Archive for the ‘Consulting’ Category

Like anything else in life, the decision making process can be straightforward and simple or it can involve lots of factors to the point of being complicated and eventually stressing you out. Whenever, you make a big decision, especially one that involves a large investment of resources and effort, you want to feel like you’ve made the right decision. To ward off regret or avoid acknowledging that you only pay lip service to wanting reform and change for example, you may begin to idealize the option you chose and devalue the one you rejected. One place where this tendency can go awry is when it creates rifts between people that are in the trenches ‘day in and day out’ making a difference and those that just talk about it and take no action. Well, cognitive dissonance theory provides one possible explanation. Even if you don’t openly express these thoughts as I just described, they can still impact your feelings toward others, which might come out in subtle ways. This wedge between people as a result of our choices can also be compounded by ignorance and inertia. One way or the other, as key players in this journey, we have to take a stance and decide in order to gain a thorough understanding of the decision making process. How else would we identify bottlenecks in the process? And how would we find out if there are any kinks in the line of communication? 

On the one hand, it’s useful to remember that most decisions have pros and cons, just because a choice has downsides doesn’t mean it was wrong or it needs to be justified against alternatives. Ignorance and inertia, on the other hand, are dangerous. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this Blog entry. I look forward to receiving your input and reading them – Kind regards, Carl H. Charles 

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Caribbean Underground is a Network created through this Blog. Caribbean Underground identifies reliable Retail Shippers that cater to the Caribbean market – e.g., CARICOM – and Caribbean Stores here in the U.S. that display quality products on their shelves and share our philosophy of integrity and good customer service.

By Carl H. Charles, MA, Blog Administrator
Phone. 770-864-4871
Email. centexcargo@gmail.com

  • Our Business Rating System is based solely on the high number of satisfied and repeat customers on record, reviews from some popular Apps, credible reports, and whether there are any pending and unresolved complaints with the Better Business Bureau
  • CentEx Cargo has a yearly fee of $16.99 to list a Caribbean store in the continental USA on this blog under the ‘CentEx Store’ category once you and your business have undergone the vetting process for store owners
  • I, Carl Charles, value Great Customer Service. Any Caribbean Store listed on the CentEx Cargo Blog will get 1 week of FREE Answering Service in English per month. Moreover, I desire and encourage a collaborative culture throughout the CentEx Store organization and Caribbean Underground network

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Why can’t Black folks pull their resources tohether? This is a timeless question, a lot of pleople from all walks of life have been asking themselves, both openly and behind closed doors. I don’t think anyone can offer a definitive answer to that complex question. However, anyone with an analytical mind should understand that a number of oversimplistic answers based on gut feelings alone are potentially upsetting to many, and that the real answers lie in doing studies and conducting research. Those studies and research should take into account all the necessary variables. However, from an entrepreneurial standpoint, it’s best to start with the ‘person in the mirror’ and then, move on to your upbringing as you take a closer look at your extended family to make the determination whether there was ever a history of pulling resources together and a commitment to always do what’s in every member’s best interest. Entrepreneurship, most of the time, starts with a family structure that’s conducive to continually exploring new opportunities. This is often encouraged by the leadership or head of household that’s the embodiment of fairness and team work. “Life is not fair” is a constant but equity within a functional family structure can vary but is paramount to its young members learning and developing the core traits of a good entrepreneur. A good entrepreneur makes it a top priority to protect the interests of everyone involved. He/she understands that family comes first. Moreover, he/she grasps the concept that the needs of the many supersede the needs of the few.

My formative years as an entrepreneur took me back when my entire family, with the exception of Judith who was forced to stay in Canada, got to live under the same roof for the first time ever. The year was 1978, and I still remember how excited we all were when we first moved to a five-bedroom house in the surburbs of New York City as one big happy family – i.e., mom, dad, and five siblings. Mom reminded us, teenagers, at every turn, she initiated the idea of buying a house and that she also came up with the down payment. Dad, on the other hand, almost in a whisper, told me on several occasions that his steady employment got us qualified for the mortgage. You see, he has been working at COSTCO Distribution for more than 10 years.
The honeymoon didn’t last long. You had 3 teenage boys and a young adult arguing over almost everything: The TV, what type of music to listen to, and what mom ought to cook for dinner. Mom and “Coye” as we all referred to dad, didn’t take long either to start arguing over the same things that got them separated in the first place and kept them apart for 10 long years. Their arguments were intense. It seemed more than unresolved issues between husband and wife. The level of animosity between them got so high, it began to affect all of us. It became obvious that mom was settling a score, and they both were fighting over the control of our family. Coye wanted to hold on to traditional family values. But no avail.
In retrospect, spending my formative years in a large family led me to think about “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.” Specifically, our first needs as human beings: Physiological, are basic and primal. Mom and the oldest brother, Gardy already in his 20’s, incrementally set the tone in our family based on a ‘modus operandi” we all find abhorrent when seen in other Blacks but often fail to see the plank in our own eye.” We will give you food, clothing, and shelter and even go the extra mile to help you as long as you take our side in every argument and accept that we are holding all the cards.” Mom with the help of Gardy, a Basketball player at Long Island University, stayed the course of laying down the law. Consequently, the fights intensified between Mom and Coye and Gardy vs. Gerald-Herby. Looking-back, Gardy with nothing but self-centered wants and/or expectations, tried on too many occasions to apply the power of persuasion to get the second oldest, Gerald-Herby to go along with the program. As a third child, I’d love to think that I became at that time the “voice of reason” between the various factions. I had two younger siblings to worry about. Being protective of my younger brother Nick growing up, is still a source of pride after all these years. Myriam, on the other hand, one of two sisters, and the only one living with us, had four brothers looking after her. It became common knowledge for us whose side to take in an argument. The fights got uglier and messier. Coye quickly realized that he was outnumbered and as a result, became more detached and aloof. It appeared that mom was always angry with someone or something, and Gardy, her enabler, kept rationalizing everything by just saying, “Coye left me at 11 years old, man!, and I grew up without a father.”
Gerald-Herby, the second oldest, was considered belligerent for making countless attempts to have some of those family disagreements appraised on merit alone. As in many different cases, when emotions run high, most people are only interested in enlisting others to take their side of the issue whether they’re right or wrong. Far too many people in similar situations are not interested in a third and objective side of any argument for that same reason. Those emotional people incessantly make decisions in a vacuum thinking their positions are justifiable because of past wrongs, knowing darn well, “two wrongs don’t make a right.” You see, that was the norm in our household during my formative years.

By sharing some intimate details about my formative years, I can only hope that readers of this entry  begin to establish the right kind of correlation between a dysfunctional upbringing in some families and its members’ collective inability to pull resources together and having no sense of “common good.” If you don’t learn fairness and equity in your own home growing up where exactly are you supposed to learn this key principle? Additionally, when there is “lack of leadership” or “bad leadership,” players become preoccupied only with their own interests and security. This lack of leadership, overused by American politicians, is why so many families and businesses are hurting. It is as equally damaging when the oldest sibling continually appealled to the negative and arbitrary leader, a benevolent manipulator, only to package his self-interests as advice or as if they were in the best interest of the entire family. Don’t get it twisted! You can be a knucklehead, a total jerk to your blood brothers for denying them of their God-given rights and interests, a vicious coward toward other Black folks, and still keep your Corporate job. But it sure doesn’t fly in the sphere of entrepreneurship. For, a majority of the people that matters will know, “you don’t cut the mustard.”

During my undegraduate studies, I had the privilege and rare opportunity to look at studies and research about American children of immigrant parents and African-American children from humble beginnings who went on all the way to reaching their American dream as entrepreneurs. When looking at those case studies, two things stuck to mind: 1st) a strong belief in the ideal that when you work hard and play by the rules, the sky is the limit, and 2nd) mutual respect was always prevalent when they were growing up. That type of respect with its share of disagreement, subsequently translated into always protecting everybody’s interest, respecting boundaries, and an unwavering loyalty to a working model or prototype.

As a third child growing up in a dysfunctional family, it was prudent to embrace neutrality. That position certainly didn’t help me with taking calculated risks. “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” Therefore, how did I evaluate those messy arguments mentioned earlier with my young analytical mind?  I had to be neutral. If not, I was either “adding insult to injury” or “adding fuel to the fire.” This cowardly approach of being neutral may have sharpened my survival skills but didn’t do much for my honesty and sense of right and wrong. I am sure that I wasn’t the only one in that difficult predicament during my formative years. In fact, too many Black folks grew up in a negative environment. We are always on “survival mode,” which impedes one’s ability to devote time, energy, money, and collective expertise to create a separate entity, a special interest group, an enterprise with synergy that would meet the needs of the community, lobby state legislators, or supply the demands of many potential customers. 

A good understanding of money management is also key to pulling resources together. I was disappointed but not surprised, when my parents finally decided to sell the house they bought together in 1978, Mom insisted on getting $50,000.00 more than Coye. I was disappointed but not surprised when Gardy’s first marriage failed due to irreconcilable differences. According to his ex-wife Sheryl who later on became a friend, Gardy was too afraid of financial responsibility and too terrified to cut off the umbilical cord and venture on his own. Moreover, he never grasped the importance of declaring his financial independence from mama, provide for his immediate family, and indirectly create opportunities for the other siblings. I was disappointed but not surprised when Coye died in 2001, Nick sold his property and pocketed the money. According to one of my lawyers, he made $60,000.00 + from that transaction. Where is the financial intelligence and astute understanding of money management needed to pulling resources together? Where is “fidelity to the working model” that has brought prosperity to so many Americans for more than 200 years?  So, if you grew up in an atmosphere where you had to walk on egg shells, you may have to surmount some major obstacles before you can truly understand and accept the notion that pulling resources together is really for the betterment of an entire group. According to a study conducted by the Pew Reseach Center, most Americans think Blacks can’t get ahead because of their own failures. It is safe to say, there is no urgency in these United States to address discrimination on the job, discrimination in getting a business loan, discrimination in the criminal justice system, senseless violence in urban America and mass incarceration of Black men. Blacks who grew up in a functional and nurturing family structure understand and accept failure as part of the game. They will persevere and stay the course of working with kindred spirits until they are on the path to being successful. Whereas, Blacks who were exposed to only a selfish mindset, poverty, and a negative environment growing up, think racism is the only thing holding them back, and they, alone and all by themselves, will find a way to get over the hump. “Pulling resources together” is viewed as an abstract concept utilized by people of other races. This attitude will persist even when the data clearly indicates, the typical player and bad actor will more than likely fall flat on his face working alone. Once again, I was disappointed but not surprised, when Mom passed away in 2012, and found out beforehand, Gardy talked her into NOT writing a “will.” What would he tell her to do the right thing? For, she agreed years ago to put his name on the deed of her house with right of survivorship. Lastly, was that an acceptable course of action for a mother of six?

Entrepreneurship accompanied with a renewed struggle for our economic rights should be our last frontier as a people. We have to keep in mind, it all starts with the family structure known as the building block of society. A functional Black family is a microcosm of what works in America. The American experiment and what works in America or American ingenuity revolve around good leadership. The type of leadership that demands every member face the brutal facts of his/her reality head on but still have faith in the plan that together we can and will solve any problems; a culture of selflessness where politics and ego take a back seat to what’s best for all members of the American family.

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For every action there is a reaction. A mature man or woman often referred to as a sage cannot control the actions of others but has the capability to exercise a great deal of control over his/her reactions. When encountering an unfamiliar situation that I call “phenomenon” consisting of new stimuli, your capability to exercise the aforementioned great deal of control over your reactions should come into play. Calculated and appropriate responses to new stimuli of any “phenomenon” require insights and concise conditioning. That type of precision although alters the physiology of your response by a very small margin but potentially makes a huge difference in your overall behavior by swaying your response in a positive direction regardless of the nature of a stimulus. Which allows you, the team player, to mitigate the unconditioned response associated with a certain type of stimulus but instead stick to the script, stay on point, and due to emotional intelligence, remain cognizant of your interactions with others. One of the many benefits of that capability is the fact that you are NOT or in many cases, no longer within the sphere of influence of opinionated, manipulative, angry, pessimistic, and morose individuals.

It is appropriate for me to start this post by stating, the successful one-person-business is nothing more than a myth. So, if you are spending 8 to 10 hours by yourself at your corner store, you and your business are barely surviving. The key to having a successful corner store is making a profit after you pay for your overhead. You should also offer convenience and give your customers a sense of familiarity with your products because of your thorough knowledge of their subculture and the local culture. Lastly, your repeat customers should eventually develop a sense of ownership – e.g., one customer will say, this one is ours, our own Caribbean store; another customer will say, this is our neighborhood store, and the owner is one of us. The sheer size and location of your business can bring that “feel” to a corner store though you may be part of a  much larger business system. One of the many reasons you opened your small business was probably to be your own boss, and now, as a Management Analyst, I am emphasizing to you the importance of networking with other store owners and running your business within the frameworks of a much larger business system. There are so many benefits to working together. Store owners that share information, continually help one another buy the right products. Moreover, knowing which “perishable items sell quickly” can save you time and money and is therefore a good piece of information to have when running a corner store. It is also crucial to know that all products displayed in any store should be thought of as having a “shelf life.” So, how long are you going to keep some of those products on the shelves, before having a SALE of some kind. I am sure that you can figure that out on your own but the sharing of information through a business system make that process much quicker and take most of the guess work out of it. Many corner store owners take pride in sharing with me that they have greater buying power when they pull their resources together to buy familiar products or items customers want from a main supplier. Migratory birds fly in V-formation for some of the same reasons just mentioned in this post but yet, a number of store owners are still convinced the only way to run their shop is to “fly solo.” Birds fly south in some types of formation to conserve energy, facilitate orientation and communication among themselves, steer clear of dangerous pitfalls, and hence determine a clear sense of direction. So, my questions to you are as follows: Are you in this for the long haul? Are you in business just to survive? Or, do you want your shop to thrive?

A corner store with the right visibility and enough foot traffic can benefit from at least three (3) business systems that comprise my area of expertise. First, becoming an Authorized Ship Center for CentEx Cargo would definitely make your business thrive in any geographic area where our group has a substantial logistics presence. However, CentEx Cargo has the stellar reputation of working together only with high performing stores – i.e., stores that sell moving supplies and generate lots of shipping business. How much success do you really want? A CentEx Cargo Agent could brainstorm with you on how to advertise individually and together with our group. We have had instances where we were more than willing to provide temporary staffing or a part-time Shipping Clerk to a CentEx Cargo Authorized Ship Center that was generating such a large volume of international shipping business. Second, becoming a U-HAUL truck rental center would complement your business and get you over the hump to becoming a one-stop shop. Third, UPS finds corner stores that sell lots of moving supplies and have the right logistics support and customer base very attractive. Becoming an Authorized Shipping Outlet for UPS would make your one-stop shop complete. UPS would help your business send packages throughout the United States while CentEx Cargo would be responsible for the international shipping service aspect of your one-stop shop. And this is one of the many ways of turning a one-person business into a successful venture.

For a snippet of our retail division, CentEx Online Store  and the CentEx Cargo business system , visit http://pinterest.com/centexcargo/manhattan-new-york/  or call toll-free, 1-877-464-7152

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The Proactive Role Employers Can Take: Visit LINK for Frequently Asked Questions and Strategies for Victims

Leadership

Before going any further, it’s absolutely necessary that all readers of this entry understand the difference between leadership excellence and managerial acumen. A good manager is someone that shows good judgments, thorough knowledge, and expertise when supervising other employees. Managerial acumen also implies having a keen sense of other employees’ capabilities, who can get the job done, and how to assign workers to tasks. Lastly, a good manager always accepts responsibility for the overall performance of his/her team. However, this high level of professional competence does not necessarily make a manager a leader. A leader is someone who truly cares about those entrusted in his care. A premise that’s indicative of the type of leadership that I embrace. Based on the findings of countless studies, most human beings are genetically predisposed to trust and to cooperate with others that are in their immediate surroundings. A leader that keeps these human traits in mind when working with people and caring for them has a great chance of attaining leadership excellence. Many argue, this type of leadership is in direct opposition to capitalism; a position that resonates with a lot of conservatives. The conservative brand of leadership takes hold especially in an environment where numbers on a spreadsheet are more important than employees. As a result, corporate decisions are solely based upon data, market conditions, and financial opportunities. Corporations are elevated to “people status” while people are stripped of their humanities.
Let’s go back to my type of leadership where getting to know employees on a personal level, listening to them, and taking care of them are a priority. This noble position gives leaders the ability to empathize and subsequently embrace what Bob Chapman, CEO of Barry-Wehmiller Companies refer to as people-centric leadership. Where exactly does a leader start? A leader should definitely start by explaining to subordinates that his acceptance of a leadership role is closely tied to providing team players with a new circle of safety. Moreover, he should also express a willingness to extend that circle of safety to every employee. This is a good starting point because it is the prerequisite to setting a positive work culture where employees can trust one another. In fact, it is the goal of leadership to set a culture in which employees are free of danger from each other. Whether you are seeking new talents or are promoted the new leader of an existing team, it is imperative that you provide a strong sense of belonging to your new circle of safety to every member of the team. According to Simon Sinek, Author of Start With Why, “this feeling of belonging, of shared values, and a deep sense of empathy, dramatically enhances trust, cooperation, and problem solving.” Without a leader providing that circle of safety, employees will be forced to spend too much of their time and energy protecting themselves from each other.
I now have everybody’s attention! I made sure and double checked that all employees know there is a new leader at work who cares about how they feel. Consequently, their stress levels about “the unknown” begin to decrease. With the stress and anxiety greatly diminished, a CEO should go straight into the next level of leadership, which entails sharing his/her vision for the company with every member of the team. There are still unknown dangers outside to worry about – e.g., competitors, a fluctuating market, rapidly changing technology … etc – but when employees are in that circle of safety, they convince themselves that those external dangers are more perilous than the dangers inside. Employees will gladly substitute individual goals for team goals when they know the more they give of themselves to see others succeed, the greater their value to the group and the more respect and compensation they will receive from the company. In this work environment, it is unequivocal that the more others want to help you, the more you can achieve.
Team building, the next component worth exploring, is an invaluable tool to leadership excellence. It is a process that should always include a new leader’s close observations of how people work together with minimal or no oversight, and how they talk to each other and behave in staff meetings . Theoretically, if everyone in a given team is completely on the same page and working in lockstep toward the same goals, as their new leader, you are half way there. With some degree of varying confidence, you can focus your time and attention making sure that every member of the team buys in to the same plan of getting results, shared accountability, group motivation, and knowing how bad each member of the team really wants to win. Your pep talk to members of your team can go as follows: “you have to decide right now, what is more important: helping the team win or advancing your own career.” We all should be aware of the ultimate test of a great team: results. And, it is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage in any given industry.

It is my sincere hope that this blog post gives its readers a glimpse into the type of leadership that I embrace. If you (individual reader, government employee, or a representative of a private company) were to order our management consulting services, Centuria Group would at that point address the first signs of a team in trouble.