Managed Destiny, Divine Destiny: A Talk With Valerie Daniels-Carter

    Entrepreneur To Keynote "Imagine Madison" Dinner to Benefit A Fund For Women


    Valerie Daniels-Carter, one of the people on Madison365’s inaugural list of the most influential African Americans in Wisconsin, will bring her influence to the Imagine Madison dinner on October 25. The event is the annual major fundraiser for A Fund for Women. Madison365 is the media partner for the event.

    Daniels-Carter, along with her brother John Daniels, opened a Burger King in 1984. Sixteen years later, V&J Foods was a 137-unit, multi-brand operation, one of the largest owners of Burger King and Pizza Hut franchises in the nation. In 2006, she partnered with NBA great Shaquille O’Neal to expand the horizons of Auntie Anne’s Famous Pretzels; together they own more than 30 Auntie Anne’s locations nationwide. Today, Daniels-Carter is the owner of the largest African-American owned food chain franchiser in the nation. She was honored with the 2014 Women of Power Legacy Award and her company was number 33 on the 2013 Black Enterprise Industrial Service 100 List. Oh, and she’s a part-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks. She attributes her success to her deep faith in God and insistence on core values: integrity, recognition, accountability, responsibility, respect, communication, commitment to excellence and passion. Her corporate philosophy is “YATSE”: You are the Standard of Excellence.

    Daniels-Carter recently sat down with Madison365 Publisher and CEO Henry Sanders.

    Henry Sanders What are you planning on talking about at the A Fund For Women’s Imagine Madison event?

    Valerie Daniels-Carter If I tell you guys that, I’d blow the surprise!

    HS All right! Tell us about some of the obstacles of becoming a woman entrepreneur.

    VDC Well let me just take it from this perspective. I don’t talk about the obstacles, necessarily, of being a woman entrepreneur. I look for solutions to challenges that present themselves because other people have set obstacles. In the environment where the female entrepreneurs do not have the same level of generated income, the female entrepreneur does not have the same contractual level that may be in the marketplace that their counterpart may experience. A female entrepreneur has to identify where the discrepancy or the difference is, and then to be creative as to how to narrow that difference or even excel above the norm. I don’t really focus and concentrate on the obstacles. I try to accentuate the positive and look for ways to manage through.

    I call it “Managed Destiny.” Managed Destiny means it’s not about anybody else by my destiny. It’s about me and what I decide I want to do and I need to do in order to reach a certain point of Managed Destiny. It’s my ownership, it’s my responsibility, it’s my accountability. The things that may come against me when I’m trying to reach my destiny better get outta my way, because I am determined to achieve what I set forth to do.

    HS When did you decide that you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

    VDC I’ve been an entrepreneur, well I’ve had the entrepreneurial spirit, since I was a child. Since the age of six years old, man. At the age of six, first grade, I was walking fifth graders and kindergartners to school. As a child I always found ways to get access to business opportunities. Taking my two brothers and putting them in a position where they were the guys out there shoveling the snow, I was the one knocking on the doors asking people if they wanted to have their snow shoveled or their grass cut or their leaves raked. I’ve just always had that kind of adrenaline inside of me, that motivated me to want to be in a leadership role.

    HS Do you think a fund like A Fund For Women would have helped you when you were first starting out?

    VDC I know it is extremely helpful as something to aid and assist women and give them the jumpstart that they need. And when I got started, you’re absolutely right, there was nothing. I literally worked two jobs in order to save and try to garner the initial portion of the investment that I needed to start my company. There were not programs that even had the level of appreciation for women in business that we have today. That’s one of the reasons when I saw the opportunity to come and speak, I wanted to do that. That’s important to me because the ladies in the audience should know this is a huge opportunity for you and will ease your path to starting your business or growing your business or developing your business, one that not everyone had, so take full advantage of it and create success so that other women behind you will be able to continue to take advantage of it.

    HS I’m going to switch a little bit and ask about you being a black woman. You’re on the board of the Packers, you own part of the Bucks. Do you find it challenging for people of color to be on these boards and how did you break through that barrier to get on these boards?

    VDC I was asked to be on the Packers board by their search committee, and that was an honor, for sure, for sure. Hopefully, eventually, there will be an evolution of recognition of the significant contributions that African American women bring to the table. I think that the Packers have recognized that in order for us to be totally inclusive, there are women within our community who can represent the organization well. I’m grateful and humbled that I was asked and selected to do so.

    As relates to the Bucks, that’s a little different. Initially, when the Milwaukee Bucks were for sale, there was a different group that was looking to purchase the Bucks, and that transaction did not work. But I continued to show interest that whoever ultimately made the winning bid for the Bucks, I would like to be a part of that team. I continued to show interest that I wanted to be part of the ownership structure of the Milwaukee Bucks. As things continued to evolved over time, I was given that opportunity.

    Kind of two different roads. One was me being more aggressive and saying, “Hey, I want to be a part of this,” and the other was, “We have recognized what you’ve done and we want you to be a part of us.” When you get to the end result, the end result is they’re both very very positive accomplishments for an African American female, and I’m grateful that God has allowed me to sit in that seat and I understand the responsibility that I have, not just to African American females but to women as a whole.

    HS What advice would you give to women who want to be in the C-Suite like you?

    VDC Let me say it like this. They should prepare themselves for all the things that they cannot even imagine could come against them, and be strong enough to say to themselves, despite what it may look like, despite what it may appear to be, I am prepared for the storm because I know there is a rainbow on the other side. Prepare yourself educationally. Work to understand what the total financial model is and have a key strategy for achieving what you want to do. That would be my global advice. My primary advice to everybody whether they’re male or female is to pray. I am a Christian, a Christian business woman. Make sure that the decisions that you make are aligned with divine destiny for your life. You never want to be outside of your divine place of destiny. I tell people my central, core, greatest accomplishment is that I believe that I can pray and have peace about decisions and have consolation to know that I am moving in a direction that is ultimately going to be divine destiny for me.