As I have grown older, I realize that success should not be a measurement based on the accumulation of material objects or a particular station in the world of business. Rather, my success is determined by the value I add to the lives of family & friends, the servant-leadership I provide to the community, and the quality of life I help provide for my family.
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.
Wisdom is not always indicative of age. Wisdom is forged through years of procuring knowledge and understanding how to utilize it accordingly. If you have gleaned nothing purposeful over years of living life; you are no wiser in your advanced years compared to your earlier ones.
“We cannot have perfection. We have few saints. But we must have honest men or we die. We must have unselfish, far-seeing leadership or we fail.”
– W.E.B. DuBois
These words were spoken so many decades ago. Nevertheless, these wise words ring with an unmistakable truth and resounding clarity today. Because, unfortunately in these turbulent times, the scarcity of leadership is at once hopelessly disappointing and terribly frightening. At its core, leadership demands honest, decisive action in the service and best interests of a people. The naked, bombastic machismo we witness today – delivered with unflinching dishonest selfishness – fosters a maddening, toxic environment with aimless direction. Today, we stand shakily on the precipice of outright moral anarchy. To be sure, the fallibility of man is an unavoidable consequence of being human. No one can escape being marked with some form of moral blemish. Nevertheless, conscientious ignorance emboldened with manipulative deceit is an enthusiastic embrace of corruption. Leadership begs transparent forthrightness based upon principles and honesty. A leader comprehends and differentiates between right and wrong. His actions are guided by truth, justice, integrity, empathy, and humility. A leader empowers others. A leader communicates clearly and directly. A leader practices gratitude. Certainly we need more leaders today. Time to step up.
Many, many years ago during the maturation of my personal style, Sperry became my preferred shoe brand for warm weather, as boat shoes became progressively heavy in my shoe rotation. Stylish, very comfortable, and available in a myriad of playful hues; Sperry offered great diversity that complemented my wardrobe. To be honest, I never thought about wearing Sperry shoes beyond the summer months. And I never imagined any other Sperry selection beyond my boat shoes. So when presented with an opportunity to choose a pair from Sperry’s collection for review, I decided to select a boot. Given the cold weather on the horizon, it was the perfect time to test some Sperry boots here in Michigan.
The pair I selected is but one of many choices from a special curated, must-have collection of Sperry favorites from none other than John Legend. The awarding winning (Grammy, Emmy, Oscar, Tony), multi-platinum artist, and now 2020 Sperry Global Ambassador John Legend – yes him. It is very ironic that I selected a pair of Sperry boots from his collection of curated favorites. Perhaps we share the same refined taste in style. Okay – I’m wildly speculating here. Nevertheless, the Sperry Lug Chukka was soon express shipped to me for examination and opinion. First impressions right out the box: These boots appeared more than ready to handle the increasingly chilly terrain of Michigan. So, without further delay, lets dive into the intimate details of the Sperry Lug Chukka.
- Waterproof leather uppers
- Handsewn moccasin construction with a fully impermeable protective layer for dryness in any condition
- EVA cushioning
- Non-marking rubber lug outsole with molded Wave-Siping™ provides no-slip traction
Sperry boasts a proprietary line of shoe technology branded Techwave. Touted as a fleet of technology for your feet, it encompasses the following components: Plushwave, Rainwave, Stormwave, and Icewave. The Original Lug Chukka is equipped with Stormwave – meaning it promises a no-slip grip, thermal lining, and waterproofing. The lug chukka itself conveys an old-school, tough aesthetic that aims squarely for rugged good looks. The chukka sports 6 traditional punched eyelets with metal grommets (Sperry engraved on each) for added reinforcement. There are two metal hook eyelets at the very top for secure fastening. Four metal eyelets are also horizontally positioned on each side with the signature squared Sperry shoelaces threaded through each hole.
Now, I would not describe the boot as lightweight, but it definitely isn’t heavy as well. The hard rubber sole is relatively thick with a moderate tread that should stomp through snow and handle slippery terrain fairly well. Stitched inside the leather upper is a warm, flannel-like material that covers all of the inside. Warning: Thick socks may make for a tight fit, so a gentleman may want to choose the appropriate hosiery wisely. The layered, protective cloth covering (in a red/black check pattern) is stitched on top of the insole to shield against moisture and water. Regarding exterior waterproofing, the outer seams and stitching appeared clean and tight. The Original Lug Chukka is a relatively comfortable boot with handsewn moccasin construction. However, I must reiterate, a thick sock may make the boot unpleasantly constrictive. The waterproof leather upper is sufficiently supple and soft. The amaretto color (a burgundy-brown hue) responds well to a good polish.
- Robust design with thick rubber sole that should handle snow and slush sufficiently
- Supple and soft leather that readily absorbs quality polish
- Handsome design constructed for rugged outdoor commutes
- Comfortable fit and feel that does not require breaking in; springy, removable insert for added comfort
- The flannel-like cloth lining inside the boot may cause a tighter than expected fit if worn with thick socks
- Squared shoe laces sometimes have the habit of frequently becoming untied
- Strictly constructed for casual environments, this chukka cannot perform double duty and migrate into the boardroom
The Sperry Original Lug Chukka is designed for the gentleman that favors a rugged, outdoorsy aesthetic. To be sure, this boot certainly has a casual feel and is not built for purposes of a boardroom. This chukka should be paired with denim jeans, khaki pants, and corduroy slacks. The lug chukka is competitively priced at $149.95 along with other boots within the same market. The Gentlemen’s Standard considers this a great investment for a quality, everyday boot when faced with cold temperatures and moderate snow.
My fellow black Americans, please stop grading blackness as if it is a badge of honor to determine whose ancestral lineage experienced the most inhumane suffering. To be sure, trust, there aren’t any trophies for whose black pain is the greatest and most traumatic.
Stubbornly, I awkwardly stumbled my way down the driveway to my Ford Fusion and plopped down in the driver’s seat. I placed the key in the ignition to start the engine, shifted into reverse, looked over my right shoulder to confirm clearance – nothing. I looked over my left shoulder – nothing. I shifted the car back into park, removed my keys from the ignition, stumbled to my porch bench and sat there defeated. Nothing. As I had previously peered over my shoulders to perform the ritual of ensuring clearance of stray objects or pedestrians, the nothingness wasn’t the absence of things I may run over, rather it was my vision. I could not clearly make out anything. And so, I sat on my porch bench, defeated, and phoned my wife inside the house to verify if she was going to pick up our son from school. Stubbornly, I was trying to perform the role of Superman, but I failed.
My health issues started the day before on August 4, 2020. I remember that day because I was driving to the polls to vote. As I made a left turn on Evergreen Road, I noticed my vision momentarily blurred as I entered the turn. As I made a mental note of the occurrence, I figured it perhaps a consequence of motion sickness as I sometimes suffer from time to time. However, this time was different because I was the driver and not the passenger. I noted the strange occurrence and continued on to vote with no problems. However, later that evening, I suffered a dizzy spell as I was bringing dinner to the table for the kids. It stopped me dead in my tracks and I had to find my bearings.
The choice should not be between principled enforcement of law & order and the righteous outcry for social justice. In a rational, civil society; both can be achieved concurrently.
It has been quite a long time since I owned a pair of Hush Puppies footwear. Decades ago, looking for an appropriate shoe for the office, I purchased a pair at a local DSW. A dark brown cap toe blucher, it immediately became my preferred business casual shoe for work and social settings. Extremely comfortable, I thoroughly ran those poor shoes into the ground. They did, however, provide many years of incredible service until we had to go our separate ways. I desperately searched for another pair that was similar in style, but my attempts were unsuccessful. Thereafter, admittedly, the Hush Puppies brand quietly dropped from my radar over the years. And then, approximately a month ago, I was offered the opportunity to reunite with the brand and review one of their newest arrivals – the Bennet.
The current national climate of uncertainty has undoubtedly reinforced an absolute certainty; power openly divulges intimate details of an individual’s character through a stark magnification of personal attributes. Power is influence and authority. Power absent good ethics and accountability will most certainly lead to unfortunate, perhaps even dangerous consequences. Furnished with said power; how does a man commence to abuse it? The answer begs an exploration of a man’s origins. What becomes of a child not reared to become a man?
Skillfully schooled to subjugate with a superficial sense of superiority and supremacy; relieved of responsibility and rectitude. Insulated from individual ineptitude and inadequacy; absolved of arrogance and amorality. Deprived of necessary growth and development opportunities, this child physically matures as an adult but lacks the emotional and mental intelligence to function as one. It is the making of mock manhood molded in magnificent mediocrity and manufactured masculinity. What becomes of a child not reared to become a man, yet now is imbued with power?
What stands is a man that abdicates any modicum of morality, decency, responsibility, and empathy. He consistently constructs imaginary slights as motivation to humiliate and demean individuals. He accumulates and consolidates power for selfish benefit and gain. Yet shrouded beneath a flimsy veneer of authority is a gross overestimation of ability and overcompensation of might to mask his own deficiencies. Isolated within a self-imposed power vacuum, he gradually suffocates from the lack of respect, love, and confidence. Thrashing about, starved of those key human necessities, he hurts people either directly or indirectly.
And so I say to the audience, to those of us still grounded with integrity, righteousness and dignity: We must use our platform, our voice, our power to speak against such dangers to society. Such naked displays of corrupt power must be fervently opposed and defeated – for our collective humanity demands it. It cries out for it. Corrupt power cannot be rewarded with indifference or silence because that is tantamount to complicity. Do not be complicit in your society’s demise. I implore you to embrace the mantle of righteous leadership in a time where there are far too many voids. Righteous leadership begs the ability to appeal to the intelligence, emotion and resolve of people – absent manipulative agitation and fear. So, what becomes of a child properly reared through adolescence to adulthood? Hopefully, they become the person I am speaking to now. Rise up!
So, we have enjoyed a couple of months of warm weather (sometimes downright hot) here in Michigan. Generally, the arrival of warm weather signals the commencement of outdoor grilling. Now, I am certainly not a grilling aficionado, but I attempt to put forth an honest effort for a properly grilled meal. Over the years, I have experimented with various grilling accessories to enhance my grilling experience. One evening while searching the Internet for grilling advice, I discovered an interesting accessory constructed to ignite charcoal briquettes via an electric current. The design is quite simple. A looped metal wand, it is activated by plugging it into an outlet. The cord is fairly short, so an extension cord is highly recommended. Fortunately, I not only have an outdoor extension cord – a heavy-duty 100 foot cord to be exact – but I am lucky to have a nearby outdoor electric outlet.
For years, my preferred method of igniting charcoal briquettes was employing the service of a chimney charcoal starter. However, I had grown tired of the fuss related to stuffing the chimney starter with newspaper and igniting it with a long stick lighter. Sometimes I had to deal with a pesky breeze and the ash produced from the burned newspaper irritated me. It took longer than I desired for all the charcoal briquettes to eventually become aflame, and I was not a fan of the smoke. The videos related to the electric charcoal starter seemed relatively easy and cleaner. And so, for $20.00 I was willing to evaluate its performance. The set-up was simple enough. I laid a briquette base inside my grill, inserted my electric wand, stacked more briquette in the form of an irregular pyramid, and finally plugged it into my outlet.
Well, I am stepping out of my comfort zone and I am stepping out on faith as I launch my first webinar series. I have been writing material for this blog since 2008, and maintaining a passion for writing is very challenging. I have long desired to expand the scope of this site. Specifically, I have held dreams of establishing a mentoring program for under-served and at-risk youth in the community. I wholeheartedly admit that the courage required to undertake such an objective has been weak on my behalf. However, there has been a dramatic shift in our societal landscape. The current global pandemic and cries for racial justice has presented an opportunity to expand the mission and vision of this blog. I had become increasingly irritated by individuals that utilize social media to complain or spread negativity yet offer no solutions or ideas that will add positive value to our shared dilemma. And so, I began to prepare material to help displaced workers, aspiring employees, new employees, and seasoned colleagues find footing in this uncertain job market. Working from home, I use Cisco Webex nearly every day, so I determined this platform would be perfect to host webinars. My first topic – 10 Highly Effective Work Habits That Will Help You Succeed – is designed to help an individual develop the best strategies to maximize success in the workplace. I am very nervous, as this is my first webinar, although I am no stranger to presentations or leading meetings. Nevertheless, I could not sit idly by without adding my voice to the conversation. I just hope people care to hear what I have to say.
Join me for an interactive webinar August 15, 2020 at 11 a.m. EST. I will be discussing strategies that have helped me navigate the workplace over the last 20 years. I am a health care professional working in supply chain management (procurement). I started my career as a lab technician and now I am supervisor that has led a team of 15-18 direct reports with the responsibility of 4-7 major hospital systems and their corresponding off-sites. I know a thing or two because I’ve seen a thing or two. E-mail me at email@example.com if you plan to attend. A link to the webinar will be sent to you prior to the presentation.
To be absolutely certain, the emotional and mental anguish is undeniable. And sometimes the anguish manifests itself physically – scars indelibly, indiscriminately tattooing the body. It is a pain that enjoys a perpetual downpour of torrential hate; roots strengthening its grasp within the fertile soil of the human spirit, rendering it barren of dignity or hope. Starved of equality and justice, our humanity has become emaciated from being forcibly fed prejudice, privilege, and hate. To be absolutely certain, it is an exhausting exercise of suffering. However, we should never allow ourselves to become so starved for justice and equality that we become equal participants in the deprivation of our own humanity. The oppressed should never adopt the identity or ideology of the oppressor. We should never debase our ethics and morality to achieve a perceived modicum of equal footing. Because, once that choice is made, the reason behind the mission is compromised. To be unambiguous, we should never acquiesce to indignant ignorance, idiocy, and ill will. The expectation is daunting, and honestly, the burden of righteousness and virtue should not lie with the persecuted. Yet, I call upon you to stand fierce in righteousness, honor, and goodness. Do not be mistaken, moral strength and conviction can be righteously weaponized to strike down animus, and dismantle systemic injustice that is intentionally injurious to the under-served and disenfranchised. Hold firm to your integrity and values, as our will must be stronger than the status quo of moral corruption, we stand steadfast and will overcome.
I have struggled tremendously over the past few weeks; desperately flailing in a sea of words, unable to find the necessary stillness and bearings to form meaningful sentences. In terms of blog content, returning to normal did not feel at all normal. A return to writing about shoes, cologne, or neckties felt painfully tone-deaf and superficial at this point in time. I wanted to add something substantive to the current conversation. In the midst of the pandemic and civil unrest, I wanted to be more than an angry voice on social media, albeit absent action. And so, I decided to dust off an idea conjured up perhaps over a decade ago. I always wanted to establish a support group that mentored young men, specifically young black men that were underserved and marginalized in the community. That concept never arrived to fruition. However, the overload of current events has renewed that old passion within me. So, I have not been writing because I have dedicated my time to developing material for informational webinars. Working remotely has basically forced me to communicate with my team 100% of the time. Combining this new skill with more than a decade of new experiences in life (fatherhood, management, etc.), the hope is to virtually mentor men. Of course, more information is on the horizon as I work out details. The main focus of the group will revolve around scholarship, style, service, and embody the overall theme of this website. I hope you follow me on this journey as I am excited and nervous. Wish me luck.
“Justice will not be served until those unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” – Benjamin Franklin