Are You Thinking About Starting A Business?
by Franne McNeal
If you want to explore how you can use your technical and professional skills, your business contacts and your ability to provide a product or service . . consider entrepreneurship.
In this article you will find resources, planning suggestions, questions to help you think about your business and an invitation to try a free business coaching session.
There are a number of resources for entrepreneurs:
a) Your local library and the internet
b) Existing business owners that are running businesses similar to the business that you want to start
c) Former business owners that have run businesses similar to the business that you want to start
d) Existing and former managers of businesses that are similar to the business that you want to start
e) Accountants and lawyers of businesses that are similar to the business that you want to start
f) Publications, conferences and web sites specific to entrepreneurship
g) Publications, conferences and websites of industry trade associations and business associations
h) Local and national chambers of commerce based on numerous affiliation groups: Women, African American, Hispanic, Asian, etc.
i) Government Resources
IRS, Internal Revenue Service
MBDA, Minority Business Development Agency
SBA, Small Business Administration
Thinking, writing, researching, reviewing best practices, engaging in discussions with knowledgeable people, revising your thoughts are part of a continuous process to better prepare you for entrepreneurship.
Here are seven general areas where planning is useful.
1. Your mindset and personality for entrepreneurship.
2. Your transferable knowledge and experiences.
3. Your past and current thoughts and research concerning your business idea.
4. If you are already providing products and services as a hobby, review of that data.
5. Strategic steps for starting a business: feasibility plan and business plan.
6. Tactical steps for starting a business. Understanding and complying with local, regional, state and federal regulations related to your business idea.
7. Review of your resources (financial, human resources, equipment, etc) and network: employees, vendors, customers, distributors, retailers, etc necessary to consistently maintain a business.
III. 8 "Thinking About Business" Questions
Asking questions and taking the time to answer questions really helps you clarify your thoughts, focus and prioritize.
Consider these eight questions as a way to help you assess your business concept.
1. Briefly describe your business. If you are currently running a business, mention details about your business mission, products, services, business structure, location, annual revenues, # employees, your role, etc.
2. Identify your ideal client. What problem do you solve for them with your business product or service?
3. What experiences or strengths do you bring to your business? Highlight (no more than 2 paragraphs) info from your resume, professional and life experiences.
4. Imagine your business is wildly successful 3 years from now. Briefly describe the details of your updated business mission, products, services, business structure, location, annual revenues, # employees, your role, etc.
5. What 3 things need to happen in your business to make it successful this year and why?
6. What are your top 3 challenges with your business and why?
7. Are you ready to work with someone who will listen to you, understand you, encourage you, support you, stretch you, hold you accountable and help you reach your goals?
8. Are you ready to invest in your business so that you reach your goals faster, make better decisions, use resources more effectively and get more clients, more revenue and more profits?
Your answers to the 8 "Thinking About Business" questions can get you a FREE business coaching session.
Send an email (with the subject line: REQUEST FREE Business Coaching Session) to firstname.lastname@example.org and include your answers to the 8 "Thinking about Business" questions.
Branding Matters ByEveraldo Gallimore
If the following goals matter to you as an entrepreneur, then branding matters to you.
* People know about your business
* People know you you can help them
* People trust you and your business
* People remember you when they need you
* People buy from you when they have a need
* People come back for repeat purchases
* People referrals others to you
* Your business grows in size, value and reputation
* You and your business have a leadership role (set trends)
Often people think branding is a good logo or slogan. Branding happens when you create recognition for your products and services through audio, visual and other multimedia. Branding is connected to the business of your business.
Your brand is influenced by several factors:
* Who your business serves or helps (target clients)
* The specific needs your business meets
* The messages you communicate: written, verbal, visual
* The symbols, shapes, colors and words that you use
Your branding should be action oriented and focused. It is important to measure the results that you want to achieve in your branding campaign.
Examples of initial branding goals are:
* Drive traffic to your products and services
* Communicate your image and message
* Introduce new products and services
* Improve customer relationships
* Focus on target markets
* Obtain good will
* Increase sales
So that you can track the effectiveness of your branding efforts, be sure to include specific activities, times, amounts and resources to the branding goals
Set aside the time to create a branding plan which includes elements from your marketing plan and your business plan.
The branding plan can act as a blueprint or map to help you have a successful branding effort.
Everaldo Gallimore is the Branding Coach and Graphic Designer for Gallimore Design.
He can be reached at: www.gallimoredesign.com, email@example.com or by calling 718-484-9495
Brand New or Brand Notby Everaldo Gallimore
In the course of starting a new business,the need for
brand representation and graphic resources can get pushed to the background to make way for such new business necessities like office furniture, computer equipment, phones, educational resources, etc.
The need for marketing materials,such as web and print collateral, and the temptation to have them without cost leads entrepreneurs to go it alone using wysiwyg programs.
Some "lone wolf" entrepreneursdon't even bother to use a symbol or logo. For their identification, they opt instead to use a conservative typeface on a self-created photo to represent their company.
If you have the talentto do it yourself and feel you can represent your company well in a visually competitive market, then by all means, go for it.
But considerthat marketing-on-the-fly is a gamble because
it is hit or miss in terms of what works. By not having a consistent brand image and identity, you may miscommunicate your message or not attract the consumer
that is looking to select your product or service.
As a new business, it is important to create a marketing and branding plan that is well designed and organized. Otherwise, you can set yourself up for a longer branding cycle which means that time is wasted and opportunities to form important brand relationships with your customers are missed.
Avoid the mistakesof making your brand "not" by consulting with a graphics design and marketing professional who can save you valuable time and money and help you reach your sales goals.
When you and your brand are "new",here is what you
need to consider in hiring a professional brand designer or marketing consultant. Most professionals provide a complimentary initial meeting to get to know you.
1. Their training in design and marketing
2. Their experience with customers like yourself, your
competition and businesses who have moved to the next
3. Their understanding of your business and industry so that they can provide appropriate perspective and guidance.
4. Their interest and understanding of your needs, goals, timeframe and budget.
5. Their ability to deliver on time and in budget based on your contract.
Contact Everaldo Gallimore, Creative Director, Gallimore Design, www.gallimoredesign.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, 718-484-9495. Gallimore Design provides brand and corporate identity services through website design, website makeovers, print and online marketing collateral. Start to Build Your Brand Success by Design by taking the FREE Branding Success Results Questionnaire, www.gallimoredesign.com/bsr_1.html
The Magic Of Chip Bell
I became acquainted with Chip Bell through public relations extraordinaire Tammy Richards-LeSure of RICHARDS PUBLIC RELATIONS. I didn’t know how well regarded Chip Bell was in his field, until my colleague Ed Smith saw his book in my office and said: “I see you’re serious about learning about customer service.” I replied, “What are you talking about?” He said: “Chip Bell is the man when it comes to customer service.” It was then that I realized that Tammy had thrust a gem in my lap and I jumped at the chance to interview Chip Bell.
During my preparation for this interview I learned that Chip is the author or co-author of many best-selling books including Customer Love: Attracting and Keeping Customers for Life, Customers As Partners: Building Relationships That Last, Managing Knock Your Socks Off Service, Dance Lessons: Six Steps to Great Partnerships in Business and Life, Managers As Mentors: Building Partnerships For Learning, and Beep-Beep: Competing in the Age of the Road Runner. His latest book (co-authored with Ron Zemke) is Service Magic: The Art of Amazing Your Customers (Dearborn Trade Publishing, May 2003).
When you read this interview, you’ll quickly understand the magic of Chip Bell.
The Magic Of Chip Bell
GAJCO: Why did you go into consulting around customer loyalty?
Chip Bell:First, I love consulting because I get to help other people be successful. After twenty-four years as a full-time consultant, I absolutely love my job. I believe our maker put us on this earth for a specific purpose…and, I am very fortunate to have found my life purpose early in my career. Shirley Chisholm wrote, “Service is the rent you pay for your place on earth.” I get to pay my rent not only by serving others, but by helping my clients serve others. Creating passionately loyal customers takes a unique commitment to customer service by an organization. And, it is in that specific arena—branding the customer connection—that I most enjoy working. On a purely selfish side, consulting provides me the diversity of experience and opportunities for personal growth that I was not able to find enough of in a single organization. Plus, I am a cowboy at heart and don’t like letting grass grow under my feet!
GAJCO: What motivates you to get up in the morning?
Chip Bell:Other than a great cup of hot coffee, it is an intense and unquenchable zest for learning and a desire to make a powerful difference in the lives of others. I feel happiest when I see my efforts reflected in the work of other people.
GAJCO: Describe your typical day.
Chip Bell:Impossible to do; everyday is unique. My work is divided into three efforts—consulting or advising organizations on how to create loyal customers, giving keynote speeches or teaching workshops, and writing articles, books and training programs. What my days have in common is they all start early, they always begin and end with time with my wife (typically on the phone), they all involve lots of phone calls to connect with clients and colleagues, time on the internet via a lap computer or Palm pilot doing research or responding to e-mails, and lots of movement. I am an extremely high-energy person who is both social and an extravert. So, I need to stay on the move all the time. I also keep lots of balls in the air, so I spend time staying organized in order to manage diverse major projects happening simultaneously.
GAJCO: Where were you born and raised?
Chip Bell:I grew up in the country near the small South Georgia town of Alamo. My dad was a very wise (but shy) full time banker and full time farmer. My mother was a former high school teacher, but a homemaker most of my childhood. I was the oldest of three children. My parents taught me the value of continual learning, the importance of setting goals and working hard for them, and the requirement as a fellow traveler on planet earth to treat every living creature with deep respect and unconditional love. I learned that, as long as we share the same planet, we are responsible to each other and that being a good citizen means assuming that responsibility assertively and passionately.
GAJCO: What do you get out of helping others?
Chip Bell:What I get most out of helping others is a terrific sense of fulfillment and the satisfaction that I have made a difference in another.
GAJCO: How did you become knowledgeable in so many different fields?
Chip Bell:I am a life-long learner who is perpetually interested in many areas. I am an avid reader and an intense interviewer. Being a consultant, I have learned a lot from my clients. And, my clients are in all industries—anyone who has customers—so I am required to “go to school” on their industries. For example, if I am working with a hotel company, I read their industry magazines, visit their hotels, and interview their customers and industry leaders. If I am teaching people to “get to know your customers” and I am not credible if I do not model what I am teaching. The by-product is that I get to learn a lot about a lot of fields.
GAJCO: Why should people buy your new book?
Chip Bell: Because it is funny, unique, not like any other customer service book on the market, and written by a really great guy—my co-author, Ron Zemke!! People from all industries will find tips, tools, and techniques for leaving their customers absolutely enchanted. Service Magic: The Art of Amazing Your Customers is about creating customer experiences that are not only positive and unexpected, they are unpredictable…just like a great stage magician! When you watch a magician perform a great slight of hand, you think for a moment you have witnessed a small miracle. Service magic can create that same feeling….leaving customers with a “you’re not gonna believe this” story to tell. People who cannot afford to provide value-added service can turn to this book for inexpensive value-unique service.
GAJCO: How tough is it to form effective business alliances?
Chip Bell:It is more difficult now than every before. Business alliances fail, not because of the contract, but because of the interpersonal relationships. Just like a marriage, it requires people who share common values, who over-communicate, and who have the tenacity to weather the tough times and not give up just because there is conflict or differences. Alliances take a lot of work and many people today are not willing to put that kind of energy into it. It can take a long time for most alliances to become smooth and effective, and many people today do not have the patience to go the distance.
GAJCO: Tell us about www.socksoff.com?
Chip Bell:That is the website of my company, Performance Research Associates, Inc. We have offices in Dallas (where I am located), Minneapolis, Orlando and Ann Arbor. My partners and I have written several best-selling books that have “Knock Your Socks Off Service” in the title. Sort of like Rocky 4! Or, like Bubba in the movie Forest Gump telling how many ways there are to cook shrimp! We have books with titles like Delivering Knock Your Socks Off Service, Managing Knock Your Socks Off Service, Sustaining Knock Your Socks Off Service, Coaching Knock Your Socks Off Service, Tales of Knock Your Socks Off Service, Knock Your Socks Off Service Recovery. They have sold several million copies. It just seemed fitting that we make our company web site www.socksoff.com! I also have a personal web site, www.chipbell.com.
GAJCO: How many books have you written or co-written?
Chip Bell:My sixteenth book will be released in September. Twelve have been written with other people. My next book, Magnetic Service: Secrets for Creating Passionately Devoted Customers, is co-authored with my son, a very creative commercial real estate pro in Atlanta. I have two other books in the works one due out Fall, 2004 and the other Spring, 2005.
GAJCO: What’s the best part of being Chip Bell?
Chip Bell:What I love most about being me is my intense passion. I am a hopeless romantic who loves life and lives it with great excitement. I am also a very happy person. And, I am blessed with a wife of thirty-eight years who is just as passionate and even more romantic (she’s sexy, too!).
GAJCO: Who had the most influence on you?
Chip Bell:Other than my immediate family, I would say Sergeant Duckett at Fort Dix, NY. He was a proud, tough African-American drill sergeant who told me on my first day in Army boot camp in 1967 that I was not my rank, and that no matter who screamed at me, called me names, and said foul things about my mother; it had nothing to do with me, and only related to the military rank on my sleeve (which was private, E-nothing!). He told me that if I would never, ever lose sight of the fact that I was God’s special creation, I would do just fine in boot camp. I graduated first in my basic training class, first in my advanced training class, and at the top of my officer training class and went on to became a highly decorated infantry unit commander with the elite 82nd Airborne in Viet Nam. I give Sergeant Duckett and his wise counsel all the credit for my military accomplishments.
GAJCO: What is a leader?
Chip Bell:A leader is any person who influences another person to achieve important goals. That means that, while we all are not necessarily supervisors or managers, we all have the opportunity to be leaders.
GAJCO: What is the biggest challenge facing our country today?
Chip Bell:Apathy. We are a nation with too many people who think they are entitled and believe they are not responsible for their destiny. The people who complain about what institutions fail to do for them are typically the same people who do not vote, who never write their governmental leaders, who fail to speak out on behalf of a beneficial cause, and who run away from any type of charity work. I wish we would pass a bill in this country requiring every able bodied person (male and female) between the ages of 18 and 25 to be in the service for two years…not just the military service, but community service--helping the homeless, reading to a sick child, improving neighborhoods, attending to the needy. It could teach young people at an impressionable age to learn the importance of community and the benefits of partnership. It too often takes catastrophe to make us act like a community. And it too quickly dissipates as memories fade.
Chip R. Bell is a senior partner with Performance Research Associates, Inc. and manages their Dallas, TX office. His consulting practice focuses on helping organizations build a culture that supports long-term customer loyalty. Prior to starting a consulting firm in the late 1970s, he was Director of Management Development for NCNB, now Bank of America. Dr. Bell holds graduate degrees in organizational psychology and human resource development from Vanderbilt University and George Washington University. He was a highly decorated infantry unit commander in Viet Nam with the elite 82nd Airborne Division.
Chip’s articles have appeared in numerous professional journals including Management Review, Journal of Quality and Participation, Executive Excellence, Customer Service Management Journal, Customer Relationship Management Journal, T+D Magazine, Sales and Marketing Management, Bank Marketing Journal, Advanced Management Journal, Harvard Business School Management Update, and many others. His work has been featured on CNBC, CNN, Bloomberg TV, NPR, Voice of America, and Reuters and in the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, USA Today, Entrepreneur Magazine, Inc. Magazine and Business Week.
You can learn more about Chip Bell by visiting his web site at www.chipbell.com.
Bill Keefe Is Giving Us The Blues
Thank goodness! When you meet Bill Keefe he'll give you the blues. Wait! Before you run away, these "blues" are good "blues." I first learned of Bill Keefe through his various web sites while conducting research about mental illness. I eventually contacted him and found him to be a man committed to using his influence to help improve the lives of others. Keefe and I immediately connected and found similarities in our life stories and in the mission and vision of our web enterprises.
Keefe quit his job and started his own business, ReconnectingU, and a web site (www.reconnectingu.com). I caught up with Keefe and the first question I asked him was: “What prompted you to quit your job and start ReconnectingU? Keefe explained, “Like most people I knew that there was something more important for me to do with my life. I just wasn’t able to determine what it was. In the past I would have certain thoughts about a “big idea,” perhaps it was inspiration, but because there wasn’t a clear and logical path for me to accomplish it, I did nothing! I kept doing the same things over and over and nothing ever changed.” And then one day Keefe took a simple step. Keefe started writing his ideas down on paper. It sounds easy, but Keefe explained that he’d never done that before. As it turned out, that simple step changed his life forever.
In his new book, “W.A.Y. Beyond” Keefe explained in detail why writing an idea down is so powerful. According to Keefe, 98% of the people who have great ideas never bother to write them down! Keefe believes that writing down ideas is the one step that could put you on a path to success.
Keefe said he captured his ideas on paper over a six month period working nights and weekends to turn his ideas into a potential business. “I was afraid, without experience and without enough money, but the work I did over those six months provided me with the answers and the confidence to quit my job and to begin my new life,” said Keefe.
Keefe likes helping others. He says it gives him a sense of purpose, something that had always been missing for him. Keefe explained it this way. “I work harder and smarter and to be quite honest, for the first time in my life I’ve developed skills well beyond what I displayed in other jobs. As a result, I’ve made myself more valuable and over time I believe I’ll be compensated for that value.”
Keefe also explained that most people don’t work on things that are meaningful to them and as a result they never develop the skills that others are willing to pay for. It is a vicious cycle for many people who don’t really like their job because their job doesn’t inspire them and they don’t work to the best of their abilities.
The book “W.A.Y. Beyond” details the absolute importance of engaging in work that is meaningful. Keefe says, “Without this no one can develop the talents that are necessary for creating value or overcoming obstacles in life. A lack of education, a troubled past and even a physical handicap all can be overcome if a person pursues something that is worth the effort. If they work in areas that hold no real importance the incentive just isn’t there for them.”
Not one to sit around, Keefe was committed to help improve the lives of others. National organizations such as the American Counseling Association, The National Mental Health Association and The National Eating Disorders Association have helped Keefe. According to Keefe, they recognized his commitment and saw value in helping him.
A grateful, Keefe explained that many people and organizations have gone beyond what would be considered normal to help him. “Some people worked regularly without getting paid. Others invested when they didn’t have much money,” said Keefe.
In his book, “W.A.Y. Beyond” Keefe explains that it isn’t a coincidence that people are willing to help, but a response to the energy that emits from a person engaged in meaningful work. “All of these relationships helped me realize the things that I didn’t have like money and expertise all came as a result of my efforts. If I hadn’t done all the work no one would have given me a second thought. But because I did all that I could, others did too!”
One of Keefe’s ideas was to help people manage some of the difficulties in their life. Some people call it having “the blues.” So what does Keefe do? He starts a franchise of web sites based on “the blues.” It began with www.CampusBlues.com now used by more than 300 colleges and universities throughout the US and Canada to help students connect with important information and resources. Next, Keefe launched www.WorkplaceBlues.com with the American Counseling Association during the DC Sniper crisis. Today WorkplaceBlues.com is a helpful resource for those seeking new jobs within Monster.com. His latest site, www.SchoolBlues.com will provide a much needed resource to high schools and their students.
You see folks, on one hand; Keefe’s success is simple in that it comes from simple ideas. On the other hand, Keefe’s successes are a story of hard work, long hours and an unyielding commitment and drive to succeed. When I asked him about the book, Keefe said, “I wrote “W.A.Y. Beyond” because I had a very strong feeling inside that I needed to. It was the least logical thing to do. At the time I began to write it I had absolutely no money and had not proven the success of my business.”
He further explained that in the beginning writing the book was therapeutic and helped with the stress, but it evolved into something much more important. “I didn’t have money, but I did have time and a very strong awareness of the lessons that came from deciding to move beyond what should have been the logical progression of my life. It was clear to me that the number one reason people become trapped in a life that they don’t want is because they have so much trouble conceiving of a life that is full of what they do want. They know they want more but they have no logical way for getting it. Unfortunately the only definition of more for most people is money or the things money can buy.”
Don’t be confused. Keefe is not advocating that money is bad. Throughout the book he explains in detail how any person can have “more” of whatever you want including money. Keefe wants to make sure that people understand that realizing your dreams won’t come without making changes. Keefe believes that the person that you are today may not be capable of great accomplishment, but the person you’re capable of becoming is!
In order to become that person Keefe says you must identify what is important and direct effective effort toward that end.
Keefe also believes that within all people are hidden talents and an abundance of energy that is capable of fueling great accomplishments. Unfortunately most people never tap into this part of themselves. They get trapped in jobs, relationships and give into negative thoughts. Even if they begin to think that they can they be successful, someone usually talks them out it.
So this man from Reading, Massachusetts, credits his father as having the most influence on him. He says his father is a man that always had a clear purpose for his life. For others who will never meet my Dad, Napoleon Hill is another very strong influence in my life, although he died in 1970, Napoleon Hill’s work is important reading for all who aspire to have more in their lives.
The conversation soon shifted to leadership. Keefe described leadership in the following way. “Leaders go first and share what they have learned. Leadership is helping people to become self-determining. They lead without manipulation and the end result of successful leadership is when a person who has been led begins to turn to themselves and not the leader.
Keefe considers himself a leader. He won’t go around telling you this because he prefers that people judge him by his actions.
Next, I asked Keefe to answer the following question: “If you didn’t have to worry about money or resources, what would you do with your life?” Keefe believes that the question by itself is the essence of achievement. He answered the question by explaining that money, resources and whatever else you want only come after “what you do with your life,” not before! According to Keefe, “What you see from my work is the result of not letting a lack of money and resources keep me from doing with my life what I knew I should!”
I’m sure Keefe would love for you to purchase his book, “W.A.Y. Beyond,” but you don’t have to. Keefe has arranged for you to get the book for FREE online at his web site www.BillKeefe.com.
If you want to learn more about Bill and how to define success for you, click here to order his book.
Professor Walter Williams
Over the past few years I’ve read a number of newspaper columns written by George Mason University Professor Walter Williams. I contacted Professor Williams through his office at the George Mason University and was given the opportunity to talk to him directly to make my case for an interview. At the end of our conversation, Professor Williams mentioned that he starts his day early and gave me a date and time that would fit his schedule. I accepted his timeframe and let me tell you, getting up early for this interview was well worth it.
Throughout our conversation, Professor Walter Williams was straight and to the point. He was engaging and never once tried to avoid any topic. At the end of the interview I tried to get Professor Williams to indulge me in a game of word association, to which he replied, “I not into “psycho-babble.” Undeterred, at the end of the interview I started tossing out words and phrases and Professor Williams responded. Throughout this interview I have to acknowledge that there were times when Walter Williams “stretched” the way I thought about certain issues. A self-described Libertarian, Williams made a series of no-nonsense arguments on a variety of topics.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Walter Williams, he was born in Philadelphia, PA, 66 years ago. He holds a bachelor's degree in economics from California State University (1965) and a master's degree (1967) and doctorate (1972) in economics from the University of California at Los Angeles. In 1980, he joined the faculty of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., and is currently the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics. You may have heard him on the radio, as he’s been the guest host on The Rush Limbaugh Radio Show for the past 10 years.
Walter Williams can boast that more than 50 of his publications have appeared in scholarly journals such as Economic Inquiry, American Economic Review and Social Science Quarterly and popular publications such as Reader's Digest, The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek.
Professor Williams has made a number of TV and radio appearances on such programs as "Face The Nation," "Nightline" and "Crossfire." He’s also the author of several books. Among these are The State Against Blacks, later made into a television documentary, America: A Minority Viewpoint, All It Takes Is Guts, and South Africa's War On Capitalism.
On his web site Professor Williams developed a certificate to help white people. Williams explained, “A lot of things that white people do is motivated by guilt. I made a certificate of ‘“amnesty and pardon”’ to all Americans of European ancestry. I want to give them amnesty and pardon so they’ll stop acting like damn fools. The guilt is killing us.”
I started the interview by asking Professor Walter Williams to outline his position on Affirmative Action. “I think that racial preferences ought to be eliminated totally for colleges and universities,” said Williams. I then asked him about his recent comments where he was quoted as saying that diversity and multiculturalism is a cancer in our society. Professor Williams made it clear that he does not believe that diversity and multiculturalism can stand up to the test of reality. This led to Professor Williams sharing a number of examples to illustrate his point of view. He explained it this way: “The notion that we need a certain percentage of people by race or by sex in all kinds of activities and for it to be mandated as such; I think that it’s a cancer on our society. That tells us that we shouldn’t look at individuals; we should look at the race and their sex. There’s no evidence around the world, anywhere in the world, that people would be distributed proportionally across activities, proportioned to their numbers in the population by race and sex. There’s no evidence anywhere that that would be the natural outcome. For example, if you look at Jewish Americans, they are no more than 3% of the population but they win 33% of the Nobel prizes that are won by Americans. Blacks are 13% of the population but 80% of the professional basketball players. Sometimes you’re watching a basketball game at the college or professional level and you don’t see a white player on the floor, and you damn sure don’t see any Japanese or Chinese. Or if you look at professional football, 66% of the players are black. If you look at homicide in America, black Americans commit most homicides. If you go anywhere around the world, even in activities where the choice is completely up to the people, you don’t see proportionality. Multiculturalism and diversity makes the assumption that people would somehow be distributed equally by race. If you look at the field of entertainment, there is nothing whatsoever that stops black Americans from attending the opera—but you look at any opera and most of the people are white. If you look at hockey, the camera panning around the arena and you don’t see any blacks. There’s no law saying that blacks can’t go to ice hockey.”
Knowing that Professor Williams is an educator, I asked him to assess the current state of education in this country, particularly public school education. Professor Williams started with the following analogy:
“If I were the Grand Dragon of the Klu Klux Klan and I wanted to sabotage black academic excellence I could not find or devise a better way of doing that than the public schools in our cities. Look at Washington, DC. You can’t blame discrimination in this case. The mayor is black, most of the superintendents in recent history have been black, most of the principals are black, most of the teachers are black, and they get $10,500 per year, per student. The people in Washington, DC in the educational establishment must be hoping that Mississippi does not succeed from the union. Otherwise they would be dead last in terms of academic achievement.” I informed Professor Williams that I’m a product of the DC school system. In my opinion the educational bar has lowered in DC. I’m embarrassed and disgusted by what appears to be criminal activity with little regard for the children in that system.
Professor Williams referred to the allegations of wrongdoing in Washington, DC as a “disgrace.” Some members of the Washington Teachers Union are being investigated for stealing millions of dollars from the union and misusing union dues. Professor Williams made this observation about the D.C. school crisis. “Here you have these black politicians blaming this situation on everybody else but themselves. The problem is with black people! Go around some Chinese or Japanese neighborhoods and look at the streets after school. The kids are home doing their homework. They’re not running up and down the street. You also have some situations where the black students who want to achieve are sometimes assaulted, they’re accused of trying to act white or they’re called braniacs.”
Williams shared another example. “Look at cities like Philadelphia, Chicago and Detroit. Academic achievement among black people was higher at a time when racists ran the cities. I’m talking about when the mayor was white, the superintendent of schools was white, most of the teachers were white and there was discrimination in the funding of schools. At that time black academic achievement was higher. So the point I’m making with that observation is that people who want to blame the stuff on discrimination don’t have a leg to stand on.”
“This says something about our culture when we no longer place a high value on education,” say Williams. Williams also recalled that at one time black folks placed a high value on education, even to the point of risking their lives to educate their children. “When black education was illegal in the south, blacks formed clandestine schools. If somehow you could resurrect those black people from the late 1800’s who were doing all kinds of things to get their kids educated, and somehow bring them to some black high schools in Washington, DC, they would not believe it. They would not believe that black people are not taking advantage of the educational opportunities available to them.”
I asked Professor Williams if he thought that some of this behavior by black people is due to a holdover or from some legacy of slavery. Why did I ask that? Professor Williams immediately shot back: “That’s horse shit!” According to Professor Williams, “People have used this legacy of slavery to try and explain a whole lot of things. They’re saying things like the break down in the black family, the fact that less than 40% of black kids live in two parent families or the 75% illegitimacy rate, or the high crime rates among blacks is because of the legacy of slavery. Now if you go back and look at the work done by scholars such as Herbert Gutman (author of the book Black Family in Slavery and Freedom, 1750-1925). Gutman points out that more black kids lived in families with biological mothers and fathers in slavery than live now. In 1925, in Harlem, 85% of black kids lived in two parent families. I doubt whether you’d find 15% today. Or the illegitimacy rate in 1918 among black teenagers was less than white teenagers.” According to Williams, if the legacy of slavery means anything, it damn sure must have skipped a several generations. Williams posed this question to me: “How come things weren’t much worse when blacks were closer to slavery, had far fewer opportunities and much more poverty?”
I turned the question back on the Professor and asked him for answers. “I don’t have all the answers. I’m 66 years old,” replied Williams. “When I was a youngster growing up in the projects in north Philadelphia, if a black girl had a baby without the benefit of marriage she was a disgrace on her family. She was sent down south to live with her grandmother or some other relative because she was a disgrace. And today, there’s no longer such a stigma. In fact if you go out and have a baby the government comes along and says we’ll give you housing, we’ll give you some money and we’ll give you some food stamps. Any economist, liberal or conservative, will tell you that if you lower the cost of doing something people will do more of it. And so the cost of illegitimacy is just lower. Then the welfare state has come in and replaced fathers. Fathers are not as important to the survival of the family as they used to be. As a matter of fact, there’s a sociologist at Johns Hopkins, a guy named Cherlin, he wrote some stuff back in the 1980’s. He says that there’s no evidence that fathers are needed in the household. What’s needed is the father’s paycheck. That’s the same thing as saying that we can replace black fathers, or fathers in general with a welfare check.”
I then asked Professor Williams the following question: “What do you think are the most crucial issues facing black men?
He responded in the following manner. “I don’t know if I can say which is the most crucial, but there are several issues that we’ve been ignoring and not paying a lot of attention to or trying to find excuses for. I think a major problem is the crime in black communities. And young black men do most of the crime. If you look at things like interracial crime, according to statistics from the Department of Justice, over 90% of interracial crimes is where the victim is a white person and the perpetrator is black. And for crime in general, blacks are the major victims of crime. That says a couple things. Number one, we got white people afraid of us and having reservations about blacks. Number two; crime levies a heavy tax on black people.” If this wasn’t enough, Professor Williams gave me another example. “During the riots in Los Angeles in 1992, you had black people coming on TV saying that there were no supermarkets in the neighborhoods and that people had to deal with the high cost of Ma and Pa stores or get on buses to go to suburban shopping malls to do their shopping. Or they had to go to Check Cashing places in order to cash their paychecks because they had no banks in their community. Now I’m here to tell you, the reason there were no supermarkets or a lot of banks in southeast Los Angeles wasn’t because white supermarket owners and white bankers do not like green dollars coming out of black hands. It was the criminals that raised the cost of doing business.”
I guess I must have projected that I wasn’t convinced, so Professor Williams suggested that I conduct my own experiment. Since I live in the Washington, DC area, he suggested that I go to southeast Washington, (where I used to live) and go to a grocery store and look around. Next I should go to a grocery store in Chevy Chase, Maryland (an affluent white suburb outside of DC) and make a comparison of the two stores. According to Professor Williams, suburban supermarkets will have merchandise outside the store, merchandise in the door way and even goods left out overnight. “That means that the supermarket owner can use all the square feet that he’s paying for, says Williams. Williams went on to explain, “When you go to a supermarket in a high crime neighborhood you don’t find anything near the doors, you find security guards who are not working for free, and you don’t find anything outside, particularly left out overnight. This means that the supermarket owner in a high crime area can use less of his square feet than the one in the low crime area. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. What this does is impose a heavy tax on people least able to bear the tax.”
Williams made it clear that he’s not saying that discrimination is gone. He was trying to illustrate the discrimination doesn’t explain away a lot of things like it used to do in the past. Williams firmly believes that most of the problems that black people face have nothing to do with discrimination. He told me that as long as we continue or are misled to believe that our problems are a result of discrimination we won’t cope with the problem, but are more likely to go out and sing “We Shall Overcome.” “Look at these black leaders who are worried more about what Trent Lott said or whether the confederate flag is flying on the dome of a capitol in South Carolina. What in the hell has it done for black kids who are going to rotten schools?” The answer: Nothing!
Professor Williams acknowledged Black Men In America.com’s effort to expose site visitors to a variety of viewpoints is a worthy one. “It’s very important that your magazine interviews people with a wide variety of views, says Williams. “Black people cannot afford to allow a monopoly on ideas. We have so many problems that we need to have competition in the idea market, because these damn ideas that people have been giving us for the past 50 years, a lot of them haven’t worked.”
I ended the interview with a word association activity.
Professor Williams: (Laughing) “You’ll never see them.”
Gary: Clarence Thomas
Professor Williams: “A good friend of mine, who’s doing a wonderful job on the court.”
Professor Williams: “He has some good ideas, but he’s half baked on matters of race. When he’s talking about black people ought to take care of themselves and establish independence, I’m in his corner 100%. When he starts talking about the racial mumbo jumbo, he loses me.”
Gary: Condoleeza Rice
Professor Williams: “We ought to be proud of her. She is a tough woman.”
Walter Williams writes a weekly column for Creators Syndicate, which distributes his work to over 100 newspapers and web sites across the country. He’s received many awards and honors including the National Fellow at the Hoover Institute of War and the Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship. He’s also a member of the American Economic Association and is a Distinguished Scholar of the Heritage Foundation. In addition, Professor Williams participates in many debates and conferences and is a frequent public speaker. He’s also given testimony before both houses of Congress.
I enjoyed talking with Walter Williams. He was serious, passionate about his work and most of all a gracious interview. Thank you Professor Williams.
An Interview With Ward Connerly
I first learned of Ward Connerly in 1995 through newspaper articles and radio commentary about his effort as the University of California Regent who led a national campaign to end race preference. In 1996, he was instrumental in passing Proposition 209 in California. Based on what I read, Connerly was portrayed as being politically aligned with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and other black conservatives. I rarely read or heard anything positive from the mainstream black media (whatever that is). I interviewed author Ward Connerly last month and found him to be gracious, confident of his views and respectful.
Connerly is Founder and Chairman of the American Civil Rights Institute a national, not-for-profit organization aimed at educating the public about the need to move beyond racial and gender preferences. His latest book, Creating Equal: My Fight Against Race Preferences has generated some strong reaction on both sides of the political spectrum.
I wanted to interview Ward Connerly after I heard him on a radio “get out and vote” initiative last November on The Tom Joyner Morning Show, which was aired live at the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem. One of the topics being discussed was the state of Black America. Co-host Tavis Smiley asked Connerly the following: “Ward Connerly you know that most black Americans consider you an Uncle Tom?” Connerly explained his position and in essence stated that his views have been misunderstood. After that segment had ended and Connerly had left the show Joyner starting making all of these negative remarks about Connerly’s views and stated, “Ward Connerly is a guy who has kept a lot of black people from getting an education.” I remember thinking to myself; I wonder how Connerly will respond to that. Well he never did respond, because he had already departed the show. He had no chance to defend himself. It was at that moment that I decided to give Ward Connerly a fair shot at explaining his views since I felt that he didn’t get his shot with Joyner. So I decided to do a little homework and see what I could learn about this man.
Ward Connerly was born in 1939 in Leesville, Louisiana. He grew up in the Jim Crow era where segregation was the way things were and those who were Negro, colored, or black were treated as “less than.” His father left his household when he was two years old and his mother died when he was four. His grandmother, an Aunt and other extended family raised Connerly. Growing up Connerly saw the inequities around him, didn’t like what he saw and began to focus on legal equality.
Based on the controversy that seems to surround Connerly, I decided to start the interview by asking him to explain his views on equal rights. Connerly explained that many folks of his generation simply wanted the government to discontinue the practice of denying black access to schools, to public accommodations and to discontinue the practice of treating black like animals. “We weren’t seeking any special consideration, or seeking to be treated differently from people. We wanted to be treated the same as everybody else,” said Connerly.
For Connerly equal treatment is manifested in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which says that all citizens will be guaranteed equal protection, equal treatment under the law—without regard to race color or creed. “My whole foundation derives from the view that in order for me to be respected as a man, in order for me to enjoy the fullness of the American experience, you need to judge me as an individual, you need to give me the same rights and the same treatment as everybody else. If I succeed it is by virtue of my own individual merit, by virtue of my own individual hard work. I’m not asking society to give me anything. Throughout my life, whether it was with my Aunts working in white people’s homes as maids, or whether it was my Uncle James digging ditches, the centerpiece of everything they did was that we deserved respect, no matter how little our job, we want respect, and we don’t want to be treated as if we were second-class. Open that door and give us the right to go through and we’ll take it from there. So that is me, that is the essence of who I am.”
Connerly is well aware that he is often misunderstood. I asked him about the incident at the Apollo Theater on Joyner’s radio show. Connerly explained that Tavis asked him the question so that he could explain his position. “He [Tavis] and I work together and he doesn’t treat me that way. I responded to it as I always do and explained that I just think that I’ve been misunderstood. I thought Joyner’s comment was a cheap shot. I had no chance to respond and more importantly, it is not true. I felt that Tom was playing to the knee jerk reaction that that’s what black people wanted to hear. There’s not one thing that I’ve done that’s been harmful to any black kid. The measures that I’ve adopted saying that you cannot use race to get into the University of California has not kept one black kid from going to the University of California. They may have meant that you could not go to Berkley or UCLA, as your first choice, but if you were eligible to go the University of California before California Proposition 209 then you’re eligible to go to the University of California after 209. What I have done has benefited low-income blacks. The emphasis is on socio-economic conditions, not on race.”
Connerly believes that he has been demonized in the black media. “You know there’s just certain people that the establishment, the elitists choose to use as the symbols of someone who’s holding black people back and they can’t find a white racists so they fall on the next thing they can find like a Clarence Thomas or Ward Connerly.” According to Connerly his views are entirely consistent with the whole history of black America. In addition, as a result of the growing black middle class, black people are far less the beneficiaries of these programs that were put in place back in the 1960’s, to benefit black people. Connerly says these programs are now benefiting recent immigrants, and benefiting those of Mexican descent far more because of the paradigm change. “It seems to me that there are certain things that you don’t fudge. You don’t fudge on the principal of equal treatment under the law for every individual. There are certain things that ought to be sacred and in this nation, especially among black people the notion that our skin color and the attributes of race, should never, never, never be used for us or against us, because if you can use it for me right now, who’s to say that you can’t use it against me later on.”
So what’s the measuring stick for achieving equal rights? Connerly says that we’ll never fully get there. “I think it’s a delusion to think that we’re going to forever banish the proclivity of people to judge those who are different, we’re never going to get rid of all that. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. I think that our policies and our government laws are intended to create the legal framework to guide us, and in my lifetime that ideal has been the reality, it’s the federal government laws that have knocked down Jim Crow, that have made it possible for me as a brown skin man to sometimes navigate these treacherous waters of life.”
Connerly strongly believes that every individual needs to have access to grievance procedures when they feel that they’ve been discriminated against to get things adjudicated. “The difficulty we’re having right now is that we are so wedded to statistics. We look at statistics and we believe that they’re a valid measure of whether discrimination is occurring. We have not refined our ability to detect discrimination or to deal with it any more in the last 30 years than we did in the first 10 years. We have not perfected the tools of testing to determine whether discrimination occurs or not. I believe that as more and more states and more and more courts strike down these temporary programs that were designed to give Affirmative Action, which really in some cases are nothing more than a system of preferences on the basis of your attributes. As the courts strike those down, we’re going to have to find better ways of detecting discrimination.”
Speaking of Affirmative Action, Connerly says he supports Affirmative Action, and said that it was critical that the language be clear. “I support it if Affirmative Action means taking a look at your job descriptions, making sure that what you’re requiring of a job is relevant to that job. For example, you’re not going to ask someone lift 800 lbs., in order to qualify as a fireperson if in fact 200 lbs. is sufficient. You’re going to look at those job announcements and descriptions and make sure they’re fair. You’re going to broadly advertise jobs that are available, you’re going to go to a black church, you’re going to Chinese New Year, you’re going to outreach everywhere you possibly can to let people know that this job is available and you are encouraged to apply for this job. You also make sure that the interview panels and the procurement procedures and all of those things that are set in place are fair and free from any bias based on any group. You’re going to make sure that if a contractor is a ‘Prime” contractor and has a job to build a freeway that that “Prime” contractor is going to invite small emerging businesses to bid on pieces of that job so that more people have a chance to bid on it. That is Affirmative Action. That is the kind of Affirmative Action that most people embrace. The reality is that many of the Affirmative Action programs became a system of government bureaucrats deciding who ought to be hired or admitted to college on the basis of their race, or their gender or their ethnic background. Then it ceases to be Affirmative Action. If Affirmative Action means giving some sort of thumb on the scale to a low-income person or to a person who has never had a parent go to college, I support those kinds of Affirmative Actions. So language is critical here.”
The conversation came back to Connerly being misunderstood by many in the black community. He said he couldn’t cope with the black media. “That word of mouth network among black people is powerful. And once that word goes out that this guy is not one of us, that this guy is against us, an individual cannot contend with it because its too big.”
Many people are not aware that Connerly is one of the country’s top experts in the housing industry. He began working in the legislature as a consultant understanding housing policy and eventually formed his own business in 1973. It was clear to me as I listened to Connerly that he became a “student of the game.” He worked with a lot of trade associations and learned the business. “Contrary to some of the claims by my associates, I’ve never ever bid on a job as a black man. I think that it harms a business for people get the image that you’re a “black businessman.” Just be a businessperson. I’ve worked hard to gain the credentials and belong to the associations that deal with housing issues, not the black Chamber of Commerce but the Chamber of Commerce. I served on the board of the California Chamber of Commerce.” Connerly believes that if you distinguish yourself in the larger society your accomplishments will accrue and you will get respect. “If we get the respect that Asians get on the presumption that they’re all smart and they can ace these SAT’s and everything else, if we command that kind of respect, ‘“Katie bar the door”’ because we’re on our way.”
Like many others, Ward Connerly believes that one of the keys to leveling the playing field and getting respect for black folks is in enhancing economic development. “Black people need respect,” say Connerly. “Everything that I’ve been fighting for says, ‘“Don’t look at black people as the sum total of this image that you have of them as a race.”’ Look at black people as individuals. Give black people some respect. We have so many people that have accomplished so much in the last 20 years, in every sector of the economy in every sector of American society, in sports, in entertainment, in the business world. In politics, black people can get elected with white votes. So I think the time has passed for black people to band together as an oppressed race. The time it seems to me now is for black people to start pounding away about the successes, pounding away about the accomplishments and changing that image of black Americans as disadvantaged – the presumption of inadequate hanging around our neck. With the respect, more economic doors open. Nobody reaches out to somebody in the business world in order to be charitable, to be compatible. It doesn’t happen, it just doesn’t happen. People want competence. We’re often portrayed as the least successful. When that happens you pay a price. You create your own door that closes on you. You might get in the door once in awhile on the basis of race, but then you’re tucked in a corner and your upward mobility is severely impaired.”
Ward Connerly’s story in many ways is typical of black America. The story proves that you don’t have to have that traditional husband/wife family to be successful as long as you have love and somebody takes an interest in you. It’s also about a man who grew up believing in the principals of America. He applied those principals, gained a measure of success and despite all the odds is saying, “I’m an individual. I’m a man, treat me with respect.” That’s the common thread that I picked out of this interview. I wanted Ward Connerly to get a fair shot to articulate his views without having them deliberately distorted.
Connerly reminded me that there’s a big fight within black America right now, about which way we’re going to go. He asked, “Are we going to go the old way of Jesse and Al? Or are we going a new way and pursue economic opportunity and demand respect and stand on our own two feet? I see more and more signs that my approach is winning the day. I think my book will lay that out.”
I may not agree with Ward Connerly on a lot of things, but I appreciated the opportunity to talk with him and hear his views without having them filtered through others. I think I have a better sense of Ward Connerly because I gained a better sense of the man.
Are You a True Leader?
How would you answer the following yes/no questions?
- I believe in setting my own limits; I do not allow others to do this for me. (personal goals)
- I can picture success, and I can clearly articulate it to others so they can also see success from my view. (vision)
- I know I need the help of others to realize my dreams and aspirations, so sharing my visions and including others is a very high priority for me. (aligning others)
- I spend time helping others to strategize around organizational barriers. (empowerment)
- I always have a personal agenda and goals that I work in my organization that meet both my needs and the needs of the organization. (staying the course)
These questions deal directly with the Top Five Attributes of Leaders and Leadership. Read on to learn more!
LEADERS EXERCISE LEADERSHIP BY GOING FORTH IN FRONT OF AND BEFORE OTHERS.
Contrary to the popular behavior of many of our designated leaders of today, leadership does not mean that leaders look around to see where everyone is going and then run like the devil to get in front of the moving crowd.
A True Leader has a personal need and a desire to turn dreams into reality. To satisfy and implement this need, he or she will involve others to help make the need or desire come true. In this way, leadership is exercised because of the need and determination of one person to move forward in a desired direction. Others will follow because they want to help make the need or desire a reality. Reasons will vary for followers, but for them, there is some personal reward. It is really as simple as that!
A True Leader goes before others to provide for them:
- dreams and visions: something in which to get excited
- goals and objectives: something to work toward
- rewards: something to celebrate accomplishments
A True Leader may also become the spokesperson for people who cannot or are not in a position to speak for themselves. A True Leader is also obvious, usually, to onlookers and followers alike. A True Leader, consciously or unconsciously, makes ONE decision--to pursue his or her dreams. Afterward, there are no more decisions regarding leading. Leadership becomes a way of life.
Want to learn more? Click on Seminars for a listing of our workshops pertaining to leadership, or click on Products to purchase a Leadership Monograph or The Top Five Attributes of Leaders and Leadership in a frame or laminated card format.