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…
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!
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.
This morning I met the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Sylvia M. Burwell, at a small business in Dallas, Salon Artist, in Deep Ellum. Secretary Burwell is on a tour for the next couple of days imploring small business owners, entrepreneurs, and citizens to enroll in the ACA marketplace before the February 1 deadline (www.healthcare.gov).
I was honored to have the ability to ask a couple of questions and have a conversation with the Secretary (thanks @DFWBlackBloggers), as she has impacted my life in her past profession; she was a part of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which funded it 100% of my college tuition at SMU- The place where I met my first business partners and started my companies (www.gmsp.org). So to see her in such an important role regarding the quality of life of people doesn’t surprise me.
At the salon, there were are range of questions from individuals transitioning from their parents insurance, to the interaction between company health care and the marketplace, to the different improvements ACA have made since its launch October 2013. Burwell explained the importance in reaching all people through different communication mediums (snail mail, email, text messages, etc.) so all citizens can be covered, not only for emergency needs, but to receive information and tips for preventative care.
Obamacare directly affects me as I NEED this marketplace to have basic coverage while I figure my path as an entrepreneur; I don’t have the luxury to have a corporation to provide me healthcare, so I need a vehicle to guide me in selecting the best plans for my health. I’m proud to say I enrolled for the 3rd time this month and my coverage begins February 1!
PLEASE, GO TO http://www.healthcare.gov to enroll for 2016 before the deadline on Sunday! Even if you don’t think you’ll need it, it’s imperative to have the safety next “just in case” something happens! #GetCovered #GetCoveredDallas
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.
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!
The Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce (www.dallasblackchamber.org) had our 2nd annual State Of Black Business (SOBB) Forum last week. A lot of people are confused, or apathetic to the mission of the organization I love, both inside and out. There are a lot of misperceptions and ill-truths that have evolved during the 89 year history of this organization.I would like to show the Chambers “true mission” in this blog; it’s about education, support, and advocacy.
Most people ask me, “What does the Dallas Black Chamber offer to me?” or “Why do y’all exist?” or “Why does it have to be called the ‘Black’ Chamber?” or event still, “Why do you isolate yourselves and only accept black members?”. This can easily frustrate any human being that exerts their personal and professional time to do volunteer work for an advocacy group, but I gladly entertain the questions. Why? Because, where there are questions, there’s curiosity, and where there’s curiosity, there’s an opportunity for me to share the lessons I’ve learned from my father and his colleagues, and contribute to the improvement of the American Economy (no, not Black economy solely, but American economy).
Some clarification, the Dallas Black Chamber is not just an organization where we can provide free marketing to your organization. Our mission is to advocate and support entrepreneurs, business owners, and corporations that want to support the African-American community, therefore, you don’t have to be black in order to be a part of this organization, you just need to be a cheerleader or stakeholder for improving the situation (with blacks contributing $1 Trillion to the US Economy, there needs to be an organization(s) that can assist with the education and distribution of black wealth).
I can go on and on about this… This is not the purpose of this post (for more info, go to our website or reach out to me). I’m posting this to show how the Black Chamber helps a community; by being an objective organization that helps all businesses tread the waters of capitalism.
In this clip (that’s difficult to hear) I am interviewing Hiawatha Williams, Founder and CEO of Williams Chicken. Though inaudible, he thanks the Dallas Black Chamber for providing:
Events like SOBB to provide entrepreneurs/professionals the opportunity to network and build relationships with larger businesses.
To provide advice and strategy for building and growing your business, and
To defend the smaller businesses, encouraging big entities to use smaller businesses to stimulate our micro-economies.
After talking to Mr. Williams, my spirit was renewed about the aims of the organization; as Chair, it’s easy to get bogged down in the politics of the organization, or the status you receive once you participate in outside programs, representing the organization. Hearing him thank my father (who was ED of the Chamber in the 1980’s) for giving him sound advice when he was an employee at Church’s Chicken illuminated the importance in having a third-party advocate strategize to assist all people to build wealth; someone whose intent is to help all who ask for help.
This was a wake-up call; we, as an organization, need to do a better job at marketing to the masses what we do at the chamber. I know A NUMBER of businesses who benefited from advice from our organization or ones like it (other ethnic/cultural/geographic chambers), so those business owners need to speak up as well. Without an advocate organization, we will not be able to defend the small business, killing what we know as the American Dream.