The Barrett Leadership Blog

The Barrett Leadership Blog allows those of you who have read my books or have utilized The Barrett Center for Leadership Development, LLCâ„¢ services another means to immerse yourself in the conversation of leadership and organizational development. Therefore, I encourage you to participate in an open and honest manner so that you can continue to develop your leadership from the inside out.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Gentrification Of America: What Role Does The Working Class And The Poor Play?



I know that this topic will touch a nerve for many people, as it deals with a sacred place, one's home. Nevertheless, home ownership and how we view it must be discussed as America's inner cities are being gentrified at an alarming rate, displacing a large section of our population. Now, I am not hear to argue for or against the practice of gentrification (which involves uprooting the current and typically poorer residents of a "blighted or underutilized" community in favor of wealthier residents by economic forces such as rising rents and higher sales prices for buildings {for both residential as well as commercial}). Nevertheless, there are questions that come to mind as it relates to our community's leadership or lack thereof in this matter, all the while remembering that it is I (collectively, we) that form the community:

  • What is my and my community's role in the change process occurring in our neighborhood?
  • What could my community and I have done to prevent these gentrification efforts form occurring?
  • What can my community and I do today to help curb the situation?
  • What can my community and I do moving forward, so that we don't find ourselves caught up in this process again?
Before we get into our role in the gentrification of America, there are a couple of things that must be acknowledged. We all must be honest and face certain truths.

  1. America is a capitalist country (whether we agree with it or not), that is loosely based on science's survival of the fittest premise.
  2. Capitalism is an economic system based on one's ability to create and market the value of one's creation to the consumer on the open marketplace for a profit (sales price-cost/expenses=profits).
  3. Those that create more value in any number of areas whether it be clothing products, food products, sporting products, or real estate products tend to ascend to the wealthier ranks of our society, while those who do not tend to occupy the working class or the poorer ranks.
  4. While there are instances when many of us complain about capitalism's "selfish/inhumane" practices, there are other instances when we relish its benefits, even those that many of us take for granted such as having a television, a cell phone, brand name clothing, or a home computer. The truth is that in countries with different economic systems such as China and Cuba, items such as these are not as commonplace as in America. Therefore, I do not advocate demonizing our economic system, instead I encourage you to comprehend its inner workings so that you, your family, your friends, and your community can benefit from it and not fall prey to such things as gentrification.

I say all of this to point out that capitalism has a theme that we all must recognize and utilize if we want to prosper in it. The theme is as follows: Those that create and add value for others in the marketplace will be rewarded with economic success, while those that don't will remain stagnant and fall prey to our economic system. This being said, are you creating and adding value to the marketplace? What are you creating or adding that others will value? These are leadership questions, therefore the gentrification of America can be classified as a leadership issue. Whether it be a leadership issue at the individual or community level is for you to decide, but it is a leadership issue nevertheless. Yes, some of you may want to turn this into a political debate, but it truly is not. While gentrification can be made to be a political debate, at the root of the issue is the individual and the community's choice to create or add value within their neighborhood so that it cannot be deemed blighted or underutilized by locally elected politicians and real estate developers.

You see, gentrification can only occur in neighborhoods where there is low ownership by those that live and do business in the neighborhood. Realize, that when you pay rent, you are at the mercy of the landlord (whether you are a resident or a business owner). At any time, that landlord can decide to raise your rent to the point of pricing you out of the neighborhood in search of higher profits. So, if your locally elected politicians and area real estate developers deem your neighborhood prime real estate for any number of reasons, what do you think that landlord in search of higher profits is going to do in a free market economy like capitalism? What would you do? Even if you don't want to admit it, because in this case capitalism does not work to your advantage, most of us (being totally honest with ourselves) would justify in our minds charging higher rents. And then the dominoes begin to fall. When one landlord gets higher rents from new/wealthier tenants, the rest fall in line, until the previous residents are driven out because of high cost. Now, what was of value in this process? Why, the land of course. The problem is, was this land being valued by its residents prior to gentrification? That is debatable, but do know that if you have little to no ownership, your voice in this debate can be easily silenced. This is the essence of gentrification.

On the contrary, if you owned your home or the building that your business was located in, gentrification would be much more difficult to occur, because locally elected politicians and developers would have to show just cause in order to utilize eminent domain, which involves government buyout of homeowners and building owners in order to use that area of land for the betterment of the public at large. This is not usually an easy case to make, especially if the community joins together to fight the action.

This leads me to ask you a few questions:

  • Do you own the property where you reside or do business? If not, why?
  • If your home is supposed to be your castle, what could you be spending your money on that is preventing you from saving the money to own it?
  • For those of you who say, "I can barely make ends meet." I ask you, are you creating and adding something of value to the marketplace? (Whether it be knowledge, food, jewelry, poetry, anything.) Understand that if you are not, you will remain in this conversation for the foreseeable future, and gentrification will not be your only problem.
  • Are you staying informed as to what is going on in your neighborhood?
  • Are you voting (this act alone, holds local politicians in check)? It is well known that communities that have smaller voting turnouts have less political influence then those with higher voter turnouts, because politicians know that there will be little to no repercussions that will hinder future reelection bids if they take actions that are not popular with the low voter turnout communities. Hence, gentrification becomes a viable option in these communities.
  • Didn't you notice how I've been prefacing the term politician(s) with the words locally elected? I did this because your community allowed the very same politician(s) that are gentrifying your neighborhood to take office by either voting for them or by not voting at all.

Again, whether gentrification is a heartless act against the working class and the poor or revitalizes formerly "blighted or underutilized" real estate is debatable, but what's not debatable is that it occurs randomly. Gentrification is an intentional act by those given the power to take actions such as rezoning and handing out government contracts to real estate developers. Notice, I said those given the power. I say this because gentrification often occurs in:

  • communities, where the ownership rate by those living and doing business in the community is low.
  • communities that are perceived as not thriving, blighted, or underutilized by our political leaders.
  • communities that are not holding their politicians accountable.

This leads to my next point, which is that gentrification does not happen overnight. Not at all. Gentrifying a particular community takes years to come to fruition. So for it to succeed, means that many in the community turned a blind eye, or simply did nothing until it became apparent that the neighborhood had already changed. So, what now? How can a community stave off gentrification when it has already begun to take root? Sadly, it may be too late for some communities. In these communities, soaring housing and property costs have outpaced the indigenous residents' incomes. In addition, the lack of voter turnout for local elections in these communities have often resulted in an inability to pressure locally elected politicians to create significant affordable housing. But it does no good to look backwards at the gentrified communities with regret, instead we must look to the future armed with a better understanding of what it means to vote, to own, to create, and to be a part of a community. Regardless of your community's current situation, we all have to become leaders for ourselves, our children, our communities, and our futures.

  • We can all start by understanding and by embracing capitalism. This means creating something of value to introduce into the marketplace (within your community as well as outside its borders).
  • We must encourage others in our community to do the same.
  • We must begin engaging with our local politicians and letting our voice be heard at the voting booth. Let our representatives know that we as well as our constituents will not be supporting any of their future political campaigns if they do not address our housing concerns.
  • And most of all, we must work towards owning where we live and/or do business, this way we keep control of what goes on in our neighborhood. If this means not indulging in some of life's niceties for a while, then so be it. In the long run, we will have acquired a property that will gain in value and security as long as we along with our neighbors add value to the community.

This is our home, our block, our community. This is leadership, America. This is important.

I encourage you to take a look at this video, as it presents a penetrating look at both sides of the gentrification issue.

As always, thank you for your time and feel free to leave comments.




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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Upcoming Leadership Event: Join Us


If you have never been to Manhattan's famous Tavern On the Green in Central Park, here is your chance to do so for a worthwhile cause. I hope to see you there.

Join Barry Sarner, Andrea Horblitt, and Jeff Krauss as they proudly present:
LOOSEN UP... CHANGE IS GOOD!
(A SUMMER EVENT WHERE BUSINESS NETWORKING IS NOT NECESSARILY ALL BUSINESS: A MULTI NETWORKING GROUP EVENT)
http://www.ReachOutUSA.com/
DATE: Thursday, September 25th, 2008
TIME: 6:30pm HOW: No Registration Necessary
LOCATION: Tavern On The Green Central Park at West 67th StreetNew York, NY 10023 http://www.tavernonthegreen.com/ Rain Date: October 2, 2008
FREE ADMISSION. At the checkpoint table outside mention you are with REACHOUT USA
They proudly support http://www.bestfriends.org/

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Upcoming Radio Appearances



Hello All,

I would like to keep you abreast of some of my upcoming radio appearances on WHCR 90.3 FM The Voice of Harlem. However before I get into the upcoming dates, I would like to thank the station for its continued support in helping The Barrett Center get out its message that there is a correlation between one's personal leadership development and his/her ability to attain sustainable happiness. Thank you, 90.3 FM.

As for the upcoming appearances, they are as follows:

Sunday, September 14th 6-8 AM on What's In Your Hand? (Tentative).
Sunday, October 5th 6-8 AM on What's In Your Hand? (Confirmed).
Tuesday, October 14th 9:15 AM-11:00 AM on YTBD (Tentative).

As these dates draw near, I will inform you regarding the status of the tentative appearances, as well as update you with any scheduling changes. Before I conclude, I would like to send a special thank you to Ricky Young (the interviewer for all three appearances), as he dedicates much of his time and energy to the personal growth and development of others.

As always, I invite you to tune-in to lively and informative discussions. In the event that you are unable to receive any of the broadcasts in your listening area, you can tune-in live on WHCR 90.3 FM's website http://www.whcr.org/.

Be safe and prosper.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Handling Life's Challenges, Failures, And Setbacks By Learning From Them Is An Important Part Of Pursuing One's Life's Vision



I often say that pursuing one's life's vision by overcoming life's challenges is the road to sustainable happiness. However, dealing with life's challenges (which many of us consider anything that impedes us from achieving our goals such as failures and setbacks) can be a real problem for most of us. You see, most of us are not armed with the thinking necessary for properly handling life's challenges. Think to yourself:
  • How do you deal with life's challenges such as setbacks or failures?
  • How do you deal with the risk(s) they present?
  • How do you deal with the fear or anxiety that they unearth?
Well, all of these questions deal with one thing, one's willingness or ability to persevere regardless of the obstacles that he/she faces. Now, can you persevere in the face of failure, tremendous risk, or fear? Many people would answer, no. But, for those that answer yes, success awaits. While these individuals are pursuing their life's vision, everyone else waits for the failure, risk, or fear to dissipate. However, the trouble with this approach is that these issues usually don't go away. As a mater a fact, one's intrepidation and fear tends to intensify over time, as he/she points to incidents in his/her life to validate the view that the world is a scary place whose goal is to prevent him/her from pursuing his/her life's vision. Sorry to let all of those conspiracy theorists down, but this is simply not the case. As the saying goes, life is what you make it. The challenges, setbacks, and failures that occur in one's life, occurs in the lives of others as well. The difference, however, is that the "others" learn from these occurrences and are therefore better prepared to continue pursuing their life's vision than someone who fell prey to their failures and setbacks.

For those of you who are currently in the midst of a setback or failure in pursuit of your life's vision, take comfort in the fact that everyone fails from time to time, including those that we view as heroes. But you need to do more than just acknowledge that reality. You need to shift your thinking as well. Shift your thinking from simply believing that life's challenges, setbacks, and failures are a bad thing, to understanding and acknowledging that they are necessary learning experiences that will enhance the pursuit of your life's vision.

Armed with this new way of thinking, I challenge you to embrace life's challenges, setbacks, and failures, by learning from them. I challenge you to experience your feelings associated with failure and not run from them. Explore them, and then move forward with renewed vigor in pursuit of your life's vision.

Know that success is just around the corner, and that all you have to do to get there is to learn from these experiences and move on toward your goals. As you will see in this video, successfully pursuing one's life's vision is a process that usually encompasses many setbacks and numerous failures. Therefore, learning to be at ease with life's challenges, setbacks, and failures, by learning from them is essential to your successfully pursuing your life's vision. If you shift your thinking, success will follow. So, don't give up, just get to work.


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Courage

Courage

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Leading from the Inside-Out Is Number One!!!!



Hello all:

I am proud to say that Leading from the Inside-Out has achieved the number one spot on one of Tower.com's Bestseller Book Lists: http://www.tower.com/surf/top_100/top100_1.cfm?&div_id=1&cat101=52&cat102=3976.
I am also proud to say that the cutting edge leadership development book still maintains the number one spot on Myspace's Popular Books List: http://collect.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=books.popular&Mytoken=57D7E997-93BC-4C17-860DB1DAD29BB98B31483476. I realize that these achievements could not have been possible without your support. So, thank you for your continued support as we spread the word that the road to sustainable happiness begins and ends with personal leadership development.


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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Inspiring Postive Change In Our Communities: The Spotlight Is On ChangeIsGoodUSA.com



I would like to introduce you to Barry Sarner founder of ChangeIsGoodUSA.com. This organization's purpose is to inspire positive change in the members across our many communities. After 30 years of owning and building large successful apparel manufacturing companies, Mr. Sarner shifted gears and began infusing and marketing a positive change message into his screen print & embroider apparel products. According to Mr. Sarner, positive change is essential for the betterment of humanity. This line of thinking began to consume not only his personal thoughts, but also became the essence of his newly created company (ChangeIsGoodUSA.com). The formation of this company led to the creation of its slogan, Change is Good!

While the Change is Good! slogan was a great way to market his newly created promotional products company initially, a fun and uplifting personal element developed, and took on a life of its own. As Mr. Sarner began giving out hats with Change is Good! embroidered on the front and his website on the back, to his amazement and delight, people were buying into the message. As one of his new friend's declared; Change is Good! speaks to all of us in a way that is unique to our personal situation. The message is simple, yet touches lives in a very personal way and can be the catalyst for helping people move forward in their lives in a powerful way. It's all about shifting one's thinking in a positive direction, which leads to a shift in one's attitude about oneself and the world, which creates a shift in one's behavior and resulting life. You see, it's about positive expectancy. If one views change as being good, it will do wonders for his/her journey through life, or "Magical Mystery Tour," as Sarner likes to put it.

I invite you to explore Mr. Sarner's apparel offerings at http://www.changeisgoodusa.com/ or http://www.changeisgoodusa.blogspot.com/, because while positive change can be done alone, it occurs much quicker and with more emphasis with the support of others. So, help spread the notion of positive change, and as Ghandi said: Be the change you wish to see in the world...

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Financial Leadership Series (Part 5): What Is An ETF?



We have reached the final installment of this Financial Leadership Series (Part 5): What Is An EFT? For those that don't know, ETF stands for exchange traded funds. These funds consist of stocks and bonds (offering much of the diversity and risk reduction of a typical mutual fund), but in addition, they offer a great deal of daily trading flexibility similar to that of individual stocks. Therefore, you can say that an ETF is the best of both worlds.

Now, I don't want to bore you any longer, so I will step aside and let the guys and gals from ThrasherFunds.com do their thing. As always, listen and learn. And, I hope that you now have a better understanding from this series about investing in the stock market if you so choose. However, no matter what method of investment you choose, whether it be equities, real estate, or venture capitalism (the last two we will explore in upcoming financial leadership discussions), the ultimate goal for you is to begin putting your money to work for you so that you can take the lead in developing your financial picture.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Financial Leadership Series (Part 4): Understanding Mutual Funds




Because of your participation in this Financial Leadership Series, you should be well on your way to attaining your financial picture by having your money work for you in the stock market, right? Well, maybe not quite yet. So far, we have discussed stocks (individual shares of publicly traded ownership of companies represented in the markets-NYSE, AMEX, and NASDAQ) and how the stock market works. What have you learned? Can you tell me one upside to buying individual stocks? Well, one upside to buying individual stocks is that they can reap great returns because of their concentration on one company, however a major problem that can arise when purchasing individual stocks is---a lack of equity portfolio diversification. A lack of equality portfolio diversification occurs when an individual owns too much of one type of company, industry, or market sector stock. This can leave you in a precarious position should the market take a downturn in the few stocks you have invested in. Therefore, it is highly recommended that one maintain a diversified equity portfolio, one that invests in a wide array of quality companies, industries, and market sectors. This practice increases one's ownership across a varied group of companies, industries, and market sectors, while reducing the potential for drastic drops in portfolio performance. Basically, you are not putting all your eggs in one basket.

This is one of the reasons people invest in mutual funds. Mutual funds allow for the buying and selling of different stocks under the umbrella of one fund. The mutual fund itself is the equity that you or I would buy shares in. Our money would then be pooled with other investors to buy and sell shares of a diverse group of companies. This process of buying and selling, as well as which stocks to buy and sell is taken care of by a fund manager. He/She does all of the work, for a fee of course. There are a plethora of mutual funds to choose from. You just have to decide which types you are comfortable investing in. For example, the stocks that comprise a mutual fund are usually designated by industry type (telecommunication vs. financials), company type (large vs. small cap, or foreign vs. domestic), or what the fund manager deems as quality stock picks. The main point here is that one can diversify, and thereby reduce his/her equity portfolio's risk by utilizing mutual funds as investment vehicles. All you have to do is decide when to buy, hold, or sell depending on the fund's performance.

Mutual funds are a popular investment strategy often used to diversify and reduce risk. Many people have realized this, as mutual funds serve as the backbone for millions of retirement investments accounts ( such as 401ks, IRAs, and Roth IRAs) across America. So, for many of you, what you are hearing today should just be a refresher. However, for those of you that don't know what a mutual fund is or how they work, sit back and listen to the guys from ThrasherFunds.com, as they teach you about mutual funds.


Enjoy and stayed tuned for the finale, Part 5 of this Financial Leadership Series.


As always, lend me your thoughts.






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Friday, August 1, 2008

Financial Leadership Series (Part 3): Employing the Short Sell Investment Strategy




After reading Part 2 of this Financial Leadership Series, you should now know what a stock is as well as have a basic understanding of how the stock market works. But, let's dig a little deeper into the inner workings of the market by learning about a strategy for investing your money in the market if you are on a shorter timetable than the 15-30 years I spoke of in Part 2 of this series. Now, I tend to use a traditional investment strategy (investing for long-term growth). This means that I typically invest in industries, companies, and market sectors that investment analysts along with my own research deem quality investments. Examples of the types of assessment tools used by investment analysts and myself to determine whether a stock is a buy, sell, or hold are as follows:
  1. profit-loss statements
  2. quarterly reports
  3. the introduction of new products/services into the marketplace
  4. industry competitors
  5. regulatory influence
  6. management effectiveness
  7. any global event that may impact a given company, industry, or market sector's performance and profitability
Traditional investing typically uses the data gleaned from these sources to make informed decisions as to whether a given stock, or mutual/index fund possesses a likelihood for increased value over time. This investment strategy works for me because I am fairly young (34 yrs. old) and can afford to aggressively invest in what I deem to be quality stocks, or mutual/index funds for long-term growth. Because of my youth, I can ride out the ups and downs of the market for the long term (15-30 years out), without falling prey to the pressures of the market to change investment strategies simply because the market is going through a cycle.


Now, while the traditional investment strategy of buying stocks, or mutual/index funds for long-term growth is what I suggest if you are willing or able to wait 15-30 years to reap the benefits of steady dividend reinvestment, interest compounding, and value growth from the shares of the stocks, or funds that you have chosen to buy, there are a lot of people with different financial pictures and financial goals than I making a lot of money utilizing other investment strategies. This is why it is essential that before you invest in the market, you clarify your financial picture and identify your financial goals. Ask yourself-What kind of financial rewards do I want to get from my investments? And, in what timeframe will I be accessing the fiduciary returns from my investments?

Suffice it to say, there are a plethora of investment strategies for the market if you are working with a shorter timetable, however you need to understand their pros and cons in order to utilize them effectively. Short selling is one of these shorter term investment strategies, and is the focus of this discussion. Now, short selling is an investment strategy that I don't utilize because as I mentioned earlier, the 15-30 year timetable fits into my financial picture and financial goals, and allows me to utilize the traditional investment strategy, which I feel comfortable with. However, you may not have a similar financial picture, similar financial goals as I do, or feel comfortable with the traditional investment strategy. This is why it behooves you to learn about the short sell investment strategy should you choose to employ it. So, again, I defer to the whiz kids from ThrasherFunds.com to enlighten you about the short sell investment strategy.


Enjoy the video, take notes, and stay tuned for Part 4 of this Financial Leadership Series.





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