Talent Is The Differentiator

 

Let me start this column by saying this. I believe in the use of technology but in moderation. I don’t hate technology and I do think that we cannot live without it. All that I’m saying is that we need to be careful to not have technology tools and platforms take over our lives for the sake of technology use alone because it is sexy to be a youtuber. The internet and everything social we hear about it, is here to stay. We need to embrace them because this is where we are going. In this article, I will tell you what I think is okay to do, in regards to technology. 

Let me make a strong statement. It is unlikely that you will become a youtube superstar because being a superstar is statistically improbable. Now, let me elaborate on what I want to say. First, it is okay to use it. Please consider the following if you may. It is okay to use all this social media stuff as long as you spend enough time producing quality content and engaging with your audience. Creating good content, along with seeding your posts into a niche done continuously and overtime, can be beneficial for you or your organization. Going to facebook to share unfocused messages in an attempt to gain attention from others is time consuming and meaningless. 

Be smart. Use your time wisely when using these platforms. My suggestion is that you write a blog from Monday to Friday or write articles to be included in publications like LifeHack where your expertise of being human has much more value. I bet you will get much more attention this way than sharing photos of smiling cats at the north pole with your friends who probably don’t care about your shares.     

Second, be skeptical about uncontrolled social media use. Use doesn’t guarantee success! I believe that uncontrolled use of anything is bad. Making a person look bad because they don’t use social media for hours on end each day is irresponsible. Not everybody is able to produce quality content at speed seven days a week regardless of training. Let me elaborate on this. I’m currently doing an instagram campaign within the motivation niche. I post content on a daily basis which literally takes me approximately 5 minutes to produce and then share these posts with the masses. I engage with followers three times a day for 15 minutes a pop. I give myself an extra 30 minutes to advance my mission online. I spend less than two hours a day on this process. This past month, I received 5,429 post likes, 3,242 comments and hundreds of visits to my profile. However, I happen to have a talent for media.  

Let’s not forget that Dr. A is a professor at Lee University who teaches 4 classes a semester in a communication arts department. Using technology all the time because it might be the right thing to do may backfire. Listen carefully: talent is a variable in social media like it is in football Please realize that I’m not saying that I don’t like technology. I love it, as you know. But, we must be reasonable and realize that not everyone has the time, resources, or the talent to be a youtube superstar. 

Lastly, it is okay to reveal who you are. The internet exposes things. You can’t fake it. My recommendation is for you start embracing the internet, with reason. In the end, it will be better for you and me to say what we really think than to pretend to be something we aren’t. Back in the day, faking was easier and it wasn’t network bound. In 2018, being fake backfires. Everything is connected to everything else. Being two faced, in the age of social media, will damage your reputation. Don’t do it. 

In sum, we aren’t crabs who go through life moving backwards. Social media is here to stay. Thats where we are headed. By 2020, your grandsons won’t watch television anymore. Smartphones will totally replace the TV role in society. Just be aware that being a personality on-line requires a lot of work and talent. Having a web presence is all right, as long as it doesn’t control your life.  

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Change Is Inevitable: We Might As Well Get Used To It.

Change Is Inevitable: We Might As Well Get Used To It.

Change Groud at AECT
Change crowd at AECT, 2015.

Chameleons and leaves change colors. Caterpillars change into butterflies, car models and colors change, fashions change, seasons change…  everything changes yet folks are still afraid of change. Change is part of life and should be widely celebrated instead of being avoided. Change is good, necessary and an important process in the develop of any living system.  For some goofy reason, however, change rarely occurs in higher education which in my opinion is a sin. Presidents come and go; Governors start and finish their mandates; Representatives are elected and re-elected and little is done to make public higher education institutions better funded. What is often certain and also don’t change is that school operating budgets will be cut every year, professors will have to learn to do more with less in public colleges, and most taxes payers will complain that colleges and universities are a burden to their pockets and their state finances. In fact, many would rather see you and your family go into poverty than being financially generous for the common good. The truth is that change is difficult but it shouldn’t be. Public universities are fat dinosaurs draining a self-destructing system that refuses to re-invent themselves for the sake of tradition. Although there are a number of ways in which public universities can change, I will discuss in these article three ways in which schools could change for the better.

  1. Hire more practical professors.  Public universities would be better places if they reduced the amount of “theory only” college professors from its body of docents. The age where scholars just came to class to share knowledge with students is coming to an end quickly as knowledge is now available for free on-line. Why should anyone be hired today as a college professor to teach a course using a book and give students quizzes, only? This antiquated system and approach only creates the illusion that passing the course with an “A” grade equates success. Do you really think that companies want to hire students who can perform well on standardized tests, only? I am not saying that we should abandon the quiz system and all that type of stuff. My suggestion is that this former education protocol becomes complementary to the practical skill-set that students receive from professors who de facto practice their crafts. We need more professors who can train students to be doers not reciters.
  2.  Identify faculty talent early on and train them to be administrators. One of the most challenging tasks of any university is to find faulty members with talent for leadership. I am not aware of any academic unit that can properly function without a Chair and Dean who are versed in budgeting, sophisticated technology skills, foresight, the ability to focus and manage resources, have open meetings with constituents, and know and implement processes and procedures of higher education according to the rules and regulations of the institutions in which they work for. Just because a professor is a good teacher doesn’t mean that he/she will be a great administrator or even read the faculty handbook. The skill-set that is required for a Department Chair to have is much different than one of an Associate Professor whose primarily responsibilities are to teach, research, and serve. People who speak about others are small minded and often incompetent and unsuitable for a long-term career in administration and leadership with success. Identification of talent must occur early in any public university and should occur during what we call the tenure-track years of potential candidates… which is the time where senior education administrators can mentor potential faculty stars into a career in educational leadership.
  3.  Spend money in people first, technology second. It has been my experience that students like to speak with professors not a machine.  In the three universities I’ve worked for, students along with their parents and siblings made the choice to attend our universities because of a full-time professor that they have spoken with. I myself have recruited literally hundreds of students simply by returning phone calls and hosting them on campus; by answering their questions with enthusiasm and care; by giving them information about our schools and the surrounding communities, and such.  A lot of what I’ve told potential students was available on-line but parents and students want to talk and speak with people. If the overall goal of colleges and universities today is to attract more students, I recommend hiring more professors first, and invest in technology second. Let’s not forget — a public university without students isn’t going to be in business very long, despite having all the technology in the world available.

Chameleons and leaves change colors. Caterpillars change into butterflies, car models and colors change, fashions change, seasons change…  everything changes yet folks are still afraid of change. Educators are terrified of change but they shouldn’t be as long as change is done with planning and care. Change is eminent in life. I have learned, served and contributed to a number of systemic change projects in my profession in the public sector and quite frankly, I am pretty proud of it. We need folks who care and are able to plan real change. The future of the enterprise depends on it. I am confident.

If You Are A College Professor, You Just Have To Be Dedicated And Care.

If You Are A College Professor, You Just Have To Be Dedicated And Care.

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If you are a college professor, you just have to be dedicated and caring. Caring means going to class and be prepared for teaching the greatest lesson you can ever deliver; Dedication means coming to your job everyday and be ready to help students when they need help the most. Being caring and dedicated also means attending university sponsored recruiting events where prospective students choose to attend and ask questions about potentially majoring in your program.  The photograph above was taken during one of our high school recruiting events in which we have designed and delivered a series of media workshops for graduating seniors. In my book, there is no room for uncaring behavior and egoism in education. If you are a true educator, you have to care and serve your students with dignity, respect, and passion. There are a number of ways in which rookie college professors can develop a caring and dedicated demeanor.  In this article, I will share with you three ways in which college professors in training can have a better attitude as an educator by the time they start teaching college courses.

  1. Go to church and get involved. The act of church attendance transcends the walls of whatever church denomination (or no denomination) you attend. Choosing to going to church with the right attitude and with the goal of genuinely helping others is a habit that is transferrable to a college classroom. When someone takes the initiative to join a church congregation as a volunteer, chances are high that this person is at the least dedicated to the faith and probably caring towards other believers.  The heart of a volunteer can change mountains and is to be celebrated by the community in which they belong. A first class college professor must have the right attitude towards his/her profession and be a champion for the needs of his/her students. When you have the “right attitude” caring and dedication follows suit making you into a valuable piece in the life puzzle of a developing young adult.  College professors must serve in the former capacity if they are to succeed in the profession with honors. Failing to do the former, on the other hand, tends to result in dismissal from the profession, prematurely. My advice? Go to church and get involved. Develop yourself in the areas of generosity and be a champion of goodwill before joining a college or university.
  2. Avoid using the word “I.” Professionals of education who constantly use the word “I” rarely make the greatest impact in the life of others especially students. If you hear someone constantly use the pronoun “I” in conversations, be aware. Chances are very high that “I” means excluding you. A caring and dedicated educator must learn to use the word “you” or “we” 95% percent of the time because he overuse of the word “I” only leads to contention and suspicion.  As a college professor, you need to create harmony and transparency… A star college professor champions equilibrium in the life of his/her students and puts him/herself second to the needs of the students. A great way to accomplish such pursuits is by replacing the word “I” with the better alternative… “You” or “We.”
  3. Start creating connections with employers. A caring and dedicated college professor has professional connections. A good way to start thinking this way is by getting involved with civic organizations in your hometown, in addition to joining a church and volunteering. Consider joining your local Chamber of Commerce or the Rotary Club. These institutions tend to attract businesslike individuals who can help your students to get jobs after they graduate. Remember: A caring and dedicated college professor helps his/her students to get jobs. I promise to you that the act of recommending and/or placing students in jobs is priceless to both themselves and you.  Don’t forget… It is our responsibility as college professors to connect and develop relationships. Our prefrontal lobe is already developed. Our student’s prefrontal lobe is still under development, for the most part. Be proactive and network. It is the only way and the right thing to do.

If you are a college professor, you just have to be dedicated and caring. There is no reversal for this one if you want to have an impact in your career as a college professor. Start early and often. Don’t wait and act in a proactive manner. Be ready to serve and and care with the dedication that the good God expects of you. Don’t be like every other college professor… seeking to spread his or her legacy at your student’s expense sometimes turning the lives of his/her students upside down for no goos reason. Be different. Be fair. Be caring and dedicated. Be a real college professor.

The Importance of Being Original.

The Importance of Being Original.

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In this life you need to be original. Originality or the ability to think independently and creatively or the quality of being novel or unusual is an important human condition that should be cultivated throughout life. I am not aware of any important thinker who was unoriginal. The master of suspense, Sir Alfred Hitchcock, through his originality and genius introduced to the world the “MacGuffin” a plot device that was essential to the characters on his films but without any relevance to the audience making history. The great Miles Davis re-invented jazz by his stylistic innovations. Walt Disney challenged the world when he tried to do the impossible — he achieved what was possible. By serving as a passive aggressive Pacifist,  Gandhi  changed the world of diplomacy and power forever. Life is full of examples of notorious individuals who have changed history by being original. It is a good thing to be original and creative. As a matter of fact, I argue that one’s ability to think independently and creatively is a true gift from God to others as the benefits it can reap are countless. I could share with you probably thousands of ways you can be more original in your life. In this article, I will share with you three ways to be more original.

  1. Be yourself. In this life, nobody wanting to be original can be a carbon copy of somebody else. The qualities that made Napoleon great were not the same qualities that made Patton extraordinary. The great Patch Adams cared for his patients more than any other physician ever dreamed of. Yet, we have obtuse doctors who just get things done making them as great. Women are from Venus and men are from Mars and that’s okay. Whatever unique traits the good God has given you, He gave you your uniqueness for a reason. There are a number of things in this life that are possible — by studying one gets better grades; By practicing, one gets better scores; By forgiving one becomes a better man. What isn’t possible is to strive to be unique by emulating others. It simply doesn’t work regardless of what others may tell you. The great Jim Furyk would have never made it into the PGA Tour by swinging his clubs more like Ben Hogan. The earlier you realize that you need to be original, the greater your impact in this life will be and the most glory to God you will be able to give.
  2. Challenge yourself. History is full of cases of individuals who put themselves in a bubble and accept mediocrity in exchange for complacency and security. Just because you can play football in a AA division doesn’t mean that you are ready to compete against the Quad A state champions. You need to be original or should I say — be different. What you really need is to ditch the idea that you should work for money and rather… work in the talent that the Lord has given you by doing the former, you will be able to be great in your area of strength which if you keep course, success will go your way when you least expect. Give yourself a chance to be challenged and embrace the opportunity to achieve high grounds by challenging yourself.
  3. Create something worth sharing. Whenever you create something out of nothing, you are obligated to think with no box yet generate a working prototype of your imagination.  With the former comes conceptualization, production, revision, re-engineering, more and more revisions leading to a final product or outcome.  Even if your creation is a failure financially, there are great lessons to be learned by going through the motions of raw creation. The uniqueness of your efforts in many ways speak louder than your inability to take a chance.  If you want to be unique, you will need to take risks and give yourself a chance to achieve the unimaginable. Creating something worth sharing isn’t the test but a task and duty. Next time you think about being unique, create something worth sharing.

In this life you need to be original. You need to be unique and challenge yourself and create something worth sharing. By being unique you gain both respect and admiration. Be yourself and be genuine. Be like Walt Disney – try to do the impossible. Create your own style and keep course. One day, after many hours of sweat and perseverance, the waves of success might come your way. Always be with God, regardless of the circunstances. Keep your faith and pray. In the end, what really matters is… if you want to be original.

You Have To Stay The Course: Building Anything Isn’t Easy.

You Have To Stay The Course: Building Anything Isn’t Easy.

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In this life, you must stay the course if you plan to achieve any form of success. If you have owned a business of any sort, you know that running a start-up is never easy and somedays can be quite frustrating. You must, however, do what is required to keep fighting the good fight. What you are seeing above is Dr. Almeida Photography LLC’s society 6 product store, laptop and iPad skins section. We started our shop with society 6 back in late Fall 2016 with the hope we would provide high quality photo products to the masses in the central Mississippi area. I have to admit that selling art in this highly competitive technological world is rough. However, with persistence and much follow through, we have had our successes. Giving up isn’t an option for us and it shouldn’t be an option for you if your goal is to develop a profitable enterprise. Be aware though: Success, for the common man, doesn’t occur overnight. If you are eager to start your own side business, be ready to spend long hours working on a wide variety of tasks associated with the firm, ranging from producing, cataloging, budgeting and promoting the business. It won’t be easy, I guarantee you. Why?  Because friends don’t buy, strangers don’t know you and resist buying anything from you at first. If you are new to an area, good luck infiltrating local markets. In such environments, people tend to work with their long time buddies and friends rather than working with you. So, what do entrepreneurs need to do in order to gain access and start selling their products in a new market. There are a number of solutions to this problem. In this article, I will share with you three proven ways to increase your business.

  1. Partner with locals. One of the most successful strategies you can use is to parter with an influential local buddy. By abdicating part of your business in exchange for access and q-ratio, you can launch your business much quicker than your competitors and start competing for real dollars much sooner than having to build the business through traditional means of advertising. I can guarantee you that will take more capital to advertise a start-up than negotiating a 2-3% partnership with a local resident. As soon as you work with a local, he/she will (at least in theory) do some of this work for you. Even though friends don’t buy, friends refer business clients to their friends first. Sure, you need to be very careful not to partner with whatever person from your community. You need to interview him/her and make sure that they are well known and connected in their neighborhood.
  2. Create a publicity campaign. Don’t waste your money in advertising at least not at first. Ads are expensive and often don’t pay off the way that they should. The reason for the former is because ads don’t influence already established client perceptions about a similar product in any region. Let me explain: There is no advertising campaign, regardless of price, that will change people’s minds about sending their kids to another gymnastics facility. Madison County Gymnastics dominates the market, period. Sure, one way to break into their gig is to partner with them but what if they aren’t interested in partnering? I bet they won’t be interested in partnering with anyone because they don’t have to. So, what could you do then? The answer is publicity. You need to convince folks overtime that what you have to offer is worth them having. This, of course, takes a lot of time and effort. Who said that working for yourself is easy?
  3. Sell outstanding products. The market is flooded with great products. You have the duty to produce/create products that will challenge your customer’s perceptions of what outstanding means. There is zero room for mediocrity and a lot of room for improvement, every time we offer a new product. Back in 2016, we used to manipulate our photographs using my 5 point editing process to ensure the highest possible photo quality one can find in the market. In 2017, we have added two steps in the editing process. Is it more time consuming on my part? Yes. But hey… Are you in business to gain market share or to be seen as just one more guy out there trying to sell a few prints a year? Be ready. In 2018, we shall add one more editing step!

In this life, you must stay the course if you plan to achieve any form of success. If you have owned a business of any sort, you know that running a start-up is never easy and somedays can be quite frustrating. Your role as an entrepreneur is to strategize locally, create publicity campaigns and master your craft. In contemporary USA, competition is fierce and expected. You need to be a starter if you want to “make it” in today’s global economy. In order to be a successful small business owner today, you must know how to compete and know how to win and lose. Remember: Building anything isn’t easy.  Are you ready for the challenge?

The Importance of Being Nice

The Importance of Being Nice

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Life is too short for anybody to be mean to others. We must celebrate the gift of life with joy, a smile on our faces, and an eye towards the great Lord of the universe. In Ephesians 4:29 we learn to “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” Proverbs 11:17 also teaches us the importance of being kind, “Your kindness will reward you, but your cruelty will destroy you.” In Colossians 3:12 we read, “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Why be mean to others especially when they have done nothing against you? Let’s not forget that human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires, James 1:20. God takes care of its people, though. Our God is a just God who is merciful. There are a number of ways in which you can be kind to others in this world. In the paragraphs written below, I will share three ways anybody can use to be more kind to others.

  1. Make God the center of your life.  Live for God by faith all the days of your lives. Remember: Your life doesn’t belong to you but to God.  We are to do God’s will and live by faith in this life. We need to be thankful not vengeful or angry. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 we learn that we are to give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Why should we reject God’s teachings? We shall not, that’s for sure. Whenever you make Christ the center of your life, you find true happiness and tremendous freedom.
  2. Seek love and avoid contention.  In 1 Corinthians 13:4-7  we read, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Love is without question one of the most incredible qualities of a Christian. If we choose peace we shall find the kingdom of God. The bible is quite clear about contention, “The beginning of strife is like letting out water, So abandon the quarrel before it breaks out” (Proverbs 17:14). Love one another and abandon the need to fight. Choose love over evil.
  3. Pray for those who prosecute you without a cause. In Matthew 5:44, we learn, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Pray and pray hard for those who act without honor against you. The good God is a Lord of forgiveness and understanding. Be the salt of the world by adopting a lie philosophy that is based on prayer and forgiveness. Be the light of hope in someone’s angry unjustified demeanor. In the end, their prosecution of you is an act of insecurity. Make them more secure if you have an opportunity. Be a witness of understanding and always take the high ground. Most folks are egoistic. be generous especially with prayer. God wants you to pray and serve others.  Do your part — be obedient.

Life is too short for anybody to be mean to others. We must celebrate the gift of life with joy, a smile on our faces, and an eye towards the great Lord of the universe. In the end, we are all in this world together seeking our biggest gift of all — salvation. Turn your eyes to God and pray. Be the hope you want to see in others.

The Importance of Being a Gentleman

The Importance of Being a Gentleman

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Dr. A and Josh Jackson Anchor WAPT Jackson, MS.

No matter how old you are, where you come from, which high school you have attended or the college that you have received your degree from, if you are a real man… you must be a gentleman. The reason why I am so firm on the former is because God calls us to be one. The bible says in 1 Peter 3:15, “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” Clearly, we must do what we can to emulate the teachings of Christ and be gentle to one another. In this blog posting, I will briefly introduce to you three important ways you can become more gentleman like. They are…

  1. A gentleman knows how to listen.  There is no reverse to this one. In order for any man to be a gentleman, he must listen. Being a good listener means not interrupting others when others are speaking, actually listen to what others have to say, and consider alternatives if the alternatives received prove to be a better explanation for a particular phenomenon under investigation. A true gentleman listens to others and strive to make decisions that take into account the voices of others sometimes. A gentleman understands that listening is a skill that can be mastered.  A gentleman waits until others finish what they were saying.
  2. A gentleman does not spread rumors. Under any circunstances does a gentleman engage in the act of spreading rumors because he knows that 10/10 times, these rumors cause hardships on others and eventually comes back to haunt them in the future. Only a boor engages in such behaviors. Schmucks love to talk about others behind their backs because they have nothing better to say or anything important to do. A true gentleman doesn’t put himself in the position of being a vermin. When asked to feed a rumor mill, a gentleman says no without remorse.
  3.  A gentleman asks, “what do you think.” Because a gentleman knows that he doesn’t know everything and that the opinions of others are to be respected, he asks for other people’s opinions. Of course he doesn’t take other people’s opinions as his own necessarily but he is open minded enough to hear what others have to say. A gentleman does need to act like an “I known it all” because they now than nobody really knows it all and because the former is a quite impolite practice. A gentleman would rather be quiet than confronting left-hand contributions.

No matter how old you are, where you come from, which high school you have attended or the college you have received your degree from, if you are a real man… you must be a gentleman. Gentlemen are trained on how to listen, not to spread rumors, and to ask the opinion of others in a number of matters. Being a gentleman should be a lifelong goal for any man. It is important to be a gentleman.