Gloria Mayfield Banks, known as “Energy in Motion,” is a success strategist, author, speaker, trainer, and world traveler. She has a persona that draws people in and is an inspiration to many. Banks has been able to teach professionals across seven different countries: United States, Columbia, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, Canada and the UK. She has built a multi-million dollar enterprise, as an author, a founding partner of Charisma Factor, Inc. (a corporate event planning company), and as an Elite Executive National Sales Director with Mary Kay, Inc. Out of 3.5 million women in Mary Kay, Gloria has ranked #1 in the world reaching an income of over $14 million.
However, the journey was not easy. Growing up with dyslexia, school was challenging for Banks. Nevertheless, she graduated from Howard University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and later from Harvard University with a Master’s of Business Administration degree. Banks was even awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. This is the main story she uses to depict perseverance and to unlock your full potential through her blog, books, videos and training packages.
Banks sums up her motive in one encouraging sentence, “I am called to move the ambitious people from the Ordinary to the EXTRAordinary.”
Her life experiences and achievements have since led Banks to present onstage with Oprah in conjunction with her Empowering Women and Girls for Leadership initiative. Banks has also appeared on CNN with Soledad O’Brien on ABC-TV and CNBC on “The Big Idea with Donny Deutch.” She has also been featured in many periodicals, including Fortune, Black Enterprise, Glamour, and Ebony. Harvard Business School has also documented her business success in a case study titled “Gloria Hilliard Mayfield at Mary Kay Cosmetics.”
Tricia Love Vargas: You are such an accomplished woman of power, however, the road to success wasn’t easy for you – how did you overcome dyslexia?
Gloria Mayfield Banks: When I finish speaking and I come off stage, a lot of women ask me how I made it with dyslexia and how I work in a corporation without being afraid of people finding out I’m dyslexic. The heaviest thing you can carry is that secret when you work in a corporation. So, I learned very quickly in my corporate experience to let everybody know I’m dyslexic. If you get an email from me, it will definitely have a misspelling. If you get a phone number from me, definitely wait for my assistant to send you an email with the correct phone number. It was a journey to get to that place.
When I applied to Harvard Business School, I did not tell them I was dyslexic. I went to Howard University in Washington DC. I was very excited to go to a HBCU (historically Black colleges and universities). At the time, I chose a career that would not require a long thesis. That’s how I got into business. It had nothing to do with it being good for me. I didn’t want to take a language because language is difficult when you have dyslexia. I kept asking, and they said, “You can do the thesis or math.” I said, “Okay, I’ll do the math.” I went into business and it turned out to be the right choice for me.
Harvard Business School was one of the hardest things I ever did. I thought I was the mistake in the room. I could not finish the exams because you had to read the exam and write the exam in four hours. My very first exam, I wrote two lines because it took me the entire four hours to read the exam. So, I had to go and earn my degree with the gift of gab. I had to really expound on the talking part. The darkest parts of your life can be some of your brightest moments. It taught me how to speak up when I was uncomfortable. It taught me how to push through when I didn’t want to.
Tricia Love Vargas: That’s powerful. Tell us, what are the key components of building a team?
Gloria Mayfield Banks: I learned a lot about how to build a number one team through the process, and I always tell people, I studied a lot. I studied a lot of people. I studied a lot of the business. So, I say that people come into entrepreneurship bringing a lot of talent, but there is still a lot to learn.
The other thing that I love is that when you deal with people, you are never bored because no two individuals are alike. The ability to build a team around family dynamics is also important. I met my husband Ken Banks, we fell in love and had to merge the lifestyle of two entrepreneurs with our children. He had two children, and I had two children. If I invested time in my business, it was time away from my family. If I invested time in my family, that was time away from my business, and that helped me so much with my time management because I was very intentional. The other thing I want to tell you is that I became very driven to teach women how to win, not how to work. That’s what has made me such a huge record-breaker. I could win. I’ve broken record after record because I picked something that other people can participate in. We give up on ourselves faster than we will give up on someone else’s dream, and as I step into someone else’s dream, I capture my own, and I find out how phenomenal I am.
Tricia Love Vargas: In regards to equality and racism, what are your thoughts on the climate of today?
Gloria Mayfield Banks: That is such a big question. Honestly, it’s an emotional question for me … So, I’m a number one executive out of 3.5 million women in Mary Kay. I know I’ve been an example for many women of color. I’m also an example for women who aren’t of color, who need to understand the capabilities of people of color. That awareness of what women of color can do has not happened yet. There are a lot of conversations about how far we’ve come and how far we have to go. It’s uncomfortable because we operate in a world where people don’t even understand some of the issues. It’s a very painful place, but I continue to hope.
Hope is important. What I love about Black Lives Matter is that it makes everybody think that All Lives Matter. It brings us closer to that equality. Also, it is a step away from it being a political conversation. It is about love and human rights. It’s truly looking at a person. I need to know that all the injustice I’ve seen isn’t everything there is – to know that there is a way for others to not judge you before you even speak.
Tricia Love Vargas: To close, are there any more nuggets of wisdom you would like to bless us with?
Gloria Mayfield Banks: I think that people need to be aware of their anxiety and their uncomfortableness. I think we need to be okay with saying that the world has changed a lot. I talked to a friend of mine in Brazil — she hasn’t left her home in 110 days. There are certain parts of the world where you just can’t breathe. So, I think that’s a real thing. I want to say that women need to understand that we are all leaders, even if the most important person and the only person you’re leading right now is yourself. I think it’s important that we connect. For me, social media is important because it allows you to control where you connect. Let social media improve your time because it’s here to stay.