Power couple Bernard and Batina Brown’s faith walk to riches

Batina and Bernard Brown
Batina and Bernard Brown (Photo courtesy of the Browns)

Having earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Wisconsin Whitewater and a master of science degree in human services from Capella University, Batina Brown knew she wanted to be her own boss. When she was given the green light by her husband, Bernard, who also was a visionary and entrepreneur, they opened a home health care agency.

The founder of Illustrious Women Inc., Batina penned Defying The Odds: On The Road To Success to provide inspiration, motivation, and daily affirmations to others on their journey through life.

Meet Batina.

Why did you write this book?
My husband and I decided to write this book because we had been through so much growing up. We were able to defy the odds and take a different path than most of our peers. We knew that we could be a voice for others who has been in similar situations or is currently going through difficult times while trying to Defy The Odds. We wanted others to learn from our experiences and to look at our journey and say if they can do it so can we.

What’s the story behind the title?
The story behind the title of Defying The Odds: On The Road To Success is pretty much what we have done, defy the odds instead of becoming a product of our environment — negativity, crime, drug dealing, etc — we chose to take another route. Although there were very little positive role models in our lives growing up we decided to be that positive role model not only to others around us but for our children as well. We are on the road to success and with our ambition, determination, and grind we know we will get there. This is how our title was birthed.

What do you hope readers will glean from reading your book?
We hope that readers take the experiences we have shared, daily affirmations, and our journey and use it to learn from it. To not make the same mistakes we made. To get motivation and inspiration to want to be successful and not use their situations (whatever that may be) as an excuse for them not to be all that they can be.

How long did it take you to write this book?
It took us about three months to write the book from changing things and adding to it.

What was your regimen to complete this book?
Our regimen was to write a little at a time. Every night we would add to a chapter until it was complete.

How did you arrive at this career choice? Was it a deliberate decision or a gradual and natural evolution?
We always knew that we wanted to be entrepreneurs, but we didn’t know when or how soon. It was something that happened gradually over time. As far as the book, I would always tell my cousin that I wanted to be an author and I wanted to write a book. I felt like I had so much to share and offer to the world and I wanted them to know my story. I just needed to figure out a way to get my story heard. Once I found resources on how to become a self-published author I immediately started writing and my book was done within three months.

What separates you from others in your field? What is unique to the experience that you create?
What separates us from others in our field is that we don’t see others as our competition; we focus on the Browns and growing as entrepreneurs, authors, parents, etc. What’s unique to the experience that we create is we are genuine individuals, we’re real and that is rare. We are willing to help others and we are God fearing individuals. We believe in treating others how we would want to be treated.

What traits are most conducive to success?
I would have to say integrity because your character is everything if you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything. The trait for success is being you that’s the advantage you have over anybody! No one can be you except you. Be original and be happy with the person you are flaws and all. I always say I own my imperfections. I’m nowhere near perfect, but I’m me and that’s all I know how to be. I also would say live in your truth, everyone has a story to tell, so you tell yours.

How do you stay at the leading edge of your craft?
By keeping God first and asking him to lead me on my journey as an entrepreneur. By being open and willing to learn new things. By attending conferences, seminars, webinars, etc. pertaining to my craft. Always learning something new daily.

Do you think that there are any widely held misconceptions about what you do? If so, what are they and how do you work to dispel them?
Yes, any kind of success in general is a misconception — depending on what you may deem success to be. A lot of people see the success, but not the struggles and sacrifices you have made to get to that point. That’s where the misconception come in at because you work hard for whatever is you have and when people see this they tend to think you owe them something. This lead to a quote that I wrote in the book We have the same 24 hours in a day what you choose to do with yours is your business, but you will not make me feel guilty for what you chose not to do.” People around you don’t want to work for it, but think it comes easy. How I work to dispel them is by not allowing others to make me feel guilty for their actions, I continue to focus on what it is my husband and I are doing and strive to be all that we can for our children.

How do you map out your goals? How do you measure your success?
We map out our goals by breaking them down into short term (three to six months out) and long term (five years-10 years out) We also break them down into three different categories Personal, Business, and Spiritual all of which you will find in the Goals chapter (chapter 5) of the book. We allow our readers to jot down their goals because we believe when it’s written on paper it sticks more. You have something to work toward. We decided to put this in the book because a lot of people don’t make goals, don’t write them down, or don’t know how to start. We believe if you don’t set goals you have nothing to work toward. We measure our goals by going back to look at our previous goals and what we have accomplished, what we have yet to accomplish, and what we are working toward. I wouldn’t say we measure our success because God does that. Success to us isn’t about “things,” but about making sure our family is taken care of responsibly. Making sure our children are receiving a great education, they have great role models as parents, making sure their future is invested in, etc. Success to us is having the knowledge and wisdom to educate and give back to our community. Which is how our book came about.

Who do you consider to be your peers in your field? Who do you see/use as examples for you to emulate?
Being a serial entrepreneur and having your hands in so many different things you don’t have a certain field. But for me Oprah has always been a person I see and use for examples to emulate. After all she is from our home town Wisconsin. I just feel if Oprah can do it so can I. We have the same 24 hours I have no excuses, we are from the same state that gives me more motivation. As a couple, we look up to Michelle and Barack, Will and Jada, Beyonce and Jay, and all other wonderful couples that set a positive example for black love and families.

Name two of your top role models: one from your industry and one from outside of it.
Two of our top role models one not in my industry would be Oprah, and from my industry would be Karen Civil [Mrs. Brown] My mother outside my industry and in my industry Muhammad Ali [Mr. Brown]

Name three books, works, performances or exhibits that changed how you view life and/or yourself.
Three books that changed how I view life and/or myself would be Girl Boss by Sophia Amoruso, Successful Women Think Differently by Valorie Burton, and How Successful People Lead by John Maxwell.

Why do you consider continued learning important?
Continued learning is very important because things evolve and it’s important to evolve your learning with time. My husband always told me if I am the smartest person in the room, I’m in the wrong room. You can never know too much and learning from others is important. You should learn something new daily.

What affirmations do you repeat to yourself that contribute to your success?
Never stop at plan A and B there is always C, D, and the rest of the alphabet, I will not become content, there is always room for growth, I will live in my purpose, I will keep God first and walk by faith, not by sight. I will defy the odds.

What role does technology play in your day-to-day life? How do you utilize it?
Nowadays with social media having the affect it does on small businesses and entrepreneurs, technology plays a huge role. Rather it being my phone or lap top I utilize it daily for work, advertising, connecting with others, networking, and branding our businesses.

What software, app or other technological innovation has made the biggest difference in your life and/or career?
I would have to say social media in general Instagram, Facebook, Periscope, etc. Being able to promote your brand for free and connect with people from all over the world. That has made a difference because your biggest supporters are people you don’t know that you meet via Social media.

Please define your personal brand.
Our personal brand The Browns’ Journey is about two individuals, who are best friends, soul mates, husband and wife, parents, etc. We give our viewers our experiences and journey through our book and helping others with other businesses we have. Coming from Milwaukee and growing our empire from nothing we give hope to those who grew up where we did. We have dated since we were 16 and 17 in high school, 12 years later we’re married with two children, and growing successful businesses. Impacting the lives of many that we come in contact with on a daily. Through the good and bad its possible, black love does exist, raising children with your husband that you have dated since high school does exist. It’s rare where we are from, so to lead by example for our peers and those that look up to us is how our personal brand became about.

What is your favorite vacation destination and why?
Our favorite vacation spot would have to be the Bahamas because it’s personal to us. This was our very first trip together and later we decided to get married there. We had a beautiful destination wedding where our family and friends were able to come witness our union. This would be our favorite vacation spot.

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
For our people to work together, have less violence and senseless killings, for us to be powerful and understand that God loves us all and if we can love one another how God love us the world would be a better place. This is why I founded the organization Illustrious Women, Inc. because women are always competing with one another instead of coming together and uplifting one another. There is enough success for us all and together we are more powerful than we are divided. Seeing people come together more would be something I would change. (Mrs. Brown)

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
It would be my fear of public speaking. This is a weakness of mine, but I am doing things daily to make it a strength. (Mrs.Brown)

What does it take to be iconic? In your estimation, who has achieved that status?
To be iconic it takes hard work, dedication, ambition, integrity, morals, values, and dignity. For me, Oprah is iconic of course, Beyonce, Jada Pickett-Smith, Patti LaBelle, Whitney Houston, Jay Z, Muhammad Ali, Michael Jackson, Will Smith, a few of the greats and the list goes on. There are so many individuals that I consider to Iconic.

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