Topic: Business

Candace Doby

 Candace Doby wants you to own your brilliance at work. She shares how courage is integral to us showing up fully in our careers and confidence.

Past Speaking Engagements

 
YMCA
University of Georgia
SUNY Oneonta
MARTA
 

Speaking Options

How to create a Courage-Ready Culture™

What could your organization accomplish with a workplace culture that duly equips and rightly supports team members to take worthwhile risks and perform to their potential? A lot — including more innovation, higher employee engagement and increased productivity. In this presentation, speaker and coach Candace Doby shows leaders how to create a Courage-Ready Culture™ where everyone can contribute and own their brilliance.

By the end of this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Follow the courage process its team members go through to prepare themselves to own their brilliance at work.
  • Identify key opportunities within that process to deliberately engage and support their teams in taking worthwhile risks. 
  • Apply key strategies to those opportunities that, when repeated, start to create a culture where employees are ready, willing and able to courageously speak up, step up and show up.

 

Calling on courage: What Black history can teach us about taking more worthwhile risks at work

What stops us from taking worthwhile risks in the workplace — risks like having hard conversations about diversity and inclusion, showing up authentically for ourselves and our teams, and challenging old systems that do not serve new workplace realities? The answer centers on courage. Speaker and coach Candace Doby leverages stories of incredible courage from leaders in black history to show participants how to conjure their own to speak up, step up and show up at work. 
 

 

DEI, Belonging and Courage

It takes a lot of courage to thrive in a world where you are challenged, questioned, and/or dealing with daily microaggressions as a person of color. In this talk, Candace shares stories of DEI + belonging through the lens of courage. She offers advice about how to conjure your courage to more fully embody your own brilliance — to lay claim to your uniqueness, skills, and experiences — to support the creation of space for DEI+Belonging initiatives to take root in organizations. This talk is ideal for corporate ERGs as well as youth (schools/colleges/organizations) and is ideal for Black History Month, too.

Courage at Work: How to take more risks and own your brilliance
An organization’s ability to reach its highest level of excellence comes down to one thing: its people — courageously owning their brilliance, in both typical and transitional times.  But how do you get them to speak up with divergent ideas, show up with authenticity and step up with confidence when failure and judgment loom as potential outcomes? In this leadership development presentation, speaker and coach Candace Doby blends storytelling and research to take participants through a process for how to manage fear, activate personal courage and take worthwhile risks — so they can unleash their potential and make a greater impact on their organization.
 
By the end of this presentation, participants will be able to:
  • Identify three key components in the development of courage that will eliminate the frustrating feeling of not knowing where to start when facing a new challenge. 
  • Convert those components into a process that prepares them to evaluate risks from insight, instead of insecurity.
  • Leverage that process when opportunities arise for them to step outside of their comfort zone and demonstrate their brilliance.

Video

Testimonials

“Candace is extraordinary, delivering inspiring words with grace, confidence, and just the right amount of humor.” –  Stephanie Ruby Compton, CEO of Ruby Outdoors

“Candace was an inspiring keynote and connected greatly with our audience of students and faculty alike.  Her message on courage gave our conference participants the right motivation to get the most out of their leadership journey at our event and beyond.” –  Shahla Akbari, Director of Chapter Support, The National Society of Leadership and Success

“Candace Doby is an inspiring and relatable speaker on the topic of travel, leadership skills, and courage. Our event evaluation confirmed that participants concretely learned something new and learned to communicate their own stories in a way they were unsure of before. Candace has the ability to inspire people and help them find their courage and confidence to use those experiences to reach their goals.” – Denise Leinonen, Administrator, SUNY Oneonta

“Candace is a phenomenal and inspiring speaker! Her energy and bright spirit combined with her warmth and fearlessness have helped me find to courage to share my own voice and story. Since hearing her speak, I have learned how to ‘cross the bridge’ and use fear to launch me into a life of greater purpose and fulfillment,” – Shawn Patrick Rivera, Life Is A Verb Participant.

About Candace

Candace Doby has been examining the definition, elements and obstacles of courage on her own for a decade. Through that process, she developed her own courage to travel abroad, an action she had long considered … scary. From her first trip abroad to Indonesia to her 19th global trip to Malaysia, Candace has continuously sharpened the tools necessary to manage fear. As a speaker, Candace combines personal storytelling with life lessons and a dynamic presence to inspire the audience to act courageously.

Candace is the author of “If Courage Could Talk”, published in 2020. She has served as an editing fellow for Travel Noire, the popular digital platform and resource for black travelers. She currently volunteers with Girls Going Global, a non-profit organization that empowers girls of color through travel and cultural exchange. Her 2017 presentation at NAFSA (Association of International Educator’s Conference – Region VII) garnered rave reviews and was nominated for the national conference.

Candace received BA/MA degrees in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At the university, she ran track, worked at the school paper, and served as a resident advisor. She had a 15-year marketing career and has worked for some of the best advertising agencies in the country. Her most recent work in this arena was as a Field Marketing Manager for Chipotle Mexican Grill.  Her book, If Courage Could Talk, has been picked up by a national publisher and the 2nd edition of it will be available as a book and  journal in 2022.

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Desiree Adaway

Desiree creates and sustains a culture of equity and inclusivity. She’s the one who runs towards the difficult questions.  

Past Speaking Engagements

 
3 Percent Conference
DePaul University
AWWEE
Vaya Health
OnTrack
 

Speaking Options

Organizational Reckonings: past, present, and future

As organizations work to challenge, address, and repair racial inequities in the present, we need to know the truth of our past.

The truth is that American industry was built on genocide and chattel slavery. It’s not surprising that the concept of middle management and many accounting practices were developed on slave plantations. One year, ten years, of anti-racism work won’t reverse 400 years of colonization and white supremacy. But a long-term, resourced, intentional commitment can transform our organizations into places rooted in transparency and trust, where People of Color experience true equity, power, and inclusion.

During this talk, we’ll explore our history, its impact on today, and look at ways organizations have successfully pushed back on the norms of white supremacy.

The history of the racial sleep gap and creating communities of care

Did you know that nearly 1/2 of of all Black, multiracial, and Native Hawaiians and Pacific islanders get fewer then 7 hours of sleep every night? And that the decrease in duration and quality of sleep leads to poor health outcomes?
 
The history of racial inequities in rest and health pushes us to ask: What is the cost on our bodies and minds as we live with White Supremacy? We’ll also explore the Praxis of Liberation and what it takes to develop communities of care to heal.

 

Bipoc Resiliency

What would it look like to be a person of color in the US and flourish? To be safe and to thrive in our workplaces, in our communities. To thrive in our own bodies and minds, without the constant need to contort and conform? To move beyond the relentless pressures placed on us. This is a moment to push what we’ve been told is possible, to deepen our analysis and imagination of what justice, equity, and liberation can look like. To invest even more deeply in each other. This workshop will create space for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color to be in conversation about racial equity, the pressures of dominant cultural norms, tools for resiliency, and building collective power.

A Critical Analysis of Power: The Relationship between Racial Equity and Truth

We’ll name different types of power that operate in the workplace and explore exactly what white dominant culture is, and how it impacts organizational culture, relationships, policies, and processes. We’ll look at what behaviors and practices reinforce dominant culture and share ways we can work to mitigate it.

Black Joy: Rest and Resilience

In this talk, we’ll talk about White Dominant organizational culture, the problem with expectations of constant resilience from BIPOC, and rest as a pathway to healing.

Black Joy: Waging Love and Claiming Joy

Are we treating ourselves with enough joy, tenderness, and peace? What practices are we engendering and developing in the community to support a love ethic and claim joy? In this talk, we’ll look at a framework for lifelong learning, pleasure, and Joy as resistance.

Selected Media

Testimonials

“Desiree’s teaching and mentorship have radically enhanced our leadership, focus and vision for our work at Be Nourished. Her wisdom and skillful presence has touched every layer of our business, imbuing each with a renewed depth of focus on equity and inclusion. Desiree leads with the kind of love that is fierce, true, and holds you to your wisest self. She embodies the kind of leadership that holds space for growth and depth of change. Working with Desiree will solidify your vision for a new world so you can stay in process with that vision for a lifetime.” – Hilary Kinavey & Dana Sturtevant, Co-Creators of Body Trust®

“Desiree Adaway is a powerful doula for this lifelong process of inquiry and praxis. She takes participants down a sometimes painful and always revelatory path towards a deeper and more personal understanding of freedom, inclusion, access, race, and equity.”  –, Tucson, AZ

“Desiree Adaway is a gifted coach and mentor. 
I appreciate Desiree’s extensive wisdom, her direct, no-bullshit style of communication and her huge heart. With her guidance, I have not only developed and enhanced my leadership and communication skills but I have been able to gracefully navigate my transition out of direct leadership of the organization I founded and move into an emerging new role related to that work.” – Amy Mandel, Founder and Funder, Tzedek Social Justice Fund

“Desiree brings compassionate rigor. She tells the truth about what she sees. Desiree challenges us to think deeply about what real equity looks like, and in the process, we live into our values and amplify our impact.” – Danielle Keiser, Exec. Dir. and Founder, Menstrual Health Hub

Carrie Meyer, Assistant Professor, Head of Special Collections and Archives, Leon S. McGoogan Health Sciences Library

“As an organization with a lot of energy behind DEI, but without much experience, Desiree Adaway has helped us navigate several important junctures on our still emerging journey. I’ve grown as a person and professional because of our partnership.” – Carrie Meyer, Assistant Professor, Head of Special Collections and Archives, Leon S. McGoogan Health Sciences Library, University of Nebraska Medical Center

About Desiree Adaway

Desiree is a consultant, trainer, coach and speaker building resilient, equitable, and inclusive organizations. Desiree is the person who says the “thing”, who runs towards difficult conversations. She is an expert at teaching others how to handle complex, charged conversations (particularly around identity and power) with grace, assertiveness, and transparency.

Desiree has over 20 years of experience creating, leading and managing international, multicultural teams through major organizational changes in over 40 countries. As the Senior Director of Mobilization for Habitat for Humanity, she was responsible for planning the strategy and training for hundreds of membership organizations, totaling more than 50,000 members. She was responsible for the overall strategy and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) plans for 1,600 US affiliates and one million volunteers globally. 

Her keynotes have a mix of thought-provoking content presented with humor and wit. She makes a point to create a safe space for growth. Desiree is known by colleagues, peers, and partners as being great at open, honest, and productive conversations. She is not afraid of addressing anything that gets in the way of great work. Her style is positive, approachable, engaging, service-oriented, and audience-centered.

 

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MelibeeGlobal Speaker - Jeffrey Binney Side Profile on mountain trail

Jeffrey James Binney

Jeffrey Binney was losing his mom to a health crisis. His fear for his own health turned this comedic, non-athlete into an ultrarunner. His inspiring film and storytelling will motivate you to do what feels impossible. Book inspirational speaker Jeffery Binney through Melibee Global Speakers.

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Alan Bergo

Consulting to Corporations & Restaurants

Alan, a well-trained chef who specializes in the bounty of foraged foods, is available for consulting also.  Fill out the form below to inquire.

Selected Media

Alan Bergo: Tastemade – Foraged+Found

Alan Bergo: Chef vs Wild (HULU)

Alan Bergo: Today Show (2021)

Alan’s segment is the latter half of a story on Blue Zones. Click to view the full Today Show video.

Alan Bergo: Forager Brings Mindfulness to the Kitchen

Alan Bergo: The Wild Harvest: Early Spring

Alan Bergo: Midwest Wild Forest Festival Keynote (2021)

Additional Links

Audio Interviews and Podcasts

Alan Bergo: Publicly Challenged, Episode #19

Alan Bergo on Wild Fed with Daniel Vitalis

Alan Bergo on Open Air Humans

Testimonials

“Alan is my Yoda. He taught me everything I know about the kitchen, and the wild.” – Jeremy Bechtold, Executive Chef: The Happy Gnome, St. Paul MN

“Few chefs have the sort of culinary and field experience Alan does.”  – Samuel Thayer, Founder of Foragers Harvest and Wildwood Products. Author of The Forager’s Harvest, Nature’s Garden, and Incredible Wild Edibles

“When the Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Department of Agriculture asked me to sit on a task force to help author the statewide certification class for wild mushroom foragers, sellers and buyers, my first call after accepting that appointment was to Alan. I asked him to join me on the task force since I felt his superior knowledge would be valuable to the process. He didn’t disappoint.” – Chef Leonard P. Russo seven-time James Beard Nominee and Former Executive Chef/Owner of Heartland Restaurant, St Paul, MN Author of Heartland: Farm Forward Dishes from the Great Midwest

“We booked Chef Alan Bergo speak at American Culinary Federation’s 2022 National Convention in Las Vegas and it was such a cool learning experience. Chef Bergo was so knowledgeable and passionate and it was a joy to work with him as he was very well prepared. You can definitely feel his passion and his presentation was brought to life with beautiful photos and a tasting, while we all learned about foraging wild foods. Our convention room had close to 1000 chefs in attendance who are all culinary experts, and we’ve received great feedback that attendees, and how they are now very inspired to find ways that they can now incorporate foraged ingredients into their restaurants! We learned so much about foraging…… and the ingredients that are growing in our backyards! – Jacqui Pressinger, Director of Strategic Partnerships, American Culinary Federation

About Alan

James Beard Award Winner, (2022), Alan Bergo, is the Forager Chef, a leading authority on culinary uses of mushrooms and plants. Thousands follow his work at Forager | Chef – a website dedicated to wild food seasonal cooking and kitchen industry life – for tips on how to maximize what is available to us via the woods (and our backyards, too). The website started as a journal and evolved into a mycelium-like network of wild food authorities and mushroom hunters from around the world.

A Midwestern native, Alan worked for 10 years under Italian chefs and then served as sous chef to Lenny Russo at St. Paul’s 7-time James Beard nominee Heartland. He led two restaurants as executive chef of the Salt Cellar and then at farm to table cornerstone Lucia’s in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  He is a consultant on everything from foraging for unique restaurant menus to how mushrooms can be used for wild things like grain-free starch fabrication and even as a condiment.

Alan’s work has been featured in various print and visual media, including REI Coop, The Today Show, FOX, The Daily Beast, Heirloom Gardener, Experience Life Magazine, The Growler, The Heavy Table, Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine, and Women’s Health.  2021 book titled “Forager Chef: Flora” is a study in rare and forgotten plants, herbs, vegetables, and culinary techniques is already in its 4th print run!  In 2022, Alan won the James Beard Award for Instructional Visual Media for his online show, The Wild Harvest. You can see Alan in Season 1, Episode 2 of Hulu’s new show “Chef vs Wild” (2022).

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Jennifer Hamady

 Being of Lebanese, Cuban and Mexican descent, Jennifer Hamady deeply appreciates the need for diverse and authentic voices in this world. She has coached CEOs, written three books on voice and self-expression, and sung with Grammy Award-winners. With unsurpassed skill and heart, she empowers diverse teams and peoples to better understand each other as humans in the workplace and world (including schools). 

Past Speaking Engagements

 
Cherry Bekaert LLP
National Society for Leadership and Success
Songwriters Guild of America Logo
Kripalu Logo
ALTO Logo
Womens Presidents Organization
American Bar Association Logo
Wells Fargo Ackler Logo
WICT LOGO
IBM
 

Speaking Options

DEI and Communication

It is necessary, incredibly self-affirming, and empowering to explore how we can be successful in a world that isn’t fair – one that is full of microagressions, bias, and a daily need to (re)explain ourselves as people of color.  What vision can we create that acts as a beacon for ourselves and for our lives when we are faced with what feels like daily assaults? What skills do we need in order to communicate most authentically and effectively with those within and outside of our communities, so that we may bring that vision to life? Jennifer’s work with hundreds of people of color – from high school students to corporate executives = is absolutely life altering. There are no words to convey the impact of this work with diverse people. This DEI topic can be offered for retreats or as a day-long masterclass/workshop and is ideal for diverse corporate ERGs/teams as well as students and staff of color (high school/college). 

Overcoming The Fear of Public Speaking

Managing the fear of public speaking is the subject of a thousand books, workshops, and programs that attempt to help deal with and mitigate its effects. Yet only a fundamental shift in the way in how this anxiety is perceived will allow us to overcome and transcend it. In this presentation, Jennifer speaks to the true nature of performance anxiety, helping us to break down the barrier- finally- that exists between us and other people in all of our interactions.

Leadership and Voice

As leaders, we know the importance of communication, yet our habits and blind spots can hinder our ability to effectively lead, connect and advance our careers. In this talk, Jen leads a conversation about the technical and emotional issues that interfere with our communication and self-expression. In this interactive approach, you will learn practical tools for developing and extending your most powerful voice in the workplace and beyond.

Finding Your Voice


In this presentation, Jennifer teaches us how to discover, honor, and express our most authentic selves. She explores topics including our levels of physical, mental, and emotional awareness, and how to address and resolve any limiting associations and actions that prevent us from walking openly, joyfully, and powerfully into and through our lives.

Corporate Public Speaking: The Art & Heart

Whether you’re in sales, customer service, or the CEO of a company – you’ll walk away from this talk feeling ready to communicate and lead with confidence and a new perspective on self and your stakeholders! While most communication training aims to teach you the tricks of the technical trade: how to craft a great speech, connect with your audience, and properly protect and project your voice (all important goals, for sure) –  these are not nearly important as first considering who is doing the speaking. In this engaging interactive presentation, Jennifer helps individuals and teams discover the dis-empowering ways of thinking and being that have been standing in the way of their best self-expression at work. Once revealed, Jennifer works with participants to bring the technical skills of speaking and communication to life in an interactive format that is the hallmark of her keynotes and workshops.

Voice and Communication in the Culinary Arts/Food Industry

The food industry is a demanding career path and as with any work, communication is often challenging. When you throw high stakes, pressure, and different personalities in a professional culinary kitchen into the mix, communication can quickly get out of hand. Join Jennifer for a unique look at how to bridge the divides that diminish our power and joy in working together in the food industry –  resulting in respect, partnership, and a shared sense of vision and responsibility. You and your culinary team will walk away from this incredible conversation with the skills necessary for personal, interpersonal, and professional success.

Masterclass: Voice for Singers

Working with aspiring and professional singers is one of Jennifer’s greatest joys. Each event is tailored to meet your group’s specific needs, which Jennifer brings to life through a combination of conversation and working one on one with volunteers. Whether participants sing or observe, the experience of being ‘shown’ rather than ‘told’– combined with Jennifer’s unique ability to teach and lead with love, humility, and humor– will result in a magical and memorable session, as well as vocal and personal tools that last. Popular topics include:

  • Performance Presentation and Authenticity
  • Vocal Technique and Troubleshooting
  • Working With and Through Performance Anxiety
  • Bringing Balance and Bravery to a Career in Music

Selected Media

NSLS Keynote Conversation 2019

Jennifer talks with leadership students about voice, agency, and how to move forward despite those who aim to bring you down. 

Meet Jennifer Hamady

Jennifer introduces her work as a voice psychotherapist in this short video.

Testimonials

“Jennifer was the highlight of our event, and year. It is rare to see someone so talented and powerful also bring such warmth and tenderness to the table. And to so effectively connect and communicate with an audience. We all were left in awe and transformed.” – Janae Noble, Partner, Next Wave Investments, LLC

“A one in a million find… we are talking about a brilliant and truly special person.” – Dr. James Fallon,TED Speaker, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Neurobiology (UC Irvine)

“Having attended another of Jennifer’s workshops, I knew she would be great. But I remain blown away by the impact of her time here at BuzzBack on my staff and our ability to better express ourselves and communicate with one another. The great feedback, and results, keep coming.” – Carol Fitzgerald, CEO and Founder of BuzzBack

“Jennifer has a knack for figuring out how people tick and uses it to help people get the most out of their voices, personally and professionally.” – Paul Crick, IBM, Senior Managing Consultant and Strategy Manager, London; TEDx Speaker

“Jennifer Hamady is The Voice Whisperer” – Karen Salmansohn, NY Times best-selling author

“Jennifer Hamady was the keynote speaker at my school’s annual Global Awareness Day activities. Jennifer has a unique set of abilities—she is able to make a big room feel small and intimate, she makes students feel safe sharing their thoughts and aspirations, and she brings out a high level of engagement even at 8:00 in the morning on a Monday. Jennifer worked closely with our students to create a shared vision for the event and then brought that vision into reality. She is someone who is excellent at encouraging free-form conversation and bringing out the best and most interesting parts of that conversation. I enthusiastically recommend Jennifer!” – David Miller, Director of Global Programs, The Gunston School

“Amazing and transformational – our girls loved working with her and have begged me to bring her back. Thank you so much!”- Joel Sohn, Episcopal High School, Office of Equity & Inclusion Co-Director (PS – they did bring her back!)

“It’s The Artist’s Way, The Four Agreements, and Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain all rolled into one. An author, and force to be reckoned with.”- Don Davis, Variety (referencing Jennifer’s book The Art of Singing: Discovering and Developing Your True Voice)

“Jennifer’s book simply confirms her abilities in discerning the fundamentals of life. Powerfully insightful, her treatment of fear not only has immediate application but revolutionary impact, as she has identified the core problems that undermine the full performance of so many people. There is no doubt in my mind that the book will have an enormous positive impact on a wide cross-section of people.”- Dr. Amii-Omara Ottunu, Chair, UNESCO Institute of Human Rights

About Jennifer

Jennifer Hamady is a voice consultant and board-certified psychotherapist specializing in technical and emotional issues that interfere with self-expression. With offices in New York and Washington DC, Jennifer works in private practice with musicians and others to discover, develop and confidently release their personal, professional and performance potential. Her clients include Grammy and CMA award-winners, contestants on The Voice and American Idol, performers in Emmy and Tony award-winning productions, and corporate clients (including CEO’s) across an array of industries.

Jennifer is the author of The Art of Singing: Discovering and Developing Your True Voice, Learning to Sing: A Transformative Approach to Vocal Performance and Instruction, and The Art of Singing Onstage and in the Studio. Jennifer also writes regularly for The Huffington Post and Psychology Today on matters of creative expression, and conducts workshops and lectures frequently around the world.

In addition to recording four albums of her own material, Jennifer toured internationally with Cirque du Soleil’s DELIRIUM as a lead singer and sang back-up vocals for artists and television programs including Stevie Wonder, Christina Aguilera, Patti LaBelle, Def Leppard, Jessica Simpson, Lee Ann Womack, The Grammys, American Idol, David Letterman, Good Morning America, and The Tonight Show.

Her undergraduate and graduate work are in Classical Vocal Performance and Psychology, she holds current, professional affiliations with The American Counseling Association (ACA), National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC), Actors’ Equity Association (AEA), The International Women’s Writing Guild (IWWG), Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), American Society of Composers and Performers (ASCAP), Women In Music (WIM), The Author’s Guild (AG), National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) and the New York Singing Teacher’s Association (NYSTA).

Jennifer is of Lebanese, Cuban and Mexican descent. She loves to travel abroad and speaks Spanish. Jennifer resides in the Washington DC area.

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Meherwan Irani

James Beard Award winner for outstanding restaurant (2022), Meherwan Irani is a storyteller as much as a chef, restaurateur, and food entrepreneur. His story is one of great risk and commitment, radical creativity and success, all starting with a huge leap of faith to open his award winning restaurant, Chai Pani, in 2009.

Speaking Options

Recruitment & Retention

How organizations can build great teams that last, and how we’ve done it for nearly a decade.

The Importance of Company Culture

What does it mean and how do you articulate and implement it in a way that feels meaningful?

Inside out: Why should a dishwasher have any less access to information than the CEO? Structuring organizations differently.

What’s the reasoning behind transparency, and why does it matter? How a simple change in the way we share information and knowledge can make employees feel empowered and engaged.

Embracing the Change: How to create a work environment where people aren’t living in insecurity.

We all know that most people are naturally afraid of change. Why? Most change in real life is exciting and looked forward to, so why are people afraid when it happens in a company? How do we shift that perception and make change exciting?

Thinking Differently: Why best practices are the worst

If you keep doing what everyone wants you to do, you sound like everyone else. How do you break out of that cycle?

How to make it easy to be a customer

How to gain customer loyalty and make people instinctually return.

Making India cool, one restaurant at a time 

Just like there’s no European food in Europe, there’s no Indian food in India. The first time Meherwan had Indian food was when he came to America. He was shocked and he vowed to change that. The story of Chai Pani.

How well are you telling your story? Use your brand, culture, and your background in an engaging way.

No matter what your business is, you have to tell your story. Hear it from Meherwan‘s perspective. 

Selected Media

Testimonials

Coming soon!

About Meherwan

Meherwan Irani is a chef and restaurateur changing the perception of Indian food in America through his growing restaurant and spice empire in the South’s most essential culinary cities. He is a leading voice in the industry’s conversation around diversity and cultural exchange. Meherwan was named by TIME Magazine as one of the “31 People Changing The South”, the 2022 James Beard award winner for Best Restaurant for his flagship Chai Pani, and a five-time James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef: Southeast.

Meherwan leads a team of more than 300 as Founder, Chef and CEO of Chai Pani Restaurant Group that includes Chai Pani Asheville, Chai Pani Decatur, Botiwalla Atlanta, Botiwalla Charlotte, Buxton Hall Barbecue, Buxton Chicken Palace, Nani’s Rotisserie Chicken in Asheville, Nani’s Piri Piri Chicken in Atlanta, and Spicewalla. 

Meherwan grew up in Ahmednagar, in the midwestern state of Maharashtra in India, and he came to the U.S. at age 20. In 2009, he and his wife and business partner, Molly, introduced Asheville, North Carolina, to the colors, flavors and faces of India with Chai Pani.

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Vimala Rajendran

Vimala is an award winning (accidental) chef, community activist, domestic abuse survivor, immigrant, mother and grandmother. She’s got a lot to say about triple bottom line in business.

Speaking Option

People, Planet and Profit: Living Your Values in Business

Vimala Rajendran is a chef and restaurateur who deeply believes that we grow our community by engaging intentionally in the farm to fork process and living our vision of creative resiliency. She proudly states that food is a human right and her business motto is “Vimala cooks, everyone eats.” No one is ever turned away at her restaurant – yet she still makes a profit. Her business, Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe, prioritizes worker, environmental, and social justice; accessibility through affordability; and sustainability at every level. Her award winning restaurant, founded rather unexpectedly in 2010, pays a living wage. Their producers and investors are local, and their long-term goals are about transforming the local economy. They source produce and meat from nearby family farms; organize their workplace around joy and liberation; honor the land and our relationship to it; and practice interdependence with other organizations and small businesses with whom common values are shared. The idea to be a triple bottom line business came naturally to Vimala, given her mission to be sustainable on every level possible.  The three areas they focus on are people, planet and profit.  The people they are committed to caring for include the farmers who grow the food, the hands at the back of the house that prep the food, and all the others who contribute making the food come to the table and the guests who come to their business to eat. They pay the farmers a fair price for the food, pay the workers fair wages, and have some benefits like flexible hours, allowing staff with kids to be home with their families at dinner time, offer paid sick days and vacation. Care of the Planet Earth is honored by intentionally reducing waste. Vimala composts all food waste, utilizing all edible parts of vegetables and fruits by trimming off as little as possible, which keeps food costs down. The restaurant is mindful to keep an eye on making a profit.  This is surprising to some of their supporters and that is understandable because they are so thoughtful in everything done for the community’s farmers, workers, and guests. Vimala’s presentation takes us on a journey from India to Canada to the US – telling the story of a woman’s path from memories of her mother cooking, immigration, domestic violence, liberation and how she ultimately became a triple bottom line business owner. Her story teaches us  the power of ethical business and intention in our work – and that profit CAN be attainable through this model.

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Testimonials

“Vimala is a warrior, builder, and weaver all rolled up into one.  She fights for women, immigrants, workers, and anyone who wants to participate in the culinary world.  She builds community one meal at a time, sharing and teaching people not only how to make beautiful food but how to run a business that centers on equity and inclusion. She weaves together people, ideas, and practices, connecting us to her story, her community, and her food. ” – Alice Julier,  Founding Director of Food Studies, Chatham University

“We sure enjoyed having you with us for our chef training during spring break!  You were terrific to work with… both during the planning process and during the training itself.  I am so glad that I’ve come to know you!” – Administrator, Oberlin College

“You are such a great role model to women everywhere.  I really enjoyed hearing about how you saw your challenges as opportunities’ to grow and try new things. Also it is so inspiring that you call the US home after not being recognized as a citizen.  You are AMAZING!” – Student, St. Mary’s School (Private High School)

About Vimala

Vimala Rajendran grew up in Mumbai, India where she learned to cook from family, street vendors & friends. In 1994, a single mother of three, Vimala started cooking donation-based community dinners in Chapel Hill, North Carolina home. Sixteen years later, in 2010, thanks to the support of our beloved community, Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe was born. Despite being an “unexpected chef,” her restaurant has won the Best Indian Restaurant in the Triangle (beating out all Indian restaurants in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and Cary) for 9 years and best chef in 2022  She is an immigrant, survivor of domestic abuse, community activist, social entrepreneur, mother of three and mentor to countless people.  

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