Tag Archives: economy

Detroit’s Hidden Gem for Senior Adults

Sometimes, I like to provide information about things we may not know about that impact our community as a whole.

As you may know, I am a board member at St. Patrick’s Senior Center, which has been serving Detroit since 1973. St. Pat’s is located right behind Orchestra Hall in Midtown Detroit. Every day we provide our members with a hot lunch, field trips, computer classes, dance and choir activities, as well as health, transportation and advocacy services.

I truly believe that St. Pat’s is one of Detroit’s most amazing places and best-kept secrets. As a person who has many senior adults in my family, I support programs that support them. That’s why I’m asking you to help me spread the word in 2014, which is a banner year, as St. Pat’s develops, thanks to a partnership with Detroit Area on Aging, many services that will enable us to support even more people in these challenging economic times.

Here’s how you can help: 

  • Make an online donation by visiting our website at http://stpatsrctr.org 
  • Like our Facebook page – and tell your friends to like us, too!
  • Attend our festive events throughout the year, including the Spring Irish FestivalFall Musical Palooza or annual Golf Outing.
  • Serve as a volunteer!

If you’d like to experience St. Pat’s firsthand, I invite you to come visit, have lunch, and take a tour. We can set it up at your convenience. I promise that any support you provide will be tremendously helpful and appreciated. You don’t have to be from Detroit to support our senior community or St. Pat’s. Thank you in advance for supporting St. Pat’s Senior Center in Detroit!

 St. Pat’s is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization operating in Detroit, Michigan. 

Definition of a Boss

Everybody wants to be in charge, but everyone doesn’t possess the qualities of a good leader.

Throughout corporate America there are people in decision-making capacities with degrees in everything from anthropology to zoology. Unfortunately, some of them couldn’t define their own jobs, let alone those of the people who report to them. In this economy having a degree no longer guarantees you a job or a high rate of pay. It doesn’t necessary even guarantee you an opportunity to use your degree in an entry-level position. There are a lot of highly educated unemployed people and it has been this way longer than many people realize.

Workforce development no longer consists of training from the ground up. Often employers want people who already “know” how to do the work, but the truth is this: having that degree doesn’t mean you know what you’re doing if you haven’t had experience in that field. So much of what I’ve learned is a blessing to me that I don’t take for granted. I don’t have a degree. Not even an Associates and I’ve never been ashamed to tell anyone that. My professional experience over the last twenty years however, is more valuable than that of anyone’s MBA. And it was less expensive also. I recently returned to school to broaden my education in Cinematography so that I can have the basic knowledge that I feel is necessary for my film and television projects to be of superior quality. However, my business experience trumps that of many of my counterparts  who have a degree.

One thing I’ve noticed is not only the changing landscape of the market but also the motivation behind many people’s desire to be the Boss. There are a lot of people who want to be the Boss, but they don’t want to put forth the work that is required. There are also a lot of people whose only motivation in being the Boss is to make the most money, but they don’t want to make any sacrifices or experience any bumps in the road to make that money. They want it to come easy. They want it given to them. No bootstrapping. No climbing the corporate ladder. Just F-You, Pay Me. Yet they aren’t qualified or deserving of being the Boss because they don’t know how to work and they aren’t capable of teaching someone else how to either.

The best thing anyone ever thought of was an internship. I remember my early years in corporate America and in a way, it was an internship. I didn’t have the experience, but someone in management saw the potential in me and helped me to learn more so that I could be a productive employee. Now, I’ll admit, my first job paid well above minimum wage, but I earned it. I worked hard, followed directions, asked the more experienced employees and management for help when I needed it. I was always on time for work, often skipped lunch (and I still do), rarely took sick days (even when I should have) and I was always one for showing initiative. I went on from that job to the next and the next and I’ve never had to earn less than $12 an hour in twenty years of employment. Not even when I was laid off briefly. And that’s without a degree… and I never worked in manufacturing or did manual labor either. Now, everyone wants to earn $20 an hour or be in management right out of college. Without any experience.  In the process, the market has shifted from wanting more educated employees to wanting more experienced employees.

Why do people think they deserve higher wages with less experience?  

Somewhere along the way, we taught this generation that education was all they needed, and many of them never developed a work ethic to go along with their degrees. They don’t know how to be punctual for an interview. They don’t think they need to have a resume or references. They don’t know how to communicate effectively; verbally or in writing. They don’t possess time management skills. They quit the second things get a little challenging. They don’t know how to commit to anything long-term. They don’t know how to problem solve. They honestly believe that having a degree is enough. Yet some of them even lack the basic elements of common sense. Hell, some of them won’t accept unpaid internships so they can gain experience or work towards a permanent job in their field of study. Instead they’d rather work a minimum wage job so that they can simply get a check.

How unmotivated have we become?

Always be smarter than the people who hire you. – Lena Horne 

That’s what I was taught. And that doesn’t just mean book smart either. Bosses, with real leadership ability will hire those who possess knowledge in areas where the Boss is lacking. That’s what I attempt to do. I’m always looking for talented people who have skills that I don’t have, but know that I need. I figure it will free me to up to do other things that need to be done if I can train and pay someone else to do some of the things that I’m not able to get around to. Plus, it’s a lot less expensive than building a cloning device and has less potential side effects. However, finding the people with the drive, self motivation, talent and desire to learn in a fast-paced, real-time environment is proving to be somewhat challenging. And I’m not the only person who is seeking employees that is noticing this. People literally apply for a job or internship, then turn the opportunity down or quit the position using the most ridiculous excuses. Here’s what’s really funny: they think that quitting hurts the employer more than it hurts them. It doesn’t. The employer will keep moving forward because they are the ones with the opportunity to extend or take away whenever they choose to.  Many Bosses know how to do a lot of things themselves; they just opt to hire others to lighten the load or as a gesture of humanity (to help their fellow-man). Business owners and entrepreneurs aren’t obligated to hire anyone. There isn’t a single law that says if a person starts a business that they are required to hire people. A person can easily start the company, do all the work themselves and keep any profits for themselves also. After all, they are assuming all of the business risks. As long as the business owner pays their taxes, no one in law enforcement or the government will confront them about not hiring people. In fact, it costs employers more time, energy, effort and money to hire people than it does not to.

Here’s the reality: The workforce needs people, but people need experience to get into the workforce.

Here’s the next reality: If you don’t work, you don’t eat.

We have to stop waiting, hoping and complaining about what other people won’t give us when we constantly turn down opportunities because we want instant gratification and money that we can’t prove we’re worthy of earning. That is a bad example that has now flowed into the generation to come behind us.

A real Boss is someone who is being optimistic and self sufficient, not someone who wants to be in charge or to just make a lot of money. A real Boss often worked their way up through their industry. That experience helped to groom them into the leader they are.

Love and Basketball

Basketball has surely been missed. I’m not a huge sports fan, but I do like football and basketball (players). I also like the spectacle of watching a live basketball game at a stadium. I recently noticed that my holiday season this year won’t be the same. I do not have a Detroit Pistons game to attend this year during Thanksgiving with my closest friends. I’m sure I’m not the only person who realizes how much basketball is connected to an event or tradition in our lives. The only thing on television right now related to professional basketball is VH1’s Basketball Wives LA. Trust me, it’s not the same experience at all.  

What amazes me is that although I don’t know much about the team rosters, their specific star players, scores and what not, I do know that basketball is a business. In business you have occasional conflict between employers and employees. And all businesses have had to adjust due to the changes in the economic climate. Many companies have had massive layoffs and closures. Some businesses have gone completely out of business in the last ten years. While other companies have grown into huge behemoths because of our need to save more money, while sacrificing quality (ala Walmart). Everyone has been impacted in one way or another forcing us to sometimes make unpleasant sacrifices and adapt in the face of adversity. To pay or not to pay, has become the question in many households and for many businesses, including the NBA.  

People love basketball. The game, the competitiveness, the hotdogs. Some very memorial movies have been written around the love of basketball over the years [Hoosiers (1986), White Men Can’t Jump (1992), Above The Rim (1994), Sunset Park (1996), He Got Game (1998), {my all time favorite} Love and Basketball (2000), Finding Forrester (2000), Coach Carter (2005), Glory Road (2006), and Just Wright (2010)]. Basketball has wrapped its arms around us and baptized our modern culture with its influence in every aspect, from the way we dress to what we eat, from what products and cars we buy to what we name our kids [fast forward a few years from now and see a young LeBron Jenkins starting kindergarten]. It crosses many demographics. It’s not unusal to see some of the biggest names in entertainment, business, banking, technology and manufacturing sitting at any game, in any stadium, at anytime, across the country during basketball season. You might have even sat next to a business mogul or millionaire at the last game you attended. FYI – all wealthy people don’t sit court side and they don’t all make it onto TMZ.

When it comes to professional athletes, I’ve always thought that they get paid a great deal of money to do what they love – play a game – and entertain us. They are one out of one thousand young men with a dream who made it into the position they have. Some of it was based on talent, some of it was determination, but most of it is a blessing. For every Michael Jordan there is a Michael Williams, who played basketball just as well, if not better, but didn’t get the same opportunity. Unfortunately, I also feel that many professional athletes don’t appreciate the place they hold in society because they have been reckless with their money and their morals. So much so that morals clauses and dress codes had to be implemented by the league in an attempt to encourage them to (at least appear to) be more socially responsible and keep their dirt out of the media. Sometimes it works. Other times it doesn’t.

This week the NBA players decided to disband its union so that it can now move forward with a lawsuit against the team owners. This occurs after they declined an offer according to NBA Commissioner David Stern “that does not call for a reduction on contract, does not call for a hard cap, does not call for the absence of guaranteed contracts and will see salaries go from over $5 million to between $7 million and $8 million during the length of the deal”. WOW! Talk about biting the hand! I’m sure that there are many people like me that would LOVE that kind of contract where we work. However, we’re not professional athletes, are we? Many of us will never see a million dollars, let alone FIVE to EIGHT MILLION DOLLARS. For many of us that would be more than enough money to retire on and live off of for the remainder of our lives. Apparently, it’s not good enough for the NBA players. They’ve lived above their means, haven’t saved and haven’t invested wisely. They need more money and more basketball related income. But is it a need, or greed?

This raises many questions. Isn’t the love of money the root of all evil? What happened to the love of the game? Is it possible that so many of the players have squandered their earnings over the years that they wouldn’t be satisfied with any contract other than the one they sought to begin with? Why are the owners responsible for covering the players inability to be financially responsible with the money they already earn? Does your job give you a raise because you gamble or have a house and car you can’t afford to own? None of the players should be hurting financially. Have you see their paychecks and endorsement deals? Even the lowest paid players on each team make high six figure salaries, which is more than most middle class families see in a lifetime. I can’t feel bad for them when I know people who struggle just to pay their rent every month. Did the players also forget that unless fans buy tickets to see them play, they aren’t worth all the zeroes on their paychecks? Who is going to buy tickets to watch a bunch of out of shape basketball players run up and down the court in February 2012 (or later, if they remain greedy) when they can watch NCAA college basketball for less money or for free? Everyone likes FREE STUFF.

Fans who love the game, for the game, have other options. I’ll be watching Love and Basketball this weekend.

Although I’m skeptical and hopeful that an agreement will be reached that will satisfy both sides, I still have love for basketball (players). If worse comes to worse, the owners can always hire replacement players, pay them less money and possibly recruit new talent at the same time. There are many talented and entertaining players playing overseas, in the And 1 Basketball League and even the Harlem Globetrotters. Maybe Michael Williams will finally get a shot at his dream of becoming a professional basketball player. After all, basketball is still a business.

♦ I bet Tom Gores wasn’t expecting this when he bought the Pistons.

The WRONG One

In this economy people are willing to do a lot of things they normally wouldn’t do to make ends meet. Some people look for creative ways to make money. Some people look for enterprising ways to make money. Some of those things may even be considered morally wrong. Some people even stoop to doing things that are illegal. Some people are predatory and offer “options” to people and take advantage of their need to make more money. A person’s individual boundaries are their own to live with and so are the ramifications of their choices. My boundaries are firmly set. Regardless of how much I need money, there are just certain things I’m unwilling to do. I will not rob an old lady of her social security benefits. I will not attempt a Nigerian bank scam (why do they even continue to try?) and I will not take my clothes off for men I don’t know. I have the tendency think about my future goals and aspirations and how doing certain things can deter those goals and aspirations. That allows me to keep a reasonably cool head even in the face of stupidity.

The last boundary I previously mentioned, is the subject of this blog. This week, I received a message from a man on Facebook asking me if I’d be interested in burlesque dancing with a blues shows in a downtown Detroit bar. Instantly, I was offended. I didn’t know this man from Adam. He wasn’t a Facebook friend, an acquaintance or anyone that I’d had any interaction with at all. He obviously didn’t know anything about me. I replied to him, “Nothing on my Facebook profile, or website says I’m a burlesque dancer, a stripper or exotic dance, so why would you ask me that?” That question was actually rhetorical. I already knew that he assumed I would “strip” for money because of whatever his misogynistic ideas are related to women, along with the stereotypical belief that an attractive woman  doesn’t have any brains. He also believed that women in general are willing to take our clothes off for money because times are hard. Therefore, anything he said, would definitely not surprise me.

His response was “I apologize if that sounded rude. Burlesque is classy entertainment. I thought you were affiliated with modeling or some form of entertainment”. To me that was hilarious. Here’s why. Of course asking a woman you don’t know to take her clothes off for men she doesn’t know is RUDE, I don’t care if it’s burlesque or ballet. Secondly, being ‘affiliated with modeling or some form of entertainment’ doesn’t mean getting naked for men you don’t know. We don’t all have to resort to that and many of us don’t. I told him that what I found “rude” was that for some reason he assumed that the entertainment I’m involved in relates to taking my clothes off at a bar. Obviously this small minded man thought that in order for a woman to be involved in modeling or entertainment, she must either be naked or nearly naked, in order to be considered a “model” or “entertainer”. Last I checked serious models and entertainers don’t have “I will take my clothes off in a bar” on their resume.  

I told my boyfriend about this exchange. His first response when I told him the man’s initial words to me was “Uh, oh. He picked the wrong one”. What my boyfriend knows is this; I’m not that caliber of woman and I don’t accept men saying offensive and disrespectful things to me, simply because they think they can. I don’t believe what a woman is wearing defines her character or her worth. It’s that woman’s actions that matter most. Therefore, if a woman isn’t behaving like a hooker, you can’t call her a hooker because you think she’s dressed like one. It might be Halloween or a bad fashion choice, not a profession that she’s exhibiting in her attire. The truth is, as women, it doesn’t matter what we wear or don’t. There’s always some idiot who thinks women are only good for what’s between our legs because that’s the limitation of their braincells. Yes, there are pictures of me that are sexy and sensual related to the marketing of “The Goodie Bag“, but I could have been completely covered up from head to toe in a  berka and that man would’ve still sent me the same message. Because that is what he thinks women are worth – dancing at bars without clothes for men that they don’t know.

By the way, I also told him had he done his due diligence prior to sending me that message in the first place, he would’ve discovered that I am an entrepreneur, publisher and author and the picture he was looking at was related to “The Goodie Bag” and nothing more. But that would’ve been too much like right. I think he knows I’m the wrong one. Maybe he learned his lesson. Maybe not. I do know he won’t be sending me anymore messages. After all, he wouldn’t have sent that message to Oprah and gotten away with it. There are a lot of women who would’ve been offended that probably never would’ve responded to him at all. So I spoke up for them. And there are probably some women who gleefully signed up to burlesque dance for him when he messaged them. They will probably make $250. In this economy he can’t afford to pay a woman thousands of dollars to take her clothes off. And he knows that some women don’t have the boundaries I have. That’s what makes him a predator; lurking and waiting for someone to become desperate.

Lastly, I told him he can’t afford my rates so I’ll gladly burlesque dance for my boyfriend in the privacy of our bedroom. At least I know what I’m getting into and what I’m getting out of it. I also know, it won’t deter my goals, cause me to be posted naked on YouTube or give him anything to sale to the Enquirer when I become the next Queen of All Media. That’s a boundary I can live with –  and that is priceless.