Tag Archives: black leadership

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!

Leave a comment

Filed under blog, Contact Matt Houston, dfwblackbloggers, email Matt Houston, fraternal, healthcare, leadership, Love, Matt L. Houston, Personal, Professional, Uncategorized, Women appreciation

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under blog, Contact Matt Houston, dfwblackbloggers, email Matt Houston, fraternal, leadership, Love, Matt L. Houston, Personal, Professional

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!

Leave a comment

Filed under blog, Contact Matt Houston, dfwblackbloggers, email Matt Houston, healthcare, leadership, Matt L. Houston, Personal, Professional

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under blog, Contact Matt Houston, dfwblackbloggers, email Matt Houston, fraternal, healthcare, leadership, Matt L. Houston, Personal, Professional

Should Dallas Pass The Torch, or Turn Up The Heat?

Dallas has come a long way in our history; from a settlement that sits on a prairie in the middle of the country with no major natural resource or natural means of transportation, to a metropolis that has become one of the major logistical hubs in North America.  Our city does not only transport precious materials/cargo across the world and throughout the globe, but also catch the attention of major multi-national corporations, attracting global talent that will not only improve their company, but can impact our city through innovative and diverse problem-solving techniques.  Consequently, we are on track to being an international city, where we will serve as a destination place for all, similar to Paris, Hong Kong, London, etc.  These feats were attributed to the intellect, talent, and planning of our city’s forefathers, which then attracted young, ambitious, motivated individuals to pass the torch.


However, with all of our successes and ingenuity in the 20th century, we were still handicapped by a myopic cultural view; where societal prejudices of minorities, women, and sexual preferences caused not only Dallas, but many American cities, to not maximize on their potential in terms of inclusion in education, economic development, social interaction, and cultural formation.  In essence, though we were progressing at a rate that was better than the “norm”, we still were underachieving based on our capabilities.  


Dallas is standing at a crossroads; should we “Pass the Torch” to the next chosen ones, providing a blueprint of how Dallas became successful and consulting the groomed establishment not to deviate from the existing plan, or should we “Turn Up the Heat”, creating an analysis of our where we are, understanding how we got here, challenging one another to optimize our performance, and providing a new strategy that incorporates relevant factors that were not included in the original plan: culture, people, analytics, etc.  I argue the latter will maximize our talent pool to catapult Dallas to a realm where we are solving our challenges more effectively using all the talent that’s available.
I’m not that naive to think I can provide a solution to this question on one blog; my hope is that people read this, analyze where they are in the situation (age, status, professional, influence), and create an inclusive conversation so we can utilize the experiences and talents we’ve attracted to our great region.  Let’s move Dallas Forward, remembering (both the good and bad) of our past, creating a plan in the present, and providing a gift for our future by inclusive leadership.

Leave a comment

Filed under blog, Contact Matt Houston, dfwblackbloggers, email Matt Houston, fraternal, leadership, Matt L. Houston, Personal, Professional

The Mis-Education of the Millennial

This is a like to my IgniteDFW talk on the 4 ways both millennials, Baby Boomers, etc. can work together to build better relationships…

  1. Contemplate
  2. Communicate
  3. Cooperate
  4. Complete

Leave a comment

Filed under blog, Contact Matt Houston, email Matt Houston, leadership, Matt L. Houston, Personal, Professional, vlog

Even at SMU, Black Lives Matter!

This message serves as a reflection from an event I attended at my alma mater, Southern Methodist University (SMU), where they hosted Alicia Garza, the architect of #BlackLivesMatter….  I know, I was shocked!!!!  I’ll reserve my state for another post… this post is to share some of the takeaways I received from her from her VERY INTERESTING, WELL ATTENDED talk in the student center ballrooms:


You need a strategy, not just an emotion

Her plans for “Black Lives Matter” weren’t a knee-jerk reaction to some discrimination she encountered, there was a deliberate plan that was well thought out and executed to ensure sustainability.


“Hashtags does not make movements, people do”

This was a quote she stated that’s stuck with me.  Recently, I did a talk for Ignite DFW (post of the presentation coming soon) where I give advice to millennials on how to survive in leadership roles; the main point is to not stop once you state something on Facebook or twitter; go beyond that and act!


You NEED to have a broad reach/network

Her network did not just include her friends; but people she interacted with all over the country before the incident…  Which means she’s not only known but have positive relationships with individuals of all backgrounds, allowing her to be an influencer.


“Black Lives Matter” was a love letter to black people

This was beautifully said…  I know this seems weird or exclusive to non-blacks in the audience, but let me explain; Unlike MOST ethnicities, blacks are the most exploited type of people in current media, for better or worse.  Therefore, we are bombarded with information about “us” from everyone- the media, papers, strangers, aliens, etc.  So it’s endearing to me when someone from our own culture actually expels energy to positively communicate to us.  Thanks Alicia…


Both sexes need to work together in the strategy process

We’re facing an on-going battle of the sexes, where men and women are establishing footing for newly formed gender roles in our society.  This is a good thing, as we are going through “growing pains” as a society; dispelling our past misogynistic ways and working toward a more, equal partnership in leadership.  Consequently, there needs to be more black women at the planning table to dictate future strategy.


Black lives matter is not Anti-Police, it’s anti-violence movement

For people that say the line above either ignorant or purposely wants to be polarizing…  The solution for a systemic problem isn’t inflicting pain to the oppressors, it’s creating an environment where all can be pain-free.  #BlackLivesMatter is so popular because it resonates with SO MANY people’s feeling that Black Lives DONT Matter in our society…


“Pay attention to the culture we create”

This is applicable in so many facets of life.  You are what you eat, you are the company you keep, all of these sayings I’ve heard from my influencers come to life as I breathe each breath.  The same goes with the macro-systems we create/operate/exists in.  By creating a sociologic environment of discrimination and prejudice, we assist in poisoning our future generations…  The culture we create isn’t so important to us, but to the ones that follow; but if we don’t care about anyone now, how could we have the capacity to nurture an environment for people that don’t exist yet????



These are just some of the great things said by this influential sista.  I appreciate you sharing your words, experiences, and thoughts so we can analyze, ponder, and take action!

Leave a comment

Filed under blog, Contact Matt Houston, email Matt Houston, fraternal, leadership, Matt L. Houston, Personal, Professional

Yes MLK, I’m Working On Your Day…


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.

Leave a comment

Filed under blog, Contact Matt Houston, email Matt Houston, leadership, Matt L. Houston, Personal, Uncategorized

Wow! I’ve Grown: My DBCC initial reflection

This morning, I participated in the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce (www.dallasblackchamber.org or @dalblkchamber) Leadership Retreat, and for the first time in three years, I was just a board member; not the leader.  I wasn’t the person who was stressed, the one who wants to ensure the logistics is handled appropriately.  Just Matt Houston, the DBCC Board Member who can (for at least a few months) chime in and provide context so the transition can run smoothly.  It was an AMAZING feeling.

About halfway in our meeting, I began reflecting on several things:

  • There is a lot of talent in this organization; both on the board as well as the staff
  • We have come A LONG WAY in terms of priorities, programming, and positions within the chamber.  Three years ago, we didn’t have effective online capabilities with a website that was 10 years old!
  • The chamber has a totally different staff then my election night September of 2012.  100% turnover.  Both a good and a bad thing, but I’ll talk about that some other time.
  • All the things that were frustrating DURING the storm actually helped our organization as we are more relevant to our members, partners, and the community.
  • I’ve learned SO MUCH about business, politics, management, and purpose as head of a 90-year old organization.  Not just because I received my MBA during this time, but because I’m able to help businesses that I weren’t directly affected by…
  • To grow into leadership, it’s so important for people to volunteer/contribute to an org outside of your job or family.  Volunteering truly makes you a vessel for the community, and it’s my belief that God wants us to experience that so we can be more like him…

Each one of these bullet points can be it’s own blog entry (and you may see them soon), but my main point for this piece is to complete the race; I see the importance of participating in the complete cycle of your leadership by willingly becoming a “regular” member again.

Most people believe the end of your leadership stint happens on the last day of office, but that’s not true.  One must transition back to the masses, and allow your experiences as a leader mold your current perspective of the org, assist in recruiting, and strengthen your advocacy work among your peers.  I have become a better DBCC member now that I’ve been Chair, and I’m so excited!

Now, I get to see all of the fruits of our work, while helping future leadership mold/develop their legacy for the org.


Leave a comment

Filed under blog, Contact Matt Houston, email Matt Houston, leadership, Matt L. Houston, Personal, Professional

Join me Jan. 26th at Ignite DFW Speakers Series!



Please join me as I make a presentation on how Millennials are pivotal to our future!  This is my first talk in a format like this and should be an exciting event!!!  There are great presenters, subject matters, and discussion afterwards…  See you all at January 26th at the Texas Theater!

Leave a comment

Filed under blog, Contact Matt Houston, email Matt Houston, leadership, Matt L. Houston, Personal, Professional