Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Education vs. Association

"It's not what you know, it's who you know."

I've come to find this phrase rather unsettling and quite misleading.

If this means that my educational achievements have no merit on how far I'm expected to advance in life, then why are college degrees such an important commodity in today's society? Why can't those who failed to finish high school get a decent job and live a financially stable life? Furthermore, why is that the majority of business moguls became successful without pursuing a higher education and how can I be introduced to who they know?

Although many of us come from various backgrounds and cultures, there is one common element that connects us all... Communication. How well we communicate will eventually be the determining factor in how successful we become, regardless of what we know or who we know.

When I decided to start my own writing business a few months ago, I contemplated about how I could take advantage of promotional methods and strategies without having to constantly speak about my efforts. I've never been much of an effective oral communicator. My writing has always spoken for me. However, I was recently inspired by a fellow FSU graduate and one of my most recent iWrite4orU clients to overcome my shy nature and connect with random individuals in order to spread my #WriterGrind message(s).

This particular client has initiated a TALK TO STRANGERS campaign and aims to reverse the ancient  "don't talk to strangers" mentality that overpowers and hinders our option to actually take advantage of who we know.

The above mentioned ironic connection also relates to an association that I recently rekindled with an old friend that I met as a freshman in college. We introduced ourselves to each other at a job interview back in 2006, but lost touch after I graduated. While updating each other on our lives since entering the "real world", we realized that we both have similar aspirations. I'm a writer. He's a songwriter and producer. He has interned with two major record labels and mingled with various budding Hip Hop artists, such as Pretty Ricky, Tay Dizm, Verse Simmonds, and J-Luv. I've interviewed a plethora of famous actors and actresses as a Contributing Writer for EU Jacksonville Newspaper, including Ella Joyce, Darryl Ruben Hall, Renee Robinson, and the entire cast of The Color Purple Musical.

While discussing how we can assist each other with furthering our prospective goals, another interesting connection was revealed. I became aware of the fact that I actually work for the same company as one of his brothers. A few weeks later, another one of his brothers randomly contacted me on Facebook to request my iWrite4orU services. In the midst of us reconnecting, I was able to make two new connections (through his immediate circle) that will eventually contribute to the advancement of my writing company.

The biggest abstraction that seems to get lost in the beliefs surrounding the "who you know" theory is the power of an education. While taking advantage of who I know, I am still able to utilize the value of what I know to reach my final destination of success. "Who you know gets you into the door... what you know keeps you there." Now, that theory makes more sense.

Is what we know more important than who we know? Can who we know sometimes threaten our position of power? Is it possible to obtain an adequate level of success without a legitimate education?

*Music is Life... Poetry is Love*

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Positive Role of Setting A Goal

My brother is currently a sophomore at Bethune-Cookman University. He has successfully completed three semesters, making the Dean's List 3 consecutive times, while maintaining a cumulative 3.7 GPA. This past semester, I challenged him to make straight A's. The prize?
These fresh and expensive pair of Jordan sneakers:

He struggled just a bit along the way, but never lost sight of the goal. Due to BCU's strenuous 16 credit hour per semester requirement, I decided to alleviate some of the stress by allowing him to make one B. He requested my assistance with the rehearsal of 3 speeches, but managed to handle his Accounting, Economics, Statistics and Spanish courses on his own. 

As a big sister, it is my duty to lead by example. However, my brother's desire to obtain this motivational incentive has taught me a valuable lesson about dedication. I am proud to say that he finished the Fall 2011 semester with all A's and one B (in Spanish). He was slightly disappointed because he was so close to making straight A's, but he's optimistic about the fact that he still has something to strive for.  

Find out more about my brother's academic goals and how he strived to make straight A's below:

1.      How do you stay focused?

I stay focused by sticking to my priorities and knowing what is important to me. 
2.      Describe your study habits.

    I study for a short period of time. Once I understand something I don’t try to cram it in with hours of studying.
3.      How do you balance academics with fun?

      I don’t try to balance it. School is more important to me. I think I’ve turned into a nerd because all I think about is getting smarter and I’ve lost a connection with the people I used to have fun with. Some of them understand, some of them don’t, but it’s my decision to want to stay focused on the big prize ahead and not the side attractions.

4.      What inspires you?

My sister and my parents’ investment in me. I just don’t want to be a disappointment to them. They invested their time and money on me to make sure that I was accepted into college and had money to pay for it and it’s my responsibility to pay them back with interest. No matter how successful I become I will never forget the sacrifices they made for me.   
5.      What adjustments did you make during your transition from high school to college?

I had to leave my football dreams behind and focus on what my future career was going to be. At first it was difficult, then I realized that football wasn’t in God’s plan for me, so with His direction I put my focus elsewhere, and lo and behold, 3 consecutive Dean’s Lists later I recognized what God saw in me that I didn’t see in myself.

6.      What is your definition of success?

Success is a mindset. I’ve learned over time that success is not just about the minuscule achievements or the monetary substance that people always talk about. Success is a plateau that we all reach for, but only a few of us have the courage to grasp it.

7.      What are your future career plans?

In the future I plan to work for a successful financial service company,
become a business mogul and hopefully expand into other ventures, such as Sports Management, to fulfill my dream of someday becoming an ESPN Sports Analyst.   

8.      Why did you choose to attend Bethune-Cookman University?

I think the fact that it fits my personality is the reason I chose it, and it’s one of the best decisions I made in my life.   
9.      How has your experience at Bethune-Cookman University been so far?

It’s been great. The professors I’ve had have all assisted me with becoming a better person. I also have the privilege of being a member of the Black Males in Higher Education Think Tank (BMTT), which has allowed me to be around fellow educated black males who are trying to change the stereotype of the African American male and be upstanding role models on campus.   
10.  Why did you strive so hard to make straight A’s this semester?

Because I wanted the shoes my sister promised me (lol), but in all honesty I wanted to prove the people in charge of Florida Bright Futures wrong for not giving me a scholarship and show them that I could pursue a higher education without one. I wanted to make the President’s List. I wanted to have a taste of success. And lastly, I wanted to be able to say I did something that my sister didn’t do as a college student.

11.  Describe yourself in 3 words.

Dedicated, Humble, Smart

12.  How do you utilize your free time when you’re not studying?

I just lay back and chill, listen to music, and watch ESPN

13.  What is the most important thing that all college students need to know?

That college life is overrated—The work, the parties, the lifestyle. Don’t get sucked into doing things that you’re not accustomed to doing. Be who you are, not what others want you to be. I can honestly say that I am the same person now that I was when I lived under my parents’ roof.

Goals are important elements of success. What are you striving to achieve and how are you going to achieve it?

"Turn your can'ts into cans and your dreams into plans." 

*Music is Life... Poetry is Love*

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hit The Road Jack - Fair or Wack Sack?

The Jaguars were sold and Coach Jack Del Rio was fired... all in the same day. Talk about exclusive news! In the midst of a 3-8 record, the Jaguars are being forced to rebuild... again. Despite the many breaking points that the Jacksonville franchise has suffered, this just might be exactly what the team needs.

The Jaguars currently have a 141-136 all-time record. Although the team has had some hits and misses over the years, there have been many notable high points. Below is a timeline of the franchise's accomplishments and disappointments:

1992 - The NFL announced that it would add two new teams. After the Gator Bowl game in 1993, the old Jacksonville Municipal stadium was remodeled. 

1995 - Inaugural season - Tom Coughlin was hired as head coach. The new stadium opened on August 18, 1995 with a preseason game against the St. Louis Rams. The Jaguars played their first regular season game at home before a crowd of 72,363 on September 3, 1995, and lost 10-3 to the Houston Oilers.

1996 - Jimmy Smith was positioned as the lead receiver. The Jaguars won six of their last seven games of the season and finished with a record of 9–7. The team clinched the fifth seed in the AFC playoffs and their first playoff game was against the Buffalo Bills. The Jaguars won 30–27. They moved on to the second round and defeated the Denver Broncos to advance to the AFC Championship Game for the first time in just their second season, but suffered a 20–6 loss to the New England Patriots.

1997 - The Jaguars finished the season with an 11–5 record, winning 2nd place in their division, a Wild Card berth and the 5th seed in the AFC playoffs. They lost in the first round to the Denver Broncos, who went on to win the Super Bowl. 

1998 - The Jaguars finished 11–5 again, won their first AFC Central Division title, and became the first NFL expansion team to make the playoffs three times in its first four seasons.

1999 - The Jaguars finished with a league best 14–2 regular season record, the best record in franchise history. They won the AFC Central Division for the second straight year and clinched the #1 seed in the AFC. They went on to host the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Divisional playoffs, and pulled off a 62–7 victory. The team's 62 points and 55-point margin are the second most ever in NFL playoff history, and Fred Taylor's 90-yard run in the first quarter is the longest ever in an NFL playoff game. Unfortunately, the team's magical run came to an end when they lost at home to the Titans. All three of the team's losses were against the Titans this year (the only time in NFL history that a 3-loss team had all of its losses to one team). 

2000 - The Jaguars failed to continue their previous season's run and ended the season with 7 wins and 9 disappointing losses.

2001/2002 - The Jaguars were placed in the AFC South Division and suffered their worst franchise record of 6-10 two years in a row. The struggles were blamed on the franchise's inability to afford to pay talented players. 

2003 - Jack Del Rio was hired as the new head coach and Byron Leftwich was selected as the 7th pick in the NFL draft. Quarterback Mark Brunell was benched and Leftwich was selected as the new starting quarterback. The Jaguars finished the season at 5–11 and missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. Quarterback Mark Brunell was forced to leave the team at the end of the season.

2004 - The Jaguars capped off their 10th season with a winning record of 9–7. They also became the first NFL team to have three African-American quarterbacks on their roster (Byron LeftwichDavid Garrard, and Quinn Gray).

2005 - The Jaguars earned a Wild Card spot and their first playoff appearance since 1999 with a 12–4 record. The team lost to the New England Patriots in the AFC Wild Card round.

2006 - Running Back Maurice Jones-Drew was selected as the Jaguars' second round draft pick, averaging 5.7 yards per carry (the highest in the league) and tying for 3rd in the NFL with 16 touchdowns. However, the team missed the playoffs with an 8–8 record.

2007 - T
he Jaguars used their first-round number 21 draft pick to select University of Florida safety Reggie Nelson and released strong safety Donovin Darius. 
Byron Leftwich was also released and David Garrard was announced as the new starting quarterback. Garrard led the Jaguars to an 11–5 record and they went on to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31–29 to win their first playoff game in almost 8 years and their first road playoff win since 1997. 

2008- The Jaguars finished the 2008 season at 5–11, their worst record since 2003. This also marked the end of running back Fred Taylor's 11 year career as a Jaguar.

2009 - 
Gene Smith was named as the new General Manager and the team's new uniform design was revealed. The Jaguars finished the season 7–9, missing the playoffs for another consecutive year. Numerous veteran players were let go in an effort to move in a "younger" direction. 
2009 was also the franchise's worst year for attendance. Seven of the eight home games were blacked out, and rumors that the team would eventually be moved or sold began to spread.
2010 - Tyson Alualu was drafted as the 10th overall pick and the city of Jacksonville negotiated a five-year, $16.6 million naming rights deal with EverBank to rename the stadium EverBank Field. As a result, the attendance numbers increased significantly. The "Team Teal" campaign was also formed this year and the franchise experienced a 36.5% increase in game attendance (the highest in the league) and no black outs. Running Back Maurice Jones-Drew was ranked second in the league in rushing yards and David Garrard threw for 23 touchdowns, a franchise record. The Jaguars battled late with the Indianapolis Colts for the number one AFC South position, but lost their last two games, placing themselves out of playoff contention, and finishing the season with a record of 8–8.

2011 - The Jaguars traded a first and a second round pick in order to select Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert as the 10th pickDavid Garrard was cut from the team less than a week before the regular season was scheduled to start and Luke McCown was named as the starter. McCown started two games and Gabbert took over as the starter after McCown threw 4 interceptions in a 32 to 3 loss against the Jets. The Jaguars went on to lose the next 4 games, but pulled off a phenomenal upset against the Baltimore Ravens at home during a primetime Monday Night Football game. On November 29, 2011, the Jaguars announced the firing of Coach Del Rio and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker was named as the interim Coach. Just a few short hours later, owner Wayne Weaver announced that he was selling the team to a Pakistani born businessman named Shahid Khan, who attempted to purchase the St. Louis Rams in 2010.

The Jaguars have an opportunity to end their current two game losing streak with a win against the San Diego Chargers during tonight's Monday Night Primetime game.

Regardless of the negativity surrounding the team currently, the first step towards potential franchise success relied heavily on making a necessary change for improvement. Due to his failure to elevate the team to a superior level, Coach Jack Del Rio was told to hit the road. Though the announcement was unexpected, it was long overdue. Rumors of the team leaving Jacksonville can now be put to rest (hopefully) and the city's main attraction can finally begin its rebuilding process and grow to become a well-respected and dignified NFL team. 

Is Coach Jack Del Rio to blame for the team's present troubles? How long do you think it will take for the Jaguars to rebuild and consistently carry out successful playoff berth seasons? Who should the Jaguars draft next season? Is Blaine Gabbert capable of leading the Jaguars to the playoffs? Will the Jaguars ever make it to the Super Bowl? How do you feel about the team being sold to a non-American born businessman?

Speak on it!
*Music is Life... Poetry is Love*