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Posts Tagged ‘intelligence’

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.

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Mr. Director, What’s My Motivation?

Posted by Chanelle Schneider on February 8, 2010

After asking myself what was wrong with me, I sought to find the answer. This was not a quick process. I hemmed and hawed, acting with no deliberate speed. Not because I didn’t want the answer and not because I was busy with other things, but because finding an answer would bring a finality to only one situation. If successful at finding the answer, would I even know how to move forward? If I did move forward, would I move in the right path? If I took the right path, would someone be disappointed by my work? This series of thoughts repeated themselves ad infinitum in my mind rendering me paralyzed.

I was paralyzed by fear. In an attempt to get out of it, I researched what it meant to be afraid of success. I wrote a post labeling the symptoms and solutions. It is exactly 6 months after the posting of that article, and I am only a few steps closer to where I want to be. At one point, I immersed myself in work. If it had been the work that made me happy and appears to be my passion, this would have been a good thing. It wasn’t. It was the very work that I had been striving (not so well) to get away from. I wanted to be better. I knew I was smart enough to handle the work. The problem: I didn’t believe in myself.

A disconnect existed between my belief in my capabilities and my belief in myself to follow through. I wondered what made people do the work to advance themselves further in life? If everyone is motivated by something that spurs them into achieving their goals, what was my motivation? Sean “Diddy” Combs owes his motivation to his mother who barely slept working multiple jobs to take care of her children. He developed his work ethic from her, and relentlessly pursued his dreams wanting to be the source of her support. I didn’t grow up seeing someone work nonstop to take care of me. I saw someone working regular 9 to 5’s that they hated. Every job. I was not relied on for financial support. My only role was as student. My follow through came from a fear of admonition. External factors goaded my early success. The motivation never evolved into an internal force.

So, I asked myself, “What the hell is my motivation?” (Coming soon)

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

She’s so “Precious” – A Review

Posted by Chanelle Schneider on November 26, 2009

Precious, her mom, and her daughter

Upon entering the theater I felt nerves and anticipation coursing through my body. I expected to cry. I expected to feel anger and helplessness. I did, indeed, feel all of those emotions; but, I also felt more emotions than I expected inspired by the people around me and their comments. The experience of watching Precious has likely strengthened my resolve to tell my story. Not because anyone can do it if Precious did it, but, because, it will be my red scarf handed down to the little girl who feels all alone in the world.

Prior to viewing this movie, I read tweets from people who refused to see it, from those who saw it and were deeply touched, and from those who opined on the gross amount of racial stereotypes. Of those who refused to see it, many found fault based on the previous work of the people responsible for bringing the film to the big screen: Lee Daniels, Tyler Perry, and Oprah Winfrey. Words and phrases such as “coonery” and “typical black girl from the ghetto” were common in their complaints. Of those who saw it and were unimpressed, this tweet speaks volumes: “Whoeva suggest anyone too see this movie “precious” need to kill urself….dis givs black familys a bad look smh.” Please don’t listen to this person. I could cry peeling back the layers of disillusionment and incongruity present in that one allegorical onion. What came first: Precious or the Black Family?

This movie was adapted for film by Lee Daniels based on the novel “Push” by Sapphire. It is a first person narrative dictated to us by Clarice “Precious” Jones. Walking through the streets of Harlem with a scowl on her face and the weight of years of sexual, physical, and verbal abuse on her shoulders, she tells us the story of her life in such a manner that it prompted one viewer behind me to say, “This is realistic. I like it.” A concise and accurate statement, it is the reason to see the movie.

In the afore-mentioned tweet we see a common model for behavior in (Black) families. What goes on in the house, stays in the house; and, this is a thread that runs throughout the movie, as well. From the outset, we see Precious avoiding the truth and refusing to tell her story, petrified that her mom would kill her. Meanwhile, her mom continues to call her a fat ass, tells her that she’s a dummy, education won’t help her, she’s a nobody, and she should rely on a welfare check to get by in life. These are the racial stereotypes that people are afraid to see. They don’t want people to know what is said in their homes. Well, maybe what is said should change. It’s just a theory. A theory that “Precious” is attempting to make a practice.

In one form or another everyone can relate to her story. We have all either been the abuser or the one abused in some way. Other comments heard around me include: “Is that really how big she is?” “She looks like a boy. She looks like Eminem.” “Y’all ain’t right.” The second comment was directed to Mariah Carey’s performance as a social worker. Without her glamorous hair and makeup team, Mariah looked like an average woman, but it prompted someone to call her a boy. Worse, her friends laughed and made other jokes about her appearance, causing one girl (the only big girl in the group) to casually denounce their behavior. It is this casual accusatory tone that encourages the abuse. It is not seen as something that is really bad behavior. If she were to leave the theater and discontinue the friendship, she would be blamed for taking herself too seriously. “It’s just a joke” they might say. Well, Precious didn’t take it as a joke when she smacked her classmate for calling her fat.

The tagline for the movie is: “Life is hard. Life is short. Life is painful. Life is rich. Life is….Precious.” Does it have to be this way, though? We’re so busy preparing each other for the “real world” that we forget to take care of each other. We forget to love. We forget to be the models of good behavior that we actually seek in others. Life is not some made up entity that comes out of nowhere to do us harm. Life is people. We are the creators of Life. If our lives are so rich and precious, why do we choose to de-value it?

Posted in Media Analysis, RandomThoughtOftheDay | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

What You Can Learn From Working In Retail

Posted by Chanelle Schneider on November 13, 2009

At the pay desk

Retail – It’s a thankless industry. Between the elitist customers who look down on you for being a lowly salesperson and the family that does the same, you can begin to feel like you’re wasting your time in a position that has no potential to help you in your professional life. Well, you’re wrong. If you’ve been trying your best to get a so-called real job but feel that all you can get is retail, consider yourself lucky because you are now privy to the best on-the-job training for which you will not have to pay.

Your time spent on the floor of your retail store will give you countless hours of access to sensitivity, anger management, and customer service training while, also, developing your social skills, exposing you to deductive reasoning, working with a team, and developing your confidence. If you think these attributes are not important to your professional life, then re-read the skills and requirements that employers are looking for in their job ads.

You will begin to notice that people have a tendency to repeat certain actions. Take notice of these patterns because they can offer much insight. What follows is a list of some behaviors that you should take with you into your professional and personal life.

Read the fine print
When something is on sale, most companies list all of the exclusions in their marketing. This is the same for companies outside of the retail industry. Read through paperwork. Ensure you have full knowledge of what you are entering into. Don’t sign something without this knowledge.

Ask proper questions
Sometimes you can’t answer something for yourself, and you need help. It is perfectly acceptable to ask someone who is more knowledgeable about the subject for assistance. However, they cannot read your mind. “You know what I mean” will not always work. It is best to be clear on what you need so that the other person can adequately and efficiently serve your needs. Give the person clues to help them understand what you need.

Help yourself first
When was the last time you walked into a store that had no marketing, no price labels, and no item descriptions? Not recently, I would bet. How often do you bypass the marketing, price labels, and item descriptions to ask someone what’s on sale, how much something is, or what something is, though? In retail as in life, signs and labels are around to help you help yourself. People are much more willing to help you find a solution to your problem when it appears as though you have taken the initiative to educate yourself on the matter from the outset without expecting that you are entitled to receive the answers from someone else.

Double Check
You were taught this lesson in school. People make mistakes, but agreeing to their mistake will cost you in the end. After you have helped yourself, asked the proper questions, and read the fine print, ensure that all of the facts and figures are correct before signing your name.

Just because it’s on the front table doesn’t mean it’s for you
The first thing that you see is not always the solution to your problem. If you’re allergic to wool, would you buy a sweater without checking the fabric label? In the professional world it is necessary to dig deeper. Guarantee that you have fulfilled your needs before walking away.

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Don’t Treat Me like A College Dropout #2

Posted by Chanelle Schneider on August 18, 2009

college dropout

“The college dropout”. Unless you’re Kanye West or Bill Gates, having this label attributed to you garners only negative attention. To be a college dropout is to be a wasted resource. “It’s a shame to see all that potential go to waste” is what most people say (behind the backs of the people to which they are referring). We hear you, though. You don’t have to say it to our faces because it shows in your eyes. Your body language expresses your contempt for us. It’s a good thing some of us don’t pay attention to your misguided attempts at encouragement, or else we may never get past the pain and onto success.

What follows is an interview conducted with Stephanie Danforth, who is the editor of Venus Diva Magazine. A strong believer in thinking outside of the box, Stephanie is passionately pursuing her dreams in accordance with her reality. She is working with her circumstances towards a path of even greater success.

Did you feel expectations from family, friends or society to succeed in college? If so, what impact did this pressure have on you?

Definitely, coming from a family full of college grads with Masters and PHd’s, being successful in college was the only route to go.  Success as it relates to school started early on for me.  My father was an English professor at a local college.  My grandmother was an Administrative head at an elementary school, and my uncles were all teachers, so to not succeed in college was unheard of.  I didn’t feel pressure to succeed.  I thrive in pressure situations.  It gets my blood boiling. The pressure of success didn’t have as much of an affect on me as the fact that I didn’t graduate.  It’s not like I felt so much pressure that I couldn’t handle it.

How do friends and family treat you because you don’t have a college degree?

I’m not treated any differently by friends, but, at times, I feel like my brothers treat me a little differently. They treat me as if I am not as educated as they are, or don’t understand the struggles of a black college student. Hello, I went to college for over four years, and I don’t have a degree; if anyone understands the struggles, it’s me.  My mom constantly tells me how I need to go back to school but when I think about the jobs that me and my brothers have had, it’s easy to view me as the most successful of the three.  So, my question to them is often, “What did having a degree get you, since I’m making more than you?” Men can be competitive at times, so, sometimes, I have to go there with them.

How do you feel about yourself?

At times I am disappointed in myself not because I didn’t graduate, but because I let it bother me that I didn’t graduate.  I’m proud of everything that I’ve accomplished and believe that everything happens for a reason, but sometimes I think not having a degree messes with my confidence.

Why did you leave school without a degree?

Why did I leave school?  The first time I was put on short term suspension for grades and the second time, financial wouldn’t give me any more money.  I guess the first time I left, I was gone too long and my loan defaulted.  I think.  I really don’t remember the details; all I know was that I ran out of money.

Do you plan to return to get a degree? If so, what is preventing you from returning in the immediate future?

I would like to, but once you start working and having a family, it’s easier said than done.  Right now I have an application in at University of Phoenix; so, as soon as they call me for the job, I will enroll.  When I ran out of aid, I promised myself and my mom that I was going to get my degree, and get someone to pay for it.  If I could afford it, I would, but I can’t; so, U of P, here I come.

What is the biggest myth equated with dropouts that you would like to dispel?

That we are incapable of working in corporate America.  There is nothing that anyone does that cannot be taught. Having a degree does not make you that much smarter.  People seldom go into a career path where their degree can be useful. In my eyes, asking for a person with a degree is nothing more than trying to weed out what’s considered good from bad.

Many people have had to leave school for reasons other than the stereotypical “college just isn’t for me” attitude; and, many would like to return to get their degree, but existing roadblocks make it difficult. Support education reform to enable the passionate people to more efficiently achieve their dreams.

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Posted in Advice, Under-qualified | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »