Get in Formation: From Stacey Dash to Beyonce, you really don’t care about black history!

Beyonce broke the internet and the hearts of many white people when she release her latest single, “Formation”. She sent even more people into cardiac arrest after performing this single for the halftime show on Superbowl Sunday. Following critiques of her performance, video, and lyrics,  many found themselves defending the queen bee and all things black. Black pride and activism flooded the internet. Why does time always reveal an opportunistic moment to revolutionize a distinct appearance of malicious intent? Is black culture only hardwired to unite during seasons of oppression and tyranny? “Say it Loud, I’m black and I’m proud” filled our spirits up with a pride; so fulfilling that it raised a united fist to the heavens.

Since this black panther inspired performance, everyone likes “their baby’s hair with baby hair and Afros” Beyonce’s video highlights police brutality and the strain relationship between black communities and law enforcement. It seems like the most honorable times for African Americans came during a period in our lives where we mattered the least to this civilization. Whips screamed across our backs. Sweat drenched the dirt and dusty gardens as seeds were watered only to be plucked by our blistered fingers. A nation under GOD was built off the backs and labor from black faces. Bills, laws and civil rights were written in blood as a result of people sick of living a life that was unjust, as well as unfit for humanity.

Our culture, our legacy should be told by us and should never be written as HIStory. Now let sit back for a moment and reflect on Stacy Dash. Now Ms. Dash may very well be one of GOD’s most beautiful creations. As fine as she is, I find it terribly difficult to boyishly admire such a disappointing public figure. Let’s address the misguided truth that escaped her lips without clear thought. During an interview Stacy made a comment that referenced the abolishment of Black History month, referring to it as “culturally biased” and “UnAmerican”…. As she continued to dig her own grave with black people, and has no desire to renew her “black card” which was revoked sometime in 2015.  Stacy’s words, although completely IGNORANT bare some relevance for discussion. A few years ago, I questioned the motive and intentions of our people by saying, “the only way we as African Americans would appreciate Black History month is if some lobbyist or politician called for the abolishment of its recognition.” As I sit on Facebook and other social media outlets, I am reading the outrage, the memes and status that are currently trending about this topic. As I observe and recognize people’s right to be upset with an African American woman cosigning the abolishment of black history month I also find myself in a predicament. I feel as if Black History month is very undervalued and not appreciated by the masses. It’s even more alarming to hear this coming from a black woman. The question really is, what if Black History month was officially removed and no longer nationally recognized. Let’s examine this a little further.

When was the last time any of us really celebrated Black History Month in all the magnitude and glory that we celebrate any other moment of history? More people get together for Cinco de Mayo and St Patrick’s Day to honor another culture’s history that we don’t even understand (or care to understand). Yeah, you can make the argument that both days celebrate with libations. Let’s be real everyone loves a reason to drink excessively, but in the same breath I have no problem sipping some cognac on Frederick Douglass’ birthday (kidding not kidding). The sad reality is many African Americans fail at recognizing black history month and couldn’t even tell you much out about black history.

Now, hypothetically speaking, what if black history month was abolished? How would that make you feel? What would miss in honoring the month? What traditions would become lost by your own doing? I wonder what Carter G Woodson would say to Stacy Dash? If you are reading this last sentence and wondering who Carter G Woodson is you and Stacy Dash have more in common than you think.

As someone that actively honors and respects the history that our ancestors endured I use February as a privileged opportunity to publicly pay homage to our culture. Many people question the motive of black history month being the shortest month of the year in addition to sighting that black history month should be studied all year. Although these opinions are very much so true February is the shortest month of the year, but that is not the reason why it was chose to be black history month. The month was chosen because of Fredrick Douglas’ and Abraham Lincoln’s birthday being in the same month. Even if you did know why,  you should still appreciate the fact that we have one month to enlighten the world about the struggle and progress that Black People have overcome. So many people are in absolute denial or choose to remain ignorant about the contributions that we have made over the years.  I am a Christian, male, that celebrates Easter and Christmas on nationally recognized days. In spite of the fact that  Christ should be celebrated, studied, and worshiped every day. I adopt the same principles to that opinion and choose to proactively celebrate a month that is by no means culturally biased or un-American.  People make comments and ask questions like, there isn’t a white history month so why should there be black history month? Ignorantly failing to ask the question why we had to instill black history month in the first place. That inquiry alone lets me know the depth of knowledge and lack of understanding on how strategic HIStory tries to write US out of it. There is nothing culturally biased about taking time to acknowledge historic FACTS that are clear defining moments in American History and should be studied by EVERYONE. So while you all organize your thoughts on social media about Stacy Dash, and Beyonce take a pause for the cause and ask yourself, would you miss Black History Month if it was gone? Who’s the real sell out?

 

Just in case you fit that category let us guide you into some suggestions and help you celebrate black history month the V.S.OP way.

Here are ten ways to celebrate Black History Month the V.S.OP way:

  1. Read a book that celebrates or articulates African American Culture. A few recommendations: The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Message to the Black Man, Roots, The Souls of, Black Women in White America just to name a few
  2. Attend a local Black History month program. Use your resources and find out what’s going on in your church or community.
  3. Organize a soul food potluck with your friends preparing all the traditional and cultural foods from many nations.
  4. Sit down with your family and watch a historic African American biography, or documentary that highlights the true struggle of black history in America
  5. Everyday research a black history fact and share it with your peers via social media. Create memes and other trending ways to pass along the information.
  6. Have a sit down conversation with the oldest member of your family and have them reflect on memorable times that they experienced growing up during their years of life.
  7. Teach your children something about black history. Lord knows the school systems aren’t doing that. Educate them on who people are and how significant African Americans have been to our society.
  8. Support, refer and spend money in black owned businesses.
  9. Watch a black film with a group of friends and have a discussion.
  10. Organize, or participate in a march or demonstration that celebrates  black history month.

 

By Mr. NiceGuy
Twitter: MrNiceGuyVSOP
IG: Trev.s.op
#AreYouVSOP

V.S.OP Spotlight: “Cut From A Different Cloth”

The Virtually.Seizing.Opulence (V.S.OP) team is happy to introduce to some and present to others, Mr. Tommie Lark, Jr. the Chief Executive Officer of Superego, LLC. Tommie was born and raised in Massachusetts.Some would say that the odds were stacked against him from the time of conception, as he was born to two teenage parents. Things become harder for Tommie when he was seven years old. His father was murdered, leaving his 24 year old mother with two young children to raise.

Despite the early traumatic loss that Tommie experienced, he excelled as a student and joined the Amherst Chapter of “A Better Chance” (ABC), a college preparatory program. In addition to his success in the classroom, Mr. Lark also experienced great success as an athlete. His prowess as a scholar athlete led to him being accepted into the prestigious Wesleyan University, where he served as the captain of the track team and went on to be a four-time All American Triple Jumper.

While balancing his coursework and a rigorous training schedule, Tommie found time to join the Beta Beta Chi Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated. Phi Beta Sigma is an international Fraternity founded on January 9, 1914, on the campus of Howard University in Washington, DC. As a member of the Fraternity, Tommie utilized the leadership skills that he gained at an early age and served as the President of his Chapter for two years. In an interview with the V.S.OP team, Tommie shares how he overcame the adversities of being born to teenage parents and losing his father to go on to become a college graduate, All-American athlete and up and coming entrepreneur.

V.S.OP: “Tell us about your journey. How did you get into the industry that you are in?”

TL: “I am someone who came from nothing, born in a society where most that looked like me would be predisposed to drugs, violence and poverty. I somehow fell into the fashion industry, but I am using my brand and movement to redefine culture and make sustainable living more accessible to underrepresented millennials.”

Tommie truly believes in the old mantra that “it takes a village to raise a child,” and he attributes much of his success, both personally and professionally, to individuals that served as mentors and role models for him.

TL: “Coming from nothing, I am grateful and know the importance of giving back. I would not be where I am today without the support and guidance of many along the way including the staff of “A Better Chance”, my coaches and the brothers of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated.”

Defining your purpose can often be difficult to do. People spend a great deal of time trying to establish who they are or to make sense of what they are placed on this earth to do. Tommie believes that he is living in his purpose and is using his craft to inspire others to achieve greatness. He also envisions himself as a barrier breaker in the fashion industry and has established lofty goals for Superego, LLC.

Coming from nothing, I am grateful and know the importance of giving back. 

 

V.S.OP: “What makes you do what you do?”

TL: “My purpose in life is to do what I do. I was given a gift, destined for greatness. It is my duty to give back and uplift our youth, paving a path for them to have a more positive future.”

V.S.OP: “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?”

TL: “In 10 years I would like to be a successful business owner that is known for changing the very fabric of reality (making hemp the new standard for t-shirt as opposed to cotton). I would like to have concept stores around the world, connecting the dots and empowering creatives to live their dreams. I would eventually like to start my own foundation or non-profit organization to give back to youth in underprivileged areas.”

V.S.OP: “What legacy do you want to leave behind through your craft?”

TL: “(BE)lieve in (YOU)rself. I want to leave this earth knowing that I have made an impact, knowing that my children and grandchildren will be born “Cut From A Different Cloth.” I want people to feel comfortable in their own skin, knowing that life’s a journey of creating yourself. Do what makes you happy and never let anyone get in the way of your dreams.”

Success is not easily attainable and this is even more evident in companies trying to establish themselves in major industries that have been historically dominated by larger corporations. The V.S.OP team inquired as to the challenges that Mr. Lark has faced as he seeks to “change the very fabric of reality.”

(BE)lieve in (YOU)rself. I want to leave this earth knowing that I have made an impact, knowing that my children and grandchildren will be born “Cut From A Different Cloth.

V.S.OP: “What are some obstacles that you have faced in pursuit of your goals?”

TL: “I was born to lose, but built to win. Born in poverty to high school sweethearts, losing my dad to violence as a child. Raised by a single mother working 3 jobs to provide for my siblings and myself. I was able to get over all of the obstacles in my way. Currently, a major obstacle that I am facing is building a brand from the ground up and spreading awareness. As a small business, working capital is always an issue, but we continue to work with the means that we have in order to get to the next level.”

Seizing opulence is not only about achieving success, but making an impact while doing so. Those that are living the “opulent life” are individuals that intend to use their personal brands to excel within their industries while shifting the social conscience of everyone that they encounter. Mr. Lark was candid in sharing that he hopes to inspire future generations and create a better living environment for them through his company’s success.

V.S.OP: “What does your craft mean to you?”

TL: “My craft is everything to me, as I am set out to literally change the very fabric of reality. I am introducing a sustainable alternative to the very wasteful fashion industry in a way that makes it ‘cool’. I want to appeal to the youth, educating and empowering them to make conscientious decisions that impact their everyday lives. Through our clothing we are empowering society, the environment, and in turn, our economy.

V.S.OP: “If there is one piece of advice that you could give a young person looking to get into your industry, what would it be?”

TL: “One piece of advice that I would give to a young person looking to get into any industry would be to study the greats and become greater. Complete your goals and value the process. Be patient and persevere through it all! Hard work pays off, so work hard and never give up!”

The V.S.OP team is happy to share that at the time of the interview with Mr. Lark, his company had recently launched a kickstarter campaign to raise $25,000. The campaign was a major success and Superego, LLC met their goal! Mr. Tommie Lark is the epitome of resilience, perseverance and creativity. He is an up and coming leader in the fashion industry and is certainly living the “opulent lifestyle”. Tommie Lark, we salute you for all that you represent and for being “Cut From A Different Cloth!”

For information on Tommie Lark, Jr. and Superego LLC, please see below:

Superego: www.superegoclothiers.com
Twitter/Facebook/Instagram: @SuperegoWorld
Personal Twitter: @TommieCFADC
Personal Instagram: @T_Larkington
Email: TLark@SuperegoClothiers.com

Written By: Tai D. Richardson

V.S.OP Vision Board Challenge

Virtually Seizing Opulence CHALLENGE

#VisionBoardChallenge

It took 7 days to create the world as we know it. A lifetime was spent from up high pondering the perfect plan of action. Like a game of chess, every move was strategic. Life as we know it began with a Vision. Even the great creator, whatever you may call him/her/it, executed a masterpiece that was deemed perfect, and everything was as it should be. The word VISION takes on a powerful meaning not easily gifted to random empty vessels. Webster defines the word as the ACT or POWER of IMAGINATION: UNUSUAL discernment or FORESIGHT.  Every great man or woman that has done something eventful, that impacted the world, started with a vision. All great leaders have a very POWERFUL testimony as it relates to having a VISION that they put into ACTION.  

So why are we even discussing thoughts and ideals that surround the makeup of elite visionaries?  Well it’s that time of year again. 2016 is among us, and we all share something in common as we depart the present year. Many of us typically sit back quietly and do a true evaluation of self. Personally, I always take a look at my year end review and assess where I am in life. People across the globe speak about plans for their NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION. People who know me can attest to my creative capacity. I have been told I am an innovative person that is full of ideas. One of my personal mottos is “My vision is clear, now let the journey begin.” Most of the time when I have a vision, it usually happens first thing early in the morning. I see an amazing ending to something that I would like to do. That thought alone excites me enough to pursue maximum efforts to begin working on the project. My business partners and friends get so frustrated with me often. They say that I give them ideas that are “end sighted” (yes, I just made that up).  I have been told that my vision, when presented only consists of the X-Z while A-W is lost, unclear, or not properly outlined.  

Have you ever had a dream that excited you, but you only remembered how great the ending was? When trying to tell a friend all about your dream, you get so frustrated because everything that led up to the ending remains a blur. You remain excited while they’re stuck in between a delayed chuckle or the, “I had to be there” type of awkward moment. That’s how a lot of us set goals and articulate our visions to others and, most importantly, ourselves. The disappointing fact about my ideas is simple. I leave a lot of ideas on the table because I lose sight of the vision after the initial thrill or excitement wears off. As I exit 2015 and approach 2016, I want to be sure that I eliminate this problem so that I can properly and successfully MASTER my goals. Around this time last year, I was speaking to a good friend of mine, Elijah Oliver aka Take Flyght Captain, and he mentioned something about completing his yearly vision board. Strangely enough I never really paid that concept any mind until I started writing this piece here tonight.  What is this “VISION BOARD” and how can it help me be an elite coal conqueror? Let’s take a closer look.

 

#VISIONBOARDCHALLENGE

WHAT IS A VISION BOARD?  A vision board is one of the most powerful ways to help navigate your way to help you clarify, concentrate and remain consistent towards achieving your goals. You are Picasso, Mozart, and Steven Spielberg; given a blank canvas or script for you to begin manufacturing your vision as you see it.  By gathering a list of images, words, pictures, or slogans you can orchestrate a harmonic symphony of your visual goals.

WHO IS A VISION BOARD FOR?  This vision board is for anyone that is looking for an exciting way to organize their expression of self. Vision boards can be utilized by anyone in any capacity, as a way to act as a visual reminder of what you aspire to achieve.

 

HOW DO I MAKE A VISION BOARD? The V.S.OP way is simple.

Identify the person places or things that encompass your NOUNS.

  1. Who are people/persons you want to associate with to help you with your goals?
  2. What are some places you wish to visit, travel to, or retire in life?
  3. What are things that you absolutely enjoy and make you happy? How do you reward yourself?

 

Write down ADJECTIVES that drive your personality. How would you describe yourself?

  1. Be honest with yourself. What are a few things about your personality that have delayed your goals?
  2. What are words or images that you can use to articulate positive energy that will serve as a reminder of who you are and what you excel at?

 

Finally select three VERBS to drive your why. (You why is a specific reason why your goals are important to you)

  1. Be organized and plan for success.
  2. Be action oriented and put your plan into fruition.
  3. Be motivated and resilient as obstacles present themselves.

 

WHAT MATERIALS ARE NEEDED? This project is very simple and can be completed with just a few pieces of material.

  1. A pen and paper to brainstorm your Nouns, Adjectives, & Verbs
  2. A poster board, scissors, glue
  3. Magazines, internet printings of images

 

WHEN DO I BEGIN? Well there is just only one question. #AreYouVSOPIf you are reading this BLOG, you have already begun. The challenge is on. You have now been chosen to participate in the vision board challenge.  I challenge you to send this blog to 7 people on your social media and give them 7 days to post pictures and videos of their vision board on social media. Organize vision board parties with your peers and start 2016 off with a bang. No Goals Left Behind!  Join the members of V.S.OP with The VISION BOARD CHALLENGE. The journey is on. #AreYouVSOP #VisionBoardChallenge

 

 

Mr. Nice Guy Signing Off

@thevsoplife

Happy New Year

Feature Image from http://ethnicskinaficionado.com/vision-boards/

Your Newborn Doesn’t Give A SH!T Bout The NBA Finals

Merry Sports Christmas, ladies and gentlemen. Yesterday was the first day of the NBA finals. Now I understand that basketball is the number 2 sport in our hearts, and that the NFL is the juggernaut in the United States, but the Superbowl is only one game. The Superbowl is Thanksgiving and the 7 game series that makes up the NBA finals is the 12 days of Christmas.  The first day was incredible, right?! We saw 48 minutes if phenomenal basketball that had us at the edge of our lay-z-boys (then a bull shit extra 5 minutes where the Cavs looked like they ran up the 5 interstate from LA to Oakland, and the Warriors looked like they took a stroll around Lake Merritt, but that’s besides the point). Lebron gave a King-like performance. Curry gave a Chef-like performance. Tristan Thompson was saying go-go gadget arms on the offensive glass. Klay Thompson was locked in from 3. Kyrie had the Golden State defense on skates. Draymond Green screamed. A lot. It was incredible to watch!

So let’s backtrack. If you have followed my earlier posts, you would know that I have a newborn. Reece Austin Rubenstein is 12 weeks old today. He’s getting bigger and cuter by the day. It’s an amazing experience watching him literally grow in front of my eyes. I fall in love with him more every day. Seriously. I’m sure the parents reading this understand, and the non-parents will when you have kids. I promise.

So, my wife’s niece was staying with us for a couple weeks before she moved into her apartment for the summer. Last night my wife took her to that apartment so she could move in, so it was just my son and me in the house. Thus, I did what every great father does, I put him up on game. We talked about women, we talked about being a good person, we talked about his (my) aspirations for him; we were the homies for the night. It was about 8:17pm eastern standard time, and I got everything ready. I changed his diaper, I set up my bowl of chips and my drink, and I turned it on ABC to watch the pre-game for the first game of the NBA Finals. Everything was perfect. I sat him on my lap and gave him my finger to hold. He was happy. I told him that this is the game that has shaped my life to this point. This is the pinnacle of the highest level of basketball, and he needs to appreciate it. I told him who each player was and what they can do. He responded with drool, laughter, and incoherent speech, that sounded like a mix between “no” and “damn dad, you’re so awesome in every way, thanks for making me and showing me all this cool stuff”. Probably closer to “no” though. Whatever.

So it’s about 8:54pm and it happened; the first whine. Ah, but I know how to mitigate that. Threw the pacifier in his mouth with swift speed, made sure he was comfortable, and continued to watch the pre-game. 8:57pm he spit that out and gave a bit of a cry. Nothing too serious though. I threw the pacifier back in his mouth, picked him up and started carrying him back and forth in the living room. But the crying got louder, the head was thrown back, and we were at full fledged problem stage. It happened so quickly! We went from male bonding to panic mode within a 4 minute span. Seriously, his face went from this (smiling pic) to this (screaming pic). I couldn’t believe it. I turned him on his stomach because he likes that, but NOPE, still screaming. 9:03pm. I took him to his changing table and checked his diaper – it’s clean. 9:05 pm. I’m still carrying him around the apartment, and I see it! His swing! Let’s use that. I placed him in the swing, I threw on the classical music he loves, turned on the vibration, and I threw that bitch on level 6! Success! Silence! 9:07pm. Louder screams. I’m certain my neighbors can hear. I’m dejected. I picked him up and carried him some more. Did some swinging with him. Nothing was working. 9:10pm. I missed tip off. I pleaded with Reece, “Please son, this is important to us!” He had no respect for me, my eardrums, or my basketball watching aspirations.

The young man was tired. I ended up getting him to sleep around 9:23pm. The Cavs were winning. Lebron already had 5 points. I missed the beginning of Christmas.

My wife came home around 9:40. I handed Reece to her and explained what happened. She consoled me. She’s a good wife. I watched the rest of the game. I loved it. It was everything I hoped it to be, and more. Honestly, I haven’t had as much fun watching an NBA game in my adult life. In complete silence. No cheering allowed. With my son sleeping between my wife and me. Because your newborn doesn’t give a SHIT about the NBA Finals.

By: D. Rubenstein
@wildmanjones
#TheVSOPLife

The Medium

According to dictionary.com, the definition of “medium” is as follows: 1. A middle state or condition; mean. 2.Something intermediate in nature or degree. There are about sixteen definitions for this word, but let’s focus on the first two as it applies to African American males in these United States of America. By now you’re probably wondering where could this possibly go, or what points are being brought up. Often times we as society tend to overlook or subconsciously not acknowledge the multiple identities of a person or a group of people. Society subconsciously or consciously, depending on who you’re talking to, depicts the African American experience in this country with only struggle/despair or living the lavish life of an entertainer/athlete, leaving no room for a “medium”. To go even further, society/media portrays the African American male experience as presented in two different lights; the successful athlete/entertainer or the drug dealer/gang-banger. Let’s categorize those “light” descriptions as “highs” and “lows”. The “high” would of course be the athlete/entertainer that promotes the lifestyle of money, sex, and drugs. Then it’s the “low” drug dealer/gang-banger  that lives the life of violence on their quest to money, sex, and drugs. But there has to be more to a black man’s life in America, right? Constantly, society feeds this dichotomous image of all black men that is absolutely inaccurate. If you are asking what are the inaccuracies, one would possible say the easier question is which one should we highlight first? (Yes, there are many.)

For the sake of an argument let’s start with examining the black man and the “medium” that is rarely highlighted for us. The images created by the media leaves those who are not familiar, or have limited interactions with black males in America as a “black” or “white,” good and bad perspective of these men. What about the gray area? There has to be some in between, right? As we examine the “medium,” a few questions come to mind. Mainly, where is the “medium”  for this African American man? What does that medium look like, and why doesn’t he have a voice?The “medium” black man is often forgotten in America. Rarely is there any recognition for his accomplishments or empathy for his struggles. However, there is constant attention given to his counterparts. Whether it’s the black male athlete/entertainer who is idolized for their glitz and glamour, or the drug dealer/gang banger that’s constantly in the newspaper or community doing something wrong.

When these are the two images that are constantly recognized by society rightly or wrongfully so, the idea of the “medium” tends to fade. Who is this “medium” black man you ask? The answer is quite simple. The medium black man is the man who wakes up every day and goes to work to provide for his family. The medium black man is the man who not only goes to college, but graduates. He is our pastor, lawyer, doctor, corrections officer, policeman, fireman, banker, social worker, teacher, principal and the successful business man all in our midst to be acknowledged. However, we rarely acknowledge him! Instead we constantly micro-aggressively compare him to his “high” and “low” counterparts. If he has an athletic stature we ask him why he isn’t playing a professional sport, or if he has a nice car, we automatically assume that he’s selling drugs or participating in illegal activities. Society loves to silence the medium black man and when he reacts we label him as angry. But why shouldn’t he be angry? He’s human too. He thinks, feels, and reacts the same way you do. Although the voice of the “medium” black man tends to be silenced at times, one could also say that he also allows his voice to be silenced. He chooses not to speak up due to the fear of being labeled. Instead he bottles it up inside and continues fighting the labels like the warrior he is. With everything that’s going on in society today, the voice of the “medium” black man is needed more than ever before.

Think about it, society fears you simply because they only know both extremes. Better yet, society knows the “highs” and are very familiar with them because of their fame. Society also knows that the “high”s have too much to lose. Which leaves society with what the media feeds them about the description of the “lows” and that’s who society fears. Because of your silence society  does not look at you for your degrees, they immediately lump you in with the “lows”. You have to speak up, make your presence felt. Let the world know that you exist and that this image they paint of you is false. Speak out on what you feel is wrong; don’t be defined by the transgressions of your counterparts. You are not a mythical creature that only exists in theory. You are real and you are in abundance. For the sake of the future, speak up because lives depend on it.

V.S.OP Guide To Business Casual

So your boss emails you an invite to a special event and at the bottom of the email in bold letters calls for business casual attire. The first thing that comes to mind is what is “business casual”? There are many interpretations on the business casual dress code, making it hard to pinpoint exactly what it is. Honestly, there is no definite answer as to what it really is. Ito keep things simple it’s what you already wear on a typical day at the office.  Here are a few tips to picking out a stylish, professional, and comfortable business casual outfit brought to you by CHADRAN STYLES!

 

 

The Suit

This look is perfect for the “after business hours social gathering” you want your presence to speak volumes about who you are at all times. The reputation that comes along with wearing a nice tailored suit is “all business” no “play”. Wearing the suit without the tie says  “I’m a professional who knows how to be comfortable while having fun”. So relax and do not let your long work day take over your appearance (oh and the half done tie is a bad idea; it just looks like stress).

Wear: A coordinating suit & button down.

Tip: Look professional, but not too corporate. Wearing a suit and losing the tie (a really nice shirt always helps the cause). Whatever you do make sure the jacket and pants match. Please do not mix match suit jackets and pants. It’s just silly looking 😉

 

Lose The Jacket

Take the jacket off; especially if you have a “patterned” styled shirt. Let your sense of style show. Do not be confined by your jacket; loosen up, let some air in. Oh yeah, please don’t forget to match your belt with your shoes.

Wear: Button down & dress pants.

 

 

The Office Polo

This is a simple look you can do on casual Fridays or to a company cookout/social gathering. The message you want to relay is that your “comfortable but still professional”.

Wear: Polo shirt & dress pants.

Tip: Keep in mind the way the fabric looks and feels when wearing polos. Jersey knit polos are the type that you want to wear for business casual, they are very soft and smooth to the touch.

 

The Vest

This look allows you to be trendy and semi-professional at the same time. With every style, confidence is required. Remember, the way you present yourself is the way you will be treated. So straighten out that posture and greet everyone with a smile and firm grip.

Wear: Vest, button down & khakis/dress pants.

Tip: Get a pair of khakis that are flat-front for a clean, fitted look.

 

The Sweater

As the weather gets cooler, this look allows you to be versatile in business casual settings. You have the choice of putting a tie on underneath the sweater or wearing it as is.

Wear: v-neck sweater, button down & khakis/dress pants

Tip: The collar should be deep enough to expose some shirt, but not too much. When paired with a firm-collar dress shirt, it flatters every face

 

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Basic Rules For The Business Casual Dress Code

 

  • Iron your clothes I can not stress this enough, nothing says unprofessional/ I couldn’t care less about my appearance more than wrinkled clothing. Fellas if you don’t know how to iron, your mother, girlfriend or local dry cleaners would love to do it for you. There are even tutorials on YouTube, learn it, master it, apply it.

 

  • Your shoes should be conservative and clean, This means no sneakers or those run over church shoes in the back of your closets. Ladies aren’t the only ones who check your shoe game, in fact it’s one of the first things people look at. So keep it classy with a pair of modern polished loafers, they are sure to anchor any outfit with easy sophistication.

 

  • Your hair should be neat & presentable. Make sure you are clean shaven Go out and get an edge up or fresh a cut and if you have dreads make sure they are re-twisted & pulled back from your face.

 

  • Keep your accessories to a minimum. Lose the earring(s), keep the watch.

 

Trending Topics: #Marriage

In an age when time and space are conquered by technology, we have become so digitally intimate and involved with the lives of those both near and far. The dissemination of personal information no longer requires the archaic phone-call. Word of mouth is mastered under the140 character format. No more dialing to update the family on the good news. Instead, those fingers will type your happiness and send it out for the world to see in less than a minute! How could you possibly deny it? Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.) has taken our private lives and made them 24/7 accessible and assessable. No longer are the days when our lives and experiences were shared one to one. Rather, we “post” our lives for all of our friends’ review, in hopes that we’ll win the unspoken, but extremely intense, “like” war. It’s actually rather ironic, when you consider how close we’ve become as a people while driving the actual intimacy out of our real lives.

Anyway. To the point! While discussing life and love, a friend and I stumbled upon the not-so new phenomenon of young marriage. Why are “everybody and their mammas” getting married and having kids, while we, more career driven and goal-oriented folk, instead chase personal growth and success? What makes marriage and children so appealing in their 20’s? I know that I barely know myself well enough to bring another person into my life for the rest my life, let alone to bring another human into the world that will depend on me while I’m still searching for me. We went on to talk (actually text, ironically) about how social media plays a part in all of it.  Are our friends following a trend? Maybe they’re being subconsciously triggered by images of Bey and Jay on the run with little Blue. Surely the glamour of Kim and Kris Hum– I mean Kanye’s marriage, combined with the arrival of beautiful baby North West has some influence. Yes of course that’s part of it, but the bigger picture is not so farfetched as it may seem. They may actually be following (pun intended) their biggest influences…each other!

There’s a science to it, I swear. See, our digital selves are vastly different from our real selves. With social media, one has the ability to create a façade around a coal of a life with every selective post, eventually making diamonds for others to admire.  Quite literally, DIAMONDS! (Assuming you’re in your 20’s) How do you feel when your friend posts that engagement rock selfie that says her boyfriend of 3 years “liked it so he put a ring on it”? Genuinely happy of course, but I’m sure that some self-searching is soon to ensue. Some, if not most, will wonder why they haven’t attained that level of happiness. In fact, I’ve seen the jealousy with my own eyes! It looks and sounds like “I’m so sick of seeing ______’s post about her wedding! Like, do we all need to know that you’re getting married every minute of every day? Some of us just want to live our boring unromantic lives and eat pizza.” (not an actual quote but #ijs) I imagine this person is either out there somewhere filling that gaping hole with a slice or making efforts toward finding “something real”. I personally am a sucker for children and always find myself thinking, “I would do that right now if I just had the money.” …Who the hell am I kidding?! I’m 25 and don’t have a pot to piss in!

What I’m saying is social media has downgraded and uploaded the social experience. We are no longer following tradition, but rather images… on instagram. Back in the day (don’t know when) people married young for economic reasons or out of arrangement, sometimes even for love. Today it almost seems as though we’re getting married young because everyone will “like” it. Now, I’m not knocking anyone’s happiness. Whatever’s real is beautiful, and if yours is a real love then I salute you. I just worry that it all makes a sacred ritual and “the miracle” extremely trivial. Couldn’t those wedding funds be used to build financial stability? One honeymoon vs one hundred vacations? Are we evolving or dissolving? Any thoughts?… Tweet em.

 

by: Jared Dixon
@itsjdixon
http://www.jaredixon.net

 

V.S.OP Guide to Suits Pt.1

In this competitive job market the slightest detail may be the difference between landing or losing a job. First impressions leave a lasting impression with that said; presentation is everything! Before you are even allowed to say a word you are being analyzed from the color of your suit to the way it fits. In every setting it is the #OpulentWay to make your presence felt. Whether you’re in the board room or enjoying your time at the local happy hour it is important to always exude class and confidence. Here’s Our official guide on mastering the suit: the styles you need, the fit you want and some tips & tricks on how to put it all together by CHADRAN STYLES. So, Its Just One Question #AreYouVSOP

 

1. Your socks should be long enough that there’s no exposed leg when sitting down.

Socks do way more than just keep your feet warm, they’re a great way to pull your overall look together. Match your socks with your button up or tie, or go fun and funky for a casual look. Go with bold patterns, unique color combinations or festive socks to highlight your personality. Step out of your comfort zone and let your style shine through.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Double vents located in the back are both modern & fashionable.

This look is practical and flattering on larger figures, yes big boys are stylish too. So cut those threads and be free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Sleeve cuffs should be exposed about half an inch.

Think of that inch as your measure of attaining success; you’re that close from being where you want to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Always unbutton your suit before sitting down, or you’ll risk ruining it.

The material of the jacket will pull, causing your jacket to lose shape. Plus your posture and presence will just scream #Opulence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Your tie should always be darker than your dress shirt.

A lot of men get this one wrong in attempt of being fashion forward. At the end of the day confidence is key in wearing anything; however there’s your way and the right way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Your tie should BARELY reach the waistband of your trousers, or slightly shorter.

Yes, length matters: When standing, the tip of the tie should fall within the button of your trousers. Presentation is everything, and nothing says “I don’t know what I’m doing” more than a very short or overly long tie. Your presence should say I’ve been here before while your actions scream I’m hungry for more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Your belt should be fairly thin & the same color as your shoes.

There is major flexibility to this rule. Have fun and play around with belts with texture, patterns and color. Just don’t wear a brown belt with black shoes, or vice versa and you should be fine. Let your creativity shine through, just remember there is a time to be creative and a time to be professional.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living with a purpose

Young professionals face a number of different challenges in their journey. Whether it is trying to establish a family, career or just figuring out who you are, it is inevitable that you will be challenged. You get one chance at life, so live it to the best of your abilities and most importantly, treat each day as an opportunity to define your legacy. When you leave this earth you will not be defined by the kind of car you drove, the clothes you wore, or how much money was in your bank account; but rather, the impact that you had on those around you. Now please don’t get my wrong, I like nice clothes, I appreciate nice cars and I love money, so if you can acquire those things while living a fruitful and productive life, by all means please do so.

The first point that I want you to consider is that instant gratification only leads to temporary elation. Do not allow yourself to be tricked into taking the easy way out in your quest for success. We live in a society in which we are used to things readily available. Because of this, we can fall into the trap that success should come without struggle. This brings me to another rule to live by; things just don’t happen, people make things happen. If you want to become a doctor, a lawyer, a hair stylist, or a master electrician, you must be willing to put in the work in order to see that dream come true. You must be willing to go through some periods in life that are downright uncomfortable and lonely because you may have to give up some temporary things AND people in order to achieve the goals that you have set for yourself. You must get rid of the old way of thinking that good things come to those who wait and replace it with the notion that good things come to those who WORK. Anything worth having is worth working for, and if my talents, skills and dedication can’t get it for me, then I probably don’t need it. When you work meticulously to be a master of your craft then you position yourself to be lucky. Now I know that I may have thrown some of you for a loop, I just rambled on about not taking the easy way out, working hard to accomplish your goals and now I’m talking about luck? When I talk about luck, I am not talking about Mohegan Sun on a Friday night at the roulette table, but instead the words that were spoken by the Roman Philosopher and Politician, Seneca who stated that “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”. The truth of the matter is that we are never fully aware of when an opportunity is going to come our way, so we must always be on top of our game and prepared to show that we are worthy of what is put before us. So we’ve spoken a little bit about being the best that you can be as far as goal setting is concerned, however that is only half the battle. You have gotten where you are today because you have shown a willingness to work hard to achieve whatever personal goals you want to achieve. Now comes the fun part, going out into the world and making things happen. Each person in the world has something to contribute, whether good or bad, whether big or small, we all make a contribution to society as a whole. The challenge is to identify what you are currently contributing to society and to assess if your contribution is having the impact that you want it to have. You should know what your best is and you should know what your limitations are, if you allow society to determine these things for you, you are bound to be lost, unsatisfied, angry, depressed and unproductive. Here are three things to consider as you attempt to fulfill your purpose in life

 

  1. See thing as they are but not worse than they are– simply put be real with yourself and those that are looking to you for guidance, when placed in a situation it is important to view it at face value. Over exaggeration is not necessary, never make a situation more than it needs to be. You will spend your entire life putting out fires so don’t add unnecessary drama to any circumstance that you are facing.

  2. Have a true and genuine care for the well being of others– part of your charge moving forward is to help improve the quality of life for all humans, not just for yourself. In your pursuit of the “American Dream”, carve out some time to serve your community in some way, shape or form. I have come to realize that I have gained a greater sense of my purpose in life and career interests through the work that I have done for and with others.

  3. Identify one thing that you are really good at and become great at it- We live in a world where many people are ‘Jacks of all trades and masters of nothing”. Instead, identify something that you truly want to be great at and seek out opportunities to build your skill set in that area.

These are just a few steps to consider as you establish yourself and your purpose in life. Stay tuned for our next installment of Around the Water Cooler. Be blessed!

WHAT IS YOUR MISSION

 

-In My Humble Opinion

 

Is It The Hair

Although I’m only three months into my natural hair journey, I’ve realized just how uncomfortable I am and have been with being my authentic self. It’s an awkward thing to admit, but it’s the truth. Embarking on this journey has made me increasingly aware of the fact that I, too, have yet to conquer the metaphysical dilemmas of being a colored woman. My initial decision to go natural wasn’t based on any profound reasoning; I simply wanted my hair to regain its health and grow back to its original length. Surprisingly enough, this process has led to some unsettling realizations, deep introspection and, unfortunately, some internal conflicts that I’m learning to deal with as each day passes.

To put it frankly, this transitioning process has exposed just how afraid I am of embracing myself. The very first day I decided to wear a flexi rod set to work, I stood in front of the mirror for a good 20 minutes trying to reassure myself that I looked fine and office-presentable with my curly fro. After a few, “You is kind, you is smart, you is important” pep talks to myself, I eventually managed to drag myself out of the house and to work. I wish I could honestly say that I walked into that office bold, confident and unabashedly black, but it was more of a defeatist “Oh God, please don’t let these white folk gawk at my hair” type of entrance. After receiving a bunch of compliments, I was so frustrated with myself for all the angst I experienced in my bathroom that morning, and annoyed for feeling so insecure about my hair not being bone straight. I was even more disappointed with the fact that it took getting compliments from my (white) co-workers for me to feel comfortable with my own hair.

I’ve always taken pride in the fact that I have a high level of self-esteem, but that one flexi rod set gave me a quick reality check, and helped me realize there are some things I have to work on internally in order to truly say I love myself, and to get through this natural hair journey. This process has become more than just me trying to grow long, healthy hair; it’s become a journey to learning how to love and accept myself despite other people’s expectations of how I’m supposed to look.

As a teenage girl, getting a relaxer was more about me wanting to feel and look “mature” than it was about me hating my natural hair. As an adult, I’ve observed how that innocent desire for a mature look turned into me becoming dependent on relaxers and straight hair to feel beautiful. I have absolutely nothing against straight hair (I love me a good Dominican blow out), but I do take issue with being fearful of embracing my natural, God-given appearance. I will never be at peace not knowing how to be comfortable with who I am and how I naturally look, which is why this journey is necessary for me.

These first three months have been exciting, frightening, frustrating, and beautiful. There are days when I wake up and feel “flawless,” and there are days when I have absolutely no idea what to do with my hair and the tears start rolling. But on the good hair days and on the days when my twist out attempts are just that- an attempt, I look at myself in the mirror and see someone I love, despite how her hair looks. I can’t lie, this hair journey has me feeling naked and uncomfortable, but growth is rarely ever comfortable, and I’ve made peace with that. Long-term transitioning isn’t for the faint of heart (this is my third attempt), but I intend to embrace everything it entails, and I am determined to follow through with this commitment to loving myself and loving my natural, curly, black girl hair.

– See more at: http://www.urbancusp.com/2014/03/conquering-metaphysical-dilemmas-embracing-natural-hair/#sthash.N2w6gfjZ.dpuf
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Previously Posted by:

Ashlee Wisdom
Managing Editor
UrbanCusp.com
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