Leadership Lessons from a Budding Millennial Startup

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February 26, 2018 By Angie Bee

USBC Directory is the Largest Black Business Directory in the World!


"These leadership sessions should be mandatory in all Baltimore City Schools for principals and leadership figures. This is desperately needed for the sake of having proactive and productive school environments." Baltimore City Schools District

Company founder and “Lead Coach” Joni Holifield, sat down for an interview recently and described the reason why her agency offers leadership training and development consultant workshops in the form of coaching, for businesses of all industries.

Leading 4 Longevity is creating work cultures that people are excited to come to! Work cultures that grow and inspire to while teaching staff to align their personal goals to the company's mission; hence enhancing the overall work environment” states Holifield. Managers, supervisors  and non-executive leaders dealing mainly with executives and the staff that works with them all benefit from this training.

Holifield began in this industry after excelling as an employer and instructor working at Comcast. “I give credit to my former employer for seeing that I could learn quickly and excel in teaching others. They are the ones that invested in me and helped me obtain leadership training certification,” she continues. “I was already doing workshops and coaching sessions with Comcast, so I was ready when I finally decided to branch out on my own.”

“If it was time for people to promote up or staff that needed to be trained for leadership, I was the person that trained them! I wasn’t initially someone looking for this line of work as an entrepreneur. I grew up poor and I just knew that I had to work hard to get out of poverty," Joni reflects on how she became qualified for the work she does now. “It took someone else to show me how I was able to touch other people and I am grateful for Comcast,” Joni continues.

Leading 4 Longevity's clients have included the University of Maryland, Boys and Girls Club of America, John Hopkins and The Urban League.


"When the growth and development of the business trumps the growth and development of the employees, this is where Leading 4 Longevity comes into action. The business focus needs to be reversed."


“I'm not here to give you fluff. I came to help your front-line managers develop into the great leaders your business needs them to be”. This statement is reflected on the website at https://www.joniholifield.com/about.  "I've been in your shoes, a million times over. Working with good people who were bad leaders.  So my mission is simple. I'm using my 15 years of experience to help your business avoid pitfalls and drama that come along with weak front-line leadership."

Joni Hollified detailed two hot topics that are the focus of current workshops and coaching sessions that Leading 4 Longevity now offers. The first is Emotional intelligence.

Why is Emotional Intelligence an important aspect of cultural enhancement in the workplace?

"Because Millennials are taking over and they aren’t leaving," states Holifield. “Folks in current positions because of tenure are being left behind because they aren’t embracing technology the way millennials are. This causes a divide. For the younger staff, there is no distinction between personal life and business life, and managers are ill-equipped to deal with this.  Leadership 4 Longevity helps teach managers how to improve situations to make the work environment better for their staff.  In the hopes that afterwards, you will have a employees that know that your company cares about them, which improves morale and productivity. We are wasting the resources that talented employees can contribute when an employer doesn’t deal with emotional intelligence."

The second topic is Servant Leadership.

Servant Leadership – Joni states, “There are ten principles that were given to us in the 1970’s by Mr. Greenleaf. Some of the most important principles includes listening to what people need from us, in order to improve productivity." She continues by adding, “Empathy also plays a big part in this philosophy. It places focus on helping staff members do their job better and faster, while also helping them get smarter."

“Servant leadership challenges us to listen to people and to collaborate with employees, using empathy and understanding how someone feels. This helps you get to know the person that you are working with and making them feel as though they are cared for. These are two of the most important aspects of being a true servant leader,” states Holifield.

Who is the ideal client for Leading 4 Longevity?

"An ideal client for Leading 4 Longevity can be found through any industry. Those that have that first set of staff including customer service or technology that deals directly with their clients. Then you have those staff members that have a team of executives and managers that deal with the growth of those front-line staff members. When the growth and development of the business trumps the growth and development of the employees, this is where Leading 4 Longevity comes into action. Your business focus needs to be reversed. When your employees are injected with the mission statement of your company they become invigorated and are tied to the overall mission. Once you have done that you will see a brand new employee and a brand new culture that results in the growth of your company. Put your focus on the people and they will take care of your company," states Holifield. “Every single entity that has hired me has given me repeat business. They have also given me referrals! This is the biggest compliment that I could have received," Joni enthusiastically states.

“If your company doesn’t hire Joni to develop you, HIRE HER YOURSELF! Invest in yourself! You won’t regret it. Because of her guidance, I’m now receiving job offers for Leadership positions I didn’t even apply for! The big bosses now recognize me as an influential leader!” – a website review.

Why should someone hire Leading 4 Longevity?

"You should hire my company because if your people don’t like coming to work, they aren’t invested into your company. If you ask them why they are there and their response is that they need the paycheck or they have family responsibilities, they are not invested. I can help your employees understand why they need to be invested in your mission statement and why they can do more for your company. My subjected viewpoint can also help you identify an employee that may need to leave. Sometimes a new team member is what you need. Either way Leading 4 Longevity can help grow a culture where outgoing team members can refer enthusiastic replacements that can continue to help the company grow!” says Holifield.

What advice do you have for other African American women that want to leave the “Corporate Plantation” for entrepreneurship?

“I am a huge risk-taker. I would tell anybody that is halfway ready, to go ahead and start! Make your contingency plan in case things don’t work out the way you plan it to work out. It’s probably not going to go the way you planned anyway, so just start working through it and plowing through it to try! Give yourself the opportunity to try and make it happen because this world is a really big place. You will be surprised at the opportunities that present themselves to you when you step out. I talk to people in the Philippines about this company and other industries in the United States. The Phillipines! Who would have thought?" She proudly proclaims.

Joni’s continued advice is to have a rigid work schedule that you can keep and follow, “Motivation runs out quickly and you will be running on discipline. If you aren’t disciplined in an area. Prepare and plan for it. I was passionate about my non-profit. If my passion paid the bills, I would only work on Heart Smiles! My passion don’t pay the bills, so Leading 4 Longevity pays the bills and allows me to keep this passion going."

Client testimonials include this one from the Baltimore City Schools District:

"These leadership sessions should be mandatory in all Baltimore City Schools for Principals and leadership figures. This is desperately needed for the sake of having proactive and productive school environments."

People can reach out to Leading 4 Longevity at 443-402-5323 or by email info@joniholifield.com. https://www.facebook.com/Leading4Longevity and https://www.joniholifield.com


After the Freddy Gray incident happened, Hollifield took this as a call from God to serve the inner city communities more and she also started a non-profit organization named Heart Smiles. The goal of the organization is to Motivate, Inspire and Empower young people through the value of an entrepreneurial spirit; hence breaking the generational cycles of poverty.

For any new clients, please know that 100% of your investment helps support underprivileged students in the Baltimore Maryland area. Heart Smiles is a 501C3 non-profit organization that encourages Motivation, Inspiration and Empowerment to youth from elementary through high school students through career readiness programs.

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Written by

Angie Bee