Walking and the importance of networking

“It’s not who you know but who knows YOU”.

(Anonymous)

Dictionary.com defines networking as the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts. 

This definition provides a clean view of networking but does not limit how it can be done.  I have written in the past about several podcast episodes I have been a part of.  Each episode was done to share a specific message to the audience and help their professional growth.  I engaged in multiple in-person networking events (Orlando, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tallahassee) prior to the COVID-19 pandemic with designs to meet people who could help me grow my consulting and speaking roles.  So, as you can see, networking takes on many forms with the objective of connecting with others.

I got invited to speak on a local radio program last week to engage and speak with Fort Pierce community members about my new workplace and the work we do.  Turns out the radio host is an Indian River State College (IRSC) colleague who happens to work on a different campus.  We had not met prior to the event but knew of each other through work interactions.

I make a point to never turn down opportunities to speak about the great work we do for our students and alumni populations.  The radio spot was a fantastic way for me to network with students, parents and employers interested in attending or coming back to IRSC.

The host for this networking opportunity works directly with underrepresented students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.  She is always looking for new ways to engage students and members of the community on the benefits of higher education and wanted me to discuss how my office helps our students become career ready.  Love being able to showcase the improved operations and services we are building.  These new operational tweaks allow staff to reach more students and add value to the overall college experience.

I especially enjoyed participating in the radio program since I could speak directly to employers in the local Fort Pierce area who did not know they could recruit talent on our campuses.  We are not hosting in-person events in the fall, but employers are able to post their openings for free with our office.  We are in the process of finalizing our Virtual Career Fair platform and wanted to let employers know they have multiple access points to recruit on-campus.  The radio program reaches our four-county service area and should enhance our reach to help employers understand how we can help them moving forward.

A secondary aspect of participating on the radio show was to let the community know enrollment for the fall semester is open and we are still recruiting new students.  COVID-19 has had a major impact on college and university enrollments across the country and we are no different.  Going on the radio allows us to let folks know we are here for them and want to share ways we can help with their success.  Two-year colleges are very affordable and can be an excellent way to launch into a four-year degree if that is a goal. 

The new term for me in this environment is UpSkill.  We talk with prospective students and employers on the benefit of in-demand certificate programs to UpSkill their careers or improve staff outputs.  This process is still new to me since I came from the four-year university model but UpSkill is a great way to impact local economies by training students to meet local career demands.

I am scheduled to speak on another radio program later this month hosted by the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and will look to continue to network to help the Treasure Coast grow.  Excited to see the impact of these networking opportunities! 😊

What networking opportunities are you working on?  How can networking help your organization continue to grow?

 “Networking is the #1 unwritten rule of success in business”.

(Sallie Krawcheck)

Listen to the show here—I speak around the 5 minute markhttp://wjfp.com/ondemand-wjfp/player.php?wrspot=72816

The true anniversary date

anniversary image

(Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay) 

“A year from now, you will wish you had started today”.

(Karen Lamb)

Dictionary.com defines an anniversary as the yearly recurrence of the date of a past event and the celebration or commemoration of such a date.

The first Walk into the Future article was posted on this site on 6/18/2018.  The true anniversary date for me is 4/14/2018—let me explain why I say this.

I sat on the beach at St. George Island (SGI) on 4/14/2018 with the idea of deciding which direction I wanted to pursue moving forward.  The Walk into the Future concept was not on my radar but needed the beach atmosphere to help with a huge decision.

So, I sat on the beach on this prophetic day with my beach towel, cooler of beer, reggae, pen, and paper to figure this thing called life out (Prince reference).

I have used the concept of a pros/cons list in the past to help with major decisions and my goal on this day was to identify pro/con items to inform the decision I needed to make.  Dr. Henry Cloud identifies successful people do not hang on to bad stuff for long in his book 9 Things you Simply Must do in Love and Life.  The only way to label something as bad is to take a true look at it without emotion, hence the pros/cons list for me.

I finally admitted I spent too much time determining if I should stay in my old role.  The interactions I had with students, employers, faculty, staff, and community members still appealed to me but there was always something daily to eliminate my joy.  Turns out it was too much negative workplace energy.  This is not a complaint just a stated fact from my perspective—negative energy can and will wear you down over time.

Fast forward to the list and the decision was obvious!  There were  5 pros and 15 cons.  I tried to manufacture some additional pros just to see if I could even this process out a bit, but this was the final tally.  The 15 cons were present EVERY day and only 3 pros were daily items.  I was amused when I saw the disparity of my two lists.  I subconsciously knew this to be true but never wrote it out to examine more in-depth.  Sadly, none of the cons listed were fixable—not one.

I laughed when I was able to view the list for the insight in front of me.  So, on 4/14/2018 the Walk into the Future journey began after I made the decision it was time to move on from what I was doing.  The work and making a difference daily were not the problem it was the negative energy—the opposite of the Irie mindset I seek in life.  Dr. Cloud has another principle he calls Pull the Tooth.  I decided to pull the tooth and Walk into the Future after I finished my beer and listened to a few more Bob Marley songs.

I decided to write this post after looking in my journal and coming across the page with my pros/cons list.  Just happened to be 2 years to the date I wrote the items and wanted to share with my readers I just had an anniversary.

So, happy anniversary to the Walk into the Future blog. Here is to a few more years of writing, sharing adventures and making a difference in the world.  Thanks for walking with me!

What tooth do YOU need to pull?  How could the pros/cons list help with your decision?

 

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing”.

(Walt Disney)

Congrats to the Class of 2020—Go Jayla!

Grad 2020

(Image by Annalise Batista from Pixabay)

“Follow your fear”.

(Tina Fey)

We are halfway through 2020 and the ebb and flows of the year have been tremendous.  Most people I know came into 2020 with major goals, plans, and the right mindset to make positive things happen.  We continue to move forward but the COVID-19 pandemic has adjusted how we Walk into the Future daily.

Looking forward to getting back to things that resemble normal life but do not know if/when that will be possible.  The term new normal is being thrown around and means we must redefine what is considered normal in the future.

One thing that does not require a new normal is how proud I am of my niece, Jayla Williams!  We have been on a special journey for the past 24 years and I am excited to see her next money moves in the future.

The COVID-19 pandemic reshaped a large portion of planned activities for everyone but one area we had to put on hold was celebrating Jayla’s graduation from the University of Central Florida.  Family and friends have reached out to congratulate her for this phenomenal feat, but we have not been able to gather the crew and throw the blowout party this accomplishment deserves.  No worries Jayla, we will get it in when safe! 😊

My joy for Jayla’s graduation is because we first talked about going to college when she was 5 years old.  Some may think this is a bit young, but my goal was to create a mindset where we knew the direction of the journey.  Please note, all the work, time and effort were put in by Jayla and it was a joy for me to watch her tick off objectives towards this goal.  My role simply was support, reinforcement, someone to bounce ideas off, and a silly uncle joke when needed.

It is amazing to look back on this journey and see the adult she has become.  I am sure this progression is nothing new for parents to view but for the cool uncle this has been an awesome ride!

The University of Central Florida conducted virtual graduation ceremonies for each college.  The College of Business hosted the largest number of graduates which ensured we would be glued to our computers until they got to the great Williams last name. Did not realize how excited I would be sitting on my laptop waiting to officially hear Jayla Williams being declared an Integrated Business graduate from the University of Central Florida College of Business.  Luckily, I had the foresight to get my phone ready for the quick photo opportunity provided while hearing Jayla’s name.  This put a huge smile on my face, and I texted the photo to family so they could share in my joy!

Looking forward to when we can get back together to throw the big blowout party she was expecting and deserves.  That day is coming, and we will celebrate the 24 years and counting for the journey we are on.  Cannot wait to see what the future holds for my class of 2020 graduate—big things I am sure!

Congratulations and Go Jayla! 😊

Uncle Calvin

 “Fall forward.  Every failed experiment is one step closer to success.  You have got to take risks”.

(Denzel Washington)

 

Walking into the Future and making money moves!

Money moves

(Image by Nattanan Kanchanaprat from Pixabay)

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”.

(Benjamin Franklin)

Urban Dictionary defines money moves as:  a term used to describe a bad individual on the grind.  This person works hard to make moves to elevate their financial success, fame, or status.  Simple enough, huh?

It is normally associated with financial success but does not have to be limited to obtaining a financial payout to be considered a money move.

I have referred to several opportunities associated with my Walk into the Future as money moves.  Never attempted to associate them with a financial outlook but always saw them as leading to future goals and outcomes.  Money moves came up again in a conversation with a friend and we agreed I should detail how I am making money moves.

Mentoring and people building daily is the money move with the most impact for me.  Enjoy sharing wisdom and helping my tree branches grow in their daily endeavors.  Making a difference daily remains a goal for me and I look for additional ways to make this happen.  Turns out helping others allows me to stretch my skills and continue to grow right along with them.  I get to increase my knowledge while researching topics to leverage during my mentoring sessions.  The money move centers around limitless growth for me and the tree branch and keeps us both moving forward.

Blogging weekly is the money move that provides me with a creative outlet.  Never shared my thoughts or aspirations in a public platform before but turns out writing my ideas for others to read forces me to act.  Sounds simple but there is not a way for me to back out of a process once I have written it down and shared on the Walk into the Future blog.  My tree branches hold me accountable for the things I write, and I want to make positive things happen.  A lot of things I have accomplished over the past two years are related to me generating content for the blog.  Amazing how the written word bounds you to commit to the things you write.  Turns out I had a lot to say but never really said anything—now you cannot get me to be quiet! 😊

Participating as a guest on multiple podcasts has been an unexpected money move but enjoy the process now.  I am not a huge follower of podcasts but know the format continues to grow and is extremely popular.  View my time on podcasts as another way to inspire people and grow new tree branches.  People reach out to me on LinkedIn to let me know they enjoyed my work on the Mastering College to Career and Intern Whisperer podcasts.  I have done multiple episodes with both podcast partners and look forward to shooting more soon.  My friend, Daniel Botero keeps pushing me to start my own podcast.  Never say never but I have not committed to this as a new money move project yet.  It may be something I seriously consider for a 2021 project—we will see.

Being a running tourist is the money move with the most transformational impact for me.  Never set out to lose a specific amount of weight but running more and longer distances has allowed me to shed pounds and keep them off.  I sleep better and have a ton of energy to tackle my daily activities.  Running also provides me with a platform to clear my mind and generate content for the Walk into the Future blog.  A lot of blog topic ideas are generated during one of my weekly runs—I should take a voice recorder with me but luckily, I am able to remember most of the ideas that pop into my head while out running.  Running also provides me a mechanism to remain competitive as I compete with myself to beat a previous race or training time.  I also compete with my tree branches as we share personal best race times.  I am chasing one of you (Kume) right now to improve my 10k time—getting closer! 😊

My speaking platform is the final money move for me to highlight.  I find this to be an effective way for me to reach new tree branches.  Always looking for additional speaking opportunities (pre COVID-19) to share my knowledge with others.  I have been able to adjust speaking topics into blog articles and vice versa.  The spoken and written word remains a powerful combination and will continue to leverage them moving forward.  Plan to get back into the lab and generate new speaking topics because I anticipate being back on the speaking circuit once the COVID-19 outlook gets better.  May look for ways to leverage the virtual platforms like Zoom to engage people with technology.  Got a lot of new ideas to try out just need to remain patient and then unleash on the world.

So, as you can see, money moves can be anything you want them to be.  You do not have to receive a financial windfall to get fulfillment and make a difference.  Think Biggie says it well!  (see below).

“Don’t chase the paper, chase the dream”.

(Biggie Smalls)

What money moves are you making right now?

Pivot into the Future

Pivot butterfly

(Image by GLady from Pixabay)

 “If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be”.

(Maya Angelou)

The Walk into the Future blog and my parallel journey began on May 21, 2018.

Did not know how much my mindset and writing style had changed over the past two years until I started looking back at the archive articles.  Happy to see improvement in my article design, verbiage, visual appearance, and storytelling abilities.  Never want to think I am in the same place when I started especially with Walk into the Future as the blog title.  Still got more things to learn to ensure my content grabs a reader’s attention and attracts new readers to the blog.  Will leverage new techniques, visual presentations, guest bloggers and concepts to stay fresh in the blog world.

Five examples I highlighted for a Walk into the Future were:

  • Take that vacation you have been putting off
  • Decide to create your own blog to document your walk into the future
  • Make time for family and friends (again)
  • Discover new talents you may have or wanted to explore
  • Live life the way you want to

Did not keep a running tab of how well I was doing in these areas but happy to report I have repeatedly checked off each item listed above, multiple times.  My initial vision for my Walk into the Future was basic but I have been able to grow through personal development and gravitating to things I enjoy.

Sounds simple enough but the concept of generating content for the blog has been a life course on:  continuous learning, networking, research, leadership development, mentoring, storytelling, public speaking, traveling, training, running, marketing, cold calling, selling, patience, blogging, blog design, Word Press, podcasts and the art of pivoting.

I identified everyone should be prepared to pivot as needed in a previous post about overcoming fears.  There are times a fundamental change in approach is needed to get what you want (quoting myself here).

Throwback article:

2020 Pivot

The Walk into the Future blog has been a fantastic incubator for my time, thoughts, and actions.

I was presented with multiple opportunities to join forces with others based on the growth mindset I have gained from Walking into the Future.  I have been extremely selective on who I work with and what projects I decide to add to my portfolio.  No more Big Gulps for me!

Happy to report my Walk into the Future has relocated to Fort Pierce, Florida.  I will create new tree branches as the Director of Career and Transfer Services at Indian River State College.  I was able to leverage my past work experiences AND my Walk into the Future topics, adventures, and growth during the interview process.  The ability to relay real-world examples on how I interact with others, my mission to make a positive impact and desire to be a People Builder were leveraged to show impact I will have at Indian River State College.

This pivot creates a larger audience for Inspiration Man and allows me to keep my Walk into the Future moving forward.  Excited for the new adventures, location, beaches, tree branches, thoughts, actions, energy, and blog articles.

The Walk into the Future journey continues, just from a new location.  I am sure I will write most of my future articles from the beach with an ice-cold drink close by. 😊

The Walk into the Future production process has generated a roadmap for two new projects I am working on in 2020.  The first project will be to develop several Walk into the Future leadership articles into a concise eBook titled, The Voice of a Leader.

The second project will be to develop an on-line Authentic Leadership course to help learners understand the leadership model and the variables needed to become an authentic leader (self-awareness, internalized moral perspective, relational transparency, and balanced processing).

These projects are exciting to me since I will get to learn how to create an eBook and build/design an on-line course people would be interested in.  More to come as I get smart on both platforms.  The eBook will come first since I have got the content at my fingertips, just need to organize, and reformat—sounds easy enough, huh?

Interesting fact (to me)

I view life as a daily adventure and continue to seek ways to make a difference in this world.

One area I explored was teaching psychology courses since I do have a PhD in Industrial/Organizational Psychology.  Seemed simple enough but a funny thing happened on my Walk into the Future.  I applied to the local community college to teach General Psychology as an adjunct professor.  Repeat, an adjunct professor! Never heard back from them even after reaching out to people in the department via LinkedIn and direct email.  Ironically, if they had leveraged my talents in the classroom, I may have missed this amazing pivot opportunity.  Things happen for a reason—Irie!

Tree branches will still receive text messages, emails, and LinkedIn articles from me. You have all been a major part of my journey and look forward to expanding our reach—just from another location.  Walking, smiling and inspiring into the future!

 “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity”.

(Amelia Earhart)

irsc project wall

(Summer 2020 project wall)

Walking and being black in America!

Candles

(Image by Pexels from Pixabay)

“To be black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage”.

(James Baldwin)

“I’m a black man in America so I always feel there’s a target on me”.

(Wale)

The Walk into the Future blog has provided me with a creative outlet where I can share my thoughts, leadership philosophy and life adventures.  It puts a smile on my face when I look back at this journey and see the quality of my writing and content improve daily.  Never thought an electronic journal would become such a huge part of my daily life.  I smile every time someone follows the blog or sends me a comment.

Well, I did not smile so much today!

The battle we fight daily as black men in America has been playing out on every major TV network first with Ahmaud Arbery (killed jogging), then Breonna Taylor (killed sleeping) and now George Floyd (killed while handcuffed).  Think about that last sentence for a minute!

I know there are others out there who have faced the wrath of America but there was not video evidence of what happened to them.  Black America has been hoping and praying these incidents would stop and we can fully engage in the American dream—good thing I am not holding my breath—this never seems to end!  Why not?  I know this is not a simple question to answer but it needs to get answered soon.

Got several text messages from my friends to check on me to see how I am doing with all of this.  Thank you for thinking of me and reaching out!

Think it hits closer to home with my friends because they know how much I am out and about with my running program.  Seeing a black man get killed while out for a run highlighted our plight to my friends—yes, that could have been me.  I have had to reassure my mom, brothers, and friends that I am doing everything I can to stay safe when I am out for a run.  Sad to say I must think about being able to make it home safely when I go out for a run.  How many who read my blog have these thoughts when you go for a run?  Life is weird, huh?

My running outfits are selected to provide me with the most visibility as possible.  The extreme bright, loud, and sometimes fluorescent colors are used so everyone will know I am not hiding anything or trying to blend in.  I want to be visible and remembered by everyone who sees me running through their neighborhood.  I also make a point to speak, wave, and smile at everyone I encounter because I do not want them to feel threatened.  Surprisingly, most do not wave back but that is not the point of my actions.  I smile and wave whenever I see a police car drive by too.  Cannot be seen as a threat while exercising!

(Do I look like a runner?)

I also make a point to carry my retired Air Force identification card when I am on my runs in case I encounter police.  I have found police are less threatened when they realize they are talking with someone who has served the country.

When driving I always show my military identification if I get pulled over for any reason first, then I provide whatever identification is requested.  Please know both hands remain on the steering wheel and then I explain in a clear, distinct voice what I am doing if ordered to produce anything else.  I am sure most black people follow this same process to avoid misunderstandings that leads to…you know!

Being a black man in America is exhausting!  I have a PhD in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, a Master’s degree in Counseling/Human Relations, a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Air Force retiree identification and recognized nationally for authentic leadership development.

Now, imagine what black men without my credentials must do to survive in America.  The insanity must stop!

NOTE:  I will get back to my normal tone next week—thanks for allowing me to vent.

 

“I believe in human beings, and that all human beings should be respected as such, regardless of their color”.

(Malcolm X.)

“Usually, when people are sad, they don’t do anything.  They just cry over their condition.  But when they are angry, they bring about change”.

(Malcolm X.)

Time for change—let’s get out and vote, remain vigilant and demand change—we must do better!

How can you help?

Great article:  https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2020/05/29/george-floyd-ahmaud-arbery-killings-make-hard-blacks-breathe-column/5278108002/

The mirror can lie! Blaze your own trail

round leaning mirror with white frame
Photo by Emre Can on Pexels.com

“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.”

(Audre Lorde)

Really love the words presented by Audre Lorde.  The concept of creating your own definition of self is vitality important to truly progress in life.  There are people who look in the mirror and automatically see bad examples staring back at them.  Please know, the mirror can lie and the bad examples from the past do not have to hinder the present and/or future.

Bad examples can manifest in multiple locations.  I will focus on two specific areas to help highlight how bad examples can and should be used to fuel a positive Walk into the Future.  The two areas I focus on are leadership and personal development. I’m sure everyone has a story on bad examples in these areas as well.  My attempt will be to show how these bad experiences can be leveraged for a positive tomorrow.

Leadership

Would like to say everyone I’ve worked for has been an outstanding leader but that would not be true.  It may not even be realistic to expect EVERY leader to possess the capability to be outstanding.  Turns out the leaders who were not the best provided me with enough tough lessons to sharpen my leadership skills.  Please note, I’ve had some great leaders/mentors in my life who I lean on even today.  Their lessons are with me daily, but the few bad leaders impact my leadership style and methods as well.

I gravitated towards the Authentic Leadership style because I’ve seen organizations destroyed because the so-called leader wasn’t authentic.  They profess being a genuine and transparent leader but then their true self comes out and it is the opposite of authentic.  Seeing these type leaders in action reinforces why the concepts of authenticity, self-awareness, having a moral compass and relational transparency are so important in my leadership style.

I’ve seen leaders who walk by their direct reports’ multiple times in a day and never say hello.  Seems like a small thing but how can you say you care about your people and can’t acknowledge them?  Not saying a leader must stop and talk every time they see someone but it’s a lot easier leading people when you are relatable and engaged. Also, only talking with direct reports when something is needed or due signals the leader only cares about the bottom line.  Staff will do more within a positive and nurturing work environment.

These are two leadership examples I leverage to help build my authentic leadership platform.  I proactively do the opposite of these leadership examples because I’ve seen them in action and how they deflate staff and organizational morale.

That’s my approach, things I don’t like or disagree with from a bad leader, I simply don’t repeat—not rocket science but it works.  No need to subject others to these habits—create positive energy and blaze your leadership trail to enhance the work environment.

Personal development

There are instances where environment can hinder personal development but many more where great outcomes occur almost against all odds.  Life is impacted by choices (good or bad) and we have the capability to choose not to mirror bad examples but learn from them.

I love working with college students from South Florida.  They routinely tell me they’re the first person in their family to attend college and they want a different outcome for themselves.  They don’t want to forget the struggles from home but use them to continue to grow.  They also strive not to repeat some of the bad neighborhood examples others succumbed to.

They tell me of proactive actions they took to avoid running with the wrong neighborhood friends.  These people may have been well intentioned but set bad examples of how to truly progress in life.  They experienced family and community situations that potentially could hinder growth, but they didn’t let these things stop them.  These things were used as inspiration to overcome obstacles.

Environment is an important element in personal development but can be overcome—I’ve seen it done.  Mentors and positive examples can help with personal development.  Self-awareness and learning from bad examples can increase the ability to blaze a personal development trail.

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be”.

(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

How do you define yourself for you?  What does your personal or professional mirror reflect? How can you leverage bad examples to enhance your Walk into the Future?