You wouldn’t know it by how she carries herself, but Rose Handy was once homeless with her child. She knows firsthand what a hard road looks like and it hasn’t stopped her from achieving her goals. Now the author of The No Excuses Handbook and CEO of H.E.R. Consulting and Services Inc., Rose has risen above her obstacles and started a successful company. She spoke with The Edge about surviving her darkest moments and rebuilding herself.
After having your first child you were in quite a predicament, finding yourself evicted and in a homeless shelter. How did this experience help you find the vision you needed in your successes to come?
Not that I want to parody Whitney Houston, but I didn’t know my own strength until I hit that rock bottom. That experience allowed me to discover that I was stronger than I thought. That I can rise above the deepest and darkest moments, and overcome the hardest challenges I never thought possible, and not fall apart. I actually didn’t find my vision then. I just held onto it because until that time, my vision was always that I was born to achieve great things. I didn’t know what. And frankly I still don’t know what. But I had that belief in me throughout the ordeal, and I always had to remember that this is not my life. I had to believe that tomorrow will be another day and take one day at a time toward my brighter days to come.
How did your upbringing and family life in Cameroon shape you into who you are today?
I grew up in a faith-based family. My parents instilled in me the notions of hard work, life of purpose, and always rise with your community, because if you rise alone, nobody will be around you to prevent you from falling. Every single day at 5:30 a.m., they would wake us up to pray, [and] get that pep talk before we start the day. As a child, [if] you happened to fall asleep during the prayer, my dad would say “Wake up, you know sleep is a sign of death. You need to stay awake, so life doesn’t pass you by.” Imagine being conditioned that way! There is a lot in there that can take 10 conferences to unpack. But that’s why I am who I am today and thriving to do what I am doing
From Homeless to CEO: The No Excuse Handbook is the inspirational true story about your life full of hurdles that you’ve overcome. Who do you think the book speaks to most and what can readers gain from it?
Originally, I was writing it for other single mothers who ended up in a shelter. But then as I was telling my story, I realized that I am speaking to all women – all young women – all people who find themselves at that crossroads when you have been betrayed, when you have lost everything, when the plans you made didn’t go as you thought. When everything feels hopeless and you start thinking what’s the point? Or worse: what’s the point of life itself? I am talking to these people, for them to know that it is just a feeling, it is just one day. Don’t let it be the rest of your life, because trust me, there will be better days ahead to blow your mind about how much more you are capable of. Or how much more life has instore for you if your hang in there and allow yourself another day. A new day, a new idea, a new thinking.
Tell us about your company, BilingualLink, and how it could benefit a business or individual.
This is a career site, meaning an online platform to help companies advertise their job positions for bilingual people, or to find the new hires through our candidate database. We also support companies through training, workshops, conferences, research…etc., to help them understand the bilingual market in order to accelerate their hiring process. They can call us anytime to discuss their particular needs.
How did you become the CEO of H.E.R. Consulting and Services Inc.?
My book details how I started this company from a homeless shelter. I encourage all the readers to get a copy and find out how I got my first contract, while sitting in that homeless shelter with my newborn baby in my hands.
As a keynote speaker, what do you bring to events that sets you apart from the crowded scene of keynote speaking?
I usually bring a commonsense approach to help listeners carve a practical vision for their success. Through my keynote addresses and presentations, I try to inspire the audience with my stories and lived experiences and I hope some wisdom too that can empower them to triumph over any challenge in life. I believe I bring a unique profile to the table because you will find few people that have had the journey I’ve lived.
What advice can you give to a foreign entrepreneur struggling with achieving success in North America?
One, get clarity for your idea or vision, in terms of can you make money from it, or which part of your idea can really generate enough money to be worth the commitment. Two, use all the resources available to you and don’t be afraid to ask the questions you have. Three, when talking to people for advice, make sure you are talking to a real expert who knows what they’re talking about and what your idea means. Four, don’t be afraid to take risks with your idea. Five, commit to your goals by working hard to make them materialize. Six, patience should be your best friend and don’t fight your instincts.
What do you believe to be the key to building new relationships, professionally and personally?
In the professional circle, people connect [with] others based on shared interest or needs. If you don’t know what you want exactly, people won’t be able to determine how they can relate to you. Therefore, it’s very important to know who you are, what you want, what you have to offer, and how far you can go. The last part is what helps you set boundaries for the relationships you are building, or you want to build. Things can move quickly and sometimes in the direction that you didn’t anticipate or expect, and your boundaries are what will set you free and protect or guide you. On a lighter note don’t be afraid to reach out to people, make the first move, say hello first, or start the conversation.
Why do you think there aren’t as many female CEOs or leaders in business, compared to men?
Because a generation has been skipped to prepare women to be in those positions nowadays. If 20 years ago, they didn’t train enough women, encourage enough women, promote enough women for these positions, it is [understandable] that we don’t have that many today. I just hope that 20 years from now, we won’t be asking the same questions.
What accomplishment are you most proud of and what did you learn from it?
My children without a doubt. I have been a single mother for 22 years. Raising children alone with no help in this country, I would not wish that on my worst enemy. My eldest daughter graduated with honours in Biomedical Sciences, and my other daughter is a technology genius (allow me to boast). They are beautiful, considerate, caring, well mannered, and well-behaved. They are healthy, very opinionated, and articulate. I am proud of them every day and seeing the women they are becoming with their own mind, their own thoughts.
What I learned from it? It’s a divine grace to be chosen as a vehicle for God’s children to come through. When you accept that mission and responsibility, God opens doors that you never dreamed of. I learned that contrary to what we think, people are first born the way they are and no matter what you do or say, you can’t change them. You should understand who they are and see how you can best channel who they are.
What projects are you working on currently?
Canada International Black Women Event www.cibwe.ca . It is a new challenge that I gave myself in 2015, as platform to promote black women in Canada who are accomplishing major things that impact the corporations, the communities, the society, Canada in general. But all of that is under the radar. So each year we put forth 100 black women to watch in Canada and promote them to create awareness of their achievements among themselves first and the world, too. As always, I went big on the idea. That means I have been working twice harder to harmonize that vision and make it sustainable. We need corporate sponsors to make it work. We are getting there.
Dontei Wynter | Staff Writer