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.
“The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” — Proverbs 15:3
Have you ever been at a pivotal point in your life and realized that you have to refocus? No one will do it for you. Look in the mirror and make the changes necessary to reach for the stars that you know God put you here to reach for.That was me today. I’ve been doing well as of late in many ways. I’ve got a good job. I workout four or five days each week. I go to church. I’m eating better and drinking less. And I’m doing a better job of managing my money. But something was missing.
Last night, my best man and best friend Sean sent me a devotional he read. It was good advice but, at the time, I thought of it secularly and not spiritually. At 2:25 this morning, God woke me up and I sat and thought about what is missing from my days. I didn’t pick up my phone and scroll. I just thought. And I realized that, even with going to church weekly, leading Bible Study on Wednesdays, and working on the church’s social media team, I was neglecting my own relationship with God. I was doing enough to look like a good Christian but what was I sacrificing? I get up in the morning, do yoga, go to the gym, go to work, come home, watch Netflix and read books. Sure, I’d thank Him for waking me and for my food but that was the extent of my regular prayers.
After taking the time to recognize this, I prayed for healing. And after I prayed for healing, I decided I would read the Word. And you know what chapter I randomly came across? The one Sean sent me a few hours before. I didn’t realize it at first until I got to that verse. It was a reminder that, no matter how much I fall off, God is looking out for me and He has a plan to help me get back on the right track.
This has nothing to do with professional development or branding. As I said before, all of that looks good for me right now. It has to do with wholistic care. Are you, as a young professional, feeding your spirit the way you’re feeding your body and bank accounts? If the answer is no, consider how to start.
Make refocusing a priority.
This past weekend, I had nothing to do and no one to hang out with (Desirée and her sorority sisters took a road trip), so I left work on Friday and hit the road for Charlotte. On my way there, I was posting periodically to my Instagram story and one of my friends of almost a decade, Bianca Payton of S&S Associates, shot me a message letting me know that one of her clients, Opera Carolina, would be having an early screening of “The Girl Of The West” that evening and she invited me to come as a “Tweet Seater” (blogger). I haven’t been to the opera in years but it is always nice to immerse yourself in settings that you aren’t regularly in. Not only did I get to see an awesome performance with spectacular music in an amazing venue (get tickets by clicking here), I was also able to meet some movers and shakers in the entrepreneurial and creative sphere, like photographer and re-branding consultant Josh Galloway and footwear designer La’Cario Sellers, owner of Customs by Cario. After the opera, my LB, author Brady S. Moore and I connected with our college friend, marketing specialist Brittany Maul. Bianca and Josh met up with us there a bit later and we closed the bar.
The next morning, after a 2+ mile run on the south side of Charlotte, I went to visit family and then took some time to catch up with my friend and the best barber in North Carolina, Tim Doe of No Grease Exclusive in uptown Charlotte. I had about 30 minutes to kill so I took my camera bag and shot around downtown before grabbing an awesome brunch w/ Brittany at Mimosa Grill. I closed out my trip by trying to catch an NBA playoff game with Sean Johnson of Toshiba Business Solutions, Cory Bennett of XChange NC, Branden Reid of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, and Tony McNeal of Bank of America (I say “trying” because we spent the time catching up and missed the game in its entirety).
Thing is, the game was just wishful thinking. That last chill session with friends is what the trip was about one thing: catching up. As those of you who’ve been rocking with me for a while know, I lived in Charlotte for four years after graduating from UNCG. I loved the city but ended up moving back to Durham to be closer to family. Though the Triangle will always have a place in my heart and it is great for Desirée and me right now, eventually, I hope we get the opportunity to move back to the greater Charlotte area. That being said, though it is years away, maintaining relationships in Charlotte will be key to my success as an entrepreneur. And, though phone calls and text messages are nice, there’s nothing like taking some time to go hang out with those in your circle who are in the physical area that you’re looking to be in. When I came to Charlotte the first time, I had an aesthetically appealing résumé with no experience and I was still developing my network. If I return, I will come with a network that opens doors and experience that closes deals. But to have those doors opened, you have to invest in your relationships on the front end.
Make professional development a priority.
This past weekend, my first cousin, his fiancée, my wife, and I went out for drinks and small plates and talked about life, work, and the opportunities that God was providing us with. It was great because Sean was my big brother when I didn’t have any siblings so, looking at where we are now and where we’ve been, I am grateful for how well we are doing.
But that’s not the point of this post. As we talked, Sean discussed his management style and it gave me an idea. I am often motivated by seeing the urgency in a situation and, as of late, I haven’t seen urgency in raising dollars. Not because there is no urgency but because I’m just going through the motions at this point. Sean gave me an idea to put on my door something along the lines of “This month, I was $x,000 under quota.” Now, I modified that from a sales model to a fundraising one but, on the white board in my office, I placed the sign that you see as the feature photograph for this post. If I go more than three days without a drop in the bucket, I the square to the right of the date goes from the black to the red (for those who aren’t into finances, being in the black is a good thing and being in the red is bad).
Now, that may not work for you but I encourage you to research things that will motivate you to be the best you can be and then put them into practice. It’s the only way you will get better.
Make professional development a priority.