Tag: Leadership

Be A Good Closer!

Don’t overthink it – I have a tendency to overthink things. This is not something I ever plan to do & I know that overthinking can sometimes result in indecision. But since I know that this is something I shouldn’t be doing, I am offering this piece of advice to my readers instead. There might be a lot of options, but quantity doesn’t equal quality. So don’t fret too much, trust your gut!

Be specific with your offer – know exactly what it is that you are offering. This will help you target the right customers, get prepared and really hone in on your specialty before presenting your offer. Also, know what it is that you  want to get out of the deal so that when you walk away, you walk away satisfied.

Don’t get distracted by the competition – whether it’s at work or in your personal life there will probably always be someone who is vying to get what you got. Don’t let that get you down & fall off track. Focus on you & what you can do to improve your situation without giving credence to what others may be doing. And don’t worry, your competition certainly isn’t allowing themselves to get distracted by you!

Get others on board – there’s nothing like having a fan club to help get motivated. Whether it’s your family or a group of friends, having someone to support you while you work to accomplish your dreams not only makes it easier but also more meaningful.

Finish what you start – anyone can start a task, but it takes dedication to see it through. So whether it’s big or small, work hard until you get the job done! Not only will it make you feel good, it’ll propel you to start (and finish!) other things.


African American CEO’s


The “Fortune 500”  is a list of the 500 largest companies in the United States as compiled by Fortune magazine. Unfortunately, less than 1% of these companies are led by African American CEO’s. As a matter of fact, of all the CEO’s within the Fortune 500, there are fewer African Americans than any other minority group. This is really sad, considering we comprise nearly 14% of the U.S. population but less than 1% of positions of power in Corporate America.

Although there has thought to have been up to 15 African American CEO’s in the Fortune 500 since its inception, for this post I thought I’d concentrate on the few remaining African American CEO’s.

It is also worthy to not that there are currently no African American majority owned company in the Fortune 500. rankings.

Let’s take a look , shall we? –


Rosalind Brewer worked for 22 years at Kimberly-Clark before becoming a regional vice president at Walmart in 2006. When she landed the job of Sam’s Club CEO in 2012, she became the first woman and first African-American to lead a Walmart (Fortune #1) division. Sam’s Club banks $58 billion in revenues and its 100,000 employees work in the warehouse club’s 648 locations in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. To make up for competition from Costco and lagging sales to small businesses, she has introduced a suite of services including a private health insurance exchange and access to payroll systems and legal services through a Sam’s Club membership. She is also integrating the company’s digital offerings, introducing Club Pick-up, where members can order goods online and fetch them at the store the next day. She serves on the board of Lockheed Martin and she chairs the board of trustees for Spelman College, her alma mater.

CEO Merck

Kenneth C. Frazier has served Merck (Fortune #71) in various positions since joining in 1992 as vice president, general counsel and secretary of the Astra Merck Group. In 2011, Frazier was promoted to CEO and chairman–making him the first African American to lead a major pharmaceutical company. Frazier is the son of a former sharecropper and janitor who instilled the belief that a person can be anything they want to be with hard work. Growing up in impoverished North Philadelphia, Frazier went on to earn degrees from Pennsylvania State University and Harvard Law School. He practiced law from 1978 until 1992 before transitioning to business after representing Merck as a partner in the litigation department of the firm Drinker Biddle & Reath.


In 2001, Kenneth Chenault became CEO of American Express (Fortune #88) after holding several positions within the company since 1981, where he started in the merchandising department. He was named President of the Consumer Card Group in 1989, and in 1993 he became President of Travel Related Services (TRS), which encompassed all of American Express’ card and travel businesses in the United States. In 1995, he assumed additional responsibility for the company’s worldwide card and travel businesses and also was named Vice Chairman of American Express. Mr. Chenault became President and Chief Operating Officer in February 1997. He assumed his current responsibilities as CEO on January 1, 2001, and as Chairman on April 23 of that year.

Mr. Chenault serves on the boards of American Express and several other corporate and nonprofit organizations, including IBM, The Procter & Gamble Company, the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health, the National Center on Addiction & Substance Abuse at Columbia University, the Smithsonian Institution’s Advisory Council for the National Museum of African American History & Culture, and the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation. He also is on the boards of the Partnership for New York City, The Business Council and the Business Roundtable and serves as Vice Chairman of each of these organizations.

A wide variety of civic, social service and community organizations have recognized Mr. Chenault for his public service leadership. He has received the Phoenix House Public Service Award, the Corporate Responsibility Award from the International Rescue Committee and the Wall Street Rising Leadership Award, among others. In addition, he is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Mr. Chenault holds a JD from Harvard Law School and a BA in history from Bowdoin College, and he has received a number of honorary degrees from several universities.


Roger Ferguson is President and Chief Executive Officer of TIAA-CREF (Fortune #92). Mr. Ferguson is the former Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve System. He represented the Federal Reserve on several international policy groups and served on key Federal Reserve System committees, including Payment System Oversight, Reserve Bank Operations, and Supervision and Regulation. As the only Governor in Washington, D.C. on 9/11, he led the Fed’s initial response to the terrorist attacks, taking actions that kept the U.S. financial system functioning while reassuring the global financial community that the U.S. economy would not be paralyzed.

Prior to joining TIAA-CREF in April 2008, Mr. Ferguson was head of financial services for Swiss Re, Chairman of Swiss Re America Holding Corporation, and a member of the company’s executive committee. From 1984 to 1997, he was an Associate and Partner at McKinsey & Company. He began his career as an attorney at the New York City office of Davis Polk & Wardwell.

Mr. Ferguson is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and co-chairs its Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education. He serves on the boards of General Mills and International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. and on the advisory board of Brevan Howard Asset Management LLP.

He is Chairman of The Conference Board and a member of the Business-Higher Education Forum’s Executive Committee. He serves on the boards of the American Council of Life Insurers, the Institute for Advanced Study, and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He is a member of the Economic Club of New York, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Group of Thirty.

Mr. Ferguson served on President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness as well as its predecessor, the Economic Recovery Advisory Board, and he co-chaired the National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on the Long-Run Macro-Economic Effects of the Aging U.S. Population.

Dr. Ferguson holds his B.A., J.D., and Ph.D, from Harvard University. He credits his parents — a schoolteacher and an Army veteran with a knack for investing — for his passion for finance, even as a child.

CEO Ursula

In May 2010, Ursula Burns became the first African American woman to become a CEO for a Fortune 500 company – Xerox Corporation (Fortune #143). During her tenure, she has helped the company transform from a global leader in document technology to the world’s most diversified business services company serving enterprises and governments of all sizes. Ursula joined Xerox as an intern in 1980 and during her career she has held leadership posts spanning corporate services, manufacturing and product development. She was named president in 2007, chief executive officer in 2009 and chairman in 2010. Shortly after being named CEO in 2009, she spearheaded the largest acquisition in Xerox history, the $6.4 billion purchase of Affiliated Computer Services.

Today, Xerox is the leader in diversified business process services with its Services business representing over 50 percent of the company’s total revenue. Its Document Technology business remains the market share leader in the industry and continues to grow in key areas including graphic communications. Ursula, who regularly appears on Fortune’s and Forbes’ list of the world’s most powerful women, is a board director of the American Express Corporation, Exxon Mobil Corporation and the Ford Foundation. In 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama appointed Ursula to help lead the White House national program on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), and she was appointed chair of the President’s Export Council in 2015 after service as vice chair since 2010. She also provides leadership counsel to several other community, educational and non-profit organizations including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the U.S. Olympic Committee, the National Academy Foundation and FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), among others.

Ursula holds a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Polytechnic Institute of New York University and a master of science degree in mechanical engineering from Columbia University.


Marvin Ellison has nearly 30 years of experience in the retail industry. As the President & CEO of J.C Penney (Fortune #250) he has spent the last 12 years at Home Depot. As executive vice president of U.S. stores since August 2008, he has been the senior-most operations leader for Home Depot’s approximately 2,000 stores. Prior to that, he was president of the Northern Division, a role in which he had responsibility for the sales and operations of more than 700 stores in 21 states and led a team of more than 150,000 associates. Previously, he was senior vice president of global logistics, with oversight of all domestic distribution, transportation, store and appliance delivery, import distribution and international logistics throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, China and more than 35 other countries. Before joining Home Depot, Mr. Ellison spent 15 years with Target in a variety of operational roles, including Corporate Director of Asset Protection.

Mr. Ellison serves on the board of directors of FedEx. He is actively involved in philanthropic efforts including inner-city school renovations, as well as mentoring programs aimed at developing inner-city youth. He earned a business administration degree in marketing from the University of Memphis and a Master of Business Administration from Emory University.


Carnival‘s Arnold Donald is not a typical cruise line executive.  He’s not white; he wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth; and he’s not arrogant.

He was born in New Orleans. His parents didn’t finish high school. They raised him and his three siblings in the Ninth Ward (which is now largely destroyed due to Hurricane Katrina).  He achieved great success in the segregated south due to his commitment to education, hard work and the confidence instilled in him by his parents and teachers at St. Augustine High School.

Mr. Donald has given back to New Orleans and has awarded over two dozen scholarships to his college and business school alma maters. He also donated funding to build a new wing at St. Augustine, named after his mother and father Warren and Hilda Donald. He’s now the top executive of Carnival, the largest cruise line in the world.

*While Carnival is the #1 cruise line in the world, it is not technically on the Fortune 500 list because it was incorporated outside of the United States.

Eight Ways To Be Great!

Every day is a new beginning! With new beginnings is the opportunity to be great or to do something to help someone else be great. Here are some ways to help you be the best you can be this week –

1) Passion – If there’s no passion, then why bother?  With every task you decide to take on, do it with pride & passion.

2) Work – Work. Work hard. Work harder.

3) Focus – It’s so easy to get distracted with relationships, family and just life in general that you can easily lose focus on what’s important in life. Focusing on your goals will help you accomplish them much sooner.

4) Push – There’s nothing wrong with going the extra mile. Push yourself to really be the best you can be. People will remember that extra effort!

5) Ideas – Fresh ideas are what make this world go round. What differentiates you from anyone else is that you have thoughts & ideas that no one else may have. (That’s the main reason I started my blog!)

6) Improve – If you’re not growing, you’re dying. It may sound harsh, but it’s true. Self-improvement is the best thing you could ever do for yourself.

7) Serve – Don’t forget to give back. No matter how much you accomplish in life, don’t forget those who have come behind you & be sure to serve those who went before you.

8) Persist – DO NOT GIVE UP! I am a living witness that persistence works. Even when things don’t seem like they could ever work in your favor, just remember that your life has purpose. It is okay to get discouraged; it is not okay to stay discouraged.

How will you give your day a fresh start?!


11 Things Men Don’t Know How To Do Anymore

According to a survey of random Americans, which asked, “What makes a man a man,” 31% responded “strength,” 7% said “arm strength,” 24% said “leadership,” and the rest responded with a similar variant (“has physical strength,” “can fix things”). The survey, informally conducted by Esquire, really leaves only one thing to be said: What?

While we’re somewhat in the nice-guy-metrosexual-Ryan-Gosling-is-the-new-ladykiller generation, many men still view masculinity in pretty black-and-white terms. And the terms are kind of ridiculous. The “Do you even lift, bro?” meme is a joke, but only sort of. After all, arm strength apparently defines masculinity to one out of every thirteen people, and the notion that barbecuing, woodworking and hunting comprise manliness are still ingrained in the male psyche.

There’s nothing really wrong with this exactly, but we’re an evolved species, so the way to a woman’s heart or to personal fulfillment is no longer through brute strength and the ability to carve a turkey with a knife you fashioned out of spare wood (although I guess that’s pretty cool).

So in addition to working on your biceps and turkey-carving techniques, bone up on the skills that will help you charm, attract and accomplish. There will be times when you need to open a jar and all that arm strength will come in handy. But, in the meantime, reassessing what it really means to be a 21st-century man might be a better bet.

1. Understand the Difference Between Being a Man and Being a D-Bag

It’s a surprisingly thin line. Take the idea of strength training, for example. It’s manly, even gentlemanly, to hit the gym a few times a week in order to stay fit, build up some strength, and become a better athlete. It becomes douche-y, however, when you become a protein shake aficionado and see working out as a) the most important thing in your day and b) as a direct route to getting with women. This applies to all sorts of daily activities, but the realm of sports and eating are the most classic battlegrounds (good job, you eat a lot of bacon, please tell us more). The best way to walk the tightrope across this treacherous chasm is by being secure with who you are. If you’re not a hyper-masculine dude, no worries. The numbers on your weights don’t decide your masculinity.


2. Have A Signature Dish to Cook

The days of the hunter-gatherer are gone which means bringing home food – any food – isn’t going to cut it anymore. Have a go-to dish, whether it’s something as simple as pesto chicken pasta or as complex as coq au vin in your repertoire. That way, you can whip it up while when you’re the dinner party host or on a stay-in date. Keep a bottle of accessible red wine (perhaps a Pinot Noir or Malbec) somewhere around the place to. Lord knows you’d have to offer a Budweiser with your mushroom risotto and send the whole thing to hell.

cooking men

3. Be the Leader of Your Friend Group

This one might seem a little rude or overly aggressive, but respect breeds respect. If women, coworkers, even other men, see that you’re the go-to guy in your friend group, they’ll be drawn to you for both the security and popularity you can provide. It may sound a little too “middle school,” but social capital is among the most powerful forms of currency. Plan nights out, make the necessary phone calls and texts, and be a generally approachable, kind guy. Perhaps it’s a slight bit of work, but like most long-term endeavors, it will pay off.

leader of the pack

4. Know How to Lose an Afternoon

Oh you’re really busy and constantly stressed? You must important. C’mon now, nobody likes that guy. The coolest men maintain a balance of self-seriousness and capacity for a little play. Adrenaline seekers may go for skydiving or the shooting range, but the ability to push your quotidian worries aside for a little reading, writing, painting – whatever you like to do when you’re not on the clock — is as important as any. Having no life outside of work isn’t going to charm anyone but those interested purely in your career success, which means you’ll only be popular with the other work-obsessed zombies and any nearby gold diggers. Don’t be a gold digger guy yet. You’re not nearly old enough for that.

Kill an afternoon

5. Learn How to Speak Money

You’re going to want to have some money to fall back on if life presents a large speed bump. So too you’ll be desiring some cash when you’re looking to buy your first house, car, or a respectable rock for that wedding ring. Put away at least ten percent from your pre-tax paycheck and see that nest egg slowly grow. While you’re at it, learn about basic investments. Creating a diverse portfolio as early as possible is a sinfully easy way to earn money. Not everyone is in a position to start saving and investing, but once a job comes your way, whether it’s as an “ice cream scooping artist” or hedge fund manager, it’s best for some of that money to be tucked away for a rainy day. This is the twenty-first century too after all, so money-managing technology like Mint.com are simple ways to track your spending and earning.

Speak money

6. Create Something for the Long-Term

Be it a business or a book, create something and see it through to the end. You don’t have to find great financial success as a result, but the act of creating something that will forever have your name attached to it lends purpose and deep satisfaction. In our age, so much of creation isn’t really satisfying. Rather than working away on longer-term projects, we expend our creativity on writing short things like a clever Facebook status or Twitter post. None of this affords the same kind of big-time satisfaction as completing a project you’ve really invested yourself in. So find your niche, identify your skillset, and start outlining for that long-term project.

long term

7. Read Hemingway, Nabokov and Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald was the original Ryan Gosling. Sensitive, smart, and always working on that hair part. Although he and Hemingway allegedly compared… baguettes… in a café bathroom and his wife, Zelda Sayre, complained about his inability to sexually please her, there’s still much to be learned from this man’s insight on women. After all, he was so good at understanding women in his own life that he used them to create some of literature’s most dynamite female characters, like Daisy Buchanan and Rosalind Connage (based on Ginerva King and Zelda, respectively). Nabokov’s Lolita is likewise a must, and Hemingway’s sparse prose of war and death are as serious — and manly — as they come.

Read men

8. Learn How to Tie a Tie

You’re going to need to know how to do it sometime, even if it’s just for the occasional wedding. Be self-sufficient and get that half-Windsor knotted.

tie a tie

9. Look Good

Individualism is crafted in a variety of ways, but the easiest way to cultivate it — and the way noticed most quickly by everyone else – is through personal style. The word “style” unfortunately conjures images of department store catalogues and fedoras, but it needn’t have to. We men have it pretty easy. Clean, simple, and well-tailored are pretty much the only fashion tenants we have to pay attention to. Pick a shirt, pick your trousers, and try your best to match your belt to your shoes. Skip the ostentatious “flair.” No need to be a walking TGI Fridays.

look good

10. Master the Three C’s: Charisma, Conversation and Charm

Charisma isn’t something that anyone inherently has. It’s something that’s given you by those who respect you and what you have to say. Earn this charisma not by talking everyone’s ear off but by listening and contributing thoughts both clever and deep. Eye contact, name repetition, and a genuine interest in others can get you surprisingly far.


11. Be Interesting and Interested

Be well-read, able to quote when appropriate and discuss when others are interested. Be well-traveled and have a variety of stories on hand. Be generous, able to see that no matter your situation there are always those who are worse off than you. Be fit, for the ability to take care of yourself is indicative of how you’ll take care of others. Be kind. Be engaging. Be decisive and be pensive. Know how to take care of yourself. If you’re feeling less than intelligent, read a book. If you’re feeling less than attractive, hit the gym. If you’re feeling less than inspired, study the lives of those you most respect. I’ve always thought that if one had to choose between wealth and interestingness, you’d have to be brainless to pick the former. There’s nothing manly about a guy who leads a dull life.


*Article was originally published on Thought Catalog.

4 Things to Do When You Feel Unappreciated

It’s a cruel, cruel world. Most of the appreciation you receive in life happens when you’re young and incompetent or after you’re dead. In between, you have a measure of competence and you’re expected to get busy using it.

Expectation ends gratitude.

People aren’t grateful for what they expect. There comes a point when you’re expected to keep your shoes tied, food off your face, and your pants zipped up.

Gratitude is limited to first accomplishments. After that, success is expected.

Parents go nuts when their children learn to use the potty. I don’t blame them. But, there comes a point when no one is excited that you can use the toilet on your own.

The cruel truth:

Everyone who deeply invests in an organization, project, or person has felt under-appreciated. No one understands the amount of energy you’re expending or the full weight of the load you carry.

To make matters worse, competence is taken for granted.


Feelings of under-appreciation turn into self-defeating anger, self-pity, bitterness, and foot-dragging.

Dealing with under-appreciation:

  1. Invite trusted friends to share their success. Share yours. Create environments where bragging is OK, once in a while.
  2. Work hard because of who you are.
  3. Express appreciation when you receive appreciation.
  4. Value your work like you hope others will. Don’t say, “It was nothing.”

Be grateful for the opportunity to serve.


Someone on your team feels unappreciated.

Unappreciated people, under-perform.

  1. Give back-handed complements. Ask, “How can you bring your talent to this situation?”
  2. Honor competence. “One of the things I admire about you is ________.”
  3. Focus on giving appreciation, not receiving it.
  4. Gratitude reinforces behaviors. If you want more of something, show gratitude for it.
  5. Keep pressing into the future. Gratitude doesn’t create complacency when you press toward new goals.
  6. Give hit-and-run expressions of gratitude.

What strategies address issues of under-appreciation?

How have you shown appreciation, in the last 24 hours, to key people you work with?


*This article was originally published on Leadership Freak.

ISO: Head of Household

My parents have been married for over 30 years. Correction: My biological parents have been married for over 30 years. Although their marriage hasn’t been perfect and I’m sure there were times when one or both of them wanted to call it quits, they were committed to their marriage. They were committed to their commitment. And that’s exactly what I want in my mate.

Unfortunately, coming from a two-parent home seems to be a rarity these days (especially within the African American community and there are various reasons for that, all of which will have to go into another posting). Because of this it seems that a lot of men are not equipped for marriage, let alone to be a good husband or father. Now of course, there are some exceptions to this rule (President Barack Obama, for instance) but for the most part in order to be a good leader, you need a good example of leadership.

Sure, it’s nice to have a strong male example around like a grandfather or an uncle. But an example is not the same as the real thing. That’s like saying a substitute teacher is just as good as a regular teacher. While both might be good at teaching, it is always best for the students to have their full time teacher in the classroom.

Now don’t think I’m saying that having a bad father in the home is better than no father at all. But the argument for having a bad father in the home is that you can at least see what not to do. In other words, you are able to see how to overcome adversity when the strife is right in front of you. People always say that it’s not healthy for children to see their parents argue. But if you’ve never seen your mother & father argue and then make up, how can you possibly know how to handle arguments as the head of your own household? Yes, you don’t have to see an argument to know how to handle one, but it’s always better to learn by example rather than by trial & error.

Men like to think that they have so much to lose when they get married. But as a woman I have to give up a lot as well, particularly letting a man take over my household. I want a man who knows what he is doing. And if a man has never seen an example of how to lead how can I trust that he will know how to lead our household?