Igniting your entrepreneurial spirit: Interview with Ms. Shontel Norwood-Vignaude, beauty consultant at Mary Kay
By Eric D. Hackley
Eric Hackley: A lot of what you spoke about tonight was centered around personal goal setting. Did being involved with Mary Kay teach you that, or did you come to the table with a pretty good concept of already knowing how to set and achieve goals?
Shontel Norwood-Vignaude: I was born with it! When you go through things in life, you learn things. I was the only child and I was spoiled rotten. I didn’t have to set goals, my momma did it for me. But going through things and obtaining things, I had to learn for myself. If I want to be at a certain level, my kids have to see me at that level. So, I have to set their goals in order to teach them to set goals.
And yes, Mary Kay does teach you that process. They teach you to write it down, get a vision and make it plain. But before I went there, I already had a goal setting mind. So that could be why I’m where I’m at now. I’ve only been in the company four months and I have 12 girls under me. The average woman doesn’t get 12 girls until two years.
Hackley: A lot of people can set very short term goals. I heard you mention that you obtained your associates degree, then your bachelors. You don’t achieve those overnight. To accomplish goals like that takes a long self-sustaining, relentless drive of going after it forthrightly. How did you do that while having temptations that told you to quit because things were getting too hard?
Norwood-Vignaude: We go through temptations every day, that’s a part of life. It wouldn’t be life without temptations. When I went back to school, like I said, I made a vision board before I started back to school. On the vision board was a list of goals that I wanted to achieve before 2015. So this was a long term goal because I set it in 2008. Goals don’t come just because I want it, or because I wrote it down. So I had to read and do what needed to be done. I had to finish it for myself, because I have four people that have to do the same thing. So they’re going to see that mom didn’t quit, so why would I?
Those were the goals for my degree plan. I did want to go as far as a Ph.D., but that goal’s not going to happen. I’ll be good at my masters. I’m kind of tired of the reading, writing and arithmetic, you know what I’m saying? But, that was a plan where I put things in perspective. It will be 2015 next year and I’ll be finished with my masters degree.
Hackley: When you go and meet with young women, you’re a tall woman, well spoken and you dress well. To a person who is insecure and perhaps has low self-esteem, those qualities can be intimidating.
Norwood-Vignaude: I make myself presentable. And, I’m fun. I ask questions. I ask people about their sales. You tell them about yourself to the extent you want them to know. I tell my people, you don’t know my story. Because you can put on make-up, but they never know what’s in your heart. People wear masks everyday, but it also kind of opens a door.
So, if my boots make you feel like I’m a giant over you, let me take them off. Does that make you feel better? Do you want me to come out of my jacket? Tell me what I need to do to make you feel comfortable? I’m not going to lower myself, but I want you to feel comfortable and feel like we’re on the same level. I believe just like you believe. Where I am, you can be it you want to.
Hackley: What made you like this?
Norwood-Vignaude: I was not a kid who had to worry about my mom staying out all night and coming in the house falling out drunk. Church was a priority. But, I still did things and made mistakes. I was instilled with values and of course goals, because we as parents want you to go to school and finish. But, I think it’s life lessons. I know it’s life lessons. I say it all the time and you will hear me say it continuously, you do not know my story. So with me being where I’m at, and setting the goals that I have, it comes from somewhere and we all have a story.
Hackley: So you’re telling me right now, that you can take a woman who feels down and emotionally beaten to death by life, if she’s willing to put forth some effort, you can turn her mindset around?
Norwood-Vignaude: Yes, I can! I was that woman and I don’t have a problem telling you that. I was that woman and therefore I can relate to women. You know what I’m saying? Because women are beat down by men. Women are beat down by their mother, by their fathers, their peers and wannabe boyfriends. Some women don’t love themselves and they throw themselves out there and they’re not getting the proper love. So now my job, if I come in contact with you, it’s because God put us together in a room for a reason and that is to build you. [God says] “I took you Shontel, through something. Now I need you to instill that in someone else.“ So you can bring me the most broken down woman. If she is willing to be uplifted and encouraged, I will show you after she’s broke, a woman that feels better about herself. She may not have 100 percent self-esteem, but from two percent, she’ll have at least 30 percent and we’ll continue to build from there. I will show you in less than a month a woman who believes in herself, that’s going to set goals and push herself until she gets to the point of no return.