CEO Loida Lewis Empowers Women In Her New Book, ‘Why Should Guys Have All The Fun?’

CEO Loida Lewis Empowers Women In Her New Book, ‘Why Should Guys Have All The Fun?’

Loida Lewis is a shining example that women can have a strong marriage, a career, and a family.

The mother, businesswoman, and widow of TLC Beatrice International Holdings Inc. CEO Reginald Lewis has released a book Why Should Guys Have All The Fun.

The book chronicles her relationship and marriage to Lewis and becoming the CEO of TLC Beatrice after his death. Ms. Lewis, 80, celebrated her book at a signing in April at a Barnes & Noble in Manhattan.

Loida Lewis sits with the TLC Board of Directors. (Photo courtesy of TLC Beatrice International)

During the signing, the mother of two daughters explained her motivation to write a book.

“I want to tell women, especially like me who are hard-charging and ambitious, that we can do it all, meaning have a husband, have children and a career, but not at the same time,” Lewis tells BLACK ENTERPRISE. “Because when I did it all at the same time my body suffered, so everyone has to make choices in their life and when you get married or whoever it is that is special in your life, you have to talk to each other about values, about savings and about children. Are you going to be strict or are you going to be fair?”

During the event, Lewis’ co-writer Blair Walker, a family friend who also co-wrote Reginald Lewis’ book, Why Should White Guys Have All The Fun, says Why Should Guys Have All The Fun is about more than just helping women, but people of color in general.

“Being married to a Black man, she saw him struggle with things like access to capital and so she wanted to help not just women, but people of color and Asian Americans,” Wilson says. “She wanted us to be in a position where we would call the shots, where we are starting to impact more businesses and drive the narrative instead of sitting back and sort of passively letting things happen to us. So she’s all about hard work. She’s about having a plan, she’s about being principled, she’s one of those odd people that you need that’s always doing the right thing.”

The event also featured some lighter moments including Loida Lewis describing the first time the pair discussed marriage.

“So we were in the subway and when there weren’t a lot of people around I said, “Darling do you want a big wedding or a small wedding?’ and he replied, ‘A small wedding,'” Lewis recalls. “Then I asked where do you want it and he said there’s a small chapel at NYU and suddenly he realized what he was saying, so I kissed him,” said Lewis  “So, in short, I proposed to him.”

LoIDA Lewis, Reginald lewis, Beatrice, CEO
Loida Lewis and her co-writer Blair Walker sign copies of Why Should Guys Have All The Fun during an April book signing at Barnes and Noble in Manhattan. (Photo courtesy of Marilyn Crawford)

Reginald Lewis, a Harvard-trained lawyer and entrepreneur, was the first Black American to build a billion-dollar company with TLC Beatrice. The Baltimore native launched his investment firm, the TLC Group, which in 1987 purchased Beatrice International Foods Cos., a manufacturer of processed meats, dairy products, and beverages. When Lewis purchased the company it contained 64 food-processing and distribution companies in 31 countries.

Despite a few failures along the way, by 1992 Lewis showed the corporate world an African American CEO  could run an organization focused on boosting shareholder value. However, in 1992, the businessman was diagnosed with brain cancer and the Black business titan died in January 1993.

Lewis initially put his brother Jean Fugett Jr. in charge of the business, but a year later the company announced Ms. Lewis would take over the business. In the first two years of running TLC Beatrice, the company made more than $3 billion in net sales and in 1995 she was recognized by Working Woman Magazine as the businesswoman of the year.

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