Defying Distractions with Deafness

 

For years I’ve assisted various college-prep non-profits by annotating college admission essays, but what I didn’t know is that one would give me a message that would literally change my view on life. Think about it, what really could a High School Junior write about that would impact MY adult life, more than ten years their senior, as I matriculate through the challenges of adult hood. What could a High school student in this information age, with the world at their fingertips convey to me in 500 words or less that would spiritually jolt me in a manner not felt in years. Well, the answer to these questions, came from a young south-east Houston, TX girl, for our purposes named ‘Issa.’ Issa, was deaf in her right ear.

For the Texas Admission college essays students are asked to write on 3 different topics, but the most unique is Topic B:  Describe a circumstance, obstacle or conflict in your life, and the skills and resources you used to resolve it. Did it change you? If so, how? Issa, opened up her essay with the words: “When you’re underwater everything sounds the same, sound is muffled for everyone. Once you rise out of the water, however, you are able to hear fine again. Such is not the case for me.”  Immediately, I was grasped by the imagery she depicted, and found myself instantly recognizing how I took the ability to hear for granted.

Reading through the rest of the topic answer, the young student continued her narrative of all the daily challenges of only being able to hear out of one ear. The difficulty at home, around her friends, and not to mention in the classroom. Always having to ask friends to repeat what the teacher said, talking with instructors after school, etc. Because of Issa’s unique A-bility (for this writing it’s not a disability) her classroom experience was a bit altered from most. It was when she described the layout of her daily classroom posture that I stopped and had to reread it.

Developing some ‘tricks’, Issa described to us how she overcame this seemingly life-halting A-bility in a few ways. See, she had a challenge with being distracted in class because of her only being able to listen in one ear, and having classmates that were often times loud and disruptive. When you only have 1 available ear to the instructor, noise tends to affect you more than others. Issa was determined: “If the teacher allowed the use of head phones, I would simply pop one in my right ear, and leave the other open for the teacher.”  So simple, and yet profound. Moreover, she went on to describe the layout of her classroom. “When I got to class each day I would sit in the desk nearest to the teacher, and turn my deaf ear towards the class room, and my listening ear towards the teacher. PAUSE… WAIT… SAY THAT AGAIN?  “When I got to class each day I would sit in the desk nearest the teacher, and turn my deaf ear towards my classmates, and my listening ear towards the teacher……”

 

 

 

Maybe you missed it. Issa went to each of her classes every day, and sat in a perpendicular position to her teacher in a way that her deaf ear was to her classmates, and her listening ear close and directly in front of the teacher. She altered the environment around her so that all of the noise around her fell on a deaf ear, while the instruction was clearly received into the good ear. Issa had defied her distraction by using her A-bility to her Advantage.     MESSAGE: How many times have we needed to SHUT OUT the distractions of those around us, and focus our attention solely on the TEACHER?   Mark 4:19 talks about

 

 

this very scenario:  but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. The ‘world’, our distraction, keeping us from setting our eyes on something above and not beneath, something great, and not something mediocre. We can’t allow the word to become clouded by the smoke of what everybody else might be focused on, because what’s in store for us is coming from above. Eyes have not seen, nor EAR heard……  the GOOD (GREAT) things… in store for us.  What things do we find ourselves constantly distracted by, that we watch days, weeks, months, and years go by BUSY, and yet unaccomplished and unsatisfied.

Issa implemented a survival tactic in order to not be left behind, and ultimately get ahead of some of her peers in school. Think about the advantage she now was in; not only did she sit closer she literally was unable to be distracted by any of her peers. It’s like she was getting one-on-one instruction.

So what does that have to do with you and me? Well, what if we had the zeal she had to learn in school, with our desire for God’s purpose on our lives. If we could completely shut out our worldly distractions consistently how much better off would we be?  Have you ever felt like God wasn’t answering your prayers? Have you ever thought He’s trying to answer you, but you’re too focused on everything else?  You have to ask yourself: What is it that I’m allowing to get in the way of my true purpose in life:  Fear? Doubt? Money? Relationships? False hope? Social Media? Job?  It could be ANYTHING. It’s those things that seem the most routine, that end up being just what’s needed to keep us enough off track that we’re moving but not going anywhere.

I’m grateful for little Issa, and how she shared her story with me and eventually dozens of colleges across the country. As I write this, I’d expect that Issa is submitting those essays, and making her final decisions on college. I pray that her story, and her A-bility take her to new places and heights. And likewise, to the person that’s reading this, that your new found distraction free perspective helps you elevate to the next level of life. Try it out: Disconnect from a few things, a few people, for a set period and set your eyes on something above. Watch how God will speak to you in an even more mighty way.

 

With Passion, Purpose, and Pride,

Trent J ACEO

 

Building Bridges: A Reaction to ACN’s Town Hall on I&D

Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, All Lives Matter, the rhetoric that’s been uttered by news stations, protesters, political aspirants, and general citizens alike. This bombardment of opinions and views being slain through news media, and day to day operations in our local and communities abroad. Being an African American Male working for a hugely diverse company, as much as we’re apt to try and keep these local occurrences out of the work place, this was a time that even with the biggest of smiles I couldn’t hold back the frustration at work.

On Wednesday, July 27, our I&D Lead, Julie Sweet and a host of MD’s and consultants across the nation engaged in a ‘Building Bridges’ town hall discussion. With the goal of talking about the recent events, and to initiate the conversation on how to candidly deal with the emotions that come along with them. I honestly tuned in with low expectations as I originally felt this was just another formality being taken to check the box for ‘We addressed this.’  However, this dramatically took a complete 180 degree turn, when the lead opened the conversation saying, “The killings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castille, and the Dallas Policemen……”  A Caucasian woman, serving in a managing directing role, at a global consulting firm, leading Inclusion and Diversity (which is a HUGE sign of the barriers being broke at Accenture already) opened the conversations by saying their name. The chills this gave me were immediate, and it was to set the pace, and depth of discussion by not ignoring the events of recent weeks; and addressing the fact these things have happened and cannot be ignored. Likewise highlighting that the emotions from said occurrences can and do translate into the work place.

For years here at Accenture, I’ve read the ‘diversity’ numbers, and watched the what were ‘interest groups’, transform into Resource Groups.  I’ve always felt that Accenture was indeed diverse, and seemed to check all the boxes and build upon the ‘numbers’ of people of different ethnic backgrounds. These are always the goals of companies looking to ‘expand in the diversity realm.’  However, the title reads “Inclusion and Diversity.”  From the discussion that occurred last Wednesday, that was a sign of Inclusion.  I personally defined the two as mutually inclusive:  In order to spark DIVERSITY in an organization, one must ENGAGE in INCLUSION. More simply put, Diversity is a by-product of Inclusion. (Which is why I believe one it’s I&D and not D&I). If a person or group does not feel included, there can be no real strides in diversity. In fact, I’ll go as far to say that when you create a completely inclusive environment, people will pay less attention to the numbers, and more attention to the individual people. As a minority in this company, it feels better to know that leadership is personally vested in inclusion, and not simply driven by the stats, and benchmarks of counting minorities in our company to measure our true successes.

Though I haven’t worked directly for any other company in my adult professional career, I’d almost say it’s safe to assume, that Accenture is on the front line of addressing these issues and it will translate into a work environment that’s not afraid to deal with complicated PERSONAL issues, IN the workplace.

Years ago I drafted a blog that talked about debunking the notion of discussion of religion and politics in the workplace. My stance on this was that these are items that people feel extremely emotional about. Though it is a difficult conversation to have at times, knowing what truly motivates a person will absolutely help you to understand how to work with them better.  These discussion should be more of a sharing of ideas, and WHY individuals believe a certain thing, and support certain views. For the first few years of my tenure here at Accenture, these are topics that I was ‘forbidden’ to discuss in fear it would negatively affect my reviews and perception here at the firm. I was a check box in the diversity division, but didn’t really feel included as these are things I’m passionate about but didn’t feel open to discuss.

Tying back into recent happenings, on the morning that Alton Sterling was killed, I was stopped by a policeman outside of Ferguson, MO and the first thing I said was “I pray this not my last day.” It was at that moment that none of my upbringing, formal education, degrees, or great career with Accenture mattered. It was a dark and scary place to be knowing that in a country as great at America that these were real feelings, and real thoughts. The policeman didn’t come close to my window and spoke to me from the backseat window. Later that week, in the city I’m staffed in, I was pulled over late after work by another officer that said I failed to use my turning signal at a stop sign. As the officer approached my vehicle, I held out my wallet and rental agreement towards the wheel, only to witness him take a step back and grab his belt. Did anything happen? No. Are these the first times I’ve felt threatened by police officers instead of protected, absolutely not. But it’s MY PERSONAL example, that no matter how much we attempt to ignore a problem at work, there are those that feel at a disadvantage in some of these situations.

As I listened to the Building Bridges call, and saw the faces of MD’s across North America they all looked and sounded differently:  White, Hispanic, Asian, Middle Eastern, African American, Female, Male, Gay, Straight, Experienced Hire, Accenture Lifers etc…. All joining in on what we probably overlooked as a display of one of CORE values:  RESPECT for the INDIVIDUAL .It was an un-staged picture, of what our company really looks like. I listened to PEOPLE looking inwardly and outwardly genuinely seeking ways that we can BUILD an inclusive environment.  For once in my 4.5 years at Accenture, it truly felt like we’re on the edge of breaking a new barrier in what is INCLUSION, and not simply diversity. It was in those moments, I was reaching out to co-workers and former co-workers across the country all with encouraged emotions, and a new pride in our company. All because leadership choose NOT ignoring the frustrations that many of us hide in the workplace because of injustices that seemingly don’t directly affect us.

As National AAERG Core Team Member, I’m excited and proud. And post-discussion, encouraged and challenged to work at fine-tuning and building inclusion amidst those that look like me. From the discussion I’m empowered to work even more fervently in blurring the line of difference, and emboldening the line of similarity. All of us at Accenture have now been staffed on an internal inclusion development project (I’ll call it IDP since we love acronyms here), and the go-live is now. The skillsets aren’t listed in myscheduling, the roles aren’t clearly defined, the deadline has severely passed, and the performance achievement priority is number 1. There is no formal training, there’s no real subject matter expert, and yet, we all, when hired, were equipped with what we needed to get the job done. Now the question is: what will I do,  YOU do, what will WE do, to make sure no person on our project, client, DTE, local office, National Teams, or even offshore ever feel like an outcast and genuinely feel completely vested in our work community.

 

Building Stronger Bridges,

Trent J

7 Weight Loss Tips

Trent J ACEO’s Weight Loss Tips – September 2012

Although this is not the season most people decide they want to lose weight (The Holidays), I wanted to put these tips out there to encourage you to live this healthy lifestyle by not only looking good but feeling food as well. Please check out my tips for losing weight and living a healthier lifestyle below! Hope you enjoy.

 

1) You didn’t get FAT overnight, you will not lose all the weight over night. 

If you haven’t noticed, you did not gain the “Freshman 15” in two weeks, so do not expect to lose it in two weeks. A key tip to weight loss is setting realistic goals that allow you to lose weight in a safe and healthy way. In a way that will not cause you to gain it all back once you change your diet patterns.

 

2) Focus on the Mirror, not the Scale.

STOP spending so much time worrying about what you weight, and more about how your body is sculpted. It’s possible for you to stay the same weight or fluctuate 5lbs either way or your body drastically changed. I encourage anyone starting a weight program, or looking to make body changes to take body photos, and track their progress. Maybe taking pictures every 2-4 weeks and compare. This is an accurate ‘picture’ of your fitness success.

 

3) Starving yourself will cause you to gain more than lose.

 It really bothers me when people (especially women) say they are going to eat 500 calories a day, and think that is going to solve their overweight problems. Our bodies need a certain amount of calories a day at minimum to function. This is where you want to start measuring your calorie deficit to decide how many calories to eat a day. If you are very active this will be different from someone who is sedentary on a daily basis. You should be eating 5-6 times a day in moderation. Break your meals down and eat smaller meals relatively all day.

 

4) A Cheat Day is just that, not 3-5 times a week. 

“Today is my cheat day” is one of the most common excuses of eating badly. The only issue here is, a day is singular not plural. Yes, cheat days are good to keep you motivated and actually good for your metabolism during a strict diet regiment. BUT just because you have started to workout does not mean that it’s OK to eat what you want, this will most definitely set you back.

 

5) Abs are shaped in the gym, but made in the kitchen.

 We all want those 6/8 pack abs. Period. Just about every person that has started a diet/workout regiment is looking to improve upon their mid-section. BUT what many fail to realize is that  you can do all the crunches in the world, but if you do not burn the layer of fat covering your abs you’ll never see them. Work hard on burning body fat to “reveal” the abs you probably already have!

6) Surround yourself around like-minded people. 

If you have 9 broke friends, you’re bound to be the 10th. This is absolutely true when it comes to working out. I’m not saying drop your overweight friends, but find some people that are gym rats, or losing weight, etc just like you that can help keep you motivated. Those that will encourage you to get up go to the gym, eat the right foods, and push yourself more and more.

 

7) Stay Consistent. 

Last but not least… being fit is a lifestyle not just something you do for 60 or 90 days with Shaun T. Getting started is tough, overcoming a plateau is tough, and continuing to workout once you reached your goals is tough. Keep getting up, change your workout/diet frequently, and continue to set new goals. Stick to it, and don’t slack off when you start to see results that should be your motivation to working even harder.

NO STRUGGLE, NO PROGRESS!

 

With Passion, Purpose, & Pride, 

Trent J ACEO

 

When Reality Sets In…

In starting off the New Year, and approaching my 27th birthday, I began reflecting on the day I began my first “real” job as I call it here at a Consultant. I was pretty convinced that I had figured life out.  For the last 18 months of college, I stayed alone and was very familiar with what it took to handle “responsibilities” and balance a difficult “work” load.

However, as those years have swiftly passed I’ve come to realize a few things that I THOUGHT I knew, and really didn’t know until Life happened.

So yea, reality sets in very quickly.  Below I captured a few lessons that I’ve become aware of either voluntarily, or involuntarily.  Enjoy!

 

$1,000 is NOT a lot of money:

You know growing up seeing a $100 bill was foreign to me, we’d be happy to have a 20. Even though I was exposed to some ‘pricey’ situations with tuition and board, I never really experienced how much money was truly in circulation. When I received my first bonus, which was just short of the $1000, and was hit with a tax that nearly cut it in half, I quickly learned:  This is really not a lot of money. Thus, it was time for me to set my aspirations and financial goals to a higher standard.

$700 a month for all bills paid full furnished apartment wasn’t really that bad:

My, in college I consistently complained about housing prices sky-rocketing each and every year. Upon graduating I was paying about $750/mo for a 2 story townhome which included cable and internet. I was complaining until I began looking for apartments in Houston, and to be close to my job was paying nearly $900 a month. Not to mention, that only included the roof.

Your Credit Score is EVERYTHING:

One fundamental to financial management that isn’t really taught in many households, and most definitely not in school. “Credit is KING”, as my father put it. Protect your credit, like you would your own life. I was blessed upon graduation not to have any loans, so my debt was pretty low. However, I was always a believer in paying my credit cards off EVERY month. If I was going to be stupid, and charge up a lot of merchandise, or go shopping; I made myself sacrifice with a dusty dessert checking account. Though it caused some painful times, it works. Never charging more than I have has kept my credit usage down and helped to bump my credit score.

It’s so many people making 6 figures, and have a terribly lonely and depressing life.

I.Could.Stay.Here.All.Day : In my line of work of consulting I’m exposed to many different types of people, at various stages in their careers. From Partners, to entry level, I’ve seen how as the pay increases more of your time is demanded. And for many (not all), this results in a work-centered lifestyle with a lot of money, but no time to disconnect and focus on what’s really important to you.

I can’t believe that 4 years for me has come and gone, and some of the depression that I’ve watched others go through was enough for me to say… “its not worth it.” Now, am I telling you not to aspire to great wealth? Absolutely not. “Get Yo Money.”  However, never get to busy making a living that you

 

forget to live your life.  Find out what’s important to you, pick up new hobbies, create and strengthen relationships, rest, and most importantly have fun!

You have to do things that scare you every day. (Overcoming the Fear of Failure)

In 2012, my theme for the year was “living uncomfortable.”  All throughout the year, I adopted my “why not” attitude to living. Why not travel, why not try new foods, why not , why not, why not! I realized for the first time in my life, I was working full time, living alone, and able to do so many things that my time or resources wouldn’t allow.  Now this doesn’t mean go spend money you don’t have for “experiences,” but definitely don’t be afraid to try new things, meet new people, and get some “substance” to your well-being. In that year alone, I came to find out that what differs most people is not their financial status, race, or college affiliation, but simply the opportunities to be exposed to people, places, and things outside of our personal social norm.

 

Travel the World, not just Las Vegas and Atlanta.

Don’t get me wrong, Las Vegas and Atlanta are great places. And I rarely visit either and have a bad time. As someone that has traveled to over 60% of US states, I’ve come to learn that it’s the international travel that will really help to put things into perspective. Find you some friends willing and ready to travel, search for deals and GO.

Start the business now, follow your dream NOW, start the book NOW, transform the world NOW.

This can be rephrased as “It’ll never be the right/perfect time.”   For those of us that allow our minds to dream and imagine greater things in store for ourselves, we sometimes become our worse critics. Most businesses that are started fail, but ALL of ideas never acted upon fail. It satisfies us to know it’s still a dream, and that we didn’t try it and fail.  It’ll never be the right time. Pray about it, plan it out, and go try it out. You might completely succeed, you might completely fail. However, either way you will learn and readjust as you go along!

 

Taxes can really skew how you look at a Salary pay.

I’ve come to learn more about taxes as I looked at my first pay stub for work. Of course I paid taxes with odd jobs growing up, but now that I had a full salary things looked a bit different on that earnings statement.  Though I was making a certain amount of money as per my offer, I wasn’t going to see all of that money because of Uncle Sam. Moreover, learning how to work with and around taxes is the game that the wealthiest of the world have become masters of.  Saving is not how they become rich,  multiple income streams and properly placing their profits in tax deferred or tax free vehicles is what sets the 1% apart. (This will be another blog.)

With Passion, Purpose, and Pride,

 

Trent J ACEO

Blind Faith

 

I was having an interesting conversation with a friend of mine about a nutritional company, that sells health and wellness products. He personally reached out to me, because I’d been involved with the multi-level-marketing company for over 5 years.  We sat and discussed it for quite some time, and then he told me a story, that quickly changed the entire premise of our conversation. How we went from an opportunity meeting about this company, to describing our relationship with Christ, I’ll never know. Below is a short version of the account:

 

Working feverishly,  I received a text from a long-time college buddy B.Samp. He and I had been friends since my days back at Prairie View and kept in touch especially along conversations involving fitness. He reached out because he said that he came home one day, and noticed a flyer on his door that read: “Want to make an extra $500 – $1000 a month? “ and “Would you like to be a health coach?”, me knowing the marketing approaches, immediately recognized this. Samp mentioned that since he was a certified and licensed personal trainer this sounded like an excellent opportunity.

He scheduled some time with the representative, and the gentleman, a very fit and in-shape ex-NFL player, sat with Samp and gave him some more information on the opportunity, although he never mentioned the company itself. He then followed up that short discussion, by inviting him to a meeting. It was once he showed up to the meeting that he realized that exactly what he walked into.

At the meeting various ‘leaders’ from the team gave testimonies, though not personal ones, and the meeting drug on and on. Though Samp tried to leave, positioning them at the front of the room made it very difficult for him to do so.  Now: It was not the events that led up to attending this meeting that struck me but it was two conversations he had shortly after the meeting.

Didn’t Work For Me:

Samp and the original representative that invited him to the meeting sat down to discuss Herbalife. In short, Samp told the rep that the products didn’t really work for him and that it would be difficult to sell something that he couldn’t personally provide a testimony for (noticing that’s what all of them had done was show other people’s results). The representative surprised, “They didn’t?”  Samp replied, no, I have a buddy that sold me some times before and it didn’t quite go with my goals and training style.

Try This Tea:

After following up in a conversation with the rep, he found himself speaking with another lady about one of the Tea concentrate products. The lady said: “Sir, you should try this tea! It helps to speed up your metabolism!”   Samp, very irritated at this point figured he’d press this issue a little further. He responded by reinforcing the lady and asking her how does it do that? What’s in it? (This is when things got interesting). She said it has… well… a bunch of… I’m actually not sure.  Giving her a very stern look, he asks: “So how are you going to tell me what a product does, and to try it if you don’t know anything about it, where it came from, what’s in it, or how it works. Expecting she’d be speechless, she actually had a response:  “Well I know the guy that created it, I don’t know all the details but He has a lot of accolades and I trust His work.”

 

 

When Samp told me this, I immediately was struck with an analogy to Christian living. I stopped him in his story and said, I think I know the reason you went to that meeting. He said what do you mean?

I began speaking (pretty much just what was fresh in my mind at the time). That lady has faith in a man she’s never met, and willing to try his products simply because of who he is.  I paused, Samp kind of gave a “so what are you getting at” type response.   Continuing on, I began discussing how this lines up with our relationship with Christ!

We come into the faith because we HEAR about a man named Jesus that was born a virgin, crucified, buried, and risen on the 3rd day; and by this act the sins of the world are forgiven.  Even as those that have been in the faith a long time, they find themselves continuing to comeback to Christ because of what His accolades and His past miracles have been. We’ve seen God do so much in our lives, and in the lives of our friends and loved ones that we believe in HIS product and works. And to align with her BLIND faith, we’ve not seen God but we believe. We definitely don’t understand all the details of His ways, but we TRUST Him anyhow.

In a sermon I attended yesterday, the pastor provided a motif of “The Lord works in mysterious ways, when He performs His works.” It’s the mystery of God that we are continually awestruck by, but it’s the perpetual reaffirmation that all things are coming together for OUR good, that keep us pushing.

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29

 

With Passion, Purpose, and Pride,

 

Trent J ACEO

 

 

Disclaimer: This is not an endorsement for Herbalife, Inc. products or use.

Incremental Wealth I

Incremental Wealth  Part I

This past week, my memory verse was one that reassured me that one does not have to be ‘poor’ or go without in order to live a righteous life. The verse is: But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today. – Deuteronomy 8:18

 

As I reflected over the scripture itself, I found myself being encouraged to use the talents in which God has gifted me to better myself, my family, and my community.  In the ACEO Success Acquisition model there are 4 pillars that serve as the principles for this aforementioned acquisition: Worship, Wisdom, Wellness, and Wealth respectively.  I’ve noticed I haven’t offered you all enough tips on how to avoid debt, become financially literate, and becoming financially independent. So I want to start off by providing some tips that have worked for me to get us started on this journey.

 

 

 

  • Save 10% of What You Earn.

As a Christian, I’ve always been taught to tithe. Though I can’t convince all of my readers to give their first 10% of their paycheck to a church, I do encourage this recommendation. By committing to putting away 10% each month, you begin to build a reserve. I started this around the time I was 13, and it’s amazing how creating this habit of ‘paying it forward’ first has improved not only my financial situation, but spiritual as well.

  • Don’t Charge an Amount NOT in your Bank Account.

I must admit, this is a principle that I’ve applied to my personal finances, and it’s served me quite well. I figure as long as you’re not purchasing a car, or a home, there’s really no reason to charge up a credit card to a balance that you can’t pay off immediately. By dragging payments out over months and months, you end up spending more money that you would paying with cash, or paying it off in the first month. Thus, when you are trying to decide whether to go out, or how much to spend, check your bank account first. If you don’t have it, don’t charge it.

  • Avoid Get Rich Schemes

If it’s too good to be true, it is. Simple!  There are hundreds, and thousands of “opportunities” if you will promising you great wealth, with minimal effort, and minimal initial investment. Learn how to discern between reasonable opportunities to increase your income, and those just meant to promise you quick wealth. Wealth is the knowledge by which to acquire abundant goods and services, not the amount of said goods and services that one possesses. That knowledge can only be obtained over time, and the wealth that comes with it can only be maintained with that knowledge.

  • If You Need to Borrow for a WANT, Go without It.

It gets under my skin when people borrow money for things they absolutely do not need. If it’s not relative to a roof over your head, bills being paid, or food then chances are you don’t need it. Learn how to control your variable expenses by kicking useless habits, and by spending money on wants when your needs are lacking. If you’re going to impose this debt on yourself, also impose a deadline between you are the borrower on when you will pay it back. Stick to it.

  • Don’t Spend a Check You Haven’t Received.

Bonuses, tax-returns, inheritances, expected lotteries. All examples of “boost income” scenarios in which people come-up quickly on an amount of income outside of their regular expected pay. These end up being those that can make or break the level of incremental wealth that you obtain in life. For these ‘unexpected’ or ‘boost incomes’ DO NOT spend every dime of it, before you even receive it. Use these as opportunities to quickly upgrade your financial situation. Invest 75% – 100% of these boosts. If the truth be told, you weren’t expecting what you’re receiving so by investing it, your day to day won’t change, however your long-term financial goal will be one step closer.

  • Decrease Variable Expenses.

This can be a tricky one. On my budget sheet that I use I have a section called variable expenses. This group of expenses includes but is not limited to: gas, groceries, and utilities. From month to month these will slightly vary based off of time at home, visiting friends, traveling, and the seasons. Train yourself to be able to live off less. You can’t do much about your rent month to month, but you can control how much of your utilities you use, the amount of grocery store trips you make, and being aware of how much gas you’re burning. Try to find ways to cut $5 – $10 off per bill cycle. It definitely adds up!

  • Take Advantage of Rewards Programs, & Coupons

My name is Trent J, and I am a couponer. I use apps, clipped coupons, Groupon, living social, Google offers, and have an Amazon Credit card that I receive great reward points on for my every day purchases. One thing that has shifted my perspective on my financial situation is learning how to invest in everything and spend on nothing. Every time money exchanges hands, I expect to be receiving something in return whether its reward points, money off another item, or buy in to other saving opportunities. Yes it is somewhat time consuming but a few minutes here and there, add up to incremental savings over time.

 

 

I hope these tips are helpful to you and your financial situation. As you know the principles of ACEO Global are Worship, Wisdom, Wellness, and Wealth.  Wealth is an essential part of balancing our your success and happiness balance. Enjoy and share with others!

 

 

With Passion, Purpose, & Pride

 

Trent J ACEO

@TrentJACEO

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rules – Minority Success in Corporate America

The Rules – Minority Success in Corporate America (Part 1 & 2 Combined)

The Rules Pt. 1 – April 2012

THE RULES: PART 1

 

If you didn’t know by now the corporate world can be juxtaposed to a strategic or skilled game. I personally like to compare it to a game like chess.  Every piece has limitations, every piece has a role, and in order to be successful you must stay steps ahead of the competition. Just like Accenture, we all have limitations based on skills sets, in addition to aligning yourself to win the ‘game.’

 

I hope you enjoy!:

 

RULE 1:  ‘This is a game…and there are rules”

–          Know the language of the game, and be willing to take some risks to win.

You should most definitely learn how to speak the corporate jargon. Understanding the ACN business, in addition to learning the business jargon of the individual projects that you have been staffed on. For example you may hear someone mention “bottom line” or their margin between expenses and profit; business need and vision. In addition do not be afraid to take on the challenges on projects.  Those are normally the tasks that get you noticed whether you do well on them or not.   Here’s a quote: “If you do something you know you can do, it’s not a challenge” – Trent J

RULE 2:  Understand How the Company Makes Money

–          Become well versed in the company business model (ADM) and know what constitutes success.

Honestly, other than the networking, I think the time we spent on the ADM was the most interesting part of the Saint Charles training. We were able to really look over how the board oversees this extremely large firm, and how they estimate deliverables in addition to making their money. As an employee you must understand this, and make sure your actions and ambitions line up with the vision of the leadership. No one will rank you highly or recommend you for higher promotions if you are costing them money. Moreover if you do not understand how to apply the business model as is.

 

RULE 3: Deliver Results

–          “People will be sympathetic with your excuses, but impressed only by your results.”  Don’t be followed by ‘Don’t worry we’ll figure out a way to deal with it. The ‘we’ may not include you.  Outcomes are what ultimately matter to the company. So that’s what better matter to you. What can you do? Have you done it? How well did you do it? How long did it take? How much money did it cost? If I had to explain this rule in my own words, I would probably add: “It’s just business.” Learn how to do your job, and do it well.  In engineering courses you learn about the definition of efficiency:  = Input/Output.    Ideally you want the least amount of input to produce the maximum amount of output. Do the most you can using us the least amount of resources.

 

RULE 4:  Aspire to greatness… in whatever you do.

–          Don’t settle for ‘middle of the road’; mediocrity doesn’t get much attention until it’s ‘unwanted’; We’ll always keep good soldiers around as long as the work is there. Most people aren’t very good at sending touch messages, so the fact that you aren’t hearing them doesn’t mean that things are going great. In short: Be great and nothing less.

 

RULE 5:  Don’t get outworked.

–          ‘If you job seems easy, you’re not working hard enough.”; If you don’t know as much as the most knowledgeable people… then there’s obviously more work to be done. As I mentioned earlier, you must challenge yourself. Although from time to time an easier project or task may fit better for your current life situation, when it comes to advancement and building a skillset: YOU MUST CHALLENGE YOURSELF.

 

THE RULES: PART 2

RULE 6 – There are no “worthless assignments”

 

By far one of the toughest rules to try and absorb. We all know there are some tasks that have come across our desk that seem pretty worthless. The value may not come from the deliverable, but it comes from the person that assigned it to you. This is an opportunity to build a relationship with a cons, manager, senior mang, etc and identify a work ethic with your ‘brand’.  Regardless of the task if you perform it well and deliver on time and of high quality you will be remembered for that.  These types of instances allow ‘higher-ups’ to gain a sense of accountability for your success. Thus they trust you, and will vouch for you when it comes time for promotions, raises, and being staffed.

 

RULE 7 – “Master the context, not just the content”

 

Personally, this was probably one of my greatest challenges in college. Taking a course that you cared nothing about, but you needed to graduate. There may come some tasks like this across your desk. Although you may not be fond of them, it is your responsibility to take the task and master it’s content. It’s tough to know ‘how’ if you don’t know the ‘what and why.’

 

RULE 8 –  “Sweat the Details”

 

Think about this one in the example of studying for an exam.  You try and pick out the topics that the professor will more than likely test you over. The things they covered heavily in class; because of the lack of time you decide to skip the foot notes and optional readings they suggested at the beginning of the course. Then when you arrive to the test, you find out 80% of the test came from the optional text. To prevent a mishap like this, pay attention to details. Put yourself in the shoes of the client or even your supervisor to see how they might question your deliverable so you can  make good judgment to whether it is sufficient.

 

RULE 9 – “Never forget that a certain level of professionalism is expected at all times”

 

It is not ok to have a blue jean Friday attitude Monday morning. Remember this is your job/career you are here to make sure the company’s bottom line is met, and maximum value is created for our clients. Moreoever, you are expected to do so with an expected level of professionalism. Checking voicemails, e-mails, taking copious notes during meetings/discussions, and keeping your appearance neat and clean. You do not want to ruin the quality of your work, with a bad impression of your professionalism.

 

RULE 10 –  “Understanding the difference between Leadership, Management, and Execution”

 

Everyone wants to be a leader, even more want to manage (or micro-manage for that matter), but only few can effectively execute.

  1. a)      Executionis exactly that getting the work done. How much can you output, with minimal input at a high level in a short amount of time.
  2. b)      Management being able to understand planning, variables, cost, TIME, quality and resources.
  3. c)      Leadership This does not necessarily need to be a title or position. Ask yourself would anyone want to follow me? Can you motivate people with a clear vision of what needs to be done, why it needs to be done, and most importantly how you plan to do it.

 

With Passion, Purpose, and Pride,

Trent J ACEO

Nightmare – A Response to King’s Dream

Nightmare – A Response to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s  Dream

Well Martin. We’re here again. Here again celebrating your life… Not just the day that you were born, but celebrating each and every day of your life in which you dedicated yourself to the cause that was the betterment of man and the culture of the American society.  I have to say that I am very grateful Dr. King for the work that you and your followers dedicated so that I could have the opportunities that I have had in my own life thus far.

I’m reaching out to you because I too had a dream, well not so much a dream but it was more like a nightmare. A nightmare complete with all kinds of horrid and disgusting images that I’m almost ashamed to share with you.  I have to say that listener’s discretion is advised.  But before I even begin to reflect on those frightening images, I’d rather reflect on the Dream and the Vision that God revealed to you some 40 years ago.

Each year around your birthday I make sure to do a few different things: 1.) I list to your last sermon: “If I Had Sneezed and 2.) I listen to your ‘I have a Dream Speech’. Each one of them speaks volumes in their own special way, and each is a testament to the work and witness that God had put in you to shine on His people. I think about the marches, the sit-ins, the beatings, the arrests… I think about the violence, the bombings, the slander, the blood that was shed for simple equality. I think about the ideals in which the entire black community lifted as only 10% of the population, but made such a loud and resounding noise that it rattled the shackles of a nation; rattled those shackles free. Free, ah yes, that’s a good word isn’t it. I think if we were to think of the words that come to our mind when thinking of the Civil Rights Movement, freedom would be at the top of the list for most. Freedom… the word itself paints a clear picture in the mind of the speaker even as we repeat it. Moreover, I think about all the good that came out of fight that happened during the time. I think about the Inauguration that will be occurring Monday, Jan 21 of the first African American President of the United States of America. I think about how I’m a part of a generation that has never had to march, never had to walk in a back door, never had to use a different facility or room, never had to limit my options of where I would go to school. I’m grateful for that.   Dr. King, your dream has absolutely manifested itself in a partial reality. I thank God for the opportunities that I was afforded because you allowed Him to use you to lead a great movement.

However, Rev. King I prefaced my letter to you about a Nightmare that I had. And as promised, I wanted to deliver that to you. In my nightmare I was walking down the street, I’m unsure if I was invisible or not, but no one seem to recognize or acknowledge me.  I was walking through a local predominately African American middle school. A science teacher and a student were having a discussion about leadership. The young child exclaimed to the teacher that he didn’t want to be a leader, because being a leader was too much work. He said that being a leader, was too much responsibility. He said being a leader was too much trouble.  I don’t know why the cosmos began to flush my subconscious mind with a picture like this, but it happened. I had a nightmare and I hope it never comes true. I continue on in my nightmare to the a beautiful city in the Midwest called Chicago. What a fine city it is… I remember walking through the Southside of Chicago, still being unacknowledged, and witnessing 500 men, women, and innocent children being killed with each step I took down this street. With each step I took moving towards the end of the street another innocent life was taken. Blood laced the streets as though it was a flood into the drains and out on the sidewalks. When I finally got to the end of the street to talk to some people about why this was happening their explanation was, ‘it is what it is…’  I couldn’t believe it. ‘It is what it is’ what does that really mean? Does that mean that this is the only option? Does that mean that we are supposed to keep quiet? Does this mean that we’re so dedicated to honoring the code that we have lost our fear of God in the protection and maintenance of Human life? What does that mean. I must say Dr. King I had a nightmare, and I hope it never comes true.

As I continued my journey, I found myself in a college classroom: listening to a discussion between students and the professor. They were discussing how to get a good job. Some kind of way I ended up in another classroom, and another, and another, and all of the classrooms were discussing and preparing the students on how to get good jobs. Not one was in an engaging discussion on how to create jobs, how to accumulate and amass wealth, not one of them were talking about what it really means to acquire success and pour those seeds on some fertile young pots of soil and teaching them how to also bear fruit. As I continued flying from classroom to classroom I discovered that this was the norm. This was expected. This was reality. The world I was floating around in was a world of sameness, and middleclass mentality. Now, there’s nothing wrong with being middle class, quite frankly being poor is extremely difficult. But in the search to attain what is considered middle class, I noticed so many individuals were losing their identity in that quest. They were picking at their black faces to remove the pigment in which was gently and carefully stretched across their  bodies as a symbol of strength to be the same. There was no image of African American success. I had a nightmare and I hope it does not come true.

Black Success… what does that look like Dr. King. All of the fighting, the marching, the beatings, and death were symbols of a belief that African Americans should have the opportunity to attain the American Dream and enjoy the successes of life. But I must say Dr.King, the American Dream and the African American Dream have since been thwarted in their parallelism. I witnessed a teenager being questioned on what Success was, and how could one tell if they were successful: he said, “Success comes when you are rich, have at least 2 cars, a 2 story house, the latest gear, and a dope chain”… I laughed until I realized that he was serious, I soon understood that this example was a mitochosm to what exists in our community today. There is an entire generation that believes that success is measured quantitatively by the things that we have, the things that we wear, the things that can be bought, essentially success was measured by ‘stuff’.  This could not have been your dream. We have all the opportuntitesi in the world, and now we fail to take advantage of them. Dr. King, I had a nightmare, and I hope it does not come true.

Dr.King we have Professional sports teams and sports owners having month long discussions and arguments over how many millions and billions of dollars will be disbursed amongst them; when the real problem in our country is the amount of children that are in poverty, the amount of citizens that are illiterate, the number of able-bodied men depending on work to create an income and an inflated unemployment rate. The real problem is we are beginning to allow the Television to raise our kids instead of assisting in the development of their sense of identity and self-esteem. Dr. King, your generation fought that a people who knew their rights would be given those freedoms, and now we have a people who aren’t totally sure on who we are. Being black now is about sagging, being loud, calling each other niggas, bitches, and hoes and glorifying it saying that times have changed. Being black now, is all about how I can keep my next brother from growing or changing to become a better man. We have become a nation of crabs in a bucket wanting everyone to do the same, be the same, and no one to ever dream of crawling out of that bucket. For those that attempt to get out they are constantly pulled on, being reminded of how ‘good’ things were ‘back in the bucket’. Being reminded that there’s no reason to leave the bucket, because all they will ever be able to be is that crab… that crab that came from that bucket. Dr. King , I had a nightmare and I hope it doesn’t come true.

Well Rev King, I must admit, that this nightmare is actually what’s going on in 2013 today. We have ex-offenders that are walking around America with the same rights as a Slave from the 1860’s. We have children walking around with no idea of what a two-parent home looks like, or the desire to maintain one. We have teenagers walking around with more knowledge of how to play video games, than how to interpret words from a book or article. We have grown men measuring their manhood by their genitals unable to tie a tie, or even change their own oil.  We have women painting their faces, putting on fake hair, fake body parts, and strutting God’s green earth looking for something real. I had a nightmare, Dr. King, and it’s already came true.  Rev what are we to do?

Are we a perishing people? Has the African American race decided that our fight ends now? Does the election of Barack Obama mean anything … twice? How do we lead the fight now? Who is our leader? What are we fighting for? I know. The fight of the African American community is now internal. We have lost our own personal self-identity in a false sense of reality created by stereotypes that we put on ourselves. We are better than that Dr. King. Though I had a nightmare, I still have some nights where I dream.  Dr. King, I dream that Black men will not be afraid to take ownership and leadership in their lives, in their families, in their communities. Black women will have no problem in embracing their natural beauty… I dream that African Americans will achieve great levels of educational successes in waves unquantifiable by any statistic. I dream that we will push our best out of the bucket, and encourage them to come back to the bucket to pull the rest of us out. I dream Dr. King. I dream that a young child aspires to be a walking testament to their passion instilled in them by our Creator and not robbed of this passion for a falsehood belief of the need of a ‘job’ to survive. I dream that we are not perishing, but we are rebuilding, redesigning the black face and the black image of success. Dr. King if you were here I know you would simply ask… Who’s willing to be a part of this image? Who is proud of the pigmentation that is given us, and the power that we come from and represent? Who is ready to break out of the shell of stereotype and redefine what it means to be a successful Black Man or Woman? Who is ready to fulfill their purpose in life through the recognition of their passion? Is it you? Are you the one that King dreamed about? Why yes you are. You are the latest and greatest creation of the Black man and Black woman. You have no choice but to be great…. Not good… but great. You have no choice but to look in the mirror and not see yourself as who you are right now, but who you are destined to be.  Dare to Dream… Outlive the nightmare and create a memory; a memory that boasts of the greatness that flows within us.

That Dr. King is my response to your Dream. I had a nightmare, and I refuse for it to come true. I’m living proof of your dream, and a testament to your memory.

What’s your dream? Are you living it?

With Passion, Purpose, & Pride,

  • Trent J ACEO

Diversity: Getting Uncomfortable

Diversity: Getting Uncomfortable  

If I were standing in front of you, and asked you to describe me. Most people would say something about my build, maybe my hair, or my height. Funny thing, is the most obvious descriptive of me will rarely be mentioned, especially in the workplace: the fact that I’m an African American, or black. When preparing for “Corporate America” as we know it, there are a couple of topics that senior personnel will advise you to avoid talking about: Race, Religion, and Politics.   I must say, especially after the heat of this last Presidential election it began to truly bother me that the World’s “Best People” were avoiding the conversations that in many cases help defined who a person really is or was? Is it that very thing that keeps us from embracing true diversity? What’s the point of being different, if we’re all expected to “act the same”? When will we as groomed professionals be able to talk about the things that make us different, without fear of being judged, or looked down upon?

 

Race:  By far the most obvious entity when it comes to Diversity. However, we try and convince ourselves that ‘we don’t see color’ or we’re color blind.  Myself, personally I’d like you to recognize that I don’t look like you, or you like me rather. The simple fact that we are unique in appearance makes diversity great. NOT that we seemingly look alike, but that we appreciate, understand, and enjoy the fact that we build teams of people that look different. This should not be an uncomfortable discussion. I’d challenge you to even look past color, and even ask about a person’s background, or their ‘country of origin’; some of those questions who TRULY define who we are and how we got to where we are today. That’s how you enjoy the benefits of diversity…

 

Religion:  Definitely another one of those ‘sensitive topics’ when it comes to the workplace.  The practicing of religion, or the lack thereof gets very little of our attention in the workplace, in addition to our small talk and conversations. Though the subject of religion is probably one of those that should be discussed with a more long term colleague, I believe it’s never a bad thing to inquire to gain a full understand of why people do the things they do, and believe the things they believe. Remember the goal is not to judge them for it, but to better comprehend those things that define that person. When you truly understand the ‘why’ of a person, it makes everything else easy.

 

Politics:  Honestly, after this presidential election I thought I was going to pull my hair out behind the ridiculously large amount of coverage. The constant fighting, each side calling the other one wrong, ignorant, and stupid. Highly successful and educated people, attacking one another to try and justify why the person they were voting for was better. To me I believe this is a huge shame. If we as voters can’t peacefully discuss issues amongst each other without going at each other’s throats, how do we get mad when congress can’t? Politics should be a discussion of priorities of the person. There’s no reason for you to be angry at who I’m voting for, if you knew why…. When we understand it’s more about that and not the name on the office door, we can put a damper on the emotions in it.

 

In all, I challenge each and every one to dive into these types of discussions with some of your colleagues and coworkers. Not to pry or gain unnecessary information, but to learn the ‘why’ of these individuals. When you are a team member or especially a leader, understand what makes people tick working with them becomes that much easier. Get uncomfortable, have the tough decisions. Only when we recognize that we are all different, will we be better able to performer at higher standards as a collective Unit.  Let that be your challenge for the month, ask the tough questions. Develop the deeper relationships. Become a more impactful team member. Redefining Diversity.

 

“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care” – Unknown

 

Going Back to Africa

africa-ethiopia1

I know this entry may be a little out of the “Black History Month” season, but why should I only celebrate the contributions of African Americans for 28 days out of the 365 that exist. I was brainstorming and was inspired to put this story/speech together. Enjoy 🙂

TO ALL, I am compelled today to speak about a story that moves me not only as a man, but as an African American Man. I have entitled this story “Going Back to Africa.” I was on a road trip traveling afar off when I had to stop in a very small country town along the way. Although it was highly advised that I didn’t stop in towns such as these as some housed “racist people” that may or may not discriminate against us. Personally, I was under the impression, “HMPH its 2011 what do you mean “racist” or “discriminate” those things are illegal and by GOD could not still exist in AMERICA today. I was about to be in for a rude awakening….

I remember stopping at what looked like the only crossway in the small town to gas up, and grab a bite to eat. After pumping the gas, I decided to go inside to see if the station restaurant was possibly open to get something to eat on since we have a long journey ahead of us. I walked in and a mid-50’s gentleman behind the counter greeted me saying, “May I help you…” I replied by saying, yes sir my family and I are looking for a place we can eat… He said, ”NOPE, we’re closed, no restaurants around here within 50 miles.” I immediately knew that I was somewhere where I was not wanted… I decided to avoid the confrontation with the gentleman and proceed back outside to find somewhere else to eat… As I get ready to exit the store the man yells out… “Yea, you NIGGER and while you’re at it GO BACK TO AFRICA, you USELESS piece of….” I immediately stopped him saying….

Go back to Africa? Go back to Africa? GO BACK TO AFRICA? What do you mean go back to Africa! Sir, I have no ties to Africa nor do I belong there…I was born in America and therefore I am an AMERICAN. NOW good day. He proceeded to continue scrutinize and patronize Blacks and our uselessness to America and society… You know by now I am beyond enraged. Immediately I thought about what it meant to be BLACK and PROUD! I reached deep down inside of myself and pulled out a rant unparalleled by any orator America has ever seen:

You know what sir, I WILL go back to Africa. You are completely right; the uselessness of “my people” is apparent and alive today. I even remember speaking awhile back about how blacks were only good for sagging pants, drugs, and low academic performance. But sir I that was over 4 years ago and I have a whole new perspective and things to show to you.

Mister, if I am going to go back to Africa I want you to help me pack. Would you mind? A little perplexed at my response, he said, well sure, I guess. It is a long trip and I will need a few things if I am going to go back to “where I came from.”

I invited him to ride around with me if he didn’t mind: We got in the car and drove off.  Well sir, I exclaimed, One of the biggest problems of you telling me to go back to Africa is if I recall y’all were the ones that brought us here right? Yea it was you and your people that sailed up and down the west coast of the African continent from the 15th – 19th century raping our lands of men women and children that you could use as ‘free labor.’; Sticking us on leaky boats across the middle passage altering your books to make it look as if some of us didn’t even exist if we happened to die on the long journey across the Atlantic Ocean.

But that’s fine! If you want me to go back to Africa I will! But I am going to need some help… I pulled up to the Hospital and proudly said: Sir I need you to go into this hospital and all those around the world where anyone that has a pacemaker and take it from them, also any Siamese twins that have been separated put them all back together, and finally anyone that has had to have open-heart surgery go get them and let their fate be as it would have been. If it had not been for African Americans none of this would have been possible therefore, if I am going to go back to Africa I will, but I want you to help me pack.

We left the hospital and went to the man’s home. Sir, go inside and find some other way to heat and cool your home because that thermostat your A/C is connected to belongs to me, that refrigerator, fountain pens, ironing board, clothes dryer, curtain rod, door knobs, and door stoppers all belong to me just to name a few. Matter of fact is that your son? Go grab that Supersoaker water gun out of his hand too… I’m going to need that too. If it has not been for African Americans none of this would have been possible therefore, If I am going to go back to Africa I will, but I want you to help me pack.

We continued driving around this small town and surrounding areas I told him to bring me every pair of modern made shoes made by the African Ameican created shoemachine, every automatic gear shift car was to be transported back with me, every traffic signal, although this city only had two, had to come with me, every elevator, cell phone, fire extinguisher, spark plug, and even those typewriters that paved the way for the “QWERTY” keyboards you use today. If it had not been for African Americans none of this would have been possible therefore, if I am going to go back to Africa I will, but I want you to help me pack.

Hmmm, sir that bag is starting to get a little heavy isn’t it. Didn’t realize that you would have to collect all these things we’ve created since we’ve been here did you? In the meantime I’m going to take back our fried catfish, chitterlings, ham hocks, collard greens, sweet potato pie, and peach cobbler back with me… The very soul food that makes your mouth water and brings a family together, I’ll take back with me too…  I’ll take back with me the 105 Historically Black Colleges and Universities back with me too. And ALL the men and women that impacted society that are products of them… from Prairie View A&M University to Howard University….from Bethune Cookman University to North Carolina A&T, from Texas Southern University to Tuskegee University…. Just to name a few all of these institutions must come back with me sir.  If it had not been for African Americans none of this would have been possible therefore, if I am going to go back to Africa I will, but I want you to help me pack.

We hopped on a plane and flew to Washington, D.C. sir lastly I want to take back two secretaries of state, numerous state representatives senators, governors, and mayors; not to mention a President(two president’s if you count Clinton) and over 2.3 million Veterans that served in the branches of our military. With a bent over back the man seemed to be straining with the accomplishments that I had put upon him to pack for me.

You see sir without those the keyword in African Americans is ‘Americans’ and much of what  yall have left of AmericA without AfriCANs is useless… So next time you EVER think about telling anyone of color to “go back to Africa” remember how much more of America we have afforded you because of our existence…Because of us exists the Amerca you have grown to know. NOW, If it had not been for African Americans none of America would have been possible therefore, do you REALLY think we should go back to African….DONT WORRY I’ll WAIT….