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J. Robert Harris

Marketing chief executive J. Robert Harris was born on April 1, 1944 in Lake Charles, Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana to homemaker Ruth Boutte Harris and truck driver James Harris. Growing up in the Pomonok housing project in Queens, New York, he attended St. Nicholas of Tolentine elementary school and Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School. Upon graduating in 1961, he entered Queens College, where he earned his B.A. degree in psychology in 1966. He also completed coursework in Spanish at New York University in 1972.

Harris worked as a market research supervisor at National Broadcasting Company/NBC before being hired in 1969 as a research manager at General Foods Corporation in White Plains, New York, where he headed the decaffeinated coffee group. From 1972 to 1975, he was employed as the international research director at PepsiCo, in Purchase, New York where he traveled to over thirty countries designing and conducting consumer research projects. In 1975, in collaboration with his brother Lloyd Harris who served as managing partner, Harris founded JRH Marketing Services to provide consulting and research services to a wide range of clients that included the U.S. Army, Anheuser-Busch and JPMorgan Chase as well as the fast food, soft drink, beer and wine, spirits and the automotive sectors, the financial industry and the government. Additionally, Harris worked as a seminar leader for Ennis Associates from 1983 to 1995. In addition, Harris was a founding member and past president of the Qualitative Research Consultants Association, former chairman of the Research Industry Coalition and an elected member of the Market Research Council. In honor of his accomplishments in the field of market research, Harris was awarded the 2004 Qualitative Research Consultants Association President’s Award, and elected to the Market Research Council’s Market Research Hall of Fame.

Since 1966, Harris has been active in the wilderness trek community, and his travels are described in his book Way Out There: Adventures of a Wilderness Trekker. He was elected to the esteemed Explorers Club in 1993. Harris has also been featured in Ebony magazine on the "Most Successful Blacks" list, and in Who's Who Among Black Americans book series.

Harris has two children: Evan Harris and April Harris.

J. Robert Harris was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 27, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.112

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/27/2018

Last Name

Harris

Maker Category
Organizations
First Name

J.R.

Birth City, State, Country

Lake Charles

HM ID

HAR54

Favorite Season

Autumn

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Gates Of The Artic National Park, Alaska

Favorite Quote

Treat People The Way You Would Want Them To Treat You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

1/1/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Favorite Food

Anything that's in the pot

Short Description

Marketing chief executive J. Robert Harris (1944 - ) founded JRH Marketing Services, the research and consulting firm in 1975. Since 1966, Harris has also been active in the international wilderness trek community.

Favorite Color

Red and black

Sheila Robinson

Marketing chief executive and publisher Sheila A. Robinson was born on September 20, 1961 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She graduated from Parkland Senior High School in Winston-Salem in 1979, and went on to receive her B.A. degree in pre-law/political science from North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina in 1986. Robinson later received her Masters of Entrepreneurship (M.S.E.) degree from Western Carolina University in 2011, as well as a Chief Learning Officer Certificate from the University of Pennsylvania in 2013. In 2012, she entered the Chief Learning Officer Ed.D. program at the University of Pennsylvania. She has also completed Stanford University’s Professional Publishing Program.

From 1987 to 1989, Robinson worked for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company as a market research assistant. In 1990, she was hired by DuPont, where she went on to serve as a marketing director with the company’s apparel division. When her division at DuPont was sold in 2004, Robinson established Robinson & Associates Communications, LLC and became founder and publisher of North Carolina Career Network magazine. In 2007, Robinson expanded Career Network nationally and launched Diversity Woman magazine, where she served as chief executive officer and publisher. Robinson also hosted the Diversity Women's Business Conference and founded Iamaleader.org, the nonprofit extension of Diversity Woman in 2012.

In 2009, Robinson was honored with a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Image Award for her career achievements and for being a positive role model for young women. She was named in 2009 as one of the Top 50 Women in Magazine Publishing by Publishing Executive. Robinson was also the keynote speaker at the 2008 wives luncheon at the NFL Pro Bowl, and was honored as the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce Minority Business Person of the Year in 2011. Her Diversity Woman magazine was nominated for The 2011 North Carolina Small Business of The Year.

Robinson is a member of the National Association for Female Executives and the National Association for Women Business Owners, and serves on the boards of Women in Periodical Publishing and Business and Professional Women. She is the author of Lead By Example: An Insiders Look at How to Successfully Lead in Corporate America and Entrepreneurship, which was published in 2014.

Sheila Robinson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 15, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.180

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/15/2014

Last Name

Robinson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Annette

Schools

Parkland Sr. High

Hill High

Griffith Elementary

Diggs Elementary

Mineral Springs Elementary

North Carolina Central University

Western Carolina University

University of Pennsylvania

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Sheila

Birth City, State, Country

Winston-Salem

HM ID

ROB27

Favorite Season

Fall

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Near The Ocean

Favorite Quote

What Someone Else Says Or Does, Is A Reflection Of Who They Are And What You Say Or Do, Is A Reflection Of Who You Are.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

North Carolina

Birth Date

9/20/1961

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Burlington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Short Description

Marketing chief executive and publisher Sheila Robinson (1961 - ) was the founder, publisher and CEO of Diversity Woman magazine and author of the book Lead By Example: An Insiders Look at How to Successfully Lead in Corporate America and Entrepreneurship.

Employment

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

DuPont Company

Robinson & Associates Communications, LLC

North Carolina Career Network Magazine

Diversity Woman Magazine

Favorite Color

Purple

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Sheila Robinson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Sheila Robinson lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sheila Robinson describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sheila Robinson describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sheila Robinson talks about how her parents met and their personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sheila Robinson lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Sheila Robinson describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Sheila Robinson remembers her neighborhood in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Sheila Robinson recalls Jefferson Davis Diggs Elementary School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Sheila Robinson describes the sights and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sheila Robinson remembers her favorite elementary school teachers, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sheila Robinson remembers her favorite elementary school teachers, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sheila Robinson lists the high schools she attended

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sheila Robinson describes her early personality

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sheila Robinson remembers joining her high school cheerleading team

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Sheila Robinson recalls facing discrimination on the cheerleading team, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Sheila Robinson recalls facing discrimination on the cheerleading team, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Sheila Robinson describes her social activities at Parkland Senior High School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Sheila Robinson remembers her early career aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Sheila Robinson recalls attending North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sheila Robinson describes her first impressions of North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sheila Robinson recalls her experiences at North Carolina Central University

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sheila Robinson remembers her early work experiences

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sheila Robinson talks about the decline of the tobacco industry

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sheila Robinson recalls her transition to the textile industry

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sheila Robinson talks about her work with E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Sheila Robinson remembers her challenges at E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Sheila Robinson recalls her transition to the marketing department of DuPont Textiles and Interiors

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Sheila Robinson describes her experiences as marketing assistant at DuPont Textiles and Interiors

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sheila Robinson recalls leaving E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sheila Robinson talks about the highlights of her career at E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sheila Robinson remembers her mentors and opportunities at E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sheila Robinson recalls founding the North Carolina Career Network magazine

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Sheila Robinson remembers rebranding her magazine as Diversity Woman

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Sheila Robinson describes the mission of Diversity Woman magazine

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Sheila Robinson talks about the success of Diversity Woman magazine

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Sheila Robinson recalls founding the I Am A Leader organization

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Sheila Robinson recalls pursuing a doctorate at the Wharton School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Sheila Robinson describes her book, 'Lead By Example'

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sheila Robinson describes her public speaking career

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sheila Robinson shares her plans for the future

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sheila Robinson reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Sheila Robinson reflects upon her professional legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Sheila Robinson describes her concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Sheila Robinson talks about her family

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Sheila Robinson describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

4$1

DATitle
Sheila Robinson recalls founding the North Carolina Career Network magazine
Sheila Robinson describes her public speaking career
Transcript
Now in 2005, you founded Robinson and Associates Communications, LLC?$$Yes.$$And tell us what that, what you intended to do?$$Well, I, it, it came about, I had never thought I would ever try to have my own business. It came about after numerous rejections. I had an incredible load of experience from DuPont [E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company] and I went out to all of these organizations. I can remember the president of the division I was in, a $6.5 billion industry, was used, as a reference. I had the greatest references, I had fascinating interviews but I was not given an opportunity, particularly in the area that I was living in and the last time that I was told, "You have a boatload of experience and more marketing and brand marketing that we could ever need at this organization but I'm concerned you're not the right fit," you know. I knew then that I was no longer going to go job hunting, that I needed a break, I was going to do something different, I needed to explore. I don't know if I'm going to explore going back to school, explore relocating to another area, explore, you know, just, I had to just stop because the rejection was just more than, two years of rejection, it just seemed like it, I had been out there two years looking for a job because I had started looking in advance when they told us we would be laid off, and I had this vision when I was at DuPont to start a magazine to support women in business. It's sort of like an Essence and a Black Enterprise but for women and then I thought, well, you know, I want to help anyone with their careers because there was something I had always been known for, if someone asked me how to do their resume or practice for an interview and I've always had this love, love affair with magazines and I took my passion for magazine journalism to, and my passion for helping others advance in their careers. I brought it to one and I had designed the template and the idea before I left DuPont and one of my friends told me that I should explore that vision I had for the publication and I told her, you know, there was no way that I had any funding to do that and she said, "Well I didn't tell you to do it, I just told you to explore it," and I did. I, at that time, I thought it was a great shift going on in North Carolina, we were shifting from becoming a tobacco and a textile industry, the two industries I had just gotten laid off from, to a biochemistry, biotechnology and a logistics and I thought, why not come up with a North Carolina career publication and talk about all of these different industries and opportunities that are taking place in my state. And so that's what I was passionate about. I was, I wanted to bring awareness to how our industries had shifted in this area and put it into a magazine and help people that had been laid off, significant layoffs like I had been in the textile and tobacco industry, and help them get jobs in other industries and long story short, North Carolina Career Network was in the market in 2005 and it was just a little small regional publication that got a lot of attention, including being on the newsstands and Borders bookstores [Borders Group, Inc.] and Barnes and Noble bookstores [Barnes and Noble Booksellers, Inc.].$$Okay, okay. So, so did you distribute any in the black churches or the, or any of the other, well, black colleges [historically black colleges and universities (HBCUS)] or--$$No, because it, at that time, it was not a, it was not just for African Americans. It was for anyone in the State of North Carolina, men and women, and so I distributed it at the chamber of commerce [North Carolina Chamber]. I started, I knew from having events at DuPont, how successful I could be if I had an event. So I had an event and I distributed it there because I knew how to create promotional events from my experience there and that was the way I got it out.$Well tell us about your public speaking career.$$Well my public speaking career took off unexpectedly. It actually started at DuPont [E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company], a funny story where I was at a PR [public relations] event and the agency we were working with said, "Sheila [HistoryMaker Sheila Robinson]," and this was an event I was doing with Queen Latifah in front of Bloomingdale [Bloomingdale's] store and E! Entertainment was there and she said, "I have an opportunity to get you on camera," and normally they just want the celebrities and the stars but I know where she was like, "You got a chance to plug Lycra, you know. This is how you do it," and I was like, "Okay." So they put the mic to my phone, to my mouth and all I could see is Queen Latifah, lights, cameras, paparazzi and I freeze. I freeze, and the next day they, my boss, enrolls me in a course for public speaking, ten thousand dollars. They fly me to New York [New York], and I'll tell you how this fascinating career was I had at DuPont and I started doing public speaking, being a spokesperson for the company at DuPont. That's how I had the opportunity to do the on air interview with Sara Blakely of Spanx [Spanx, Inc.], and in, rolled over into entrepreneurship. Schools started asking me to come speak to the students and college students and then as my business grew, organizations have asked me to speak. And so one of the things I learned, when the publishing industry, anyone that is in publishing that, that, that's watching this now or even any consumer will know that this industry, the print industry, has hit a fall and one thing that I learned at Stanford University [Stanford, California] was, if you're going to stay in publishing, then you have to have multiple streams of revenue. So, it was an idea to create an additional arm to my business and at that time, I worked with a very small agency on creating a packet and sending it out and we sent it out to the NFL [National Football League] in New York and I got hired to speak at the Pro Bowl in Hawaii and it was just awesome. I was interviewed, I was hired by the vice president of the NFL, out of New York, and I was the keynote luncheon speaker for the wives doing the Pro Bowl and they had asked me to speak on entrepreneurship and how, at that time, women, entrepreneurship for women was very, very good and I think the league was really wanting to inspire and support any spouse or mate that had access to this disposable income and to put it and invest it in someone, where they could pay off in the future and it was great thinking on their part because so many times you hear about, you know, they blew their money and had, you know, millions of dollars gone down the drain but, you know, they had programs in place to help the players and their spouses invest for the future. So, speaking engagements such as that, as well as corporations that have diversity programs or women's conferences and I continue to do that today.

Lafayette Jones

Marketing chief executive and publisher Lafayette Glenn Jones was born on February 17, 1944. He credits his parents, who managed a small landscaping business, with his own entrepreneurial drive. Jones received his B.A. degree from Fisk University in 1965, and went on to attend executive management programs at Dartmouth College’s Amos Tuck School of Business and Stanford University’s School of Business.

Jones first worked for the Job Corps and the YMCA as a program director in the mid-1960s. He then directed client promotions at the Washington, D.C. radio station WOL from 1967 to 1969. From 1969 to 1974, he worked as a sales and marketing executive for Lever Brothers, Pillsbury Company and General Foods. From 1974 to 1979, Jones served as a marketing manager for Hunt-Wesson, where he created the Orville Redenbacher Gourmet Popping Corn and Hunt's Manwich strategies. In 1979, he was appointed as vice president of marketing and sales at Johnson Products Company in Chicago, Illinois. In 1981, Jones founded and served as executive director of the American Health and Beauty Aids Institute (AHBAI), the trade association of black hair care companies. He also founded Smith-Jones & Associates, an association management firm.

In 1988, Jones was named vice president and general manager of Supreme Beauty Products Company, the hair care subsidiary of Johnson Publishing Company. He then joined Sandra Miller Jones’ Segmented Marketing Services, Inc. (SMSi) in the early 1990s, where he went on to serve as president and chief executive officer of SMSi-Urban Call Marketing, Inc. and publisher of the company’s Urban Call magazine. Jones also became publisher of SMSi’s Shades of Beauty magazine in 1998.

Jones has authored articles for numerous publications including OTC Beauty Magazine and the Beauty Industry Report. He authored a column in Sophisticate's Black Hair Styles and Care Guide and the 1999 Green Book’s special section on ethnic hair care. Jones also wrote a column for ShopTalk magazine for fifteen years. He is a frequent speaker at conferences and has guest lectured at Harvard University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Wake Forest University, and Howard University. Jones has also served on the boards of several organizations including Urban Getaways, the Mardan Institute and the Promotion Marketing Association.

Jones is married to his business partner, Sandra Miller Jones. He is the father of four children: Kevin, Melanie, Tara and Bridgette.

Lafayette Jones was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 14, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.215

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/14/2014

Last Name

Jones

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

Fisk University

Dartmouth College

Stanford University

First Name

Lafayette

Birth City, State, Country

Cincinnati

HM ID

JON40

State

Ohio

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

North Carolina

Birth Date

2/17/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Winston-Salem

Country

United States

Short Description

Marketing chief executive and publisher Lafayette Jones (1944 - ) is the president and chief executive officer of SMSi-Urban Call Marketing, Inc. and publisher of Urban Call and Shades of Beauty magazines. He also served as a marketing executive for Lever Brothers, Pillsbury Company, General Foods, Hunt-Wesson, Johnson Products Company and Johnson Publishing Company, and founded the American Health and Beauty Aids Institute.

Employment

Job Corps

YMCA

WOL Radio

Lever Brothers; Pillsbury Company; General Foods

Hunt-Wesson

Johnson Products Company

American Health and Beauty Aids Institute

Smith-Jones & Associates

Supreme Beauty Products Company

Segmented Marketing Services

Urban Call Magazine

Shades of Beauty Magazine

Sandra Miller Jones

Marketing executive Sandra Miller Jones was born on August 6, 1946 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In 1968, Jones received her B.A. degree in sociology from Howard University, where she was a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. She then became the first African American woman to graduate from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Business when she received her M.B.A. degree in 1971.

Upon graduation, Jones was hired as the first African American woman manager at Quaker Oats Company, where she managed several of the company’s major franchises including the $100 million-plus Quaker Oatmeal franchise. In 1978, Jones left Quaker Oats and founded Segmented Marketing Services, Inc. (SMSi), a national marketing services company. SMSi’s client list includes Procter & Gamble, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Revlon, Quaker Oats, Kraft Foods, General Mills, and the United States Postal Service, among others. In 2013, Jones founded SMSi Health Insurance Solutions, whose mission is to help underserved consumers acquire affordable health insurance. She also became an adjunct professor of marketing at Wake Forest University’s Babcock School of Management.

Jones helped establish the National Black MBA Association and the Chicago Minority Purchasing Council, and helped start a business initiative for the League of Black Women in Chicago, Illinois. She has served as board chair of the Jack and Jill of American Foundation’s WIN (We Invest Now) for Tomorrow, a program that teaches financial and investment skills to African American teenagers. She has also served on the boards of Family Services, Inc. and Summit School in Winston-Salem, as well as board chair of the Winston-Salem YWCA. In addition, she was active in women’s and youth activities at Goler Memorial AME Zion Church in Winston-Salem.

Jones is married to her business partner, Lafayette Jones. They have one daughter, Bridgette.

Sandra Miller Jones was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 14, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.214

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/14/2014

Last Name

Jones

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Miller

Schools

Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Business

Kimberley Park Elementary

Paisley IB Magnet School

First Name

Sandra

Birth City, State, Country

Winston-Salem

HM ID

JON39

Favorite Season

Summer

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Paris, France

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

North Carolina

Birth Date

8/6/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Winston-Salem

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Marketing chief executive Sandra Miller Jones (1946 - ) was the founder and CEO of Segmented Marketing Services, Inc.

Employment

Quaker Oats Company

Segmented Marketing Services, Inc.

Job Corps RCA

Winston-Salem Journal

First National Bank of Chicago

Favorite Color

Yellow

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Sandra Miller Jones' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Sandra Miller Jones lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sandra Miller Jones describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sandra Miller Jones describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sandra Miller Jones talks about her father's education and profession

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sandra Miller Jones describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Sandra Miller Jones lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Sandra Miller Jones describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Sandra Miller Jones describes her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Sandra Miller Jones describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Sandra Miller Jones remembers Kimberley Park Elementary School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Sandra Miller Jones describes the African American community in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Sandra Miller Jones remembers John W. Paisley Senior High School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sandra Miller Jones talks about the Safe Bus Company in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sandra Miller Jones remembers Goler Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sandra Miller Jones recalls her extracurricular activities

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sandra Miller Jones remembers the entertainment of her youth

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sandra Miller Jones remembers her favorite teacher

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Sandra Miller Jones talks about the influence of Winston-Salem Teachers College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Sandra Miller Jones recalls her decision to study sociology at Howard University

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Sandra Miller Jones recalls the takeover of the administration building at Howard University

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Sandra Miller Jones describes her decision to attend the Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Sandra Miller Jones talks about her extracurricular activities at Howard University

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Sandra Miller Jones describes her experiences at the Graduate School of Management in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sandra Miller Jones talks about the influence of sociology in business

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sandra Miller Jones describes her position at the Quaker Oats Company

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sandra Miller Jones remembers the black business leadership of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sandra Miller Jones recalls the founding of the National Black MBA Association

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sandra Miller Jones remembers Charles H. Curry

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sandra Miller Jones talks about the administration of the Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Sandra Miller Jones describes her role at the Quaker Oats Company

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Sandra Miller Jones remembers working with minority businesses at the Quaker Oats Company

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Sandra Miller Jones describes her accomplishments at the Quaker Oats Company

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Sandra Miller Jones describes her reasons for founding Segmented Marketing Services, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sandra Miller Jones remembers her first client at Segmented Marketing Services, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sandra Miller Jones talks about her parents' involvement in her company

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sandra Miller Jones talks about the early clientele of Segmented Marketing Services, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sandra Miller Jones remembers meeting her husband, Lafayette Jones

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Sandra Miller Jones remembers Harold Washington's mayoral campaign

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Sandra Miller Jones talks about the logistics of Segmented Marketing Services, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Sandra Miller Jones describes her civic involvement

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Sandra Miller Jones reflects upon her success as an entrepreneur

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sandra Miller Jones reflects upon the success of Segmented Marketing Services, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sandra Miller Jones talks about the development of SMSi Health Insurance Solutions

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sandra Miller Jones talks about the future of SMSi Health Insurance Solutions

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Sandra Miller Jones reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Sandra Miller Jones describes her business philosophy

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Sandra Miller Jones reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Sandra Miller Jones shares her advice to aspiring entrepreneurs

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Sandra Miller Jones describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Sandra Miller Jones talks about her adopted daughter

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Sandra Miller Jones describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Sandra Miller Jones narrates her photographs

DASession

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DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
Sandra Miller Jones talks about the development of SMSi Health Insurance Solutions
Sandra Miller Jones remembers working with minority businesses at the Quaker Oats Company
Transcript
Oh, 1999, you launched Shades of Beauty. Now that, that's--is that again Lafayette's, or (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) That's Lafayette's.$$Okay.$$Yes, yes.$$But--okay. And how is that different from Urban Call? Did it have the--did it focus on the cosmetology industry?$$Well, that's a Lafayette [Jones' husband, HistoryMaker Lafayette Jones] question, so--$$Okay. All right. All right (unclear).$$(Laughter) All that is his--all that publishing stuff is, is his area.$$Okay. Well, then I'm going to jump way ahead, you know (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Okay (laughter).$$Past the election of Barack Obama [HistoryMaker President Barack Obama] and everything else to 2013--$$Okay.$$--to the founding of SMSi Health Insurance Solutions [Winston-Salem, North Carolina].$$Yes.$$Yeah.$$Yes.$$So this is an affordable health--$$Yes, yes. When we found out that the Affordable Care Act [Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010] was coming into existence, we knew that the message was not getting out to our community, African American community especially and Hispanic community secondarily, because we weren't hearing anything. All that we knew was what we heard on the media, and that was so often very negative, and we knew that there was--that, that having people insured was a good thing, so we had to find a way to get that message out. We wrote to the president of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina [Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina], Brad Wilson [J. Bradley Wilson, Jr.], and asked him if we could come in and talk to his people about sponsoring an outreach effort, and we were able to get that done, so we went in, and we talked to Blue Cross Blue Shield about starting an outreach effort to inform African Americans throughout North Carolina about the Affordable Care Act, and although our business [Segmented Marketing Services, Inc., Winston-Salem, North Carolina] is national, to be able to focus on North Carolina, we had to build territories that--just as though they were in some other part of the country or part of the world, so instead of our territory being the Chicago [Illinois] market, now we built a territory that was the Greensboro [North Carolina], High Point [North Carolina] market, and the Durham [North Carolina], Wake [Wake County, North Carolina] market until each one of our markets in North Carolina we treated as a separate market as opposed to just a part of the--of one whole state execution. So we built teams in each of those markets just like we have in our other cities, and these teams of people went out and developed relationships and continue to do so now with the gatekeepers in churches and community organizations; beauty salons, barbershops, to help us get the message out about the Affordable Care Act. We were able to do this. We were able to reach about a half million households in North Carolina with a message and face to face presentations to over three thousand opinion leaders, and, as a result, we were part of the movement in North Carolina that enabled us, as North Carolina, to be the fifth largest state in terms of number of people signing up for the Affordable Care Act in the nation, and by far, the largest state in the nation that did not accept Medicare [sic.]. North Carolina--the Medicare expansion that was offered as a part of the Affordable Care Act, North Carolina was one of the states that didn't accept that Medicaid expansion. South Car- (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) With a Republican governor [Pat McCrory] or something or--$$Absolutely.$$Yeah.$$And South Carolina, for example, right next to us, North Carolina did about 350,000 enrollments, and South Carolina did about thirty-two thousand enrollments, so you can see the difference between the efforts that were made here despite the fact that we didn't have the support of the government here and the results. One of the things that we learned as we were doing our executions is that there just are not enough agents servicing our community to even sign up or enroll, help the people to enroll, into the Affordable Care Act, so that's why we decided to start an agency, and that's SMSi Health Insurance Solutions, so that we could; one, provide this excellent job opportunity to people in our community to be their own boss because that's what an insurance agency is, their own boss. They're an entrepreneur. And to--to develop some residual income while also being of such a significant service to the community at large.$And would you--how--now how did you--were, were you able to--well, how much of your job had anything to do with, you know, marketing the products to the black community specifically?$$None.$$Okay.$$But I did connect with the black community only because I had an interest there and did some outreach to the community, and that's why I knew all of the African American advertising agencies. I worked very hard to get agencies both advertising and promote and marketing research agencies at that time. I didn't know of any black promotion agencies, but marketing research, yes. Tried to get them contracts with Quaker Oats Company. I brought them in and introduced them to the powers that be who could make those decisions, and whenever I was able to make a decision that would enable me to work with a black supplier, I did that, so I was quite aware of the need to, to bring more blacks into the marketing world, to the--$$Were they working with any black or, or contractors before you started?$$Probably not. Probably not, yeah.$$That's what I would guess. Just--$$That's what I would guess at that (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) I, I figured I would ask.$$Yeah. (Laughter) Yeah.$$And were you ever criticized for, for bringing in too many black people?$$No.$$No, okay.$$No, no, no, never was. I, I think it was quite a fascination for them. We brought groups in to, to do things with us, and, so, yeah.$$Well, that's good because there's some many times I hear the story that someone gets into a position to hire black contractors that have never been involved before in, in the--that--in a particular business, and then they criticize for you're, you're only, you know, you're trying to make our organization--make all the contractors black and that sort of thing.$$Yeah. No. It wasn't that.$$But, but you never did get that.$$Never that problem.$$Okay.$$[HistoryMaker] Byron Lewis who started UniWorld advertising agency [UniWorld Group, Inc.] recently had a tribute to him in New York [New York] and invited us to come and speak at--to be one of those people who talked about him. And, oh, he always credits me with saving his agency, and that can't be so, but he credits me with that. He says that his agency was on the skids, and we came to Quaker Oats Company. And I was able to help them get a major contract to do a black soap opera ['Sounds of the City'], as a matter of fact, that was what they had proposed, and that contract he maintained saved his agency. He was able to go on and build from there, and so I'm always pleased about that.$$Right. Well, that's, you know, heretofore, and I guess, prior to '68 [1968] or so, there were very few blacks in business that had--that got any contracts from major corporations.$$Absolutely.$$For any reason, so--$$Yeah.$$--so this is, this is all ground breaking at this time, so Byron Lewis, okay.

Ken Smikle

Publisher and entrepreneur Kenneth Albert Smikle was born on January 3, 1952, in Harlem, New York, to Mary Alice Dobbins Smikle and Dr. Kenneth Raymond Smikle, a college dean. Smikle attended Harlem’s P.S. 123 (Mahalia Jackson School), R.A. Vanwyck Junior High School, and graduated from Benjamin Cardozo High School in Bay Side, Queens, in 1970. Smikle, who played jazz trombone and wanted to arrange music, attended Queensborough Community College, CUNY’s York College, and Queens College where he took radio and television classes and edited the Black Eyed Journal.

In 1974, Smikle, his brother, Dawoud Bey, and Gerald Gladney started Spirit magazine, and in 1975, they started an arts publication called Easy, which ran until 1978. Smikle joined Harlem’s Amsterdam News as arts editor from 1978 to 1980. In 1983, Smikle wrote for Essence magazine and The National Leader, and in 1984, he joined Black Enterprise serving as senior editor. Moving to Chicago, Smikle founded Target Market News in 1988 where he was editor and publisher. Target Market News is considered one of the leading authorities on marketing, advertising and media directed to the African American market. Smikle appeared on CNN, CNBC, CBS News, NBC's Today Show, ABC's World News Tonight, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, National Public Radio's All Things Considered, Marketplace and numerous other television and radio programs. Smikle was frequently quoted in Newsweek, Time, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Advertising Age, Publishers Weekly and other leading periodicals. In 1991, Smikle co-founded the African American Marketing and Media Association. Smikle was also a member of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ).

As a speaker, Smikle addressed the Democratic Caucus Conference of the U.S. House of Representatives; employees of Nike, Pepsi-Cola, Quaker Oats; and organizations like the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the Greater Miami Advertising Federation, the Food Marketing Institute, the National Association of Broadcasters, the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, the National Alliance of Market Developers, the United Way and the American Booksellers Association.

At the time of his HistoryMakers interview, Smikle lived in Chicago with his wife, Renee Ferguson, an investigative reporter at WMAQ-TV, and son, Jason.

Ken Smikle passed away on September 12, 2018.

Smikle was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 15, 2006.

Accession Number

A2006.174

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/15/2006

Last Name

Smikle

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Schools

Benjamin N. Cardozo High School

P.S. 123

R.A. Vanwyck Junior High School

J.H.S. 217 Robert A. Van Wyck

Queens College, City University of New York

York College, City University of New York

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Ken

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

SMI15

Favorite Season

Fall

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

New Orleans, Louisiana, Paris, France

Favorite Quote

It Is Your World. I'm Just Waiting For Instructions.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

1/3/1952

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Salmon, Pasta

Death Date

9/12/2018

Short Description

Marketing chief executive Ken Smikle (1952 - 2018 ) founded Target Market News and co-founded the African American Marketing and Media Association.

Employment

Target Market News

Black Enterprise Magazine

National Leader

Communications Excellence for Black Audiences

World Records

Amsterdam News

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ken Smikle's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ken Smikle lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ken Smikle describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ken Smikle talks about his maternal family's oral traditions

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ken Smikle describes his mother's community in West Point, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ken Smikle recalls his mother's stories about her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ken Smikle talks about his maternal family's migration from West Point, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ken Smikle describes his parents' relationship

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ken Smikle remembers his mother's commitment to parenthood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ken Smikle talks about his paternal family's roots in Jamaica and West Africa

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ken Smikle describes his paternal family's move to New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ken Smikle describes his father's career

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ken Smikle recalls his father's dreams and aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ken Smikle talks about how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ken Smikle lists his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ken Smikle describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ken Smilke recalls moving with his family to Queens, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Ken Smilke describes the origin of his childhood nickname

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ken Smikle describes the tradition of nicknames in his family

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ken Smikle talks about his family's cars

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ken Smikle remembers the residents of the Baisley Pond Park neighborhood of Queens, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ken Smikle describes Calvary Baptist Church in Jamaica, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ken Smikle remembers his favorite television shows

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ken Smikle recalls attending P.S. 123 in Queens, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ken Smikle talks about school integration in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ken Smikle describes his favorite subjects and teachers

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ken Smikle describes his father's experience with racism

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ken Smikle remembers the assassinations of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ken Smikle talks about comedy styles of Bill Cosby and Redd Foxx

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ken Smikle remembers famous residents of Queens, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ken Smikle describes his favorite jazz musicians

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ken Smikle lists the music and reading material in his childhood home

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ken Smikle recalls early interest in journalism

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ken Smikle talks about his social activities at Benjamin N. Cardozo High School in Queens, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ken Smikle remembers the student activism at Benjamin N. Cardozo High School in Queens, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ken Smikle recalls lessons from the activists at Benjamin N. Cardozo High School

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ken Smikle describes his high school graduation

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ken Smikle recalls his transfer from York College to Queen College in Queens, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ken Smikle remembers studying journalism at Queens College

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ken Smikle talks about the founding of Spirit magazine

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Ken Smikle talks about the transition to Easy magazine

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Ken Smikle remembers joining the staff of the Amsterdam News

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Ken Smikle talks about the history of the Amsterdam News

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Ken Smikle describes the operations of the Amsterdam News

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Ken Smikle describes his experiences on the staff of the Amsterdam News

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Ken Smikle remembers the influence of the Black Arts Movement

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Ken Smikle reflects upon the legacy of Easy magazine

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Ken Smikle talks about how he came to join the staff of Black Enterprise, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Ken Smikle describes the mentorship of Terrie Williams

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Ken Smikle recalls following Terrie Williams to Essence magazine

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Ken Smikle talks about how he came to join the staff of Black Enterprise, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Ken Smikle recalls his start at Black Enterprise

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Ken Smikle remembers writing for Black Enterprise

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Ken Smikle recalls the need for a trade publication about the black media industry

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Ken Smikle remembers meeting his wife

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Ken Smikle talks about the founding of Target Market News

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Ken Smikle recalls the need for African American market research

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Ken Smikle describes the growth of Target Market News

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Ken Smikle talks about the digital divide in the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Ken Smikle talks about the Target Market News journal

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Ken Smikle describes the importance of consumer responsibility

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Ken Smikle talks about his role in professional organizations

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Ken Smikle talks about the importance of black professional organizations

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Ken Smikle describes his consumer research publications

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Ken Smikle talks about the contributors to the Black Issues Book Review

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Ken Smikle describes his plans for the future

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Ken Smikle describes his hopes for the African American community

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Ken Smikle reflects upon his life

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Ken Smikle reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Ken Smikle talks about his family

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Ken Smikle narrates his photographs

DASession

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DAStory

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DATitle
Ken Smikle recalls early interest in journalism
Ken Smikle talks about the Target Market News journal
Transcript
But I was more of a periodical reader. I loved magazines. I liked the newspapers a lot. And, and my main periodical--the periodical that we read the most, we read car magazines 'cause that was a whole other thing coming from my art background. At one point I really wanted to be a car designer. I wanted to go to Detroit [Michigan] and do design, was trying to enter the Fisher Body [Fisher Body Corporation] competition where if you were gonna be a car designer, you--that was like entree. And went from like car and music magazines into Downbeat and what else. Now my brother [HistoryMaker Dawoud Bey], who is the more po- he was the, the political consciousness of the family. He was very active in knowing about the social movements, the Black Panther Party, the Operation Breadbasket, the Young Lords, all of those kinds of things. And then we had things like Ramparts magazine in the house, the Black Panther Party newspaper. You know, we, we--he--we went out and bought that stuff. But he did most of the buying on the political stuff and I did most of the buying on the arts and the music, and--but we shared an equal love for that. And all of these things just kind of came together in who we became and what we do. I--I'm trying to remember what if--I didn't have favorites so much but it was ab- always about inventing something, creating something. In high school [Benjamin N. Cardozo High School, Queens, New York], I remember, I was working on a student newspaper, but one of the reasons I was--I asked to work--in fact I went about it in an unconventional way. All the slots were taken, you know, if you wanted to submit an article or whatever that was fine, but I actually wanted to get on the paper and learn the process and all of that. And it was an integrated--there was one black girl who was on the--Linda [ph.], what was Linda's last name--who was on the student newspaper in high school called The Verdict, Benjamin Cardozo being the judge, [U.S.] Supreme Court justice. And, and that was it in terms of black presence on the paper. So I had two ideas, one I wanted to started my own student newspaper, it was gonna be music oriented and I remember I was gonna call it Fourth Track [ph.], which would take, you know, four different types of music. And I started doing interviews with musicians. You know, I would--you know, I had a little card catalog of all the music companies and the artists and all of that at home. And then I was calling and saying, "I write for the school newspaper I wanna know if I could get a copy of So and So album," you know, so I could start getting records. I worked in a record store, the record department in Mays department store [J.W. Mays Inc.] when I was about seventeen and was around a bunch of guys that loved jazz and a lot of different stuff, you know, there. So it was always a music connection in whatever it was I was doing at the time. And then sort of combined that love with a growing love for publishing and wanted to, you know, at some point I wanna do my own magazine. Then got deeper when the Black Arts Movement really started taking off in the late--mid late--mid and late '70s [1970s]. We got all up in the middle of that.$$Mid to late '60s [1960s] actually in high school yeah, yeah.$$Yeah, mid right, yeah, yeah.$$That's when it starts, and you're in high school when Third World Press [Chicago, Illinois] is founded and like--when Drum and Spear [Drum and Spear Press, Washington, D.C.] and all the other black presses are (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Right, graduated 1970 and right before all of that. Yeah all that stuff was, right, taking off.$$It was taking off, yeah.$$Exactly, exactly. Yeah right. And we were buying poetry, buying Don L. Lee [HistoryMaker Haki Madhubuti], buying LeRoi Jones--$$Baraka probably.$$Baraka [Amiri Baraka] to be later. And yeah that swing from music, I remember Frank Kofsky wrote a book called 'Black Mus-' ah man, it was a--it was like one of the first books to look at black liberation struggle and jazz in--in similar context. The influence or how one mirrored the other or how they both mirrored a social movement at the time and things like that. You know, these, these were like our touchstones. These were the things that got us all riled up and gave us something to talk about with each other as, as a bunch of aficionados. And so the, the--where was I going, I was trying to remember last thing--$$Well, we were talking about the news- the newspaper you wanted to start in context of that I think.$$You, yeah, wanted to start. I remember once we got--when I got into college, graduated in '70 [1970] and then went to York College [Jamaica, New York].$So all that informa- all that information that was available just reinforced for me the idea about how important doing all of this was. I mean from being at Black Enterprise I got a real strong appreciation for how important the nuts and bolts information about business, about money, about who we are in measured ways in society, how important that information is to get out to people as a way to effect change. And so media is the way that you get that message out. So I continue to be enthusiastic about media and--and especially print, but also the Internet. I mean those are still the two most accessible forms of distributing information. And now, perhaps, the best way to get out specialized information in a cost effective business model that has a--at least the opportunity to be profitable. So I--I'm, I'm still very much dedicated to both of those things, print communications and the Internet as a means of communications as well. But obviously, the one thing you can do with the Internet you can't do with print is to create whole communities where people interact with each other on the basis of their shared interest, their mutual concerns about issues, and their mutual goals and aspirations and learning from each other how to get there. And that's what is happening now in the evolution of Target Market News or at least how Target Market News serves a larger purpose. I mean yes, the original idea on this was always to find a way to make money by providing information. But I'm, I'm--at this stage of my life I really want to see how that information can be packaged, amplified, distributed so that it spurs people to action. And I've had some examples of late of how that might be possible because there's a dialogue that is not going on that I think would make all the difference in the world for us in how we are perceived in political circles and in business circles. And that is the dialogue between us and those with whom we want to do business directly with, nothing filtering it. I try to now find more imaginative ways to encourage people to write to companies. To write letters, write emails, place phone calls to those that you already do business with. You know, if you have a favorite brand of breakfast food or if you have a favorite health and beauty aid, you know, whether it's shaving cream or perfume or whatever, something that you have spent thousands of dollars on over the last years--last few years, the question is what has that company given back to you in return. Well yeah, you got the product, but money doesn't work like that. Money is the glue of a relationship and relationships are about more than just money. It's like where are you go--where is this relationship going. You know, it's like, okay, buying a product and giving you money is a date, but are we ever going to get married and get serious and build something here. So that's the mindset I'm trying to get black consumers to come to about what they do with this information.