I’ve achieved a great deal in my life, all of which set me up to realize what my dream is. As of today, I’m at the beginning of the path to achieve it. My dream is to create a platform that has a global impact in changing the way that we, as human beings see and interact with each other. In short, I want to make the word “tolerance” a thing of history. I want to crack the very difficult psychological code that moves people from “tolerating” the differences that make us unique to actively loving and appreciating how those differences make our teams, our communities, and our societies stronger. “Build strength through diversity” is one of my personal core values, and I plan to instill that value into as many people across the planet as I possibly can. My first effort toward achieving that goal is devoted to rebuilding economic strength and independence in the Black community. I have developed and plan to grow a communications platform that offers free marketing exposure to black business owners via my podcast and forthcoming black business directory online. When I close my eyes, I envision this podcast with an audience over 100,000 and a business directory with as many or more monthly visits, both of which will provide free exposure and listing for black business owners, as well as a reliable place where consumers can come to patronize black businesses and support our greater community.
What is your (E) ducational background and how do you use it daily?
I have an Associate’s Degree in Intelligence Studies and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. Additionally, I am a Certified Professional in Learning and Performance, Gold Certified in using the New World Kirkpatrick model of training evaluation, and an ICAgile Certified Professional. While I continue to serve our nation’s intelligence analysis efforts, my passion and daily devotion is in training, process improvement, and business development. In my traditional career as an associate in a major consulting firm, I use my Intelligence & Training backgrounds as well as by Business degree to provide performance consultation to U.S. military organizations, helping them streamline processes in order to allow their Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines to spend more time and energy focused on their missions. In my personal time, I am building the Buy Black Podcast from the ground up, establishing a foundation of valuable evergreen content that will continue to draw a larger audience over time. As a one man show, I’m responsible for everything from book keeping to marketing…from booking guests to editing, producing, and publishing my audio tracks.
What (R) esources do you bring to the table that make you unique or stand out?
Throughout my life, I have ascribed to the philosophy that you should identify the things you love, the things you’re passionate about, and become an expert in them. Since we all have different skills and different passions, it stands to reason that we will have different combinations of overlapping capabilities. What has made me unique in the marketplace to this point has been my experiences. Very few people have taken a path similar to mine in life, which means few people are qualified to provide the kind of education and consultation that I can. I spent 8 years as an infantryman in the United States Marines. Since leaving that branch, I have spent 9 years as an Air Force intelligence analyst. As a civilian, I educated myself on Instructional Systems Design and Training Facilitation, using that Google knowledge and subsequent real-world experience to earn and become a Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP). What makes me stand out in any environment is that I can learn any system within a short period of time and identify ways to streamline and improve it to save resources while making a bigger impact. It is how I landed by position as a performance consultant long before I had a Bachelor’s Degree. It is that unique ability that I am using to build my podcast platform today.
When did you (R) ealize you were ready for what you are doing now?
Last year, in the summer of 2016, I had just finished by bachelor’s degree and was looking for my next project. The CPLP tests were months away, so I had no immediate challenge ahead of me. At that time, on July 5th & July 6th, I saw the videos of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile murdered. More than any previous tragedy of the kind, the deaths of those men affected me deeply, to the point of action. I made up my mind then that I would have to do something that could impact the world beyond my family and small circle…so I began brainstorming. Over the next 9 months I tried several small projects…doing Facebook live videos, posting motivational quotes and images to connect with people, but those things were too small scale. In that period I had also begun listening to several business education podcasts, and I began to think about what kind of podcast I might be able to create. Finally, in April 2017, I happened to reconnect with a friend from my childhood on Facebook. When I went to her page, I saw that she did lots of research on black owned businesses and was posting articles about them on her page to help promote them, simply because that was her passion. That was the final piece of the pie. The idea for the Buy Black Podcast came to me and over the next two months I put everything in line to produce and publish the show to the world. On July 5th, 2017, I went live with the first show. I chose that date to honor Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
Name at least one (I) ndividual in your network that others should learn about and why.
I would say Gerald Harris. He and I grew up in the same town competing against each other in sports. He is now the Student Engagement Coordinator at Duke University and is also becoming very active in the local political scene in Raleigh-Durham. Remember the name, I predict it will be common in your household in the not too distant future.
What (C) hallenges have you had to overcome?
The toughest thing that I have had to overcome is my own personal growth as a human being and a man. I have spent a great deal of my life looking at the world through the eyes of hegemonic patriarchy. I have challenged myself to confront my subconsciously sexist views of women, homophobic and transphobic views, my religious views, my political views, everything. After building a course on Analytic Tradecraft and Critical Thinking for the military, I spent so much time teaching people how to question their own views and biases that I became mired in doing the same to myself. I went through a period of intense personal growth. It was painful to look in the mirror and see who I really was, how I had previously viewed and treated people (even if only in my own mind), and determine to change the way I interacted with the world. In the end, I came to one conclusion. Jesus stated that the greatest commandments were to love God with everything that is of you and in you (paraphrasing), and to love your neighbor as yourself. All of the laws and the prophets hang on those two commandments. I made a decision to live my life actively loving other people in and on whatever walk of life is true to them, and to do everything in my power to help make their lives better, stronger, and fuller. Since that time, challenges just haven’t seemed so challenging, and no matter what happens I am always content with the outcome.
What (K) eys to success can you leave for upcoming entrepreneurs and leaders?
Everyone has their different keys and tips for what to do to be successful. In my heart, I believe the absolute most important thing that anyone, be it a person or a business, needs to be successful is a Mission, a Vision, and a set of Core Values. I believe people need to invest the time to identify those three things for their lives, write them down, post them where they can be seen, then proceed to live every moment in life adhering to those values, working in their mission, to make the vision become a reality. Our Core Values are a statement of who we believe, in our best selves, that we want to be. Our Mission is what we believe our purpose is in life…why we were put on this Earth. Our Vision is the end game, the future that we want to create for ourselves, our families, and our communities. All of these give us the “Why” of being on this planet, doing what we do. I’ll leave the “how” and “what” tips to someone else. For reference, my personal Core Values are a list of action statements. I don’t believe in using cliché, abstract words to describe “values”. No, your values must invoke ACTION in order for them to be real. My Core Values Are:
- Love People and Lead from Your Heart
- Exhibit Ethical & Intellectual Integrity
- Build Strength Through Diversity
- Listen for Understanding
- Practice Innovative Entrepreneurship
- Model the Behaviors You Want to See in Others
- Always Exceed Expectations
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