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I wake up, say my prayers, listen to some motivational words from Pastor Mitchell, Pastor Freeman, Bill Winston, TD Jakes or some other minister. Turn on the news and hear 3 black men arrested in a shooting spree, 2 black men caught robbing a bank, black man leaves his child home alone for 3 days, cops shoot and kill unarmed black man, or armed black men kill police officers, etc. I put my boys on the school bus, kiss my wife and get to work.
Getting to work may involve carrying 4 or 5 suits to a few different job training programs throughout the city. I have founded, That Suits You, which is a nonprofit organization that collects and distributes professional attire to qualified men. The team at TSY does this to try to help change the image of today’s black male. While we have given suits to all races and will continue to do so, I do not believe any image has a worse perception than that of the black man.
The argument can be, well they deserve it or they bring it upon themselves by their actions. There are many occasions when the negative actions of some black men are totally irresponsible and definitely add to the perception. But from what I have witnessed all races have similar isolated incidents all the time. Yeah, but with blacks it is more frequent. That may be true, but if we just go by what we see in the media it would leave individuals to believe that 80-90 percent of black men are criminals, which is not accurate. I really dislike when I hear a black man proudly say, “I am one of the good ones!”, or “We are not all bad” Like there are only a handful of good black men around. But again that goes to that perception. Since starting up That Suits You I have come across plenty of “good” black men. However, that negative perception is very hard to shake. The “general” perception of almost every other race is nowhere near as bad as that of black men.
So as I am carrying these suits to men to help change that perception, I see difference all the time. We have some very wealthy donors, so when I enter their buildings or homes I can see the looks. When I am on the train, and someone decides not to sit next to me, someone holds their bag just as I walk pass them, as I enter a designer store security just decides to walk down my aisle, when I walk into a meeting and they say, “Oh you’re the founder”, when people say “Oh, I know they taking and selling those suits”, when I am the only person of color in an important meeting, and all this happens while I am wearing a nice suit, with a lapel, pocket square, colorful socks and shoes. So I can just imagine how black men are viewed who are not dressed in suits. Now I know simply wearing a suit will not change everything, but it can help men get to a place where they can do more for their family. I always tell people, a suit is not just for work, a suit is for you. You are the CEO of YOU, so always represent yourself the best way you can.
Another big thing also is that this perception is taught to every generation. ..lighter is better, don’t support black businesses, blacks are inferior. These thoughts most times are from other blacks. Yeah black men get it from all sides. The experiences, situations and challenges that black men go through daily from all sides can quite daunting. So it is time we stand up and not wait for the change to happen, but make it happen. Let’s destroy every misperception about black men and what they can do. Lets make a stand in unity and lets do it suited as well.
So through all the misperceptions, and negative images that we see on tv, or on the front of newspapers on news stands, through all the young black men we see sagging, through all the driving while black police stops, racial profiling, through all the jealousy and envy from different races, we can still stand strong and help others to stand with us. Some people say it’s lonely at the top, and I say only because you didn’t help others get there with you.
So after a long day, I go home to my boys and feed them, shower them, pray with them, then put them to sleep and do it all over again.
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USE THAT YOUR GIFT BEFORE LIFE TAKES OVER YOU
Some people may read that title and say, “Gift?”…, “What gift? I don’t have any gift!” Which I think is the biggest misconception around. I believe everyone has a gift to bring to the world. That is right EVERYONE. When I say gift I am saying talent, skill or ability that seemingly comes natural.
Now even though it may seem to come naturally there still is some grooming that is needed to perfect or mature it. Still each of us has something to bring to this world that will not only help change our lives but also has the ability to help change others. We see it all the time from actors, athletes, musicians, etc. Some people explain it as something that they would do for free if they had to because they love so much what they do. Meanwhile some other people are working extremely hard at something that they hate doing for not enough pay. What a tremendous difference in life, doing something that you love and are getting paid handsomely for it vs doing something you hate doing and getting paid poorly for it.
Sadly the latter is far more common in life than the former. Why? One reason is we allow life to dictate to us the direction that we are taking in life. When I say life I am referring to circumstances, routines, and society.
Don’t allow these hindrances to stop us from living the kind of life we want and really deserve. Look inside of yourself for that gift, that talent and don’t quit until you bring it out. Each day do something towards making it a reality. Otherwise you will have a life of frustration and disappointment. People you love will receive your anger and frustration simply because you didn’t tough it out and make that dream and gift a reality, and if you don’t at least you will have Channel 7 on Thursdays at 9pm EST or is it 10pm EST?!?
So often this is the question I get from so many business owners I speak to. They say they expect so much more is from the people that are closer to them. They see strangers or new acquaintances doing so much more to help them build their business than people they have known for years. Though I truly understand the thinking behind this I believe sometimes it is not as accurate as we think. Let me explain….
As a business owner myself I can relate somewhat to these concerns but I cannot agree totally. I have several family members and friends that are EXTREMELY helpful to my business ideas. They go out of their way to assist in different ways and then you have some people that couldn’t care less. I believe it varies depending on the individual. However the frustration from the people I speak to comes from having expectations that to them seem simple. They wonder why is it so hard for a long time family member or friend to simply LIKE a Facebook post, SHARE a Facebook post, RETWEET a tweet. Or come to one event they have, buy their product, or patronize their business.
Some people become really upset and take it very personal when they pour their heart out into a well thought out FB post or tweet and no one shares it or RT’s it, not even their “people”. And then 15 minutes later they see those same friends who didn’t share their post, share a irrelevant post about a WorldStar Hip hop fight, or a video about dogs doing silly tricks. They know you sell shoes but they always buy their shoes from someone else because they FORGOT about you. Lastly they know you just opened a hair salon but they always think of a reason not to go to your shop. To add to this people they have never met are sharing, tweeting, buying and promoting them extremely hard. They post ” Hello” and 5 people they couldn’t pick out of a hat have forwarded it through all of their social media outlets.
I have found out a few reasons why this happens.
1) Sometimes people honestly do not realize how important their support is to you. They don’t realize that their tweets, shares, likes and business is extremely important and EXPECTED by you. As hard as that is to believe it is true. It may take having that conversation and asking them why they don’t support you in those ways. It may be awkward at first but it is better than being secretly upset with people because of their apparent lack of support.
2) Some people feel very selective about their social media and decide I will share only what I decide to and nothing else. If I don’t want to share your information I won’t do it. They feel I am connected to a variety of people and I don’t want to offend anyone or promote in particular business on my pages
3) Some people are not as aware of your post, tweets, business as you think. You would be surprised how many people are not as familiar with what you are up to. That is why it is critical to continually promote your business.
4) Lastly some people really don’t want you to succeed. I put this last because I believe we think this group is larger than it is. While this group does exist I believe it is a small percentage compared to the other groups. They purposely WILL NOT do anything to help you advance. Get over your feelings about them, cease and desist any efforts to convince them. Forget and forgive. Stop spending precious time trying to figure our why they won’t support. Thinking that you went to 3 of their events so they can at least support you once. You always like and share their post so they should at least do the same. Stop it, stop it now and move past that. Also continue to support them regardless if they ever do anything for you.
So despite these 4 groups, I believe if we really think about it, our supporters by far out number our non supporters. Listen, it is a new year, let’s not focus on the non supporters this year but let’s celebrate the people who cheer us on, the people who go above and beyond what we expect. Whether they are DAY 1 people or DAY 4589, It doesn’t really matter, and lets do the same for them. After all remember the golden rule!!!
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So often we start out January 1st filled with so much excitement and enthusiasm. We think about all the plans and goals we have set out for the new year. We say unlike last year we are going to get so many things done. This generally last until March before life hits us. We lose the zeal and get right back into out ‘just like last year’ mode.
One way to avoid this is to maintain daily, weekly and monthly check points to keep us on track. Yes, that means more work but it will help us to materizlize the goals that we are working for. For instance if we want to save a certain amount of money by the end of the year, that starts with our daily, weekly and monthly choices. If we want to lose a certain amount of weight by the end of the year it starts with our daily, weekly and monthly choices. Also, it can’t change just because Mcdonalds brings back the McRibb!!!
So lets go forward to December 31st, 2015:
What weight would you like to be?
Which bills would you like to pay off?
How much money would you like to save?
What goals would you like to accomplish?
Answer these questions and others you can think of that are relevant to you, keep them somewhere that you can see everyday. Read books and watch videos that are in line with these goals and push toward making them a reality. Lastly I know Drake said “No new friends” but I disagree, surround yourself with people who are in agreement with this new direction and remove yourself from those who aren’t. (Tip on out of there).
I will start, some goals of mine are:
Bills to pay off— Loan, Discover bill
Goals—Publish book, Make an additional $50,000, Speak in a minimum 100 engagements this year
Seeing our goals like this everyday will fortify us to push harder and harder to see them come to pass.
No more having plenty of movement but no progress, if you are tired of “FERRIS WHEEL” living then different things have to be done… we want 2015 to be a year of PROGRESS!!!!
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