Wednesday, October 18, 2017

BOSS Spotlight Feature: Jamila Trimuel, Founder of Ladies of Virtue

From the south side of Chicago, Jamila Trimuel is a results-driven leader and encourages others to pursue purpose at all costs. She is the Founder of Ladies of Virtue, an award winning mentoring program that has empowered over 1,000 girls to become confident leaders.

1. July 1, 2017 marked your 1 year anniversary since you left your 9-5 to pursue Ladies of Virtue full-time.  What obstacles have you faced and what keeps you going?

When I made the decision to leave the stability of a lucrative 9 to 5, there wasn’t a big grant on the way.  With the support of my husband, I walked out on faith because Ladies of Virtue (LOV) was the only thing that I wanted to do. My biggest obstacle has been learning how to build an organization that can support me full-time and the growth of our organization. What keeps me going is that LOV provided opportunities for girls to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture, tour Howard University, speak to over 200 people at the Project Management Institute – Chicagoland Chapter dinner meetings, meet with politicians the MENTOR Summit in D.C., and in 2018 some will be traveling to Latin America. Many of them would not have experienced this if it weren’t for their participation in LOV. We are changing lives by teaching girls how to lead and getting them out of their comfort zone.  

2.  What inspired you to launch Ladies of Virtue?
Growing up in South Shore, my father said “You are an African girl and you can do anything you put your mind to” every time he put me to bed.  My mom used to sing “Me and you will conquer the world”. These affirmations provided me with the confidence to know that I could achieve my dreams. I noticed at an early age, however, many of my friends did not have a similar upbringing.  I remember thinking, what if they had someone to help them along on their journey.  This is what Ladies of Virtue is all about.  We stand in the gap for girls who may not have positive role models in their lives.  Most importantly, our mentors serve as part of the village to help each and every one of our girls achieve their dreams.  

3.  Tell us about your upcoming “Leading with Virtue” Cocktail Reception.  Why is it important to lead with virtue?
We are celebrating 6 years of providing mentoring and leadership programs to over 1,000 girls living in under-resourced communities!  On November 3rd, we will honor 5 phenomenal executives and entrepreneurs who lead with purpose, passion, and perseverance.  
Oftentimes when people talk about success they mention something that can be placed on a resume - how much revenue they raised, new business deals or a recent promotion. Leading with virtue is important because it speaks to your legacy. What do people say when you are not in the room? Are you dependable? Are you trustworthy? When you are no longer on this earth, your character is what people will remember.
For more info or to purchase a ticket, please go to

4.  What is an inspirational quote that you live by?
Matthew 10:20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
This reminds me to keep focusing on what matters – Are my efforts making a difference? Are we changing lives?
Who were some influential people or mentors that helped or encouraged you along the way?
When I was a Junior at the University of Illinois Urbana – Champaign, a guest professor stated, “choose your career based on what you would do for free”. I don’t remember what he looks like and I don’t know his name but those words always stayed with me.  This is how I live my life!

5.  What are your “must-haves” to keep your career or business going strong?
Mentors!  When I started LOV full-time, I mentored many girls but I never had one!  My first mentor was Risa Davis and she is a VP at United Way.  I met her through the IMPACT Leadership Development program hosted by the Chicago Urban League. She is still my mentor even though the program is over.  Now, I have three mentors. Each one has a different role and pushes me to be better.  

6.  What is your definition of a BOSS?
My definition of a BOSS is someone who lifts as they climb. As women, we can all go further when we stop competing and start collaborating.

To find out more about Jamila Trimuel, visit her at:

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Staying in Your Lane by Jena Bell

How often have you heard the expression, “Just stay in your lane?” Maybe it was directed to you or about someone who you know.  Or, was it a little voice you whispered to yourself when you were feeling uncertain about your next project or opportunity?

Reflecting on my personal journey, I recall an individual saying those very words to me.

It was the end of spring 1977. I was excited and full of joy because I was enrolled in driver’s education.  I planned to practice all summer so I could convince my parents I would be ready to drive by the fall.  At that time, driver’s education was taught at school and my favorite teacher, Coach Bean, was my instructor.   I loved his training  because I trusted him and he made it fun.  We started the lesson driving local roads.  Once I mastered those, it was on to the highway.   I felt confident driving on familiar roads  but the highway was a different story.  I was terrified!  It was congested and the cars drove too fast. As we approached the interstate, my anxieties skyrocketed.  Merging onto the road, my hands shook with fear. The speeding cars, heavy traffic and big trucks, rattled every nerve.  It was so bad,  every time an 18-wheeler approached me, my palms dripped with sweat and my heart pounded.  I was so scared, I moved the car to the shoulder of the road to allow the trucks to pass.  Sensing my fear, Coach Bean commented, “Bell, just stay in your lane.” The next session he challenged me to stay  in my lane and to not spill his coffee.  I made it!  As my confidence increased, he commented, “Great, glad to see you’re  staying in your lane, nice and steady.”  I felt proud!  I had mastered  staying in my lane and found my comfort zone.  The following session, I repeated my style easing into my comfort zone. I didn't want to rock my grove.  As I eased into my zone, Coach Bean turned to me and said, “Bell, at some point you must speed up and change lanes, otherwise,  you‘ll never get what you want.”  Wow, what a powerful statement.  I had learned the basics, but I needed to reposition and change my pace to grow.  I had to face new challenges, but with each challenge came greater mastery, decision-making, awareness and mental reflex.

That’s the way I see life. We have to learn when and how to change lanes.  It may be  uncomfortable, but we do it anyway learning to keep pace with oncoming traffic, but eventually setting our own pace.  We weave in and out of our zones but never stop challenging ourselves.  We continuously raise the bar to never settle for less than our full potential.  I believe staying in your lane is appropriate at times but, your greatest possibilities will be unleashed when you exercise the courage to change lanes!

To find out more about Jena Bell, visit her at: Twitter: @jenalbell

Balancing Your Personal and Professional Brand as a Young Professional by Tamica Smith Jones


With the surge of social media, we have a greater need to manage our own brand and reputation – both online and in real life.  In today’s workforce, the sensitivity of personal and professional time within boundary varies.  I believe as individuals and as leaders, we have to make a full-time commitment to the journey of defining ourselves and observing the core values that our organizations signify.  This thought will shape the manner in which we will lead and serve others modeling what they see as successful professionals in industry.  My goal in this blog is to inspire you to identify your personal and professional brand, assess any variance between the two and consider blending and balancing your brand to support your level of commitment to your best life and work as a business professional.

Brand awareness is essential to any business and assessing your own personal brand is necessary to support respective visions and missions, development as a leader and advance your career.  Simply stated a brand is a mark of distinction or how others notice, recognize or distinguish you.  Your personal brand should represent the value you are able to consistently deliver to those your lead and serve – in my case collegiate athletes, investors in young professionals at the University of California, Riverside, the Inland Empire and diverse communities across the globe. I have learned that managing your personal brand as a public figure involves being a role model, mentor and/or voice that others can depend upon.  Essentially your personal brand should be a natural and instinctual part of who you are as “a person not a position.” 

Whether in a professional setting with co-workers and colleagues or a personal social with friends and family, I am mindful of what others are experiencing with me and how the message will be managed without me around.  Incongruously, some folks seem to be accountable to others and what/who they want them to be rather than being true to themselves.  So many people are working harder to “act the part.” 

As an educator and business woman in sports, I have enjoyed owning my authenticity, building my brand, sharing the journey as one of only three African American female directors of athletics at the division one level in the country.  It’s black girl magic!  I take pride in sharing the complex story in my memoir “A Ball and a Dream” available for purchase where books are sold. It’s an honor to be an illustration of hope for other underrepresented minorities striving to shatter glass ceilings professionally. 

In closing, be 100 percent authentically you!  Trust that living and managing your brand confidently and consistently will accelerate advancement opportunities, afford you the ability to earn and maintain unconditional respect and ultimately position you to best serve, lead and prepare others for successfully navigating the game of life.

Learn more about Tamica Smith Jones by visiting or her website and follow on Twitter: tjsports23