6 Ways Whitney Houston’s Legacy Gives Us A Lesson In Business

I, along with about 14 million other viewers tuned in to watch the home-going service for superstar music and film icon, Whitney Houston.  Originally, the telecast was scheduled to be just two hours.  However it took twice as long to bid farewell to Whitney.  It’s no wonder as she was no ordinary woman.  Her mark in history is timeless.  Whitney left musical accolades and awards touting her musical magic that have yet to be broken.  Her mark was evident by the many family, friends, fans, and industry icons that showed up to bid a final farewell to this extraordinary person who touched their lives.

As I sat for the four hour journey and reflected on it hours later, I looked at her final farewell as a lesson in leadership principles for not only me but for others like me.

Here’s how Whitney Houston’s Legacy teaches us about leadership:

1. Have Fun – Most of the pictures we see of Whitney show off her dazzling and smiling personality.  She exuded fun and fancifulness.  Indeed, many at the home-going service commented on her smile and fun-loving ways.  She drew you to her and seemed not to take the unnecessary too serious.  The story that brought smiles was the one shared by BeBe & CeCe Winans. They affectionately called her "the Crazy Whitney".  They shared memories of embarking on their first tour and Whitney offering to sing back up for them.  When they protested, reminding Whitney of all that she had accomplished, she had a little talk with them.  “You’re broke right? I’m rich right? After laughing hysterically, she reminded them that she could do this for them, her family. 

Being in business is a serious undertaking however it should be sprinkled with a fair dose of fun.  All work and no play…. It will make the journey much more rewarding.

2. Humility – Countless people have commented on how Whitney always gave praise and honor to God for any favor she received.  She was humbled by the highs and the lows of her journey.   Never taking what she had or attained for granted, she was first to comment, “by the grace of God”.  

When in business, this is a lesson we must remember.  Whatever successes that come our way are not solely of our own making.  There are many to thank as none of us can do it alone.  Remembering that will help us to note that we aren’t in this alone.

3. Mentorship – Whitney made it a point to reach back to those coming up in the ranks.  Younger artists such as Jordan Sparks, Alicia Keys, Monica and Brandy have all been personally touched by Whitney and connected with her in ways that helped mentor them in the music industry.  Alicia Keys did a heart-felt rendition of Send Me an Angel to signify what Whitney meant to her. 

In life as in business, mentorship is important.  Not only is it flattering to be asked, it is also fulfilling to give.  Look for ways to encourage and mentor those coming in your footsteps.  Imagine the difference you can make not only in your life but in those you touch.

4. Professionalism – Whitney was a consummate professional.   She understood her strengths and was uncomfortable with doing anything less than her best.  Actor and director Kevin Costner talked passionately about his decision to cast Whitney in the role of Rachel Marin in the classic, The Bodyguard.  Whitney doubted herself and her ability in be memorable in the role, but in true Whitney fashion, she delivered and did so in a big way.   Passionate about her craft, Whitney only wanted to put out the best. As evident in the legacy she left behind, she did just that.  

As a business s professional, we should always be conscious of putting out best foot forward.  Our professionalism should be evident in our customer service all the way through to our delivery of products or services.

5. Self-Assessment Clive Davis said it best.  In one of his last conversations with her, she assured him that she was working on herself.  She understood that her mind, body and heart needed nurturing in order to bring about the best product.  Whitney told Clive that she would be working on herself and would be back in stride by this coming August.  Whitney considered him her industry father and loved him very much.  Without a doubt, she knew he loved and adored her and had nothing but the best intentions for her.  Whitney rose to the occasion and was taking stock of herself to make positive changes in her life. 

In business, we can use Clive and Whitney’s relationship as a blueprint to build a better business.  Surround yourself with people who can help you look at your company and offer useful suggestions and methods to make it stronger in the marketplace. Tough love!

6. Selflessness – There is no reason to expound on this.  Whitney was a giver. She gave to her fans, to her family, and to her friends.  Recognizing what is important in like, she unselfishly gave to us even though many times it caused her challenges in her life. 

In business, we should understand that it can’t just be about our success.  A closed hand can’t receive.  So be open and give generously.  The rewards are immeasurable.


You're no stranger to the phrase, "THE BUCK STOPS HERE".  You may have even said it a time or two with some emphasis when needed.  Let's stop and think about what that saying means to you as an entrepreneur, team leader or community partner? Well, when things go right, it could mean, "wow I'm good!"  But when things don't go as planned, be prepared to take it on the chin or on another part of your anatomy.

No matter what comes your way in the form of the 3P's; Praise, Polish or Punishment, the responsibility is ultimately laid at your doorstep.

What steps can you take to ensure your efforts receive more praises than anything else?

Try these 5 tips which never go out of style: 

1. Plan Early – Most of us don't function well under pressure. Certainly there are times when the best laid plans go south, however whenever possible, make a concerted effort to minimize working under the gun. Planning early allows the best opportunity for success.

2. State Your Goals - Establishing a clear set of goals help to ensure that everyone is on the same page and knows what is expected of them.  Goal setting helps all involved to make informed decision which contribute to the stated goals.

3. Let Go & Delegate – Assign specific roles and expected time-lines to your competent staff.  Share clear expectations and create opportunities for your team to shine.   Let them have ownership of the project.

4. Communicate Often - Establish a means of communication that will keep everyone informed of updates and progress made based on a stated timeline of completion.  Doing so allows you to measure any potential loopholes that may exist.

5. Share The Credit - Man can not live on "ego" alone.  Actually it's "bread" but you get the meaning.  Be inclusive when sharing your company's success. Show your team how much they are valued and appreciated and 9 times out of 10, they'll reciprocate in ways a paycheck can't measure.   A good leader understands that. Which will you be?

IT CREEPS UP ON YOU SLOWLY!  It's suffocating, paralyzing, overwhelming and all around frustrating at times.  It leads to periods of anxiety and can turn a once productive day into an unproductive one in short order.  It's procrastination and it can get ugly.

If you've ever found yourself overwhelmed with the myriad of projects, to-do lists, errands and assignments that add up over time, you understand how paralyzing it can be to make a dent in the growing pile.  Rest assured that there is a way to handle it.  Using a plain old egg timer does wonders to keep you on task.  Multitasking is over-rated.  Tackling too many tasks at once statistically has proven to make you less productive in the end.  

K.I.S.S. - Keep It Short & Simple.  Make a short list of  items needing your attention.  Put 20 - 30-minutes on the egg timer and go at it.  Using this method helps you maintain concerted and focused energy where it should be without interruption.  Before you know it, your ability to stay focused on the project at hand will lead to small successes and equate to a very productive day. 


_As soon as this happens........ retire with dignity.....

The picture above came with a tagline that said "know when to retire".  At the time, I got a really good laugh from it and could even relate to it on some level. With this very interesting economy we're in, it made me think whether I would be the one working way past my retirement to make ends meet; and then who would be "laughing" at me!!!

What this message also taught me is the importance of matching people to their desired skill sets.  Clearly, this woman is out of her depth with the job she has been given.  Not only is she unproductive at her current task but in the long run, she'll cost the company money in replacement equipment (i.e. replacing the computer monitor with white out all over it.)  Whether you're in business already or thinking of starting a business, it will be important to maximize the leadership potential of your team in correlation to your company's bottom line goals.  Value the contributions of the people you have working with you and put them in places where they can shine and grow.  Remember that their effectiveness and output can either be your greatest testament or biggest disappointment. 

Placing people with skill sets that best suit the job they're in helps your team to be more productive in the end.  Once the work is done, who knows, there may even be time for a few email jokes to share.

Top 3 Ways Having An Alternative Business Card Could Enhance Your Business! 

1. Use your secondary business card as a compliment to your primary card. Use it to direct interested people to specific landing pages for your products, services or specials.

2. Use your secondary card to establish your business presence locally and through referrals. Design an effective business card message with gaining referrals and mind.  Place them with individuals willing to take your message to their networking groups for future prospecting opportunities. 

3. Consider designing a complimentary card to your primary business card that acts as a door prize, entrance to an exclusive event or invite to a special email list or as a handwritten thank you note.

Rethink Your Business Card!

When designing the look of your business card, be mindful of not making your card too cluttered with information. Often we look at our business card as a walking advertisement and try to put as much information as we can on it in order to evoke a call to action. In some cases, we can be guilty of using our business card in place of a having a qualifying conversation.  

By not utilizing the proper mix of white space and graphic design elements, business cards can have the opposite intended purpose and wind up losing us a potential client or referral. The ultimate heart-breaker is when our creations are thrown in the trash. 

Your design elements should keep in mind how we as humans process graphics and text. The Gestalt Principle explains the theory of how we interpret visuals and fortifies the message that  less is often a better approach.  Using a good balance of white space is an effective and eye-catching way to approach your business card designs.  It helps clients understand and process your information better which hopefully will translate to more business for you.

LOOK TO THE LEFT!  Is this really the impression you want to leave with potential clients?  I don't think so.  Yet in today's business climate, people still show up to events hoping to network and gain new clients with a piece of paper that has their name, company and telephone number scribbled on it.  A big no no folks!

BUSINESS CARD BASICS 101!  Once you've decided to start your business, you must take it seriously.  First impressions count and rarely do you get another opportunity to change it in a persons mind.  FIRST, decide what you want included on your business card. The basic information for a business card would normally include a name, company, phone number, email address and web address. If your business name doesn't give someone a clue as to what you do in that business, consider a "tagline" to reinforce your business' product or services.

NEXT, RESEARCH A FEW GRAPHIC DESIGN COMPANIES and pick one that can service your needs. If you belong to a business association, start there or perhaps ask other businesses for referrals as to whom they used.  Remember that a low price is not always the best option.  There is something to the saying, "you get what you pay for."   Should you design your own business card?  Well, I agree that you should have some input but why not let those trained in this area do the work for you.  Be smart about the company you choose as you will be judged on what you hand out.  It's a representative of you.