Being one of the first people in any field is harrowing, let alone the only person. It’s not a surprise, then, there’s Kiko Davis, the only Black woman in the country to own her own bank. Rolling Out recently sat down with her to talk about how she managed to break into such a rare position.
Kiko Davis is the trustee of the Donald Davis Living Trust, the majority stockholder of First Independence Bank, the 10th largest African-American owned bank in the United States, as well as founder and president of the Don Davis Legacy Foundation, established in 2016 to perpetuate the legacy building efforts and initiatives envisioned and developed by her late husband, Donald Davis. But how does courage factor into all this? She gives her explanation:
“Courage is my superpower. I have the ability to take fear and use it as a tool to conquer adversity and challenges, no matter how insurmountable they may seem. The more substantial the obstacle, the stronger I become.” With hardship, though, comes unique benefits, and Davis says being a Black woman has informed her experience at First Independence Bank in unique ways. “The ability to genuinely connect with people and inspire a culture of synergy. It’s a God given talent that comes naturally. People tend to lend the very best of themselves when they feel leaders are passionate about them and their environment.”
Like many other successes, Davis learns from and models herself after great success stories of the past. For her, one such figure is Shirley Chisholm. “She was the first Black congresswoman and the first major party Black candidate to run for president in 1972. I want to thank her for being fearless. She faced intense racism, bigotry, misogyny and even several assassination attempts, all for the platform of equality, education and justice. One of my favorite quotes by Chisolm is, “In the end, anti-Black, anti-female, and all forms of discrimination are equivalent to the same thing: anti-humanism,” she says.
In time, she hopes to mentor other Black women to get similar results. “I believe in the old adage: “To whom much is given, much is required.” I believe giving back is the rent you pay for occupying a seat at the table of success. Just like an apartment, if you don’t pay your rent, you can be evicted. More than being the right thing to do, it empowers you. Helping others reach their full potential adds more to your life than anyone could ever take away. Everyone needs a good mentor or teacher to guide them on their journey to greatness. Plus, it just down-right feels good,” she explains.
What are the three most important factors of being a successful woman?
Having a relationship with God. Not being afraid of failure. Surrounding yourself with like-minded, successful women and mentors (male/female).
Who or what motivates you and why?
Without a doubt, my children motivate me and they both are my source of inspiration. I believe that at this stage, I am their role model, so I feel that it is my responsibility to model excellence for them. Children are always watching and I always want to do right by them. I feel that I owe it to them to be the best version of myself – and I would like for them to do the same as they grow older.
How did you determine your career path?
I always knew that I would be working in multiple capacities because I hold many interests. But I feel like the path that I am on right now chose me — I am blessed to have so many opportunities that have arisen.
What inspires you to show up at work every day?
I truly believe that living in the purpose that God has for you helps to continuously inspire you and motivates you to show up at work each day. That’s what he has done for me.
Describe goal setting methods you use and how you evaluate your success.
In terms of goal setting, I usually write them down in my journal and give each goal I set a specific timeframe to complete it. After I reach those dates/timeframes, I assess which goals I need to refocus on in order to improve and get back on track. So my methods are simple: I write them down, provide a specific timeframe to achieve them, and then I do a reassessment to learn more about where the strengths and weaknesses lie within these goals I’ve set. I’m all about constantly improving oneself.
Describe the future skill sets that are essential to business leaders and innovators?
You must be driven, passionate and willing to take risks.
Describe why lifelong learning is important to you.
Lifelong learning is so important to me because you can never have enough knowledge. I believe as long as you are here on this earth, you are a student. I embrace that wholeheartedly — being open to learning more and being open to discovering new things.
If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
I would like to see the world have more love and kindness towards one another.