Dr. Karmetria Burton is a strong believer in motivating, empowering and transforming other people’s lives. She works at Delta Airlines as the general manager handling global supplier diversity initiatives. Dr. Burton is passionate about inspiring other women through her keynote speeches, workshops, and leadership development. She is also the founder of Paint Your Lips Red and Watch the Magic, which are all about women connecting under the empowerment of wearing red lipstick. Dr. Burton spoke with rolling out about her journey as a Black woman in leadership and how she inspires others.
As a woman of color, what do you consider your superpower?
As a woman of color, my superpower is the power of being intentional. I practice intention by focusing on what matters; relationships, practicing gratitude, and being in the moment. When you are intentional, it allows you to be in control of your awareness, surroundings and goals. The power of authenticity. I promised myself I would remove the mask, face the ugly truths and use my voice to share my story of low self-esteem, sexual harassment in the workplace, and an abusive relationship. Being authentic and telling your story can help others, it builds confidence in you. When you use your voice, you are honoring what God has told you. Your voice is connected to the message God has inspired you to share.
What thoughtful or encouraging piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
Respect the process. God’s will, God’s way, God’s time. So often as women, we allow society to place pressures on us and our accomplishments. Slow down. Enjoy life and allow jobs, ideas, people, and your what’s next to come to you in God’s time. Don’t force outcomes. Relax. Don’t compare yourself to others and don’t allow society to dictate your path. If you feel like your biological clock is ticking and you are running out of time, hit the snooze button.
Why is it important for women of color to lead or work in leadership roles and decision-making capacities?
It’s important for women of color to have roles of influence because it opens doors for other women of color. Having a seat at the table is a privilege and should be used to make a difference, create change and an awakening.
If you could thank any Black woman history maker for her contributions to society, who would it be and why?
Rosa Parks. She brought a whole new meaning to the word no. If used the right way, no can be empowering. She made a stance, said no and created a shift in society. I can only imagine [that] she was afraid, but she used her voice. She used her voice to make a difference. She stood up for what was right. She used her voice that has created greater opportunities for the current generation of leaders. She used her voice so I could use my voice.
Why is it important for seasoned and experienced Black women to reach back and help younger women of color?
Send the elevator back down. This is important because it sustains Black women’s leadership. If we don’t give back and use our seats at the table to sustain Black women leaders, Black women leaders will become extinct.
How do you feel about the hashtag #CollaborationOverCompetition? What qualities or values do you deem indispensable in your business partners or collaborators?
Your vibe attracts your tribe! The human female can learn a lesson from the female lioness. The lioness’s role is to hunt. She does it with a tribe of other women – collaboration. The lioness has a strategy to take down the enemy or anything that is a threat to her existence. She strategizes with the other women in her pride and they create a plan of attack. They don’t compete. They collaborate because they know there is strength in numbers. They use their collective voice and strength. When they work together, they all win.
What are your thoughts on taking risks? Making mistakes?
Celebrate your failures. It means there is something better in the works. Embrace the struggle. It will be a part of the victory speech. Take risks, do it afraid. If you aren’t taking risks and doing it afraid, you aren’t living big enough. You have to stretch yourself. When you stretch, you learn things about yourself.
What are three success habits you implement into your daily routine to maintain your success, sanity, peace of mind, etc.?
Pray, think and laugh. Prayer, keeps me centered and humbled. I take time to think. Thinking gives you clarity. Laughing is good for the soul and it creates joy and balance in your life.
Who is your biggest inspiration? Why?
None other than my mother. She was a young, teenaged mother who made sacrifices, overcame obstacles and did it all afraid.
Malala Yousafzai – a young Pakistani woman who wanted an education. She had no fear. The Taliban threatened to kill girls that went to school to become educated. She did it anyway. She was bold and courageous. As a result, she was shot and survived. She continues to use her voice and share her story and continues to fight for the education of girls.
If you could have any person in the world become your mentor, who would you choose and why?
It has been a tribe of people that have poured into me. If I could have a mentor, it would be someone that has attributes of all the people that I have learned from.
Sean Combs and Shawn Carter, both men have redefined the entertainment industry and have overcome barriers as African American men. Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama and Beyoncé have all been firsts, perfected their craft and continued to tear down barriers while making a difference.