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 • Business  • Leadership, legacy & luxury

Leadership, legacy & luxury

Floyd E. Miller II strode into the sixteenth floor office suite with a confident elegance, a firm handshake, a well-tailored black vest and slacks, and an open posture. Miller stands as CEO of a powerhouse non-profit organization, possessing the focus to not only support others, but to stay ahead of the curve. Since his arrival at the Metropolitan Business League in 2017, Miller has turned a 150-business non-profit with a budget of $250,000 into an organization with a projected thousand-member roster and $1.5 million budget. Curious to know more, I visited Miller’s downtown RVA office to ask him about how he did it, what motivates him, and how he dresses so well while doing it all.

MA: What does the Metropolitan Business League do in a nutshell?

FM: The MBL is all about creating environments for SWaM (small, women and minority owned) businesses to interact with corporate members as well as [with] each other to help sustain and grow their businesses. Our mission is to promote economic prosperity in Virginia through education, advocacy, access to resources, and building relationships. Our vision really is to create a more equitable, inclusive, and prosperous society by empowering SWaM businesses. 

The MBL was originally founded by four Richmond business owners during the mid-1960s: Childs, Flowers, Eggleston, and Motley. In the thick of the civil rights crisis, black and brown businesses were barred from local commerce organizations. These gentlemen, however, foresaw a future of equal opportunity and diverse business owners lifting each other up. Since its creation, the MBL has grown and evolved while staying true to its roots.

MA: The MBL has been around now for over fifty years—what from the past half century are you going to carry into the next? How do you stay true to your roots as you move forward?

FM: I think that it’s important to realize that fifty years ago women-owned businesses and minority-owned businesses were struggling. And now, it’s really no different. There are still struggles, and it’s still harder for small businesses. [We need to keep] that mindset that we are relevant, and we need to be supportive. We do that by continuing to provide good programs and resources and being innovative and proactive versus reactive. 

Miller credits a visionary mindset with an emphasis on innovation for the MBL’s success over the last five years. Building his diversified nineteen-member board, his goal was to provide more benefits to more people and thereby help to create generational wealth. By scaling well and distributing resources right when they’re needed, the League has been able to stretch its capacity, staying ahead of its members’ needs in times of economic stress. During the pandemic, the MBL launched one of its largest funding programs to date: the Capital Access Program. The League gave $850,000 to businesses in need of support when COVID hit Richmond, helping to keep local minority-owned businesses afloat when so many were shuttering their doors.

MA: What’s been your biggest “win” moment so far in leading the MBL?

FM: Definitely creating the Capital Access Program. We’re reaching a point now where we’re projected to give out over a million dollars in grants and micro-loans. Knowing that those funds have been able to help businesses stay open and continue to operate, to me, that’s been my biggest win for the organization. It’s unheard of that non-profit organizations give back money to their members and to business owners. And secondly—I think it’s kind of a tie—I love the Youth Entrepreneurship Program. It’s a partnership with Richmond Public Schools as well as Petersburg Public Schools, and it is a twelve-month comprehensive program that is geared toward working with individuals in the school system. 

After learning of Miller’s background in business, public service, and leadership, I had to wonder how he manages to still appear so polished while pursuing the goals he has for Richmond’s community. As the conversation shifted into his style philosophy, I could still see the focused attention he pays to his organization as it was directed toward his outward image.

MA: How we dress and present ourselves makes a big difference—how would you describe your sense of style?

FM: I would say eclectic, tailored, and maybe a hint of international. I don’t like wearing the same things that other people wear. I tend to like to be different. I like vests and blazers; I like slim cut attire. I don’t wear a lot of different colors—black is my favorite color. It makes me look better, so I struggle with wearing black all the time, or blue.

MA: What kind of role does your style play at work and in your personal life?

FM: I always try to be professional. My work style and my personal style are very similar. It’s always something tailored, a blazer. Even if I don’t wear a dress shirt and a tie, I’m still able to come to work and be professional and have on a blazer with maybe a nice pair of tailored slacks. And if I dress down a day and maybe have sneakers on, it’s still a professional look. Depending on my day-to-day routine, if I’m meeting with a corporate member, I will not be as informal.

MA: When you’re in business settings or a meeting with a corporate member, how do you dress to communicate? What are your goals in presenting yourself with a particular appearance?

FM: If I am looking for funding or developing a corporate relationship, I’m always respectful to wear a tie, because I believe it’s important to give them that respect. I’m pretty much formal in the sense of a suit and tie. I will say, I don’t buy a lot of clothes. I’m not one that just shops and shops and shops, but I’ve always taken pride in the way I look and present to others.

MA: If a young professional were to come to you as a businessperson or possible mentoring candidate and say, “tell me how to look as good as you do,” what advice would you give?

FM: Always try to get a tailored suit. Alterations need to be done. [Get] tapered suits, tapered blazers, tailored clothes to really match your body type. Buying off the rack is okay, but if you do that, make sure you go and get it altered. It’s worth the extra money.

MA: Aside from basic outfit components such as shirt, pants, and shoes, what accessory or other garment would you not be able to leave behind if you had to give up everything else?

FM: I’m not a big accessory person. I typically don’t wear watches, but my class ring is something [that’s] given me this sense of confidence when I meet with people professionally. It was always something about being able to finish college and have a class ring, you know. My mom bought this for me, so it’s kind of twofold. It gives me a little confidence, but also good memories of my mother. This is my VCU class ring, and college was tough. It’s symbolic of hard work, and I like the way it looks because it’s gold and black, and I love black. So, it goes with everything.

By the end of this interview, I was floored by just how driven, sharp, and humble Miller was. It is a rare thing to find both polished style and servant-leadership in one individual, and equally rare to see a nonprofit growing so rapidly in the community. 

For more information on the Metropolitan Business League, visit 

TheMBL.org

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