Shaquem and Shaquill Griffin as Star Athletes Have Been Able to Drop Some Things to Achieve Their Dreams While Holding on to Something Special

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Who’s ready for some Cookie? For those not sure, we’re talking about the lead character on Empire. The show is making its last season run and fans will be watching for a host of reasons. If that’s not your TV ‘cookie’ of choice, then maybe you’re waiting for This is Us or the new smash show The Masked Singer.

While you’re thinking about your TV downtime, others might have seen the feature story on CBS’ 60 Minutes about Shaquem & Shaquill Griffin. They’re identical twin brothers playing in the NFL. It’s hard to separate them not just based on looks but also on the pact they made with each other as eight year-olds.

Shaq & Shaq (sounds like a law firm) grew up playing football in the usual youth leagues before making it to college. The problem was that initially one was accepted on scholarship and the other was left out to dry. Eventually they’d both get scholarships and play at the Division I level.

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They made their way through the rigors of the sport and were ready to go to the next level. The problem was that Shaquem didn’t get an invite to the NFL Combines. His brother put in a word with the Seattle Seahawks who later invited him to tryout. Dude then ran the faster 40-yard dash for a Linebacker.

The story focuses on Shaquem because he’s the first one-handed player in the NFL. But that’s not how he’d like to be remembered. He wants his stats to do the talking. He works at his game in areas and ways that others might take for granted. When it seems like things might hold us back, he shows us to drop the:

  1. Mask

So, about that show where stars perform behind a mask. Folks guess on who they think it is and then one is revealed. Interestingly, last season’s winner saw a jump in his cred. Well Shaquem didn’t hide behind his assumed limits and treat it like a mask. Nothing was gonna prevent him from achieving his dream.

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  1. Fear

It’s said we show up in life with two fears: of heights and loud noises. All others are learned over time. What Shaquem seemed to have done was work hard not only at the skill of the game, but also at dropping his fears. He might have realized that f.e.a.r. is really ‘fools error acting ready’ to distract or disable our goals.

  1. Scab

Remember when you’d get a bruise. It would hurt in the moment and for a day or so longer. Then a ‘scab’ would appear to protect the injured spot. Shaquem’s twin brother has been his protector through the long haul. But Shaquem has also dropped the ‘scab’ of not having both hands, where it doesn’t even matter.

  1. Excuses

When Shaquem didn’t get invited to the Combines that was some hurt. It might have even formed a ‘scab.’ But he decided he wasn’t gonna make excuses. He’d just keep plugging away. When he later got a chance at showing what he could do, he was able to run, tackle and catch like any player on the field.

No matter the career track or season, they’re some similar things we get to work on. Yes, there’s skill of the game, networking in the industry and challenges yet to overcome. When we make a pact or set a goal, we drop the mask, fear, scab and excuses for the passion we’ll make with an empire state of mind.

Tip: When folks make a pact or set goals, they’ll drop the mask, fear, scab and excuses for the passion they’ll make with an empire state of mind.

Talkback: So what’s Cookie up to these days and will fans see an appearance of Jussie?

Tracks: Jay-Z ft Alicia Keys – Empire State of Mind – https://youtu.be/QsZlY0Vz4-o

Chronixx – I Can – https://youtu.be/fUREgj4i684

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Jay-Z and Serena Williams Achieved Some New ‘Firsts’ That Have Taken Them from the ‘Hood to Showing They Could

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There’s a battle brewing in the music biz that has Billboard Chart watchers counting streams and bundles. Those are the new benchmarks that artists and their management companies lock-in on to push music sales. It seems the standard is still under review so who’s album is #1 is not simply just a click away.

Back in the day Jay-Z didn’t have that problem. He started out selling albums the old-fashioned way. Some might say he started out from the bottom and now he’s on top of Forbes’ Hip-Hop list of highest earners. With a billion dollar empire, he’s the first rapper to reach that money mark.

Serena isn’t doing too shabby either. She recently became the first athlete to make the Forbes list of richest self-made women under 40. Her fortune isn’t tied to just earnings on the court. She’s got her hands in other Venture Capital investments as well as gigs in fashion and sports that crank-out the ‘Benjamins.’

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After his days dealing on the streets, Jay-Z jumped into the rap game. His early work featured a song where he said, “I’m not a businessman,’ I’m a business, man!” That’s something he’s proven over the years with his stake in liquor, sport management and the Tidal streaming service.

So now with the Forbes list selections and social media mentions, they’ve reached a new level of star power (as if Jay wasn’t already ‘Hov’ in the eyes of many). This summer Serena will be gunning for her next ‘first’ on the tennis court. It’s the journey “from the ‘hood to showing they could” which reminds us of:

  1. Hidden Potential

An HGTV show with the same name looks at a house to see how a makeover can pull-out its hidden potential. Maybe that’s what Jay-Z saw in himself when he went from the streets to dropping beats. He did a career makeover based on some sense that he had hidden potential waiting to be unleashed.

  1. Game Skills

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Serena started out playing tennis with her sister Venus. This wasn’t the normal sport for kids in the ‘hood. But with her father’s help, she practiced and practiced until she developed some impressive game skills. Now she’s got her eyes set on becoming the winningest Grand Slam player in tennis history.

  1. Dream Path

How do kids in the ‘hood hope to make it to the “big leagues?” Well sports and music have been paths many try to travel. But for those who’re gifted differently, the dream path is another option. That’s where you know there’s something inside of you, itching to come outside of you and be experienced by the world.

  1. Purpose Lane

Serena and Jay are not only on their dream path, they’ve found their purpose lanes. For Jay it’s his criminal justice reform efforts. For Serena, it’s her advocacy for women’s rights and other civic issues. Their purpose lanes have put them in the spotlight beyond what they do in the studio or on the court.

At this stage of their careers, they have no reason to be clout-chasing. They’ve shown themselves as proven winners and ‘Super Citizens.’ If we could get inside their heads and hearts we’d probably see how they used game skills to put hidden potential on a dream path and purpose lane with blessings returned.

Tip: Inside the heads and hearts of winners is a formula for success and evidence beyond a reasonable doubt for counting their blessings.

Talkback: Was Jay-Z really the first Hip-Hop billionaire or does that title belong to Dr. Dre?

Tracks: Brand New Heavies  – Dream on Dreamer – https://youtu.be/FB8nIGKbpJY

Koffee – Toast – https://youtu.be/p8HoEvDh70Y

Rihanna Ready to Do Bigger Things, Kyler Murray Ready to Bring His A-Game; Both Looking to Flex What They’ve Got Next

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Whether as a sports fan or music fan, lots of folk got their eyes on the scoreboard. For sport fans it might be the NBA draft lottery or playoffs where Lebron James is out but Kawhi Leonard is in. After an almost magical game-ending shot, The Raptors moved on to play Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference Finals.

For music fans it might be the latest release from Ciara or waiting for the next winner on Idol or The Voice to be crowned. But even those primetime events might not be where it’s at. Folks are also watching for how Rihanna is ready to do bigger things and NFL #1 pick Kyler Murray is ready to bring his A-game.

Both are looking to flex what they’ve got next. Rihanna announced a major partnership for her luxury ‘Fenty’ fashion line with LVMH. Word is that she’s the first woman to have an original line with the iconic fashion house. She’s also the first woman of color to head-up her own high-fashion creations there.

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Murray took to the field recently as part of rookie minicamp. He’s got a lot riding on him playing for the Arizona Cardinals. They’ve had a few losing seasons and are hoping to turn things around with Murray at the helm as QB. In the days ahead, all eyes will be on the scoreboard for both Rihanna and Murray.

They didn’t get to this point overnight. Rihanna now 31, won her first Grammy at 19. She’s produced loads of hits and fans are waiting on her next project which is rumored to be reggae-infused. Murray comes from a football family and can’t wait to develop his pro game. They know it’s about working on the:

  1. Talent

At an early age Rihanna figured-out that she had singing chops. Then she was discovered by Jay-Z whose record label gave her the exposure and the resources for developing her talent. Now she’s a multi-award artist and international icon. She’s turned talent into far-reaching fandom and record sales.

  1. Player

The concern some sports commentators have about Murray is he’s got average height. Will he be able to see over the offensive or defensive lines? What he seems to bring is that he’s not so much a pocket-passer as much as he is an open-field scrambler. Maybe as a player he’s more like a Michael Vick.

  1. Star

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One of Rihanna’s big hits came with the words ‘shine bright like a diamond.’ It’s something she’s been able to do on the world stage. Murray’s got his chance in the big leagues. So what’s it going to take for him to be a star? Maybe a winning record or a breakout performance as rookie and starting QB.

  1. Brand

Just imagine, Rihanna started out as a little-known singer from Barbados. She made a name for herself on the music charts. Then she made some moves into fashion with boots, cosmetics and other sexy apparel. Now she’s stepping up her brand-name mojo and market appeal to having a luxury clothing line.

For Rihanna and Murray, it might feel like they’re at another starting point in their careers. Like a lot of recent college grads, they’re getting ready to flex what they’ve got next. If what they’ve done already in sports and music says anything, then they’re ready to do bigger things and bring their A-game.

Tip: Those ready to flex what they’ve got next bring their A-game to do bigger and better things by taking their talent from ‘diamond in the rough’ to brand-name star.

Talkback: Who’s ready to see Murray’s first scrimmage or waiting for Rihanna’s next album drop?

Tracks: Rihanna – Diamonds – https://youtu.be/lWA2pjMjpBs

Shaggy – Money Up – https://youtu.be/VW5ayZX38Jo

Tamar Braxton & Geoffrey Owens Get Real About Passion, Pain & Fame as They Rebound in Their Showbiz Careers

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Well the government shutdown is over and thankfully our public servants can return to work. This wasn’t the kind of workplace blip because of a change in career or starting a business. This was a standstill that was out of their control. It’s wild how some elected officials try to take credit for them going back to work.

Then there’s the Kanye West lawsuit recently claiming he was the reason for the successful rebooting of Jay-Z’s career. But a more exciting story is the Big Brother TV appearance by Tamar Braxton and SAG Awards appearance by Geoffrey Owens. They’re getting lots of love from fans for their comeback stories.

Braxton and Owens get real about passion, pain, fame as they rebound in their careers. For Braxton it’s about doing a brand reset from her time on the daytime TV show The Real. For Owens it’s more like a career reboot, after working at a food retail chain to make ends meet when his acting gigs dried up.

They’ve been through some moments that brought pain along the way. But even through those times they kept thinking about their passion for music and acting. They know how fame can have a way of ‘spitting you out’ from pop culture circles. But now they’re ready for their Act II as they refresh their showbiz feed.

Owens was part of a SAG Awards feature by sharing highlights from his career story. He ended his comments with the words ‘I am an Actor!” If Braxton had to do something similar, she’d probably end with the words “I am an Entertain-her.” Their advice on career reboot or brand reset might also include:

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  1. Create your lane

Braxton started out in the music business with her sisters before becoming a solo artist. She’s part of the Braxton Family Values reality show and even had a spinoff with her own show. Her success has meant being creative in a certain lane. And when there’s room to grow, going further by creating her own lane.

  1. Concentrate your skills

Owens spent time in the shadows of Hollywood when he had no roles. But as things went viral after being spotted working at a food store, he’s now in a different place. Acting gigs started opening up with a recurring role on a Tyler Perry produced show. So he’s able to concentrate his skills and pay the bills.

  1. Collaborate your efforts

Her music career is on the comeback with a new album release on the way. Part of what she might have learned from her time at The Real is how to collaborate her efforts. Even as a solo artist she still has to work with producers, promoters and influencers. That’ll help her project go from studio grade to platinum.

  1. Circulate your work

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Owens might have agreed to do the Sag Awards feature to show appreciation for getting a second chance. But it might also be a good place to circulate his work. Meantime, Braxton’s appearance on Big Brother gives her the chance to do the same. She’s got fans voting for her in the publicist challenge.

Even in business the idea of a reboot, reset or refresh happens when companies says they’re ready for a do-over. Braxton and Owens are doing what it takes to keep the comeback wheels turning. They’ll have a new attitude and passion at work. They’ll be networking with peers and putting the career pieces together.

Tip: When you’re creative in your lane it opens the door for creating your own lane and taking things to the next level.

Talkback: Who’s ready to give Braxton and Owens credit for their brand reset and career reboot?

Tracks: Tamar Braxton – Pieces – https://youtu.be/MMisBuTKreM

Patti Labelle – New Attitude – https://youtu.be/QWfZ5SZZ4xE

Taraji P. Henson & Tyler Perry Give It Their All to Produce an Epic Movie Project like ‘Fatal Attraction’

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Who was that little girl at the recent Art auction? The viral video showed Blue-Ivy Carter sitting with her celebrity parents Beyoncé and Jay-Z at a charity event. She placed a bid on a picture of Sidney Poitier that had folks laughing. It even caught Tyler Perry’s attention since he wanted to have that picture.

Perry told the story during media rounds for his upcoming movie Acrimony which stars Taraji P. Henson. The movie’s title turns out to be one of the most online-searched words this month. Perry teamed-up with Henson for this epic project because he envisioned her as the ‘black Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction.’

You can imagine what it was like filming this movie in eight days. Word has it that the universe was created in seven days so this project may be of epic proportions coming on the heels of Easter. Henson also returns to the TV screen as Cookie on Empire for which she’s still about doing big things.

What it takes to be epic is a story Perry and Henson know well. In the professional world it’s about knowing your ‘main thing’ and supporting it with your favorite ‘sides’ or side-hustle. Think of it the way you enjoy a meal. There’s the main thing you’re good at and the supporting side-skills to round-out the work.

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Perry and Henson have used their talents to land bigger roles, raising their market appeal to a higher level. In addition to working with the OWN Network, Perry has signed production deals with other outlets. It’s like an alphabet soup of TBS, OWN and BET. Their inspiring stories are rich in the success mix of:

  1. Faith for the next mountain to climb

Perry recently shared how the Black Panther movie was one of the many showbiz projects shot at his Atlanta studios. The site was an old military base that’s been transformed into ‘Hollywood South.’ How do you go from ‘dead to alive’ in any aspect of career, biz or life? Perry might say it takes mustard seed faith.

  1. Passion for the next road to travel

There were times life presented Perry and Henson with options for the next road to travel. It might be a new project assignment, a new lane in business or a new lease on life. They’ve found the passion for the next road to travel and even for the road less travelled. That’s a choice people make to become epic.

  1. Savvy for the next dollar to make

Perry shared how he was watching TV news and heard the word ‘acrimonious’ used in a certain context. He decided to look up the meaning. Then the light bulb went off in his head to put a different spin on the word for his movie title. Professional savvy is about using a skill or applying a concept in another context.

  1. Smile for the next advice to give

Sometimes when comedians tell jokes they do it with a straight face. There’s a certain seriousness that adds to the punch line. There’re also times when the impact is best made with a smile. Perry and Henson have a way of doing the same when sharing their stories with a little advice thrown in for good measure.

Maybe that’s what was memorable about Blue-Ivy placing her bid. From the looks on her parents’ faces and hers as well, folks weren’t sure if she was serious or playing. But Perry had his mind made up. Like his Madea role, he was seriously-funny about getting his hands on the picture and landing it with a smile.

Tip: When it comes to doing big things in 3 days, 8 days or the rest of your days you might need a mix of faith, passion, savvy and a smile.

Talkback: So who was it that bit Beyoncé in the face?

Tracks: Kirk Franklin – Smile – https://youtu.be/Z8SPwT3nQZ8

Stokley – Level – https://youtu.be/phOiiWL_Ljg

Chadwick Boseman and Beyoncé: Their Personal Expressions for How Hopes and Dreams Can Find the Path to Greatness

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The Year of ‘Got Shine?’
Where The Things You Know and How You Flow Bring More Star Power for Sure

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The anticipation is building for the next release from MCU – Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s the latest Super Hero character known as the Black Panther. Lots of celebs got to see the first screening in person. The reviews have been filled with superlatives as if it’s a preview for going from block to blockbuster.

Then of-course there’s Beyoncé and her Grammy-chic appearance. She wasn’t up for any awards but as usual made an iconic fashion statement. Boseman plays the role of king in the upcoming movie. Beyoncé rocks the title of queen in pop culture. But it’s their personal expressions that deliver creative excellence.

The Black Panther storyline has themes that make each character’s greatness come alive. Whether it’s in action-moves of a super hero, amazing plays in the Superbowl or breakthroughs on the field of dreams, the path to greatness comes alive in two success modes, Lifestyle and Lifetrack. They make things pop.

Boseman and Beyoncé have used these on the path to greatness. For Boseman it’s taken a few roles that weren’t crossover but were a stepping stone. For Beyoncé, it’s in her creative relevance and how she goes from ‘nothing to something’ artistically. Their amazing work sends chills or makes you wanna chill.

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Who they are, what they do and how they flow are the sum total of how they express themselves. It’s the combination of their creative excellence and creative relevance that make them special. When things come together it’s like magic which might explain how their success keeps rising to the ceiling.

Over the years my dream has gone through a few climbs from sun-up to sun-down. Feedback from others has helped to tighten things up. The magic for writing this blog has gone from good to better. But the playbook that Boseman & Beyoncé have used on becoming their best seems to go something like this:

  1. Conceive and go from zero to breakout move.

Boseman and Beyoncé have different stories for how they’ve built their movie/music careers. One thing common to both is first seeing themselves doing what they’re doing now. They conceived it in their minds-eye and visualized it in their imaginations. Then after a while, things went from zero to breakout move.

  1. Believe and go from a ‘nobody’ to a rising ‘somebody.’

The space between what they visualized and what they delivered is in how they believed in themselves and in what’s possible. This helped Beyoncé go from singing in her living room to performing on the world stage. Not every dream goes that big. But dreams take you from a ‘nobody’ to a rising ‘somebody.’

  1. Achieve and go from bottom-stack to top-rack.

Every time you achieve something there’s usually a lesson and a lift. The lesson comes from looking at the ups and downs to get there. The lift comes from seeing where you are compared to where you once were. Maybe that’s why Boseman’s big screen roles and Beyoncé’s showbiz journey are so exciting.

  1. Receive and go from nomination to coronation.

Beyond the obvious star power, some think the movie should get nominations for the creative costumes, special effects or music soundtrack. Well just like in the movies, character development and creative genius have meant a lot to Boseman and Beyoncé. It’s taken them from nomination to coronation.

We celebrate them for making us want to sing, dance or feel like kings and queens. We emulate them in striving to better our game or biggup our name. Their hopes and dreams have found the path to greatness not by chance but by a playbook for creative brilliance that has helped make them famous.

Tip: Creative brilliance in your career grind and life dreams needs creative excellence to make you awesome and creative relevance to make you special.

Talkback: How will Boseman’s new role in Black Panther help better his game or biggup his name?

Tracks: Kanye West – Amazing – https://youtu.be/PH4JPgVD2SM

French Montana – Famous – https://youtu.be/LNHkxOU7zz8

Eminem and U.S. Soccer’s Christian Pulisic Bring Their Star Power and American Dream to a New Level of GB – ‘Game Bonafide’

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Wait, how’m I gonna start this blog? That’s a question that gets asked every week. With so much to write about in celebrity pop it’s a matter of bringing the right vibe. It makes sense then how Eminem would start his freestyle rap that way. For him it’s a case of lyrical content with the right touch of street cred.

When it comes to US Men’s Soccer star Christian Pulisic some say he’s got next. Not in the rap game but as the face of the game. It’s true, professional dreams in the biz world don’t all take rap skills or great foot-work. But there’s usually something that moves star power to a new level of GB – ‘Game Bonafide.’

That’s kinda what went down with Eminem’s rap cypher on the BET Awards. Some think he’s on a comeback after being off the radar for a minute. He’s not retired, he’s just re-wired. Maybe this says something about what happens when your flow gets bumped. Things either become a hit or take a hit.

In political terms it’s said that after a good debate performance a candidate is likely to get a ‘bump’ in their poll numbers. It usually means more people are feeling the message or the messenger. That happens in how they might make a strong point or deliver a wow-like performance.

Folks are raving on social media how Eminem did that. He brought strong points and a wow performance that left memorable moments. He even shows how to move your career track or biz dream forward by having a spinoff of your vision. Shady hasn’t let his mojo get stumped or his mass-appeal get dumped.

It’s interesting that his rap cypher is called ‘The Storm.’ That’s a metaphor of-course for the current political climate. But it might also be how Pulisic and his teammates are feeling after not qualifying for the soccer World Cup. If they could have even pulled-out a draw in the match they would have advanced.

Soccer federation honchos are probably looking at how they’ll ‘right the ship’ after the disappointment. It’s like when a biz dream or project team goes through some kind of setback. Who knows if it’s just a matter of taking care of the little things that has had Eminem staying low. But now he’s back for another go.

One of the biggest setbacks in my dream journey was while hosting a community radio show on a college station. It was in year five as things were coming together. Then one morning some dude shuts down the power while I’m on air. It was where I not only took a hit but decided I was no longer gonna take that..

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Pulisic might be having a similar ‘sick feeling’ right now. The sting of disappointment is sometimes felt for a while. But there’s something that happens in those down times that moves things from the brink to a place of clearer think. Plus, it’ll pave the way for Pulisic to bring more edge to his game as with Eminem.

In pro sports you hear players being sent down to the minor leagues or brought up from the practice squad. Those who’re sent back have things to work on while those brought up are ready for the big-times. But along the way you’ll either take a hit or become a hit especially when you put your dreams on the line.

Tip: As you upgrade the flow in your career or dreams you’ll either take a hit or become a hit.

Talkback: How’d you describe the edge that Eminem or Pulisic bring to make them ‘Game Bonafide?’

Tracks: Beyoncé ft Jay-Z – Upgrade U – https://youtu.be/6nr8hPnZfMU

Pitbull ft Flo Rida, LunchMoney Lewis – Greenlight – https://youtu.be/R7xbhKIiw4Y