An Open Letter: This Thanks Is For You

Dear Everyone,
It is an empowering thing to see us breaking down society’s rules of what it means to be successful and, instead, define it as our happiness. Certainly, many of us stunt a bit on S.M. but we are making progress and that’s what matters. I love scrolling down my timeline and seeing my friends defining success and joy for themselves.

Whether they just got out the bing or started their own business or got a promotion or switched careers or decided to pursue dreams of spitting bars or finished reading a book or learned a new word or quit their job to travel the world, I’m happy for you. You may have just saved your first $100 or $100,000. I am happy for you. You may have just gotten engaged or announced you’re having a kid out of wedlock. I am happy for you. I am happy because I know that every step you take, even if it is a challenging one, is another step toward your destiny. You are going to be great and you’re getting greater each day you do something that causes love in and for yourself to grow.

Life is short. If you aren’t loving it, you’re wasting it.



Rain or Shine, It Sings

As I write this on a dreary spring forward Sunday morning, I write with one thing in mind: Even on a rainy morning, a bird gives its all to sing. That bird doesn’t know if today is its final day to sing. It doesn’t know which note will be its last. It just knows that a part of its purpose is to sing its song from the tree in the morning and, therefore, it does just that.

How often do we shirk our responsibilities or our purposes because it’s raining? Whether we decide not to dress decently, at the very least, because of literal rain or we choose not to give our all because of a storm we are currently going through, we are disrespecting the Creator and all those who invested time, money, or energy into their belief that we could be something great.

You are important and the world needs your gifts, so don’t sell yourself short. Take that risk. Apply for that job. Let go of that comfortable thing that is only hindering you. Get up every day and sing your song. Live your purpose. The bird has a lot less to sing about than we do and, yet, he’s out here on this overcast Sunday. I’m willing to bet he’ll be out there with that same intensity on the next sunny Monday too.


Make being great every day a priority.

When Are You Going to Do It?

This year, I started my book. It’s going to be amazing. I’ve been wanting to write one for a while. I’ve started a few times. But I finally found the motivation that’s going to take me the distance.

Get up. Do something every day. If your fitness goal is to get stronger and you do five pushups, that’s better than zero. If you said you’re going to run a 5K, do a 1K power walk on lunch break. If you want to move forward in entrepreneurship or leadership or business, find a journal or credible blog to read. $13 per day will have $5,000 in your savings account after a year. Network. Listen. Learn. Plan but don’t just plan: Do.

Find your reason to hit your goals. No one is going to do it for you. This is your year.


Make getting there a priority.

Lessons Left By Ira

Most people who know me know that I lost my father in 2011 and some know about the passing of my great-grandma in 2007. But very few people, outside of my friends from Chapel Hill, know the other people I’ve lost. Today, I’ll touch on a pretty special young lady who I have nothing but fond memories of.

I remember in third grade or so, a young girl from Ukraine joined my class. Her name was Irina Yarmolenko but she went by Ira. She was pretty, sweet, and smart. An all-around genuine human being. Until recently, I didn’t know that her family had immigrated here as refugees but I probably didn’t completely understand what was going on in that part of the world at that time. To me, she was just a new student.

Over the next decade, Ira and I went to school together until we graduated from Chapel Hill High. We took everything from college prep to Advanced Placement courses together. At some point (probably during my girl-crazy middle school years), I recall having a crush on her but, when all was said and done, we just became really good friends. She was an amazing young lady.

I almost teared up when I came across her Facebook page today and decided to look through our friendship (or as much of it as Facebook could report, which unfortunately leaves out a large chunk). Ira and I had gotten into the same college, UNCC. I had also been accepted to NC State and UNCG. All three had great business programs but I went with UNCG because the female to male ratio was almost 3:1 at the time. Ira, who chose to go to UNCC, picked on me about that in some of her posts to my Facebook wall. Her teasing still makes me laugh.Screen Shot 2018-03-03 at 4.20.00 PM

In mid-2008, as her second year at UNCC came to a close, Ira passed away. NBC’s show “Dateline” did a segment on the mystery behind her death and I recall watching it, hoping an answer would surface. One never did. How it happened isn’t a concern of mine now. If there is justice to be served, it seems like it would be fair, conceptually. I just know that I’ll never run into my friend on Franklin Street again. She passed at 20 years old. I’m 30 as of this past December 3 and, while I cannot say we would’ve definitely still been close, sometimes it’s nice just to see what’s going on in an old friend’s life or grab a drink (now that we can legally). I would’ve loved to hear her verbose opposition to the current state of sociopolitical affairs in the state and nation that she came to call home. Thinking about it, she didn’t even get to see President Obama elected, nor will she see our first female president. She was a great artist and a great soul and, remembering her reminds me that I’ve only got one life to live and I have no clue as to when it will end. So I must live it knowing that every memory made isn’t just for me but also for those who will smile about the good times when I’m gone.

Don’t go a day without telling at least one person you love them and don’t let too long go without reaching out to an old friend. Live in love and let old feuds die.

Make living a life you love a priority.

Don’t Lose Focus

“If you need to quit your job, that’s fine. Quit on Friday at 5 PM. But don’t tell anyone you’re quitting. And be back at your desk on Monday morning. Do that every week until you don’t have to anymore.” — Pastor Byron L. Benton

My pastor gave me that advice after a tough week at work a while back. I wanted to give up. But, you know what? Life happens. People come. People go. People come back. People leave again. New people enter. Old people exit. Jobs come. Cars come. Sometimes you’ve got to ride the bus. Dreams succeed. Plans fail. But, through it all, know that you’re here for something bigger than whatever is going on right now.

There have been times where we all have lost ourselves. We’ve missed the mark. Our focus shifts. But, whatever that focus is, don’t lose it. You cannot afford to lose it. What you can afford is to work hard until you need a break and then take that break. You can afford to stumble, fall, and get up. You can afford to turn around and walk in the wrong direction, only to realize that you’ve lost your direction. What you cannot afford to do is completely give up.

I didn’t get the job I wanted. I lost family members. I had business ideas fail. I’ve had my days like you’ve had yours. I’ve wanted to quit. Sometimes I did tell myself I quit and I thought I meant it. But, here I am, still pushing. Still figuring out ways I can make the purpose I was born to serve pay my bills. You are no less capable than I. I know you can do it. So, if you need to quit, quit. But don’t tell anyone in a position of power that you’ve quit. And, tomorrow or next week or next month or whenever you need to be back on your grind, be there. And go hard.

You were put here for a purpose and, if you give up, you’ll be letting all of humanity down. Your gift is that powerful.


Make saving the world a priority.

In It For the Credit

“Flattery is from the teeth out. Sincere appreciation is from the heart out.” — Dale Carnegie

Some folks are just in it for the recognition. I can recall talking with someone who went above and beyond, bragged on it to her supervisor, and then told me she was upset when her supervisor all but said “Do you want a cookie?” It’s not that the supervisor wasn’t impressed but it was obvious that the employee was just looking for a pat on the back.

Do work that is worthy of recognition but work that expects none. While we all deserve credit for good work, if you do it regularly enough, don’t expect a pat on the back each time. Just find joy in knowing that you’re doing something exceptional.

On the other hand, if you are doing great work consistently and are never shown appreciation, it’s time to start looking elsewhere. A manager that doesn’t work to motivate those on his/her team is a terrible leader and doesn’t deserve a team following his/her guidance.


Make doing it for the right reasons a priority.

How Is Week 1 Going?

Here we are, on the fifth day of 2018. How are you feeling about it? Have you been able to establish a routine? Are your expectations a realistic stretch or are you setting yourself up for disappointment?

If it’s not going well already, as opposed to giving up after a few weeks or a month, scale back and set benchmarks that will allow you to reach your goals throughout the year. No one expects you to come into 2018 doing everything perfectly.

At the same time, if your new routine isn’t challenging you enough within this first week, consider stepping it up some. For example, this morning, I got on the treadmill to knock out two miles and did it much more quickly than I expected without breaking my pace. So, next week, my goal is to increase the pace on the treadmill and reduce my time to knock out those two miles. Then, the week after it, I’ll maintain the pace and increase the distance. Why? Because, if it’s not challenging you, it’s not changing you.

In short, your goals are not set in stone. They should be working documents that you tinker with every month or so. That being said, I’ll be checking back in throughout the year and pointing you back to this post to see how well you’re adjusting and to be transparent with my successes and my areas for growth.


Make dynamic goal-setting a priority.