Plowing through Corporate America in a Concrete Jungle

Plowing through Corporate America in a Concrete Jungle

I am from Chicago and make frequent trips to New York, D.C., and other places across the globe. As such, I have seen many concrete jungles where numerous Multi Nationals reside.

What is a concrete jungle? A large city where the architecture looms with tall sky scrapers, a bit of crime, electric energy, many ethnicities, and it seems all are fighting to exist, coexist or go somewhere that is significant to them.
So what is the attraction? Opportunity to create, develop or be a part of a dynamic where movers and shakers make it happen. So how does one plow through a concrete jungle while aspiring to move up the ranks in Corporate America?

FOCUS– begin with clarity. Define what you want/need.
 Strategically plan your entrance and exit wherever you go
 Equip yourself with tools (resources)- Network
 Seek a mentor
 Be a mentor
 Build a coalition
 Surround yourself with people who are on par and smarter than you
 Invest in quality presentation tools- clothing, writing instruments, business cards, etc…not too fancy
 Read and research everything in the field of your choice
 Talk the talk and walk the walk
 Always be ready
 Be enthusiastic (even on cloudy days)- sometimes the sun doesn’t shine through the tall buildings
 Memorize your elevator speech- what do you do Ms. /Mr. Jones? You’re on. ARTICULATE!
 Be generous at heart- never lose compassion or empathy for others
 Know that Greed is not Good…they are not synonymous terms
 Keep your eyes open
 Pay attention
 Learn from others by observing behaviors and patterns
 When the light turns green, GO! Yellow, slow down and proceed with caution. Red, STOP.
 Know the Corporate Culture and fit in or don’t bother applying.

Now you are ready to plow through. However, be cognizant of the fact- life is give and take. Be forewarned not to take too much. Reach back and pull someone forward.

All the best- Bridgette

Focus on Success…How to Focus

How to focus.

When your personal or business space becomes obscure and ambiguous or just plain old unproductive, you must reassess your value proposition and gain greater clarity. What may have worked for you last week or last year may not be the best way to achieve the success you strive for in your new space.

Focus starts with Clarity.
If you are not lucid; meaning- if you cannot clearly express what it is you want or need to do, you will not be able to get to a space where you can focus.

In order to focus you must: start a weeding process in which you prepare your garden for a wonderful full bloom.

i. Create a new environment
Redo and repurpose your work space or personal (physical) space
Remove “reminders”- reminders are those things that trigger distracting thoughts and actions
Could be a picture, a painting, an anniversary clock etc…

ii. Stop old habits

Cut out or limit social media
Answer your phone between specific intervals during the day
Limit or cut out text messaging
Check email between certain intervals during the day
Change your diet to include healthy options- try juicing once a day
…not an endorsement but, I love my NutriBullet- it’s small, convenient and easy to clean
Exercise once per day- chose what’s best for you along with your physician’s guidance

iii. Develop new routines

Arrive to work an hour earlier than usual
Break for lunch at a specified time each day
Try a new genre of music (play list) e.g. switch from Jazz to Classical or Pop to Soft Rock- music you don’t know the lyrics to or can daydream to
Do not listen to the radio during work hours
Do not watch Television during work hours

iv. Believe you can deliver a great work product
v. Believe you can make a great impact
vi. Believe in your gifts and make No apologies for your individual greatness and contributions
vii. Believe you can be a Better You
viii. Trust yourself and hold yourself accountable to deliver results

Once you enter your new space with Clarity, you can focus on the task or goal at hand. Focus is an interdisciplinary approach to productive and positive outcomes. We strive for greater focus to ensure Success.

“There are two kinds of success. One is the very rare kind that comes to the man who has the power to do what no one else has the power to do. That is genius. But the average man who wins what we call success is not a genius. He is a man who has merely the ordinary qualities that he shares with his fellows, but who has developed those ordinary qualities to a more than ordinary degree.” Theodore Roosevelt

I could go on for pages, but this is a good start. I hope you find greater Clarity, Focus and Success in all your endeavors.

All the Best,

UIUC Blog salute to EMBA class 2013


“Be not afraid of greatness: Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and
some have greatness thrust upon them.” William Shakespeare

My fellow colleagues and classmates, the time has come to embrace new beginnings and take on a new journey. Our past journey of sharing academic experience(s) and business war stories (filled with innovative best practices) has set us on a path to Greatness.
As our Dean of the College of Business- Larry DeBrock implied during our convocation ceremony, it is up to us MBA graduates to go out in the world and figure it out. We have been trained to the extent that our knowledge base has become one that is full of innovative consciousness.
Innovation is a necessary means to an end. The end is growth, sustainability and profit. We must embrace the challenges and the opportunity of today. In doing so, we will make the world better tomorrow. We possess the power and knowledge to “Figure it out”.
We are UIUC Colleagues.
We are UIUC Alumni.
We are Family!

As UIUC Alumni and Family, we understand the importance of networking and the power of influence. It is through networking that we may gain additional insight that can benefit us in the quest to move world market growth initiatives forward…no matter how large or small the enterprise. The ideology is to make an impact for a greater good.

What we do as MBA’s matters.

Thus, colleagues- we are the future movers, shakers and decision makers!
Greatness resides in all of us and we are made better each time we are challenged to ‘figure it out’.

All the Best,
Bridgette C.-Lewis
EMBA Class of 2013

Doing business in the African Emerging Market

Doing business in the African Emerging Market

Africa is a continent that boasts 54 countries and 1.033 billion people.
The largest country(s) related to geography is the Sudan, Algeria and the Congo; the largest country in population is Nigeria.
Despite the fact that Africa is one of the poorest continents in the world, it is a unique continent that is rich in numerous natural resources, beautiful coastlines and shores (easy import/export access). Africa also has fine diamond and gem mines in which the world marvels at.

Recently, China has invested over 1billion dollars in Africa.
From the perspective of the United States and Commerce:
Article dated November 21, 2012
Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank will travel to South Africa and Kenya next week to advance key elements of the President’s “Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa,” that will promote economic growth, trade, and investment in the continent. As part of her trip, Acting Secretary Blank will officially launch the “Doing Business in Africa” campaign, an Administration initiative to help American businesses identify and seize opportunities that will further the United States’ commercial, trade, and investment relationship with Africa.
“As President Obama has said, Africa is a region of growing opportunity and promise, and it has the potential to be the world’s next major economic success story,” said Acting Secretary Blank. “As part of our efforts under the National Export Initiative to support U.S. companies in selling their goods and services to the world, we must do everything possible to ensure we are promoting trade and investment with Africa. The Department of Commerce has an important role to play when it comes to helping American companies understand the trade and investment opportunities in Africa that will not only support the region’s economic expansion, but will also create jobs in America.”
On June 14, 2012, the President issued the U.S. “Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa,” under which the United States will pursue four objectives in the region: strengthening democratic institutions; spurring economic growth, trade and investment; advancing peace and security; and promoting opportunity and development. As part of spurring economic growth, trade and investment, the Strategy specifically calls for the development of a “Doing Business in Africa” campaign. This campaign will leverage the federal government’s trade promotion, financing and strategic communications capabilities to help U.S. businesses identify and seize opportunities in Africa, and to help them overcome any challenges they face to establishing business relationships with Africa.
Also part of her trip to South Africa, Dr. Blank will also meet with and promote a multi-sector trade mission being led by the Department of Commerce’s Under Secretary for International Trade, Francisco Sanchez. A delegation comprised of representatives from 15 U.S. firms will join Sanchez on stops in Lusaka, Zambia; and Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa.
In Kenya, Acting Secretary Blank will meet with heads of state and senior trade officials of the East African Community, a regional intergovernmental organization that includes Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi. The United States has prioritized the promotion of regional economic integration in Sub-Saharan Africa, and it recognizes that the EAC in particular as a strategic market for trade and investment with significant long-term growth potential. For that reason, the United States is pursuing a Trade and Investment Partnership initiative with the EAC under the President’s Strategy, which will build on the foundations of our already-existing trade and investment relationship with the EAC. Acting Secretary Blank will promote many of the Partnership initiatives on her trip, including the launch of a new EAC-U.S. Commercial Dialogue.
Sub-Saharan Africa presents enormous opportunities to the American private sector. According to the World Bank, its GDP totaled approximately $1.25 trillion in 2011, and six of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world are in Sub-Saharan Africa. U.S. total merchandise exports to Sub-Saharan Africa tripled between 2001 and 2011.
In 2011, U.S. exports to Sub-Saharan Africa totaled $21.3 billion, while imports were $74.3 billion, an increase from $17.1 billion and $65 billion in 2010, respectively. Total trade between the U.S. and Sub-Saharan Africa increased by 16 percent between 2010 and 2011, and in the first half of 2012, U.S. goods exports to Sub-Saharan Africa are up 4.6 percent over the same period in 2011. The President’s “Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa” seeks to build on this success.
Further, The United States Government believes:
Article dated July 2, 2013
President Obama believes sub-Saharan Africa could be the world’s next major economic success story. That is why in June 2012, he issued the U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa (PDF) to escalate the U.S. efforts to stimulate economic growth, trade, and investment in the region. One year later, the President is in Africa to highlight our success under this strategy.

A key component of the President’s strategy is the Doing Business in Africa (DBIA) Campaign, which was launched by the U.S. Department of Commerce in Johannesburg, South Africa last November. Its main objective is to bolster federal trade promotion and financing capabilities in order to help U.S. businesses obtain trade and investment opportunities. With these opportunities, the United States’ commercial relationship with Africa will continue to grow.

For more information related to this important emerging market, please contact us at

Thank you and All the Best,

Sometimes you have to lose to win

Sometimes you have to lose to win
Truth be told, it is not always a bad thing to lose. My mother used to say, out of every bad thing that happens-something good is around the corner; if we could only turn our frowns upside down and look forward. There is a lot of wisdom and truth to that old adage
I often wonder; where would I be if my life was full of wins? Would I be this self- centered, egotistical, arrogant, pompous, pretentious person that lacked empathy or compassion? Probably not all of those characteristics, but I would bet, I’d possess quite a few unsavory personality traits.
When I look back on all the gifts life has handed me, I am grateful.
When I look back at all the adversity and storms, I quiver, yet I am still grateful.
I am grateful because I am now able to look at life and others that are struggling or going through a difficult time with empathy and compassion. Sometimes I pray for others and sometimes I do for others while I am praying for them.
What I have learned is that life is not always about me (as much as I would like for it to be sometimes).
Life is really about co-existence, being good to you while being of service to others.
I suppose as long as I am on my journey/ my path in this thing called life, I will be careful not to take too much. I will however, try and understand the plight of others to the extent that I can and work within my confines. I say that because I am only one person and there is a much bigger force at work…a greater agenda. As such, if we can all pull together as a team and stay in our respective lanes, we will be much better for having come together to make a positive impact while we are here.

All the Best,