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Raising The Bar
Oprah Winfrey at the 2018 Golden Globes. Photo courtesy of Google Images

Oprah Winfrey at the 2018 Golden Globes. Photo courtesy of Google Images

Oprah Winfrey officially raised the bar Sunday evening at the Golden Globes with her acceptance speech for the Cecil B DeMille Award. It’s safe to say that we probably all expected something phenomenal to come out of her mouth. But I don’t think we were expecting her words to be as touching as they were. Ms. Winfrey boldly declared what seemed like a new revolution of power, calling out injustices such as the wage gap and sexual assault.

Winfrey proclaimed that instead of bashing the media for “fake news”, that she is instead relying on the media more than ever before. With years under her belt as a public figure, and the host The Oprah Winfrey Show, many may have forgotten her journalistic roots. It was her passion for telling stories and giving others a platform to share their voice that pushed Oprah to create iconic platforms like the Oprah Winfrey Show, O Magazine, and now The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). The outspoken media mogul literally made people stand up and cheer as she addressed the social issues that have been swept under the rug for so long, and boldly shouted “Their Time Is Up!”. Her call for justice was met with tears, applause, awe, and even the hashtag #Oprah2020


“What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we have”
— Oprah Winfrey

Now, I’m not exactly sure Oprah even has a desire to run for Presidential office, but what that outpouring of support did tell us was that people are still feeling a strong need for inspiration, support, and a motivating message; even ones with large bank accounts. I watched as women in the entertainment industry stood up and cheered at the words coming from Oprah, and I was reminded that although the world throws everything at us to cause division and strife, that deep down inside we all still hurt the same way. At that moment I didn’t see a room full of stuffy rich Hollywood actors. I saw a room full of PEOPLE. Men and women who in some way or another could understand and empathize with what Oprah was saying. People nodded in agreement as she called out farm workers, tech professionals, athletes, and countless others whose names we will never hear.

Today I sit in reflection and introspection; wondering what it is that I can do to empower others. I think of my little 15 minutes spent with Oprah, and the amount of inspiration she gave me. The feeling of endless possibility is almost overwhelming. I see the power of movement, and the people who are tired of sitting down waiting for something to happen.

Billingslea Media Owner & Operator Evelyne Billingslea meeting Oprah Winfrey December 2016

Billingslea Media Owner & Operator Evelyne Billingslea meeting Oprah Winfrey December 2016

 

What will you do? How will you help keep the movement going? Time is up. A new day is on the horizon.

To donate to the Time’s Up foundation, check out their GoFundMe page, where any amount is welcomed and appreciated.

 

2014 in Review. Setting the standard for greatness!

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I've never been one to embrace change. But over the past couple of years I have learned to love the changes that have emerged in my life. Looking back on the past year has given me a chance to reflect on all of the positive changes that have happened as I continued to  build my company. Billingslea Media has enjoyed tremendous growth; and the changes in the marketing and technology field are opening up new doors for endless possibilities.

A huge part of this business involves going out and building relationships. I strive to maintain my visibility in the community in order to promote my clients, learn new processes, and create opportunities to link my clients with individuals that will help their businesses grow. I've met some amazing people along the way; and even created opportunities for others outside of my industry. I enjoy seeing the look on people's faces when they realize that their dream is closer than they expected. It's the motivating force behind my company, and it drives me to dream bigger.

Here are a couple of highlights from 2014:

Substantial Magazine

In October of 2014 I was featured in Substantial Magazine. The article highlighted my journey as a businesswoman, and shed light on some of the motivating factors that led me to start Billingslea Media. Aside from being able to express my goals and achievements in the magazine article, we also held an engaging and fun filled photo shoot that captured all of the facets of my personality.

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A month later I found myself engrossed in the mission and potential in the magazine, and published my first article as a Substantial Magazine staff writer. Joining the team has been a perfect marriage of passion, humility, innovation, creativity, and fun. In September we produced our very first awards show in which we honored the contributions of significant leaders in our community. The event garnered the support of hundreds of people across Eastern NC; including university staff members, government officials, and our very own Mayor Allen Thomas. In the coming year, Substantial Magazine will be unveiling a host of new projects and amazing content for our readers. I look forward to applying my experience as a Public Relations professional to the growth of the entire Substantial brand.

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•LinkedIn•

Just as Snapchat is the quintessential marketing tool for the teenage beauty queen, LinkedIn is a necessary tool for the modern day professional who is looking to establish themselves and further their career. Beginning in mid 2014, I decided to increase my activity on the social networking site. I utilized the Premium features of the platform that would allow me to expand my reach.

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Once establishing new connections, I made sure to extend the relationships beyond the home page. I engaged in conversations with my contacts to exchange ideas, establish my expertise, and even make other introductions. My complete LinkedIn profile and publishing page has resulted in connecting like-minded individuals, fine tuning my personal and professional brand, and landing a seat on the board of a local charter school.

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•Tweet Chats•

For years I frowned upon engaging in the "senseless" activity of Tweet Chats. To me, it was a waste of time to sit and look at what other people had to say in response to a professional who was leading the conversation. I didn't have time to filter through their comments, nor did I see the benefit in talking to strangers online.

Little did I know that talking to strangers would be beneficial to furthering my career. Of course it felt a little odd at first, but once I warmed up to the idea of exchanging ideas with others who were seeking more information within my industry, the process became an enjoyable and profitable activity.

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One of my favorite Tweet Chat series this year was the Black Enterprise Corner Office series. The series featured a wide variety of special guests who engaged with the participants and shared information about their areas of expertise. Guests ranged from Actor & Community Activist Lamann Rucker to Entrepreneur and former Apprentice superstar Randall Pinkett. Over the life of the series, Black Enterprise introduced a wide variety of experts who provided an amazing array of pertinent business and community leadership information, and even aided in the introduction of various professionals all over the country. My personal experience with the Black Enterprise Corner Office series has introduced me to several thought leaders who have challenged and encouraged me to grow my business, as well as offer resources to maximize my potential.

•Small Business Saturday

The annual American Express Small Business Saturday provided an opportunity for me to end my year with a bang! Each year, the movement grows larger and larger, and provides free resources for small business owners across the country. Their site offers articles and quick tips to allow merchants to maximize their reach and increase sales. The company also offers FREE marketing materials that are shipped to you free of charge within days. This year's goods were shipped via American Express partner FedEx, and included branded canvas shopping bags, pens, balloons, welcome mats, banners, and extra signage. Business Owners were encouraged to share their ideas and show how they used the promotional materials in their marketing efforts.

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Because Billingslea Media is not a brick and mortar business, being creative in my marketing activities is essential. As I watched other companies and other clients engage in Small Business Saturday activities, I did not want to let the day go by without participating myself. My virtual Small Business Saturday Shopping Spree not only managed to pair several small businesses with one another and allow businesses to increase their weekend sales, but it also caught the attention of CAN Capital. I entered the CAN Capital Small Business Saturday competition, and was one of two businesses who were awarded as the winners amongst hundreds of contestants. As a winner in the competition, I was awarded a $100 Amazon gift card and a one hour consulting session with Entrepreneur, Author, and Consultant Gene Marks.

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The achievements of 2014 set the standard for my company's vision for the coming year. As my network increases in size, I find inspiration not only to continue to service my clients, but also to expand my services and scope of influence. I look forward to the smiles on my client's faces when I show them just how wonderful their dreams can be when they trust their vision to Billingslea Media.

Nonprofit organization gives hope a second chance

Who doesn't love a great story of selfless giving? This article, published on the American Express Open Forum, is an amazing story that reminds us that sometimes its important to dig deeper to discover our inner passion. Catherine Hoke, founder of Defy Ventures talks with Open Forum about her New York based nonprofit that helps formally incarcerated individuals transform negative into positive by participating in a 9 month long training process that helps them become entrepreneurs. Read about her story here: https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/building-empire-catherine-hoke-defy-ventures/

YouTube video threatens Russell Simmons' brand

Multimedia heavy hitter and social activist Russell Simmons has managed to ruffle the feathers of women worldwide.  The highly successful entrepreneur is doing damage control after a very controversial YouTube video was posted by his company. The video is a parody featuring the famous abolitionist Harriet Tubman entitled 'Harriet Tubman Sex Tape'. The video features an actress who is engaging in sexual acts with her slave master while filming the deed in an effort to blackmail him into giving her her freedom papers. Although Simmons managed to see a humorous and creative parody by his staff, the internet has spoken and people are livid. 
After the video went viral, Simmons was contacted by the national headquarters of the NAACP about his poor judgement.  The video was immediately removed, but people are still very angry at his ability to poke fun at a very painful period in our nation's history. Simmons describes himself as "very liberal with very thick skin", and thus did not see the harm in the parody. Although he posted a public apology on his Global Grind website, people are still not ready to forgive. Journalists and Activists on Twitter insist that the public hold him accountable and not allow him to simply receive "a slap on the wrist" and then ride off into the sunset continuing to make millions after he has disappointed many of his very loyal fans.

Although starting out as a manager on the Hip Hop music circuit, and later on a serial entrepreneur, in recent years Simmons has positioned himself as a social activist and philanthropist speaking out against issues such as racism and poverty.  It seems extremely ironic that a person who is so committed to issues of injustice would see humor in the video posted on his YouTube channel.  Now being shunned by the public, many are questioning what this will do to the brand that he has established worldwide.  Will people be willing to forgive Simmons for his poor discretion and still take him seriously as a social activist. There is no doubt that his team will now have to do some serious damage control to repair this moment of indiscretion. But the question is, how long will it take for the public to forgive? And what actions will his team have to take to repair the damage? As a highly successful entrepreneur who runs several companies it is interesting to see how Simmons could forget the importance of brand consistency.  Simmons is affectionately known in some circuits as "Uncle Rush", so how could 'America's Uncle' support something so painful and degrading as a parody that presents a misogynistic view of women who were instrumental in black history. Simmons needs to decide if he wants to see dollars and "sense" or if he is truly committed to erasing the social ills and deep rooted pain many women (both black and white) have endured throughout our Nation's history. Looks like its time to clean house at Rush Enterprises.