What sets Monique Honaman apart is her ability to see the big picture and think creatively, while also being able to put together a plan for execution. She has a passion for creating positive energy, driving momentum, and building community. She is the founding partner of three companies.
Founded in 1999, ISHR Group provides leadership assessment, development and coaching services to Fortune 1000 corporations and private equity firms globally. The firm has been featured in HR Executive, the New York Times, and the Atlanta Business Chronicle. It was recognized as a “Top Small Business” in the Southeast” by Business Leader, and as “One to Watch” in the B2B Top 25 Entrepreneurs Awards. Monique is the co-author of, “GUIDE Coaching: A Leader’s Strategy for Building Alignment and Engagement.” ISHR Group is a certified Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) through WBENC (Women’s Business Enterprise National Council) and the Greater Women’s Business Council (GWBC).
Founded in 2010, High Road Less Traffic is Monique’s platform for writing and speaking as it relates to marriage, divorce, parenting, and co-parenting. She published, “The High Road Has Less Traffic” (2010), and “The High Road Has Less Traffic … and a better view” (2013). Monique is a frequent speaker (including NBC’s The Today Show and Fox News’ The Willis Report) and a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and eHarmony. She most recently co-authored a children’s book about the positive role of a step-parent, “BONUS Dad! BONUS Mom!™”
Founded in 2016, Contender Brands is a concept-to-consumer product development company whose mission is to develop and cultivate ideas that bring simplicity, joy and laughter to others. There are two distinct product lines. Ringo™ / RingoRefills is a portable (TSA friendly) ring cleaning system designed for the busy working and traveling woman. It was named an Amazon’s Choice in 2018 and was named by Forbes as an “ingenious gift for travelers” in December 2018 . GTKY (get-to-know-you) Games are a series of six conversation-starter card games designed to “teach the art of conversational curiosity.” The six games, Whine Barrel, Brew-aHa, Cocktail Farty, KegO’Cards, Kiss’N’Cards, and KIC-Start (kids in conversation) have received numerous awards (including the National Parenting Product Award). The games are launching in a major US-based big box retail store and in a casino system in 3Q19. Contender Brands was named to the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s inaugural Inno 50 on Fire to celebrate “Atlanta start-ups that are crushing it.”
Monique started her career with General Motors, and later joined General Electric’s Human Resource Management Program where she earned her certification as a Six Sigma Black Belt. Monique received her BA from the University of Michigan, a Master of Labor Relations from Michigan State University, and a Juris Doctorate from Albany Law School.
Monique is passionate about her philanthropic work, and presently serves on the Board of Directors Executive Committee for the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta. She is a member (and former Chapter Chair) of the Women President’s Organization (WPO), and a current member of the Atlanta Women’s Foundation Inspire class. She is a graduate of Leadership Georgia and Leadership Atlanta where she continues to play an active role as a volunteer (Co-chair, Leadership Day 2017; Co-chair, Closing Retreat 2019). She serves weekly in Guest Services at Buckhead Church. Monique was recognized as one of “40 Under 40” by the Atlanta Business Chronicle, received the POW! Award by Womenetics, and received the Star Award by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).
Monique lives in Atlanta with her husband, Justin, their two teens, and their three rescue dogs. In her spare time, Monique enjoys photography, hiking, SCBUA diving, and traveling.
Deborah Mackins has over 20 experience in various roles in Supply Chain Management. She joined Georgia Power’s Supplier Diversity team in 2011. In this role she manages Southern Company’s Transmission Business Unit’s Supplier Diversity initiatives.
Deborah is on the Board of Directors for the Greater Women’s Business Council. She has been a mentor in GWBC’s mentor protegee program, participated on several committees and was the recipient of their “2015 Corporate Advocate of the Year” award.
Deborah is a native of Michigan. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Ferris State University. Deborah received her Master of Business Administration in International Business from Baker College and is a Six Sigma Green Belt.
Connect with Deborah on LinkedIn.
Intro: [00:00:03] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, it’s time for Atlanta Business Radio, spotlighting the city’s best businesses and the people who lead them.
Stone Payton: [00:00:17] Welcome to this very special edition of Atlanta Business Radio. Stone Payton and Lee Kantor here with you this morning. Lee, this is our first, our inaugural episode of GWBC Radio. The Greater Women’s Business Council has gratefully decided to partner up with us to support and celebrate some of these fine entrepreneurs and business people out in the community. I have so been looking forward to this. First up on the episode, let’s get started and introduce, please join me in welcoming to the broadcast with Greater Women’s Business Council, Ms. Roz Lewis. How are you?
Roz Lewis: [00:00:54] Good morning. Good morning, Lee and Stone. I’m so excited to be here this morning with you all on this inaugural show. So, thank you so much. This is going to be great, having a conversation about how to grow your business. So, I’m very excited to be here. Hopefully, I can just talk a little bit about-
Lee Kantor: [00:01:18] Sure, yeah.
Roz Lewis: [00:01:18] … who the Greater Women Business Council is.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:20] Right. Before we get too far into things, let’s talk a little bit about the mission and the purpose for Greater Women’s Business Council. Tell us what you guys are doing every day.
Roz Lewis: [00:01:29] Well, the Greater Women’s Business Council is a regional partner organization of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. Now, that’s a mouthful. So, we’re going to say GWBC and WBENC, W-B-E-N-C. And what we do is we certify women businesses from major corporations, such as one of our guests that’s here today and, also, for the government. And the purpose of that is to provide procurement opportunities for those corporations spend goals. So, they have diversity spend goes to do business with small minority and women-owned businesses. And our organization, what we do is vet them to make sure they are who they say they are.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:15] And also, you’re the bridge to help connect them with these organizations, to help them do business with these larger enterprises that maybe they would have a difficult time kind of working with if they were out there just knocking on the door themselves.
Roz Lewis: [00:02:27] Exactly. We, actually, provide networking opportunities for them and some education development as well for our women businesses that are certified with us. As a matter of fact, I’ll talk about a little bit later in the show of an event, a major event that we have coming up in August that, hopefully, the listening audience will attend. And that focus is on connecting our women businesses with major corporations.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:54] Now, how did you get involved with the organization?
Roz Lewis: [00:02:56] Well, I’ve been involved with the Greater Women’s Business Council since its inception. Delta Airlines and UPS were the founders of this organization. And this started back in 2000. So, we’re actually coming up on 20 years-
Lee Kantor: [00:03:12] Wow.
Roz Lewis: [00:03:12] Right, of certifying women businesses. And today, we have over a thousand women businesses in our region. We cover the States of Georgia, North and South Carolina. And we are supported by a host of committees as well as a dynamic board of directors.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:31] Now, this was an example where the enterprise level organization said, “You know what, we want to be doing more business with women, and minorities, and these underserved groups.” And they said, “Let’s figure out a way that we can do that.” So, they invested resources, time, and people into this in order to create this kind of a network where you become that kind of matchmaker for this.
Roz Lewis: [00:03:52] Exactly. And you’re absolutely right. And one thing I always tell women business is, if you want to grow up, you need to show up. So, it’s so important.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:02] That’s it.
Roz Lewis: [00:04:02] Yes, that they show up to these events because those corporations who have representatives are taking the time out because they do want to meet you. They want to build a relationship with you because they do have procurement opportunities that you may be the perfect fit for them as a supplier.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:22] Now, having come from the large company kind of background to, now, working with a lot of the smaller companies, you have any good stories to tell of rewarding opportunities where you helped maybe a small organization grow, and once they got in there, and showed how good they are?
Roz Lewis: [00:04:38] There numerous success stories that have taken place with our women businesses. I think part of our mission, though, is to be the connector. We bring you to the dance, but you got to-
Lee Kantor: [00:04:52] You got to show up and do the work.
Roz Lewis: [00:04:53] You’ve got to show up and do the work, right. And so, you come with your skill sets, you come with your competitive edge as to why that company should select you. But there are times too where I would say success stories have occurred, where corporations have reached out to us to identify women businesses to participate, and they were successful in securing that contract. And that’s what’s exciting more importantly. We hear information back. One most recently, I would tell you, believed it or not, was the Super Bowl that was just here in Atlanta. And several of our women businesses received contracts as a result of being engaged with our organization.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:40] And then, that would be kind of a platform. They would have a difficult time just calling up the Super Bowl and say, “Hey, I could do that kind of work,” right. That would be tough for them to pull off.
Roz Lewis: [00:05:48] Exactly, because literally their selection process was they literally came to the organizations in order to identify certified women businesses because, again, they wanted to make sure that they were who they say they were, and that they were a part, that we had validated and vetted these companies as women-owned businesses, as they also reached out to the other diverse organizations as well that participated. But we’re very excited about the number of women businesses that received contracts as a result of the Super Bowl. And it has extended beyond this one. Some of them, success story, has extended that’s now working on the next Super Bowl.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:31] Right, because once they’re in, then they show they did a good job, so why don’t they trust them again?
Roz Lewis: [00:06:37] Exactly.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:38] Now, part of the purpose of this show and the mission of this show is to kind of share these stories, right, to show from both sides of the table, from maybe the entrepreneurial women that have the smaller businesses with the corporate large enterprise businesses and show how they work together.
Roz Lewis: [00:06:53] Exactly, and give visibility. The one thing that I commend you and Lee — Lee, you and Stone on is the fact that you’ve built this platform to show positive news about what’s happening in the entrepreneurial world, what’s happening with small businesses, what’s happening with medium-sized businesses where the media really doesn’t give that type of notoriety of visibility. And I think our communities need to hear what our businesses are doing and what positive impact they are making in their communities.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:31] Right. And this is the stuff that’s happening every day. These small businesses are grinding, and trying, and working as hard as they can every day. And it’s disheartening to hear kind of an overarching theme in traditional media of all this negativity and that big companies are greedy and exploiting; when in reality, they’re very generous, and they are helping, and people are trying to just make it work. I mean, that’s what most people are doing every day is just trying to make things good and work.
Roz Lewis: [00:07:55] Exactly. And think about the fact, the impact they’re having from an economic standpoint. They’re hiring people.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:02] But both sides.
Roz Lewis: [00:08:03] When you look at the numbers — right, on both sides. You’re taking those who have the entrepreneurial spirit and ideas. And then, they’re coupling that with, also, what I call giving back, right, engaging, making sure that they are creating a sustainable environment because that’s one thing we need to give credit to our small businesses is the sustainability that they’re creating. And, also, more important, creating a consumer base, helping corporations to bring their products and services to market. All of that is so key and valuable. And, I think, more stories need to be shared on a national basis as we’re global. And on the major networks about how the good work the small businesses are doing. You’re right.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:53] And it’s a symbiotic relationship. These large companies aren’t doing a favor to the small company because the large company, this is where they learn these new things, and they get to work with the different group of people that maybe wouldn’t be on their radar. And the small people get to benefit by the generosity and the opportunity that these large organizations provide. So, it’s very symbiotic. This isn’t like a large company doing a favor or giving charity to a small company. They both win in this.
Roz Lewis: [00:09:21] Oh, absolutely. And think about through the procurement process, small businesses, please remember the fact that they still have to meet the criteria.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:30] Right, they got to be able to do it.
Roz Lewis: [00:09:32] They’ve got to be able to do it because, once again, their corporate’s reputation is online. Those corporations are obligated to their stakeholders, which, in turn, is kind of a reciprocity that takes place, right?
Lee Kantor: [00:09:46] Right.
Roz Lewis: [00:09:46] Because the small businesses are also consumers of the products that they are delivering or selling. However, they still have to meet all the checklists on that decision matrix when they are presenting with those buyers or strategic sourcing managers.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:04] And then, this is — kudos to GWBC for being this kind of matchmaker, this bridge between the two groups because you’re doing a service to the large organizations by vetting the smaller ones, and you’re coaching up and helping the small ones have an opportunity to grow from the larger one. So, you’re a linchpin in this relationship. You should be commended for that.
Roz Lewis: [00:10:25] Well, thank you. And you know what? This is something that we feel is our mission to empower our businesses. And our businesses, believe it or not, range from startup, I believe, up to one billion dollars. So, we have some very large women-owned businesses as well who have major contracts with major corporations.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:48] Well, let’s get into it. Who’d you bring in today?
Roz Lewis: [00:10:50] Wow. I’m so excited that our first guests on our show is Deb Mackins. And she is the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Greater Women’s Business Council. But her day job is that she works for the Southern Company. And she’s in the supplier diversity arena with the Southern Company. And we also have Monique Honaman of ISHR Group and Contender Brands. So, you notice, I’m naming two different companies. So, she’s a busy lady. And I didn’t include the books that she has written as well. So, very excited to have both of them as our guests this morning.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:29] All right. So, let’s kick it off with Deb. Welcome, Deb.
Deb Mackins: [00:11:33] Good morning.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:34] So, now, Roz mentioned that you’re the chair with the GWBC, but you have a day job at the Southern Company. How did you get involved with the GWBC?
Deb Mackins: [00:11:46] Actually, I’ve been involved with GWBC, I believe, since 2007. It was, actually, with a prior company. And I’ve always had a passion for small business being an advocate. I’ve always been in the procurement role. And I felt that being in that role, I could be the person to bridge my company to diverse businesses, provide information, provide resources, help them understand the cultures and the subcultures, provide opportunities for development. So, I’ve been involved with GWBC and small business for a very long time.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:37] And do you enjoy the part where you’re kind of — you have to coach them up sometimes, right, because the small business things like, “Oh, I’m just going to call them up, and they’re going to love me and my work, and I can jump right in,” but a lot of times they got to change the way they’re doing things in order to serve you properly, right?
Deb Mackins: [00:12:51] Absolutely. And that’s the really cool thing about the supplier diversity role, being a advocate, being a bridge, helping companies to understand, you have to really have a value proposition as to why we should work with you, providing materials and services, because you have a lot of competitors. And not only are your competitors in Georgia, the Southeast, United States. It’s global really. So, what’s your value proposition? As a matter of fact, when I first met Roz Lewis in 2007, that’s the first thing she said to me, “Companies, corporates, you have to understand what’s the value proposition, so that as you move forward in your career, make sure you always have a solid value proposition for whatever you do.” And I think that’s great advice.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:49] Now, when you’re working with these companies, how important is that kind of the mentor/mentee role, and these kind of sharing the information, and giving them kind of insider information to help them be more successful? Do you spend a lot of time in that?
Deb Mackins: [00:14:04] Absolutely. And with Southern Company, we actually have a very robust development program. I believe we have five different programs. We also provide scholarships to Tuck. And we partner the experts, the subject matter experts within Southern Company and the business community with entrepreneurs. And, again, I’m going to go back to understanding cultures, subcultures, value proposition. What type of innovation can you bring to Southern Company or any company? What sets you apart from your competitor? Why should we do business with you?
Deb Mackins: [00:14:51] So, it’s just helping them to really avoid some landmines, I would say, because within Southern Company, supplier diversity, we work so closely with our business units. What’s important to my business unit may not necessarily be important to someone else. And because Southern Company has a footprint now across the United States, and we serve 9 million customers throughout the United States, it’s very important to build those relationships within the company. And who better than your mentor to help you to navigate to be successful?
Deb Mackins: [00:15:30] One of the things that we always say at Southern Company, it may take a while for us to court because we want to get to know you, and you want to get to know us, but once we court, and it’s successful, we’ll probably have a very long marriage and a very successful marriage. So, that’s the role of supplier diversity to help you to get there. It’s not always about a contract. Sometimes, it’s just about the development. We can provide resources and tools to help you to be a successful business owner. So, you may do business with us or you may never be working in the capacity of having a master service agreement or contract with Southern Company. But through our development programs, you’ll be a better business owner.
Roz Lewis: [00:16:26] So, Deb, talk a little bit about the fact that as chair of the board of a certifying organization, how important is certification for these suppliers?
Deb Mackins: [00:16:38] Certification is so important. Really, whether you’re a minority business or woman owned business, it helps corporates to understand that you are who you say you are. So, it gives more credibility. You’re the person that you’re the owner, but you’re also in control. That’s one thing.
Deb Mackins: [00:16:59] The other thing is Southern Company, many other companies were prime contractors to the federal government. And we have internal supplier diversity goals. So, we want to make sure that you are who you say that you are, so that when we report to the federal government, you are properly classified. So, certification is very important.
Deb Mackins: [00:17:26] The other aspect of certification, certification doesn’t guarantee a contract, but it could prevent you from getting a contract, if that makes sense. So, I actually I talked to WBE. She had a different reason for actually getting her certification. Through her industry, she was a member of an organization that required certification. So, for her to even be a member of an organization in her industry, she had to go through it. So, there are so many pluses.
Deb Mackins: [00:18:09] And when you think about what the value is, the ROI, it’s a very small financial investment in yourself and in your company, but it can do some really great things for you. And finally, I’d also say with certification, get involved. I think you talked about, say, engagement. So-
Roz Lewis: [00:18:32] Yes yes.
Deb Mackins: [00:18:33] Get involved. Come out to GWBC events. We have four signature events. We have some events coming up in end of August, I believe. It’s the pop marketplace and the WAVE Golf Tournament. So, come out and get engaged with corporates, other WBE’s. That’s what certification can do. It can really change your company in big ways.
Lee Kantor: [00:19:01] Now, how does it work? Like walk me through. I’m a woman business, and I’m out in the marketplace. So, the first thing I do is I join, and get certified, and blessed by GWBC? Like, what’s the order of things? How does it work?
Roz Lewis: [00:19:14] Well, the certification process is actually arduous. There’s a lot of paperwork. We’re asking-
Lee Kantor: [00:19:20] This isn’t like a five-minute survey?
Roz Lewis: [00:19:22] No. It’s actually a 60 to 90-day process.
Lee Kantor: [00:19:27] Okay.
Stone Payton: [00:19:27] Wow.
Roz Lewis: [00:19:27] And this is under WBENC. WBENC has a world class-certification process. And what it includes is asking for information like your tax returns. We’re asking for the history of your business, how your business is structured. Are your LLC, which you should have an operating agreement? If not, if you’re a major corporation, then what does your bylaws look like? We’re evaluating all of this information because that information is going to legally say that that woman, in fact, owns that business. She’s in charge.
Roz Lewis: [00:20:04] And yes, you can have males within your business, even as partners within your business, but they can’t have the majority. You need to be, at least, 51% owned, operated and controlled. And we do 100% site visits. Regardless of whether or not we’re going to certify you, we still have to go out and visit you, which is another two to three hour-process of asking you questions about the business and your ownership. Once you receive that certificate, you recertify every year. Now, it’s not as hard or requiring as much-
Lee Kantor: [00:20:40] Because now, you’re just updating.
Roz Lewis: [00:20:43] Right.
Lee Kantor: [00:20:43] You’re not creating.
Roz Lewis: [00:20:43] All you’re doing, right, is just updating information. But I’ll tell you, people say, “Why do you do it every year?” Because business change. Things change. As you grow, as you’re scaling your business, you may need to bring on additional investors. First and foremost, we want you to be successful as a business. First and foremost, as a women-owned business, we want to make sure you still control and operate that business. So, that’s the reason for the recertification every year.
Roz Lewis: [00:21:13] Now, we don’t do a site visit every year, but it’s amazing, this group of women businesses, they also self-monitor each other because you can challenge a business. I will tell you, in my previous experience, none of my challenges have been overturned. They have been submitted to me because people just didn’t know the details of what was going on a business because, unfortunately, the perception, especially in construction, for example, why isn’t a woman business out there? If she owns it, well, no, she doesn’t need to be out there with a jackhammer. She doesn’t need to be out there slinging concrete or anything. No, she’s busily working on a strategy of their business and hiring the best people to be able to do that for her.
Lee Kantor: [00:22:02] So, now, they’re certified, and then how does Deb — like, now, Deb, once they’re certified, then they get on your radar, like if you need a certain service. Like, how do they even become aware of you? And like how do you become aware of them once they’re certified?
Deb Mackins: [00:22:18] Several ways. Actually, WBENC has a database that some corporate member, like Southern Company, can go into looking for specific services or materials. And you can complete a search. So, you can find WBEs from that. It could be through engagement, such as the pop marketplace.
Lee Kantor: [00:22:43] Or those networking events that you described, right?
Deb Mackins: [00:22:45] That’s correct. It could be a committee. I’ve worked on several committees with GWBC and met numerous companies that you started that relationship, you work side by side, you like each other, you trust each other. “Hey, perhaps we can do business together.”
Lee Kantor: [00:23:04] And that accelerates, right? That’s not just hoping you pick them out of the database. This is building a personal relationship.
Deb Mackins: [00:23:12] Absolutely. And the thing is we know you’re certified, but the other thing, at Southern Company, we still have to vet you. We have certain criteria that we look for. So, it’s great when you’re certified, we vet you, you have the products and services we need, you have a solid business. Those are just a few ways that we meet companies. And it could be by referral, but whether it’s GWNC, WBENC, those are wonderful avenues for meeting new companies.
Lee Kantor: [00:23:51] Now, what are some of the challenges you’ve seen that women businesses have had to overcome over the years?
Deb Mackins: [00:23:58] One of the challenges, and it may not be specific to women, it could be women, minority, small business, any company, many procurement organizations, they’re consolidating their supply base. So, when you take a a number of contractors or suppliers, and you have to look at the best of the best, again, what’s your value proposition? How do you stay competitive? How do you stay competitive with corporate initiatives that are consolidating supply bases?
Deb Mackins: [00:24:37] Sometimes, there are other opportunities that, I think, small business, women businesses, should be mindful of. There could be tier two opportunities. I tell companies, many times, green is green. So, whether you’re a prime contractor to Southern Company or a subcontractor, that’s a great thing. So, that, how can you remain a prime contractor to Southern Company or any other corporate? Is that value proposition?
Deb Mackins: [00:25:13] I met a company several years ago that had materials that they could provide to Southern Company, but we had some master service agreements that, why should we do business with you? That the thing that I kept saying I kept saying to that company. As we talked, I found out they had some innovation that we had not thought of. They actually answered some — they had some innovation that answered some problems that we didn’t know that we had. So, that’s how you stay competitive. Innovation, being a source to answer problems that corporates don’t even realize they have. Those are the types of things that companies should think of.
Lee Kantor: [00:26:05] And then, like you said, you don’t always have to aim to be the prime. You can work with the prime, and be a vendor for them. And like you said, green is green. You still win.
Deb Mackins: [00:26:15] Absolutely, absolutely. I would like to share, though, with our industry, it’s, historically, been male-dominated. However, we have a lot of very large WBEs that have grown with us over the years. They’ve built, they’ve scaled up, they’ve started it with one operating company. And now, they’re were several. So, I don’t think that women should be intimidated when going after contracts or subcontracts in areas that are, usually, historically, male-dominated.
Deb Mackins: [00:26:55] If you have great materials, products, services, you bring innovation, perhaps there’s some cost savings, there’s just just so many different things, don’t be intimidated to go for a contract or subcontract in a male-dominated area. Know your truth. Know who you are, bring the quality, the service, the competitive pricing, and you will win those contracts and be successful.
Lee Kantor: [00:27:26] And is that a lesson, also, for some of these business owners is you don’t always have to be the lowest price, right? That’s kind of a trap that people think that they’ve got to immediately lower the price. And you’re just looking for someone that’s reliable, good, great at what they do, good service. Those are important as well.
Deb Mackins: [00:27:43] Yes. And in the procurement world, we call that best value. So, absolutely.
Roz Lewis: [00:27:48] And I think that as is one of the things that is also key in communicating the fact that you really need to pay attention to what’s important in that request for proposal. What are the high percentage that they’re focused on? And you’re right, it’s not always costs because low cost does not necessarily mean best quality. And so, you want to make sure that you’re providing that.
Roz Lewis: [00:28:16] And the other thing I would say is to answer any of the request for proposals that you get, even if the answers no, that you cannot participate right now. By all means, do that because one of things you want to remain is top of mind with these corporations. You want to stay on their radar, You want to be the one, not that they necessarily have to go to a database all the time, but they know you because the experience that they’ve had of engaging with you.
Lee Kantor: [00:28:43] Now, are you seeing that more and more women kind of rise up in this? Like more? Are you seeing more women business owners since you began GWBC? Are you seeing more women kind of go to higher levels of an enterprise?
Roz Lewis: [00:28:57] Well, good question because if you think about just the number of women businesses in this country, we’re almost at 12 million women businesses in this country who are generating revenues of $1.7 trillion.
Lee Kantor: [00:29:14] That starts becoming real money, right?
Roz Lewis: [00:29:16] Yeah, that’s real money. You think about that, that’s the the GDP of some countries. So, they’re generating a lot of money. And so, one of the fastest growing segments, they grew 58% since 2007 compared to overall businesses that only grew 12%. So, when you look at the impact that women businesses have, it’s phenomenal, and it’s great. What has to happen is more of a voice. There has to be more information and communication about the success that women businesses are generating.
Roz Lewis: [00:29:55] The example I love to use is the fact that just in our region alone, our women businesses are generating over 51,000 jobs, just in the State of Georgia, North and South Carolina. And that’s just with the thousand certified women businesses that we have, because, really, it’s over about 600,000 women businesses just in this region because this region has been one of the fastest growing regions for women businesses.
Roz Lewis: [00:30:24] So, that in itself should, you would think, elevate, have more visibility. But for some reason, it has not. And so, that’s another reason why we’re so excited to partner with you all on this show is because to give that visibility to the number of successful women businesses that are in our region, but also in the country to think about it, and the corporate partners who get it and understand the value of doing business.
Lee Kantor: [00:30:54] Right. And it seemed like a no-brainer, and that here’s somebody or an organization that’s trying to help me grow. Once I get involved, like Deb was saying, and not just put my name and then pay my dues but, actually, get involved, and show up, and participate, all of the sudden, these doors are opening that I would never have had access to if I was on my own. I’d be scratching and clawing my way up when I can just go to these meetings, and meet these people, build the relationship. And over time, if I continue to do good work, some of that’s going to come my way.
Roz Lewis: [00:31:27] Right. So, there are Cinderella stories, what we call Cinderella contracts. You meet someone, and within a few weeks or whatever, the timing is just right, that you may be awarded the contract. Or, to your point, it’s build in that relationship. And it could take two years. It could take three years.
Lee Kantor: [00:31:43] Right, but that’s business. I mean, that’s what people do every day is you’re out there grinding every day waiting for your opportunity, but you have to do good work, you have to show up. And it’s great that there’s an organization like this that helps kind of accelerate my growth.
Roz Lewis: [00:31:57] And the thing of it is I want you to know, we also partner. The Greater Women’s Business Council, we partner with the Small Business Administration as well in our region. And they have tools and resources. I can’t say enough to say and their F-R-E-E, free resources to help you grow and scale your business and build, at least, that foundation that you need to make sure you structure as you should be structured. And small business development centers, they’re usually headquartered at universities. So, there’s no reason that anyone who’s looking at starting a business or who is currently in business not reaching out and tapping into those resources because they’re very valuable for you in helping you grow your business.
Lee Kantor: [00:32:48] And that’s, I think, a flaw, I think, in a lot of small businesses, especially as they’re afraid to ask for help, right. They think that, “Look, I’m the CEO, I have to know everything. People are looking at me to know everything.” And there’s so many generous organizations and people out there that are want to help and want you to succeed if you’ve just ask. They don’t even know.
Roz Lewis: [00:33:08] Well, there’s a saying that sticks with me by J. Paul Getty. You’re on a train going 60 miles an hour, are you standing on the sidelines watching a train go by at 60 miles an hour? So, which one do you want to be? Right? So you need to get on that train of assistance that’s out there for you. Even at Georgia Tech, there’s P. Tech, the Procurement Technical Assistance Center. Another opportunity of resources that are available for people to want to, if they’re serious as far as growing their business and becoming an entrepreneur.
Roz Lewis: [00:33:47] And that’s in all walks of life. Regardless of what the industry you’re in, regardless of the product or service that you’re selling, if you want to be successful and future thing how you’re going to become another Home Depot, think about how they started out. Just think about how most corporations started out as small businesses.
Lee Kantor: [00:34:10] Right, exactly.
Roz Lewis: [00:34:10] Right? And they scale.
Lee Kantor: [00:34:11] You don’t start at the top.
Roz Lewis: [00:34:11] Right.
Lee Kantor: [00:34:13] And if you just want your business to be a lifestyle business for you and your family, if that’s the work/life balance you want, go for that. I mean, it’s your choice in this. That’s the beauty of this.
Roz Lewis: [00:34:24] Lee, do you know, there are over a million mompreneurs out there?
Lee Kantor: [00:34:28] A million?
Roz Lewis: [00:34:28] A million mom producers. And these are women who, to your point, lifestyle, business, working from home because they’re taking care of their families and raising their families. So, yes, there is enough room, as we say-
Lee Kantor: [00:34:45] For everybody.
Roz Lewis: [00:34:45] … in the sandbox for everybody.
Lee Kantor: [00:34:46] So, now, Deb, I want to ask you about this kind of category of supplier diversity. Is this a new thing? Has this been always been the thing like where organizations are creating those kind of departments?
Deb Mackins: [00:35:01] Well, I’m going to speak on behalf of Southern Company and Georgia Power specifically. We just celebrated last year our fortieth anniversary for supplier diversity, which within our industry, the electrical utilities, Georgia Power was the first electrical utility to have a supplier diversity program. So, that’s pretty cool.
Deb Mackins: [00:35:25] Supplier diversity is not new. There are many companies in the South that have supplier diversity organizations, as well as across the country. And I think that for any entrepreneur, if you have any interests to find out what companies or a specific company that you’re targeting to do business with, start by going to their website to see if there’s some information about supplier diversity in some of their efforts with small business.
Deb Mackins: [00:36:01] It’s very interesting, there are several women business owners or enterprises that I engage with on a regular basis. They have supplier diversity programs as well. So, diverse suppliers are actually embracing that initiative. It’s not just the large corporations that are doing it. But not every major corporation has a supplier diversity program.
Lee Kantor: [00:36:31] And then, if you were kind of talking to these organizations that don’t have it, what would be some of the compelling reasons to invest time and resources into creating one?
Deb Mackins: [00:36:40] Well, this is my personal opinion.
Lee Kantor: [00:36:43] Your personal opinion.
Deb Mackins: [00:36:45] If you want to get the same old thing, the same products, the same services, the same perspective, keep doing what you’re doing. But if you want to bring some innovation and, I think, supplier diversity, engaging with women, minority veteran, bringing in small business, it’s a good way to do that, through supplier diversity. So, that’s one of the things.
Deb Mackins: [00:37:20] I think the value proposition is just really helping your business, as a corporate, to ensure that you have suppliers that are competitive. And one way to do that is through bringing new suppliers in. So, I’m going to just give you an example. If your supply base for a widget consist of, I don’t know, 10 suppliers, and you continue year after year issuing those contracts to those same 10 suppliers, and you’re not opening opportunities to small business, diverse business, how do you know that you’re getting the most competitive pricing? How do you know that you’re the customer, the favorite customer, that all the innovation and the favorite pricing is coming to you? So, I think, supplier diversity is a great avenue to bring in innovation, competitive pricing, that type of thing.
Lee Kantor: [00:38:26] Because innovation happens everywhere, and we’re fortunate in America that we do have a very diverse population. And to just ignore big chunks of people, it doesn’t make any sense. I mean, you’re missing out. There’s great things happening everywhere.
Roz Lewis: [00:38:43] And you want your supplier base to marry your customer base.
Lee Kantor: [00:38:47] Right.
Roz Lewis: [00:38:47] That is something that’s very key and important, and to Deb’s point about the innovation, but also your diverse suppliers are going to bring the ability to be nimble. They’re going to bring to be able — there’s not so much red tape from-
Lee Kantor: [00:39:07] Right, and they’re going to be hungry.
Roz Lewis: [00:39:08] And they’re going to be, right. They’re also going to be hungry as well. But they also are using your product or service. So, you’re getting good focused feedback as well, and having them is valuable because, now, they can help you improve that product or service and deliver it to the marketplace.
Lee Kantor: [00:39:29] And they might be looking at it in a slightly different way that you didn’t even think about.
Roz Lewis: [00:39:32] Exactly.
Deb Mackins: [00:39:33] I’d love to share a success story, if you don’t mind.
Lee Kantor: [00:39:37] Sure, go ahead.
Deb Mackins: [00:39:37] One of our diverse suppliers at Southern Company, actually, met this company in 2012, and they were not successful in the bidding process at that time. However, they had an interest in establishing those relationships, and being a better company, a better owner. And they actually participated in some of our mentoring, and grew as a company, change kind of short of some processes. In 2016, the same company that I met in 2012 called me and asked me, “Hey, Deb, I think it’s time for this particular service to be rebid.” Well, I had no idea. I checked, and they were correct.
Deb Mackins: [00:40:28] Fast forward, 2017, they received their first master service agreement contract. It took five years, but they stayed in there, they hung in there, they were interested in the development. That company in 2017 grew from 40 employees to, today, 85. All of their companies — or excuse me, all of their employees today have healthcare and benefits. That’s something they were not able to provide before. They actually opened another location. So. this company, staying in there, hanging in there, they had the wherewithal, they’re growing, and they’re doing some great things.
Deb Mackins: [00:41:09] I wanted to give that story to you because one of the things that we’re very passionate about and interested in doing in Southern Company is the community. This is one story of a company that more than doubled. And, now, they’re able to provide benefits to their employees. That’s a success story. And I think that as corporate partners, because we work on the board, I’d love for you to take a look at the website for GWBC and see all of the board members, and we have some directors that are very passionate, very committed, both WBEs as well as corporates, but we’re all doing these same things, providing opportunities in the community, helping small business become large business, helping them grow. And we’re all committed and doing some great things. So, I think that’s really what it’s all about. It’s community providing jobs.
Lee Kantor: [00:42:09] Now, if somebody wanted to learn more about your work at Southern Company and, like you said, what’s the website up GWBC, so they can check that out, and Southern Company if they want to get a hold of you?
Deb Mackins: [00:42:21] Well, the website address is www.southerncompany.com. And you click on suppliers, and that takes you to a link for registration. So, that’s one way.
Lee Kantor: [00:42:21] Right. That’s a good way. And then, the GWBC, what’s the website for that?
Deb Mackins: [00:42:38] That’s www.gwbc.biz.
Lee Kantor: [00:42:39] Well, thank you, Deb for sharing your story today.
Deb Mackins: [00:42:45] Thank you.
Roz Lewis: [00:42:46] Thank you.
Lee Kantor: [00:42:47] So, who else you got with you today, Roz?
Roz Lewis: [00:42:48] Well, we also have Monique Honaman. And she’s with Contender Brands, as well as ISHR Group. And, also, I want to mention the fact that she’s an author. She’s an author of several books, even a children’s book as well. But talking to her as a woman-owned business, obviously, you wonder when does she sleep, right, trying to run two businesses.
Lee Kantor: [00:43:13] Right. There’s a lot going on.
Roz Lewis: [00:43:15] And writing books as well, and coaching, and a whole lot of other things that she does. So, one of these will be great is to kind of hear her story.
Lee Kantor: [00:43:26] All right. Go ahead, Monique, share your story.
Monique Honaman: [00:43:28] I sleep really well.
Lee Kantor: [00:43:29] I bet.
Monique Honaman: [00:43:29] I do not move. Thank you, Roz. So, yes. So, two companies. And you were talking about the arduous process of getting certified and went through the first arduous process when I certified ISHR Group back in 2006. And, of course, have been the recipient of the ongoing every year recertification, which, yes, is not as arduous, and the site visits, and all that. And I’m currently in the midst of the arduous process to get Contender Brand certified, so-
Lee Kantor: [00:44:02] So, you liked it so much, you just decide to do it again.
Monique Honaman: [00:44:05] That’s my point, right. This is such a valuable process, per this whole conversation, that it is valuable for both companies to have. And, yes, passionate enough to come back and say, “I want to get Contender Brand certified as well.”
Lee Kantor: [00:44:17] Now, for the person that’s considering doing this, and they see like, “This is going to be an arduous process,” can you talk about kind of the thought process when you were weighing? Should I do this or should I not do this? What were you thinking, and you’re like, you”Yknow what? I’m going to do this”?
Monique Honaman: [00:44:30] Yeah, absolutely. Because I did think about it for a couple of years with Contender Brands. And the tipping point for me came when I realized that the people who want to see the WBE certification had the potential to be our clients, right. So, if we were only looking at, in the case of Contender Brands, retailers who didn’t value the certification, then it’s not important to get. But we tipped over to the other side of the equation where we do have the larger companies who value it, who have their supply diversity pages on their website, to Deb’s point. Once we tipped there, then we knew we needed to get it.
Lee Kantor: [00:45:04] Then, it became a no-brainer at that point.
Monique Honaman: [00:45:05] Absolutely.
Lee Kantor: [00:45:05] Then, it’s like, “I have to do this in order to play. I’ve got to get this certification.”
Monique Honaman: [00:45:09] Yeah. And we joke about it being an arduous process, and it is on the one hand. On the other hand, with all transparency, it took me just a full day.
Lee Kantor: [00:45:19] Right.
Monique Honaman: [00:45:19] But if you’re organized, and you go through that checklist of the documents that need, and Roz mentioned them, and there’s a lot, but if you’re organized, you know.
Lee Kantor: [00:45:26] Like you have this information.
Monique Honaman: [00:45:29] You have it, right. You’re not creating something.
Lee Kantor: [00:45:30] It’s not like you’re having to do research to find it.
Monique Honaman: [00:45:32] Exactly. Yeah, exactly.
Lee Kantor: [00:45:34] So, now, tell us about the companies now that you’re involved with.
Monique Honaman: [00:45:38] Absolutely. So, ISHR is the company I founded, actually, 20 years ago this year, which is unbelievable.
Lee Kantor: [00:45:44] 20 years, congratulations.
Monique Honaman: [00:45:44] Yeah, thanks, unbelievable.
Roz Lewis: [00:45:44] Congratulations.
Monique Honaman: [00:45:46] And so. it’s myself and two business partners. We’re women-owned and controlled. And we do executive assessment, executive development, executive coaching. So, most of our clients tend to be those large corporate clients that do value the WBE certification and look for it. And we, also, tend to work with a lot of private equity firms. So, that’s why ISHR. So, we’re I human capital services business. Total other side of the spectrum is Contender Brands, which I launched and co-founded with my husband in 2016. And that all started with a couple of product ideas. One specifically that I started with for a portable ring cleaner. And I think a lot of people have ideas, and we thought, “Oh, it would be so cool to create this. We could go on Shark Tank. We could come up with this.” But then, nobody really does anything with that. And we’ve taken Ringo, and created it, and prototyped it, and patent it, and trademark it, and manufactured it. And now, we’re distributing it. And also, a set of get-to-know-you conversation starter. So, that’s a product development company. Very different than the services company of ISHR.
Lee Kantor: [00:46:48] And then, that started as kind of just kind of a wild idea. How long was it on the backburner before you said, “You know what, let’s do this”?
Monique Honaman: [00:46:54] Great question. So, the ring idea actually started in late ’09, early 2010. And I realized I was actually out on a business trip, I think I was at a WBENC conference actually out in California, and my ring was dirty. And I’m like, “Oh, this is horrible. I don’t have anything to clean it with.” Well, you can’t travel with those jars of cleaning fluid. So, literally. came back from that trip and started researching whether there were these portable, TSA-friendly – at that point, we weren’t using the word TSA – but portable sort of ring cleaners that were on the market. I put a little business plan together, and then did nothing. So, to your question of how long did it sit on the backburner, it sat on the backburner for six, seven years.
Roz Lewis: [00:47:39] Wow.
Monique Honaman: [00:47:39] And then, literally, a couple of years ago, I was actually back in California on a trip and resurfaced it in my mind. And at that point, we said, “You know what-”
Lee Kantor: [00:47:49] Let’s go for it.
Monique Honaman: [00:47:49] Let’s go for it. And came back from that trip, contacted the prototype designers, and we’ve been hanging on to that train by our fingernails ever since.
Lee Kantor: [00:48:00] So, now, at some point, you decide to get involved with the GWBC. That certification was the catalyst, or were you involved with GWBC before kind of saying, “I’m going to be certified”?
Monique Honaman: [00:48:11] So, first heard about the value of certification, again, back in 2006 when I first got certified with ISHR. And for me, it was the opportunity to have this network. And they’ve talked about that’s very important. But the educational opportunities, the programming that they put on in terms of sharing how you write a capability statement, how you — I can’t even. Just so many educational opportunities were so important – the networking, the connections, the matchmakers. Deb mentioned the Tuck Program. I was able to go through the Tuck Program, which is sort of a mini MBA that WBENC sponsors. So, it’s just been such a great learning experience over the years.
Lee Kantor: [00:48:56] So, now, when you started the company, and then you’re like, “Okay, I’m going to get certified,” the GWBC, I’m going to go there, I’m going to learn, you become an active member? Like I’m sure you were involved in lots of organizations. Is this one of the ones you look forward to going to?
Monique Honaman: [00:49:13] Absolutely.
Lee Kantor: [00:49:13] Is this one of the ones where you’re like, “You know what, I’m getting a lot of value out of this”?
Monique Honaman: [00:49:16] Yeah. I think-
Lee Kantor: [00:49:17] Because there’s a lot of organizations that-
Monique Honaman: [00:49:18] There’s a ton of organizations. And you’ve got to pick and choose, right?
Lee Kantor: [00:49:20] Right.
Monique Honaman: [00:49:20] Because if all you do is go to organizations, then you’re never working and honoring your business.
Lee Kantor: [00:49:24] You’re not working.
Monique Honaman: [00:49:24] Yeah, and it’s great. Another night of networking, right?
Lee Kantor: [00:49:26] Right. Networking, not working.
Monique Honaman: [00:49:27] Right, exactly.
Lee Kantor: [00:49:27] There’s a difference.
Monique Honaman: [00:49:28] Exactly. No, I actually became very involved. And in fact, Roz became a client. And I helped facilitate several of the board of directors strategic retreats over the years. I helped to moderate several of the panels that GWBC had. So, became very involved in the events, and the awards programs that they have, and the networking programs, and spoke at a couple of events. So, presenting sort of knowledge to others as well. So, I stayed very involved. It’s not worth getting involved — to me, if you’re going to do something, do it all the way, right. And so-
Lee Kantor: [00:50:05] So, that’s good advice for the entrepreneur that just starting out or maybe earlier in their lifecycle cycle.
Monique Honaman: [00:50:10] And people who think, “Oh, I’m going to go get my WBE certification, and then my phone is going to start ringing.”
Lee Kantor: [00:50:14] “And then, I’m done,” right?
Monique Honaman: [00:50:15] “And I’m going to have all of these corporate contracts that are worth gazillions of dollars.” Like, that’s no. That’s not how it works, right. You have to get your certification, and stay involved, and meet, and network, and get involved, and prove your value, and, and, and. It’s not this magic potion.
Lee Kantor: [00:50:29] Now, how long did it take for you until you were seeing some results for, “Hey, this is going to kind of lead me to the Promised Land”?
Monique Honaman: [00:50:35] With ISHR, I would say a couple of years. To Deb’s point, right, there’s that building that relationship, meeting people, various-
Lee Kantor: [00:50:45] And showing you’re going to show up, proving that you’re not — because everybody, the first day, it all looks enthusiastic, and it looks like you can’t tell-
Monique Honaman: [00:50:52] There’s that staying power.
Lee Kantor: [00:50:53] Right.
Monique Honaman: [00:50:53] I, also, think there’s that building relationship, right. Once you sort of know someone, and you recognize a face. The second time you know their name. The third time, you ask how their kids are. The fourth time, you’re going to go vouch for them for someone else. Like there’s that relationship building. So, ISHR, I would say took a little bit. With Contender Brands, and, again, we’re sort of in the midst of the arduous process right now, but have already been reaching out and talked to some folks telling them we’re about to get certified, and I’m already starting to see some upside there. So, that might have much quicker-
Lee Kantor: [00:51:27] Because you’ve already laid a foundation for-
Monique Honaman: [00:51:28] Yeah, that may have a quicker turnaround.
Lee Kantor: [00:51:30] And, again, that’s great advice. It’s not just paying the dues and showing up occasionally. It’s getting involved in committees, and volunteering, and showing, kind of demonstrating your work, ethic, and your value, and your skills in real-life situations, not kind of these hypotheticals.
Monique Honaman: [00:51:47] That’s exactly right.
Roz Lewis: [00:51:48] And so, it’s the same as your degree, right? When you get your college degree, how often did you phone ring?
Lee Kantor: [00:51:55] Right.
Roz Lewis: [00:51:56] Right?
Lee Kantor: [00:51:56] It’s not like you were-
Roz Lewis: [00:51:56] It was sitting up there on the internet, that they called it a sheepskin sitting on the wall, but you had to activate that. You had to go out and do the lead generation in order to, hopefully, get the interviews, in order to get the job. And so, it’s the same thing with growing your business and scaling your business. You really are going to have to put sweat equity into this.
Monique Honaman: [00:52:20] And what you put in relates to what you get out, for sure.
Lee Kantor: [00:52:22] Now, in your career, you work a lot with larger institution, larger enterprises. Have you had a mentor/mentee opportunity there? Did somebody mentor you or have you had the chance to mentor other people?
Monique Honaman: [00:52:34] Both, absolutely. I firmly believe in mentoring and being mentored as well. And I can think back to several people in my corporate career before I even launched out to being an entrepreneur who have been instrumental in my development. And I’ve very definitely tried to pass that forward. And there’s several younger women that I would consider my mentees that I’ve sort of helped and tried to get them moving forward in their careers successfully as well.
Lee Kantor: [00:53:03] Now, what some advice for the younger entrepreneur?
Monique Honaman: [00:53:07] One of my favorite lines is, “What’s the worst that can happen,” right. I think so many people are scared, and they think about something, they think about all the negative things, or all the nos they’re going to hear. And it’s my favorite line, what’s the worst can happen? Someone says no. Okay. Did it hurt? No. All right, move on. Because I don’t think people step out of the nest enough and aren’t willing to take risks as much because they’re scared of the consequences. What’s the worst that can happen?
Lee Kantor: [00:53:30] Yeah, when I’m mentoring younger people, I find that they kind of imagine this gatekeeper that’s preventing them from their dreams when the gatekeeper is them.
Monique Honaman: [00:53:40] Right.
Lee Kantor: [00:53:42] They’re the first gatekeeper. They’re not even trying. They’re afraid to take that risk, and putting themselves out there, and being vulnerable.
Monique Honaman: [00:53:49] Right, right, exactly. I was telling a story before we went live on air here. My daughter just applied for a fall internship at a major corporation, and she looked at the job spec, and she’s not fully qualified. She made some of them but not fully. And so, she’s like, “Hey, Mom, what do you think?” And I immediately said, “Well, you know what I’m going to say.”
Lee Kantor: [00:54:06] Yeah, go for it.
Monique Honaman: [00:54:06] And she said, “What’s the worst that can happen?” I said, “Exactly. You spend a few minutes? What? They can say no.”
Lee Kantor: [00:54:12] Let them say that.
Monique Honaman: [00:54:12] What’s the best that can happen?
Lee Kantor: [00:54:13] Don’t say no first.
Monique Honaman: [00:54:14] Exactly, exactly.
Lee Kantor: [00:54:16] So, now, Roz, is that something you hope? Is there some opportunity to mentor the younger people, to give them kind of some of the skills? Is there kind of a learning opportunity for the kind of pre-entrepreneur, or is this for only people that have already kind of taken the risk, and then became an entrepreneur?
Roz Lewis: [00:54:31] Well, basically, yes, because of the information we are asking for. Yeah, you do need to have all of these documents in place of your business structure. So, we talk about micro enterprises. And then, also, looking at who our corporations are. In those contracts, those, you’ve got to be able to have your business scalable, to be able to manage that.
Lee Kantor: [00:54:56] To deliver that, right?
Roz Lewis: [00:54:56] Right. And, Deb alluded to some of that about strategic sourcing and how they’re ratcheting down their supplier base. But in the supply chain, that’s one thing you want to keep in mind is the fact there’s money in every level. So, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to be the prime supplier to a major corporation. You can be a supplier of the prime supplier, which actually gives you more visibility. That’s the best kept secret because, now, you have visibility to all of their customers. And you can step out. You can be first tier and second tier at the same time.
Roz Lewis: [00:55:33] So, for the young people, too, to your point of this question, we have, believe it or not, on our organization called Next Gen. And Next Gen is where we do focus on the young woman entrepreneur of helping her and scaling her because one of the things you have to think about generationally, the current successful women-owned business, 9 times out of 10 may have come out of corporate. So, kind of has that foundation, and background, and structure; where today’s young entrepreneur, they’re saying, “I don’t want to work for a corporation. I want to track my own path of success,” yet, they still need some infrastructure. They still need some guiding principles in order for them to be successful because they’re very disruptive, right, which is great. That’s what you want.
Lee Kantor: [00:56:23] And impatient.
Roz Lewis: [00:56:25] And, yes. And impatient. But you know what? Life always teach you patience. So, that’s just how you live.
Monique Honaman: [00:56:33] Whether you want it or not.
Roz Lewis: [00:56:33] Right, whether you want it or not, it’s going to teach you that patience or experience is going to do that. And those nos make sure that educated nos, is what I always say. But we do, we do focus on the Next Gen. As a matter of fact, we’re is coming off the heels of our national conference that we held in Baltimore. And each year, we invite numerous women businesses, young women entrepreneurs out of college. And it’s amazing, some of their products and services. And we have a contest, and they literally present. And once again, it’s amazing. They are mentored, and they’re paired. They’re paired with a woman-owned business, and they’re paired with a corporate member at this conference because, once again, we want to work and give them that infrastructure.
Roz Lewis: [00:57:20] Well, we’re getting ready to do something. Believe it or not, we’re going to throw the dart a little further into the future where we, now, are developing another program, believe it or not, where we’re reaching all the way back to eighth grade.
Lee Kantor: [00:57:35] Wow.
Roz Lewis: [00:57:36] Yes, and identify young entrepreneurs at that stage. And that just doesn’t include young girls. That, also, includes young boys as well. It’s called Planet Mogul. And we launched that last year. And so, that is also — and, again, it is amazing what these young ideas are coming up with for the future, and later, that’s going to affect our lifestyles.
Deb Mackins: [00:58:06] Roz, excuse me. I just wanted to interject this. I attended the national conference. And I believe the contests they had for the elevator pitches for the entrepreneurs, the winner, if I’m not mistaken, was 16.
Lee Kantor: [00:58:22] Wow.
Roz Lewis: [00:58:23] Yes.
Stone Payton: [00:58:24] Wow.
Lee Kantor: [00:58:24] That’s encouraging.
Roz Lewis: [00:58:25] Yes.
Lee Kantor: [00:58:26] It’s one of those, it’s a mindset, I think, more than anything. And Monique, you can probably speak to this. You have to change how you think when you’re a small business person, right? Like you can’t be held back by all these constraints. You have to believe that it’s possible or else, you’re not going to even try.
Monique Honaman: [00:58:43] I think you have to have an insatiable curiosity, a willingness to step outside your comfort zone, a willingness to take massive risks. So, before I became this entrepreneur and launched these companies, I worked for very, very corporate-y America. And when I left and started, ISHR and, now, Contender, I am the CFO, I am the CMO, I am the CIO. I mean, you have to figure it out. And then, to Roz’s point, there’s all these great resources available. You don’t have to do it on your own. And ultimately, you have to figure it out. So, there’s that curiosity that has to happen. And again, there’s that stepping out of the nest and taking that risk. So many people have great product ideas. So many people watch Shark Tank every week, and they’ve got their product, and they fantasize about how they’re going to be on Shark Tank, but they never take that first step of going and designing it. So, there’s that that comfort with risk piece as well.
Lee Kantor: [00:59:34] Right. And then, do you think that that’s something that can be taught at a young age, that you can kind of let the younger people kind of skin their knees and see that they’re okay at the end of the day?
Monique Honaman: [00:59:43] Absolutely, absolutely. I mean, kids take more risks and than anyone, right? They’re the ones that are on the top of the tree. “Look, mom, I’m going to be Superman,” and jump out, right. But I think life sort of tamper some of that as we get older, and there’s really no reason it should.
Lee Kantor: [01:00:00] Right. We’ve got to kind of encourage more of that. Now, how did the authoring come into play? When did you start?
Monique Honaman: [01:00:06] That’s in the midst of all this. That’s in between ISHR and Contender. That came from life sort of happening. And I actually went through a divorce and found that people started calling me asking for advice, people I didn’t know, and one thing led to another. And a fellow WBE person recommended, she’s an author, and she said, “Why don’t you write a book about it?” And I said, “I’ve never written a book in my life.” And so, wrote that book, wrote a second book. Again, it’s taking opportunities when they come up and being curious. I’m now remarried. Justin and I, he’s bonus dad to my two kids. So, a couple of years ago, we thought, “Well, let’s write a children’s book about what it means to be a bonus mom and bonus dad,” step dad and step mom. We’ve never done that before, but we figured out how to go find an illustrator. We figured out how to find a publisher of a children’s book, which is different. So, it’s just curiosity and wondering, “Hey, can we make this happen? We have an idea.”
Lee Kantor: [01:01:05] But it’s also taking action.
Monique Honaman: [01:01:07] Yes.
Lee Kantor: [01:01:07] It’s one thing to be curious and then just say, “Oh, that’ll be nice. Future me will do this.”
Monique Honaman: [01:01:12] No, that’s the point. You’ve got to have that idea and do something with it. Not just think about it but do.
Lee Kantor: [01:01:18] Now, are there examples you’re willing to share of taking one of these shots, and then exploding, and go, “Oh well.” I’m not saying it’s a failure. I’m just saying it’s a learning opportunity to not do that anymore.
Monique Honaman: [01:01:30] Yeah, that’s funny. Years ago, someone asked me in an interview, “Tell me about your biggest failure.” And my response was, “I don’t know that anything is but failure.”
Lee Kantor: [01:01:35] Right. I don’t count things as a failure. What thing I love to say is learning opportunity.
Monique Honaman: [01:01:38] That’s exactly what I said.
Monique Honaman: [01:01:40] Oh, you should always just fail forward, right?
Lee Kantor: [01:01:41] Exactly.
Monique Honaman: [01:01:42] Exactly. There’s been — with Contender Brands, several stops and starts. There’s been — we’ll start down a path and make a big investment of time, and energy, and money, and we’ll realize, “Oh, that’s not going to work.” And so, we’ve got to take a couple of steps back. So, in some respects, is that a failure? Absolutely. We’ve wasted time. We’ve wasted money. On the other hand, we learned so much from that. And when we redirected, and then got back on the right path, the right path is so much better. I can think of the same examples within ISHR Group. Started to sort of — I would call it a side business, another service line, if you will. Started going down that path, realized it wasn’t the right path for us. Was it a failure? We’d invested time and money. Redirected back. So, again, if you look at them as failures, I think it scares you from trying new things in the future. But if you look at them as learning opportunities, and you realize how much you’ve grown from them, then they’re all things to really cultivate. Not that you want to purposefully gotten fail, but that’s where we learn.
Lee Kantor: [01:02:41] But the successes is when you are taking risks. If you’re not taking a risk where there is a chance that it may not work out, it’s going to be hard to move forward.
Monique Honaman: [01:02:50] Exactly.
Lee Kantor: [01:02:51] And it’s like Deb said earlier, like there was a company that battled for years, and years, and years to become this overnight success, right.
Deb Mackins: [01:02:59] Yes.
Lee Kantor: [01:03:01] But the public doesn’t see the struggle and the pain. They just see, “Oh, look at those people who are millionaires now. Yeah, I want to be a millionaire.” Like they don’t see kind of all the leading up to.
Monique Honaman: [01:03:10] Sarah Blakely posted on her LinkedIn page yesterday the iceberg picture. And above the iceberg was wildly successful. Wow. That was easy. And then, underneath the iceberg was the pain, the costs, the sleepless nights, the worry, the investment, all that stuff. And I just thought that was so appropriate and it’s appropriate for this whole conversation. Like people see the top of the iceberg, but they have no idea, all the the work to get certified, the work over the many, many years to build the relationships, the work to make sure that you’re ROI and your value proposition is where it needs to be. It’s all that underneath the iceberg that’s so critical.
Roz Lewis: [01:03:45] And the other thing is just risk. You take on so much risk that — I mean, I think that entrepreneurs are rock stars because you are the CFO, and the CIO, and the president. You wear so many different hats; whereas, the corporate, I know that every two weeks, I get a paycheck, and I have my benefits. So, hats off to you and all of the WBEs that you do it, you’re rock stars, you provide jobs for the country. So, thank you.
Monique Honaman: [01:04:23] Thank you. And thanks to organizations like GWBC and the corporates that value this certification. I mean, it really is — and now we’re making a little love fest, but it really takes all of those relationships to make it work. It really does.
Deb Mackins: [01:04:37] Yes, yes.
Roz Lewis: [01:04:37] But it’s building just a stronger ecosystem of engaging small businesses in to understand and having someone that understands what you’re going through. That’s the other component of this, that you’re not in it alone. You have plenty of company and plenty of stories that can tell. I saw on a marquee, there have been enough mistakes made that you don’t have to create new ones. So, learn from some of these other mistakes that have been made by talking and engaging. And that is something that I would say is an added bonus with our organization is our women businesses share with each other because they mentor each other. They are there for each other. And that’s key and important too. Now, don’t get me wrong. They compete if they’re in the same space, but, overall. but they also partner because there is an opportunity for them to partner as well in order to win contracts.
Lee Kantor: [01:05:39] And then, really successful businesses know that there’s a big pie out there, and it’s a collaboration, and everybody wins. And if you just sit there, be a good person, be helpful, be generous, that’s going to come back.
Roz Lewis: [01:05:51] So, you’re talking about paying it forward, right?
Lee Kantor: [01:05:53] Well, we try to pay it forward and tell these stories because these stories are the important stories, because small and midsize businesses, they’re the heart of most communities. That’s where the work is getting done. They’re the ones hiring the people. The large corporations are super important, but there’s a lot more small organizations out there battling, and making one employee, two employees, and 40 employees, 80 employees, multiple times. There’s only a handful of big, large enterprises. But there’s, what, how many small businesses, you said?
Roz Lewis: [01:06:25] Well-
Lee Kantor: [01:06:26] Hundreds of thousands? Millions?
Roz Lewis: [01:06:27] Right. Well, because 98% of the businesses in this country are small.
Lee Kantor: [01:06:31] Right.
Roz Lewis: [01:06:32] Right. And so, 2%, which is to say that leaves that for the major corporations. However, yes, they rule, in a sense, but they can’t do it without the small. So, we need each other. This is not, you’re able to do this alone, to your point. There is reciprocity that takes place. You’re creating your consumer base. And the way you create your consumer base is by engaging these small businesses in your supply chain.
Lee Kantor: [01:07:01] Right. Small businesses like ISHR and Contender Brands. Monique, if people want to get a hold of you, what are the coordinates?
Monique Honaman: [01:07:08] Absolutely. So, ishrgroup.com for our executive assessment of development programming, and contenderbrands.com if anyone’s looking for conversation starter card games or portable ring cleaner called Ringo.
Lee Kantor: [01:07:20] All right. Well, thank you so much for sharing your story.
Monique Honaman: [01:07:23] Thank you. Absolutely.
Lee Kantor: [01:07:24] And Roz, if somebody wants to get involved with GWBC, what’s the website or any events coming up?
Roz Lewis: [01:07:28] Oh, yes. So, we have a major event that’s coming up on August 26th and 27th. On 26th is our golf tournament. Now, you need to be certified as a woman-owned business to participate in this. And for women out there making this statement, who don’t play golf, this has been the best kept secret that men have been doing for years where they get out there on the golf course and negotiate deals. So, here’s an opportunity for you to spend time with a corporate member or even another WBE who may be looking for a supplier to build a relationship over four or five hours.
Roz Lewis: [01:08:06] But then, if golf is really not your thing, then how about come into our Power Partnering Marketplace on the 27th. That’s going to be held at the Gwinnett Energy Forum. And that is from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. We have a keynote speaker, wonderful keynote speaker. Her name is Shawne Duperon, who’s being sponsored by GM, believe it or not. And here are both of our guests who have backgrounds with them. And she is going to, believe it or not, talk about the apology that you never heard and that you deserve as a leader. And so, that is something that we’re going to be focused on, along with one of the biggest challenges for women businesses, believe it or not, is access to capital. And so, we’re going to be focused on that. And cash is queen. They say cash is king. We say cash is queen. So, we are hoping that you’ll join us on the 27th. You can visit our website at www.gwbc.biz for more information, not only about this event, but other information about our programs, how to get certified, and get engaged with our organization.
Lee Kantor: [01:09:17] Well, Roz, thank you so much for putting this episode together, and we look forward to the continuing conversations to grow your business.
Roz Lewis: [01:09:26] Well, thank you, Lee. I really appreciate it. Can I leave the audience with just one parting thought?
Lee Kantor: [01:09:31] Absolutely.
Roz Lewis: [01:09:31] And that parting thought is, your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card. How you leave others after having an experience with you is going to be your trademark. So, thank you so much and make it an amazing day.
Lee Kantor: [01:09:50] All right. This is Lee Kantor for Stone Payton. We will see you all next time on Greater Women’s Business Council Radio.
About Your Host
Roz Lewis is President & CEO – Greater Women’s Business Council (GWBC®), a regional partner organization of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) and a member of the WBENC Board of Directors.
Previous career roles at Delta Air Lines included Flight Attendant, In-Flight Supervisor and Program Manager, Corporate Supplier Diversity.
During her career she has received numerous awards and accolades. Most notable: Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2018 Diversity & Inclusion award; 2017 inducted into the WBE Hall of Fame by the American Institute of Diversity and Commerce and 2010 – Women Out Front Award from Georgia Tech University.
She has written and been featured in articles on GWBC® and supplier diversity for Forbes Magazine SE, Minority Business Enterprise, The Atlanta Tribune, WE- USA, Minorities and Women in Business magazines. Her quotes are published in The Girls Guide to Building a Million Dollar Business book by Susan Wilson Solovic and Guide Coaching by Ellen M. Dotts, Monique A. Honaman and Stacy L. Sollenberger. Recently, she appeared on Atlanta Business Chronicle’s BIZ on 11Alive, WXIA to talk about the importance of mentoring for women.
In 2010, Lewis was invited to the White House for Council on Women and Girls Entrepreneur Conference for the announcement of the Small Business Administration (SBA) new Women Owned Small Business Rule approved by Congress. In 2014, she was invited to the White House to participate in sessions on small business priorities and the Affordable Care Act.
Roz Lewis received her BS degree from Florida International University, Miami, FL and has the following training/certifications: Certified Purchasing Managers (CPM); Certified Professional in Supplier Diversity (CPSD), Institute for Supply Management (ISM)of Supplier Diversity and Procurement: Diversity Leadership Academy of Atlanta (DLAA), Negotiations, Supply Management Strategies and Analytical Purchasing.
Connect with Roz on LinkedIn.
The Greater Women’s Business Council (GWBC®) is at the forefront of redefining women business enterprises (WBEs). An increasing focus on supplier diversity means major corporations are viewing our WBEs as innovative, flexible and competitive solutions. The number of women-owned businesses is rising to reflect an increasingly diverse consumer base of women making a majority of buying decision for herself, her family and her business.
GWBC® has partnered with dozens of major companies who are committed to providing a sustainable foundation through our guiding principles to bring education, training and the standardization of national certification to women businesses in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.