Common Name, Uncommon Path

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Common speaking at the Black Caucus meeting

By Jovane Marie

With a career spanning almost three decades, Common’s journey in the spotlight has been anything but.

Along the way, he’s gained an ever-expanding list of titles and credits that run the gamut: rapper, artist, father, actor, activist, model, author, designer, philanthropist, Microsoft ambassador, and Academy Award winner, to name a few.

But if you’re thinking that’s enough to satisfy this modern-day Renaissance Man, you’re wrong. “I revel in the fact that in being all of these things, I don’t have to choose,” said the multi-hyphenate talent. “I want to do and be more…what I’ve accomplished so far is great, but there is always more to achieve.”

Voice of the Future
Common might’ve had his start in the music industry, but he’s no stranger to the world of STEM. In fact, he’s had a long-standing relationship with tech behemoth Microsoft dating all the way back to 2008, when the two partnered to launch Softwear (a play on “software”), a retro clothing line of T-shirts featuring MS-DOS (an operating system) font. Six years later, that partnership was re-birthed as the tech giant searched for a spokesperson to helm its first Super Bowl commercial. Common sent in a tape explaining why he wanted to lend his voice, and the rest—they say—is history. Since the inaugural commercial in 2014, the artist has lent his voice to a multitude of commercials, shorts, and presentations touting the importance of advancing technology and the infinite possibilities created by Microsoft’s artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities.

“Technology is possibility, adaptability, and capability,” he muses in one spot. “It’s not about changing what came before—it’s about creating what comes next. Right now, we have more power at our fingertips than entire generations that came before us…the question is, what will we do with it?”

Actor to Activist
Common’s firm footing in the entertainment industry might sound like a full-time endeavor, but he has consciously created the time and space to enrich and advocate for the causes he believes in. “The truth is, you don’t have to be an actor, or an athlete, or an influencer to make a difference,” he said in a recent interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Ernie Suggs. “All you have to do is have a desire the make the world a better place. Every human being can do it, and I have a desire to do my part.”

L to R-Lamar Johnson, Sabrina Carpenter, Russell Hornsby, Amandla Stenberg, Algee Smith and Common attend The Hate U Give New York Screening at Paris Theatre
L to R-Lamar Johnson, Sabrina Carpenter, Russell Hornsby, Amandla Stenberg, Algee Smith and Common attend “The Hate U Give” New York Screening at Paris Theatre.

This desire has manifested into fervent action focused on increasing and championing diversity and mentoring youth in the inner-cities of his home state, among other things.

In January, he delivered the closing keynote at the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion conference, a gathering of more than 250 Chief Human Resource Officers (CHRO) and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officers (CDO) from an array of Fortune 500 companies on a mission to provide tangible, ready-to-implement strategies to encourage and increase diversity and inclusion both internally and within their local communities.

“My interest in promoting diversity was rooted in my looking in these communities and seeing certain people not having access to the same opportunities,” said the ardent advocator. “The undeniable fact is that we need to see more women and POC [people of color] in positions of power—same for different beliefs and those in the LGBTQ+ community.” “We have to figure out ways to increase the diversity, and that starts with a conversation. For me, I love being in a position where I can be a part of the paradigm shift and contribute to that conversation.”

Common performs onstage during OZY Fest
Common performs onstage during OZY Fest 2018 at Rumsey Playfield, Central Park in New York City.

Speaking to C-suite leaders about diversity isn’t the only way Common is lending his voice to the diversity conversation. In 2018, after African-American business partners Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were racially profiled in a Starbucks—causing national outrage—the chain subsequently closed 8,000 stores for a day to conduct anti-bias training. The voice they heard in those videos, stressing the importance of anti-discrimination and inclusivity? Take a guess. The art of the give-back has further manifested into the creation of the Common Ground Foundation, an organization dedicated to reach and impact inner-city youth in Chicago through mentorship and college-preparation programs. For more than a decade, the foundation has intimately focused on nutrition, healthy living, financial living, character development, and creative expression—even holding youth leadership conferences and summer camps. With more than $230,000 in scholarships awarded, a 100 percent graduation rate among participants, a 99 percent college attendance rate, and more than 2,500 collective hours of community service provided to the community, the organization has earned the distinction of an impactful labor of love.

Common with classroom full of school children.
Common visits NYC elementary school for Back-To-School fundraising with Burlington Stores and AdoptAClassroom. JAMIE MCCARTHY/GETTY IMAGES

“I started the Common Ground Foundation because I wanted to help,” said the philanthropist. “I think making a difference in the lives of others is life’s greatest purpose, and I always believed that of we started with the youth, we’d be planting the seeds for our future to blossom.”

A Tale of Common Sense
Common, born Lonnie Rashid Lynn to an educator mother and youth counselor father, was raised in the Calumet Heights neighborhood of Chicago, where his foray into the world of music developed and thrived. Talented and precocious, he was writing lyrics by age 12, and at 15, formed a rap trio—C.D.R.—with two high school friends. Far from just an after-school hobby, the group served as an industry incubator, not only building his proficiency in writing, producing and performing, but also aiding in his personal branding as an artist.

“C.D.R. represented so much in my life, and it was the birthplace of a lot of artistic firsts,” remembered Common. “That acronym was a revolving door of different meanings—it mainly stood for Corey, Deon, Rashid [our names], but on other days, it was Compact Disc Recorder, or Recording Def Rhymes. We were learning how to record, making demos, writing songs, performing—just trying to figure ourselves out and do our thing.” Influenced by hip-hop’s titans of the time, including LL Cool J, Run DMC, A Tribe Called Quest, NWA, and Rakim, C.D.R. went on to gain a footing in the industry, having their songs played on the University of Chicago’s local radio station and opening concerts for Big Daddy Kane, Eazy-E, and Too Short.

Upon graduation, Common enrolled at Florida A&M University under a scholarship, where he majored in business administration. His artistic streak remained uninterrupted, however, and in 1991, after being featured in The Source magazine’s Unsigned Hype column, he left A&M to sign with Relativity Records. It was under this label that he released his first album, “Can I Borrow a Dollar?”, using the moniker Common Sense. The album was an underground success, and laid the groundwork (as well as a growing fanbase) for his subsequent albums and collaborations. To date, Common has won more than 20 awards from various distinguished award bodies for his lyrics, albums and performances, including a 2015 Academy Award for his and singer John Legend’s original song “Glory” (from the Selma soundtrack), three Grammys, four BET Awards, a Golden Globe, and an Emmy. He has also garnered over 40 nominations in the music industry.

More than Music
Had Common been content to produce records, pull awards, and perform his hits for dedicated fans around the world, that might’ve been the end of the story. But, true to his character, he always had his sights set for more—much more. He began making his mark in the film and television industry in the early 2000s, often making cameos as himself and later evolving into more complex roles in well-known films, such as American Gangster (starring Denzel Washington), Wanted, Just Wright, Suicide Squad, Selma (as activist James Bevel), and installments of the John Wick franchise, to name a few. His constantly growing acting portfolio, which currently includes more than 40 films, supports a long-term goal to eventually become one of the great actors of our time.

Common standing posing with his childrens book
Common with his children’s book, “I Like You but I Love Me”.

“I’m still working to get to where I want to be, and I’m always working to get to the next level,” he said. “The majority of roles I want, they’re looking at other actors for. But I’m always going to fight to prove myself.” As he works tirelessly to widen his range and nab multifaceted roles, Common is also focused on another goal: helping amplify the creative voices of others through his nearly five-year-old production company, Freedom Road Productions. To date, he has executive produced Showtime’s popular drama The Chi (created by screenwriter Lena Waithe, the first African-American woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series), and last year, signed a deal to develop and produce new television series with Lionsgate TV.

On the Horizon
Common’s career in the spotlight has diverged into many paths during its three-decade journey, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Add to that his impactful work in mentorship, advocacy, and diversity, and a bevy of new projects within all of these fields, and it’s safe to say that he may never stop. Next up is his second book, Let Love Have the Last Word, a personal anthology exploring the core tenets of love to help others give and receive love to live better lives and build stronger communities. Following on the heels of his New York Times best-selling memoir, One Day It’ll All Make Sense, the book is sure to be a page-turner.

On the film front, the actor will feature or star in three upcoming films: The Informer, The Kitchen, and John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. Several TV series in collaboration with Lionsgate are also in the works. Simply put, Common wants to expand his experience, provide opportunities for others, and inspire.

“I want to live my passions, help others do the same, and make the world a better place, as much as I can,” he said. “This—all of this—inspires me to work harder and do more.”

These Toni Morrison Books Topped Barack Obama’s Summer Reading List

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Toni Morrison with Barack Obama smiling and laughing together

Former President Barack Obama released his annual summer reading list and the late Toni Morrison featured prominently in his recommendations.

“It’s August, so I wanted to let you know about a few books I’ve been reading this summer, in case you’re looking for some suggestions,” he said in the Facebook Post.

“To start, you can’t go wrong by reading or re-reading the collected works of Toni Morrison. Beloved, Song of Solomon, The Bluest Eye, Sula, everything else — they’re transcendent, all of them.”

The Nobel laureate died Aug. 5 after a brief illness, her family announced.

“It is with profound sadness we share that, following a short illness, our adored mother and grandmother, Toni Morrison, passed away peacefully last night surrounded by family and friends,” her family said in a statement shared by USA Today. “She was an extremely devoted mother, grandmother and aunt who reveled in being with her family and friends. The consummate writer who treasured the written word, whether her own, her students or others, she read voraciously and was most at home when writing. Although her passing represents a tremendous loss, we are grateful she had a long, well-lived life.”

After Morrison’s death, Obama shared a remembrance on social media. “Toni Morrison was a national treasure,” he wrote. “Her writing was not just beautiful but meaningful — a challenge to our conscience and a call to greater empathy. She was as good a storyteller, as captivating, in person as she was on the page.”

In 2012, he awarded Morrison the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the two highest honors the U.S. government presents to civilians.

Continue on to Essence to read the complete article.

These are the 4 surprising lessons I learned when I started managing people for the first time

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woman manager leading a conversation at a conference table

By Rousseau Kazi

When I first moved into team management from product management, I quickly learned that managing people is very different than managing a product.

As it turns out, people are complicated.

I had the wrong expectations about what it would take to be a good manager, something I’m sure many people can relate to.

Becoming a manager for the first time requires a lot of trial and error, and no matter how diligently you prepare, mistakes are inevitable.

That being said, the following lessons have helped me navigate this transition, and I hope that they can help those who are undertaking their managerial journey for the first time.

Lesson one: Products don’t fail silently, people do

Mistaking silence for satisfaction is one of the most common mistakes new managers make. When you manage a product, there are alerts and other objective measures that notify you when something is wrong so you can fix it. People don’t come with warnings, and often, they’re suppressing their feelings.

As a new manager, it’s easy to assume that people will come to you when they have a problem, but chances are this won’t happen. Many find it intimidating to approach a new manager, so they avoid doing it altogether. The truth is, we’ve cultivated work environments where people are hesitant about speaking up. This might be because of fear stemming from a reaction. It might also be because they have been burned in the past.

Solution: Take the time to get to know your team

As a manager, you need to recognize that people will fail silently. It’s vital to make time to get to know your team so you can better sense when things may not be going well. Acknowledge that you’re probably bad at asking the right questions to really understand what’s going on, so make your intentions clear. Make it known that you don’t view “asking for help” as a weakness and all you want to do is help. Setting up simple processes/channels that enable your employees to reach out to you when they need your support is a great start.

Understanding that silence doesn’t mean success is in itself a step in the right direction. Next, get to know your team inside and out. Learn their habits, likes, dislikes, and pet peeves. As trust between you and your employees develops, they may start to be comfortable around you and may start to ask you directly for help and advice.

Lesson two: Products don’t have fear, people do

Something else that is disproportionately apparent in people versus products is emotion. To be even more specific, it’s fear. Fear drives so many things within us, and it’s common for many to relate negative emotions to something they’re afraid of. Work is no different—since so many people derive purpose from their role. Fear manifests in the workplace in many different ways. People don’t want to seem weak at work because they associate that with not excelling (even though we’re all afraid of something). As a result, fear commonly manifests as anger. When you’re angry, you can talk about what you’re scared of without seeming weak because you’re blaming it on something else. Products, on the other hand, don’t have this negative compounding effect built into them.

Solution: Remind yourself that everyone is afraid of something

Always keep in mind that everyone is likely afraid of some scenario. Try to understand what that is and then do whatever you can in your power to prevent it from happening. Get to know your team and what excites them. Aim to create safe spaces for them to open up so you can help prevent any future destructive behaviors.

Lesson three: Products don’t get lost in their emotions, people do

One thing that’s hard to come to terms with is understanding that as a manager, you have explicit power. Even if you understand that you have the privilege of helping facilitate people’s careers—it doesn’t stop you from being human. It doesn’t stop you from getting upset when someone on your team is upset with you, and it doesn’t stop you from having those same destructive tendencies that they have. The only difference is that when you do it, it’s worse. Your blast radius is so large that if you let yourself get lost in your emotions, you’ll never be the safety net that your team needs you to be.

Solution: Learn to let go of your ego

Keep in mind that if someone is upset, they’re probably just afraid of something. Every minute you waste defending your ego is a minute you’re not spending on getting to the root of their fear. The faster you get there, the quicker you can actually solve the problem.

Lesson four: Products don’t require you to earn their trust, people do

Just because you’re their manager doesn’t mean that people will respect or trust you. We’ve all had managers who we held to a very high standard. But the second you become one yourself, many of us forget that. Chances are, you have a lot more empathy with what managers go through now than what you did back then, and the longer you are in your role, the less you remember what it was like to not have explicit power.

Because of this, some people just assume that trust is implicit. They expect that their team will have their back and trust their decisions. As a result, they put in less thought when it comes to validating their choices, they don’t put in the extra effort to get to know their team, and they don’t go above and beyond to prove to their team that they are there to help. But respect doesn’t automatically come with a title change. It’s something that you need to earn. Your team, or report, will never reach their full potential if you don’t earn their trust first.

People are more complicated than products. Most managers know that in theory, yet are often in for a rude awakening when they start to encounter the realities of their new role. When a product fails, you can intellectualize it. When a person falls, the impact is significant and in many ways—it falls on you.

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

Interested in Owning a Food Franchise?

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black franchise owners standing in front of McDonalds

When it comes to deciding on the type of franchise business you want to own, consider several factors—the business location, how many people you’ll employ, and more.

And once you’ve decided on a franchise business you think you’d like to own and operate, you’ll have to weigh the positives and the negatives.

If you have decided on a food franchise, there are some unique considerations for this type of business.

 
 
The Positive Side of Food Franchise Ownership

  1. As long as you have a steady stream of customers patronizing your restaurant or food store, revenue tends to be pretty high.

Of course, it depends on the franchise, but when you think about it, it’s tough to buy breakfast or lunch for less than $8–$10 in most food-service establishments, with dinners usually costing even more. As long as you have a steady stream of customers patronizing your restaurant on a consistent basis, your revenue figures will be fine.

  1. New food-service establishments create a lot of local buzz.

Most people know when a new restaurant opens in town, especially if the grand opening is a memorable one.

When you buy a franchise, marketing assistance is included in the upfront and ongoing fees.

Good franchisors know how to put on a strong grand opening, and if yours goes well, you won’t have to wait long for customers to line up to try (and purchase) your food.

  1. Food-service is fast paced.

It’s quite an experience to own and operate a busy food-service business, especially when your take-out phones are ringing off the hook, people are waiting in line to order, and your cash register is overflowing with cash.

If you like working in a high-energy, fast-paced environment, you’re going to love owning a food franchise. Don’t count on there being a dull moment.

  1. Real estate assistance is provided.

Location can make or break the success of a food franchise. You want to have the best one possible. That’s where a franchisor with a good real estate expert is key. To be exact, immediately after your franchise agreement is signed, the real estate person at franchise headquarters gets to work.

She leverages her connections with the nation’s leading commercial real estate companies to help secure the best location possible for your new business. That alone gives you a huge advantage over an independent businessperson (without commercial real estate connections) who’s trying to secure a location for his restaurant.

The Negative Side of Food Franchise Ownership 

  1. Food franchises have high employee turnover

If you become the owner of a food franchise, plan on going through a lot of employees. Turnover rates in the hospitality industry hover at nearly 70 percent.

That means you’ll be spending a lot of time on employee training, new-hire paperwork, and shift filling. (Unless you have a manager who can do this for you.)

  1. Food franchises require a physical location

Having a location means a couple of things.

First of all, compared to an office-based or home-based franchise, your expenses go up, as you’ll be paying for things like the build-out, signage, rent, utilities, and more.

Second, you’ll have to sign a multi-year commercial lease. These leases tend to be complicated and are landlord friendly.

Tip: Before you sign a lease, hire an attorney to go over it with you. And make sure your attorney has a lot of experience with commercial leases.

  1. Food franchise ownership requires long hours

In addition to the long hours, food franchise owners need to have a lot of energy, especially during peak times, where you’ll have to pitch in when needed. Whether it’s cleaning tables, helping prepare the food, or manning the phones, you’ll be smack dab in the middle of the chaos that all busy food franchises experience.

Owning a food franchise can be a good way to go for someone who enjoys a busy, high-energy environment that includes a good number of employees.

Furthermore, if you can afford to own several units of a high-performing food franchise, your business can end up being quite lucrative.

Source: sba.gov

Biles caps 6th U.S. title with historic triple-double

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Simone Biles

Simone Biles won her sixth all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships on Sunday, plus did a historic clean triple-double in floor exercise.

Biles, 22, did the triple-double in the preliminaries Friday in floor exercise, too, the first time a woman had ever completed the complex move of two flips with three twists in competition. But she put her hands down on the landing then, which frustrated her. She didn’t do that Sunday and was so happy with the move that she retweeted video of it during the competition.

“I didn’t want to be the last person to see it,” Biles said of checking her phone for the video, “so I went online to see what it looked like, so that me and [coach Laurent Landi] could watch it. But I was very pleased that I actually landed it this time in competition.”

Biles won the all-around title easily; her 118.500 was almost 5 full points ahead of second-place finisher Sunisa Lee at 113.550. Grace McCallum was third at 111.850. Biles has won 20 consecutive all-around titles dating back six years, including at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Sunday, Biles also won the titles in the vault (30.850), balance beam (29.650) and, of course, floor exercise (29.450), which she especially has elevated to must-see TV whenever she’s performing. And even in the event she calls her least favorite, uneven bars, she finished third (28.800).

Lee, a 16-year-old from Minnesota, won the bars with a score of 29.800 and was the only woman other than Biles to walk away with a gold medal from these championships. She acknowledged she watches all of Biles’ routines with a sense of awe.

Continue on to ESPN News to read the complete article.

Kamala Harris Proposes Plan To Invest $60 Billion In Historically Black Colleges

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Kamala Harris speaking at podium

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) rolled out two policy plans Friday morning aimed at closing the wealth gap for black Americans. Harris said in a press release that if elected president, she will invest $60 billion in historically black colleges and universities and $12 billion in black-owned businesses and entrepreneurship. She said she would also invest $2.5 billion in programs that train black teachers ― an addition to her March proposal to raise teachers’ salaries.

The presidential hopeful, a graduate of HBCU Howard University, described the proposal as “the next major planks in her Black agenda,” according to her campaign’s fact sheet.

Of the $60 billion she plans to invest in HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions, Harris said she would put $10 billion toward school infrastructure to build classrooms, school labs and other facilities. The other $50 billion would be used to create a competitive fund at the Department of Education to support science, technology, engineering and math education at HBCUs. The competitive fund would go toward scholarships, fellowships and research.

The $12 billion policy proposal would be allocated to federal contracting programs that would help black business owners create businesses from the ground up.

“We can create a pipeline for ensuring that Black Americans are leading the research and entrepreneurship to grow our innovation economy and participate in the wealth it generates,” the campaign fact sheet states.

Continue on to the Huffington Post to read the complete article.

Finally a black ‘Bachelor’? ABC’s president weighs in

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The Bachelor posted promoting the TV show

ABC’s “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” reality shows continue to be ratings gold for the broadcast network. But critics say they don’t succeed when it comes to diversity.

Although attorney Rachel Lindsay became the first African American to lead either of these programs when she starred in the 13th season of “The Bachelorette” and soccer player Juan Pablo Galavis was “The Bachelor’s” first Latino lead when he starred in Season 18, there has never been a male African-American star of “The Bachelor” in its 23 seasons.

ABC president Karey Burke was asked about this controversy on Monday when she spoke to journalists at the network’s Television Critics Association press day in Beverly Hills.

“I can tell you, the conversations are ongoing about who the next Bachelor will be,” Burke replied. “I do think that the show has worked hard to increase diversity in casting. And, as that evolves, we’ll continue to see more diversity in the franchise.”

Later, Burke was also asked about the issues surrounding the recently completed chapter of “The Bachelorette.” That finale revealed that chosen suitor Jed Wyatt was already in a relationship when he began competing on the show.

Burke, who started her job at ABC in November, said that she’s still new to this process but that “I’ve been quite impressed by the production company [behind “The Bachelor”] and the show’s interest in continuing to improve and expand its vetting processes.”

“It’s an on-going journey,” she said. “Human behavior is mercurial and I think the show does as good a job as it can vetting contestants.”

Continue on to CNN to read the complete article.

Toni Morrison, Towering Novelist of the Black Experience, Dies at 88

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Toni Morrison recieves medal of freedom award

Toni Morrison, the Nobel laureate in literature whose best-selling work explored black identity in America — and in particular the often crushing experience of black women — through luminous, incantatory prose resembling that of no other writer in English, died on Monday in the Bronx. She was 88.

Her death, at Montefiore Medical Center, was announced by her publisher, Alfred A. Knopf. A spokeswoman said the cause was complications of pneumonia. Ms. Morrison lived in Grand View-on-Hudson, N.Y.

The first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 1993, Ms. Morrison was the author of 11 novels as well as children’s books and essay collections. Among them were celebrated works like “Song of Solomon,” which received the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1977, and “Beloved,” which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988.

Ms. Morrison was one of the rare American authors whose books were both critical and commercial successes. Her novels appeared regularly on the New York Times best-seller list, were featured multiple times on Oprah Winfrey’s television book club and were the subject of myriad critical studies. A longtime faculty member at Princeton, Ms. Morrison lectured widely and was seen often on television.

Continue on to the New York Times to read the complete article.

From Wall Street to Your Street; Former Goldman Sachs VP Becomes Franchisee with # 1 Home Inspection Company

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Elton Andrews stans next to his work vehicle

“Wall Street was an amazing ride,” reflects former Goldman Sachs VP, Elton Andrews. Along with his 25-year run at Goldman Sachs, Andrews spent an impressive 32 years total in the financial sector. Facing possible retirement, Andrews took some time off to be with his family, but it wasn’t long before he began searching for a new project.

“I loved what I did for those 32 years and I experienced many areas of the business,” said Andrews. “From my beginning in operations, managing a trading desk, becoming involved in the development and growth of the electronic trading marketplace, I interacted with some of the most brilliant people in the industry. They really had an impact on my life! I was mentored by some of the best, and then I had opportunities to mentor others. That work/life experience was priceless, and will be with me in everything I do in the future.”

And that future is here. “I developed a very strong desire to start my own business,” he said. “I saw the Pillar To Post Home Inspectors model, and I was intrigued.”

Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is the brand to which more than three million families have turned to for 25 years to be their trusted advisor when buying or selling a home. Consistently ranked as the top-rated home inspection company on Entrepreneur Magazine’s annual Franchise500®, they are enjoying their 19th year in a row on that list.

“I saw Pillar To Post Home Inspectors as a total change of direction, but in a market that still somewhat related to finance, so it seemed a natural fit for me,” Andrews explained. “In my previous career, attention to detail, people management, building the client experience, and the needs of the client were all part of my daily focus. I will manage my Pillar to Post Home Inspectors business with the same mindset and dedication.”

A professional evaluation both inside and outside the home is at the core of Pillar To Post Home Inspectors’ service. Pillar To Post Home Inspectors input data and digital photos into a computerized report that is printed and presented on site. All is provided to clients in a customized binder for easy reference, allowing homebuyers or sellers to make confident, informed decisions.

About Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®
Founded in 1994, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is the largest home inspection company in North America with home offices in Toronto and Tampa. There are nearly 600 franchises located in 49 states and nine Canadian provinces. The company has been named Best in Category in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise500 ® ranking for 19 years in a row. Long-term plans include adding 500 to 600 new franchisees over the next five years. For further information, please visit www.pillartopost.com.  To inquire about a franchise go to pillartopostfranchise.com.

Introducing the First Ever Black Woman-Owned Rideshare Service for Kids

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owner of kiddie commute and the vehicle

You don’t have to be a parent to know that parenting is a full-time job with barely any breaks in between; and ensuring your child is well attended to is an around the clock task, even when they aren’t in your presence.

Shan Cureton, a mother of three, understands this all too well. She is the founder of Kiddie Commute, a full-service transportation company for kids located in the greater San Diego area; and the only Black woman-owned transportation company in the state. It is also the only comprehensive service that serves the needs of parents and caregivers, offering safety and reliability.

Launched in 2017, Kiddie Commute was created purely out of need. “I am a busy working mother. At the time, I worked and went to school full time. My youngest son was in Kindergarten, I had another son in middle school, and a daughter in high school. It was challenging picking up my youngest son from class in the middle of the day when I had to work or be in class.” Cureton says she didn’t have family available to help her with school pick-ups. “Adding to that stress, my oldest two were taking Lyft.

I was a nervous wreck as I watched the ticker on the app pick up my most precious assets and drop them off at home. I couldn’t focus because let’s face it, they were strangers. I had no peace of mind and assurance that the driver was safe.” Cureton did some research online and discovered that it was illegal for Lyft to transport minors alone. “Some drivers would anyway, and some would cancel the ride when they found out it was a child they were picking up. I searched online for a company that could solve my problem, there wasn’t a local one, and that’s when the light bulb went on. Kiddie Commute was born.”

Being a woman of color, Shan was ready to take on the challenges of creating and launching the company. Any hardships or frustrations that would come were worth it. “With the business and entrepreneurship being dominated by males, it’s sometimes challenging for your voice to be heard. When you can get a word in edgewise you are seen as domineering or too boisterous. This is very disheartening as running a tech company requires a tenacious leader that’s not afraid to step out on the balcony.”

Continue on to Black News to read the complete article.

The Rock visits protesters in Hawaii who oppose massive telescope being built on sacred mountain summit

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Dwayne The Rock Johnson talks with protester in Hawaii

Protesters who are demonstrating against a massive telescope being built in Hawaii have a big supporter in Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson.

Johnson made an appearance at the site of the protests Wednesday and told people there that he stands with them as they fight to prevent the Thirty Meter Telescope from being built on an area considered to be a sacred ground by some Native Hawaiians.

“This is such a critical moment and a pivotal time,” Johnson told the protesters. “Because the world is watching.”

Wednesday marked the 10th day of protests that have involved demonstrators blocking the road to the summit of Mauna Kea, where the state’s Supreme Court has approved a $1.4 billion telescope to be built.

Johnson, who is not of Hawaiian descent, spent part of his youth living in the state.

Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim says he wants to work with the protesters to find a common ground and avoid the community become divided. He is working on behalf of Hawaii Gov. David Ige.

Continue on to New York Daily News to read the complete article.

Ken Bouyer: Success in Inclusiveness

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Kenneth Bouyer-EY

By Brady Rhoades

As EY Americas Director of Inclusiveness Recruiting, Ken Bouyer lives by a motto: “Lift as you climb.” But he has expectations of those he lifts, just as those who helped him had expectations. He poses this question to professionals who are looking to thrive in corporate America.

“How do you define success and what are you willing to ante up in order to achieve that level of success?”

The answer is different for everyone, he said to Black EOE Journal, but if teams pursue their purpose with commitment and a willing to sacrifice, the results can be startling.

“We’re incredibly committed to diversity and inclusion,” Bouyer said of EY, referring to the company’s stellar record of hiring and promoting women, ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ people, and people with disabilities. “And I get to be an insider on that and get a sense of the investments we make… I get a chance to see it year in and year out.”

“When you think about why diversity and inclusion matter, a big part of it is the diversity of thought and perspective,” he added.

Bouyer had plenty of “lifters” as he labored his way up the steep incline during his early career years in the 1990s (he remembers his hire date at EY on October 1, 1990).

He was a first-generation corporate professional.

“I didn’t know how I should act, what I should do.”

But he had help.

“The mentors and role models I had and being part of that as a young professional: invaluable,” he said.

His biggest lesson?

“Your brand is everything. How do you show up every day in your office? What’s your brand and reputation like?”

He said integrity is foundational to EY’s brand and most great brands across a variety of business models. Ever in lift-and-climb mode, he encourages others to build their brands.

He asks corporate managers an uncomfortable but important question: When you leave the room, what do your employees say about you? What kinds of words are used?

“People have to trust and rely on you, and integrity is a big, big part of that,” he said.

Looking back on his rookie year at EY, he remembers a different corporate culture in America.

“When I first started… there were no programs focused on diversity and inclusiveness,” he said.

He’s proud of how far EY has come in the past 29 years, where they’re going, and what it means for future generations.

“Our talented minorities have an opportunity to be so successful, and anything we can do to help raise awareness around the diversity and inclusiveness issue is going to make us better.”

Bouyer, who lives in New Jersey with his wife and daughter, is responsible for developing and implementing a recruiting strategy that focuses on creating a diverse talent pool. Fostering an inclusive culture where all individuals can achieve their full potential is a global priority and a business imperative for EY. The organization strives to reflect the changes in world demographics—taking into account the new mix of cultures and individual characteristics that build its talent pool.

Bouyer also serves on the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Minority Initiatives Committee and a number of other boards. He is a recipient of the Federation of Schools of Accountancy “Practitioner Service Award” for his distinguished service to the profession of accounting and accounting education.

Bouyer earned a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Manhattan College in Riverdale, New York. He is a lifetime member of the National Association of Black Accountants.

Photo Credit: EY

From Con to Entrepreneur

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Mikey owner of Ice Cream shop stands outside in his uniform holding a thumbs up

Michael “Mikey” Cole owns the first, award-winning pop cultured-inspired ice cream shop with locations in New York’s Lower East Side and Harlem. But Mikey’s road to success wasn’t a smooth one. The entrepreneur pursued a degree in economics and business management, and served time in prison before founding Mikey Likes It Ice Cream.

It is almost impossible for an ex-con to get hired, but Mikey transformed his life, and as he is growing in his career, he is giving back to the community.

“And that’s what the business is about now,” he said to The Huffington Post. “You know, with the ice cream business, it’s not just about creating ice cream. It’s spreading the word—it’s about giving back to the community, to help the next generation so they don’t make the same choices I’ve made.”

The popular organic ice cream shop creates homemade artisan and all-natural ice cream, inspired by Mikey’s deceased aunt’s vanilla ice cream recipe. “I decided to continue on this ice cream journey with the love my aunt instilled in me,” he says.

Mikey has created custom ice cream flavors for people like Hillary Clinton and Jay-Z, among others, and has been featured in The New York Times, O, The Oprah Magazine, Essence, and New York Magazine.

A New York Native, Mikey knows what dessert lovers will enjoy in his hometown. His ice cream flavors have names that reflect American pop culture, including Foxy Brown and Nutty Professor. One of his offerings, Mikey’s Daddy Mac, was named one of the best ice cream sandwiches in New York City.

Mikey uses profits from the shop to cater youth events—free of charge—and provide scholarships for local students. “To give back is the most important thing for us,” he told The Huffington Post.

Sources: huffpost.com; Mikey Likes It

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