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About the Author

Elaine Meryl Brown is former VP Creative Services at HBO and has held the position of Creative Director at Showtime Networks. She is an Emmy Award-winning writer. Brown has written for national publications including Essence and Women's World.

Time Warner Beat Holiday Book Event. (l to r) Terrie Williams Author, Stay Strong: Simple Life Lessons for Teens, It Just Looks Like I'm Hurting; Charles Simmons, Jr. Senior Business Systems Analyst, AOL LLC; Elaine Meryl Brown Author, Lemon City, Playing By the Rules.

Family, friends and colleagues joined author Elaine Meryl Brown to celebrate the release of her debut novel, Lemon City
(l to r) Chris Spencer, VP General Manager Creative Services, HBO; Dick Parsons, Chairman & CEO, Time Warner; Elaine Meryl Brown, author & VP Special Markets, HBO and Johnnie L. Roberts, Journalist, Newsweek.
(Photo Credit: Nina Warren)

Audio Interviews

7/7/06 Caldwell Chronicle - Earl Caldwell in conversation with Elain Meryl Brown. Click here to listen.


Q: How did you cone up with the idea for this book? There are three of you writing it. What was the process like?
A: The idea of writing THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK OF SUCCESS: LAWS OF LEADERSHIP FOR BLACK WOMEN, originally came from Elaine Meryl as the result of being in a corporate leadership class and realizing that more women of color, particularly Black women, could benefit by having access to resources and knowledge about leadership skill sets because many leadership principles can be learned. Leaders are not just born, they can be made. However, when getting the book project off the ground posed to be a challenge, Elaine Meryl needed the brain power and experiences of co-authors Marsha and Rhonda Joy to win the attention of their agent, Laura Ross and Random House Editor, Melody Guy.

The collaboration was a remarkable process. Here we were three colleagues from the same parent company (we worked in 3 separate divisions of the same parent company),and friends who had never worked together before and only socialized a few times a year, who had now committed to become fully engaged for the long haul to writing a book. Even though each of us were leaders in the process, Elaine Meryl was appointed team captain.

In general, the process of writing our book took many hours, days, months, a little over a year that was filled with in-person conversations, individual phone calls, group conference calls, emails back and forth to schedule and reschedule meetings,. For over a year, we were practically joined at the hip(s), communicating with each other even while on vacation. We were three serious sisters with a single message.

A lot of planning and dialogue, a lot of heart, soul-searching, sharing of experiences and reflection went into the process of writing our book. One of the first things we did was discuss tonality and structure. In other words, the best way to make our book accessible to our target audience, meaningful, engaging, and honest. Then we discussed chapters — content, titles and subtitles. At the table, each of us made important points that we felt should be included in each chapter. We decided that the chapters should be written in the second person and the Cultural Codes should be written in the third person. Laying down the foundation and criteria for the book's structure gave us a framework and outline to begin the writing. Then we divided the work into three sections. Elaine Meryl was responsible for writing the first third or what we called the 'entry' level part of the book, Rhonda Joy, took on the middle, or what we referred to as the 'intermediate' level and Marsha was assigned the last third of the book, what we considered to be the 'advanced' section.

Once each of us got our chapters in good shape, to the best of our ability on our own, it was time for us to come together to share with the group in our first group reading. This is where the real work began, all the hashing and fleshing out of ideas, all the dissection of the content —material we felt should be added, material we felt should be re-positioned, re-focused, re-written, etc.. It was during this stage, for example, that we decided that one chapter on communication should turn into three — one on feedback, one on listening, one on verbal and written. We were respectful of each other's opinions and passions and decisions were made democratically with majority rule. Whereas three might be considered a crowd, in this case, three was the perfect number. We learned a lot about each other during our discussions. Having a lot of conversation and dialogue was key to the writing process since our book is based on our collective experiences and we wanted to make the content as interesting, compelling and helpful as possible. During our many debates nothing was taken personally. We checked our egos at the door, always keeping our original commitment in mind — to help black women tap into their leadership potential in order to maximize their success whether they work in the public or private sector, volunteer in social organizations or church, are in the process of looking for work or the next step in their careers. Because of our single minded mission the writing process resulted in a most positive and productive experience .

Q: Can you each tell us your favorite advice from the book?
A: In all honesty, each bit of advice from the book is my favorite. But off the top of my head, at right this very moment, I'd have to say the chapter on networking resonates as well as the chapter acknowledging there is a game and accepting that you must play. The reasons being, at the start of my career I never understood the value of networking or how to use a network to help cultivate and nurture my leadership skills until later on, and it wasn't until later on that I understood that work environments are like living organisms. They change shape constantly. Also, the rules can change without notice and since the playing field isn't level, it can be quite challenging to keep up, which is why it's important to know that once you're in any work environment, you're automatically put into play whether you want to be or not. Once you accept this notion of 'the game', you must become engaged and find ways to grow your leadership skills at every level. Once I began to look at the environment objectively it made it easier for me to take things less personally, see the big picture more clearly and be more strategic in my thinking.

Q: How would a book like this have helped you at the beginning of your careers?
A: A book like this would have helped me tremendously at the start of my career. In fact, I wish I had a book like this at the start of my career. Who knows where I might be — certainly much farther along and at a much higher level than I am today.

Q: How can TLBBOS help women who are in the market of looking for a job?
A: Our book is helpful to women seeking employment as well. It will help shape and frame conversations in interviews with perspective employers. In this tight economy most employers are looking for workers who are not just going to show up, do a job and collect a paycheck, but rather those who can add value and make a larger contribution the company, is any employers dream. Chapters on How to Brand Yourself, Communicate Clearly in Person and on Paper, Seeking Guidance and Support, Surrounding Yourself With the Right People, Networking, Learning Everything About Your Industry, Considering Yourself a Very Important Person, Being Positive, and many more chapters can help prepare you to shine in interviews, can help motivate you to self-improvement, can inspire you to leadership awareness, and knowledgeable about your field and help give you the confidence boost you need to land that job with your name on it. Want to make a great and lasting impression while looking for a job or once you've got that foot in the door? Our book can provide you with the skill sets you need to set you apart from everyone else, to help you to become successful and develop your inner leader to get you noticed and to the next level.

Tour Dates

Monday, October 17th | 6 pm - 8 pm
public event with Elaine, Marsha and Rhonda
Meet & Greet the Authors of The Little Black Book of Success
Nectar Wine Bar
2235 Frederick Douglass Blvd. @ 121st Street

Saturday, February 20 | 3:30 pm - 5 pm
an open dialogue: "When the Game Changes –Opportunities & Challenges for People of Color in the Workplace"
Dance Studio, Balfour Hood Center
Wheaton College campus
RSVP to Sharon Howard

Thursday, March 4th | 7 pm - 9 pm
Book reading/signing
Brownstone Books
Lewis Avenue, Brooklyn
Contact: Crystal Semple

Tuesday, March 9th | 5:30pm - 8pm
reading and signing
Hue-Man Bookstore
2319 Frederick Douglas Blvd
(8th ave bet 124th and 125th)
Contact: Marva Allen
(212) 665-7400

Thursday, March 11th | 6 pm - 8 pm
reading and signing
New York Women's Foundation
434 W. 33rd Street, The Penthouse
Contact: Madeline Lamour Holder
(212) 261-4637 or

Tuesday, March 16th
book party and reception
National Bar Association/Association of Black Women Attorneys ('NBA/ABWA')
info TBD

Wednesday, March 24th
Rhonda Joy and Marsha; there will be other authors who are Links participating in the program, e.g., Rev. Dr. Elaine M. Flake, confirmed
Location - TBD

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