Special/Signature Issues » Belle

Personalities: Degrees of Ambition

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Richmonder Lillian Lambert graduated from Harvard Business School in 1969, the first African-American woman to do so. Although she finds that achievement personally rewarding, she sees the event in a much larger context, she says: "My being there was somewhat instrumental in the school taking action on better diversification of its student body."

After 35 years of entrepreneurial success and raising five children, Lambert is turning to a new endeavor: writing. She hopes to have her memoir accepted by a publisher soon, allowing her to move forward with what she calls a "hybrid book" -- part autobiography, part business motivation and part life advice.

One of the principles that's helped her along the way, she says: "If you want something badly enough, you'll find a way to get it."

She's been busy sharing her advice, speaking in June to the Richmond Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners. And earlier this year, Lambert received an award that entails a trip to South Africa to visit a winery owned by a later female graduate of Harvard Business. While there Lambert will speak to black wine vendors on the importance of alliances.

"It is more beneficial to collaborate than be competitive," Lambert says. There are "ways to work together even for competing businesses that will in turn spell success for each individual business owner."

An agent with Keller Williams, Lambert sells real estate to first-time homebuyers and finds time for relaxation, too. Once skeptical about golf, she now finds it a challenge in which patience and resiliency reign, a challenge she recognizes as a lot like life.

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