Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Rhythm of Life - Who I Serve

A rhythm is a strong, regularly repeated pattern of movement. Songs with good rhythm makes us feel good and dance. Good music inspires.

Life is like music. There's music that inspires us to love deeper, think differently and understand others. Good music moves you.

I must admit that I'm that guy that bobs my head to music and often times not even knowing the lyrics. I have music on my iPhone that gets me in the mood spiritually, mentally and emotionally. My positive mood allows me to move positively.
Is there a rhythm to life? Things that must happen in a strong, regularly repeated pattern in order for each of us to live out our purpose?

Our hearts must beat to a rhythm. If not, poor health, even death, can be near. Animals communicate with a rhythm of sounds to protect themselves. Winds create a rhythmic pattern of water movement called waves.

I believe that most of exist on earth without being aware of our rhythm of life. As hip-hop artist Cee-Lo Green stated so eloquently: We're alive but we ain't living.

In order to have a good rhythm of life, one that blesses and empowers us personally (self, family) so that we can do the same corporately (community, world), there must be boundaries that help us serve as good stewards over what has been entrusted to us. This year, instead of creating New Years resolutions, I am focusing on creating and maintaining a good rhythm for my life.

I've spoken to several people that suggested five boundaries that create a good rhythm of life: spiritual, mission driven, mental, emotional, physical and relational.

Spiritual-Who I Serve

I am a follower of Christ who believes that the Holy Spirit lives in me serving as my conscience.

There are many religions and I respect everyone's right to serve the deity of their choice. I'm sure that we can agree that regardless of who or what you serve, you must have a conscience in order to function well with other humans.

Ask yourself: How do you connect with your spiritual self each day?

A Benefit of being spiritually fulfilled: When you are spiritually fulfilled, you become accountable to something greater than you. That accountability can help you make the best decisions.

Risk of not being spiritually fulfilled: Destruction to yourself and others.

Do this: List 3 ways you can connect spiritually on a daily basis

Sunday, December 28, 2014

As a leader, this is what I learned from the Falcons this season

Watching this debacle of an Atlanta Falcons game has me giving thought to the cause of losing seasons by organizations. 

Here are three reasons why teams lose often.

Poor leadership

Everything rises and falls on leadership and I mean everything. Effective leaders establish the mission and vision of the organization. They also represent the culture of the organization.

Winning cultures must have standards and accountability.

As the CEO of L.E.A.D., I am charged to establish what our wins and loses are as an organization in the short and long term. If we lose repeatedly as an organization, I will no longer be the leader.

Click here to see L.E.A.D.'s scoreboard.

On set for ESPN's E:60

Poor strategic plan

Strategic is a game changing word. We can create any plan of any type off the top of our head. If a plan is strategic, it aims to win. I can't think of anyone that plans to fail. In order to win, there will be loses and those loses better move us towards the big win.

Strategic planning can be complicated because lots of questions must be asked and answered with the right people at the table over many days and long nights. Preferably, the people at the table need to have experience winning. If not, your strategic plan could end in failure.

Lack of talent

If you are fortunate to have the right leader in place with a strategic plan, you better have talent if you want to win.

The strategic plan determines who you bring on the team. Every willing and able person can't join the team if they don't have the skills to help the team achieve it's mission and vision.

In 2015, Kelli Stewart and I are planning to add some amazing talent to our team of L.E.A.D. in order to continue to serve Atlanta families in an amazing way.

Reality check

The reality however is that all teams say that they want to win because that have to. Actions speak louder than words. And for good measure, talk is cheap and anybody can afford it.

L.E.A.D.'s mission is to empower an at risk generation to lead and transform their city of Atlanta. L.E.A.D.'s vision is for our Ambassadors to lead their city of Atlanta to lead the world.

L.E.A.D. Weekend 2014 at Turner Field

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

They are gifts to the world

In a world with so many technological advances that allow us to move through life with ease, it's relatively easy to forget about the most precious asset we have here on Earth: each other. Human capital is by far any organization's most important line item on its financial statements, whether those in charge want to accept it or not.

Within L.E.A.D., the young men we serve in partnership with Atlanta Public Schools are without a doubt the most important part of our organization. Our 12-month programming solely focuses on developing them across four pillars: academics, athletics, civic responsibility and commerce. Through these pillars, we are able to develop young men who society has counted out into Ambassadors who not only want to succeed for themselves, but also for the betterment of the community and world.

The Christmas season by far has become one of the most selfish times of the year. In an effort to help my Ambassadors focus on something other than the gifts they want, I asked a few of them to to tell me how they are gifts to the world. The responses that follow aren't scripted; they are what happens when you begin to change hearts and not just minds.

L.E.A.D. Co-founder C.J. Stewart
L.E.A.D. Ambassador Jalen Cannon (B.E.S.T. Academy): I'm a gift to the world because I plan to help make the world a better place.

L.E.A.D. Ambassador Byron Brinkley (Charles Drew Charter High School): I'm a gift to the world because I am determined and will do what is necessary to make this world a better place.

L.E.A.D. Ambassador Byron Brinkley
L.E.A.D. Ambassador D'Angelo Julio (South Atlanta High School): I'm a gift to the world because I will make history that benefits the world.

L.E.A.D. Ambassador Tyquavious Noland (Maynard Jackson High School): I'm a gift to the world because I'm accountable to my family, L.E.A.D. and success.

L.E.A.D. Ambassador Tyquavious Noland
L.E.A.D. Ambassador Ryan Martin (Benjamin E. Mays High School): I'm a gift to the world because I add value to my community and my school through leadership.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

We prayed and we marched because it works

This afternoon, I had the pleasure of marching to seek peace for the city of Atlanta and the country along with my fellow members of Elizabeth Baptist Church (EBC).

Dr. Craig L. Oliver led over 834 Elizabeth Baptist Church members for a 3.5 mile March from our Atlanta location. Along the march we had several pastors from our church praying for peace for our city of Atlanta as well as our country.

I was fortunate to march in the rear along with my wife Kelli Stewart, daughters (Mackenzi and Mackenna) as well as a few of our L.E.A.D. Ambassadors.

God bless Dr. Oliver for his vision and leadership.

Marching worked successfully "back in the day" and can work now also when it is done intentionally. Everyone that knows about Elizabeth Baptist Church knows that we are intentional.

With so much chaos in our country, there is plenty to pray about while marching.

As a dedicated member of EBC, I vow to continue to serve Atlanta with excellence through L.E.A.D. (Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct).

Thank you EBC for your vision, modeling of excellence, prayers and continued support of L.E.A.D.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Why and how I fight for productivity

I've always had high aspirations and standards for myself yet being unproductive looms over me because I'm human. Awareness, accountability and action help me be productive.

When I'm productive, I learn well. When I'm productive, I serve well. When I'm productive, I love well.


We all have blind spots, and the best way to counter being unproductive is to be aware of them. The blind spots that prevent me from being productive are arrogance, stubbornness and failure to actively listen.


Without having people in your life that you can trust, you will never be productive. I keep trusted people around me that will hold me accountable. They often tell me what I don't want to hear, but I trust them. They want me to be productive because when I am, I can learn well, serve well and love well.

Sometimes I get so focused on being perfect that I fail to get started. Being productive begins with getting started.

What prevents you from being productive?

What serves as a catalyst for your productive behavior?


Monday, December 1, 2014

Have we reached 1st round draft pick status yet?

If you are an Atlanta Falcons fan, let's face it, this is not quite the season you had in mind. On paper, the Falcons have a lot of offensive weapons and you would assume that they could score enough points to win every Sunday. However, the reality is that the Falcons currently have a record of 5-7, mediocre at best. 

The City of Atlanta also looks good on paper as well, but we are tanking in a war that we can't afford to lose.

According to the Atlanta Metro Chamber of Commerce, Atlanta ranks third in the nation among cities with the most FORTUNE 500 Headquarters, according to the 2012 FORTUNE list. Since Atlanta hosted the 1996 Summer Olympics, the city has consistently ranked in the top five cities with the most FORTUNE 500 Headquarters. Twenty-six metro Atlanta headquartered companies placed among the latest FORTUNE 1,000, of which thirteen are among the FORTUNE 500. Fourteen FORTUNE 1,000 companies headquartered in metro Atlanta ranked higher on the FORTUNE list than in 2011. Metro Atlanta’s headquartered FORTUNE 1,000 companies generated aggregate revenues of $321.2 billion, of which 90 percent was attributed to the FORTUNE 500.

With all of that said, Georgia ranks at the bottom in America in education, while America ranks at the bottom in the world. 

Georgia ranks number one in America for incarceration, while America ranks number one in the world.

Atlanta Public Schools serves 50,000+ students K-12 while 80% of those students live at or below the poverty level and 60% of black males don't graduate from high school (at all or on time). In addition, 80% of Georgia's Prison population consists of youth from inner-city Atlanta zip codes 30310, 30315 and 30318. One more thing, Georgia leads America with the most non-profits per state. Excuse my sarcasm here - how badly do we need to fail our children in order to get people to the table whose sole agenda is the empowerment of our children?

Members of the 2014-2015 Ambassador Class w/ Mike Hobbs (Partner, Troutman Sanders)

If we're willing to be transparent, we all have agendas in Atlanta, including me. My agenda through L.E.A.D. (Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct) is to empower an at risk generation to lead and transform their City of Atlanta. As we continue to be successful as an organization, our L.E.A.D. Ambassadors will lead Atlanta to lead the world.

We have a lot of people in Atlanta doing a lot of great things while black males continue to drop out of high school and go to jail. How can this be?

Atlanta has earned the title 'the City too busy to hate'. Unfortunately, we also seem to be the City too busy to support and scale programs that are actually on the ground floor, in the trenches and getting results. 

Like the new Georgia Dome coming out of the ground on the Vine City horizon - it's time to Rise Up. 

For children this time and not just for profit.

Click here to check out L.E.A.D.'s impact stats.