Goodbye Detroit.

Everybody reads the news and knows what is going on in Detroit. Rampant crime, high unemployment rates, a failing educational system, the list is simply too long. The blind are leading the incompetent in that city and it shows in every way. Once a city of over 2 million citizens, Detroit has now fallen to a population of just over 900,000 people. The schools are ranked as some of the worst in the nation. Some people still have hope, some people still believe in a recovery, I don’t.

Many people fall in love. They have beautiful relationships filled with caring thoughts, romantic evenings, a luxurious wedding, a glamorous honeymoon, and wonderful children. But, things sometimes change. That person you fell in love with isn’t their normal self. Maybe they’re abusive. Infidelity creeps in. You fall out of love. Then you get divorced. Divorce occurs in half of all marriages according to the CDC. And people divorce for several reasons. But, mostly because they do not want to invest into the relationship anymore. Whether that’s emotionally, physically, monetarily, spiritually, or a combination of all four. The same reason people remove themselves from friendships or breakup with their boyfriend/girlfriend.

Now, I am divorcing Detroit. We had our time. The city helped mold me into the man that I am today. But now, the city does more harm to me and particularly my family than it does good. There’s no reason my family should be concerned for their lives just by choosing where to live. I go to work everyday and work hard everyday, so that I can have the opportunity to move my family out of the city. Detroit is no place to raise a child or have a family. And if you believe that it is, you’re either too emotionally invested, or you’re taking 7 gram rocks to the face with Charlie Sheen and you’re not #winning.

Detroit has provided me with excellent memories. I have formed friendships in that city that I will keep forever. The city taught me the value of hard work and hustling to get what you want out of life. I love the Lions and will continue to root for them. However, I can’t go back. It’s not an option. The city doesn’t do anything for me. I encourage all to give back, (which I will do) to the city if it has provided you anything. But, I can’t commit my life to the city, my tax dollars to the city, or my family to the city. If you choose to, by all means, go for it. But I can’t. I won’t. Goodbye Detroit.

 

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Money Buys Happiness

I am an avid reader. Recently, I just finished up Delivering Happiness by Tony Hseih, the CEO of zappos.com. Zappos started off as a small online shoe retailer and now is a online apparel company that does over $1B in sales annually. Zappos’ claim to fame however, is their customer service. Zappos is known throughout the retail industry as a leader in execution and innovation by delivering exceptional customer service to not only their customers, but their employees and stockholders as well. A main takeaway from the book came from one of the last chapters which delved into the psychology of happiness. Conclusion: Money buys happiness.

I always knew that money made me happy. I never tried to hide the fact that it did nor am I ashamed of it. However, I know that money will only make me happy to a certain extent. The book presented research that explained that there are 3 levels of happiness. Pleasure, passion, & higher purpose. Money falls into the pleasure category. Having money/spending money, gives you pleasure. While this is the easiest level of happiness one can achieve, it coincidentally lasts the shortest amount of time. The book compares pleasure to sex. You can have sex with a significant other and it is fun while engaged, but if you have relationship problems, they won’t disappear once you’re finished. The second level of happiness is passion. While this level of happiness is more difficult to achieve than pleasure, it tends to be longer lasting. They say time flies at this level because you are passionate about what you’re doing. Similar to athlete at during an intense game. The last level is higher purpose. This is the most difficult level to achieve; however, this level is the longest lasting. (Sometimes lasting a lifetime.) This level is all about being part of something bigger than yourself. Making a difference. Being the change you wish to see in the world. Those who find a way to achieve all three levels tend to live the happiest and most fulfilling lives. Some rich people only achieve one level of happiness. One that doesn’t last very long and won’t lead to a fulfilling life. But, a poor person isn’t guaranteed any levels of happiness.

So the consensus is false. Money does buy happiness. Not much and not for long, but having money does guarantee a small amount of happiness. Ultimately, all three levels are in your control.

(Delivering happiness was a very inspiring book. A lot of insight from a young CEO who only worked in the corporate world a few months before venturing out on his own. Recommended read for anyone attempting to start a business/non-profit)

http://www.amazon.com/Delivering-Happiness-Profits-Passion-Purpose/dp/0446563048

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Everythings An Investment

During my 4 years at Howard and the 7 months subsequent to graduation, I have been immersed in the world of finance. Because it was my major in college, many late nights were spent studying concepts, cramming for test, and figuring out how to work financial calculators. Looking back on college, I feel as if a lot of the in class instruction was a waste of my time. For one, I don’t remember most of what I learned. And secondly, the things I do remember, I rarely if ever use. However, I did take my experiences from college and have applied them to my general life lessons. So, there is some value add by attending and graduating from undergrad. One of the most important lessons I think I learned in my four years, thanks to finance, is that EVERYTHING IS AN INVESTMENT.

An investment is sometimes defined as the investing of money or capital in order to gain profitable returns, as interest, income, or appreciation in value. However, I look at investing as a devoting, using, or giving of time, talent, capital, emotional energy, etc. There are all sorts of investments that we make in our lives. Boyfriends/girlfriends are investments. Friends are an investment. Your career is an investment. Your hobbies are investments. EVERYTHING IS AN INVESTMENT. Granted, everything you invest in will not produce monetary returns, but everything you invest in should turn a profit. Otherwise, it’s time to rethink your investment strategy. What do you get from your friend that’s always negative? Are they producing you profits? Do your friends encourage and inspire you to achieve your goals? If not, invest in new friends. Does your job/career/college major bring you the monetary and emotional profits you are looking for? If so, continue to pursue this and possibly increase your investment. Are you investing your time wisely? Does your free time consist of only twitter and television? If so, I hope you are an investor in Twitter and/or Comcast. Our friends are truly one of our greatest investments. They can help shape our world views, help us to  explore new places, introduce us to new people, inspire us, and encourage us along our path of life. Here’s a link to my favorite passage about friends. Written by Colin Powell. Who you choose to associate with reflects the type of person you are far more than it reflects the type of people your friends are. Associate yourself with motivators and those which inspire. If all your friends look up to you, you need new friends.

In high school, my favorite class by far was economics. And my economics teacher (Mr. Hudkins) had a formula above his chalkboard that said, “Do it until MB = MC, that’s as good as it gets.” MB stood for marginal benefits and MC stood for marginal costs. If your costs exceed your benefits, you’ve made a bad investment. Too many bad investments will surely lead to an unproductive and unsuccessful life. Make wise investment decisions.

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I’m Proud of Nothing

“I came in this game wanting more paper than puff, now I realize puff paper ain’t enough.” – Jay-Z Bump Bump Bump Freestyle

In a recent conversation, my friend and I discussed what we were most proud of. Stumped. I couldn’t think of my most proud accomplishment. That got me to thinking…22 years (almost 23) on this earth and I can’t readily identify what I am most proud of? Am I on track in life? For a while, it left me a little uneasy. Until I put everything back into perspective and realized that I’ve known the answer for a good while now.

I’m not proud of graduating from high school or college. I’m not proud of securing employment after graduation. I’m not even proud that I’m able to send my mother across the world for a much deserved vacation. I’m most proud of the fact that everything that I plan to do is taking shape. I’ve always had dreams and visions of what I’ve wanted to do ever since I was small. But now that I’m grown, I’m putting those plans into motion and once I complete everything that I have set out to complete on this earth, I’ll be most proud of that. For example, anyone that knows me, knows why I used that Jay-Z quote to open this entry. Some would say I’m “money hungry.” And consequently, becoming a millionaire is something that I’ve always wanted. Now I’m starting to watch it take shape. Working, developing a plan, investing, etc. (I’ll be sure to let you know when I get there.) Everything I want to do in life, I am now realistically planning the ways and means by which it will happen. I have a bucket list of 100 things and ALL of them need to be completed before I die. No exceptions.

One way that I make sure that I’m on track and continue to be motivated, is by reading a magazine catered to the rich or browsing real estate priced over $1M. Expose yourself to the best. Walk in to Saks 5th on 5th Avenue and look at the price tags of some of the merchandise. Travel out to McLean, VA and take a look at some of the houses there. Matter of fact, pick up Christies Great Estates or The Robb Report (both magazines) and peruse their pages for a few hours and see what it does to you. Read the wikipedia profiles of those you admire. It always inspires me and lets me know that there are levels of success I have not witnessed yet. With the hopes, that witnessing them will push me and inspire me to dominate whatever profession I choose. These activities may not inspire you as they inspire me; however, whatever does inspire you, take the time out to partake in it. Never let your dreams die. And inspiration just serves as the spark plug to get that motor running.

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Self Made vs. Affiliated

Self-Made vs. Affiliated

“I brought you into this world, I can take you out.” A common phrase from my parents. And I’m  pretty sure your parents said it as well. There was never an adequate rebuttal for this threat from my end. Why? Because it was true. Parents build us up from nothing and help to mold us into the person that we are today. However, our parents are the last people that should be able to take away our “livelihood.” From the day you move out of your parents house, become self-made.

Flat out, too many people that are in my circle of association are affiliated. Meaning that they have allowed someone or some organization to define who they are, instead of defining themselves. Affiliations in life greatly lower the risk of failure in your life; however, it also puts a ceiling on the success that you can achieve throughout the course of your time on this earth. Take a look at the Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos. Bezos is a former employee of D.A. Shaw, an extremely prestigious and successful hedge fund. For those who don’t know about hedge funds, employees working there can expect to earn a salary well above $250,000. While Bezos was doing some analysis on online retailers, he saw an opportunity that would prove to be extremely lucrative. Bezos decided that he had enough of being affiliated and ventured out on his own to start amazon.com. Now Bezos has an estimated net worth of $12.6 billion. Quite the stones throw from $250k.

As someone who has found a small slice of success in my life, I understand that it is sometimes uneasy to “rock the boat.” But, the truly great people in this country and around the world have never been complacent nor found happiness at a level of affiliation. Whether that level of affiliation was a job, membership in an organization, or acceptance in a social class. To be great you have to strive for more. Strive for the stars when you can’t see past the moon. Strive to be great. I strive for greatness everyday.

Let’s be great. Why? Because average is abhorrent. Think back on your childhood. Everyone that you looked up to was great. And furthermore, they were self-made. Batman (My favorite superhero) owned Wayne Enterprises and this allowed him to reach his goals and fulfill his dreams. Self-made. Can’t be mad at that.

(And let’s face it, no ones favorite superhero is Robin.)

 

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