Category Archives: Leadership Profiles

“Leadership Profiles” is a category that captures existing, new or past leaders that inspire young black males.

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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Learning how to lose is also a part of leadership.

Roger Federer, 26 years old and the 2008 Wimbledon Men’s finalist and top seated player on his way to a record breaking Wimbledon win, lost the match.

It was one of the greatest Wimbledon matches I’ve ever watched. It was that 2008 Wimbledon final between Nadal and Federer, about 62 games, 5 sets, about 7 hours of tennis, 1 winner 1 loser. I will always remember that match. I’ve only ever bought a tennis dvd and this was it. After his loss, Federer stated, “I’m disappointed, and I’m crushed,” “He played a super match, and I’m sure it was a great match to watch and to play, but it’s all over now. I need some time.” In defeat, fighting back tears…he was still gracious. Tennis is an individual sport but Roger exemplified class. This is probably why Roger is heralded as one of the greatest tennis players ever.

Daniel Cormier on Jan 3, 2015 lost the heavyweight UFC title fight to Jon Jones. This was an emotional personal fight. Daniel wanted this fight. Daniel felt that there was no way he could lose, but he did. After the fight, in an interview Daniel Cormier said, “He was better today, you know? He beat me. He won the fight. He’s obviously the champion for a reason and he showed it tonight.”  In another interview with watery eyes, he later said, “I’m going to face that man again.” I gained so much respect for him when he said that. I mean, he gave respect but it didn’t defeat him, yes he lost but he wasn’t defeated.

Daniel Cormier is now the champion and Jones is the challenger, scheduled to fight on April 23rd.
“Everyone deals with adversity. It’s how you bounce back from it.” Daniel Cormier

As this NFL season ended with its greatest game of the season, the super bowl. A 100 million viewers watched the contest of the best two teams. In those millions, there were 30 other football teams that were home watching the game wishing they were playing. There are 53 players on each team in the NFL. So there were about 1,590 other players that play 16 games in a regular season to get into the Super Bowl. Regardless of how much weight they lifted, how many practices, plays, injuries, there was to be only two quarterbacks on the field for the super bowl, and one had to lose.

I watched Cam Newton, the losing quarterback, hoping he could hold it together, be gracious. It’s a hard task for anyone in that position but there had to be a losing quarterback and it was Cam. Cam was the division champion, he had a phenomenal year but the Denver defense was incredible, they dominated. I felt bad for Cam, but I was more concerned about how he would manage this disappointment. He answered the questioned with as much patience as you can squeeze out of a losing spirit. He walked off abruptly, but he did enough.

I know as a young black quarterback there’s an extra scrutiny without the benefit of any sort of compassion, especially when you were confident, not cocky, just confident. The establishment is not ready for a confident black man. As a black man there are different set of rules for you, imposed by white and black people. There’s always going to be a latency of scrutiny with everything you do outside of other people’s comfort zones, white or black, ask our President. I’m not saying Cam was wrong or right in how he handled the press. I’m saying that, learning how to lose, is a part of leadership.

It’s not easy for anyone to accept defeat of any kind. It’s a testament to your character to pay respect to the winner. Cam did that. If they beat you, no excuses, no pointing the fingers, just be honorable in your loss, allow it to motivate you. Use the scrutiny to drive you to a bigger goal but always be gracious.

Understand the rules are different for young black men, but that’s why God made you black, because you can take it.

MPMIMG_53951

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

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The “I have a dream” speech, read please.

Martin Luther King Jr. was celebrated yesterday, Jan. 17, 2016, just two days after he would have turned 87 years old.

It’s a great day to revisit the “I Have A Dream” speech he delivered in 1963 in Washington, D.C. Scroll down to read the text in full below.

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

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Leadership Profile: Philadelphia Chapter of Concerned Black Men, Student of the year: David Bakali

This blog is dedicated to the memory of Harvey Crudup. Harvey was one of the founding members of the Philadelphia, PA chapter of Concerned Black Men. Harvey passed on Wednesday.

The Philadelphia chapter is the first chapter established prior to the creation of the National Organization of Concerned Black Men, Incorporated. The last time I saw Harvey was at the annual awards luncheon in May 16, 2015. During that ceremony I met David Bakali. David received the chapters highest award, the Student of the Year. David Bakali is my Leadership Profile.

CBM Youth of the Year

Student of the Year David Bakali

David Bakali

When the award was given to David. David was a senior who attended The Shipley School. He played varsity soccer and his team won the 2013 Colonial Cup Classic. David received the Princeton University Book Award in 11th grade and the George Wrangham and Margaret Ralph History Research Prize. David will be attending the University of Pennsylvania majoring in Marketing with additional studies in sociology and psychology.

·         Played soccer and basketball throughout high school

·         Princeton University Book Award, 11th Grade

·         Co-supervisor for a summer camp that serviced children in inner-city Philadelphia

·         Volunteer counselor for Camp St. Thomas at the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas

·         Full time member of the jazz ensemble at the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas

·         First generation immigrant to the US (Parents from Malawi)

Interview:

Age: 18

Hobbies:

I love to play and to watch soccer. I also love to play the drums. Moreover, I love to listen to and to produce music. Additionally, I play video games on occasion. I mostly enjoy hanging out with friends.

Career goal:

I would like to work in management for a nonprofit.

What was your biggest mistake as a teenager?

When I played soccer as a underclassman, I did not work at all to achieve my full potential. I thought that I was always a great player. With such a thought in mind, I felt entitled to a place on the Varsity team. For three years straight, I failed to make the team because I felt that I deserved a spot there without having to work hard for it. Such a mentality transferred over to other aspects of my life. On rare occasions, I would not receive the grades that I should have on certain assessments in school. I felt that I could do well without having to work hard for my best grade. It was not until my senior year of high school when I realized that I need to take more initiative. My skill on the field would not come out of thin air. It was up to me to work as hard as I can to earn a spot on the team and to earn playing time. I did all of these things. What I realized from this was that my achievements are much more meaningful when I work hard for them.

What was your biggest mistake in life?

Throughout middle school and as a underclassman in high school, I failed to manage my time well. I let my workloads take over my social life completely. Because of this, I did not spend as much time as I should have with family and friends. This hindered my ability to fully learn about myself, other people, and my environment. As I look back, I still believe that it is important to do well in school. However, grades are not what define you. It is important to go out into the world and spend time with family, friends, and all people to learn about our collective everyday lives. Additionally, we learn how to improve ourselves to make the most of everything. We become socially aware and we understand ourselves, others, and our environment better. Because I spent so much time in books, I lacked social awareness. I struggled to meet new people and to make new friends. I also failed to surround myself around the right people for me. I didn’t know myself. However, I have become a lot more mature in the past two years. I navigate society a lot better because of how I strive to understand myself, others, and the world at large.

Most challenging part of your life/event:

The most challenging part of my life was 7th grade. At that time in my life, I did not understand life at all. This bothered me, because I had a lot of questions about life that I could not find satisfactory answers to. I was constantly thinking, but I still could not find any direction to go in life. It was a miserable experience.

What would you say to yourself at 16 years old?

At 16 I would say that I need to spend more time with people instead of studying so much. If I am given many opportunities to establish meaningful connections with others, I should make the most of them. That is not possible when I spend all of my time in books. I would grow into a much better person if I made time to spend out in the world.

Did you ever image the impact of your life on others?

In big and small ways, I always imaged the impact of my life on others. I have younger brothers that look up to me. It is always important for me to be there for them, so I can help them become the best people that they can be. Whether through volunteer work, music, or sports, I can help people learn. There’s a lot that I have already learned from others. Therefore, I want to spread my knowledge to help change someone’s life.

When did you realize you had the potential to be a leader?

I realized that I had the potential to be a leader in early elementary school. I excelled in school and I quickly became a role model for my peers. There were high expectations for me to represent myself, my peers, and my family well. I rose above those expectations even in my younger years.

How did your understanding of your potential change you?

My understanding of my potential made me want to keep myself on the right path at all times in my life. I realized that I had to be a role model. Anything I say or do could have a tremendous impact on someone’s life. It was my responsibility to keep myself in a position where I could serve as a reputable source of help for someone else.

What advice would you like to give a young male facing any challenge?

Firstly, I would tell him to keep his head up and keep fighting. I would say this, because his challenge could enable him to grow into a man powerful beyond measure. If he were to back down, he would miss an opportunity to become great. He should stay positive that he can rise above his challenges. Additionally, he should lean on the shoulders of those who are very close to him. These individuals whom he trusts could be very helpful to him. Moreover, he could bring himself closer to these people and establish strong relationships to carry him through life.

Student of the Year David Bakali & his proud father

Student of the Year David Bakali & his proud father

David is now at the University of Pennsylvania focusing on his studies in Social Sciences and Economics. He plans to engage in extracurriculars with music groups and soccer teams. Additionally, he is a student worker for the Africana studies department at UPenn.

MPM

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