Shelly Bell, Founder Of Black Girl Ventures, Helps Women Of Color Gain Access To Capital

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Shelly Bell has lived many lives. She’s a computer scientist, a former high school teacher, a performance poet, a community organizer, a founder, and a CEO. She has two successful apparel printing businesses: MsPrint USA—through which she creates swag for clients like Amazon and Google with a team of women designers and printers—and Made By A Black Woman, which celebrates products made by Black women.

Every project Bell undertakes is designed to empower women, especially women of color, which is why two years ago, she began her latest enterprise, Black Girl Ventures, which helps women identifying entrepreneurs of color gain access to capital.

According to a Medium post Bell wrote in May, Black women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the United States, yet they receive less than 1% of venture capital. In 2017, women on the whole, she wrote, only received 2% of venture capital.

Black Girl Ventures (BGV), based in Washington DC, holds pitch competitions, social events, boot camps, and other forms of entrepreneurial training for women of color. Since its inception in 2016, BGV has funded 13 founders and has engaged hundreds of women.

The unique BGV Pitch Competition, of which there are 10 per year, is described on the website as “a crowdfunding meets pitch competition.” Attendees pay admission at the door, selected founders pitch for three minutes, and the audience votes. Winners receive the money raised from admission fees, in addition to other perks like a free consultation with both a lawyer and an accountant and a meeting with an investor.

While anyone can attend the pitch competitions, only women of color can do the pitching. Bell is proud, she says, of “the women we serve and their reaction to the space created for them.” She is also proud of the success many of the entrepreneurs have found after working with BGV. Founders who have participated in pitch competitions have gone on to be accepted into accelerators, receive fellowships, and raise more capital from other resources.

As BGV continues to grow, Bell hopes to do a better job serving Latinx women. “Because Black is in the name, it is definitely easy for Black women to gravitate,” she says, “but we want to make sure we are serving Black and Brown women.”

She is also currently focusing on finding more access to capital, creating more revenue streams, getting more sponsorship, and creating more partnerships. Some of her most recent successes are corporate partnerships with both Bumble and Google Cloud for Startups, who are currently sponsoring the BGV Big 4 Tour through Atlanta, Chicago, DC, and NYC.

When first starting BGV, Bell struggled with trying to do too many things at once. “I’m a creative,” she says. “I have literally at least 10 ideas per day.” Initially, Bell focused on doing both trainings and pitch competitions, but her advisors suggested she focus on getting really good at just one of those things.

So, she invested all her energy in the competitions, which she says has now positioned her well to expand BGV’s training opportunities. Through analytics and data gathered from those involved in the competitions, Bell now feels confident she knows what the women she serves are looking for.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Thasunda Brown Duckett, on building a legacy and investing in your future

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The CEO of Chase Consumer Banking weighs in on the importance of saving.

“What are you saving for?”

That’s the question Thasunda Brown Duckett is most passionate about.

As the CEO of Chase Consumer Banking, Duckett’s mission is to inspire people to take their savings seriously. Not only does she want individuals to invest in themselves with intention; she also wants them to realize that the word “savings” doesn’t just apply to the future—it applies to everyday life.

“I’m passionate about the question, ‘What are you saving for?’ because savings is not just about investing or planning for your retirement,” Duckett explains. “While those are soimportant, so is short term savings!”

By prompting individuals to answer the question—whether they’re funding their next trip to the grocery store, buying a plane ticket for a getaway weekend, or storing money away for retirement—this simple query inspires people to connect their savings goals to their day-to-day lives. And when people connect why they are saving to a specific goal they really care about—like being able to travel now, buying a house soon, or having financial independence later—they are more likely to stockpile their money, alleviating financial anxiety, and as a result, make the most out of their lives.

“It’s not only my passion to get people to save,” Duckett says. “It really is my responsibility. I take that responsibility seriously; not just as a CEO, but as the daughter of Otis and Rosie Brown.”

“What you’re really saving for is the ability to be the best version of yourself,” she explains.

Continue onto JP Morgan Chase to read the complete article.

Visa’s CMO and CCO Lynne Biggar never, ever checks a bag

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As Visa’s chief marketing officer and chief communications officer, Lynne Biggar flies around the world overseeing all of Visa’s branding, sponsorship, communications, and marketing activities. As a veteran traveler who spent years on the road with Time Inc. and American Express before joining Visa, she seems even busier when she’s off the clock–spending her free time climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, for example.

Here the executive reveals her tips and tools for getting the most out of every day.

Where do you go to relax and recharge?

I recharge not by a place per se, but by giving myself a physical challenge. I’ve climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, walked (part of) the Camino de Santiago in Spain, and this summer I hiked through the Dolomites in Italy. I recharge by getting out into nature, going somewhere remote, and ideally, somewhere I’ve never been before.

What travel tips do you swear by?

I travel nearly every week for work, so I have a well-honed regimen I go by:

  • The minute I get on the plane, I set my watch to the time where I am going and act accordingly.
  • I rarely watch the movies and instead pop in my earbuds and use the time to work.
  • I always try to pay only digitally (with Visa, of course). I find that I can travel to nearly any country in the world and, except for tips, rarely need to take out local currency. That way, I’m not left holding unused money that I won’t ever spend again.
  • I often buy flowers to make myself feel more at home in a hotel.
  • No matter how long I will be gone, I will only carry-on.

What’s a product that you are currently in love with?

My Fitbit Ionic. It’s truly an all-purpose device that keeps me honest with my fitness routine while having to maintain a very heavy travel schedule, tells me how much sleep I get (or don’t get), and perhaps most importantly, let’s me make payments without carrying my Visa card—including my morning Starbucks!

What classic product do you believe nobody’s ever improved upon?

While my daily calendar is organized digitally on my phone/computer, I like to keep a long-term view organized on an old-school, paper, month-by-month calendar. I travel with it and refer to it often when having to schedule things that are further afield, as it’s tough to see the big picture on your phone.

What’s your on switch?

The second my feet touch the ground, my mind starts running and I start naturally trying to find solutions for the unsolved problems from the days before and cycling through my to-do list. I feel fortunate that it has always been this simple for me to get going in the morning.

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

How Knowing Her Worth Is Helping This CEO Build A Latinx Lifestyle Brand

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Patty Delgado understands Latina millennials living in America and who are trying to pursue their own version of the American dream because that is what her own hustle consists of. She navigated self-employment and working freelance in the design space after she graduated from college and eventually that transitioned into the new business she helms — Hija de tu Madre.

The Latina lifestyle brand celebrates a generation’s entrepreneurial drive while honoring the phrases and cultural realities that helped mold them. Delgado’s product line started with clothing and accessories and has now moved into the home office space.

“Back in 2016 I had a little idea for a jacket: a denim jacket embellished with a sequin design of La Virgen de Guadalupe,” shares Delgado. “With $500, just enough to make 30 jackets, I started my little ecommerce business called Hija de tu Madre. Once I started, I knew HDTM had the potential to reach a large untapped market: Latinas.”

In just two years, Delgado has gone from being entirely an online experience to having an office and showroom headquartered in Los Angeles. This year she plans to host events — panels, workshops, and networking opportunities — in the space and make it a larger cultural experience.

“We’re a $1.7 trillion dollar industry, but the business world doesn’t treat us as the superpower that we are,” shares Delgado. “Latinas are still the lowest paid labor group. How is it that we’re one of the greatest U.S. buying powers but with the greatest wage gap? With this political climate, and anti-Mexican and Central American sentiment, it’s my responsibility to create a Latinx safe space. Hija de tu Madre will continue to remind our community that our culture matters, and that we aren’t going anywhere.”

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

This Latina Nike VP On Why She Sets Aside Three Hours A Week To Mentor Others

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Andrea Perez is a Nike MVP if you will. This year she will be walking into her 16th year with the company having grown stronger, more dedicated to the brand, and more aware of her own skillsets with every year that passed.

Now, as Nike’s Vice President and General Manager of Global Brand Jordan for women and kids, Perez wants other Latinas to step into their power and into big dreams of their own.

“My advice for Latinas when connecting with others is to be very proud of who you are and what you represent and bring that to the table when establishing relationships,” shares Perez. “Also bring people up with you — for some of us it was a difficult ride to get to where we are at now, so let’s make sure to pave the road and invite others in.”

Perez’s love of sports dates back to her time as a varsity soccer and softball player and only grew into a commitment to a brand that championed all she believed sports and advertising should be.

“As a female athlete growing up in Mexico, I never felt as respected as the male athletes,” shares Perez. “However, in 1998, one company was completely changing the game – Nike. Nike was truly speaking to girls like me, through Mia Hamm and the 99’ers, through Jackie Joyner Kersee and launching numerous campaigns that I really connected with. I was only in high school, but I knew then that I wanted to work for a place like that and began creating Nike ads in my notebooks. It truly was the only place I ever wanted to work.”

Her time at Nike has afforded her the opportunity to mentor others who may want to walk on the same path. Every week Perez sets aside three hours of her time and dedicates it to meeting with those who want her advice on any aspect of their careers.

“I advise my mentees to come to meetings with something to talk about,” states Perez. “A lot of people want to establish relationships and the first thing they ask you is ‘tell me your story.’ I find that that question can be less valuable than coming with a specific question on how to help oneself. I start my meetings asking people a little bit about their background followed by ‘how can I help you?’. The sharper they are in their answer and their ask, the better the answer and insight they can receive from me.”

Below Perez shares more advice she gives to Latinas, what she’s learned through her 3-hours a week mentorship sessions, and why a career at Nike has been as dynamic as it’s been long.

Vivian Nunez: How have you fostered such a long career at the same company? 

Andrea Perez: Two reasons: Nike’s brand values and the ability to have a diverse career within one company. Regarding Nike’s values, I truly believe that life is better with sport. Not just the health benefits, but everything it brings to people’s lives, especially young women. To be in a place where I come to work every day and I feel like I’m contributing to that belief, it’s massive for me. Second, the ability to have a very diverse career. Nike is a really big company. There are three different brands within Nike Inc.: Nike, Jordan and Converse. Nike also has a variety of different functional areas from innovation, to marketing, to our Community Impact group, to Air manufacturing, to Valiant Labs. And offices all over the world. You truly can have an amazingly diverse career.

Nunez: You worked your way up at Nike and now serve as the Global GM of Jordan Women and Kid’s — what has been your biggest lesson learned through that journey? 

Perez: When I was working in Nike Mexico, our GM – a man named Cristian Corsi, had a sign in his office that said: “the desk is the worst place from where to see the world”.  I truly think that’s the best lesson anyone gave me. To be open to what’s happening outside your desk – with your team, with the other teams, with the organization, with the industry, with the consumer, with the world- is what truly makes you expand your mind and see opportunities. Personally, I think it also makes us better humans.

Nunez: What motivated you to set aside three hours of your time every week for mentorship? 

Perez: A lot of people have helped me out in journey at Nike. I had people that took their time to teach me, to give me projects, to support me, even to read my business school applications. I truly owe those people and feel I can do that by helping others out and paying it forward. Conducting mentorship meetings at determined hours of the week helps me keep control of my caledar and be centered before meeting people so that I can focus on the person I am speaking with and not veer off from the conversation or think about my to do list.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

An appetite for business

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When Sadaf Salout isn’t busy running her Persian restaurant or buying a franchise, you’ll likely find her in the classroom, where she most recently earned her doctorate degree.

Here’s a top chef and entrepreneur who’s a voracious learner, too.

At 33 years old, Sadaf Salout has already bought and sold a business. She’s also the chef and owner of Sadaf, her self-named Persian restaurant in Encino, California. And, oh, by the way, she has two master’s degrees and just earned her doctorate in clinical psychology.

“I would have to say I get my work ethic from my father,” said Salout. “I hustle hard.”

Salout’s penchant for hard work and her knack for learning made her an eager student while growing up in the Los Angeles area, where her father and uncle have operated their two Persian restaurants since she was a little girl.“I was raised in the restaurant business — with my twin sister — running around the restaurant, falling asleep on the booths,” Salout said. “So as I got older and could see how a business evolves, I realized not only do I love cooking, I love the customer service aspect of it, and I love people enjoying my food.”

She was a quick study in the family restaurant business. After high school, Salout attended California State University, Fullerton, and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business — supplementing her real-world restaurant experience with more formal guidance on what it takes to be a successful business owner.

A young entrepreneur spreads her wings

Not too long after graduating, Salout pitched her father and uncle her vision to modernize Persian cuisine, and the family opened another restaurant — Sadaf — in 2011. While the partnership worked well to get the business off the ground, Salout decided to fully realize her plan for the restaurant — from atmosphere to menu — she needed full control, which meant buying out her uncle’s share of the company.

To do so, Salout reached out to Mike Bulda, her business relationship manager at Wells Fargo. The two had worked together a few years prior, when Salout applied for and received a U.S. Small Business Administration-backed loan from Wells Fargo1.

Salout’s first SBA loan allowed the budding entrepreneur to purchase an in-home senior care business. Buying the franchise gave Salout the invaluable experience of running a company on her own — and allowed her to honor her grandmother, Akram Daneshpour, who lives in Iran and has Alzheimer’s disease.

“Because of the distance, we can’t be there with my grandmother very often, and that is particularly hard on my mother,” said Salout. “But we know she is being well cared for back in Iran, and that means a lot. Buying the business allowed me to help provide that same peace of mind for families in our community here.”

With no previous experience applying for a loan, Salout was pessimistic about getting approved, but she worked with Bulda on the loan application and together they made the case for financing her franchise purchase.

“I never thought I would get an SBA loan,” Salout recalled, “but with Mike’s help and encouragement, I said to myself, ‘Let’s shoot for it’ — and it happened!”

With that experience under her belt, a more-confident Salout applied for a second SBA loan a few years later to purchase her uncle’s share of their restaurant.

“When Sadaf has a need, what I try to do is to really understand what she’s trying to accomplish and how Wells Fargo can help get her there,” said Bulda. “In my job, I get to help small businesses grow and achieve their goals. And when you have a business owner like Sadaf, who loves what she does — it makes my job that much more rewarding.”

Salout added, “In the restaurant business, especially when you’re the owner, you can feel very alone. But Mike was always there shooting me little reminders, sending me an email, giving me a call — so I have someone I can depend on when it comes to my banking. Just like my dad, Mike and Wells Fargo always have my back.”

Continue onto Wells Fargo to read the complete article.

Siemens Celebrates Diverse Small Business Partners

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Siemens small business awardees pose together

Throughout the United States, Siemens partners with more than 20,000 small business suppliers to drive innovation, achieve greater success, and play an active role in the growth of the U.S. market. As an integral part of our supply chain, we continue to celebrate these strategic partnerships like we did recently during our annual Small Business Awards Luncheon, which recognizes small business partners owned by minorities, women, veterans, and other diverse suppliers across Siemens U.S. businesses.

With the theme of “Small Business – Big Impact,” the ceremony took place in Atlanta and honored nine small business partners, selected based their performance, innovation and sustainability. All the winning suppliers contributed to Siemens’ success in fiscal year 2018 and are powerful examples of how partnering with small and diverse suppliers adds value to not only Siemens, but to our customers, the economy and the supplier themselves.

Here’s a look at the award winners.

Congratulations to the USA Small Business Award 2018 Winners

Quick-Way Manufacturing

Located in Euless, Texas, Quick-Way Manufacturing is a small business manufacturer of custom fabricated parts and stampings. Quick-Way is the “go-to” vendor when Siemens has an expedited need and is well known for its fast turnaround and great customer service.

BBM-CPG Technology, Inc.

South Carolina-based BBM-CPG Technology is a small business founded in 2004 and has fabrication, offices and warehouses with 34 employees and a main-production facility in Mexicana, Toluca, Mexico with 155 employees.

Shur-Kut Corporation

Located in Aston, Pennsylvania, Shur-Kut is a small business that serves many industries including Power Generation, Aerospace, Medical, Commercial Transportation and Automotive. The company maintains 99 percent on-time delivery and 100 percent quality metrics.

Cynthia Kay & Company

With 8 employees, Cynthia Kay & Company is a woman owned small business based in Michigan that has flown over 250,000 miles this year for Siemens to produce digital communications, developed a capability for 360 video and had two employees certified as pilots to fly drone missions for Siemens.

Logisticus Group

Logisticus Group is a small disadvantaged business specializing in Innovative Transportation, Project Management, and Technology Solutions. They constantly exhibit superb quality of service and work, strong work ethic, professionalism, transparency and reliability.

Siemens executives and City of Roswell Mayor pose togethers mall business awardees posing for picture
From left to right is Nichelle Grant, Siemens USA Chief Diversity Officer, Patric Stadtfeld, Siemens Corporation – VP & Supply Chain Head & Regions AM, City of Roswell Mayor Pro Tem Marie Willsey and Robert Suchy, Head of Pooling Siemens AG.

Axxis Building Systems, Inc.

Founded in 2011, Axxis is a woman owned and disadvantaged small business that has been committed to providing quality work and true customer service. Axxis’ performance and service was instrumental in achieving Siemen’s strategic objectives.

Alaska Imaging Solutions

Founded by Brian Niver, a veteran and former Siemens Healthineers employee, Alaska Imaging Solutions is a critical business partner for meeting high customer expectations.

OEM Fabricators, Inc.

OEM is a small business manufacturer of custom, high-performance parts. Its high level of welding and metal fabrication competence has established them as a preferred supplier of complex assemblies.

PROLIM

Classified as a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), PROLIM is a MindSphere IoT partner and leading provider of end-to-end PLM and Engineering Solutions to Global Fortune 1000 companies, with a focus on business processes and technology.

The Siemens small business and supplier diversity program is committed to developing strategic supplier sourcing with small and diverse businesses and businesses located in historically underutilized business zones. To learn more, visit siemens.com/about/supplier-at-siemens.

Former ABC President Channing Dungey joins Netflix

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In a move anticipated within the industry, Dungey is headed to the new home of two other former powerhouse ABCers: Shonda Rhimes and Kenya Barris.

Channing Dungey, the former head of ABC Entertainment who stepped down in November, is joining Netflix, where she will oversee original TV series alongside Cindy Holland, the company’s longtime head of originals.

The move was anticipated within the industry and reunites Dungey with two of her former showrunners, Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s AnatomyScandal) and Kenya Barris (Black-ish), both of whom decamped from ABC to Netflix earlier this year. At Netflix, Channing will also oversee other high-profile producers, such as the Obamas, who have a producing deal at the company; Jenji Kohan (Orange is the New BlackGlow) and Marti Noxon; as well half of the originals executive team. The other half will report to Holland.

Interestingly, sources told The Hollywood Reporter that Dungey, a TV veteran who had been at ABC since 2004, will also have a direct line of communication with Netflix’s content chief Ted Sarandos. Like other executives whom Netflix has poached from traditional entertainment companies, such as Scott Stuber, who heads Netflix’s original film division, Dungey brings experience working with talent and nurturing projects as the company invests more heavily in its own content–and begins to operate more like a traditional studio. In contrast, Holland was promoted to oversee originals in 2012, when Netflix first began making its own shows. She started at the company in DVD acquisitions and then took over domestic TV licensing.

Dungey’s exit from ABC came as its parent company, the Walt Disney Company, was preparing to merge with 21st Century Fox. The new arrangement would have united Dungey with her formal rival at Fox, Dana Walden, who was named in October as incoming Disney TV Studios chairman. Her departure also marked the end of a dramatic year at ABC. After green-lighting a remake of Roseanne that became one of the network’s biggest hits, Dungey swiftly fired the show’s star, Roseanne Barr, after she made a racist slur on Twitter. The show continued production as a spin-off (The Conners) without Barr, but has faired less spectacularly in the ratings. 

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

Finished your novel for NaNo, now what?

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Coach Parent

Each November, thousands of people around the world take part in National Novel (NaNo) Writing Month, where they write a 50,000-word novel over the span of the month. Yet many people have no idea what to do with the novel once they reach the end.

The last thing they should be doing is closing the program, walking away, and not seeing it through to the next step in the publishing process. The hardest part is already done, now it’s just a matter of what comes next.

“Once you have the 50,000 words done, you have done so much work on the novel that it makes no sense at all to not see it through to publication,” explains Annalisa Parent, writing coach and award winning author. “That’s where I come in. I have worked with many people to help them polish their novel and get it ready for the next level. I also help writers to work through so many fears that come up: Fear of being seen, fear of not being seen, fear of success, fear of failure–the list goes on and on. The point is: addressing these fears is often a big part of what is missing in the process, and what holds writers back.”

As a writing coach, Parent is able to help writers to embrace their style, and turn their ideas into a publishable piece. She also helps people to understand the publishing process and how to help reach your target market so that your book sells once it has been published. Additional things that a writing coach can help you with include:

  • Confidence. Many authors pen their story, but they lack the confidence to take it to the next level. They fear rejection and end up sabotaging their work efforts. When you work with a writing coach, they are able to help hone in on your strengths and guide you toward being more confident in your work.
  • Answers questions. Anyone who has ever written a novel is filled with questions. Do they send the book to a publisher? Do they pay someone to proofread it? How do they know if their writing is good enough? Without the answers to those questions, people can become overwhelmed and give up trying to get their book published. A writing coach will guide you through the process, answering all of your questions along the way.
  • Setting and reaching goals. The goal of the first draft may be behind you, but now there are other things that need to be done with it. A writing coach can help you set the goals, become organized, and manage a timeline to complete them.
  • Develop your story. Usually the first story is just the beginning. In order to get publishers interested in your book, you may need to develop your plot, work on your tone and style, or enhance your narrative. A writing coach will be able to see what needs to be done and will guide you toward the finish line.
  • Help. Most people who write a novel, unless they are well-published, will need some help once they finish. Getting the help you need may make the difference in whether or not the book gets lost in your computer, never to be published, or becomes a bestseller.

“There’s something inside of you that has led you to writing a book during NaNo. You completed writing a novel within a month, which is feat in itself,” adds Parent. “Now, I can help you take that novel and turn it into something that is ready to be published and I can help you find your readers.”

Parent has coached hundreds of writers and has taught over 100 writing courses around the world. She works with fiction authors, as well as entrepreneurs seeking to write their expert book. Her book Storytelling for Pantsers: How to Write and Revise Your Novel without an Outline won the CIPA EVVY Silver Award in Best Business Books, and earned a merit award in the Humor category. She has been a featured speaker on writing-related topics across the globe, and she has been a guest on a variety of television, radio, and podcast shows, sharing her secrets for how to write, publish, and sell your book.

Parent is also currently offering a 2019 Writing Gym in England Retreat. To learn more about the retreat, visit the website at: datewiththemuse.com/retreat. For more information about Annalisa Parent, her book, and her coaching services, visit her site at: http://datewiththemuse.com. For more information on how to become a published author, download her free e-book TheSix Secrets to go from Struggling Writer to Published Author here: datewiththemuse.com/6secrets .

About Annalisa Parent

Annalisa Parent has worked with writers all over the world. She offers writing coaching services that have been instrumental in helping writers to go from idea to publishable piece and have the confidence to take their work to the market. Parent focuses on three main areas: Quality, Clarity and Creative Flow, all through a neuroscientific approach. For more information on her services and to set up a chat about publishing, visit her site at: datewiththemuse.com, or book a one-on-one chat session at datewiththemuse.com/publishnow.

How the women in charge of programming at CNN are changing the news we see

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CNN Digital has more women in leadership and on staff than ever, and their perspective is changing video storytelling.

“The best ideas come from people who don’t think like everybody else,” says Wendy Brundige, vice president of global video for CNN Digital. “So, it’s been really important to me to build a team of people who represent different kinds of backgrounds, who’ve had different kinds of experiences.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by four other women in leadership at the network when they talked to Fast Company in the run-up to covering the midterm elections, which had an unprecedented number of female candidates at the federal, state, and local levels.

Election coverage itself is just a flash in the news pan for these women who are collectively responsible for the creation and promotion of a massive amount of video reporting. CNN is just behind YouTube, Facebook, Netflix, and ESPN, yet still reaches over 2.2 billion people across the globe every month. The network asserts that they experience over 500 million starts a day, which they claim is more than any other news brand. Doing this work is a global staff of 660. Although they weren’t able to disclose actual specifics of the breakdown, CNN Digital currently has more women than men on staff.

This is significant. The news business has long suffered from a lack of female representation. Women make up just 32% of U.S. newsrooms (and women of color represent just 7.95% of U.S. print newsroom staff, 6.2% of local radio staff, and 12.6% of local TV news staff), while men get 62% of bylines and other credits in print, online, TV, and wire news, according to the most recent Status of Women in the U.S. Media study. The media industry has also faced criticism for a lack of racial diversity. Data from a 2016 survey by the American Society of News Editors found that underrepresented minorities represent less than 16.94% of newsroom personnel at traditional print and online news publications overall. CNN declined to disclose the racial and ethnic breakdown of its news staff.

In an industry that reaches people of all genders, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and is supposed to prize objectivity, lack of diversity is a potentially huge stumbling block.

Cullen Daly, executive producer for CNN Digital Productions, says there are a lot of different factors that determine what gets covered. Some of it is based on the calendar, other times it’s news that’s bubbling at the moment, but deserves a more comprehensive look. “I’d say a lot of it has to do with innovation,” Daly says, “stories that we think could be told in new and different ways.” Chris James, who did the story on the trade war, told it through a different lens, she says. “He told it through what’s going to happen to people in the middle of the country.”

From left: Cullen Daly, S. Mitra Kalita, Courtney Coupe, Ashley Codianni, Wendy Brundige

Brundige takes a somewhat controversial stance when she says she believes that for too long, people have thought about diversity as mostly about race. While experts like Scott Page, the author of The Diversity Bonus, argues in favor of cognitive diversity (which occurs naturally among people of different backgrounds, regardless of race, gender, or other factors), it wasn’t that long ago that Apple’s former vice president of diversity and inclusion Denise Young Smith came under fire for stating that a room of “12 white, blue-eyed, blonde men” could be diverse.

“We have a lot of racial diversity in particular in my team in New York,” Brundige asserts, “but it’s most important to me to have geographic diversity and not just have a bunch of people who grew up in the Northeast and went to Ivy League schools.” Still, she’s quick to add that there’s room for improvement.

Taking another tack, S. Mitra Kalita, the senior vice president for news, opinion, and programming for CNN Digital, observes that sometimes differences can illuminate common ground, too. She grew up in northeast India. “It’s a very rural region, but Wendy’s family and my family both had cows,” Kalita says. “We look nothing alike, and you would never put the girl from Kentucky next to the girl from Assam, and yet our families are actually very surprisingly similar.”

The mission of CNN Digital, according to Kalita, is to find some common factor with your audience. “So, I don’t think your background can be divorced from that process of storytelling,” she says. As the mother of two, Kalita recalls how she felt when Brundige brought a story idea about a woman in Chicago who was on a quest to find out how her son died because he was left with marks all over his body. It was called “Beneath the Skin,” says Kalita, and remembers Brundige talking about the period between the death and the funeral and what that’s like for a mother. “That just haunted me for days,” she confesses. “I would argue that she probably had a similar reaction,” says Kalita, noting that the creators of the piece were also women. “So on projects like that, it’s wonderful to be able to bring yourself to the work, and have it enhance the work,” she says.

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

How This Former MIT Professor And Google Engineer Used Holograms To Build A $28 Million Startup

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A red laser pointer shining through a raw chicken carcass may not seem like groundbreaking science, but for veteran technologist Mary Lou Jepsen, it’s worth $28 million in funding for her latest startup, Openwater.

Jepsen performed the chicken act as part of her August TED Talk to illustrate how her imaging-tech company is building cost-conscious body-scanning technology by using the same components one might find at a science fair. The laser pointer’s light made both skin and bone of the plucked fowl glow, revealing a tumor just under its flesh. This simple demonstration shows the science behind what Openwater is trying to achieve; wearable diagnostics made from consumer electronic parts that offer higher resolution than multimillion-dollar MRI machines but cost as much as a smartphone.

Just as the chicken’s tumor blocked the laser pointer light, which shone through the rest of the chicken’s flesh, Openwater’s wearables will capture images by recording light particles and the negative spaces where they fail to scatter. X-rays use radiation and MRI machines use a magnetic field and radio waves because they can go through the human body and produce an image. But so does “red light, infrared light,” Jepsen tells Forbes. “Guess which one is cheaper by a lot?”

It’s a method similar to how holograms are made, and it uses readily available camera and display chips you can find in a smartphone. It’s also an idea that took Jepsen’s skill set to consider, and perhaps her impressive CV to convince investors to buy in. The serial founder led the display divisions at Intel and the semi-secret research group Google X and helped develop Oculus after Facebook purchased the virtual reality headset company in 2014. But Openwater began with Princess Leia’s projected message to Obi Wan Kenobi, when Jepsen aimed her life at building holograms like the one she first saw in Star Wars.

Hooked by the lasers and optical illusions involved, Jepsen made her first hologram as an engineering undergrad at Brown. Later, she’d use her growing skill set to develop computer display screens and VR glasses at the top tech companies in the world.

At that time, however, holograms did not pay the bills. Because holography was viewed as a frivolous “technology looking for an application,” no one would fund it, Jepsen says. “I just had to figure out a way to support my habit. I basically lived all through my 20s on $12,000 a year just because I thought I’d die if I couldn’t make holograms,” Jepsen said.

Her pursuit of holograms bought her to Melbourne, Australia, where she worked as a professor of computer science at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and helped put holograms on the country’s paper money. In Cologne, Germany, she built some of the world’s largest holographic displays, including one of historic buildings projected on an entire city block. Still, she didn’t feel her work was taken seriously, so Jepsen figured she’d need a Ph.D.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.