Last week, we were honored to have two special guests join us at our quarterly management meeting. B.K. Fulton and Jacquelyn E. Stone took time out of their busy schedules to spend lunch with our managers and share their inspiring stories.
B.K. is a entrepreneur currently serving as Chairman of Ario, LLC and J&F Alliance Group—a venture that was awarded 2017 Minority Technology Firm of the Year by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Previously, he held top positions at Verizon, AOL Time Warner, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the National Urban League. He recently founded a feature film and TV company designed to promote an inclusive narrative in major media and in 2015, he authored a popular children’s book, Shauna, about his little sister who has Rett Syndrome. He currently serves on the boards of Norfolk State University, Bon Secours Health Systems, Towne Bank and numerous other civic, social, and business boards.
B.K.’s wife, Jacquelyn, was the first female African American Partner of a major Virginia firm. She is currently a Partner at McGuireWoods, LLC and serves as chair for the firm's Diversity and Inclusion Committee. She is also a former member of the firm’s Board of Partners. She previously served as the firm-wide hiring partner for over 25 years and concentrates on general business matters on behalf of corporate clients, private clients, and legislative matters before the Virginia General Assembly.
Can you say power couple?
B.K and Jacquelyn ate lunch with us before B.K. began his presentation. He opened by telling a story of recent heartbreak. Thirty days earlier, Jacquelyn had level 10 (out of 10) open brain surgery to treat an aneurysm and AVN. “It scared the hell out of me,” B.K. admitted. “But it was an important lesson. Tomorrow is not promised. So the best you has to show up every single day.”
Despite the odds, Jacquelyn made a miraculous recovery.
B.K also talked about his little sister, Shauna. She was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome and expected to only live until about two or three years old. As child, B.K. helped take care of her—learning empathy and compassion along the way. She is now 47 years old.
After sharing his own story, B.K. talked about the importance of sharing inspirational stories. “One of the things that Jackie and I do is we live our lives out loud.” Recently they decided to start a film and TV company. ”We decided that it was important to tell the stories of people that are successful,” he said.
“Very often you hear stories from minorities or women that are from a deprivation narrative, or a prison of sorrows, and you don’t hear the stories that lift us up, that inspire us.”
He gave the example of Joseph Bologne Chevalier de Saint-Georges. In the 1700s, Chevalier de Saint-Georges was the champion fencer in all of Europe. He was also one of the lead virtuosos with the violin—eventually being asked to lead Marie Antoinette’s private symphony.
Chevalier de Saint-Georges was black.
“We don’t tell those stories,” B.K. said. “You get the Hidden Figures story every now and then. But you’re more inclined to get the slavery story… I am here to tell you that as you counsel your clients, as you talk to your own family, make sure you tell them the stories that inspire.”
B.K. challenged us all to tell inspiring stories and make the most of our time. “You have to put your ass on the line,” he said.
“I woke up this morning. It’s a good day. If you’re on the right side of the dirt, you have an opportunity to do whatever. Be a better husband. Be a better friend. A better boyfriend, girlfriend, colleague. “And there is always a higher gear. Do not accept mediocrity. Not because you get paid for your job. But because you are a live human being. And tomorrow is not promised.”
B.K. and Jacquelyn’s stories inspired us to do great things. Our managers left with a renewed feeling of hope and determination. Their stories resonated with each of us in unique ways.
We are enormously thankful for their time, stories, and life lessons.
Below is the Q&A session after B.K.'s presentation.
You can follow B.K. and Jacquelyn on B.K.'s Instagram.
In addition to hearing B.K. speak, our managers broke into groups to brainstorm ways to improve how we work. We discussed how to better develop leaders and how to foster a culture of storytelling. But most importantly, our management meeting was a time to meet coworkers and build bonds between departments. Our time together reminded us all that we are a part of a cause, not a company.