Financially Optimistic Millennials

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women holding dollar bills up to her face

Millennials are optimistic about how their lives will play out after college, despite the fact that they have a collective $1 trillion in student loan, credit card, and other debt hanging over their heads.

“Millennials are graduating at record rates, and it’s great to see that like most previous generations of college students, young people are optimistic about the future. On average, survey respondents expect to land a job in their chosen field and be completely financially independent by age 25,” notes JJ Kinahan, chief strategist for TD Ameritrade. “This is a financially optimistic group that’s feeling positive about the economy, the job market and their own plans. However, they will need to develop saving and investing habits that will help them reach some pretty big goals.”

Redefining Life Milestones for Millennials

“Millennials are a generation that has vastly different attitudes and habits than previous generations. So naturally, their lives and financial milestones after college may look different as well,” Kinahan explains. According to the TD Ameritrade 2018 Millennials and Money Survey:

  • Fifty-three percent expect to become millionaires at some point.
  • Twenty-four percent said they don’t expect to get married, and nearly that many don’t expect to own a home.
  • Thirty percent of millennials don’t expect to have kids.
  • Despite the general optimism, two in ten said they’re never going to be able to pay off their student loans.
  • Nearly 17 percent haven’t yet achieved financial independence from their parents; for those who have, it’s usually moving out of the family home that triggers being financially cut-off.

Planning to Retire Early or Not at All

One milestone in particular is going to need some extra attention. Millennials reported that they expect to retire at age 56 on average (millennial men expect to retire even earlier, at age 53 on average). However, on average, they said they don’t plan to start saving for retirement until age 36, which could be more than a decade after getting their first real job. Twenty-eight percent said they don’t expect to retire at any point.

“One of the greatest investments young people can make in themselves is to start putting money away in their 20s. Because of the power of compounding (Einstein called it the eighth wonder of the world), even with ups and downs along the way, those who start early potentially can end up with more in the end,” explains Kinahan. “Ideally, it would be wise to start right after college, and while some millennials certainly do that, we realize that’s not always possible. Understanding all of the available alternatives, like employer-sponsored retirement accounts or brokerage accounts, can be a step in a right direction. And, if you’re not sure, talk to someone. The sooner you can get started, the better your financial prospects may be.”

Consider this example of someone who begins investing $5,000 a year at age 22 and continues to put that amount of money away until they retire at 67, earning an assumed 6 percent return. They’d end up with twice the money as an investor who did the same thing starting at age 32. It could mean the difference between retiring with half a million dollars versus retiring with $1 million, according to a New York Times analysis. That’s the power of compound returns.

Saving Habits

  • Many millennials are making strides and overall, more rate themselves as savers than did in 2016 (70 percent versus 62 percent). Ninety-four percent of millennials said they are saving toward a specific goal – vacation (43 percent) and emergency fund (39 percent) being the top choices.
  • Thirty-eight percent are saving for retirement.
  • Twenty-five percent have started saving for the education of their children or grandchildren.

Pursuing Financial Goals

Kinahan offers some financial tips for millennials who may need to look at additional financial strategies to pursue their goals:

  • Don’t delay! Waiting to save for retirement can be costly. Giving investments the longest possible time to grow attempts to take advantage of the power of compounding, even with the downturns that take place along the way.
  • Know your numbers. Find out how much more you can contribute each year to pursue your retirement goal. For 401(k)s as of 2018, employees can contribute a max of $18,500 (up from prior years), likely not a realistic level for most people at this age, but certainly a great goal.
  • Tack on an IRA. Grads who snag a job with a 401(k) retirement plan and employer match should consider themselves lucky. But a 401(k) is only one piece of the puzzle. Young adults should also consider opening an IRA and making regular contributions.
  • Negotiate salary. An un-negotiated salary is a missed opportunity. You could be leaving money on the table simply by not asking. Of those polled, only half negotiated their salaries or compensation at their most recent job.
  • Put windfalls to work. Try not to get carried away during tax season and bonus season. Windfalls, even small ones, can be an extra splash of cash for your retirement accounts. If you can, think about “spending some, saving some.”
  • Get smart. Only 32 percent of millennials said they’re very knowledgeable about investing. Free investing education resources are available that fit every learning style.

Source: TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation

JAY-Z Is the First Hip-Hop Artist to Become a Billionaire: Inside His Fortune

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JAY-Z in blue suit and white collared suit on stage before performance

When JAY-Z rapped “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man” on Kanye West’s 2005 track “Diamonds From Sierra Leone,” he really meant it.

According to a new report released by Forbes on Monday, the rapper turned mogul has become the first hip-hop artist to amass a billion-dollar fortune with his impressive investments across liquor, art, real estate and companies like Uber.

Before becoming a musician, JAY-Z, 49, was a drug dealer in his hometown of Brooklyn. In 1996, he started his own label, Roc-A-Fella Records, to release his debut album, Reasonable Doubt. Since then, he has earned 14 No. 1 albums, 22 Grammy wins and a reported $500 million in pretax earnings, according to the outlet.

In order to calculate JAY-Z’s net worth, Forbes says they first looked at his stakes in companies like Armand de Brignac champagne (which he owns 100% of) and applied their customary discount to private firms. They then added up his income and subtracted “a healthy amount to account for a superstar lifestyle.” Additionally, they say they ran the numbers with a roster of outside experts to ensure that the estimates were “fair and conservative.”

Since its launch in 2006 in JAY-Z’s music video for “Show Me What You Got,” Armand de Brignac is estimated by Forbes to now be worth $310 million. JAY-Z’s cognac D’Ussé, which is a joint venture with Bacardi, is estimated to be worth $100 million.

JAY-Z is also estimated to have $220 million in cash and investments, including a stake in ride-share service Uber which is estimated to be worth $70 million itself.

JAY-Z’s music-streaming service Tidal — which launched in 2015 with a number of celebrity investors including his wife, Beyoncé, Kanye West and Calvin Harris — is estimated to be worth $100 million.

Continue on to Yahoo entertainment to read the complete article.

Rosa Parks honored with a statue in Montgomery, Alabama

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Rosa Parks statue unveiling

Rosa Parks was honored with a new statue in downtown Montgomery, Alabama, on Sunday, 64 years to the day she was arrested for refusing to move to the back of a city bus. Sunday marks the second annual Rosa Parks Day in Alabama, after the Legislature approved the honor for the civil rights icon last year.

Events were slated to take place throughout the weekend, including the dedication of a statue Sunday afternoon.

“Today, on the second official Rosa Parks Day, we honor a seamstress and a servant, one whose courage ran counter to her physical stature,” said Mayor Steven Reed, the city’s first African American mayor. “She was a consummate contributor to equality and did so with a quiet humility that is an example for all of us.”

“No person ever stood so tall,” Gov. Kay Ivey said, “as did Rosa Parks when she sat down.”

Parks was on her way home from work on December 1, 1955, when she refused to give up her seat on a public bus for a white man. Her subsequent arrest prompted the 381-day boycott of the Montgomery bus system, organized by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

A later ruling by the Supreme Court desegregated public transportation in Montgomery, but it wasn’t until the 1964 Civil Rights Act that all public accommodations were desegregated nationwide.

Continue on to CNN to read the complete article.

5 expressions to avoid in formal networking situations

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large group of diverse professionals networking

Networking is a delicate art. While it’s certainly evolved in the past decade, there are still certain situations (and certain industries) where you must abide by a particular set of strict, unspoken rules. Mess one of these up, and you risk missing out on a critical opportunity to advance your career.

When speaking to someone more senior—and business networking usually involves an “ask” for help from senior people—you need to convey respect and recognition of their status.

Remember: People will go out of their way for you if they like you and feel inspired by you. But turn them off, and they’ll tune out.

With that in mind, consider skipping any of the following casual or unprofessional expressions:

1. “Hey, I’m ______”

Introducing yourself casually is fine in most situations. But this language can come across as too casual if you’re introducing yourself to someone older or more senior who might be a good lead for a job.

Saying “Hello” is a better bet. And giving both your first and last names is more professional. You don’t want that other person walking away and thinking, “I met someone named Paul, but I never got his last name.”

2. “I’m VP of sales for company X”

When networking at a business event it’s tempting to rush in with your title. After all, you want your new contact to know you’re a professional with some status. But it will sound arrogant to add this so quickly.

I recently met a young woman at a networking event, and within the first 15 seconds she let me know that she worked for a big Silicon Valley firm and had a good job in IT. She never bothered to ask my name, work situation, or title. I was not interested in speaking to her again because the encounter was one way.

Rather than hurling your job title at a new face, wait until the other person asks for that information. If you ask them about themselves, they will likely raise the same questions about you. It means a lot more when they ask you what you do than when you shout it out to them.

3. “That’s cool”

Once you get into conversation with an executive, your words will define the kind of relationship you want to have with that person. If you’re too casual, you’ll sound like you don’t necessarily aspire to a professional connection.

Suppose you’re in conversation with a vice president who works in a firm you’d like to do business with. You ask, “Who do you hire for your sales training?” When you find out, you might be tempted to say something like “Hey, I know them,” or “Cool.”

Instead, opt for a more polished expression, such as “Yes, I’m familiar with that firm, and I believe we can offer something more.” This positioning will get you further in pursuing a possible business contact.

4. “Can I impose on you to make a call?”

Once you’ve gotten a good conversation going, you may be ready to pitch the other person for a lead. But the “ask” has to be handled with delicacy.

The phrase “can I impose on you” sounds like you haven’t done the groundwork for the “ask.” So go through the steps that will make you feel you are not imposing. This can include a lot of listening and selling yourself. Once you’re convinced you are not imposing, you can confidently say, “I’d love it if you could make a call on my behalf.” Now you’re off and running!

5. “Let me know how it goes”

If someone has been kind enough to speak to someone else on your behalf, be sure you do the follow-up—don’t expect them to get back to you.

Ask your new contact when you should follow up with them. You might also inquire “What is the best way to reach you?” They may give you their business card or phone number or say “Text me at this number.” The point is that you want to close on this networking opportunity, and that means the next step should be very clear.

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

Embrace Being Remarkable

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Group of employees giving the thumbs up

By Samar Khoury, Managing Editor, Black EOE Journal

There are many fearless individuals out there who, rather than follow the norm, dare to think outside the box and be true to themselves. They don’t worry about being different from the rest. We here at Black EOE Journal like to celebrate those influencers who enjoy taking the road less traveled and pave the way for others to do the same.

We’ve packed this current issue with movers and shakers who every day are upsetting the status quo, have left their mark, or who are aiming to do just that. Our cover star, Gabrielle Union, is one of those people. The America’s Got Talent judge wants people to feel comfortable enough in their own skin to gain the confidence to be who they want to be. “I realized that assimilation can be a path to becoming invisible and complacent,” Union says, “I’d rather be ‘other.’”

Samar Khoury managing Editor Black EOE Journal
Samar Khoury, Managing Editor, Black EOE Journal

Shaking things up isn’t just a good thing—it’s everything. Toni Morrison, who passed away this past August, was a prime example of that. She wrote stories that rang true for so many—even if some didn’t understand or downright didn’t want them published. Morrison flew in the face of that by becoming one of the most iconic writers of our time, as you’ll read more about on page 58.

Take a look at the influencers on page 36 who show that being extraordinary pays off. From the talented, record-breaking Serena Williams to the Duchess of Sussex, these individuals are making history. But that’s just a glimpse of what you’ll see in this issue. Like our jam-packed supplier diversity section. Khalia Collier shows us anything is possible—at just 31 years old, she’s the only black woman in St. Louis to own a pro sports team! And while construction is largely still a male-dominated industry, Cheryl and Deryl McKissack don’t let that stop them. See how these trailblazers are taking the industry by storm.

No matter what you’re looking for, this issue of Black EOE Journal has you covered. Just remember, embrace your uniqueness and keep thinking outside the box. Because no one ever achieved their dreams by being ordinary.

The Best And Worst States For Entrepreneurs In 2020

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black man looking excitedly at his laptop

There might be an ongoing trade war and recession worries, but small businesses in the United States continue to flourish. According to a report by Guidant Financial, 78 percent of small businesses are reporting profits, with both confidence and happiness indices ranking among the highest in recent years. Approval rates for small business loan applications at big banks rose from 26.7 percent in Sept. 2018 to 27.9 percent in Sept. 2019, according to Biz2Credit.

Thus, the overall small business climate looks favorable for an enterprising entrepreneur. However, one fundamental factor that can change business climate is geography. Depending on the state — not to mention the city — where you want to start a business, these overall conducive conditions can change dramatically.

Seek Capital conducted a study of all 50 U.S. states to determine which ones were the best and which ones were the worst for entrepreneurs wanting to start and maintain a successful business. The study analyzed states in terms of 21 factors, ranging from socio-economic factors such as the five-year increase in working-age population, unemployment and labor force participation rates, to factors more specifically focused on entrepreneurial activity, such as the rate of new entrepreneurs, the opportunity share of new entrepreneurs (the percentage of entrepreneurs who said they started their business out of opportunity rather than necessity) and startup survival rates, sourced from the Kauffman Indicators of Entrepreneurship.

There are definitely some geographic patterns that emerged from the results of the study. The list of the top-10 best states are a combo of states located in the U.S. West and South regions, as designated by the Census Bureau. Midwest states are scattered across the middle of the rankings. And among the 10-worst states, the list of states includes those located in the South and the Northeast, the latter being the most unfavorable region in general for starting a business.

Here are the top-10 best states for starting a business:

  1. Utah
  2. Florida
  3. Texas
  4. Colorado
  5. California
  6. North Carolina
  7. Idaho
  8. Oklahoma
  9. Georgia
  10. Wyoming

Each of these states saw sizable injections of venture capital into new companies in 2018. California startups received the most money, with 2,869 companies getting $77.3 billion in venture capital funding, for an average of $26.9 million per company. No. 6 North Carolina was no slouch either, with $2.6 billion in venture capital funding going to 173 companies, for an average of $15.1 million per company. Not coincidentally, these 10 states had very active entrepreneurs. Florida has the highest rate of new entrepreneurs with 0.46 percent of its population starting businesses, followed by 0.45 percent in California and Wyoming.

The 10 Worst States for Entrepreneurs in 2020

The states that made up the worst states for entrepreneurs shared several traits. One of them mentioned is geographic: Six out of the 10 worst states are located in the Northeast — Pennsylvania (41st overall), New Hampshire (44th), Maine (47th), New Jersey (48th), Connecticut (49th) and Rhode Island (50th). The remainder of the 10 worst states are located in the South.

Declining working-age populations was shared by all of the 10 worst states with the exception of Arkansas. In absolute terms, Pennsylvania lost the most, suffering a decline of 148,126 working-age people from 2013 to 2018. In percentage terms, Louisiana and Maine lost the most, down 2.2 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively, over the last five years. Business taxes in these states are also mediocre to outright unfavorable

Here are the bottom-10 worst states to start a business, with No. 1 being the worst:

  1. Rhode Island
  2. Connecticut
  3. New Jersey
  4. Maine
  5. Alabama
  6. Maryland
  7. New Hampshire
  8. Arkansas
  9. Louisiana
  10. Pennsylvania

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article.

 

From the Smithsonian to the Kitchen: African American Art is Transforming the Home Decor Business

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Collage of black art

Just a few decades ago, Black art was hard to come by in mainstream markets. Artists were largely only viewed at African American museums and at niche galleries.

In 1995, two young African American males in South Los Angeles set out to bridge the gap between Black art collectors and the everyday consumer. Shades of Color fuses Black art into its product line to celebrate one of America’s most influential cultures on household products including home décor, shower curtains, floor mats and kitchen aprons.

As of 2017, the home decor industry was worth $582 billion, and is projected to increase to $741 billion by 2023, according to PR Newswire. There has been an increase in home ownership which has tremendously impacted the home décor market, as stated on the Allied Market Research website.

While the home décor market is constantly expanding, there are still seldom companies that honor African American art on their products. Shades of Color’s partnership with African American artists is proving to be a solution that brings art into the homes of the consumers that truly appreciate it.

“We work with artists to mass produce their art on products which exponentially increases exposure to their craft,” says President, Adrian Woods. “Our artists are an extension of our family and are relatable from the girlfriends of Cidne Wallace to the strong Black fathers by Frank Morrison to the more contemporary styles of Larry Poncho Brown. Our goal is to highlight these artists and be a driving force in ethnic home décor.”

Black art is a reflection of American culture, and Shades of Color’s community is making that art more accessible. All types of consumers have essentially become art collectors without even knowing it. The company’s direct to consumer website features African American artists, a vast catalog of products and global conversations around culture and current affairs. With its ties to community involvement the company is also supporting its greater network. Schools, churches and community groups have earned well over $2 million through the company’s fifteen year fundraising program that is open to everyone.

What began in the mid-90’s as strictly a calendar company is now a leader in an ethnic niche market selling through mass retailers, organizations, main street gift shops and quaint Afrocentric stores across the country. The flagship calendar line preserves history and brings facts, accomplishments and current milestones to light in a time when typical classrooms across the country are still neglecting to include Black history. The entire product line is infused with positive aspirations and imagery that embody this very important aspect of Americana.

“It is touching to hear the reactions,” says Production Manager and Marketing Director, Janine Robinson. “Across social media followers comment on what it feels like to walk into their bathroom, for example, and see a reflection of themselves on a 70” x 70” panel that fills the room. It’s not rare to get several comments saying, ‘That’s me!’ Not only does the product fill the room literally, the art and statements fill and ignite the spirit too. That is the part that makes it all worth it.” #UpliftandInspire

About Shades of Color
Founded in 1995, Shades of Color, LLC is a small Black-owned business producing high quality calendars, stationery, kitchenware, home décor, bags and gifts. It licenses and commissions Black art from renowned African American artists. The company manufactures and distributes its own collections to a global audience. Learn more about their products at www.ShadesGifts.com. Learn more about their Home Décor Collection at www.shadescalendars.com/product-category/homedecor

Continue on to Black News to read the complete article.

Chef Big Shake Debuts New Online Store, Offers Deep-Fried Turkey for the Holidays

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Chef Big Shake in Chef's uniform smiling with arms folded

People line up at Big Shake’s Nashville Hot Chicken, excited to get the array of unique flavors being served up. Now, people across the country can simply log online and buy whatever they want, and it will arrive at their doorstep within two business days. With the launch of the online store, Chef Big Shake has made it possible for everyone to get in on the hot chicken, deep fried turkey and “famous” shrimp burger action.

This comes just in time for the holiday season, giving people the ability to order Chef Big Shake’s custom deep-fried turkey that they can serve up for their special meals with family and friends.

“There are many people who have been waiting for this store to go live, so it’s an exciting time,” explains Shawn Davis, otherwise known as Chef Big Shake, the creator of The Shrimp Burger and owner of Big Shake’s Hot Chicken & Fish. “The online store will let everyone get a taste of our food, whether for themselves or as a special gift for someone else. Some say you can’t find a better gift than my famous hot chicken.”

Chef Big Shake’s online store, located at ShopBigShakes.com, serves up a full menu of options to choose from, including his famous Nashville hot chicken, seasonings and peppers, shrimp burgers, and more. For those wanting to ensure their holiday meal is simple and a big hit this year, they may want to order Chef Big Shake’s deep-fried turkey, for only $89.99.

The deep-fried turkey offered through the online store serves 10-12 people and is shipped Monday-Wednesday. After it has been expertly deep-fried, it is then frozen to seal in the flavor, then packed in a reusable cooler with dry ice, and shipped anywhere in the country, arriving in two business days. Once the person receives it, they put it in the freezer, and then follow the simple instructions for heating it in the oven, so it’s ready for that special holiday gathering. Chef Big Shake’s deep-fried turkeys are crispy on the outside, and tender and juicy on the inside. They can also be ordered infused with their award winning Nashville Hot Chicken heat injections: such flavors as CryBaby® – Mild, Stop Drop n Roll® – Medium, Rambo – Hot. Or, classic flavors such as: honey butter, honey BBQ, Cajun butter, Jerk, lemon pepper, and classic seasoning.

“Whether you are someone who lives near a Big Shake’s or you wantDepp fried turkey being cooked someone who doesn’t to try the food, we want to make sure you have the best tasting turkey this holiday and ready to help,” added Davis. “But be careful, once you go Big Shake, you never go back! This food will keep you coming back time and again.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association, Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day, Christmas Eve, and the day before Thanksgiving. Here are some safety tips for those who plan to deep-fry their turkey themselves for the holidays:

  • Never leave food cooking in the kitchen unattended, and don’t leave the house while the food is cooking.
  • Make sure that children stay away from food that is being cooked, so they don’t get burned.
  • Keep the outdoor deep fryers away from flammable sources, including garages and balconies. Also, check the weather to ensure that it will not rain or snow.
  • Be sure that the turkey is completely thawed, which will help eliminate flare-up risks.
  • Those using a propane-powered deep fryer will need to ensure there is a two-foot buffer between the burner and tank. Ideally, you should use a fryer that has temperature controls, so that the oil is not heated beyond its smoke point.
  • The fryer must be on a level surface before it can be used. If it’s not, there is a risk of it being tipped over, starting a fire.
  • Avoid overfilling the oil in the fryer, which can ignite if it comes into contact with the burger. Check with the manufacturer’s directions for the correct amount to use.
  • When it’s time to submerge the turkey, shut the burner off. You can turn it back on once the turkey is submerged in the oil.
  • Use protective gear, such as safety glasses and oven mitts when working with the fryer.
  • Once the turkey is done, remove the pot from the burner and place it in a safe, level place to cool overnight, before disposing.

Big Shake’s currently has three locations, in Franklin and Goodlettsville, Tennessee and Huntsville, Alabama with a fourth location opening soon in Huntsville, Alabama. Chef Big Shake became famous for his signature shrimp burgers, which were featured on the hit show “Shark Tank.” They have sold hundreds of thousands of them. The restaurant has also become famous for its hot chicken plates, chicken sandwiches, hot chicken and waffles, hot chicken tacos, and more. They also feature a variety of fish entrees, including whiting and catfish. Diners can choose their level of heat, ranging from “cry baby” to “executioner.”

To learn more about Chef Big Shake’s online store or to order a deep-fried turkey, visit the site at: https://shopbigshakes.com/. To learn more about Big Shake’s Hot Chicken & Fish, visit the site at: bigshakeshotchicken.com/.

About Big Shake’s Hot Chicken & Fish

““Chef Big Shake,” was named after and founded by Shawn Davis, a man who worked his way up from restaurant dishwasher to chef to entrepreneur. After being passed up on the reality business show “Shark Tank,” he received the funding he needed to take his business national. Today, his product line, which features five varieties of “The Original Shrimp Burger,” is available in over 2,500 stores, and he owns Big Shake’s Hot Chicken & Fish restaurants. To learn more about the restaurant chain, visit the site at: bigshakeshotchicken.com/.

New ‘Harriet’ movie tells a different story about U.S. slavery

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Harriet Tubman played by actress in new Harriet movie

When director Kasi Lemmons started work on the first major movie about Harriet Tubman, the 19th century slave turned hero of the Underground Railway, she decided to focus less on the brutality of slavery and more on human stories.

“I really felt that I wanted to speak about a different kind of violence, which was family separation, which I hadn’t seen as much of but is very much the Harriet Tubman story and what she was motivated by,” said Lemmons. Lemmons co-wrote the screenplay for “Harriet,” which opens in U.S. movie theaters on Friday.

“This image of her sisters being taken away, her brother having to leave his wife right after childbirth, her sister saying, ‘no, I can’t leave my children.’ The choices that people had to make and the fact that she was motivated to go back to rescue her family,” Lemmons added.

Tubman was born into slavery in the early 1800s in Maryland. As a young adult, she escaped slavery by running nearly 100 miles through forests and fields. She then risked her life several times to return to Maryland and lead dozens of slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad.

The petite, 5-foot-tall Tubman is played by Cynthia Erivo, a London-born actress with Nigerian parents who won a Tony award in 2016 for her lead role in the Broadway revival of the musical “The Color Purple.”

The casting of a British actress to play a woman seen as an African-American icon has caused controversy in the United States, but Lemmons said she thought Tubman’s story “was big enough to share.”

Continue on to NBC News to read the complete article.

Stedman Graham: Lead Yourself First, Others Second

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Stedman Graham pictured in front of large military plane with several servicemembers

By Brady Rhoades

Once upon a time, Stedman Graham—yes, that Stedman—was a soldier in the United States Army, trying to figure out who he was and where he was going. More than 40 years later, he’s a world-renowned businessman, author and speaker with a laser focus on identity leadership.

“Understanding who you are is the key to your growth,” he told U.S. Veterans Magazine.

Five years in the Army in the 1970s gave him a solid foundation. “I would not be here today without the military,” he said. “I needed structure.”

Graham learned to be on time. To listen when others were speaking. To do his best. To not quit. To be a follower. To be a leader. To get down to the nitty-gritty details of whatever task he was working on.

“It helps you lay out a process for continual improvement,” the 68-year-old founder and CEO of S. Graham & Associates and bestselling author of 11 books said of his experience in the military.

Graham has never forgotten those lessons, and he is forever grateful. Which is why he continues to visit military bases and stay in touch with servicemen and women.

It’s also why he lobbies employers to hire veterans.

“The message of learning while you’re experiencing is a great message for our troops,” he said. “It’s a great design for self-actualization…You couldn’t have a better opportunity than serving.”

And, he added, you won’t get a more grounded, humble, flexible and

Graham’s latest book helps people identify themselves before taking the lead
Graham’s latest book helps people identify themselves before taking the lead

can-do employee than a veteran.

Graham was born on March 6, 1951, in the Whitesboro section of Middle Township, New Jersey, the son of Mary Jacobs Graham and Stedman Graham Sr. He is one of six children.

He received a bachelor’s degree in social work from Hardin-Simmons University in 1974, and a master’s degree in education from Ball State University in 1979. Graham, who stands at 6-foot-7, played basketball at Hardin-Simmons.

He later moved to High Point, North Carolina to establish himself in public relations. At B & C Associates, he worked on behalf of African-American causes and had many distinguished clients, including author Maya Angelou and South African activist Winnie Mandela.

He is also founder of Chicago, Illinois’s Athletes Against Drugs (AAD), a non-profit organization that provides services to youth and has awarded more than $1.5 million in scholarships since its founding in 1985. Moreover, the organization arranges for sports figures to educate children about substance abuse.

In 1988 Graham created S. Graham & Associates, a Chicago-based corporate and educational marketing and consulting firm.

Graham has delivered speeches at many public and private schools on the topics of identity and self-awareness. He is perhaps most famous as an author of business and self-help-related books, including, Who Are You? and his newly-released, Identity Leadership: To Lead Others You Must First Lead Yourself.

Graham has been partners with Oprah Winfrey since 1988.

Identity leadership employs a simple but profound premise: You can’t lead anybody until you lead yourself. And to lead yourself, you must know yourself. The “self” is the biggest enigma in the world, the more provocative challenge, and the most rewarding mountain to climb, according to Graham.

Stedman speaking to servicemembers
“It takes years to do simple. People think there is such a thing as an overnight success. There isn’t. Success is hard work. The success I am having today took me 25 years. You have to put the time in to get the rewards out.” —Stedman Graham

Graham talks about being a learner, a hard worker, and knowing who you are, but if you go deeper, he invokes what he calls the most important word in the English language.

“Love is the key word,” he said. “Passion, talent and skills are related. Do what you love.”

In Identity Leadership: To Lead Others You Must First Lead Yourself, readers learn how to define themselves. The alternative, Graham said, is that society “puts you in a box.”

“When you can’t define yourself, the world defines you by your race, by your house, by your car, your money or your title,” he said. “It’s kind of socially constructed and designed to control your development.”

Graham said once he figured out who he was, he began to lead himself and, “to create a vision beyond my circumstance.”

If love is the most paramount word, purpose might be second, or in the top five. “Everything starts with a purpose,” said Graham, adding that purpose is essential to self-actualization.

In his world travels, he is intensely interested in motivating people to get rid of labels—whether they are linked to race, gender, class, you name it—and to take control of their own destiny.

He wants others to realize the process for success is the same for everybody in the 24 hours we have in our days.

Graham says being able to teach that, and to help people realize their potential, is a passion and a joy. He advises his readers and listeners to not be afraid.

“Failure, in fact, is a phenomenal teacher,” Graham says. “The concept goes back to ‘learning while you’re experiencing.’”

He said veterans know what it’s like to be part of something bigger than themselves, and they’ve learned how to adapt, particularly when faced with adversity. But they aren’t superheroes. They could use a helping hand—be it by a prospective employer, a nurse, a clerk, or a citizen on the street.

“There’s so much work to be done as far as helping our troops,” Graham said. “I’m just honored to be of service.”

Shaquille O’Neal Wants to Bring Papa John’s to Every HBCU Campus

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Shaquille O'Neal smiling wearing a suit

It seems that after Papa John’s founder John Schnatter was forced out for saying the n-word on a conference call last year, the pizza chain has been trying hard to win back Black customers.

And one of the first moves they’ve made was partnering with Shaquille O’Neal earlier this year, who now wants to put a Papa John’s restaurant on every HBCU campus.

To do so, he’s teamed up with Miles College, an HBCU located in Fairfield, Alabama, and he’ll make an announcement on Saturday, Oct. 26, with the school’s president, Bobbie Knight. They’ll make the announcement on the Miles College campus in the Student Activity Center at noon.

“HBCUs have been pivotal in the development of young minds; influential in highlighting the history and culture of African Americans and effectively provided a means for academic success,” said O’Neal in a statement. “It is in these great halls of these wonderful institutions that students saw their potential magnified and exemplified.”

“Martin Luther King, Jr. said, ‘If you want to move people, it has to be toward a vision that’s positive for them, that taps important values, that gets them something they desire and it has to be presented in a compelling way, so that they feel inspired to follow,’” he added.

“Join me and President Bobbie Knight of the great Miles College, as we move toward a business initiative that will open avenues of opportunities for our HBCUs. Today is our day. This is our time,” the statement concluded.

Earlier this year, O’Neal spoke to The Undefeated about joining Papa John’s and said he would only be involved if the company “got some diversity” in its leadership.

So to honor that request, he was asked to come on as a board member.

“‘How about a triple threat?’” O’Neal remembered telling CEO Steve Ritchi at the time. “’Board member; I want to invest in stores to show you I’m serious, and of course I’ll be an ambassador to the brand.’”

Continue on to the Atlanta Black Star to read the complete article.

Young Hotel Employee Surprised With New Car After Working Solo For 36 Hours During Flood

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hotel employee being gifted a car for his flood heroics

The 21-year-old who made headlines around the world for single-handedly running a hotel and caring for its 90 guests trapped along with him during a flood was rewarded in big way by the city of Beaumont, Texas.

Homewood Suites employee Satchel Smith was honored with a proclamation for his heroics during tropical storm Imelda, which included answering phones, cooking, doing dishes, and washing laundry, during a solo shift that lasted over 32 hours.

The young man, who said he was “just doing his job,” also lost his car in the flooding—but, after his marathon of good work, city officials surprised him with a new one, a 2013 Honda Hybrid, during an event.

“I mean it was a bit unexpected—overwhelming!” he told KFDM News. “I mean I don’t expect anything for what I did.”

“I’m truly thankful.”

And, too, so are the guests he catered to, including Angela Chandler, who said Smith handled the situation “with grace, kindness, and a beautiful smile on his face.”

Continue on to the Good News Network to read the complete article.

Couple Brings A Wealth Of Experience To Help Combat Workplace Contagion With Enviro-Master Services

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Pictured outside their building is Willlie Jenkins, Jr., Kimberly Jenkins, Willie Jenkins

When you see terms such as “leading provider, recession-resistant, lack of competition” and “scalable,” associated with a franchise opportunity, it’s undoubtedly going to pique your interest.

And if it’s in an industry that can literally impact millions of people – by creating its own unique niche – you’re almost certainly going to want to know even more about this ground-floor opportunity. Mix in a company culture that’s equal to its growth potential… and you have the perfect list of ingredients that drew Willie Jenkins and Kimberly Clark to become franchise owners with Enviro-Master, North America’s leading health and safety-focused commercial cleaning service, which has doubled in size since 2012. They are seeing demand from many markets for their service because of the growing concerns about MRSA and other new tough to combat bacteria. Pictured left to right are Willie Jenkins, Jr., Kimberly Clark, Willie Jenkins, El Paso,TX.

“We are NOT like anyone else. We are UNIQUE,” said Willie. “When we first met with the corporate team from Enviro-Master we were truly impacted with how welcoming they were and that they wanted to know about ‘us’ and not just about our previous business experience. They genuinely cared about us as a family.”

Launched in January, Enviro-Master’s El Paso location serves businesses throughout El Paso, Las Cruces and Alamogordo, N.M., as well as Juarez, Mexico. Surrounding franchise areas still available are Albuquerque, Lubbock and Amarillo.

Willie, 49, has owned a janitorial cleaning company for 15 years while Kimberly, 57, has spent a decade in a civil servant role as an inventory/warehouse manager after a 24-year career in the U.S. Air Force before joining Enviro-Master, which provides unique processes and products that disinfect and sterilize surfaces that serve as breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses such as the flu, Hepatitis, Norovirus and MRSA. Enviro-Master’s commercial restroom hygiene service, which is applied with EPA-registered, non-toxic products, ensures 99.99 percent of germs are killed. “As a border city, we have many challenges dealing with the health and safety aspect due to travelers constantly going back and forth into Mexico,” Kimberly said. “We wanted to be a part of helping our neighbors within the city and even in Mexico.”

In Enviro-Master, Willie and Kimberly found a company that is a recognized leader in the $61 billion commercial cleaning industry, which is expected to grow by an additional two percent in 2019 alone, according to experts. Enviro-Master International Franchise has ranked five years in a row by Inc. 5000 as one of American’s Fastest Growing Private Companies. Their niche, which focuses on killing germs and bacteria, protects businesses, their employees and clients against the spread of infectious diseases. Currently targeting growth in major markets throughout North America, Enviro-Master’s continued growth is fueled by five basic fundamentals: 1) Large, identifiable markets; 2) Lack of competition; 3) Recession resistance; 4) Recurring revenue model; and 5) Service that can’t be displaced by technology.

“I’ve been in franchise development for more than 30 years and have not seen a concept with the strong fundamentals that we have at Enviro-Master,” said Brian Wieters, executive vice president of franchise development. Said Willie: “This is something we want to pass on to our children. We believe in leaving a legacy for our children’s children. Our plan for them is to be very aggressive in the future growth of our company.”

Markets being aggressively targeted for new franchises are Phoenix, Toronto, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Reno, New York and its boroughs, Denver, Boston and New Orleans. Call 1-833-GERMPROS for more information, or visit the website at enviro-master.info

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