All posts by Roshell

Veteran executive Richelle Parham fueled by passion, career and community

Many of us spend a lifetime on a quest not only to find our passion, but also to use it in a way that touch and improve lives for future generations to come. Long-time executive Richelle Parham says she found her passion for marketing in high school.

Richelle Parham

“I knew that I loved TV commercials and I loved print ads. I loved all of the things connected to getting brand messages out to customers,” said Parham, who recently served as chief marketing officer at eBay.

With that clarity, Richelle applied to Drexel University where she earned two bachelor degrees, one in marketing and the other in design and merchandising. She was also attracted to the school’s co-op program which inspired the marketing guru to work for Valentino in New York infusing her two passions: fashion and marketing.

For many of us who are still on journey to finding our passion, Richelle offers this piece of advice.

“Talk to people. When you find people who are interesting – doing interesting things – find out what they are doing. Find out how they think about it and ask a lot of questions, because you might be able to find a piece of this person’s role that actually makes sense for you. I think you have to listen; keep your eyes and ears open. You have to be willing to take risks. I have taken a bunch of risks in my career and they have all paid off in some way. So you have to be willing to put yourself out there a little bit to learn and grow.”

Richelle leveraged her education and co-op experiences to land opportunities at reputable companies, including Digitas Inc., a global digital marketing and technology agency. Richelle had a 13-year career there, with her last role as the SVP GM of the Chicago office. After Digitas, Parham took a role as head of Global Marketing Services, then later head of Global Marketing Innovation for Visa Inc. Most recently, she served as Chief Marketing Officer of eBay for over four years. In this role, she led all marketing efforts (internet marketing, customer acquisition, customer relationship marketing), as well as cultivating and driving the evolution of the eBay brand globally.
“I owned all facets of marketing end-to-end, including customer marketing which is all about customers and how the company connects with them, either through eBay’s verticals like fashion, electronics or motors, or through the deals platform,” she shared.

Richelle leveraged her past role in one of the world’s largest tech companies to champion diversity and give a voice to women and minorities. As one of the only C-Level African-American women in the technology sector in Silicon Valley, Richelle is passionate about ensuring that women have a place in the industry. Her commitment to diversity led her to becoming an advisor for Girls Who Code. She also finds time to mentor women in tech careers, and played a huge role in eBay’s Women’s Initiative Network (WIN) for North America during her tenure at eBay. In four years, eBay more than doubled the number of women in leadership roles and increased the share of leadership positions held by women – 42 percent of eBay’s total global employee population is women.

When asked what has contributed to a successful career and being able to thrive in such a male-dominated field, Richelle says:

“Stay curious; don’t be afraid to ask questions. Sometimes people feel like ‘if I ask questions, I won’t look smart’. Show up in the room and ask the right questions.”
“Learn from as many people as you can. Be willing to listen, because I believe that you will learn the most when you listen and, in particular, listen to different points of view.”
“Drive innovation. Continue to reinvent how things get done. Drive innovation in the things you own and do everyday.”

Passion is at the center of fueling your career and making a meaningful impact in your community. For Richelle, she found her passion at an early age and has made a commitment to be a lifetime learner, which has resulted in her becoming one of the top marketers in the world. One thing we can all learn from her journey is that magic happens when you are able to turn passion into a career and using your influence to impact the world community.

Q&A with Richelle:

Q: If it weren’t for Michael Jackson …

A: I wouldn’t have the imagination I have.

Q: The key to living life you want is…

A: Being true to yourself, respecting others and doing the best you can every day.

Q: You will never regret…

A: When you turn your intentions into action.

Q: But you might wish you had

A: Been more deliberate.

Q: The biggest risk that I have taken is…

A: Moving far away from my family.

Q: Never be impressed by…

A: Shiny objects

Q: I hope people will remember me most for

A: Helping others.

Q: What would you say today to the 21-year-old Richelle?

A: Keep having fun.

Q: What’s one book everyone should read before they turn 40?

A: My favorite book of all time is Pride and Prejudice. I read it every year. Of course I know the ending, but I read it every year.

Holiday Madness: Small Business Survival Guide


For many people the holiday season means juggling several professional, social, and family obligations. For many small business owners the holidays can be the most challenging yet financially lucrative time of the year. As a result, the entrepreneurs that have a plan, deploy staff effectively, and make necessary adjustments are able to maximize this time of year

Here are four tips to help small businesses survive peak season:

1. Ask for help

Office Depot/Office Max Elf Who HelpsAs this year’s Office Depot/OfficeMax “Elf Who Helps” winner, my prize package included two days of on-site services from TaskRabbit. TaskRabbit is a peer-to-peer marketplace that helps local users outsource everything from household errands to skilled tasks. Once you post a task, you see hourly rates for the Taskers who are most qualified for your job. A minimum payment of one hour is required per task. TaskRabbit takes a 20% service fee on each task but it’s definitely worth the investment. This year with the help of my two Taskers I’ve closed out the year feeling organized and ready to tackle 2015.

2. The early bird catches the worm

Early BirdSeveral retailers started promoting and giving customers an opportunity to buy or pre-order Black Friday deals days before their official event. This strategy helps smooth out the peaks in your business while also accelerating cash flow in your business. This strategy is a win-win situation: 1. Customers enjoy the luxury of avoiding the long Black Friday lines; and 2. Potentially gives you a head start and edge over your competitors who wait to offer their deals starting on Black Friday only.


3. Manage customer expectations

One of the things I didn’t do well this holiday season was manage online product delivery expectations with my customers. I noticed there were tons of “If you want it before Christmas mailers and e-mail notification from Online Retailers communicating specific deadlines to place orders to ensure delivery before Christmas. Here is an example of specific verbiage used from an online retailer. If you order before Dec. 20, your order will arrive by 12/24 with ground shipping. If you order by 12/22 receive your order by 12/24 with next day shipping. At first glance the communication is geared with the customer in mind to ensure they receive their products before Christmas. However, if you examine this a bit closer this communication also drives customer-ordering behavior that puts the small business in the driver control.

4. Set an Out of Office Message: Take A Break

Sorry we are closedWe all need to time to rejuvenate to ensure we are bringing the best version of ourselves not only to our business but also to the people that matter most. The last two weeks in December are usually an optimal time to take a break since most people and companies slow down during the holidays. If you are a small business owner with a small staff or you’re a sole proprietor you are probably are thinking you can’t afford to take the time off. Honestly, you can’t afford not too. If you are in this situation and/or run a time-sensitive business, I suggest hiring a few temporary employees and setting up a small emergency/time sensitive customer hotline during this time. I think it is worth the investment. For other small business owners I suggest setting an out of office message with the days that your business will be closed and when you will be back to normal business hours.

What strategies have helped you through this Holiday? Please share and leave a comment below.

Happy Holidays. Cheers to an even better 2015.



Why am I thankful this season?

Heart of Haiti

With all the recent conversations about Immigration Reform, I’ve approached this Thanksgiving season with an extreme sense of gratitude and appreciation. According to the 2010 Census, there are an estimated 975,000 people of Haitian ancestry in the U.S. During this time I’ve thought about my own personal story and how I’ve personally benefited from immigration laws. Thirty-five years ago, both of my parents decided to change the trajectory of their lives and confront fear. Although this journey could have led to death they both risked it all and set sail across the Caribbean Sea from Haiti in search of a better life. It is because of their fearlessness, I stand here today as a proud Haitian-American.

Giving Mindset

It was important for my parents that their children uphold Haitian values. Every summer and Christmas my parents would send me to Haiti to ensure I was infused with the Haitian customs and culture. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from this experience is the power of having a giving mindset. My brother and many close relatives still reside in Haiti, so I know first hand the impact the earthquake has had on the lives of Haitian people. I’ve personally donated to the rebuilding efforts but was yearning for a way to support the people of Haiti in a more economic sustainable and impactful way.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime

I come from a lineage of entrepreneurs and as a serial entrepreneur myself I know first hand owning a business is the way to economic freedom. I recently came across Macy’s Heart of Haiti campaign that seem to meet the need of providing Haitian business owners with a more sustainable form of income.

Macy’s went to Haiti shortly after the January 12, 2010 earthquake and realized that despite the devastation there was an artist community that existed and was eager to bring their product to market. Macy’s launched a product line for sale at across many stores in the U.S. This launch has employed 400 artists to date. To put this into perspective, the average Haitian’s annual income is only $400 – for a year! Add to that, Haiti has an estimated 400,000 artisans (out of a 10M population) who rely solely on their handcrafted goods as a source of income. No other sector of employment even approaches such numbers.

It takes a Village: What can you do to help?

Heart of HaitiAs a member of the Everywhere Society I was gifted the Heart of Haiti Metal Waves Texture Tray. All metal items from the Heart of Haiti collection are created using steel oil drums that are hammered and chiseled and sculpted to create unique pieces like the ones you see on When you employ one artist in Haiti, the entire community benefits. Over 500 artists employed benefitting over 3,000 members of their extended family. Macy’s paved the way in helping to rebuild this important sector.

During this holiday season you have a chance to say thank you by giving back and making a difference in the lives of Haitian artisans by ordering your very own Heart of Haiti art piece by visiting

Heart of Haiti can be found and followed on social media at @HeartofHaiti on Twitter and on Facebook.

I am a member of the Everywhere Society and they provided me with this product for review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.


The Seven-Day Financial Fast Challenge #$$fast


With the buzz surrounding the ALS  and the FAMU 10 for 10  challenge, I wanted to keep the excitement going by starting my own challenge to help you get closer to your financial goals. Don’t worry; pouring a bucket full of ice water on your head is not part of the challenge.

I often find myself fasting throughout the year mainly for spiritual reasons. A fast typically involves abstaining from all or some kind of food or drink, especially as a religious observance. After hearing the great financial fast results from one of my sorority sisters who recently concluded her financial fast I thought my readers could benefit by challenging themselves to undergo a personal fast especially with a supportive environment.

How do you begin the #$$fast?

  1. Write down how much you typically spend in a given month? If you currently do not track all of your expenditures, write down how much you spent last month ? Please include all expenses i.e. rent, tithing, gifts, food, charitable donations, etc.
  2. Write down what you spent in non-essential items such as vacations, eating out, spa treatments, etc.
  3. Buy a journal. This is where you will write down all of your expenses each day on the seven day fast.

Ground Rules

  • Bring your lunch to work the entire week of the financial fast
  • Identify a financial fast buddy. Daily check ins required.
  • You’re not permitted to use any credit or debit cards for one week. Cash only.
  • Cook all of your meals, no eating out.
  • No shopping outside of your basic needs i.e. food, etc. This includes no window shopping.

Daily Challenges

Day 1: Create a budget for the week

Day 2: Replace a car/taxi ride w/ public transportation, walking, biking, etc.

Day 3: Open up or fund an investment account i.e. Roth IRA, stock trading account (share builder, mutual fund, etc.)

Day 4: Read or re-read one chapter of Think & Grow Rich or a chapter from one of your favorite financial empowerment books. 

Day 5: Free Day. Be creative. The goal is to identify an area where you can make a financial cut and do it. For example, avoiding overages on your cell phone or electric bill, etc.

Day 6: DIY Project. A few examples can include i.e. manicure/pedicure, ironing your own clothes vs. dry cleaning, cleaning your home instead of hiring maid services, etc.

Day 7: DIY Project. A few examples can include i.e. manicure/pedicure, ironing your own clothes vs. dry cleaning, cleaning your home instead of hiring maid services, etc.


Share pics on your social media with the hashtag #$$fast so we can cheer you on throughout your seven-day financial fast journey. At the end of the challenge post how much you’ve saved during the financial fast. I’m starting on Monday, September 22nd. Who’s with me? Happy savings.


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Persistence Over Talent

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We’ve all heard it more than a time or two, “It isn’t what you know you. It’s who you know!” There is no success you can accomplish on your own without purposefully collaborative relationships and integrative skills & resources. In an effort to help you build valuable relationships for your success, I am offering these insights for productive connections.

Correspond within a Week

After meeting a new contact, it is critical to correspond with them in a week’s time. You want to make the connection with you are still on the contact’s mind. It’s very possible that tastemaker may not remember meeting you if you wait too long. Depending on the contact you may decide to follow up with a personal phone call. My preferred correspondence tool is e-mail since it’s less intrusive and gives your contact an opportunity to respond on his or her timeline. If several e-mails have been left unanswered that may be a good time to give them a personal call.

  • What to say?

In my e-mails I typically re-introduce myself and provide a bit of background on where we met and the general theme of our conversation. Prior to engaging the person be clear on what your objectives are so you can properly frame your e-mail or phone call:

o   Is this someone that you want in your overall network but both of you may not provide any immediate value to each other i.e. different industries, etc.

o   This is someone that I can help but currently does not add any immediate value to my network? If this is the case, be clear on the help you want to provide in your first communication.

o   You can help each other. In this is the case, be clear on the type of help you want to provide the person. My recommendation in the first correspondence is to never ask for anything.  Wait until you’ve delivered on your commitment before asking the person to provide a value in return.

o   It’s evident that this contact can help you but don’t know how you can help them. In this scenario, provide tidbits on any subject matter expertise you may have and ask if the tastemaker or someone the tastemaker knows is looking for help in any of those areas. Never lean in with an ask, lean in with a value you can bring.

  • Keep in touch. Send some sort of communication every 3 months

There are many ways to keep up with key contacts in your network. Zach Rinkins, award winning author and public speaker recommends creating a Google alert. For those unfamiliar with Google alerts, this allows you to enter key words and you’ll receive a notification every time there’s mention of the key word search set up in your Google Alert. Also, recommend keeping a contact list and adding a recurring reminder in your calendar to ensure you remain consistent with following up.

I know this may appear to be a bit robotic but it is my belief that every great networker is someone that is clear on the value of their current network, deliberate about building a network with the right people, and spending time with the right people that warrant fostering the relationship.


The Balancing Act: Your 9-5 vs. Your Passion Based Business

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I’ve had the privilege of working at Fortune 500 companies throughout my entire professional career. Despite generous compensation packages featuring six-figure salaries, stock options, and performance bonuses, the reality became clear: I would not be able to control my destiny without owning a business. According to Forbes recent listing, the world’s billionaire club swelled to a record 1,645 members including 268 newcomers. The common thread of these high net worth individuals was they were entrepreneurs or the descendants of entrepreneurs. I realized that if I wanted to enjoy financial freedom and live my passion I needed to get my venture started.

Bloomberg_045[1]About a year ago I decided to launch Liquid Courage Cosmetics. This line is targeted toward modern and upwardly mobile women. I am often asked, “How do you find time to do it all Roshell? How do you balance your 9-5 and your passion based business?” Balancing between the two is never easy especially if you compound the added responsibilities of being a mother and a wife. While balancing is more than an art than a science here are three tips that help me balance between my very demanding 9-5 as a Transportation Procurement professional for the top consumer electronics company in the world and the CEO of Liquid Courage Cosmetics.

  1. Managing Expectations

Like many ambitious rookies, I had a goal of becoming a top executive at a major Fortune 500 company. When I got my “wake up” call I knew that I would need to make a hard choice.  In my world perhaps different for you the two could not co-exist. Simply ask yourself, “what tradeoffs am I willing to make to have the lifestyle I want?” Once I made the decision that I would rather become a successful business owner of my own multi-million dollar company than a VP over a billion dollar brand by 40 I quickly adjusted the way I worked at my 9-5. Don’t get me wrong I am a solid performer at my 9-5 but I became ok with being the B+ employee vs. the A+ water walking & over achieving employee in order to create the time and energy I needed to run my successful passion based business.

  1. Create and Commit to Your Priorities

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I recently read a study that showed 70% of employees are only effective 3 out of the 8 hours at work. I cut off checking personal e-mails and surfing the web during core work hours. I also maximize lunchtime or commute times to work on quick action items for my passion-based business. I figured the more efficient I became at my 9-5 the more time I created to work on my passion based business.

Additionally, at the start of each month, I write down what my top three priorities are for each important area of my life are including health, relationships, my passion based businesses, and my 9-5. Keep in mind these categories can be different for you but these are my top priorities each month.

  1. Outsource  

Make no mistake about it I’m a recovering control freak so it should be no surprise why outsourcing is the balancing tip I struggle with the most. I think as a passion business based owner it’s essential that you decide what items you can outsource. I know you are probably thinking “but Roshell no one can do it just like me” but in order to have the balance you truly are seeking you should identify less essential tasks you can outsource for your passion-based business.  For me, I’ve outsourced all graphic and website service. I’m currently in the process of outsourcing my social media so I can focus on the items where I can create the most impact. For those who struggle on deciding what you should or should not outsource my rule of thumb is if it’s not an action item that show ups on your top priority list then you should consider it for outsourcing.

Pace yourself. I challenge you to master one of these items every 6 months. On this journey you will learn that “No” is in fact a complete sentence. In order to make room for the things that are really important in your life you will have to become comfortable with saying no.

I want to create a community of readers that support each other. There is no better way to show your support for a small business owner by actually making a PURCHASE.  I encourage all you who own or know of small businesses to leave their contact information or website link in the comment section below. Tag a small business with the hashtag #mypassionbiz

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Don’t Allow Excuses to Cancel Your Success: Tips for aspiring entrepreneurs

I recently sat down with Zachary Rinkins from the Rinkins Report  and offered three tips for prospective entrepreneurs:


1. Don’t Make Excuses: I learned a long time ago that excuses are tools of incompetence. A lot of us get stuck and get in the way of GOD’s blessings because of fear and the excuses we tell ourselves. Stop the excuses and start executing the necessary steps to create your vision.”


2. Done is better than perfect:                   I started with two lip lacquers on Shopify. As a perfectionist I wanted the thousand dollar e-commerce site with all the bells and whistles. I’ve learned that you must make the most out of the resources that are at your disposal and build from there. You will never know how the marketplace will respond to your product if you never launch it. Once you get responses from the marketplace, you can begin to make adjustments to ensure continued growth and success.

Photo from May 2014 Photo Stream

3. Secure a Mentor: Nobody knows everything. We cannot achieve success alone. You must develop a team that can help you accomplish your goals. A mentor can be a valuable player of your dream team. Keep them engaged and your company will benefit from their expertise, guidance, and experience.

 Read the rest of the story here.

Zach Rinkins is the Associated Press award-winning host/producer of the Rinkins Report. Find out more at or on Twitter @RinkinsReport


Think & Grow RichIn the first post of this two-part series, I wrote about the influence of Suze Orman’s The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke in helping me build an emergency fund. After reading this book as well as Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, I took aggressive actions to increase my savings so that I could meet my eight month emergency fund goals.

As I wrote this post, I reached out to a few of my financially savvy peers who all have at least  a twelve month emergency fund so that readers can have a diverse view point on creating the right foundation for your financial life. 

  1. Get an Advisor/Mentor

A common theme emerged from the multiple interviews I conducted. Seek outside counsel. A few of my peers reached out to financial advisors to help with their financial plans, while others sought advice on how to reach their financial goals from mentors. One of my interviewees specifically said, “I try to listen more than I try to advise.” Why commit the same financial suicide as those that came before you? For example, one of the main investment tools that my mentor encouraged me to do was to own Real Estate. Not just to own a piece of property, but allow it to become passive income. So, with the guidance of my mentor I was able to purchase at a low cost, a REO (Real Estate Owned) property. Out of this passive income I was able to save up to 40% of my earnings.”

  1. Monitor your Large Expenses

One of the biggest expenses items in your budget is typically housing. I remember getting a lot of slack from my peers when I decided to rent out my home and rent a house in downtown Cincinnati with two friends. During this time I was able to reduce my housing expenses by half while leveraging the tax advantages of being a landlord. I’ve also heard of people renting out rooms in their home or their entire house with companies such as

The second largest expense is typically transportation. I haven’t had a car payment in almost ten years. Upon graduation from college, I bought a 10-year old car for $3,500. That car “lived” for five great no-car payment years and when it was time purchase my next car I had enough liquid cash to buy the car with cash. Avoid car payments and reinvest the cash in paying down debts i.e. mortgage, unsecured loans i.e. credit card, and increasing your savings. 



Throughout the year there will be different opportunities where additional income, unexpected or expected, may present itself. For instance, income tax refund, bonuses, inheritance, and/or salary increases. In these instances, use the funds to help accelerate your emergency fund growth and pay down debt. Think of your savings plan as a way to pay yourself first and a requirement similar to a monthly bill used to help meet your goal of increasing your emergency fund. Adding yourself as a line item to your budget sends a message that

1. You are important enough to invest in yourself

2. If it’s in your budget month after month you can track how much of your money is going to you vs. things.



Cash is KING….5 ways to build your emergency fund: Part 1

 Suze Orman’s The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke is one of the most impactful books I’ve read to date.  A few days after graduating from Florida A & M University (go Rattlers), I ordered my credit report, realized it was below 500 and quickly grabbed a copy of the book. For nearly a decade, Suze’s advice guided me along my financial journey. I can now proudly say that now my credit score is over 800. Suze advises everyone to have an emergency fund. An emergency fund allows you to maintain your current way of life even in the event of a financial catastrophe.

But how do you build your emergency fund? I’ve drawn on my own experiences and reached out to a few colleagues with varying salary ranges to help provide insight on the subject. Here are five ways to build your emergency fund.

  1. Develop a New Year & Mid Year Financial Resolution

Every New Year, many people are reflecting on their financial goals. Think of yourself as a company. Use these tips to create the financial strategy for YOU, LLC:

Write down your current cash liquidity at the beginning of the year

  • Write down the cash amount you would like to have by the end of the year. Remember to be reasonable and realistic. For example, you can’t have a goal of saving $50,000 when you only bring in 40K each year.
  • Create an action plan, which includes goal setting and budgeting. We will cover more on this in point #2.
  • Perform a mid-year status check to course correct any issues and update your action plan if your strategy and/or tactics are not working
  • Once you reach your goal, celebrate with a small reward i.e. small purchase, mini-vacation, etc. For me it was my first Luis Vuitton bag.



Once you are clear on your desired yearly savings goal set a monthly savings target. Leverage budgeting tools to help you track and trace how you are performing versus the goal. For example, at the beginning of each pay cycle I know exactly where I want my money to go. I know what my savings target is for every pay period. And, I give myself a grade on how well I saved versus the expectations I set. Through this tactic I learned that you can’t measure what you don’t track. For an example of a budget template please subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

You can look forward to the next three tips on Monday August 4.

Valuable Lessons Learned in the “Rat Race”: Corporate America Revealed; Part 2

I’m revealing a few more of my corporate confessions:

6. Healthy is the new Sexy: Health Matters

I’ve gained nearly 50 pounds since I entered corporate America in 2005. I have attributed this to limited physical activity at work (sitting behind a desk for hours at a time) and low energy following 10+ hour days. Only recently did I begin to take my health seriously after learning of the impact that weight could have on fertility.

While I view my contributions as significant to my organization, they will not make or break a Fortune 100 company. If I can invest in my job, I can invest in myself by taking an hour each day to exercise. Make time to workout either before work or leave a bit early to workout in the evening. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle should be your #1 priority.

7.  Host with the most/Hostess with the Mostess

It is important to create connections with your organization beyond the cube and water cooler. Consider hosting an annual event that both your professional and personal networks can enjoy. For example, one prior work colleague hosted an annual masquerade ball and another colleague had an “Ugly sweater” party. Most business deals are done outside of the office, so why not create an event to foster relationships and great networking on your own terms?

I hope this not only helps those in the proverbial rat race but aspiring entrepreneurs.