There’s Still Time!

Fourth quarter

It’s October! The weather is already starting to change as we transition into fall. If you’re like me, you’re enjoying pumpkin spiced lattes from your local Starbucks. I can hardly believe how quickly time has seemed to pass us by. It feels like yesterday when 2018 was just getting started, and here we are about to close out another year.

Before, I get too far ahead of myself, I have a challenge for you all. Take some time right now and reflect. Reflect on all the times you have had a challenge, big or small, that it seemed that you just could not get through. Make a list. Then, reflect on what steps you took to get through those challenges. Recall how it felt when you realized you had moved past it, and add those feelings to the list.

Now, I want you to write out your current challenges, as well as the goals or dreams that you are working toward. See, if you can take what you have learned from those past challenges, and apply them to what you are either facing now, you’ll be able to move forward in faith. Finally, stick this list somewhere you can see daily so that you can remember what you have achieved. Hopefully, that will motivate you to stand in the face of fear and overcome the challenges that you are facing today! You can finish this year out strong! There’s still time for destiny and dream fulfillment.

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The First 90 Days: Three Key Lessons Learned as a Full-Time Entrepreneur

For many people who work both a 9-5 and a 5 p.m.-until, the thought of full-time entrepreneurship sounds enticing. The freedom. The flexibility. The power to set your own schedule and hours, take lunch and vacation when you please and, for many, the chance to do what you love. But when corporate door after corporate door closes unexpectedly, and you’re pushed into the middle of the entrepreneurship ocean without a life jacket, it’s sink or swim. Literally.

In just 90 days, I’ve learned three key lessons that I’m sure many full-time entrepreneurs have encountered somewhere along the journey.

  1. Your mind has to totally transform from employee to CEO. You can no longer focus on the day-to-day tactics and deliverables. You have to focus on strategy, business development and growth and client retention. Your mind has to be stable. You can’t be a double-minded man. There’s no time for doubt, fear, laziness, second guessing who you are, what you do, and why you do it better than anyone else. Find the confidence. Pull it from somewhere. The same confidence you had in yourself when you were trying to climb the corporate ladder is the same confidence that’s going to keep your head above water as an entrepreneur.
  2. Just because the phone rings doesn’t mean you should answer it. Insulate yourself. That doesn’t mean isolate. It means filter the people, the circle, the colleagues you associate with during your season of transition. Everyone who asks, “How’s the business going?” isn’t asking to encourage you. Believe it or not, there are people who, for whatever reason, get off on the downfall (or slow crawl) of another. Screen your calls. If it’s important, they’ll leave a voicemail. If not, they’ll call back. But if picking up the phone is going to throw you off track for the rest of the day, or it’s going to upset you, or it’s going to throw off your deadline—decline.
  3. Guard your eyes and ears. What are you listening to? What are you watching? Do you even have time to watch TV? I find myself playing worship music (even in the background while I’m working) and reading motivational books, in addition to the Bible of course. Here’s what I know: If you do absolutely nothing to hear or read good messages, bad news, depression, negative thoughts will come naturally. You don’t have to do anything to attract them. But you have to be intentionally intentional about repelling them. Listen to motivational videos by speakers such as Eric Thomas (E.T. The Hip Hop Preacher), motivational audio books, or that special genre of music that helps you get stuff done (as long as you don’t dance around your office too much)!


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Taking a Book from the Page to the Stage: Five Key Lessons Learned

It’s been a little over three weeks since the debut of my stage play, When the Smoke Clears. While I never set out to become a playwright, birds of a feather…well, you know the rest. For the past five years, I’ve been surrounded by not just other authors, but playwrights, producers, directors and even actors. And while I started out as a resource for a phenomenal group of creatives, Urban Playwrights United (UPU), I soon became an official member and part of the tribe. By June of 2017, I’d partnered up with two people I consider to be my dream team, Melissa Talbot and Richard Bass, two industry connections that came through continued engagement with UPU.

After multiple revisions to the script, a few days of a casting call and a secured venue, we walked into what would be six to eight weeks of rehearsals. On August 12 and 13, we presented multiple shows to sold-out audiences at The Boll Theatre in downtown Detroit. Since then, I’ve received inbox messages, phone calls and emails for authors who “want to pick my brain” (whatever that really means) about taking their book from the page to the stage. While I don’t have the time (or much brain matter left) to consult with each individual for hours on the best strategy for them, I thought it best to at least make some lessons learned public to help the author who is even considering taking their bestseller to the stage. Here goes.

  1. Main ideas over miniscule details. You’ve got an hour and a half, maybe two hours max, to wow an audience. While your book may be 250 pages, all of that content won’t fit into an hour and a half production. We took the main ideas from the book, When the Smoke Clears: A Phoenix Rises, such as loss of a loved one, problems in marriage, blended family and family secrets—and presented those key concepts on stage.
  2. Write it, then release it. Many times, authors look at their manuscripts and books as babies. We protect them. We cover them. We don’t want to release them too soon because, well…we don’t want anyone to critique or criticize “our baby.” But in drafting the script, I had to yield to the flow of the characters and the plot. I had to yield to the creative direction of the producer and director. If something didn’t make sense, it didn’t flow well, or it was flat out boring (or cliché) for theater, we removed it. You can’t want to hold on so tight to your voice, your story and your final product that you don’t bend to suggestions.
  3. Don’t wear your feelings on your shoulders. This ain’t (yep, I said ain’t) for the faint at heart. Remain open for constructive (not bickering and complaining) criticism. Even when people love the show, they will ask questions that you may have left unanswered (intentionally) and they’ll call out the holes you could possibly fill moving forward. Everyone won’t love the show. Some people will hate it. Take it with a grain of salt, make adjustments where you can and keep it moving.
  4. Pay the professionals, and let them do the job you paid them to do. As much as I hate micromanagers, I’m guilty of the same (sometimes, maybe). If you try to write, direct, produce and act in your own production (and sell tickets at the door and sell your own books at your vendor table), you’ll be overwhelmed. If you can achieve the vision all by yourself, and you don’t need help, the vision isn’t big enough. By the second week of rehearsals, the producer and director had politely excused me from rehearsals (well, they kind of kicked me out). I had to trust them to bring the vision to life. I had to trust the actors to deliver it in excellence. I had to trust the door sales crew, the person managing my book sales and even the theatre lighting and sound tech. You’re going to have to trust other people to bring this to life! Pay the professionals, and stay in your lane.
  5. Mistakes and mishaps are inevitable. Don’t sweat the small stuff. My cast will tell you I was shaking like a leaf behind stage, nervous for THEM! They missed lines. It was a wardrobe tsunami on the sides of the stage. And I tried my best not to get fake blood on my white suit jacket as I poured it on the hands of a cast member who was moving way too fast. The day of, things won’t go perfectly. They won’t go off without a hitch. But more times than not, you’re worried about stuff that the audience won’t even notice. Breathe, and let the experts do what they do best.


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Stay Open to the New

Friends are ever changing in your life. Friends will come in and out of your life, much like the seasons change. Some of them are there for life, and you can’t picture life without them. Others, come in and out of your life to carry energy, which affects your life in various ways.

Be open to changes in the friendships and the company you keep. While you may gain more friendships as you move from stage to stage in life, you’re sure to lose some as well. As your career, your mindset and your goals and dreams change, some friendships may interfere with your progress. You’ll find it’s time to let them go.

While friends may come and go, you should stay consistent with who you are. Stay open to new friendships. As you evolve, so will your friendships. Romantic relationships may even develop from these friendships. Some marriages and relationships start off from simple friendships. Stay open and don’t be afraid to open up to new possibilities in connecting. Do not be apprehensive about letting go of those who no longer belong in your life. Learn the art of letting go, and the art of staying open to welcome the new!

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The Month of New Beginnings

It’s the beginning of a new month! This month, I challenge you to change your thinking!

Look at your everyday situations and obstacles differently. This new beginning could be the start of seeing significant change in your life. Maximize it!

Revisit those goals you’ve been trying to reach since the beginning of the year. Think positive, ambitious thoughts. Create uplifting affirmations for yourself and repeat them daily.

On this hump day, think onward and upward about what you want your life to be in the future. What results would you like to see from your new ways of thinking and living? Everyone loses focus at some point in life. Take time out today to regroup, restrategize and get focused in this month of new beginnings!

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The He(art) of Forgiveness

“Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.”

-Marianne Williamson

Has someone done something to you that seems unforgivable, a betrayal of sorts? They lied. They did something to make you lose trust in them. Maybe you’re at a place where you’re seeking revenge.

In this moment, take a step back. Take time to heal. What’s been done in the past should have no power over the future or the present. It’s going to take more energy for you to hold this grudge rather than letting go of it. The person who hurt you has made their bed in regard to what will be returned to them for the pain they’ve caused.

Forgiving them and putting their fate, and your faith, in the hands of someone greater is the first step in the healing process. Cutting off their source of power over you will allow you to see change in your life. The pain from past relationships, jobs, arguments and discussions will not hinder your future success.

We’re not perfect. We’ve all done things that have caused someone else pain. Be accountable for your actions and recognize your impact on the lives you touch. Maybe you’ve done something seemingly unforgivable. Forgive yourself! Focus on living life with positivism, which is both given and reciprocated by the people you surround yourself with.

On this Monday, start the healing process. Reclaim your time today! No one can hold you back from this process unless you give them the power. Be at peace in your life and at peace with the events of the past. Your future is so bright! Move forward in faith.

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Strategic Progression

Happy Friday!

While life can be filled with tough decisions and long days, let today be a day to forget your worries and let loose. Of course, do so with discretion and good intentions, but embrace this day with fun and relaxation. Take your kids somewhere fun and make memorable moments. Have a date night with your spouse or significant other.

Don’t let the anxiety of potential Monday work stop your weekend progression. Finish this week strong. Next week will open doors to a fresh start. Make room for growth and improvement in every area of your life. Plan for your next week to be better than this one. Make a list of what you want to see, and project these positive changes into your life and the lives of those close to you.

Write affirmations and speak them into existence. Your prayers will be answered.

Have some fun! Indulge in life! Enjoy the weekend, and execute your plan of progression for the week ahead.

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