Linda Spradley Dunn is well-versed in maintaining a winning business and overcoming setbacks. The owner of one of the largest African-American businesses in the country, Media Research Events, she’s had her fair share of ups and downs over the past 20 years. She nearly went out of business twice. After creating Odyssey Media 17 years ago, which allowed her to serve as a powerful example of how imperfect businesses and businesswomen can still succeed, Dunn has now expanded the educational and networking retreat with her “In the Black” tour. The event is scheduled to arrive in Atlanta on Oct. 28 at the Commerce Club.
The 15-city tour will school businesswomen and entrepreneurs on how to balance corporate life and life outside of work, how to dress for success, and how to reach higher heights in the business world. Dunn says she will not only be taking the stage to share her personal story and tips, but former Essence beauty editor Mikki Taylor will also join her and “pull women out of the audience to transform them with inexpensive jewelry accessories.” Phenomenal business coaches Becky Davis and Cheryl Walker-Robertson will also grace the stage.
“It’s a campaign to help small business owners and entrepreneurs take their business to the next level,” said Dunn. “About 40 percent of multicultural women run businesses from their homes,” she continued. “If you’re running a business and you’re also a mom and you’re also working to help your husband, your church and everyone else, how do you transform from that person to show up for business? So, ‘In the Black’ talks about you needing a little black dress, a Rolodex of contacts and people who support you, make sure you have black ink, funding, money and access to capital.”
The group will also discuss issues that often plague multicultural women in corporate America, such as ethnic names and assimilation. Dunn, who believes it is vital to be honest about her own experiences in order to connect with the tour’s attendees, tells her own story of assimilating to corporate culture when she worked at IBM in the ’80s.
“I straightened my hair, I wore a Brooks Brothers suit. I was very successful at that company. I understood the culture,” she recalls. “By the time I left IBM, my hair was in a bun and nobody cared. We can’t change the game unless we’re inside and we’re playing it.”
She adds that while she “played the game” by assimilating, she makes it clear that it’s perfectly fine to reject that route.
“Fifty percent of the women who show up at our events have natural hair and that is a wonderful thing to see,” she says. “It is a personal, individual decision how much you want to assimilate. Nobody gets to tell you. You weigh the benefits and the risk of what you’re trying to achieve. At the end of the day, the only person that matters is the one that’s staring back at you in the mirror.”
The “In the Black” tour will feature hostesses such as like Judge Glenda Hatchett, Morehouse School of Medicine’s president Dr. Valerie Montgomery–Rice, Spencer Stuart’s managing partner Sharon Hall, and more.
“In the Black” tour dates
Oct. 21 Mitchellville, Maryland The Country Club at Woodmore
Oct. 22 Washington, D.C. South African Embassy
Oct. 28 Atlanta The Commerce Club
Oct. 29 Charlotte, North Carolina The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte
Nov. 10 Houston Houston Marriott West Loop by the Galleria
Nov. 12 Los Angeles NBC Universal Studio Lot
Nov. 17 New Orleans The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans
Nov. 18 Miami Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay