Panelists Tracey Jennings, Keshia Walker, Kandi Burruss, Michele Thornton, McGhee Williams Osse and Natasha Hastings

ATLANTA – Kandi Burruss is sweet enough to overdose a honeybee. Her designation as the one of the main faces of rolling out’s Female Success Factor seminar sponsored by American Express was right on so many levels, but mostly because of what she did at the event when no one was looking.

The true measure of someone’s character can be gauged behind the scenes, away from the cameras and the crowds. Burruss helped someone before she even got on stage when she spent 10 excruciating minutes trying to get someone’s brand-new camera working so that the fan could take a picture of her. I couldn’t believe she spent that much time not only getting it to work right, but she even took test shots and then patiently posed for 12 shots to make sure the fan got the shot he wanted.

That snapshot of her personality said more to this writer than even the inspirational things she said after she sat down with Steed Media’s publisher, Munson Steed, for an intimate one-on-one. And that was just the close of a dazzling four-hour power-packed event that included elite African American businesswomen including McGhee Williams Osse, the co-CEO of Burrell Communications Group; Michele Thornton, the director of multicultural ad sales at CNN; Tracey Jennings, the VP and global director at Liquid Soul Media; Keshia Walker, founder and CEO of Insights Marketing; Olympic gold medalist Natasha Hastings, and, of course, Burruss. A small sampling of the inspirational messages delivered during this event included:


Michele Thornton: “When I 26 years old I was cleaning houses. I was working the front desk of a hotel. I knew it was beneath my talent. I also went to a speech and diction coach. I lost 40 pounds. I prepared myself for the opportunity that I wanted to walk into,” she said to applause. “Sometimes we have to work on ourselves. Sometimes we have to sacrifice.”


Keshia Walker: “I learned after 9-11 that some money is better than no money. You may not get $5,000 for a project. You may only get $1,500. But show them why the next time they come to you why they need to pay you $10,000. So don’t turn down a project because it may not look exactly like you want it. Same thing in your personal life. Everyone looking for that perfect man, but the only perfect man is God. So take that contract and make it work for you and go and get a better contract, a better moneymaking contract. And another thing I want to say, as African American women: you never know who is in the audience with you. I get so discouraged when I walk around and they don’t want to speak [back] and they’re heads are down. You just never know who’s speaking to you or who you are speaking with.”

Tracey Jennings [when asked about how to get started]: “I would say start with an assessment of where you are. What are the assets that your brand has. Are your talents and what you have to offer consistent with what the marketplace needs right now? What does the marketplace need right now and can I fill that need? So start with an assessment of where you are now against the assessment of the marketplace in terms of where the opportunities are.”

Kandi Burruss [when talking about taking advantage of opportunities]: “Reality TV is definitely good for business. For one, It’s like one big informercial. Whatever you are working on, you can promote ideas or whatever you want to do. Now the unfortunate thing is a lot of us don’t take advantage of the platform like we should. When you look at the other housewives of the other “Housewives” franchise, some of them [promote] their brand. Like you see Bethany and it’s ‘Skinny Girl this, and it’s Skinny Girl that.’ She’s used the show to build her brand. But then you get the other ones and you say ‘when this show is over, what are they going to be doing?’ People don’t even recognize the opportunity in front of them. They are just living in the moment, having a good time. But once you get to a certain age, it ain’t all about just having a good time.”

terry shropshire