Archive for October, 2013

This is a topic I’ve been sitting on for at least a year now. I’ve wanted to blog about it for a while but I hate bashing my own people. I feel like it’s counterproductive. However, at the same time, I feel like maybe I need to just put it out there. Maybe we need to be made aware of how we can improve, and in turn, be more successful.

First, let me just explain why I support black businesses. Simply put, there aren’t enough of us. I keep seeing these articles going around about how black people in America have the highest spending power. Almost all the products and services we spend money on are manufactured and/or sold by people who aren’t black. Now just suppose all these people decided they weren’t going to sell to black people anymore. We would be so assed out, fish out of water. People reading this may say “that would never happen”. To you I say just look at history. It has happened before. So there’s no reason why it can’t happen again. We depend way too heavily on others for the things that we need.  I had a debate with a black friend of mine a while back about this topic. He argued that he would spend his money with whoever will provide the best service/product. I agree but he was missing my point. It’s about self-sufficiency. It’s about supporting your own to create a network and to build. I remember shopping at The Alley in Downtown L.A. I went in one store and I wanted to buy a jacket, but they didn’t have the jacket in my size. The storeowners were Asian. That guy had me wait there and ran down the street to two other Asian stores before bringing back the jacket for me in my size. Even though they each had their own stores, they worked together to keep the money in their pockets. And I don’t see anything wrong with that. Mexicans do it. Jewish people do it. I just don’t understand why we [black people] don’t do the same. In a nutshell, I just think it’s time for black people to stop building other people’s wealth and willingly leaving ourselves with close to nothing.

So when a black person tells me they have a product or service that I need or want, or when they express an interest in a product or service I provide, I look at it as an opportunity to build our wealth as a whole, as a people. But it just seems like no matter how much of a chance I try to give my people, we have real issues when it comes time to deliver. It’s quite frustrating and it causes me to lose hope sometimes. So following is a list of some things I’ve experienced that turns me off from doing business with black people.

 

  1. Funny with the money: I’ll just say it. Black people have problems paying the money they owe on time. Within the past year I’ve been in 3+ different situations where I provided a product, service, or financial investment and was either paid late or not at all. Black people, you have to pay your debts! Especially to those who have done work for you! Unless you have settled on some sort of bartering system with the person(s), nothing in this world is free! That’s money, time, energy they spent putting into you and/or your business that could’ve been allocated elsewhere. Put yourself in their shoes. Don’t you like to be paid on time? When you give someone your word when they’ll be paid, they start to make plans for that money. People have their own debts to pay. So when you stiff them, it can cause a chain reaction for that person. Where is your consideration? Forget consideration, where is your professionalism? Aren’t you worried about your reputation as a business owner?
  2. Judge a book by its cover: This is something that has happened to me a couple times also. I must say it makes me sad when I see black people trying to push their product or service to everyone else except black people. I’ve been in a black restaurant where the staff and owner were just stumbling over themselves to cater to people who weren’t black, going that extra mile to make sure they were satisfied. But when it got to be my turn, I was treated quick, brief, and impatiently like they didn’t even want me there. I was on the boardwalk at the beach a few months ago and this Jamaican man was trying to push his CDs. He let me listen to a couple tracks. Honestly, I didn’t like the CD at all but I gave him a donation for one, solely based on trying to support a black man. The CD was in one of those slipcovers with the paper cover being one of those cheap ones you print from your computer. I see him a little later dancing and singing for a group of white women and showing them his CD; only this time it was a hard case CD with the more professional looking CD booklet insert. I asked him why he gave me the bootleg looking CD instead of the real one and he said because the real ones cost more money. He never even showed me or told me he had real CDs based off his assumption that I probably wouldn’t spend the extra money. I’ve also had people whose services I was interested in and I let them know. They seemed more focused on telling me how much stuff was and asking how soon I could have the money than on telling me how their services could actually benefit me. I could tell they didn’t take me seriously. One of them missed out on a couple thousand from me because of this. Black people, you don’t know who has what just by looking at them. Some of you are turning off the wrong people by your attitude and missing out on opportunities that could help take your business to the next level. Stop feeding into the stereotypes about your own people that suggest we are all broke or cheap.
  3. 3. Broken promises: As you may or may not know, I started a vanity publishing company back in August of this year. One of the things I do when conducting consultations with potential clients is go over their expectations of me. Then I tell them exactly what I can and cannot do for them. After talking to them, I follow that up with an email, restating everything I can do for them; so there’s no confusion. Nobody likes to spend money on something expecting one thing and then get something else. I’ve noticed with a couple of the black people I’ve dealt with who I was purchasing services from, they like to promise the moon and the stars. Once they’re paid, all that changes. For me this is personally frustrating because I always lay everything out from the beginning as far as my expectations and I flat out ask people, “Do you think you’ll be able to do this? If not, let me know and we can figure something else out.” Black people, most people prefer you just be upfront with them. If you can do something, great. If you can’t, let your customer/client know! If your abilities fall somewhere in between, let them know that! Don’t agree to do something that you’re unsure of out of fear of losing the sale. Once you fall short, it just makes you and your business look bad.
  4. Poor communication: Black people love to take your money and run. Yeah, I said it (with my arms crossed). Obviously I’ve learned from a lot of these incidents, so now I only put deposits down for services. In the past I’ve always paid people upfront so they’d feel comfortable knowing I wasn’t going to jerk them for their money and in hopes of becoming a priority. I was wrong. Not only do black people fall short of deadlines, but we never reach out and tell you that. Hey, it happens. I’ve missed a deadline before, but guess what I did? When I saw the day approaching and realized I wouldn’t finish in time, I picked up my phone, apologized to the customer, let them know what the hold up was, and gave them a new definite deadline. It’s really annoying when you’re expecting something by a certain day/time but it just comes and goes with no communication or explanations. Another thing, I know social media and emails are great in this day and age but not everyone is checking those things 50 times a day like you might be. A good ol’ direct phone call is usually the best bet in making sure a person gets notified of whatever is or isn’t going on. When people are spending their money, they like to stay informed.  It’s their right, and it’s part of your job as the professional to keep them informed.
  5. The customer is always right: I know you’ve heard that before and, in most cases, it’s true! I expect you to meet or exceed my expectations when I’m paying you for something. I can’t stand feeling like I’m bothering you when I ask you to change or fix something that isn’t to my satisfaction, especially if it’s something that was part of our original agreement. When a person is paying you for something it should be as close to exactly the way they’ve asked for it as possible. If it’s not, YOU have breached the agreement. Just because you may think you did a bang up job doesn’t mean your client or customer will feel the same. You were hired to satisfy them, not the other way around. Take your sensitivity out of it. This is business! You can’t expect them to just accept whatever you give them.

I know some of this may seem harsh but it needs to be addressed. And of course I know not all black business owners are unprofessional. I just haven’t met the ones that aren’t yet lol. I’ve dealt with people from East to West and in 9 out of 10 cases I’ve run into one of the above scenarios. So if this pisses anyone off, I just hope it pisses you off enough to make you step your professionalism up!

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I’ll never forget my first real job interview. I started working as a babysitter when I was 12, but my first real job interview wasn’t until two years later. It was to work at Arby’s. No one had prepared me and I knew nothing about how interviews were conducted. So when the manager asked me why I wanted to work there I told the truth, “Because this is the only place I heard was hiring at age 14.” I mean really, what was I supposed to say? “I just love the smell of burnt roast beef on a dry ass bun!” or “It’s been my dream since a little girl to work the fry basket!” I didn’t know I would be expected to lie in interviews. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job lol. I soon learned all the lies I’d be expected to tell in the years to come anytime I went for an interview. Following are some of the things that really go thru my mind while I tell these lies.

 

Question: So why do you want to work for XYZ Company?

Answer: I’ve been following XYZ’s progress for the past five years and I’m impressed by the company’s continued growth in a dying industry, especially during a recession. It’s impressive and there’s an opportunity for me to learn so much here. I also love giving back to the community and I know XYZ does a lot of community outreach projects. So this just really seems like a winning team I’d love to be a part of.

Real Answer: I really don’t. I didn’t even expect you to call me for this interview. So I’m just hear to humor you and see what happens after that.

 

Question: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Answer: Over these next 5 years I really hope to meet and exceed your expectations of me in this position. Once I’ve done that, with the right mentor, preparation, and continued education, I see myself hopefully making the transition into some type of senior or team leadership position.

Real Answer: 5 years??? Look, I’m just trying to make it thru this week.

 

Question: Are you available to work overtime or some weekends as needed?

Answer: Sure, absolutely!

Real Answer: Hell no! When am I supposed to sleep? Ya’ll asking for too much now.

 

Question: How did you hear about this position?

Answer: I believe I saw the position posted on Careerbuilder or Monster.com. One of the two.

Real Answer: Hell if I know! I been applying to so many jobs, lost track.

 

Question: So what do you know about the company?

Answer: I know you’ve been in business since 1952 with the corporate headquarters set in Chicago, IL. The CEO for the past 20 years is Ken Adams. I know you offer mainly the commercial liability products and last April you rolled out the Specialty product line. So that’s fairly new. You have 60 offices here in the U.S. and also locations in London and Switzerland. And I believe this department focuses solely on business between 10 and 50 million in revenue, if I’m not mistaken.

Real Answer: Nothing, never even heard of this company ‘til you called me for the interview last week. Time to recite everything I read on the website.

 

Question: If offered the job, what assets will you bring to this role?

Answer: I bring 9 years of experience and knowledge of these products. I’m detailed oriented and efficient. I only like to do things once, so I really put the time and effort into making sure things are correct the first time around. I’m dependable and always strive to exceed deadlines. Lastly, I’m a team player. So I don’t mind taking on a heavier workload if I have the capacity and someone else needs help.

Real answer: A new and improved level of sarcasm, the ability to eye-roll like no other, and a zero tolerance for bullshit and dummies that try to make my work life harder. Around month 3 you can expect an unexplained annoyance and anti- social behavior from seeing the same irritating mofos every morning – also sometimes mistaken for “Angry black woman syndrome”.

 

Question: How would your previous co-workers describe you?

Answer: I think they’d say I was a dependable team player.

Real Answer: Don’t know, don’t care.

 

Question: How would you describe your relationship with your manager at ABC Company?

Answer: We had a good working relationship. I think we got along well. I never had a problem doing what was asked of me and she was approachable. If I had any questions or concerns, I could just go talk to her with no problem.

Real Answer: That bitch…

faithIt all started in 2011. It began with my move to California, all by my lonesome, a state where I didn’t know one single person. Since then, each major decision I made was a decision based on faith. Whether it was job related, financial investments, personal disclosure and trust in others, moving, or just trying something new in general; all decisions were made based on faith. I am a very nervous person in general. I get nervous about every little thing in life. I’m always trying to think 10 steps ahead, weigh out my options, and analyze the worst-case scenario. In some ways these seem like good things, but sometimes what it really translates to is worry. The worry or fear of unknown outcomes that are, most of the time, out of my control. When I made the decision to move to California I simultaneously made the decision to silence the worries and the fears. My life wasn’t horrible but I wasn’t satisfied with my life the way it was. It just wasn’t working for me. So I had two decisions: continue living a life that wasn’t working for me, bound and confined by my fear of what if’s or make the move towards change with the faith that it would all work out. Once I made it to California and had all my worries laid to rest, I felt like I could exhale. It gave me the proof and courage I needed to rely on my faith more and more, and so I did. The more I pray and meditate and move closer to the unknowns, equipped with faith that everything will be fine, the more it usually is.

I’m writing this post because I see so many people lacking faith in life. I know it may sound corny or cliché but I just wish everyone would just try a little faith, just a little. I know it would change your life drastically. I talk to friends and family in different situations. Some have health challenges, some have jobs they hate, and others have aspirations they haven’t even tried to reach. The thing that kills me in most of these situations is that most of these people are religious people. They say they believe in some type of God, regardless of whose God it may be. I’m not saying people should act hastily or not think things through, but if whatever you’ve been doing the last 5-10 years isn’t working, why not try something different? If the medicines the doctors have been prescribing you aren’t healing you, why not try a different way and step into the faith of the healing powers of your God? If you hate your job, why do you keep going day in and day out, year after year? You’re afraid to quit because you won’t be able to support yourself. That’s understandable. Why not step out on faith and start learning a new trade, something you actually like? Maybe you have aspirations to be a singer or open your own business. What are you waiting for? Faith is something to be practiced today and every day. Who actually says, “Oh today is not a good time for me to start having faith. Maybe I’ll give faith a try next year”?

Not only are we afraid to take leaps of faith to move forward, negativity is so dominant in our lives that we don’t even have faith in our current situations. So you’re not ready to try anything different. You’re too afraid. Then why not have faith that your current situation could turn around? How can you believe in a higher power and not believe in miracles, healing, favor, and good fortune? Where is your faith in the God you claim? Where is your faith in the universe? Where is your faith in you? I leave you with one of my favorite Michael Jackson songs (I have so many), “Keep the Faith”. Who knows, maybe his message (whether directly or indirectly related) will stir up the faith in you.