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.