When Kim was assigned a college intern to mentor early in her career, she wondered if she had landed in a modern-day “odd couple” sitcom.
She was an introverted African-American woman from modest means whose mother went to segregated schools in the South. He was an extroverted young white male who had attended the country’s best private schools, and whose parents came from inherited wealth.
Kim was skeptical about the pairing, but she approached it with an open mind. Good thing, because working with the intern for nine months proved to be a life-changing experience for both of them. The key to its success: curiosity.
“The distance between my life and his world created an opportunity for inquiry,” says Kim.
“I thought I would be answering questions and telling him what to do. Instead, the gap in my understanding of his world caused me to ask a lot more questions.”
Kim’s innate curiosity has served her well in her career, and what an impressive career it’s been.
In addition to her highly successful EOS Implementer practice, Kim is Chief Experience Officer at Everwise and CEO of NextView Insights. Prior to that, she was the owner and CEO of Menttium Corporation for 12 years.
She has worked for three Fortune 500 companies and has extensive experience with start-ups. She volunteers and has served on boards for several nonprofits. She even had the foresight to invest in a Silicon Valley tech startup that’s now flourishing.
Oh, and did we mention that she also has a law degree and a family?
The Secret Weapon
Kim’s secret weapon is that when she’s presented with any person, situation or challenge that’s new and unknown, she says “yes” and digs deeper instead of saying “no” and making assumptions.
That skill gave her the confidence to buy her first company at the age of 26. Her curiosity about the Entrepreneurial Operating System led her to implement EOS, turn that business around in a big way, and to eventually join the EOS family.
Kim’s “curiosity over judgment” approach is instructive in more ways than one because a tragic lack of curiosity exists—even today—when it comes to recognizing and tapping the incredible power of African-American entrepreneurship.
As of the latest census data, black entrepreneurship has reached over $150 billion in annual revenue while supporting 3.56 million jobs. In many ways, Kim continues a long line of successful black business leaders like C.J. Walker, who became the first self-made woman millionaire back in 1917. Yet too many factors continue to put the brakes on this powerful economic engine.
While the number of African American-owned firms is growing (up 35% between 2007 and 2012), minority-owned businesses still face higher borrowing costs, receive smaller loans, and are more likely to have their loan applications rejected than white-owned firms. As any entrepreneur knows, these factors can kill a promising business before it gets started.
Putting Curiosity Before Judgment
We couldn’t be prouder of Kim and her accomplishments, but we can’t help but wonder how many other Kims are out there who aren’t getting the “curiosity before judgment” treatment they deserve.
That’s why we’re committed to being more like Kim, helping people from all backgrounds to reach their full potential. Our vision is a society of entrepreneurs that reflects America, an EOS family that reflects the entrepreneurial world. The fact that this doesn’t already exist only proves the need for action.
As an EOS Implementer, Kim describes her goals for clients in terms of freedom. She works hard every day to give business owners more freedom to do what they love, especially when they feel like they’ve hit a ceiling. That includes the “freedom from” and the “freedom to”: freedom from the elements that hold you back, and freedom to achieve better health, wealth and happiness.
As Kim proves, freedom starts with trading false assumptions for real empathy, rash judgment for vigorous curiosity.
One of Kim’s favorite quotes comes from Simon Sinek who said, “We can teach only if we’re willing to learn.”
Kim never stops learning and she’s never shied away from a big challenge. That’s what makes her such a great mentor and an amazing EOS Implementer.