Sweep Streets

 

Each year on or around January 15, we celebrate the tremendous and world transformative life of the legendary Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.   There are oratory contests, days of service, parades, and commemorations spread out around the United States to celebrate and lift up the name of justice. And not the least of the memories, is the famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  However, this year, I found myself becoming wrapped in another one of King’s “sermons” if you will.  “What Is Your Life’s Blueprint”, a short speech given by King at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia on October 26, 1967.  For a quick moment I want to talk about the street sweeper…

See the climate of 1967 was just as rough as any during the civil rights movement, and Dr. King had taken a few moments to go speak to a group of middle school students and empower them beyond their violent climate. Moreover, he called the students to consider their blueprint or plan if for their very own lives. Calling them OUT of the struggles of being a negro during the civil rights movement to be the best at whatever their various commissions may have been.  About 10 minutes into his speech he switches from giving his reasons, and over to the calling.

See Full Speech Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmtOGXreTOU

In King speech he proclaims: “Stay in school, and when you discover what you’re going to be in life, set out to do it like God almighty called you at this particular moment in history to do it…” And don’t just setout to do a good “Negro” job, but do a good JOB. That ANYBODY could do […]  And set out to do that job so well, that living, the dead or the unborn couldn’t do it any better.  If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.”

 

Makes you think right? I’ve heard snippets of this speech many times and know the poetic commission of the “Street sweeper” but it wasn’t until I had my first meal of 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana that I saw it manifested for myself.  My friends and I celebrated NYE in NOLA, and concluded our trip with  lunch at Mandina’s Restaurant off of Canal St. As we awaited in the bar area for our table to be made ready, we found ourselves unknowingly staring at one of the bus boys.  We initially began joking and how quickly he would bus down a table, clean it, and have it setup for the next party. He was seemingly doing it in one fell swoop.  We kept watching as he adjusted from bus boy to server, and back to the tables just to keep the flow of traffic and patrons reasonable.  Shortly after that we were seated and began to order, and all throughout the time at the restaurant we found ourselves continuing to be amazed and how he flowed through the rows of tables, around the servers, and barely missing the patrons as the morning and afternoon progressed.  Just like Martin alluded, it truly was like art. He had a subtle smile on his face and was the only bus boy that we noticed in the restaurant.  As we concluded our meal, we requested to see the manager and brag not on our waiter but on the bus boy. That we had never seen anything like that and wanted to make sure he got his due of credit for an enjoyable experience.  The manager mentioned that he loved that job, and he even tried to make him a waiter at one point, but it didn’t work out.  The kid just wanted to be a bus boy…

 

 

It was at that moment that it hit me. Not that this man’s life calling was to be a bus boy, but in that moment, his dedication to that job allowed me to notice a splendor of God that was over him and even my own life. It was in such a way that I realized if you can do a job or vocation so well that it points people to God, you are indeed called in that moment for a reason and a season.  Whatever it may be that you are called to do, do it like the street sweeper Martin talked about, do it so well like the bus boy that you outshine those that may have higher positions than you.  When you are equipped with skill, passion, and joy its no longer work but a commission to transform people, places, or things into a better representation of themselves.  So on this Martin Luther King, Jr’s Day, in addition to your plans you may have, I want you to think about what you’ve been called to do. I want you to consider all the people that are waiting on you to accept your calling and bless their lives. I believe there are blessings God has for people around you, that He’s waiting to speak and demonstrate through you after you submit to obedience. Let today be that day as you embark into the remaining months, weeks, and days of 2018. No matter how low or high the position, do it for the glory.   Happy King Day to all the “Street Sweepers!”

 

. With Passion, Purpose, and Pride,

Trent J ACEO

 

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I’ll Make Your Name Great

 Greatness comes from within. Meaningful actions, allow others to witness it.

The enemy of good is great” is how Jim Collins opens one of my favorite books entitled From Good to Great.  All throughout that book he demonstrates how we as people settling for what’s good, or considered all right has too often become the norm.  In fact, I’d argue that there’s more greatness available, because so many have decided that being just a little bit better than the man or woman next to them will suffice.  So many people do not tap into their potential for a variety of reasons by which we must overcome.  Well the concepts that surround how to define, how to uncover, how to live greatness are not just reserved to Collins in his book. In a few events I’ve been paying close attention to, I was reminded that becoming great seems to follow a very unique formula and I wanted to try and unpack what’s been running through the waves of my mind for a few weeks now.

It is no secret that I’m a man of faith, and I enjoy the peace and privilege that my faith has brought me thus far in my life.  I often use the Bible as a reference for my blogs because let’s be honest there’s some pretty good material in there whether you believe in God/Christ or not. The writers of that text were certainly divinely inspired even though the context of the material can be sometimes construed. (Another topic, another blog).  As it relates to greatness, God uses all kinds of people throughout the Bible to prove points, prove His power, solidify his sovereignty, and most importantly demonstrate His Love.  But what many people don’t realize is other than Jesus, He doesn’t use ‘perfect’ or likely people to get these things accomplished.  My pastor shared a quote with me many years ago when I first moved to Houston, “God doesn’t call the perfect, He perfects… the called.” – MDC.   That by far has resonated so powerfully with me, because for one it’s true, and two… I’m not perfect. So it reassured me that I could somehow still be used even though I’m a pretty messed up guy. All of us have our flaws, but I’ve been amazed at how one small thing about us, or one decision made by us can be used to literally redirect and retransform how our lives are shaped up. I keep hold of my faith, because all the examples of the ‘giants’ in the text are all people that were by all accounts just average, and by some orchestrating became leaders, kings, rules, disciples by a means that could only be by a higher power.

First I noticed that what happens first in a make your name great situation is (drum roll please) …. God tells us. As simple as that. Starting with Abram, and further examples with Simon, Joseph, Daniel, Saul and many more He tells or shows them that He will make their names greats for many a generation. Sounds pretty harmless, right? Sure. However, God is not saying I’m going to make you great doing what you already do or are doing. I have another plan lined up that’s beyond anything that you could ever imagine. Now this is where things get ominous. In the examples of above I gave their ‘former’ names before God called them to a higher place. We know that God changes the names of these giants to align with what He has planned for them. He shifts what they will be called by men and women to prophecy what He has called them to do.  Abram to Abraham, and Simon to Peter, Saul to Paul. He had to change their identify before He could use them fully.

Next, I noticed, that God ALWAYS asks or forces us out of our comfortable situation.   Saul a powerful king, Daniel a pretty savvy Shepherd’s boy, Simon a known fisherman. He tells us in order for me to make your name great, you will have to sacrifice some of the vices or pleasures of your current situation.  Just like these giants, we have to trust God that His ways are indeed higher than ours. And that our greatness just may not be in the very things we went to school for, the very things we are known or even not known for, or even in wrongful persecution. What is consistent in how God takes us from Good to Great is He takes us from a situation and sets us on an unimaginable path. These paths most of the time make no sense. They are rough and misleading.  They cause us to be persecuted by those we have always known and love, they cause us to be talked about by those we’ve never met. They sometimes cause us to be thrown in prison like Martin or Malcolm, or Mandela or Joseph, or even most recently… Kalief Browder. They may also cause us to lose our job and be black balled, you know like Colin Kaepernick.  After changing our names, and asking us to leave our day jobs, God has the audacity to grab us by the collar and allow us to be dragged through some extremely hateful, uncomfortable, and quite frankly scary circumstances. Yep that’s Him. In fact, the more I study the stories of Great people, they always seem to follow this unique path.    You have this idea of what you THINK your life will be, God steps in tells you something unimaginable, changes your identity, and many times removes you from what you THOUGHT might be your claim to fame.

I was inspired to write this after two major events occurred in the past weeks.  I watched the full documentary of Kalief Browder, and Kaepernick was named GQ’s citizen of the year.  Now starting off with Kap, I wrote an article earlier in the year stating why I wouldn’t boycott the NFL, although I’ve truly enjoyed watching the league fall apart as they have refused to deal with the issues at hand. I later made a statement on how I believed that Kaepernick would do more good as an ex-NFL player than he ever would coming back out of retirement. I do indeed know that this man LOVES the game of Football, and it gave him the very platform that he has today. But, now Kaepernick is a globally recognizable household name. For being brave enough to risk his own career, because the cause was bigger than the sport that he loved and played all his life.  Reminds me of Simon, now called Peter.   Simon was KNOWN for his skill in his career as a fisherman. He probably even told people that he’d be in the Super Bowl of fishermen if there ever was one.  However, even He was approached with an opportunity that said I’m changing your name to Peter, (Petros) rock. And upon you I’m going to build my entire church. WHEW…  Colin, if you ever read this, I believe that same opportunity has been put on your table.   Football is a cool sport, and there’s NO doubt that you are skilled, and no doubt you may have been a hall of fame great. However, when you mentioned it’s bigger than football you were speaking your own prophecy into fruition.  And because you were brave enough to do that, you brought about a national conversation about not only Police Brutality, but Racism in a larger spectrum, and even uncovered some hidden racist within your own professional league.  This sir took bravery.  Being called everything but a child of God, and because of that your name is on the lips of those who may have never known your football ability, but will know you because of your sacrifice of it to help improve the lives of the least of these.

In another story with Kalief Browder, it’s a little more disheartening as there’s two parts to his story that both inspire and disappoint me. For those that don’t know the story of Kalief Browder, I’d encourage you to go watch the short series on Netflix before continuing with this blog. (Seeing that it’s almost the end you probably won’t do it anyway).

Let me make it short:  Browder was wrongfully accused of stealing a backpack from a man in his neighborhood. He was thrown into prison on Riker’s island and not given a trial for a couple of years. He refused to take a guilty plea as he knew he was innocent (and he was for the record).  During his time there, he was subject to the violence being jumped many times, beat up by corrections officers, and put into solitary confinement. And not just put in there for a few days, but a couple years. With a combined 1,111 days in prison, He eventually was exonerated when the state was unable to produce the witness who had by this time went back to Mexico. But what happens when a 16 year old boy that’s been in solitary confinement is brought back into the world?  Well he can’t function. Family members mentioned they didn’t even recognize him as he came home, not in physical appearance but in his personality and spirit. That many days of no human contact had crushed him mentally in ways that are synonymous with a caged animal.  Of course, his family led a law suit against the state. During this time Browder was attacked and his face sliced, because those in the area thought he now had money when he in fact didn’t.  Shortly after, he woke up one morning spoke to all those in his family and then hung himself outside his bedroom window. And the story ended with the lawsuit never being settled, as his mother died later from a heart attack.

Now I use this man as an example of good to great, because who knew what Kalief may have ever become. But I truly believe he had to have had a strong relationship with God to get through each and every day in that jail being innocent.   I mentioned earlier Nelson and Malcolm and Martin and Joseph all characters from decades on earth that were jailed because of false charges brought up against them BUT it was being strong in those times of wrongful accusations that brought attention to a wider issue.  I’m pretty sure Kalief did not grow up saying I want to lead criminal justice reform, but that’s precisely what his life did.  Not only that, but it brought attention to the larger problem that we do not value black and brown lives in our country.  It brought light to how the love of a mother for her child can help her withstand a heart disease that should have killed her years and months before it did.  This story literally brought me to tears and I had to pause one episode because it was extremely overwhelming.  But I also believe each and everything happens for reason. And I had to ask myself why. Kalief Browder is now added to a list of heroes of mine.  I can’t say for any other reason that I may have known him but for his bravery to not plead guilty and live out his days trusting God and the process.

Well what do all these people have in common, and what does it have to do with you? Well many of us have hit a part in our lives where we are wrestling with our gift or our calling or purpose in this world.  I want to share these stories, to try and identify God’s methods of assisting us to fulfill His purpose for our lives. It’s first prophetic telling and/or showing us what’s to come. Next, it’s reidentification through alchemy. Literally taking our raw, unrefined selves and giving us a new name a new means by which to be known by.  After that, He then calls us away from the very things we have made our idols. It might be our families, our hobbies, our jobs, etc. Now don’t be mistaken, he could very well use the skills and passion you had towards those things, but this will be on a larger stage. Once you get to this point, you truly have to strengthen your faith and trust the process. The road from good to great with God isn’t always a 1 or 2-year process. It might be a lifetime of process, and a moment of greatness that lives beyond your life for many generations. Allow yourself to be used for the greater good outside of your realm of life. Whether you identify with Simon-Peter, or Joseph, or Daniel, or Colin, or Kalief, realize that there’s something bigger in store for you than you could ever imagine.

My theme for 2017 is “Pushing Limits 10X Effort” and it’s aligned to the scripture ‘Eyes have not seen, nor ear heard, nor entered into the heart of man, the good[great] things God has in store for them that love Him.” I Corinthians 6:9.   This tells me that if I can dream it or think it, there’s something even greater than THAT in store for my life.   Growing up I wanted to be a millionaire, but that’s too easy that’s too simple for what’s supposed to be of my life. Be willing to expect more out of God, and not limit him to earthly pleasures as ‘great demonstrations of His power.’   He can blink and give you kingdoms, but molding you into a beacon of light that will make this world brighter even for our God takes time. And it takes time because He loves you, and He loves you because He made you. And because He made you, He’s working to make you all He’s designed you to be. Trust the process. The greatness is IN you, let Him bring it out.

 

. With Passion, Purpose, and Pride,

 

Trent J ACEO

 

I Love My HBCU MONTH!!!

I was contacted earlier in the year by my Alma Mater, Prairie View A&M University, requesting that they spotlight me as a noted Alum and express why I Loved my HBCU! How could I turn that down! DONATE TO PVAMU 

“PVAMU was the place where the plans God had for me(Jeremiah 29:11), were revealed. Not only did I receive a ‘First Class‘ education, but furthermore an unparalleled life-changing experience. In my tenure at MY HBCU, I both was humbled and stretched, educated and refined, challenged and most importantly empowered. This is Why I LOVE My HBCU.”

NOW, I’m asking that YOU JOIN ME in donating $18.76 in commemoration of the establishment of PVAMU to a designation of your choice! That’s less than $20!!!!

DONATE HERE

|#ShowSomeLovePV|

Trent Johnson ’11
Senior Consultant, Accenture

“PVAMU was the place where the plans God had for me,…

Posted by Prairie View A&M University on Friday, March 17, 2017

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Trump, Clinton & Digital Disruption – December 2016

 And on this episode of How to Get Away with Becoming President in America, we find out who will become the President-Elect of the United States. We know it’s no secret that this 2016 Presidential Race has been nothing short of a popular reality TV show. Featuring characters from every walk of life, and scenes that even the most imaginative writer or producer could have brought to our television screens. However, for me, I was consumed more and almost totally unrelated perspective: DATA. Beginning in 2012, BIG DATA Politics became an extremely useful tool in how to strategically campaign, develop ads, and gather information about and from voters, and down to understanding what demographic was ‘swaying’ in their direction. Moreover, the Obama campaign was one of the first to leverage social media issuing politics into the Digital Era. What does this mean really?

Over the past few years, our economic system has experienced what has been coined as “Digital Disruption.”  I personally define it as the inevitable interruption of a Business, Process, or Industry by a more robust, more affordable, and more easily accessible Business or Business Practice. Quite honestly, it’s a rapidly growing phenomenon, and even more difficult to explain to Business or Technology experts.

So as I was dreaming about what kind of ERP or Cloud Platform CNN was using for it’s predictive analytics, I had an idea that fell into my lap about using the recent 2016 election to explain the Digital Disruption Phenomena. It’s quite simple actually, and below I’ll explain with 6 main players.

Scene 1:  “The As-Is”

An honest look in the mirror……

  • The Obama Administration – President Barack Obama and his administration (inclusive of congress and supreme justice) are the base in this Digital equation. They represent the status quo and ‘the way things are.’ Most people are generally happy with their jobs, and things are going along as they always have. From delivering new IT solutions, to navigating performance achievement there’s a clear answer and process for everything and everyone knows their role. However, there are obvious experts in the strong areas, filibusters and apathy in the weak areas, and an aging worker population. Despite the overall success a change is swiftly coming.
  • The ‘Polls’ – The polls represent the on premise existing practice and solutions. They are what everyone relies on to benchmark how well or how poor the organization is doing. In existence since anyone can remember, the solution is well known and though people complain about the accuracy, most are accustomed and will accept the margin of errors they encounter each and every day.
  • Hard Red/Hard Blue States – These are the people within the organization that not interested in any type of significant change. They’ve been rewarded promptly and largely. These seasoned professionals tend not to sway too far from the core beliefs of the majority and take pride in their loyalty to what made this organization so great. They can recite for you the company’s core values on request. Unfortunately, these are also the people that complain about training, and haven’t acquired a new skill in ages. This is likely the majority of your organization.
  • Battleground States – These bright and brilliant individuals are the ones you just never know how to gauge or predict. Normally the younger and minority in the room, they are hungry for immediate change, but can’t quite convince the electorate to go one way or another. This part of the organization is suffering the most from the external existence of Digital Disruption. They are actively engaged in numerous digital outlets, have colleagues working in the various industries taking advantage, and are constantly causing friction in agreeing on a meeting.

Scene 2:  “The To-Be”

A decision between two evils…

Hillary Clinton & Campaign – Represents the continuance of the ‘good ole days’. Although new face, and new ideas at the high level things won’t change much. Upgrades to the current system with just a few new features. There is a loud majority that are content with things continuing to steadily progress without a lot of drastic change. Though a new leader may come into play with the campaign, people are supportive as they believe things won’t be shifted much and prefer to keep their day job. These individuals in the organization represent new promotes, or even outside experienced hires that don’t seek to shake up the organization but more so assimilate adapt and settle in.

Donald Trump & Campaign – Represents Digital Disruption in every sense of the word. Despite all the knowledge, all the technology, all the human capital the change is coming whether you like it or not. This introduces fear to some, and excitement for others. No real person is a true ‘expert’ on how to handle this change, and how to plan for it. As much as we try to forecast, analyze, and criticize the alternative method to a new digital business, it’s literally unpredictable.

Scene 3:  So Now What?

Dealing with the reality of Digital Disruption…

 Now the recent election probably sparks totally different feelings, emotions, and questions than what’s been summarized above, but I figured I’d juxtapose the two to ease the discussion. Despite which area of the aforementioned scenes that you may fall into there’s no escaping the rapid technology advancement that has come with Digital Business. People are generating unimaginable amounts of data via a host of devices, and in this information age to not properly collect, structure, analyze, and provide business that cater to the insights would be irresponsible and a sure way to become victim of the disruption. This new wave of technology and business will require us to think even more so out of the box than ever before. Customizing user experience at every level of interaction is requiring that whole organizations focus more on the digital realities than their own core values. Digital is the business of the future. Your company just needs to identify how it’s going to uniquely take advantage and keep up with the exponential growth. There’s no getting ready for it, the Digital Age is here!

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

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