Category Archives: Personal

Happy Birthday Tommy!!!

Just dropping a note to wish you a Happy Birthday big bro!   Though you are greatly missed (your friends, family, and acquaintances continually praise your personality, intelligence, and spirit) you are living through your daughters Kenedi and Triniti. I’ve had the pleasure to interact w/ your oldest this year and I see so much of you in her.

I don’t want this to go long, just want to say I love you, I miss you, and you are forever in my heart. 

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Don’t know what the DBCC is or why it’s important?   Attend our Open House August 16!


From 2013-2015, I served as Chair of the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce. Though most of my friends congratulated me, they did not know what the organization does, or its relevance.  I don’t blame them, either. In fact, if you are not in business for yourself, there is no direct benefit to you. Even people who are entrepreneurs, or who work in a large corporations, don’t see a need for this organization.  So when people approach me always asking, “what do you do there?” I used to get offended, but now totally empathize and understand. 

Honestly, it’s very hard to comprehend our purpose in the business world. The world has gotten smaller with the Internet and e-business, opportunities to communicate amongst employers and contractors have improved, and typically, chambers of commerce are becoming an endangered species. So asking for our relevance is justifyable. 

We are definitely needed however. The lack of economic ecosystems in African-American communities drive the need for Black Chambers to exist and thrive!  That’s I want you to check our website at http://www.dbcc.org. That’s why I want to attend our open house on August 16th!  That’s why I want you to be an advocate to build businesses that stimulates their neighborhood economy. 

Doing this will take us one step closer to improving our society…

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Top 5 things ordinary people can do to make a GREAT impact…

I heard from a person last week that the difference between extraordinary and and ordinary (or just regular) is the “extra”…   It’s not much; there’s no quantum jump of intelligence or an abundance of resources needed, it’s just a little extra effort.

So I just want to state my opinion of the 5 things needed to make GREAT impact.
1. Know Yourself

2. Have a Plan

3. Educate Yourself on the topic

4. Surround Yourself with people that reinenforces your plan

5. Share your plan/vision with others

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A fresh start…

Today is August 1, and it falls on a Monday.  I’ve acquired so much baggage/weight from last few months; from hearing about yet another black man dying unjustly, to a police officer shootings in my city, to political conventions that are misleading citizens on how to think/react to one another. I’ve also made mistakes.   I’ve lacked effective assessments, misjudged people, and didn’t optimize a lot of opportunities because of frustration,overwhelment, fatigue. I feel heavy. 

But today is Monday, the first of the month, and it’s a great time to reflect and remember past events/thoughts/feelings so you can use them to better your decision-making today, forming a better future for all. 

Let us all take advantage of starting the month on a Monday to be the best people we can be. 

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We’ve lost A Legend…

The great Muhammad Ali passed away. Many people viewed him as one of the greatest fighters in the ring, but I see him as the greatest individuals who of impacted a social justice movement.  Ali was the apitome of courage, strength, and love for his people.  He was the voice of a people, the man amongst men, the guy who not only talked, but walked the walk. 

I did not agree with everything he believed in, but without him, I will not be able to voice my opinion on anything in America. He was a great example of a black man expressing his viewpoint, speaking his truth, and influencing people of all races to come together as one.

His physical prowess show us his God-given superiority, his wit impressed us as he illuminated his intellect, and his devotion to his religion showed us the power of walking by faith.  Every human being could take one aspect of his life to improve their own.

Mr. Clay, thank you for being one of my father’s favorite athlete, thank you for showing me not to give up as you face a battle physically throughout your adult life, and thank you for being an influence on American Culture; not just for the brothas and sistas, but to everyone, proving to them we are not just equal, but superior. 

You will be missed, but your impact will carry on forever. 

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Women ROCK! Seriously… Y’all Do!

Though March 8th is touted as International Women’s Day, I want to make it clear that I won’t use this day only to celebrate women, or verbally praise or acknowledge, or even go above and beyond my education to “learn” of the contributions women have done in my culture, society, or the world.  I will not trivialize this day like many do Black History Month (yes, I took a jab at all of the ignorant people who don’t care about black people outside of February…), because I somewhat understand the importance of this day; it’s not to force-feed people into feminism, nor is it a mandate that today people have to consider everything woman says is true out of guilt from the past transgressions men (and other women) have put on talented women who approached a glass ceiling, preventing them to achieve their personal, professional, or aspirational goals.  No, that’s not the reason of the declaration of International Women’s Day.

We acknowledge International Women’s Day because you ROCK, and having a designated day to reflect on how women impact our lives provides food for the soul (pun was intended) as we (myself included) in all of daily lives can improve how we interact, consider, or treat women throughout the rest of the year.  That’s the spirit of this day (similar to Black History Month, or Small Business Week that was last week, or National Hispanic Heritage Month that we will celebrate in the fall).  It’s a day to say “thank you” and ensure we remain conscious, as human beings, that we shall move forward, and not fall backward…

There were (and are) numerous women who’ve impacted my life…  First, my mother, who without her I will not exist, is a remarkably strong women with a kind heart; the real backbone of the Houston family.  My sister, Natalie, whose spirit, strength, and intellect is so contagious that I can’t help but smile and do the right thing because she laid the appropriate blueprint for success out.  My girlfriend, who is so smart and cares for her students so much, that she will directly be the cause of a better society, not only through her work, but her influence in college students.  I’ve grown up with friends, peers, and mentors who have motivated me to be a man; physically so I can protect them, intellectually, so I can teach them (I KNOW they don’t want to hear that, lol) , and spiritually, so I can lead them, and vice versa.

Without saying too much more, and for me to spread out this appreciation throughout days outside of March 8th, I just want to say “Thank You” to all the women in my life (and abroad) for your presence, your contributions, and being awesome teammates.  You all ROCK!

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BLACK is a dirty word?????

So today is March 2nd.  And I’m about to write about Black Culture.  Yes, I know I’m a month late (or am I????) and I’ve had an itch to write on this topic for the last 30 days, but my reasonings to write evolved continuously as I was more of an observer/witness of people throughout the month of February; how the political environment has unfolded this season (both locally and nationally), how my black friends continue to be frustrated as we are experiencing history repeat itself as people marginalize our contributions until it’s convenient (I’m typing this at a coffee house and hear nothing but pop songs that were either performed or written by African Americans, after Black History Month-that says something) but then totally exploit what we do through mass media outlets (mostly our negative attributes) to reinforce the mindsets that blacks are buffoons and should be confined to the realms of entertainment, athletics, or pleasures, except of course for an exceptional few that escaped and “gets ‘American’ culture”…

I also witness how my non-black friends are either VERY CONFUSED why we even celebrate Black History Month; they get defensive because their culture don’t receive the same amount of “exposure” or judge blacks for not conforming to the system and just accept “the American Way”…”Matt, how would you feel if we had ‘White History’ month?”  Ahhh… You do…  “So why don’t they celebrate other cultures like the Asians or Hispanics?”  Ahhhh… They do  :-(… It’s so draining to hear every person outside of my culture (and some idiots who are black) question EVERYTHING we do.

Conversely, other non-blacks, who are empathetic of our struggle, gets railroaded by both sides, being shunned out of white or “mainstream” culture for venturing out too far from home base and being in the vicinity of the “leopards”, but then being the beneficiary of a vicious lashing out blacks would dish out on them out of frustration from our situations, either placed via a system or themselves….  Frustrating and confusing them why they are evening trying to enlighten either themselves or others.

I can write a book about this (in fact, there are several books we ALL can read, starting with the Mis-Education of the Negro- so if you want to blame someone for Black History Month, go to the source and see his rationale and then talk to me… and understand it’s not about it being the shortest day of the month…) but I only want to make one observation hit me like a ton of bricks this year:  People are genuinely scared of the mere word “Black”.  That’s it.  That simple.  Before we can even go deeper of the human aspect or socio-economic factors, or phycological effects of slavery, Jim Crow, drugs, and the exploitation of blacks, people are automatically turned off by the word…. Black…. The tint (not a color, btw)….. Black.  This 5-letter B-word alone derails any communication…People literally shut down when the word “BLACK” is articulated in the conversation.  Seriously, the word Black…. wow, my mind is still blown even as I type.

This may seem a bit too much, or even overkill, but the fact that rational people, who are either educated or experienced in life and who have made serious and complicated decisions can be distracted by tint or color is very discouraging for progress and growth:  don’t be afraid of the word BLACK.  I do understand the denotations and connotations that Black relates to darkness, and evil in certain senses, but remember that being in the black also means that your business is surviving.  When dealing with people, black is ONLY a descriptor of either a race or culture, nothing more, nothing less.  How you think about a black person is up to you…  Don’t make an excuse to call us evil because of our skin (this isn’t pre-industrial, racist America).

I’m starting to get on my soap box (which it is not my intention for this post).  I’m passionate about this because if we stop communication and discussion based on a word doesn’t tackle the true issue, then progress is futile.  I want people to continue to build relationships with all people of colors, not try to ignore colors and assume we are a monolith…   that’s easy out and frankly, a cheap way to communicate.  Let’s learn that in the case of skin pigmentation, black doesn’t mean evil, just as white doesn’t mean pure.   GET BEYOND THE WORD BLACK.  Instead, understand there are different positive attributes of that color, then understand that I can at least entertain building a relationship with someone, despite their color. We are all people, and our culture/race can be learned at any time…  not just February for me.

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Support National Lemonade Day!

I am an entrepreneur.  I absolutely LOVE IT.  Most people think that people who “run their own business”  are ones who refuse to have bosses, or they want to create their own schedule, or even worse, can’t work with anyone else in a corporate setting or organization.  Those are SO FAR FROM THE TRUTH!  In fact, successful entrepreneurs often need high level of organization, customer service, and product satisfaction to be successful, and a great way to learn these things is the participate in Lemonade Day May 7th!

I was introduced to business ownership through my family; both my paternal and maternal grandparents had businesses that supported their families  and served their communities.  My mother’s father owned the country grocery store while my dad’s grandfather ran the town’s pool hall and convenience store.  Though these aren’t the “sexy” jobs that we see popularized by television or business school case studies, these businesses provided foundation on a quality of life that allowed my parents to not only survive, but to gain a quality education and meet/network with people from all over the region.  Being owner of businesses like these also afforded opportunities to stay engaged civically, politically, and allowed those owners to have the flexibility to contribute to society, even during work hours.  As I grew up I gravitated toward this life style as I see the importance of not only “getting a paycheck” but having the flexibility to contribute to society through volunteerism and outreach.

One example of a great outreach is Lemonade Day (www.lemonadeday.org); this day allows adults to educate all types of children the essentials in earning a profit by selling a product everyone loves and can’t get enough of; Delicious Lemonade!  Participating in this day not only allows you to create this great product, but gives people a chance to build relationships with our future; informing our youth of the importance of their schoolwork and how that relates to “the real world”.  You build a rapport with kids who thirst for your attention, as they will soak up every bit of information you give them.  It’s vital for the future health of our economy and culture.

So how do I sign up?:

  1. Go online to dallas.lemonadeday.org and register for the FREE materials
  2. Work through the program-learn to set goals and plan your business
  3. Open your business (or help someone) on Lemonade Day, May 7th ,2016
  4. If you have any other questions, please contact Tiffany Rubi, the City Director, at tiffany@lemonadeday.org

There are a plethora of ways you can give back to enhance this day.  Select how you desire to contribute and help a life.  Trust me, as a product of a group of people that supported me as a youth, they’ll never forget it!

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Love is MUCH Deeper than this Day…

Before I get started, I DO want to wish a Happy Valentine’s Day to each and every one of you!   This is not a pagan holiday bashing, as I’ve participated in these festivities in various ways (texts, calls, cards, flowers). I believe there needs to be a day to observe and recognize love.  Unfortunately, similar to Black History Month, some people only want to exercise acts of love on this day ONLY and not use this symbolic gesture to perpetuate this thought/feeling/recognition throughout the year, or even worse, use this symbolic act to protest love and not recognize any aspect of this day, its importance, or how observing this holiday can positively impact society as a whole (now thats going into my beef with the naysayers of Black History Month).

  

Getting back on topic, on Friday, I participated in “Love Unscripted”, hosted by Dr. Sheron Patterson (www.drsheron.com) where 4 men gave our perspective of what love is, and how women can “find” love in a healthy way. Though none of us are love doctors (ESPECIALLY ME), there were some good takeaways and upon further reflection/interaction w/ family and loved ones on Saturday, felt the need to write on this day three things we should strive for:

  1. Communication
  2. Empathy
  3. Trust

If these things are realized in a relationship, I feel we can not only have healthy relationships, but can push the needle to improve society as a whole. I’ll write more about those things later, as I want to spend time practicing these things on this day. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Adding Millennials To Your Team Can Innovate Your Organization

For over 10 years, I have been involved in numerous organizations; including student activities, a fraternity life, young professional groups, established institutions, organizations that serve my community, national organizations, start-up companies, and start-up nonprofits. I’ve even been head of a 90-year old established organization (www.dallasblackchamber.org).  I have peers who are younger, my same page, and who are considered elder statesmen (women) in our society.  My takeaway from my experiences (and advice to existing companies/orgs) is to infuse more millennials to your decision-making processes; don’t just hire them, empower them.  If there’s a combination of young horsepower and strategic thinking from individuals who’ve been in the organization, we can effectively innovate ANY organization or company.  

 

One thing that frustrates me is the lack of cross-communication between age groups in an organization, as this leads to ineffectiveness.  Organizations are either too young, with not enough experience or depth, or it’s archaic and rigid, where outdated processes suffocates innovation and productivity.  A simple cross-pollination of vitality and expertise may assist in preserving companies who have been successful for generations, but are striving to maintain relevance in today’s society.  

 

We allow petty arguments and mis-characterizations stunt our development of ideas, service, and achievement, prohibiting us to make the best decisions possible.  It is the stereotype that millennials are narcissistic, entitled, and rash decision-makers.  In actuality, millennials are most comfortable with technology as we are the first generation to fully incorporate computers with our way of life (education, work, leisure, etc.); similar to Steph Curry’s comfortable nature with the basketball, he was practically born with the basketball in his hand, and with all of his practice, is able to perfect all aspects of the game…  It’s also believed that once you’re old, you are useless, stubborn, and slow to change anything.  The truth is, veterans in organization carry institutional knowledge on how the current process was derived that is invaluable to all members;  the former descriptors will start conflict (leading to an adversarial relationship), while the latter shows understanding and cooperation, making everyone happy.

 

In order for avoid this, there needs to be actions done with BOTH parties.  Young people, slow down.  Process information more and communicate with tenured people so you can receive the full context, allowing you to provide the best solution to the problem.  Also, withstand the initial criticism of veterans in organizations; they are intimidated by the amount of change in technology, and may not be able (or do not choose) to articulate with you their vulnerabilities.  Building a rapport will help bring the walls down.  In their words, you can analyze their frustration and provide a solution.  

 

Older/more tenured professionals, don’t get intimidated.  Embrace a new perspective and ACTIVELY engage with younger individuals, building a relationship (which we millennials typically appreciate).  Transition to the mentor role.  Allow your organization vibrancy by having a younger person create new ways of solving problems.  Sure, there will be some dissonance initially, but once a foundation of trust is set we can proceed with completing our projects.  

 

Both age groups need each other to survive.  Let’s actively work with each other so we can continue to build organizations that promote productivity and positive impact.

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