We are adding a new segment on Thursday to the channel where we focus on restoring black wealth. This is a passion project of mine ever since I read that black wealth is going to hit zero in 2053. In this segment, we explore the successful black entrepreneurs and discover how they created, built and preserved their wealth. There were a lot of great people to choose from, but I ultimately decided to start this series with Madam CJ Walker. She is generally considered the first self-made African American millionaire. In fact, she is considered by many to be the first female self-made American millionaire too.
Lessons from Madam CJ Walker
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The cost of freedom
Madam Walker was born with the name Sarah Breedlove on December 23, 1867. She was the first of her family to be born free. Sarah was orphaned at the young of six due to the death of both of her parents. From there, she was married at 14 and widowed by twenty with a two year old daughter. After the death of her husband, she decided to move to St. Louis and live with her brothers. Once there, she worked in a laundry-mat and noticed that her hair was falling out.
Solving problems is the key to success
In an effort to keep her hair, Walker starts experimenting with different products. Like an episode of Shark Tank, Walker realized there was a problem she was experiencing that other people were probably experiencing too. Sarah and her second husband traveled around America putting on demonstrations and seminars talking about her hair care product. At each demonstration, Walker sold her products directly to the black community.
Her success continued to grow until she had the funds to open her own manufacturing plant. At her plant, she bottled her products and trained a sales force of several thousand women. Think of it like Mary Kay cosmetics of today, except Walker was doing it over 100 years ago.
Rule of money
Madam CJ Walker is thriving in a time of racism and discrimination against woman and blacks. Her success was predicated on the fact that she was out there solving problems. The amount of money you have in the world is directly tied to the value you create in other people’s lives. That is why owning a business tends to be the best way to generate significant wealth. When you own a business, you are helping thousands of people get what they want in life.
Walker was as generous as she was successful. She donated proceeds to the black YMCA, the NAACP, and even donated scholarships for black women at the Tuskegee Institute. The sales staff was made entirely of women and Walker provided bonuses and other incentives to the women on a regular basis. Walker created a company that focused on solving problems within the African American community. She provided quality hair products, employment, and a brand blacks could be proud of.
Who is the most financially successful person you know?
They usually own a business or are in a sales position. Wealth is directly tied to the value you create in the lives of others. That is why entrepreneurship is one of the best ways to generate wealth. You are offering a service that is helping thousands of people. Answering these two questions will help you discover ways to build wealth by helping others.
- What problems do you see in your community you can help solve?
- What problems are there is your life that may be in the lives of others?
Keep in mind, you don’t always have to create a company to provide a benefit to thousands of people. You can invest in someone else’s idea or vision to help others. That is the underrated beauty of owning stocks or equity in a company. You’re funding contributes to the success of the company and you are compensated based on your contribution and the results.
It can pay to take risks
The person taking the risks is in the best position of being rewarded. As someone who owns a financial services practice, I have the ability to make zero dollars and I have the ability to make millions. Since I am taking all the risk, I have the ability to earn more than someone not taking risk. A comparable position to mine is a personal banker.
A personal banker usually has a salary with bonus structure. As a result of the bank taking the risk of finding the customers, the personal banker has a limited ability to generate an income. The same holds true when comparing a public defender to a lawyer with their own law practice. Even when you are talking about a doctor who works for a hospital versus one who has his or her own practice. The person who is taking the risk is going to get the reward.
Reinvest in the community
Whether she was providing jobs, training, or improving the infrastructure, Walker reinvested in her community. To restore black wealth everyone must be interested in helping the needs of the many. There are plenty of ways the community can work together to improve everyone’s life that they could not do on their own.
There are schools that have computers donated from the community. Programs are created and ran by parents through their jobs and companies. My daughter’s class took field trips to local businesses and baked a pizza, made gift bags, and even made candy.
By reinvesting and giving to improve your community, the community will reinvest in you. This could be through sales in your business or recommendations when new opportunities arrive for employment.
Be ready for your opportunity
When attempting to determine the best place to begin, it is best to start where you are. This could be in your house, your kid’s school, or coordinating something with your block. When you are trying to build your wealth, you want to make sure you are allocating your funds properly. You don’t want to be someone making $100,000 year, but spending $120,000. The worse place to be is in a position to capitalize on a golden opportunity without the funds to do so. You want to put money away periodically for no purpose other than investing.
The mistake most people make is they only save money to spend money. They save for a home, a car, a trip or boat. After they save enough, they spend it all on the purchase. The difference between spending and investing is in the result. You are investing money if your money has the opportunity to generate you more money. If you are spending money, once it is gone, it is gone.
Though she passed on May 25, 1919 from hypertension, Madam CJ Walker Manufacturing Company continued operating until 1981. To this day, a line of cosmetics and hair-care products bearing the name Madam CJ Walker Beauty Culture is available at Sephora retailers. Walker left one-third of her estate to her daughter, who was integral to the Harlem Renaissance and left the rest to various black charities.
To think Sarah went from the first sibling in her family to be born free, to an orphan at 6, to widowed with a child at 20… to the first self-made female millionaire in American history is a testament to her strength. Sarah lived her life chasing happiness by raising the challenge and she was able to overcome each obstacle along the way. You can do the same if you are equally resilient and willing to live the achojah life and rise to the challenge.
More articles you may enjoy:
- Chasing Happiness by Rising to the Challenge
- How Chasing Happiness Will Help You Catch Greatness
- Taking Risks Is An Essential Part Chasing Happiness
- Four Steps to Create Happiness in Times of Adversity
Until next time,
Dre “Better Self ,Better Wealth” Griggs