Sunday, January 31, 2016

Everyone Needs Mentors

We hear it all the time - the road to success requires mentors.

Men seem to have this concept down more than women.

But still, we often think it hard to find a mentor, and sometimes we do not even understand what it is enough to know how to look for it.

Mentors are people who can guide you. He or she may guide you in a particular situation or concept, and sometimes on life in general.  A mentor can simply have enough experience and knowledge in the area you need. The best mentors, however, understand you, know your flaws, and have the experience or wisdom to guide you. 

Because there is so much confusion about what a mentor is, we often do not recognize that we may already have one (or more).

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Thoughts on Ambition

Ambition is the mother of all invention - whether for you or something outside of you.

We often think people have no ambition because they do not "want" what society has deemed, or "we" have deemed, as a "high standard."

Ambition is really wanting something we do not currently have and which takes work to obtain - not something within our immediate reach.

Ambition does not just mean you want to gain a doctorate or rise to the top of a company.

Ambition can be a desire to learn a new skill, accomplish a goal, or gain something -  even something tangible.

Ambition not only gives us the passion to work for whatever "it" is but motivates us to take the steps necessary to obtain it.

The key is to realize ambition is personal, something a person individually identifies - not necessarily what others want.

Ambition helps us move forward - whatever "forward" is to a specific person.

Deedra is originally from Arkansas; an attorney in Scottsdale, Arizona; a diversity expert and motivational speaker for The Ambassador Project; and has a blog at where she shares her perspectives based on questions and experiences. Follow Deedra on Twitter @askdeedra

Friday, January 29, 2016

Is It Really All About You?

Attitude is everything. It really and truly is.

Sometimes we go to the store, for example, and the cashier is not friendly to us - maybe even rude. How you respond outwardly, but more importantly inwardly, reflects both your own self-esteem and your attitude.

Many times people assume the rudeness is personal. The cashier did not like them or something about them. While occasionally that might be true, usually the cashier is having a struggle completely separate from the situation (e.g. distracted, bad day, rude customers all day, management problems, personal problems, health problems, etc.).

If we always assume it is "not about us," we can not only deflect the negative energy pointed our way [that could very well ruin our own day], but can, potentially, change the attitude, or even the entire day, for the cashier.

Even if it is personal, our attitude can have the same effect.

Either way, it is a win-win for us and probably others.

If you encounter rudeness, try to just assume it is "not about you," and either respond positively or do not react at all. Assuming it has nothing to do with you first, will totally change how you feel and respond.

If you immediately take it personally, try to stop yourself from responding, and potentially escalating the situation.

Then, later, do some deep reflection to determine whether your own self-esteem (e.g. feeling inferior, feeling like you are different, expecting bad behavior due to some characteristic of yours or previous experiences, etc) might be contributing to your own internal reaction, if not the entire situation itself, in thinking that it is about you.

Deedra is originally from Arkansas; an attorney in Scottsdale, Arizona; a diversity expert and motivational speaker for The Ambassador Project; and has a blog at where she shares her perspectives based on questions and experiences. Follow Deedra on Twitter @askdeedra

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Thoughts on Starting a Business

I am astounded how many times clients have come to me interested in starting a business but have zero knowledge or experience about the business they want to start.

Often it is because either 1) they met or "know" someone currently in the type of business who has told them it is "easy money," or 2) from their "observations" it looks like the type of business is a "big money maker."

I cringe every time.

I always advise them to study the business more:
  1. take a job in the business to see it from the inside;
  2. get the "friend" to let them observe the running of the business for a few weeks;
  3. if buying a business already functioning, require the seller train the buyer for three to six months (and have a contract requiring escrow money be held in case the "promises" made about the business were exaggerated).
The majority of the time none of the above suggestions are followed, though one of my clients did agree to the contract/escrow.

Truth About Small Businesses
  • Small businesses fail more often than not, and usually within the first three years.
  • It takes an average of three to five years for a business to become stable and determine if the businesses will (likely) remain profitable.
  • Most businesses need at least six months to "turn a profit" - meaning the owner should not depend on income or profit until at least six months after opening. That is usually true even for an already functioning business purchased by a new owner.
Ambition, asperation, motivation, passion and money are all great for starting a business - but knowledge about a particular business, more than just general business knowledge, is the foundation for how a specific business will fair initially, and maybe even longterm.

Most people really cannot financially afford the costly mistakes of industry specific learning curves. Planning and research can help alleviate a lot of the misinformation and misunderstandings.

That is not to say starting a business is not a good idea or that only people with vast experience should do it. I am just saying do your research, hands-on preferably, for the type of business you want to open.

Then let your ambition, aspiration, motivation, and passion lead you.

Deedra is originally from Arkansas; an attorney in Scottsdale, Arizona; a diversity expert and motivational speaker for The Ambassador Project; and has a blog at where she shares her perspectives based on questions and experiences. Follow Deedra on Twitter @askdeedra

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Is Chess Forbidden in Islam?

I read that a "Saudi Grand Mufti (the Kingdom's top* cleric)" made a (fatwa religious opinion) that Chess is forbidden in Islam because it is a form of gambling - "a waste of time, money and a reason for enmity between players."  Twitter lit up in opposition and sarcasm, including many Muslims.

There is a lot of confusion about what a Fatwa is and what it means when a Fatwa is proclaimed. The media only sensationalizes it and increases level of misunderstanding.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

My Husband Is Not Happy

Dear Deedra,

My husband is always down and I do not know how to help him.

I enjoy life. I love to talk about all kinds of things. I get really excited about stuff. He listens to me talk but he does not get excited about hardly anything and rarely talks. I always ask him what is wrong and he always says, "Nothing."  I keep asking him and he gets irritated.

I do not know what to do to help him.

Frustrated Wife

Dear Frustrated Wife:

The question is whether your husband is really down, as in depressed, or just reacting differently than you.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

How Can I Get Him to Stop Watching News and Sports

Dear Deedra,

My husband comes home from work and just watches news or sports. This is such a waste of time. How can I get him to do other things?

Suzy Q

Dear Suzy Q:

Solving Problem Between Two Brothers

Dear Deedra,

I am friends with two brothers, one of them is a very close friend. Despite living in the same city, they have not spoken or visited each other in several years. During that time, their children have gotten married, had children of their own, and two of their siblings died. Neither attend the weddings or births of the other, and each had separate gatherings following the sibling deaths.

My best friend did not invite his brother to any of his family events and told me his brother has never called him or invite him to any of his family events.  The other brother said he has called several times, but his brother never answers and never calls back, and that his son had personally visited his uncle to deliver the invitation for his own wedding, but my friend's family still did not attend.

I know it is because my best friend's wife does not like the brother or his family. I know she is the problem. She does not want her husband to have anything to do with his brother, so he doesn't.

I want to bring the brothers together. I hate being in the middle. Both the brothers complain to me every time I see them. I keep trying to get them together, without the wife. The other brother always agrees but my best friend has absolutely refused to meet his brother to try to solve the problem.

What should I do?

Brother Problem Solver

Dear Brother Problem Solver:

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

My Father Loves My Brothers More Than Me

Dear Deedra, 

My parents divorced when I was young. My two brothers and I grew up with my dad. Ever since I can remember, I felt my father always preferred my brothers over me. No matter what my brothers do, my dad always praises them to others. No matter what I do, my father talks bad about me to others, or simply does not acknowledge me at all. He never says anything negative to my brothers, no matter what they do, while he cannot seem to say anything positive about me. 

I have always tried to please my dad. I got an education. I got married. I became a mother. I always try to be respectful to my dad, even when he is being disrespectful to me or my friends. I always try to be available to help him in any way he needs me.

Even though my brothers have not accomplished anything and barely even visit him much less do anything for him. My father still praises them all the time but never says anything good about me.

I know it is my responsibility to take care of my father but it is getting harder and harder for me to have patience with him when all he ever does it put me down.

What should I do? 

Desperate Daughter

Dear Desperate Daughter:

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

I Helped Her But She Has No Manners

Dear Deedra, 

There is a family I have helped over the years when I could. One of the daughters started a fundraising campaign for a once in a lifetime opportunity. She sent me, and everyone else, a mass email asking us to donate to her campaign. I thought it was a little cold, that she should have sent individual emails or even called. I decided to donate anyway. She then sent an email saying thank you but it seemed like a general email to each donor, again cold. 

I am trying to decide what to do. The young people today have no manners. They do not understand the value of sending personal thank you letters, even if by email, that make a person feel good about their help. They are so ungrateful. Should I talk to her about her lack of manners?

Not Feeling Good About Being Helpful

Dear Not Feeling Good About Being Helpful:

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Incessant Use of Sex as Power and Control Over Women

When I read about the women in the Baltimore public housing being forced to trade sex for basic repairs, I became almost physically ill. Not only did I find the existence of this predatory practice in this day and age extremely upsetting, but it reminded me of a story from my own past that I had not thought about in many years. 

When I was about eleven or twelve, one of my sisters and I lived with my father. My parents were divorced. My father was our softball couch. He began dating one of the mothers of one of my teammates, who was also divorced. I will call the mother "Stacey."

My sister and I would often go to her home to hang out with her two daughters, who were about the same age as us, while our parents chatted in the kitchen or went out on dates. We also went there to hang out without my dad. 

Another member of the team, "Laura," lived down the street. "Stacey" was friends with "Laura's" mom, so "Laura" would often join us. "Stacey" had HBO so we really enjoyed ourselves. I saw The Blue Lagoon for the first time at her home. [Probably not age appropriate.]

Racism in America: Not Better, Just Different

Several years ago, before Katrina even, I was on a panel at Arizona State University to discuss racism in the present day United States. After we each made our presentations, we opened it up for questions from the audience. 

Image Credit: Jonathan Pincas via Flickr

A woman stood up and said she felt from our presentations that racism in the United States was really bad but she believed it was better than before. She asked whether we believed it was better.
I responded that no, I did not believe it was better, just different.  
By no means did I intend to diminish the horrible actions against minorities in the past. Lynching of African Americans is no doubt one of the most shocking and deplorable parts of the American past - as was the extermination of Native Americans.  A perusal of history finds other groups also targeted for death, even if not to the same extent.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Women and Their Inner Demons

Women often tell me that they envy my confidence, in a good way, while I am always astounded by the lack of confidence in women that I meet. 

Am I confident?  I believe I am.

I was raised by a single mother who was, though a product of her time, a professional and "glass-ceiling" breaker. Despite constant judging and disappointing responses from her own family and society (also products of their time), she always did her best to both protect her four daughters and encourage them to be strong women in hopes they would have better lives. 

As a constant observer at an early age, and a big history buff, I understand more than most, and probably better than any of my sisters, just how hard my mother struggled.

That is not to say I do not have my own "inner-demons" of self-doubt - after all, I too am a product of  the time and place I grew up. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Backwardness of the Breast Feeding Debate

I have been confused for some time, but I am getting more confused each day.

I simply cannot grasp the outrage over breast feeding in public.

First, I cannot understand what is offensive about it. It is the most fundamental part of motherhood.

Perhaps I would understand it more if we actually had social rules of modesty, but we don't. The same people who complain about breastfeeding in public have no problem with publicly exposed breasts, or other intimate body parts, in general.

Hollywood award ceremonies and Red Carpet events are full of glamorous designer dresses that leave little to the imagination - and sometimes no imagination is necessary at all to see the body "beneath" the outfit.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Voting Is About More Than Choosing The Next President

For several years I have been involved with voter registration activities. One year I even participated in polling observation to record when people were turned away from the polls or given previsionary ballots.

It is always interesting to talk to people about voting and voter registration. As soon as the subject comes up, people immediately connect it to the presidential election. The most frequent responses I have heard are, "I do not support any of the presidential candidates, so I do not plan to vote;" "I need to register so I can vote for X presidential candidate;" "The Electoral College chooses the president, so my vote does not count;" "I oppose the government funding for foreign countries, so I do not plan to vote."  

It is amazing to me that people so narrowly define voting.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Should I Add Volunteer, eBay Selling, Homemaker Activities to My Resume?

I get this question a lot but the most interesting thing is that I rarely get this question from men.

It is like men somehow understand the resume is a reflection of experience, not just paid experience. Women, on the other hand, tend to devalue everything they do.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

FBI Dream Delivered: Jon Ritzheimer

Jon Ritzheimer's claim to fame is that he organized the first anti-Islam protest at a Mosque in Phoenix, Arizona; and then proceeded to organize more anti-islam protests at Mosques across the country.

I have been observing Mr. Ritzheimer's activities since he first came on the scene. Many Muslim and peace groups contacted me before the first event to ask what I thought about the situation and how they should respond. 

My perspective from the beginning was that if Mr. Ritzheimer was not an FBI plant, he was an unwitting FBI dream. The Mosque events were the most excellent opportunities for the FBI to take pictures and names of extremists - not of Muslim extremists, but the homegrown white-supremacist kind.