero wears a cape or waves flag, I began the hunt to find some of the most inspirational, inspiring hope dealers around the world! Hop in as we chat with Verlain Betofe from Team Makasi, a Youth Organization full of indivisuals dedicated to making a difference. Not only do we have insight on their organization and helping the community, we have tips and practices that help their organization go from good, to GREAT. Which, let's be honest, is a goal for everyone! Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started? I started Team Makasi about 6 years ago. We started with 5 athletes and have grown to over 200 athletes since our program started. Growing up in the inner city of San Diego, we didn’t have many role models to look up to. The people we looked up to were gang members, drug dealers, pimps etc. I wanted to make a difference in my community. After I was done playing football at Indiana State University, I wanted to give back to my community. Team Makasi was a way for me to really make a difference with our youth. Our motto for our organization is “A Strong Youth Is A Strong Future”. We believe our youth is the most important aspect of society. Our organization gives our youth those resources and outlets. We have helped over 150 kids receive college scholarships and have hundreds more in the near future. We are growing yearly, and we are extremely excited about our future. Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your ourney? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard? I faced a bunch of difficult challenges when I first started my organizations. I remember the first year I decided to put on an all-star football game. I planned it out for 5 months. I had the marketing perfect. I had a bunch of Division 1 college football recruits that committed to playing in the game. The day before the game, a group of people was mad at all the publicity the game was getting decided to call the place where I was hosting the game and told them I was a coach on the staff so it would be a conflict of interest. So, in the very last minute I had to move the game to a different location. For a second, the game was close to being canceled. I found a way last second to ensure the game still went on. 5 years later the game is an annual thing and has become the number one all-star game in the west coast and top 5 nationally. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that? I don’t remember any funny mistakes when I first started. I have learned a lot from mistakes I have made and will continue learning from all the past mistakes. What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story? Our company is different because everything we do is for the benefits of our kids. We speak to over 150 college coaches trying to help our kids get college scholarships. A story I would like to share is about one of our Makasi kids. He is a kid that has had a very hard home life. His mother and father were never around. Our Team Makasi staff decided to gather up 1,000 dollars and take this kid clothes shopping. The kid was extremely happy and excited. As a staff we do lots of little things like this to ensure our kids are doing well. Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? The number one tip I would tell somebody is know your why and purpose? Never start an organization or business strictly for the money or fame. Start it because you truly want to make a difference in whatever you are doing. I think that is the recipe for success. None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story? Yes, his name is Rolando Rivera. We all call him Coach Ro. Coach Ro is the major reason why I started my organization. I met coach Ro in high school about 17 years ago. Coach Ro had a reputation of helping kids from the inner city get to college. Once I met him, I saw how much he really did for us inner city kids. He helped over 400 kids get to college and the majority of them were inner city kids. He helped me get my football scholarship to Indiana State University. Coach Ro and I grew close over the years. He is someone I consider my mentor and owe a lot of success to him. Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The title of this series is “How to take your company from good to great”. Let’s start with defining our terms. How would you define a “good” company, what does that look like? How would you define a “great” company, what does that look like? A good company purpose is to make money and make some sort of impact. A great company sole purpose is to make an impact then the company comes secondary. The purpose of great company is to make an impact which ultimately leads to making money. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to lead a company from Good to Great? Please share a story or an example for each. Make sure its purpose driven Don’t ever do anything just for the money Make sure you are making an impact Always put God first Trust your intuition Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. Can you help articulate for our readers a few reasons why a business should consider becoming a purpose driven business, or consider having a social impact angle? I think driven purpose business always have more of a substantial impact. When something is authentic, from the heart, and meant to help people its organic. Things that organic always last longer. You will always be remembered for all you made people feel. That’s the biggest reason I love what I do because it’s all purpose driven. It’s all about the kids. What would you advise to a business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a stand still. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”? I would say go back to the basics. Go back to the why you started the business. Go back to your original core and see what steps you did that helped you build that foundation. Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy? For me it’s always knowing my why. I am a believer in God and know God wouldn’t give me a challenge I couldn’t handle. I never started my business for the money. The money came after we made abundance amount of impact. In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example? The most underestimating part of running a company is bookkeeping. I do my own books, so I have constantly reminded myself to keep up with my books weekly. As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies a business should use to increase conversion rates? Be authentic. I’m not into selling anything. We let our results do the talking. Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that a business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand? Word of mouth is the best advertisement. When you do right by people eventually other people start to take notice. The best way to build a brand is to do it authentically. Great customer service and great customer experience are essential to build a beloved brand and essential to be successful in general. In your experience what are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience? Be authentic Be a person of your word Always put the customer first Never sell anything. Just be yourself What are your thoughts about how a company should be engaged on Social Media? For example, the advisory firm EisnerAmper conducted 6 yearly surveys of United States corporate boards, and directors reported that one of their most pressing concerns was reputational risk as a result of social media. Do you share this concern? We’d love to hear your thoughts about this. I always tell our staff social media can be a powerful tool if used right. I tell our staff to keep everything positive on social media. Social media can be a tool that helps business grow expeditiously. What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors? The most common mistake is people start to change once they start making money. They forget about the foundation they laid to start their business. If you want to avoid these, you have to stay grounded and don’t forget your roots. Don’t forget your why. Don’t forget your initial purpose on why you started the business. Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-) Giving back to our youth. That is my movement and what I dedicated my life to. How can our readers further follow you online? Twitter: @TeamMakasi Facebook: TeamMakasiLLC Instagram: TeamMakasi Thank you so much for taking out the time to chat with us! We look forward to hearing more and supporting you in any way that we can. Make sure you tap in and follow, this is bigger than us!
Allow me to Introduce Myself...
My name is HOV... Ok, not really ... I'm a bit of a badass that calls herself Bunnie Mae... I devote most of my time to supporting everyday women from professionals and entrepreneurs, to busy moms and socialites. I'm the creator of #DearBlackGirl whose mission is to educate and equip women with the necessary tools to build a strong sense of self-confidence while providing them with unlimited resources, traveling and building genuine relationships! I have my Bachelor Degree in Communications which I apply by randomly talking my shit here. I am a media correspondent and lifestyle influencer, so you may catch me anywhere from a Red Carpet doing interviews, to twerking at the TwerkFest in Atlanta. Either way, there is a certain Je Ne Sais Quoi that you know Bunnie is in the Building! Oh yea, I curse. Not a lot, but this definitely is not a sensitive platform. So, if you don't mind being called sis, they occasional Ayeee yelling in my videos or the inside scoop on your favorite celebrity, ,then this is the place for you! I also love going to the gym and then consuming a large amount a French fries and wonder why my weight won't drop. Tuh.. I want to take this time to thank you for sharing my journey with me! Get ready to travel, eat good and talk yo shit sis!
Bucket List Bunnie
Ok.. So, let's just put it out there.. I love knocking things off my bucket list. FINE, my bucket list is more like a to-do list because I add to the list as much as I cross things off, judge ya mutha... I absolutely LOVE the thrill seeing adventures! Even though my bucket list doesn't always include near death experiences, as the mister likes to call them, I do love knocking off a few cobwebs from the old scare factor. There are so many things to do any so many different ways to enjoy life! I can't wait to share my journey with you! Check out this Skydive vide, my review is down below! You won't regret it I promise! Okay.. So first of all.. let me tell you that I was ABSOLUTELY terrified! I did NOT think that I would be as scared as I was. I mean, I took it like an OG, I don't think I showed it in my vide but I was like two seconds from passing out. It was mostly the anticipation. I was literally asking myself if I am about to jump out of a plane. Like, girl... your ass is about to jump out of a plane. I have done and said a lot of wild things in my day, but this one takes the cake. Want to know the funniest part? I had convinced the mister and his friend to do it with me. HAHAH hilarious right? Nothing better than being terrified with a group of others right? Right.. Outside of being one of the most terrified I have ever been this was also one of the most exhilarating experiences I have ever had. I have never felt the peace and calm that flying provided. Well, at least I call it flying! If there is anything to make you face the reality that you are but a person in a plan that is much bigger than you, this would be it. In these moments, I realized how small my problems really are and how great of an impact I could really have. It's life changing and scary as hell, and I employ anyone to do it. Then tag me LOL What's something on your bucketlist and why? Email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org for your chance to be featured!
No New Friends... Except, A Lot of them..
Growing up, my mom had ONE best friend. I grew up only wanting one because that was all I knew, it was all I had ever seen. I would go into groups of women, get close with one and then just associate with the others.
I kept wondering why I was repeatedly drawn into these groups of women when I had found my “ONE” .. (it was draining, trying to build when I didn’t know why) I was pouring into one, when I have enough in me for the masses. (Whew, this might be a long post yall, I feel a testimony) It wasn’t until a few days ago that I realized that I was chasing after what someone else had . My whole life I’ve been talking about building your own path and here I am chasing someone else’s. My moms. I wanted approval so bad that I felt like I needed what she had to be accepted. Often times, our mothers are our first example of women role models, so I thought it was normal. God kept pushing me into corners because he knew what was for her, wasn’t for me. He was just waiting on me to realize it too, thankful for his Grace because I’ve quit “friends” like every two weeks Although there is nothing wrong with the “ONE” my purpose is more than that. My purpose always has been and always will be women. In what way? I’m still learning, but it has something so do with just BEING WHO I WAS MADE TO BE. So, I’m announcing I’m here. I’m showing up and taking up all the space God has reserved for me. Hey sis Take it up with God, ion know
Be Happy! Home is the Happiest Place to Live in!
"The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family." - Thomas Jefferson. The world may be a dreary, dreadful, and dangerous place to venture into. There may be cut-throat competition in which survival of the mean, cunning, and bully only is possible. It may not be a place for gentle, honest, and kind person like you. It is full of murderers, criminals, rapists, and swindlers. They are ready to snatch away the loaf of bread from your hand. You need a sanctuary from them. You need a place where there is love and care, understanding and compassion, give and take. You need somebody who could guide and protect you. You need somebody who could be equal partner in your joys and sorrows. You need somebody upon whom you could shower your love and care. You need a home and a family. Parents sacrifice a lot and endure great hardships in up-bringing their children. They are selfless in their love and can even lay their lives for the protection of their children. A spouse is a life time partner in your days of sunshine and rain. Brothers and sisters are your friends and supporters. Your children are your life time fans who love you unconditionally. The love, care, and support of family is a great happiness. Blessed is the person who has got a family. And who amongst us has not got one? But we take family for granted. We don’t recognize it as a great source of happiness. The more happiness you give to your family the more you extract out of it. You are born into a family and grow up within a family. A family not only provides comfort, enjoyment, and security, but it also gives emotional and spiritual bliss. In fact, one may find so much happiness within family that he or she may not need to search it outside it. The love and care of mother and father, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, wife or husband sustain us. Though love is one and the same yet the love of each is so different too. A family may extend beyond these immediate relations and may include grand parents, grand children, in-laws, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, and other relatives. Can all the money of the world buy the love and affection of one’s parents? Can one be happy without them? How much enjoyment and happiness they add to our life? Similar is the case with brothers and sisters. At a later stage of life husband or wife becomes practically the sole arbiter of our happiness. Man or woman’s happiness nearly entirely depends on his or her spouse. At a still later stage sons and daughters become a great source of happiness. Bertrand Russell said, ‘I have found the happiness of parenthood greater than any other that I have experienced.’ Family relations give happiness, but at the same time to be a relation also gives happiness. It is happiness unlimited to be a son, a brother, a sister, a father, a mother, a husband, and a wife. When you kiss your child, don’t you get a kiss in return? When you hug your sister, don’t you get a hug in return? When you love your spouse, don’t you get love in return? Be Happy! You have your family that loves you! BE HAPPY!
I will NOT apologize...
YUCK!! I thought I had to apologize for EVERYTHING. I was a habitual apologizer... Is that a thing? Well it is now. I apologized for spilling coffee. Not moving fast enough. I would apologize for not texting fast enough because I was driving. I was driving myself (and others) insane. I had to learn that everything is NOT in my control and I don't have to apologize for them. I felt, in some way, shape or form that if I apologized for it, everything would be ok and we can move on. I didn't realize that I was only enabling myself to be an apologetic person. In reality, I AM NOT. I do NOT apologize for who I am because I am FREAKING amazing. I mean, if I did something worthy of apologizing for then absolutely. Learning the difference in taking responsibility and apologizing habitually was probably one of the most annoying and self-healing processes I have ever experienced. I had to apologize to MYSELF because that's the only person that I owe it to. (Again, unless I did something worth apologizing for) I felt and still feel a renewed sense of self and a new desire to more because I am UNAPOLOGETIC on my journey of finding my voice
Girl… That Ish not cute...
I went on a “wellness” retreat, as so many of us have. I expected to be on a journey of health, wealth and spirituality. I fell for the pretty flyers and videos of the retreat. I needed a getaway from my sticky fingered kids and hectic unpredictable lifestyle. Instead, I realized that I was on a gossip sleepover with names I was familiar with, faces I’ve smiled in before. I became uneasy, faking a feeling a nausea and made my way home. I deleted them all from every part of my social life. Later, I heard that I had left because I was “pregnant” in hindsight, that feeling wasn’t faked. Being in rooms as such really does make me nauseas. Who told this women that it’s ok to be mean? If one more person suck their teeth and roll their eyes at me, I swear I’m going to… Continue to love them. Pray for them and encourage them. Having an attitude is what got us here is the first place, remember? Yes, in my head I may think of my days before “the born-again entrepreneur” when I was snatching wigs and taking names. I know that girl is never far away if I need her, but thanks to my commitment to myself, I know I won’t need her any time soon. I made a commitment to encourage, uplift and motivate women. I committed to being someone I didn’t have when I was growing up. In a lot of ways, we as adults are still looking for that person. All along we just need to realize that the woman is inside us. Cliché, right? So eye rolling won’t do the trick homegirl, I still love you. Gossiping behind my back just makes me pray for you a little bit harder. In the world of right now, take yourself back to a moment that you got bullied, teased, mocked. For some of you, it wasn’t long ago and the memory may have discouraged you from trying to do something. From reaching a goal, from building an empire. Well, I’m here as a reminder to not become that person. When you don’t know how to handle emotions, you eject them onto others. So I’m telling you to pull up your Big Girl Thing and handle your emotions. The next time you fix your lips about another woman, let it be a warm smile or words of affirmation. Speaking life into another woman won’t take from you at all, I know from experience. Yea boo… You can sit with us. We as women already face so many obstacles. Tell me why we are hell bent on BEING another one? Yes, this is just one article, one person, one voice, but that’s all it takes to light fire.
"Take A Look Around, Put the Guns Down"
There is a new wave of women entrepreneurs and I am LOVING every moment! As a child, I admired women moguls and often wondered why there weren’t as many women as men. The older I got, the stronger the urge became to BE one of those women. I wasn’t sure how, when or why. I just knew it involved a microphone and a team of kick a** individuals. Singing wasn’t my strong suit, although, you couldn’t tell me I wasn’t the Gladys Knight of my Pips. As I struggled to find my niche, I drew inspiration from women such as Kimora Lee Simmons and Tyra Banks. They built empires, raised children and had snatched waistlines, who WASN’T checking for them? One thing that I noticed about some of the most influential women of all time was that they gave me, and millions of other women hope, inspiration and encouragement. As I continued to build and grow my brand, I noticed that I had a huge amount of support from individuals JUST LIKE ME, and much like the people I admired growing up, I wanted to help others. I began to donate my time, energy and knowledge to help other to succeed at becoming and building their own personal brands. One thing that I encourage people to do with their brand is to be UNIQUELY them! WHATEVER their truth is, I ask them to stand in it, believe in it and yell it from a rooftop!! I had the opportunity to chat with entertainment mogul, Diamond P. Known for her amazing resistance and not limiting herself or her brand, Diamond P has made tremendous strides on not only her platform, but in her personal life as well. “Take a look around, put the guns down” is more than just a slogan for Diamond P. After losing her son to a senseless act of gun violence, Diamond P has dedicated her voice and platform to raising awareness and using her voice to encourage the communities around her to stop the violence. Knowing that one person can make a difference, Diamond P will be traveling from city to city advocating against gun violence and helping survivors and the families of gun victims. Hop in as we chat with an amazing woman with a voice and a legacy that is meant to be heard! Bunnie – Thank you for hopping into The Bunnie Hole! For my followers who may not be familiar with you, please introduce yourself and your platform! Diamond P – Hey! Thank you so much for having me on! I appreciate you! My name is Diamond P! I am what I like to call the Jane of all Trades! I have done radio, acting amongst other things! As of late, I am dedicating my voice to “Look Around, Put the guns down”. Bunnie- Oh wow! That’s such a powerful statement! I know there has been a lot of violence here in my city (Detroit) as well as all over. Is there any reason your speaking out? Diamond P - Yes, I just recently lost my son to gun violence. Although I can’t speak on the circumstances, it was a senseless act of violence. We always say that a situation is sad or that we wish we can do something about it until it hits close to home. Then you realize that you HAVE to do something about it, because it DID hit home. Bunnie – I am so sorry for your loss! It makes me so sad that there Is so much violence and so little people speaking out about it! I admire you for your strength and perseverance to not only continue, but to tell his legacy in hopes of hoping someone else. This is beautiful and very much needed. Diamond P – Thank you so much. I appreciate you. Yes, it is most definitely needed. One thing that I want to speak on is that even though gun violence affects a lot of our men, there is usually some type of involvement with a woman. A huge part of what I will be advocating will be for the women, especially the young ones. They often don’t realize the impact they have over these young men, and we must take control of it. We can control so much of the narrative and so man don’t even realize it! Bunnie – Wow! I guess I never really looked at it from that angle! A lot of the situations we hear about do involve women and we don’t realize it until too late. Reminds me of that movie ChiRaq where the women cut the men off from sex until they put their guns down! I mean, I know realistically that won’t happen, but the symbolism is everything. Diamond P – Yes! We have more control over it than a lot of people think! We can be so powerful and not even realize it! Bunnie – Yes! I agree! Do you plan on taking the “Take a look around, put the guns down” on tour? We would love to help you host one here! This is definitely a message we support and would love to get behind you. Diamond P – Eventually we would love to do that! We will be having our first speaking engagement in October, after that we will be working on spreading awareness! Bunnie – Aside from “Look Around, Put the Guns down” what other projects do you have going on? Diamond P – I will be releasing my book soon! It will tell you the good, the bad and the ugly. A lot of people talk about being transparent and the work they put in behind the scene. I am showing it all!! I also am working on a weave line. I don’t like to restrict myself to just one lane or genre, I like to do it all! Bunnie – Where can we find you? Diamond P - Twitter.com/therealdiamondp Facebook.com/diamondp675 Instagram.com/darealdiamondp Bunnie – I just want to thank you for hopping into The Bunnie Hole! We look forward to seeing you and supporting you with all you do!
Breaking the B.R.O.K.E. Code
Yes, this is exactly what it sounds like. Someone finally released the secret to breaking the dreaded trend of broke-ness. That someone just so happens to be Constance Carter. Her book, “Breaking the B.R.O.K.E Code” is on the nightstand right next to my Bible because the only things I fear in life are God and going broke. Oh, and cats. It’s something about their eyes. In “Breaking The B.R.O.K.E. Code” Constance Cater speaks about things that you do to attract and/or drive money away and towards you, such as: Changing Spaces, Being who you say you are, and speaks diligently on the power of “Seeing in Order to Believe” Reading this has given me a new outlook not only on my financial status as I continue to grow and build, but also on life. As a mother, I work hard to teach my kids the things that they DON’T tell you about in school. Not only does Constance Carter puts this in perspective, but I felt and still feel as the methods learned in this book can be applied in every day life. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to check out “Breaking the B.R.O.K.E Code” and it is now in my directory of must reads! If you fear being broke as much as I do, you’ll take the time out to read it too!