February 4, 2008

Dreams DO come true… I’m living proof!

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:05 am by Michael

Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.

-Carl Jung

I’ve always dreamt largely. And most importantly, I am not content with just dreaming; I’m constantly looking for ways to make my dreams come true.

After months and months of querying to editors, networking and a little bit (OK, a lotta bit!) of praying, I was offered an assignment to cover some of the shows during New York Fashion Week. Fashion week, a biannual trade event where members of the press and buyers can view the designs for the following seasons, is held around the world, but the most popular one is New York’s Fashion Week.

According to www.newyorkmetro.com, New York Fashion Week is one of the most anticipated events of the year for diehard fashion fans. It’s also closed to the public, making it almost impossible for everyone to attend. Even the fanatics who stake out Bryant Park can’t find a way to tunnel in. The bottom line is that Fashion Week is invitation-only, and only a lucky few can experience it—and I’m blessed to be one of the lucky ones!

Before I started my creative services agency, I’d been speaking with various fashion professionals (designers, PR firms, editors at magazines) about breaking into the fashion industry, and now that I have launched my business and I’m running full-speed ahead towards Fashion Week is unbelievable.

Now, of course, this is a business trip. I’ll have stories to write, shows to attend, designers to interview and numerous after-hours events to scurry to, but it’s such a wonderful opportunity for me—and I’m just going to soak it all in.

Sure, everyone’s dream is not to attend Fashion Week or work in the fashion industry, but whatever your dream is, work hard, stay encouraged and know that it can become reality!

MJ

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January 30, 2008

How to defy the odds: A personal testimony

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:45 pm by Michael

Alarming statistics tell us that Black males are more likely to be killed in a violent act, more likely to drop out of high school and more likely to be incarcerated than to enroll in college. Researchers also point out that a high incarceration rate is a factor in dwindling enrollment among this population. In fact, more African American men are currently in U.S. prisons than in U.S. colleges.

Black Issues in Higher Education, Marvin Wilson

During the February before I graduated high school almost four years ago (yes, I’m a young’n ;]), my Dad charged into my room, ordered that I get up immediately and meet my Mom and him in the living room. I knew this meant trouble, for me at least, and I scurried to the living room only to be met with my Dad’s trademark stern look and my Mom’s gaze of disappointment.

I knew I was in for it. I just didn’t know why. But I quickly found out.

My Dad asked, “Have you applied to any colleges yet?” I told him that I was going to start in a couple of weeks. That wasn’t good enough.

“OK, here’s the deal. On Monday, we are going to that Army recruiters office and you’re going to enlist in the military,” he told me.

I looked to my Mom for support—but to no avail.

Tears immediately ran down my face, as I realized how much time I’d wasting doing nothing. My future was at stake; the safety net of high school would be AWOL in a couple of months and I had no plan of action.

That morning changed my life forever.

I applied and was accepted to Texas A&M University-Commerce. Fast forward four years later: I’m finishing up the last leg of my college career, I’m a small business owner and I’ve been granted opportunities to travel the country, advocate for peer education on high-risk issues.

But I realize it’s all because of my parents not allowing me to settle for mediocrity, the faith others had in me and my personal drive to achieve success. Below are some tips I followed. These aren’t just for African American males, everyone can implement into their lives.

Find a support system. My primary support system is my parents and older sister. But I have amazing friends, mentors and role models in my life that offer support when I need it. And when I’m not doing what I need to be doing, they also care enough about me to let me know I should get my act together! Find a few people you respect and cultivate relationships with them. It makes the journey sweeter when you can share your success with others.

Join various organizations. When I tell my Dad how busy I am with work, school and my various organizations, I can hear him smiling through the phone. Seriously. He loves when my time is consumed with positive things. There are only 24 hours in a day, so he knows the more often I am doing things with the organizations that I love, the less likely I am to have time to get into trouble.

Mentor someone who respects your opinions. Although I’m a mentee to many people, I’m a mentor to a few too. It’s so rewarding to share some of your trials and tribulations with other people who truly desire to learn and grow. Believe it or not, we all have a story—and that story might serve as the foundation to building a long-lasting mentorship.

Do some community service. Studies show that engaging in community service leads to positive lifestyle choices, behavior and new perspective. Stop by the assisted living facilities in your neighborhood and read to the elderly one weekend. Help your city by participating in highway clean-up initiatives. Or if you’re pressed for time, make a charitable donation to a worthy cause. It will make you feel better, and help you realize how great life truly is.

Don’t fall into the stats trap. A few teachers and professors along the way told me to hold myself to a higher standard, because they didn’t want to become a statistic. I never looked at life like that. Numbers that researchers compile don’t determine my destiny. I do. And you do too. There are all kinds of studies and statistics that tell you what you can and can’t do. But live life, and don’t worry about them. Soon, you’ll realize you’re well on your way to doing what was said couldn’t be done.

Any tips that I missed? What are your thoughts? What are some of the statistics you’ve defied? Share them!

MJ

January 28, 2008

In time of test, FAMILY is best!

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:23 pm by Michael

Our most basic instinct is not for survival, but for family. Most of us would give our own life for the survival of a family member, yet we lead our daily life too often as if we take our family for granted.
–Paul Pearshall

I founded my creative services company in October, and as I was sifting through my business plan to see how I was progressing, I started thinking about what prompted me to start my own business.

To be honest, it didn’t matter how much talent I thought I had. Or even though I knew I had the courage to start my own a business. It was my family’s support that pushed me into the right direction.

When I told my parents, they quickly jumped on board. They told me the sky was the limit. They warned me that it wouldn’t be easy, but their faith in me was amazing. I love the quote above, because I think it’s so true; I’m living proof. My parents haven’t given their lives for me (although I know they would), but they’ve sacrificed the finest things in life to invest in my business. They truly love me and I’m grateful for their support.

My sister, who by the way is one of the best writers and creatives I know, told me that it was my creativity, ambition and passion that would set me apart from others. The vote of confidence from my big sister was amazing—I don’t think she realizes how much she means to me.

The validation I received from my family was enough to propel me into the small business ownership arena—and I’m thankful each day for their support.

When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses.
–Joyce Brothers

I finally finished my Web site, and I was afraid beyond words to share it with world. The weeks of writing, designing and planning finally paid off—and I was apprehensive about what my family would think of it. The feedback I received was amazing. I was moved to tears by the genuine pleasure my family received from my personal milestone. It helped me understand that this isn’t a personal journey; my family is right by my side along the way.

I don’t care how poor a man is; if he has family, he’s rich.
–Dan Wilcox and Thad Mumford, M*A*S*H

Since I’m still in the start-up phase of my business, the profit isn’t flowing as quickly as I’d like it to be. At first, it was discouraging to think about the fact that I wasn’t getting any of the jobs I applied for, the leads were dead and how I wanted to the process to move more quickly. But I then thought about my nephew, and how much he is learning in daycare, I thought about my parents’ health and strength and I thought about how many great people I have in my life, and I began to realize that’s where my profit is—in my family.

Where do you get your support? Your spouse? Your parents? A friend?  Your God? How do you balance work with staying in touch with your support system?

January 24, 2008

Y not? Generation Yers are starting businesses earlier in life—and being successful

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 4:21 pm by Michael

I’m a twenty-something freelancer. I’ve founded my own creative communications agency, and I’ve successfully launched this blog—Good is the Enemy of Great. I’m hours away from obtaining my bachelor’s degree in journalism with an emphasis in public relations. Writing is my passion; it’s my saving grace, and nothing makes me happier than producing communications solutions for my clients and helping them achieve their goals.

When I decided that I wanted to start my own business, I didn’t realize I’d be met with such resistance from so many people—young and old—and I thought that I was the only one going through the trials of being a young business owner.

My attitude quickly changed. While I was home for the holidays, my Dad handed me the January issue of Black Enterprise magazine and told me to read an article he bookmarked for me. The article was titled “The Next Generation” and it was a feature on people in their early teens and 20s successfully launching businesses and exceeding expectations.

After reading the feature, I realized I wasn’t alone. And there were some statistics that stood out to me:

  • Generation Y (born between 1981 and 1995) is three times more likely to have started a business right out of school than their Baby Boomer counterparts, according to a survey from OPEN, a team at American Expresses dedicated to the needs of small business owners. Never in a million years did I anticipate starting my own business. It just kind of… well, happened! And after reading the article in BE, I saw other business owners had similar stories.
  • The eagerness of young individuals to venture out on their own is best attributed to the generational gains in areas such as education, technology, and available capital, as well as shifts in attitude—Nearly three-quarters of Generation Y entrepreneurs (72%) say they are likely to take risks compared with just more than half of Baby Boomers (53%). As I said, I will be graduating from college soon, and I consider the Internet and my PDA necessities. I have been blessed with parents who have made financial sacrifices to put me in positions to be successful. So I understand why it’s easier for my generation to take risks because we have more resources at our disposal.
  • The younger generation understands that mistakes—such as the dot-com implosion—are a part of growth, so they anticipate stumbles along the way. In addition, these younger individuals are setting their sights on being serial entrepreneurs, owning more than one business. My business isn’t even six months old and I’ve already made some silly mistakes. But I know that comes with the territory. I’m OK with making mistakes, taking risks and learning from them. I’ve always lived life on my own terms and I run my business on my own terms—and I know that I might stumble along the way. But I know that I’ll always get back up and stay at it.
  • Two-thirds consider themselves tech savvy compared with less than half of Baby Boomers. Conversely, both groups agree that experience trumps tech savvy in terms of business success, with more than half of those surveyed from Generation Y believing older entrepreneurs have somewhat of an edge based on their years of experience.  There are some freelancers and business owners who have more experience than I’ve had birthdays. And I realize that although they may know the ins-and-outs of the industry, I’m enjoying the ride and the learning experiences that come with them. I’m grateful for the wonderful freelancers who are kind enough to share words of wisdom and help me as I try to find my way in this complex industry. Thank you for sharing your experiences with me!

What do you think?

If you’re a Generation Yer, can you relate to some of the statistics above? If you’re a Baby Boomer, do you think that experience beats the other advantages we youngsters have including being tech savvy, etc.? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

MJ

 

January 9, 2008

Hello world!

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:49 pm by Michael

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!