The Art of Diplomacy

Today, I have the pleasure of sharing a TEDx talk I did earlier in the year. I dissect how diplomacy positively impacts our daily lives, ways people can find that diplomacy within themselves, and what kind of promises for the future it holds. I draw connections between my self-introspection and exterior socialization.

To watch the speech on YouTube, click here or below.

To listen, go here or below:

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Why Wonder Woman & Black Panther Are So Important Today

So two really important things happened recently. The Wonder Woman movie just came out and it was AMAZING! The second thing that happened is that the trailer for Black Panther came out and once again, it was AMAZING!

For those who don’t know, Black Panther is the first black superhero in mainstream comics and the first black individual to don a costume and behave in a traditional superhero manner.

Wonder Woman was introduced to the world in October 1941. She is a founding member of the Justice League and one of the most powerful superheroes of all time.

Ok so that's a little about them but why are these two stories so amazing? One word.

 Representation

Superheroes are some of the first things that little kids gravitate towards. It’s a chance for them to imagine themselves doing amazing things. That was certainly the case for me with Superman and it's also why to this day, I refer to myself as The African Superman. Yes, The African Superman.

But I digress...

The point is that since superheroes are one of the first way kids come into contact with leadership, let’s make the heroes look more like them.

This does a few things.

  • It inspires confidence in underrepresented groups and gives them the ability to locate themselves in different stories.
  • It neutralizes bias. Unconscious bias is something that affects us all and they refer to stereotypes and biases we have outside of our conscious minds. These are usually as a result of on our history, personal experiences and stories that we've gathered from society, pop culture and family. (To learn more about unconscious bias, check out a video I did with my business partner here)
  • It offers us a chance to learn about new cultures and history. One of the best things to happen last year was for the movie Hidden Figures to come out and that was because it brought to light a troubling fact. That is that Hollywood and the education system have engaged in revisionist history for far too long. The fact that I didn’t know about Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson was troubling and embarrassing to me. Why didn’t I know about these three ladies when I learned about Neil Armstrong? Stories like Wonder Woman and Black Panther can inspire curiosity in all of us. Even though they are both set in fictional towns, the deep rooted sense of pride these two exhibit for their cultures I believe is enough to get people more curious about the continent of Africa for Black Panther and Greek/Roman mythology for Wonder Woman.

So there you have it. Why I think Black Panther and Woman are so important. I’d love to hear your thoughts so feel free to leave them in the comment sections below. Let’s help bridge the chasms that exists today and celebrate diversity. Till next time, Use your DIFFERENCE to make a DIFFERENCE.

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Why Your Personal Brand Matters In The 21st Century

The two most important 21st century skills one can develop are cultural competency and personal branding and that is because of the world we live in today. I have talked a lot about cultural competency in previous posts like the ones about MLK, Diversity & Inclusion, Mandela and on the As Told By Nomads Podcast.

So today, I want to focus more on the other important skill to have in the 21st century: personal branding. Why is your personal brand so important today? It is important because globalization and social media have made the world smaller by providing more options for visibility. With all these options for visibility, competition rises and so if you don't know how to stand out, you WILL get left behind. This goes for whether you want to advance in your career, be a better leader or start a movement.

Having a strong personal brand is your calling card to use your DIFFERENCE to make a DIFFERENCE.

So what are some things you can do in order to build a strong personal brand?

Be Aware

When I say be aware, I am referring to two types of awareness: situational awareness and self awareness. These two forms of awarenesses are two sides of the same coin. With situational awareness, you are taking in the external environment in your field and with self awareness, you understand the role that you can play in the environment and how to leverage your strengths to stand out.

I'd recommend starting with yourself first. Take inventory of what people say that you're good at. What are you known for? What are your nicknames? Why do people call you what they call you. Also, ask yourself the following questions: What makes me different? Unique? Special?

If you don't know the answer to this question, ask your friends, colleagues, and family members and observe the reoccurring themes and patterns.

Another thing you can do is to take personality tests like my business partner and I recently did here. It's a great way for you to figure out how to continue to leverage your strengths.

Raise your level of awareness and it will change your life.

Discover your why

Once you've gotten a good sense of who you are, go into your purpose. What is it that you can do with your strengths to solve today's problems. It will take time and repetition to find your place and identify your uniqueness. It might even be painful and frustrating but it is well worth the effort because it will lead you to your why and how. Your why will become the foundation of everything you do and it will be personal guide to HOW you can make a difference.

Most people fall into a couple of traps that leads to a lot of frustration and a lack of fulfillment:

They don’t get started because they don’t feel clear about their niche, programs, and services.

OR

They take fast action without putting any thought whatsoever into creating or maintaining a consistent brand image.

So make sure you have a deeper mission for why you do what you do. Do you believe that it matters? If you have a deep connection for your mission, you'll find that it drives your work. Otherwise, you're building your house on sand.

When I got started, I asked myself these questions. If you're stuck, try these:

  • What are your strongest attributes? List three to five.
  • What am I passionate about?
  • What motivates me?
  • What are my personal values?
  • How would I like to see the world?  
  • What contribution would I like to make?

Develop a plan

I talked about the "why" leading to "how". Now, I want to dive into the how quickly. Without a plan, your brand is like a house build on sand. You need a good game plan and you need to firm up your foundation so you become attractive for others to hire you. Be firm with your vision but flexible with your strategy getting there. Understand that your vision will drive you but you will probably hit a few bumps along the way. Those bumps will provide teaching lessons for your next steps.

What is your plan of action to get your message across?

Cultivate a Community and Share Your Work

As you start to create content, make sure you invite people from your intended target audience to interact with your work. You could create Facebook groups, a YouTube channel, a newsletter, offer free ebooks or guides. Ultimately, you want to provide value and share it to the world. If it is great, then your community will share your work. See personal branding as an education opportunity not a means to show off. Invite your audience to participate. Engagement is the key to inclusion so make your audience feel included.

 

YOU should be your most important investment so why not devote the time to become the best version of yourself. Developing your personal brand is no longer an extracurricular activity or a means to a side gig. It's a necessary skill to have and develop. It's your key to influence, opportunities, promotions, growth so why not start now?

Hope you found some value in today's post and be sure to join our Facebook group here. If you want to work on your personal brand, click here.

Till next time, use your DIFFERENCE to make A DIFFERENCE.

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3 Life Lessons From The Beauty and The Beast

Today's episode of Use Your Difference is on the life lessons I learned from Beauty and the Beast. The messages in Beauty and the Beast are extremely powerful and are ones we should take to heart and share within our own daily lives.

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