Cutting Dead Weight

This morning, first thing I did was check out the new episode of one of my closest friends’ YouTube series. Motivational speaker and entrepreneur Natasha Nichole Lake is all about empowering millennials and women to follow their dreams and make themselves better versions of themselves. Check out her latest video, Smartest Person in the Room, below. It’s all about cutting people from your inner circle who aren’t helping you develop, which is something many young professionals struggle with.

Make professional development a priority.


Be Open

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to serve as the official photographer for my first major event. Mind you, I don’t claim to be a photographer. I own a camera. For my birthday, my wife got me (us) an additional lens. I’m very much a novice. But I’ve taken a liking to the hobby and developed a bit of raw skill (see yesterday’s post, Raw Material and Raw Potential), so she decided she would invest in my happiness (sidebar: invest in the dreams of your significant other. It will pay off tenfold in you all’s collective joy.)

Anyway, I digress. This weekend, I was able to shoot Berean Community Center‘s Abolition Day service at Shaw University. The Community Center, a branch from my church, The Berean Experience (also known as Berean Baptist Church), had North Carolina NAACP president Rev. Dr. William Barber as the keynote speaker (you may recall him from this video at the 2016 Democratic National Convention), United States Congressional Black Caucus chairman Rep. G.K. Butterfield as the master of ceremonies, and Supreme Court of North Carolina Justice-elect the Honorable Mike Morgan speak on the historical perspective of the event. All in all, it was a powerful celebration of black freedom, black excellence, and America’s bite at the apple of redemption. And I was there for it all. From the private meeting of these and other names that are known locally and nationally to capturing moments from angels that everyone else was unable to see, I was present and ready. Why? Because I was asked to serve. I had no idea when we got the camera that I would fall in love with the attention to detail required to shoot a manual shot and get it just right but I’m glad I did. My hobby allows me to serve in church on Sundays, keeping me both engaged and active, but it also is opening doors for me to meet people who have changed the social fabric of our nation and communities. That is important to me.

During his time at the pulpit, Justice-elect Morgan said, “When you find yourself surrounded by excellence, it can’t help but become a part of you.” The funny thing is, you never know what it is that will put you in the room with greatness so be open to more than one avenue to success.


Make professional development 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.

In a Hong Kong Minute

Hey folks! I’m back in the United States! Thankfully I had automated Monday’s post because I was in no position to write on Monday. In Europe, I gave you a rundown of what was going on everyday in real time. This trip, however, was so short and jam packed that I decided I would just put together one extended blog post.
Desirée and I left directly from work on Monday to head to Dulles, where our flight was departing out of at noon on Tuesday. We left the car at a Park, Stay, and Ride hotel 8 minutes from IAD, hopped from DC to Newark and then, 16 hours later, we were in Hong Kong. We only fly with carry-on luggage because 1) checked baggage get lost easier and 2) then we have to wait for our baggage. Once we arrived, we caught public transit to the Rosedale Kowloon Hotel and, by the time we checked in, it was 10 PM. Since we didn’t have a chance to stop at an ATM and none of the local spots took credit, we had to eat at McDonald’s but that isn’t too bad. McDonald’s is a bit of an international ritual for me. It allows me to gauge the cultural norms in different places. Example: They had some kind of a salmon Big Mac, with the beef as one layer and a deep fried salmon burger as another. We ate and went to the room to get some sleep in a city that was 13 hours ahead of home. One really cool thing about our room is that the hotel provided us with a cellular device so that we would have connectivity throughout our trip if we needed it. We ended up using that primarily for Google Maps and to call home  but that’s really all we needed it for. Sleep didn’t come easy on this (or any) night in Asia.
The next morning, we hit the ground RUNNING. First, we walked 20 minutes to this hole in the wall restaurant Desirée found on Yelp. I had a beef and egg sandwich that was decent and she had this marvelous French Toast. I can’t describe it but it definitely was good. After that, we caught the subway to Ngong Ping where the Big Buddha statue is located. We had to take a cable car over the mountain to get there in reasonable time so I dealt with my fear of heights and we saved a couple hours on a bus. The statue was magnificent. Of course, I’m not Buddhist but I can certainly appreciate the effort put into a monument of that stature. While there, I happened to run into some brothers of my fraternity (I had an Alpha shirt on), one of Desirée’s Delta sisters, and an AKA. We spoke and, since it was Thanksgiving, they invited us to Thanksgiving dinner with them. Unfortunately that didn’t end up happening because communication there relies on my ability to connect to wifi. But it was cool to be across the world and meet frat. On the way out of the park that surrounded the Buddha, we stopped and I got some dim sum. Was pretty good but some sweet and sour sauce would have helped. After the Big Buddha, we went to the Hong Kong Zoo and got to see some exotic animals. My favorites were the black and gold buff cheeked gibbons. We ended up catching an Uber back to the hotel and were planning on eating somewhere and then going out for drinks but exhaustion had set in. We didn’t make it out of the hotel that night (even though we had dinner reservations that we didn’t remember until we were already in the bed and comfortable), but we did grab drinks on our hotel’s sky bar.
The second day, we got an early start at around 6 AM (which was fine with me because sleep was evasive). We caught an Uber about 45 minutes out to Dragon’s Back Trail and hiked about 60 minutes up the mountain and 30 down. The climb was pretty rough, but we reached the top of the first peak and it was worth it. The views were spectacular from every direction. I captured as much as I could but no photograph could show you God’s beauty from that point. I posted a photo from one of the peaks and my uncle wrote on it, “Remember to take in the view, but don’t forget to acknowledge the vision.” The vision that created all of this was unmistakably divine and to experience it, a blessing.
After Dragon’s Back, we caught a bus down to the metro station (we didn’t have exact change for the bus but thankfully the driver gave us a break because, as he assumed, we didn’t speak Cantonese) and walked around looking for food. We came across this street vendor that had great noodles (Desirée’s) and Crab Fried Rice (mine) as well as some local delicacy snacks (me, a barbecue dish and Desirée some pastry). Then we Ubered back to the hotel to shower and get out of our hiking clothes (and to sneak in a quick nap before we got back to it). We set back out again around noon, dressed for the rest of the day and the evening, and went to the site of 10,000 Buddhas (which is actually a winding hill with 10,000 monk statues. Pretty impressive even though, after the morning’s strenuous hike, we only made it through about 200 of them before saying, “Well, that was nice.” Next up on our itinerary was the Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden. The garden was beautiful and well kept. Maybe it was the novelty of it all but the beautiful sites in Hong Kong were more plentiful than those in any major city I’ve been to the United States. Everywhere I looked, there was something designed to enhance nature’s beauty from every angle. We left the garden/nunnery stop and rushed to catch a train that would get us to Sky 100 for high tea on the 100th floor of the highest building in china. As I said before, I hate heights, but once again, I made my way up there and was glad I did. The view of the city from the building’s observatory was rivaled only by the view of nature from the peak of Dragon’s Back. After tea, we walked around some and finally made it to our dinner reservations from the night before, which we were able to reschedule. The reservation was on a dinner cruise across the harbor during the city’s light show, which is held every weekend at the end of November and December. Seeing the city lit up from the water like that was a sight that I will always look back to and smile about (plus the entertainment on the dinner cruise will creep into my mind and make me chuckle as well but I won’t mention that unless personally asked). After dinner, we went back to the hotel, dog tired, and passed OUT. I lied earlier. This was the night when sleep came easily.
On our third and final day in Hong Kong,  we woke up and it was supposed to rain all day . I knew I didn’t feel like walking 20 minutes for French Toast even though Desirée wanted the toast she had on Day 1. So I said, “Let’s go around the corner. I’m sure theirs is just as good.” You know how your grandparents say “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?” Yup. They’re right. Because, this time, the French Toast was BROKE. This place decided to put their own spin on the dish by injecting it with peanut butter. We were not fans and, needless to says, I got the evil eye for suggesting that we go there. Following breakfast, we went to Hong Kong Time Square, the Avenue of the Stars (their version of the Walk of Fame), and Causeway Bay (a popular shopping area). We ran into some guys who were marching for equality for the LGBT community. It’s interesting (but not surprising) that, across cultures, some things are still issues that affect all of humanity. We had lunch in Causeway Bay at some hole in the wall. Let’s just say I’m glad there was rice with my meal. A lot of rice. Following lunch, we caught the metro the central part of the city to visit Man Mo Temple, one of Hong Kong’s oldest and most visited temples. Then we went down this ally full of street vendors to find a few souvenirs (we collect magnets everywhere we go so that was one thing we couldn’t leave without) and then we hit happy hour at a couple bars. Hong Kong is known for well-crafted cocktails and I can see why. This one place we went, Aberdeen Street Social, made me the best cocktail I’ve ever had. If you’re ever in Hong Kong, you must go and, if you like scotch, order an Aberdeen Royal Flush. You won’t be disappointed. Along with our drinks, we had a great lobster roll. By then, it had begun raining so we called it quits around 5 PM. On the morning of the 27th, we caught a flight out of Hong Kong to Tokyo, but not before we walked the 20 minutes at 5:30 AM to grab a certain person’s favorite French Toast. While at the airport in Tokyo, where we had a layover, I picked up some Chivas Regal Scotch that is crafted with Japanese oak barrels and only sold in Japan. I’m pretty excited about opening that in good company.
All things considered, this was a great trip. I wish I’d had more time but we made the most of the time we had there. Will I go back? Certainly, one day but we’ve got a lot more to see before then, Lord willing.
Make experiencing life a priority.

Be a Good Friend

The title of this post sounds simple enough, right?  But what does it have to do with your professional development?  Well let me tell you what I’m sure you’ve heard before: It’s not about what you know but who you know.

As some of you who follow me on Instagram and Twitter (@DeryleDaniesJr) know, I recently relocated back to the Triangle (for those who are not from North Carolina, that is the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area).  My fiancée (*News flash* – I got engaged on 12/28/14!) and I left our jobs and friends in Charlotte and moved back home to be closer to family.  All this was done without any solid plan but luckily I hadn’t burned any bridges so I was able to return to Nordstrom, Inc., this time as a stylist.  Now, don’t get me wrong, getting people into the clothes they need for interviews, business meetings, and just fun nights out on the town is a large part of what I am looking to do in the long run.  But the sales aspect of the position isn’t exactly my cup of tea.  And I’m not a fan of working every weekend.  So I’ve been reaching out to my network, looking at other opportunities to set myself up for a successful, more stable future.

Tonight I had a close friend reach out to me and inform me that she was recruited for a position at a very reputable company in Research Triangle Park but she had to decline because she had recently been offered another job.  So she forwarded my name on to her recruiter and he asked her to have me give him a call.  I got on the phone and the recruiter said that she gave me an all around rating of A+ when it comes to being a good fit for the position.  After he and I talked, she was spot on.  The position would be a great one for me and would give me the ability to grow in the areas I need to and strengthen some skills I’m already confident in.  After speaking with the recruiter for about 20 minutes, he was impressed and wanted to get my résumé in his hands.  I sent it to him and he immediately got me an interview for tomorrow.

Now, what does that have to do with being a good friend?  Well my friend who referred me has known me for going on eight years.  She knows that I am driven and reliable.  We often discuss aspirations, upward mobility, and the current state of society.  We also have fun and take ownership over our positions in anything we do.  In other words, she knows that, in putting her reputation on the line for me, no risk has been taken because I would not make her look bad.  So be a good friend.  It’s the only way anyone will ever go out of his/her way to help you get ahead.

#TrendingThursday Week 51

So, first of all, I’m going to wish my gorgeous, supportive girlfriend a happy birthday.  Secondly, I’ll share some articles.  Hope you’ve had a great week and that you enjoy your weekend.

#TrendingThursday – Week 49

It’s one day until Friday!  No complaints there (except for those of us who work retail and then it’s still one day closer to making more money so it’s a win-win).  I hope everyone has a great and safe Memorial Day weekend.