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The Voice of Great Leadership with Crystal Kendrick

Crystal Kendrick, CEO of The Voice of Your Customer and Founder of The Voice of Black Cincinnati

Crystal Kendrick is the CEO of The Voice of Your Customer and Founder of The Voice of Black Cincinnati, and she’s dedicated her life to customer service and using her leadership skills to enrich her community in Cincinnati with a ‘do it yourself’ approach to getting better quality news to the public while connecting people with businesses and universities. Mike and Crystal talk about how companies can put customers and employees first (and themselves second), and how it ultimately leads to a more successful business.

  • Crystal got her degree in marketing and planned on working part-time while going to school, but when she went to the Urban League for help finding a job, she found a career instead, with Rockwell International in Kentucky, which became Meritor and eventually became ArvinMeritor. She worked there for 10 years and had great leadership and mentoring, and developed herself. Crystal finally decided to try something new and worked for a large hometown bank – an entirely new experience filled with new learning.
  • Crystal assumed that she’d eventually retire as the Vice President of Customer Service from some corporate company, but that isn’t what happened. What she realized was that as she climbed the corporate ladder, she went from working directly with clients and customers to managing 70-80 people and it required her to be an extension of Human Resources. Reports, conflict management, disputes, hiring, training, etc., and it moved away from her passion. She wasn’t great at those jobs and realized that sometimes a person can love those tasks without actually enjoying managing those tasks.
  • Crystal started doing ‘secret shopping’ for friends, and when she wasn’t able to work normally due to an illness, other businesses began to flood her with calls to do secret shopping for them, too. She decided that she was going to try it full time. She had 2 years of savings to live on, and she hasn’t looked back since. The lesson? It’s okay not to do well in a position and it’s okay to take time to figure out what you really want to do because your health, your well-being, and your happiness are #1.
  • It wasn’t always easy… Crystal had some lessons to learn about how using the wrong language could stall her business – specifically calling it Secret Shopping. Second, with her degrees and experience, her clients didn’t ONLY want secret shopping. She shares the three facets of her business, The Voice of Your Customer.
  • There are many people who helped shape Crystal’s career, but the most influential ones came from her first job at Rockwell/ArvinMeritor. She shares how each of the three people molded her ideas of what great leadership is. From identifying talent and helping them grow, to the tactical and strategic issues of being a leader, to the art of ‘customer first’ and how to sell and engage with customers, Crystal still uses what she learned from them to this day.
  • Crystal isn’t just a successful entrepreneur; she’s also very involved in improving the community. She adopted the motto of one of the paragons of community outreach in her area: “Give to get to give.” In short, the more you give, the more opportunities you get to give. Since giving is a love language for Crystal, that lesson has been incredible for her.
  • In every community, there are problems and there are people looking to solve those problems. Crystal shares some of the toughest issues facing many communities today. Education is at the forefront for her; it’s something that no one can ever take away from you. And education also creates opportunities, another of the conversations Crystal is passionate about. Another is health. There are too many lives altered, changed, or ended because people don’t have healthy options. It’s the little things we take for granted when we have the resources.
  • Crystal isn’t just passionate about education, opportunities, and health. She founded The Voice of Black Cincinnati, an organization that strives to use media to represent diversity in a far more positive light than what we typically see in the news: crime and sports. Rather than relying on mainstream media to portray successes and positive news, Crystal decided to bring that type of news directly to the audience.
  • Crystal’s work doesn’t stop there. The organization has a database of colleges, corporations, businesses, and more who are sharing information about scholarships. They also have a community calendar for events the audience can come out and be a part of while connecting and networking with others. In addition, they have a jobs board, an amazing resource that companies are invested in just as much as the workforce is. Now this seems like a lot of data, and it is, so as a media company, The Voice of Black Cincinnati consolidates this data, and Crystal explains how.
  • Crystal is a very special leader, a picture of what it means to be enthusiastic and engaged, and she shares what inspires her to do what she does and lead well. She shares a unique insight: in the past, business was about quality, or leadership, or whatever else. But today, it’s all about the worker. What does that mean? Crystal explains her two jobs as CEO, and it might change the way you look at modern business.
  • With her broad-ranging experience, Crystal has several insights to share about staffing and customer experience. There’s far too many to list here, but you’ll definitely want to take some notes because you can apply all of this to YOUR business and leadership style. But the biggest takeaway here is the one thing Crystal recommends all leaders do: ‘secret shop’ your own company. The issues you face are the same ones your customers face on a daily basis.

Crystal Kendrick


The Voice of Your Customer




The Voice of Black Cincinnati



Other links from this episode:

5 Love Languages

Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio

Minority Business Accelerator

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