This is the 4th Industrial Revolution, what many in business, public service and entrepreneurship call the season of disruption. It is a season of social and environmental challenge, where the position, voice and posture of emerging leaders result in a polarizing impact on communities. Some of the qualities of public leadership in this season have been noted as: focusing on how we get things done, rather than letting technological innovations simply own everything.
Core values of leadership in this 4th Industrial Revolution be can be found in our humanity, not technology and the systems they run. African Americans have proven to be eager, early adopters of technology, leading influencers and content creators in social media but our core values are nested in culture. As we look at the attributes of leadership in this season, through the lens of culture, a question worth considering is, what makes a leader worth following?
We introduce you to Tommi Vincent, a motivational speaker, entrepreneur, writer, chef, and mother best known as the matriarch of VINCENT COUNTRY and the wife of Troy Vincent, Executive Vice President of NFL Football Operations and former All-Pro NFL cornerback. Tommi has built an exemplary family and diverse career around faith-filled leadership and community development.
Each one of these attributes is more than a chapter in a book, it is its own volume. As I talk with Tommie I feel as if I am reaching back in time to her childhood and she is carrying me into the deepest part of her. She is transparent, honest through her story, and she wants to help others benefit from all she has learned. There is an authenticity that is rare, and if you are not ready for a journey based on honesty, this leadership style can be surprising, jarring to some and refreshing to others.
Tommi considers herself an unapologetic Black woman filled with love for everyone. Consider the time in which Tommi, the Matriarch, is emerging on the stage of leadership. The Black family was stronger the first 100 years after slavery than during what will be the second 100 years. At one time, almost all Black families were poor, regardless of whether one or both parents were present. Today roughly 30 percent of Blacks are poor. However, two-parent Black families are rarely poor. Only 8 percent of Black married-couple families live in poverty. Among Black families in which both the husband and wife work full time, the poverty rate is under 5 percent. Poverty in Black families headed by single women is 37 percent.
Tommi leans in to her family, with real love. She leans in to her work as she has with every initiative led by her family. For over a decade she and her husband have held retreats on marriage, faith and family – without the need of press, notoriety and or a comment on social media for validation.
Tommi’s foundational leadership tenet is simple, pure and clear. “Self-development is self-love. Our first priority in life should be to love every ounce of our being and, where we are challenged, put in the work to make a change. It is called self-investment with a 100 % rate of return! When we are able to embrace ourselves fully, flaws and all, we view others through a lens of compassion and understanding verses judgment and condemnation. While having positive social impact on the lives of others is the goal, developing tools to transform life’s hurts and disappointments into fuel for our rockets so we may launch into purpose is the mission. Troy and I consider ourselves to be heat-seeking missiles with coordinates set to annihilate any and all things interfering with our purpose and we develop others to operate with the same “more than a conqueror” mentality. This starts first and foremost at home.”
In further discussing this with Tommi and her husband it is clear to her that what drives her core values, and leadership style is bringing the family back to the dinner table, particularly as the back-to-school season approaches and the family begins to go in many directions, including clubs, sports, and work schedules. As parents, Tommi and Troy encourage other parents to be the greatest influence on their children. “In order to develop our future leaders of tomorrow, that leadership should start at home. It is critical we do not leave that development to someone else. While others play a role, the core foundation of values starts at home. Dinner time is an essential check-in.” Tommi says.
What does Tommi’s husband, Troy Vincent, NFL Executive have to say about this?
“As a family, we have been intentional about writing down our goals and dreams, and sharing them with one another,” says Troy. “These individual goals reflect living an intentional life with great purpose standing on our family values as the firm foundation.”
The kitchen and her cooking have emerged as the foundation. The forgotten art of cooking meals as the center for the family. Tommi goes on to say, “Coming back to the table for meals as a family is an integral part of checking in and getting the pulse of where everyone is at. The atmosphere generated by delicious food and great minds of varying perspectives provokes bountiful conversation and presses the release valve of pressure that builds up as a result of the ebb and flow of life’s grind. Drawing from the well of the generations before us lends wisdom and provides knowledge and understanding. Incorporating my legacy–inspired recipes is a constant reminder of where we have come from and allows us to bring that rich heritage forward. Being intentional about establishing meals at the dinner table is a non-negotiable. The entire family will greatly benefit and look forward to meal time!”
Since 2000, Tommi has been the Co-Chair/Administrative Assistant for Love Thy Neighbor Community Development and Opportunity Corporation, where she manages participant and donor databases, develops programming, spearheads fundraisers and writes grants for the non-profit.
And now Vincent Country has launched as a faith-driven family lifestyle brand committed to positive social impact. Developed by Troy and Tommi Vincent, the family is leading and enriching the culture and communities through intentional service and legacy-inspired cooking.
During the NFL Draft in April 2018, the Vincent Country activated its inaugural engagement. Tommi’s leadership was evident. Who followed? NFL Legends, local community leaders in Dallas, entrepreneurs, influencers, journalists, and corporate executives. All answered the clarion call to serve those who needed positive and intentional social impact through the legacy-inspired cooking of Chef Tommi V, as she is known.
The result? Dallas was moved, lives empowered, and they will not stop there. The goal is to move the vision forward to areas of need where ever they find them. Next was EssenceFest, where Tommi and family served during the day of service and Chef Tommi V as a part of EssenceEats. Then onto the city of Atlanta during Super Bowl Week 2019. There will be additional deep, meaningful and intentional impact on community, faith-filled service, sharing of love and, yes food, curated by Chef Tommi V.
Tommi is exemplifying Leadership. Who will follow her?; Her husband, her family, the communities and who is to say, in this 4th Industrial Revolution.
Tommi Vincent, leads on.