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Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders » PR expert Yolanda Caraway talks technology, culture and community success

PR expert Yolanda Caraway talks technology, culture and community success

Daughtry Caraway Moore Brazile Flournoy

While America is up in arms about crisis expert Judy Smith, the Washington, D.C.-based legend behind the hit ABC series “Scandal,” there’s another subject matter expert who’s the go-to person in the nation’s capital. Meet Yolanda Caraway. She’s the president and chief executive officer of The Caraway Group, who’s often sought to coordinate major undertakings for the Democratic National Committee, as well as private organizations, including Microsoft Corp., MGM MIRAGE, Bristol Myers Squibb, MCI, Mitsubishi and Texaco. Her accomplishments include serving as deputy assistant political director for the Mondale-Ferraro ’84 General Election; director of the DNC’s Fairness Commission (1985); chief of staff of the National Rainbow Coalition, the 1988 Jesse Jackson for President Campaign and deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee under chairman Paul G. Kirk. She played a pivotal role in the historic election of the late Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown to chair the DNC.

Here, she shares how she ended up in public affairs and her one wish to change the world.

What inspires you to show up at work every day?
I believe that every day is a blessing from God. God inspires me to use the gifts he’s given me in everything I do, whether it is work or otherwise.

How did you determine your career path?
Actually, I didn’t — it kind of found me. I always knew I wanted to own my own business, but had no idea what I would do. Somehow along the way, I got involved in politics, which I found was something that I loved and learned that I was very good at strategizing, organizing and bring people together. I began volunteering at an early age and it grew into a career.

I used those experiences to start my own business as an event planner and later added public relations and public affairs.

What other industries connect to your career choice
Government, Corporate, Entertainment and Non-Profits

Describe the future skill sets that are essential to future business leader and innovators?
Hands-on experience. While education will always be important, if you have a degree, but no specific skills, you are lost. We are seeing more and more young entrepreneurs who, particular in the areas of technology and entertainment, who are using their God-given gifts to become leaders and innovators.

Define innovation methods you apply to your business and life.
I surround myself with smart young people, who keep me current, both in business and in life. For instance, it was my staff who forced me to get on Facebook and Twitter and to become more interested in technology.

Describe goal setting methods you use and how o you evaluate you success.
I’ve never been a person who sets a lot of goals. I believe that there is a plan for all of us and I just kind of swing with it. Success to me is helping others grow and achieve their dreams.

Who do you consider your peers in you field and a few that are great examples you can get support and best practices from?
Those who have been successful by being true to themselves.

Name you favorite role models for success in two industries.
Bill Gates, Microsoft
Debra Lee, BET Networks

Names three books that changed how you saw life and you recommend to others.
The Shack, William P. Young
Open, Andre Agassi
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot

Explain why life long learning is important to you.
Learning gives you knowledge, knowledge gives you wisdom, wisdom spreads hope.

Describe the voice of success that you her in your head.
The voice of success in my head tells me to keep on striving to be the best person I can be.

Community success based on what you do in the community means what to you?
Communities are only as strong as their supporters. Strong communities help mold children into strong adults.

Technology plays what role in your daily life?
My iPad pretty much manages my life.

What software and tool of technology apps include has made the biggest difference in you life?
eBooks, newspapers and magazine apps. I read a lot more since everything is located in one place.

How does music and cultural event align with your self-identity?
I grew up during the civil rights and Motown era, so that pretty much defines the way I define my identity. I am always open to all things new – but that was my era and it had everything to do with molding me into the person I am and the way I see life.

Define your personal culture.
I am an African American, middle-aged, heterosexual, single woman.

Where is your favorite vacation spot?
Tuscany, Italy

If you could change one thing about the world what would it be?
Have more women leaders.

If you could change one thing about your self what would it be?
Not a thing. I like me.