Paying It Forward

Next week, it’s time for the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s homecoming! Best time of the year for me every year since 2006. Shoot, it’s so great that we got married around the time of G’s homecoming.

Today, I had lunch with two members of the UNCG family and we discussed giving to the school. Many of my friends who don’t give don’t because they are paying their loans. And yes, you’re paying money back but are you paying opportunities forward?

Were it not for UNCG, I would not be where I am today. I wouldn’t have met my best friends. Secondly, I wouldn’t have been made a brother of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. by way of the Playboi Pi Zeta chapter. And, thirdly, I wouldn’t have received the education I did.

Now, many would say that education is the primary reason for going to a university and I agree. But it’s not the most important thing I took from my university. From it, I took relationships, a spirit to give back, and a better understanding of both business and African-American studies (along with many other subject areas). UNCG made me a more well-rounded and more prepared adult.

That’s why I give back to my institution. Why do you give back to yours? And, if you don’t, you should give something. Every dollar counts.

Make giving back a priority.


Wednesdays Are For Women

Over my life, women have played a huge role in each of my successes, from my awesome mother birthing me and sticking through tough times to make sure that my siblings and I had a two-parent household to my wonderful wife who has a full-time job, has a blog that she posts to regularly, and is continuing her education. Then, heavily sprinkle into that timeline teachers, mentors, supervisors, friends, business partners, girlfriends, spiritual leaders, doctors, etc. who are women and you’ll see that women play a huge role in my life.

The problem is, when I look at my blog, I don’t see that reflected. I see a male-dominated blog focused on young professionals and professional development that is gender-neutral at best, but, more often than not, male-centered. Now, that’s kind of understandable because I’m writing from my perspective but I want to mix women into the conversation. So, going forward, Wednesdays will be dedicated to the ladies working hard to make it happen. Whether I have a guest writer or I repost an article focused on women’s issues in professional settings, know that you all will have something to look forward to here on The Reader. Thanks for all your support and all you do.

Header artwork by Tatiana Camice. Check more of her work out by clicking here.



Make professional development a priority.

Manage Expectations

One thing I learned at the CASE District III conference is that you really have to manage expectations.  I’m telling you, in 66% of the sessions I went to, they said that higher education professionals have to manage expectations and I agree whole heatedly.  But I’ll take it one step further and say that all professionals, especially young professionals, must work to effectively manage expectations.  People think that, because many of us are 40 and younger, we’re in a position to work ourselves into the ground.  And I refuse to do that.  I believe in having a strong work ethic but I don’t believe in doing eight things halfheartedly.  I believe in doing a few things and doing them exceptionally well.  So, when asked by upper management to take on additional responsibilities, do one of two things – say “Let me look at my workload and get back to you on that,” (and actually do both of those things) or say “I can put that on my plate but I’m going to need you to let me know how high this is on your priority list and what I need to shift down because my plate is full now.”  If you fail to manage expectations, people will expect you to have everything done at once and that is illogical.  You’re one person, not five.  Make sure your leadership remembers that.


Make professional development a priority.

But It’s Free!

Your boss sends you an email.  Within this email is a webinar that teaches you how to do your job more effectively.  You don’t have any pressing deadlines to meet.  But you don’t register for the webinar.  Why is that?  It’s free education that could lead to you being more effective.  You being more effective could lead to a raise or, better yet, a promotion.  A promotion could lead to you succeeding your boss (or his/her boss).  But you don’t want to spend an hour learning?  Come on.  You’re getting paid to sit and listen for an hour.  You could honestly have your phone our and be texting if you so chose.

We have too many resources at our disposal to not take advantage of them.  Though anyone can read it, this blog targets young professionals.  We do NOT know it all.  No matter how much information we have at our fingertips, we still need to learn from those who have been there.  Sometimes wisdom is worth more than knowledge.  But when you take their wisdom and combine it with our knowledge, we could make a serious impact on the world.  But that means we have to be willing to take advantage of every learning opportunity we’re given.  So go back through your inbox and sign up for those webinars.  Read those articles that you were sent.  Look at those strategic plans left on your desk.   I’m not saying you have to do it all.  But I am saying you should do most of it.  1 – You’ll learn more and be better.  2 – You’ll look like you’re learning more and getting better.

Make professional development a priority.

Why Successful People Never Bring Smartphones Into Meetings

No generation sees eye to eye with the one raising them or the one they raise and, with the technological advances of late, the gap is widening even more than usual. A few weeks ago, I came across this Forbes article by Kevin Kruse and thought, “This is where the rubber meets the road when relating technology to professionalism.” Fellow young professionals, as much as some of us feel like rules and decorum are archaic and shouldn’t matter as long as we get the job done well, they do matter. Many of us still work for or have to meet with persons who are 20+ years our seniors and their definitions of what is and is not acceptable vary from ours. Just because you see people on their phones all the time on reality TV doesn’t mean it’s always acceptable in reality. But, anyway, check out this insightful article and share it with other young professionals. Sometimes we need to see how we are perceived by those in power so that we can continue getting ahead.

Do you check your phone for text messages or emails during business meetings?

According to new research from the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, you are probably annoying your boss and colleagues. Furthermore, the research indicates that older professionals and those with higher incomes are far more likely to think it is inappropriate to be checking text messages or emails during meetings of any kind.

Researchers surveyed 554 full-time working professionals who earned more than $30K in income and were employed by companies with at least 50 employees. They asked survey participants about the use of smartphones in formal and informal meetings to uncover attitudes about answering calls, writing or reading emails or text messages, browsing the internet, and other mobile phone related behaviors. Key findings include:

  • 86% think it’s inappropriate to answer phone calls during formal meetings
  • 84% think it’s inappropriate to write texts or emails during formal meetings
  • 75% think it’s inappropriate to read texts or emails during formal meetings
  • 66% think it’s inappropriate to write texts or emails during any meetings
  • At least 22% think it’s inappropriate to use phones during any meetings

These findings don’t surprise Roger Lipson, executive coach and founder of The Lipson Group who said, “In my 360-survey work with executives, ‘smartphone/tablet use in meetings’ is one of the most frequent comments for the ‘behaviors to stop doing’ category.”

Why do so many people—especially more successful people—find smartphone use in meetings to be inappropriate? It’s because when you access your phone it shows:

  • Lack of respect. You consider the information on your phone to be more important than the conversation in the meeting; you view people outside of the meeting to be more important than those sitting right in front of you.
  • Lack of attention. You are unable to stay focused on one item at a time; the ability to multitask is a myth.
  • Lack of listening. You aren’t demonstrating the attention and thinking that is required of truly active listening.
  • Lack of power. You are like a modern day Pavlovian dog who responds to the beck and call of others through the buzz of your phone.

As expected, opinions on cell phone usage vary greatly by age. Millennials were three times more likely than those over age 40 to think that checking text messages and emails during informal meetings was OK. However, unlike other Millennial traits, this difference is one that could influence young professionals’ careers, as they typically reliant on those who are more senior, and older, for career advancement.

As with any communication, it’s important to be open and transparent with what is expected in the workplace. Lipson noted one novel idea to make sure everybody knew what was expected, “One of my clients took a chapter from saloons in the old West. He put a wicker basket at the entrance to his main conference room, along with a sign. The sign had a picture of a smartphone with the message, ‘Leave your guns at the door.’”

Download and print a “Smartphone Free Zone” sign for your conference room–keep your meetings quiet, and your participants focused.

Check out Kevin Kruse’s new book, Employee Engagement for Everyone.

Source: Forbes