Lillian Lincoln Lambert speaks about the power of persistence, resilience, courage and morality in surmounting hurdles that prevent people from reaching their full potential. 

As the first black woman to receive an MBA from Harvard Business School and a barrier-breaking entrepreneur in the mid 1970’s, she draws upon her varied experiences to show people how to use obstacles and barriers as stepping stones to higher levels of achievement and success. She understands the power of storytelling and uses her personal story to inspire audiences to dream big, act bold and pave their own paths. As a member of National Speakers Association, she continues to learn new techniques to inspire her audiences. 

Her memoir, “The Road to Someplace Better: From the Segregated South to Harvard Business School and Beyond” was released by John Wiley & Sons in January 2010. It chronicles her journey as she struggled to find her place in the world, a journey that had many twists, turns and its share of roadblocks. 

Born on a farm in the segregated South, she sensed that a better life awaited her. At the age of 18, she journeyed to New York City and Washington, DC to seek my fortune. After a few years of gutting out menial jobs as a maid and typist, she came to the realization that her journey was internal and that education would be her ticket to a new world. At the age of 22, with loans and scholarships she enrolled in Howard University and obtained a BA degree. In 1969, an era forever linked with the civil rights and burgeoning women’s rights movements, she earned her MBA from Harvard Business School. She did not set out to make history as the first African American woman to receive a Harvard MBA; she simply wanted a better life. 

After Harvard, she founded Centennial One, Inc., a building maintenance company that was started in her garage with a few thousand dollars. For twenty-five years, she was President and CEO until the company was sold. Over those years, Centennial grew to $20 million in sales with more than 1,200 employees.

In 2003, Harvard Business School awarded her the Alumni Achievement Award, the highest award bestowed on its alumni. The award recognizes recipients for “their contributions they made to their companies and communities, while upholding the highest standards and values in everything they do.” 

In March 2010, Enterprise Women Magazine inducted her into their Hall of Fame, the magazine’s highest honor “reserved for women who have devoted a lifetime to building dynamic businesses or vital nonprofit organizations and giving back to the women business owners’ community in significant ways, making a tremendous difference in the lives of others”. 

Some of her clients have included Virginia Commonwealth University, Bennett College, University of Richmond, Greens Farms Academy, Noble and Greenough School, Belmont High School, James River High School, American Business Women’s Association, Mississippi Bar Association, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond and UBS Financial Services.

 She serves on the Board of Visitors at Virginia Commonwealth University and Board of Directors for Harvard Business school African American Alumni Association. 

She is an avid golfer and enjoys traveling, reading and listening to jazz. She is active in her community and sings in her church choir.

To view Lillian’s literary work, visit

© 2010, Ellis J. Still. All rights reserved 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I am the CEO of The Burning Bush Christian Bookstore (TBB), the company that retails books written by this author. Regardless, I only recommend books that I have personally read or reviewed and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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