Ashley Graham and John Legend Are Dusting Off Shelf Space for More Awards & Pics of Their Best Selfie

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What do Ashley Graham and John Legend have in common? They’ve both topped lists that most folks wouldn’t even dream possible for them. Graham has graced the covers of Sports Illustrated magazine as one of America’s ‘Hottest Full-Figured Women.’ That simply means lots of voluptuous to go around.

For Legend, he was named People Magazine’s 2019 ‘Sexiest Man Alive.’ Let’s leave that to the ladies on what that means. It’s not as if he doesn’t already have his hands full. As a singing coach on NBCs The Voice, he can be seen on weeknights giving praise to emerging artists on their melody and high notes.

So, if folks are wondering what it takes to get named on any of these lists, for legend it might start with him being a crooner. He’s known for love-letter type music ballads that crossover music genres. Legend today, is like Sinatra of old. How his words flow does the same thing to fans today as Sinatra did then.

With Graham, it’s about being true to herself. She’s never shied away from her physical features as a plus-sized woman. Her self-acceptance has developed into inner confidence. This has carried over into becoming a pop culture crowd favorite on the runway and in the podcast world.

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Bu there’s one list they might say that everyone gets the chance to top. It’s the ‘Best Self Alive’ list where who you are aligns with your purpose and what you do is developed through strength, courage and wisdom. Even if we don’t make it into People Magazine or Sports Illustrated, we can still pack our:

  1. Handsome

It’s the first things ladies see in Legend. But Graham knows becoming ‘Best Self Alive’ might also mean turning what’s in your ‘hand’ into ‘some’ thing of value. Graham shares how she learned to sew at a young age. Not everybody brings handsome to the table like Legend. But most can hand-some value.

  1. Headband

Legend is known for featuring his wife’s headband creations on social media, especially when they’re on vacation.  It’s how she works creatively with her hand as well as her head. The real power players in the game also know that when creative minds band their heads together it raises the level of fine work.

  1. Heartstring

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Graham might say voluptuous for her was simply a ‘means to an end.’ She didn’t start out hoping to be full-figured. She just owned her package and celebrated her lineage. Even though she’s expecting her second child, Graham is still doing jumping jacks in the gym and stroking the heartstrings of fans.

  1. Home-feel

For Legend and Graham, being in the limelight isn’t something they necessarily crave. It simply comes with the territory. Even with their star power and rave reviews they give fans a kind of at-home, hometown feeling. They also get props for how they’re raising a family and developing success at home.

If Hollywood were to put together its ’40 Under 40’, then they’d likely top the list. He’s already gotten the major performance awards of Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony which is why he’s called an EGOT. Their good looks and humble charm make you wanna show them love ‘cause they got juice.

Tip: The ‘Best Self Alive’ list leaves room for packing your handsome, headband, heartstring and home-feel that adds to your success.

Talkback: Is John’s team the one to beat on this season of The Voice?

Tracks: Alicia Keys ft. 21 Savage, Miguel – Show Me Love – https://youtu.be/Qr1kiCDAdxQ

Lizzo – Juice – https://youtu.be/N8ZI1Jlrf-w

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

Here’s What John Legend and Iyanla Vanzant Reveal About Being ‘Hired for Looks or Wired for Success’

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Well Spike Lee finally won at the Oscars and it was celebrated by one of his homeboys. When Samuel L. Jackson realized he’d be announcing Lee as the winner for Best Adapted Screenplay, he gave out a big shout. It wasn’t Lee’s first Academy nomination, but it took almost 30 years before he’d finally won one.

John Legend is also looking for his first, not Oscar but Voice winner. He’s the newest coach on NBCs singing reality show. Speaking of reality shows, how about Fix My Life, with the no-nonsense queen herself. Legend and Iyanla Vanzant reveal more about being ‘hired for looks or wired for success.’

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For Legend it’s been one of going the traditional route in earning his college degree from an Ivy League University. No one might know since he’s so down to earth and easy going. He’s been strongly influenced by the musical background of his family which helps explain why he feels at home belting tunes.

Vanzant works with folks who’re trying to get a handle on some facet of their life. Sometimes it’s personal, relational or even professional. Each week she shares bits and pieces of her story along the way on her OWN Network show. She’s even taken steps to bring her message to fans on her Get Over It tour.

Legend’s one of the few who’s an EGOT, for winning Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Awards. For Vanzant, her show recently received two NAACP Image Awards nominations. But what we see on the outside doesn’t tell the full story of the journey. Before the success, they were on the R.O.A.D. of:

  1. Rejection

Legend says he learned a lot about music from his grandmother who was a church organist. Over the years he’s worked with many music artists who’re Grammy winners themselves. But Legend remembers those times when he was rejected by every major record label before getting his first music contract.

  1. Omen

Maybe the rejections helped him work harder. Maybe the setback on her first Talk Show helped Vanzant become wiser about showbiz. They, like others who’ve been on the R.O.A.D. might point to a certain time or situation that proved to be like an omen. It was a kind of prophetic tell-tale sign of things to come.

  1. Advice

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Vanzant’s become a sought-after personality for advice and counsel. She embraced advice she received in her own life when things weren’t ‘in order’ as they are now. She knows that there’s advice people give that might discourage or tear you down, while others give advice to encourage and build you up.

  1. Destiny

Now that Legend is a coach on the Voice he’s helping emerging artists live their dreams. He’s walked the walk in the music business. Vanzant is offering folks some ‘reality check’ advice because as she like to say ‘she’s done the work’ as well. They’re fulfilling their destiny as they help others do the same.

Whether or not they were hired for goods looks, they have personal experience of what it means to be wired for success. Vanzant might say when you do the work on your inner self, you’ll achieve the worth of your best self. Legend knows rejection paves the way for your selection and also saying ‘hello happiness.’

Tip: The road that success travels is one that might take folks from rejection to selection and also saying ‘hello happiness.’

Talkback: Since they’re so good, what can Legend not do as an artist or Vanzant not fix in life?

Tracks: Chaka Khan – Hello Happiness – https://youtu.be/JG6D59k9U8Q

Khalid – Talk – https://youtu.be/Y1QZOprK7PQ

Swizz Beatz & Alicia Keys Created a ‘Success Blend’ by Putting a Certain Market Fix into their Business Mix

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The holiday season is almost here which means one thing… folks getting ready for Amazon on the block? Nah, for the Rockefeller tree lighting? The tree got cut, moved and setup in its usual spot on the plaza. When the switch gets flipped lots of bulbs will light-up and so will visitors and New Yorkers for sure.

This time of year also brings excitement for the Soul Train Music Awards. The original weekly show is where the famous Soul Train Line got its start. These days you see it at weddings after people had a few drinks and the fun’s let loose. Soul Train created a unique spin on how we move, groove and are inspired.

So have Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys. They’ve created a ‘success blend’ at home and in the music game by putting a certain market fix into their business mix. Swizz has gone from teenage DJ to big-time record producer. He’s worked with many of the top names in pop culture. Now he’s back with some new tracks.

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Alicia took a break from NBCs The Voice. Maybe she’s putting the final touches on her latest project. They’re also working together in ways that go beyond the normal music story. Swizz wants to give artists of all stripes the chance to push their creativity where it’s not just to impress folks but to express a feeling.

After getting to a level in the game he chose to regroup and retool. He fell off the radar and went to Business School. He wanted to master the music side and the business too. If he could put together what he learned as a kinda ‘Hustle Love’ Letter to his fans he might say handle your business and handle your:

  1. Gift

Swizz is excited about the work put into his new album with a new spin on his gift. It’s been said that your gift is your gold. It’s like a hidden gem in you that needs to be discovered and extracted. Through a process of mining and refining you get to a point where it has value to consumers and the marketplace.

  1. Genius

Gift is to gold as your genius is to jewelry. Genius is turning gold into the finest pieces of jewelry with exceptional quality and bright sparkle. Swizz believes it’s important to work at your craft to crossover from pure gift to pure genius as your work quality sparkles. Along the way you might even make history.

  1. Niche

Swizz and Alicia might think of niche like a hole in the wall. If the marketplace is the wall, then niche is how you fill a void (hole). Maybe going to business school helped him see new ways for filling voids in the artistic space. Having his gift meet a niche gave him a shot at letting his creative juices flow again.

  1. Network

Swizz says he wanted to release an album that took him back to where he first started. In other words, he wanted to bring back the hook & feel to his music that connected with his early fans. That’s a nod to his baseline supporters. His focus was on making it good for the regulars before making it a hit for the charts.

Swizz & Alicia have created a success blend at home and in business with their unique style and flava. That’s caught-on for them in the marketplace. Maybe what has worked well is their ability for doing good work and spreading good times. Plus, it’s them having some good friends, good love and the good life.

Tip: A success blend at home and in biz is the combo of doing good work and spreading good times.

Talkback: Who’re you looking to see perform at the Soul Train Awards?

Tracks: Chic – Good Times – https://youtu.be/7j7rcSutYAQ

Faith Evans – Good Life – https://youtu.be/j28peB_dozs

Will Smith & Jennifer Hudson Know Sometimes Dreams Take a Little Bit of Nerve Which Grows into a lot of Spunk and Funk

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The top 10 list of summer hits is out and maybe your favorite artists made the cut. These songs got so much airplay it’s hard to get the lyrics out your head. Meantime the TV season premieres are rolling out. There’re some new shows and some retuning favorites that’s got fans jumping.

Speaking of jumping, Will Smith and Jennifer Hudson are taking leaps of a different kind. Smith recently did a bungee jump from a helicopter over the Grand Canyon to celebrate turning 50. He says he also did this thrill adventure to let what he does in his life be a contribution to the betterment of humanity.

Smith and Hudson know sometimes dreams take a little bit of nerve which grows into a lot of spunk and funk. For Hudson it’s the honor of being chosen to play the lead role in the Aretha Franklin biopic. For Smith it’s getting past his fears by doing that big-time jump. When it was over he had crossed off a bucket list item.

He’s even gone back into the studio some 13 years after his last album. Who knows what Big Willy might come up with. It’ll sure be funkadelic in style and flava. Smith and Hudson are taking things to next-level status. With new dreams and remixed dreams, they’re making waves in the marketplace.

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Whether starting from scratch or finding something that’s a perfect match, the nerves it takes can be a sign that you’re on to something good. Sometimes it means going from idea to concept to big dream. It’s like taking a step to a walk then a jump before you fly. But beyond that they took time to consider:

  1. What’s the vision?

Smith says before he decided to take the jump he had to see himself in that moment. The vision part was having that big picture in his mind that he believed would help him overcome his fears. But there was also the visualization part that helped him see himself in the place and space of a major accomplishment.

  1. How’s your voice?

Not everybody shows up with a voice like Hudson. She can hit those notes with or without the music track. Your voice isn’t something that’s only tied to singing. It may even be about how what you do speaks loudly for you. Smith and Hudson use their voice to power a music track as well as a social track.

  1. Where’s the vehicle?

Most of us didn’t know Hudson before her appearance on American Idol. Maybe her exposure at the time was limited to the church. But she found Idol as a vehicle to catapult her on the main stage of the music scene. It was the industry vehicle that would take her from no-name to breakout star and help her fly.

  1. What’s the venue?

Hudson went from a vehicle named Idol to a venue named The Voice. Smith went from a vehicle named ‘hip-hop’ to a venue named Hollywood studios. As with any transportation their success vehicle took them to their ultimate venue. Sometimes the venue is in the vision so that the vehicle can showcase your voice.

Their stories say something good about getting past fears or upping careers. Whether it’s with new dreams or remixed dreams, they’ll keep making waves in the marketplace. They sail the wide ocean of success by asking certain questions that help them jump to it and achieve beyond their wildest dreams.

Tip: Those who sail the wide ocean of success use new dreams or remixed dreams to put themselves in the place and space of major accomplishment.

Talkback: What’s your Top50, those things you want to achieve by age 50?

Tracks: Aretha Franklin – Jump to It – https://youtu.be/lHxrNJ2fNNA

Justin Timberlake ft Chris Stapleton – Say Something – https://youtu.be/8MPbR6Cbwi4

Jennifer Hudson & Yara Shahidi, Doing a New Thing and New Show With Fresh Brand Appeal for Real

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Did you catch that photobomb moment with fans of the Voice? A few friends were hanging out and taking pictures in the spinning chairs used by the judges. Then out of nowhere Jimmy Fallon and Miley Cyrus worked their way into the picture. It was one of those ‘star struck’ moments those fans weren’t expecting.

This season the newest Voice judge is Jennifer Hudson. During blind auditions she’s busy building-up her team. Meanwhile Black-ish star Yara Shahidi is building on her dream. Hudson is doing a new thing and Shahidi is doing a new show called Grown-ish. These gigs are giving them fresh brand appeal for real.

They’re also finding ways to up-tick their passion and up-level their game. Hudson is flexing her singing chops as she looks to mentor a new crop of emerging talent. Shahidi is off to college as a Harvard freshman. She wants to keep the acting thing going as she continues towards higher learning.

It didn’t take Hudson long to learn the rules of the road and it won’t take Shahidi long either in her new role. For Hudson it’s in how she’s been able to unlock the flow and handle the nitty gritty of the show. In business and the work world that also means being able to make things stick, click or do the trick.

Most of us have had to open a new tube of glue by removing the seal and unlocking the cap. Then you’ve got to press to get the glue flowing. Depending on what’s being glued you’ll also have to press the sides together. Whether it’s with doing finger nails or working career trails we’ve gotta press and then press on.

In one sense Hudson’s story is one of having to press on to the mark of a higher calling. Even though she was cut before the finale during her time on American Idol she’s gone on to win Grammys and Tonys. She went through a painful period of losing her mother to violence and has gained a greater anointing.

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For Shahidi as a Black Girls Rock recipient, her college and career moves are more like pressing on to gain a higher standing. She’s ready to spread her wings and do even bigger things. She’ll have lots of material to work with as she begins doing the Grown-ish TV shoot and building on her career routes.

Their road to a higher anointing or professional top-ranking reminds me of my own journey. There’ve been setbacks and disappointments. I sometimes liken my journey to the ‘Joseph’ story. As with Joseph I’ve learned to press on thru whatever comes my way and discover what my life’s purpose has to say.

As Hudson brings her passion she’s gonna add more soul in how she rolls. We’ve seen it on Idol, Broadway and the pop concert stage. With Shahidi’s next move to raise her game it will bring new life experiences. She’s already shown her maturity and command for social issues to be well beyond her age.

When passion and purpose come together or set it off, it makes things click. Oftentimes it happens on the dream side the way you open a safe. Life turns things one way, then another way until you find the right way for your efforts to do the trick. That’s what makes the rewards glorious so you just ‘gots make it!’

Tip: We get career awards and personal rewards in how we unlock the talent & passion flow to make things stick, click or do the trick.

Talkback: How does it feel to see sistas like JHUD and Yara shine on the big stage?

Tracks: Trey Songz ft Twista – Gotta Make it – https://youtu.be/x7I-GOcPo64

Macklemore ft Skylar Grey – Glorious – https://youtu.be/7OrLroFa0AI

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

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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.

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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