I’m so excited to hear and see the announcement from Valeisha Butterfield Jones, promoting her new YouTube channel, “Valeisha’s Desk” that will begin streaming in January 2019.

Valeisha’s been delaying this idea for over two years, and with a lot of prayer and loving encouragement she has accepted the journey to share her story and daily walk to help others along their journey.

I was excited to share my two cents with her several weeks ago when she posed the question on her Instagram account of “should I do this?” My answer was a bold “yes” and then I explained my reasoning. I even admitted that my encouragement and loving push to her was also my self-talk to stop delaying my calling to do and be more. She read my comment and replied with thanks. I then crossed my fingers and toes, with hope that enough positive responses would cement in her mind the urgency of taking this big leap. Eventually there were tons of people commenting and supporting her idea, and I was giddy with anticipation.

Now some of you may be scratching your heads and wondering “who is this woman, and why does Natasha want me to watch a promo video about her?”

If you don’t know Valeisha Butterfield Jones, let me provide a very quick bio:

She has been an executive with Google since 2016, where she first served as Head of Black Community Engagement. This year she accepted a promotion to become the Global Head of Women and Black Community Engagement for Google.

For the past 10 years she has also served as the CEO of Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network (WEEN)—a nonprofit that uplifts and mentors women working in entertainment while striving to promote positive images of women in society.

Her prior professional journey led her through careers in politics and entertainment serving in various roles such as: working for the U.S. Department of Commerce (under the Obama Administration), EA to the president of HBO Sports, and working her way up from intern to Executive Director at Rush Communications (entertainment and fashion mogul, Russell Simmons, media firm). These are just a few of the stops along Valeisha’s professional journey.

On the personal front: Valeisha’s married to NBA star Dahntay Jones, and they have two super awesome sons. Many of us in this big ole’ world look forward to watching this family grow, shine, climb, and serve together. I know that I look forward to witnessing snippets of their life.

So without further ado, please check out Valeisha’s promo video and then subscribe to her channel. Thanking you in advance!

~Natasha

One of my students [hi Michelle!] shared this TED Talks by Jason Fried, co-founder and president of 37signals.

Fried’s theory is that the office isn’t actually a good place to work, and that M&Ms are the real problems in the modern office today. “What?” you ask. Watch the video and hear what this brilliant software entrepreneur had to say, and see why I love how his brain works: https://www.ted.com/talks/jason_fried_why_work_doesn_t_happen_at_work

Never have I experienced the level of care, consideration, thoughtfulness, attention to detail, and efficacy from an airlines until meeting the amazing Korean Air team. You can tell from the moment you step up to the counter to check in your bags, that they are here to serve you.

Korean Air is celebrating their 45th year of service, and I wonder if for 45 years they have been providing this level of service for passengers, and how did they get their start? That of course requires me to do some research (which I haven’t done as of yet, because I’m too busy enjoying this cappuccino that the attendant just brought me!).

Now let me share a disclaimer. My husband and I are both medallion members with two super awesome airlines, and with our travel records (his definitely, definitely more extensive than mine) there are added perks when you travel with these airlines and partnering airlines. There are various upgrades and accommodations that you receive as a medallion member (or even just First-class passenger) that you don’t receive as a non-member (or Coach-class ticketed passenger), but I have to say, that even when I observed the treatment and accommodations of Coach and non-Medallion members flying with Korean Air, they still had a great experience throughout their travel.

VIP Treatment
Medallion members and First-Class ticket holders get a VIP treatment that makes you feel as though this is your private jet and your personal staff serving you.

Arrival at the Istanbul, Turkey ticket counter was met with smiles and greetings. They immediately synced our medallion status with our tickets so that it showed across the board on all of Korean Air’s computers. They then offered to plastic wrap our bags for free (a service that many people prefer when traveling around the world as it helps to protect it from bumps and bruises, as well as sticky fingers that may want to snatch an item or two from your precious cargo).

To and From Gates: Personal Guides to Escort You
The staff offers to have a personal guide to escort you to your medallion club lounge, direct you to any airport shops or restaurants that you might be interested in visiting (even escorting you there if needed) and then they escort you from the lounge (or store) to the departure gate. Yes, they come inside of the lounge and personally assist you with getting to the gate. There’s not just the traditional announcement from the lounge’s front desk (that you hope you don’t miss hearing) that indicates boarding times of flights.

With Korean Air they personally collect you and make sure that you get to your gate on time (personally handing your boarding pass and passport to the gate agent, and waiting until you board the plane). But it didn’t end there. Korean Air also has a feature that offers this same service when you arrive at each of your destinations (including connecting flights). All of this is optional, and honestly I don’t know why anyone would pass on this.

So when we arrived in South Korea we were greeted at the plane doors by a young man carrying a computer-printed sign with our name. This young man then escorted us through the security check points, answered questions about South Korea’s history, growth, culture, customs, and people (not to say that that will always be an experience that will be shared—but this was ours, and most likely because we asked the questions). Then our private escort guided us through the airport to the lounge and then returned in time to escort us through to the gate, graciously hand us off to the gate agent, and send us on our way with wishes for safe travel.

Flight Crew Experience
On board of every Korean Air plane, and now I’ve been on two, so of course I would boldly say “every”, right?!? the flight crew takes your experience up about ten or more notches. From being greeted by each crew member (even pilots), to receiving fresh and very comfortable pajamas and slippers aka “house shoes” (which normally the slippers are the only thing you receive in Business and First Class along with your toiletry bag), Bose noise-canceling headphones (Delta also offers these on select flights), an awesome toiletry bag with tons of goodies–Delta airlines also has a super awesome Tumi toiletry bag that I love collecting, and I believe it’s Air France that carries some scrumptious toiletries both in their bags and restrooms.

Speaking of restrooms…even Korean Air’s on board restrooms are spacious, comfy, and filled with travel essentials (and some pleasant potpourri that make being in that space more than tolerable). I assumed that the same accommodations are made in the Coach section of the plane. I couldn’t imagine their level of care dropping significantly, so I checked it out…wowsers, not only were they favorable, they were twice the size of the First and Business Class cabins. Why? Because Korean Air uses common sense, there are more Coach passengers than Business and First Class (and also more families traveling with small children in Coach), so you build out their restrooms with this in mind.

Class, consideration, and dignity. Just awesomeness!

So back to the pajamas…after you have slipped on your pajamas (in the restroom of course) you return to an attendant who is waiting by your seat to offer you comfy bedding that they will place over your fully-reclined seat that converts to a bed, and then they give you a fluffy blanket and pillow. I must add that Delta also has an amazing blanket and pillow for International flights. I wanted to ask for one of each to take home. But Korean Air is the first airline experience that I’ve had with full bedding for added comfort.

The Food
Oh my goodness…so I’ve already ruined my detox from my trip a few weeks ago to France, so I was rarely thinking of my food consumption when I returned to Paris several days ago, and then while in Turkey for a few days, and definitely not while aboard these fabulous planes. I just don’t have that level of willpower to say “no” to local cuisine. Besides I convince myself that their food is more organic. Yeah, like I said, I have no willpower. So anyway, from dinner to breakfast, each and every meal I had on Korean Air was absolutely scrumptious. Whether you chose Korean dishes or Western dishes (I sampled both), you will be amazed (unless you have a bland and barely exposed palate). I had the Bibimbap (and other Korean delicacies) and a glass of Gewürztraminer 2012 (that I enjoyed with my fruits and cheeses) on my flight from Turkey to South Korea.

On my flight from South Korea to Los Angeles I had the Jedong Beef, foie gras (which I normally pass up but sampled this go around), a huge salad (that I barely put a dint in) and a partial glass of Chateau Lascombes 2006 (from the village of Margaux in Bordeaux). I’m not a red wine lover or even a wine connoisseur, so this was a big girl step that wasn’t that bad. I could actually smell and taste the fruits. I think being 30,000 feet in the air may help with your senses. Maybe.

Breakfast heading to South Korea I chose an omelette, Danish, fruit and cheese, and orange juice. There was no way I could eat the yogurt or cereals offered. One reason, because I knew I couldn’t eat that much food, and the second reason is because I was trying to show that I had some willpower in limiting my amount of dairy, empty carbs, and sugar. So both flights I elected to skip that portion of what seemed like a six-course meal. Two hours before arriving in Los Angeles, my breakfast choice was scrambled eggs, cherry tomatoes (garnished with sliced red onions and tangerines), a slice of bacon, two delicious cups of cappuccino (one of which I’m sipping as I type this), and a cinnamon Danish.

Both flights I’ve been absolutely stuffed to capacity. So on this leg to Los Angeles I’ve chosen to skip the fruit and cheese because I have no more room in this belly that I’m trying desperately to get back in tip-top shape! Matter of fact as I sit here typing I feel like an ever-expanding balloon. Who could possibly eat all of this food and not pass out? Jeesh!

Arrival in Los Angeles: See you Later Korean Air!

Landing in Los Angeles was just like landing in South Korea, individual salutations by each crew member including the co-pilot, and then a group thank you and bow to the entire plane of passengers. Korean Air shows from the beginning to the end of your journey that they value you as a customer and guest with their airlines, and they value their careers and roles not just with the airlines but in the world.

Korean Air as Servant Leaders
You can tell when people are servant leaders and when people simply take a job that requires service of others. Korean Air truly has a staff, a team, a family of individuals that value excellent service and express that through their daily interaction with guests as well as amongst themselves. I will definitely travel with Korean Air again, and this time I will remember to take the complimentary pajamas and slippers with me. I naively left those comfy threads behind.

I strongly recommend that if you ever get the chance to fly with Korean Air that you seize the moment and then share your experience so that others can benefit from your viewpoint. People are quick to post negative comments about negative experiences, so let’s pour on the love when we receive an awesomely rewarding experience!

~Natasha

Copyright 2014. Natasha Foreman Bryant. All Rights Reserved.

This is the first time in a long time that I have started a journey in my career where I’ve been scared. It’s such a huge thing and I’m scared. But dang it I’m running with it anyway! My parents didn’t raise a punk, so I’m putting on my big girl trunks and doing this!

Storiboard Nation LLC
I Co-Founded this company with my business partner, Markeith Wood. We first met in November 2013, and by February 2014 I decided to switch my role from serving as a consultant to actually becoming a partner. In March the company was legally formed.

I serve as the Co-Founder and Chief Global Strategist (and behind the scenes wearing a bunch of other hats!)

Markeith and I both share a passion for community and especially working with and mentoring the youth. We had similar ideas for an online mentoring network, but Markeith’s idea was super-sized as his vision had potential to be global, while I hadn’t broadened my focus beyond serving one nonprofit organization near and dear to me (hint hint). We put our minds together, tweaked some of our original thoughts, and I began sharpening my techie (after many years of laying dormant).

Ladies and gentlemen I introduce you to Storiboard Nation, “an online mentoring network for youth, supported by parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors“. It’s a private network where we have students in middle school through college engaging in dialogue with their peers, with each other and with the adults who want to see them succeed.

Adults have to undergo extensive background screening before they can gain access to the network. We have student-only and adult-only forums. We have groups that meet and discuss topics from music to STEM, entrepreneurship to sports, attending college to changing the environment, and everything in between.

We’re creating an online community “where we can build tomorrow’s leaders today!

We already have teachers with more than 350 students waiting for us to open the virtual doors to them. The teachers have been part of our BETA testers along with several parents, coaches, and mentors.

We have students in grades 6-12 as well as several who are in college, who are adding their voice and creativity to helping us build the online community in a way that’s appealing to youth and not just us “old folks”.

We’re partnering with mentoring and youth organizations, as well as businesses from around the world who are interested in taking part in what we believe will be a big impact not just locally but globally.

We’re currently developing our mobile app, which will make interacting simpler and more engaging, and will give us the global presence that is needed. We’re also actively looking for team members and partners to help us build Storiboard Nation to where it needs to be.

To get a sneak peek into Storiboard Nation visit storiboardnation.com

Markeith and I are simultaneously working on other projects beyond the online community that will reinforce and nurture what we’re currently developing. Stay tuned for more announcements concerning those efforts.

Remember life is about our stories, share yours today on Storiboard Nation!

Warmest wishes,
Natasha

COPYRIGHT 2014. NATASHA FOREMAN BRYANT. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

By Natasha Foreman Bryant, MBA

Today in my Breaking Bread post I shared a prayer that used a football analogy, and I think that this conversation is appropriate to use outside of a spiritual or religious setting, to include our personal and professional lives, regardless of your religious or spiritual beliefs. So I’m sharing a significant excerpt from today’s post with you. I hope that in some way you see the connection that I’m attempting to achieve, and that you see the ways in which you can make those achievements in your life:

…Life is like football. I could use a chess or golf analogy, because they are also top notch strategic examples. I’m using football, because some people don’t realize that it’s a game of strategy, and in the U.S. it’s one of the sports we heavily promote our children into, without teaching them the fundamental connection between what they do on the field and how it relates to what they do off of the field.

Our life is the ultimate game of strategy. There are moves and counter moves, there are obstacles and barriers that we must overcome, and there are opportunities made available that allow for our success. But to gain those opportunities we must be patient with eyes and ears open, and we must constantly look at the “field” from numerous directions. Just like a chess board.

Just like a wild animal that waits for its prey. It doesn’t just get up and go out each day saying, “I’m going to do my own thing and find my food myself”. No, it waits for God to provide its food. It waits for the opportunity to present itself because it runs on limited energy and cannot afford to waste it walking and running around in numerous directions. It waits for the smell of prey that comes with the gush of wind. It waits to hear the movements of its prey coming through the grass, brush, and dirt.

We must realize and embrace God’s role in all of this, and especially in our lives. He opens up windows, doors, nooks, and crannies of opportunity for us, but we can only seize these moments if we’re paying attention, receptive, and cooperative. If not, the opportunity goes to someone else.

Consider an American football game.

A player from the defensive team causes the ball to fumble and hit the ground. The ball is now open for either team to capture and attempt to recover for their side. It’s an opportunity for the defense to take the ball and possibly run it in the opposite direction, score a touchdown, and earn points that could ultimately lead to victory. It’s an opportunity for the offense to recover the ball and either protect it until a referee blows their whistle, or it’s an opportunity to pick up the ball and continue running across the field to score a touch down, which was their initial objective.

Both teams have been given an opportunity to score points. What happens if no one is paying attention to the ball? What happens if you have the ball, lose the ball, have difficulty getting it, and no one else on your team is paying attention when you need help recovering the ball? Or, flipping sides, what happens if you see the ball, realize the opportunity that it represents, but your reaction time is too slow, or your team is non-responsive (or also slow to react)? What happens in each of these scenarios? You miss the opportunity and leave it open for someone else to seize and succeed.

God is preparing us to learn how to run with the ball, protect the ball, keep our eyes on the ball, and even how to recover the ball when it is dropped. Here’s my last football example…

Do you know why most defensive backs have lower conversion rates of intercepting a ball from the opposition? It’s because when they are only focused on the wide receiver from the other team, and not on the ball itself, their reaction time is slower running down the field. They are only focused on the other player, while the other player (the wide receiver) has his eyes focused on the ball. By the time the defensive back realizes where the ball is and reaches his arms up or out to catch it, he is already several tenths of a second behind the receiver, whose arms and hands are already stretched outward ready to receive the ball.

The best defensive backs in football learned how to patiently yet swiftly run, while constantly looking at the ball, and still skillfully checking the status of the receiver they were chasing down. They learned how to strategically place themselves between the receiver and the ball without causing what is called a, “pass interference” which is a violation and punishable by a penalty of yardage awarded to the other team. The best defensive backs learned to think like the patient wild animal, waiting for their food each day. The food that God provides.

We need to learn how to be patient, how to see the field, keep our eyes on the ball, while being aware of our surroundings, and then be ready to reach out and catch that ball—seizing and capitalizing on our opportunities, which results in our success.

So, what do you think? Are my football and wild animal analogies solid examples in your opinion? Can you see that even if you don’t believe in God, or don’t believe in His influence in you life, how you can see the importance of patience and strategy in seizing and capitalizing on opportunities?

Let me share with you some of the questions that I posed to my Breaking Bread audience. If you have a moment, I would love to read your responses:

1. How has today’s message changed your thinking about your life and the opportunities that are waiting for you?

2. What steps are you going to take to be more like the wild animal or the football player?

3. What can you do to be better at waiting, listening, watching, positioning yourself, observing your surroundings, and being better prepared to seize opportunities?

~Natasha

Copyright 2014. Natasha Foreman Bryant. All Rights Reserved.

By Natasha Foreman Bryant, MBA
 
 I love learning new things. So I get excited when I learn facts about people, products, things and places that I sometimes take for granted, for instance, I use Crest toothpaste, sometimes drink Folgers coffee, I like to pop in Bounce fabric softener in my laundry, and before I stopped drinking soda I used to love slurping back a can of Crush soda (Orange or Strawberry).
 
 


Well I was very surprised to find out that these products and more were developed by an African American chemist and executive, Dr. Herbert C. Smitherman, Sr. when he worked at Procter and Gamble beginning in the 1960s.
 
 


Dr. Smitherman developed several flavors of Crush many of which are still on grocery store shelves today.


Now I’m sure some of my friends from high school or even college will tell me that I knew this little known fact, but I honestly can’t recall—which is sad, especially since I have a degree in Black Studies. Uugh…well let me continue sharing what I found out about this great innovator.
 
 Dr. Smitherman was the first African American hired by P&G with a PhD in physical organic chemistry, and he continued working for the company for 29 years, helping to develop numerous products for them, while also helping to make P&G a more diverse company, as he recruited a great number of African American professionals to work for the company from the 1960s through the 1980s.
 
 How many of you use (or used) Safeguard soap? Well be sure to say, “thank you” to the late Dr. Smitherman, Sr for developing that for your daily use!
 
 Check out this 1960s Crest commercial: http://youtu.be/cbXuW97l3DQ
 
 Developing products and creating a more diverse environment for P&G aren’t the only things Dr. Smitherman did in his lifetime. Besides earning his PhD, the only child to an Alabama pastor (also a community activist), also served in his community, as an active member of the NAACP. He and his wife of 51 years, Barbara Flowers Smitherman, had six children and 14 grandchildren. The couple met while they attended college at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.
 
 After retiring from P&G, Dr. Smitherman pursued a career in education, serving as vice president of academic affairs for Wilberforce University. Dr. Smitherman then started Western Hills Design Technology, a high school that was created to assist African American students in math and science. He later joined the Cincinnati Public Schools Board of Education as an assistant to Superintendent Mary Ronan.
 
 Dr. Smitherman passed away on October 9, 2010 at the age of 73. He left to carry on his legacy his wife, children, and grandchildren. He also left behind a history that can never be forgotten, as long as we do our part to share it in our households, communities and with the world. Some of the many patents Dr. Smitherman developed for P&G were featured in the ‘’America I AM: The African American Imprint’’ exhibit at the Cincinnati Museum Center. Check with America I AM for current and future exhibits around the country, by visiting: http://www.americaiam.org
 
 Every time I purchase a P&G product developed by Dr. Smitherman I will smile proudly at the cash register and all the way home. Thank you Dr. Smitherman for your amazing contributions to the world.
 
 Please share this story and other historical records of contributions made by men and women of color, and the African American experience, as it oftentimes goes overlooked, and has increasingly been removed from history books given to students in grades K-12. I don’t recall reading about Dr. Smitherman in any of my K-12 classrooms, and he’s not searchable on Wikipedia, so I know that the majority of students today don’t know about him and other pioneers, innovators, and leaders—don’t forget, many of them go to Google and Wikipedia for their research and fact checking.
 
 Knowing this, let’s do our part to keep the light lit and the information churning!
 
 
 
 Copyright 2014. All Rights Reserved. Natasha Foreman Bryant.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and it’s also my birthday month. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Stella & Dot will be donating 100% of net proceeds from their Breast Cancer Awareness boutique line to the Noreen Fraser Foundation. Last year Stella & Dot raised $185,000 to help the Foundation fund a lab at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. Amazingly, “researchers there can test a cutting edge new epigenetic therapy for breast cancer”. Stella & Dot is committed to doing their part to fight breast cancer with style.

To help with this effort, as a Stella & Dot Stylist, I intend to personally host as well as hold trunk shows for other hostesses in the month of October to support a cause that I am extremely passionate about. But I’m not stopping there. I have also committed to donating 20% of my personal net proceeds from each trunk show to a hostess-designated charity/foundation. It’s my birthday gift to others!

The more money that we can raise for breast cancer research, the faster we can find a cure, and make sure that no woman, man, or child ever has to live with or fight breast cancer (or any cancer). I have friends, family, and associates who have fought this “enemy”, and I want to do my part to continue to help bring awareness to communities worldwide, and the possibility of dispensing a cure in my lifetime.

If you are interested in learning more about participating in one of my personal trunk shows or hosting one of your own please visit my Stella & Dot web page at: stelladot.com/nfb or visit my Facebook page: facebook.com/StellaDotStylist1

I am proud of Stella & Dot for giving stylists an opportunity to help out with these efforts. Many of us participate in walks and runs, fundraisers and other efforts, and now we can also participate through Stella & Dot, the Noreen Fraser Foundation, and other charities.

Note: This is an independent post and not an advertisement, promotion, or release from Stella & Dot or the Noreen Fraser Foundation.

 

Copyright 2013. Natasha Foreman Bryant. Some Rights Reserved.

By Forbes calculations ($660 million), Folorunsho Alakija, is not wealthier than Oprah Winfrey. But the Forbes calculation has been disputed, with the number $3.3 billion replacing it and topping Oprah’s $2.7 billion.

Now here’s the deal, I honestly don’t care who has a higher net worth. I am just proud to highlight another woman, of color, a Black woman, who has used her God-given gifts, talents, and intelligence to make it to the top and stay there. I’m sure starting out she didn’t have an immediate goal of being a multimillionaire or billionaire, she probably just wanted what most of us do, to carve out her own place and space in life.

Some would argue that since Alakija does not have a rags-to-riches story like Oprah Winfrey, that her story is not newsworthy and one to be celebrated and highlighted. Alakija comes from a wealthy family and received education at quality schools, but let me chime in and say this, she started off as a secretary and then after quitting her job she left Nigeria in the 1980’s to study fashion design in England. She later returned to Nigeria to launch her own fashion label. Her fashion label grew in size and value, and while making money from that industry she then expanded into oil and other industries. Why isn’t that newsworthy and reason enough to celebrate? Daddy didn’t hand her a job, she went out and built a career and developed companies.

Let me also add this point as a wakeup call to anyone who doesn’t get it—anyone with wealth (or who has had wealth) knows that it’s not getting there that counts, it’s the longevity after getting there that matters.

There are numerous inheritors of wealth who have squandered it. Just as there are a great deal of rags-to-riches-back-to-rags stories that will make you cringe.

Alakija is not some young 25-year-old recent billionaire who made her bucks through the funnel of nepotism. This is a hard-working, highly intelligent, skilled business woman who is calling the shots and making moves at the young age of 61. She’s a wife and mother of four children. She’s balancing career, family, and personal needs—-something many women, including myself, find as an enormous challenge. I salute her.

But then there’s other people out there who say that since she’s Nigerian that her wealth is questionable, and argue that with so much personal wealth in a country with so much poverty, that maybe Alakija should not be highlighted, even at $660 million in earnings. To those people I say, she is a business woman, not a government official, politician, or public servant.

Zoom in and slam down those who are so-called public “servants” who are living the high life off the backs of those they claim to serve. Broadcast these so-called “servants” for accepting or demanding compensation for a job that should have meager earnings, yet they are making hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars annually barely living up to their job description or the claims they made to get their jobs, while the people they “serve” are impoverished and holding on by a thin string of hope.

Ethical entrepreneurship should always be celebrated, and now we have another example of a successful woman who has earned her way to the top not in the stereotypical ways and also not in the traditional ways perceived by most.

Alakija is not a singer, dancer, actress, athlete, or other entertainment professional, she’s not even a doctor or lawyer—she’s a business woman with a mission and vision that should be celebrated and used as an example for women and girls worldwide. I’m not demeaning, mocking, or limiting the value of these other professionals—I’m merely highlighting a career where the path is never clear and all of the schools in the world combined cannot truly prepare you for—and that is the creation, development, and economic sustainability of a business—one of the loneliest careers on the planet—entrepreneurship.

Think if Alakija’s family had lowered her standards and forced her to assume a different role in life— now smile and salute a woman, a Black woman, who no matter which financial calculations you accept, is doing huge things, making huge moves, and is helping to raise the bar of excellence while kicking down the barriers that keep women worldwide “in their place”.

We should make it a point of highlighting female entrepreneurs so that the world can see the power of a woman who see no limits.

Copyright 2012. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

Sources:
http://www.ventures-africa.com/2012/08/finance-fashion-philanthropy-folorunsho-alakija-famfa-oil/

http://www.techyville.com/2012/12/uncategorized/meet-the-richest-black-woman-in-the-world-and-it-isnt-oprah/

http://www.ventures-africa.com/2012/11/the-richest-black-woman-in-the-world-folorunsho-alakija/

http://www.forbes.com/profile/folorunsho-alakija/

By Natasha L. Foreman, MBA

 

I wanted to share my thoughts regarding John Hope Bryant’s brilliant article that was posted on and by Bloomberg BusinessWeek today. I also wanted to have a healthy dialogue with those individuals who showed their lack of critical thinking skills before they reacted, and quickly responded in the negative, to the article.

It is my opinion that the moment many of us don’t understand something or it rubs us the wrong the way, the remaining of what we read or hear turns more into an episode of Charlie Brown, just a bunch of whah whah whah blah blah blah…and we don’t hear or interpret anything else. We are then too focused on a counter argument, but never on seeking clarification. Here is the link to John Hope Bryant’s article: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-04-04/if-bill-gates-were-black-dot-dot-dot

Below is my comment that I submitted to Bloomberg, that they will hopefully post in their comments section below the article. After you read John’s article and the comments made by other readers, please share your thoughts about the article and comments (inclusive of mine). Let’s have some healthy dialogue and if possible, some positive solutions to issues facing the Black community specifically, and all underserved communities in general. Here you go:

Economic empowerment and the eradication of poverty first begins with understanding the history of how this country was built, how we rebuild during economic downfalls, and how the least of God’s children are impacted. It requires us to look at the missing piece between the have’s and have not’s. So yes, possessing a bank account versus being robbed blind at check cashing centers is a bonus. Yes, having a credit score around or higher than 700, instead of 550 and lower, is a huge predictor of a community’s growth and prosperity—as well as an individual’s ability to thrive not just merely survive. Yes, being financially literate is imperative, because if you aren’t then you run the risk of falling prey to predatory lenders who can smell your desperation miles away.

If you don’t have a bank account then how are you depositing or cashing checks? Are you going to check cashing centers and giving them a portion of YOUR money to gain access to YOUR money? That doesn’t sound like the wisest of choices when you have a choice. Show me one millionaire or billionaire who doesn’t have a bank account. Show me one entrepreneur without a bank account. Show me. I’m sure you can’t.

The banking system isn’t corrupt, there are corrupt INDIVIDUALS in the banking system; just like there are corrupt individuals in countless other systems including government, religious organizations, educational institutions, charities, etc. You can’t blame a crisis caused by unethical behavior on an entire system, because just as there were predatory lenders who knew customers were potentially high risk for loan defaults, there are some ‘victims’ of this economic downfall who knew they bought more house than they could afford, who knew that they didn’t have true job ‘security’ but gambled with the odds anyway, who claimed to earn more than they actually had (and eventually they had more month than money). So unethical decisions from individuals caused our country to suffer these past few years.

This is a brilliant post by John Hope Bryant, that clearly expresses the sentiment that if African Americans had a Bill Gates-type-entrepreneurial role model then the vision for the Black community would not be limited to a mindset of ‘only the lucky get out’, and the ‘victory’ would not be narrowed to simply having a ‘Black President”. 

Think about it, if Bill Gates was a Black man, the money he donates and invests would be injected within his community first and then worldwide. Don’t most of us consider taking care of ‘home’ before we take care of the rest of the world? Don’t we start local and then go global? Well if this were the case, then Black communities would be resuscitated through Gates community giving, and the country (and world) would see a different ‘picture’ of these communities. 

John Hope Bryant is NOT saying that Black people don’t have entrepreneurial role models; he is saying that we need MORE business owners who are employing thousands, not merely hundreds (or less). He’s saying we need more innovators, more businesses in technology, etc. that provide a competitive advantage within the U.S. in general, and within Black communities specifically. He’s saying we need MORE Black entrepreneurs going into the community, going into the schools and teaching and sharing the ‘magic’ in their success. 

He is saying that in order to eradicate poverty and gain economic empowerment in the Black community it is going to take the Black community, not government, not charity, not handouts, but hard work and each person reaching back to an open hand and providing a hand up out of the pit. It’s going to require Black people with 700+ credit scores teaching those with 550 and lower credit scores how they did it. It’s going to require Black entrepreneurs to hire within their community, to bring on interns to learn the ropes at their company, and to mentor young Black children.

The majority of our role models that our children regularly see come from entertainment and sports backgrounds, which there is nothing wrong with that, except if you lack talent in either area, then what?

Additionally, and no disrespect, but Oprah Winfrey, Magic Johnson, Bob Johnson, and others have built BRANDS that employ–but none to the extent of a Bill Gates level; and all three brands represent entertainment or sports. In 2007, Microsoft employed a reported 79,000 people. That was in 2007. Name one Black-owned company that employs 79,000 people? 

So John Hope Bryant’s article says, “what if Bill Gates were Black?” What changes would you see in the Black community? What would Black children aspire to become if they saw a Black employer hiring thousands of people within their community? How many Black people could be employed (since unemployment is HIGHEST in the Black community)? How many of our children would be encouraged to excel in STEM courses and pursue careers in those fields so that they too could grow up to ‘be like Bill’?

We need to take the emotion out; we need to stop wanting to attack everything we don’t understand, and start acting like we are intelligent enough to ASK for clarification if needed, and to ASK how we can individually and collectively help solve the problem.

How many of you volunteer in the Black community? How many of you work with the underserved and underrepresented? How many of you are helping to work towards a solution? Or are you merely only focusing on picking at and tearing down the things you don’t understand, and the things you are against? If you aren’t doing anything to help the Black community, and other underserved and underrepresented communities, then what does your opinion really mean, and what are you truly adding to this conversation?

John Hope Bryant you did an awesome job with this piece. We need our children to aspire to be entrepreneurs as much as (or more than) they aspire to be athletes and entertainers. Great, they want to be a football star, but let’s teach them to also start and build a business (now) as an additional revenue stream—so when their football career ends, they still have a career…and wealth, not just temporary riches! 

A broke mindset only gets the same results…an unfinished puzzle!

 

 

Copyright 2012. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.


By Natasha L. Foreman, MBA
I needed this loooonng retreat to recharge, rebuild, refocus, reconnect and recommit to my goals and to my life.
I can’t give to family, my businesses and to my community if I’m totally drained mentally, emotionally and physically. I can’t practice what I preach if I’m feeling bankrupt on the inside.
So I took the time to invest in me so that when I return home I can invest in the people and things I care about most.
It’s good to disconnect when you can, to step back, and see things through a different lens. To see things you didn’t see, overlooked, or couldn’t imagine before.
When I return home later this week I will be zooming and zipping on a steady but persistent pace, with a focus on checking my monthly, quarterly and annual goals as ‘complete’, and doing so with a balance that I lacked last year and years prior.
This is the first trip I’ve ever been on when I truly took time out for me. Normally my brain is connected like a worker drone to my business, school or both. This time I made sure to carve out ‘me-time’ (even if that meant doing absolutely nothing but sleeping at the beach) and I’m more than pleased with what’s come of this decision.
I’d tell anyone with a purpose and passion to take time to invest in the things that are invaluable to you, starting first with…you!
So pull out your good ole’ budget sheet, a calendar, and a map, and plan your next vacation, retreat, or get away! If you aren’t satisfied with the results, then you’re still stuck and definitely in your own way!
Copyright 2012. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

Children are huge dreamers before adults destroy their imaginative spirits and tell them to start thinking smaller, to start being “realistic”. The huge dreams of a child is exactly where God wants us to be. There is no fear connected with dreaming big and setting goals to attain what we desire. There is fear in thinking small. The most successful people in the world open their minds to what most people would consider the impossible, the inconceivable, and the insane.

Think of President Barack Obama, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, Mary Kay Ash, Bob Johnson and others who had big dreams and didn’t stop thinking, pushing, and working even after those dreams materialized. Even after they passed away, King, Jobs, and Ash’s legacies continue to live on through the work they started…their passion serves as the fuel for their mission. Their brand continues to grow.

We must realize that our actions and lack thereof impact us and others for generations. The native Americans have a saying that every decision we make today impacts seven generations of the future. So consider the decisions you make each day. Make sound decisions but don’t limit yourself in fear. Allow yourself to dream big and have the intense imagination that you did as a child. Free yourself!

Picture by SoggyPigeon at soggypigeon.deviantart.com

Copyright 2012. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved. 
Excerpts of this thought were first drafted for Breaking Bread with Natasha on WordPress and Blogspot.
Artwork source: soggypigeon.deviantart.com

I learn the lesson and move forward, not dwelling on what once was because I’m too focused on what I’m doing now and how it can impact my future. I’m not concerned with those I once encountered who I walked away from because if they were meant to be in my life today God would have kept them by my side…I am not concerned with what once was or if something could have been differently; the woulda, coulda, shoulda is for people who will always be less than where they need to be in life. I am also in no hurry to get to my future for I am still amazed by what is taking place today, the present, and the gifts that I receive daily by just being receptive and accountable. I strive to lead, live and make decisions in and through excellence not fear, doubt, or insecurity. Those who don’t see things that way usually don’t last walking next to me on this path. I lovingly allow them to stay behind or sprint ahead, because I’m on a long-distance mission of greatness that can’t be rushed or held behind.”

– Natasha L. Foreman, MBA

(a portion of this quote is an excerpt from her 12.15.11 “Breaking Bread With Natasha” posts. Check them out here: WordPress and Blogger)
Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

“Look I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, let’s just do a little spit and polish, and spruce it up a bit…let’s combine my thoughts with what you worked on and make this a masterpiece…” Natasha L. Foreman (while working on details for a 2012 project).
Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

A coward is a hilarious yet pitiful sight to see and experience. A coward hides behind aliases, anonymity, avatars, masks, lies, and other people. A coward yells loudly behind mommy’s dress and daddy’s coat, but never stands out and speaks up for the world to see. A coward spits venom like a serpent but is too scared to face those they attack. A coward has little to no self-esteem, self-worth, dignity, or grace, so lacking a spine they sneak around trying to drag others to their level. A coward will hide behind a title but never live up to it. A coward is never dependable, reliable, or consistent…except in their cowardice. They simply exist, but never live, and even in their existence they don’t leave much of an impression.

I’m not too sure if I should feel sorry for the cowards of the world, sympathy, or nothing at all. They are a sad group of people. They can never stand on their own, they can never fight their own battles, they can never truly lead, they always make excuses for their inadequacies, and blame others for their shortcomings. Cowards are always the victim, always the damsel in distress, always the ones needing saving, always the ones complaining about what’s wrong and why they can’t do something. The words, ‘can’t’ and ‘impossible’ begin and end their sentences, and sometimes their days.

Cowards live for revenge, wanting to pay back those who hurt them, but they don’t have the courage to actually face this person head on. Cowards like to pick fights, but never stick around for combat, or they find a way for others to join the fight so their weaknesses are never revealed. They are the ones who spread rumors and cause drama, but in a sneaky, cleaver kind of way–that always make them look innocent. They pretend to be someone they aren’t because they don’t have the courage to be who they were created to be. They are weak-minded, weak physically, weak morally, and weak spiritually. They live in constant darkness; for only in light can one find true strength. It’s no wonder why cowards always prefer playing devil’s advocate, because for them it is too great a mountain to climb reaching up towards hope, possibility, and excellence, when they can use less effort kneeling down towards mediocrity.

I have encountered many cowards in my time, some as recently as today, and I am amazed at how much time they have on their hands to focus their energy on doing absolutely nothing of relevance in our world–except in their minds. It is pitiful that these insecure people spend so many hours of their day thinking about me, plotting and planning against me, and envious of what I have that they wish they had. We all have had our run-ins with cowards like this. See, cowards have plenty of time and energy to spread lies and hate, try to destroy other people’s reputations, families and businesses,  yet they don’t invest the time and energy to bring goodness and love into our world. They don’t have the time and energy to make a positive contribution to society, yet they can waste all of their resources trying to drain someone else and destroy their dreams. They don’t have the time and energy to build, create, innovate, inspire, embrace, uplift, and shine. Yet they have the time and energy to tear things apart, destroy, manipulate, deceive, and play childish games. They have time to send stupid messages and make phone calls to others hoping to make them feel as miserable as they do; post idiotic things on the Internet for even the tiniest bit of attention; make claims without supporting evidence; and just take up much-needed space in the world. They eventually leave this world as they entered it and lived it…clueless!

I have more respect for the person who tries and fails, than the one who never tries. I have more respect for the person with bumps, bruises, cuts and burns from falling down in life, because in their walk I see that they found a way to get back up. I have more respect for the person who comes to me directly, without masks, anonymity and code names, and just speaks their mind. I have more respect for the person who comes right out and confronts me with the goal to fight, than sucker-punch me in the dark. I have no respect for a person who isn’t brave enough to stand up and speak their mind. I say what I want to say, and clearly say my name when I’m speaking. I don’t post to my blogs or anywhere else as “anonymous” or with some made up alias, or using a picture not mine, because I have the courage to speak up, speak out, and back up what I say. My parents didn’t raise a punk, so I don’t cower over like one. I’m no bully and I won’t be bullied–never have and never will!

So I have one last thing to say to the cowards of the world…you can say what you want and do what you want, because just like your anonymity, you really don’t exist!

 

Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved. First Published on The Paradigm Life