Professional development at its best at the BE Entrepreneur Summit

Many people ask why they should invest in professional development and at the Black Enterprise Entrepreneur Summit Wednesday’s opening festivities made a bold answer as to some of the fruitful reasons why.  Professional development is about more than sitting through conferences and hoarding business cards.  It’s about opening yourself up to the possibility to do better, work harder, make more money, and learning to enjoy yourself through the process.  The opening night was a wonderful emulsion of all these reasons with a great lesson in working hard and playing harder.


The first day of the conference showcased how to best take on professional development, from the inside out. A big part of really evolving professionally is evolving personally.  By making it a priority to master new techniques and challenge yourself to step out of y our comfort zone you also make strides in becoming the best you can be for your business.  The sessions for Wednesday started with a frequent nail bitter for many professionals, business presentations.  In the Mastering Business Presentations session you had the chance to hear from some great including Alfred Edmond, the Executive Editor at Large for Black Enterprise, on honing your skills to present in ways that moves and motivates your listeners.  With that session pushing you from within you quickly moved to how to take that motivation and make it work for your business.

With a conference focused on moving you from internal development to external development the session on business in Houston was a cornucopia of business ideas on how to expand to Houston. With key insights from none other than Houston mayor Sylvester Turner you got some invaluable insight on seizing on the wealth of opportunities found within the Houston market.  Now this is already what a good business conference is made of, a meeting of opportunity and growth and the networking potential that allows you to connect all of the dots.  To add some ice cream on the top of what is already shaping up to be an amazing treat in your personal development, Wednesdays kick off mixer was the perfect welcome present.  From delicious food including some Houston specialties to fun entertainment to a room full of eager entrepreneurs the summit was kicked off with a bang.  As I joined in on the fun in the lip syncing contest I was reminded of something that stayed with me the entire conference, in the world of business learning to enjoy yourself draws  others to you and in a game you have to play to win you need all the help you can rising to the top.

Leveraging Learning to jump start your business

“If you are not learning, you are dying”.

As a business owner continuously refining your business by constantly learning is an integral part of sustaining long term viability. Within business nothing stays the same for long, so relying on past wins as a game plan builds in boobie traps to your foundation that can quickly take you under.  Markets change, audiences change and competition changes and that is a guarantee.  Preparation to avoid the pitfalls of this ever changing market should also be a guarantee as you plot your own path to success.  Investing in learning and growth can ensure your company is responsive to these changing environments, instead of reacting to problems and obstacles the unknown future almost certainly holds in its cards.

A focus on continual learning in your professional life doesn’t have to be as defined as a commitment to go back for a degree or a formal certificate program. If you can assess, research, and pull together others adding to your professional education can be as simple as 1, 2, 3:

Access: This requires an honest assessment of where you are in skills and knowledge. If you are able to do this or poll respected colleagues or co-workers for their opinion you will be able to start first with where you are to determine where you want to go.   This understanding is key as it gives you the focus not to just reach out for general information but to sort through the learning environment for what specifically can apply to advance your business.

Research: I think general seminars and books are a great start to keep you motivated as well as give you a general sense of up to date information. These sources have already been cultivated to deliver a specific message and the research and sources are on point with current issues.  For me seeing the Black Enterprise Entrepreneur Summit I quickly reviewed the agenda and signed on.  It is not just a quick opportunity to cover lapses in knowledge that I am aware of, but also to learn something from issues that may not have been on my radar in my normal practice of expecting the best but preparing for the worst I my business.

Pulling together others: An additional resource you can pull from educational seminars is knowledge from your peers that can ultimately be invaluable. Making connections with a range of people, some who may have a similar mission and others whose goals are diverse give you a broad awareness of issues that can impact your business and a heads up on key areas of improvement.  An educational seminar pulls together people who at least have a base of pushing for common information and this base can be a spring board to shared interest and later collaborations.  Next time you are at a seminar or luncheon really put on your listening hat for the knowledge just immediately around you.  When your mind is open you will always be surprised what new you can learn.

Using good feelings to stay focused

Thought Bubbles of Money

Good things in life easily motivate you to get things done. When you are craving that piece of chocolate or new electronic you have been dreaming about nothing and the world can stop you.  When you compare this driven mentality to other areas of your life, however, there can be a dramatic turnaround with your ability to want something and put in the work to get it done.  At least one reason this can happen is how your mind focuses on things that you want to actually get you moving in the ride direction.  Take this example.  First think of going out for dinner for your favorite meal.  Instantly you start to think about how delicious it is and how good you feel when the aroma whiffs your way and just how great the first bite will be.  Next up pick a different goal in your life, let’s just say you may also want to make $20,000 more at work.  Instead of imagining just how great it will be once that gets done, you automatically start to think of all the work, obstacles and hassles that lie in your way before you get to what you want.

Adding some of the reward and benefits to your goals that aren’t as appealing as your favorite meal is a good way to jump start the process of easing the mental blocks you are throwing up to get things done. If you want to make more begin to associate that with how your life will improve.  Perhaps you will have more time with the kids or the flexibility to take the vacation you want.  Of course your mind throws up interference at first but the more you challenge yourself to make the association with a different, more enjoyable goal, the strong the association becomes.  Working harder just to work harder does not come easy for a lot of people but working harder focusing on the carrot instead of the stick can help you self-motivate and get in gear for chasing your dreams.

Once you get in autopilot then little steps come faster and before you have a chance to stop yourself progress is being made. I like to spend time every Monday just imagining so I can associate things I love with the work it takes to the get them.  I love to travel so I browse for destinations I would love to visit.  Then I think of the small, manageable steps I could take to get there.  While $20,000 increase in sales sounds overwhelming, making an extra $1,500 a month does not and making an extra 3 phone calls a day sounds even better.  I stop thinking about all the work and just take the work as a cost of the reward and my engines get revved up!

Building support by showing support

Building support by showing supportAs children we learn the Golden Rule to treat others how we would like to be treated, but somehow the “me first” attitude often creeps back in as adults. This attitude demands to first receive the benefit of support from others, while our own commitment to support those around us can be questionable at best and damn near non-existent at its worst. In a business environment where you want a strong network being present to support the successes and accomplishments of those around you is a necessary part of your own longevity.

Too often the notion of supporting someone else comes with a reciprocation tie. You show up to those you feel may show up for you instead of showing up to support and leaving the strings at the door. I am not for pouring energy into those who cannot understand how to return the favor but if your goal is to support someone then do it. Leave the questions and strings at the door and do it because you want to. With that as the goal then no matter what happens next you have accomplished what you set out to do. The benefits after making that selfless commitment begin to roll in without you even asking for more. When you go into an event with a positive and encouraging spirit it is contagious. You are showing yourself as a supportive colleague and believe it or not that will attract others. This energy can serve as a pick me up of what could typically be a boring networking event and provide some purpose to a happening you would otherwise miss. In business opportunities are often hiding in the place you least expect, but as with winning at the casino, you have to play to win. Whether or not the generosity of your time and energy is ever returned by who you showed up to support you begin to plant the seeds of unselfish support which are essential to harvesting a bounty of support in your own ventures and successes.

Lighting the fire to your personal success with Hip Hop Preacher Eric Thomas

Hip Hop Preacher Eric Thomas and founder of Universal Elite Aerospace Kenneth Morris

Hip Hop Preacher Eric Thomas and founder of Universal Elite Aerospace Kenneth Morris

Success in life is not truly measured in just achieving a goal, it is in the daily push you make to take the small steps closer and closer to your goal.  Without question this a tedious process, and the daily grind and setbacks is one of the major reasons small detours can become permanent stopping places for those working towards success.  In order to get back on track or light a fire to make you run, not walk, towards the future you feel destined for it is good to seek out those whose moving works and uplifting spirits can remind you of the prize and the sacrifices you must make to get there.  One of the most vibrant voices in this spirit is Hip Hop Preacher Eric Thomas with his inspiring message to push towards your dreams and to not accept no as an answer.

I had an opportunity to feel the powerful message myself in Eric Thomas’s private engagement at the Universal Elite Aerospace program.  The Universal Elite Aerospace program is in itself a wonderful source of inspiration geared towards educating and stimulating on a career in Aviation.  Coordinating an event with Eric Thomas is so powerful because it is a great reminder that no matter how good our personal present is, it will can all dwindle away without making the necessary investment into our future…the youth.  Its founder, Kenneth Morris, is a living demonstration of what personal motivation paired with powerful inspiration can achieve.

As Eric Thomas walked in the room the excited and energy of the room became electric.  Each person who was a fan of him from his website or social media presence realized the distinct difference in listening to a great speaker and listening to them in a room of likeminded individuals ready to make changes in their lives and their perspectives.  Eric Thomas, like most great speakers, carries such a punch not in the words he says but the strength and experiences that have made him the man he is and developed the message he was set to deliver.  As he shared his struggles and made the connection to the life stories of the various listeners in the room four universal reminders became clear:

  • Be courageous enough to start your own: With the world waiting to peg us into a predetermined assumption of who we are and how far we will go, it is important to remember that the only person who can truly decide this outcome is us. In choosing your future you don’t have to accept what the society and fate the world gives you.
  • Read books, get connected with history: With the internet and TV making so much information available it easy to confuse what you read and hear with the truth. By investing time into reading, history and autobiographies you get an intimate glimpse into how others faced and conquered defeat.
  • Excel at everything you do: In facing the continuous test life throws at you, the possibility for victory in the war come daily. The ultimate war is won with a commitment to do your best, with or without others watching or recognition. The formula is simple: first you find out what the expectations are, then you meet the expectations and then you beat the expectations. There is no better preparation for your biggest challenges in life than this daily commitment. With making a daily decision to be phenomenal in all you do you ensure you will be forgotten.
  • Know your why: All the hard work and dedication to reach your dreams there has to be a basic connection to the why that motivates you to press on. Whether it is your family or community or heritage having a connection to why you work so hard to preserver will be the life persevere when life becomes overwhelming and threats and early defeat.

In all it was a great event that lit a fire under my goals to put in the work to make them become a reality!  Check out Eric Thomas and get in on the success movement today.

PHPB Book Club: “The Go-Giver” a great way to realign your success strategy

PHPB Book Club The Go GiverSometimes it pays to have super smart friends!  In mentioning I set off to read two books a month to help my self-development this year to a good friend and the challenges that came in keeping up with such a heavy reading schedule.  Luck for me she recommended her current read, “The Go Giver” by Bob Burg and John David Mann and how powerful the lessons of the book had been in her life.  After reading some pretty heavy, and lengthy books this year this was a welcome change of pace that delivered a really powerful message really succinctly.  It is the perfect book for someone looking for a new perspective on becoming prosperous but isn’t’ a big reader or wants to avoid some of the typical formulas of motivational book.

One of the most exciting components of the book for me was the format.  It is clear that the authors are true storytellers and accordingly they present five gems in their message using the story of a man that may read pretty familiar to many of those who pick up the book.  It is the story of a man who felt like a go-getter but feels like the returns of his work doesn’t mirror the effort and energy he puts into what he does.  In an effort to make a deadline and find a lead he instead finds himself of a journey of not just his business development, but the way he approaches his relationships by not looking at what he receives but instead looking at what he gives to measure his success.  His experiences challenges and then corrects the way he goes about winning in a way that not just benefits him but uplifts and benefits those around him.  No matter if your focus is on personal success or professional success, the Five Laws of Stratospheric Success multiply your return but also re-aligns your motivations so you are truly adding value to those around you.  Once you finish this easy ready I am sure that you will find a way the Laws of Value, Compensation, Influence, Authenticity, and Receptivity can help enrich your pursuits in life.

Business Lunch to impress at Houston Club

IMG_0426Nestled at the height of downtown lies a great place to grab lunch, a drink, or impress a client.  The Houston Club has always been a great location, but with a recent renovation, it offers a phenomenal atmosphere for wining and dining in downtown Houston.  When it comes to business, frequently downtown is where the action is.  By stepping up to the 49th floor of One Shell you skip some of the crowded downtown destinations.  By choosing the Houston Club you can an unbeatable view of downtown combined with a delicious dining menu all in an environment that allows a relaxing conversation which is one the best business lunches are all about. IMG_0423

IMG_0424When I got a chance to visit the Houston Club for a lunch meeting, I expected what I experienced before at meetings in the location.  I was pleasantly surprised, however, that despite the formality of the location the mood in the dining area is sleek enough to be professional but comfortable enough to be conducive for real business transactions to happen.  It follows the cardinal rule of success in business; they must like you to do business with you.  You can easily miss the mark when you give the impression of being pretensions or stuffy instead of just being likable and approachable.

IMG_0425Another great way to ensure someone walks away with a good impression of you and the lunch is that they enjoyed their meal.  To answer the call in that department the food in the Houston Club is light enough to ensure you won’t need a nap afterwards but delicious enough to keep you wanting more.  Not to mention the finishing touch for me the small offerings of desert that don’t destroy your diet but satisfy the sweet tooth that for me is ever-present.  The Houston Club, with their great view and atmosphere, ensure all the work to get to the location is readily rewarded with your experience.

 

Fast with class – Business Lunch at Azuma Sushi

Business lunch at AzumaWhen you are in business for yourself business lunch is a necessity. It is a great way to meet with clients on terms where you do something that can easily be forgotten when it comes to making money… Working with clients you like.  No, liking your client does not take away from the idea that “business is business” but I always think hard work goes a little easier when there is actually someone you like on the other end.  Likewise for your client having a basic understanding of who you are as a person gives them some reassurances as to your work style that can cause havoc in the relationship when it is not present.

As business lunch is a staple for me I am always looking for fun new places that I can take clients to discuss and also not break the bank. Today my journey lead me to the Azuma Sushi on Kirby.  Sushi offers a lot of advantages for a business lunch by having a great hybrid mix of fast yet still classy.  The ambiance is a vibe of a polished restaurant while the prices for a bento box or sushi is right on the money.  The bento box at Azuma was not only a great presentation of a variety of foods, but the flavor was equally strong.  At the end I was full, but not lazy sleepy full, and the quick service and small bites made it easy to keep the conversation going throughout the meal.  Even as they stick to some bento box favorites like California rolls and tempura shrimp, they also threw in side dishes that are a little more exotic for the adventurer in the crew.

With fast service, good food and a great price what more can you ask for in the world of business lunch?

 

An Intimate Evening with Oprah at the Life You Want Weekend

Live The Life You Want Weekend, MiamiSpending an evening chatting with Oprah??? Sounds too incredible to be true but indeed at the Life You Want Weekend you walk away from the first night feeling as if you had an intimate evening learning about someone whose journey has taken her from Mississippi to becoming a household name. Oprah has the uncanny ability of being able to share her spirit and story in a way that you can not only relate to but can see yourself in.  The first night of the show put this ability on shine as she shared not just her story but some of her critical lessons and her spiritual anchors that have allowed her to handle her blessings and tribulations with grace and strength.

From the lighted bracelets to the fun music the evening starting off with building a strong sense of community. Whether you came with friends or by yourself the energy in the building made you want to reach out and touch someone for the better.  As the introductions began the dim lights and bracelets began the audience on a journey of surprises as well as awakenings.  As the bracelet lights took us from red to orange to yellow you began on a path that could lead you anywhere but also with the hope that it could lead you to everywhere you wanted to go.  As Oprah began sharing I was immediately struck not by the amazing way she was able to share her story, but the ease that her story telling leads you to see yourself in the story.  Although her story is her own I began to see where I could grow and I could change and most importantly that if a small black girl from the country of Mississippi could have the courage to reach for her dreams and become OPRAH than why couldn’t I also let the small voices of God and fate lead me to my destiny.

While there were many awesome life lessons shared throughout the night the two that provided the most impact to me where these:

I am the master of my fate and the captain of my soul

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction

These two very simple truths of life have the power and shape and mode anyone’s life into the life they want as they become more aware of themselves and God and the world and their own power in it to become a better version of the person they already are. Although I believe those truths before hitting the door there is nothing like hearing it from Oprah to give you an extra push from belief to faith and walking the walk to implement those truths in how you think and how you act.  With that just being the tip of the iceberg on the journey I am excited for more in Day 2!

 

Letting go of the fear of failure in order to reach for success

Rock climberHow easy do you think it would be too pick up a watermelon while holding a hand full of rocks? Chances are either the rocks fall out or your smash the watermelon in trying. Success is a big treat many strive to attain in their lives, however, reaching high levels of success often require grabbing for your dreams with both hands.  Making this reach often seems a lot easier than the reality as it means abandoning other coping methods we have learned throughout our lives to cushion or hearts and minds from when we fall.  Even without recognizing it these methods become a part of our way to survive the pitfalls and ensure we weather the storms that come without completely destroying.  High levels of success require some levels of risk and learning how to deal with the fear of failure is a big step in taking the plunge and diving with both hands towards your success.  Here are some ways to let go of the fear and commit to success.

Facing Fear. Fear of failure is one that crosses the mind of most people when reaching for success.  This fear can be depilating as it can seem like an easier option to live with the potential of what could have been instead of the reality of no.  Not fully facing the possibility of failure makes it is a lot easier to reach for the lower rungs of success and stick with the risk level that you feel pretty confident that you can beat.  At least you know what you are getting instead of the risk of failing that comes with reaching higher. The scary thing about big leaps in success is that it is often hidden behind a dimly lit corner, requiring you to take some steps in the dark.  To combat this fear you rely on the experiences and skills that have gotten you this far and in understanding that even if you don’t make it you will still add to your knowledge base and walk away better prepared for the next round.  The fact you are well armed in fighting failure is a good way to guide you through the darkness of doubt that the fear of failure instills.

Breaking old habits. There are patterns we set in our lives that stick with us from very young throughout our lives if we don’t put in the work to change them. Perhaps that habit is tardiness, or procrastination or maybe even a negative attitude but they all work to support the illusion that failure is the worst possible option.  Identifying these bad habits in ourselves and putting in the work to correct the bad habits shines the light on how success is usually within reach, you just have to stretch out to win.

Considering the alternative. The fear of failure sells the dream that your pride and self-confidence would not and could not survive the failure and therefore it’s better to not even try. The truth is when people look back on their regrets in life the fear of not trying often trumps the fear of failure as a lifelong regret.  Our limits are never known unless they are explored, challenged and even re-challenged.  The fear of not trying leaves the sting of untapped potential that you have to live with forever.  Even when you experience failure you quickly learn it’s rarely as bad as we imagine it to be and even it is that time and patience can really heal all wounds.

Plan. Facing your fear because you’re prepared and being fearless because you are stupid are not the same thing.  Instead of ignoring the fear of failure, letting it fuel your success gives you the offensive strategy you need to be prepared for the mystery of what lies ahead.  The possibility of failure can inspire you to think of alternatives, do your research, and choose your strategy carefully, all of which work to get you through the darkness that comes with reaching for success.

Jump. Planning is pointless if you can’t summon the courage to jump when you need to towards your success.  If you are not careful planning can become a crutch to hinder the commitment you need to jump with both feet.  No matter how much you plan the truth is that part of the fear of success and of failure is that you cannot see all the obstacles in your way and therefore cannot plan for everything.  Being prepared means you have done the leg work but also that you are responsive enough to begin the run and make changes along the route in order to reach your true possibilities.

The fears of failure and of success are often different sides to the same coin. You have to choice one and commit to it in order to win big.

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