President of Largest Black-Owned Bank: Boomers Can Learn Economic Optimism from Millennials

As graduation season approaches, most black parents have high anxiety about how our children can possibly achieve the American dream given economic inequality in America, while our children are confident their journey will be smooth and successful.

What if they’re right?

Research indicates a need for high anxiety. A recent study by Prosperity Now, The Road to Zero Wealth, quantifies the accelerating decline in black wealth over the past 30 years and projects if current trends continue, by 2053, black households will have a median wealth of $ 0! Furthermore, income inequality between blacks and whites is driven entirely by racism toward black boys, even when raised in wealthy black homes, according to a recent study by Stanford, Harvard, and the U.S. Census Bureau. While our children may be overly confident, we also have much to learn from them.

[RELATED STORY: STUDY: EVEN WHEN BORN INTO WEALTH, MANY BLACK BOYS DESTINED TO BECOME POOR] 

Are we underestimating Millennials?

As president and owner of OneUnited Bank, the largest black-owned bank in America, I have the opportunity to speak about financial literacy with many black communities across the country. Their feedback indicates a generational divide between baby boomers and millennials that begs the question, is past prologue? Are we underestimating our children?

For instance, for many years OneUnited Bank presented itself as a community bank that happens to be black-owned. About five years ago, we recognized the importance of speaking in our authentic voice to better serve urban communities and became unapologetically black. When young blacks hear this, they immediately snap their fingers as if to say “Amen.” Baby boomers, believing their “ice is colder,” often perceive black-owned institutions as offering less service at higher prices than a white company even when untrue.

I was blindsided once when after the typical recitation of my personal story, including Brown University, Harvard Business School, and working in the top ranks of Bank of America and American Express, someone asked, “But who are you?”

A black artist commissioned to paint an authentic mural of the black experience on OneUnited Bank’s Miami office pushed me to reflect. I finally recognized that more meaningful than my résumé, I am the great-grandchild of Annie Coachman, aka Ma Honey, who owned a barbecue pit, juke joint, candy store and real estate in Indiantown, Florida, a small town where blacks lived on one side of the railroad tracks, whites on the other. I lost touch with the enduring role Ma Honey played in my life, partially because she passed away my freshman year, but more because of the condescending reaction I experienced at Brown to my Indiantown roots.

My personal story touches a nerve with baby boomers who experienced the journey from segregation to integration. Some of them even shed a tear for the undervalued “Ma Honey” in their lives. Millennials and Generation Z, whose formative years were punctuated by the presence of a black president, make it clear they have no doubt about the value of their culture and roots, and have no tolerance for inauthenticity. For them, black is “lit.”

The generational differences are real.

While baby boomers express ambivalence about being perceived as “too black” and may even prefer the term “urban,” millennials created the #BankBlack and #BuyBlack movements, driving millions of dollars to black-owned banks and businesses. Since OneUnited Bank has embraced its “unapologetically black” voice, including our advocacy for social justice and #BlackLivesMatter, our customer base has doubled.

The black community is more focused on its $ 1.2 trillion in annual spending and the inaugural We Buy Black Convention is taking place in Atlanta in November.

With 43% of the 75 million millennials identifying as African American, Hispanic, or Asian, if a brand doesn’t have a multicultural strategy, it doesn’t have a growth strategy, according to Nielsen. Black consumer choices have a “cool factor” that moves markets. Hip-hop and authentic black performances— such as “Black Panther,” Pulitzer Prize-winning artist Kendrick Lamar and Beyoncé—have shaped global culture and generated billions. And black consumers are more likely to interact with brands on social media, use social networks to support companies and brands, or conversely, “call out” companies perceived to disrespect the black community.

There is no question economic mobility remains challenging for the black community, and we need to double down on our fight for social and economic justice. And as parents, we are rightfully concerned about our children’s future. Yet, we must also acknowledge black youth and young adults are a powerful voice and a growing economic force who can succeed against the odds because, in their minds, Wakanda is real.

The post President of Largest Black-Owned Bank: Boomers Can Learn Economic Optimism from Millennials appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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7 Ways to Practice Positivity and Optimism Every Day

By now the benefits of positive thinking are well established. Sages, psychologists, neuroscientists, researchers and doctors all have been espousing the benefits of positive thinking for hundreds of years.

Positive thinking helps us to be healthier, more productive and ultimately happier. Yet for most of us it is hard to practice optimism on a regular basis.

Relieving the states that make life miserable… has made building the states that make life worth living less of a priority. The time has finally arrived for a science that seeks to understand positive emotion, build strength and virtue, and provide guideposts for finding what Aristotle called the ‘good life.’ — Dr. Martin Seligman

I am fascinated by the human quest to understand the underpinnings of positive thinking. From Epictetus to Ralph Waldo Emerson to Buddha to Dr. Martin Seligman to Oprah, I seek every bit of inspiring wisdom I can to practice optimism.

Here are my seven essential mantras that I find helpful to keep myself on a positive track:

1. Guide Your Energy

“I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.” — Muhammad Ali

According to quantum physics, our thoughts have a frequency and a corresponding unique vibration that attracts similar frequencies into our lives. So negative thinking attracts negative energy; positive thinking attracts positive energy.

Buddha, Aristotle and many others have suggested the same, how we think creates the energy that ultimately manifests our realities. If we go into a situation with a negative thought process then we are almost destined to have a negative outcome.

This also applies to group thinking or collective consciousness. When a collection of people together guides their mental energy for a positive outcome, the likelihood of their success is usually lot higher and than otherwise. Their collective energy attracts positivity or negativity.

2. Connect with Ourselves

Life is a process of ongoing transformation spurred by the interlinked qualities of curiosity, purpose, and courage. When you know yourself, you can act with a confidence that is your own.

The better we understand the nature of the world, the better we can move in the world. The better we understand the nature of ourselves, the better we can move within ourselves.

3. Practice Visualization

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.”– Buddha

Visualization is perhaps one of many attributes that assures one’s future. In the psychology community, creative visualization refers to the practice of seeking to affect the outer world by changing one’s thoughts and expectations.

Visualization is a technique used by winners in all walks of life. Our minds have an enormous capacity to connect the invisible dots to guide us to strive for the impossible.

4. Slow Down To Move Forward

“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves — slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment.” — Thich Nhat Hanh

Sometimes we need to slow down in order to move forward. Slowing down is a deliberate choice that can lead to greater appreciation for life and a greater level of happiness, which yields better results in one’s endeavors.

Being truly in the moment allows us to escape from adversity and conserve our inner energy. Living in the moment doesn’t mean we don’t care about the future. It means that when we make a choice to do something, we focus on solely doing it, rather than letting our mind wander into the future (or the past).

5. Read, Write, Watch

Inspiration can come from anywhere and anyone. Mine often comes from books and movies — books and movies that combine life stories with a spiritual journey.

Writing allows us to consciously put these positive reaffirmations on paper to visualize our destiny. I have also found writing is therapeutic for coping with my adversities. It allows me to turn my anger, fear, and disappointments into inspiration for myself and my readers. It serves as stress relief when you try to turn negative into positive by finally expressing what you feel down deep inside.

6. Be Kind To Yourself

In his book, The Art of Happiness, His Holiness the fourteenth Dalai Lama wrote, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

It is particularly difficult to stay positive in the face of adversity and failure. For many, even though it may be easy to show compassion to others, it may be hard to accept, embrace, and be compassionate toward ourselves. Some of us blame others for all our miseries and some blame ourselves. Often it’s easy to blame oneself, feel sorry, and/or put oneself down. It is only through being able to let go, have compassion for oneself, and self-encouragement that we can pursue a path of positivity.

It is our trials and tribulations that make us who we are. Without compassion for ourselves we never find the awareness that allows us to nurture our true self.

7. Develop Resiliency

“In the end, if you are lucky, you see that our trials are what improve us. And if you are very lucky and somewhat insightful, you see that whatever your trial has been, it is exactly what you needed. Our trials make us who we are.” — Michael Morton

Positive people develop a mental capacity that allows them to adapt with ease during adversity. They develop a set of powerful mental traits.

Resiliency begins with adaptability, acceptance, and gratitude. Success and happiness does not always come from blasting through rocks and impediments, rather from having the faith, courage and ‘letting it happen’ attitude to cope with harsh realities of life.

Above all, positive and optimistic people lead themselves by constantly finding encouragement within their soul. They surround themselves with other positive people. And they inspire others despite their own personal adversity.

The more you give out positively, the more you get back.

Serial entrepreneur and author Faisal Hoque is the founder of SHADOKA and other companies. Shadoka’s portfolio of companies (R&D driven products, services, and thought leadership) accelerates individual and organizational sustainable growth. Author of several books, his newest book is “Everything Connects — How to Transform and Lead in the Age of Creativity, Innovation and Sustainability” (McGraw Hill, Spring 2014).
GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
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