To The East, My Brotha….To The East

For my hip-hop heads out there, I think X-Clan said it best, “…to the east, my brotha, to the east…” This was one of my favorite lines uttered from Professor X, and a perfect segue into what this post is really all about.

But first, a little backstory:

Seven years ago, I remember sitting at my desk in a job that was going nowhere fast. I was doing great work, but I had been passed over twice for a much-deserved promotion. It was at this moment in my life, that I felt like I was never going to accomplish anything of significance professionally. Slowly, negative thoughts began to creep into my mind, and I feared that I would be among the large number of unhappy people who are stuck in dead-end jobs.

In 2007, there was an opening at the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau for the role of Marketing Manager. Now, I had no real marketing experience, nor did I have any tourism experience. Matter of fact, I didn’t have any connections or affiliations with the city either. So, I was fighting an uphill battle from the start. But, as I have mentioned before, I am a man of faith, so I prayed over this opportunity and pursued it. Out of hundreds of applicants, I was hired in December of 2007. I remember telling my family and close friends that I believe I have found my dream job, and I had planned on retiring from this job. But as the economy changed with the recession in 2008, I could see that I needed to be adaptable so that I could make an impact within this organization. I began to think like and operate like an intrapreneur, which is basically someone who operates like an entrepreneur, but within the confines of an existing organization. I was constantly bringing in new ideas and concepts to the organization, and people were very receptive to it. I then began to realize that God gave me a special gift, and I intended on using it for the good of this organization and this city. In 2012, another organization wanted to hire me away, and I spoke with my current boss and former CEO at the time about this opportunity. After those conversations, I realized that I wanted to continue to grow my career here in Louisville, but with a promotion. So, I did some research, wrote up a new job description and job title, and presented it to my boss. She took it to my former CEO, and within a few days, I received a promotion and became the Director of Brand Marketing & Advertising. And again…in this new role, I believed that I had found my dream job, and I had planned on retiring from this job.

As the Director of Brand Marketing & Advertising, I started getting numerous requests from local organizations, regional events and national conferences to speak on various topics of tourism, marketing and social media, based on the work I was producing. The more and more I spoke at these events, I began to develop relationships with other people in the tourism industry, most whom I now call friends, who would also seek me out for advice on a myriad of topics as it relates to their organizations. So I came to the revelation one day, that God was preparing me for something bigger that didn’t fit on my current plate. It was my goal then to seek guidance, understanding and patience – and just wait on Him to orchestrate the move.

As of July 10, I will no longer be the Director of Brand Marketing & Advertising at the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau. I will be taking my talents east to Lexington, and will become the Vice President of Marketing for the Lexington Convention & Visitors Bureau, aka “Visit Lex”. This opportunity is all part of God’s Master Plan for my life – of which I am no longer trying to figure out. Seven years ago, I never would have imagined that I would be elevated to this role within any organization at such an early age. I have always been driven and motivated to succeed, but sometimes I tried to force things on my own. As a Christian, sometimes God puts us on another path in life, and it is our job to walk that path – whether we have the right shoes on or not. Taking on this new role in Lexington, was one of the hardest decisions we have ever made as a family, but I remember the promise I made back in 1989 when I was baptized that I would allow God to lead me wherever he wants me to go…and I will follow. I am so blessed and thankful for the times I have spent with the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau. I will miss the staff, the organization and marketing this great city, as we did some really great things together. And I know they will go on to produce even greater things when I leave.

For those of you reading this who want to share in my exciting news, I say thank you! But I also want to give you something in return, and it is the basic principles on what has guided my career over the past seven years. Following these basic principles are a great benchmark if you want to succeed in anything, whether it be life, sports, volunteerism or your career. I truly believe that implementing all five, or even one of these, will greatly enhance your life.

My five basic principles are:

  1. Do your work…and then some. No one gets promoted, hired away or becomes successful by fulfilling the status quo. I tell young people all the time, “you have to be on your grind”. Take your work one step further, and do the things that others deem unnecessary so that you can become a necessity.
  2. Develop relationships with the right people. The old adage says, “it’s not what you know, but who you know”. Relationships make the world go round, and we are all about 4 to 5 people removed from knowing mutual acquaintances. In simple terms, the world is small. Good relationships lead to a strong support group, mentors and inside information about new opportunities.
  3. Show appreciation for everyone. Everyone plays a key role in the success of you and your organization, and great leaders acknowledge everyone. While there are varying degrees of intimacy in your professional relationships, you should always verbally and physically show people how much you value them. Remember to appreciate those who helped you get to where you are.
  4. Invest in yourself. No one wants to invest in a product that is depreciating. Learn to treat yourself as a product, and invest time and money into developing your character and skills. There are tons of free resources that you can use to educate yourself on a myriad of topics. Why would someone want to invest in you, when you don’t even invest in you?
  5. Take calculated risks. There isn’t one successful person who hasn’t taken at least one calculated risk. Most people take several. And not all risks are the same, as some risks can result in no reward. But the fact of the matter is, doing nothing is a risk in and of itself, so taking calculated risks will stretch your comfort level as an individual.

I’ll end this post with my favorite quote, “Success occurs when preparation meets opportunity”. What are you preparing yourself for?

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