What Are You Talking About?

When is the last time you had a thought-provoking conversation? These days, I find life happening so rapidly that I don’t know when my next good convo is coming nor who it will be with. I can usually count on between four and five a month (outside of home or work), between chatting with Sean, Maul, Vince, C.B.3, Juju, and Barry. While that’s more than many people I know have,  I miss undergrad and the think tank known as UNCG. I vividly recall going to the basements of Reynolds and Phillips-Hawkins to talk with other students from the wee hours of the morning until the sun came up. Or there were the countless times that the long hand on the clock hit the same spot two or three times as I sat in the cafeteria chatting with Devon or Jakiya.

Ideas flowed freely in college. We had time to think without the burdens that we would come to find accompany adulthood. We didn’t have to worry about bills. The only consequence to quitting jobs at that point for many was having to mooch for more hooch, a favor that would eventually be repaid when our generous friend quit his/her job and we were reemployed.

We have to create that free thought as (true) adults. Some people say childhood is the best time of lifetimes but I challenge that; College, for those of us who are privileged enough to go, is the best era. It is when we can be idealistic while having some semblance of control over our lives. No one can tell us when to go to bed, when to come home, or who to hang out with. We go into classrooms with people of all backgrounds and debate issues that actually matter but have been written off by the world because too much of the world doesn’t believe in happiness and change anymore. Life in college is inspiring.

My challenge to you is to make time to grab coffee or a drink with a friend who brings the best out of you sometime before the end of July. If you can’t get together because of distance, hop on the phone. Either way, without forcing it, make an effort to have an organic conversation with someone that you know feels comfortable challenging you and vice versa. Share what books you’re reading. Talk about politics, socioeconomics, and current events (without dwelling too long on the depressing state of affairs unless you’re figuring out a way to positively impact them). Discuss a business idea and have your friend shoot holes through it.

One of the many true things I learned from my fraternity is that, “college days swiftly pass, imbued with memories fond.” How can we keep those memories coming for years after?

Make free thought that stems from conversations a priority.

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Is Your Blade Growing Dull?

When I was in undergrad, I intellectually stimulated almost every day. Sure, there were the Saturday nights when the most intellectual discussion was how fast can we finish the beers at the track team’s party (shoutout to the homie Devon Smith), but regular days consisted of my group tossing around ideas about how we would take over the world while either eating in the cafe, working off our cafe eating in the gym, or making sure we still had access to the cafe/gym next semester by sitting in the library to keep our scholarship dollars rolling in.

I miss those days — the days when we dreamt and planned more than we worked ourselves into an apathetic torpor. Whether the goal was entrepreneurship or figuring out how we would climb the corporate ladder or improving the quality of life for others, we used our minds in an unconventionally imaginative fashion.  Their iron sharpened mine and mine theirs.

I still talk to (but rarely see) many from my circle, as many of us have gotten bogged down in the mundane and monotonous movement from Monday to Friday, only to pray on Friday for the weekend to move in the slowest motion possible and, conversely, for Monday morning to prey on us as hard as we pray on Monday for Friday. This is week in and week out. We do it for the bills and the insurance, the 401(k) matches and the paid days of sick leave, benefits which ultimately catalyze the very mental health days that we end up taking and retirement we long for (because I am convinced that I will never truly want to retire from a passion but I’ll be in a hurry to leave a job). Security holds many of us hostage, which is ironic, because our “security” only secures the prison we have chosen for ourselves.

Instead of security, we should reach for risk, which lies in having those around you  keep you sharp and hungry and thinking outside of the box that would become a cell were you to think inside of it. To keep from being a prisoner of habit, you must have friends with whom you can toss ideas around over a glass of bourbon on the rocks or a good game of Spades. Those who remind you that you are not the smartest person in the room. A circle whose skill sets don’t mirror yours but, instead, complement them. People who specialize in various fields so that, when one of their clients/friends needs help in your field, you’re going to be the first to get the referral.

Today, I charge you to reconnect with an old friend who once inspired you. Whether they pushed you to strengthen yourself spiritually, financially, physically, professionally, or otherwise, give them a call or shoot them a text. See when you all can get together for coffee or lunch or a drink after work. If they’re in a different city, find a time when you all can meet somewhere just to catch up. While I love technology, there is something magical about tossing ideas across an actual table and working through a problem face to face. In short, allow their iron to sharpen yours and do the same for them. It’s the only way you’ll get out of this stagnant stupor that “security” supplies.

 

Make sharpening your sword a priority.

Raw Materials and Raw Potential

The paper that you sign your name to when you sign your work benefits or go to the bank and fill out a withdrawal slip or sign an agreement with a new client is, at it’s rawest form, no more than wood that has been cut down by an ax or a chainsaw or some other tool. Raw materials make everything we have from smartphones to notebook paper to nutrients to even our bodies. Whether manufactured or not, everything on this earth was made from things that have always been found on the planet. Raw materials are the foundation of everything that our world is. It’s hard to think of it on such a basic level when we look at the greatness that has been created after millennia of human interaction but it’s all just rocks, wood, water, dirt, oil, and mined metals that have been manipulated to make that gorgeous Maserati you see on the street. Oh, and let’s not neglect the cows that made the leather interior. Either way, the car wasn’t made from car. It didn’t become great on its own. It was is the culmination of developing and combining many raw materials.

Now, let’s take that concept and apply it to being a young professional. Everything created by a successful person (however you define success) was created with raw potential. I’m not speaking of things that were passed down or gained by less than ethical means. I’m saying that any successful person who pulled themselves up did so by developing the raw potential they had into greatness. I look at the stories of motivators like Eric Thomas (at an elevated point in his career) or Greg E. Hill (at a strong point in his early years) and think about both of them hitting what they both expressed as being rock bottom, only to use that as momentum to shoot up. Or I look at Vince Jamael, a barber from Fayetteville, NC who is now one of the premier groomers on the east coast and I think about the fact that, when I saw him come to UNCG, he had raw potential and now he himself is a brand that is strengthening the brands around him. Or Devon Smith, a young man I met during his freshman (my junior) year who had a desire to succeed but didn’t know what he wanted  to succeed in. With some honing and grooming, he worked his way up to New York and now works at Revolt, a major player in the millennial lifestyle industry, as well as has developed a brand of his own, Infinite Magazine, that is gaining notoriety around the country. I even look at my immediate past blog post, A Moment of Clarity, and I realize that my raw potential and hunger primed me to take the risks necessary to just go for greatness. So, whether you want to be the next Mark Zuckerberg, Bill and Melinda Gates, Mother Teresa, or Michelle Obama, you have to take your ideas, your passions, your skills, and your gifts and put them together to reach toward your potential and your purpose. And, if you didn’t know, you don’t have to do it alone. Your network is one of those raw materials that you have to develop. It may be the most important aspect of your success, especially in this day and age where one share from the right person can put you in a position to expand your brand’s reach exponentially. So take your most valuable resource (time), combine it with your most essential resource (faith), and go out grind, knowing that there is something better for you than what you have now.

 

Make professional development a priority.

Guerilla Marketing: The Contest

I’ve been wanting to give my readers a chance to show off what they’ve learned from my site and I’ve finally figured it out.  I’m having a giveaway and, the best part is anyone can win!  Whether you work in the field of marketing, like my close friend Devon Smith, are an up and coming visual artist trying to get her brand more exposure like Tatiana Camice, or even if you’re an experienced branding consultant like Natasha Nichole Lake, you’re just as eligible as the rest.

Now, I’m going to do what my mother said never to do: I’m going to start with the dessert. Before explaining the contest, I really want to make sure I get you all excited with the prize.  During my junior year of college, it was suggested that I, an aspiring marketer, read Jay Conrad Levinson’s Guerrilla Marketing.  So, the summer before my senior year, I checked it out from the library.  Since then, I’ve bought the book for my own library, then bought a copy to give as a gift to a friend, then bought another two copies since then (one of which is for you, assuming the person reading this right now is the winner of the contest).  And, I’m currently reading it again.   Why?  Because, as a young entrepreneur, I believe that if you don’t leverage yourself against larger companies, you’ll never succeed (unless you get lucky one day and have some content go viral by happenstance).  And thus, I’ve stepped into the purpose.

Why am I doing this?  I’m giving this book away because I believe in it and its methodology.  But, even if you don’t win the book, I believe that opening your mind up to different ways of thinking about how you can promote a brand is critical.  You see, even if you never want to own your own business or go into the field of marketing, you have to see yourself as a brand.  You go into an interview and, no matter what the job, your goal is to sell your skills.  This book really will help you think outside the box, develop a/your brand, and reach your professional goals.

So now for the process.  Pretty simple.  You must have an Instagram or Twitter account and be following @DanDailyReader.  Why?  Because this contest is photograph based.  Between now and Saturday, February 6, 2016, take photographs or video recordings of any form of cool, eye-catching marketing/branding you see.  This could be in the form of a blog, flyer, résumé, business card, billboard, television or radio commercial, graphic design, or anything else you deem worthy.  Being that one winner will be selected at random, there is no right or wrong submission as long as you feel that it was an interesting way of getting someone’s attention.  Upon posting it to Twitter or IG, you can put whatever you’d like in the caption as long as you mention @DanielsDailyReader and use the hashtag #GuerrillaContest.  You can post as many entries as you’d like, just make sure you mention the account and use the hashtag so that I can give you credit.  The more entries, the more chances you have at winning.  At halftime of the Super Bowl (February 7, 2016), I’ll be posting the winners.

Wait?  Winners?  Yep.  Winners.  I believe that sometimes, just giving something a shot will be your ticket to success.  One lucky shot.  But, more often than not, sheer persistence is what gets you the victory.  So, at first, I was going to give away one book.  But I decided that, because winning can happen multiple ways, I’ll give away multiple copies of the book.  So, once again, good luck.

I hope you win.  Really, I do.  But, if you don’t, consider buying the book, which can be found on Amazon, iBooks, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, or a ton of other retailers.

If there are any questions, shoot me a direct message via Instagram or Twitter.

 

Make professional development a priority.

The Eyes of the Line

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The young men above both began college one year after the other and both fell under my tutelage by happen stance. Mr. Reko Daye (top), also from Durham, was assigned to the hall I was the resident advisor over during the 2008-09 academic year. I still remember the day he moved in and began his college journey. A charismatic young man who needed some polishing and guidance to reach his potential. So I worked with him.

Then you have Mr. Devon T. Smith from Philadelphia by way of Fayetteville. He came the following academic year and was introduced to me because the business school assigned his class to interview an upperclassman in his field of study. Being that I was visible on campus through my fraternity and in the Bryan School of Business as the president of the Black Business Students Assoc., it was recommended that Devon interview me. I didn’t know him but after meeting him once, I knew he was ambitious and driven, he just needed a crash course in diplomacy. Who better to teach him than me? So I did.

Without my recommendation, both of these men decide to join my fraternity. Both decided to mentor other young people throughout the course of their college careers. Both took on the role of chapter president. Both were well-liked campus leaders who had grown in leaps and bounds over the years. Both graduated with jobs and are focused on starting their careers. Both have gone from mentees to true brothers and friends. And both are going to continue to do great things to make the world a better place. I’m excited for them and know that, when it’s all said and done, they’ll be right beside me at the top.

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