My Formula

Though I’m not yet “successful”, I am working toward success and I’m getting glimpses at it. My formula has been simple and will remain that way: create so much dope content consistently that, once you are discovered by an entity bigger than yourself, your body of work will speak for itself.

 Whether you see it every night or not, the moon does an amazing job of consistently taking the place of the sun in the sky. Some nights you see it in all of its magnificence. Some nights, you catch a sliver. Other nights, it isn’t seen at all. But it’s always there, doing its job because there are those nights when it really gets appreciated for all that it is.

I’m trying to be like the moon. I’ve been blogging for nearly 15 years now, jumping from platform to platform as my vision changed. For the past five years, I’ve been working on this, The Daniels Daily Reader. What once was a professional development blog for millennials is now a lifestyle blog for young professionals, touching on everything from business dress to leadership to issues facing society. I’ve written over 1,100 blog posts on this site and, as of late, 95% of the photographic content found on the blog is my own. My writing, my photography, and my points of view have matured since I began this blog but The Reader has always rested on two key characteristics: consistency and quality.

So, when Corey Freeman, Creative Director of LionsHead Media, approached me, said he’d seen my work and and presented me with the opportunity to work with his company, I thought “Wow. Writing on this channel for five years and now, my shot is here? I’m ready.”

I have a body of work. That body is so extensive, I am going to be able to use it to create a book without having to come up with too much additional content. And, as I continue growing, writing, and gaining more exposure, I know that what develops from this picture will be bright.

Consistency + Quality + Opportunity = Success


Make professional development a priority.

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Code2040 Hosts Walter Latham

Have you ever heard of Code2040? I’m willing to bet that you haven’t unless you’re either Black or Latinx entrepreneur, and even then, you may not know. I was unfamiliar until LionsHead Media Creative Director Corey Freeman hipped me to the importance of Code2040. It is a nonprofit organization focused on increasing Black and Latinx entrepreneurial opportunities. The organization was founded by Tristan Walker (the successful entrepreneur and man behind the Bevel system) and Laura Weidman Powers (formerly a senior advisor to President Obama’s U.S. Chief Technology Officer).

Last night, LEAP Empowerment, Inc. and Code2040 hosted entertainment mogul Walter Latham for a fireside chat at the American Underground. Latham, known in the entertainment industry as “The King of Comedy”, came up with the idea for “The Original Kings of Comedy”, the second highest-grossing stand-up film of all time. He was the promoter who launched the career of Chris Tucker and has worked with a wide range of entertainers from Robin Williams to Diddy to Tyler Perry.

At 46, the brother is truly inspirational and he provided a room full of young entrepreneurs (most being entrepreneurs of color) with some points that, regardless of the path you’re taking into creating your own legacy, are applicable. The chat, moderated by Code2040 Entrepreneur-in-Residency Doug Speight, touched on everything from Latham’s personal challenges as a father who was just making ends meet to his successful generation of hundreds of millions of dollars during his 25 years in the industry.

Out of everything that was discussed, there were some key points that will stick with me and I’d be wrong not to share them with you. So, in order of significance to me, I’ve created a “Top 10 Quotes of the Latham Fireside Chat” list:

  1. “You can always make more money but you can never repair damaged relationships.”
  2. “You never risk your own money. … So I wrote a (sponsorship) letter and sent it to 50 companies. One day, I got home and had one message and that changed everything.”
  3. “You can go work for 25 years for a company and make decent money and, in 25 years, they give you your watch and your pension and find a 25-year younger version of you.”
  4. “Chase the opportunity, be prepared for the opportunity, but you’ve got to manage the opportunity. Don’t let the opportunity manage you.”
  5. “There’s got to be more to it than the money. I’ve made money before.”
  6. “I already had the content ready, I just needed a platform to put the content on.”
  7. “You’ve got to feed your family but know that (your current job) is just a means to an end.”
  8. “It ain’t (always) about the money. (Sometimes) it’s about the exposure. Take the opportunities that will give you the exposure until you gain enough exposure to demand the money.”
  9. “Never let your wants become your needs.”
  10. “The lesson I learned is let people be who they are.”

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During the closing, Speight said, “Capture all of your ideas because you never know what that will lead to down the road.” That’s powerful. I believe in taking notes whenever something crosses my mind because, even if it doesn’t work right now, when the technology or the channel comes so that I can implement it, I don’t want to have to recreate the idea or, worse, see my idea implemented by anyone else.

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Following the fireside chat, Walter and Shemeka Michelle, of Turners Church News and Naked Girlz Blog (no, I’m not sending you to an adult site), had a chance to sit and talk one-on-one, at which point Walter opened up more about his personal life, the struggles of being a father and entrepreneur, and being transparent with the mistakes he has made in life so that he can keep others from some of the same pitfalls. Make sure you check out Naked Girlz Blog in the coming days for that exclusive footage.

 

Make professional development a priority.

Meeting Ms. Issa Rae

This weekend, I had the opportunity to collaborate with LionsHead Media, a black tech company out of Durham, and photograph Issa Rae of HBO’s “Insecure” as she spoke to an auditorium full of students at North Carolina Central University. Kicking it backstage with Issa (like we’re best friends, right?) was nothing short of inspiring. This young lady is doing exactly what I want to do in a lane that’s different from my own, but the same principles are applicable. She has taken a corporate web platform (YouTube), created an unmarketed but very real aspect of black culture in “Awkward Black Girl”, and developed such a cult following that she was able to author a NYT bestseller, pen a deal with HBO, and take everything that she’s learned to an HBCU campus in order to inspire the next generation of young black creative minds.

It was super dope to be able to connect with her backstage chatting with her about her come up, getting an autograph for my wife, and listening to Corey Freeman, Creative Director at LionsHead Media, explain to her the impact that Durham’s Black Wall Street had on the United States. Additionally, I was able to create content off the personal interaction as well as capture some awesome photographs of her that I couldn’t have gotten without having the access I got through LionsHead. But the most powerful things I got from the conversation between NCCU student Christina Boyd-Clark of LionsHead Media and Issa were these five quotes that I was able to jot down in my notebook in between snapping. Take them and allow them to inspire you as you work to further your brand and your community.

“(The stereotypes that the media shows) are valid black experiences but not the only black experiences.”
“In this day and age, there’s no excuse not to create.”
“Where’s your content online?”
“I get a lot of inspiration just by living life.”
“(Success) depends on talent and consistency, but consistency more than anything else.”

All very simple concepts but I chose them as my top quotes because it shows that, in this day and age, the formula for success is not rocket science. It’s just about taking care of the basics and doing so consistently. You have to provide a different angle that isn’t already out there. You have to be putting yourself out there. You have to live life and interact with people in order to create. And you have to go hard regularly. So do it and maybe one day I’ll be photographing your speaking engagement.

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Once again, major shoutout to LionsHead Media for the opportunity to meet a young lady who is working to change the conversation around black lifestyle and what is seen as the norm within our culture. We’re not all gangstas, charismatic entertainers, welfare moms, and bad b_____es. Some of us are awkward and insecure and oddly funny folks who don’t like seeing the same person in the hall three times in a work day because how many times can you really say “Hello”?

 

Make professional development a priority.