Category Archives: Career

The career category help young men of color understand and navigate their advancement in the corporate, military or private industries. The category is selected to get in, stay and excel in the corporate workforce.

Learn how to receive feedback

A couple of weeks ago, my brother Devon and I met two women at Due South over Yards Park. We had a discussion that related to one of my blogs, I’m usually proud about my blogs so I asked them to read it. They looked at the blog on their phones and within seconds, both agreed to read it later. Then after a feeling out period they told me how they really felt about the blog.

“Well, most if not all your blogs are too long,” they said, “you’re going to lose your audience because they’re not going to read this.” What’s even more ironic, one or both of them were editors of some sort…great. My punctuation was commented on too. Jeesh.

After receiving their feedback I’d like to give advice about feedback.

When someone gives you feedback;

  • Don’t get mad.
  • Close your mouth and listen.
  • They are not hating on you, they are helping you to become better.
  • Understand what you need to do differently and apply their feedback.
  • Thank them for the feedback, even if you don’t like it.

Lastly, not all feedback is supportive, constructive or helpful. People have their own motives for giving advice. The more you listen to feedback, the quicker you’ll recognize feedback that is well intended, and genuine.

So, thank you Michanda and Iris!

I tried to keep this blog short and will continue to keep shorter formats. If you disagree and I should keep the longer blogs, please let me know.

MPM

I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.  Elon Musk

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YOUR attitude will shape YOUR destiny.

I wanted to publish this blog so badly but it’s taken me forty something years to understand the importance of attitude. I feel comfortable discussing it now because I needed to learn and understand the effects of my attitude.

My friend Keisha would always tell me, “…you gotta kill them with kindness”. I believed her but I didn’t think I was capable and I did not want to be a “punk”.

If you’re kind, it doesn’t mean you’re a punk.

In my militant Morgan State mind, I always thought it was weak to be kind. Let me explain where that originates. Black males are always dealt a higher level of criticism, our ideas are never good enough, we’re always expected to fail because most of the time, we are set up to fail. I call it the “Obama Syndrome”, no President Obama wasn’t the first black male to experience a blanket scrutiny but in the highest position in the country, it’s easier to see a bias during his term unlike we’ve witnessed in the past. Black males don’t get the benefit of a doubt, another chance or an adequate level of support or fair consideration of the circumstances. We aren’t a part of the good ole boy club and don’t have any relatives that can get us access. We may be able to get a reference but for the most part, anytime you start of job, you’re starting from the bottom of the hill with no shortcuts to the top. Thinking back, it was hard for me to react with kind intentions, with that culture of bias. Let me say, kind is not the right word to convey what I mean. Being professional, positive, less sensitive or a little less confrontational, may be what I mean.

Over the last two years I have been working in a position that was inherently contentious. I was dealing with rigid personalities and negatively reactive support. I’m not complaining, I’m use to it, it was the typical scenario I faced and you will face. It wasn’t the first time and it won’t be the last.

The only difference in the past two years was how I reacted to it. In the past, those circumstances always invited a frustration or impatience that exuded in attitude and actions, but in the last two years I didn’t carry that frustration with me. I just did my job and helped everyone as much as I could. I tried to always be pleasant, positive and a team player. I’m not tap dancing and smiling all the time,  I just do the job, get my money and be bigger and better than any nonsense. There were some significant challenges, small people testing me but I just kept focusing on my goal.   I always just kept my attitude positive and it was reflected in my actions. When a shady email came across my screen, I had the reservation to just not respond. I would respond only a few times with a strategic email but nothing like I did before. In the past, I would respond and embarrass myself and my team. I would find myself in my managers office trying to justify my actions. Well…I didn’t have to visit my manager in the past two years and most times, someone else was defending my actions. Over time in this role, I found people supportive because I wasn’t the angry black dude. I was the team player with the great attitude. I had never been him before and I liked it. Well…I’m leaving this position because someone from another division sought me out. They heard I had a “Great attitude” and would be an asset to the team. ME?! (Looking side to side) The two years of being positive paid off. Both of my managers came to me and said, “I support you moving on, you’ll do great.” I was blown away, one manager said, “If it doesn’t work out just call me and I’ll find a position here for you.”  WHAT?! …that has never happened in my life. I’m not saying that I can’t return to any of my positions but my value was never made so clear to me.

So I’m sharing this because I wasn’t kind, I was positive, stayed away from gossip and did the best I could without falling into the angry black man stereotype. Don’t be angry. I mean why?!…you have a job, you can buy nice things, take care of your family and enjoy life. Why fight with people, black or white, that are unhappy in their lives, why give their misery company. Being positive doesn’t mean being a punk or a sell out. You can avoid drama and reinvent your reputation and be seen as a person that wants to succeed.

There’s a few sayings that are relevant here;

“Life is 10% something happening to you and 90% how you handle it”

” Watch your thoughts, they become words, watch you words, they become your actions”

For the first time in my life I can control…as I’m typing this another statement rings in my head;

“He who angers you, controls you”

That’s what I mean, when you don’t respond to the nonsense and you stay above the pettiness, things come easier.

MPM

“A bad attitude is like a flat tire, if you don’t change it you’ll never go anywhere.”

“Your attitude is like a price tag, it shows how valuable you are.”

Ps. The instagram photo is of my goodbye card, my old manager signed it saying, “Robert, I’d wish you luck but you’ll be successful wherever you go.”

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March Madness!!!

When you hear the term, “March Madness” usually people think of the tournaments, basketball, band battles and buzzer beaters. I went to Morgan State University which is affiliated with the Middle Eastern Athletic Conference(MEAC). In addition to the NCAA conference there are other tournaments that happen around or before march like the Center Intercollegiate Athletic Association(CIAA). If you ask me they’re all fun and all something you should not experience. So when I think of the madness of march, I think of those unsupervised days of road tripping to a college to cheer for my school team, mascot fights, and of course “Aiiiiirrr  Baaaaallll”. I think of meeting new friends from other colleges, arguing over gas money, sneaking into the female dorms and the parties OMG the parties!

If you ask anyone that attended and graduated college they will say attending college was the funnest time of their lives. For those that didn’t graduate, you may get a slightly different answer, maybe they went too far being unsupervised.

I was in school full time, about twenty something and slowly marching towards manhood with responsibilities involving; credit awareness, young women, buying dress clothes for work, time management, tuition and all those things that accompany being a man. It sounds intimidation but college is that next, possibly, final step to becoming a man or woman. College is that last testing ground during adulthood.

Please understand the possibilities that present themselves during or right after college; you could meet your wife, design your first patent, get you first corporate job, meeting your life long line brothers, start your own million dollar business, or buy your first house.

College or this time period is where you are basically designing what you are going to do with the rest of your life.

Whether it’s college, military, or starting a job, you are embarking on becoming a man. You are getting from under the supervision of your parents, you’re “on your own”.

Yes…that’s what I think about March Madness, not cutting the net, running on the court after a win or painting my face but the experience of college.

So yeah this blog was nothing about basketball. It’s everything about life. So get off that couch, stop playing xbox or playstation and begin to live life. Be eager to make a mistake to learn and keep moving forward and upward. You have youth on your side to go make mistakes and get better. Life is waiting for you. So…go to college, military or start your business but by all means, just GO!

3…2….1…Swiish!

MPM

“I’ve learned one thing, and that’s to quit worrying about stupid things. You have four years to be irresponsible here, relax. Work is for people with jobs. You’ll never remember class time, but you’ll remember the time you wasted hanging out with your friends. So stay out late. Go out with your friends on a Tuesday when you have a paper due on Wednesday. Spend money you don’t have. Drink ’til sunrise. The work never ends, but college does…”  – Tom Petty

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Movie Review: “In My Father’s House”

When Caitlyn and Charlie from PictureMotion people contacted me to do the review, I was very skeptical. I didn’t think I could really provide an open-minded review while harboring assumptions about the movie. My assumptions had nothing to do with the movie but everything to do with the consistent reminders of the black male existence in America. My dilemma is with our never-ending challenge to find success in any aspect of our lives, while at the same time, changing the dialogue from defeat and pity to prosperity in a system of systems that are poised against us.

“In order to break a cycle you have to deal with the pain of what ever trauma that you’ve been through.” Donnie Smith(Wife)

They sent me a screening link, and I figured if I can get through the hour and thirty-three minutes it might be something to discuss.

ShareYourTruth-20I set up to passively watch the movie while doing my ironing for the week. I put up my ironing board, iron is hot, movie starts, I pick up the iron…

I didn’t touch any of my shirts, I didn’t iron not one article of clothing. I immediately put the iron down, picked up a pen and started taking notes. I watched the movie twice.

The movie makes the immediate distinction of what it’s not about; Rhymefest’s career, his latest album, another rapper grasping for any glimpse of that first taste of fame. For the first twenty minutes, I could not look away. If I would have tried to iron a shirt I would have burned it. Through my own research I find that Che “Rhymefest” Smith won a GRAMMY award for co-writing “Jesus Walks” with Kanye West. He’s also won an Oscar for co-writing “Glory” with Common and John Legend. The movie is not about that at all, but this movie is definitely his best work.

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“I started something that I can’t turn back.” Che Smith

This movie introduces the unspoken dynamics that exist at the core of the individual and most families. These issues are inherent barriers to a man understanding himself. Like Che, I had some unresolved issues in my past that needed to get addressed. I didn’t know my entire father’s side of the family until I was about 14 years old. I didn’t know why they never sought me out. When I met them, I learned and understood where most of my behavior and traits originated. It was like finding my dna, when I met them…I felt complete.

The movie embraced me on levels of masculinity that I didn’t expect. There were iconic images of fatherhood that made me appreciate the viewing; chess playing, the haircut, the dialogue.

“Sometime it ain’t nobody’s fault, it’s just life.” Che Smith

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The movie takes you through the painful cycle of homelessness. It pulls you into the emotional layers of single parenting, mentoring, juvenile issues, etc.   Every black child in America could benefit from watching this movie, but every person in America could reap an investment of compassion.

“I wish I was there more too.” Brian Tillman(Father)

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Most documentaries are factually rigid and the camera presence introduces a sterile entity that bleaches the ambiance of the movie. Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg direct this movie in a way that you’re not led and you don’t follow. You are in the conversation as a family member in the story. I’m intrigued by the other endeavors of Break Thru Films. Kudos to these two women! Ricki and Annie are on a whole different echelon of filming, you rock!

MPM

“The only thing I did good in my life was Che.”

Brian Tillman

http://www.breakthrufilms.org/films/in-my-father-s-house-showtime

http://hiphopdx.com/interviews/id.2710/title.rhymefest-details-in-my-fathers-house-new-album-how-kanye-wests-car-crash-sparked-a-movement

http://www.inmyfathershousefilm.com/#intro

February 5, 2016

IN MY FATHER’S HOUSE was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. Tune-in to TVOne on Feb. 5 to see if we won the award for Outstanding Documentary (Film)!

IN MY FATHER’S HOUSE will be available on DVD & BluRay tomorrow on January 26th. Please watch with the males in your family.

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