2014 Casualties and Compromise

2014 Casualties and Compromise

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The final day of 2014 is here and before I flip the calendar page I think today is a good day to talk to you all about the realest aspect of the journey I’ve been on professionally. I’ve spoken about how I’ve gotten to the stage I’m at today, but I wanted to leave the thought with you about the true struggle that came with this move. If you are unfamiliar with what I’m referencing stop, go read these 2 posts (Blog #1 & Blog #2) then come back.

I want to highlight 3 casualties that have resulted from my professional social media pursuits. These were things that made a lot of what I do that much more difficult and in some cases are still effecting me today.

  1. Professional Stability.

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I reached a point where the Human Resources career goals I was moving towards hit a cement floor and it happened in such a manner that I was very much distraught about where I was. When the option to become a professional blogger was presented to me I jumped head first into it. I said that if this is what I want then it’s going to get my fulltime energy, even if the results initially weren’t fulltime level compensation. While I built up my new resume over the next 12 months I stopped applying for anything HR. It was social media or nothing. That was a big risk. I know how many recruiters look at your work history and me electing to create a 1 year hole/gap in my resume doesn’t always look good. Should I return to HR that would have to be explained as to not devalue my 7+ years of experience. The truth is it’s a gamble. Some people see the career switch and view it as a testament to my versatility but others within the old school think its a lack of focus. Sometimes to get what you want to have to run that chance of messing up what you have.

  1. Cell Phone

No-Cell-Phones

I had the same phone number since 2005 I believe. When I upgraded from the old Sprint Nextel to the Blackberry that # was a constant with me. As folk changed numbers like every other month that stability along with the constant unlimited data plan kept me connected and in the mix. During the hardest of times when money was nonexistent the bills got paid later and later. In some cases I had to decide what bills just weren’t going to get paid. The struggle would result in the shutting down of my line and me downgrading to a pay for minutes Tracfone. No online access just phone calls and texts. The powers that be worked it in my favor that I got my hands on some tablets so at least with Wi-Fi I could be semi connected but you don’t realize how convenient things were until you go from unlimited everything to buying Tracfone minute cards while traveling. These phones don’t work internationally so my times in Toronto were real interesting. In any case RIP to my 914-906-5543 number. We had some get times. I’m still on the Tracfone but with the Travel year that 2015 is shaping up to be I think T-Mobile is my next stop. Assuming I get this next issue in order.

  1. Credit

bad-credit

This is the big one. After I graduated from Iona College I had some loan debt and a couple small credit cards. My parents warned me but you sometimes just have to experience things yourself. It took a little time but I had cleaned my credit up and was on the way up. Before the job issues and the career flip I was around 710 and climbing. Let’s just say I’m not at 710 anymore. I’m nowhere near 700. The adjustments to less and at times no income took its toll. Now repairing my credit again has become a primary goal for me in 2015. When I tried to buy some Christmas gifts on easy pay and got rejected for the first time in my life due to my credit I knew it was bad. With 2015 plans to move and the idea of a car not too far off I’ll need at my credit back to respectable levels again. I foresee a sit down with Tiffany the Budgetnista in my future, but yeah that was what took place while putting together “better business” my credit took a nose dove. At the very least my credit point score is higher than the Knicks winning percentage this season.

I said all this to let you know a little more of what it’s really like on my side. Folk see the pictures at events and name brand functions and assume things are all sweet. The reality is much of that was cutting deals, barter system and shoe string budgeting to just get by. Yet I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s made me who I am and put me in place to go where I plan on going. If anything please use this blog as a reminder there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. You just have to keep moving forward.

Happy New Year!!!

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Who You Bringing Into 2015 With You?

Who You Bringing Into 2015 With You?

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The above image was found on Instagram the other day and after sitting with it for a bit I was put in the mind frame of evaluating friendships, associations and social interactions. For most of us there is a desire to constantly improve. We want to get better in what we do and how we do it. A large portion of that intended progress relates to the people we keep around us. It’s an emotional thing. It’s an energy thing. It’s an efficiency thing. As time goes by you realize just how precious your energy is. You don’t have it to recklessly spend like you did when you were younger. So now, as the planet collectively prepares to usher in a new year I say it’s the ideal time to sit down and take a serious look at your world.

Are you happy? How do the people you spend time with make you feel. Really think about it? Who do you talk to the most? Who do you hear from the most? Pay attention because those two previous questions are often mixed up as being the same and they’re not. When you’re down who do you turn to? Who reaches out to you with questions? Who reaches out to you for favors? All these questions and many more are what I run through my mind as I think on the people I come in contact with.

You don’t need anyone to validate your methods so don’t let other influence this process. It has taken time but I’ve reached the point of legitimately holding the world accountable for it actions. People know what they want. If you observe folk long enough the patterns become more and more clear. Eventually you reach a point where you don’t have to ask any questions. You don’t have to hear the explanations/excuses anymore. The truth of witnessed behavior is impossible to refute. It shows you where you rank on folks respect priority list. Then you can see how that cross references with yours. Is your #1 treating you like a #10. Is someone low on your own list doing more to support you than those you actively look to engage regularly? This is important for both business and personal. It tells you who you need to direct your focus to for the most return. On the personal side this tells you who gives your life the proper balance. It may also reveal who you need to reconnect with. Life is rough and it sometimes puts us in positions where you can’t do everything you’d like. Some folk do legitimately deserve that benefit of the doubt. Just be careful with how much leeway you allow. Very few people will admit “Yeah our relationship just isn’t that important anymore.” Personally I’d rather deal with a straight forward “no” then a stalled “maybe”.

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With so many means to connect and communicate with each other it’s very easy to get distracted and caught up. Everyone is busy and running around. You feel like your all over the place yet you haven’t done anything. Regain control of your time and your focus. Don’t grant that internal mental real estate to people not willing to pay that mortgage. In 2015 I hope we all learn to get the most and best from each other.

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The Story of the Social Media Samurai – The Break Through

The Story of the Social Media Samurai – The Break Through

#SocialMediaSamurai

It’s insane how time flies. I can still remember sitting down to write the previous “SMS Story” post and really going back and forth with just how transparent I was going to be about my professional situation. In this “fake it till you make it society” it’s not the easiest thing to do to admit struggle while you’re still going through it. In the end I bit the bullet and shared my battle with unemployment and how that essentially forced the creation of The Social Media Samurai. That was back in May. Now it’s the end of December and I’d like to give a little progress report on my recent activities.

This Spring/Summer really kicked things off in a positive direction for me as I embraced the ideology of “Asking” or in terms more of us are familiar with, “Closed mouths don’t get fed.” As Spring turned into Summer I realized that there is a lot out there for us if we simply ask for it. I don’t mean anything crazy but if you have the legitimate background then what’s to lose in asking for something or directly proposing a business initiative. A prime example was my interaction with MegaBus. This national bus service is something I used frequently as is, so why not throw my hat in the ring to do some work with them. A simple email pitch led to a collaborative dealing that took care of my travel for all the major Summer events I intended to go to which  included Toronto and Atlanta. Yes they were lengthy rides but “Free” makes things so much easier to deal with. In addition to that it was another step in realizing that what I wanted I could get if I was willing to step out of my comfort zone and take some chances.

The true moment of progress would come in late Sept. I was still pushing for work in the social media field that extended beyond the world of blogging. First off a friend told me to stop slacking and update my LinkedIn page. I can honestly admit this Samurai was swinging a dull blade in regards to that site. It wasn’t until I stripped my page down and refocused it to highlight my online work that I realized what I was missing. My social media background was now on greater display then it ever has before. It was within 2 weeks that I was contacted for new work. I was asked to join a team for a new television program as a social media consultant and content writer. This was my first step into the area of social media business I’d been aiming for. After that things would pick up quickly. Not too long after I was called in to join a social media community management team for a project I thought had been long since cancelled but was now live. Both of these roles were remote which filled in another key element of what I want in my ideal career path. Location independence is the end goal where a quality living can be had without being tied to an office. Yet just as I was sitting down to plot out these 2 projects a third offer came to me in the form of a 9-5 HR role. Now as you may remember I hadn’t dealt with the standard corporate world in about a year so I had to think on this. All things considered I saw I’m opportunity to max out new experience, start repairing my financial standing (we’ll touch on that in another blog) and pretty much end my year off strong.

#SocialMediaSamurai

Professionally I feel good about where I am. I’m not where I want to be but I’m closer than I was at this time last year. Life is directly pointing me to the path I need to travel and I’m not fighting it. The story of the samurai continues on to the next chapter. I’m looking forward to it being written.

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My People, Your Police, Our Problems

My People, Your Police, Our Problems

BlackLivesMatter

My role has always been connection, protection and resolution. I bring people together personally and professionally. I protect my people and when issues arise I solve them. As the current climate gets more and more tense I’ve been conflicted on what exactly my role is and should be. You would think that the pursuit of equality and justice would be something that everyone could get behind, but as I watch the various comments and communications from people something is becoming very clear. There is section of our society that feels it is better than others and is in position to judge what treatment they are deserving of.

I’ve never been anti police and I’m still not but many of the views expressed by officers and those that support them have hurt me deeply. There have been quite a few “Oh that’s how you really see us?”, moments as I read the positions of those who made the decision to “serve and protect”.

This past weekend, on the heels of the lack luster pro NYPD rally aka “I Can Breathe” event, 2 members of the NY police force were murdered by some lunatic who detailed his actions via Instagram. He had no affiliation with the protesting masses around the US, but the fact that he included the names of Eric Garner and Mike Brown in his tweets was all some folk needed to attempt to link him to the activist work happening in this nation.

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Predictably, people’s real feelings and emotions are showing. As folk exchange insults I pay attention to who is saying what because honesty is often revealed amidst anger and at this point I need to know who is really with me vs who is just tolerating me. That same Saturday night I sat at a table with 3 other grown Black men. They are all older than me by at least 10 yrs. They are husbands and fathers with no criminal backgrounds of any type. As our conversation turned from business to the present law enforcement matters we all shared tales of harassment, attempted intimidation, stereotyping and abuse of power from police. We are Black men. We are law-abiding, tax paying citizens. For people who use your neighborhood as a rationale for police stopping you please keep in mind that for us we are talking about Westchester County here. It’s never been a hot bed of criminal activity so tell me why we deserved that treatment. Tell me how the voices that express this frustration are just crying for attention and making it up for social media likes and retweets? How are we just pointing fingers? People with an inability to see what so many others do creates so much worry within me. The choice to only see what you want is alarming.

All these feelings lead to this moment and this question. Where do you stand? Does my expression of dissatisfaction bother you? Is it something you think should be dismissed and disregarded? Do you understand it and wish to pursue a path to resolution? I heard an officer on TV say that “he bleeds blue” and it was “us against them”. Do you realize how disturbing if scary that sounds? It’s problematic when that is your reply to people asking for the most basic levels of professional accountability and social equality? You say you bleed blue, well I hope that works out for you. I’m going to stand firm as a human being that bleeds red like the men, women and children around me. I will not separate myself from humanity like I’m better than anyone else.

BlackLIvesMatter

Folk have said to me that I’m “one of the good ones” Excuse me have you lost your mind? I’m not some diamond that rose up from a pool of tar and muck. My people are all “good ones” the conditions that do turn people evil/bad/dangerous are human matters. Black folk don’t own the exclusive rights to being bad people.

The events of this year have really forced people to state what they are about and what they stand for. That isn’t the same as picking sides. Picking sides is counterproductive and divisive. Regardless of your occupation or background, some things should be universally bonding. If combating abusive behavior and homicidal practices against innocents isn’t a rallying point for you then please raise your hand high. I need to know exactly how you feel and who I need to keep away from.

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Samurai Rides: Holiday Gift Giving With the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

Samurai Rides: Holiday Gift Giving With the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

#Hyundai

It’s my favorite time of year and with everything that is going on in this nation the ability to step back and enjoy a little personal time is much appreciated. My recent time behind the wheel of the Hyundai Sonata was pretty impressive and this time around I upgraded in size to try out the Hyundai Sante Fe Sport. I have an affinity for larger cars so this was right up my alley.  Plus the added truck space would be needed as I knocked out my gift buying for those stateside and back in Antigua.

#Hyundai

Hyundai

The Santa Fe Sport handles amazingly well for such a large car and its Driver Selectable Steering Mode affords the options of 3 different steering modes for added preference. As I’ve expressed before the sound system is essential and the Sante Fe comes equipped with the Infinity Logic 7 Surround Sound Audio system.  Not just was there ample power for the music but multiple Aux jacks and Bluetooth connectivity allowed me to pull tunes from a number of sources. With the cold weather officially here the individual seat heating functions were put to great use.

Hyundai

With my gift list in hand and discount assistance from a friend I made a run to the nearby outlet mall for some seasonal shopping and an opportunity to clear my head for an afternoon.

Hyundai

Hyundai has provided me some quality on road action. First with their Sonata and now with the Santa Fe Sport. If you’re looking for a quality ride at a nice price this is it.  Balancing affordability with more luxury comforts then you’d expect, this sport would be a nice addition to your life in the new year.

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Check my previous editions of Samurai Rides Here!!!

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Don’t Burn Yourself Out For The Movement – Keep Balance

Don’t Burn Yourself Out For The Movement – Keep Balance

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It’s awe-inspiring to see what’s going on right now. After years of openly wondering, pleading for action, the people have hit that point of frustration and are out in the streets, on the airwaves and everywhere in between demanding change. The #BlackLivesMatter movement can not be avoided. As things progress people are looking for ways to contribute. In the process there are folk facing personal stress in trying to give to the movement while maintaining their own personal affairs. I’m here to share what I’ve told others about this. Never feel bad taking care of yourself.

This week I had a few conversation with people who have felt internally conflicted because they wanted to take part in #BlackLivesMatter events but had responsibilities to handle. In some cases folk admitted to me that the around the clock coverage of Black death, injustice and systemic oppression was wearing on them and they were legitimately feeling ill, but thought stepping back for a moment would be a selfish act. For anyone that has or has ever had that feeling please understand there is NEVER anything wrong with taking care of your own mental and physical well-being. Things are hectic and stressful right now. The body reacts to what you give it. If all you take in is negative energy and there is no shortage of that, at some point your body will respond to that and you will feel it. Depression, fatigue, self-doubt it will weigh on you. It’s at that point that you need to be proactive and handle you before you handle anyone or anything else.

Even the loudest voices on the front take time to recharge and balance themselves, so don’t think twice when you need to do the same. You are no good to anyone else if you are no good to yourself. Take a day with your family, step out for a girls night, take a spa day. Many people speak of sacrifice and it is needed but on the flip side I will not run from and not utilize the resources of this nation that we built just because the system is flawed. For all we have been through and continue to deal with it is our right to seek out peace and comfort in whatever way we see fit.

Embrace this belief. Work hard, enjoy your spoils then come back and work harder. That is the life I want for myself and for you. This concept of working yourself into the ground to barely exist is foolish. Don’t fall for it. Even for the movement be at your best to bring out the best in others

#BlackLivesMatter is about more than just mere survival.

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Is Hip Hop Finally Ready To Step Up?

Is Hip Hop Finally Ready To Step Up?

Hip Hop

In a perfect world this current movement of #BlackLivesMatter would operate with a massively powerful and influential component which is the involvement and assisted leadership of the Hip Hop community. I’ve spoken often on my hope for Hip Hop to once again step up into a position of social awareness to match the commercial and financial gains it’s made over the past 15+ years. Eventually this hope turned into a sad acceptance that most of the bigger names either had moved on to a different space in their lives like a Jay-Z or the current crop really had no plans on rocking the boat and messing with their money. See Young Thug, Rick Ross, etc……

Yet recent events are slowly starting to show signs that the culture may be coming back around. Where as so often the people follow the actions and trends of the artists, today it is the artists following the incredible work of the people. The people are speaking with one voice to all the world that we will not be murdered in the street like animals and brushed to the side any longer.

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Jay Z speaking wit NY Governor Cumo about reforms to the justice system.

Hip Hop stands as one of the ultimate testaments to the power of Black culture. The world, especially the youth of the world is Hip Hop. On the heels of fighting back against the ills of the United States various systems of oppression, this way of expressing yourself was born and now reigns as the planets dominant lifestyle across various walks of life. It’s only right that after allowing so many people, for better or worse, to benefit off of Hip Hop, that the leaders in the art form look out for those make it what it is.

Again this is just a start. It’s baby steps moving towards what we really need overall but at least we are seeing more folk from the Hip Hop community get in the fight with us instead of standing off to the side shouting about how much money they have. It will be interesting to see how this evolves going into the new year.

In the meantime The Ghost, Styles P let off an expected joint,  “White Ni**az” early this morning in which he gets a few things off his chest about the present condition of affairs.

 

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Chris Rocks Top 5 Hip Hop Round Table

Chris Rocks Top 5 Hip Hop Round Table

#Top5

We all do it. In barber shops, in the gym, in the car. Anywhere that a conversation be held, Hip Hop fans have discussed, compared and had to defend their Top 5 MCs. Does your personal Top 5 Hip Hop artists include staples like Jay-Z, Biggie, Tupac and Nas? Or do you assemble a list of those artists that hold a special place in your heart but might not make sense to others.

With his movie of the same name about to hit theaters nationwide, Chris Rock puts to together quite a powerhouse round table of NY media personalities to share their 5. Ed Lover, Angie Martinez, Miss Info, Shaheem Reid, Jayson Rodriguez, Datwon Thomas and Rock’s Top 5 co-star Rosario Dawson make up the all-star collective.

Check out the discussion as everyone shares their respective lists the reason these artists stand top to them courtesy of Revolt TV.

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South Beach Samurai – Art Basel 2014

South Beach Samurai – Art Basel 2014

#ArtBasel2014
A year of firsts continues for your over-sized social media samurai. This past weekend took me from the dry bitter cold of New York to the warm sunny skies of Southern Florida. Miami’s South Beach and Wynwood areas were the points of interest as I took in my very first Art Basel. The annual art festival was a sight to behold as the streets of Miami were alive with displays of art, culture and expression. From galleries to street walls to 16 wheeler trucks, all surfaces were used as canvases for creativity.

I can truly say there was too much art to even attempt to detail it all. Some of my favorite pieces were displayed at Wynwood Walls Library Street Collective. The two pieces below were available for a total of $35,000 and I honestly wouldn’t have been mad at anyone that dropped the money for them. These works by HUSH stood out to me the moment I saw them.

#artbasel2014 #artbasel2014

Venue upon venue opened itself up for artists to display their talents. With perfect weather setting the scene you could walk and take in the sights all day and that’s not to mention the shows and activities on the beach via #HeinekenHouse or at the Miami convention center where Art Basel’s originated.

Hit the jump for a massive collection of personal favorites from my Art Basel experience including a peak at Andre 3000’s “I Feel Ya” exhibit via SCAD.

Continue reading South Beach Samurai – Art Basel 2014

New York Magazine Interviews Chris Rock

New York Magazine Interviews Chris Rock

chris rock

Chris Rock is delivering some great material via his recent interviews. This past weekend the people got 2 hours of Rock on the Juan Epstein Show also joined by Questlove and now we get his conversation with New York Magazine.  Chris has always had a way with speaking on current social and political matters. In this NYM interview you touches all topics from Obama’s Presidency to Ferguson to the effect of political correctness hurting comedy.

Check out some of my favorite excerpts then read the interview in it’s entirety.

Black Progress?

– To say that black people have made progress would be to say they deserve what happened to them before. So, to say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years. If you saw Tina Turner and Ike having a lovely breakfast over there, would you say their relationship’s improved? Some people would. But a smart person would go, “Oh, he stopped punching her in the face.” It’s not up to her. Ike and Tina Turner’s relationship has nothing to do with Tina Turner. Nothing. It just doesn’t. The question is, you know, my kids are smart, educated, beautiful, polite children. There have been smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children for hundreds of years. The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people. Yeah, it’s unfair that you can get judged by something you didn’t do, but it’s also unfair that you can inherit money that you didn’t work for.

Bush vs Obama?

There’s an advantage that Bush had that Obama doesn’t have. People thinking you’re dumb is an advantage. Obama started as a genius. It’s like, ‘What? I’ve got to keep doing that? That’s hard to do!’ So it’s not that Obama’s disappointing. It’s just his best album might have been his first album.

Political correctness in comedy?

It is scary, because the thing about comedians is that you’re the only ones who practice in front of a crowd. Prince doesn’t run a demo on the radio. But in stand-up, the demo gets out. There are a few guys good enough to write a perfect act and get onstage, but everybody else workshops it and workshops it, and it can get real messy. It can get downright offensive. Before everyone had a recording device and was wired like fucking Sammy the Bull,4 you’d say something that went too far, and you’d go, “Oh, I went too far,” and you would just brush it off. But if you think you don’t have room to make mistakes, it’s going to lead to safer, gooier stand-up. You can’t think the thoughts you want to think if you think you’re being watched.

On social media and keeping up with trends:

I follow a couple people on In­stagram. You’ve got to follow all that stuff. You have to understand it, because if you don’t, then you’re going to sound like an old guy. You got to have the ability to use it as a reference. A lot of the time, the difference between hip and unhip is just reference. We did some sketch the other night on SNL, and in it I tell my wife –actually, we messed it up, but it was better in the dress — anyway, I tell my wife, “Hey, honey, the cab’s here.” Then I look at it again. I go, “You know what? We got to rewrite this.” “Hey, honey, the Uber’s here.” That little difference, it’s a big, big deal. I remember seeing Robin Williams at Town Hall. He did some Elmer Fudd bit, and I was like, dude, if you change that to SpongeBob.

On Bill Cosby?

I don’t know what to say. What do you say? I hope it’s not true. That’s all you can say. I really do. I grew up on Cosby. I love Cosby, and I just hope it’s not true. It’s a weird year for comedy. We lost Robin, we lost Joan, and we kind of lost Cosby.

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