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Using Barriers as Stepping Stones to Achievement and Success

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Yvonne F Brown

Yvonne F Brown

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As the first African American woman to receive an MBA from Harvard Business School during the tumultuous 1960’s, Lillian Lincoln Lambert draws upon her experiences to show people how to use obstacles and barriers as stepping stones to higher levels of achievement & success. She is a passionate speaker who uses the power of storytelling to inspire her audiences to dream big, act bold and pave their own paths to someplace better. In January 2010 her memoir was published by John Wiley & Sons, titled The Road to Someplace Better: From the Segregated South to Harvard Business School and Beyond.

Born on a farm in the segregated South, Lillian sensed in her bones that a better life awaited her. At the age of 18, she journeyed to New York City and Washington, DC, to seek her fortune. After gutting out menial jobs as a maid and typist for a few years, Lillian came to the realization that her journey was internal and that education would be her ticket to a new world. With loans and scholarships in hand, she obtained a BA degree from Howard University and an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1969, an era forever linked with the civil rights & the women’s rights movements.

After Harvard, Lillian became a barrier-breaking entrepreneur. From 1976 to 2001, she was President and CEO of Centennial One, Inc., a building maintenance company she founded in her garage on a few thousand dollars. She grew the company to $20 million in sales with more than 1,200 employees. Lillian sold the company in 2001, to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities, as a speaker & writer.

In 2003, Harvard Business School awarded Lillian the Alumni Achievement Award, the highest award bestowed on its alumni. The award recognizes recipients for contributions made while upholding the high standards & values in life. Lillian sits on the Board of Visitors at Virginia Commonwealth University & Board of Directors for Harvard Business School African American Alumni Association.

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