by Mellissa Thomas
While stereotypes cast millennials as a egotistical or self-absorbed, Raise Your Glass Promotions’s UNITY Millennials Rising panel discussion event at the Abbey in downtown Orlando proved otherwise on Thursday. The event, sponsored by Pepsi and BB&T, featured millennial entrepreneurs from various industries: Nadine Mentor, Senior Vice President of Samuel A. Ramirez & Co., Inc., a minority-owned boutique investment bank focusing on municipal securities; Alisia Adamson, Esq., founding partner of HAWM (Having an Attorney When it Matters) Law; WESH-TV Morning News anchor Stewart Moore, and Souni Felipa, Managing Partner at The Capital Grille on International Drive. Annetta Wilson, CEO of Annetta Wilson Media Training & Success Coaching, who was on the UNITY panel during Raise Your Glass’s Black History Month event, moderated the discussion Thursday.
“We are NOT selfish.”
Wilson had each panelist speak on their backgrounds and how they got to where they are today, and they all echoed one commonality: serving others. Mentor, who has a heart for volunteering, particularly in serving women and girls, founded the free four-week The Greatest Investment (TGI) Girls Summer Camp in 2010 and has been volunteering in the Orlando community since she first moved here in 2005, starting with Outreach Love, an outreach that assists elementary school students.
“I believe I was put here to be a blessing to others,” Alisia Adamson passionately stated Thursday. Her career affirms her belief: Prior to becoming founding partner of HAWM Law almost five years ago, she was a trial attorney with the Ninth Judicial Circuit of the Office of the Public Defender. Additionally, her works follow her, as the National Bar Association recently recognized her as The Nation’s Best Advocate. Her alma mater Florida State University recognized her as one of the top 30 under 30 alumni in light of her contributions to the community.
WESH-TV’s Stewart Moore volunteers all over Orlando, and recently supported Space to Grow’s annual Baskets of Love event, helping to produce and distribute 200 toiletry gift baskets for three different homeless facilities in Orlando.
Souni Felipa, who has worked as a trainer for The Capital Grille for many years, told FNN News Thursday he has contributed by referring young people he has met or known personally to be hired for jobs with other restaurants and even hired one individual at The Capital Grille on I-Drive. He has an eye for talent and works diligently to develop it in the people he works with. During the panel discussion, he relayed a story of meeting a young man who was a dishwasher for the restaurant. “This guy had the most personality of anyone I’ve ever known,” he noted, “So I told him, ‘you don’t need to be in the kitchen. You have a great personality. I’m putting you out front as the host.’” He went on to say that the young man has worked his way up to now being a server.
“We are NOT lazy.”
Wilson asked the panelist to discuss any pitfalls or mistakes they’ve encountered on their journey. Moore recalled a story in which he was attending college in South Carolina, but not quite taking it seriously, and his GPA plummeted to 1.7. He said he was called into the Dean’s office, and the Dean told him about a popular car shop in the state. Moore mindlessly affirmed the Dean, but admitted he knew nothing of the place. “You’ll be washing cars there if you don’t get these grades up,” the Dean warned. That was all Moore needed to tighten up and excel, and he has not stopped since.
Felipa described an incident in which he was running with the wrong crowd in Atlanta and ended up in jail for three days. “I’ll bet those were the longest seventy-two hours of your entire life,” Wilson remarked. Felipa agreed and said that was the turning point in his life.
He was the best server at The Capital Grille in Atlanta and was asked to join the corporate training team. He has since been instrumental in twenty-three successful openings of the high-end dining chain and was lead trainer for seventeen of them. “I’m willing to put the work in, I’m willing to dedicate myself to it and let my work show for what it is,” he told FNN News. “You tell me you want to do something, I’ll do everything in my power to make sure it happens.”
The Millennials’ Ultimate Mantra: Be the Change, or Don’t Complain
Wilson asked the panel what each would say to naysayers and people who do not believe in the millennial generation. Mentor pointed out that one major plus about millennials is that many are the first in their families to attend college, a point made all the more significant in that several of her college mentees were in the audience.
Moore pointed out that as a millennial, he is very community-minded. In addition to Baskets of Love, he informed FNN News that he is currently working with AMI Kids in Apopka, an organization that serves at-risk youth, and made a striking statement: “If you see what’s going on in the country, your state, your neighborhood, but don’t do anything about it, don’t complain.”
“I think that as millennials we need to be a little more aggressive with softening their hearts,” Adamson told FNN News about the naysayers, especially older professionals. “…I can understand why they don’t trust us as much, but I think it’s our job to prove them wrong, and do it with a smile on our face. You attract more bees with honey.”