Get your Conversations Visionary Edition 2024 here

Get your Conversations Visionary Edition 2024 here
Click to get your copy of the magazine here.

Saturday, July 13, 2024

Shari Alyse: Spreading JOY While Pursuing Her Own Dreams


by Cyrus Webb

It's hard to believe I was first introduced to Shari Alyse 14 years ago. We were both competing to have shows on the Oprah Winfrey Network in 2010---and since then we have been colleagues and friends. Shari's mission then is the same as it is today: spreading joy while pursuing her own goals and dreams.

It's been great watching Shari embrace her own unique power, sharing her joys and struggles with the world---and now providing a place for people to share through her talk show GOOD MORNING JOY. That talk show has been part of Shari's dream for some time, but I have to say that whether she had the show or not, she would be pouring out joy and encouragement in one form or another. 

Having Shari Alyse as one of our 25 Women Changing the World in 2024 was a no-brainer. She is a bestselling author, speaker and true JOY MAGNET---while also being an example for others when it comes to doing it afraid and not waiting on the perfect time or situation. 

Shari's persistence and drive have gotten her where she is today, but it is also her love of people that has sustained her and kept her from giving up on her goals and dreams. She's not just a TALKER. She's a DOER---and she reminds us that the DOING is important each and every day.

Stay connected with Shari's journey on Instagram


Jennifer Holliday: Showing the Power of the DREAM Day by Day


by Cyrus Webb

I had the pleasure of interviewing Grammy award-winning singing sensation Jennifer Holliday in 2022 and was immediately won over by her talent, humility and fortitude. 

Making a mark on the world on Broadway, Ms. Holliday has gone on to showcase her skills on the stage, on shows like The Masked Singer and with her own original music like the latest single SO IN LOVE. 

There is so much we can learn from Jennifer Holliday. Outside of the awards, international recognition and the praise for her stage presence and unmistakable voice, she is someone who knows what it's like to fight through challenges and struggles and stay focused on the dream.

That was evident when we first spoke and as I have seen her continue to rise and thrive with every achievement. No matter what, she stays true to herself, her faith and the love and respect she has for her fans. That focus will continue to take her to even higher heights. 

Stay connected with Jennifer Holliday on Instagram


Friday, July 12, 2024

Conversations' 25 Women Changing the World, 2024

designed by Talamieka Brice of Brice Media
There is no doubt about it: Women around the world are changing the way we look at what is possible, and they are doing it in ways that may have seemed impossible before. .

Since 2007 Conversations Magazine has worked to spotlight women who are making a difference as well as those who are showing by example what others can do if they are willing to put forth the work and not give up.

It is with great pleasure that we introduce this years 25 Women Changing the World (listed in alphabetical order):

...through Music

  1. Beyonce'
  2. Billie Eilish
  3. Dolly Parton
  4. Jennifer Holliday
  5. Taylor Swift
... through Books
  1. Shatoria Christian
  2. Reshonda Tate
  3. Tess Gerritsen
  4. Victoria Christopher Murray
  5. Zibby Owens
... through Media/Television/Entertainment
  1. Drew Barrymore
  2. Kathy Taylor
  3. Kerry Washington
  4. Omegia Keeys
  5. Tamron Hall
...through Business
  1. April Showers
  2. Courtney Adeleye
  3. Jasmine Star
  4. Martha Stewart
  5. Oprah Winfrey
...through their Missions
  1. Shari Alyse
  2. Tabitha Brown
  3. Dr. Teresa A. Smith
  4. Tina Siemens
  5. Dr. Velma Bagby

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Conversations' 31 Female Authors (and Their Books) You Should Read


 Conversations Media Group is pleased to share 31 Female Authors (and their books) You Should Read in 2024. This list was compiled by media personality and Top Amazon Reviewer Cyrus Webb and reflects titles he has enjoyed and believe you will as well.

(listed in no particular order)

ADULT FICTION

  1. Dr. Velma Bagby, The Catch No One Wants
  2. Tess Gerritsen, The Spy Coast
  3. Iris Bolling, Backlash
  4. Patricia Cornwell, Unnatural Death
  5. Ann E. Burg, Force of Nature (could double as Children's Fiction)
  6. Michele Campbell, The Intern
  7. Pam Webber, Life Dust
  8. Victoria Christopher Murray, Pride
  9. Allison Winn Scotch, Take Two, Birdie Maxwell
  10. M.J. Rose, Forgetting to Remember

ADULT NON-FICTION
  1. Debra Lee, I Am Debra Lee
  2. Susannah Cahalan, Brain On Fire
  3. Sheila Johnson, Walk Through Fire
  4. Chanelle Coleman Wesley, She Said Yes to Herself Unapologetically
  5. Natasha S. Alford, American Negra
  6. Dr. Dana Sinclair, Dialed In
  7. Ally Dalsimer, It's Okay Not to Be Fabulous Every Day!
  8. Elvira Guzman, Purpose: Awaken and Succeed
  9. Dr. Lovell Brigham, From Plan B to Plan Next
  10. Julia A. Nicholson, Move Forward Stronger
BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS
  1. Hena Khan, Drawing Deena
  2. Sharon G. Flake, Once in a Blue Moon
  3. Crystal Maldonado, The Fall of Whit Rivera
  4. Bellen Woodard, More than Peach
  5. Anita Crawford Clark, The Story of Sojourner Truth
  6. Sarah Maslin Nir & Raymond White, Jr., The Jockey & Her Horse
  7. Kate DiCamillo, The Puppets of Spelhorst\
  8. Tina Siemens, The Little Sandals That Could
  9. Crystal Hubbard, Who Is LeBron James?
  10. Tami Charles, We Are Here
  11. Lid'ya C. Rivera, I Absolutely, Positively Love My Spots





Wednesday, July 10, 2024

MINDING YOUR BUSINESS Spotlight with Dr. Velma Bagby

Profession:  Bestselling/Award-Winning Author, Certified Dating-Relationship Coach, Professional Christian Speaker, CEO of Adoni Publishing, LLC

When did you know that you wanted to be an entrepreneur or business owner?
It wasn’t something I initially set out to do. It became a natural progression after becoming a first-time author. I purchased a publishing package from a hybrid publishing house for my first book. After that experience and getting to know the publishing world, I felt it was right to self-publish.

Was it an easy decision for you to start?
It required me to research and learn as much as possible about the writing business. I read self-help books and participated in workshops to determine the best course.  

What helped you in the beginning?
While reading self-help books, I ran across a recommendation to establish an LLC for writing. I began researching the requirements to move in this direction, which resulted in my establishing Adoni Publishing, LLC, obtaining my license, and completing other registration requirements.

What about your audience? How did you know who you wanted to serve, and how did you go about reaching them?
 I was always aware of my audience from the beginning. My focus is an audience of single women interested in preparing for marriage. My passion has always been to help women be the right mate, to discover the right mate. What I did not anticipate was an audience of married couples who expressed excitement learning from my stories, which helped them reset their marriage based on the tips they discovered. Also added to my audience unexpectedly were the male readers who expressed their needs.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of your journey?
Hearing the response to the book or a story or receiving feedback about how someone saw themselves in a story and was able to make changes in their lives as a result. I also enjoyed hearing others purchase books for people they knew who would benefit from reading them. My favorite responses are: 1) An interviewer who responded, “Where was this book when I was dating? I dated all the fish characters in the book.” And 2) A woman who said she is now comparing the meeting she meets to the characters and asks herself, “Now, which fish are you?”

Can you share some of the challenges?
Most of my challenges involved determining what I needed to do to publish my books independently. The self-publishing world was unfamiliar territory, and I had a considerable amount of information to digest quickly.


The world is changing daily. How have you been able to keep up with the changes in your area?
Stay current by connecting with fellow authors and writers’ groups. Gain wisdom from the blogs of those you admire. Also, I’ve always written with God’s guidance. Every decision, which book to release at a given time, what topic to address and how to structure my writing activities around a business are made through prayer and guidance.

What role has social media played in helping you grow your business and reach your audience? 
 I continue to learn as much as I can about social media and its impact on my writing. It’s easy to monitor my posts and interviews, check analytics, and track sales based on these activities. The analytics and sales also help direct my focus.

What advice do you have for others looking to start their own business or become an entrepreneur?
Take your time to research your vision. Look for others in the same line of business that you can emulate or glean wisdom from. What we do is not competitive because every business is different. So, connect and establish relationships based on your goal. Business relationships are just as valuable as your audience.

Contact Information

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DrVelmaB

Instagram/Author: https://www.instagram.com/drvelmabagby_author

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/BagbyVelma

YouTube: https://youtube.com/@drvelma-bagby

MINDING YOUR BUSINESS Spotlight with Dr. Norma McLauchlin

 

Meet Dr. Norma McLauchlin, a serial entrepreneur whose journey is a testament to the power of passion, perseverance, and community. From a young age, Norma was captivated by the world of entrepreneurship, inspired by her family's small farming business.

 This article delves into her story, highlighting her motivations, strategies, successes, and challenges. 





How Dr. Norma knew she was interested in entrepreneurship: 

The answer traces back to her early years—the desire to create innovative solutions and lead ventures for herself. From the age of six, I mowed the yards in the neighborhood, worked on other farms on days off, and grew produce for the grocery store that I could not enter from the front door. Norma always had a burning desire to earn money and be the boss. Watching her parents manage their small farm business, she saw firsthand the dedication, freedom, and community impact of being bosses. This powerful early experience instilled in her the values of hard work, determination, and the transformative power of entrepreneurship. 

Starting a business is never easy, and Norma's journey was the same. "It was challenging, but her strong passion for innovation and the support from her family and mentors made it easier," she recalls. Her family drilled the sense of ownership as an absolute must for freedom and survival. From a young age, her family taught Norma to ensure her name was on all ownership documents and kept safely in a fire-retardant safe. The unwavering belief of her parents and access to a supportive entrepreneurial community played crucial roles. "The determination to solve real-world problems and create a positive impact in my community were driving forces that helped me overcome initial obstacles," she adds.

Understanding your target audience:

Norma's approach to identifying her audience involved extensive market research, drawing from personal experience, and a deep understanding of community needs. Based on her educational knowledge, Norma knew she had to have concrete data to make informed decisions about her target market.  "I conducted market research to understand demographics, preferences, and needs," she explains. Additionally, she leveraged insights from her involvement in numerous small businesses and engaged in direct conversations with community members. Norma also utilized social media, community events, and local partnerships to build brand awareness and trust. Offering pilot programs and gathering feedback allowed her to refine her offerings to better meet audience needs. 

Rewards of the journey

One of the most rewarding aspects of Norma's entrepreneurial journey has been witnessing the tangible impact of her ventures on both individuals and the community. Norma's commitment to equity in education stems from her childhood experiences. Her grandparents played a vital role in her passion for reading and education, with both strongly emphasized in her home. Norma played a significant role in her community when school integration became a priority. Following the lead of the Junior NAACP in her community, she integrated the local white high school, setting a precedence for her community.

Decades later after completing a 21/2 tour in the Women’s Army Corp, Norma's resume' reflects her commitment to quality education, as she has taught children on an Indian reservation, held a leading role in the collegial community, started New Life Christian Academy, founded Chosen Pen Publishing, and recently undertaken the adoption of two primary schools and an orphanage. She has also planted Forgiveness Gardens in South Africa and Botswana. She is conducting research on the first women of politics in Botswana for a future publication. Norma displayed her mission to support children's literary success in her recent passion for writing books for children translated into Spanish, French, and Swahili as she continues to champion education.


Dealing with challenges:

Financial Hurdles: It's essential to manage finances wisely and explore alternative funding options, such as grants and startup-specific loans. Competition.

Market Saturation: To stand out, focus on niche areas, or offer unique products/services. Norma’s niche platform is forgiveness named Forgiveness Across Borders. 

Building a Reliable Team: When hiring, emphasize cultural fit and motivation to enhance team dynamics and productivity. Norma learned that growing involves increasing human resources. Although difficult, she now manages a multifaceted organization.

Keys to adapting to a changing landscape:

Invest in continuous learning.

Attend workshops.

Use digital tools to streamline operations and improve the customer experience. 

Implement a structured work-life balance.

Set boundaries.

Delegate tasks effectively to prevent burnout and maintain healthy relationships. 

Adapting to the fast-paced changes in the business world has been essential. Norma prioritizes continuous learning and staying informed of industry trends and technological advancements. Attending workshops, participating in webinars, and networking with industry experts helps her stay ahead of the curve. Additionally, she leverages digital tools and platforms to streamline operations, improve customer experiences, and maintain a competitive edge. 

Advice for others:
 The entrepreneurial journey is far from easy, but it is gratifying. Norma’s advice to those considering this path is to remain passionate and persistent. Leverage the support of your community, continuously seek knowledge, and always aim to make a positive impact. Embrace the challenges as opportunities for growth, and remember, the journey of entrepreneurship is as much about personal development as business success. 

Contact information

Email: firstladynorma@chosepen.com

www.chosenpen.com

Http://twitter.com/NormaMclauchlin

HTTP://facebook.com/chosenpublishing

HTTP://instagram.com/chosenpenpublishing



MINDING YOUR BUSINESS with Dr. Teresa A. Smith aka Dr. TAS

 


Dr. Teresa A. Smith, aka Dr. TAS

Dr. Teresa A. Smith wears many hats, including being an Assistant Professor, best-selling author, home cook, personal development coach, empowerment speaker, talk show and podcast host as well as a radio contributor.

When did you know that you wanted to be an entrepreneur or business owner? 

From a young age, I had dreams of becoming a business owner. I closely observed my dad's actions while working with him in his small convenience store. The dream became a reality in 2006.

Was it an easy decision for you to start? What helped you in the beginning? 

Completing the paperwork to incorporate my business was simple, but getting it off the ground was a struggle. In the early stages, I was fortunate to have friends who were successful business owners and acted as mentors to me.

What about your audience? How did you know who you wanted to serve, and how did you go about reaching them? 
My goal was to assist individuals seeking a unique path toward their dreams, embracing religious and non-religious approaches. Some clients came about organically through my network, while others were referred to me.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of your journey? 
The most rewarding aspect of my journey is seeing my audience grow personally, professionally, and academically.

Can you share some of the challenges?
Business owners face challenges such as limited staff, finding reliable outsourcing options, leveraging technology, fostering innovation, prioritizing customer needs, and implementing agile processes based on real-time feedback and changing market conditions.

The world is changing daily. How have you been able to keep up with the changes in your area?
To stay current in my field, I focus on training, embracing technology, assessing my metrics, analyzing trends, staying adaptable, and seeking feedback and collaboration.


What role has social media played in helping you grow your business and reach your audience? 
Social media has helped my business expand globally, beyond just my community, state, and region, thereby leveling the playing field and allowing me to reach a much larger audience. 

I've worked with and served individuals without ever meeting them in person, yet the established connections have only gotten stronger as time has passed.

What advice do you have for others looking to start their own business or become an entrepreneur?
My advice for aspiring entrepreneurs or new business owners is: First, embrace the fact that you don't know everything and commit to continuous learning in your field. Second, embrace the constant change and learn to accept it quickly. Third, seek out mentors who can guide you. Fourth, please don't underestimate the importance of marketing and social media marketing for your business; it's essential. Fifth, stay committed to your passion, mission, and values. Sixth, be ready to adjust and keep up with the changing world. Seven, embrace collaborative partnerships without fear. Eight, learn to be comfortable with making mistakes, as it is a crucial part of the learning process. Nine, be kind to yourself as you navigate the path of entrepreneurship. Then, prioritize self-care so you can effectively manage your business.

 

Contact Information:

Email Address: drtastronger@gmail.com

Website: www.askdrtas.com/

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/drteresaasmith/

YouTube: www.youtube.com/c/DrTAS

Facebook: www.facebook.com/drtastronger

Instagram: www.instagram.com/DrTeresaSmith

Twitter: www.x.com/AskDrTAS1



Wednesday, June 26, 2024

[BOOK REVIEW] The Catch Book of Fools! shines a light on what to avoid and who we are to be

 No one wants to be a fool, right? Yet it can be said we either run into people with foolish behavior and tendencies or we find ourselves displaying them from time to time. With that in mind, Dr. Velma Bagby's book THE CATCH: Book of Fools! is so timely.

Whether you have read her fiction series The Catch or not, this book shares 80 scriptural examples of fools and/or foolish behavior that we do well to avoid. This can be in our personal and professional relationships or even our dealings with ourselves. 

Thankfully we don't have to wonder the kind of behavior that can be dangerous and keep us from our goals in life. The Bible lays it out for us. All we have to do is read, study and take heed. I love the layout of the book, giving us the scriptures and then the opportunity to ask the questions that need to be asked. Once we come to an answer it's about making notes and the personal reflection, giving us the opportunity to make the changes needed. 

Great for your personal use or as a family, THE CATCH: Book of Fools! shines a light on what to avoid and who we are to be. It's then up to US to take action. 

Get your copy of THE CATCH: Book of Fools! on Amazon

[BOOK REVIEW] The Forgiveness Game by Norma McLauchlin

 


Sometimes we need a little fiction to remind us of the important truths in our life. THE FORGIVENESS GAME by Norma McLauchlin is that kind of book. 

Through the lens of the character Trish readers are able to see what some are willing to endure in the name of peace and familiarity, only to be reminded of the importance of loving and valuing yourself. 

THE FORGIVENESS GAME shows how men (and some women) can use words and a façade to get what they want and expect others to deal with it---counting on the object of their abuse not to wake up and realize their value and worth. The book also shows, however, when the chips are down who is really there for you. 

The kind of read that draws you in to the story and leaves you with lessons and your own epiphanies, THE FORGIVENESS GAMES shows the power of forgiveness and the importance of peace. 

Get your copy of THE FORGIVENESS GAME on Amazon

[To You, From Me] Why NOW is the ONLY Time that Matters

It's hard to believe we are half-way through the year that is 2024. Like you, so much has happened both personally and professionally, and I am excited about what has helped me get here. But it's not the end for me or for you.

I know life gets hard at times. This issue of Conversations Magazine has been in the works for over a year, and though there was discussion about moving on from it I knew the profiles here would be an encouragement for you to do one thing: KEEP GOING.

So many times we look at the past and think things can't get any better. I am here to tell you that is just not true. You have the opportunity to take advantage of NOW, making the most of it. Those profiled in this Visionary Issue of Conversations Magazine have been able to do just that, and all are benefiting from doing so. Not only that, they are able to remind us all of what is possible. I am inspired by Iris, Robert, Tina and Ruby, and I think their profiles will do much to inspire you, too. 

Since the last issue of Conversations Magazine was in your hands or on your device I have gone through my own changes, thankfully most have been for the better. I have traveled across the country, interviewed people from around the world--but for me the main thing is I have continued to show myself and others what is possible when you don't let fear and doubt stop you. 

I hope this issue reminds you of the importance of NOW and remember that this moment in front of you is the only time that matters. You can't do anything about yesterday. You can't control the future. You can only embrace what is in your power in this moment. May you take full advantage of it, and in the process encourage others to do the same. 

Happy Reading! 



Cyrus Webb, Editor-In-Chief
Conversations Magazine/ Mississippi Success Magazine/Books You Need to Read Magazine


[EXCERPT] Minding Your Business, Chapters 1-4 (Tips on Walking the Talk in Business)

Ready for some tips on walking the talk in your business? Enjoy this excerpt from MINDING YOUR BUSINESS by Cyrus Webb.
 

1. Know Yourself

When it comes to minding your business, one of the biggest lessons I have learned is that I have to know myself.

For some reading this it might seem obvious, but the truth is that we live in a time where what is a pretense and manufactured seems to be the norm and what’s accepted. Some will tell you to fake it until you make it. Others will try to define who you are.


What I have come to realize is that if we’re truly going to build something long-lasting that can make an impact, it must be built on authenticity. Now, the other side of that is that it also means it might take longer than you would like. The important thing, however, is that you don’t lose yourself along the way. 


I have the privilege of working with three amazing changemakers: Dr. Teresa A. Smith (aka Dr. TAS), Chanelle Coleman Wesley and C. C. Fann. Each is using her platform to not only talk about the importance of authenticity but show by example why you have to know yourself when it comes to connecting with others and making an impact. 


Was it always easy for them? Not at all! In fact, they all through their work share the journey of not only knowing they were enough but trusting that they had something to share that others could benefit from. The result of them doing so, however, has been them building a platform that includes not just books but speaking and pouring into others online and offline. 

This key will work for you in ways you might not even imagine if only you give it a chance. By knowing yourself and choosing to lead with your own authentic self, that will set you apart from others in your industry, and make sure that people don’t forget you. 

You will make an impact, and in the world of business and brand-building that is the name of the game for all of us. 


2. Know Your Why

When I began really developing my brand in 2003 it was due to my realizing what my WHY was. I can say 21 years later, that WHY has stayed the same. I have expanded on the vision, but the core of what I wanted to do has remained the same.

That just shows the importance of your WHY. It’s not enough to say you want to start a business or make a lot of money or buy this or that. This key is all about realizing that what you are doing has to be based on something REAL. For me it was giving a platform to those who didn’t have their voices heard, whether it was individuals in the artistic community, doing community work or in business. 

The same is true for another client and friend named Tina Siemens. Today she is an award-winning author of two books, SEMINOLE (Some People Never Give Up) and The Little Sandals That Could), but the path to her getting there has been through connecting with her audience through history and the importance of knowing that your story matters. 

It’s been great watching her go from appreciating the sacrifices and achievements of her own family to imparting that to others so they will realize the value they also have in the world. 

Using history and storytelling Tina runs The West Texas Living Heritage Museum and is stepping outside her comfort zone showing up in virtual and in-person events, highlighting the value we all bring to the world. 

For you it might be to solve a problem that you see around you or to offer something that you know others will need and benefit from. This is something that may take you some time to determine, but doing so is worth it because it will also keep you moving forward. 

Now, as I said, my vision and WHY have expanded. The same will probably be true for you. The important thing is to stay focused and know that if you put in the effort, great things can happen.


3. Know Your Audience.

This key is going to be challenging for some, but once you have determined your why it is the most essential.

One of the problems that I see is that individuals try to be all things to all people. Though it seems like a good idea, it’s not something that is sustainable when  it comes to building your business and establishing your brand. 

We must know who we serve and who is going to resonate with what we have to offer. If we don’t take this important step we will be meandering around blindly, jumping from thing to thing trying to find something that sticks. 

Two great examples of individuals who have learned who they serve and stay focused on that are Robert Helm, the creator of the AllSports Headgear and Dr. Velma Bagby, the bestselling author of The Catch Series. 

For Robert the idea for AllSports came from a need that he saw, first with athletes to wipe the sweat from their face as well as give them a way to keep themselves cool. He has in the process tailored the brand so it can fit individuals of all ages and walks of life, making it fashionable, functional and something that stands out. 

The same can be said about Dr. Velma. Her Catch Series was different from her previous books, and she knew exactly the audience she wanted to reach with them. Doing her research, having conversations with her family and women that she met allowed her to craft books that speak to the heart and opened up dialogue about relationships and marriage: exactly what she wanted to achieve. 

Think about what you have to offer and then think about who needs it. As I mentioned, for me it was giving a platform to those without a voice. That means I was not at the time going after those with recognizable names and businesses. If I had I would not only have been going against my why, I would have also been shutting the door on those I hoped to serve.

Again, it might seem like a great idea to go wide from the very beginning, but if we want to be effective, we will identify those we know need what we have to offer and give them our attention. 


4. Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses

No one likes to admit there are things they can’t do, but I have found that recognizing your strengths and your weaknesses is key.

When it comes to your business you need to think of this objectively, because you will need to know the areas where you shine and where you might need help. All of us at some point WILL need help in one area or another of what we do. 

Knowing where you shine will allow you to focus your attention where it matters and bring help for the areas that might be a challenge. The other thing to think about with this key is that time also plays a role. There are things I know how to do in my business, but I CHOOSE to delegate or hire for it because it might not be the best use of my time. 

Another way to think of your weaknesses is that this is also an opportunity for you to work on becoming better. NONE of us can do everything well all the time. Be aware of where there is an area that needs some work (or maybe ask a trusted source), and then look for way to make yourself stronger.

Get MINDING YOUR BUSINESS on Amazon.  


Master Event Planner, Entrepreneur and Author Melissa Banks: Living Her Best Life, One Dream at a Time

by Cyrus Webb

Dream by Design is not just a brand for Melissa Banks. It's becoming more and more a lifestyle. 

Since she began her journey as a celebrated Master Event Planner and then added titles like bestselling author, Brand Strategist, Media Personality and more, it's becoming clear that she is moving forward with faith one dream at a time. 

As the summer of 2024 was beginning she released her newest book DREAM BY DESIGN DREAM JOURNAL and is gearing up for the fourth season of her podcast Dream by Design with Melissa Banks.  

For those out there with a dream, Melissa Banks is living proof that you CAN push past any challenge or difficulty that comes your way.

Melissa, congratulations on all of your success in 2024. What has it been like for you to reflect on this year so far?

Thank you so much, Cyrus. This year has been an absolute whirlwind. It has moved so fast and I’m so grateful for the direction it has taken me. One of the biggest things for me this year is clarity for myself and my business.

You wear many hats. What has helped you to keep all the balls in the air when it comes to your business and brand?

What really has helped me the most is to stay focused on my purpose, to operate from my lane, have a plan and get up every day ready to execute.

Social media is something you have definitely used a lot. What advice would you give to business owners about the best way to use it?

Social media is something if you have a business you must learn to do well. That means we can use it to amplify our voices and what we bring to the world. What I have learned is there’s so many things in place already to help you be successful in getting your product/service noticed. Control what you see and whose voice you hear. And don’t ever stop learning because it changes consistently. To always show up the way you want to be known.


 You are also gearing up for the fourth season of your talk show Dream by Design. What has it been like to share the stories of other inspiring women?

This show excites me! To listen to these women and hear some of the hard stuff that they have overcome inspires me and I believe my listeners as well. Their stories show us what happens when you keep going despite the circumstances you can create the life you want and deserve. When women support women, we’re unstoppable. 

Coaching is something you have also leaned more into. Why has it been important for you to pour into others when it comes to what you have learned?

Early in my journey I asked a woman who was running a successful business to help me with certifications. She wouldn’t help me the way I wanted, but in reality she really did help me without knowing it. I did the work and the research to find what I needed. I made a commitment to myself that I would always pour into others what I have learned. Coaching others gives me the opportunity to do that. I believe that helping you win doesn’t stop me from winning. In fact, it helps me win! 


Challenges come to all of us as entrepreneurs. Tell our readers how you approach it and what helps you to not give up when things get hard.

It is important to me during these times to be grateful to God for what He has already done. It is also important to speak life into myself using affirmations. It is important not to get stuck looking at the situation. Then look at what is happening, be honest with myself about my part and then give myself some grace to move on. I lean into scriptures, or quotes that encourage me during that time.  And never make quitting an option. I have learned when challenges come this is not the time to sit down and do nothing. This is the time to dig deeper and keep moving.

Any other advice you want to share for entrepreneurs or those looking to start a business?

Everything begins with believing in yourself! It’s ok not to have it all figured out to start. Just do it! Don’t ever stop learning and growing. Get up everyday moving in the direction of your dreams.

Thanks again for your time, Melissa. How can our readers stay connected with you? 

You can connect with us at www.themelissabanks.com 




[FOOD] Southern Banana Pudding by Dr. Teresa A. Smith, Dr. TAS

 


Southern Banana Pudding

by Dr. Teresa A. Smith, Dr. TAS

Ingredients

2 bananas, sliced (I only had 2 bananas, 4 bananas would have been better)

1 pack of JELL-O Banana Cream Sugar Free & Fat Free Instant Pudding

1 pack of JELL-O Cheesecake Sugar Free & Fat Free Instant Pudding

2 scoops of vanilla custard protein powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups Stevia in the raw or to taste

¼ cup vanilla flavoring

½ cup Bailey Irish Cream 2 cups of cold Fairlife® Milk

¾ cup of cold water 2 cups of animal crackers or cookie of choice 2 cups of protein probiotic cookies or cookie of choice

¼ cup of pecans

¼ cup of walnuts

 

Preparation

Mix pudding, protein powder, Stevia, cinnamon, milk, water, flavoring, and Irish Cream in a large mixing bowl until it thickens. Then layer cookies, bananas, walnuts, cookies, bananas, and pecans in a glass casserole dish. 

Continue layering until all ingredients are used. Pour the pudding mixture over the layers after making a well in the pudding. This will ensure the pudding gets to the bottom of the dish. If you have leftover nuts, sprinkle them on the banana pudding. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

[FOOD] Cheese Turkey Meatloaf by Dr. Teresa A. Smith, Dr. TAS

 


Cheesy Turkey Meatloaf

by Dr. Teresa A. Smith, Dr. TAS

Ingredients

1 pound ground turkey

1 pound sausage

Tricolor peppers chopped (1 red, 1 green, 1 orange)

1 small onion chopped

½ teaspoon basil

½ teaspoon parsley

½ teaspoon oregano

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

Dash of cinnamon for marinara sauce

¼ cup egg whites or 3 egg whites

1 8 oz. can of tomato sauce with oregano and basil + 1/3 cup of water poured into the can

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 pack Stevia in the raw

Homemade marinara sauce

¼ cup Italian bread crumbs

¼ cup milk

1/3 cup feta cheese

1 cup Italian cheese blend

1 teaspoon Better Than Bouillon Roasted Chicken Base

¾-1 cup hot water

Preparation

For the Marinara Sauce: Combine the remaining tomato sauce, Stevia, and a dash of cinnamon.

For the Meatloaf: Soak Italian bread crumbs in the milk. Sauté the peppers and onions in the chicken base and let cool. Add peppers and onions, spices, Worcestershire sauce, 1 cup of tomato sauce, Italian bread crumbs, egg whites, and cheeses to the turkey and sausage in a large mixing bowl. Don’t over-mix the meat mixture. Spoon it into a baking pan.

 Spoon marinara sauce on the meat mixture. Bake at 400 degrees in a preheated oven for 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and spoon the remaining marinara sauce on the meatloaf, then add the Italian cheese blend to the top of the meatloaf. Place back in the oven on broil until the cheese is melted.



BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT: Graceful Gatherings with the Thurmans


Name of Graceful Gatherings owners:
Christopher and Kate Thurman

Where did the idea for Graceful Gatherings come from?

The idea for "Graceful Gatherings with the Thurmans" came from the Thurmans' passion to give back to the community by offering affordable, practical advice and inspiration for individuals looking to build their businesses or personal brands. This concept is rooted in:

Spotlighting Gifted Individuals: We highlight talented individuals, sharing stories of blessings in their lives.

Platform for Content Sharing: Our platform offers a stage for those keen to showcase their abilities and share content globally.

Emphasis on Personal Journeys: We prioritize personal journeys and positive impacts, aiming to inspire and uplift our audience.


When did Graceful Gatherings begin?

Graceful Gatherings with the Thurman’s was officially launched on May 18, 2024.


Who is the ideal guest for Graceful Gatherings?

The ideal guest would be those who desire to have a reasonable platform to showcase their talents, share valuable information, and offer positive entertainment for our viewers.


Who would you say is the audience for Graceful Gatherings?

The target audience for "Graceful Gatherings with the Thurman TV" includes:

Home Entertainers: Individuals seeking tips to elevate their social events at home.

Food and Beverage Enthusiasts: Those interested in gourmet cooking and mixology.

DIY and Craft Aficionados: Viewers keen on enhancing their gatherings with DIY projects.

Lifestyle and Home Decor Fans: Followers of lifestyle trends aiming to create pleasing environments.

Young Professionals and Families: Individuals learning to host stylish gatherings with ease.

Event Planners: Amateur and professional planners seeking elegant ideas.

This audience values creativity, sophistication, and practical tips to enhance their gatherings.

Where can Graceful Gatherings be seen?

Graceful gatherings with the Thurmans can be seen on Roku, Zondra TV Network, Apple TV, Amazon fire and Connect to Your City.


How can the public stay connected with updates on what is happening with Graceful Gatherings? 

Follow our Facebook page Graceful Gatherings with the ThurmansGraceful Gatherings with the Thurmans.

When it comes to pursuing a goal or dream what advice would you give to someone who is on the fence about doing what they feel they have been called to do?

Clarify Your Vision. Take time to reflect deeply on what you truly want to achieve and why it matters to you. A clear vision can offer both motivation and direction.

Embrace fear and uncertainty. Understand that feeling fear and uncertainty is normal when pursuing something meaningful. Rather than letting them hold you back, use these feelings as signs of personal growth and untapped potential

What role did faith play in creating the Graceful Gatherings platform?

Faith played a foundational role in creating the Graceful Gatherings platform for us. We established it to express our beliefs and values, aiming to bring people together in a supportive and spiritually enriching environment. Our faith guides the mission, vision, and overall direction of Graceful Gatherings

What are your goals for Graceful Gatherings?

Our goals for Graceful Gatherings are to build a supportive community, foster meaningful connections, and encourage personal growth through faith-based activities. We aim to create a welcoming space for sharing beliefs, supporting each other, and deepening faith. Our platform is guided by core values, ensuring every gathering reflects our commitment to faith and community.


How can you be contacted?  

Email: gracefulgatherings811@gmail.com

Phone: 7706656641


[AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT] Angel Davis, author of SOMETHING LIKE HOME

 


by Cyrus Webb 

There is nothing like seeing someone's dream come true. 

When Angel Davis first told me about her desire to write a book, I was excited to embark on the journey with her. What we were able to create is inspired by her own life and experiences but is something that can be related to by women (and even some men) no matter where they might live. 

I am so proud of Angel, and this is only the beginning of her writing success. 

Angel, thanks for allowing Conversations to be your first interview about your book SOMETHING LIKE HOME. How does it feel to have your first book published and available for the world to read?

First of all thank you Cyrus for having me and for your help with the book. I am a very private person, so I am still trying to process it all.  I normally lay low in the background. Being in the forefront is new to me, but I am embracing the challenge. 

I totally understand that. When did you realize that writing was something you were interested in?

Reading and writing have always been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. However, I did not start thinking about being an author until I was in my teens.

Who were some of the authors you have enjoyed reading?

I enjoy Treasure Blue, ReShonda Tate, Tyler Perry, Terry Mc Million, Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou,

Tell our readers about your first book SOMETHING LIKE HOME.

Something Like Home is about Angel, a girl who grew up fast, loved hard and was looking for a semblance of normalcy and love. What she found was pain, betrayal and hopelessness. Can she get back to a place she can call her own? That is what readers will discover as they read the book. 

You have already started hearing from readers. What has it been like to see their response to the book?

It feels great. It also proved a point that I have been making.  This is a great book. I am not just saying that because I wrote it. It is a great read according to the feedback I have received from my readers.

 What advice do you have for aspiring writers out there when it comes to pursuing their goals and dreams?

No matter what it is that you want to achieve in life, just do it. Age ain’t nothing but a number. I believe in you, and I am rooting for you.

Congrats again, Angel. How can our audience stay connected with you?

Thank you again for the opportunity. My email is angeldavis15@aol.com. I am on Instagram at @angeleyez_davis and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/angeleyez4u2c

Monday, June 24, 2024

Branden Nicholson's "31 Days of Inspiration"


Conversations Magazine is excited to share daily words of encouragement from celebrity model/fitness trainer Branden Nicholson of B. Nick Fitness in California. The purpose? To encourage the reader to be the best of themselves each and every day.

Take out time to visit our website each day to find a daily dose of motivation and visit Branden online at www.bnickfitness.com.

Day One:  New day, new attitude...Take control, stay positive and be great!
Day Two:   The reason why people give up so fast is because they tend to look at how far they still have to go, instead of how far they have come.
Day Three:  If you're not growing, then you're not living. You should never be the same person two days in a row. Make it your goal to get better!
Day Four: When you are going through something hard and wonder where GOD is, remember that the teacher is always quiet during the test.
Day Five: Don't give up on what God has called you to do. The end result is worth the pain. Keep the faith.
Day Six: Today is all about choices. Choose to count your blessings rather than your problems!
Day Seven: You may be the only one that can see your vision, but if you can see it that's all that matters.
Day Eight: Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.
Day Nine: The same people that are hoping you fail will be the same ones that will have to watch you succeed. Never stop. Always keep going!
Day Ten: The WRONG people in your life will keep the RIGHT people out. You've only got a few spaces so choose well!
Day Eleven: You are where God wants you to be at this very moment. Every experience is part of His divine plan.‪
Day Twelve: All liabilities must be let go! If they aren't building you up then they're tearing you down.
Day Thirteen: An original is always worth more than a copy. Be original!
Day Fourteen: When you focus on problems, you'll have more problems. When you focus on possibilities, you'll have more opportunities.
Day Fifteen: People who judge you by your past don't belong in your present.‪
Day Sixteen: Look around...Is this where you wanna be? If not, now is the time to decide to change it! The power lies in you.
Day Seventeen: Don't let your thoughts talk you out of the changes you want for yourself. Your body can do anything. It’s just your brain you have to convince! ‪
Day Eighteen: Get up & Go forward! Let go of the past so you'll have a free hand to open the door to your future!
Day Nineteen: They can copy you but they can't be you. Just keep being a better you and get a kick out of them trying to keep up.
Day Twenty: There are quick fixes for everything in life, but greatness is not achieved in one day. It is a process that each of us must experience.
Day Twenty-One: Don't let a bad day make you feel like you have a bad life.
Day Twenty-Two: You can't expect to live a positive life around negative people.
Day Twenty-Three: I Will NEVER lower MY standards, to RAISE someone else's!
Day Twenty-Four: Direct your thoughts today because your thoughts will direct your day.
Day Twenty-Five: ‪Temptation doesn't surrender. You have to come ready to fight everyday!
Day Twenty-Six: If you don't invest in yourself then your dreams will go bankrupt.
Day Twenty-Seven: Not everyone's opinion should be relevant in your life. Stop making irrelevant people relevant.
Day Twenty-Eight: Never let your mind bully your body!
Day Twenty-Ninth: One day, you'll be just a memory for some people. Do your best to be a good one.
Day Thirty: Want to see your biggest opponent? Look in the mirror.
Day Thirty-One: Don't stress. Do your best. Forget the rest.

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Visionary Iris Bolling, Author/Publisher/Producer


 by Cyrus Webb

Iris Bolling is a TRUE VISIONARY. 

Over the years I have watched her embraces her creativity and use it in creating bestselling books, a television series, producing movies and pushing the boundaries of the literary world. As a friend she has shown herself to be generous with her time, encouraging and ready to inspire and empower others along their own paths. 

In 2024 she has continued to expand on her brand and showcase her ability to keep elevating in everything she does. Releasing her beloved LASSITER WEDDING SERIES in audiobook, she is allowing you to enjoy the stories in a new way. And as the summer begins she gives us a new book PANTHER, kicking of THE NEXT GENERATION series for her fans. 

In this conversation we discuss her success and her advice for all when it comes to embracing your gifts. 

Iris, first of all congratulations on your continued success. What has it been like for you to reflect on your literary career?

Hi Cyrus and thank you for having me. It has honestly been a blessing. Discovering a gift at any age is a wonderful experience. Finding it later in life is like a new beginning. I wake up grateful for this gift. Because of it, I get to visit different places, times, and people whenever the mood strikes me. Each day I am excited to see what the next chapter will bring.  

Storytelling seems to be something that comes naturally to you. Have you always known that you were going to be a storyteller in some form?

No, not at all. My first love was teaching. I grew up wanting to teach, but my mother suggested I go into business. I did not begin writing until I was 50 years old. That is when my love for reading mushroomed into my love for writing. Now I cannot imagine going a day my life without writing a line or two of a story.  Looking back, I can say my mother was halfway right on my career choice. As an independent author, that business degree certainly has come in handy. 

You have had the privilege of not just having bestselling books but had books turned into a television series and produced movies. What has that been like to see your stories brought to life?

Seeing my stories come to life is magical. However, watching others enjoy the stories that were first introduced to them through the pages of a book, then seeing it come to life is like an adrenaline rush that you want to experience over and over again. When I take time to watch movies I’ve produced, I find myself getting caught up in the story as if I wasn’t the one who wrote it. LOL. I would love to see other authors have that experience and I can’t wait to work on another book to film project. 

One of the things you have also enjoyed, Iris, is a loyal following. What do you contribute that to?

First and foremost, writing good stories. Introducing them to characters that are relatable or families the readers want to be a part of. I would like to think some of it has to do with my sparkling personality, LOL. However, I spend so much time in my writing cave, that it’s rare that I get a chance to meet readers face to face. But when I do, I hope my appreciation for them spending time with my stories shines through.  

I’ve used the word success in this conversation with you, but that is such a personal thing. What does success look like for you?

Wow, that is not easy for me to explain, but here you go. Success for me is not necessarily a monetary amount earned each year, or accomplishment stemming from my novels. Those things are nice and by all means, welcomed. But what really fills my heart is when I see others who I’ve touched in some way through an encouraging word or propelled them in their career, that is the ultimate sign of success. It means I left my mark on this world. 


Do you feel any pressure at this point when it comes to releasing new books?

(laughs) YES! Every time I sit down to write a story the pressure is on. However, once the characters begin talking to me, (no I am not crazy) they take over and the story begins telling itself. Here is the funny thing about writing for me, if I attempted to force something on one of my characters that does not fit their personality, the story would begin screaming that something is wrong. It will continue to do that until I go in to fix it. I’ve had times when I was halfway through a story when it begins screaming. I would have to delete all that had been written to start over to get it right. However, in the end, the story felt right. So, for me, the release of a story is just like getting on stage as a performer. The butterflies are in you stomach until that first review hits and you realize…hey, you got this. That’s when your belief in yourself kicks in, the pressure dissipates, and you can see your way to the next story.

Social media has helped us all stay connected. How has it factored into your marketing strategy?

Social media is my second priority in my marketing strategy. Ensuring my brand is strong and consistent is number one. My base, which is my website, is where all my social media is directed. Therefore, my second priority is to use social media in the most efficient way to drive organic customers to my home. I’m somewhat selective with social media sites I regularly use. I follow the data received from each to determine what information works best for that site. Then I strategically post or share information based on those findings. While social media is very helpful, their algorithms are not in your control. How helpful they are should be monitored often because they will vary from time to time. This is why it is important to always…ALWAYS have your home base. Yo control what happens or doesn’t happen there.

Any advice you want to share when it comes to others pursuing their own goals and dreams?

My advice would be to stay true to who you are. People can tell when you are not being authentic with them. In addition, it’s hard to keep up with different personas. It better to just be you. Second, I would advise to believe in you, your goals, and your dreams. You are unique. Others can be doing the exact same thing as you, however, not one of them can do it like you. 

Thanks again for the time, Iris. How can our audience stay connected with you?

It is always a pleasure to speak with you, Cyrus, in any format. The main place to stay connected is through my website: www.irisbolling.com  where they can subscribe to my newsletter. I can also be found on Instagram and Facebook as Iris Bolling.