Bet on Yourself

What if we all invested 100% in what we’re supposed to? What if you believed in your ability to start that business instead of leaning on that job you hate? Or gave your all to your marriage instead of sliding in someone’s DMs? Or worked out 4 days a week instead of just using “I’m 30 now” as an excuse to let your health deteriorate?

Bet on what you said you believe in. We are called to do more than we actually do and this is the year that I call you do do exactly what you’re called to. Let’s actually commit. Write that book. Apply for that EIN. Go for that promotion or that new job. Save that defined amount/percentage. Invest in your growth, don’t spend on your survival. Don’t be afraid to tell yourself that you’ll do it. You won’t disappoint yourself because, even in starting, you’ll be further than you are now.

 

Make making the jump a priority.

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APPL’s Stock Struggles, NFLX’s Bandersnatch, and Where We Go From Here

Yesterday, Apple’s stock closed at a major deficit, causing the overall market to take a hit. If you want to know more about the stock side of things, check out the NYT or WSJ. They can explain it better than I can. What I’m here to talk about is the trajectory of American business and the role we, as young professionals and creative minds, need to be focused on playing.

Innovation is the name of the game but how do you innovate when everything you thought could be done is being done. Seriously, we just reached Ultima Thule (no, that’s not a car by Nissan) and a manned SpaceX rocket could take off as soon as 2019 (Oh s***! We’re in 2019!). Smartphones (or smartwatches or tablets or whatever other piece of tech you always have with you) are extensions of ourselves, essentially making us cyborgs, minus the inserted chip. It is an amazing time to be alive. But it’s also a confusing one. What is the final frontier? Where do we go from here? What are humans if we’re not continuing to push the society around us forward?

That is an issue that Apple is obviously struggling with. Yes, trade issues between the East and West were pinpointed as the reason for Apple’s terrible finish on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (yes, I looked up what NASDAQ stood for so you wouldn’t have to). But, Apple users, let’s be honest: the advancements we’ve seen lately are disappointingly underwhelming and increasingly overpriced. Why does a new iPhone XS, at $999, cost 77% of what a Mac Book Pro does? (I intentionally chose the least expensive versions of these items. Bells and whistles cost more, of course.) I know, I know… I can do almost everything with an XS that I can with a MBP but it still doesn’t change the fact that I’m paying so much for cellular phone. And, not to mention, the new features to the phone aren’t that great. I wasn’t inclined to upgrade my phone this time and I probably won’t be unless A) some major changes come out or B) the updates stop working (which usually happens after a few generations).

What does this have to do with Bandersnatch? I’m glad you asked. Bandersnatch is Netflix’s movie version of the extremely popular show “Black Mirror,” a show that didn’t have enough episodes to satisfy my interest but hopefully they’ll bring it back. The good thing is I cannot give anything of substance away about Bandersnatch because I’ve only seen one scene so far but I will say this: even if the movie isn’t good, the concept is simultaneously out of this world and eerily nostalgic. Remember, as a kid, reading books where the ending was up to you? I want to say Goosebumps and Animorphs had some like this but I’m sure a ton of other series did as well. Bandersnatch is that in movie form. I can only imagine the planning and time spent in shooting, editing, and coding that had to go into making this movie work but, once again, Netflix has set a new standard. Only, this time, in order to look forward, it first had to look back.

Innovation is the name of the game but, as Netflix has shown us that the answers are sometimes behind us. Brands like Apple have spent so much time pushing the bar forward that they’re starting to hit a brick wall. So, why not look back at something pre-modern technology that changed an industry and reformat it to improve our modern lives? Just a thought for Apple, General Motors, and any other company that is having a hard time being innovative.

You may have a hard time teaching an old dog new tricks but maybe you can teach a new dog a few old ones.

 

Make innovation a priority.

Can Versus Will

This year isn’t about knowing you can. Those of us in developed countries with the foresight required to be reading professional development material all know that we can do anything we set our minds to. The question is “Will you do what you can do?”

I’m tired of seeing people who are less skilled, less competent, and less passionate than I doing better than me in the things I know I should be doing. So, this year, I’m knocking down doors to get where I need to be AND to get paid a fair amount in those spaces. Why? Not because I can but because I will. Will you?

And this isn’t just about your professional or entrepreneurial goals. In October, though I never had, I knew I could run 60+ miles but I didn’t know I would until I had 10 days remaining to run the last 35 miles. In college, though I never had, I knew I could graduate but it wasn’t until that fifth year that I knew I would. Make this stuff happen. This is your life. Put in the time. Ask for constructive criticism. God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. He called you by putting a fire in you to make something happen. That’s your calling. Step up to the plate. Now is the time. What are you going to do this year that you’ve never done?

 

Make knowing you will a priority.

Are Your Goals Actionable?

Before I begin, I want to thank you all for coming along on this ride. Don’t worry. I’m not going anywhere (or at least I don’t plan to). I just wanted to announce that, as I write this, I have published exactly 1,400 posts to The Daniels Daily Reader (and hundreds more on those blogs that came before this one). So, as we come up on 2019, I’m going to put out some of my best young professional content to date and I expect you all to hold me to it. This is #TheRoadToPost1500. Let’s work.

I know, I know… We all say “New me, new you” is overused but let’s be for real. We’re just over a week from a new year and that year is a new benchmark (Obviously, this was written before Christmas but just work with me). We figure out what we set out to accomplish and examine what we did. We evaluate what we lost and what we learned. And then we move forward.

Last December, I wrote down a decent-sized list of objectives for 2018 and shared it with one of my accountability partners for feedback. This year, I am doing the same, and I’m adding a plan of action for all measurable goals this time. Steps. Timelines. Things that you can measure. Make the list actionable and malleable. If you find yourself ahead of schedule, stretch further. If you’re behind, adjust the action plan. Let’s make this year phenomenal. Let’s learn more about ourselves and how far our potential can take us than we ever thought we would.

 

Make making it make sense a priority.

Across the Aisle

This morning, I woke up around 4:30, lay in bed with my phone in hand, and found out that J. Cole has another feature with a trap rapper. While some fans may have been confused by it at the beginning, especially because the content many trap rappers put out is antithetical to Cole’s overlying message, I see what he’s doing and I love it.

As far as current messaging within mainstream hip-hop goes, J. Cole is arguably the dopest lyricist. He doesn’t appear to compromise his values to remain at the top of anyone’s charts and yet he remains in that #1 conversation. He’s done everything that every revolutionary hip-hop head needs him to. So why is he on songs with artists whose lyrics frequently fail to uplift black communities? Because that’s the only way he can continue making progress. J. Cole isn’t rapping to wake up the woke just like doctors aren’t here to heal the healthy. He has his fan base. We’re going to rock with him as long as he keeps coupling fire lyrics with complementary beats. But he has to reach across the aisle if he ever wants to have the impact on the nation that he can have.

Boom! Ok, now you’re asking when I became a music blogger. But there’s a point to this. As a young professional, you will hit a point where you have made all the waves possible in your own office. You’ll have gotten your numbers up and this and that. You’ll be good but that’s when it’s time to step into a leadership role. There are some in leadership roles who aren’t leaders. They sit in their corner offices and expect everyone in the building to know everything they do because they have access to it. But what if more managers took the J. Cole leadership route after they have become individually successful? What if they reached back to those who were least likely to succeed, put them on game, and helped them transform? Without touching 21 Savage’s or 6ix9ine’s bases, he’s just another dope conscious rapper. But now he’s a thought-leader because his thoughts are affecting change outside the room of other thought-leaders. That’s culture-changing influence.

 

Make stepping across the aisle a priority.

On the Hunt

Everyone thinks I’m living my best life. And I kind of am. I’m happy. I am building a business that I truly enjoy. I’m able to work on projects that I really care about. The seeds for greatness have been planted and I’m reaping the rewards. Super duper cool, right? Well, that’s one half of the story. The other half is that I miss benefits and stability and a regular freaking paycheck. Now, with that comes me having to manage my happiness. Sometimes, and let’s be honest, working for someone else sucks, regardless of who it is. But so does working for yourself. It’s all about perspective.

Had to preface the meat of the post with that paragraph to say that I am on the hunt. And the hunt is taxing. To everyone who is on it, don’t quit. Don’t doubt yourself. Touch up on the things that you don’t do well and enhance those things which you do exceptionally well. Not getting a particular role is a blessing. It opens up the opportunity for you to be able to take the role that will truly fit you. Keep grinding, keep pressing through, and, when you get that dream job, all the nonsense will be worth it.

 

Make keeping it real a priority.

Changing Language

I had a great talk today with a married couple that I’m friends with. They’re black (yes, in this conversation, that matters). Our conversation ran the gamut, from #EatPray10v3 to children and the sleep deprivation that accompanies them. Because of prior commitments and certainly not boredom or anger, our conversation ended on the topic of race in America and specifically the term “White Privilege.” The man in the couple (we’ll call him “Solomon” since he brought Ecclesiastes into the convo) said that the term “white privilege” may be a misnomer at this point and that it has served its purpose. If progress is to be made, we must focus less on the white privilege and more on the economic inequity that plagues the nation. Solomon comes from a less luxurious region of America where opportunities are difficult to find, regardless of race. He, as a professional black man who made it out of that setting, said that the overlooked white people in his hometown would consider it a slap in the face if he, with his “polished shoes and tailored suits went to them talking about their privilege.” The word, though unintentionally, is offensive when we are talking to those whites who have, as far as they can see, experience no semblance of the privilege that the mainstream so often speaks of and shames. Those white families who populate the mining communities of  America’s mountainous regions or the ones who must laboriously provide for their families in less than luxurious settings are not feeling the privilege that many of us speak of. Certainly, the media does not paint them as the faces of philanthropic need and government welfare but they overwhelmingly are and they’re angry. Are they being gunned down by a culture of policing that says “The black man is most likely guilty of something so shoot him”? No and, in that conversation, they do have privilege. But when we’re discussing generational wealth, a strong majority of whites are not much better off than blacks. There are, however, a gross number of white households who are doing as poorly as black households and those households have historically had less access to resources that will provide them with the upward mobility required to transition the next generation of their legacy into the next economic class. In short, there is a plethora of programs that I, as an underrepresented minority, have access to that will allow me to traverse America’s economic landscape (even against the system’s desire for me to). Poor whites don’t have that. So, in my lack of privilege, there is a sliver of privilege.

Don’t get it twisted, I still believe that, in the face of a trigger happy cop, poor and rich white people have a better chance of coming out alive than I do as a black man of any background. But, when we’re talking about having access to resources and education, poor whites don’t fare better than poor blacks (excluding consideration of cultural bias when it comes to names). Therefore, these unwealthy white people are upset because of what they don’t have when it appears that everyone else, including the poor blacks who society tells them that they are supposed to be doing better than, is making forward strides. This leads to things like the election of those who pander to their fears, the clinging to a hateful pride in a treasonous culture, and the dogwhistles that are reaching a low enough frequency for us all to hear.

Which brings me to the short, but direct, point: We must change the language. While white people have an indisputable cultural advantage in America (sometimes because of language but more often than not because of a propensity to engage media before we do people), white privilege is not universal in its application. I’m not sure what language we need to use or whether we need to be more specific when we speak of what arenas whites are privileged in, as opposed to using it as the blanket statement we’ve been using it as.

I won’t lie, I grew up around some rich white folks. I mean, RICH! There were Benzes, Porsches and Land Rovers in my high school parking lot. Multiples. In double digits. So I can relate to the concept of white privilege because I perceived white wealth and I came from, at times, a black family wrought with financial instability. But, the older I get and the more I speak with people of varying backgrounds, I see that, in affluent areas like NC’s Research Triangle, you’ll see quite a few well-off white people. These areas fuel the narrative of the rich whites. But, when you look across the nation, economic disparities even out across racial lines. Therefore, in an attempt to break down the barriers that the rich have built to keep the poor fighting one another, we must either be cautious or more specific when we speak of white privilege. We cannot build allies if we do not. How we do that is up for conversation but the fact that it must happen is indisputable.

 

Make using intentional language a priority.