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At the mention of Microsoft, the first person to come to mind for most would be Bill Gates, however in 2014 John W. Thompson made headlines by becoming the first African-American chairman of the company.

Let’s be clear. You don’t ascend to a leadership role at of one of the most influential tech companies of the age without being someone who can get things done and Thompson has had a storied history in the world of technology.


Born and raised in South Florida as the son of a teacher and postal worker, Thompson received a scholarship to play the clarinet for a Missouri college marching band before transferring to Florida A&M to study his real passion, business.

The no-nonsense star spent 28 years with IBM in sales, marketing, and software development before being given the role of GM of the Americas business unit. From there, he worked for 10 years at Symantec and resigned as company’s chief executive in 2009.

At 64 years old, Thompson brings decades of experience to his new role, which is probably one of the many reasons Microsoft’s chief executive, Satya Nadella, sought him out.

Thompson is known around the industry for his tremendous level of strategic insight and as one of the best communicators to work with for his ability to take complicated messages about technology and make them understandable.Thompson_print-857x1200

His ability to make tough decisions may be exactly what Microsoft needs as lately, it has had a very scattered business approach of trying to be everything to everybody, without having a real hit product or service in any one area.

At the time of his appointment, Thompson was largely quiet about his plans to help turn the company around, but has been challenging his new team with questions like, “Is this strategy right, and more importantly is the team executing well against that strategy?”

To be fair, only time will tell where he takes Microsoft next, but we’ll all be eagerly awaiting his next boss move.

-Staff | Not Just A Girl In A Dress

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Zenni Optical, but all opinions and statements are my own:).

It took a lot for me to become the person I am today. I’ve written and publically spoken a lot about my difficult childhood, surviving years in foster care, working my way through college and taking a leap of faith to follow my passion, start my own business and grow my own brand. Even though I’ve walked a long hard road, I’ve still been blessed to have strong women in my orbit that I knew I wanted to emulate as I got older. These were the women who never gave up. The ones who figured out a way to make the time count and make a way out of no way. The women who made it clear that if they could make their lives count, so could I.

The fam

So, when Zenni Optical reached out to me to recognize the women leaders in my life who could always see the big picture for success – for themselves or others and have the courage to get the job done – I knew I had to be a part of this celebration. And, I knew exactly which strong, beautiful woman leader, I wanted to honor most – my mom.

Me and mom 2

To say my mom has walked through hell and back wouldn’t even come close to describing her struggle and the demons she defeated to take control of her life and her story.  But she did and in the process laid the foundation for the type of woman I wanted to be. One who, no matter how far I might fall, could find the strength to get back up.

Mom 2

My mom isn’t perfect, the best leaders never are, but her resolve to do better, be better and create more for her kids and herself, is near perfect.


She leads with a quiet grace, never boastful of her own accomplishments and has taught me so much over the years through her actions that I can only hope to impart as much wisdom on my own children one day.

Me and Mom

Some of the best lessons I’ve learned from my mom were:

  • That life isn’t always fair, but you get to choose who you’re going be while living it.
  • If you really, really want something, you’ve got to work hard until you get it.
  • No mistake is ever worth giving up on yourself.
  • Not to waste time on people who won’t have your back when it counts.
  • And, you don’t need anyone’s permission to stand up for yourself and the people you care about.

Most importantly, my mom has taught me that any setback – no matter how large – is just the precursor to a big come back. And, my mom’s big comeback continues to inspire me every single day.

Mom renee and me
My Aunt and Mom back in the day. Guess who is in that belly:).

I just want to thank Zenni Optical for recognizing the inspiring women who make a huge impact on our lives with its #ZenniStyle campaign. And, the online fashion frames pioneer wants to keep the celebration going!

Visit my Instagram page to enter to win a free pair of glasses up to $150 from Zenni Optical.  To be eligible to win, follow my page and share a comment about the women who inspire you most and/or your favorite pair of Zenni frames.

A winner will be selected at random on Saturday, June 11, 2016 at 5 PM EST. I wish you all luck, but know the real prize is the chance to honor and celebrate those who’ve made an impact on the lives around them:).

-Charell Star | Not Just A Girl In A Dress

The jury is still out for me on Steve Harvey’s ability to help women find lasting love, but he just proved to me (and the world) that he knows how to be true Boss when it really counts.

In case you been disconnected over the last day…let me catch you up. Comedienne Steve Harvey made (most likely) the biggest mistakes in beauty pageant history. The Family Feud host, announced the wrong winner (Miss Colombia) at the conclusion of the Miss Universe pageant AND allowed her to be crowned on stage and in front of millions of live TV viewers.

Miss Universe 1

He then had to admit that he was wrong, so that the actual winner (Miss Philippians) could be crowned.

It was a tough, tense and embarrassing situation, but Harvey handled it like a class act. He stood on stage and admitted the mistake was his – he misread the cue cards – and apologized to both Miss Colombia and Miss Philippians. He stood in front a packed and seemingly disgruntled audience, millions of viewers and the two women he wronged and said he was sorry. Following the abruptly ended telecast, he personally apologized to Miss Colombia and Miss Philippians again and placed a public apology on his Instagram page.

Miss Universe 3This is a rough situation for Harvey and won’t die down anytime soon (based on the hate-laced comments on his Instagram feed), but it should serve as an example to all the entrepreneurs and young professionals out here, striving to be bosses with a capital “B.” Everyone, including multi-million dollar TV hosts with years of experience, makes mistakes. It’s how you handle those mistakes that show your true character and your true value.

Miss Universe 2

I tip my hat to Steve Harvey and the positive example he set when he stood up and apologized for his mistake. A true leader knows there is power in being humble and being admitting when you’re wrong. Harvey showed the world that having the courage to say “I’m sorry” in life -as in love- will always set you above the fray.

Maybe his book on love is worth checking out after-all.

à bientôt

Charell Star | Not Just A Girl In A Dress

*Photo Credits – Instagram