diversity, Policy, Uncategorized

What’s my “secret to success”? Find out what I told a room full of women.

Below is text of my speech that I gave as the keynote for this event. You can also download the PDF of my speech and share. Enjoy, like, share and leave comments!

Good Afternoon,

First, I want to thank Ms. Leverette and the Atlanta Council for giving me this opportunity to speak at this Meeting. It is always a pleasure to speak to business women as a business woman myself but ESPECIALLY important when there is a diverse group of women who want to learn how to grow personally and professionally from each other. Today is not only about me imparting wisdom and life lessons on you—but learning from you as well so I look forward to chatting with some of you after this event.

Also thank you to Dr. Sykes for her support and joining me today. Give her a round of applause. She is a part of my consulting firm’s “Givers Circle”, which is a group of diversity advocates that meet monthly to discuss a number of diversity issues and discuss solutions to race and gender problems.

Intro

This is my 1st of about 5 speaking engagements I have over the next month including 2 award ceremonies. Even though I am asked to speak numerous times a year, the pace and importance of my speaking engagements are starting to pick up so I have been wondering how to introduce myself in a memorable way. And I think I have come to the conclusion that I need Beyonce’s back up dancers to follow me around and play her song “Who Run the World” every time I take the stage. But, I cannot afford Beyonce’s back up dancers so if anyone wants to volunteer for these roles let me know. But it is true that we all know who run the world and that’s who ladies? (Repeat) It has been proven repeatedly that when women are at the table—things get done faster and better, both in business and in politics.

So if you cannot by one of my back up dancers, I have another task for you that I hope you can help me out with: I need you to snap pictures and tag me on social media. My tags are just DarshunKendrick (page on FB, Twitter @TheDiversityAct, Instagram and LinkedIn). Can you do that for me?

Now the flier for this event is a little ambitious—I am supposed to “introduce you to a proven system for success and tips to be a part of political decision making.” Well I can tell you right now how to answer the first part of that: My proven system for success IS, and write this down ladies, ….FAILURE WITH GRACE.

Proven System for Success: Failure With Grace

Now I know you are saying Dar’shun that’s not quite what we wanted to hear. We wanted to hear something uplifting and inspirational on this Saturday afternoon. Well, I am a pragmatist and I am here to tell you: failure and defeat with the utmost grace got me to where I am today. It’s often said that in life we either learn or succeed, but never truly fail so long as we are trying. That may be true, but it’s through failure that I learned to use grace to turn to what makes me happy: service to others. Let me explain.

My Childhood in the Dec

I was born at Grady Hospital and raised in Decatur GA. Not the nice part of Decatur—-the drug deal making part of Decatur, off Glenwood Road. My parents are blue collar, lower middle class folks. Neither one of them had a college degree until my mom got hers at the age of 53 a few years ago. None of my 4 grandparents have a high school diploma—let me repeat NONE of my grandparents had a high school diploma. But God got the last laugh because now I have 4 degrees, one in honor of each one of my grandparents.

The High School Blues

But the road to 4 degrees was rough. I went to Towers High School where the graduation rate at the time was 30% and I had a 25% chance of being pregnant by age 16. High school was also the time of one my first big fails in life, as I saw it. I am an introvert. No one believes me but I am very good about being extroverted when I need to. But in high school I was extremely shy, very nerdy and—check this out—-unbothered by others opinion of me, which was rare for a high school student especially a female. And for this, I was bullied physically, emotionally, and psychologically. I felt I had FAILED in high school. I was extremely unpopular.

But at the time, I could have got depressed or complained or isolated myself but what I decided to do was to get involved in student government. I was involved in elementary school but I really gravitated towards it in high school and so I emerced myself in student government activities. I could never get elected—but I always got appointed to plan Spirit Week or to plan the Homecoming Parade and Dance because the leadership knew I got stuff done. And that’s where I fell in love with the ability to serve others in a leadership capacity. Failure with grace.

The College Years As a Stormy Petrel & Bulldog

Fast forward,I am at Oglethorpe University. I work for 2 members of Congress, one on Capitol Hill in DC, work at the State Capitol for 2 years, run a State Senate campaign, work for the Democratic Party of GA and get into EVERY law school I apply for, including a full ride plus cash to one, all before the age of 22——life was good

And then came law school at UGA Law. Another opportunity to fail with grace. I wish I could tell you all that I was made to be a lawyer but it would be untrue. I ran for several positions in leadership—lost them all. I interviewed for law firm jobs—-didn’t get any. I tried to make friends—that didn’t seem to work either. So what did I do? The same thing that I did in high school. I turned to service. So with a new professor at UGA Law, I started the first ever business legal society focused on networking with transactional lawyers, not litigators. That society, ladies, still exists today at UGA Law and still thriving and I am proud to say I was the Founder. Failing… with grace.

The Perfect Storm

What happened 2 years after graduation is the story of a lifetime: In August of 2009, I came back from a cruise for my 26th birthday and none of the partners at my law firm were talking to each other. True story. And I knew that things were bad at the firm but didn’t know it was THIS bad. Long story short, the firm imploded and everyone was released by the end of the year. Bad timing too because I was just enrolling in my M.B.A. program at Kennesaw. It was in the middle of the Great Recession and, as a new lawyer with no job, I felt I had failed myself, my parents, my law school and Sallie Mae because I still had school loans to repay. So ladies—what I am about to tell you next is the ULTIMATE failing with grace story so listen carefully.

To Everything, There is a Season

Many of you can relate that since I had a law firm, I needed clients. In order to get clients, I needed to do business development and I wanted to have a business event in DeKalb where I lived. So I set up a meeting with a legislator I knew, Rep. Howard Mosby, for Wednesday around lunch time to discuss some ideas. Wednesday around lunch time, you hear me? Something came up and he cancelled. I thought “great. another delay.” I really wanted that Wednesday meeting but decided not to get upset but instead fail with grace. So, I pushed for him to immediately reschedule to that following day, Thursday for lunch.

So I get to the Capitol Thursday and we are walking down the Capitol steps to lunch and I will never forget what he turned around and said to me that literally changed my life. He said “What district do you live in?” I said” Rep. Randall Mangum, House District 94″. And he said “You are running for his seat. 2 hours before you got here, he decided to run for Governor and we need someone to run.” True story. Remember ladies, to everything there is a season.

Now, I was hardheaded, as some of us are when blessings are chasing us down. I said “no” several times. I called my friend Ted Terry, who is now the Mayor of Clarkston, to talk me out of it and he did the opposite and paid my qualification fees. My colleague in the House now Rep. Doreen Carter offered to take me down to qualify after I tried to get her to run in my place instead. On the way to qualify, I received a call from a friend of mine who was an intern on Capitol Hill in DC at the same time I was. He just so happened to work for then Commissioner Lee May who represented my district who said to me “I don’t know you. I’ve never met you. But Edmond says great things about you. If you’re ok with him, you’re ok with me. You have my support.” Ladies, failing with grace has served me well.

I went on to qualify 30 minutes before the deadline and at age 27 became the State Representative from then House District 94, beating out 5 other competitors.

So to conclude—-my secret to success is simple but a hard reality: Failure, because it teaches you to be creative and makes you stronger. Remember that pearls are made from friction and diamonds are made from pressure. But take it a step further and concentrate on failing wit

That’s why my consulting firm has several initiatives like:

That’s why my consulting firm has several initiatives like:

  1. The GA Path Program, which is an initiative to expose more minorities and women to careers in professional lobbying. We are still accepting applications for that program until Oct. 11th. I will talk more about this program later.
  2. We also have our Corporate Board Training program to train and mentor minorities and women to be on PAID, corporate boards. We are in talks with a large NGO in New York to partner with us to make that happen soon so stay tuned if interested.
  3. And last, a Wonder Women Confidence Conference that I am planning with some wonderful women for March of 2018…complete with capes…to focus on empowering and teaching women who are in male dominated industries.

So in conclusion, I pray each of you find your failure and then find your grace…. in service on boards, in your community or any other capacity you see fit.

Tips to Be a Part of Political Decision Making

So change of topic a bit. How to be a part of political decision making, another one of my favorite subjects.

This is less anecdotal and more of a teaching experience so take out pen and paper. Here we go….I have 6 “action items” for you to be a part of the political decision making process.

  1. Vote. This the very BASIC thing that each of us can do, the very LEAST that each one of us can do to participate in the political process. So vote often in every election and vote fully all the way down the ballot. Now you are a group of active women so I am sure that if I looked you up on Votebuilder, you all would be what we call “super voters”, those voters that vote often. Yes, you are more likely to get picked for jury duty but guess what—-that’s being a part of the decision making process as well. Who decides who gets locked up—juries, who are made up from voters. If you don’t like how the judge conducted the proceeding, you can vote them out.
  2. Lobby (paid or unpaid). As a private, unpaid citizen, you have a right to come down to the Capitol or anywhere in your local or federal government, and tell your elected official what you want as many times as you want. You can email them, call them, write them or, my favorite, tweet them and let your voice be heard. Now…what I want to spend some time to talk about is the PAID opportunities. Many forget that lobbying is an actual profession with the same opportunities and challenges as any other profession. Every major corporation has a lobbyist. Every large non-profit organization has a lobbyist. Every powerful group behind key pieces of legislation has a lobbyist. So while people think that lobbying is some nasty word filled with visions of back off deals and endless food, (1) that’s not true most times and (2) it’s how government works. Lobbyists, or Governmental Affairs professionals as we call them, serve a vital purpose in our policy making infrastructure—one that is necessary. Because let’s face it. Not all of us regular people can spend the time to influence politicians and provide information and so we pay someone, just like any other profession. That’s why I created a program called the GA Path Program. It’s the first of its kind in the state and its an initiative from my firm to encourage and expose more minorities and women to paid lobbying opportunities. My GA Path Program is having its first class in October. Applications are technically close but we have a few spaces open for the 7 month program with a absolute Oct. 17th deadline to apply. We have 37 professional mentors of various backgrounds ready to provide insight into this world and what is means to be a professional lobbyist. If you are interested, take a look at my website and apply if interested.
  3. Join like minded people. If you don’t want to quit your day job, find a few issues you are passionate about and I am almost 100% sure that there is an organization or a few organizations that support your issue. If you don’t know of an organization, google them or ask someone then get involved. You will be surprised the leadership roles and the activities that will support your particular issue. You can support with your time and talent. I am sure any organization would be thrilled to have you ladies.
  4. Give money. Now, I know this sounds bad because of what you hear and see in the media and the horror stories you may have heard but think about this. If you have a favorite candidate, whom you trust to do what’s right for you and your family, and they decide to run for office…how are they going to get elected? The dean of the House and a friend of mine, Rep. Calvin Smyre who has served for over 40 years in the State House, he says “It takes coal to run a train but it takes gold to run a campaign.” We may think that money is evil but even the Bible says the LOVE of money is the root of all evil. Focus on using money as a tool to accomplish your goal of electing good people. Don’t be afraid of it.
  5. Volunteer. If you find an organization or a public official that you like, volunteer for events and initiatives and programs. You would be surprised how much you learn just by showing up. I have a gentleman that was a former federal lobbyist who has been helping me on several initiatives. He shows up to special events I can’t attend, sits in on my behalf at meetings and events and through all that, found out about an executive role in government and policy that he is interested in that I am going to recommend him for. Volunteering is a great way to access opportunities. My first volunteer opportunity was working in then Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney’s district office as a 17 year old—which made my resume for other positions take off and here I am today.
  6. Run for office. I often joke that you have to be a little mentally unstable to run for office—at to some extent that’s true because it’s a rough existence. But if none of the other things I said work for you, running for office is always an option. Now, your timing has to be right—because timing is everything in politics (How we got Trump)—but is a viable option for some special and disturbed people. I put this as the last option because other people will always push women especially to run for office and let’s face it, we do a darn good job at it so I am not surprised. However, it is not for everyone. But if you do feel like running for office is in your future, do it! No hesitation please like I hesitated! You know, men have an amazing ability to get up, tie their shoes and all of a sudden believe they can run for President of the United States. Women can have several degrees, award winning results and we still, like in my case, have to be asked several times to run. Don’t let that be you if you know you want to run. Just do it!

So just to recap……ways to get involved are….(call them out)

Call to Action

You can receive a copy of this speech if you sign up for my enewsletter which goes out every Wednesday at 10 am. I also encourage you to follow me on social media—you will both be inspired and entertained.

Conclusion

So again thank you ladies—for taking the time to hear me today. I hope that you found some inspiration of how to “fail with grace” to move you towards your destiny and also that you will take up the “call to arms” to get involved in YOUR…YOUR political process. And remember—-who runs the world?!

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I am Chief Diversity Activist and Consultant of Kendrick Advisory & Advocacy Group, LLC . We curate and execute customized initiatives, programs and events for organizations to meet their specific diversity & inclusion objectives and provide results. Visit us online to request me as a speaker, set up a time to chat about your diversity goals or view upcoming events. Also, learn a little bit more about me.

I practiced private securities law for over a decade before this transition to more meaningful work. I was featured in the Huffington Post as 1 of 25 People Poised to Scale Atlanta’s Growing Technology Start Up Ecosystem for Black Americans and Beyond. 

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Economic Development, Policy, Uncategorized

The State of Minorities’ Access to Capital (2017): Call to Action!

You have heard how severally underrepresented minorities are in the pool of those that have received capital. But you have probably rarely ever seen the statistics behind that statement or the details of what that means.

Setting the Stage

Below is the text of a presentation I gave January of this year. This speech was given at Minority Access to Capital, Inc. (my non-profit’s) first meeting which was titled “The State of Minorities’ Access to Capital”. Some of the information below MAY shock you; unfortunately, others will not. But I believe that knowledge is power. So, it’s necessary to have a starting part of knowledge in order to be able to come up with deliverable metrics by which to measure minority progress in the area of capital access.

Minorities: How do we measure up?

The Minority Business Development Agency states in a 2012 survey that there are almost 8 million minority firms in the United States. They have combined gross receipts of $1.4 trillion, a 38% increase since 2007. However, only 11% of minority-owned firms have paid employees compared to 22% for non-minority firms. Other takeaways include:

  • According to an Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation report, businesses started by people of color perform differently than white-owned businesses as white-owned businesses had double the number of sales. One of the reasons includes industry difference, with black-owned businesses being overrepresented in less successful industries. But entrepreneurs of color also started their business with less capital than their white counterparts. Additionally, this Kauffman brief revealed that education was an impediment as well. Asian and white Americans were more likely to have college degrees—50% and 29% respectively–and therefore more likely to have sales, than their black and Latino counterparts (18% and 13% respectively).
  • More than 2/3 of entrepreneurs use personal savings as a source of funding and more than 1 in 5 rely on family for funding.
  • Research also suggests that approximately 15% of the difference in startup rates among black and white Americans can be explained by differences in assets.
  • According to the Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs, about 82% of firms that started with at least $100,000 in capital were white-owned, 13% Asian-owned, 4% Hispanic-owned, and 1% are black-owned.

Women: How do we measure up?

As of 2016, it is estimated there are over 11.3 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. generating over $1.6 trillion in revenues. (The sources for the information below: From American Express OPEN: The State of Women-Owned Businesses Report (2016) and National Women’s Business Council Report (2012))

  • The growth in the number of women-owned firms surged in the aftermath of the recession. (Growth was 9.2% for non women-owned firms and 45.2% for women-owned firms)
  • Among women of color, Latinas lead the way in the growth of number of firms, Asian-American women lead in employment and revenue growth. African American women-owned firms constitute a 61% majority of African American owned firms.
  • In a 2012 report, the National Women’s Business Council found that on average, men start their businesses with nearly twice as much capital as women ($135,000 vs. $75,000). This disparity is slightly larger among firms with high-growth potential ($320,000 vs. $150,000), and much larger in the Top 25 firms ($1.3 million vs. $210,000).
  •  The same report found that high-growth potential firms started with about twice as much capital as other firms, and were more likely to rely on outside financing, both debt and equity. However, controlling for other variables including growth potential, men still used significantly higher levels of capital than women from 2005 to 2007.
  •  The biggest difference in amount of capital between men and women was with regard to outside equity, even controlling for other factors. Women received only 2% of total funding from outside equity, compared to 18% for men. This gap also occurred in both the high-growth potential firms and the Top 25 firms. As growth potential increases, so does the dollar amount of external equity used—this is true for both men and women, although the rates of increase differ.
  • Regarding demand for credit (i.e. outside debt), women were more likely to be discouraged from applying for loans due to fear of denial, particularly during the financial crisis of 2008–2010. This fear was somewhat justified: in 2008, women-owned firms were much more likely to have their loan applications denied than their men-owned counterparts.

What am I doing about this?

For anyone that knows me, you know I am a DOER instead of a complainer. So this is why Kendrick Advisory & Advocacy Group, LLC was started—to provide a unique experience for minorities to engage with one another and others in accessing capital. You can join the cause too! You can sign up for our enewsletter, follow us on social media, volunteer or DONATE to the cause. It takes all of us doing our part to make this happen.

Here are some IMMEDIATE opportunities to get involved below:

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My name is Dar’shun Kendrick and I am a business attorney and owner of Kendrick Law Practice, helping businesses raise capital the LEGAL way. I have 2 B.A.s from Oglethorpe University, a law degree from the University of Georgia and an M.B.A. from Kennesaw State University. Additionally, I have been elected to the Georgia House of Representatives (East DeKalb/South Gwinnett counties) since 2011 and I serve on the committees of Juvenile Justice, Interstate Cooperation, Judiciary Non-Civil and as the ranking Democrat on the Small Business and Job Creation Committee. I am also a board member of the Technology Association of Georgia’s corporate development board, a writer for Black Enterprise magazine and featured in the Huffington Post as one of 25 people in Atlanta to improve diversity in the ecosystem for African Americans in technology.

I am also the founder and Board Chair of a non-profit organization to EDUCATE and EMPOWER minorities called Minority Access to Capital, Inc. Furthermore, I am an Economic Justice Advocate and Owner of Kendrick Advisory and Advocacy Group L.L.C. providing consulting and advocacy services on policy and initiatives across the nation for those that want to reach minorities. More information can be found online at www.DarshunKendrick.com about my platform.

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Policy

HIV/AIDS in Georgia: Startling facts & call to action!

AIDs Day.jpg

*Friday at 10:30 am I will be moderating a panel on “HIV and Black Women” so please join me under the Gold Dome for an insightful discussion on this important issue.

By now you know that World Aids Day was Tuesday, December 1st. One of the sayings on the World Aids Day organization’s website is “Kisses and Hugs Don’t Spread HIV. Ignorance Does.” Isn’t that the truth? The statistics and survival rates of HIV/AIDS patients has evolved since the 80s but more must be done by way of education to young adults and the population in Georgia specifically.

So here are a few facts you may not have known about HIV and AIDS specifically as it relates to Georgia.

  • Infection rates are high in Georgia and metro Atlanta, with metro-Atlanta ranked 5th in the country for new cases of HIV/Aids
  • Of the 19 public health districts in Georgia, 9 had an HIV/AIDS case rate above the national average.
  • Men who have had sex with men still represent the largest group of people living with HIV in metro Atlanta at 55%.
  • 16% of HIV/AIDS cases result from injection drug use, and the proportion of AIDS in women has grown from 4% to 19% since 1987.
  • While African Americans make up only 29% of Georgia’s population, they represent 77% of all new HIV/AIDS cases and 63% of all existing HIV/AIDS cases in Atlanta were among this group.
  •  Only 43.6% of Georgia residents diagnosed with HIV in 2011 were retained in HIV care, giving it the seventh worst ranking for retention in HIV medical care when ranked among the 19 jurisdictions (18 states plus District of Columbia) that have data for comparison.
  • Among HIV-positive Georgia residents who received HIV care at least once in 2010, only 54.9% had achieved viral suppression. Also, Georgia had the second worst statistic for viral suppression when ranked among 19 jurisdictions that have data for comparison.
  • According to Grady Hospital, by the time patients are diagnosed in Atlanta, almost one third have advanced to clinical AIDS, which greatly decreases the chances of survival from the virus.
  • African American women account for 87% of all women with HIV/AIDS in Atlanta.
  • 50% of new HIV/AIDS infections in Georgia are occurring in young adults age 16-24 years old.
  • According to Grady Hospital, by the time patients are diagnosed in Atlanta, almost one third have advanced to clinical AIDS, which greatly decreases the chances of survival from the virus.
  • Only 43.6% of Georgia residents diagnosed with HIV in 2011 were retained in HIV care, giving it the seventh worst ranking for retention in HIV medical care when ranked among the 19 jurisdictions (18 states plus District of Columbia) that have data for comparison.
  • Among HIV-positive Georgia residents who received HIV care at least once in 2010, only 54.9% had achieved viral suppression. Also, Georgia had the second worst statistic for viral suppression when ranked among 19 jurisdictions that have data for comparison.
  • According to Emory University, black gay men in Atlanta have a 60% chance of contracting HIV before their 30th birthday (Emory University)

Source: Community Foundation for the Greater Atlanta and the Georgia Department of Public Health (last accessed December 8, 2015)

Learn these facts and more about how policy makers will address this issue starting tomorrow under the Gold Dome. Join me and others to tackle this tough issue.

Discussion Question: What can state policy makers do, individually or collectively, to raise more awareness about this epidemic in Georgia?

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2015 At Desk

I have been elected to the House of Representatives since 2011, representing over 54,000 Georgians in East DeKalb and South Gwinnett counties. I currently serve on the Juvenile Justice, Interstate Cooperation, Judiciary Non-Civil, and as the ranking Democrat on the Small Business Development and Job Creation committee. I am a private securities lawyer by profession and a native of Atlanta, GA. Please visit my website , YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and slideshare account for more information on Georgia government.

 

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