Add another layer to your #Business literacy. We at Serebral360° would love to know if the Forbes – Entrepreneurs article was helpful, leave a comment, like and share. Let’s dive in and discuss the information and put it to use to grow your business. #BusinessStrategy #ContentMarketing #WebDevelopment #BrandStrategy
Info@serebral360.com 762.333.1807 www.serebral360.com
Grap a copy of our NEW Business Stratgety Books #FFSS VOL1 and #FFSS VOL2
Michelle Antoinette Nelson’s organization, Brown + Healthy, started with a hashtag. “I was hiking with my friend all the time,” she says. “We were two Black girls in America out there in the woods, trying to get healthy. I just started hashtagging brown and healthy.
Her followers loved it. They wanted more. By 2015, Nelson had transformed the hashtag into a global health and wellness initiative for people of color. Brown + Healthy, based in Baltimore, promotes physical, mental, and emotional well being for people of color around the world and is designed to tear down the negative narrative of people of color so often put forth by the mainstream media.
“If everyday I wake up feeling like we’re at war,” Nelson says, “My people need to be prepared for it. I’m looking around and seeing my friends and other people of color every day existing in the trauma and it being unearthed in such an abrasive way.”
Nelson thought very carefully about the way Brown + Healthy would communicate its message. “I’m pretty militant to be honest, but I didn’t want to go that route. I wanted the initiative to be palatable to the world because when people feel threatened they can’t hear. There is nothing more positive and proactive than getting healthy mentally, physically, and emotionally.”
Brown + Healthy partners with, among others, the Baltimore City Health Department, Red Bull, and Kaiser Permanente to bring its programming to communities that need it. Most recently, Brown + Healthy is curating wellness programming for an entrepreneur retreat in South Africa run by Brioxy, an organization that provides tools for people of color in the realms of homeownership, social enterprise, and nonprofit leadership.
When Brown + Healthy first launched, it had a heavy focus on physical initiatives. As time went on, however, Nelson noticed that many people with whom the organization worked needed more safe spaces to talk through trauma and focus on improving their mental and emotional well-being.
So, she began facilitating more panel discussions and speaker series, leveraging the fan base she had built from her many years as a performance poet, under the name LOVE the poet. “Our narrative is not part of the normal American conversation,” Nelson says. “Where we come in is to make sure we are part of the conversation.”
Nelson has moderated panels with leaders like Black Lives Matter cofounder Alicia Garza, and music industry executive Shanti Das, who has managed marketing campaigns for artists like Akon and Ashanti.
When she started Brown + Healthy, Nelson had no formal business training, but she dedicated herself to taking workshops and doing as much research as she could. She was, for example, one of the first winners of the Baltimore Corp.Elevation Award, which offers $10,000 planning grants and support to people of color working to improve Baltimore communities. The award gave Nelson access to intensive and personalized training.
Nelson says one of the most helpful things she has done is surround herself with a team of experts. “You’re not going to know everything,” she says. “You’re not. And just because you have a vision for something doesn’t mean you have a propensity to execute it by yourself.”
One of her biggest challenges has been slowing down. “Sometimes, my ideas come faster than I can churn out the work. It can be frustrating for me because I want to do it all. I want to make it happen. I want to see the results.” In time, she has grown more patient and has learned to put less pressure on herself to make things happen quickly.
It has also been difficult, Nelson says, to help people see the ways in which they are already leading healthy lives. Faces light up when she walks by wearing a Brown + Healthy t-shirt, she says, but many people have told her they don’t feel like they are healthy enough to make that declaration. “A woman said that to me, and I said, ‘Ok. Do you have kids?’ She said, ‘Yeah.’ I said, ‘Do those kids eat? Do you provide them a roof over their head and food? There is a component of your life that is very healthy.”’
One big step in all of this, she explains, is helping people feel confidence in themselves. “Mattering is great,” Nelson says. “Black Lives Matter is a fantastic movement. But mattering is an opinion. For Brown + Healthy, our direction is we exist. We’re going to be here. I don’t have to matter to you, but I have a responsibility to matter to me.”
In addition to #BrownandHealthy, Nelson now uses #WeExist to spread her message. “When I wear Brown + Healthy, that is a declarative statement that says I am here. I exist. I’m not going anywhere. I’m healthy, and I may be healthy in one of the three ways, but I’m getting there in the others.”
Nelson, herself, is intent on proudly and openly declaring her own existence as a gay, Black, woman. She came out at eighteen years old and has spent her entire adult life navigating a world that discriminates against so many parts of her.
“I am black, I am a woman, and I am gay,” she says. “My whole existence is political. Every time I wake up, somebody wants me dead for one of the three things.”
Nevertheless, Nelson doesn’t hide who she is, and she says many people have asked her how she manages to be so open and free. There will always be people who find a reason to treat you badly, she says, and you can’t let it stop you from being who you are.
Nelson is excited about the future of Brown + Healthy. In addition to the many programs and initiatives already in progress, Nelson hopes to someday launch a trainer residency program, which would certify people as Brown + Healthy trainers and either place them in community gyms or coach them through starting their own businesses.
The biggest advice Nelson has for those looking to start their own businesses: Just do it. “Put one foot in front of the other,” she says. “It’s not going to be the easiest thing. It’s going to take work and dedication. I would say be who you are. Don’t hesitate. Because even in the hesitation, you’re still you. So move forward.”
She also encourages entrepreneurs to face backlash and difficult conversations head on. “Have them. Have them out loud. Have them regularly, but keep building and keep working.”
And finally, Nelson says, trust yourself as a leader. “If you’re called upon to be a leader, if you have an idea no one else has been given or gifted, move in it.”
December 23, 2018 at 05:26PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs