Brother to Sister: 10 Types of Men You Shouldn’t Date

All my single ladies… all my single ladies… now put your hands up… and pray! Yes, pray. That’s exactly what you need to do if you’re looking for a good man in today’s times. We are living in a hypersexual, pseudo-romantic and superficial society that continually narrates the old and fictitious tale of guy meets girl, the two fall in love, then they live happily ever after. Well, it’s just not true; it’s possible, just not highly probable. Sometimes it’s hard to find a good man and I want to help you as you’re waiting on Mr. Right or looking for him. I want to help you spot the NOTs so you don’t waste time trying to warm a fire that was never meant to burn. Here are several types of men you need to avoid:

 

Casanova Carl He treats his women like Lays Potato Chips: he can’t have just one. The most important thing you need to know about Carl is stay away. Although he may not sleep around with many women, he likes his “friends” a little too much and doesn’t know how to appropriately detach. He craves feminine attention and affirmation and may not know how to relate to men. He may be  good to hang out with, but keep him in the friend zone.

Krazy Kevin: Here’s Kevin! Run! Get out the way! This is the, “I called you 10 times in one hour because I can’t live without you.” The, “I went looking for you because you were gone more than 30 minutes” kind of brother. He’s unpredictable, controlling, overly critical, sensitive and abnormally attached. He can be verbally and physically abusive. He is literally crazy. A couple of red flags: (1) He tries to get too close way too soon, (2) He show signs of aggressive pursuit too early without knowing anything about you, (3) He is a ticking time bomb. Anything can set him off.  He has so many issues you could fill two landfills and still have more room. These relationships are highly flammable and have a high propensity to turn dangerous. Please stay away.

Krazy Kevin

Wild Wendall: When you see this man please move. NOW! Like, right now! He exhibits unreasonable anger, doesn’t like authority, rules or boundaries. He wants what he wants and when he wants it, including you. Initially, his character deficiencies can be masqueraded by emotional authenticity and admirable drive but buyer beware! Quite often this type of behavior is rooted in insecurity, privilege, and a host of deep fractures. It may also reveal some deeper issues you’re not the person to help fix. I repeat, you’re not the person to help fix. Marriage is a magnifier for who we really are. If he can’t control his habits, sexuality, anger and emotions now it won’t change later.

Passive Paul He doesn’t breathe unless he gets permission first. He waits for you to make the first move for everything. He waits for you to express interest. He doesn’t initiate important conversations, is overly fearful of rejection, and incapable of making decisions and sticking to them. He likes whatever you like and goes wherever you lead. He avoids conflict and seldom steps up, speaks up or stands up.

Passive Paul

Selfie Santiago Simply put, it’s all about him. He spends more time in the mirror than you and everything is about him. His looks, his feelings, his ideas, his dreams, his life! He’s vain and overly focused on appearance: yours and his. Do yourself a favor: take one last picture then crop yourself out.

Brandon the Baby Two words: mama’s boy. Unfortunately, we live in a society where a lot of our boys were raised by single mothers. Historically, this has negatively interrupted our men’s identity development, sense of independence, and unfortunately, you have to deal with it. This guy still lives at home, doesn’t work nor looks for work and still depends on his mama for basic survival. He is a lot like Passive Paul in the sense he doesn’t control his life and waits for others to guide him through it. He will sometimes compare you to his mama and will criticize when you don’t measure up. If you’re not looking to be a mama then leave him alone.

Brandon the Baby

Lukewarm Larry This guy loves his freedom and doesn’t want to be confined to any religion, world doctrine, or anything that requires commitment. He lives by a smorgasbord of religious, philosophical, and self-derived principles. Essentially, he’s confused. Although he may be intellectually astute and a great conversationalist, unfortunately he stands for nothing. Larry might not lead you down a path of wickedness, death, or destruction but equally he cannot lead you to a place of indisputable truth.

Superman Sean This brother has so much on his plate he bought another one just to make room for everything. He’s the ultra-busy, “sorry, I’ve been too busy to call you back” guy.  He has too many things to do. He habitually returns your calls unreasonably late, misses the appointments you and he set, and puts you at the bottom of his to-do list. He’s not ready for a relationship; he’s just looking for another trophy to add to his mantle.

Superman Sean

Blind Bernard: Bernard is visually impaired and has no vision. He is unable to plan long-term and suffers from nearsightedness.  Don’t get me wrong, he doesn’t have to present a ten year plan, but he does have to have a clue about life. He doesn’t know, nor has ever thought about his life passions, the legacy he wants to leave, or your future together. He is often vocationally, educationally, and spiritually complacent. He lacks motivation and frequently exhibits a “good enough” attitude. That is to say, regardless of opportunities and how they potentially impact he and his family; he does just enough to get by.  Not too little and not too much: just enough. Buy him some prescription lenses and leave them at his doorstep.

Nathan Nonbeliever: If you and he don’t spiritually agree, then chances are it ain’t meant to be.  Need I say more? I don’t care how fine, strong, funny, charming, spiritual, articulate, good to his mama and granny he is. If he is not wholeheartedly committed to his relationship with Christ you are going to have trouble. This is not to say if you marry him all hell will break loose. This is to say marriage is a sacred covenant between two people for expanding God’s work on earth. Yes, it can be fun and nice to have someone to lay beside, but if you two don’t have a basic reference point for life then there will be trouble. The price tag of settling for less than God’s best can be very, very expensive and sometimes you need the courage to say goodbye.

 

If you find yourself becoming frustrated and overwhelmed by the perceived lack of good men, be patient. In your singleness try investing in the lives of others and learning more about yourself. We unfailingly find ourselves in broken relationships because one or both of us started as broken people looking for someone to fix us. If you’re single keep an eye out for these men. If you’re currently in a relationship with one of these men and you aren’t married, you may want to seriously consider ending it. You don’t want to spend precious years trying to water and nurture something that was never supposed to grow. Stand in courageous faith, trust fiercely and keep hope alive until God brings you someone.     

 

Books I Recommend:

Too Close Too Soon

101 Questions to Ask Before You Get Engaged

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Talent is Cheaper Than Table Salt

Stephen King, world renowned novelist once said, “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” Turn on the television and it’s easy to spot exceptional talent; it’s all around us in music, film, and sports. Take for example Gabby Douglas, the first African-American woman to win gold in the women’s individual event and the only female gymnast in history to earn both team and all-around gold in the same Olympics. Before claiming these prestigious and historical titles, Gabby spent years in intense training. At fourteen she moved 3000 miles from home to train with Liang Chow to prepare for the Olympics.

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The point is there is always a story behind the glory, but far too often we want the latter without sacrifice. In an interview with a Jamaican journalist, six time Olympic champion and the world fastest man, Usian Bolt said, “In this game everybody’s got talent, but training will get you to the next level.” One thing is for certain: the world is not devoid of talented people, but it has a deficit of successful ones. I don’t mean lots of money, fame, or recognition. I’m referring to the success that enables you to know you have spent each day whole-heartedly walking in purpose and in passionate pursuit of God’s vision for your life.

In a society inundated with the lure of microwave success and YouTube fame it’s hard to recognize the value in mastering the minute and mundane. Mastering the mundane enables you to operate from a platform of stability and focus. Remember the lesson from those Karate Kid movies? Wax on, wax off, wax on, wax off, repeat. You want to be a writer, poet, musician, athlete, under-water frog juggler? The truth is there’s always a story behind the glory and you have to put in the time if you want to shine. Are you simply waiting for opportunities or are you working diligently to create them?  Got talent, so what? Proverbs 13:4 reminds us, “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.” Dawn never sets twice to wake a man up nor does opportunity knock. There’s no magic formula for success, just good old-fashioned discipline and hard work. Success is the result of preparation, unwavering faith and forward momentum after failure.
Learn more. Fail more. Become more.

All Black Everything: My Trip to Ghana

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In 2007 I visited Africa for the first time and it was a dream come true. It was one of the most surreal experiences of my life and one I’ll never forget. I was part of a seven-week leadership immersion experience with The Impact Movement, a nonprofit organization that empowers leaders of African descent. Prior to this, I only dreamt of going to this great continent and I knew very little about it. In fact, I always referred to it as Africa; just Africa. It was the black man’s Mecca, a distant place that perhaps someday I’d see. After my initial trip I realized that other black people and I had similar experiences. Here are a few.

Welcome home: This was by far one of the more prevalent greetings. This, and Akwaaba, which means welcome. Being in Ghana was like going back to a place I’ve never been for the first time. Yes, you read that correctly, it was like going home for the first time.

All black everything: For the first time in my life I was immersed in an all-black society. I was part of the majority and boy did it feel good. I mean great! I mean amazing! I mean utterly incredible! Words cannot express what it felt like to see people who looked like me on billboards, television programs, in the streets, in the classroom and practically everywhere. Sometimes you never know what you’ve been missing until it’s returned to you. Going to Ghana made me realize how amazing it was to be in an ethnically and culturally diverse majority black population.

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I wasn’t black, I was an American: Simply being an American was one of the hardest adjustments I had to make. Most black Americans, especially men will agree they are constantly reminded of their blackness, and unfortunately it’s rare this reminder derives from a culturally appreciative context. It’s seldom a blatant disapproval based on skin color. Most of the time it’s a subtle reminder that you’re simply different. From the lack of representation in popular media, to the overexposure of fractures within your community, to the inability to simply find the right kind of hair products, you’re always reminded that you’re different. Not in Ghana. I was simply American and for the first time I truly felt like I embodied King’s vision to be judged by the content of my character and not the color of my skin. Words cannot describe how beautifully emancipating it was to simply BE.

My sense of blackness and affinity with African culture strengthened: For centuries we have been presented with a historically anorexic narrative about our history. Essentially, we are taught we are the descendants of slaves. That’s where our history begins and is most significant. Going to Ghana, visiting the slave castles, talking with educated Africans and learning more about African history helped me realize my people were not slaves; they were Africans who were enslaved. That’s a big difference. Slavery is only one aspect of my history, not the complete and full context of it. Knowing this was intellectually and culturally revolutionary.

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I became unapologetically black: Gaining historical perspective concerning my people’s sense of charisma, language, love for music, spirituality and other aspects of black culture equipped me with the cultural esteem to move towards celebrating my identity instead of frequently apologizing for it. I now tell people I’m unapologetically Christian, unapologetically black and unapologetically a man. Simply put, I’m unapologetically ME.

As an American I’m extremely privileged: As the saying goes, sometimes you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. The average American, regardless of background is extremely privileged. Whether it’s running water, food access, or the ability to freely travel internationally; we are privileged and blessed. If we don’t like the service at a restaurant, department store or shopping center we can take our business elsewhere, but what you do if “elsewhere” isn’t an option? Different countries like Ghana still experience very real challenges such as the lack of employment, restricted education opportunities and resource shortages.

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We are remarkably undereducated about other nations: As a child I was constantly exposed to images about Africa; you know Africa: people dying of starvation, living in spiritual desolation, those uncivilized, savage people-you know Africa. For the most part Americans are severely undereducated about other nations. I was surprised when I met Ghanaians who knew more American presidents than I, knew more about my economy and had a level of cultural fluency that surpassed that of most of my peers and I. It was a sobering reality that we do an immensely disheartening disservice of miseducating and undereducating our children about other nations, especially Africa.

Just as America has many states with even more diverse cultures, ideas and characteristics so does Africa. It’s a continent with over 50 countries which are all very different and equally unique. Visiting Ghana left me with an even stronger desire to explore my history and unfortunately I cannot rely on the traditional American education system to teach me. Since arriving in America, Africans and the descendants of enslaved Africans have been trying to rediscover who they are and desperately reconfigure the shattered remnants of their identity. Who we are as humans and as black people begins in Africa. If you’re trying to find who you are Africa is a great place to start. Sankofa!

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Check out one of my favorite songs Africa Rising.

Find more photos of my trip on my Facebook page.

Dare 2 Dream

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People don’t care about the problems you’re going through as much as the ones you’ve overcome. There are many people today that find it easier to complain about what’s not right rather than what is, and unfortunately this becomes more pervasive as our society matures. At times I find myself in this category and I can often become so narcissistic and self-absorbed I begin to highlight all the things that aren’t going well before I appreciate what is. Apathy is an infectious disease that can cripple the dreams of the courageous and blind the eye of the visionary. It’s prevalent in today’s society because it often camouflages itself as caution and critical-thinking. It is the cousin to slothfulness which also has the potential to apprehend the young and gifted. It was once said, “Slothfulness lives because there is nothing for which it will die for.”

With this in mind, there’s an important question to consider: Are you young and gifted? If so, are you living in the fullness in which you were created to live? If not, why not? What’s your dream? Have you ever dreamt a dream so big it frightened you? One of the most dangerous types of people is a person who isn’t afraid to die. He’s dangerous because he knows why he lives and isn’t intimidated by life’s vicissitudes, challenges and pockets of frustration. There are many dreamers that have been silenced by the pressures of life and paralyzed by the persistent pierce of impossibility. If we are truly spiritual beings having a natural experience then we will believe when scripture tells us there is nothing impossible with God and through our weaknesses He is made strong. If you’ve never read the story of Gideon, I highly recommend you check it out. It’s in that book called the Bible. Heck, you can even Google it.

It’s very difficult not to look at the realities of life and act oblivious to the challenges we face, however Solomon reminded us in Ecclesiastes there is nothing new under the sun. You’re not the first one to experience challenge, but you are the only one who’ll experience it in your shoes. Why not use it as an opportunity to help someone avoid some of the roadblocks you faced? Sometimes the biggest enemy to greatness is doing good so don’t waste time simply doing good things. It’s far easier, as well as less demanding but it takes uncommon courage to conquer the uncommon and travel the road less traveled.

The truth is, the longer we wait to start living the more comfortable we become with the idea of dying. Myles Munroe once said, “One of the greatest tragedies in life is to watch potential die untapped.” The purpose in you waits to be released and the world waits on you. It waits on your ideas and vision to be materialized. A vision is only as strong as the mind in which it incubates so decide today to liberate your vision and restore your hope. If you want what you’ve never had then you have to do what you’ve never done. Keep the dream alive and start living today!

Don’t Get Off the Treadmill: 7 Questions to Ask Before You Throw in the Towel

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Usually, when I meet someone I ask them two important questions: “Where are you from and what do you do?” Often, this stimulates more conversation and I get to hear great ideas and big dreams. Sad to say, so many of these ideas never  materialize because the visionary quits prematurely. Everyone faces challenges in business. In fact, it’s a part of life in general. Learning to stick and stay the in the face of obstacles is often what separates dreams fulfilled from dreams deferred. Asking the following questions when you’re facing discouragement can help you refocus and regroup.
1. Why am I here? No building can exist without a foundation nor can any successful business thrive without a clear vision. When you find yourself discouraged, discontent and dissatisfied, take some time to ask yourself this question. What is your mission? Why did you start your business? What are your core values and what excited you enough to start your journey? Often times when you revisit your initial passions and driving motivators you can realign your purpose and productivity.
2. Is this worth it? James Allen, author of As Man Thinketh once said, “Circumstance does not make the man, it reveals him to himself.” When tough times inevitably arise, your response to them is what’s most important. Beginning with the end in mind enables you to stay focused on the light at the end of the tunnel. There are far too many people who do not want to put in the hard work necessary to become successful. Instead, they become anesthetized by the culture of instantaneous results not realizing there is no shortcut to a legacy or microwave for success.

For kicks, try this: place a bag of popcorn in the microwave and let it run for five seconds. Then stop it and let it start again for another five seconds. You can do this for years and years; however the popcorn will never ever pop. Why? Simply because it’s not being microwaved consistently at the right temperature for the right amount of time. Your consistency for a sustained amount of time gets results.
3. Do I invest in personal development? Abraham Lincoln once stated, “If I had eight hours to chop down a tree I’d spend six sharpening my axe.” Your organization is a reflection of your leadership. Your leadership is a reflection of your character, and your character is a sum of your manifested thoughts. Personal development is so easy to do that it’s equally as easy not to do. What’s the latest book you’ve read? What about the last workshop, webinar or conference you’ve attended? Roman politician Marco Cicero said, “As a field, however fertile, cannot be fruitful without cultivation; neither can a mind without learning.” How have you invested in learning more about yourself and about your business?
4. Do I have a support team? We all know the saying “birds of a feather flock together”, so what happens if you’re flying solo? Frequently, young entrepreneurs are good intentioned, but ill-informed and attempt to conquer creative conquests without support. Having a good, competent, qualified support team is like having a good pair of tires. When they’re working well few people notice, but when one is flat the car is immobile. Since no man is an island, it’s good to have people in place that not only genuinely support you, but have some of level of experience in your area of business. It’s one thing to have motivators; it’s another to have motivators who move us in the right direction. Do not let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do so learn to lean on others for help.
5. Have I left everything on the field? There’s a story of a man that wanted to become a lifeguard. He signed up for lessons and went faithfully. Test day came and he got into the water and performed just as he was taught in previous lessons. Then, the final test came – he had to backstroke fifty meters. Once again, he jumped in and performed just as taught, but around meter thirty his body grew weary and he slowed down. As he approached meter forty, he moved even slower. He decided it was just too hard so he stopped moving, and unsurprisingly he sank. The instructor grabbed him, brought him to the surface and turned him around to see his progress. To his surprise, he was only four meters away from meeting his qualification. He is like many of us. Sometimes we are so close to our next contract, client or deal, but we give in before we see results. Have you done everything in your God-given ability to succeed? Can you honestly say you’ve left everything on the field? If not, this is not the time to get off the treadmill!
6. Did I do my research? I speak with people all the time who have great business ideas but have not done any research. They don’t know industry trends, costs or competing businesses in their market. It has been said, “A question correctly stated is already half-solved.” What questions have you asked? Have you taken the time to understand the trends in your business? Have you spoken with someone you consider successful in your industry and sought advice? Most businesses fail within their first five years largely due to miseducation and misinformation. Simply put, creativity and ingenuity solely do not precede success. Albert Einstein put it this way, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perseverance.” Part of that genius is knowing what to expect. This comes through diligent research and education.
7. Have I tracked my results? This is vital in keeping a proper perspective concerning your effectiveness and comes through documenting progress. This is important because at times we confuse our real investment with our emotional investment. For example, you may invest countless hours thinking, rehearsing and replaying your failures and future endeavors, but have you actually invested an equal amount of real time in income generating activities? Sometimes eight hours of worry can feel like forty; that’s why it’s critical to document your work. Time capitol isn’t the same as emotional capitol. Don’t let the latter confuse you and fuel a hasty, uneducated decision.
Keep your eye on the prize, get a game plan and be confident in the calling God has given you. Faith tested cannot be trusted, and the entrepreneur life is definitely a faith journey without shortcuts, back roads or straight lanes. Reach for the stars and remember the big shot was once a little shot that kept on shooting. I’d love to hear from you. Email me questions, comments or stories to mistertimswain@gmail.com.

There Is No Plan B: A Message to Aspiring World Changers

superheroEveryone has a dream. Everyone has a goal. Everyone was born with an innate desire to become someone that contributes to something bigger than himself. That innate desire is called purpose and far too many people are living below the level of greatness God put in us. There is a time in our lives when we have to face the grim reality that we are today’s answers for tomorrow’s problems. When we fail to be who we are called to be the world suffers. Barack Obama once said, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change we seek.” Want to be a world changer? Here are 6 things to help you get started.

Be committed to self-development: 

Self-development is foundation for success. Leaders teach what they know and reproduce who they are. It’s unlikely to find a successful person that hasn’t worked on himself just as much as he’s worked on others. Lao Tzu believed, “He who conquers others is strong, but he who conquers himself is mighty.” Often times, the most engulfing snares and visceral fears come from within, but seldom do we take the time to seriously assess ourselves. There are three important questions every person must ask himself: (1) what do I want, (2) why don’t I have it and (3) what am I willing to do to get it? If you want to be successful find someone who has gone where you’d like to go and learn from them. Whether a spiritual leader, business expert or community activist, find someone to model. You can also read books, attend seminars and often times access a plethora of free resources at your local library. Remember, you are the change you wish to see in the world. Whatever you want to see happen must first start with you.

Be insanely myopic concerning your goal:

There is no plan B. Ever wondered why you see horses race with blinders? Horses have peripheral vision and when racing they can become distracted. Jockeys use blinders to keep them focused. When you set a goal, motivation will get you started, but commitment will keep you going. Commitment is doing what you said you’d do long after the feeling is gone. When you take the time to focus and resolve in your mind the goal has already been accomplished there is nothing that can stop you. A great example of this is Diana Nyad, who recently became the first person in history to swim 110 miles from Cuba to Florida without the assistance of a shark cage. This was the fifth attempt of a thirty year journey. After the 53 hour voyage she said, “I have three messages and one of them is never ever give up.” By the way did I mention she is 64 years old? She had an unyielding resilience, unconquerable desire and laser focus.

Surround yourself with people that are headed in the same direction:

We’ve all heard the phrase, “birds of a feather flock together”, but have you ever wondered why? Scientists researched geese flying patterns and found out the V formation they assume serves two very important reasons. Number one is energy conservation. When all the birds are doing their job then each bird’s energy is multiplied. The second reason is communication. In the V formation it is easier to communicate with each other. Because of this, the V formation is commonly used among pilots, military regiments and more. You are an average of your five closet friends. Where are you flying and who’s to the left and right of you?

Work for something bigger than you:

Proverbs 1:7 tells us the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. This knowledge is more than a mere understanding and conceptualization of principles. It is connected to a deeper understanding of life and character. We’re all in pursuit of some kind of knowledge. We want to know who we are, why we are here and what to do with the time we’ve been given. When we decide to work for something greater than ourselves it does three things: (1) gives us meaning, (2) motivates us when discouraged and (3) puts life’s vicissitudes in proper perspective. Author and activist Helen Keller said, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” Who are you working for? God? Family? Your community? Learn to work for something greater than yourself and see how much further you can go.

Have a strong “why”:

Your why is the absolute fundamental, rudimentary, nucleus of your passion. This is the sole reason you strive towards a goal. Your why should make you cry. Simply put, you have to tap into something you’re so passionate about it will make you vehemently defend it when no one else will. Your why, when all else fails, will keep you in the fight regardless of the disappointments, discouragements, dejections. This has to be written down and takes some introspective reflection to discover. Usually, it’s something you will do whether or not you got paid for it. Sometimes the problems that bring us the most frustration are the ones we are here to solve. What makes you MAD (Motivated And Determined) enough to make a difference?

Get rid of your excuses:

George Washington Carver believed ninety nine percent of  failures come from the people who have the habit of making excuses. An excuse is any reason given that helps us justify why we don’t do what we know we are supposed to do. We all have them and choose when we want to employ them to escape the accountability of reality. That is to say, we use today’s excuses to pacify yesterday’s failures. They have been with us since the beginning of time and will be with us tomorrow. Regardless of their believability, they eventually prove unfruitful. Remember Adam’s excuse for breaking God’s commandment? Remember what Moses said when he was called to lead the people? What about you? What excuses do you make? Learn to identify them and be responsible enough to take a punch in the gut by the grizzly truth when necessary. Think about the past five years of your life and assess whether or not you’ve moved closer to your goal? If not, then why? What will you do differently today that will ensure the next five years aren’t like the past?

Mark Twain suggested twenty years from now we will be more disappointed by the things that we didn’t do than the ones we did. Remember the world is waiting on your voice, gifts, talents and abilities. One of greatest tragedies is to have lived a lifetime only to realize that you never really lived. Make a difference and DO IT TODAY!

A Soldier’s Story: An Interview with Army Specialist Jorel Covin on Family, Finances and Service

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Like many of today’s veteran’s, Army Specialist and aspiring entrepreneur Jorel Covin saw the military as an opportunity and route of escape from inner city pressures and a pursuit for a better life. Similar to many of today’s youth, Covin was raised without his biological father, bullied and wanted to earn quick money. Within six days after graduating from high school he arrived at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island welcomed by an impeccably groomed drill instructor shouting the infamous phrase, “Get on my yellow footprints!” This was the beginning of a military career that yielded many great experiences; however when faced with establishing a better life for his family this father quickly realized some assignments came without orders.

MTS: Tell me a little about yourself.

SC: I’m a Specialist in the Army Reserves and my wife of ten years is Active Duty Army. We have three beautiful children: thirteen, nine and seven.

MTS: Why the military?

SC: I mainly wanted to get rich quick. I wanted the clothes, new car, high credit limits, girls and everything else that would make me look and feel like a baller. I was also bullied as a kid and wanted to prove something to myself and my bullies. I wanted to leave my small town and see the world. I thought it was an easy ride to pay for school and travel.

MTS: Tell me about life prior to the military.

SC: My mother worked very hard to support my brother, sister and I. Although she divorced my dad when I was about 5 years old, I was well taken care of. I had good grades in high school, but didn’t reach my full potential because I wanted to be cool and hang out. My hometown is small and I just wanted to get away. I didn’t have a clear plan or vision. I saw the military as a free ride to simply get away and experience something different.

MTS: Tell me about your military career.

SC: I did two years in the Corps, one year in the guard, and currently serving in the IRR (Individual Ready Reserve).

MTS: What were some of the most important lessons you learned in the Corps?

SCWell, the military is black or white; either you like it or you don’t. I learned a lot of important things, especially resilience and a “suck it up and drive on” kind of mentality. The military taught me how to roll with the punches and get the job done. This helped me because when things didn’t go my way after I got out, I had to learn to be flexible and roll with it. I learned some things in the military, but I also had a great mom that taught me. The military is partly responsible for this, but my mama had already instilled values in me.

MTS: What was the adjustment like after being released from your initial term with the Marines?

SC: It was kind of tough. As I said when I enlisted I didn’t have goals, a plan or anything and that didn’t change for me. It was tough trying to find a job because I was competing with other veterans that had more qualifications and higher rank than me. I went back to the same neighborhood, saw some of the same people and worked the same job I had before I left. It was at a country club.  I didn’t really know how to manage my money so I didn’t have anything and had to start over. It was really tough.

MTS: What were your expectations about life during and after the military?

SC: Well, I thought I was going to have a lot of money for college, have a job after getting out, but realized that wasn’t the case. Although the military teaches you a lot of skills; the military is not going to hold your hand. You have to take the initiative to ask questions, find out about programs that help you and learn how to grow up so you can survive in the civilian world. The success of the soldier falls on the service member. I didn’t start with a plan so I got nowhere. I needed help and I had to adapt and overcome.

MTS: Would you say the military prepared you for life after duty?

SC: Well, like I said you have to take initiative. In some ways it did and in others it didn’t, but my success isn’t the military’s responsibility. It’s mine, so I had to make some choices in my life. I’ve made some mistakes and some good decisions, but I’ve grown and learned.

MTS: What are some of the other things you have learned?

SC: The military’s pay isn’t enough for my family and I. With higher rank comes higher pay.  For a single person it’s cool, but I have a family. I have to work another job. The truth is you don’t join the military to get rich. If you think you will; you’re going to have a rude awakening. I mean it’s good security because you know how much you’re getting paid and when you’re getting paid. You have good health benefits and insurance. That’s something we all need and we have it as service members.

MTS: What are some of your future aspirations?

SC: I want to help the youth and other veterans have hope and let them know about the resources that are out there. Just because I’ve made some mistakes doesn’t mean they have to; I want to help them in life. I also want to start a Christian promotions company to spread some positive messages in the world. My wife wants to start a women’s shelter to help them [women] deal with the real struggles they go through. I’m also leaning towards becoming a teacher by taking advantage of the Troops to Teachers program.

MTS: From the things you’ve told me it sounds like there are a couple of themes resurfacing. Some of them are: taking personal responsibility, the importance of planning and power of making quality decisions. Does this sound about right?

SC: Yes, that’s about right. People have to understand just because you join the military doesn’t mean you don’t have to plan and work on your future. I mean it’s not for everyone because only about one percent of the US population serve.  If you’re young and considering the military then ship off tomorrow! Learn to plan and use the benefits you will get like the networking skills, world travel and interactions with different types of people. Be smart and use it to your advantage.

MTS: What advice would you give someone on being successful?

SCWhen you can’t see the finish line, just work the path you’re on. Don’t be afraid to leave home because it will be right here when you get back. Have a relationship with God and keep Him first. Keep your record clean because you will need to have a good reputation. It will open up doors for you later. Know that it’s never too late. My wife was twenty-seven and a high school drop out with three kids when she changed her life. She got a GED while I was deployed, took the ASVAB three times, took remedial classes and loaded 15 college hours in a single semester at one point just to enlist. All of this while raising a family. If she can do it, then you can as well. We got to a point where we got sick and tired of living under. We got tired of depending on the system for assistance and realized it was keeping us under. It was just enough to make it, but not enough to be satisfied; we got tired of that. I was a grown man and wanted to take personal responsibility. At first it was hard but we made a covenant between each other and God and moved in faith. My leadership built up my wife’s leadership and now I am a support for her as she prepares to deploy for her first tour in Afghanistan. Just don’t give up and work what’s in front of you. You’re not ready to reach two thousand if you can’t reach two.

Jorel’s story is similar to that of many veterans. While there are many benefits that derive from service, there are some inescapable life lessons crucial in your success. The military can accelerate, and even amplify some of these lessons, but it doesn’t replace them. Jorel and his wife are an incredible example of the power of planning, taking personal responsibility and persistence. I encourage you in whatever your life’s course to learn from these lessons and be a proactive agent in your success! For more info on veteran programs and assistance, please contact your local Veterans Affairs Office.

Hey Young Homie: Six Communication Do’s and Don’ts for the Young Professional

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Establishing your company and distinguishing yourself from other businesses in America is its own challenge. The last thing you want to do is hinder your business’ development because of poor communication. Here are six do’s and don’ts to help you build your reputation and professionalism.

Do respond to messages promptly: In this fast-paced, social media-immersed society it’s easy to forget to return that call, reply to that email, DM or Facebook message. If you’re serious about establishing yourself as a young professional then you’re going to have to learn the art of timely communication. Depending on your business, it’s standard to return calls, emails and text messages within 24-48 hours. “I’ve been busy” or even “crazy busy” is not an excuse for unprofessionalism, poor communication and bad habits. It won’t fly in the corporate world so it shouldn’t in your business. Also, be sure to use your out of office and vacation responder if you’re going to be unavailable for more than 2 days.  Make a habit of doing this with friends and family now so you won’t lose clients over it in the future.

Don’t over-commit: With so much happening it’s easy to fill up your calendar with work projects, social engagements and other things until you’re immersed in an impossible to-do schedule. Sometimes it’s work demands; other times it’s poor time-management and a conquest to save the world that leaves us with unfulfilled commitments. Whatever the reason, if you find yourself needing to back out of engagements and projects more than completing them, this is a sign you’ve put too much on your plate. This impacts your credibility and dependability; inevitably, too many rescheduled appointments will make you seem flaky and unreliable. The last thing you want is great products or services, but a bad reputation. If the word on the street is you’re not a good business professional, you may find yourself on the street.

Do what you said you would do: One of the most telling signs of an unprofessional is his/her lack of follow-through. This coincides with the previous tip. If you tell someone you’re going to call, email, text, DM or write them, DO IT! Learn to keep order in your life by writing things down. The dullest pencil is better than the sharpest mind. Don’t be too witty to whip out a notepad or iPad to take note of everything you’ve committed to do.

Don’t let your voicemail and ringtone send an untrue message about you: There have been countless times when I’ve called someone for business and have been greeted by a ring-back tone with offensive language and vulgarity. Learn to create a simple, effective and pleasant greeting for your business line. If your personal and business line are the same, go professional. Learn to transition into professionalism with grace and wisdom. There’s a time and place for some things, not everything, and you want to ensure everything about you communicates professionalism. Better to make the right first impression than to try to create a new impression later.

Do learn how to say NO: This is arguably one of the hardest skills for an emerging professional to learn. Frequently, we take on too many projects out of a fear of missing “the right opportunity” or simply because we are addicted to overworking – aka workaholics. Remember – every opportunity isn’t the best opportunity and, even if it is, that doesn’t mean it’s the right opportunity for you. Learn to unapologetically say “NO” and keep trucking. Better to keep your commitments than to get caught in a pile of tasks you can’t complete. The key is to under-promise and over-deliver and not vice versa.

Do learn how to professionally answer the phone and leave a voicemail: When you answer the phone always greet potential clients with your name and company name (if you have one). For example, “Good afternoon, Bob Warren”, or “Good afternoon, Warren Industries, this is Bob speaking”. This is a simple principle that goes a long way. Also, when leaving a voicemail, speak slowly and give your info clearly. It’s always bad when people can’t return your call because they didn’t hear your name and/or number. You may say, “Well, that’s what Caller ID is for”. That’s true, but to be safe always leave a message. Always leave a message. Always leave a message. Did I mention it’s good to leave a message?

Professional communication will take you far and when you master these simple principles, you will set yourself head and shoulders above your peers. Communication isn’t simply what we say; it’s how we say what we say when we say it to others.