When Lillian arrived at the Harvard Business School in September 1967 (actually she arrived at Radcliffe College graduate dormitory because women were not allowed to live in the accommodations at the Business School), her first thought was “Why am I here!” Harvard was the top business school in the world for training managers and she was encouraged to go there. The first class of women was admitted to HBS in 1963. African American women had never attended. Even upon her arrival, the school was not totally ready to embrace the presence of women. Dormitories were
When Lillian arrived at the Harvard Business School in September 1967 (actually she arrived at Radcliffe College graduate dormitory because women were not allowed to live in the accommodations at the Business School), her first thought was “Why am I here!” Harvard was the top business school in the world for training managers and she was encouraged to go there. The first class of women was admitted to HBS in 1963. African American women had never attended. Even upon her arrival, the school was not totally ready to embrace the presence of women. Dormitories were still designed to house men only. Hence, the need for female students to live at Radcliffe, requiring them to walk a half mile to classes. This was the beginning of another interesting journey in her life.
Born on a farm in the segregated South, at the age of 18 and fresh out of high school, she journeyed to New York City and Washington, DC to seek her fortune. After four years of floundering and enduring jobs as a maid and typist, she realized her mother was right. She needed more education. First she ventured to Howard University for her BA degree; then she applied to Harvard Business School for her MBA - encouraged by her mentor at Howard who assured her she was “Harvard material”. Here she ran into a brick wall! Her application was rejected. She had taken her mentor at his word about being “Harvard material” and did not properly prepare for the admission process. She had taken admission for granted. The rejection letter was an eye opener. Instead of accepting this as defeat, she took it on as a challenge; found out why she was not admitted and took the necessary steps to assure admission. Her persistence caused her to achieve a historical milestone as the first African American Woman to receive a Harvard MBA.
In 2003, Harvard Business School awarded her the Alumni Achievement Award, the highest award bestowed on its alumni. The award recognizes recipients for “their contributions made to their companies and communities, while upholding the highest standards and values in everything they do.”
Four jobs and six years after getting her MBA, she became a barrier-breaking entrepreneur in a male-dominated industry. The company, operating in six states, grew to a $20 million enterprise with more than 1,200 employees. It was sold after 25 years and she started two other ventures before beginning her career as speaker and author.
A captivating speaker she speaks about the power of persistence, resilience, courage and morality in surmounting hurdles that prevent people from reaching their full potential. As the first African American woman to receive a Harvard Business School MBA, during the tumultuous 1960’s, then becoming a barrier-breaking entrepreneur in the mid 1970’s, she draws on her life experiences from the farm to Harvard, to show how to use obstacles and barriers as stepping stones to higher levels of achievement. Her background, education and experiences have given her insights into what it takes to come from incredibly challenging circumstances and achieve a successful personal and professional life. Using the power of storytelling, she inspires audiences to dream big, act bold and pave their own paths. Her message speaks volumes, offering guidance, hope and inspiration for anyone who is striving to achieve a better life. Her mission now is to serve as an inspiration to others just as so many inspired her as they pushed her further than she thought she could go.
Some of her numerous awards include:
* Harvard Business School Alumni Achievement Award, its highest honor for alumni
* TheHistoryMakers inductee – A national organization dedicated to preserving African American
* Small Business Person of the Year, State of Maryland
* Library of Virginia, Virginia Women in History recipient
* Enterprising Women Hall of Fame inductee
* Harvard Business School’s African American Alumni Association’s Bert King Award
* MBA of the Year, Harvard Business School African American Alumni Association
Lillian is an iconic part of American history, and an inspiration for anyone who faces obstacles that they need to overcome in order to achieve their goals. Her wisdom comes from her own experiences, her ongoing studies with leading executive development and coaching programs, and the people she attracts. Lillian is a great listener, and a thoughtful and wise coach who will ground you in confidence, competence, and the right path to take for success.- Andrew Neitlich, Owner, Center for Executive Coaching
The Huizenga Business School at Nova Southeastern University had the pleasure of hosting Lillian Lincoln Lambert as our Distinguished Lecture Series speaker last week. It was a huge success and inspirational with students, faculty, staff, and the business community.- Jade Chen, Director, Development, Nova Southeastern University
She shared her story and provided valuable advice, allowing students and guests to see the possibilities in life. We thank Lillian for giving generously of her time and sharing her great life experiences with us.
Lillian is a true American success story. Through her entrepreneurship, tenacity, intelligence, hard work, and humility, she stands as a role model for all young people. My admiration for her is boundless.- Charles O. Heller, Director, Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship
Lillian Lambert visited Freddie Mac to discuss her road to success. Many of us left the presentation extremely inspired by her story. I was reminded of how often successful people overcome bumps along the path to success.- Essex E. Finney, Operational Risk Manager, Freddie Mac
One attendee said it re-established a commitment to keep their college-aged child continuing in the right direction.
Lillian Lambert served as the featured speaker for the Walker’s Legacy: A Women in Business Lecture Series in Washington, DC and was remarkable. Her knowledge of business, her passion and her commitment were infectious to the audience and were complimented by a “down-to-earthness” that resonated well with all who attended.- Natalie Madeira hired you as a Career Coach
We received overwhelmingly positive feedback from her session and many of the women felt connected to Lambert’s story of perseverance. She was a motivation to all who attended and I highly recommend her to anyone looking to inspire and inform.
The responses I received when Lillian spoke to the luncheon my organization hosted, were almost always preceded with, “WOW!” Lillian gave a presentation that informed but most of all inspired each person in the room.- Renee Cobb, Director, WOVEN (Women of Value in Every Nation)
One attendee said, “The luncheons have always been phenomenal, but this one was hit out of the park.” We can hardly wait until her book comes out to read even more about the life of this extraordinary woman. She truly is a role model for all of us.
My task of selecting the keynote speaker for our year end meeting of the National Association of Women Business Owners was extremely important. My definition of a first rate speaker is one who is easy to listen to, witty and very wise. Lillian Lambert is such a speaker. Thanks to education, courage and the blessing of time, Lillian shared her road to success. I could tell from the eyes of our audience how engaged they were, how quickly the time flew and how much they enjoyed her stories.- Joan Bowling , Program Chair, VA National Association of Women Business Owners
It was a personal pleasure to be able to host you as the first speaker for our CEO Breakfast Series and Black History month event. You were a great CEO and you made history on several fronts. I enjoyed the opportunity to be with you again and to learn more about you. I know our audience was impressed and excited – excited enough to come out in questionable weather.- Kenneth Clark, President & CEO, MD/DC Minority Supplier Development Council
Lillian Lincoln Lambert was a very engaging speaker at our Economic Empowerment Summit. She urged the audience to “get started” and “It doesn’t matter when you bloom as long as you bloom”. Mrs. Lambert was very polished and professional in her presentation. Her presentation was backed by her wealth of experiences ranging from her Harvard attendance to her success as an entrepreneur. She inspired the audience because of her ability to connect with them through her life story. She is a powerful speaker and an accomplished author.- Marquita Miller , Conference Chair, Harvest Church
It was a pleasure to have you as the keynote speaker for our Diamond & Gold Jubilee Anniversary. Not only did you deliver your speech, professionally but with a lot of punch, excitement and knowledge. We could relate your message to our everyday life. It was amazing how you beautifully tied in your love for the game of golf to understanding life’s lessons. You have devoted a lifetime to building relationships and have made a tremendous difference in the lives of many. Thank you for your words of wisdom, your enlightenment and your encouragement. We were certainly inspired and went away with the knowledge and the fortitude to strive to reach far beyond our highest dreams.- Paulette Savoy , President, Wake Robin Golf Club
It was an honor having Lillian as our guest speaker at the Richmond Risk Management Association’s (RMA’s) Women in Business Luncheon. We had an overwhelming positive response on the event. Lillian’s ability to connect with her audience was apparent from how engaged everyone was. Each person left inspired and convinced that, “It does not matter if you bloom early or late, as long as you bloom,” as Lillian put it. Her authentic style and inspiring story made for yet another successful RMA luncheon.- Chitra Chavan , Women in Business Committee, RMA, Richmond, VA Chapter
• My Journey: Lessons Learned Along the Way
• Moving from Inertia to Awareness
• Aspire and Inspire
• Breaking the Mold
• The Importance of Education and it Relevance for Success
• Staying Ahead of the Curve
• Victor or Victim: The Choice is Yours
Article links to a 4-part interview for blackenterprise.com
Her programs are centered on the power of persistence, resilience, courage and morality in surmounting hurdles that prevent people from reaching their full potential.
A captivating speaker, she uses the power of storytelling as she shares her experiences “from the farm to Harvard” during the tumultuous 1960’s.
Her message speaks volumes, offering guidance, hope and inspiration for anyone who is striving to achieve a better professional and/or personal life.
She inspires audiences to dream big, act bold and pave their own paths using their obstacles and barriers as stepping stones to higher levels of achievement and success.
She authored her memoir: The Road to Someplace Better: From the Segregated South to Harvard Business School and Beyond. It chronicles her journey in great detail.
She is certified by the Center for Executive Coaching and specialized in executive leadership coaching.
She's an excellent media resource on a range of topics:
Success, entrepreneurship, faith, women's issues, race, self-improvement, aging, retirement, morality, education, team building, and leadership.
Sample “media outlets” where Lillian has been featured:
• Blog Talk Radio
• ABC's Good Morning America
• Time Magazine
• Inc. Magazine
• Washington Post
• Washington Business Journal
• HistoryMakers Biography Page
Success Tips From Harvard's First African-American Female MBA
Do You Have The Attitude Of A Leader?
Like Oprah, Know When It's Time to Let Go
• African American Golfer's Digest (Fall 2010)
• Urban Views Weekly - “Lillian Lambert's Road to Success Began at Home”
• The Mechanicsville Local - “Lambert Receives Honors”
• Howard University Magazine (p34) - “A Trailblazing Road To Entrepreneur Success”
• Harvard Business School Alumni Bulletin - “A Remarkable Life Story”
• Enterprising Women Magazine - “2010 Enterprising Women of the Year Awards”
• Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Lambert helps people find The Road To Someplace Better”
“Entrepreneur cherishes role as mom”
“Relentlessly define, pursue goals, urges Harvard grad”
“Women Share Ideas on Business”
“A Life of Breaking Through Barriers”
• Black MBA Magazine - “A Way Out of No Way”
• News 12 - Connecticut
• NBC 12 WWBT – Richmond, VA
• CBS 6 WTVR – Richmond, VA
• FOX 4 “Morning Blend” – Cape Coral, FL
• Black Enterprise Magazine - “Go With Your Gut”
• Richmond Free Press - “South Africa on Her Mind”
• Herald Tribune, Sarasota, Florida
• Powhatan Today - “From Ballsville to the Ivy League”
• Belle | Style Weekly's Magazine for Richmond Women - “Degrees of Ambition”
• Noble and Greenough student publication - “From Segregation to Success”
• Women In Business
• Upscale Magazine