Striving While Black – Navigating the Corporate World as a Gentleman of Color

I’ve been in this game for years, corporate life is an animal, it’s rules to the game, so I wrote me a manual. It’s a step by step e-booklet for you to get your job on track – not your career pushed back. Yes, the corporate world can present quite the challenge for anyone, but for the gentleman of color, this world can be an entirely different animal. And for the uninitiated, the wrong moves can render a career stuck in neutral, or worst yet, gifted a box of your belongings and shown the exit.

Trust, there will be landmines that must be expertly navigated if career success is the objective. Your patience and resolve will be tested. There are so many times you can be confused with the other black guy in the office before it starts to wear on your nerves. You can only hear black slang from 1985 resurrected in 2018 as if it is brand new so many times before you want to scream. You can only hear the expressed fear from your non-melaninated colleagues about venturing into an urban area (which they never visit anyway) before your eyes roll out of the sockets. Never mind that you go to work everyday where a mass shooting could pop off at any moment by a disgruntled, middle-aged white male. Oh yes, I’ve had active shooter training, and law enforcement confirmed the standard profile of said gunman. You bite your tongue. You grind your teeth. But I digress, to survive the corporate office, you have to learn how the game is played. And then you must play it effectively.

I’ve checked in with some of my black brethren in the corporate hemisphere and solicited some opinions and guidance. Far too often, we sit in isolation and suffer in silence with no outlet. There is a generation of men of color entering the workforce for the first time with absolutely no idea what to expect or how to conduct themselves. This list is far from exhaustive, but there are some good directives that could prove to be helpful to someone. I have 20+ years in the workplace, and I have learned through trial and error. So, let’s get to it. So, first off…

  • Allow me to point out the obvious, as you are reading through this post, you may think these points are applicable to any ethnicity. And that is possibly true. However, in some circumstances, there is a racial double standard pervading the corporate world. You will not be afforded the benefit of any doubt my friend. The hypocrisy is thick. Most folk just don’t want to acknowledge it. How do I know? Look at it on a grand scale. Politics aside, the current president carries himself in a, well, ungentlemanly manner. His supporters largely ignore his flaws in decorum and etiquette. However, President Obama caught hell for wearing a tan suit and kicking his feet up on the desk in the Oval Office. Yes, the outrage was pretty damn ridiculous. So, there is a mighty good chance you are going to run into those same people in the office. Be cognizant of that fact.
  • Don’t be astonished when your colleagues are astonished. I was assigned a task by a doctor. He was so surprised by the quick turnaround time, he literally looked at me and stated he didn’t expect such efficiency. I once got a promotion and a fellow colleague expressed his surprise that someone else didn’t get the position I got – then he congratulated me. Well, thanks.
  • Hey, superman lover – yes, I’m talking to you. Stop being a player around the office. You are asking for trouble. Best case scenario: You get shut down, your feelings get hurt, and your image is branded as a hound dog or dirty old man. Worst case scenario: You get fired and find yourself a part of a hash tag movement.
  • To be sure, there are varying social and professional constructs that a gentleman must properly evaluate and then conduct himself accordingly. Your behavior outside of the corporate environment may not have a smooth transition to your office or cubicle. For example, I hold an affinity for classic hip-hop, and I can even recite the lyrics for Ice Cube’s Gangsta, Gangsta seamlessly. However, common sense dictates I would not recite said gangsta lyrics in front of my young children. Your place of employment is no different. There is a time and place for everything; business is business and the streets are the streets. A misguided attempt to “keep it real” in corporate America can go woefully awry – you’ve seen the Dave Chappelle skits.
  • However, a gentleman of color must remain “real” to his identity. Now, this statement may appear as a direct contradiction to the statement above, so allow me to explain. While it is paramount for a gentleman to embrace and understand the culture of his company – and every company has a particular culture – a gentleman should not adopt an unnatural façade that compromises his integrity and comfort level. There is an episode from HBO’s television series Insecure where a character, Molly Carter, tries to join the “boy’s club” at her firm in an attempt to blend in. The results are unfavorable, as she is still socially excluded from the unofficial club. I don’t pretend at work. I don’t pretend to like or dislike things just to fit in. A gentleman should not go along just to get along.
  • If you begin a statement with – I cannot because I am black – you’ve already defeated yourself all by yourself. Don’t be a cynic. Sure, the road may be paved with setback and disappointment, but you have to believe in the possibility of success with hard work and discipline.
  • Contrary to some prevailing assumptions, everything is not a conspiracy against the black race. Does racism and prejudice exist in the workplace – of course, absolutely. However, every single uncomfortable circumstance or general unfavorable topic does not have to fall back on racial inequality. Seriously, it really does not. Under-representation of minorities in the workplace could be a result of the dearth of qualified applicants. Perhaps a certain promotion was not attained due to a better candidate also applied. A gentleman cannot fight every battle. Trying to achieve success in your field is exhausting by itself; a gentleman will burn himself out mentally & physically by taking on additional battles. Sometimes you have to take a moment to educate and other times you have to walk away.
  • However, sometimes circumstances does fall back on racial inequality in the workplace. In those circumstances, the best course of action is to contact human resources or the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). Best practice: document, document, document any events that pertain to the matter at hand. Given the grave nature of this circumstance, this is not a matter one should address alone. Present your issues and concerns to the appropriate personnel. If you are a witness to racial injustice in the office, your voice must be a tool of measured reason and truth. And don’t engage in office banter regarding the matter; not everyone needs to be privy to your business.
  • And speaking of office banter – please keep it clean and professional. It is important your conversations are based on merit and facts. Gossip and conjecture has no place in the office, but sure enough, every office has some form of gossip. It’s best you avoid it altogether and get to the matter at hand – work. Because, when it is all said and done, you will be thrown under the bus.
  • Because, as much as many individuals will deny it, prejudice and racism is as American as apple pie. It is tightly woven into the fabric of this nation, and some people will demonstrate their actions consciously or subconsciously. So, entering the workplace, a gentleman of color will probably have to work twice as hard as his Caucasian counterpart. Why? Stereotypes. Stereotypes that middle America is continuously exposed to via news and entertainment, and has been since the inception of this country. So, as a black man enters into the corporate world, you bear the weight of every historical, black caricature steeped in America’s racist past – primarily: the brute (angry, dangerous), the coon (lazy, buffoonish), or the Tom (docile, submissive). Sure, we can complain about the system, but these are the cards that have been dealt, so the game has to be played deftly and intelligently. We have to dispel every myth and stereotype just to prove we are on the same level. And even then, you will accused of preferential treatment because you’ve been deemed as “safe” by white management. Haters will hate, but you have to be your own champion and tout your accomplishments and work ethic – haters be damned.
  • Therefore, don’t be surprised by some backlash from other people of color in the office. You’ve worked hard to attain your achievements. You are recognized by white peers and upper management. Congratulations – you can officially be perceived as an Uncle Tom or sell-out. If you dress with elegance, articulate oneself in a professional manner, and exude a measured demeanor; you can possibly be categorized as a “safe” choice that has been elevated as a token. This assumption confuses me, as some of our greatest civil rights leaders possessed the aforementioned characteristics, yet no one would dare label Malcolm X as a Tom. People will formulate opinions about you, but they will never understand how hard you’ve worked to attain your status. Don’t allow anyone to make you feel inferior. And never feel ashamed of your position within the company.
  • And when you attain that status, it is incumbent upon you to give back to minorities entering the workplace behind you. To walk into an office and see no one that resembles you can be intimidating and quite sobering. People are tribal by nature. People will gravitate to those people that they share similar interests and culture. Don’t act brand new. Don’t throw anyone under the bus. Reach out and help someone.
  • However, don’t be surprised if your welcome is rebuffed. I’ve tried to make eye contact and execute the “bro nod”, only to be straight up passed by in the hallway, as if I was as inconsequential as paint on the wall. Lesson: Not every black male will feel the need to join your “tribe”. As much as you want to greet that man with some “Wakanada Forever” dap, he may not reciprocate the same love. Everyone has their own origin story, so don’t take it personal.
  • Loyalty is valued within the black community. However, don’t be afraid to place distance between yourself and someone who has established a reputation as a malcontent. Establish a network of like-minded individuals that are the best in their field so you can learn and grow.
  • If you deem that your current professional environment is not conducive to your growth & development, it may be time to execute an executive decision and move on to another position or company, or maybe even venture out into the world of entrepreneurship. Severing ties with a company where career advancement is not a plausible possibility or the atmosphere is racially insensitive could be beneficial for you mentally and physically.

Do you have a story or tip to share? Please share in the comment section.

Standard Recommendations – Wurkin Stiffs – Magnetic Collar Stays

I am old friends with Wurkin Stiffs and their famous magnetic collar stays – we go way back in the day. Well, at least the earliest days of my adventures in blogging, when my preferred blog-publishing service was Blogger. The year was 2008. I spotted an advertisement in Men’s Vogue – yes, that was actually a magazine for gentlemen years 2005-08 – that touted the benefits of securing one’s collar with its power stays. Now, standard collar stays are intended to provide structure and weight via the underside of a gentleman’s shirt collar. Collar stays help keep the gentleman’s collar in place and resists the collar’s unintended nature to curl at the tips. Unruly, wayward collars can be annoying and ruin an otherwise elegant presentation. Finer shirts arrive with simple plastic collar inserts. Some, however, come equipped with metal collar stays providing strength and much-needed longevity.

Wurkn Stiffs stepped up the game by offering magnetic collars – guaranteed to hold a gentleman’s collar neatly in place. The collar stay slides into the collar insert as per usual, and then the collar stay is held in position by a strong magnetic “button” that is placed underneath the shirt. The shirt collar can be adjusted per the gentleman’s preference. Now, perhaps you are thinking: Securing one’s shirt collar with a magnetic accessory is an unnecessary exercise in affectation. However, this small measure of prepping your collar provides a tremendous visual benefit to your appearance. It only takes a few seconds, and adjustments throughout the day is minimal – if any adjustments are required at all. Three lengths are available: 2.0, 2.5, and 2.75 in pairs of one or three.  One pair will retail for $20.00 while 3 pairs retail for a cool $39.50. Ten years later from my first introduction, the Wurkin Stiffs power stays are still a must for a gentleman’s collection of style accessories.

For more purchasing information, please visit https://wurkinstiffs.com/ for details.

Gent Hints – Interviewing for an Internal Position

My current home of employment is quite unique. The opportunity for growth and advancement is wonderfully plentiful. Management offers a fantastic support system to aid and assist with an individual’s learning and development. However, the opportunity for advancement is not absent its share of challenge and adversity; wrought with anxiety and apprehension. The arduous road to career advancement can wind through a series of internal interviews that sometimes result in reward, and other circumstances with disappointment. Often, but not entirely, the outcome is predicated by the preparation and performance of the candidate. Interviewing for an internal position can present a myriad of unaccounted for pitfalls that a candidate fails to properly address.

My position in management has afforded me the opportunity to interview a robust quantity of candidates – both internally and externally. The knowledge that I have gleaned from my experiences has allowed for not only personal, professional growth; but I can confidently dispense guidance to candidates seeking career advancement. Today, I wanted to extend a small offering of wisdom to those individuals that hold a desire to advance within their present employer and must navigate the interview process to accomplish that objective. So, let’s explore what a candidate should and should not do when interviewing for an internal position at their job.

Do’s and Don’ts When Interviewing for an Internal Position

  1. Don’t arrive at the interview too relaxed. Sometimes a candidate can become a victim of comfort and familiarity. A candidate may enter an interview composed of peers or coworkers. Being haphazardly at ease with one’s surroundings can possibly dull a candidate’s sharpness and awareness. A candidate should be cognizant of body language and communication – keep it decidedly professional and formal.
  2. Do Approach an internal interview as if you were an external candidate, but bolstered insider knowledge. Dress professionally for the interview. Bring a resume. And don’t take for granted that the interviewer has predetermined knowledge of how you perform at work – now is the time to sell yourself and highlight noteworthy achievements along with championing your work ethic.
  3. Do the necessary research before applying for the position. A candidate that lacks basic knowledge of the desired position reflects very poorly on the candidate’s interview preparation. Network with colleagues that are currently in that department or on the team. Scheduling an appointment with the hiring manager prior to the interview can provide crucial insight and detail of tremendous benefit.
  4. Don’t torch professional bridges in the office. In the circumstance that you are striving to advance internally, your reputation can certainly travel with you as you apply for positions. Trust – managers speak with other managers. External candidates can be an unknown commodity. However, in the case of an internal candidate, expect the hiring manager to do a little research on their potential new hire.
  5. Don’t end the interview with a wave and goodbye. A prepared candidate should always ask meaningful questions regarding job expectations, challenges that the candidate may face, challenges currently faced by the team/department/company, opportunity for growth & development, and  – well you get the idea. Salary, benefits, and shift assignment are all valid questions to ask, but a candidate should arrive armed with inquiries that project depth and thoughtfulness.
  6. Do express gratitude after the interview. Some people may label this act as a dated practice, but a handwritten thank you note can be the finishing touch that separates two candidates that are running neck & neck for a position. Be aware of certain points during the interview that resonate with the interviewer or panel; craft your thank you card accordingly and take that moment to briefly pitch yourself as an asset, express enthusiasm for position, and offer gratitude for the time & consideration you’ve been granted.

This blog is about sharing knowledge. And I am certain the points above is not an exhaustive list of what to do and not to do. Therefore, please feel free to lend some advice in the comment section. I am sure someone will readily welcome a pointer or two or three.

The Standard #29

Humility. The act of possessing a modest opinion of one’s importance, understanding the complex context of life, and respecting the reality that other individuals may be better at some things than you. Gentlemen, please don’t be mislead by the boisterous musings of silly folk; so enamored by their own greatness that they cannot recognize their own shortcomings. Sometimes a man must recognize his faults and limitations. There is no shame in that. One must understand that embracing humility does not make a gentleman weak, actually, humility strengthens you. It keeps you grounded. It keeps you focused – on the important things in life.

It is brazen arrogance that renders a gentleman vulnerable. Trust this: Keep living and life will eventually happen to you. And life can be the greatest administrator of humility. Recognize your position in life, and even if your station ranks well above others, discipline yourself in humility, as the folly of vanity can ultimately become your undoing. You don’t want to discover this bit of wisdom the hard way, but I am sure that you won’t. Maintain the standard my friends; catch you later.

Standard Recommendations – Anthony Facial Scrub

Humbly offering full disclosure to the audience, the concept of exfoliating my face was completely foreign to my skin care regiment. As a matter of complete truthfulness, I cannot exactly define my skin care regiment as a meticulous regiment at all. The absolute bare minimum entailed a rudimentary scrub and rinse by way of bar soap; followed by a complementary application of body lotion – not the most gentle, skin-friendly routine in the world. Nevertheless, I was an average gentleman, ignorant to world of pampering of one’s skin. Pamper is perhaps a slight exaggeration, however, dutiful attention to detail is something I did not embrace in regards to my face. However, over the course of past years, I have slowly incorporated skin care products and tactics to properly address my skin concerns.

One such tactic is the process of exfoliation. In regards to the skin, it is the process of removing old, dead skin cells from the epidermis. When skin cells regenerate and old cells skin die, the accumulation brings about a duller complexion and the likelihood of acne increases. Exfoliation removes the collection of these dead skin cells and dirt, thus affording a brighter, cleaner look for the skin. Exfoliation can be achieved with various methods, however, this post explores the utilization of granular facial scrubs. Due to the skin sensitivity of one’s face, I generally employ the services of a light exfoliating agent as anything abrasive can deliver more harm than benefit.

An excellent choice for such a task is the Anthony Facial Scrub. It contains algae, aloe vera, chamomile, and vitamin C – all the skin nourishment a gentleman’s face begs for. Unlike other scrubs I have used in the past – such as St. Ives Apricot Scrub – this scrub is not overly granular. And pleasantly, it generates a generous and rich lather upon being worked into the skin. It is almost akin to a skin cleanser. The scent retains a fruity hint but it is not obnoxious. As with other exfoliating facial scrubs, I would humbly recommend utilizing this product 1-2 times weekly. And remember, since you are performing the process of stripping away a superficial layer of skin, follow up with a good moisturizer to replenish hydration and our skin’s natural oils. I am trialing a moisturizer from Kiehls currently, so those results are to follow. The Anthony Facial Scrub is a little pricey – $36.00 for a 8 oz. bottle – but the experience and results are well worth it. Anthony Facial Scrub or any of their products can be purchased from their website, Sephora, Nordstrom, or any other fine men’s department store.

Review – Tommy John – Stay-up Dress Sock

It is perhaps unquestionable that gentlemen’s hosiery is a highly underrated accessory in your wardrobe right now. This is a safe space, feel free to submit your admission, there will be an absence of judgment in this small sliver of Internet space. Seriously, please identify another gentleman’s accessory that can be displaced or lost without a modicum of panicked concern. Displaying a posture of indifference, and a slight shrug of the shoulders, a gentleman will simply reach for a replacement pair and maybe restock his supply during a future department store venture. It is a painful, simple truth: Socks receive no love. Yet despite being taken for granted, they can become a source of intense irritability when performance is less than stellar. Whether falling victim to unraveling unseemly seams, unsightly holes in its material, or gradually losing its shape through the redundancy of wash and wear – a gentleman’s hosiery is more valuable than assigned credit.

And so, today, I explore the world of brand Tommy John. A tagline from their website: No adjustment needed. Now, I must readily admit, I have become accustomed to periodically adjusting my socks over the course of my day. In the day of the life of a sock, it is simply the nature of the sartorial beast. They may tend to sag a little, a gentleman will pull them up, and repeat as much is required. Now, one could employ the use of a sock garter to maintain the proper height for one’s hosiery, however the matter is not that serious – at least not to me. Nonetheless, sagging and shapeless sock can be a hassle, and the Tommy John brand asserts it can resolve this nagging issue with their premium line of socks.

Specifications

  •  Stay Dry: Zoned ventilation keeps feet cool and dry
  • Zone Cushioning: Increased support, comfort, and extended wear
  • Light Compression: Improves and increases blood flow circulation
  • Arch Support: Light compression increases blood flow
  • InvisiGrip® Technology: Grips foot to ensure sock stays put

Directly out of the packaging, I could easily recognize that this line of hosiery was indeed premium quality. Composed of 65% Pima Cotton, 32% Nylon, and 3% Spandex; the touch was very soft and the construction was solid. I purposely allowed my toenails to grow to gauge if the fabric was durable enough to resist punctures – just joking. Nevertheless, the fabric had more than sufficient stretch and durability. Even after a routine trip in the washer and dryer, the stay-up dress sock retained its shape, color, and resiliency. Now, let’s address the original topic that this blog post commenced with – sagging. In all honesty, I read some reviews on the Tommy John website and was shocked to read that some customer still experienced sock sag.

Immediately, a gentleman will notice the difference between this sock and some mass market socks. They reach far over the calf, just below the kneecap, and I am 6 foot 1. It hugs the calf tightly and required no adjustment at all – it’s almost too good. It’s not too tight, but I definitely had to become accustomed to the snug fit. Even after washing, the fit was still snug around my calf. Regarding pricing, a gentleman is going to pay more than he would generally spend on socks. Being totally transparent, we would sooner spend dollars on a value pack from TJ Maxx or Marshals than a pair of socks retailing at $16.00. However, when considering the aforementioned headaches and hassles that arrive with mediocre product, spending more on quality is perhaps the best course of action to address your hosiery woes. Trust, it will definitely be worth it in the long run.

Gentlemen’s Standard Approved

For further information about Tommy John, please visit https://www.tommyjohn.com/ for details.

The Standard #46

Because, upon discovering himself in the midst of uncertainty and disquiet, the confident gentleman understands that indecision cannot be an absolute decision. This is exactly where I discovered myself, as a supervisor, this month at my place of employment. Over the course of two years, it has been an enlightening, humbling experience wrought with anxiety, stress, and self-doubt. At times, finally feeling a self-assured comfort with my leadership abilities, and other times, arrested by a sense of failure and inadequacy within my profession. However, when confronted with extenuating circumstances on a myriad of fronts, the definitive, resolute decision-making of a leader was required, and I would either excel or succumb to my professional fears. As reason and logic stood in ambiguous contrast with emotion and empathy, only prayer and deep meditation could grant sound thinking and measured action. And in the end, I was the leader that I had difficulty embracing. Sometimes, the Lord allows tribulation to have a season to reveal self-assured abilities, integrity, and character within oneself in the face of debilitating self-doubt. Faith is trusting the Lord even when life’s challenges are perplexing and burdens appear too heavy to bear. You are the leader that you know you are; trust in Him and fortify yourself in His strength.

Style & Substance – Ford Motor Company – 2018 Ford Mustang

And then there was that time that I discovered myself, apparently slightly off-course, somewhere in Allen Park, Michigan with a 2018 Ford Mustang. Hello good people, today I will be detailing part two of my test-drive adventures with the 2018 Ford Expedition and Mustang. You see, that faithful morning at Ford World Headquarters – lovingly referred to as the Glass House – instructions were distributed among our media group directing all drivers to follow a predetermined course around the immediate area to induce a familiarity with each vehicle. Well, everything was proceeding as according to what was planned until Interstate 94 was introduced into the test-driving equation; along with a few indiscriminate semi-trailer trucks to make the situation more interesting.

Suffice it to say, I missed an exit and unexpectedly discovered myself separated from the group. Instead of lamenting and panicking about the situation, I resolved that this was a prime opportunity to examine the speed and agility of the 2018 Mustang. I did not want to stray too far away from Ford World Headquarters, so I needed to get back on track – and in a hurry. The 2018 Ford Mustang is well-suited to perform such a task. Equipped with a turbo-charged 5.0 liter V8 engine, 0-60 miles per hour in 4 seconds flat is possible. The 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine boasts 310 horsepower and 350 pounds of torque while the 5.0-liter V8 engine kicks out 460 horsepower and 420 pounds of torque.

The 2018 Ford Mustang has four active exhaust (equipped with quad exhausts) modes that a gentleman from which a gentleman can select. A beautiful, illuminated 12-inch instrument cluster displays the options: quiet, normal, sport, and track. The all-digital LCD instrument offers varying screen layouts, 26 color options and displays for up to eight gauges. The gentleman can take note of his favorite preferences regarding suspension, steering, and exhaust by saving them in the MyMode settings. New to the world of sports cars, I opted to drive in normal mode. First driving through residential streets, some concrete that had seen better days delivered a bumpy ride. It was not until Interstate 94 afforded the opportunity to unleash this beast on the (nearly) open road.

The Mustang did not have any issues responding to my request to swiftly accelerate around the semi-trailer truck in front of me. The handling was responsive and agile as I dipped around and emancipated it from the obstacle ahead and bolting for the nearest exit to turn myself around and get back on track. Despite its power and speed, I never felt as is I wasn’t in total control of the vehicle. I remained gripped to the road with each acceleration and nimble turn. Eventually, aided by the GPS on my cell phone, I was able to find my way back to Dearborn and Ford HQ.

2018 Ford Mustang Standard Specifications

  • AutoLamp Headlamps (automatic on/off)
  • Dual Bright exhaust with rolled polished tips
  • LED Headlamps with LED signature lighting – LED front park turn lamps – LED sequential tail lamps
  • Mirrors – body-color with integrated blind spot mirrors
  • Rear-window defroster
  • 2.5″ front brake rotors with 2-piston calipers
  • 12.5″ rear brake rotors with single-piston calipers
  • AdvanceTrac® with Electronic Stability Control (ESC) – Electronic Line-Lock (track use only)
  • Independent rear suspension – Selectable-effort Electric Power-Assist Steering (EPAS)
  • Vented 4-wheel disc brakes
  • 2.3L EcoBoost®
  • 3.31 limited-slip rear axle – 6-speed manual transmission – Standard 17-inch EcoBoost®Wheel
  • Air extractor hood vents
  • Launch control (track use only; requires manual transmission)
  • P235/55R17 A/S tires
  • Tire Inflator and Sealant Kit

2018 Ford Mustang Standard Specifications

  • Auto-dimming rearview mirror
  • Manual climate control
  • Active Noise Cancellation
  • Satin Chrome Instrument cluster, register vents and cup holder surrounds
  • Carbon zag instrument panel applique
  • Cabin air filter – Center console with full armrest – Map Light
  • Chrome-accent 4-gauge instrument cluster
  • Cupholders (2) – Driver footrest
  • Easy Fuel® capless fuel filler – Floor mats – carpeted, front
  • Illuminated, locking glove compartment – Intelligent Access with push-button start – Interior trunk release
  • Leather-wrapped parking brake handle – Leather-wrapped steering wheel with cruise and audio controls and tilt and telescoping steering column
  • Map pockets – backside of driver and front-passenger seats (N/A with optional RECARO® seats)
  • MyKey®
  • Power driver and passenger windows with global open
  • Powerpoints – 2
  • Dual Illuminated Visor Vanity Mirrors
  • Track Apps™
  • 6-speaker sound system, AM/FM Stereo with single CD
  • SYNC®
  • Two smart-charging USB ports
  • 2-way manual front-passenger seat
  • 4-way adjustable front head restraints – 4-way manual driver’s seat – 50/50 split folding rear seat – Cloth front bucket seats

Mark Schaller – Mustang Brand Manager

Gentlemanly Pros

  • The 2.3 and 5.0 liter engines both pack enough punch that will satisfy any lover of sports cars. The Mustang handles well and excels in speed effortlessly when presented with a clean, unobstructed terrain.
  • The all-digital 12-inch LCD instrument cluster is next-level technology that grants a personalized feel that is unsurpassed and does nothing but heighten the driving experience even more. It is definitely eye-catching and engaging.
  • Customized option to program your Mustang to start utilizing one of the four exhaust modes: quiet, normal, sport, and track. Be nice to your neighbor and start it up in quiet mode.
  • Beautiful interior and exterior. The exterior is sleek and confident in its appearance while the interior is modestly handsome with its approach to styling.

Gentlemanly Cons

  • Without the upgraded performance package – MagneRide – rugged streets could possibly reduce the smoothness of the ride.
  • If you are a novice in the arena of muscle cars, it would behoove you to become intimately acquainted with the owner’s manual. Given its high customization, a rookie – such as myself – will find the controls a little complex.
  • For a gentleman my size, the cockpit was a little tight. The plush interior certainly provided a measure of comfort, however, a brother such as myself could benefit from some elbow room. And no one over 5 feet would probably be able to be seated behind me, as my seat would most likely be as far back as possible.

The 2018 Ford Mustang is designed for the rakish gentleman that appreciates power in presentation and is unafraid of announcing his presence with an assertive, bullish selection for his transportation. With the ability to incorporate a customized touch with bold new technology, the aforementioned gentleman will truly be capable of making the 2018 Ford Mustang uniquely his own. The starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $25,585 is honestly quite modest given the intricacy of control and power. The price stars to climb as more customization packages are added. If you are a muscle car enthusiast, the revamped Mustang arrives with all the sexy, chiseled, and aggressive features the performance-minded gentleman would desire.

For more information, please visit https://www.ford.com/cars/mustang/ to learn further details.

Black Thought

“Real education means to inspire people to live more abundantly, to learn to live with life as they find it and make it better.”

– Carter G. Woodson

To be absolutely sure, a gentleman’s life earns new significance when he not only identifies his purpose, but he also cultivates that purpose into something tangible that benefits other individuals. It is tragically irresponsible when an accomplished gentleman attains a certain degree of success, only to be miserly and penurious with his blessings. For the blessed gentleman that enjoys prosperity and favor, it is critical that he utilizes his influence to encourage, empower, and educate the under-served, often neglected sects of our society.

When benevolence and compassion no longer exists in the hearts and minds of men, the quality of life for both the fortunate and less fortunate gradually diminish. And the best quality of life is something we should all strive to achieve – for everyone. So, operating within your domain of achievement, I urge the gentleman to re-purpose his purpose and seek to promote excellence and success in the lives those whom are underprivileged. And going forward, hopefully, they will perform the same charitable act for someone else.

Style & Substance – Ford Motor Company – 2018 Ford Expedition

Sheer, utter disbelief is perhaps the best way to describe the emotions that welled inside me as I opened an e-mail correspondence regarding a personal invitation to join Ford Motor Company at an exclusive media drive program. The focus of the event: an up close and personal viewing of the all-new 2018 Ford Expedition and new 2018 Ford Mustang. The 2-day event entailed a private media dinner at The Henry in Dearborn, Michigan; presentations from the chief program engineers for both vehicles; and the opportunity to experience both vehicles on the road. And what an opportunity – a truly unique opportunity – this proved to be; driving around metro Detroit during winter would surely place both vehicles under detailed scrutiny.

Fortunately, for the event, Mother Nature was merciful and blessed the day with temperatures in the 40 degree range. If the event had been two weeks prior, we would have been in serious trouble. Nevertheless, copious amounts residual slush and unforgiving potholes still remained to present a suitable challenge. But, with an opportunity to network, capture my experience with some cool photographs, learn about these two new additions to the Ford family, and test them on the urban landscape – I could not help but accept the invitation. So, lets dive directly into the experience.

First impressions of the 2018 Ford Expedition: It is simply a behemoth, and an elegant one. Nevertheless, despite its massive body, the all-new Expedition sheds nearly 300 pounds because of a redesigned high-strength steel frame and aluminum-alloy body. The sexy result is a fuel efficiency that delivers 17 miles per gallon in the city and 24 miles per gallon on the highway. A combination of both yields approximately 20 miles per gallon for the gentleman. Now, such a reduction in weight does not equate to diminished power, actually, quite the opposite. The Expedition’s new 3.5 liter EcoBoost® engine and 10-speed automatic transmission is capable of producing up to 400 horsepower and 480 foot pounds of torque. Towing capability boasts up to 9,300 pounds that can be hauled around the countryside if required.

Now, being a father of one handsome son and one beautiful daughter (much love to Ava & Miles), my natural gravitation towards the Expedition was unsurprising. An aficionado in all things concerning car seat installation & removal, diaper bags, stuffed animals & baby dolls, and any other children-related accouterments; the spacious interior teased a comfort and ease that every parent wantonly covets. And clocking in at 6’1″ and 250 pounds, the Expedition affords space that any robust gentleman can truly appreciate, especially when climbing into vehicle and securing the aforementioned car seats. The doors even open at nearly a 90 degree angle. The second row tip & slide seating allows the seat to move at a slanted pivot to grant access to the third row without removing the car seat entirely – excellent!

With pleasing interior ergonomics & aesthetics, the 2018 Ford Expedition is designed for the everyday gentlemen that appreciates utilitarian luxury. A user-friendly console provides an intuitive touch that neither confounds or confuses the gentleman. And for the technology-savvy crowd, the 2018 Expedition features wireless phone charging, a 110 volt outlet, four 12 volt power points, a 360 degree camera system, a Wi-Fi hot-spot that supports up to 10 devices simultaneously within 50 feet of the vehicle, and an entertainment system that accommodates an effortless smartphone integration. Optional: dual front row headrest entertainment system that can play Choo Choo Soul for Miles or PJ Masks for Ava.Again, a gentleman can drive this vehicle right off the lot without detailed instructions.

So, speaking of driving the Expedition off the lot, I decided to take it into the city to test the urban terrain. The model I selected was the Max XLT 4×4. With its partially plowed side streets and punishing pot holes, I wanted to gauge the smoothness of my commute when faced with a brutal landscape. Powered by their Terrain Management System (4×4 only), a gentleman can select between 2-wheel drive and 4-wheel drive depending on your preference and the road. There are seven special drive modes between 2WD and 4WD for your selection: normal, sport, tow/haul, eco, grass/gravel/snow, sand, and mud/rut. As for my travel, the ride was surprisingly smooth. Surprising, because if you have not visited inner city Detroit, the pot holes and even road can be vicious. Nevertheless, the big-body Expedition confidently absorbed every jolt that was thrown its way. It also handled the slush and snow very well with no sliding or slippage at all.

2018 Ford Expedition Standard Specifications

  • 8 person seating capacity – 3 passenger rows – front cloth bucket seats – Second-row 40/20/40 split bench manual reclining fold-flat seat with CenterSlide® and Outboard Slide Seats -Third-row 60/40 split bench fold-flat-to-the-floor seat
  • Miles per gallon – up to 17 city/24 highway – 3.5 liter EcoBoost® engine – Transmission – 10 speed automatic
  • Best-in-Class 9,300 pounds maximum towing capacity
  • ABS with Brake Assist and EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution)
  • Auto Stop-Start Technology
  • Rear-Wheel Drive
  • Fully boxed frame
  • Suspension-Multilink Independent Rear suspension
  • Electronic Power-Assist (EPAS) rack-and-pinion steering
  • Front and rear stabilizer bars
  • AdvanceTrac® with Roll Stability Control (RSC® )
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Non-limited-slip 3.15 rear axle (4×2 only)
  • Selectable Drive Modes
  • Traction Control
  • SYNC® – Enhanced Voice Recognition Communications and Entertainment System – Audio-AM/FM Stereo, Single CD Player, MP3 Capable, SiriusXM® Radio and Nine (9) Speakers

Todd Hoevener – Chief Program Engineer – Overall Cool Gentleman

Gentlemanly Pros

  • Expedition: A journey or voyage undertaken by a group of people with a particular purpose. The 2018 Ford Expedition is household comfort mounted on 4 tires. Your commute is not merely travel from Point A to Point B, it is an experience in understated class and convenience.
  • Despite its large frame, the 2018 Ford Expedition is pleasantly nimble and agile when cruising on the highway. And because of its large frame and Terrain Management System, bruising roads are handled with confidence.
  • Bold & robust presentation without appearing too bulky and boxy. Its lines are clean and tailored; resulting in a handsome, refined appearance.
  • Large cabin for occupants in all three seating rows. The second row tip & slide seating is especially useful for access to the third row (the third row also reclines as an added bonus). In cases of installed car seats; they do not have to be removed. The LATCH System is available in the second and third rows. The dual moon-roof is a beautiful finishing touch.
  • Seamless and smart integrated technology with Wi-Fi hot-spots for up to 10 devices within 50 feet. I loved the touch screen functionality and ease of navigation.
  • Automatic lift-gate with generous cargo and storage space. With the push of a button, the 2nd and 3rd row seats fold flat, offering ample space to accommodate a gentleman’s bulky purchases from Home Depot, 60+ inch flat screen television sets from Costco, or just about any bulky item that requires transport. Groceries are kept secure from both forward and backward motion. A rear bulk head folds out and up to prevent items (basketballs, watermelons, etc.) from rolling out. And rear camera spray wash to clear obstruction from the elements outside.

Gentlemanly Cons

  • True to form, the 2018 Ford Expedition is quite massive. For the uninitiated, wielding such a large vehicle could prove to be a daunting objective. Smaller vehicles on the road may go unnoticed, however, the Blind Spot Information System can be helpful. However, the driver assist feature should not displace attention to one’s surroundings and judgement. As a personal preference, I would have loved the inclusion of integrated blind spot mirrors, as it is my instinct to look first.
  • Narrow stretches of road could also prove to be a challenge, especially in spots where vehicles park roadside. A gentleman must be totally cognizant of his spacing while driving. Navigating 6 Mile was an exercise in caution because one must be aware of individuals parked roadside and exiting their vehicle before waiting for traffic to clear.
  • As far as parking goes, it would be wise to park far, or at least moderate distance away from concentrated areas of parking. Maximizing parking lot real estate, I can imagine other vehicles swinging their doors open haphazardly and denting your doors.
  • The manufacturer’s suggested retail price, even at the most base level, may be slightly stressful on the bank account. If a gentleman begins to add options, the sticker shock may trigger a cardiac arrest. Advice: Exhibit some financial self-awareness and proceed wisely.

To be perfectly certain, the 2018 Ford Expedition will decidedly resonate with the professional gentleman that values performance & functionality in tandem with grace & sophistication, appreciates comfort, recognizes that the amalgamation of entertainment & technology affords a premium driving experience, and most importantly, demands a vehicle that satisfies the many facets of family life while commuting. Sure, the MSRP, approximately $51,695, will give momentary pause, but this full-size sports utility vehicle should grant many years of service and grow with a family. If you are in the market for a large SUV to accommodate the daily travels of your busy family, and you can do so in style without monetary stress; I strongly recommend the 2018 Ford Expedition for your consideration.

For more information, please visit https://www.ford.com/suvs/expedition/models/expedition-xlt/for details.

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