Fresh Take Friday: Jonathan Jones

FRESH TAKE FRIDAY IS A BI-MONTHLY SERIES SPOTLIGHTING CREATIVES OF COLOR AND THEIR PERSPECTIVES ON CREATIVITY, POSITIVITY AND GETTING SH*T DONE. TODAY, I'D LIKE TO INTRODUCE YOU TO AUTHOR AND TRANSFORMATIONAL SPEAKER JONATHAN JONES.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT JONATHAN'S WORK, BE SURE TO FOLLOW HIM ON TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM.

Photo: Jonathan Jones

Photo: Jonathan Jones

Your latest book focuses on a subject that our generation often wrestles with - PROCESS. What lessons have you learned on your own journey about the power of process, and what advice do you have for our generation on the importance of enduring and appreciating it? 

JJ: First, I had to learn to be patient. Nothing happens overnight; we’re in a rush to make it to the top of the mountain, but why? I’ve learned that most growth and fulfillment takes place through the midst of working and through daily perseverance.  By learning to go through the process of our lives, you realize that you cannot skip steps. Imagine if a caterpillar just turned into a butterfly without going into its cocoon; it wouldn’t have the strength that it would need in order to fly. The process is necessary for your own personal growth.  When we skip steps, we miss out on valuable information and life lessons that we need to access the next stage in our lives.

Next, like the old folks use to say, “Get your house in order.” If we’re being honest, there are some challenges that each and every one of us face. You know that thing that you may have blocked off or that you are currently have trouble dealing with, I suggest seeking help. I want you to know that you aren’t alone; we all have some type of baggage. There are many therapists, recovery programs, and church initiatives for whatever that need may be. We all have some area of opportunities (others label them as weaknesses) in our lives that could be a little bit stronger. Once you begin to invest in yourself by dealing with these issues you will begin to feel freer than you’ve ever been. Don’t allow your past to hold you back from being present in your future!

One of your recent blog posts discusses "Mountains and Valleys in Entrepreneurship" and how everything about working for yourself isn't always going to be glitter and gold. When did you realize that you wanted to pursue entrepreneurship full-time, and how did you prepare? What keeps you focused on executing to the best of your ability, even when you're faced with adversity? 

JJ: Out one day, exhausted at the last retail job I had, I thought to myself, "This can't be it." From delivering phone books door-to-door, to tossing boxes off the back of a delivery truck. I knew that the calling on my life was far greater than for me to sit here working at a retail job the rest of my life. After realizing that I had a voice and realizing that I wanted to be the individual that wanted to inspire my generation, I said it’s time for me to step it up.  

First, I hired my father, Dr. Fred Jones, to walk me through the process of writing my Amazon #1 Best-Selling book. He showed me that by writing my book, it would create instant credibility and make me the expert of my own story. Next, I hired a coach because I didn’t know what I didn’t know, so utilizing the knowledge of someone who’s been in this space for sometime in conjunction with the information my father shared, I began to slowly put the pieces in place. During this time, I already had one foot out the door at my job, while still working to create my own personal enterprise. Lastly, I left my full time job and began to drive for Uber during nights and weekends while I had my days to work on balancing business and graduate school.

The best way to keep me focused might sound contradictory, but it's creating an interruption in my daily routine. I have to get up and away from my desk to be able to gather my thoughts. Sometimes this may look like taking a casual 30 minute nap Sunday afternoon that turns into two hours, but then I'm charged and ready to work through the hours of the creative at around 2 or 3 am. When adversity strikes, I have to get out of my head! Some days just taking a leisurely stroll around the block to unplug leaving all electronics behind and to be present with the world around me, the birds chirping and the sun shining. Following this, I return to my to-do list with a clear mind and an attack mindset!

In a 'perfect' world, what does a day of productivity look like to you? What tools are you using to get sh*t done, and what are major distractions you do you best to avoid? 

JJ: My most productive days start off with my gospel grooves playlist, followed by me taking in some bible verses and prayer to center myself, getting my mind, body and soul focused on the day ahead. I’ve realized that without a daily planner, my thoughts are scattered all over the place. 

With my daily planner, I take notes and utilize a system called time blocking so that I will be able to be most effective for that day. The strategy of time blocking is simple: create a list, label which projects are of the highest priority or which have quickly approaching deadlines. Next, I incorporate them into my Google Calendar, allotting a certain amount of time each item. This way, I create mini deadlines or checkpoints to hold myself accountable. I also set reminders on my iPhone and use Hootsuite to pre-schedule my social media content. 

If you don’t follow the guidelines you set, it’ll begin to infect your relationships, your lifestyle and most definitely your business. Respect your schedule and value your time.

When you find yourself in a rut, (emotionally or creatively) what are some things that you do change your mood? Who (or what) do you turn to for encouragement, and how do you persevere, even when you may want to remain stuck in your feelings? 

JJ: I take a moment for myself and I have to literally give it to God. No matter how bad the mood may be in, I have to shoot up a quick prayer. Then, there are few people that I will call to help me snap out of those dark places and dark moments. One is my best friend, Mahiri Takai; he helps remind me not to be so hard on myself and continues to encourage me. Also watching YouTube videos of people like Will Smith, Tony Robbins, Kobe Bryant and other individuals who have been able to yield success in their respective fields. Lastly, I’ve realized that when I find myself stuck in my feelings, the thing that really brightens my day is giving back and helping others. It might be doing a favor for a friend or taking someone out to eat. When you can, begin to channel that energy that you are focusing on yourself and shift the focus to doing something for others, I think that’s the best way to see what truly matters in life. I whole heartily believe we are blessed to be a blessing to others.

How would you describe your 'fresh take' on creativity? What keeps you inspired to develop new ideas and collaborate with other creatives? 

JJ: USE YOUR GIFT! I don't care who you are, you are more creative than you think, I promise. It’s just tough for me when I hear people reflecting on their lives saying, “I wish I did this or I should have done that,” often seeming like they allowed themselves to have these regrets that could have potentially been eliminated.

I love to collaborate with others because I know that I am not a Jack-of-all-trades.  I view collaboration as an opportunity to expand the impact and increase the reach while making a world of difference. Working with other experts, they are able to present different approaches or dynamics that I couldn't have even dreamed of. I'm inspired to offer fuel to empower our generation and the generation looking up to us because there’s so much potential in each individual. I’m a firm believer if I do my part to just spark the mind of somebody to do something, then I’ve done my job. Bob Marley said it best, “The people who were trying to make this world worse are not taking the day off. Why should I?”

We must continue to strive to make a difference daily and collaborating with other creative makes this all possible! Stay true to the #process!

Fresh Take Friday: Ashley Coleman

Fresh Take Friday is a bi-monthly series spotlighting creatives of color and their perspectives on creativity, positivity and getting sh*t done. For the inaugural post, I'd like to present to some and introduce to others, author and creator of WriteLaughDream.com Ashley Coleman. 

To learn more about Ashley's work, be sure to follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Your latest book, "Love On Purpose" sheds light on why we must be intentional when we choose to show love to others - mostly romantically. but there are a number of great gems that can be adapted to platonic relationships, too. What inspired you to dig deeper into what it really means to love with purpose? Where there any challenges you faced during your writing process, and if so, how did you overcome them?

AC: Honestly, it just came from watching so many misconceptions on my timeline. People spew out their thoughts on various different things all day. And I just realize that so many people have it all wrong when it comes to what love really entails. They’re so selfish when they think about relationships and I remembered when my now husband, boyfriend at the time, first said to me, “Love is a choice, it’s a decision.” It really changed so much about what I thought love really was. It helped me understand my responsibility when it came to love. When you accept that, I think that everything else changes. How you speak to other people, how you communicate with your partner, all that. And then there was my revelation of how God loves us. He gave his son, that was an action. If we are in his image, then we ought to love like he loves, which means in action, not just words, and not just when it feels good to us.

There’s always challenges in writing. I took off running at first and then hit a crazy lull. I had so many other projects going on and then finally I said, you need to finish this book. All the other stuff you are doing is not as important as this message. So what could have essentially took about 6 months, probably took about two and a half years just by virtue of stopping and starting.

In a 'perfect' world, what does a day of productivity look like to you? What tools are you using to get sh*t done, and what are major distractions you do you best to avoid?

AC: In a perfect world, productivity is definitely those moments when you cross everything off the list you wrote that day. Ha! Nothing gives me more satisfaction than putting a line through tasks. But honestly there are just some days when you’re like, “What did I even accomplish?” It’s all about staying focused. That’s the biggest challenge for me at times. The biggest distraction is definitely my phone. It’s like, you come to a task that’s harder than expected or a page is taking too long to load and there I am scrolling and wasting time. I’ve resolved to putting it across the room or sometimes in another room when I really need to buckle down.

The tools I really swear by at the moment are my notebook, yes a pen and paper. My Passion Planner which keeps me on course. My chalkboard wallies where I write out my projects for the quarter, Asana, an online project management interface, and Google Drive.

As a blogger, you've often discussed consistency and how it is important to building your brand. How can creatives become better at creating systems for themselves so that they producing content (whatever it may be) regularly?

AC: Consistency really is key. I know that it sounds like this thing that people just say, but think of most of the people you admire and then think about how consistent they have been in producing quality content. Success and consistency really go hand and hand. When it comes to creating better systems, I think it’s really just knowing what works for you. Like, research other peoples’ systems and then sort out what fits with your personality. The biggest systems I have in place are really:  

+ Batch writing, writing multiple posts at one designated time.

+ A designated writing day. Every Wednesday, I make sure I have either completed a newsletter, blog post, or filled in an outline for a new project.

+ Scheduling social. Every Sunday, I schedule social posts for the upcoming week.

+ Timed Writing. Instead of focusing on pages or word counts, when working on a book, I would set timers for 30 minutes to write, uninterrupted.

Whatever your field, you have to just try some things on for size and see if they help produce better results. For me, these are a few of the things that have just tried and I liked the results. But only after spinning my wheels and feeling completely overwhelmed at times and knowing that I had to figure out a better way to get it all done.

Photo: Ashley Coleman

Photo: Ashley Coleman

When you find yourself in a rut, (emotionally or creatively) what are some things that you do change your mood? Who (or what) do you turn to for encouragement, and how do you persevere, even when you may want to remain stuck in your feelings?

AC: Well, first and foremost, I feel like it’s important to say that sometimes I just allow myself to be there. Sometimes we are so caught up in the grind that we don’t give ourselves time to just feel whatever we’re feeling. Sure, you can’t stay there, but I think you are doing yourself a disservice if you keep pushing those feelings down which sometimes affects your craft in the long run anyway. Outside of that, I will sometimes read which always gives me new ideas and new ways of thinking of things. I will just do something I enjoy that has NOTHING to do with business like going to the movies or hosting friends. I typically will turn to my husband because we are such a big support system for one another in that way. We talk each other off the ledge constantly as we are both creatives. I persevere by knowing that my work is really bigger than me and how I feel at the moment. For those of us who believe in God, we know that we were put here for a purpose and we don’t really have the time to waste. God will get it done, with or without you. And I don’t know about you, but I want to make sure I am on the team. So I push past being uninspired or doubt or whatever else we come up with knowing that my work is needed.

How would you describe your 'fresh take' on creativity? What keeps you inspired to develop new ideas and collaborate with other creatives?

AC: Man, I think my freshest take on creativity at the moment is being in tune with you and that little voice inside. We are SO distracted. We’re looking too much at other people and their lives and we have to really turn inward and assess, who am I? What do I want? How will my creativity exacerbate my greatest gifts? And really being present. Art and creativity is honestly just this reflection of what it means to live, to experience, to participate. We have to make sure that we are actually doing those things in order to keep creating. So I’m inspired by every part of living and breathing. Everything that I see, taste, touch, hear, and smell inspires me. I literally have new ideas everyday, at times it’s overwhelming. But I never want it to stop and I have just learned to write them down and some ideas I explore and others may be for later. But I always write them down.

 

5 Things Pepsi Should've Considered Before Releasing Their Latest Ad Campaign

Yesterday, Pepsi released its new ad campaign featuring model and reality personality Kendall Jenner that has immediately fizzled and fallen flat. (See what I did there?)

If you haven’t seen the spot in its entirety, click below to take a look. 

The commercial not only shows Kendall Jenner’s blatant awareness of her privilege as a white woman living in America, but it shows her faux attempt to be the savior of this generation. After she is subtly persuaded by an attractive Asian male cellist to join a protest in process, she offers an armed officer a can of Pepsi - to which the crowd goes wild as he accepts and the problem of racism is magically solved forever.

But I can't put the full and complete blame on Jenner. She was just out here trying to get a check. Pepsi thought it would be cool to have art imitate life, so they took a page from the headlines, created a fake movement and put a white woman at the center of it all, charging her to “save” millennial humanity because, duh, white feminism. They did all of this by using people of color as props, glamorizing protesting and misrepresenting police involvement during such events which we know, historically, hasn’t always been as peaceful.

Y’all. How is it that in 2017 these major brands and companies are STILL completely tone deaf? Who was (or wasn’t) present in the marketing suite and thought that this particular treatment was okay to spend millions of dollars on, and to then share with the American people? What is this lackluster message of false hope saying to future generations who want to actually create change?

The most problematic frame in the entire commercial is when Jenner hands an ice cold Pepsi to an armed officer, to which he shrugs and gladly accepts because, why not?

You know what this frame strangely reminds me of? 28-year-old Ieshia Evans standing peacefully in the middle of a Baton Rouge street last summer, while armed cops ran up on her out of their own fear.

Photo: USA Today/Jonathan Bachman/Reuters

Photo: USA Today/Jonathan Bachman/Reuters

Again Pepsi, you tried it.

As a marketing and communications professional, it is my job to always think ahead of how messaging strategies and tactics are going to be perceived by the consumer. Whether I am drafting copy for a client or reviewing content edits created by a consultant, I am always keeping the end user at the top of mind, and how they are going to absorb and digest messaging that is intended to empower them. More importantly, I want to ensure that they have enough accurate information to then create their own thoughts and feelings from it.

Pepsi thought they could recreate a rather vivid memory of our culture’s recent history to increase sales of their product, all the while demonstrating they are socially conscious to a generation who strives to always “stay woke.” But in the end, their million dollar ad just ended up being insensitive, tasteless and sleeping on the real reason why people continue to fight for justice in these streets.

While I could continue to dwell on the negative, I want to do my due diligence as a practitioner and offer up a few suggestions that could serve as lessons learned for such an iconic brand like PepsiCola.

Here are the five things that Pepsi SHOULD have done in order to better execute their “Live Bolder, Live Louder, Live For Now” campaign:

  1. Choose someone other than a Kardashian/Jenner to be the face of your “faux woke” campaign. When has Kendall Jenner EVER spoke out about issues of racial equality and police brutality? (That’s okay, I’ll wait.) I won’t speak to her character because I don’t know her personally, but from what I and the rest of the world know about her persona, she isn’t very involved in any type of movement. Now someone who might have been a much better choice for this ad campaign? Yara Shahidi. My little sister in my head has a proven track record for speaking out on everything from racial equality to politics to ambition. While I do believe she would have had many, many issues with the treatment as it currently stands, she would have been a more accurate representation of this progressive generation.

  2. Make sure that there is more than one person of color in the room to help make final decisions. I can guess that there was probably one (maybe two) black ad or public relations executives present during the brainstorming stage of this project. Unfortunately because there continues to be a lack of our voices in positions of management at creative agencies and major corporations, here we are. This is so much bigger than diversity and inclusion, but it speaks to the necessity of adequate representation when it comes to marketing and advertising to communities of color. My fellow #blkcreatives - let this be a lesson to us all. If something doesn’t sit right with us in the planning meeting, it’s not going to sit right with our peers who have to watch/read/listen to the end result. If you see something, please don't be afraid to say something. 

  3. Don’t insult the intelligence of your consumer base. How many of you think that Pepsi performed a focus group before making the final decision on this ad? Anyone? Bueller? It’s astonishing to me that Pepsi didn’t consider the backlash they would receive from this ad, let alone approval from their fan base. A simple viewing of a rough draft of the commercial, followed by a short set of questions to a diverse group of millennials would have been an opportunity to test messaging and imagery, as well as overall tone and pitch of the advertisement. In situations like these, it’s important to think beyond the bottom line and be mindful of the ask you’re really making of your customer.

  4. Acknowledge diversity, but don’t stereotype it. The black guy with the cornrows absolutely did NOT have to “hit them folks” upon the cop receiving his congratulatory Pepsi. The black woman did NOT have to have that knotty ass wig thrown at her, nor did she need to look as though she was the help. How come Asian man played the cello? Why were the white girls sitting at brunch complete oblivious to what what happening right in front of them? Is there a reason why the young Muslim woman was the only one capturing this moment on film? These are questions that need real answers. Representation will always be a major key, but it shouldn’t be exploited. For decades, Pepsi has been a brand that has celebrated uniquity among all people. This commercial chose to shine the brightest spotlight on everyone’s differences, without really providing clear context to why they were being displayed in the first place.

  5. Stay in your damn lane. - Pepsi has always been a brand that acknowledges the influence of our culture’s young generation. However, not one person asked Pepsi to make a radical statement by putting Kendall Jenner in the midst of such a sensitive space like a protest with armed police officers. They didn’t do that with Beyonce or Britney, so why try it now? It’s okay to allow your marketing formula to evolve as a sign of the times, but if it ain’t broke - don’t break it.  

My hope is always that other companies will learn from Pepsi's mistakes. Now more than ever, it is vital that brands take the steps necessary to ensure that their marketing and advertising efforts are not only visually appealing, but culturally sensitive and provide an accurate reflection of our society's ever-evolving landscape.

What were your thoughts on the Pepsi ad? Send me a tweet or comment below.

Chasity

 

UPDATE: As of this afternoon, Pepsi has pulled the advertisement, and issued an apology

Badass B*tches Only: A #MuseumHack Experience

After three months of silence on the blog, I'm back!

These first 90 days of 2017 have been quite the adventure, and I'll get to that a little later, but first - I'd like to share with you all an amazing museum visit I had last month at the National Gallery of Art. 

Living in The Nation's Capitol, I'm blessed with the opportunity to have unlimited access to an abundance of museums, monuments and overall rich history and culture. In honor of Women's History Month, the good folks at Museum Hack invited me to experience the Badass B*tches Tour. 

Without hesitation, I confirmed my attendance immediately not only because of the genius novelty of the title - but because I had never toured the National Gallery of Art and I wanted to see how this concept could be brought to life. 

Also, when it comes to art history (and many other sectors) I could only imagine that women are (more often than not) the real MVPs. 

I arrived to NGA and was greeted by my friendly guide Hannah, as well as the other amazing women that I'd be sharing the tour with on the cold, sunny afternoon. If you've ever been to the National Gallery of Art or any of the Smithsonian museums, then you know to wear comfortable shoes because you will be walking - A LOT. 

Hannah shared a TON of stats with us about the representation women within the art world, but the most alarming fact that stood out to me was that less than four percent of the exhibits in the National Gallery of Art featured women artists. And because of that, she enthusiastically equipped us with sunglasses that had the words "#artbitch" on the temple to block the "shade" from the lack of women represented throughout the museum. 

Hey, works for me. 

Hey, works for me. 

As our tour guide, it was Hannah's job to educate about the women whose work did exist in the museum, and empower us to ask for more women artists to be spotlighted at NGA. 

Over the course of the two in a half hour tour, we learned a great deal about some very fearless women who used their platforms, resources and voices to change the world. And although they were often ridiculed for their bold ideas, thoughtful war strategies, and even their beauty, they still persisted. 

I think the most enjoyable part of this entire #MuseumHack experience was reenacting one of the largest paintings in the museum:

I also got to emulate one of my favorite pieces in the Edgar Degan ballerina exhibit:

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my Museum Hack experience and thought it was a pretty kick ass way to celebrate Women's History Month and to learn something new. 

To learn more about how you can have your own Museum Hack experience, click here. 

Talk soon!

Chasity 

20 Books To Help Get Your Mind Right In 2017

20-books-to-help-get-your-mind-right-in-2017.png

Blessed 2017, y'all.  In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a proud bibliophile. Next to sipping wine and tea, listening to trap music and collecting journals, I love nothing more than getting cozy on the couch and flipping my fingers through a good book. My affinity for reading was instilled in me at a very young age, and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more appreciative of the art of storytelling.

Now that 2017 is here, it’s time for us to put down the iPhones (or Androids) and stick our noses in a book. Particularly for those who are looking to improve their writing skills, reading daily can increase comprehension, deepen your awareness for tone and pitch and even expand your vocabulary.

Remember, if you can make time to binge watch episodes of Power or Game of Thrones, you can totally make time to read 30-45 minutes a day. I want nothing more than for you to be greater than great in 2017. The books listed below are a combination of personal favorites that I’ve already read, as well as ones that I hope to personally conquer this year. And fun fact: if you head over to your local library and sign up for a library card, you can borrow all of the physical and digital books your heart desires - for the free.

So let’s dive into these books, shall we? Enjoy! 

If you’re looking to make your next move your best move…

doonethingeveryday

Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You: A JournalI share pages from this journal almost every day on my Instagram Story because the prompts and quotes within it are not only meaningful, but encourage me to think bigger and put those ideas into motion. Get 'chu one asapington. 

Manage Your Day-To-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus & Sharpen Your Creativity (Edited by Jocelyn K. Glei) 

Never Split The Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It (By Christopher Voss and Tahl Raz) 

Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One (By Jenny Blake) 

lettinggosurrender

If you need a reminder to check yourself before you wreck yourself…

Letting Go: The Pathway Of Surrender. (By Dr. David Hawkins) I received this as a gift at a time when I really needed it most. What looks like a book that could get all deep and psychological on you actually describes practical methods for letting go that simply begin with the way we think. Highly recommended. 

You’re A Badass: How To Stop Doubting Your Greatness And Living an Awesome Life (By Jen Sincero) 

Ego Is The Enemy (By Ryan Holiday) 

The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck (By Mark Manson) 

If you need a hearty dose of Black Girl Magic…

themeaningofmo

The Meaning of Michelle(Edited by Veronica Chambers) As if we needed yet another stark reminder of the beauty, class and grace that is about to leave the White House in 15 days, some of our favorites (think: Ava Durvernay, Roxanne Gay) have come together in a collection of short essays to pay homage to the greatest First Lady of all time. It drops on January 10th, and please believe that I will be getting me a copy. 

I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual. (By Luvvie Ajayi) 

Around The Way Girl: A Memoir. (By Taraji P. Henson) 

Year of Yes: How To Dance It Out, Stand In The Sun and Be Your Own Person (By Shonda Rhimes) 

If you need some inspiration to get that business idea off the ground...

succeedingagainstodds

Succeeding Against The Odds: The Autobiography of a Great Businessman (By John H. Johnson) As a lover of all things media, I'm a bit surprised that I'm just now learning of the dynamic story of Ebony Magazine founder John H. Johnson. When I tell you this man is the GOAT - he definitely made is possible for many of us in Black media to flourish and thrive today. Do yourself a favor: get you a copy and prepare to have your mind blown. (And shout-out to my girl MK for sharing her copy with me!) 

The Path Redefined: Getting To The Top on Your Own Terms (By Lauren Maillian Bias) 

The Entrepreneur’s Playbook: More than 100 Proven Strategies, Tips, and Techniques to Build a Radically Successful Business (By Leonard Green & Paul B. Brown) 

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike (By Phil Knight) 

If you want something light, fun and fictional…

god_help_the_child

God Help The Child(By Toni Morrison) A pretty easy read that actually takes place in the present day, Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison unpacks black beauty, love and how the seeds planted during childhood ultimately impact thoughts and actions as an adult. I probably will read this one again - you know, for the culture. 

No One is Coming To Save Us (By Stephanie Powell Watts)

Euphoria (By Lily King) 

What books do you have on your reading list for 2017? Send me a tweet and let's get this virtual book club on and poppin', k? 

Happy reading! 

-CC