Podcast by InnovatorsBox®

Curious Monica: Season 3

Ep 2: ReImagine Hospitality and DEI with Kenyatta Z. Lewis

Curious Monica – a Podcast by InnovatorsBox®. Hosted by Monica H. Kang.

The Curious Monica podcast features candid conversations with innovators in thriving organizations across various industries. In each episode, host & founder of InnovatorsBox, Monica Kang interviews her friends in diverse fields about what they do and why they love what they do. If you’re curious too, you’ll gain incredible insight into the workplace patterns that can change the way you think about work, no matter what industry you’re in or who you are.

Embark on an enriching journey into the realm of sustainable procurement and supplier diversity with Kenyatta Z. Lewis, the founding Executive Director of Supplier Diversity, Sustainable Procurement and Training in Global Procurement for MGM Resorts International (MGMRI) in Las Vegas.

Kenyatta is at the forefront of driving diversity and sustainability, but her path to leadership started from humble beginnings. From her early days in the Army to crafting her career in hospitality, Kenyatta unfolds her story, revealing how her passion for positive change and advocacy for underrepresented voices emerged. In our conversation, she shares the transformative impact of her diverse experiences, illustrating how her journey through various roles prepared her for leadership in the dynamic intersection of industries within hospitality.

This February, as we honor Black History Month, we proudly spotlight Kenyatta’s exceptional narrative and her influential contributions. Connect with Kenyatta on LinkedIn at Kenyatta Z. Lewis and reach out to her team at MGM Resorts International via [email protected]. Ready for a narrative that transcends boundaries?

Subscribe to Curious Monica by InnovatorsBox, where host Monica H. Kang unfolds stories that inspire. Visit curiousmonica.com for more empowering interviews.

Guest: Kenyatta Z. Lewis

Founding Executive Director of Supplier Diversity, Sustainable Procurement and Training, and Global Procurement for MGM Resorts International

Kenyatta is the founding Executive Director of Supplier Diversity, Sustainable Procurement & Training in Global Procurement for MGM Resorts International (MGMRI). She is responsible for defining innovative strategies for supplier diversity and sustainable procurement and for providing leadership direction and strategies to advance environmental, social, and governance priorities in the supply chain. This includes oversight of diverse supplier engagement in contracting opportunities, managing supply chain human rights risks, and providing environmentally preferable purchasing alternatives to decrease impacts to natural resources and the needs of future generations. She is also oversees training and development programs for 80+ procurement professionals.

Kenyatta joined the MGM Resorts procurement team at New York-New York in 2000 and quickly rose to the corporate ranks to her current role. She has successfully designed, implemented, and expanded MGM Resorts’ world-class supplier diversity program which has spent over $4 billion with certified diverse owned businesses since 2000,with the goal of 15% total spend with diverse firms by 2025. In 2016, Kenyatta developed a customized supplier mentorship program which pairs diverse suppliers with MGM Resorts executives and provides critical business coaching to elevate business efficiencies and corporate readiness. This best-in-class program is on track to successfully engage, elevate and graduate 150 diverse businesses by 2025.

Kenyatta has been recognized nationally as a subject matter expert and most recently named a 2022 Women of Distinction in Hospitality, Retail & Conventions by NAWBO -Southern Nevada. She leads MGM Resorts’ executive Supplier Inclusion Task Force and is a member of the Institute for Supply Management’s Sustainability Committee, the Advertising, Entertainment Media & Sports Industry Group, and the Houston Minority Business Council’s Business Development Advisory Council. Kenyatta earned her degree in Business Management and served 8 years in the United States Army Reserves. Her life’s motto: “You were chosen for such a time as this!”

Episode Shownotes

1. Title of the Episode:
ReImagine Hospitality and DEI with Kenyatta Z. Lewis

2. Host:
Monica H. Kang

3. Guest:
Kenyatta Z. Lewis, Founding Executive Director of Supplier Diversity, Sustainable Procurement and Training, and Global Procurement for MGM Resorts International

4. Key Topics Covered:

  • Kenyatta Z. Lewis’s journey into hospitality and leadership
  • The role of supplier diversity in creating economic opportunities
  • Impact of military experience on leadership
  • Navigating career transitions and finding one’s passion
  • The importance of representation in leadership and innovation
  • Strategies for embracing creativity and making an impact

5. Highlights:

  • Kenyatta shares her unconventional path to a leadership role in hospitality, highlighting the influence of her family background and military experience.
  • Discussion on supplier diversity as a strategic approach to economic impact and community development.
  • Kenyatta’s advice on getting involved, being comfortable with being uncomfortable, and the significance of asking critical questions in leadership.

6. Quotes from Kenyatta Z. Lewis:

  • “Hospitality fell in love with me. It’s really about the people.”
  • “I learned the art of perseverance in the face of unforeseeable circumstances.”
  • “Supplier diversity is really providing an economic opportunity…it’s an invitation to compete for the business.”

7. Some people who inspired Kenyatta:

  • Clergy members like Pastor Sylvester Huggs
  • Rev. Jerome Lewis, Husband/Pastor
  • Influential figures like Maya Angelou
  • Personal role models like Kenyatta’s mother, embodying advocacy and inclusiveness

8. Resources Mentioned:

  • MGM Resorts International’s Supplier Diversity Program
  • Institute for Supply Management

9. Contact Information for Kenyatta Z. Lewis:

10. Closing Thoughts by Monica Kang:

  • Monica emphasizes the value of surrounding oneself with innovative thinkers and leaders like Kenyatta, encouraging listeners to seek diverse perspectives and make a difference in their fields.

11. Episode Length and Release Date:

  • Episode Length: Approximately 33 minutes
  • Date of Release: Feb 13, 2024


00:00

Monica H. Kang
When I meet executive directors and leaders around the world, I’ve often wondered, how do they get to be where they are? And do they know they always wanted to be a leader? Meet my friend Kenyatta Z. Lewis, the founding executive director of Supplier Diversity, sustainable procurement and training and global procurement for MGM Resorts International in Las Vegas. You she helps define innovative strategies for supply diversity and sustainable procurements and for providing leadership directions and strategies to advance environmental, social and governance priorities in the supply chain. But her beginnings are humble. And as you dive into our story today, you will notice how all her different experiences and perspective has helped her be the better leader she is today. I’m your host, Monica Kang, founder and CEO of InnovatorsBox. And you are listening to curious Monica. 


01:00

Monica H. Kang
Let’s dive in. Kenyatta is the founding. This is going to be key. We’re going to talk about this later. Executive director of the supplier Diversity, sustainable procurement and training and global procurement for MGM Resorts International. And as title hints, she does a lot of things. And so one of the things I can’t wait to dive in, truly, and I hope you are, too, is how do you manage all of that? But first, but first, we want to get a sense to figure out how does she even start with hospitality? So, Kenyatta, so glad you’re here. How did you first fall in love with hospitality? 


01:39

Kenyatta J. Lewis
Thank you. First of all, thank you so much, Monica, for having me on your show. I am so honored. You know, it wasn’t hospitality that I fell in love with. It was hospitality fell in love with me. Well, tell me more. It’s really about the people. I am so just in awe of people in all walks of life. And in hospitality, you meet people from all walks of life. And so there are such great opportunities to connect with people when they’re relaxed, when they are on vacation, when they are seeking to just respite from the day to day life. And so I love to have fun. And that was kind of like my upbringing. I’ll tell you a little bit about that later. But really, it resonates. Everyone needs to go on vacation. Everyone goes on vacation. 


02:39

Kenyatta J. Lewis
It was hospitality being hospitable, kind of the way I was raised. 


02:44

Monica H. Kang
That’s wonderful. And speaking of hint, you have mentioned that you have lived in Las Vegas and continue to be. Fortunately, I’ve known some people to live in Las Vegas and really build a home and have grown their legacy and family. And I know that’s part of your journey. As I’m curious, when you were growing up, did you know that you wanted to be in hospitality or was it something else? Yeah. 


03:08

Kenyatta J. Lewis
No, I did know I’m a product of my parents. I was born in Las Vegas, and I am the second of five in a blended family. My childhood was actually spent. It was between Las Vegas and Albuquerque, New Mexico. My parents divorced when I was at an early age, and so I had to live between the two. And my mother was this eccentric, creative mother who never met a stranger, and she just embodied this passion, rich and cultural engagement, and she was just really like a grassroots advocate for equality for people. Right. It didn’t matter who it was. But then my dad was this real cool, down to earth, jack of all trades, but optimistic, calculated strategy. Right. And he really exposed me to hospitality. My father retired from this industry just in 2020. 


04:13

Kenyatta J. Lewis
And so I had this entertainment, eccentric mother that was really the advocate, and then dad that was really a numbers guy. Cool, populated, but a jack of all trades. And so being exposed to that and moving into my old career, I didn’t want to do any of those things. I wanted to be in the. Well, actually, I wanted to be in the air force. I wanted to be air traffic controller. I wanted to know, just travel the world, adopt children, and I wanted to be a pediatrician. That didn’t work out. After I had my first son, I found what they do. Not that I’m not doing circumstances. 


04:57

Monica H. Kang
Those are due out there, though. 


04:58

Kenyatta J. Lewis
Good. Yes. But I really just knew I wanted to make a difference, but I didn’t really know how. But opportunity, chance, and a lot of prayer brought me into hospitality. 


05:14

Monica H. Kang
That’s amazing. And especially for those listeners who happen to know where she is right now. I mean, this early beginning is really humbling because what you’re reminding us is it’s okay if you don’t know what your passion is right now. You never know. It might actually be around the corner. And, in fact, you’ve hinted that you were in the military, and I know you’re a veteran, so thank you for your service. And I’m curious. It wasn’t a short amount of time. You were at the army for eight years. You could have probably also stayed long. But I’m curious, looking back, what were some experiences and values, perhaps, that helped shape you, the leader and person you are today because of your experience in the army? 


05:53

Kenyatta J. Lewis
So I was actually in searching of what it is that I wanted to do. I joined the army reserves, and when, you know, the only job they had was in the kitchen or in the motor pool, and I chose the motor pool so that I could be a grease monkey with my dad in the garage. Talk shop a little bit. And in there, I learned such great leadership skills. I learned timeliness. I learned how to make my bed, which I still do today. Have to. And I learned the art of perseverance in the face of unforeseeable circumstances. That it’s about the mission and it’s about the team, and that I can’t do anything alone, but just great skills of teamwork and integrity. And that hard work is definitely required in whatever it is that you choose to do. 


06:50

Kenyatta J. Lewis
So I was in the motor pool. I was a mechanic. I hauled tanks. I did the things that you wouldn’t think a sophisticated lady could do that would. But I always knew that I needed to just kind of press the limits. Don’t do what is expected of me. Not have a box. People say, think outside the box. No, I just knew that the sky was the limit, and I seized every opportunity I could. If I could think it up, I would do it. And it’s kind of crafted my creative leadership style, but it has really served to keep me grounded in what’s most important, and that’s people. 


07:34

Monica H. Kang
Wow, that’s amazing. And speaking of which, you have then made the transition in 2000. Why then what happened? Was there a reason? Did you just know that was coming? And how did you know that? Hey, maybe I do want to try hospitality. 


07:51

Kenyatta J. Lewis
So I will tell you. As I said, I went through many industries, right? So my first job, I was a paper girl in front of the grocery store. I was a little girl that 7th grade, stood outside the store and asked if you wanted paper, ma’am. Paper, sir. And I knew I wanted to be in business, but I didn’t know exactly what. So I joined business professionals of America in high school. And so that prepares you for business. And my first summer job, I wanted to be a Burger King and King fries. But the only place that would hire me was the Institute for Criminal Justice Studies at the university. That was my first role. And then I rolled into government contracting, even while in high school, part time. 


08:40

Kenyatta J. Lewis
So whether it was Sandia national labs or Johnson Controls or Bettel, I worked in procurement and in auditing, just trying to search and find where my spot was. And it was in know in those government contracting years that I went ahead and joined the army reserves and was still just seeking, like, what is it that I had something, some greatness that’s within me that I know I can do more. And I was working at a hospital in procurement. My boss was actually hired to come into MGM Resorts. It was just MGM grand at that time, and it was at New York. And he called me and said, hey. 


09:24

Monica H. Kang
Can you come over here? 


09:25

Kenyatta J. Lewis
I can’t pay you more, but can you come over here? I need your expertise to help me with these people. And I was a clerk. What can I do to help? And so I came to New York, that was in 2000, and began working at the bottom of the receptionist, getting the files and everything together. And I fell in love with that property. But then a year later, they moved me to MGM Grant, still in procurement. And then I started getting into, like, food and beverage and craft steak. I got to buy all of the kitchen supplies for craft steak while I was pyramid, and I just thought it was so great. I wanted to know everything about China and where it came from, meaning bone china and where all of these dishes came from and bakery things. 


10:23

Kenyatta J. Lewis
And I was just so engulfed in this. I was captivated. But it wasn’t really an upward mobility, upward move for me, but I really enjoyed this. And then one day, someone said, we need volunteers to go and help in the community and do some advocacy. And I was like, I’ll do it. And that was just raising my hand and volunteering opened a whole new world in the industry that I didn’t even know existed. Well, didn’t. I got there. But it was really advocating for businesses in the supply chain. And so I volunteered, and that started something special that I’m still here over 20 years later, building and growing. 


11:10

Monica H. Kang
That’s incredible. And especially nowadays, when we talk about company loyalty, I mean, it’s really rare to even stay in one place for five plus years. The fact that you’ve really not only been the backbone and seen all the changes in the past 20 plus years, and especially in Vegas, in hospitality, in this industry of supplier diversity, which we will speak about for those who are learning about this for the first time. No worries. I was there also not so long ago when I first learned about it, and it felt exactly like Kenyatta said of, like, wait, this place existed? So we’ll speak about it. But I just want to emphasize how incredible that is. It’s still rare to see somebody, a falling in love and finding that, but also finding that passion and growth opportunity. 


11:53

Monica H. Kang
And it almost sounds like all the different jobs you’ve had in the past was actually prepping you to be aware of all these different aspects, because that’s one of the things my friends who work in hospitality remind me is, like, to really excel, you need to actually understand the holistic system. And there’s a lot of details that I would never have thought of. And to your point of China where how they decide what to buy. And I know that’s now all your department deciding and influencing very much and globally doing so. 


12:19

Kenyatta J. Lewis
Yeah. And so I used to tell people, we used to buy tigers and lions, no bears, but we did buy, if you can think of it, eat it, taste it, smell it, we buy it once the buildings are built. And now we’ve even expanded into entertainment and sports and world class food and beverage. And so there’s so much here. The world is here in Las Vegas. 


12:51

Monica H. Kang
Amazing. And speaking of the people that you love working with and the act of working with people that you thrive, I know currently your team is about 80 plus people. And that’s not only just internally, that’s the internal team. You have also partners you work with, vendors you work with, suppliers you work with. So you probably work with at least 100 many plus people. If you can give me a number, I’m curious. And also then how do you then manage your time and navigate all of that? Because those are lots of different conversations and remembering even more so details, because Chinaware, at least it stays the same. But like people, they don’t say the same at all. 


13:28

Kenyatta J. Lewis
Luckily, I have excellent peers within the business that really manage the different categories and the sourcing strategies, buying strategies or analytics side of this. It is allowing people who are gifted and skilled to do what they do, allow them to do it and just support them, enjoying them and making sure that we never lose sight of what the mission is and that we take care of the people along the way that are getting the job done. So it is a great deal of stakeholder engagement and collaboration and really owning what is my role in scheme of things, what is it that I can control or oversee, and what is it that I can allow others to thrive and flourish and make those decisions for the good of the organization. 


14:22

Kenyatta J. Lewis
So I wish I could say that it’s like I’m holding it all up on own, but it is definitely collaborative team effort. That’s with our end user departments, our chief procurement officer and our CFO, our chief financial officer, working all together to make sure that the business runs smoothly and that the impacts continue to flow into the communities that we serve. 


14:48

Monica H. Kang
That’s a really powerful reminder on how important collaboration, skill and finding and working with good people that’s still being said. I mean, as the leader, there are probably areas you’re continuing to hone to improve your leadership skills. I’m curious what’s been lately on top of your mind, especially working hybrid and needing to navigate all these different changes that’s continuing on. What are top skills? How do you hone your craft as a leader, and what does that look for? 


15:18

Kenyatta J. Lewis
You know, it’s really staying engaged, staying involved with leading organizations that are the experts in these spaces, serving on school committees, engaging, whether it’s the Nature Conservancy or the National Minority Council, to really understand trends that we’re seeing, looking within our industry, but then also outside of the industry, even on a global scale, to understand what’s happening across the larger landscape that may and may or may not impact our business, or it may be innovation that we can incorporate into our business to make us more cutting edge or first invest in what we do. I also really connect with the Institute for Supply Management and making sure that I am with thought leaders. And it’s so great to have a network where people send you things so you don’t have to keep track of everything. 


16:19

Kenyatta J. Lewis
They know that you are interested in this and they’ll send an article or they’ll send insights that help you stay informed. And so it’s really leveraging the network. But then also, I take a lot of classes through our institute for Supply Management online, taking some sessions now just to refresh on sourcing strategy and supply chain. But then it’s also that personal development on my leadership styles. What is happening with the new generations that are coming into the workforce? We have five generations still within our workforce, and so really understanding how to meet and connect with people where they are in order to execute on the mission is so important. I have spent years at the bottom with my head down, trying to get the work done. And it’s not that I have reached the top. 


17:16

Kenyatta J. Lewis
It is just that I have scrapped and done so much and built so much that I don’t have to scale and scrap as much anymore. Now I can reach down and reach back and help those that are on their path and help them to aspire to greatness as well. So that’s the space that I’m in now. It’s being strategic visionary that helps to carry others visions as well as execute all those that makes our world and our communities a better place. 


17:48

Monica H. Kang
And this is, I think, a good point for those who’s like, okay, Monica Kenyatta, when are you going to talk about supplier diversity? Give us a quick overview. What is supplier diversity? Why is this important? Why should we care? 


18:00

Kenyatta J. Lewis
So supplier diversity is really providing an economic opportunity to minority, ethnic minorities, women, the disabled, veterans, your LGBTQ families. It’s providing that access to opportunities within the supply chain or within the buying organization. And it is not a handout. It is not a set aside in our program, meaning from private sector. It is an invitation to compete for the business. And it is very intentional with the thought process of having an economic impact on communities. Meaning when businesses compete for the business and they’re awarded a contract, those companies now have monies to hire within those communities. That money can go into local schools or stores within that community. That creates an induced impact. And so what we focus on is economic impact within communities for every dollar that’s spent. 


19:12

Kenyatta J. Lewis
And that’s something that I get so excited when a small business or a minority or a woman owned business says, I won the contract. Now we have to hire three more people, and then you are with them for over 15 years, and you see their children going to college, and they’re the first in the family to go to college. And you know that providing them that seat at the table afforded them the monies to send their children to college or to buy a home or just to buy a new location for their business. That is a legacy. 


19:49

Monica H. Kang
It’s a really great insight and a reminder that at the end of the day, as you pointed out earlier, all the purchases, we only think about maybe the what. But it’s also important to think about the who. Who is the creator, who’s the company, who’s building it? And often, to Kenyatta’s point, we don’t probably realize, but if we’re not being mindful, it might be just coming from one demographic, one age group, one ethnicity. And what about all the other creators who are also doing incredible work? Of course, quality matters, and there is a lot of incredible quality everywhere. But the key thing that we’re noting is, I mean, think about. 


20:24

Monica H. Kang
Even for those who, when you think about your favorite restaurant, if you’re only going to the one place that continue and not take a moment to explore, what are the other restaurants that could maybe try for the same food, you might be surprised what else is out there. And Kenyatta’s reminder, your insight that this is just so much, this one purchase that ends, that purchase multiplying over time, has that socioeconomic impact. And that’s where the bigger impact and influence is, that we don’t realize. And so thank you for breaking that down, because I think it’s a reminder for all our listeners to know that, hey, it’s actually a world that might be more connected than I thought. 


20:57

Monica H. Kang
And so, building on that, Kenyatta one thing I’m curious is as somebody who’s been working in hospitality and also been in procurement and supplier diversity for 20 plus years, you’ve seen really a lot of changes. We have AI now going on post pandemic, more things going on where just the way we think about supply chain is radically changing sustainability concerns. And you see all of that. So just bring us a little perspective. What are you excited about because of all of this, as well as worried about that we should pay attention to? 


21:28

Kenyatta J. Lewis
Well, first off, Monica, I choose not to worry about anything. 


21:33

Monica H. Kang
Is that the mindset we need to have? 


21:35

Kenyatta J. Lewis
Yeah, I’m just not going to worry about anything. I’m going to convert that to action. Right. I’m really assessing what is it that I can do that’s within my control. What I’m excited about is in the midst of all this, and technology is so great if we use it the right way. Technology is an awesome resource for business, for home, for connecting people together. And so I’m ecstatic about that portion of it. I’m also optimistic and excited for the opportunities that we have to make positive impacts in new ways, whether that’s around the environment, getting involved in climate change or just recycling or those types of things, and learning more about these new things that are there. 


22:28

Kenyatta J. Lewis
I never thought that I’d have to think calculated about using my credit card and who might be looking on the other side or what does it take to get product to me, if I order something at home or even at work. Really understanding the supply chain and I think as a country and as a world, we’ve gone through so much and it really exposed us to jobs that we never thought about. It’s a great time to be in supply chain now because 2020 made everyone know, like, yeah, before it was just a word, but now we’re all connected together and everyone is a part of that supply chain. 


23:10

Kenyatta J. Lewis
And so everyone has a role to play and everyone has a job to do as it relates to asking the questions about where the product is coming from, understanding the people that are impacted from a social impact perspective, and also providing opportunities to, as you said, you were saying earlier, and I thought it was great if you stay with the same restaurant, you miss out on so much flavor and opportunity to experience life in a new way. And that’s the way I feel excited about what’s to come. It’s ever learning, cautiously progressing and making sure that we just remain informed and relevant on where we’re going as a world and making sure that we do it cautious ways of it not to bring harm. 


24:03

Monica H. Kang
And for those who have the pleasure of seeing Kenyatta on the video version of our episode, you will see her smiling and the warmth and encouragement. And it’s true because, I mean, that’s actually how we first met. She’s very approachable, very thoughtful. And I just wanted to say thank you for also just making it less scary to learn about this whole space. And it’s actually in honor of you as well, which is why we wanted to highlight your story for this month as we celebrate Black History Month. Because, as not mistaken, there’s still very few people who look like us and think like us in spaces where we need to see more representation. And I assume that’s something that you’ve noticed even from your journey, from your army, as well as in the space that you’re currently in. 


24:42

Monica H. Kang
For those out there, for leaders who happen to be black, who’s like, I want to figure out how to break into these different communities and opportunities. Any piece of wisdom or advice, or for anyone as well, who want to break into new opportunities where they feel like I don’t see people like me there. 


25:00

Kenyatta J. Lewis
I would say get involved and be comfortable being uncomfortable. If you are the only one. I was the only one for many years. I was the only woman in the motor pool. I was the only one that looked like me as I was working at San Diego national labs and Johnson controls in the marsh islands and all of these different areas. Get comfortable being uncomfortable, but know that your presence makes a difference and that everyone’s voice needs to be heard. So what am I saying? There’s a lot of things that are going on around us, and there are a lot of things that we see. And so silence gives consent. But if you see something and you have an opportunity to make a difference, speak up and have a voice ask questions. Where’s the inclusion? Where are we getting this? 


25:56

Kenyatta J. Lewis
Is this product the best for, or is this process the best for the environment, for people, planet? Ask those questions. Be comfortable. Be uncomfortable. And then get engaged with organizations that will inform and empower you to make a difference, because there’s power in numbers and you need that encouragement. So I would say much work has already been done. And as we think about Black History Month, there are those that have gone before us, and there are those that have paved the way. And if we choose not to, because it’s not our generation, it’s not irrelevant for us, because that’s back then. If we fail to remember the history in the past, then we are doomed to repeat the errors and the harm that was done before. 


26:49

Kenyatta J. Lewis
And so we are all given an awesome responsibility and obligation and opportunity to make a difference every day. And so that’s how I show up every day, is knowing I get to do this. I want to, but that I get to do this, and I’m doing it because I’m building the next layer for the next generation that’s going to help us propel forward, and that relates to our environment, that relates to opportunities for upward mobility, for people of color, for those with disabilities, or those that choose to identify in different ways. And so it’s our duty and it’s our right as human beings to take care of each other in place. 


27:36

Monica H. Kang
Especially your comment about I get to and I want to, I think is a powerful reminder of, like, just the mindset and how we frame about it and in seeing it. And as you’ve hinted, it’s really important we honor history and continue to look for those people. One of the things I’ve been asking all my guests as we wrap up, and I’m sure sad, I wish I could spend more time, but I want to respect Kenyatta’s time and also for all of you listeners, too. But as we wrap up, a few rapid questions, one question I’ve loved asking all our guests is like, help us do that job better. So could you educate her? Could you tell us at least three people you love learning from, who happens to be an innovator, who is black, that we should learn from? 


28:15

Monica H. Kang
Could you shout out their names? And I’m going to add them in the blog for those who are listening. You know where to find that. So come find those names. But Kenyatta, who would you recommend that we learn from to give shout out. 


28:26

Kenyatta J. Lewis
To three people, the three people that. 


28:29

Monica H. Kang
We happens to be black. Yeah. 


28:30

Kenyatta J. Lewis
So I will tell you, for me, being, my faith is very strong to me. And so I would just say it’s the clergy, those in your house of worship, that really help you connect with that spiritual side. So for me, it was my pastor, Sylvester Huggs, who’s passed away now, as well as my husband, who’s passed away now. That my pass, they really showed me what it meant to walk the walk and walk the talk and to live life of love and not your emotions on your sleeves, but to have an impact in your, you know, you got to say people like Maya Angelou, who was just a thought leader, who really uses her words to inspire even president and to make you feel warm and at home, but also to know that you can be fearless, and you can do it unapologetically. 


29:32

Kenyatta J. Lewis
So I would say, definitely my Angelou. Now everyone would say, Dr. King. Yeah, he definitely is one. But another that I would say for me is my mother. Body crate house. My mother, as I said, eccentric advocate, never met a stranger. But she loves everyone. She’ll wear one white shoe and one black shoe to show you that everybody’s welcome, right? But she’s my biggest champion, my biggest advocate, and my biggest intercessor for prayer to make sure that I’m successful. So they’re near and they’re far, but they make me who I am, and I aspire to do better because of what they have poured into me and how they inspire me every day. So thank you so much for even asking the questions. Hadn’t thought about it. Thank you for sharing. 


30:23

Monica H. Kang
And I’ll be sure to make sure I get the spelling. So, again, look out for that later in the show notes. Any final advice for all the innovators out there, no matter where they work, that you want them to walk away from innovators? 


30:35

Kenyatta J. Lewis
Oh, man. As I said, people say, think outside the box. I just destroy the box. There is no box. You know what? If you’re creative, embrace that creativity. Take it to the limit, because that’s where change is made, and that makes us better. So get out of your own shit. Get out of your own way. Don’t always look for others to agree with you, because sometimes you might be blazing a new trail, as I was able to do. And now others calling to ask, how’d you do it? Well, it’s because there is no box. So I applaud you, Monica, for being an innovator, allowing me to come into the innovation you. 


31:19

Monica H. Kang
Thank you. We’re honored that you could be here at innovators box as we continue to celebrate innovators around the world and stories that I think we need to hear more. And so thank you, Kenyatta, so much for joining us. And for folks, we will be back again with another story. But one final note, Kenyatta, how can people come find you? I know you get a lot of messages, but at least from our fans, if they want to stay connected and learn from you, what’s the best way they can follow you and learn from you? 


31:45

Kenyatta J. Lewis
Well, they can hit me up on LinkedIn. Kenyatta Z. Lewis Z. Yeah, because my mom, again, very creative. That would be on LinkedIn. And then also you can reach me at MGM Resorts soon. Then that would be at [email protected]. 


32:03

Monica H. Kang
There we go. And so we’ll put that in the notes so that way you can find, and of course, if you can’t find, just drop us a note at [email protected] but thank you so much. This was your host, Monica Kang, at Curiousmonica. As we celebrate Black History Month. We are so honored that we get to have Kenyatta Lewis here in Las Vegas working at MGM but suing so much more. So thank you and we look forward to seeing you soon again. Bye. Thank you so much for tuning in to another episode at Curious Monica. I’m your host and executive director of the show, Monica King, founder and CEO of Innovators Box and Little love. Shout out to our team who made this show possible for you today. 


32:51

Monica H. Kang
From Innovators Box studios Audio Engineering and producing Sam Lehmart; Audio Engineering assistant Ravi Lad; website and marketing support Kree Pandey; Graphic Support by Leah Orsini, Christine Arribal; original Music by InnovatorsBox Studios and executive producing, writing and editing and interviewing, and all that jazz by me, Monica Kang. I hope you enjoyed today’s conversation. Please send us a note for any feedback and suggestions and questions that you have at [email protected] have a wonderful day and see you soon. 

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