February is Black History Month. While The Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce celebrates all our members throughout the year, this month we are shinning a spotlight on our members within the African American community. Join us all month long for our 2nd annual spotlight series. This special feature helps our communities learn a little more about some of their business leaders who work so hard to make it a community to be proud of.
Today, we would like you to get to know Shaun Taylor of Black Viking Brewing.
Shaun is the Co-Founder and Chief Visionary Officer for Black Viking Brewing. He and his partner Jamil Abdur-Raoof launched their craft beer brewing company in October 2021. As the first black owned brewing company in Montgomery County, they share one mission, to create a diverse community of beer drinkers where EVERYONE is welcome, and where the warrior spirit is celebrated one brew at a time.
12 Tenets of the Black Viking:
We asked Shaun three important questions. Read his responses below.
Q1. What are some challenges you faced early on that helped prepare you for the role you are in today and how did you overcome them?
I was adopted and raised by a single, tough-loving mother, Ms. Ronnya Taylor. When I was three years old, my mother was struck and nearly killed by a drunk driver. She flat lined numerous times on the operating table, but with God's grace she pulled through. The doctors said my mother would never walk or talk again. The doctors didn't know Ronnya Taylor. After months of grueling physical therapy and rehab sessions, my mother regained all her neurological functions and albeit with some assistance, she learned how to walk again. And she didn't let her physical limitations slow her down. My mother was at every one of my basketball games, parent teacher conferences and oral presentations at church. She even drove me to the basketball court almost daily and coached me from the car for hours on how to improve my jump shot, which ultimately led to me earning a full basketball scholarship at just 16 years old. Sadly, my mother is longer with us, but it is her real-life example and indomitable spirit that informs how I confront and overcome challenges as a man and as a business owner.
Q2. Who/What is your biggest inspiration in both your personal and professional life?
My biggest inspiration in both my personal and professional life is my family. As a child, I was raised in a loving household with my mother and my grandparents. As a man, I have been blessed to co-create a loving household with my amazing wife, three amazing children and an ever-hungry beagle, aptly named Twix. I also have a tight-knit group of lifelong friends who I consider family as well. All the business success and personal achievements in the world don't mean a thing if I don't have my family and loved ones to share them with!
Q3. What is your biggest piece of advice to businesses struggling with diversity and inclusivity in the workplace?
The biggest piece of advice I would give to businesses struggling with diversity and inclusivity in the workplace is to smart small first. You don't need to perform a grand gesture or take six months putting together a working group to study the problem. Go grab a meal at a different restaurant in a different part of town. Strike up a conversation with your neighbor you've never spoken to before. Read a book from a genre you wouldn't typically choose. Then, you can move onto strategizing and executing on actionable items within your organization. In the great United States--and specifically in "The DMV"--diversity is one of our biggest strengths. The amount of creativity lived experiences and culture coursing through the veins of our fellow countrywomen and countrymen is an abundant natural resource. As business owners, it is in our best interest to engage with and work with folks from diverse backgrounds. This active inclusivity broadens our perspectives, which ultimately increases our ability to successfully grow our businesses.
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