“You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines. You make progress by implementing ideas.”
– Shirley Chisholm
A few weeks ago, EMSDC held our annual ROAR Conference & Matchmaker in Atlantic City. For the first time, we hosted a pre-conference workshop focused on perfecting our elevator pitches, followed by a full day of relationship building and knowledge sharing. Most notably, it served as the first step into a new realm of EMSDC Signature Events – one that will focus a lens on the future of business and ensuring every MBE and corporation has a stake in it.

Speaking of the future…at ROAR, I had the pleasure of joining approximately 200 corporate representatives, MBEs, government and resource partners representing various industries for the first-ever ROAR Ideation Session : “Clarity through Creativity,” led by Heather Willems, CEO of Two Line Studios, and graphic recorder Ryan Brondolo. During this two-part session all parties came together to solve problems and think innovatively around the idea of moving supplier diversity forward and creating more opportunities for MBEs in a time and political climate that doesn’t prioritize equity.
We broke up into five balanced groups and were each tasked with solving a problem. Groups then rotated, built upon the solution the previous group had constructed, and repeated. At the conclusion, each “problem” had been worked on by three different groups at three different times, creating well thought out and heavily layered (highly visual) solutions. This single exercise allowed participants to tap into creativity, effective teamwork, innovative problem-solving and critical thinking – and most important, continue building on ideas, thus forcing folks to keep thinking BIGGER. 

So, why does this matter? Simple. Not only did the Ideation Session teach us all new ways of looking at and approaching problem-solving, but it also helped to shape the future of EMSDC. You see, for some time now, I’ve been working towards shifting the conversation with a view toward the future, and taking a more active approach to the marketplace. Our MBEs need to be first in line when it comes to innovation, collaboration and a future-first mindset; not playing catch up. The stronger an entrepreneur base we offer, the greater the contribution to the balance and overall stability of the economy. EMSDC wants to be that partner that gets our MBEs connected with the best partners, opportunities and resources – and one proven way to do that is through continued teaching, learning and innovation.

The Ideation Session confirmed what I and my team at EMSDC have long believed – people are hungry for something that’s different; something that will allow them to elevate the work that they do, not only as entrepreneurs, but as practitioners. As such, EMSDC is putting together a whitepaper based on the Session outcomes and impact. We are also working towards forming a Think Tank or Advisory Group to continue the creativity and land on those big ideas that are so essential to success and reaching that next level of innovation. Stay tuned!

Yours in business success,
Valarie J. Cofiel