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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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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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Yes MLK, I’m Working On Your Day…

Martin-Luther-King-Jr-Memorial-washington-ftr

Without being cliche, I want thank Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for his vision (not dream) of equality, equity, and economic empowerment.  Most people don’t fully acknowledge his work and plan to help ALL people build leadership infrastructures to improve in education, employment, and policy so we can improve as a society, but I today I’m saying it!!  Without your initial work, we will not be where we are today.

So I’m working on MLK Day…. Initially frustrated as I was planning to participate at the parade and other festivities to “commemorate” what he has done…  It was “our” Federal Holiday, and how dare people disrespect his legacy by working!!!

As I angrily enter the office for our work session, I noticed the diverse people here; men, women, young and old, black, white, Latino, Asian… all to help poor children with their vision so they can succeed in school, and I felt grateful…  instead of sitting and eating and drinking to celebrate Dr. King, we are actively planning and implementing plans to correct a group of people MLK fought for so they can have a better future.

The parade is important (as we always need to commemorate people’s work), but let’s stay in the spirit of his work, sacrifice, and vision; let’s work together to help ALL people, which will improve mankind.

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MLH Discusses Mentoring

Matt Houston speaks about the importance of mentoring and community responsibility. The video was produced by Dallas Business Journal, who named Matt as one of the 2013 Minority Business Leader Award honorees.

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MLH Enterprises at Everest College

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April 5, 2013 · 6:27 pm

The Importance Of Volunteering

Matt Houston gives his 3 reasons for volunteering

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August 29, 2012 · 4:25 pm

How My Family Made An Impact On My Life: Dad’s Domino Games…

“Families are the compass that guide us.  They are the inspiration to reach great heights, and our comfort when we occasionally falter.”
-Brad Henry
I want to continue on my conversation on how my family impacted my life.  Please understand, my family is not exclusive to people I am related to by blood.  They are childhood friends, teachers, and mentors who accept me for who I am and teach me a great deal about life (directly and indirectly).
In the next few blogs I will talk about people my family exposed me to who influenced me.  I will not specify names because there are SO many people who I admire, and if I forget some names I will regret it.  I do want to speak generally and provide thematic messages on the importance of surrounding yourself with high quality people.
One thing I forgot to mention when discussing my immediate family was their talent for exposing me to great people.  My father, mother, brother, and sister had a network of people around me to teach me mostly good, exposed me occasionally to bad, but definitely entertained me to the fullest.
Walk with Kings, but don’t lose the common touch
One of my father’s favorite pastime was playing dominoes.  I remember him playing at least twice a week for hours each meeting with the same 3 men.  These men were diplomats, nor politicians, they were people he trust.  Initially, it didn’t make sense for my dad to “associate” with these blue collar workers.  My father was a banker, entrepreneur, and leader of the largest black chamber in the country.  Why would he spend most of his recreational time with people “below him”.  Watching them play dominoes and occasionally running an errand for them, I was able to socialize and learn from everyone at the table.  I started getting tips on how I maintain my car, and the best method in keeping a great lawn.  Most importantly, witnessed how 4 different types of black men can interact and work as a team.  Even though they had different education levels, different professions, even different socioeconomic statuses, they had one thing in common:  They are black men that was surviving a world I had not experienced yet.  As I grow older, I began to realize a very important lesson he was teaching me: give all people the same respect.  Every person can teach you a lesson, the question is will you learn and apply it.
It takes a group of diverse people to make a society thrive, and it takes a functioning community to prosper.  In order to fulfill many of my goals, it requires me to talk, relate, and understand different types of people.  It would be total suicide if I believed I was better than someone because of what little resources I have.
People are people are people.  No person is better or worse than the other:  we are just different.  Let’s appreciate our diversity and learn from one another so we can be the best we can be.

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How My Family Impacts My Life, Part 1

After days of thinking, I’ve decided to write about a group of people that have made the most impact of my life:  mi familia (Thanks Cedric Lyons).  In later blogs, I will write in more detail about my family,  and will discuss my friends, mentors, and people I’ve encountered in life that have influenced my philosophy, my ideology, and have stretched my mind to levels I’ve never thought can imagine.  I am a fortunate man, but I must give you a snap-shot about 4 people who I lived with most of my life:  Thomas Lee Houston Sr. (Dad), Dorothy Faye McDowell Houston (Mom), Thomas Houston Jr. (Brother), and Natalie Lynn Houston Hunter (Sister).

Dad (My example)

Outside the Russell Glen Residence, Tom Houston was a very influential banker, businessman, and entrepreneur in the Dallas community.  He was one of the first black corporate bankers in the city, developed businesses, and led the oldest and largest black chamber in the country.  But inside the house, Dad was a relaxed, domino-playing, v-neck and boxer wearing patriarch who enjoyed family trips to Elgin for hot sausage and time with his friends.   Honestly, I didn’t know the depth of the “legend” of Thomas L. Houston until after college when I was being acclimated to the “real world”.  Initially, I didn’t understand why he hid that from me.  I appreciate it now…  He wanted me to be my own man.  He wanted to make sure I wasn’t pressured in going into his shadow (whether it’s basking in his glory or making the same mistakes he made).  He wanted to make sure I understand that your home life needs to be your safe haven from what you experience in the outside world.  I respect that, and will use that as an example now in my professional life and when I start my own family.  Thanks Pops.

Mom (The Nurturer)

Everywhere I go, I always hear good things about my mother; in fact, I don’t think she has ever made genuine enemies.  She’s neither a gentle woman, nor one that’s quiet… just authentic.  She has an honest, nurturing aura to her that, regardless what she says and how she says it (the good, bad, or ugly), you can’t despise or hate her.  Mom has your best intentions at heart.  It was evident when she helped me sell candy at her own rival high school to pay for my band uniform or when she’s tired but still helps my sister by taking care of her grandsons.  She is smart, clever, witty, and beautiful.  She’s diverse:  one of the best cooks I’ve EVER met, loves to joke around, but at the same time would love to dress up and go to a formal function.  She’s the total package, and I’m fortunate to have her as a guide on my quest for my wife.

Tommy (Mr. Persistent)

Tommy was fifteen years older than I (yes, I was my parent’s “blessing”).  Honestly, I didn’t know him much, but the things I remember left lasting impressions.  In my mind my father and brother had the same intensity (stubbornness), so when there was conflict, there was no resolution.  My brother had a lot of my mom’s qualities: easy to talk to, compassionate, gentle (despite his 6’4’’ 350+pound frame).  He loved people:  he had a warm smile and cared for the welfare of people he was close to and even strangers.  He was also VERY PERSISTENT…  He sold everything.  Pre-paid Legal, Kirby, ACN, Olive Leaf Oil Extract, property, baseball cards, Noni Juice.  Every Multi-level marketing plan that was in existence, Tommy sold (or tried to sell).  Lastly, I feel that Tommy was misunderstood in our family.  He was the emotional being in the house.  He was very relational, wanted to be appreciated, and wanted to always impart his wisdom (or his ideology) on us.  We as Houstons typically don’t operate like that.  In hindsight, I (we) could have done more to show we cared.  I regret I didn’t spend the time I could have with him before he died.   I love and miss him very much….

Nat (My Swag lifesaver)

My older sister is the reason why you see the Matt Houston brand today.  After graduating college, she moved back home and changed my life.  I was in middle school (an awkward time for me) and she taught me the importance having my belt match my shoes (outside of a suit).  This changed my life.  She ignited a fire in me that made me question what I used to wear, what I want to wear, and how I carry myself.  She didn’t just give me fashion conscience, but she gave me confidence.  I changed from a zero to a hero in the matter of months! (a little exaggeration).  Seriously, Natalie showed me the importance of appearance and how people always observe how you carry yourself.  Most importantly, Natalie taught me the importance of discipline.  She is the most regimented person I know.  Before there was surgery or lap band, she lost tons of pounds through hard work, healthy eating, and exercising.  She’s amazing.  She is also a phenomenal model as I’m on my search for my life mate.  She is a professional, yet takes care of her husband and two very active sons.  She’s a great package and I’m lucky to have her as my big sister.

These four people molded me into the man I am today.  There is not a day when I don’t appreciate them.  Thank you and I love you very much.  I’m blessed to be your son and your brother.

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