Putting Our Best Foot Forward as We Dress for Success!

We often hear, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”. Yet, often times our cover communicates a certain message about who we are to a potential employer or stakeholder. Question: How many times have we walked in the office and thought disapproval of the young man’s untucked, wrinkled shirt? Or the number of times we raise our brows at a colleague’s skirt that is a tad bit too short? Is this being judgmental or simply expecting a level of professionalism?

No matter how much society shifts to focus on your capabilities, rather than your appearance, there will always be a level of expectation with your attire. This unspoken belief presumes that the way someone cares for their appearance, is a key indicator of the quality of work they can provide, amongst other things. Though this belief is sometimes refuted, it still goes unspoken.

In certain situations, being a woman can be perceived as a disadvantage, yet our presentation can either leverage our skillset or sabotage any possible opportunity. Yes, as a woman, we often dress how we feel, but as we take charge of our road to destiny, we must not forget our daily encounters. These subtle moments many times are our unexpected interviews. This isn’t to say that we must wear our power suits when running to the store to get some eggs. However, this is to advise that not every opportunity will be presented in a formal setting, so be ready!

Overall, dressing for success, empowers us to take business and our life to the next level. Whether you are looking to gain that promotion, or lock in that new deal, put on the attire that if no words were spoken, your constituents know you mean business.  So put on those slacks with confidence. With every button you fasten, speak what great things you will accomplish this day. And top it off with your favorite lip shade because being a woman is an amazing thing!

Before we leave home to conquer our tasks ahead, we must always remember to start with putting our best foot forward as we dress for success!

University of Florida’s Small Business & Vendor Diversity Relations 2018 Women’s Business + Leadership Conference

What an event! There were women entrepreneurs, business leaders and professionals from throughout the region who gathered to be a part of this eventful day. In celebration of National Women’s Small Business Month, we connected, educated and inspired every women in attendance to go forth with great success. It was a pleasure having women with diverse backgrounds identify common grounds with other women in business to build a network of support and resources. A highlight of the conference was our partnership with Dress For Success® – Greater Orlando Chapter, as one of their core competencies is to fill the critical need for interview attire for low income women entering the workforce.

From the introduction of the conference, well into the lunch hour, registrants  brought loads of professional items to include: suits, blazers, blouses, slacks, shoes, purses and accessories.  It was evident that the women were delighted to have the opportunity to give for such a notable cause. One speaker was noted as saying “Giving is the New Black”. This mantra capitalized on the enthusiasm of the conference, which continued to stir the hearts of attendees as it opened our eyes and further awakened the connection that every woman has to one another. So whether we are finding our “Wow Factor” or standing confidently in our “Power Pose”, every day we should be purposeful to accomplish our goals!


UF’s Kathey Porter Wins Supplier Diversity Advocate of the Year Award from the Florida State Minority Supplier Development Council

Our own director, Kathey Porter, was recently named Supplier Diversity Advocate of the Year by the Florida State Minority Supplier Development Council at its 43rd Annual Awards Gala.

According to the council’s website, this award is given to those who are visible in the business community, a strong supporter of the FSMSDC organization and actively seeks to promote the Council’s mission of fostering and enhancing minority business development.

“I am honored to accept this award which recognizes supplier diversity excellence in the state of Florida. The success of our program rests in our ability to develop internal advocates within various university departments and divisions as well as our external partners – suppliers and vendors – who are vital to our university’s success,” says Kathey.

“This award demonstrates our commitment to strengthening our diverse supplier base through new ideas and techniques. It recognizes our hard work and dedication to diversifying our supplier base, and the continued growth of our supplier diversity program, which offers minority-owned, women-owned and veteran-owned businesses a chance to succeed,” she adds.


Demetria Sloan, National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) & Founder/CEO Vantage Point Coaching

Demetria Hill Sloan is a results-oriented coach, influential mentor and outspoken motivator. She founded Vantage Point Coaching after a major career transition and decided to live her passion of helping others achieve their absolute best in leadership and in life. She combines nearly 20 years of sales, leadership, facilitation, and training experience with a candid, balanced communication style and unique ability to “cut through the clutter”. Demetria has utilized her dynamic skills in both public and private sectors to help leverage individual strengths, uncover hidden talents, facilitate leadership development and create a performance-driven culture. She is the Board Director and Program Chair – National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Orlando.

Karima Mariama-Arthur, Esq., Founder & CEO, WordSmithRapport™

Karima Mariama-Arthur is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of WordSmithRapport™, and brings more than two decades of comprehensive, blue chip experience in law, business, and academia to the field of human capital asset growth and professional development. A leading authority in cutting-edge adult education, Karima advises individuals and organizations on the dynamics of leadership development, complex communication and performance management. As an extension of her work, she speaks regularly both nationally and internationally in her areas of expertise.

Prior to founding WordSmithRapport™, Karima spent more than a decade working exclusively with corporate litigation based firms where she focused on corporate compliance, commercial transactions, and complex foreign litigation. Introduced to the world of complex litigation while clerking for the late Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr., she learned to manage voluminous caseloads and developed an affinity for resolving high-stakes disputes. For the past ten years she has served diligently as a trusted advisor to the Lawyer Assistance Committee for the Lawyer Assistance Program of the District of Columbia Bar, a confidential program that provides assistance to lawyers, judges, and law students who experience problems that interfere with their personal lives or their ability to serve as counsel or officers of the court.

She is the President of the Global Advisory Board for the Women’s Global Leadership Initiative and has served on global advisory councils in Egypt and India, providing strategic advice to organizations seeking to engage international stakeholders. Additionally, she sits on the Board of Directors and serves on the Governance Committee for The Franklin Foundation for Innovation. Karima is also featured on SheSource, an online brain trust of female experts on diverse topics designed to serve journalists, producers, and booking agents who need female guests and sources.

A native of California, Karima launched her academic career at the University of California Davis, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and earned her Juris Doctor from the Roger Williams University School of Law and clerked for the Honorable Jacob Hagopian, United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island.

Karima is the author of Poised For Excellence (Palgrave Macmillan) and is featured in Flat World Navigation: Collaboration and Networking in the Global Digital Economy (KoganPage). She is a former member of the Forbes Coaches Council, an invitation-only community for top tier business, career and professional coaches whose industry success has been publicly recognized. Currently, Karima sits on the Editorial Board for the Silent Warrior, a publication produced by the Augustus F. Hawkins Foundation, and is a regular contributor to the Human Capital Institute, Entrepreneur, Success, Black Enterprise, and Speaker magazines.

Sherron Washington, Founder & CEO, P3 Solution

Sherron Washington, M.A. is a marketing and communication (marcomm) professional who has imparted her wisdom and expertise for nearly 20 years. She has been deemed “The Marketing Whisperer” due to her uncanny ability to assist clients in developing innovative, results driven, yet simple solutions for their business.

Sherron is the founder and CEO of the P3 Solution, a full service marketing and communications (marcomm) firm located in Silver Spring, MD, that specializes in providing simple strategy, design and social media marketing solutions for small businesses, non-profit organizations, associations and entrepreneurs.  She has built her firm around the principle of “marketing simple,” which instruct clients to embrace simplified methods to promoting their business. The P3 Solution is also the creator and host of “Market Simple: The Summit” (www.imarketsimple.com) an annual, full-day workshop designed to help businesses learn how to effectively create and execute their marketing and communication efforts successfully.

Sherron is the author of two books Market Simple: The Blueprint to a One-Page Marketing Plan and The Oops Moment: Eliminating Marketing Mistakes, Mishaps & Missteps.  In addition to writing a book, she is also a contributor for SmartCEO, Social Media Today and LinkedIn Marketing publications, where she writes articles on how to streamline the use of social media in order to make a more effective impact.

As a speaker, trainer and professor, Sherron has an energetic style that captivates and educates simultaneously, sharing expert marketing insight in fun interactive sessions that engage the participants and enhance the learning experience. Sherron has presented at several conferences around the country including, 2016 The International Council of Small Business Conference, Modern Femme, Inbound 2017 and Las Vegas Pubcon 2017 to just to name a few. She has also appeared as a marketing expert or WHUR’s The Daily Drumm with Harold Fisher, and The Maggie Linton Show on Sirius XM.

Sherron has been a Business Communication professor for 10 years at Trinity University in Washington, D.C. and Stevenson University in Baltimore, MD. She has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in:  Public Speaking, Introduction to Mass Communication, Theory and Practice of Marketing, Gender and Communication, Leadership, Introduction to Women Studies, Intercultural Communication, Interpersonal Communication, Consumer Behavior, Advertising and Promotion, Social Media Marketing and Public Relations. Sherron enjoys instructing students and discovering inquisitive, future leaders for the marketing and communication industry. Sherron has a Masters of Arts in Communications and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications with a double minor in Business and Media Technology.

Renita Hunt, President, Dress For Success® Greater Orlando Chapter


Renita Hunt is a dynamic empowerment speaker, blogger, and marketing communication executive.  Renita started her professional career as media mogul Ted Turner’s personal receptionist in Atlanta, went across the pond to work for Apple in London, and planned events for Magic Johnson Enterprises directly with Magic Johnson all before the age of 25.

Throughout her 18+ years professional background in marketing communications, Renita has worked with such brands as: Holiday Inn Club Vacations, Home Depot, Ford, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s just to name a few. Renita is extremely passionate about giving back, women empowerment, diversity and inclusion, and all things fashion.

Renita is currently the Board President of Dress for Success Greater Orlando. In addition to Dress for Success, Renita is a part of many professional boards such as: Central Florida Employment Council, National Black MBA Association, and Orlando Museum of Art-Council of 101. Renita holds an MBA from University of Phoenix, a BA in Public Relations from Clark Atlanta University, and a Digital Marketing Diploma from Shaw Academy.

Connecting Small and Diverse Businesses to Opportunities at UF

With an annual spend that can easily reach nearly a billion dollars and an economic reach that is felt locally, regionally, nationally and internationally, the University of Florida is an entrepreneurial hub on the move! Everywhere you look there’s a new building or a new development which means opportunity. The division leading the charge to ensure small and diverse businesses have help connecting to opportunities at UF is the division of Small Business & Vendor Diversity Relations (SBVDR).

Although small businesses are the backbone of our economic landscape and key drivers of job creation and growth, it can be a challenge for small and diverse businesses to successfully compete for business opportunities to help them grow and become sustainable. The SBVDR draws together a diverse community of small businesses – the innovators and doers who power our economic engine.

The program recently held its 27th Annual Small Business Opportunity Fair + Summit. Since its inception, this event has grown to become one of the most anticipated events for small and diverse business professionals in the north central Florida region, hosting representatives from small, minority and women-owned businesses, corporations, UF departments and members of state agencies and higher education institutions. This is not only significant from a longevity perspective, but is reflective of UF’s longstanding commitment to helping small and diverse businesses in this community.

Getting Started

The process of one business selling to another, or business-to-business, can be a game-changer for small businesses. In fact, developing a business-to-business strategy can be critical for any business looking to scale and grow. Unfortunately, for many small businesses, the thought of doing business with a large customer can be intimidating, sometimes leading them to think, “We don’t want to get too big.” However, the truth is, you often can stay as small as you’re comfortable with—or grow as large as you want—with the right strategy.

One of the tools small and diverse businesses can use to develop this strategy is supplier diversity programs. Within a larger organization, the mission of these programs is to increase the pool of small and diverse businesses available to do work with. This is achieved by finding small and minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses that can supply many of the goods and services needed to operate. Today, most corporations, higher-education institutions and, of course, the federal government, have programs specifically designed to increase their utilization of and spend with small and diverse businesses. Many of these organizations want to ensure their business partners are reflective of the communities in which they operate. These organizations understand that it is no longer just a “nice thing to do” but a business imperative and integral to their own competitive advantage.

The University of Florida’s program has a three-pronged approach to help businesses utilize its program and put them on the path to successfully doing business with UF – CONNECT, ENGAGE, and BUY!


Gainesville enjoys numerous resources to help entrepreneurs reach their full potential and UF Small Business & Vendor Diversity Relations can be counted amongst this dynamic ecosystem.

When businesses connect with the program, they are then connected to our the group’s vast resources to advocate and get them on the path to a contract opportunity as quickly as possible. Whether it is connecting firms to opportunities with the various departments across campus or other business development resources. SBVDR partners with the State of Florida Office of Supplier Diversity to assist firms in getting certified and learn about doing business with the state of Florida, other agencies within the state and other higher education institutions. They also work with agencies such as the Small Business Administration to connect businesses to programs and contract opportunities with the federal government.


Most supplier diversity programs offer numerous opportunities to connect and engage with key people within the organization. Organizations do business with those that they know, like and trust. In order to build relationships, small businesses should actively engage in the programs, attend events and use available resources. Often, this will provide your firm with opportunities to get valuable one-on-one time to communicate the full breadth and expertise of your business, making it easier for them to advocate on your behalf. The UF program offers numerous opportunities for small businesses to sharpen skill sets and build business acumen through workshops and networking events.


With any potential customer, in order to service them effectively, you should understand what they buy, how they buy and who the correct people are to engage. Depending on the complexity of the organization, there can be several touchpoints for entry, including subcontract or second-tier opportunities, where you contract to perform work for another company, or prime contractor, that has a direct contract with the organization. These are great stepping stones and provide an excellent (and faster) opening to build capacity, absorb how to do business with a large organization and get a contract.

Doing business with institutions or agencies does not happen overnight. Truthfully, it may take significant time and investment of resources to build relationships and demonstrate you can fulfill the terms of a contract. If you think you are ready to make UF your customer, the first step is to research carefully to fully understand if the risk (outlay of resources, time, etc.) for your business is, indeed, worth the potential reward. SBVDR stands ready to help firms every step of the way.

The UF Small Business and Vendor Diversity Relations group offers multiple programs and events to engage and promote with local businesses. Here is a sampling.

Mentor Protégé Program – annual, year-long training program that partners an emerging business with a larger, established business to help answer questions, provide support and help them become comfortable with the processes at UF

Monthly Business Development Workshops – monthly workshop featuring various departments across campus to discuss how to do business with them and community resources that provide support to small businesses

Annual Small Business Opportunity Fair + Summit – annual networking, business development and awards event that connects attendees with various corporations, UF departments and partners, members of state agencies and higher education institutions and recognizes outstanding community partners and stakeholders

Personal Meetings – Connects key personnel from various UF departments including Shands, Athletics, Procurement, Facilities Services, etc. to discuss upcoming contract opportunities

Bus Tour – Tour of upcoming and current construction projects with active contract opportunities (open to mentor protégé participants only).

By Kathey Porter, MBA, CPSD

6 Keys to Develop a Successful Small Business

Steve Jobs dropped out of college to start a little computer company in his garage. Mark Zuckerberg launched the first iteration of Facebook from his dorm room at Harvard. While every successful entrepreneur’s career path looks a bit different, there are universal signposts that can help steer everyone with small businesses in the right direction. Here are six things to keep in mind when you have a small business.

  1. Success requires courage.

It takes courage to start and persevere in your own business. In some ways, starting is often the most difficult part of the whole journey. Remember that courage is really 50 percent fear. Being courageous means having a goal that you believe in. The more deeply you believe in that goal, the more fear you are willing to overcome.

Your goal should be more than financial profit. Having your own business is usually a very long — even lifelong — project. With the inevitable obstacles and setbacks that will arise, doing something you really believe in is essential to finding the courage to continue.

  1. Well begun is half done.

The fearful may think that they are never quite at the point where they are ready to get started.  As a result, many never start. It’s easy to justify fear: “The time isn’t right,” “I need to collect more data first,” “I can’t find the right talented people,” “It doesn’t feel quite right,” “I need to reflect on it some more,” and so on. By justifying fear, such rationalizations become the entrepreneur’s Achilles heel.

I’ve worked with many people who go through their entire business career unable to get past that first step. They may generate charts, graphs, software, projections, schedules, on and on to the point where they can’t see the forest for the trees, and as a result, they never actually get started.

Of course, it’s possible to be too impulsive and get started without sufficient planning. But that’s not very common. For most people, it’s just hard to get the ball rolling. You can always do more planning. The art, however, is knowing when enough is enough — and it’s time to get started. No formula can answer that for you. It’s more of a feeling within your gut.

  1. Find the right mentor.

Getting over that fear hump may require a good support group or mentor. It’s a lot easier for another person to identify your excessive fear than it is for you. If you are really identified with your rationalizations, even the best mentor can’t help. You will just ignore them, using your rationalizations to prove that the mentor is wrong.

You need to think and be open. You also need to be careful in selecting your advisors. Otherwise, you will just listen to people who collude with your current fears. They will simply feed your procrastination instead of helping you move past procrastination.

This creates an obvious double-bind. How do you trust a mentor you disagree with? That has more to do with you than it has to do with the mentor. You have to be willing to question your viewpoint and listen to other viewpoints, but you don’t blindly listen to those viewpoints. You do, though, give yourself time to reflect on those viewpoints in an attempt to discover what you might be missing. If you spend time with your mentors, you can get a feeling for them and cultivate the ability to sense whether or not they are coming from a place of wisdom.

  1.  Keep the overhead down.

The Donald Trumps of the world might start big, but generally speaking, individuals launching businesses start small. Keep your overhead down. Lack of cash flow is probably the biggest cause of failure in small businesses. It’s a lot easier to expand than it is to cut back. When I started my school, my whole accounting system was on an 11”x17” pad of paper.

If you’re not careful, renting an office space, hiring your first employees, buying the requisite technology and all the other startup costs can be enough to bring a fledgling business to a screeching halt. As the business progresses, it tends to accumulate costly baggage. You will do well to review your checkbook and cut unnecessary expenses. Maximize your chances of profitability by taking a minimalist approach to overhead costs.

  1. Carefully guard the keys to the courthouse.

We live in an incredibly litigious time. Conflicts can easily result in litigation which consumes a tremendous amount of time, energy and money. When you enter a partnership, you are giving that partner a lot of power that they could, through litigation or not, wield against you if things go awry. The effects can be devastating.

You need to be very careful when it comes to selecting partners. It’s important that their goals support your goals. Also carefully assess their integrity. Otherwise, if they see an opportunity to maximize their profits at your expense, they may well do that.

Consider too their temperament. Otherwise, when obstacles arise, they may succumb to fear, or they may attack you or undermine the business out of fear, mistrust, control issues, impulsiveness or personal life issues. Fair weather partners are easy to find. However, you need to assess what a partner will be like when the going gets rough.

  1. Maintain control.

These days, control seems to have quite a negative connotation. The truth is, many aspects of control are positive and important attributes. Maintaining proper control means staying true to your vision and honoring your instincts on what is right for your business. After all, you understand your business better than anyone — probably better than even the best consultant on the planet. It’s easy to defer decisions to such people — and it’s such a big mistake. If they are right, they have to convince you. There is no room for blind faith.

No one ever said having a small business would be easy. These six points are essential to having a prosperous business while avoiding unnecessary challenges. These points are not just cold hard facts. There is an artistry to their implementation. To be successful in business means to practice and develop that artistry over time. It starts with some thoughtful reflection and research. Then find the courage to wisely and artfully take that first step and every step thereafter, day after day, month after month, year after year.

Michael Mamas
Founder of The Center of Rational Spirituality