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Longevity in the Workplace

I was sharing with a colleague the amount of turnover my team has experienced in a 13 month period. Of course, I internalized these things because no one desires to see their team members disappearing.  I explained the training and knowledge transfer is costly, and honestly draining.  She gave me a lashing on taking it personally and directed me to take a step back and view this situation from a leadership perspective.

  1. What are the opportunities for growth on your team?
  2. Have you received any feedback on your leadership style?
  3. What development strategies are in place for them to learn?
  4. Have you done a market survey to compare roles and responsibilities an aligned their salaries accordingly?
  5. Do you find joy in the work you are doing and the team you are leading?

After running down these points and questions, I made a statement, and she responded, “That explains it all.”  At age 46 years old, I shared with her that I’ve only had four jobs in my life.  She was floored.  She paused…for a long time, and said, “How fortunate you are to have that type of longevity.”  She’s right, I’ve always been a loyalist.  Maybe blindly but I love people, but a love of people doesn’t keep people on your team. Ironically, money doesn’t either.  In meeting with a senior executive recruiter and retention specialist, she came in to overview the entire layout of my team structure.  We whiteboarded for a full hour on different concepts and ideas.  She was floored by my ingrained knowledge and intentionality.  “Tony, this (company name withheld) is the perfect training ground, but your expectation in an IT support role is unrealistic. You have two years max for people in a support role.  Anyone that extends beyond that is primarily due to three reasons.”

  1. They have a life issue, and it’s convenient for them to stay
  2. They have room for growth and will take advantage of what they are learning
  3. They haven’t put in the work and have no transferable skills, and they are merely stuck
  4. They like what they do

Learning this gave perspective; employment attrition is cyclical.  Everyone isn’t fortunate enough, desires to, or is designed to remain at specific jobs for long and if you’re dealing with millennials, they are thirsty for knowledge, and they often move at the speed of light through various employers until they find what’s right for them.  I guess I pose all this to clear my thoughts, get your thoughts, and gather your experience as leaders, as millennials, as employment seekers.  What makes you stay?

“I’ve always been an opportunist over money.  Money grants access, opportunity grants expansion.” ~ ALB

Kells the Artist: An Epic Journey

Kells the Artist is beyond Spoken Word.  He’s a wordsmith and a Hip-Hop artist who is destined to make waves in Chicago.  I first saw this young man at Dr. Finney’s church on the South Side of Chicago and learned then he’s a member of the group Team At Ease.  Since then, he has remained a part of that spoken word group and has started his own team called EPIC. I sat down to chop it up with him about life and his upcoming project.

How long have you been writing?

  • I’ve been writing since I was about 7. I started taking it seriously when I found out I was actually kinda good at putting sentences together.

What was it like growing up for you in Chicago?

  • It was difficult at first because I grew up in the projects of the Southside
  • I spent a majority of my life as a follower. Doing what appeared to be cool. Chicago has a certain swag I felt I had to keep up with until I started thinking for myself.

Do you have a mentor?  If so, who is it and why?

  • Yes, I do have a mentor. My mentor is Jesus.  I say Jesus, because he’s the perfect example of the person I intend to be like.

What does EPIC stand for and what are your goals for the organization? 

  • Epic stands for Effectively Producing Immaculate Creativity. My goal is to cause people to believe in their own dreams enough that they actually to accomplish them.

Kells the Artist

You have a CD coming out this April 13,  what’s the title?

  • It’s called CloudTalk.

What is the motivation for the CD and what can people expect?

  • Today’s rap music is what motivated me to do it. I will not let real hip hop die, lol. People can expect a refreshing uplifting experience from start to finish, with motivating lyrics and great affirmations.

How do you stay motivated?

  • stay motivated by knowing that no matter what I can ALWAYS do better. I know where I came from and I’ll be damned if I go back!

What is something people have assumed about you that may be inaccurate?

  • Two things:  First, that I’m arrogant. I have a certain level of confidence that can be mistaken for arrogance.  Secondly, that I’m not shy! Since I’m a performer nobody believes I can be shy, lol.

After this CD, what’s next for you?

  • Book number two.  I will finally sit down and finish working on my second book.
  • Where can people find you in the social media world?
    • Facebook, Epic Fan PageSnapchat, G- Mail, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter all @Kellstheartist.

Join Kells The Artist Friday at 2239 South Michigan for his CD Release and Birthday Party at 7PM.

EPIC Poetry

The Land of Opportunity

There was a song that I vaguely remember from my childhood and School House Rock Days.  It is titled, The Great American Melting Pot.

This song, though missing a colorful representation of African Americans and Native Americans, was the premise of which American culture was shaped and formed in some sense. There were no immigration papers, and it was an open policy for all who could merely arrive here by boat. I used to unnerve my brother when I would awake every morning and sing the National Anthem (let’s leave out the historical context of the reason this song was written; I desire to stay in my euphoric state for this blog). On Friday, a colleague shared that he had officially become an American citizen. Considering the demographic I serve, as a technologist and corporate motivator, I asked his permission to share his photo and his story. So…enjoy my colleague Armando in our Q & A.

ME: Armando, on March 29, you became an American Citizen, this is a fantastic journey. How long have you been in the US? Where are you from originally?

A: I have been in the US for almost 25 years. I’m originally from Mexico City.

ME: When and why did you come to America?

A: I came in September 1993 as a child. My father died in 1990, and my mother did not have any formal education. During this time the government started privatizing many factories because of NAFTA’s new regulations. My mother lost her job in the same year, and she had no other option but to immigrate to the US.

ME: What opportunities do you have in the US that were not available in Mexico?

A: One of the opportunities I did not have in Mexico was an education. After losing her job, my mother was not able to keep paying for both my brother’s and my education.

ME: Not looking for a right or wrong viewpoint, but what do you see as major cultural differences in the US vs. your home of origin?

A: I want to say a major change was the language. For me, it took me a few years to start communicating and adapting to American culture. Other than language, I noticed that in the United States, Americans spend more time in their profession, so much so that in some cases, work is first and second is family. Children are often raised more independently and are encouraged to be independent of their family.

ME: Do you think you will take your skills to your country origin in the future?

A. I don’t see my future back in Mexico. I have my family here, and I don’t see my wife and kids moving to Mexico.

ME: Some people frown on immigrants who are not “legalized” citizens. With Congress being inactive or slow on DACA, what do you recommend for DACA recipients who are here of many ethnicities and countries, and they’re striving for US citizenship?

A: To all DACA recipients, I want to share my personal story. After graduating from high school, I did not have many options to continue my education since I was undocumented. My only options were work in a factory like the rest of my family or go back to Mexico and try to continue my education, but neither of these two options was an alternative for me.

I wanted to go to college and pursue a higher education. I decided to attend my community college, and while attending college, I worked in a restaurant to be able to pay for my education and help my family. After four years I earned two Associate’s Degrees: one in Computer Science and the second in Arts. It was not an easy accomplishment. In 2010 I was able to fix my immigration status and started working in my field.

ME: You are graduating from college with your degree in Information Technology and have become a US Citizen in the same year, what does this mean for you and your family?

A: After fixing my immigration status I was able to go back to finish my BA. During this long journey with many sacrifices, I never lost faith in my dreams. With the support of my wife and my community, in fall of 2018, I will be finishing my BA in Computer Network Security.

This year also gave me the chance to accomplish another dream–becoming a US Citizen finally. This means so much to me. Now I want to keep helping my community and many other dreamers.

______________________________________________________________

I want to thank Armando for allowing me to share his truly inspiriational story. It is one of many and we hope and pray, there are more to come.

Armando is a technologist for a major educational institution in Chicago, IL.

 

 

Frozen

It feels like months

Where have I traveled?

A place of mystery and uncertainty

I can’t believe I am here

In this place, at this moment

Thinking, relishing, questioning

My purpose, my call, my existence

Surrounded but alone

Clinging to hope yet untethered

Trapped in the crevices of thought

I’ve traveled here before

It’s uncomfortable, that face, the reflection

Its shadow reaching out to hug me

Whispers of I love you, you have a purpose

You exist for a reason

I don’t embrace it

I turn off the light

Tears run down the mirror

I’ve been here before, it hasn’t been days

It’s been hours

In front of an empty table

Food cold, coffee bland, water lukewarm

Depression says hello

 

End of the Year 2017…Time Flies

Well folks, it has been a year.  So many downs and so many more ups.  Yet, I thought I’d end the year on some greatness and what I have done so far.

    • I set out to lose 25 pounds; I lost 10.2.  That’s major yal! I lost half a size in my neck.  18.5 to 18.
    • Completed six songs on my album and looking forward to working with one of Tupac’s producers in 2018.
    • Spit an ill flow on my man Double G.’s album for the song “Ambassador”.
    • Conducted some of the greatest young adult conversations on Christian living at my church.
    • Another year with my CHAMPS mentees and POET family.
    • I was promoted to Director of Information Technology in May of this year.  Major career move.  Growing and still searching for a mentor.  Until then, The Lord is guiding as He see fits.  Not sure what’s next for me but hanging tough.
    • Had a very successful year at NIU.  The journey towards my bachelors degree continues.
    • Fell completely in love with https://beautybeyondbones.com/ blog.  She really is my drive for consistency and creativity as a blogger.  Keep me moving beautiful and thanks for sharing your heart and experiences.
    • I dropped my first single, Soul Restoration, and video with the fabulous Restore. A whopping 48 copies sold, yet, I don’t despise small beginnings.
    • I completed a pretty dope class on Fatherhood and it’s challenged me to be a more intentional parent, father, and husband.
    • I will be writing for rapremnant.com in 2018.

No resolutions for 2018.  I am learning to live, love, and laugh at 47 years of age.  I’m putting fear in front of me as a stepping stool to faith and trust in Yeshua. I’m realizing the Creator has no boundaries.  I’m fighting against depression with lots of Joy, Love, and Prayer and of course counseling because I’m unashamed.  I can’t hope the best for 2018, I have to be the best for my family, my church, my job, my ministry work, my community work, and the young people and young adults I mentor.  I look forward to this year. I look forward to the journey. I look forward to sharing it with you all.

Blessings and Happy New Year.

Yours truly,

Tony Briscoe

 

Online Success for Adult Learners

I was asked by my cousin (we actually met on Facebook) to give her keys to success as she continues her collegiate career in an online environment.  I was excited she decided to continue on to a Gradate program after completing her Bachelors’ within the same year.  She’s starting an online journey so I thought I’d share “best practices” that have lead to my success as an online student.

90 percent of my Associates’ Degree is from online classes.  Here are a few thoughts/practices I use as templates for success.  As working professionals, it’s very important for us to use judgement and wisdom when engaging in online classes.

  • Finding the right class.
    • Ensure your class is not a hybrid where there is a split portion between online and onsite requirement
    • Ensure the class(es) you take line up with your particular goals and degree.
    • Utilize your academic advisor.  I would have saved about 12 credit hours early on if I had done this.
    • Find out your professor in advance and do research on their teaching style.  I wouldn’t put a lot of stock into professor rating sites.   However, the particular link has not led me astray.
    • Find out what book you need but wait for a final word from your professor, which is why I recommend finding out your instructor and emailing them in advance.
      • Use Amazon to rent books.  Way more cost effective!
    • Download your syllabus and print it out immediately.
      • Cross off your assignment as they happen
      • Ensure you put all your deadlines on your calendar immediately and setup reminders
      • Syllabus’ can shift often so ensure you keep a tight look on your professors announcements
    • Balance your family, your job, and your education
      • Be intentional in your communication. Even though you are online and not in a classroom, your home is your classroom.
    • If you’re utilizing Blackboard at your Learning Management System (LMS), download the Mobile Learn App.
    • Subscribe to all discussions.  Email can be a bit cumbersome when people are updating but I find it valuable so I know when to respond to post
    • If your class has exams, ensure you find out if there is a webcam requirement.  If so, you’ll have to pay for the software monitoring system at your own cost, typically $54 – $75
    • Take what you can handle.  Adult Learning is a life journey not a quickie.  If you are working and have a family I don’t recommend taking more than 2 classes.  Ensure you adjust to the demands of your family, your job, and other responsibilities you may have.

You will either be your own best friend or own your worst enemy with online classes.  You have to be disciplined.  You are the professor, the teacher, the student, and the leader of your own success.  I’ve had great success and I am only stressed when I don’t follow 100% of the playbook I listed above.

These are a few tips I shared with my cousin.  Feel free to comment and add more.

The Journey to Godly Fathering

I am not a perfect dad.  If the cameras where rolling in my house last week, even while in a class led by a good friend on godly fathering, you may have even questioned my day to day life.  It was one of those moments when a father reacts in emotion and not under the guise of the Holy Spirit.  Yet, a few hours later I apologized to my wonderful, beautiful, and intelligent daughter.  12 year-olds know how to push buttons.
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Our final class was a couple of days later. “So brothers, how did it go last week?”  To which I confessed, “I blew it but I grew it”.  That translates to, I blew what I learned the previous week but grew in what I learned the previous week also.  One of the things we discussed on being Godly Father’s was owning our mistakes with our children.

Our theme scripture comes from Ephesians 6:4, which translates in The Message Bible, “Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them.  Take them by the hand an lea them in the way of the Master”. In conjunction with the previous text, Proverbs 22:6 (train up a child) and I Timothy 3:4-5 where key scriptures in our development and training process.  The three goals of the class are as follows:

  1. Educate men on the distinction between a “good father” and a “godly father”
  2. Provide practical principles that define godly character and development
  3. Create an apparatus where men can commit to being a godly father
    1. Culminate this apparatus with a Commitment Letter to our families addressed to the wife and children of each represented household.

My cousin Arlene raised her two children along with my brother and me.  Years before she passed on to Glory we had a heart to heart and with tears in her eyes said, “I messed up with you all, especially you, and I’m sorry”.  (Had to pause after crying a little myself while typing this).  Ownership is so key on journey of becoming great parents.  So, we’ve begun an intentional journey together as fathers.  6 men with 15 children between us have vowed to share our trials, our successes, our failures, and our financial planning for their future, with several other strategic commitments with a focus on seven developmental areas.

7 Practical Principles: A Guide to Train and Point my Child in the Direction of the Lord

by Elder Marlon Medious

  • Imparting principles of life:  Forgiveness, apologizing, mercy, truth, and the living the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5)
  • Teaching godly habits
  • Protecting against moral dangers through appropriate discipline
  • Instilling daily prayer
  • Leading Bible Study at least once a month in the home
  • Engaging in interactive church participation
  • Explaining how decisions are made regarding their lives and choices

Proverbs 20:7 (AMP) reads, The righteous man who walks in integrity and lives life in accord with his [godly] beliefs–How blessed [happy and spiritually secure] are his children after him [who have his example to follow].”

As I close out this blog, I will share what we have in place now and will end with an image of the Commitment Letter to my wife and daughter.  If you would like a template to draft your own please email me.

We are not looking at this as consecutive weeks because we realize that life and family aligns with life and family situations.  However, we will be intentional in our sharing, our cause, our purpose, and our growth.

A major thanks to my brother Marlon Medious for pulling us together for this phenomenal training.  He is a true friend, confidant, and brother in the Gospel.

Blessings.

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Trials of the Endurer

I released a freestyle video that you will see below in a link. I’m often criticized for my “darkness” in my poetry, raps, and Spoken Word ministry and performances. I am asked, “Why do you leave people in darkness?” “Can you write a rebuttal to that piece?” I have often wondered, why is there a rush to dismiss the plight of human beings.

Maybe you have heard:

  1. Get over it
  2. When did that happen
  3. Are you still on that
  4. Why don’t you just get over it

I believe the Lord has something for everyone. Those who tell of the Light and those who speak of the Dark that leads to the life. I am not a man without flaws. Things I’m done, people I’ve hurt, lives I’m changed, those I have encouraged, I lay it all down on the line. There should be one person (preferably a significant other) who you trust that you can share every aspect of your life. I have two people that have that, my wife and my life long friend Mutee. No surprises, all unashamed, unadulterated, unfiltered, unshackled truth.

Keeping it 💯, my life has not been all 😭. I have been blessed😀 beyond measure. Issues with 😡, blowing off 😤, breaking 💔, great friends, feeling the laughter of 😈, knowing the love of 😇 has all been apart of my life’s journey. Pain is real but it doesn’t have to be the 💀 of you. Being 💩 is real but it doesn’t have to change your life. Think will😱 you, people who you love will 😘 then betray you. People will 👏🏽 you know and 🔪 you in the back later. You get to a place where you realize you hold the 🗝 to your destiny. Stress will lead you to 🚬, 💉, ⚰️ but if you stay 🔌 into the Lord. If you 🗜 down and realize that you were fearfully andwonderfully made there is nothing that stop you from being great.

Embrace your past, welcome your pain and look forward to your future.

FireKeeper: A Voice for All Generations

Her name is Loretta Hawkins.  The People of Extraordinary Talent, to which she is a member, and Chicago’s poetry scene know her as FIREKEEPER.  Tonight I have the honor of capturing her event that will surely be a photo experience.

I met Loretta Hawkins 2 years ago when she joined the P.O.E.T family.  Her voice is second to none.  She holds her own weight, embodying the spirit of Harriett Tubman in “These Shoes”.  Her voice, hard, subtle, strong, melodious, and powerful.  She doesn’t have to work at grabbing the attention of any audience, it’s simply a gift that comes with her anointing.  She is a retired teacher but she has never stopped educating.

Tonight, at Gallery Guichard, located 436 E. 47th Street in Chicago’s historic Bronzeville community, she will have a 3 Genres Book Signing.  This is a culminating event for her recent A Taste of Theater Award for her play “Of Quiet Birds”.

Loretta Hawkins is determined to utilize her remaining time on this earth to release books, poetry, plays, and inspire a young generation to embrace their heritage, their ancestry, their melanin, their history and their future.  Chicago’s best kept secret is no more and her work here is not done.  Today we celebrate a legend and I am honored to know that a fire of passion for life brews in all of us and FireKeeper is part of that Great Flame!

The Endurer
Photocred goes to the producer of the flyer for Loretta Hawkins.

Soul Restoration: Fulfilling Your Dream

 

2017-08-02_15-45-27 I’ve worked hard at being imperfect, self-deprecating, low self-esteem, excuses, asking permission to do something for myself, taking care of everyone except me, working hard on the job to a point of fainting instead of asking for help.  When you grow up broken, you begin to self-destruct and the unfortunate damage from that is cataclysmic personally, emotionally, spiritually, and professionally.

It’s not easy to break the cycle and at 46, with a biological parent back in my life after years of separation since childhood, one can easily slip back into an old mindset.  So, in my Christian journey, I’ve embarked on transformational living and surrendering my being to all of The Lord.  Poetry and Hip-Hop have saved and encouraged me in ways unimaginable.  Writing transformed from anger to peace, soothing to therapeutic, stagnate to transformative.  Counseling, professional and personal development seminars and an incredible wife have increased my desire to do more and to do well.  My soul has been restored and repristinated so I present you with my first single release, Soul Restoration available on CD Baby.

With that being said, I am happy to release my first single to the known universe (people on Mars, get your copy).  I had the pleasure of inviting the incredible Alicia “Restore” Spikes of Solace Souls Coalition to lace the background vocals and she far exceeded my expectations.

 

Thank you Restore for blessings us with your voice and thank you to my POET family for accepting me as I am.  PNoble TV for working on the soon coming video.  Dan @ Studio 11 for the engineering work and Tone Jonez of JeeJuh for track production.

Grace & peace unto you all.

The Endurer