Ann McNeil is a master builder. She is not only the first Black female general contractor in Florida and visionary behind the National Association of Black Women in Construction but also building great minds and helping people to be successful in business through her Mastermind program. Ann is the President of MCO Construction and Services Inc., MCO Consulting, Inc., Constructively Speaking, Inc., on the Board of Directors for Better Investing, and Founder of the National Association of Black Women in Construction (NABWIC).
Ann McNeil is a business and life success strategist, speaker, and author. Her innovation of the Think and Grow Rich philosophy, The McNeill Factor, has allowed her to help hundreds of entrepreneurs and business professionals to thrive, feel more effective, and improve their bottom line while simultaneously achieving more work-life balance.
She was honored in AT&Ts 2010 Miami-Dade County’s African American History Calendar for September as an outstanding African American Achiever. Ann McNeil was the US Department of Commerce’s Contractor of the Year Recipient and has a list of other exceptional achievements. A couple of years back, she received the prestigious Women Who Moved the Nation Award.
Early Life and Career of Ann McNeil
Talking about her early life and her journey as an entrepreneur, Ann says it all began at a very young age. “My mother was a minister in the church, and my father was a business person. So, I was raised amidst faith, work ethics, and entrepreneurship. All these are ingrained in me,” Ann McNeil told WomELLE in an interview.
Ann’s life took a dramatic turn on the evening of December 31, 1979, when she was reading a book while her husband was away with his friends to celebrate New Year. “I was at the crossroads then – lots of debts broke and broken.” But the book changed her perspective on life. It provided her with six steps, which she calls six keys, to change her life for the better. The ‘six keys’ in the book were ‘how much money you need’; ‘when do you need the money; ‘what will you do with the money; ‘do you have a plan’; ‘affirm your plan’; and ‘work to realize the affirmation.’
These ‘keys’ changed Ann’s life forever. She started working on a plan and affirmed it every day. It motivated her to look at life differently. Today, 34 years later, Ann is perhaps the only Black in the transport and construction business in the United States to undertake billion-dollar projects and set her eyes on trillion-dollar infrastructure projects. Indeed, an inspiration for all women, especially Black women, anywhere in the world!
Secret of Success
According to Ann, to be successful in life, you need to have a burning desire and work to realize the desire every day. Success also depends on creativity, determination, and faith. Everyone has ideas, but very few try to realize their ideas. “We all have ideas, million-dollar ideas, but what do we do with them?” asks Ann. She suggests that you should jot down your ideas and review them regularly. She adds that having the right mindset to affirm ideas and creativity are tools to realize the ideas.
When asked how she managed to get deals worth billions of dollars, just because someone is small does not mean they should also think small, says Ann. Every billion-dollar project comprises numerous small programs. Initially, she thought of this and formed partnerships with other contractors like her to take up the small programs and add value to the billion-dollar projects. Gradually, their partnerships grew bigger, and so did the projects. Now Ann is aiming at the trillion-dollar infrastructure project.
Strategy plays a significant role in one’s success – whether it is in life or business. Once an individual has set his goals, he/she should have the plans that are required for achieving the goals. “One of the principles I live by every day is accountability. Do you have accountability? It doesn’t matter if you call it a board of directors for your business and your life, or if you call it a Mastermind group or whatever kind of accountability group that will hold you accountable for the achievement of those goals.”
Replying to a question on Constructively Speaking Inc., Ann said that she formed the International Mastermind Association in the early 1980s, CEO Constructions in the mid-1980s and later, CEO Consulting, and the non-profit organization BetterInvesting to help people improve their quality of life. At Mastermind Association, every individual is compared to a corporate.
Mastermind focuses on ten different areas of the members’ life – spiritual, family, financial, health, education, personal growth and development, business, profession or career, recreation, creativity, and civic and sets goals for a specific period. “Every January, we host an annual meeting for Mastermind Alliance member’s life. We ask people to bring their family, the entire family, and bring their life in writing. And it has just been a phenomenal experience and those other areas on my coaching that we focus on,” Ann told WomELLE.
The age of the members of Mastermind Alliance ranges from 5 years to people in their late 80s. Involving children and youth in the program is a way to ensure that the future of the next generation is also ensured, says Ann. “Children also learn the six keys and are trained in the same manner as the adults,” she says.
According to Ann, everyone is learning, including her. “I learned the hard way,” she says. People connect with others depending on how they know them. Ann says that people knew her as a contractor and a construction businesswoman, but few were aware that she was also a professional author, speaker, and coach. She had to endeavor to make people aware of these aspects of her.
Awards & Recognitions achieved by Ann McNeil
Ann has received numerous awards and recognitions for her business achievements and for inspiring other people to be successful in life. “I feel honored to be awarded and the recognition I received,” she says. The Women Who Moved the Nation award she received from the federal government a few years back has a special place in Ann’s heart. “I am thankful to everyone for selecting me among so many submissions,” she says.
Advice to Young Entrepreneurs
Ann’s advice to young entrepreneurs is that they must have a dream or something that they desire to become. “Once they have a dream, they can gain from various resources, the basic book being the Bible. They will make your journey easier,” she suggests.
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