Vinasia Miles is the Co-founder of For(bes) The Culture along with Rashaad Lambert, which is a network for young people of color to connect and build their resources. The goal of the system is to support a more diverse and inclusive leader in communities across the world. Lambert and Miles met while attending the 2017 Forbes Under 30 Summit in Boston. The two would later decide to meet up with other upcoming professionals of color. Their original plan was to have a small group of 30 RSVP’s at a local restaurant, but the guest list would increase to 400 guests.
Miles is a native of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, with a background in brand strategy and public relations. She has a bachelor degree in Business from Cheyney University, which was the first HBCU. She would then move on to Penn State University, where she obtained her MBA and MLD.
The Hype Magazine recently spoke with Miles about For(bes) officially becoming a part of the Forbes family, and why is this a game-changer for the communities around the world.
Congratulations on the recent announcement that For(bes) The Culture is officially joining the Forbes family. When you first heard that this was a possibly what was your initial reaction?
It was exciting! I wanted to stay very optimistic about everything. I was just very grateful to God for the opportunity to even be in the discussion. I never thought this would happen, it all happened organically forming the For(bes) The Culture movement and organization just to bring people together. It was a shocking moment.
Where would like to see the platform be in the next five years?
I’d like to see the platform, of course, grow and I would like to have many success stories from people who had joined in the beginning as well as, those who have participated throughout the process of the forming of For(bes) The Culture especially with the partnership formed with Forbes. I want to see people of color succeed and create connections that will assist in paving the way for future leaders. I also want to see people give back to their communities and work toward solving some of the issues that we experience throughout the culture. Ultimately, reverse some of the stigmas, continue breaking down barriers, and setting the standard for greatness amongst the people of color. That is what I expect to happen in the next five years, and I am, stay hopeful for greater things to come.
Why is this a game-changer?
This is a game-changer because nothing like this has ever happened before now. The Forbes company is over a hundred years old, and for something like this to take place is a massive win for the culture in general. To see an organization, like Forbes to take the time to reach out to Rashaad & I, and acknowledge that this is something that is needed.
I think it is a game-changer because with us both being African American, distinguishes the progressions of our people over time. This would not be the case over a hundred years ago.
When you started your MBA at Penn State University could imagine you would be here today?
No! So, I started my journey at Cheyney University, which is an HBCU. It is the first HBCU, and that shaped a lot of my experiences going into Penn State. So, being an individual that attended an HBCU, I had the opportunity to embrace my culture. I participated in a diverse high school and to go from that atmosphere to the culture at Cheyney University; it was great, and I didn’t expect it. It wasn’t something I was used to at the beginning because I was familiar with diverse classrooms, sometimes being one of the only African Americans in honors classes in grade school. However, I have always been opened to fit into any setting. Going from an HBCU to a PWI was drastically different, although, I was still able to succeed at Penn State, finishing with two master’s degrees from there and a certification in project management.
In the past, you have talked about how essential self-marketing in brand building. In today’s climate, when should the younger generation start building their own brands?
The time is now! It is essential now! You are a representation of yourself and the people who have come before you. You are your brand. So, it is necessary to start now, and it is not something you have to wait until you are 21 to start. I speak with students all the time through different organizations and schools that I work with and mentor. I let them know it is essential to work on you and do your best on all that you do because it will always reflect who you are.
I tell ninth-graders up to college students that these years are the foundation of their futures. In your freshman year of high school, you are establishing your GPA to get into college or go out into the “real” world and it is the same thing for first-year college students. Freshman year shapes the entire foundation of your college career. It’s not wise to wait until your senior year to get it together and play catch up, most times it’s too late. The time to start can be as young as the age of six, and I know for me, I started off as a young hustler selling water, and candy at sporting events to now having a company that has now partnered with Forbes, and it is a significant advancement. There’s no better time than the present!
You have participated in numerous Forbes Summits in the past. Can you share with us how it usually works?
I think this year’s summit will be different from previous years in Boston and Philadelphia because things evolve from year to year. So, through technology, feedback is given from past years; it is always a little different. The general routine is you choose sessions, that you want to attend based on your interest. In year’s past, you were able to select different tracks that you would like to go on. For example, if you were in the creative space or capital, you would go into those spaces during the summit, and if you are interested in other areas, you would be in those areas.
I think last year they had a Cannabis capitalism track for those interested and people could select the different areas that want to go to, and there would be specific panels geared towards those interests to enlighten the crowd. There are also areas where you can check out some of the startup companies and see what people are doing and have in store for the future.
This year’s speaker in Detroit will be 23 Grand Slam Winner Serena Williams. What are you looking forward to the most from upcoming speech?
I believe she going to do great because she is an excellent representation of perseverance, she’s always fought through adversity. Serena is a native of Compton, California and has been ready to fight through many things that a lot of other people haven’t which is why she is self-made today. She is one of the best tennis players of all-time and as a woman of color, and she has faced a lot of backlash on that and others in her sport didn’t have to deal with.
All the things Serena has done in her career in conjunction with her sister (Venus), I am very excited to hear about her story. I hope she highlights some of the things that she has faced and how she has grown from them being a young girl from Compton to the Forbes Cover. Now, there are young black girls all over the world who can see her and believe they also can grow up and be on the Forbes Cover or follow in Serena’s footsteps and win Wimbledon as well. I am interested in hearing about her venture capital fund and how she is implementing women of color because she is exuding that people of color matter.
Originally posted on The Hype Magazine.