Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Sean Carter Case Study

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  I don't fan-girl for anyone. 

The only celebrity I saw myself getting starry-eyed over, if we ever met in person, was Michael Jackson -- we lost MJ in 2009 so odds of that happening are zero. 

That being said, I have an affinity for Jay-Z. 

There's "something" about the guy I've always liked. This past weekend, while scrolling through my social media feeds, I came across this quote from him:

"When I used to walk into a room, I'd wonder if they liked me. Now when I walk into a room, I wonder if I like them."

I read it and smiled, reminded of that "something" I like -- leading me to do a quick case study of the man, focused on four key highlights about Mr. Sean Carter.  

Sean Carter is willing to try different musical sounds and collaborations: in 2008, he collaborated with Linkin Park on a mash-up of their single "Numb" with his popular track "Encore" and reminded us that mixing rap and rock & roll can produce some pretty "sexy" tunes. Keep in mind, this was a big risk he was taking and if it turned out wrong, could have cost him a significant portion of his fan base. This is just one example of his daring approach to music, which I love. 

Sean Carter is willing to diversify his portfolio: aside from being a rapper, songwriter, and music producer, he is also an entrepreneur and investor. From his company Roc Nation (making money from music publishing, artist management, and touring) to his 40/40 sports bar/club chain (with eight locations, including Tokyo) to being part owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball team (valued at around $269 million). 

Sean Carter is willing to put aside ego and believe in the power of reconciliation: In 2016, Kanye West decided to call out Jay-Z and Beyonce in one of his infamous onstage concert rants and made some pretty character-damaging comments against both. The average person might let the offense result in bitterness and retaliation. In a post-rant interview, he was asked about his thoughts on Kanye and the matter; he admitted that he was initially very upset however, Kanye will always be his "brother" and that while they're going through a rough patch, he foresees reconciliation in the future. I consider that a class act. 

Sean Carter is willing to be vulnerable and admit fault: over the past few years, rumors had been swirling of infidelity in his marriage to Beyonce. Between 2017/2018, he was interviewed on two high profile shows where he admitted he had stepped out of his marriage and that he sought therapy to help him delve deeper into the "why" of his actions and how to get past them / fix his union. In the rap world, this doesn't happen on a "regular" basis. 

When I think of Mr. Sean Carter, I am called to do the following:
  • take calculated risks 
  • have an "empire state of mind" 
  • put my ego to death daily
  • remain true to myself and my vulnerabilities (whether "trendy" or not)
I could go on but then this post would get "too long" :)

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Saturday, January 27, 2018

When "They" Come Out To Play

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You know who they are. 

When you have an idea...they come out to tell you the 101 reasons why you shouldn't move forward with it.

When you fail...they come out to insult, mock, and kick you while down.

When you choose peace and sanity...they visit you with chaos, disorder, and headache. 

When you make the effort to be kind and inclusive, they repay you with mean-spirited actions, demeaning words, and gossip. 

They always know when to show up, it's like clockwork.

And that can be highly annoying. 


There's something they haven't figured out yet that should bring some comfort your way. 

They actually work for you.

When they doubt your ideas?  
They push you to question yourself and ensure you have a worthy idea with a solid plan to back it up. 

When they laugh or insult your failures?  
They test your perseverance and help you develop the "comeback muscle" that you will leverage on to produce better outcomes the next time around (whatever the case may be for you). 

When they throw chaos and disorder your way?  
They remind you the importance of developing a "peace that surpasses all understanding" mindset which allows you to remain calm and centered in the midst of anything; from background noise to complicated whatever else you find yourself surrounded by. 

When they repay your kindness with ugliness?  
They teach you that you won't always get what you give however, their ugliness can inspire you to have genuine appreciation for those you come across in life who are kind and full of beauty. 

Believe it when I tell you they work for you. 

They are providing an environment to push you beyond your perceived limits, to strengthen your endurance level for pain, and to equip you with the tenacity to keep aiming for greater heights. 

The sweet part?  

They work for you for free -- best cost-saving scheme ever
You should probably send 'em a thank you gift :)
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Monday, January 15, 2018

2017 Recap and 2018 Action Items

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 Welcome to 2018 everyone!

I hope you're excited for what's in store this year.

As I did at the beginning of last year, I'll be sharing a recap of my 2017 experience and plans for 2018, via "themed categories", with updates on 2017 action items I had and what they are for 2018.


2017 Action Items
  • Travel to at least 3 additional states within Nigeria (outside my home base)
    •  Achieved
      • Lagos: She Leads Africa SLAY event
      • Jos: FUN-related wedding matters with friends, food, and shisha :)
      • Sokoto: work-related matters to supervise project implementation
  • Travel to at least 2 African countries 
    • Overachieved
      • Niger Republic (work)
      • Liberia (work)
      • Sierra Leone (work)
      • Chad (work)
      • Kenya (PURE FUN:)
2018 Action Items
  • Travel to at least 3 additional states within Nigeria I've never visited
  • Travel to at least 2 countries outside of Nigeria   


2017 Action Items
  • Create and stick to a strict monthly budget
    • 75% Achieved 
      • What can I say? Some months come with unforeseen demands
  • Document my weekly expenses and review monthly
    •  75% Achieved
      • On average, I was pretty good with this; could've been better
  • Get disciplined with tithing
    • 100% Achieved 
      • Finally! 
2018 Action Items
  • Stick to a strict monthly budget
  • Document my weekly expenses and review monthly 
  • Remain disciplined with tithing


2017 Action Items: 

  • Reignite my awe and reverence for the beauty and magnificence of God and how He operates in my life (His grace, His mercy, and His blend of justice)
    •  50% Achieved
      • If I'm honest, in the second half of the year I  had many days where complaints and a lack of gratitude took over instead
  • Daily gratitude journal: write 5 things I'm grateful for at night before bed
    • 50% Achieved 
      • Started strong in the first half of the year; dropped off afterwards
  • Give more empathy, forgiveness, and energy to name a few things
    • 75% Achieved 
      • Made a conscious effort to do this; could have done even better
2018 Action Items
  • Start and end my day with "thank you"
  • Give more empathy and forgiveness to others 
  • Give less energy to worry 
  • Say "NO" to toxic, waste-my-damn-time, not-good-for-my-blood-pressure relationships (especially the one I've been prone to have with myself)


2017 Action Items
  • Upload a post at least once a week (48 in total)
    • 48% Achieved 
      • Kai! 23 out of 48 expected posts (*covers face with hands*)
      • Do work-specific posts on an organization's blog count? If so, I can bump up to 56% :)
  • Diversify the blog with posts on varied themes
    • Achieved 
      • Wrote posts on career, money, relationships, and more
  • Revive the "Get Crazy" Series: Steve HarrisKola Olaosebikan, Moyo Mamora
    •  Not Achieved
  • Transfer from Blogger to WordPress
    • Not Achieved
  • "Special Event" coming soon
    • Not Achieved    

2018 Action Items
  • Upload at least 48 posts in 2018
  • Keep the post topics diversified
  • Finally transfer from Blogger to WordPress
  • Finally hold the "Special Event"  in January -- super excited about this one!


2017 Action Items
2018 Action Items
  • Intentionally read EVEN MORE

There we have it folks, my 2017 at a retrospective glance and a snippet of my 2018 plans. 

Cheers to 2018 being a year filled with more genuine love, laughter, learning, fulfillment, and over 90% of action items achieved for us all :)

What were some of your highlights and misses of 2017? What's one major thing on your action items list for 2018?

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Thursday, December 28, 2017

"Perhaps, This Is Too Much For You"

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When I was in my senior year of high school, my class went on a "survival trip". It was a tradition in my school for seniors to be taken out of town for one weekend in their final semester to engage in challenging physical activities to test our endurance. One of those activities was to embark on a 3-hour hike up a mountain...carrying another person on our backs.
I'm sure you can imagine my excitement. By hour one, I was panting and not amused -- similar to how my fellow classmate "carriers" felt. And just as I was about to stop and look for a way down, something funny happened. 

Our field guide for the day, a 50-something Venezuelan mountaineering instructor, who was also on the trail, said "Perhaps, this is too much for you."

All of a sudden, my classmates who were clearly tired and frustrated all replied back in unison "No Sir. This is not too much for us."

I was shocked.

And then the guide yelled "Are you sure? Perhaps, this is too much for you!" 

Like a chorus, the entire class replied "No Sir! This is not too much for us." 

Still shocked on my end.

And as if he was enjoying taunting us, he yelled for the third time "Are you really, really sure? Perhaps, this is too much for you!"

For the third time, everyone yelled again, "No Sir! This is not too much for us!"

The guide then looked at us, smiled, and continued up the path in silence. 

With renewed excitement and energy, our class continued up the mountain cheering each other on and eventually made it to the top, where everyone fell down in joy (happy to drop our "baggage") and hugged each other for a job well done. 

What did I learn from that? On my own, I would have replied to that guide "Yes! This is too much for me." Before nko? 

But, because we were a group of classmates made to endure this experience together, we found strength in each other (even though individually we were limited) and were able to overcome the obstacle as a team...which meant the challenge wasn't too much for "US".
This was a big lesson I was reminded of this year. Cheers to remembering it as we move into 2018 :)
How about you? What lessons stood out in your life in 2017? 
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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Terms of Harassment

Harvey Weinstein, famed Hollywood producer, has been a hot button topic of U.S. media coverage recently thanks to more than 40 sexual harassment and rape allegations against him by multiple Hollywood and non-Hollywood actresses (Rose McGowan, Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, and more). 

If you never knew of Harvey directly, you probably knew several of the films he produced -- My Week with Marilyn, Gangs of New York, Shakespeare in Love, Nine, etc

This recent story got me thinking about how varied our perceptions can be about what is rightfully classified as "sexual harassment" or "rape" and how we respond as a society. Considering last Wednesday, October 11 was International Day of the Girl Child, it feels appropriate to be discussing this now. For organizational purposes, this post is divided into sections: Definitions, Problems, and Solutions

Sexual Harassment
"Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when either: the conduct is made as a term or condition of an individuals education, employment, living environment, or participation in a University community."

"Unlawful sexual activity and usually sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against the will (usually of a female) or with a person who is beneath a certain age or incapable of valid consent."

In some situations, it's easy to identify that one of the above has taken place. When a person makes a sexual pass at you and you respond with an immediate exclamation of "NO" or try to push the person aggressively off or attempt to walk (or run) away yet they inhibit you from leaving by holding you forcibly against your will, pinning you down, and touching your body parts / having non-consensual sex with you -- it's clearly in line with sexual harrassment and/or rape. 

Blurred Lines 
In some situations, miscommunication plays a dangerous role. When a person makes an overt sexual gesture towards you and you respond with laughter, flirtation, no verbal request for it to stop, and no physical attempt to move the person away or leave, that often times sends the message that you find the action acceptable and would like it to continue, whether that is actually the case or not

Power Positions
There are many instances when women don't speak out about sexual assault or rape because they feel powerless. As was the case with most of Harvey's alleged victims, the assault happened when they were young, upcoming actresses looking to make their mark and Harvey Weinstein was one of those guys that could literally "make or break" their careers -- at least they believed so. They did not feel they could afford to fight Harvey or report him to the authorities because in their world, he was a "powerful don" who nobody crossed. This is not limited to Hollywood. On a daily basis, many women find themselves in positions where they feel powerless and subject to the actions or abuse of "powerful dons". 

Culture of Silence 
There is no doubt that people in the Hollywood circle knew of Harvey's exploits -- some of the allegations go as far back as two decades ago. I believe the same is the case for other well-known individuals that have been accused severally of assault and rape charges; Bill O'Reilly, Bill Cosby, Woody Allen, Roger Ailes, etc. There is a "culture of silence and cover up" that tends to happen around prominent assaulters (especially in cases like those of the men I mentioned above) when they're deemed to be brilliant and creative minds so people choose to focus rather on the great work they put out into the world and not the great devastation, pain, and torment they equally unleash on women (and sometimes men) in the world. Again, not limited to Hollywood -- happens in many environments. 

If you don't want something sexual to happen between you and another person, you have the right to say "no" -- either verbally or with your actions. It won't always be the easiest thing to do and there can be undesired consequences that come as a result of that, however it is 100% your right to say "no". If you choose to exercise that right, you can always find peace and integrity in your courageous act to do so, regardless of the consequences or what anyone has to say. 

When someone (female or male) has enough courage to speak out about an assault or rape, LISTEN to the person. Don't take a mocking or dismissive stance -- don't violate the person all over again by disregarding or shaming them (which sadly women sometimes do to other women). Regardless of if you feel they dressed inappropriately or gave the wrong signals or put themselves in a precarious position, start with empathy first and then caution second. Don't forget, it could happen to anyone -- me, you, a sister, a brother, a daughter, a son, and/or a friend. 

You might not feel that you are powerful enough to greatly help a person that has been assaulted or raped however there are more ways than one to help; from being a safe, listening ear to recommending a sexual assault / rape counselor to sharing your own story of victimization with the person, you can help. Actress Alyssa Milano started a new hashtag movement on social media a few days ago called #METOO and has asked all her social media followers that have ever been sexually assaulted to also post the hashtag on their accounts to show how widespread the state of sexual assault is and provide a community of support for women (and men) that have gone through this -- that's one way to help. 

Since I'm running the risk of making this an unreasonably long post, I'll stop here. I haven't covered all aspects of the Problems or the Solutions however, I wanted to point out at least some of them -- if you have any others to mention, let me know in the comments section below and we can continue the conversation. 

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Friday, September 29, 2017

When People Show You Who They Are, Believe Them

"When people show you who they are, believe them." - Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou is one of my favorite people that I never had the opportunity to meet. As a fellow woman, her evident sense of self-worth and value inspired me...and still does. As a fellow storyteller, her way with words (through her books, poetry, etc) was something quite brilliant yet simplistic, in a style that I greatly respect. 

This particular quote of hers reminds me of another saying that goes "when you meet someone for the first time, remember that who you will be meeting is in fact the person's representative." We all like to put our best faces forward when we initially begin a relationship of any sort (personal or professional) however as time goes by, and we are placed in changing circumstances or environments, some of the not-so-expected characteristics start to surface. Here are 4 things people show you about themselves and ways you can easily identify that to be the case. 

When People Show You They Love You
They're present in your life. They're constantly thinking of you and make it known. They pray for your development, growth, strength, and joy. They remain consistent in their loyalty towards you. They're champions of yours in private and more so in public, even if it is inconvenient or unpopular to do so (which is actually when it counts the most). They're there to laugh with in great times and also to cry with in not-so-great times. They provide a safe and trustworthy space for you to be exactly who you are -- for better or for worse. They challenge you to always become a better version of yourself, even if it means risking annoyance or resistance from you. These people are a gift and thank God always for them. 

When People Show You They Only Intend to Use You
You're not a factor in their lives until they need something. They will not typically ever pick up the phone to call or text and if they do, 9 out of 10 times the conversation will eventually lead to asking for a "favor". They do not invite you to outings or gatherings. They do not usually reach out in any form on your birthday (call, text, Facebook message, etc). They do not check in when you're sick. They do not have any genuine concern for your wellbeing. Don't take it personally -- be grateful they've made it plain and adjust your expectations of them accordingly. 

When People Show You They're Jealous of You 
The actions are simple enough to understand. They criticize your every move. They diminish almost everything you accomplish as "less than". They're super competitive with you about everything. They're not happy to hear good or positive news regarding you. Sometimes, they'd prefer to hear you're going through "rough times". Again, don't take it personally -- it's one of those human emotions that has a way of showing up at different phases in life due to insecurities people are dealing with at a given point in time. Empathy goes a long way in such cases; however, if it becomes unbearable, some "distance" also goes a long way too.

When People Show You They're in Pain 
They're distant and withdrawn. They're not as lively as they used to be. They can be overly emotional and get irrationally angry or upset about almost anything you say or do. It can be frustrating to deal with however, this is actually when they need your compassion the most. This is when you can choose to show concern, provide a trustworthy listening ear, and offer potential solutions to ease their pain...or not; the choice is yours. 

Don't get it twisted folks -- people are always showing you who they are; you just have to pay attention :)

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