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“The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry” With Candice Georgiadis & Dr. Dionne Mahaffey

As you know, our current delivery method allows customers to mail cards directly to their recipients. Soon we will also have an option for them to pick-up the cards from a major photo-center within an hour. The process of personalization is the same. They can pick the card from our site and write inside of […]

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As you know, our current delivery method allows customers to mail cards directly to their recipients. Soon we will also have an option for them to pick-up the cards from a major photo-center within an hour. The process of personalization is the same. They can pick the card from our site and write inside of it (or choose not to write) and then pick-up the card from a local store.

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Dionne Mahaffey.

Dr. Dionne Mahaffey is a business-psychologist, author, technologist, entrepreneur, talk show host, professor and an organizational strategies coach. She specializes in personal growth, leadership and purposeful-coaching with practices in Atlanta, Los-Angeles and Washington, DC. As a serial volunteer and donor, she founded the Atlanta Chapter of The Awesome Foundation for the Arts and Sciences as a means of supporting and funding the doers of good in the metro area. The Awesome Foundation awards a monthly $1000 grant to individuals and groups in need of support for creative and innovative community-based projects. She frequently lectures on the topics of social entrepreneurship and voluntarism.

Dr. Dionne has been featured on and in, The Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Modern Woman Magazine, Forbes Magazine, Essence Magazine, Black Enterprise Magazine, MTV, ABC News, E! True Hollywood Stories and more. Her agency has helped celebrities, athletes and high-profile business executives identify their “purpose” and through proven techniques she has guided them toward success and has closed gaps in their organizational strategy and development.

Dr. Dionne Mahaffey is a business-psychologist and tech entrepreneur. Two years ago, she founded Culture Greetings, an innovative greeting card platform, that allows users to personalize greeting cards and have them mailed directly to their intended recipient. In 2015 she launched The WhereU app; a local business search app with a real-time leaderboard of black-owned businesses across categories, ranked by peer-to-peer referral counts. WhereU can be found on the App store and Google Play. Her other apps include, The Greek Gram and Divine 9 emojis, both are iOS products.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I do a myriad of things, but am very proud of my latest endeavor, a customized web-to-print African American greeting card platform. We’ve all found ourselves in this scenario:

It’s a friend’s or relative’s birthday and you’re driving to the store at the last minute to buy a card. I’m not proud to admit it, but I’ve been there more times than I care to remember.

The original concept for Culture Greetings came to me seven years ago. But in 2018, the idea overwhelmed me and I knew I had to find the time and just do it. Within 6 months I launched Culture Greetings and did so by completing most of the coding myself. I also integrated aspects of the platform with other custom, technology solutions.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

While there were already quite a few African American greeting card brands in the market, not many are available in stores and for those that can be found in retail outlets, the offerings were few. So, I wanted to create a platform that made Black greeting cards available to everyone. The process is simple. Pick a card and write a note inside using our handwriting fonts. Then through state-of-the-art automation, we print the card and stuff the envelope in one seamless process. We mail the cards directly to the intended recipient. We’ve made buying greeting cards as fast as a social media post while still maintaining the classic touch of sending a real, printed card in the mail. We have also enhanced our publicity and marketing techniques to connect on a deeper level with our consumers.

We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

I started my career as a software developer. Early in my career, I went on a job interview for a major telecommunications company. This was before the internet was used by consumers, so there was no Google search available for me to find out more about who I was interviewing with or to ensure that I had talking points about the technology they were using. So, I winged it! I really didn’t have that much experience with the specific programming language they required, but I just kept talking. Ray, the manager interviewing me, had a smirk on his face. I didn’t care, I just kept talking about my capabilities. He hired me and said it was because I had the “balls” to sit there and act like I knew what I was talking about! He served as a great mentor for several years and taught me to continue to expand. He also pointed out to me that I had a gift of innovating and that my curiosity would serve me well.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

As I stated previously, one of my first managers, Ray, told me to always be innovative and to think outside of the box on how I can ideate or make things better. My father, also an entrepreneur, taught me to bet on myself. He said if you want something done to do it yourself and not be pressed if others don’t step up. My mother, an educator, emphasized life long learning.

How are you going to shake things up next?

As you know, our current delivery method allows customers to mail cards directly to their recipients. Soon we will also have an option for them to pick-up the cards from a major photo-center within an hour. The process of personalization is the same. They can pick the card from our site and write inside of it (or choose not to write) and then pick-up the card from a local store.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

I’m currently reading “Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own” by Eddie S. Glaude Jr. This is a timely prose that explores past and current race relations.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would focus on mental health awareness. As a business and startup coach and even in my organizational work with large companies, I’ve found that many people are in pain and are suffering from instability from a psychological perspective. I assert that we can’t be good entrepreneurs or good employees or good leaders until we are whole — mentally and spiritually.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I love the Marlo Thomas quote about thoroughbreds. Her father once told her, “When thoroughbreds run they wear blinders to keep their eyes focused straight ahead with no distractions, no other horses. They hear the crowd but they don’t listen. They just run their own race.” This is what I live by. I focus on how I feel about my ideas or my goals and am rarely distracted by other people’s perspective or doubt about my endeavors.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

They can find my brand Culture Greetings on Instagram @culturegreetings.

We are also on FacebookPinterest and Twitter.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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