When some people hear the word “curvy” they automatically think of a plus-sized woman, but Curvy Magazine founder KeKe Simon, believes the word is an eponym for all women, “all women have curves, no matter how big or small. The curvy revolution is a movement based on the empowerment for womankind,” she says proudly. A long standing champion for female leadership in the tech sphere, Keke helps to educate, inform and motivate women while giving them the tools to develop confidence in various capacities. “It is my hope that doing this will help to build stronger economies and spotlight ways to improve the quality of life for all women and their families,” she says.
What is your idea of success?
Simply doing what you love and doing it well.
What is your morning routine? How do you set yourself up for the day?
My mornings usually start off with prayer and what I like to call e-meditation. I watch a string of YouTube videos with motivational speeches and quotes from Will Smith, Les Brown and others. I also Google search motivational quotes that pertain to how I am feeling at that moment. It’s my way of motivating myself when I wake up feeling defeated. I do all this before I even get out of bed. Once I’m out of bed it’s the usual checking emails, making breakfast for my family and getting prepared from my day.
How do you stay organized throughout the day?
I set alerts for everything! I swear by Google calendar. I even have alerts for my breaks and meals. If it’s not on my calendar it doesn’t exist in my timeline. It’s the only way I can stay organized and on point.
What has been your greatest achievement thus far?
When my magazine reached half a million followers! My brand started as a concept that was unheard of at the time. A magazine for women’s empowerment that included all sizes, all ethnicities, all age ranges? So many people told me: “Nah, that wouldn’t work.” Boy, were they wrong!
What has been your biggest failure (and how did you overcome it)?
Listening to others who put limitations on my abilities: you can’t do this or that because you are a woman, black, or plus size or whatever crap reason. This caused me to not believe in my own self and I put limitations on myself. There were a lot of opportunities I didn’t take advantage of because I didn’t believe in myself. I could have been way further along. I realize now, I would have been light-years ahead had I just stayed the course. But everyone has their time. And my time is now. Now, I believe in myself and don’t doubt myself even if my goals doesn’t seem realistic to most. I have been able to manifest some amazing things because I chose to believe in myself.
What do you feel is the biggest mistake people make when starting a business?
Not legally securing your business name or incorrectly filing incorporation documents. There is a lot of free legal assistance you can find in your community. The small business association has resources. I really like the guys over at SCORE. SCORE is a non-profit association that helps small businesses with advice, mentoring and education. They have chapters across the country. And many of your local colleges have free legal aid services for small businesses. I would suggest using one of the services I mentioned to find someone to give you advice on how to start your business. Would your business be better formed as a LLC or a 501c3? Those services can help you make a more informed decision that could affect how you seek funding, how you file your taxes and much more.
How do you define a great leader?
A leader knows when it’s time to lead and when it’s time to follow. A great leader never stops learning because they know knowledge is the most powerful tool you can possess. When everything goes wrong, leaders are the ones that you see still there at the end.
What qualities do you believe make someone a great team member?
One who is dedicated to the overall goal, willing to take one for the team but is also coachable. Being coachable is such a big thing if you are working on a team.
What is the trait you most admire in others?
Determination and sincerity. An honest and determined person can go very far.
What is your biggest professional pet peeve?
I despise professionals who cut corners. Either do it right or don’t do it at all.
What is your best negotiating tactic?
I like to leverage my past experiences and successes. I usually test out parts of my ideas before I bring a project or product to anyone. You are less likely to get a “no” if you can prove it works or you have the necessary skill to do it.
What’s your best networking secret?
Listen more, talk less. You should be listening when people are speaking to you. You use what you hear to craft better conversations when it is your time to talk.
What advice would you go back and give your younger self?
You are beautifully different.
What is the best way to go for the goal?
Go hard and never ever give up. Sometimes you may have to take a break or readjust yourself for the goal. But you never give up trying! As Babe Ruth said “You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.”
What are you most proud of in your life?
My work with the United Nations Association was pretty amazing but as I enter my third year of marriage I must say being a wife. The most rewarding work I have done thus far has been for my family.
What is the fastest way to turn you off in an interview? How does someone impress you on an interview?
I hate a lot of compliments in the beginning. It’s not about kissing up to me it’s about me learning about who you are.
Where do you get most of your information?
I read (books, magazines, newspapers) and I research online a lot. I also attend seminars and conferences to learn more about different subject matters directly from the experts.
What apps could you not live without?
Besides the typical social media apps, I am absolutely in love with an app called “Smart Voice Recorder” by Smart Mob. The app allows me to record my thoughts, ideas and reminders on a fly. And then I can email it to myself, save it in Dropbox or share it with a staff member. I’m currently using it right now to record my random thoughts for articles, my speaking engagements and upcoming book.
What is the best lesson you learned from your worst boss?
Never get too close or too comfortable with your boss because they are always about the company’s bottom line. Your boss can never truly be your friend because his or her interest lies in whatever the company needs. Not that that’s wrong, because that is technically his or her job. It’s just important for each employee to understand it.
What do you think are the three most essential lessons you have learned in business thus far?
1 | Be very protective of your brand’s image. You never who is watching.
2 | Keep your integrity intact regardless of the situation. Yes, people will try to misuse you and screw you over. How you react to that will determine how the next person / brand you want to work with will view you.
3 | Know your worth!
What is your professional motto?
Your only competition is yourself.
Who is your business crush?
My business crush has been my marketing mentor, Charles Pascalar. He is currently the Vice President of Global Marketing for Payless and was voted by Forbes one of the top marketing minds you should be following online. I have been crushing on him for the last 3 to 4 years now. He makes me think outside of myself and forces me out of my comfort zone when making key business decisions. Every piece of advice Mr. Pascalar has given me resulted in bringing the best out of me. He’s like the conductor to my symphony.
How do you define happiness?
Being happy to me is doing what I love, how I love to do it, surrounded by the people that I love. There’s no way to measure that type of happiness in any dollar amount.
Multitasking or single-tasking? Why?
It depends on the person. I can multitask and get things done. I have had someone work for me who totally crashed and burned. She was an amazing professional but just didn’t have the headspace to multitask. You needed to give her one task at a time. Not everyone is a multitasker.
What does innovative mean to you?
Creating a change to the norm in a particular industry that positively improves how that industry function.
Who is the most badass woman you know and why?
Dr. Sonya Sloan; she is a surgeon, mentor, mother, wife and the first lady of a church while also running her nonprofit. Now that’s a multitasker. She does all of this and makes it look seamless. I sometime look at her instagram and feel as though I’m not doing enough.
What makes you badass?
After 17 years, I’m self made and a force of good to be reckoned with. It’s impossible for me not to be successful because I refuse to stop. It doesn’t matter what doors are closed in my face because in the end I always get what I want simply because I won’t give up, I won’t stop, and I’ll never quit.
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