Tag Archives: Leader

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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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.

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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

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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 Workout Chronicles, Day 22: Cheat Days

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Lessons From the State of Black Business Event Last Week

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:

  1. Events like SOBB to provide entrepreneurs/professionals the opportunity to network and build relationships with larger businesses.
  2. To provide advice and strategy for building and growing your business, and
  3. 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.

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MLH Workout Chronicles, Day 5

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My Gates Millennium Scholar Experience; APPLY TODAY!

My cousin, Deidra, asked me to say a few words about the Bill Gates Millennium Scholarship for her students at church. I thought I’d share it with the rest of the world how the Gates Scholarship changed my tragetory in life.

I will make other comments in other posts; they will be posted as I recall and remember my experiences in college and beyond. The most important take away, is to apply for the scholarship! There’s no excuse for anyone not to get a good education in America. The resources are here, it just takes work, effort, and energy to get it!   Go to www.gmsp.org for more information.

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How A Recharge is SO CRUCIAL!

I just got back from Washington D.C., initially for a conference (where I learned a lot and became reinvigorated in economic development) but stayed a couple of days to enjoy the city, reflect, and recharge before the consistent grind I will have in Dallas this fall.  It’s probably one of the best choices I made this year.  I was starting to flame out, and was starting to get discouraged.  Though I couldn’t afford a vacation (timing’s bad), I was able to hang out with friends and see new sights in a different land, where I’m just one of many, so I can refuel for Dallas.

I want to share a few points I thought of on my flight home:

It’s important to have a different environment for reflection/reset

I’ve tried to have stay-cations, or relax in Dallas, but it doesn’t work for me.  I’m involved in too many things that can pull my attention from resting, therefore not being productive.  For me, I have to physically remove myself from my day-to-day tasks in order to disconnect from it entirely.  This doesn’t have to be the case for everyone, as people can lock themselves in their house and watch Netflix, or turn off their phone to do the same thing.  Me going to another city (or somewhere that’s not Dallas) is very therapeutic; I’m able to hit the “reset” button while observing things that may be able to work in Dallas to improve the city.

Enjoy where you are fully; let go of stresses/burdens from other situations

The one thing I tried not to do, was to take Dallas with me during my R and R time.  I was responsive during the conference, as I was working, but during the weekend, it was my time.  I didn’t respond to emails, I didn’t worry about what was going on in Dallas, I just enjoyed DC.  By doing this, I was able to feel good about where I was Sunday night, and was able to work Monday morning (I was still in DC, but letting everything go for two days showed me a couple of opportunities I can do up there).

Once your back in your normal environment, GO HARD!

This morning, I woke up, and started SPRINTING!  There’s a lot of things I need to catch up on, and new stresses that appeared, but I’m able to have a fresh perspective and rejuvenated spirit to take them on.  I advise people to go all in when you first arrive from vacation so you can set a tone of intensity and purpose.

The one thing that’s starting to sink in from advice numerous people have told me in the past is to take time for myself…  I get it now. I’m not taking weeks off, or going to the moon, it was an extra two days after a conference I attended, but those two days positively affected me!  I’m ready to take on the World!!!

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