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Posts Tagged ‘focus’

Getting There: Howard Jean Speaks Part II

Posted by Chanelle Schneider on May 4, 2010

Getting There is a series featuring interviews from Generation Y young people who are breaking stereotypes and not only working hard to achieve their own definition of success but working to improve the lives of others around them.

Mr. Howard Jean, Director of the Call Me MISTER (CMM) Program, works to improve the lives of those around him by teaching self-empowerment and self-respect. The Program is headquartered at Cheyney University, the nation’s oldest historically Black institution of higher education. It is also the only Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE). His work has garnered the interest of and put him on speaking panels with powerful players in the media elite including Bill Cosby, Susan Taylor, and John Quinones. Listen to him speak here. Mr. Jean was gracious enough to take some time to respond to questions for There From Here regarding his youth and tapping into his element. Read his responses below.

Sometimes our true gifts are hidden to us and are only revealed after someone who believes in us points them out. Did you see your gift, or did someone help you to identify it?

Gifts are something that we all possess and develop over time. Some gifts we have right now and some aren’t unearthed until later in life by design. The gifts that I possess, in my opinion, are the ability to help people, think critically and strategically, and power of discernment. My gift isn’t teaching. Teaching is the way I chose to pronounce that gift. I could have chosen any other profession and used those same gifts. We typically have gifts but confused our career or interest with the gift. Our gifts are only used to perform tasks. For me, it has been educating, community development and empowerment.

I think I began to identify my gift when I was in middle school and served as the student body president. When I ran, I looked at the problems or issues we had as students and thought of creative solutions that I or we could use to address those problems.

Authority figures can have a positive and/or negative influence on our lives. Did anyone in a position of authority over you try to steer you away from your dream? If so, how did you recover? If not, how did you fight their negativity?

I always say the situations and people you deal with and go through only help define and add more character or depth to your dream or particular goal you are trying to accomplish.

Growing up as a student in the school system of South Carolina, in a climate of subtle but present racism was the first encounter of persons (system) attempting to steer me away from my dreams. There were multiple times when our growth, creativity or zest for life could have been stifled by those in positions of leadership that did not share the same descent we owned. Parents, if you are reading, make sure you are more than involved in your child’s education; and, don’t allow those in control to deflate the potential of your children. This goes from kindergarten through high school. Misdiagnosis and misguidance seem to be extremely prevalent amongst our kids. Parents have the last word but many are unaware.  My mother made sure we had equal opportunity and exposure to activities, courses and experiences in school.

Teaching in the same school district that I was educated in seemed to have a similar plight but with different rules of engagement and protocol.  A moment, which I’d rather not speak of, could have derailed my plan but if it were not for a sense of purpose and creative map making, my success could have been hindered.

One thing that I maintain as a mantra is move forward, whether it’s an inch, foot or mile. Recognizing that every move towards your goal is a move towards your goal, no matter how large the progress. I have not always made huge steps, great accomplishments or received acclaim by the standards of others. But, I would embrace every opportunity and each goal achieved as MAJOR and BE happy in that moment. Success, to me is a pyramid that takes small and large stones to make. Some stones need to be small accomplishments or basic progressions in order to set the foundation for the rest of stones or success to come.  Measuring yourself against others is the quickest way to failure. If you are able to measure today with yesterday, then you can see and appreciate your greatness. It’s impossible to see greatness in yourself if you are constantly looking at and comparing yourself to others’ greatness.

Can you talk about an important decision you made that impacted your life? Why did you make that decision? How did you feel then compared to how you feel now? Was it worth it?

The decision I made to become an educator and join the Call Me MISTER program. That was probably a decision that has impacted my life the most. It has been the platform for which I have been able to learn, grow, give and impact the lives of others. The decision to be an educator but more so a MISTER, is a lifestyle decision and not just a career move. Living a morally sound (not perfect) life is something hard to commit to for most people who were 17 years old. Knowing that your life will be an example for younger people to follow is something that can be overwhelming. But, because of what I was being prepared for over the course of my life leading up to that point, it was easier to accept. Being reared in principles, morals, responsibility and character are the characteristics that create well adjusted adults and by default great teachers who are also role models. There was no anxiety in making the decision because it was already in me.

Men from the Call me MISTER Program Photo Credit: Meredith Edlow

What advice do you have for men who want to achieve success in their lives?

Great question. While on my path to what I call “success”, I have met some very influential people and learned some priceless lessons.  Success should be defined and measured by the goals you set for yourself. What your neighbor is doing with their goals and dreams has nothing to do with what you are doing with yours. Success is a very relative and measurable goal. It is relative to who you are and your purpose. Your goals are measured by your impact and pace you need to accomplish those goals.

Also, as mentioned in my upcoming book “Be the CEO of YOU (working title)”, a secret that I am sharing for the first time in print but shared through my lectures to students across the country, is creating a list of “virtual mentors”. Because many of the people I look up to are far from reach, with the use of technology, they can be accessed anywhere at any time. Virtual mentors are people you look up to, admire and can learn something from. Don’t negate the traditional face-to-face mentorship experience. For those that don’t have the luxury of this form of communication, though, this technique helps.

This should be done in a way to avoid becoming them. Find a group of traits that your list of “Virtual Mentors” possess, and use those traits to create YOU. The power we have to create ourselves in the images we choose is profound. Once you tap into that power you then empower yourself, which will carry you further than any motivational speaker will take you.

I mention this in my upcoming book, which helps to organize plans for success and structure areas of your life in order to achieve balance.  My book started out as a daily text message. I sent texts focused on what was revealed to me to a group of friends I referred to as “Movers and Shakers”. I decided to make this the more personal and structured way of doing things in my life. My text messages went from one page texts to two page texts to three page texts and so on. I received positive feedback and turned it into a daily email. I added more names to the distribution list and had my thought of the day circulated around offices. My messages became the base of morning meetings for teams. I felt that my perspective on success and maintaining focus could help others as it helped me, so I started writing the book.

What advice do you have for women who want to do the same?

If you are a mother, your definition of success cannot be measured against what the next mother is doing with her child. It has to be measured by what you are doing with your child. Now take that same concept and apply it to your dreams or goals. Women have been the backbone of America through our families for centuries. If they can see the relation between the strong women that have come before them and tap in to them through a virtual mentorship, I’m sure they will see similarities and a pattern of success. Women are created with an innate ability to create strategically and critically, henceforth motherhood. Success starts at the core of who you are. The power to birth a child, a nation, lies in all women, which makes running a Fortune 500 company look like “child’s play” (pun intended).

Over my career I have worked with a few and met many famous/influential people, such as:

President Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Cosby, Tavis Smiley, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Susan Taylor, Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu, Dr. Steve Perry, Mr. Salome Thomas-EL, Judge Gregg Mathis, Jill Scott, Mayor Ray Nagin, Boxer Paul Williams, Son of Honorable Chief Justice Thurgood Marshall, and Warren Buffet’s Sister.

Posted in Advice, Guest Posts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Getting There: Tavaghn “Montsterr” Monts Speaks Part II

Posted by Chanelle Schneider on April 17, 2010

Getting There is a series featuring interviews from Generation Y young people who are breaking stereotypes and not only working hard to achieve their own definition of success but working to improve the lives of others around them.

Among other professions Tavaghn “Montster” Monts is Vice President of My Life Keys where he works as a Motivator and Life Coach. He has built a strong network leveraging his ability to relate with his target audience through consistent, branded messages on Twitter. If you’re living under a rock, Twitter is a social networking tool that allows people to connect with one another in a vastly more efficient manner than Facebook. Showing his prowess, Tavaghn does more than share what he’s eating for breakfast, offering ways in which his followers can “Motivate Your Motivation” through the “#MYM” hashtag.

In the video below he answers the following questions:

What advice do you have for men who want to achieve success in their lives?

What advice do you have for women who want to do the same?

You’re also known for your relationship advice. Can you discuss the importance of defining your passions and setting career and life goals for yourself as it pertains to building a strong relationship?

You’ve built a large network on Twitter and use that network to share positive messages. How can young people (under 30) use Twitter to achieve their goals? Would you advise them against saying certain things?

Posted in Advice, Guest Posts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Guest Post: Part II Strengthen Your Focus

Posted by Chanelle Schneider on April 15, 2010

Continued from 10 Mantras for Empowering Focus


If you believe in it, you give it life.

If you don’t, it can’t breathe.

I stopped believing in defeat. I mean that. I didn’t look at any of the obstacles as insurmountable, and believe me; they could have easily taken me off my course for years. There can be no such thing as failure. It doesn’t equate. It has no logical substance to it. No matter what sacrifices you will have to make on your way there, remember…you are on your way there. Remember that you are heading no place else, but towards your success.


Don’t tolerate anything that will distract you. Flexibility is needed when you are certain of exactly what you wish to accomplish, and the flavor can be negotiable, but outside of the superficial details, there is only one thing that exists. Make sure that you know the difference between a compromise when settling disputes, and a compromise with your life’s goals. If you have not gotten to a place in your thinking where you have absolutely defined exactly what the general goal is, then you shouldn’t be reading this. This is not about finding a focus; this is about strengthening your focus.

Focused people tend to be short-sighted and narrow-minded when it comes to all else. This is a necessary evil. Keep your eyes on the road, let all else subside from your periphery…


Ever see someone jump in a pool and not stroke, kick, or doggy paddle? Can’t make it in a pool without some sort of movement, huh? Sure, those are my thoughts exactly. Your focus is your pool. You cannot claim to be focused if you are not making even the tiniest of steps toward realizing your vision. The smallest kick or push will keep you afloat, and may even attract the attention of the person with the resources necessary to sky rocket your vision. But you can’t get their attention by doing nothing. You must make those steps.

No one is going to give you the permission to be as great as you should be. You have to take that reality and carve it into yours. You have to take the necessary steps to make your vision a reality in the world we already live in. One step at a time and the journey of one thousand miles is completed.


I once saw a baby standing while it was having its umbilical cord cut, and once cut, the baby walked over to its mother, jumped up on the gurney, and kissed her. Alright, I never was much of a fiction writer but I think you get my point here. It just doesn’t happen without the falls, the scrapes, the bruises, the tears, and all those moments where you just think that it will not happen.

Focus means direction. You are moving toward something. You are going to fall along that course. That fall may present you with the necessary perception or strength to continue at a higher frequency than before. Don’t give in to your cowardice. Remember, you came to this world without a language to speak or read, no clue about the opposite sex, no idea about the health care reform(alright, we are all still working on that one…).

Stay focused. Take it easy. We all fall. Use it as reason to keep striving…


And as the circle of life revolves and spirals, leaving us in a higher place than where we started, we are back to purpose. If you don’t develop your abilities to tackle that dream and vision of yours, who is going to? If you don’t follow your heart’s desires, who will? No one can fulfill your greatest hopes for yourself but, well, yourself. YOU.

The energy needed to achieve anything is actually about the same as the attention needed to push the “x” (close) button on an application on your computer screen. It just means holding that desire over a longer period of time. That is what we actually mean by focus. That only means a constant reminder is necessary so you will not forget that only you can accomplish this task. Even if someone could, how much of a little squirrel do you think the world is going to make you feel like? There is a definite spiritual force that punishes those that don’t even attempt to do that in which they most want to do. Stay the course…it is almost over.

J. Farand is a writer, web designer, and web developer and writer of the book, “The Better You”. He is currently finishing a BA and co-authoring a book entitled,”Media Messages.” His daily musings and analysis can be found at

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Posted by Chanelle Schneider on April 13, 2010

J. Farand has written a guest post for There From Here on believing in your right to take hold of your destiny by eliminating distraction and focusing on your dream.

If you are looking for enriching and uplifting, well informed commentary about the social and political scene from the eyes of a black man in America, OWL ASYLUM is the web residence and sound board of J. Farand, a student of life, and technology, web content provider/manager, designer and developer who loves to discuss and critique the actions of the powers that be…because it’s fun!…


As most people who follow my blog or my twitter feed know, I am not one for a lot of empty statements of positivity that leave you with no practical applications. My spirituality doesn’t need to be bolstered by the applause given to the preacher or speaker that can only proffer me statements such as “keep the faith,” or “the tide will turn.” However, with my experience, and my forth coming success as a writer and student, I have learned to be a little more open-minded about faith-based mantras.

So here is one of the more faith based affirmations I walk around with: I am here for a purpose. Regardless of if I am simply a unit of congealed waveforms or a hierarchy of cellular organs in cooperation, there is a high level of work that has been put into each of us. I have never thought about giving up. I’d almost say any failure I have suffered through was more bad values than bad aiming. However, we have all gone through a situation where we could taste the pity. In those times it has always been my practice to remind myself of who I have touched and what my gifts are; and, that usually helps to jog my memory as to why I embarked on the journey in the first place.

We are all being driven to vibrate at a higher pitch. We are all being driven to live our lives in a healthier more stable and more satisfying way. Never forget that the Sun shines on you and not without reason.


Have you ever watched a game show where contestants must vie for an exclusive position? Have you ever seen a second place contestant’s complimentary parting gift and said, “I WANT THAT!!” Never? Yeah, me neither…

No one wants to finish in second place. But often we dare ourselves only enough before complacency sets in. We fail to push ourselves that one last lap as hard as we can; and, we settle for second best. The reality of this metaphor, however, is that settling could mean the difference between a good career and a great self-owned business. Once you have begun to walk that plank keep going. Don’t turn around. We know what is back there: the life we left to pursue our goals. The place where our dreams didn’t come true is back there. Don’t go back there.


I used to cut out pictures of toys that I wanted my parents to buy when I was a child. As I grew, I began to do the same thing with the type of home I wanted. I imagined how the furniture might look and the means in which I was entertained. I even had a pet snake in one of my collages. Nothing defeats your focus better than being stuck focusing on the present surroundings. I live here. I’m not here. For many who have never been in the worst of places, it is easy to tote philosophies of being in the moment, and in the present. Yeah. Tell that to a child buried under a building awaiting assistance, “Just think about the moment…” Blah and more blah!

The more practical approach is to transcend the moment. Step outside of this dimension for a moment; and, walk into the dimension that you are now creating. Smell it for just a minute. Taste it. Tape stick-its to its walls. You have to have sight beyond sight. This is not for those of you who are simply hoping for a raise. I’m talking to those that truly wish to transcend. This writing is for those who are focused on transforming their lives in a major way. Those types of people have to momentarily tolerate the mediocrity of their present condition, while forging their future, now, by transcending the moment. Live in the now while behaving and thinking as you would if you had already accomplished your goal.


In the same vein as the last, you must learn to be your future you, now. One of the basic fallacies of learning is that we believe that we will always enjoy the same things, or behave in the same manner in the future as we do now. How immature would the world be if that were true?

Consider yourself. Consider what words you would use. Consider your posture. Consider your working habits. How can you increase the frequency of your performance in the present to the level you believe you would in your future? Long term or short term goals leave indelible marks on our souls once accomplished. The world changes around us as well. It is as if you begin to emit a pheromone into the air that says successful.

Why not become that person now? Train your focus by training yourself to be what you are focusing on becoming. Why wait?


This one is ironic, mainly because everyone says I have an aggressive mug, so even I have to practice my smile daily. I believe it is important to enjoy yourself. Yes, you may still have a few more years to crank out that final lap of your goal, but hey, why not get ready now? Success comes with a social life, and you’d better have a decent meet and greet posture.

I smile just to remind myself I am one step closer to that vision. I smile to calm myself. I smile to tease away the temptation to pull away from an assignment that is necessary for my overall success.

I smile because I love me enough to. Part of success is happiness and inner peace. I express that with a smile.

Look out for Part 2 in the near future!

Do these tips help you? How do you find focus in your own life? Answer in the comments and let’s all help each other get there from here!

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