Imagine a successful business founder. Most think of white men in three suits, determined to succeed and prioritizing profits over beauty. While this is a common narrative in society, Kathryn Finney proves it false as a black business owner and investor who advocates for human-centered business practices.
Finney is the co-founder of Genius Guild and the author of the book Fix the Bad: How to Start a Successful Business If You’re Not a White Male.
Concordia hosted Finney as part of its “Building a Trustworthy World” series, an initiative through the Lorentzen Center that brings professionals to campus to share wisdom about leadership, innovation and courage.
Finney said, “I’m trying to build a world where everybody wins.”
In the business world, Finney seeks to connect beyond profit by creating opportunities for investors, entrepreneurs and the communities that use the company’s services to benefit. .
This event incorporates large group keynotes with small group opportunities that work to build a better sense of community and provide many opportunities to connect.
Finney met with students from the Black Student Union for dinner in addition to meeting with businesses for StartUpBREW, a weekly event series focused on building a community for entrepreneurs. local.
Black Student Union president Kumba Glay said one of the union’s goals is to increase financial literacy because of the historical and ongoing trend of financial inequality for the black community, which Glay says is a “huge limitation.” Glay felt hosting Finney was a way to bridge that gap and give students an opportunity to learn from a successful black business founder.
The keynote address was open to members of the virtual community and several local business owners, including the founders of Fred’s Dissonance and Emerging Prairie.
Sophomore Crisavy Seeman is a digital marketing and storytelling specialist for the Lorentzen Center looking at the presence of community members.
“There were so many alumni, community members and local professionals in attendance and I thought it was very special for Concordia to offer a place for that connection. It gave me a better perspective on what the Lorentzen Center does and the impact we have not only on the university but also on the community,” said Seeman.
One of Finney’s key ideas about fair investment is to recognize the difference between shareholder and shareholder capitalism. Finney argues that investors and founders should move towards a participatory capitalist model again to renew the sense of responsibility and long-term investment built into the model.
In a world where maximizing shareholder wealth is a priority, Finney suggests that moving from a stakeholder mindset is a more sustainable and rational approach to business. This change in attitude will encourage business owners to maintain core values that allow them to make a profit while serving their community.
Finney has maintained that spirit through his business career. And this attitude also taught him the great opportunity for the founder of Black to level the playing field.
Selling businesses for profit, although some have criticized it as a way to put black owners out of business, is a powerful tool for Black founders, according to Finney. Through this wage, Finney said, builders have an advantage that can be used to create more space for Black builders.
Finney has personal experience with this. She created her first company Budget Fashionista in 2003 and sold it in 2012. With that salary, Finney invested and was able to empower over 2,000 black women entrepreneurs.
“You can do good and be good at the same time,” Finney said.
Using this stakeholder mindset, Finney is paving the way for other Black founders by focusing on sustainable leadership and advocacy. In doing so, Finney reverses the narrative that for-profit companies become successful by accumulating wealth because of their commitment to giving back to their customers and society.
During her speech, Finney acknowledged many misconceptions in the investment industry and shared her experience shattering expectations as a black female business owner.
Finney says she often feels others try to limit her through stereotypes.
“I try to directly challenge those who put me in a box. Even though some people may find it difficult to be who I am, more people appreciate me for who I am,” Finney said.
This can be seen in Finney’s dedication to being himself and being with others. Staying true to who you are, Finney says, is key to being a lasting and impactful leader.
After listening to his speech, Seeman said, “I like how honest and faithful he is.”
Finney’s advice to business students is to be yourself, be a good person to work with and ask others for help when needed. Finding someone you can really talk to is key to success, says Finney.
Overall, Finney emphasized the importance of human-centered business practices not only as business owners and leaders but also as members of the community. community.
The Lorentzen Center will host Nadine Strassen to speak on “Free Speech, Censorship and Controversy” in February. All keynote speeches are recorded and available for viewing at the Lorentzen Center Website.