The Need To Learn Intercultural Competencies In The Age Of The iPhone

The Need To Learn Intercultural Competencies In The Age Of The iPhone

I’m convinced. In our contemporary economic landscape, being able to relate with others is a currency. Being able to emotionally engage with people of different cultures give people a different perspective and an opportunity to experience and look at a problem from a different angle which in itself is worth spending time doing.

We must be self-aware in life. Knowing people from other cultures helps us to better understand who we really are, regardless of which smartphone we own. There is value in understanding proxemics — or the branch of knowledge that studies how much space people should have between themselves and others. Studying paralanguage, or the gestures and facial expressions people make cross culturally, is an invaluable skillset to obtain in today’s workforce. Why? Because the over abundance of supply in our economy has forced us to think differently about how we are going to be identifying our tribes among the many tribes of people available.  At least, we are being encouraged to do so.

When we better understand what people from different cultures really care about, in a language and context they know and understand, we transcend from being obsessed with communicating with them for self gain and start collaborating with them. In America, we value collaboration but we almost always engage in compromising. At least this is what Bradford Hall claims in his great book, Among Cultures: The Challenge of Communication. Moral of the story: The more we understand other people, the higher the chances we have to engage in true collaboration.

In 2019, being able to collaborate is also a currency!  Developing intercultural competencies are key. Using technology to complement developing these competences seems more urgent than the alternative making technology second to our ability to better understand people.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t spend time on a smartphone or engage with others on-line. There is a time and a place for that. I don’t deny it. So, don’t stop using your smartphone with the pretense that interacting with people from different cultures are more important than using them. What I am saying is that understanding people, especially people from other cultures) should be a priority for you and me today.

 

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Are You Angry Of Sad? I Can’t Tell

One of the most disturbing side effects of technology of our times is people’s inability to read non-verbal behaviors. Let me make this more sweet and personal. Your grandkids are losing their ability to “read” people because of overuse of that smartphone of theirs. Is it that big of a problem that kids are constantly on their cell phone? Yeah! In fact, I am afraid that our kids will be unable to navigate through life effectively because of their inability to decode facial expressions and gestures.

Listen carefully: Our kids are not able, in a number of instances, to read people in the land of Uncle Sam. This gross lack of face-to-face interaction is having a tremendous impact on how people live and make a living these days, especially children. Lack of rhetorical sensitivity, or people lacking the ability to encode or sometimes state spoken messages will backfire very soon in a city near you. I predict that this lack of basic communication skills is going to eventually turn into a crisis of identity which in itself has a S curve of its own. How ironic? The more technology we have, the lower the ability for people to develop great communication skills. Many people swear that the smartphone is so great for us. I beg to differ.

Look, I am very concerned that the next generation of Cleveland children will be unable to identify critical emotional cues of survival or have the ability to understand the emotions of other people. How can anybody deny that all this technology is causing more damage than good? Another irony of this is that societal and business sustainability is directly related to one’s ability to relate! Transactions, as my colleague Toni once said, isn’t the answer to solving problems in 2018! I agree and completely believe she is totally right about that.

Cleveland, Tennessee! Technology is just a tool nothing more than that! It isn’t the solution to all of our problems and overusing it will, sooner or later, backfire. Technology is destroying the social skills of your children. Let me say this differently: the smartphone has destroyed a generation of future communicators to a point of no return. We are going to read, in five years or so, the tragedy that social media has done to children. I can even see a headline on the banner reading, “As Dr. A Once Said: We Lost A Whole Generation To The Smartphone.”    

Can you imagine your children not being able to distinguish between an angry, sad, or a surprised face? Which implications do you think this can cause? I can think of at least five instances where not being able to distinguish between emotions can handicap your child for life. Think about trust or shall we say one’s lack of ability to judge whether a person is trustworthy or not. I cannot imagine a society where people are unable to differentiate who is suffering or who is celebrating yet we are so close to this reality.

I don’t want my daughter to grow up without knowing how to differentiate emotions. There is no way I will allow her to use the smartphone more than an hour a day. I refuse to do it. In my household we value reading and speaking not spending hours on end on social media. My wife and I are in agreement that our daughter Sophia must be able to develop the required skills to differentiate between emotions. She needs to know when daddy is happy or sad for her benefit.

Ladies and gentleman, we live in a weird world where we are allowing a microchip to destroy our society from within — all in the name of technology. I know that most of you agree with me because we have had so many conversations around town about technology which by the way, I thank you for it. We are in this boat together, Cleveland. Your children and grandchildren deserve better! They need mommy and grammy to play with them and teach them non-verbal behaviors so that they can develop great social skills. They don’t need more technology to make them more blind. Block technology once in a while! Your kid will thank you later in life.

Public schools help sustain culture

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This fall, my daughter Sophia will be attending one of our local elementary schools.

Why am I putting her in public school, you may be asking? The main reason why Sophia will be going to one of our county schools isn’t because she will have access to computers in the classroom. Although I believe that kids should use technology in moderation for learning, Sophia will attend a Bradley County public school in order to learn more about people.

In life, people must be prepared to get along with other people in order to live in a community, deal with adversity, learn how to behave in public and communicate, and fight injustice when required; also, in order to be comfortable and stick up for themselves when required.

Stop! Think! Reflect! Be a good father or mother.

Before putting politics ahead of common sense and reasoning, think about what is best for your children. I hold the position that people who are prepared to deal with different types of people will eventually have the upper hand in life.

I honestly don’t think that nurturing children to a point of protecting them from facing adversity is a good idea. Eventually, these kids grow older and become clueless about how the world actually operates.

Here’s a caveat. There is no technology that will solve the problems of your grandchildren when they are bullied later in life because the parents decided to protect them from the evil of this world. Kids who don’t experience interpersonal conflict tend to become severely handicapped in the workforce later in life unless they realize that they are behind, unless they read self-help books extensively and unless they are mentored by someone who actually understands how the world operates and is willing to share.

My parents have always protected me. I was given every technology you could dream of back in the day. The problem is that technology doesn’t teach kids about people.

What I got with technology, I lost in understanding verbal communication, facial cues and body language, and the basic tenets of culture. I had no concept of privacy and space back in Brazil. So I question, how good is technology if you don’t gain the basics of your culture? Avoiding conflict isn’t the answer, either.

Going to a public elementary school helps kids to better understand the role of authority, and helps them to learn how to deal with situations that kids dislike. Yet, they have to learn how to act accordingly.

Kids in public schools also learn how to face and handle conflict. Sometimes, saying something back or retaliating will stop the nonsense, even if the kid loses the battle.

At least, this is what my dear old friend Kurt Dudt once told me. He was a publicly educated former U.S. Marine who trained the South Vietnamese to fight the Viet Cong. There is honor in facing a bully, even if you lose, he used to say.

Look, allowing your grandchildren to hide behind a computer screen won’t protect them later in life. Often, it transforms great kids into cowards, which in itself has some serious consequences. I woke up, came out of the shell, and now people think twice before making me mad.

Your children deserve to know how to defend themselves when necessary against anyone, as well. Virtual schools don’t teach your kids how to handle these things.

Technology is good for assisting kids to learn, but it falls short on enabling children to develop themselves in society.

We need to prepare our kids to be ready to respond appropriately in life so that they can succeed. I hold the position that kids must be able to decipher between good and not-so-good people, and find mechanisms to cope with them.

We live in a diverse world, ladies and gentlemen. Kids should be exposed to other ethnicities and realize that not every family raises their kids the same way.

We can’t always rely on a computer to tell us how to think or advise us on what to do.

Your grandkids need to know about people. Schools, not technology, are a playground for it.

——— (Column published previously in the Cleveland Daily Banner)

(About the writer: Dr. Luis C. Almeida is an associate professor of communication at Lee University and a TEDx speaker. He is the author of the book “Becoming a Brand: The Rise of Technomoderation,” and a devoted Christian. He can be reached via his website at  luiscalmeida.info). 

Advice: Stick With Your Talent

Advice: Stick With Your Talent

The Lord has given you a gift for a very good reason — to glorify Him with it. We all are good in something and brothers and sisters… we need to make sure that we stick with the talent (or talents) that God has given us. The actual gifts given by God to us are many. So the question is… What is your gift? Seek to find what you are good at and use it! Keep in mind though that the gift that you have received came from the creator of the universe. 


God be glorified, always. Be blessed, 🙂

Listening Before Speaking.

Listening Before Speaking.

“To answer before listening — that is folly and shame” (Proverbs 18:13).” 

We are to listen first then answer after. This is what God teaches us. Fellow brothers and sisters, before making any assumptions about anyone or anything, make sure that you listen and listen carefully. The good God teaches us to do just that and goes one step further to say that if the brethren answer before listening… it is a shameful and a folly act. So, before answering before listening to a friend, family member or co-worker, remember Proverbs 18:13.

God be with us. In His name…

 

 

When We Decrease, God Increases — A Must.

When We Decrease, God Increases — A Must.

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“He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30); “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:10); “Where there is no guidance the people fall, But in abundance of counselors there is victory” (Proverbs 11:14). 

Life is about God not us. I must become less and so should you. We all need to ensure through our actions and words that God gets the glory and that we submit ourselves to the most high. Humility, submission, and respect for the only God of the universe is our goal. There are no exceptions to this rule only obedience.

The word of God shall live forever! We should blindly obey and glorify the only God of the universe by being humble. Always remember: God first, we second.

God Blesses The Humble — God Gets The Glory.

God Blesses The Humble — God Gets The Glory.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2); “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves” (Philippians 2:3); “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves” (James 4:10). “Pride brings a person low,
but the lowly in spirit gain honor” (Proverbs 29:23).  

We are to live our lives for the Lord and to always give thanks for everything that He gives us. Remember: Every good and perfect gift comes from above” (James 1:17). We are to live for God not man and to God shall the glory be given all the time. God is worthy of praise. We are to serve Him as his witnesses in this world by being humble and gentle.

As most of you know, I am a media professional who enjoys great conversations about “The media” with others. In my short journey here in Jackson, Mississippi, I had the privilege to speak with a number of very nice “media folks.” One of them, in particular — was Brad Smith! A gentle, nice, patient and above all… humble man who is de facto a quite talented film maker. Ladies and gentleman, this is Brad Smith below.

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Brad Smith

Sure, you can find him at Deville Camera and Video near interstate 55 in Jackson, MS but you can also see him producing cool video clips (and films) around the city, as well. The clip below is just a tiny example of the amazing work that he does. One thing is for certain —“Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8). 

Brad, as we say in colloquial English… is the man. He is the man because he is humble. He has the common sense to realize that God gets the glory for his talent not him, you or me. Brad is nice and wise and above all humble. Listen carefully: God Blesses The Humble — God gets the glory. Be like Brad, be humble and be nice. Never, under any circumstances, be prideful because “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble” (James 4:6).  It pays off to be humble and kind. Brad knows it! Now, it is your turn.

#Christianity

A Nice Farewell, Jackson State Style.

A Nice Farewell, Jackson State Style.

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The steps of a man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way” (Psalm 37:23). “Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you” (2 Corinthians 13:11). 

Today was farewell… a farewell from Jackson State University. We talked, shared, and shared more. Great words were spoken — I appreciated them all, thank you. In this life, we simply don’t know what the good God has planned for us. We choose, he guides, we are to blindly obey. Moving north we shall be going under God’s blessings.

It has been almost 10 years of higher education, over 1200 students taught, two letters of tenure, two chair-ships and now… three Associate Professorships.  I am going back to a teaching university where I belong. The Lord has blessed me and I am so thankful for it. God gets the glory! It is because of Him that we breathe and are able to share the blessings of the land.

Lee University, here we come. I can’t wait to sing with you! Sing praises to the Lord at Chapel and keep inspiring the next generation of my fellow Americans. I am thankful for it. “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). 

“I will extol the Lord at all times; His praises will always be on my lips” (Psalm 34:1). Thanks be to GOD.

Life Is Illogical — Get Used To It.

Life Is Illogical — Get Used To It.

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Forget logic… Life is illogical. If you operate under the assumption that you need more common sense in order to better understand your circumstances, think again because the former can in fact be a handicap instead of an edge for you. The moment you think that logic is what you need in order to advance your mission in life, I bet you that you will struggle over and over again pretty bad. The reality of the matter is that most people are crazy and there is nothing that you and I can do that will ever change this reality. It is only by being able to deal with the illogical that you will find sanity in your world.

In my life, I have seen a painter and a nurse buy a three thousand thousand dollar home with a sixty five thousand dollar combined income with maxed out credit cards yet they thought they deserved to have that kind of property and many friends assumed that they were wealthy because of their estate. What do I Say? Craziness! Life is illogical. I have also seen real estate professionals trying to put blame on their own clients for their own misfortunes. Yet, many people believe these ludicrous professionals and blame the innocent. Again… Illogical.

I have seen many blaming others for their own incompetence. How illogical is that? Yet, the former happens more often than you may think. Today, I was told that some areas in central Mississippi will start charging five thousand dollars for a small piece of commercial real estate because developers want to make the region into the next Beverly Hills with huge hotels and such. Illogical, I say. I love central Mississippi but this region will never compete heads on with southern California in wealth.

I have seen too many misunderstandings that could have been avoided due to either unsubstantiated thoughts and biases, people trying to be wealthy when in trueness they don’t have anything, priests treating their own people with disrespect yet asking them to fund their churches, colleges seeking accreditation at all costs without having the funding to recruit enough staff to complete the work, and even people eating in fancy places yet they don’t have a sustainable place to live. All of this? Illogical.

Check this irony out! You live a responsible life according to your means, treat others with respect, do your job with care, respect others, celebrate other people’s victories, make others look good, help others when they are sick, pray for them and in return you get — They try to screw you in every opportunity they can; They lie about you and your family; they elevate their lies and reduce your accomplishments… and in the end? Many people believe these lunatics many times over you without hearing both sides of the story! Isn’t the former so illogical?  Yet these former things happen more often than you may think. Illogical right? I say so.

Human beings are so illogical all over the world. In India, for example, many men work their whole lives, save up what they have made but often spend more than half of what they have acquired in one night at their daughter’s weeding. In Brazil, many have very little money sometimes having nothing or little to eat but during carnival, they go nuts on spending what they don’t have in a costume that they use for two maybe three days. The British system of education (the German, Portuguese…) assumes that by age 18, you are ready to choose what you want to do for the rest of your life. In Brazil, winning what is yours in court may take a lifetime. Don’t believe me? Go ask my family about it! We have been fighting for a piece of real estate we have paid taxes religiously for the past 37 years… Things are just illogical everywhere!

Do yourself a favor — just realize that life is illogical. Get used to it. If it makes too much sense, be skeptical. I am learning to accept this absolute reality. You should do the same.

 

 

Millennials Are Not Computer Geniuses.

Millennials Are Not Computer Geniuses.

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This is perhaps one of the biggest myths of our times — The idea that the millennials are geniuses of technology and that they know everything there is to technology. The reality is that they don’t actually know  the very basics of longitudinal productive technology as this kind of knowledge base requires significant internal rehearsal which is a fancy name for practice through repeated behavior. The Millennials can rarely recognize their own limitations with modern technique which in itself should serve as evidence that something just isn’t right.The former is perhaps one of the biggest problems we face in society today. The idea that millennials know everything about computers. Well, they don’t.

They “know” how to use social media but social media fluency doesn’t equate into being capable of producing an elaborated spreadsheet, C++ programming expertise, or even HTML 1.0 code understanding.  I even argue that the millennials don’t even have the necessary tenets of building a legitimate group of organic followers on social media either as such endeavors require time and effort. I have worked with a number of clever social media students to help promote some of my initiatives and in every instance, even the very best student wizards of technology, couldn’t make anything go viral for me. Why is that? Well, you tell me. Let me tell you…

Most youngsters of today don’t have the “time” and don’t want to put the effort to build such social media empires. They are too busy wasting their time with themselves rather than learning how to produce artifacts or advance any social media initiative overtime as such endeavors require a combination of rest, reflection, and hard word. This is why TechnoModeration and rest are critical elements to meaningful production. Most millennials are consumers of technology not producers of any kind. Most don’t rest to be able to contribute to their highest potentials. Looking for the easy way out under a constant state of frazzle won’t cut and this is perhaps why most millennials simply don’t produce novel artifacts despite the numerous techniques available to them.

This is perhaps why a smart group of entrepreneurs developed a number of smart applications to help the busy generation to get more followers, likes, comments… I like to call them the “industry of fake” who offer a solution to what I call the egoistic me at all costs clientele. I have to admit — these internet entrepreneurs are brilliant! They understand their target audience!  They produced modern media artifacts to satisfy the Millennial hunger of wanting to be popular and as a value added fool their parents with the idea that they are geniuses of technology because they can buy popularity.

The price of fake is decreasing by the year as do most innovations. So, NO! Millennials Don’t Know Everything About Computers. They probably know very little, in fact. They know how to fake what they know. If you take their smartphones away, they know even less and would probably get severe anxiety.

Don’t be fooled by what you hear. If it appears too good to be true… did you remember that phrase? Pay attention, investigate and look for the undeniable evidence that is found out there.  They need as much help as we do with technology.

Speaking Your Mind With Reason Is Critical In Life.

Speaking Your Mind With Reason Is Critical In Life.

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Let me tell you this straight: Your end is near if you decide to stop sharing what you know and learning new things due to fear of retaliation or simply because of arrogance. I am not aware of any quality professional who lacks generosity and/or avoids engaging in timely professional development. Life, my friends, isn’t about you or me. Life is de facto about others and how we share and learn overtime. Don’t get me started — if you think that you know everything under the sun, you are heading towards imminent disaster and a huge awakening in the near future. Nobody knows everything… not even you. We need to be prepared, thats for sure. We need to keep learning and sharing.  We need lifelong learning! We need lifelong sharing!  Be ready to speak your mind with reason once is a while as the former is certainly critical to your success in life.

All that I ask you is: Be reasonable. We already live in a world that is so unreasonable.  We most definitely need to be vocal about the former because acting without reason is dangerous and always backfire. In fact, being unreasonable is both dangerous and oppressive as it can silence the voices of people who might otherwise change the world for the better. Our goal is to make things better not worse in this world. It is to carry and advance honorable agendas in a timely fashion. Be patient, be kind, be loving and strive to be great in the eyes of others. Speak your mind with reason and defend what is right and honorable once in a while. Remember: Being impartial or overly judgmental of others, especially if your life depends on the same people you criticize, isn’t wise. One thing is for sure — Your goals are not that different than mine. it is to move forwards in life by being a reasonable person. Is it that complicated? I don’t think so.

There are many ways people can speak their minds reasonably. In this life, I will share with you three ways I speak my mind with reason. Here we go.

  1.  I write. Well, the former shouldn’t come a surprise to anybody, right? I write my blog on a daily basis in order to communicate my thoughts to the masses with a tough of reason. Writing allows me to speak my mind in symbolically through language. What is my overall goal you may be asking. My goal is simply to speak my mind to others so that engagement takes place as I believe that sharing what I know and hearing what others have to say is a critical to my own professional development and with succeeding in life. This is my advice to you — You should de the same and write daily. Writing is a wonderful tool to tell others about how you feel, as long as it is done with reason. It is a way to keep yourself sane in this insane world that we live in.
  2. I photograph. Drawing with lights allow us to speak our minds visually. Differently from writing, a well taken photograph is art in itself with no symbolism. We all need art to be reasonable. Life is art and without question… life without art isn’t life as we know it. The whole idea of being critical is tied to the field of photography. Have you ever met a professional photographer who wasn’t critical of his/her photography work? Are you critical of your photography? Tom Petty once said, “Sell your computer and buy a guitar.” I say, “Sell your computer (or guitar) and buy a DSLR!”
  3.  I speak. Speaking in public allows me to speak my mind orally. When was the last time that you delivered a public speech? If you haven’t done one in a while, I would strongly suggest that you make plans to deliver one by next week. In order to speak your mind with reason, you need to be versed in public speaking. I bet Dale Carnegie would agree with me on this one! Get yourself a good public speaking training program and start developing your repertoire of speeches so that you also have the ability to change the world for the better by speaking and being reasonable! We need more people like you, that’s foe sure.

Your end is near if you decide to stop sharing what you know and learning new things due to fear of retaliation or simply because of arrogance. I am not aware of any quality professional who lacks generosity and/or avoids engaging in timely professional development in this world. If you think that you know everything under the sun, you are heading towards imminent disaster and a huge awakening in the future. Nobody knows everything… not even you. Be patient, be kind, be loving… take time to write, photograph, and speak so that you also have a chance to speak your mind with reason. Are you ready for the challenge? I hope so.

The Importance Of Renewing Your Mind.

The Importance Of Renewing Your Mind.

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God has instructed us in Romans 12:2 to renew our minds. Let me clarify this — It is absolutely imperative that we all read scripture on a daily basis as by reading His word, we read His thoughts. It is amazing what you can accomplish in your life when you get closer to God in scripture. The act of reading the bible is both a blessing for those who read and the ones who receives God’s message. We are called to read the bible, pray and engage in the great commission everyday. We might as well do the former often, without regrets… early on in our lives.

Paul said, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed.” As believers, we are from this world but we are not of this world. We don’t need to act and react in “human” terms necessarily and we should most definitely engage in biblical testing. Also, we need to renew our minds by transforming our minds with what God has said and taught us not what we want to think or not think. Life isn’t about you or me — Life is most certainly about God and what God wants us to do, as King and Blackaby eloquently write in their best selling book, “Experiencing God.”

Be careful to not be molded by this world, brothers and sisters. You were born for a reason and the main one is to do great things in life for God’s glorification. Being close to scripture and listening to the word of God is an important and necessary condition for God’s will to be done in this life. You were called to be a part of God’s army. We all need to act accordingly. Let me tell you something: The time for advancing the kingdom is now fellas not tomorrow. We all need to renew our minds for God’s glory. Life is too short for us to be constantly waiting for a divine sign/call given by God so we can start doing the work of God.

I am 43. You might be 27 maybe 37 or 19, I don’t know. What I do know is that we all need to be immersed in scripture and defending the word of God on a daily basis. It is our duty, it is our task — it is most definitely our call. Renew you mind by getting closer to God’s word/thoughts. This is your primary responsibility in life. I am in 100% and won’t abandon God. You should take the same stance, as well. God is counting on your help and mine in order to help others see the light and truth of God Almighty.

What a privilege that we have. It comes down to that.

I Am Average: You Are Also Average.

I Am Average: You Are Also Average.

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Overall, I am very average. I bet, regardless of what you may think, that you are also very average, if that. My reasons for making such a straight forward and realistic life assessment statement is because I have enough common sense to realize that only very few people are de facto extraordinary in this world regardless of what many may think. People can think anything in life but just because they think doesn’t mean that they and you are and I am. Let me go one step further and enlighten you with more practical common sense. I bet that most (if not all) of your friends and family are at best mediocre. Which metrics are you using to justify such “controversial” statements, you may be asking? I will tell you in a bit… stay tuned.

If you were to die tomorrow, how many people would attend your funeral service? Which extraordinary achievement have you accomplished in your life that is worth placing you two standard deviations in the global population mean? Some may say… I have a PhD — Only about 1% of the population have PhD’s. Whoopty do!!! How many people do you think have completed a PhD worldwide? I don’t know about you but the vast majority of my friends have one. The number, of course, is in the millions maybe thousands of millions. I am not that unique; they are not that unique. If you think you are unique because you have one, think again. You are not unique either. Not even a Harvard PhD is that unique. There are a lot of people who have fulfilled the requirements to receive a PHD from Harvard University throughout the years. Does the former mean that they are all geniuses? Give me a break.

I am the first Brazilian in history to ever become a Head Golf Coach in a NCAA accredited university in the United States. Whoopty do!!! Who cares if you are the first of anything that insignificant… Being the first doesn’t make me better or worse than being the second or third Chinese teenager to ever play college basketball on a scholarship in France. What is the overall significance of your accomplishment, at the global level? By the way, greatness is to be measured at the global level not at the whatever level, don’t you think? It is in my book.

This is how I judge whether a person is great or mediocre, “What have you done that has changed the world?” Galileu Galilei, Albert Einstein, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King Jr, Nicola Tesla, Noam Chomsky, Steve Jobs… have changed the world. I doubt that you have, regardless of what you might think or believe. By the way, I haven’t either… At least, I know where I stand. Do you know where you stand? In this life, is is imperative that we answer these important former questions because the crazy most illogical decisions people make are often related to the false perceptions they have about themselves when in reality they are average at best. Stop and reflect about the former, I say. It is worth spending a few nights critically thinking about it. Do you still believe that you are that great?

Professors are notorious for thinking that they are the best thing that have ever lived in this world. Really? Don’t even get me started talking about university tenure and how wonderful your research is. Professors out there, listen to me — If you think that you are great because you have received a letter of tenure, think again. I have received two letters of tenure in a period of seven years — I am not wonderful. I am not that special because of these tenure letters. What these letters do say is that I take my job seriously and respect/honor the institutions that I work for. Let me tell you something: I don’t work for tenure; I work for God. By the way, I am pretty sure that you are not that great just because you have a letter of tenure, either.  We are all very average… Get real.

Here is my advice: Stop thinking that others won’t respect you because you admit to be average. Be careful to correlate beautiful pieces of clothing with extraordinary brain capacity. There is no direct correlation between a tie and brain cells, by the way. Having the perfect haircut won’t turn you into a freaking genius. I would even argue that “perfection” is often a sign of deficiency. Nobody is perfect. Those who are really good in what they don’t need to show that they are. Did Mother Theresa wear coach? Was Einstein a Ralph Lauren guy? How about Steve Jobs?

Moral of the story — I am average: You are also average. It is the end of it.

Billionaires Don’t Have The Best Interest Of The People.

Billionaires Don’t Have The Best Interest Of The People.

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Let me ask you this — Do you really think that a billionaire really cares about what happens in our lives? Please people, let’s get real. Very few (if any) billionaire has the best interest of anyone regardless of what anybody tells you. Billionaires like money… a lot of it. They don’t like you and I. In fact, most of these people make fun of you (and me) for not having what they have. Life is always about them, not you or me. How dare you disagree! Look, billionaires would rather make investments in robotics in order to replace labor (you) with machines than to invest in you. It is all about the money people. The goal? It is to demoralize you and make your life a living h^#$ so you keep your mouth shut. Why? Probably because billionaires don’t really care about you. Do you really think that they care about your family?

Listen carefully: You might as well give kisses of goodbye to anyone who opposes the billionaire agenda. Billionaires will destroy public education (both K-12 and post secondary, higher education) because the former won’t make them trillionaires. Let’s not forget that college professors tend to think critically about things, much like journalists… especially investigative reporters. What is the best thing that a ruthless billionaire dictator could do to eliminate his opposition? Or shall we say, offer some checks and balances to this whole mess — defund and/or demonize the opponent without any mercy. What can they (the regular people) do anyways, many are thinking these days. The unions are weak, the laws protect the wealthy and strong economically… Reality. The poor have no white blood cells to fight back my potent virus, billionaires know. It is time to attack! Maybe, our commander in chief is simply using Robert Green’s  15th law of power, “Crush your enemy totally, show no mercy.” The time is now — Let’s conquer everything in the world and screw everyone else because we can. I bet quite a few billionaires have had this conversation already. Starve them! Give them houses and an insecure job! Then, take their jobs away and buy their houses for cheap right after! The goal is global domination but it starts at home.

We live in a cruel world full of aspiring trillionaires who really don’t care about you and your family or mine. The scary part is that some now have the authority to literally destroy our lives in a very short period of time. Brothers and sisters, be aware! The world that your your children and mine will grow up in will be very ugly… It will be full of injustice, contrasts, and a lot of poverty. I am seeing a disaster coming to this country because of extremism, billionaire breeds extremism and a sense of self worth.  Billionaires don’t have the best interest of the people, that’s for sure. Don’t be fooled.

 

 

 

Be Thankful, Always.

Be Thankful, Always.

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Be thankful, always. Celebrate what you have and give thanks to God because life in its essence is about the memories that you collect and the moments that you will remember with nostalgia forever. Why make things complicated and make life more difficult than what it should be. I say live a simple life and without question… live your life to the fullest because our days on this earth are counted and temporary. There is no need to build four businesses, working 17 hours a day and taking no vacation. Not even the mighty government cares about what you spend and live for. Be wise: Live small, focus on your job, and be thankful, aways.

My life is much more precious than any award I’ve received for doing professional work. If we deeply investigate our own circumstances, in the end friends… we are all very average and sometimes below average in what we do and how we live. Everything is meaningless in this life as the good God has once said in Ecclesiastics 1. If you die tomorrow, how many people will be attending your funeral? Maybe a couple dozen if you are lucky… At mine, I can tell you, won’t be many and I am fine with it. I don’t live a beat the Jone’s type of life and find elitism to be both fickle and unnecessary but that’s just me.

There are so many ways that we can live a thankful life. In this article, I will share with you three ways I live my thankful one.

  1. I say no to elitism. There is no room for elitism in my life book. It is very difficult to be thankful to God and live life thinking about money and what others think of you. Maybe you can live your life this way. I can’t. When I was 14 years old, I chose to live a simple life, despite of my family upbringings and recommendations. In the end, what a person brings to the table is so much more important than what a small group of preppy kids who think they are wonderful have to offer. Get a life, man. A polo shirt, fine wine and a pair of sneakers will never define who I am. I don’t need to wear or appear wealthy to have value in this world. Life is to be lived for God not men. Elitism is a cancer that often backfires, especially if you want to live a thankful life, always.
  2. Play with your kids. There is nothing more satisfying to me than seeing my daughter grow up. Playing ponies with daddy, cabana at night, reading books and occasionally going to a bouncy place means the world to me.  All these former activities either costs us no money or are very cheap to pursue. Having fun with your kids is a blessing that isn’t tied to monetary power. It is a good way to be thankful, always. Let me share something with you, before I forget — make sure that you marry and have kids. You will thank me later.  Playing with your kids is perhaps one of the very best ways for anybody to grow thankful and happy, I think. Smile at your child before bed. I bet you will enjoy the moment.
  3. Tell others you are thankful for them. You don’t make your life great. Others do in fact with a touch of God. Moral of the story? Make sure you tell others that you are thankful for having them. If you really analyze your life in detail, you will quickly realize that the impact that others have on you are much higher than the impact that you have on yourself. We are members of only one race — the human race. Human beings were made to live in community and celebrate with others. Language and societal symbols are two means that we use to live a thankful life with others. Practice the former every time you can and do what you can to get better at it. Nobody is perfect and we all can improve. Make someone happy tomorrow. This is your duty and mine.

Be thankful, always. Celebrate what you have and give thanks to God because life in its essence is about the memories that you collect and the moments that you will remember with nostalgia forever. I say live a simple life and without question… live your life to the fullest. There are so many ways that we can live a thankful life — I say no to elitism, play with my kid, and tell others I am thankful for them once in a while but that’s just me. Don’t forget… Make someone happy. This is your duty and mine in this world.

The Faces Of The Homeless. How Can So Many People Be So Heartless?

The Faces Of The Homeless. How Can So Many People Be So Heartless?

According to the National Alliance To End Homelessness, there are more than 500,000 homeless people living in the United States today with a large number of them being children. The Housing and Urban Development office estimates that this number is likely to be an under estimation as many homeless men and women (and children) don’t have the means to fill out census surveys. Lack of affordable housing and low pay are the two main variables that contribute to the large number of homeless living in the streets in America. We need to do what we can to reduce this number exponentially and keep helping those who need our help the most. It is the Christian think to do.

By the way, can you spot a homeless man or woman? I bet you can but just keep in mind that they are more diverse than you may think. The Rethink Homelessness campaign has enlighten many of us to the true “face” of homelessness in the American empire.  Many homeless folks are college educated, have played sports in college with a scholarship, and some have even gone to modeling school. There are homeless who can speak multiple languages, including the language of personal training.

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Rethink Homelessness

You might be asking, “What happened to them?” “How can this be?” Well, there are so many answers to these questions. Let me offer some for you. When medicine is so expensive and only a few can afford and if you get really sick… it becomes really expensive for anyone to pay for those medical or prescription bills. What a shame, I say. I have known a number of clever, nice and hard working professionals who had their lives destroyed because of health care. How can the former happen in the United States of America!

In other cases, homelessness might be due to addiction to prescription drugs or sometimes due to financial bankruptcy. Sure, lack of affordable housing and low pay are two big variables that impact homelessness but they are not the only two. In my opinion, we need to do what we can to help each other out and redesign the system to at least give Americans the right to live without having to pass through this kind of hardship. Don’t you think? By the way, if you live in Mississippi, look for Clarence from lovevets.org. He is a nice guy who cares for Veteran Homeless living in Jackson, Mississippi.

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When I see images like the one we are seeing above, I can’t stop thinking about when I thought about going to medical school back in the 00’s with plans to work as a general practitioner in small town USA assisting folks with little funding to see a doctor.  I ended up becoming a different kind of doctor by my care for the poor (especially the homeless) will never go away, that’s for sure. Seeing a man (or woman) being homeless really bothers me especially if the person is in this position because of lack of health care. We can do so much better in this country, I argue.

 

Appearances can be deceiving sometimes, especially within the poor and disenfranchised. Forget gender, ethnicity, places of origin, language, location… the homeless are as diverse as you can think of and can be found everywhere in the union. Some have even created robots and have extensive knowledge of electronics. Surprised? Don’t be. They re everywhere. Next time you see a homeless asking for help, stop and think. You have the power to make a difference in the life of another fellow human being. Don’t forget — Jesus Christ called us to help the poor. Helping those in need is our duty a Christians.

 

God Takes Care Of His People.

God Takes Care Of His People.

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If God is with you, who can be against you? Nobody can, I say. Don’t worry brother or sister, the good God is in control and won’t leave you alone in the darkness. Everything that happens in this life happens for a reason and there is nothing that you and me can do about it. The love that God has for us is not only contagious but literally impossible to describe. We all need the grace of God as we don’t deserve the air that we breathe and the food that we eat. Who is perfect among you? Nobody is, I scream! Life is about development, mercy and having a smile on your face. The Lord takes care of His people, that’s for sure. He puts people in your path to teach you lessons and to develop yourself for Godly service. Are you doing what God has asked you to do?

Don’t be jealous of others because God’s people complement them. Be patient because your time of glory will come. Life isn’t about getting attention all the time. Sometimes, God takes care of His people by making them live a low profile life. Nobody is perfect and sometimes, things are not what they seem. Be careful to not hold hate or discord. Most people are self-centered, egoistic and quick to temper.  Be different! Be a true Christian and chose love over hate. It is amazing what God can do in your life when you make Christ your priority not people. It is in fact shocking what comes your way when you don’t even expect or plan for it.  God will open your eyes to the beauty of this world if you ask Him to. God takes care of His people — In the morning, in the afternoon, in November or during the Summer months. Learn to trust God, live a life of no regrets, and make an effort to see the world with positive eyes. In the end, you will quickly realize that in this world, the Lord is in control not you or me.

There are a lot of ways in which God takes care of His people. In this article, I will share with you three ways God does take care of me and you.

  1. He puts extraordinary people in our paths. A caring God takes care of His people many times by showing to His children that only God is supreme. Nobody is always victorious and along your life journey… you will eventually find other people who have more talent than you. Don’t take the former to heart but as an opportunity to better learn about yourself and be humble. Only God is perfect. I am not perfect. You are not perfect either. God cares about you and me. You are to focus on Him not me and you.
  2. He humbles us by making us different. Simplicity is the name of the game, folks. As a young boy, I was trained in a polymath school where we all had to learn art, science, sports (golf and chess), and linguistics. We were trained to excel in these four areas at the highest level. I chose music and theatre, chemistry, golf/chess, and latin. Others chose dance and drawing, mathematics, soccer and greek. I know latin, you know greek; I make the first move and dominate the chess center board… you close the argument using pure Aristotelian thought.  We both complement what we do by doing what we do best. I am not better than you. You are not better than me. We, however, are better than most. I say, “synergy.” A united people can never be divided.
  3. He performs miracles when you least expect. If you are in hell, don’t stop… keep moving. There must be a very good reason for it. God takes care of His people. The miracles that the good God performs many times can’t be described or understood. Life is a miracle. This former fact, in itself, is worth celebrating the mercy and love of God. What are the odds one can get a hole in one in golf? 1 in 12500. How likely is it? Very unlikely. Do you know how tough it is to live and learn in another country whose language isn’t your own? The mannerisms, culture, values, etc… It isn’t that simple but God opens peoples’ eyes to see reality through love and care. God takes care of His people. Look, sooner or later you will experience a miracle. Ok, I say you have a 1 in 12 chance to see a miracle being performed in your life. Why 12? I don’t know let me see — Jesus had twelve disciples; There are 12 inches in a foot; There are 12 days of Christmas; In English, twelve is the largest number that has just one syllable… Thank you the#FACTsite.com. You were my miracle today. Tomorrow, I might be yours.

If God is with you, who can be against you? Nobody can, I say. God takes care of His people. It is amazing what God can do in your life when you make Christ your priority not people. God takes care of His people by putting extraordinary people in your path. He also humbles us to make us different for our own sake. He performs miracles when you least expect it. Keep your eyes wide open. God takes care of His people, all the time.

Do You Want To Succeed? Be Disciplined.

Do You Want To Succeed? Be Disciplined.

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If your goal is to become a successful professional, you need to learn how to be more disciplined. Being able to obey the rules of society and your company at all times, understand the codes of behavior of your community and country, and correct disobedience when necessary will make you into a superstar. We all need to keep course and do our very best in order to be disciplined and above all — fair.

Life is all about being able to be reasonable and doing things right. Don’t wait for the perfect moment to be totally disciplined to start being more disciplined. Be disciplined now and accept the fact that we are we all a work in progress, people. If you think you aren’t, I strongly suggest that you reconsider your thoughts and surrender to the fact that you are not wonderful. Only God, my friends, is wonderful. You are not God — You have faults as much as I do.  So, be quiet and live life to the fullest yet accepting that you are not a saint or the next pope. Life is all about development and understanding. Strive for discipline, though.

There are a number of ways one can be more disciplined in this world. I am not going to attempt to explain all the ways that we can achieve this remarkable goal. However, I will show you three ways that you can become more disciplined in this world.

  1. Don’t think you are God. As I said early on in this article, nobody is God. Therefore, don’t act like or think that you are one. Are you omnipotent, omnipresent? All powerful? The answer is no, obviously. Do yourself a favor, be humble, understanding and forgiving. God is watching over your path and heart. Would you like to be outside of God’s blessing? Not me.  Don’t think you are God, nobody is God. Keep living your life simple and recreating yourself once in a while for the better. Ask God for directions. He will give it to you.
  2. Don’t procrastinate.  If you can do something today, do it. Don’t wait until tomorrow. The former can be a cancer in your developing as a discipline superstar. Those who choose to get things done eventually tend to eventually be fired or be laid off. Don’t be like them. Be yourself and do what you can to keep learning and living. Discipline pays off. Not everybody actually has it. Be a person of character and strive to be more disciplined. I can almost guarantee you that you won’t regret your decisions. Those who have ears to hear need to listen.
  3. Be open to criticism.  If you can’t listen, you will never be disciplined enough to make the required changes to achieving success in this world. There is no way out of this. We all can improve and learn, hands down. If you choose not to, sooner or later — you will put yourself out of business naturally. Consequently, the former would then make your chances of being good or shall we say — great in society very small. Closing yourself off from criticism is likely to screw up your future forever, even if you are good in what you do.   We live in tough times. Don’t handicap yourself by avoiding constructive criticism given by others once in a while. It ain’t worth it.

If your goal is to become a successful professional, you need to learn how to be more disciplined. Being able to obey the rules of society and your company at all times, understand the codes of behavior of your community and country, and correct disobedience when necessary will make you into a superstar. Don’t think you are God, though. Nobody is God. Not even you. Don’t procrastinate. Be open to criticism. We live in tough times. Don’t handicap yourself by avoiding constructive criticism given by others once in a while. It ain’t worth it. Give yourself a chance of winning by being open minded and sensitive about the need to be disciplined.

 

Focus On Things That Really Matter To You.

Focus On Things That Really Matter To You.

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Life is full of distractions and can be annoying sometimes but in the end, you need to really focus on things that really matter to you. I live my life thinking, chatting, sometimes chatting too much, interacting, accomplishing and sharing. What matters to me probably won’t matter to you as much and that’s perfectly fine. You have to live investigating, testing and observing… living and learning, standing for what you believe and being reasonable so that you live a long and satisfying life. I personally have little patience for stupidity and love to make people smile by giving them unexpected gifts and surprises. We all have our own desires and needs and that is absolutely fine and expected.

Live your life in the moment. Give a hand to someone, forgive often, listen more and be real. There is no need to pretend or act in disagreement to what you believe in. Life is too short to not live in the moment. We all need to find out what we love the most and stick to it. There is no shame in admitting that the future will be better than the past or that the present is to be celebrated forever.  I focus on the needs of my family and what I perceive God to ask me to live for. In my 43 years, I’ve learned not to give up very easily but history has taught me through experience that reconsidering sometimes is the best thing one can do to experience exactly what God wants us to do. At this point in my life, I don’t need to prove the obvious to anyone anymore.

People are unreasonable, selfish, dramatic, emotional, and often times so ridiculous that all that we can do sometimes is to just move on and investigate what exactly the good God wants us to do in the long run. Who cares if today you work and live in Nebraska in the auto industry as a mechanic. Tomorrow, you might as well be living in Bangladesh as an activist looking for another adventure in the far east. Have you ever asked God what He thinks you should do? It starts with understanding which talent the Lord has given you. Do you know the answer to this very important question?

My wife says that I have the gift of exhortation. Ironically, my parents have said the same thing, indirectly. Today, I know that I have this gift from God… The gift of being a cheerleader and telling others that they can do it! No wonder why I became a college professor! I am often the shoulder for others in need. When folks are sick, I visit them. When situations are difficult, I write prayers on a piece of paper and give them to people in crises. When they cry, I cry. But this is just me. The former might be why my career in higher education has been so heavily influenced by communicating during office hours and student advising. This is what excites me. This is what I live for. I focus on what excites me and you should do the same, as well.

A sense of purpose is what you need. Don’t forget to keep trying and giving yourself a chance to win the big prize. Many times, the big prize isn’t money or anything related to finances but a great attitude towards life. I don’t live life regretting my actions or seeking attention from anyone as I think that these two former life decisions destroy who you really are. You need to be yourself and once in a while look in the mirror. Who are you exactly?  Many have asked me to serve as a Department Chair in my career. I didn’t ask for it. We all have our own beliefs and value system. I certainly have mine and won’t give them up. You have yours and we all have to respect that.

Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. Yesterday? Who cares. I will keep moving forward and thanking all the people who believe in my life mission of goodwill and happiness and pray for those who persecute me. I have no time for pride and unreasonable actions. They can be as far away from me as possible. In fact, I hope they are. This world is too complex for us to live life complicating the obvious. I am here to be me. You should be there to make your own mark with reason. My advice to you?  Focus on things that really matter to you and live your life to the best capacity you can.

Understand First — Judge Second.

Understand First — Judge Second.

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Blind judgements are overrated. Understanding is a necessity. A world without reason and goodwill will only result in chaos and misunderstandings. You don’t want to live life this way. The principle behind treating others well is quite simple. We need to understand people first and judge them second. Isn’t that simple? We can agree to disagree. In which ways? In this life, some say tomayto — others, they say tomahto. Do you say Eether or eyether. I say neether do you say nyther? The reality of the matter is that we are very different from each other often and that’s okay. The former is precisely what makes living on this earth so interesting and unpredictable. Despite our differences, we have many similarities.

Forcing beliefs on others is a dangerous practice because we all have our own unique set of experiences. The moment you try to force others to believe what you want them to believe, an eminent defeat is heading your way. Ideas and words can be used to convince people about a topic or a thing. Forcing anyone to see the world the way you do without taking the time to better understanding their circumstances will backfire. Be careful with assuming things about others without really knowing what they know or their circumstances. Preconceived judgements just makes you less noble and more difficult to get along with in the long run. You need to look at life for what life is. Trying to live a life of fantasy or a make believe one will only hurt you in the long run. Be very careful when misjudging anyone who can really help you to better understand yourself.

Listen carefully: Nobody is perfect in this life, not even you or me. Only God is perfect. Don’t forget this: God is paying attention.  Are you giving yourself a chance to be helped by God by being reasonable with others? I am. I hope you are, as well. You can’t always get what you want. That is just a fact. Complaining and blaming others for your misfortunes and lack of luck will not change the fact that we need to work with others in order to operate with distinction. We need to keep trying and believing and avoid judging too quickly. Act that way, if you please.

Be extremely careful to not lose the good people around you because of pride. If someone is helping you out, you have to be careful not to mock them or make them angry — or make left hand judgements directly or indirectly. What am I trying to say to you is that you can’t keep having fun forever without control, judge and think that life will run like a disorganized mess forever. Eventually the fun will stop and reality will be made transparent. Remember: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Never forget that.

Rather than passing judgements, make an effort to understand. Don’t be mean, ever. Be a happy camper and celebrate. Understand first, judge last… don’t judge if you can. Honesty is the best policy. There is no reason to lie. You can gain the world with a happy smile. As the proverb says, “There is no time like the present.” Do it now! Don’t wait until tomorrow to do good and to be understanding. Strive to be a better person now. Learn how to value others as much as you value yourself. In the end, we are all in this boat together trying to make solid societal sometimes educational contributions and glorifying God. We might look different but in our core, we are more similar than dissimilar.  We are all part of one race — the human race.

Why judge? Be sure to understand first. This is my motto.

Only You Can Really Define Who You Are.

Only You Can Really Define Who You Are.

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Nobody can define who you are. In reality, only you can do that. However, if you don’t define who you are to others, they themselves will define you for you. This is precisely why you must take ownership of your own life journey and strive to live a genuine life that is based on integrity, honor, and a lot of “you” not me or they. In the end, what really matters in this world are the experiences that we acquire based on the thoughts, beliefs ad values that we hold. You can’t afford to have others dictating what you should believe in or the things that you should stand for unless you want to be a slave of your own destiny. It ain’t worth it. If your own life is manipulated by others, which life are you living then? Theirs? Living the dream must be based on your dreams not anybody else’s dreams.

The mystery of the future is often based on the predictability of your past. However, those who live in the past, as my friend Tony would say, end up somewhere locked inside of a museum letting life pass by. Your own self-recreation is a condition maybe even a requisite for taking control of your own definitions and immediate future overtime. Remember: You must define yourself not others. Only you can recreate who you are period. Make sure to take charge of your own destiny my friends and know yourself in great detail because if you don’t, then misery will consume the last small dot of hope you have to living the great life and defining yourself .

There are a number of ways in which you can define who you are in this world. In this article, I will share with you three techniques I use to make it clear to others that I define my persona not anybody else.

  1. I go to war once in a while. If you believe that life is always peace and that compromising is a way of life, reconsider. Consensus, not compromise, is the way to go. In order to have real consensus, both parties involved must end the game with a victory. I live by the former statement. The moment you perceive that others are trying to gain a one-up on you, fight back — go to war. Defend your beliefs and make sure that you are in fact part of the decision making process of your own future. The moment you lose the former and give up in the name of peace, you lose the game and the chance to control your destiny and definitions. The act of going to war isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes, going to war is a necessity.
  2. I am truthful and don’t deviate.  Who are you today? Are you who you say you are? You better. Being untruthful is a big violation of integrity. Nobody can afford losing his/her reputation in this life if you plan to control your own life path. When I was 17 years of age, I was a very well respected golfer in my home country of Brazil. When I was 17, I thought like a kid and lived life like a kid. Today, now that I am a grown 43 year old American male living in the United States, I think and live life like a man. Back then, I thought yellow — Today, I think red and that’s okay. I won’t pretend to be what I am not and you shouldn’t either. Be truthful and don’t deviate. Stick to who you are and what you believe in. It is okay to evolve. We all do. Your job is, however, to recognize change and act accordingly.
  3. I live in the moment and smile. The past is glorious. The future? Only God knows… We must live in the present though. We were once young, strong and free. Now, we are grown, wise and full of white hair or no hair. We are who we are. Time flies, things change… we evolve. Don’t forget to live in the moment and enjoy the blessings that the good God has given you. Smile often and be happy. Smile again and reflect. Be careful to not be stuck in past memories and forget that the future is sometimes recreated with new ideas. Einstein once said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Make sure that you live in the moment and have time to smile. You are gonna need it.

Nobody can define who you are. In reality, only you can do that. However, if you don’t define who you are to others, they themselves will define you to you.The mystery of the future is often based on the predictability of your past. Make sure to create your own definitions not others even if you have to go to war once in a while. Be truthful and don’t deviate. Live in the moment and smile. Never forget this: Only you can really define who you are.

The Secrets of a Great Academic Advisor

The Secrets of a Great Academic Advisor

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Listen to students. Let me repeat it again — Listen to students. If you plan and dream to become an outstanding academic advisor, you must make an effort to listen to what students have to say and want to talk about. The secret to being a great academic advisor is mostly listening and caring. I am not aware of any dedicated college professor who wants to make a difference in college students’ lives yet ignore advising. Be inspiring, be “there” for students, strive to provide the very best academic advising sessions you can possibly deliver to your students. Remember: In the end, education is all about students not you anyways.

In my career as a college professor, I’ve advised over one thousand students and the numbers keep increasing. In my academic advising sessions, I chat with students about classes, jobs, victories, defeats, more jobs and of course… careers. I have to admit that helping kids to succeed has been a great ride for both my advisees and I, that’s for sure. Having placed students in a large number of companies all across the United States has been a blessing to both my students and I. I pray that God keeps blessing me with the necessary enthusiasm and caring abilities that is required for advising college students with distinction. They do deserve our best, every time.

There are a number of ways that you can advise college students these days. In this article, I will share with you three ways that I’ve used, which have resulted in tremendous undergraduate and graduate student success. I do realize that my self-made methods are unorthodox but I promise… they work. Are you ready?

  1. Don’t start your advising in “advising” season. Academic advising doesn’t start in pre-registration.  It starts on day one when you decide to have an open door policy and make an effort to chat with students outside the classroom, sometimes even playing ping pong in the cafeteria informally. The idea that great academic advising is to take 15-20 minutes in mid-semester only is erroneous. What do I mean by that? Sure, creating a schedule for a student regardless of rank shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes per student. However, talking about careers many times can take 30 minutes sometimes longer. The former is precisely why “advising” students throughout the semester should be made a priority if you want to be known as an extraordinary academic advisor. I encourage and recommend that you take academic advising seriously and that you make an extra effort to helping pupils to achieve greatness in this world early on in the semester. One of the ways to accomplishing the former is by taking the initiative and being available.
  2. Make an effort to attend student and athletic events. This is exactly what I’ve said. You need to make sure that students realize that you legitimately care about what they do and what they are involved with. Attending campus events and supporting athletes by attending their home games is a great way to connect with students and attract them to having a longer conversation in your office later in the week. Students do appreciate college professors who they perceive care and are invested in their college life and professional development. It ain’t complicated, ladies and gents. If you think about it, excellence in academic advising is a mix of common sense combined with caring attitudes over and over again. You just have to do it! Listen to me: Make an effort to attend student and athletic events. That’s the right thing to do.
  3. Recruit and mentor a few students every semester. Students love to be mentored. Make sure that every semester you select a few students to work with you in your office. Teach and empower them. I guarantee you that by the end of the academic year, there will be a line of students wanting to be a part of your “advising” or shall we say, “mentoring” program. Empowering students to make decisions and learn one-on-one with a caring academic advisor produces big dividends, e.g., free publicity for the department and many times increases in enrollment. Why don’t we have more faculty-advisee advising experiences and mentoring opportunities in college campuses all throughout the United States ? I honestly don’t get it! We should provide these opportunities to our students. I most definitely do. You should strive to do it, as well.

If you plan and dream to become an outstanding academic advisor, you must make an effort to listen to what students want and have to say. The secret to being a great academic advisor is mostly listening. Do yourself a favor: Don’t start your advising in “advising” season. There is not enough time to do a superb job in advising if your advising starts in April or November. Make an effort to attend student and athletic events. Students do appreciate you making an effort to attend some of their events. Make sure to recruit and mentor a few students every semester. Part of our job as academic advisors is to inspire students. If you are serious about your job and care for your students, recruiting and mentoring students should be part of your operating procedures every semester. That’s what I say.

Don’t Be Upset: Learn To Deal With Ambiguity.

Don’t Be Upset: Learn To Deal With Ambiguity.

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Don’t be upset. Learn how to deal with ambiguity and celebrate the fact that you have a good life after all. Be positive! In this world, you will find in your path to success both uplifting and nagging individuals in which you are gonna have to learn from and live with. It is part of the life that God has planned for you. Somedays, people will make your life heaven; Other days, they will make your life a living hell. It is a rollercoaster. Don’t forget this, though. Stress, celebrations, non-sense frustrations and victories is all good and part of the game. Listen carefully: Most people are self-centered and could care less about your thoughts or feelings. You have to learn how to deal with them and move on. Your days will be many if you choose to live a nonchalant and happy life journey.

Let me tell you something this Sunday before I go to church. It is literally impossible to control people’s mindsets and values or the decisions they want to make in all levels of society. Do your work with distinction and dream big. Be the very best you can be regardless of what might come after you. Believe God and pray often. Dream big then dream bigger. What do you have to lose in order to think big anyways, right? Nothing. Live your life to the maximum without regrets. Smile often, play with your kid, enjoy your wife and have daily chats with your close friends. God is in control.

Don’t let others poison your thoughts by making you believe that this life sucks or that this world is mostly composed of misery and negativity. Remember: God is in control and things happen for a reason. In the book Experiencing God, Blackaby talks about the importance of living a life that God wants you to live and that God should be the center of your life not you. What a great advice that we all should follow verbatim. Life isn’t about you or me. Life is about glorifying God.

So far in my blog, you have read a large number of articles dealing with a wide variety of topics ranging from technology to workforce tips, discussions and reflections. Of course that my posts aren’t necessarily directed at anyone specifically but as a general rule of what I’ve seen in my life both in the places I’ve worked for and in society. This, folks, is what makes me happy. Self reflection and daily chats about workforce topics, along with critical discussions about technology is what I like. What do you like? Don’t be closed minded. Instead, be open minded. Don’t Be Upset: Learn to deal with ambiguity. Life may not be what you think it is.

Smile. Write a book maybe two. You only live life once anyways. Do what you like.

 A Way To Lead Good to Great Teams. The Challenge of Contemporary Higher Ed.

 A Way To Lead Good to Great Teams. The Challenge of Contemporary Higher Ed.

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Leadership isn’t position — it is action as Maxwell has said repeatedly. Leadership isn’t about you, your wishes or your legacy. Leadership is de facto about others and developing them to be better in what they do, unconditionally. A true leader doesn’t use their team as a mechanism to be “known” or “look good” to others. Leadership is about others and what we as leaders can do to make them look better. Of course that along the way… many will end up not being appreciative to the extra efforts that we put into it but this comes with the territory and is part of life. Don’t take it personally, I advise you. In the end, life (and leadership efforts for that matter) is about glorifying God first, as Mother Theresa once said.

If we lived in a perfect world where everybody’s skills and contributions were ranked in the 1%, folks were motivated, reasonable, committed, loyal…  leadership would then be easy and only a small variable in the mix of what makes good organizations become great. The problem, my friends, is that we live in an imperfect world where most people are not motivated to do their best, are many times unreasonable with what they say and do, are not committed to the organization and tend to backstab others once in a while instead of choosing to be loyal and follow when helped. The reality is that the majority of the people we hire doesn’t belong in the 1%. Let’s keep in mind that the bell curve does exist for a reason. You will never have a perfect team despite of how hard you try. We need to be realistic — Let’s not forget that 68% of the population belongs to the mean and that the 1% is in fact an outlier. Your goal as a leader is to find good hires and turn them into great ones.

I am an Interim Department Chair of a research intensive university in Mississippi where I work with good people who seem legitimately invested and interested in the educational development of our students. The former is a blessing that produces fruits every semester. If we were a small liberal arts teaching university, I would consider our team to be in perfect alignment with the mission and goals of the university, a good to great team. However, we work in an institution that is being quickly transformed into the heaviest category of research production and grantsmanship. These types of institutions tend to make teaching secondary and only grant tenure to a few professors who are prolific and bring funding to the department and the university and have a record of helping students to complete doctoral dissertations. Only a small number of tenure-track faculty members actually survive the cut.

Now, this is a dilemma — What would you do if your faculty doesn’t have the academic credentials to fulfill the contract of a true research university yet you really like them? It is quite atypical and certainly very challenging for any department chair to lead a department with a division 1 status planning to operate under the protocols and guidelines of an R1 university with only 25 percent of faculty trained to conduct empirical research studies. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that this is a very difficult position for a department chair (and its faculty) to be in. An intervention must be planned immediately and checked often. The hope, of course, is that you don’t have to deal with accreditation along the way because if you do, life will then be a living hell for you.

This is the reality of our times. Higher educational institutions’ Carnegie classifications are changing rapidly. The operational nature of public institutions of higher learning has changed to a more lean model of “getting your own funding,” replacing tenure-track with temporary faculty, and in only committing to a very small number of professors being funded indefinitely. If you don’t have what it takes to be a college professor, e.g., a PhD, outstanding writing skills, and the ability to construct and complete empirical research studies, life will be very tough for you until you retire, pending on you surviving the transition.

I predict that folks who find themselves in such positions will have a very short tenure in higher education. The department Chair must inform his/her team of this reality and can only do so much. Remember: We live in 2017 where the support for colleges and universities are decreasing by the year. Tuition is increasing yearly to offset state funding deficits. Don’t believe me? Go and check the percentage of state appropriation that your state gives your public colleges and universities. In fact let me make your life easier. The American Council on Eduction (ACE) does cover this topic in great detail. Check it out –> State Appropriations overtime. Please refer to the graph below.

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Leadership is tough. Resources are limited and decreasing. Unemployment is sky rocketing. There are no widespread unions to protect you and me. So, how do you lead an academic unit with very little funding to recruit the very best faculty members on the market yet being expected to advance the mission of the university with distinction?  Stay tuned, we are going to talk about this in a bit. Let me say something first. Are you ready? We live in a world of formal protocol. we need to follow the protocol more than ever. This is the reality, are you ready? Listen carefully and take notes : Old friends won’t be able to save you from losing your job because we are heading towards more accountability and frequent school audits especially in higher education.  The powers to be are paying very close attention to both credentials and competence.

Those used to operate in what we call “the buddy-buddy system” will struggle tremendously in this new system and will be forced into retirement by higher ups. I am a retired APSCF union member and learned by training and mentoring how to navigate and operate under a clearly defined set of higher education protocols. I had no option to even consider running anything via the “buddy-buddy system” because APSCUF makes all its standard operating procedures of its universities transparent to both administration and faculty. There is nothing to hide. There is no room for esoteric practices.  You simply learn the protocol and put the protocol into practice.

Back to the discussion of leading an academic unit with little funding to hire the best people for the job… I am still struggling to find the best answer to this question. What I do know, however, is that being a department head in some college departments these days is like having a small subway franchise operating with staff who isn’t trained in making all available subs for sale on the menu. I am not saying that the employees working in that subway aren’t capable of learning how to make subs, of course. With good training and time, many will turn out to be great subway artists but at what price to the manager?

What would you do if you lead a team of talented professionals yet may lack the basic credentials to fulfill their contracts? Some might say, “you need a new team.” Others would say, “You are the leader, do what is right.” I reply… Ok, I will do what is right. We need practical faculty to teach our practical courses! We need to keep them all. To me, this is right. However, the former doesn’t always solve all the problems. In my world, good teaching rarely pays the bills, unfortunately. By the way — Even when we increase tuition dollars, e.g., increase enrollment for both undergraduate and graduate students, tuition dollars rarely cover the cuts in yearly state appropriation. This is why, folks, hiring talented PhD’s is an absolute necessity these days if you want to transform your academic unit from good to great. The reality is that if you can’t generate your own funding, your unit will cease to exist or will be merged into another operation as the last resort to get “sh&T” together.

I do agree that as a leader of an academic unit, I must do what is right under the realities and circunstances of my authority under the recommendations and vision set by the Dean. Of course that doing what is right often means more work on the part of a leader. I am okay with that. So the question then is, “Are you ready to sacrifice your time and efforts for the benefit of your team?” This one I can answer more easily. YES! If you are not sacrificing your efforts for the benefit of your team, resign as the leader of your unit right now. Clearly, you are in peter principle. Just remember that you are not God. You can only do what is humanly possible to accomplish what needs to be done.

There are too many ways a leader can sacrifice his/her time for the benefits of others so you make them look good and give them an incentive to be extraordinary. In this article, I will share with you three approaches I take to transforming good teams into great ones.

  1. I write proposals and put their name on it. If the team wins, everybody wins including the leader. Leaders must help the team and celebrate their successes even if you have to do most of the work. This blog’s photograph was taken at the Mississippi Communications Association, a regional conference in Mass Communications that took place in Pearl, Mississippi… about 20 minutes away from our office in Jackson. Because I care and want to see my colleagues succeeding and having a job next year, I made a self sacrifice and wrote an entire panel proposal for an academic conference using data from my own research studies and included them as panel participants to talk about their specialties pragmatically. My goal was to ensure that the team had the opportunity to attend and present in an academic conference and have a taste of what is required of them to do next year as faculty members of a research university. Sometimes, leaders just have to write proposals and put their teammates’ names on it, pending on them accepting the invitation and with the understanding that next year, they themselves will do what they can do produce their own scholarship. Be inspiring and do what you can to help others.
  2. Lead by committee. We don’t live in Rome anymore. Avoid taking what I call the “Caesar” approach which can be easily spotted —  A leader making all the decisions and stating, “This is the wish of the senate and the people of Rome” when no decisions were vetted by parliament and the people had no say in the decision making process. Lead by committee instead. Team members will appreciate that and if they are reasonable, will be loyal to you. If the team isn’t capable or is unwilling to do the work then an intervention must take place even if it requires replacing people on the team. Leadership isn’t about self. Leadership is about making others great. A great team can only be great if it is already good. Give your team the benefit of the doubt and empower them to come up with solutions. If they prove to be incompetent, then an intervention is the answer. The only exception to this rule is when the department is in a state of crisis and little knowledge exists without the unit. Then, perhaps, having a more authoritative approach is the only answer.
  3. Avoid closed door conversations and despise esoteric meetings. The moment that knowledge in your unit becomes esoteric, it is only a question of time for the unit to be dismantled. It is difficult to empower others and motivate them to do great work by having selective communication. The former, in fact, can turn great working units into unproductive, dividi et impera like toxic environments. Great teams will rarely if ever come out of such places. Typically, constant closed door policies and esoteric meetings are evidence of toxicity in workplaces. There is a wide body of research to substantiate this claim. Business Insider has published a concise article in 2015 on the topic.  Bustle.com has also written on toxicity as well as Forbes.com. Having an open door policy and less esoteric meetings should be the norm not the exception. Never, under any circumstances, use esoteric meetings to plan sabotage against others directly or indirectly. The former always backfires. Be transparent and caring and do what you can to help. Transforming good units into great ones requires both talent and ethical leadership. Be careful to not lose your very best employees by being sneaky. It is going to cost you your reputation and much more. Don’t do it.

Leadership isn’t position — It is action as Maxwell has said repeatedly. Leadership isn’t about you, your wishes or your legacy. Leadership is de facto about others and developing them to be better unconditionally. Please refer to the lessons of Maxwell and his level 5 leadership teachings. If you don’t know what I am talking about, you might want to consider reading his literature on the topic, immediately. If it is too much for you to handle, consider employment alternatives or retirement.

Every leader faces challenges when accepting a position of leadership. If you are in public higher education, your challenges will be many. Transforming a good team into a great one might mean seeing great people leave, for the long term health of your unit. You are going to have to make some pretty difficult decisions in order to do what is best for your unit, that’s for sure. If you want to lead, sometimes you’re gonna have to write proposals and share your victories with your team, lead by committee and avoid having conversations with a few and having esoteric meetings for self gain and aggrandizement. The former is known for destroying teams and resulting in very high levels of turnover.

Losing talent can be deadly for any organization that wants to grow and be great. If you don’t have continuity in vision, there is no leadership. Leader! It is your job to make the team move from good to great. Never forget that. If your goal is to make your unit to move forward. You need to do what is right for the benefit of the organization.  Do your part and be vigilant. You have no choice.

 

If You Can’t Inspire, Don’t Be a College Professor.

If You Can’t Inspire, Don’t Be a College Professor.

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You must inspire if your plans are to become a college professor one day. It doesn’t matter whether you plan to work in a public or private college or university, you need to be inspiring and have a lot of patience in order to motivate students to take action on their own and eventually help them to achieve greatness.  A college professor who is unable to inspire his/her students will struggle tremendously in the industry of higher education anywhere in the United States because pupils these days must be constantly energized sometimes stimulated to learn literally every day. Being inspirational isn’t a skill that everyone or every professor has in abundance naturally. However, you can learn to be more inspiring by putting into practice a number of systematic and predictable steps.

There are a number of ways that you can be more inspiring in this life. There are a number of “inspiring systems” out there, of course. In this article, I will share with you three ways that I know will help you to inspire others. It is part of my system of student inspiration — Are you ready to read these tips? You may like them.

  1. Stop thinking that life is about you.  Start yesterday making others the focus of your life. Reject any attempt to consider putting yourself first against the needs and wants of your students. If you decide to put yourself ahead of them, chances are pretty high that you won’t inspire too many of them. I am not aware of any college student who celebrates being second when it comes to important priorities. You must make students first priority period. Stop thinking that life is all about you — It isn’t and won’t ever be. As an educator, life must be about serving others and making students your top priority not the other way around. Listen carefully: Deviating from this norm will cost your college career. Don’t do it.
  2. Do what you can to be available. You can’t inspire effectively if you are not around. There is no reverse to this important rule. As my friend Kyle once said, “Be there or be square.” Are you there or “are you square” for your students? You need to be able to answer this question frequently and honestly. If you choose to not be there for them too often, you might as well just quit your aspirations of being an inspiring professor. Students don’t get inspired by educators who choose to have their office door closed constantly or who chooses to make an excuse to not talk with them when they really need to be seen. Make sure that you are available to your students more often than you feel is required. You will thank me later.
  3. Develop the initiatives that they want, with reason.  Take into account what your students want to do and develop the initiatives that they ask for whenever possible. By engaging in what some of us call “user-design,” or the ability for students (in this case) to develop their own systems of learning, I bet that you will develop superhero skills in influence and inspiration. You will become a very inspiring and popular professor if you empower your students to achieve greatness on their own, if you legitimately delegate responsibilities to them. I have never seen a student who doesn’t appreciate having decision making power after doing this kind of work in ten years. By giving power you gain power and as a value added… You become more inspiring especially if you make an attempt to legitimately empower others. I know, I know… What I am asking you to consider doing is unorthodox and can be quite challenging to many — There is some truth to that but man, this micro system works wonders.

You must inspire if your plans are to become a college professor one day. It doesn’t matter whether you plan to work in a public or private college or university, you need to be inspiring and have a lot of patience in order to motivate students to take action on their own and eventually achieve greatness. What are you doing right now to be more inspiring? Is life all about yourself? Are you available for your students to ask you questions? Are you empowering them to develop their own systems of learning? In order to be inspiring, you will need to do the former. At least, it has been my experience in three public universities and a private school. Stop thinking that life is all about you — It isn’t and won’t ever be. As an educator, life must be about serving others and making them your top priority not the other way around.

Don’t Complain About Life. Seek Alternatives, Instead.

Don’t Complain About Life. Seek Alternatives, Instead.

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Life is a journey that we must enjoy. It is pointless for anyone to truly plan what their next step is. The former, my friends, is really up to God, not you or me. I live my life to the fullest under the label “Carpe Diem,” which in Latin means seize the day. I love to live my life extraordinary because in this world we are food for worms, people. Who knows what tomorrow will bring and whether we are going to even have air to breathe or food to eat. Complaining about life isn’t the answer to your or my problems, I say. The former only tortures your soul and the psyches of your immediate friends and family members. You need to do what you can to enjoy what you do. If you can’t find happiness in your home, place of employment, church or country club, seek alternatives instead.

There is nothing wrong with seeking alternatives in this world if you don’t cheat or do something illegal, don’t lie and if you treat people with respect. Life evolves, you grow and learn, things change… it is all great. Do what you love and live with no regrets. One day you find yourself in front of a classroom mentoring and inspiring the youth. Tomorrow, your destiny might take you to a small village in south America you never heard of before. You don’t need to hide your dreams but please, don’t advertise them either. Be prompt, and discreet and always honor those who gave you a chance along the way, even if they have mistreated you. I say this because even your worst enemy will teach you important lessons about who you are. Be ready to always celebrate and have an upward and onward “move forward” mentality.

As I said, don’t complain about life. Seek alternatives instead. There are a number of alternatives one can take. In this article, I will share with you three alternatives you can have that should help you to not complain about life.

  1. Choose God over your own wishes. You are to have faith and leave your decisions in the hands of God. God knows more and best. You and I know very little, never forget that.  Be devoted to the pursuits of God and be the pilot of a body whose spirit glorifies and fears God. Trust God… Let me say it again, Trust God! Give yourself a chance of wining big by aligning your talents with what God has called you to do. Don’t be myopic. Don’t be cynical; Be yourself and love God above everything. God will show your way, thats for sure. Don’t be blind and seek. Be courageous and faithful. Choose God over yourself ten out of ten times.
  2. Money comes second: Do what you like first. If you base your life decisions on money and money alone, chances are very high that you will eventually burn out or reach a point of saturation in you life or career. In my life, I have met too many miserable people who were as wealthy as one can be but as poor as a homeless man when the subject is happiness. Money won’t buy you happiness, unless you lack your basic human and life needs. Between zero and fifty thousand, money matters for a person. between fifty-five thousand and 100 million, money doesn’t matter as much as you may think for anybody. Learn to love life, God, your family and yourself and accept the fact that doing what you like is much more important than anything you have imagined.
  3. Spend some time doing real world due diligence. If you have an idea, investigate the pros and cons. Are you thinking about starting a side business? Engage in what I call a demand analysis. Do you want a career in higher education? Look closely at the available PhD programs in your region.  Spend some time doing real world due diligence. You need to go out there and investigate the possibilities with a fine tooth comb and an adventurous spirit. You only live once, don’t forget that. Why are you so conservative when it comes to risk taking? I am not and frankly… I am proud of it. Living an evolving life and measuring the possibilities is pretty exciting and dynamic. Life doesn’t get boring too often and that’s awesome. Is God putting an opportunity in front of you? Celebrate the opportunity, go deep and investigate the available options. Always be prepared to seize the opportunity and change. Due diligence, however, is key.

Life is a journey that we must enjoy. It is pointless for anyone to truly plan what their next step is. The former, my friends, is really up to God, not you or me. I live my life to the fullest under the label “Carpe Diem,” which in Latin means seize the day. Do what you love and live with no regrets. Don’t complain about life. Seek alternatives instead. Choose God over your own wishes, do what you like first and make money second, and spend some time doing real world due diligence. Carpe Diem! Seize the day. Don’t forget to live your lives extraordinary. Don’t Complain About Life. Seek Alternatives, Instead.

American Culture Does Exist.

American Culture Does Exist.

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Yesterday, I heard a blogger say, “There is no such thing as American culture.”  Really dude? In which world are you living? Of course that there is an “American Culture” and you know exactly what it is composed of. I can’t resit — Now, I have to write a blog post about “American Culture” because clearly… there are too many folks out there in a state of denial about their own cultural values and beliefs. Let me help you. Are you ready to learn the obvious and celebrate your culture? The American Culture? Here we go.

Americans are de facto a people of quite unique characteristics who for the most part have come from somewhere. It isn’t uncommon to meet USA citizens who have family roots in Germany, Spain, Ghana, Japan, India… You name it. It is common, however, for many to believe that because the composition of the country is ethnically diverse, culture is then also diverse. No it isn’t. In this article I will share with you evidence to support this former position and perhaps once and for all — prove that America has a clearly defined American culture. So Let’s get started.

  1. Americans are individualistic. I don’t care which color you are, which state you were born in, if you are a member of the low or high class, you name it… American citizens are individualistic. There are exceptions to the rule I am sure. I have to admit that after living in this country for 18 years, I haven’t seen too much display of collectivism around here. The American people rarely if ever value the value of a group over the value of an individual. How do I know this? Look at how depressing federal income tax day is “celebrated” in this country. If we were a collectivist country, we would celebrate paying 30% of what we owe to others in the name of collectivism.  Do we celebrate giving away our returns for the benefit of others and smile?  You answer this one for me.
  2. Americans are very independent. Most Americans I know of don’t rely on help from others to get stuff done. People just do it even at an older age. It is no accident that the country has created basketball, baseball, American Football, and many other games. Perhaps, there is an American culture where individuals look at the act of being independent positively. I have seen 80+ year old employees working full-time at Wal-Mart which to me is an incredible accomplishment. There is no question in my mind that Americans are much more independent than most countries across the globe.
  3. Like to be different from each other. Let me ask you this. Would you like to buy a nice colorful sweater and witness another person using this same sweater in a meeting that you will need to attend? I don’t know about you but I would rather have my clothes be specially done for me. I like being different and it seems obvious to me that you like it, as well. We are different. You are small — I am big. You are short — I am tall. I am a meat person; you are a fish person. I play backgammon in the morning; You play solitaire at night. I do A — You do G. It is cultural.

Let’s not forget that asking “How are you?” is simply a greeting and is not a question about your health. Isn’t it true that when the service is good in a restaurant, tipping is expected sometimes to be 15–20% of the bill? Usually, when buddies meet at a public restaurant they each pay their part of the bill or split the bill in half. Isn’t the former notoriously American? Do you go to somebody else’s house uninvited? Do you give money to a deceased family member in a funeral? No, right?

Yesterday, I heard a blogger say, “There is no such thing as American culture.” Really dude? In which world are you living? Of course that there is an “American Culture.” Americans are individualistic, very independent, and like to be different from each other. Some like to play bridge where others play a great game of chess. I have never seen two people dress the same way with the same clothes since I arrived in this country in 1998. If Americans don’t have a culture, I am the queen of England.