Hoda Kotb & Lionel Richie Make the Dream Stage Look Like a Place Where They Belong


The stage has been set with the return of American Idol’s rollout. A new slate of judges hit the road for the audition tour. Lionel Richie joins Katy Perry and Luke Bryan to give their two cents on making it in the music business. Richie as the elder of the bunch seems happy to share a hug with the contestants.

The Today Show studio was also set for the return of Hoda Kotb from the Winter Olympics. While doing the show from South Korea the studio got a makeover as they moved on from headline-making changes. Kotb got the nod as co-anchor, rising up the ranks from correspondent to guest-hosting duties.

Kotb and Richie make the dream stage look like a place where they belong. These days it’s where they’ve landed as they keep getting better at their game. It’s a kind of coming together of fate and focus that has helped to make them a force. Kotb even has things falling in place for her as a new mother.

The dream stage is where passion and style can leave us speechless for a while. The stories of Idol contestants create room for Richie to show some love. Plus, the performances are often reminders that it’s not just how they sing it or wing it but also how they bring it. Kotb can relate even for Olympic athletes.


Some industry watchers weren’t sure if Idol still had cred in the marketplace. Others weren’t sure if the Today Show would have staying power after the shake-up. But Richie and Kotb are showing young and old otherwise. Their stories of longevity and bounce-back-ability in the business are a case of turning:

  1. Talent into a unique identity

Richie first gained popularity as one of the Commodores. The group became a smash with R&B audiences. He later left the group for a solo career. He knows bringing it in your game means turning talent into a unique identity. In biz they call it USP – Unique Selling Point. My own USP is about ‘bringing more flow to life, putting more life in flow.’

  1. Timing into seizing opportunity

Kotb might not have been expecting to be named new Today Show co-host. She already had a hosting role in the ten o’clock hour where she’d be seen sipping on wine. But when the door came open she was ready to seize the opportunity. Timing isn’t just about the clock but also about delivering the right stock.

  1. Talk into more life-learning ability

Some Idol contestants show up ready to seize the opportunity. Some may be there to checkoff a bucket list item. Others are just there to get 15-seconds of buzz. But in any effort for going to the next level, the ones who move from unknown to making it on the dream stage are those who up their life-learning ability.

  1. Test into rising star-quality

When you hear the backstory of these contestants you get a sense of them taking-on life’s tests. It’s as if life was trying to separate the ‘men from the boys or the women from the girls.’ Making it on the dream stage is about using those tests to shape your unique identity and rising star-quality.

The numbers are in and Idol’s season opener pulled 10 million+ viewers. It seems the Today Show is also keeping its numbers strong. Most people start the dream journey unaware or less learned in some area of the game. But they push, pull or tear as they stretch their sail towards good times that never felt so good.

Tip: Making it on the dream stage is about how we push, pull or tear in stretching our sails towards good times that never felt so good.

Talkback: Which Singing Competition Show has created some of the best rising-star moments?

Tracks: Commodores – Sail On – https://youtu.be/Bt95h5yKyYE

Allen Stone – Unaware – https://youtu.be/o4uYo7lRgqA


Jordan Peele & Iyanla Vanzant Take Audiences on a ‘Sharp Turn, Best Life’ Ride that’s Filled with Ooh’s and Aah’s


The countdown is underway for the next big events on the pop culture calendar. Some fans can’t wait for the NCAA March Madness team selection. Others are looking forward to the iHeartRadio Music Awards. But in the meantime there’s Jordan Peele and Iyanla Vanzant taking fans on a ‘sharp turn, best life’ ride.

For Peele it’s in the success of his movie Get Out which won at the Oscars for Best Original Screenplay. It’s the first time that’s happened for an African-American. The movie is part horror, part thriller and part comedy. It starts out with a car making a sharp turn on a local street as the plot unfolds.


It was a different kind of March Madness in the season opener for Iyanla’s ‘reinvention show’ on OWN. Things didn’t work out the normal way where the guest accepts the chance to find a path towards their best life. Peele and Vanzant generally put their gifts to work on their first audience.. which is themselves.

They know the road to redemption or achieving aspirations usually starts on ‘Self Street.’ Oftentimes how we reach higher is an extension of our comfort with self. Peele and Vanzant turned what appeals/reveals to self as a formula for a successful movie or unscripted TV show that could have been counted out.

In a recent ‘Oprah at the Apollo’ interview Peele gave an inside look into the steps he took in moving his dreams in the right direction. Vanzant often shares hers by saying that she had to do the work to achieve the healing before her place of shining. Their first audience of success started out by taking:

  1. Preparation Steps

Before celebration there’s always preparation. That’s true whether planning a party or going after your dreams. Before becoming a computer engineer I took preparations steps in college. Before going after my dreams in business I took preparation steps as a novice-in-training. These steps help put us in the game.

  1. Production Steps

It’s been said that people can have beginners luck when playing a game for the first time. Things kinda come your way even without trying hard. Where beginners luck ends is where production steps begin. It can be a surprise to do things well the first time. But you build production value doing it again and again.

  1. Breakout Steps

We expect to eventually have breakout steps along the way. The ‘Get Out’ movie is a sort of breakout step for Peele after leaving his Comedy Central gig. Vanzant had her breakout step when she first hosted a daytime talk show. They’ve used breakout steps in taking a risk or setting out as a trailblazer.

  1. Comeback Steps

They’ve also shown they can turn setbacks into comebacks. It’s something we’re teaching our daughter who’s been dealing with a leg (hamstring) injury. Each time it seemed like she was ready to return to her sport she’s had to pull back. Comeback steps help us with raising our game and elevating our dreams.

The journey of a 1000 miles begins with the first step. Whether we choose to walk, run or drive there can be lots of oohs and aahs on the ride. Steve Harvey reminds us that things might go south or get rough as part of God’s plan. But those who get back up keep things moving because they have dreams to celebrate.

Tip: The dream journey of a 1000 miles starts with preparation steps that might set us on a path as trailblazers taking breakout steps.

Talkback: Is it drama or trauma that makes things come alive in Get Out or on Vanzant’s TV show?

Tracks: Drake – God’s Plan – https://youtu.be/xpVfcZ0ZcFM

T.I. ft Chris Brown – Get Back Up – https://youtu.be/B9qZz-m6BL4

Oprah took 15 minutes, Jordin Sparks Took 3 minutes to Go ‘Back in Stride’ with Career Goals and Breakout Dreams


By now kids have settled into a new school year. There’s probably been a review period to get them up and running with topics they should know. Then things will shift into learning new stuff. Recently, Oprah took 15 minutes and Jordin Sparks took 3 minutes to show us what ‘back in stride’ in business looks like.

Oprah returned to a role she mastered in her earlier career. As a new contributing host on the CBS program 60 Minutes she said it felt like ‘coming home.’ She moderated a panel discussion on current affairs in a way that would disarm those on the ideological ‘right’ and charm those on the ‘left.’

For Sparks it was a chance to sing the anthem at Monday night’s NFL game on a national stage. She’s been working her way back into pop culture venues after a period of being off the radar. It’s been 10 years since she won American Idol and a lot longer than that since Oprah worked as a news reporter.

What does their return to primetime tell us about reaching a new breakout stage in career goals or biz dreams? There’re things they’ve done which remind us about going from career hold to career gold, from career grind to rewind, from dream seed to dream shoot. In part, it’s in what they did to channel their flow.

After doing daytime talk for 25 years, Oprah decided to launch the OWN Network. She saw it as a next-chapter step in her life’s work. To understand that journey from start to destiny is to see her professional shifts from job to career to vocation. But it’s not always that ambitious or straightforward for everyone.


In the case of Sparks, she kinda disappeared from the scene after injury to her vocal cords. She says it was a close call of possibly not being able to sing professionally again. She took time off for rest. What happened for her in the downtime and for Oprah in the meantime was what they did in ‘service to grow.’

To understand this, think about the story of the Chinese bamboo tree. When the seed is first planted there’s a period of no visible change or growth. This goes on for three or four years. Then suddenly after a while the bamboo tree can grow to heights of 70, 80, 90 feet or more in the space of a few weeks.

While nothing visible was happening it was still doing things in service to grow. That’s what Oprah did as she became cable channel OWNer. There was a period of ifs and buts. It’s what Sparks might also have done when it seemed like her career lights were about to go dark. I’ve been there a time or two as well.

But you realize that when surprise moments come your way that it’s not really a surprise to life. We see this on NBCs The Voice every so often. A contestant starts singing while the judges are turned away in their chair. After hitting the buzzer they turn around to see a face that doesn’t match the voice.

It might surprise the judge, but it’s not a surprise to life that the contestant can ‘sang.’ It was a surprise for some to see Oprah on 60 Minutes or Sparks doing the anthem. But it wasn’t a surprise to life to have that part of their dreams get the green light. They channeled their flow and are reaping what they did sow.

Tip: When you channel your passion’s flow, you’ll reap what you sow as you ‘service your grow.’

Talkback: Who was Oprah ‘channeling’ in her 60 Minutes debut as old-school news reporter?

Tracks: Frankie Beverly – Back in Stride Again – https://youtu.be/waSM0rXDLys

John Legend – Green Light – https://youtu.be/o-AbEO6J8s0

Tyra Banks & Tyler Perry Spill the Beans on a New Season of Success for Any Career Path or Field of Dreams


The pre rollout of TVs fall season line-up has some new shows and returning favorites. The promos for Empire and Star, Chicago Fire and The Voice are already in regular rotation. Most advertisers have probably been lined-up. There’re lots of fans who’re thinking ‘I can’t wait’ for things to get popping.

As announcements unfold, so too will word on the new iPhone. The buzz is building as Apple is set to unveil its new gizmo. When you think about today’s modern tech devices it boils down to whether they’re powered by Android, IOS or some other smart system. So what does it mean to be powered by ‘#Flow?’

It’s a question Tyler Perry and Tyra Banks help us answer from their showbiz journey. Perry’s mojo went from the ‘ashes to the stashes’ in becoming a major player. The nitty gritty of their career path and field of dreams is in how they’ve experienced flow as ‘fuller levels of wow’ moments in their Hollywood rise.

Perry’s story relates to everyday folks in a simple way. His was built around strong faith and inner resolve. I’ve seen that in my own life in what I like to describe as ‘4th down and 10’ wow moments. It’s where when your back’s against the wall, the big ‘G’o-d (original divine) sends a play that moves your dream along.

These days Tyra’s been hosting America’s Got Talent, a program that helps others achieve their showbiz dreams. She took over hosting duties after making a name and brand for herself on America’s Next Top Model. The factor both TV shows have in common is getting us to ask the question, ‘what makes you lit?’

Usually, the things that make us ‘lit’ are found in our gifts and talents. Plus, they also make us flow. For Tyra as a former model, beyond the physical beauty appeal, the thing that makes her lit is her presence. For Perry, the thing that makes him lit is his writing genius. These ‘lit factors’ keep serving them well.

Just think about the ‘lit factors’ in music, movies and mainstream culture and how flow plays a big part. So for example, whether it’s about sex, sports or success, we get our juices flowing from envisioning, practicing and performing our best moves. That’s where memories get made and dreams get paid.


For Perry, he tells the story of producing his first stage play where nobody showed up. He could have decided to shut down his dream but didn’t because of his faith and resolve. He went back at it a few more times with similar results. Fast forward to things today and we see the outcome and wisdom he’s gained.

As if to remind me of my own career path and field of dreams, I’ve seen some of those moments too. I’ve held events at venues where no one showed. I’ve been using my gift for years writing blogs where no one talks back. But these experiences have helped me find flow from faith to lit to outcome to wisdom.

Among the moments of hit or miss, win or loss there’re those exciting times in ‘fuller levels of wow.’ The wisdom gained has helped me see flow similar to how Perry & Tyra might tell it. Whether on the career path or field of dreams, it’s about experiencing moments of bliss on the road to a life of happiness.

Tip: A new season of success on the career path or field of dreams means envisioning, practicing and performing your best moves with your juices flowing in the grooves.

Talkback: What does it take to improve your ‘lit factor’ in order to experience fuller levels of wow moments?

Tracks: Vanessa Williams – Happiness – https://youtu.be/1p1bpby7i-A

Akon – I Can’t Wait – https://youtu.be/LLVzrG0JpNY

What’s it Like Being Issa Rae & Jay Ellis on ‘Reclaiming Your Game’ or Your Dreams in Business and the Real World?


The new season of HBOs Insecure is getting attention for how it flipped the script. With a relationship breakup something many can relate to, the characters played by Issa Rae and Jay Ellis are trying to ‘kick-it’ in new ways. The story being told is like a test case for ‘reclaiming your game’ in the dating world.

In relationships there’re times it takes looking at bloodline versus fault-line to see where the problems rest. Some might point to things having to do with repeating errors from the past or issues that sit under the surface. Moving things to the next level can mean turning an insecure flow into a new glow.

The same is true with the ‘ins and outs’ of the daily grind. There’s an inner flow of hope that prevents us from giving up, whether in finding a relationship or in life dreams. A fresh sense of self-awareness leads to more self-acceptance. Then after a while the heavens finds a way to give a ‘wink and nod’ of approval.

This is how it might play out months after a blind-date. It’s kinda what happened for me after a business meeting. There I was sitting among a group of journalists as they discussed a few civic projects. Their day’s work had them writing lead news stories while their life’s work was about impacting life stories.

A few days later, a call from a journalist was like a ‘wink and nod’ from the heavens. Her assignment was writing a local story on ‘reclaiming your game’ in the professional world. That became a front-page feature in the Life section of the paper the day after Christmas. That’s how a flow of hope kept me in the game.

These kinds of hope-filled moments can led to a flow of hustle in the game. In every field of dreams there’s a time for hope and a time for hustle. Sometimes the hope comes before the hustle and sometimes the hustle comes before the hope. You can’t hate the hustle just because you’ve got no game.

It’s been said do what you love and the money will follow. Another way to look at that might be ‘do what you love and the hustle will follow’ once you know your game. Whether in relationships or life dreams the hustle is like a metaphor for the things that begin to flow your way as you nurture your love in the game.


That might be where things are with fans of Insecure as the main characters show a thing or two on ‘reclaiming your game’ in the real world. Somewhere along the lines it boils down to a flow of heart and humor. That’s what you get from stories of ‘Black Love’ where long-term romance is more than just about finance.

When I first crossed paths with the woman who’s now my wife, it was a flow of feelings that made me think there could be something here. Over time the relationship became what would amount to a flow of hope, hustle, heart and humor. She’d bring one or two from her end and me doing the same on my end.

Here we are 25 years later with two daughters ages 20 and 17 who we try to give the best life has to offer. There’re things they’ll deal with tied to bloodline and to fault-line. We want them to know going from girls to women or college major to life dreams means turning any insecure flow into their primetime glow.

Tip: Your primetime glow in relationship or life dreams is a matter of letting the flow of hope, hustle, heart and humor shine through from the good old days all the way to your glory days.

Talkback: How have you improved a relationship or stretched your dreams by going from an insecure flow to a primetime glow?

Tracks: Craig David ft Sigala – Ain’t Giving Up – https://youtu.be/FC9fc12YYC4

Logic ft Alessia Cara & Khalid – 800-273-8255 – https://youtu.be/BLe1dddgZrg

TV’s Judge Judy and Yankees Slugger Aaron Judge Bring Face Time to Their Game Time #BigTimeUniversity

#BigTimeUniversity – “Small Talk, Street Dreams, Next Level”

This production of “Wise-up Weekly” Blogcast by Douette ‘Doc’ Cunningham is a presentation in “social media entertainment from the groove-track of life!” #WUWECAST

LOL Tube – Got Funny? (Or Just Fun!)


Theme:–The Year of ‘Hotstepping’ – Get Jiggy, Get Woke!”
A Cool Way for Flexing Style, Game & Soul in How We Roll (Old-School Flava)

What’s better, to be the star of the game or the star of the show? What if it’s a game and a show? That’s what fans might debate when watching their favorite TV game show or ball player. It’s what we see with the MLB All-Star Game and Judge Judy on deck. Judge & Judy bring more face time to their game time.

Judy just launched a new TV game show. According to the Queens Courier she said “So thrilled to embark on a new adventure with such fabulous partners; iWitness is a compelling game for those from 5 through 95.” Judge & Judy show-off their power to WOW as something coming from their sweet spot.

The premise of the show is based on the magic of memory and observation from watching a video clip. The goal is to match as best as possible what really stands-out in the video moment. The idea probably comes from Judy’s years of experience in hearing people give eye witness accounts from an event.

Meantime, there’s no confusing what happened at the MLB Homerun Derby with Judge taking the prize. His performance was so telling and compelling that the Baseball Commissioner said he could become the face of the game. As any sports writer might say, the dude is young, gifted and stacked (and that’s a fact).

Yea, everything is everything and when asked about the game or show folks were happy. But it seems the WOW factor is a kind of addictive quality their presence/essence has to offer. She’s been on the TV show for 20+ years and maybe he’s ready to take a long walk or let homeruns fly like cranes in the sky.

Groove-Track: Lauryn Hill – Everything is Everything – https://youtu.be/i3_dOWYHS7I

Theme:–The Year of ‘Hotstepping’ – Get Jiggy, Get Woke!”
A Cool Way for Flexing Style, Game & Soul in How We Roll (New-School Flava)

Which is better, be star of the game? Or star of show the same? Whether in a game or show. It’s about hustle and flow. What fans might debate at the bar. Or watching ballers from afar. As seen at MLB All-Star fair. With homeruns flying in the air. More face time to the scene. More game time for the green.

Judge Judy launching game show. Aaron Judge about to rake in the dough. Judy so thrilled to take. New adventure for winner’s sake. With such fabulous biz sponsors. And TV industry watchers. Seen as compelling game at best. For those 9 to 95 at the fest. Power to stir the pot. And WOW the sweet spot.

Premise of the show is this. A way for memory hit or miss. From observation of video clip. To giving  a scoop or incident tip. Goal is to match what you see. To what stands-out not so much A to Z. An idea from evidence gathering trenches. As seen by Judy from the courtroom benches.

No confusing the homerun watch. Judge hit them beyond the catch. Taking top prize among the sluggers. Female fans among his list of huggers. A performance in range so telling. Soon to be a pitchman for things he’s selling. MLB Commish says he’s new face. Even before this year’s pennant race.

Yea, everything is everything. Don’t wait to see if fat lady sings. When asked about the game or show. Folks shared their happiness, you know. But seems WOW factor in their presence. Is addictive quality of their essence. For 20+ years she on TV screen. He ready for long walk or homerun’s gangsta lean.


Tip: The power to WOW is something winner’s deliver between their sweet spot and high point.

Talkback: How might Aaron Judge help the game/show of professional baseball in the long run?

Groove-Tracks: Jill Scott – Long Walk – https://youtu.be/TSYMKUtNuw8

– Cranes in the Sky – https://youtu.be/S0qrinhNnOM

This production of “Wise-up Weekly” Blogcast by Douette ‘Doc’ Cunningham is a presentation in “social media entertainment from the groove-track of life!” #WUWECAST

Ice Cube & DJ Khaled Just Achieved New Dreams, Here’s How They Did It! #BigTimeUniversity

#BigTimeUniversity – “Small Talk, Street Dreams, Next Level”

This production of “Wise-up Weekly” Blogcast by Douette ‘Doc’ Cunningham is a presentation in “social media entertainment from the groove-track of life!” #WUWECAST

LOL Tube – Got Funny? (Or Just Fun!)


Theme:–The Year of ‘Hotstepping’ – Get Jiggy, Get Woke!”
A Cool Way for Flexing Style, Game & Soul in How We Roll (Old-School Flava)

It was the first weekend in the official start of summer and things got hot! There were so many events from coast to coast that had stars in the building. There were Awards shows and other spots to choose from that were happening. Even Ice Cube and DJ Khaled achieved new dreams with their latest projects.

In launching this new 3-on-3 professional basketball league, Cube told USA Today’s For The Win “When I saw Kobe score 60 points in his last game, I knew that guy can still play basketball…and there’s no where I can ever see him play again.” Cube saw an opportunity to fill a void, serve a niche & roll the dice.

After giving it more thought he went with the 3-on-3 idea which is how most basketball pick-up games are played. Even though he was starting from scratch with the idea, he decided to recruit former NBA players who’re now retired. The concept has some buzz with strong attendance after the first weekend of games.

While that was happening on the East Coast, Khaled was mixing it up on the West Coast with a new album release. His social media feed was blazing with clicks and pics from some of his promotional pit stops. With Cube and Khaled you see their vision catch fire as they approach their dreams like pros.

What really stands out for both of them is how they make the situation special. Khaled gives nods and props to his production team and music collaborators with his Another One lingo. Cube lets players wear their street-side nicknames on their jerseys. It’s the way they make things funky, fun and catch feels.

Groove-Track: Tracie Spencer  – Make it Funky – https://youtu.be/IJsStCDbq-s

Theme:–The Year of ‘Hotstepping’ – Get Jiggy, Get Woke!”
A Cool Way for Flexing Style, Game & Soul in How We Roll (New-School Flava)

First summer weekend start. Weather pretty much played its part. Things in show biz got hot. With so many events to hit the spot. Awards shows and so much more. Some things began as early as four. Lots of stars in the building to see. How Ice Cube and DJ Khaled let dreams come to be.

Launching new 3-on-3 pro hoops. Giving USA Today his dream scoops. Saw Kobe retire after scoring 60 in last game. Knew he could still do more with his fame. Why not see him play again. If he’s still can shoot jumpers when. A way to serve a niche, fill a void. Roll the dice for the retired and unemployed.

After thinking things through a bit. Cube thought his idea could be a hit. Most pick-up games happen the 3-on-3 way. That’s how most kids learn to play. Starting from scratch to move it along. Cube adding his own rhymes in a Hip Hop song. Concept has buzz from fan support. To see who still got game on the court.

That was sort of the East Coast swing. While Khaled on West Coast doing his thing. Mixing it up for his album release. Grateful for the fan love piece by piece. Social media feed blazing with clicks. Streaming music previews and promo pics. Many see their vision catch fire. Living their dreams about to go higher.

Something to make them standout then. The situation makes things feel like a ten. Khaled gives nods to his production team. Adding props for his collab-ready dream. As Another One helps him see more green. And stay front and center on the scene. Nicknames on jerseys to make it funky, fun and feel teen.


Tip: Achieving new dreams might involve filling a void, serving a niche and making the right pitch.

Talkback: What’s it going to take for 3-on-3 to become a regular part of the sports scene?

Groove-Tracks: Big Sean – Bounce Back – https://youtu.be/go76oq9KI-o

Calvin Smith ft Pharrell & Katy Perry – Feels – https://youtu.be/ozv4q2ov3Mk

This production of “Wise-up Weekly” Blogcast by Douette ‘Doc’ Cunningham is a presentation in “social media entertainment from the groove-track of life!” #WUWECAST