Archive for August 2013

Trailblazer of the Month-August (Series 4 of 4)

“If you’re a pioneer and you come up with something that can change the world and you turn round and say ‘I’m not going to share this idea with anyone,’ then you only impact the few and not the many.”-C. Sinclair

I am grateful for Mr. Kenn Rashad’s willingness to share his ideas. Because of Kenn’s desire to share with others, he has had an impact on many lives. I salute the digital publishing executive who has more than 20 years of experience in journalism, media consulting and entrepreneurship! I hope that you have been inspired by his personal background, educational achievements, and/or career advancements. In today’s post, you will gain a better insight into the mind of a trailblazer. Here are his responses to a recent interview:

As someone who is indirectly involved with HBCU athletic programs, what do you think will improve the institutions’ athletic programs?
Better leadership and decision making by the administrators are the two key elements that are necessary if our HBCUs are to elevate from their current state. There are, of course, a number of other areas that need to be addressed when discussing needed improvements. However, I believe leadership is the most important area.

Since TSPN Sports is the premier source for HBCU sports information, what do you think HBCU institutions can do to improve student-athletes’ opportunities?
I don’t know if there is anything HBCUs can do to improve the opportunities of student-athletes. The outcome will depend on what the student-athlete does with the opportunity given. However, I think HBCUs can do a better job in directing the narrative of the successes of its student-athletes. Unfortunately, there is still a negative stigma that the general public has about HBCU athletics.

What role has your personality (or hobbies) played in your career choice?
I’m a pretty opinionated person when I want to be. That’s pretty much who I am at the core. It’s helped me out in my career because I know I am not alone in thinking this. I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve created platforms that others accept and take the time to express how they feel about any given topic.

Speaking of platforms, how would you describe “Negro Voice?”
“Negro Voice” is the latest project from Rashmoor Media. “Negro Voice,” quite simply, is an outlet that will serve as a platform of expression, opinion, commentary and analysis on all news and topics that impact African-American communities. Please take a moment to “like” our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter.

NegroVoice

What are your future goals (personal or for your companies)?
The goals for now are to simply grow what is currently in place. I’d like to think that I have this thing figured out, but know that I need to stay disciplined in my approach.

What do you like most about being CEO?
I am in charge, and I call the shots! I know that I am to blame when things go wrong, and I can take the credit when things turn out right.

What do you like least about being COO?
Knowing that I have to stay within the limits of my role. I have to respect the fact that there are others who are responsible for other areas of the company’s operation.

What would you tell someone who is interested in a technology career?
Don’t just take the time to learn the technology, but learn the business behind the technology. It will open the doors to even greater opportunities.

What has been your worst financial decision?
I can’t think of just one in particular. I do know that many poor financial decisions, regardless of how small they may be, can have an accumulative impact over time regarding personal wealth.

What is your best financial advice?
Spend within your means. In the process, think about the return on investment you expect to get when making purchases.

The Best Birthday Gift Ever

Happy-Birthday

What an awesome gift! The doctors were amazed because they had never heard of three generations being born on the same day! I have always felt extremely blessed that my sister was born on my mother’s birthday, and my niece was born on my sister’s birthday! It’s just one more unique thing that adds to my family’s dynamics. My mother has transitioned, but my sister is a constant reminder of her concern for everyone. My niece is a reminder of my mother’s grace and beauty. Because of them, it’s difficult to be sad on August 27th!

I can’t do like Diddy, but I try to make sure that my sister and my niece enjoy their birthday. Spending $3 million, including $28,000 on flowers, IS an excessive amount to spend on a birthday! How much do you spend on birthday gifts for your loved ones? Is this the one day that you throw caution to the wind and forget about financial responsibilities? Careful planning and decision-making help reduce emotional spending. Establishing a Birthday Club (similar to Vacation & Christmas Clubs) is highly recommended.

When you consider how much you will spend, do you reflect on what gifts others have given to you? You should give out of the kindness of your heart without expectations of anything in return. Does their reaction dictate the extent you will go to make them happy? If you try to remember who has done what in the past, exchanging gifts can become quite stressful! Have you ever heard of the white elephant gift exchange? Its origin is debated, but I believe it derived from being displeased with someone.

I have been told that a gift is something you want the person to have, but a present is something you think the person wants. It might seem like nonsense, but a distinction can actually be made between a gift and a present. It does not matter to me! I appreciate all greetings, gifts from my parents, and presents from my friends. My favorite gift is a Cabbage Patch Kids doll, which my mother ordered because local stores had sold out! I am most grateful for the gift of life: The best birthday gift ever!

What is your favorite birthday gift (or worst white elephant gift)? Does your family have a Birthday Club? Please share your birthday experiences.

Photo of the Week: Be Fearless!

fearless

Are you allowing excuses to block your blessings?

a) Yes
b) No
c) Maybe

Please share how you plan to stop letting excuses block your blessings.

Video: The Secret Life of Cigar Aficionados

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It’s the weekend, Baby! Will you celebrate at home, a movie theater, a club, or a cigar lounge? When I was a child, one of my neighbors smoked the strongest smelling cigars! He seemed to thoroughly enjoy his hobby, and the fragrance would permeate the air. I would wonder about the difference between smoking a cigarette, a pipe (with its sweet odor), and a cigar. I didn’t search for the answer until I noticed the number of women who smoke cigars.

Recent studies have also shown an increase in teens who smoke cigars. Not only is it considered cool, but it has also become a cheaper alternative than cigarettes. A different crowd, cigar aficionados, smoke cigars for vastly different reasons. Cigar aficionados are serious about their hobby, and cigar lounges are opening in many different cities! One company even developed a traveling smoking lounge for those who love cigars!

Watch the video to learn more! Note that I am not promoting cigar smoking! I understand that there are health risks to cigar smoking despite some myths to the contrary. I am simply informing you about what motivates some people to smoke cigars, which is a lifestyle choice. The video is extremely interesting and enlightening! If you have trouble understanding dialects, pay close attention.

Please comment to let me know your opinion on the secret life of cigar aficionados. Thank you.

10 Amazing Blogs about Money

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Imagine that you are trying to go on a trip. You need a road map to reach your destination. When you arrive at a bookstore, there are 20 maps that can lead you to the same destination. Now, how do you know which map to purchase? Why are there so many maps that can guide you to one destination? While this is an analogy, millions of Americans encounter a similar experience when they are trying to improve their finances.

Unlike someone looking for a road map, the average person has no clue where to get help for financial problems. Those without access to technology are at a greater disadvantage. A Google search; however, will provide numerous types of resources on personal finance. Blogs, books, newsletters, software, etc. are available. Why are there so many tools to help people with their finances? Due to the lack of financial literacy in our educational systems, many people need help to reach financial freedom!

Financial freedom is available, but it comes with a price! People must be willing to pay now by learning how to manage their money or suffer later for their mistakes. One dilemma is that very few of the thousands of blogs are geared toward African Americans. Money is green, but some blog posts are limited because they do not address issues that concern you and your family. These are the reasons that I created a financial literacy blog for people of color. I am happy that you are reading my blog, and I hope that you are gaining a better appreciation for how money works.

Are you seeking financial freedom? I recommend that you search the Internet for various resources that are available. Before following any advice, you should consult a professional. This post includes a list of suggested blogs to read that can also help you reach your destination. First, select which blogs could help you improve your present situation. Second, determine which blogs fit your needs and interests. As your situation improves, the types of money blogs that you will read might change. Here are 10 amazing blogs about money:

  1. Budgeting: Double Saving Divas
  2. Financial Planning: Your Finances Simplified
  3. Frugal Living: Wise Bread
  4. General: MintLife
  5. Investing: Wealthy On My Way
  6. Lifestyle: The Frugalista
  7. Philanthropy: BlackGivesBack
  8. Relationships: Make Love Not Debt
  9. Retirement: Get Rich Slowly
  10. Saving Money: Girls Just Wanna Have Funds

Do you read any amazing blogs about money? If so, please share the reasons that you like them and/or the ways that they have helped you.

Who Else Wants to Donate?

donorcard

Did you know that the majority of people waiting for organ transplants are minorities? Some minorities do not support organ donations because of myths, and others are reluctant due to accusations of unethical practices. Despite a few scandals of organ harvesting, etc., I wholeheartedly support organ donation! It is my pleasure to announce National Minority Donor Awareness Month, and I hope you will be inspired to learn more about organ and tissue donation. Perhaps, you will want to donate after learning more about it.

Studies show that one organ donor can save up to nine lives, and one tissue donor can improve nearly 50 lives! So, signing up to become an organ donor was an easy decision for me! I completed a simple process when I renewed my driver’s license based upon a simple theory. I believe that extending the life of someone else is one of the greatest gifts that I can offer. If I could have extended the life of any of my loved ones, I would have done whatever I could do! Yes, that includes donating my organs and tissue.

While none of my family members have needed organ transplants, several people that I know have been donor recipients. Natalie Cole, Tracy Morgan, and George Lopez are among the famous donor recipients. I am happy for all of them. Without other people committing to donate organs, their lives would not have been extended. Tissue donors often help to improve the quality of life for donor recipients. Will you consider joining these amazing people (and others) who have donated their organs?

1. Oscar Robertson, NBA Hall of Famer, donated a kidney to his daughter.
2. Everson Walls, former Dallas Cowboys player, donated a kidney to his former teammate.
3. Jaleel Gipson, high school football player, had his organs donated on May 13, 2013.

Register to become an organ donor today. If you do not support organ and tissue donation, what are your reasons? Please comment.

Trailblazer of the Month-August (Series 3 of 4)

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” After working as a reporter, Mr. Kenn Rashad did exactly that! He noticed a lack of media coverage on HBCU sports programs by mainstream media outlets; so, Mr. Rashad created TSPN Sports in 1997. He had no prior experience in building Web sites, and he knew next to nothing about the World Wide Web. Yet, he refused to allow his lack of experience and knowledge to stop him!

Kenn purchased a do-it-yourself book at a local computer store and taught himself Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), which is a standardized system for tagging text files to complete various effects on Web pages. That move, along with the implementation of basic Internet marketing strategies, eventually led to TSPN Sports becoming one of the largest and most highly trafficked HBCU sports information sites on the Web. Those successes developed into other opportunities, and he is definitely leaving a trail!

Kenn Rashad recently attended the HBCU Awards Gala at Jackson State University.

Kenn Rashad recently attended the HBCU Awards Gala at Jackson State University.

The honoree is president and CEO of Rashad Interactive, LLC, which is located in Flower Mound, Texas. He is also co-founder and COO of Rashmoor Media, a publishing company that delivers specialty content targeted for African-American audiences. Kenn is clearly putting his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from Grambling State University to great use, but he wanted to further his education. He said, “Despite my best efforts to educate myself in the world of business and entrepreneurship, it had become clear that there were a number of things I didn’t know.”

He added, “It was the little things I didn’t know that prevented me from advancing past certain obstacles. I had come to the conclusion that if I was going to make the most of my business endeavors, it would be best to become educated on business in an environment with a structured path. I’ve since completed my studies, but only time will tell what impact it will have on my career.” After earning an MBA in marketing from the Keller Graduate School of Management at DeVry Univeristy, Kenn Rashad is expected to do bigger and better things!

Trailblazers often help us to think differently (about technology and its opportunities, in this case). How has Kenn Rashad changed your perception? Please comment.

5 Ways to Mess Up Your Credit

credit

In the words of Master P, “How you do that there?” Loan officers probably wonder something like that when they look at some credit scores! It’s not just lending; credit scores can now affect other areas of your life. From determining whether you get past a job interview to past the first date, credit scores are considered. Understanding how you received a certain credit score is important. For many people, the downfall began when they accepted numerous credit cards during college.

I understand this because credit cards were the going thing when I was a college student. I didn’t need one at all, but I accepted several credit card offers. It seemed like our peers were impressed with who had the most cards. Unfortunately, many of us did not consider our credit scores. Those immature decisions have had lasting effects on some of us. I’m sure most students didn’t realize that late/missed payments would stay on our credit reports for seven years, which created an uphill struggle for numerous graduates.

I believe financial literacy would have helped many of us avoid some of those mistakes. At the very least, it might have prevented some people from further messing up their credit scores. Many borrowers of color (not just college students) are negatively impacted by credit scores for various reasons. Do you want to be empowered to make better decisions? Learn the myths about credit scores and remember your credit mistakes to avoid repeating them. You might not be aware of how you got in the situation; so, I’ll give you some hints.

Here are 5 ways to mess up your credit:

  1. Paying your bills late (credit cards, student loans, etc.) can create the following domino effect of penalties: late fees, appears on your credit report, increase in interest rates, or decrease your credit score. A lot of people take this for granted, but the most important part of your credit score is your bill paying history.

  2. Having too many credit cards indicates that you are likely living above your means, and it raises a red flag. When your cards are maxed out, it is not a good look!

  3. Although you might be trying to help others, poor lending habits can harm you. Co-signing for someone, who does not pay the loan, lowers your credit score.

  4. It seems counterproductive, but closing older accounts has a negative impact on your credit score. It is recommended that you close newer credit accounts first because you want to give the appearance that you have a longer credit history. Short credit histories lower your scores.

  5. If foreclosing your home or other mortgaged property is unavoidable, it’s not the end of the world! However, you will have trouble buying certain things because a foreclosure remains active on your credit report for seven years (from the filing date).

Challenge: If you have messed up your credit, learn the myths about credit scores and acknowledge how you messed up. Then, take steps to ensure that you don’t make the same mistakes again.

What College Can Teach You about Life

New Student Orientation Week will be held August 12th-16th at Grambling State University. When I saw the notice, I could only reflect on my orientation to college. I loved to learn, and I could hardly wait to begin my journey to adulthood! So, I enrolled at GSU the summer immediately after my high school graduation. Wow! Was I in for an education?!

As an avid reader, I thought that I had a good understanding of college life. I knew to pack the basics: toiletries, shower shoes, clothes, bedding, iron/small ironing board, and a mini-refrigerator. Nothing; however, could have prepared me for dormitory life! Experiencing college directly was quite different from reading about others’ experiences. Later, I added the following items to make me feel more at home: photo albums, decorations, a toaster oven, and a mini-TV. College taught me to be more appreciative!

Dr. Tseggai, my Department Head, helped to develop my love for economics!

Dr. Tseggai helped to develop my love for economics!

Although the facilities are better now, the less than ideal experiences (food, showers, elevators, etc.) prepared me for any environment! They taught me flexibility! Several people from my hometown and others attended colleges with ideal campuses. Despite such comfort, some of them have never graduated! Of course, the same could be said about some former GSU students. My point is that the level of comfort in our surroundings did not guarantee whether we would graduate or not.

There are many factors that can determine if a student graduates. Health-physical, social, and emotional-is a critical factor. I witnessed homesick students withdrawing after failing to adjust. College taught me to improve my life skills, to prepare for the worst, and to always remember that my surroundings won’t determine my destiny. It also taught me that health shouldn’t be taken for granted and to pay attention to the health/habits of those in my environment. Finance is another factor that determines a student’s success or failure.

I witnessed a few students having to withdraw because of poor decision-making regarding their financial aid or scholarship funds. I learned from their mistakes that listening to “everybody’s doing it” was a prelude to failure! Those responsible students who received student loans or scholarships often had to work to sustain themselves. Others worked to relieve some of the burden off of their parents. Research now indicates that 75% of college students hold jobs while attending college.

Whether employed or unemployed, it was common for college students to receive credit card offers. It is unfortunate that many of us were not disciplined enough to reject the offers. Congress passed the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act, but some companies continue to market to young people. A recent study found that 21% of undergraduates have a $3000-$7,000 credit card balance. At that rate, graduating with debt is inevitable! College taught me that managing my finances is necessary!

What did college teach you about life? Please comment. Later this week, learn other ways you can mess up your credit.

Trailblazer of the Month-August (Series 2 of 4)

kennrashadhs2

Do you know someone who has helped to open up a new line of technology or serves as an innovative leader? If so, that person is recognized as a trailblazer. Last week, I introduced readers to Mr. Kenn Rashad who received the honor of “Trailblazer of the Month” for August. Kenn Rashad is the founder of TSPN Sports, the president and CEO of an Internet marketing and publishing firm, and the co-founder and COO of a publishing company. These are amazing accomplishments for such a young man!

Who motivated Mr. Rashad to become a trailblazer? He stated that his entire family has been his biggest inspiration! He said, “However, my mother and grandfather had the greatest impact on me for different reasons! My mother was a single parent, raising two sons in the Los Angeles area during the 80’s at a time when gang violence was at its peak. She always encouraged (and supported) us to stay involved in constructive activities that would expose us to new things, which hopefully kept us out of trouble. It worked!”

Kenn added, “Education was equally important; it was considered to be the passport to new horizons. My grandfather was my hero and biggest role model. He only had the equivalent of a 6th grade education, but the life experiences he has shared with me about being a black man living in the Jim Crow South are lessons that I will never forget. Despite his level of education, he was the quintessential family man. He was a hard worker and didn’t earn a lot of money, but he was always able to provide for his wife (my grandmother) and children.”

Next week, find out how Kenn Rashad’s early experiences as a reporter at KTVE-TV in Monroe, Louisiana, impacted his future.