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When I first took over marketing director at a hotel, the first question I started asking was, “What makes us stand out?”

We knew that more than anything, we could give our clients an outstanding experience. We treated our clients like royalty, and rather than trying to market ourselves as the best hotel, with the biggest rooms, and the lowest prices, we honed in on what was most honest and most unique to us - the experience that we create and the great care we treat our clients with.

You have to do this for your personal branding and your organizational branding. Start by not being afraid to stand out. Work on the thing that makes you different from everyone else, because that is how people remember you in a sea of competition and noise.

When you scan social media, or when you are watching TV, think about what makes you stop and actually pay attention to something. You are drawn into the unique things that stick out. You are drawn to authenticity and to stories that resonate with you.

What is it about your restaurant or coffee shop or organization that makes it all its own? What is it about your story that is so beautiful and unique that it will cause people to go to your website and find out more information about you?

What makes you different is what makes you strong. What makes you stand out from everyone else is what makes people remember your brand. Branding is perception and perception is reality. If people do not know what you offer and your unique story, people will not remember you.

Do not be afraid to embrace your unique story. You made be “weird” or different, but it is those brands and businesses that become leaders.

Do not get influenced by the status quo and competition.

When I first started, I had people tell me, “Do you really want to reinvent the wheel, since people here have been doing marketing for a long time?” They were telling me not to start a business, even though I knew I had unique value to bring, because someone else was doing.

You cannot let people or even your own thoughts keep you from charting your own course. The great thing is that there is a lot of disruption happening now. There are so many people paving their own way and making things happen that no one thought possible.

Be sure that you are not afraid to define what makes you unique then market the hell out of it.

Embrace you and your story and keep sharing it over and over again. Be unique and let others know about it. 

- David L. Joyner and the Joyner Media & Strategies Team 

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There have been a lot of different crises happening within the last few years. We are in the middle of a huge natural disaster right now in our country. It seems like every time we turn on the news, we want to quickly turn it off by how overwhelming it can be.

Something incredibly important for those in leadership positions during tough times when the public is frightened or when someone is going through a crises is the responsibility on them to manage each crisis first and foremost with empathy.

When my brother was killed, we immediately went through pains and fears that we did not know existed. This happens around the world with people who live in war-torn countries or people who live in cities that are plagued with violence. The actual people dealing with the crisis are walking through an unfathomable reality of pain and fear. Though we read it in one way as just another story or another statistic, something that keeps getting lost in these crises are leaders speaking to the humanity of them. Acknowledging the actual people who are walking through the suffering.

You look the world over and the most effective leaders that we honor throughout history had a unique ability to communicate people through tough times. Dr. King lived through a very, vey violent time. People were getting killed, he was being threatened constantly, and was eventually killed. But somehow, through all of that, he found a way to be a steady ship in those stormy waters. He had a way of making people feel that no matter what, he was right there with you and that he was going to walk through the pain with you.

This should be the first thing a leader does. You first have to speak to the humanity of a crisis. First and foremost, say, “I see and acknowledge that you are going through pain.” That is powerful. Most times, people just need to hear somebody say this. “I see that you are hurting, I see that you are scared, I see that the world has failed you in this moment, and that you have a right to grieve.” That gives people the freedom to be in a place where they can work with you and follow you and let you help them guide you.

When you do not speak to people’s pain as a leader, it causes bitterness and resentment. It makes people feel alone and makes them feel like they do not matter.

Because my brother was killed by gun violence, many people did not first acknowledge that my brother was a human being, I was a human being, my family were people who were grieving and in pain. They jumped to the debates and discussions around how my brother was killed. You have to make sure that in the midst of the crisis you do not focus on how you feel, you focus on how others feel. That is your responsibility.

We all need to take a step back from all of our debates and discussions and think about when the last time was when we first acknowledged that someone was hurting. This will help us build relationships. This will help us draw closer and lead in a more impactful way. It allows people to trust your intentions and believe that you are putting their needs first.

Crises is when true leaders shine and make a huge impact. Be challenged and pushed to empathize with those in pain and lead them through understanding and acknowledgment that you see them.

- David L. Joyner and the Joyner Media & Strategies Team 

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A lot of people in the last few months from different meetings or different speaking engagements I have had, have asked me what the most important thing is in becoming an entrepreneur. Something I have noticed from when I worked in hotel management, to sales and marketing, and in entrepreneurship is the importance of consistency.

When we talk to someone about marketing, someone may have spent a ton of money and energy in one month, but has not laid out a long term, consistent strategy where they are showing up every day on their platform. You do not go to a restaurant because you don’t know what kind of food will be there every day. You go because you know what to expect. You know you love their product and their experience. That trust and expectancy comes with consistency. 

You have to be consistently telling your story and putting yourself out there in order for people to trust you, engage with you, and notice you.

For example, many of the boards I serve on, we talk about how you brand communities. So in the country right now, people are migrating quickly to urban centers. A lot of the population is losing a lot of money because of this. When you are talking about telling the story of a community, many have not consistently defined and told a clear story enough for people to pay attention. 

The idea that you can focus on one thing one month and try something new another month is not a strong strategy. You need consistency in your story and you need to be telling it every month, every week, every day.

What are you consistently working on right now? What are you consistently throwing your time and effort into? What are you chipping away at a little bit at a time that people will begin to notice? 

If you are doing something amazing right now and not sharing the story, how will people know about it?

You may get a lot of response one week and none another week, but in the long-term, people will start noticing if you don’t stop. If you keep showing up.

Intellect is a matter of intensity not extensity. It is the intense nature of how you deploy your efforts that will ultimately position you in a way that will make you stronger and more successful.

That is how you market yourself, your business, your nonprofit, your community, that is how you get better at a skill.

Consistency tells people they can trust you. That you have stability. Would you want to follow a leader that feels one way one day and another way another day? No. You want someone consistent.

Focus on being consistent. It matters. It says something powerful about who you are.

Keep hustling hard and keep fighting forward.

 

- David L. Joyner and the Joyner Media & Strategies Team 

 

I still struggle with this and I know that a lot of people struggle with it:

patience.

Everything around us has connected us in such a fast way. Technology and our interconnectedness have allowed us to believe that we do not have to go through the process. We can just go from point A to point B overnight. And there is a constant battle within people of how they are going to get to where they want to go. How they are going to get to their idea of success.

Although life has gotten faster and we are more connected than ever, success requires a lot of patience still. It’s connected to what we have talked about before in thinking from the end. When you think from the end, you know that it will not happen overnight. You will practice patience when you think from the end of your success because you are more aware of what it will take to get there and how much patience you need.

Yes there will be an urge to do something really fast. But so many times the answer is to keep working and keep putting in the hustle. You have to earn your success.

Any time you are trying to do something for your community, to create change, to build a business, you have to work hard at it. Patience is a sign of wisdom. People who can control their emotions and slow down always seem bigger than most people. They always seem like they have a larger than life personality. It is because they have taught themselves the discipline of slowing down and making the right decisions at the right time.

When you do the work, you learn. The more time I take to do things the right way, the better off I am a year or 5 years from now. My future is better when I work patiently and take more time on my work.

Someone telling you to be patient does not mean don’t follow your dreams or don’t take a risk. They are saying do not do something just to do something. Don’t rush to your success. Don’t do it our of an emotion pushing you to make it happen now.

If what you want is that important to you, you should have the discipline to wait for the success to come, work humbly, and embrace the actual process.

Most successful people put in hours and hours before reaching their success. During the actual journey of working is when you mold your character and prepare yourself for the larger battles down the road.

Patience is a virtue. Your patience will allow you to achieve things that most people will not. It will give you wisdom and a sense of purpose. Be patient, stay patient, and do it the right way. Always.

Keep hustling hard and keep fighting forward.

- David L. Joyner and the Joyner Media & Strategies Team 

During the years I attended Norfolk State University, I remembered one tough day at the Financial Aid office. The out of state tuition was raised significantly, so despite having a partial scholarship to play trumpet in the music ensembles, it was becoming next to impossible that I would be able to afford to attend the great university. You won’t be surprised to guess that this was a moment where I was extremely frustrated, and you might imagine all the insecurities and emotions that arose and were beginning to flood my heart and soul. Later that evening, I was at one of the counselor’s offices who assisted in financial matters like mine. I remembered seeing a note on the wall at her cubicle, with the words written, “Hope is being able to hear the music of the future, and faith is being able to dance it today.” I remember the moment like it was yesterday, sitting slouched back in the chair, feeling defeated, singing an internal sad ballad of, woe is me, and no matter how hard I try.... yet, those simple but beautiful words, spoke immediately to me in that moment.

 

Hope and faith are words that are uttered often. Just google them and every quote, image, saying and song that you would want to see will appear articulating the beauty and power of those words in all sorts of ways. Yet, they are spoken so casually, so effortlessly, that to most people they no longer hold real value. Make no mistake, hope and faith are two of the most powerful forces on earth, and they have been at the foundation of every moral and human rights achievements on earth. The ability to hear the music of tomorrow, the song of your destiny, the beckoning to fight on against all odds, and to believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel, when all you see and all you feel is darkness - that is a powerful strength that has kept people alive when everything was telling them to give up. And then faith, the ability to take that step past the fire ignited by hope, and act right now, even when you’re gripped by fear and standing in the face of storms, ridicule and uncertainty. Acting on faith in that fashion, is only reserved for the truly courageous.

 

Right now, you are undoubtedly dealing with some great trial. It may be personal, it may be at work, and quite honestly one area of pain, usually metastasizes and quickly spreads across most aspects of our existence. I will not begin to tell you that I know how you feel, because I don’t and there are no words that I could ever say that would fully assuage that pain, that fear, that wound or that storm you are dealing with.

 

What I can tell you is what I told a gentleman who worked at the Draka Elevator Products plant here in Rocky Mount after giving a speech at their Headquarters on the topic of leadership. As I was preparing to leave, a gentleman came up to me. He had a warm spirit about him and a demeanor and quality, that reminded me of the great portrayals of the kind grandfather in any good family movie. He looked at me and smiled, shook my hand and told me how much he appreciated my words, and how proud he was of me. And then he looked at me and inquired if he could ask me a question. I told him of course he could, and then he said this to me:

 

“What do you do when you feel like you have done all you can do, spent your life fighting hard and yet nothing seems to really change for you, what do you do then?” I remember I was so caught off guard by the gravity of the question, and felt also not worthy at my age to respond to it, but then I remembered why I was there and what leadership was. I looked at him and smiled and said, you do the only thing you can do and must always do, you keep fighting forward, you keep pushing and you keep trying. I then reminded him, that the reality was that we all will surely meet our end one day, and so how foolish it would be to just give up, stand still or ever give in. No, I told him, you must meet your inevitable death one day, still fighting and still pushing forward. I remember he smiled and shook his head in agreement, and thanked me, and let me know that he looked forward to voting for me one day for something. I laughed and said, you might not want to have hope in that.

 

Understand – Yes, this journey called life is extremely hard at times, it just is. We often are not prepared for all the storms that we will face, and not always given honest realities of what we will encounter in relationships, in our careers and as a result, the brutal wars that will be waged in our own minds.

 

The one certainty that we can count on and yet you may never be really told to, is the very fact that nothing is for certain. And that very reality, when you fully embrace and are brave enough to step into that level of awareness, will give us a freedom to live and always find reason to hope and to act on and feed your faith. If nothing is for certain, then why not make the choice to choose to meet whatever comes your way with optimism, and joy. Why not choose to stay hopeful, and surround yourself with positive people, and enjoy the beautiful experiences that feed and nourish your soul?

 

Understand - hope will mold your mindset and act as a catalyst to jumpstarting a heart full of bold faith to act on what you believe. This mindset will cause you to take the risks and attempt the feats that most die wishing they had at least tried. Hope and faith are still very powerful forces. Embrace them, feed them and always stay committed to hearing that music of your bright future and dancing to it today. Choose to die on your feet.

As always, no matter what, you just keep hustling hard and keep fighting forward. 

- David L. Joyner and the Joyner Strategies Team 

Yes, Actively Serving Your Community Is 100% Your Responsibility.
 
There is something that I say whenever I am asked to speak on leadership and service and that is this: in the end, the true success of our lives will be measured by what we gave to our world, not what we took from it. That belief is something that was engrained in me as a child, and I believe it with all my heart. In other words, you don’t get to sit on the sidelines and talk about all the things that need to be done in a community, and criticize those on the ground fighting, sacrificing, when you are doing absolutely nothing outside of your comfort zone. You have a responsibility to serve the community in which you live, and the measure of your consistent effort in that arena, says a great deal about your mindset and leadership.
 
Community service is something that is talked about a great deal and mentioned often haphazardly as if it were just a recreational sport or seasonal activity. That idea, that mentality is not only unacceptable by any true leadership standards, but it’s also dangerous and affects countless lives that you will never know.
Yes, serving your community is serving people. It’s not just buildings, it’s not just roads, it’s not slogans or activities that you only do when they are fun to do. You not serving the community in which you live, work, and raise your children, is showing a level of indifference that I would argue is depraved.
There should be no question as to whether you are responsible for serving your community. The safety, wellbeing, prosperity, and moral standards of how your community treats the least of its citizens, is the responsibility of every soul that inhabits that community. As Saint Theresa of Calcutta so poignantly said:

“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by "I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.”

What she made very clear, is that everything else you do, pales in comparison to what you give. Your service to your community is not only your responsibility, but a part of the very measure of who you are, and what meaning your very existence has. Our consistent actions tell the story of who we are, so the fact that you could live in a community that you were not willing to constantly make the necessary sacrifices, and give of yourself consistently to making it safer, more just, more prosperous and just to get to know you neighbors who don’t look like you, believe what you believe but live and work in your community as well, then how could you honestly justify that? You can’t. You can make excuses, you can talk about how you don’t have time, you can talk about all the “ideas” you have and all the great silver bullet answers that only you and your friends possess after your protests and coffee shop meetings. But then you must also be honest and say that you have no right to complain about your frustrations in your community, when you willingly chose to consistently do nothing.

If you want to be a leader in your community, if you want to want to be among the numbers of intentional souls who live out love, sacrifice, leadership and courage in their true definitions, then step into that place of awareness of your responsibility to your community, and start right now.

There are several ways to begin, starting with just asking, how can I help? Look up your local United Way and look up the different organizations, and contact one that has a mission and purpose that connects with you. Attend your schoolboard, city/town council meetings, contact your local school system and simply ask do you have any needs that you could volunteer and help with? Get a group of your friends together and commit to every month, no matter what, committing time to making intentional sacrifices to serve your community together. If you have a child in school, just simply ask their teachers, what can I do to support you from a community standpoint. Go to a meeting on the other side of town for a community event with the people in your community who don’t look like you. Contact the Boys & Girls Clubs in your community and ask how can you help? Use your resources and connections towards implementing actions on cleaning up the old buildings, littered streets and eye sores in your community.

One very sad reality, is that according to measures and data across the board, we live in deeply self-segregated communities, so instead of lying to yourself about that fact, be brave enough to be honest about it, and find ways to intentionally set out to build relationships in other neighborhoods of different makeups. Find ways to hold genuine and authentic joint community events and meetings.

The truth is that serving your community, is an important and noble act, but honestly, it’s your responsibility. The social media attacks and disgusting arguments to vent and bully about your frustrations about your community - that’s not service, that’s not strength, that is just what most people do because it’s easy to do and feeds an emotional weak spot. I believe you are stronger than that, I believe and I know that you have that nagging in you that tells you that you should be doing more, that you should be doing something.
Yes, it is your responsibility, so yes, you must act on it. We all are busy, we all have things going on in our personal lives, we all work hard, but serving our communities is a priority and part of the rent we pay to live in a society that affords us that privilege. All the other people who serve in your community consistently, I promise you that they all have personal lives, challenges, fears, frustrations and yet they still make sure they commit themselves to their responsibility.

Stop talking, stop lying to yourself, stop making excuses, stop sitting on the sidelines and get in the arena to help fight to make your community better, and serve your neighbor. Be the change you seek, lead your business or organization in instilling serving your community as a part of your culture, and be an intentional leader in bridging the racial and economic divides in your community, by intentionally building relationships. Stop talking, and just start doing. Just start with asking, how can I help? Then consistently dedicate yourself to the work. Yes, you are responsible, so make it happen, and keep hustling hard and keep fighting forward.
 
Below is a link video that I was recently privileged to be a part of, helping to tell the story of my community, and talk about how the people here have given me so much, and how we are excited about how we as a community are working towards building an extraordinary future to be proud of. This was an Economic Development video done by a partnership of the City of Rocky Mount and Electricities of NC Inc.

https://youtu.be/739MjeYPwaE

Hello Hustlers!

There is one very important aspect of living a successful and intentional life that has been constantly proven throughout history. It’s been echoed through the writings and great speeches by the leaders who fought for the just rights of humankind, and by those who made the great innovative achievements, of which we all are the beneficiaries.

This vital component is sacrifice.

Napoleon Hill echoed the sentiment of sacrifice in these words: “Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice, and is never the result of selfishness.”  Your fight to crush your goals and live the dreams you obsess about, will not and cannot be achieved without you consistently and willingly making the required sacrifices necessary to do so. This ridiculous idea that success can be achieved on a schedule that’s convenient for you, makes no sense and speaks to the common mindset of the willingly weak, willfully ignorant and the disgustingly entitled. Making the sacrifices that most won’t make is what will set you apart and is the mindset of those who truly are hustlers. There are no shortcuts to living an intentional and extraordinary life. This is not a matter of money, your background, or where you live; it’s a matter of intentional thinking and will.

We all have the same 24 hours in a day; that is a fact. What we choose to do or not do with that time is up to us. Please understand this, saying there is not enough time is not an acceptable excuse, and it’s the lie that people use to give themselves an out. You want to impact you community? You want your business to be a better corporate citizen? Then you must manage your time better, and sacrifice the leisure time to go and serve intentionally.

When I talk to small business owners and even large organizations, I always hear the same old song about why they don’t market enough or serve in their community, and it’s because they don’t have time because they are too busy. Work, kids, hanging out, etc... The same exact time they are singing this pathetic song, they are complaining about the reality that no one knows about their business, and how people are not giving to their organization and how special they are and that people should support them. You have to earn success. You must fight for people’s attention, and you must put in the constant work. You must make the investments when it’s hard to do. You must tighten your leisure spending and reinvest that money into research and development, sponsoring community events to get your name out, and working around the clock to constantly be building. Being busy is not an excuse. You cannot grow without consistently making the necessary sacrifices.

Understand – Making sacrifices is not easy. It’s not always fun, but sacrifice is vital for success. We mention it so casually on holidays and when we’re honoring people and professions where many have made the ultimate sacrifice for a cause and responsibility bigger than themselves. Yet, that is exactly why we remember them, because they seized a glory most will ever know, because they were willing to pay the costs and give it all for an idea, for a goal and for the rights of humankind. You don’t get a participation trophy for living. You don’t get a pat on back for doing the normal things that are required to succeed. If you want to grow, if you want to truly have your life and your work impact the lives of others in a positive, powerful and measurable way, then you must be willing to give up to go up.

How much are you willing to sacrifice? You must be willingly to put up or shut up. Take a moment and reflect on what sacrifices you are willing to make and should make. You get one life to live, and death is coming. Give it all for your dreams, for your goals and for the people you love. Boldly run towards the storm and embrace the sacrifices now for what lies ahead!

Keep hustling hard and keep fighting forward.

- David L. Joyner and the Joyner Media & Strategies Team 

 

Hello Hustlers!

 This year I have been talking a lot to you about the importance of developing the right mindsets and the right mental strengths and confidently taking strategic action towards achieving your goals, living your passions and making a measurable impact in your communities. These conversations are important because your mental strength and inner resolve to succeed and fight forward will be the determining factor on the legacy of your name in the end. A key importance towards actually crushing your goals, and leaving a legacy of measurable impact is for you to strategically and decisively be making the right investments for your personal and business growth.

There is something that I often tell people when I am giving presentations or a keynote address -  Olympic athletes have Olympic coaches and trainers. In other words if you want to compete at high levels, and if you want to achieve at levels that are above the averages that most people cowardly commit to being, you are going to have to make the investments at above average levels to get there.

Whether a small business or an individual looking to progress in their career, you have to be willing to make the investments into your success that most won’t begin to do. You can’t reasonably believe that you can get to being recognized as a leader at the top of your game, when you don’t make the intentional and strategic investments to get there. And yes, this will be a sacrifice but that is the requirement to succeed at high levels. There is no away around it, so accept it and stop right now making all the mental excuses on why you can’t do what others do.

Obviously a small business department store can’t make the marketing buys that say Walmart can, but they can make the sacrifices to set aside money to invest in marketing, social media advertising,etc. consistently. Understand – making the proper investments into your organization, business and your personal development is not something for you to put off, because everyday people are doing it and they will ultimately take you out. This is not a question of money, or talent; it’s a question of mentality and priorities.

I’ll share some practical examples of what I mean. This firm is a member of the Rocky Mount, Wilson and Raleigh Chambers of Commerce, and we are also members of the Association Executives of NC. Yes there is a cost associated with all of the times, and the biggest cost of all these is our most valuable resource, which is time. We are members of these organizations because they are investments into our business growth. We make the time to go to events, attend conferences, and intentionally network because that is the wise thing to do if you want to grow. The first thing so many small business owners tell me about why they are not marketing is because of the money and the time.

I’m going to very blunt. That is utterly ridiculous and foolish. How the hell is your business going to grow if you don’t make those investments?! Don’t put your family member with no social media experience in charge of your company’s social media. Find someone or a firm with knowledge and skill set and make that investment into the future of your business! You can’t have it both ways. Attend a professional development conference, send that one potential client a nice and thoughtful gift. Join Chambers and then set aside a schedule to take time to go and build the networks, invest in boosting a social media ad, and sacrifice going to that money you were going to spend to go the beach every weekend. Hire a firm to help you define and aggressively market your message.

These are the strategic investments you make to grow your business. Growth comes from action and relentlessly doing and trying new things. Remember, the market doesn’t care how you feel, the consumer doesn’t care about your excuses, and your community’s needs and challenges won’t change around your feelings and schedule.

You have to do what most won’t do to succeed; you have to fight harder than most everyone will to know the joys and victories that most will never know. Stop thinking about it, brainstorming about it, and just go ahead and make the strategic investments needed to succeed. Remember, the longer you wait the more costly it will be, and you will die one day, and that should be all the inspiration you need.

As always, Keep hustling hard and keep fighting forward!

- David L. Joyner and the Joyner Media & Strategies Team