Ken Harris 'Black Bottom Entrepreneur' (28)
Forbes recently ranked Detroit at the top of its “America’s Most Dangerous Cities” ranking. The Detroit News reported that more than 379 murders occurred in Detroit as of December 30, 2012, and the city’s murder rate increased by 10% in 2012.
“The figure brings the city’s homicide rate to 53 per 100,000 residents, according to the News. That’s the second highest for a city of more than 200,000 residents after New Orleans, which had a rate of 54 per 100,000 residents.” By the Huffington Post
Most alarming is the number of deaths among children. When our babies are being killed, we are in a state of emergency. Forty years ago, the city was known as the Murder Capital of the United States. Today, Detroit has reclaimed the title.
Crime affects every aspect of Detroit’s development. When crime is high, economic development suffers, housing stock plummets, residents relocate, and education is minimized. The city of Detroit cannot rebuild itself until it can control its number one issue, crime.
Poverty, drugs, and lack of economic development are the major factors contributing to the occurrence of crime. The city of Detroit has failed to produce an economic plan to eradicate poverty for the entire city and its residents. Until this is done, we will continue to see increases in these devastating crime rates. Until Detroit becomes employable and employed, the sense of urgency for a certain quality of life will remain.
“Amongst cities of more than 200,000 residents, poverty, and murder are linked. In contrast, just one-fifth of New York City’s population is in poverty, and the murder rate there is drastically lower. New York had 414 murders as of Friday; if it had Detroit’s rate it would have 4,400.” By the Detroit News
Many years ago, one could grow up in Detroit and find a job. Now, people in Detroit fear for the lives and their family. As leaders in the community, we must sound the alarm for a proactive approach to fixing crime and implementing community policing. Change requires leadership, and people who care can help put an end to a local and national epidemic in which Detroit has once again taken the lead.
“So these kids have to get money somehow; how do they do it? They go into the drug business. But if you go into that business, you have competition. How do you get rid of your competition? Violence.” Detroit News contributor Christine MacDonald writes in an interview of Bashur, 62, retired Detroit Police Officer.
Hopefully, we get the message and the next time Forbes ranks Detroit, it’s for a better quality of life and alternative jobs for residents. Detroit leadership, where is the plan to eradicate crime and poverty?
A Hard Road to Freedom Happy New Year, Detroit! 2013 has finally arrived, and 2012 is part of our recent past. Although we have much to be thankful for, it truly has been a hard road to freedom. Since the reelection of President Barack Obama, the great state of Michigan and the city of Detroit have been overtaken by political turmoil and chaos.
Both the state of Michigan and this country seem to be faltering amid intense divisiveness. President Obama, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House averted falling over the fiscal cliff by compromising America’s financial security on the first day of the New Year, but this choice is truly the hard road.
The city of Detroit faces insurmountable debt and is nearing financial collapse, while looming over so many voiceless taxpayers is an emergency financial manager and possible Chapter 9 bankruptcy. No one is free without eliminating the country’s debt.
Despite all the successes and failures of 2012, we must remember that history replays itself. It has been a tough year for many, but things are about to get tougher with the critical situations we will be facing in 2013. We have an opportunity to fundamentally change Detroit, but let’s not change it for someone else’s benefit or special interests.
“We, the people of Detroit, note that the state economy can be built upon the principle that one place can be exploited, even destroyed, for the sake of another place.”
This situation reminds us of the slave trade, in which many Africans lost their freedom. Remember, in the United States, a wilderness of greed created an economic windfall for the elite and this in turn created the American slavery and apartheid system, which we still see remnants off today. We are reminded that as we celebrate the 150-‐year anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln, Jim Crow laws ruled, until voiceless men and women became sick and tired of sitting at the back of the buses. Soon, civil rights activists needed affirmative action to try to right the wrongs of those who view injustices as justice.
“President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, as the nation approached its third year of bloody civil war. The proclamation declared "that all persons held as slaves" within the rebellious states "shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free."
Although today, tomorrow, and the coming months will be difficult, we have a voice. We must neither forget the past nor hold on to it, and we cannot give up, because those who wish to oppress us relish the thought. We must remain vigilant and hopeful; we must stand strong, which in 2013 justifies the continued hard path to freedom. If you are not willing to die for something, then what else is there to live for? The fight for our freedom continues, even 150 years later.
When young and daring U.S. Senator Barack Obama (51) announced his candidacy for president of the United States, many of the old guard in Michigan felt he was too young and inexperienced and unable to compete against the well established and dominant Clinton machine. But, in fact, the then 47 year-‐old and soon-‐to-‐be-‐elected leader of the free world would change the political landscape for generations to come.
Detroit is hemorrhaging from a lack of youthful, educated, experienced, ethical, visionary, and innovative professionals. Detroit’s leadership has essentially remained the same since the Coleman A. Young Administration, and there is no plan in place to introduce fresh leadership. Community, elected, and private and public sector leaders in senior or executive level positions/roles in other major cities across the country, such as Chicago, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Houston, Charlotte, Miami, Nashville, Denver, Cleveland, range between the ages of 25 and 35. Detroit‘s leaders, on the other hand, are, on average, between 55 and 75, an age range at which leaders should retire and pass the torch to a new generation of leaders, not sideways or forward to another, older, recycled name. Can we say retirement and advisory age? Not to be disrespectful to seasoned leaders, who I am sure have achieved much success and helped many people, but I am a leader today because someone wiser and older took me under his wing when I was 19, placed me in the fire, and did not take me out of the heat until I was cooked and ready to be served, metaphorically speaking. He took the back seat from his very powerful position and asked me to assume the role, even though I did not completely understand my new tasks or have enough experience for my new role. That mindset prepared me and many other young leaders for the world and our contribution to it.
Detroit needs to focus on recruiting, retaining, and reclaiming talent and hire that talent into leadership roles that will lead to President Barack Obama-‐like innovation, creativity, effectiveness, and understanding of a knowledge-‐based economy, technology-‐driven society, and the need for leadership. Other major cities are successful because they recruit, retain, and reclaim youthful and experienced talent. Detroit has failed miserably in its leadership succession.
People forget that Dr. Martin Luther King, Dr. Huey P. Newton, Dr. Malcolm X, Dr. Langston Hughes, Dr. W.E.B Dubois, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, U.S. Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, Dr. Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, Medgar Evers, Dr. Mary Mcleod-‐Bethune, Dr. Ronald McNair, Madamn C.J. Walker, and others were in their early 20s 30s, and 40s when they rose to national prominence. It is time for Detroit’s old guard to let go to make room for young experienced, trained, and educated leaders. Things cannot get any worse; we cannot lose more than we have already lost. It is a hard pill for some people to swallow, but it is an absolute necessity because we are in leadership crisis mode. Wisdom and youth can work together, but remember the revolution was always enforced and won by the youth without compromise.
“Projections indicate that in the near future, and even well past the 2030s, the US is likely to see a mass exodus of upper level management and at the C-‐suite as the Baby Boom generation journeys into retirement. Because of this, there will be a drastic increase in the number of executive-‐level management positions, creating vast opportunity for the remaining Gen X and Y-‐ers while presenting vacancies at both mid and entry-‐level level positions. Without a robust bench of candidates with strong potential, most organizations will be left unable to fill these crucial positions.” -‐ Solving the Talent Drain
Problem by Building a Bench of High Potentials by John Nimesheim
Detroit has exported its talent all over the country because of a lack of opportunities and its failure to embrace young talent in major leadership roles, and in community, nonprofit, and public and private sector openings. In some cases, Detroit needs to completely clean house of all the old, routine, and recycled leadership in roles of opportunity that a talented young leader could fill. If we do not embrace succession, the younger generation will get sick and tired of being sick and tired of mediocrity, blatant failure, lack of vision, and technological deficiency, which will force the youth to rise and take it from those who could not handle the responsibility in the first. Just look at how history repeats itself. The entitlement age is over. We need tireless, innovative, creative, and fearless leadership that produces results through trial and error. No one is perfect, a fact made obvious by Detroit’s current leadership, both elected and hired. Identifying, cultivating, and selecting future leaders are critical to Detroit’s long-‐term growth and success.
Generation X and Y, it is your turn to lead and you do not need permission; it should be handed to you and supported. We must lift as we climb. A successful man or woman will not want to die in his or her office, but rather build it up so that future generations can have a foundation to build upon the successes of visionary leaders. If its not handed to you or supported through a plan for succession, take it, run for it, duplicate it, apply it, reinvent it, or develop your own. It is your time. Rise up and claim your birthright. Tear down the gates of the gatekeepers. They cannot keep the walls standing anyway without you leaders. Question any older or wiser leader over 45 who does not have a younger leader with talent being prepared for the future, and ask why no one is waiting in the wing being primed for the future. If their answer is not clear, spread the word and place them on the targeted replacement list.
Young leaders, do not let Detroit die by settling for its inability to prepare the city for prosperity and to provide a plan for succession. Wiser, seasoned, and established leadership, prepare to pass the baton and make sure your succession plan is in place and clearly executed. Wisdom and youth can join to change Detroit for the next 100 years. Together, we can find answers, but we must work collectively toward the same goal.
Shortly after the reconstruction period early in the 19th century, post-slavery African Americans challenged the political system deemed only for White males. Many Blacks broke the color barrier defined by the American apartheid system. In 1860, the first elected Mayor of a U.S. town was Pierre Caliste Landry of Donaldsonville, Louisiana. This trend would end quickly due to the progressive period of Jim Crow. However, the Civil Rights Movement gave way to a group of profound, prophetic, and progressive mayors who would be elected in major Black cities during the 1960s. In 1967, Carl B. Stokes of Cleveland, Ohio became the first Black to be elected mayor of a major U.S. city. He was followed by Richard G. Hatcher of Gary, Indiana, and Walter Washington of Washington, D.C. This gave rise to a date marked in history—November 6, 1973—when Coleman Alexander Young was elected the mayor of Detroit. Young served five terms and he was Detroit’s first African-American mayor. Soon, Black mayors would be elected all across the country, including Maynard Jackson of Atlanta, Georgia in 1973, Tom Bradley of Los Angeles, California in 1973, Ernest Nathan Morial of New Orleans, Louisiana in 1978, Harold Washington of Chicago, Illinois in 1983, David Dinkins of New York, New York in 1989, and Mayor Brenda Lawrence, the first Black woman elected in the City of Southfield, Michigan in 2001.
Today, society gives mention to our ancestors and those who stood the lines, championed petitions, excluded racism, diversified segregation, and ignited urban America. From roots of slavery, Black men and women who helped build the United States now represent the U.S. and its local communities. There have been more than 640 Black mayors elected across the nation and there are many more to come. African Americans have made profound contributions to society and its growth since the days of President Lincoln. As Detroit continues to grow, we cannot forget the struggles and sacrifices made so that Blacks could lead a city with a population that is 85% African American and home to 350,000 Black voters. It was just 39 years ago that Black people were relegated to only sweeping the floors of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center. Today, we honor the one who deserved to have City Hall named after him. Remembering the legacy and the history allows for clarity during these times of uncertainty, deficits, and struggling leadership to not give up the fight for equality, proper representation, better quality of life and access to economic prosperity.
Thank you, Mayor Coleman A. Young. No matter the piety, temptation, individualism, unrighteousness, self-proclamation, outside influences, and turncoat leadership, Detroit will never forget our history and America’s first Black mayors.
“Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf, the big bad wolf, and the big bad wolf?” Remember that song we use to listen to as children? The Big Bad Wolf, also known as Zeke Wolf or Br'er Wolf, was a fictional character from Walt Disney's animation “Three Little Pigs,” directed by Burt Gillett and first released on May 27, 1933. This menacing predatory antagonist was, on the surface, big and bad. The Big Bad Wolf threatened to huff and puff and blow the poor little pigs’ houses down, creating a sense of urgency and disaster through intimidation.
We have seen it time and time again. “Detroit is going bankrupt sign! Sign the emergency consent agreement!” “Detroit is going to run out of cash next week!” “Detroit is going to have to lay off workers in a few days!” “This can only be prevented, if we (the citizens of Detroit) sign the dotted line,” as dictated by Detroit’s currently elected leadership. The mainstream media plays it up, helping to create the dramatic monologue and playing up disasters, over and over again. It is the same old movie viewed in 1933. Just like the “end of the world” comments in Rush Limbaugh’s “'We’re Doomed' If Obama Re-‐elected” article:
“If Obama’s re-‐elected, it will happen. There’s no if about this. And it’s gonna be ugly. It’s gonna be gut-‐wrenching, but it will happen. The country’s economy is going to collapse if Obama is re-‐ elected. I don’t know how long: a year and a half, two years, three years.” -‐ By Rush Limbaugh
Well, we are seeing the same tactics by Detroit’s political leadership. They are huffing and puffing and swearing publicly that the house is going to come down. But, who’s afraid of the big bad wolf? “Not I,” said the little piggy. Nor should Detroit residents be, because we have been in a crisis for a very long time and it has not been managed. Detroit’s “fiscal cliff” is a result of failed leadership, leadership that should be connected to the community in its decision-‐making process, but is not— on both sides of the table.
"Detroit should go bankrupt," says the partner in the law firm of Plunkett Cooney. ". It would be a recognition that they've hit bottom, and it's a chance to go on the upswing. I don't think they're going to be stigmatized as much as people think—just like General Motors.”
—Attorney Douglas Bernstein, who makes a credible case for Chapter 9 bankruptcy in a Detroit News article by journalist Daniel Howes
We have been at the brink of bankruptcy for quite some time now. I’m starting to come to the conclusion that the Big Bad Wolf needs to be the bankruptcy judge. At least that way, special interests won’t be huffing and puffing and someone competent will be responsible for the eventual managed process.
"Otherwise, you're going to go down the path and be in one crisis after another. Yes, it's expensive and it should be a last resort. But at some point, you've had enough." By Attorney
Stop huffing and puffing, Big Bad Wolf, so we can demolish the house and build a new one that Detroiters can be proud of.
Besides, haven’t we heard this before from recent Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney? “Let Detroit go bankrupt.” Well, Mitt Romney, you might get your request.
In Greek mythology, King Midas was known for his ability to turn everything he
touched into gold. His golden touch is still known today as the Midas touch. Most
businessmen and women wish they possessed a similar gift. Although, we cannot
turn everything we touch into gold, we can come close by mastering what I call the 3
P’s of networking: power, prestige, and people.
A successful entrepreneur can command a powerful presence and dominion over
his or her environment. Power can be used for good or evil, but in this instance, we
will only promote righteous behavior and networking principles.
They say, “Give a man power or money and you will soon learn his soul.”
Power can be extremely influential and positive when used to build relationships
and meaningful experiences while networking. Power magnifies itself when an
individual has mastered the art of self and the empowerment of others. When
entrepreneurs become well versed in securing valuable relationships, they can
control their destinies. Building networks secures power through influence. When
influence uplifts others, that power can be harnessed to move mountains,
communities, and institutions. Prestige refers to a good reputation or prominence, in 21st
century terms, “swag.”
Swagger defines an entrepreneur’s brand, individuality, or identity. When
businessmen and women carry themselves with confidence, appeal, and relevance
in a competitive world of innovation, their identity can carry them far. Developing a
unique style, image, and persona can lead to great relationships and networking
potential. Those who have the swag go home with the golden bag.
Lastly, power and prestige is nothing without people. People, customers, clients,
strategic partners, donors, etc. harness power that can be effectively used to
establish a company’s ability to influence everyone and everything. People
determine the quality of a network. Much can be gained from others by establishing
a powerful and prestigious network. People allow you to enhance business
opportunities, expand your network, and build a powerful coalition, creating a
sustainable business climate and life for the greater good of all.
The 3 P’s, power, prestige, and people, magnify relationships and harness the ability
to extend impact to as far as our networks take us. Hopefully, it leads us to the Midas
Nonverbal Communication -‐ What People Tell You Without Saying Anything!
Are you ready for some action? Come on, give me your best shot! In The Matrix, actor Laurence Fishburne gave all the non-‐verbal signals that he was ready to do battle. The actor showed confidence, swagger, and technique, and he made direct eye contact with his opponent. These non-‐verbal characteristics are essential for entrepreneurs trying to make a sale, give a presentation, or communicate with an audience filled with business prospects.
Non-‐verbal communication is everything, but our use of words and numbers in written and verbal communication. Regardless of what we say or how we say it, our bodies and gestures tell a great deal about what we really feel, which is not necessarily what we say. In business, an entrepreneur’s body language—such as posture, stance, gestures, motions, facial expressions, eye contact, and use of personal space—helps determine how well a small business owner will engage a potential customer.
”The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said.” —Peter F. Drucker
Have you ever felt like you were being hustled or had just met the salesman who
was going to try to seal you a bag of rocks? Have you seen the homeless man go from one person to another, using the same line with everyone he encounters, hoping to get a dollar or a few cents? When you looked at these people, no matter how good they sounded or how well they told their stories, their non-‐verbal presentations made you second-‐guess the sham. Perhaps, instead, you read someone’s resume for
a potential hire at your firm, but when you met your potential recruit face to face for the interview you found somebody who was shy, scared, nervous, and not confident in his or her experience and qualifications. All of these interactions can be seen as non-‐verbal negatives in communications.
It is not just what you say, it is how you say it. When an entrepreneur speaks with confidence, poise, power, strength, and conviction, people listen. Substance, however, must accompany these traits. We cannot use empty words or slick sales pitches in doing business. We have to be experts in our products, commodities, services or other chosen endeavors, while conveying that expertise in how we speak, dress, and deliver. This is the key to successful non-‐verbal communication.
Pay attention, and be sensitive to signals when people are talking. Look at people’s body language and hand gestures as they speak. Watch for sweating or nervous gestures. Be engaging, and if you are not sure of something, ask for clarification, just to make sure you are not incorrectly interpreting those non-‐verbals you are sensing.
Look for common body language and what it means when you are conducting business. You can tell a lot about a person just by paying close attention to non-‐ verbal communication. If someone is defensive, confrontational, reflective, suspicious, open, cooperative, insecure, or nervous, these characteristics will show in the conversation or presentation. What is most important is listening. Learning to observe and interpret non-‐verbal activity is key to successful communication and relationship building.
“But behavior in the human being is sometimes a defense, a way of concealing motives and thoughts, as language can be a way of hiding your thoughts and preventing communication.” —Abraham Maslow
On Tuesday night, it was not even close. It was a one-‐sided landslide and deposit of
political capital. Reality has struck American politics in a very clear and certain way by affirming the legacy, leadership, and policies of the 44th President of the United States of America, Barack H. Obama, and the first African American President, who will lead the free world in a second term for four more years. No matter how many billions of dollars spent to off-‐set truth, punditry, manipulated polling, and ideological media spin, righteousness prevailed and affirmed the voice of the voiceless and the character of the new majority who confirmed that their voice, the only voice, be listened to.
“The changing U.S. electorate split in two Tuesday — not only along lines of political
party and ideology but also by race and ethnicity, gender and marital status, region and religion, education and age” Susan Page, USA TODAY
The new majority of African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, immigrants, youths,
single women, and the LBGT community dictated the U.S. electorate and will forge a new era and political force in the American political system from this point forward. This is an explicit statement to a country changing drastically in demographics, ethnicity, and racial make-‐up. Obama won 72 percent of Hispanics and 91 percent of African Americans. The Republican Party (GOP) seemed to be a majority of older and white voters and did not reflect the demographics that defeated its political ideology and attempt to reflect old American sentiments. For the first time, minorities make up more than half of the children born in the United States, but more importantly, their parents are voting. A reality check has struck the GOP at its core, which is in drastic need of urban renewal, diversity injection, and an ideological perception change. The new majority has forced change, and if change is not embraced, the GOP will perish.
“The white establishment is now the minority,” he added. “The voters, many of them, feel this economic system is stacked against them and they want stuff. You’re gonna see a tremendous Hispanic vote for President Obama. Overwhelming black vote for President Obama. And women will probably break President Obama’s way. People
feel that they are entitled to things—and which candidate, between the two, is going to give them things?” by Meenal Vamburkar, Mediaite
A win for democracy occurred on all levels. The mainstream media, political parties, and private and public sector infrastructures must begin to reflect the diverse communities and enclaves residing throughout America. Its composition could not be sharper. The country we live in today is far different than the country our forefathers founded. We must embrace it with open arms or become a witness to its true political power. The sleeping elephant in the room is awake, and roaring at the possibilities of shaping the future of this country. The new “majority minority” is now in control. How will America and local communities accept the colors of its beauty?
Congratulations to President Barack Obama, the first lady Michelle Obama, and their children, Malia Anne and Natasha ("Sasha"). You truly represent all of what the world sees in America and what we anticipate for ourselves.
Entrepreneurs should always be in search of one thing: credibility. Credibility garnerssupport for a legitimate operation, and we gain our legitimacy as business owners through our credibility.
We all struggle daily in our attempts to establish credibility or remain credible. I always
say that if you can strive for the absolute truth, encourage righteous behavior and
business practices, and always stand for something positive, then you’re on your way
toward a credible lifestyle. The sad thing is that we make promises all the time that we
can’t or don’t intend to keep; we lie when we don’t have to or tell half-truths that lead
to exaggerations or selective information, far from the facts or reality. As the saying
goes, “People do business with folks they know, love, and trust.” So, when you are
constantly lying, making promises you can’t keep, and camouflaging reality in rhetoric,
you take away that trust, hurt the people who love you, and blemish your most delicate
asset, your credibility. Once your credibility is gone, it is very hard to get it back, and
your record has been tarnished. This makes it hard for you as a business owner to have
or maintain a legitimate brand.
To create a credible track record, an entrepreneur must master the art of straight
talking, or less talking the talk and more walking the walk. People, customers, colleagues, and associates appreciate straightforward communication that is completely
open, honest, transparent, and 100% accurate. Businesses live or die by the truth. In
most cases, the truth has set businesses free from potential lawsuits, damage, poor
reputation, and lack of credibility. As entrepreneurs, we have to resist all temptation to
exaggerate, stretch the truth, or embellish the facts. We should also only make promises
we intend to keep and admit to our mistakes and imperfections.
At the end of the day, a entrepreneur or business owner who reaps credibility, admits to
faults or mistakes, keeps his or her promises, and always delivers a good check that
doesn’t bounce is a person I want to do business with, make a deal by, or purchase
products, commodities, goods, or services from. Make your business legitimate by being
a credible one first.
If you missed last week’s post, check out Volume I: Chivalrous Courtesy in Business.
Next week, Volume III: Nonverbal Communication, or “What people tell you without
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