Meeting Report | National Black Business Month
Good evening, fellow Toastmasters!
This week’s Texas Tri-County Chamber of Commerce Toastmaster’s Wrap-Up is brought to you by Antréa Ferguson, Treasurer of the club, as our Secretary Tammy Perez was unable to attend Monday’s meeting.
Members present Monday night were Harlon Pickett, Shankar Poncelet, Antréa Ferguson, Craig Sprout, Donna Lowder, Julieanna Cline, and Pamela Gauna. Absentees were Laura Sanchez, Tammy Perez, Michael Hornes, Justine Gonzales, Sean Adams, and Rey Sanchez. Jim Lowery, our club mentor, let us know that Monday, August 17, 2020, will be his last meeting. He will be truly missed! Jim Lowery has been a faithful attendee of our Texas Tri-County Chamber of Commerce Toastmasters club since it’s inception. Jim Lowery, much like Craig Sprout, has missed very few meetings and has guided us throughout the process and maintenance of being a Toastmasters club, always offering guidance and assistance. Jim has even attended most of our club officers’ meetings. Thank you, Jim, for your one-year mentorship of our Texas Tri-County Chamber of Commerce Club!
Our meeting commenced at 5:30 PM, exactly. After Craig led us in the pledge of allegiance, while Toastmaster, General Evaluator, and presiding president Harlon shared all about Texas! We were reminded to please share our Facebook Livestream during the meetings so everyone can see what happens in our Texas Tri-County Chamber of Commerce Toastmasters Club online!
Craig Sprout presented our Word of The Day: paltry. Paltry means: small, negligible, or insignificant. Craig used an example of what happens after his paycheck has been deducted of taxes and what he is left of the paltry sum. Shankar Poncelet would later use the Word of the Day the most, along with Harlon Pickett. Donna Lowder, who has recently returned to our Toastmasters Club with enthusiasm and grit, was our timer and kept us on track.
We are blessed to have several faculty members of the Northeast Lakeview College of Alamo Colleges District in our Texas Tri-County Chamber of Toastmasters club. Pamela Gauna gave her 2-3 minute Icebreaker speech about herself. Her primary focus was on her family and passion for working at the college.
Harlon then presented our Table Topics Master, Antrea Ferguson. As this month is August, it is National Black Business Month. Antrea spent the evening educating us through various table topics about Black Business Month. Antrea used the opportunity to get everyone to think creatively like an innovative Black entrepreneur throughout the decades, from antebellum times until the present day.
Antrea’s questions were about inventions, technology, hair, and marketing to the black community. Antrea started her by setting the stage. “Black business owners account for about 10% of U.S. businesses and about 30% of all minority-owned businesses. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, that is about two million companies owned by African Americans. Nearly 40% of black-owned businesses are in healthcare and social assistance, repair and maintenance, and personal and laundry services. Other categories include advertising firms, auto dealerships, consulting services, restaurants, barbershops, beauty salons, and more. Donna! You’ve taken on a new black business as a client. Which service would you want to market and why?”
Donna’s response was fantastic! Donna, quick on her feet, shed a spotlight on friends and colleagues of hers that are black business barbers and said that she would market them. She explained that men and women do not always market in the same way, considering that they do not have the same aesthetic appeal! She would be willing to help Crüx market their services here in San Antonio so that they could continue to expand their business, in fact, she already does! Well done, Donna!
Continuing on the hair theme, Antrea asked Harlon Pickett to speak on the next Table Topic. Antrea talked about the first self-made millionaire black woman in the United States, Madam CJ Walker. Madam CJ Walker, who suffered from hair loss, developed a hydrating system in 1910 that included washing her hair and applying ointment “until it began to grow quicker than it had fallen out.” She also told Madam CJ Walker’s dream.
“She told a reporter that a big black man came to her in a dream and told her what to mix up for my hair. Some of it came from Africa, but I sent for it, put it on my scalp and my hair began to come in faster than it had ever fallen out.” She looked at the screen intently. “Harlon! You’ve invented a new hair product. What are you selling and to whom?”
Harlon spoke of his cow-lick remedy and was followed up by Craig Sprout, who was asked to speak of his dream that inspired Harlon to come up with his hair product. Craig spoke of his “flowing locks” and made the crowd laugh while giving a good interpretation of his dream.
Antrea continued on with her questions, noting that New York City has the most black-owned businesses in the U.S. followed by Atlanta. “The highest ratio of black-owned businesses is in Washington, DC where 28% of all businesses are black-owned. The growth of black franchises businesses has been explosive. You’re looking to start a new black business. What city do you choose and why?” This question was asked to Shankar, who made it very clear that although he would not be leaving Texas or San Antonio, he would look to Atlanta or possibly Dallas. Speaking in an informed manner, he spoke of the billion-dollar hair industry, and how there is exponential marketing potential in the hair and beauty industry for Black women.
With the next question, Tech Marks the Spot! Antrea asked Jim Lowery to answer the following question: “Williams Capital was among the underwriters of one of the largest U.S. tech transactions: The $28 billion IPO of Snap Inc., parent of the mobile app Snapchat. What do you love or hate about Snapchat?”
Jim told his love-hate relationship with social media platforms and confessed that he “didn’t really know what Snapchat was! But if it’s social media, I probably don’t like it.” He explained that people will be vocal and outspoken no matter what the social media is. “You could have a picture of kittens, and some would say they love them, while others would ask why you’d dare to have the kittens at all?”
Julieanna Cline was asked a very interesting question about history and braids in black cultures. KNown as a way to distinguish class, religion, show creativity, and identity, braids were also an important role in survival. In the transatlantic journey, enslaved Africans made to the colonies, Black women braided their hair with seeds and gold to help them build a new life. Julie, what would you braid in your hair to help you start your new life?” Julie responded with twine! A very useful instrument indeed!
“Among the top African-American owned businesses in the U.S. is Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, LLC. Do you like Coca-Cola and why or why not?” This question was posed to Pamela Gauna.
Before finishing her Table Topics session, Antrea Ferguson reminded everyone that Black and Brown businesses are very unlikely to survive after COVID-19 and would need the support of everyone in the community to help them stay alive. Donna quickly reminded everyone that there is a Netflix show about Madam CJ Walker, letting us all know what we can watch this weekend! Harlon Pickett continued to give facts throughout the meeting about Texas that made our Toastmasters giggle with glee before giving the virtual lectern to Shankar Poncelet, who closed the meeting with a few comments and announced our Table Topics winner-- Craig Sprout!
Don’t forget to support Black businesses!
“I had to make my own living and my own opportunity. But I made it! Don't sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them. -Madam CJ Walker.”
Tri-County Chamber of Commerce Toastmasters Club Treasurer