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“Everything that you’re going through is preparing you for what you asked for.”
Monday, March 13, 2017, I’m at work at the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Manhattan office in New York City. At approximately 2:30pm I receive a call at my desk from my manager. I’m requested to come down to the 11th floor. Right then a flash warning signal came over me as if I were Spiderman, only the flash came from my gut—something is up and not in a good way… the message revealed.
But I was ready. I hadn’t been back a full week from my latest business trip to Costa Rica and while there, had a epiphany of sorts that my time was near.
I walked down three floors—not in fear but rather in excitement—knowing things were about to be different. When I walked in, there sat my manager, the NBAs Human Resources Rep and two, yes, two security guards—not to mention the other three stationed strategically near the floor exit! Guess they think I’ma go off, I thought to myself with a “really? it’s that serious?” smirk on my face.
The woman from HR spoke as my manager looked somewhat in a stupor. See, I knew I was about to be terminated. But not because of my work performance. In the twelve years I worked for the NBA, I always got great reviews, and received praise for my work ethic and team play. No, this was something different.
“Are you a writer?” the woman blurts out as I sat down. I said calmly, “Yes.” She asked, “do you have a business outside of working for the NBA?” I replied, “yes, I do,” not feeling the need to tell her I been writing for 26 years—before I was hired here. She then asked, “are you affiliated with something called ‘Da Ghetto Tymz’ and ‘Black Land Matters’?” I responded proudly, “YES, I am. Two businesses of mine.”
As I said it I could see my manager looking like he should say something but didn’t now what to say. The woman then followed, “Well, we find what you're doing, and more so your words, to be racially violent and that’s something that does not align with us at the NBA so we are terminating you immediately.”
As I glanced at the two security guards staunch stares—who were Afrikan by the way—I guess they were expecting me get lit or something and start with a barrage of 'Three-Stooges-slaps' about the place. Instead, I retorted, “Ok, that’s fine,” standing up and ready to walk out. “Hold up!” she shouted, “we need you to sign some forms before you leave!”
My manager then left to retrieve my things from my desk still looking baffled. There would be no fighting for my job nor explaining my writings—that happen to be “pro-“ the mental, spiritual, and physical upliftment of Diasporic Afrikan people from global white dependency—to this white woman who seemed to already have her mind made up.
My getting fired wasn’t a shock, I had been wanting to quit for at least 6 years as I learned in my twelfth semester in order to advance in corporate America, you gotta kiss your boss' ass — and that yes, there is racism that exists in a league who’s wealth is based of the nearly 80% star-studded talent of POADUS (People of Afrikan Descent in the United States) otherwise known as Basketball players!
Well, an ass kisser I’m not, and through the years as the job decided to tack on more hours at the same pay rate; adding only a 1-2% pay hike each year; having several of my ideas implemented into their brand and not getting recognition nor any kind of bonus; and not once being promoted nor getting a raise when others did, I decided I was going to milk this job as long as possible doing only what is required of me and nothing more.
I had actually planned to leave my job in 2016 after the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, but because I was seduced in the "comfort" of a steady paycheck and benefits, I stayed—which is something many of are victim of.
But as I stated, reflecting on my Costa Rican epiphany a week prior, being fired then was not orchestrated by the league, it was the Ances-Starz telling me to get off my backside and do the work I was born to do!
In summation, I was being fired not because of my work performance but because of my beliefs freely expressed on my social media pages as well as my own platform—something I did on my own time, by the way! So *FLASH* if you didn’t know, in an attempt to introduce a heightened form of corporate slavery, companies are now judging the status of their employees off the type of content they post and share on their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages!
I had a lawsuit in the making you might add? Yes! However, I realized that was not my destined path to trod. I wasn’t going to waste my time going to the U.S. EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)—created by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 I might add—to beg for my spot back on the plantation! Like a growing trend of a few of my friends, and again, at the urging of the Ances-Starz, this was time for me to step fully into my purpose and aspire higher by hiring myself!
So I stepped! I walked away from corporate America vowing to stay out as long as I can while at the same time bringing my “side-businesses” to the forefront. Mind you, I’ve been an entrepreneur since 1993 but I became an exclusive one March 13, 2017!
See, most folks idea of being a business owner is the likes of a side-hustle; something enabling you to make a little more income your job doesn’t cover. The reality is it’s virtually impossible to live in the United States off one wage—and nowadays, barely two! We have our good ‘ol government and Fortune 500 corporations to thank for that as they’ve outsourced innumerable jobs to other countries, they’ve put them in sustainable as well as profitable situations they never had before! All because these companies wanted to save on labor costs hiring cheap labor! Well, because of that, some nearly three decades later, there are no jobs available for college graduates and those with tenure in their field are finding themselves hitting the ceiling of opportunity not even ten years into their profession while others are victims of job cuts.
Gone are the days of job security our Grandparents had and gone is the security in knowing you could stay with a company for 25+ years and retire with a pension. We must face the fact if we are to survive in the here and now moving forward, we must embrace the notion of becoming business creators! The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) recently found that 27 million working-age Americans—nearly 14%—are starting or running new businesses(1). Why? Because all the jobs are outsourced or obsolete due to the recent tech boom!
Take for instance the instant checkout consoles now seen in places like Walmarts and Home Depot. Dubbed "fast checkout", folks think hey, I can check my own stuff, pay for it and be out without having to wait in long lines! Ever the one to see a scenario like this one-sided, we don't sit back and think these corporation have actually figured out a way to have you (the consumer) do the work he would normally have to hire someone to do! Think about it, who usually rings up and bags your supplies? ...an employee! The money he would need to spend to pay an employee, bonuses, vacation, and put into his/her 401k he can now save while at the same time removing the task of labor from him to you, the consumer!
But we cannot sit here and point fingers at corporations all day; the real issue is addressing the three fingers pointing back at you! See, we must break the mindset of thinking we can only earn a living by working for someone else! Yes, working for a company provides experience, a little bit of stability—and that’s all good when you’re fresh to the market out of college or high school up to your 30 and 40s. The real issue is this systemic trap is experienced by the majority ending the same way with this one basic fact overlooked by many:
Your employer is not obligated to pay you for the rest of your life! One day you will either be laid-off, fired, or retired. This will not stop the fact your bills are due every 30 days. How will you sustain yourself then?
Overstand this, every job has an expiration date—that you’re not aware of and can end at any time, without notice! Doing the math, if you have a job that barely allows you to maintain, that means you’re living paycheck to paycheck. Couple that with an ineffective financial plan on how to manage what you make, in most cases when the day comes you’re laid-off or fired, you are financially not in position to live off your savings for more than three months—for many, not even one!
So many are forced to immediately go in search of another job. If youth is on your side, you may think getting another job is easy, and it may, but in your field of choice? The Washington Post reported:
…[I]n 2013, only 62% of U.S. college graduates had a job that required a college degree. Second, an estimated 27% of college grads had a job that was closely related to their major(2)
Yes! That means the majority of college grads—who need to find work immediately to pay off their student loans—can’t even find work in the field they spent tens-of-thousands of dollars to get a degree in! This is why we find so many working in unrelated fields and oftentimes in low-wage jobs… “Welcome to FunBurger! Would you like to place your order?”
Here’s the other challenging side of working for someone and not yourself. Even if you are working in your field or have a job outside of minimum wage range, as you age, get wiser, and gain seniority in your field, when you are eventually let go (laid-off, fired or retire), you can be priced out of a new job having to settle for less because your experience over qualifies you!
Once you reach your forties, you are over qualified. Employers will take that into consideration knowing they can hire someone younger and most important, cheaper!
All this came to a head as I reflected on my new situation days after being fired from being ’12 Years A Slave’ at the NBA.
FROM FINANCIAL ILLITERATE TO SUSTAINABILITY
As I reflect on my first anniversary in being self-employed, I ponder on the freedom—and responsibility—being your own boss demands,
It’s said, “with freedom comes great responsibility,” and as I embarked on my new journey in sync with the epiphany I had earlier, it was clear I needed to give attention to a few topics if I’m to survive moving forward. I needed to get a sense of what financial sustainability looks like.
The first thing I realized is I had it all wrong:
The last point is the most effective deception because the mindset of being a “worker-bee” has been embedded into our psyche from birth! How many times did you hear your parents/elders tell you as a young person, “you need to get your -ish together and get a job!”?
Has someone ever told you, “you need to get your -ish together and create your own business!”? Few if any! And it’s not their fault, we all bought into the cyclical American pipe dream of thinking there’s the perfect job out there for each of us, one that will enable us to make enough money to have a family, car, and a house with a "white" picked fence!
The reason this has intergenerationally become a dream deferred? We simply are not financially literate and most important, don’t know how to make our money make money!
Financial planning is at the core of sustainability, and we know as POADUS, we lived up to the stereotypical notion of being poor money planners as the topic of money is taboo in our families. We rarely talk about money and when we do, it usually ends up in an argument or even comes to fisticuffs because a family member hasn’t paid back the $10 they owe you from six months ago! Nah Sun, our dinner table discussions consist of talks about the game or which couple in the entertainment industry is filing for divorce!
If we are to better ourselves individually and even greater, as a community, we have to graduate from that mindset for at the crux of our problems lay our ignorance of financial literacy! It is the reason:
These are but a few things I’ve come to learn over the past year. I’ve since come up with some basics in becoming financially literate that I've developed into a course. For details, go > here <
I invite you to consider the rest of your life by putting yourself in a position where you’re on the path of sustainability with the ability to sustain any life-changing challenge that comes your way!
Abibifahodie (Afrikan Liberation)!
“Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them."
– Madam C.J. Walker
(1) The U.S. Now Has 27 Million Entrepreneurs - https://www.inc.com/leigh-buchanan/us-entrepreneurship-reaches-record-highs.html
(2) Only 27 percent of college grads have a job related to their major - https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2013/05/20/only-27-percent-of-college-grads-have-a-job-related-to-their-major/?utm_term=.c4a0bc80b308
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