Branding and marketing guru Erin Patton is scheduled to share his strategies and techniques during the YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh’s Microenterprise Symposium, Feb. 20. Aiming to provide practical information that entrepreneurs can implement in a down economy, Alice Williams, business support specialist for the YW Enterprising Women Program, a part of the Asset Development Initiative of the YWCA Greater Pittsburgh, says the symposium is designed to empower women, which is the mission of the YWCA.

SHARING KNOWLEDGE— Ruth Byrd-Smith from the Allegheny County Department of M/W/D/B/E is set to serve as kickoff speaker for the Feb. 20 Microenterprise Symposium.

The Microenterprise Symposium, carrying the theme “Micro 2 Millions” will take place from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. at Carnegie Mellon University at the Tepper School of Business, 5000 Forbes Ave.

Ruth Byrd-Smith, the director of the Allegheny County Department of Minority, Women and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, will provide the opening keynote address. Numerous workshops covering technology, marketing, regulations and finance will take place throughout the day and include “Building a Billion Dollar Brand,” “Responsible and Responsive State Bidding,” “Protecting your Business Structure,” “Guerrilla Marketing,” “Business Blogging,” “10 Businesses to Start in a Down Economy” and “Freelancing for Profit.” A panel of Million Dollar Women Business owners will be moderated by Rosemary Martinelli of WQED.

Williams says the symposium is designed to provide a way for small business owners and budding entrepreneurs to meet and explore strategies for providing support and mentoring opportunities. “I encourage small business owners, or those interested in starting or growing a business to attend,” she said. She also pointed out that the event will provide a venue for participants of the Enterprising Women program to showcase their wares and businesses.

The Enterprising Women program is a comprehensive training program for low- and moderate-income women seeking to develop a microenterprise.

Excited to have Patton of the award-winning brand management consulting firm, The Mastermind Group, participate in the symposium, Williams says he is considered one of the nation’s leading authorities on branding, hip-hop culture and youth marketing. His experience includes counseling Fortune 500 brands Motorola, AT&T, Exxon-Mobil, Adidas, Converse, Mercedes-Benz, Ford Motor Co., Coors Light, Absolut and Macy’s in addition to sports icons LeBron James and Venus and Serena Williams. While working with Nike he is said to have been handpicked by Michael Jordan as the original architect for the Jordan brand.

Established in 2002 after 15 years of agency and brand management experience, Patton’s firm, with the name originating from the Napoleon Hill classic, “Think and Grow Rich,” is considered a marketing intelligence and brand management consulting firm. The Mastermind Group also offers ancillary services such as creative development, public relations, event marketing, media relations, media strategy, crisis communications, celebrity brand management and proprietary market research.

The philosophy of TMG is to deliver a market-based, holistic approach to brand management from the outside in, not the inside out. “We live and breathe alongside the consumer and are immersed in the urban consumer laboratory, so we instinctively understand their attitudes, behaviors and preferences,” he said.

A graduate of Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., Patton earned his MBA from the SMU Cox School of Business in Dallas. He serves on the faculty of the SMU Cox School of Business and Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education as an Adjunct Lecturer. In 2009 he released his first book, “Under The Influence: Tracing the Hip-Hop Generation’s Impact on Brands, Sports & Pop Culture.”

“This, our second annual symposium will provide participants the opportunity to learn from high performing professionals, the best of the best in their industries,” said Williams. “The event will provide information for women to begin to not just think outside of their little business box of survival but learn techniques to financially sustain themselves and their families. Our goal is to get women to start thinking from micro to millions.”

Other sponsors for the symposium include Students in Free Enterprise/Carnegie Mellon University; Allegheny County; the City of Pittsburgh; the Small Business Administration; The Soul, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, and the National Organization of Women Business Owners.

(For more information, call 412-255-6743 or e-mail

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