CHRONICLES OF INVENTION AND INNOVATION
T he past isn’t predictive of the future. People look at trends and try to guess the next big thing, but reality is much more complicated. Great innovators and entrepreneurs aren’t necessarily looking at trends and trying to figure out what to do next. They’re looking at the world around them. They may notice that something can be done better, performed more efficiently, or improved. Some may have a spark of realization — an “aha” moment. February is Black History Month, which recognizes black innovators who changed the world. In the United States, black people had been exploited and oppressed for centuries, going back to before the country even existed. Despite oppression, countless black Americans rose up to change the world around them. They saw a way to make a difference and pursued their idea to the end. self-made African American businessperson in America in the early 1900s. She founded the Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company — a company devoted to developing and marketing cosmetics and hair care products to black women. She founded the company in 1910, and by her death in 1919, both she and her company had become incredibly successful. Take, for example, Madam C.J. Walker, an African American entrepreneur who became the wealthiest
Otis Boykin was another African American person who left a lasting legacy. Boykin was known for innovations in circuit technology, and this led to major
Madam C.J. Walker out for a drive
to the cooling unit of early air conditioners. Well over a century after Latimer made an impact in the scientific community, his legacy continues. The list of black innovators could go on and on, and these three people are proof that no matter what life throws at you, you can overcome adversity and make a difference. It’s all about getting a few characteristics of entrepreneurialism and innovation just right, and it starts with your mindset. You have to believe in yourself and know you can accomplish what you push yourself to do. Establish goals and follow them through to the end. Anything is possible. As we honor great black Americans throughout history who created wealth for themselves and others, we can also look inward. What can we do to make a difference in our own lives and in the lives of others? What goals are you going to set for yourself to push to the next level and the next great accomplishment? The only thing standing in your way is you.
improvements in pacemaker technology. He lost his mother to heart failure when he was very young, and he credited this loss to motivating his extensive research into pacemakers. His research led to improved devices and saved many lives. At the time of his death in 1982, he had 27 patents to his name, and many of his inventions live on in today’s technologies.
Lewis Latimer, an inventor and engineer who worked with Thomas Edison, was another African American innovator. Latimer invented the carbon filament, which was crucial in
the development of the lightbulb. (Edison’s early lightbulbs relied on paper filaments). He also worked with Alexander Graham Bell and helped Bell draft a patent for the telephone. Latimer was instrumental in the development of the air conditioner, too. In fact, he owned a patent related
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s you know, February is Black History Month, which recognizes the countless men and women who helped change American cultural, social, scientific, and entrepreneurial landscapes. Black History Month
in Chicago, an inspired Woodson helped found the now-called Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) with the goal of bringing the achievements of black Americans to a national stage.
can be traced back to 1915 in Chicago. It was the 50th anniversary of emancipation in the state of Illinois and 52 years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
The founding of the ASALH led to the creation of the now-called Journal of African American History. Woodson and his colleagues used this journal to publish those achievements along with the insights of other black Americans from around the country, challenging others to follow in his footsteps. And they did. In 1924, “Negro History Week” was founded by the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. This eventually became known as
In 1915, thousands of African Americans journeyed to a cultural exhibition in Chicago. It was a three- week event showcasing the many achievements African Americans made since slavery had been outlawed only 50 years earlier. One of the attendees, Carter G. Woodson, was in awe of everyone in attendance — not to mention all the achievements that were being shared at the event. Following the exhibition
The History Behind BLACK HISTORY MONTH
“Negro Achievement Week.” It was part of greater outreach in many communities around the country to bring awareness to black achievement. But Woodson
Boosting customer retention by any amount can have a huge impact on your revenue. A study conducted by Bain & Company and reported by the Harvard Business Review found that even a 5% increase in retention can boost revenue by 25%–95%. In short, your ability to retain the right customers can make or break your business. Businesses are constantly searching for ways to achieve customer loyalty. After all, it’s far more cost-effective to keep the same customers coming back to you than it is to constantly go after new ones. Marketing to new customers can cost up to 25 times more than simply catering to your existing customer base. Loyal customers who love your business are an incredibly powerful asset. They can do a lot of your marketing for you through social media and other word-of-mouth channels, convincing others that your business exists and has value. But how do you get to that point? How do you develop a strong bond with your customers that is hard to break and will keep them coming back time and time again? It really starts with stellar customer service. Poor customer service is the No. 1 cause of customer loss. Upward of 71% of people say they cut ties with businesses over poor customer service. Customer service includes your employee-customer interactions, your response to problems, your response time , and your approachability on social media.
Look to businesses that have figured out how to do customer service right, like Apple, LEGO, and other beloved businesses in your community. Consider what you can incorporate into your own customer service experience or become a customer yourself and see just how far other businesses are willing to go for you. Another way you can win loyal customers is just by being present. One way to do that is by answering phone calls, emails, and online inquiries immediately . The more time you put between the initial customer contact and your response, the worse it looks for you. When people visit your business in person, be there to offer a hello, answer questions, and engage in casual conversation. When you’re there for your customers, your customers want to be there for you.
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The Best Way to Develop a POSITIVE NEW HABIT When it comes down to it, the No. 1 way to establish a new habit is repetition. When you repeat the same action over, and over, and over again, it will stick. Think about the goals you set at the start of the year. What progress have you made? Are you happy with the progress or do you feel there is more you can do? Have you even started working toward your goals? Here are the three elements required to develop a new habit: time, consistency, and repetition. Let’s take a closer look at each element. TIME You need to commit to at least 30 days. It can take anywhere between two weeks and two months before a practice becomes a habit. When you commit to the 30-day minimum, you put yourself in the best possible position to develop a new habit. CONSISTENCY In order to develop a new habit, you must dedicate yourself to that habit on a consistent basis. In other words, you can’t skip a day. You have to commit yourself to every day of that 30-day period. On top of that, you need to perform the new habit the same way every day. Any inconsistency and you may find yourself less than happy with the results. REPETITION Focus on your habit and commit to performing the action again and again. Live every day committed to the same task. Whether it’s taking a 20-minute jog around the neighborhood, saying “good morning” to your team, or writing in a journal, when you repeat something on a consistent basis, you’ll find it becomes second nature sooner rather than later. If you haven’t, don’t worry! Many people are in the same boat. But there is a way to begin, and it comes back to developing positive habits. Forming a new habit is not a quick process. It takes time to get into the groove, but in the long run, it’s worth it if you want to better yourself and achieve your goals.
and others wanted more. Through the 1920s, ‘30s, and ‘40s, black culture grew in the U.S. At the same time, more black history was being taught
in schools, even as many black communities faced oppression, especially in the southern states. As the Civil Rights Movement took hold in the ‘50s and ‘60s, more people were learning about black history, and black Americans were learning where they came from, looking to their African ancestors for inspiration. During this time, more people also began celebrating Black History Month, which was quickly replacing “Negro History Week.” It wasn’t until 1976 that Black History Month was finally recognized nationally — 50 years after Carter G.
arter G. Woodson
Woodson made strides to change the American cultural landscape. Today, he and countless others can be credited with having a major positive impact on American culture.
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What’s Inside: 1 2
In Honor of Great African American Innovators
What You Need to Develop a Healthy New Habit Take a Break Important Tech Trends for Small Businesses to Keep Up With Get More Love Back From Your Customers (When You Love Them First) The Rich History of Black History Month
4 3 TECH TRENDS TO ACCELERATE YOUR COMPANY Keep Up With the Big Businesses
valuable information that can be used to grow businesses was something that only the largest companies had the time, funds, and expertise to do. However, more programs that reduce the upfront investment and expertise necessary to contextualize customer data are popping up. If you can make use of your customers’ data, you can give them an experience with your business that they won’t find many other places. Social media marketing remains an effective tool for attracting customers to your small business, even if the tools continue to change. While marketing on Facebook and Instagram might seem like old news, marketing on trendier apps, like TikTok, Pinterest, or Snapchat, can still work to your business’s benefit. A recent study showed that 45% of consumers head to social media when they have a question about something — are you going to be there to answer it? Keeping up with the latest and greatest tech trends in small-business management can be exhausting, but in an age where technological advancement is accelerating faster than ever, it’s necessary for the survival of businesses of all shapes and sizes. Continued Reliance on Social Media
he line between technologies that are beneficial for large
small businesses to use. In an age of increasing connectivity, these are a few tech trends that small businesses should watch out for.
businesses and those beneficial for small businesses continues to blur. While the latest software programs
Collaboration With Artificial Intelligence
were once only available to large companies that could afford them, some of these programs have also become available and profitable for
While it certainly shouldn’t replace every customer interaction, using AI software programs for small tasks — like email marketing, data entry,
accounting, and some low-stress forms of customer service — is invaluable to small businesses. Delegating menial tasks to AI can free up time for you to focus on those more important face- to-face interactions with your customers.
Increased Use of Data Analytics
“Big data” is intimidating. For years, sifting through customer data and extracting
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