Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Deepening the Reaping...

My thoughts...

Today I am flying back home from a well needed vacation. But from the looks of my posts, I’ve been on vacation from uploading new material. With this break, I’ve changed in many aspects {emotionally, spiritually, financially, in education, and personal relationships}. Today marks the beginning of a new beginning…

In reflection on Miami Beach, a revelation hit me… Like it was a real feeling of “Aha!” I still have a mental bruise from the hammer of truth that slammed me two days ago. Lately, I have been trying to figure out who, what, when, where, why, and how all these changes could be coming into my life at one time. The revelation was that I am in a place of receiving what seeds I’ve planted. I’m sure all of us have heard some reference to the biblical reference, “You reap what you sow.” This is real… To be transparent, I have done a lot of selfish and inconsiderate things towards others, based on the fact that my needs were to be priority in all situations. I have lost good friends and ruined relationships with family, friends, and loved ones because of selfish notions. I would like to take this portion to apologize to those who I have hurt and/or shunned away.

With that being said, I have to recognize that because of past actions, there will be consequences. The feelings of “change” (not to be taken lightly) are in direct effect of the seeds I’ve planted. So I am taking a stance to say that now is the time for me to deepen my reaping. I am now responsible to plant positive seeds into others lives in hopes that one day my actions will be received back to me. To be more specific, I will not take others for granted and what they mean to me simply because, it doesn’t feel great being the one who isn’t appreciated. In noticing this un-appreciation, I could only reflect on how I had given similar indications that I did not value those previously in my life. Now realizing the feelings associated on this side of the receiving end, I want to never put anyone else in that feeling.

By deepening my potential reaping, I know that I will have to plant positive seeds, and not become jaded because the soil in others’ garden isn’t being tended. I have high hopes that when it is my turn to receive again, I can value and take full advantage of those who will plant seeds in good ground. So that’s what I’ll be working on… Creating good ground to nurture what will be.

Written by a change agent,

Sean Lamar 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Remembering Margaret E. Miller

Sitting in the student lounge of Full Sail University on this Thursday morning, I have so many things to be thankful for. But why does it all seem like a blur to me? I started my morning reading my youngest sister's blog about my granny and I am basically holding back my tears. It's weird, I spent so many days and hours sitting and laughing about absolutely nothing and today it's hard to grasp that she is gone. It has been just over a year since her passing and I'm facing one of the greatest accomplishments in my life because of her. 

Margaret E. Miller, I remember praying for her at a very young age. I prayed almost every night that God would save my mother's side of the family. Growing up in religious home, I learned the concept of "Heaven and Hell," well before my peers. I knew that the Miller side of my family never attended my church, so in my mind, it was the same as them not being saved. The year that my granny came to stay with my immediate family was the beginning of our unique closeness. That's when she had stopped smoking and started attending church. I remember her advising me to stay in school and reach my goals. She made me promise that no matter how sick she got, I would still move to Florida to pursue my Master's Degree.

I feel like I'm trying to summarize all that she meant to me, and I can't begin to explain. A part of me wants to spill all of my hurt and pain out into these paragraphs. I will forever remember our bond and conversations. I can turn the television on and be reminded of the different shows and seasons we would watch together. Even after being diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis, she never stopped her life. She was content with the smallest things; her home, her rocking chair, sitting on her porch, and reading the Flint Journal. I'm still trying to get a hold of that concept of being content, but I feel like I have a long ways. 

After her death, I realized how close she was to God. Her spirituality wasn't this extravagant portrayal of running up and down the aisles or even screaming "Hallelujah" at the top of her lungs. There were letters written to God that were stuffed in her bible. That made me aware that she had prayed for family's needs and her personal struggles.

On November 14, 2010, at roughly 7:00am I remember standing over her feeling her hair. I kept rubbing her forehead and pushing the small hairs back in place. The only things that crossed my mind was to tell her how much I loved and appreciated her. I knew at that this would be the last time that I would see her. I wanted her to be confident in knowing that her grandson was about to grant her wishes and leave her dying side to travel onto his dreams. So now that my promise to her has been fulfilled, I am very proud to look back over the last year and know that I made her smile. 

I can only thank God for allowing her to be a part of my life. So that's all I can muster my heart to do right now... Thank God for Margaret E. Miller.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Full Sail University Reflections...

“Promise me that you’ll take the risk and JUMP,” my Granny asked. My response was, “I promise…” My grandmother had been diagnosed with a deathly lung disease, leaving her with only days to live. She wanted me to follow my dreams and obtain my Master’s Degree from Full Sail University. So upon my departure from Michigan on November 14, 2010, my grandmother, Margaret E. Miller, departed from this Earth and a promise was to be fulfilled.

Arriving to Full Sail University, my first class was Media Literacy and Research Methodologies. This online course taught me the importance of the many business media outlets, such as, Diigo, LinkedIN, and Twitter. I learned that these different outlets could lead to many business connections and keeps me informed of the leading news within my industry.

The importance of starting any business is good leadership skills. In my second class, Executive Leadership, we learned the different methods of becoming an effective leader. In this course we studied public speaking and how to present to our peers and superiors. I enjoyed reading the texts on Maxwell and Greene, which highlighted reputation, leadership, and influence. These skills have equipped me to manage or lead a team of people.

Project and Team Management was something I had never heard of until I began the course. This course taught me to plan, prioritize, and predict any problems that may arise. I now know the challenges a project manager may face and how to plan for failures. We formed groups to create a proposal for an event, where we focused on a SWOT analysis. The SWOT analysis focuses on strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats, while offering solutions.

In my fourth month, I learned the importance of building a brand. Business Storytelling and Brand Development taught me the importance of not only a unique business name, but also it’s story. We designed our company logo and created a tagline. While building my business’ story and brand, I researched the industry market to create a buyer persona and identify my target market. This class helped create a foundation for an online presence for my business.

In Entertainment Business Finance, I was able to understand the importance of financial planning. Our professor taught us about investing funds, the stock market, and a business pro-forma. The pro-forma highlighted the financials for the first three years of my business plan. It required detailed numbers for expenses such as rent, utilities, travel, salaries, and equipment. I learned that potential investors want to see realistic projected numbers. That way, they could see my business prospering and obtaining a return on their investment.

I’ve always had an interest in making deals and bargaining. But in Negotiation and Deal Making, I learned how to conduct negotiations and focus on coming to a mutual benefit. Our class conducted mock industry negotiations where we had to analyze both sides of an argument. A mediator was selected and we as a class had to act out the entire meeting until a solution was determined. These exercises related to real world situations and helped me learn about dirty tricks and tricky tactics.

Product and Artist Management was one of my favorite courses. This class taught the difference in roles between an artist and their management. A manager takes care of almost all of the worries that an artist may have in order to keep the artist in a creative mindset. I got the chance to review contracts, riders, and copyrights of actual industry leaders. I learned about non-compete agreements and release forms. This class really helped me in forming different services that my business would provide to artist.

In Advanced Entertainment Law, I felt overwhelmed with valuable information! I’ve never had an interest in law, but after this course I really had a change of heart. Learning about applying for copyrights, trademarks, and patents has helped me understand that my intellectual property can be protected. I reviewed cases from past litigations and presented the legal issues. I also learned about the different structures of a business. I understand what the different structures consist of and how they can benefit a business.

In Entertainment Media Publishing and Distribution, my eyes were opened to many personal business opportunities. This course went into further detail about publishing my creative works and how there is a traditional model and also a self-publishing model. In learning about the self-publishing model, I became aware of a higher percentage of royalties offered by choosing to be independent. Our class came up with strategy plans to self distribute our creative works by using social media outlets.

Digital Marketing was something that I thought I had a niche for. But after taking the course, I feel that I’ve learned more in one month about the opportunities the Internet can offer, that I was once blind to. I learned about Google Analytics and advertising using keywords. My professor taught me about different websites that could increase my online presence and connect subscribers back my company website. I learned about different marketing channels such as search engine optimization, mobile marketing, and how to set up a marketing campaign for my business. This course offered valuable information that will definitely remain with me for years to come.

Business Plan Development was the course where I took everything I had learned from the previous courses and applied them to my business plan. I constructed my company description, target market, and a marketing plan.  The development of my business plan required me to pull information from each previous class to form how I wanted my business to operate. This class taught me about creating a plan that would attract an investor to believe in my ideas and be willing to support a business opportunity.

In Final Project: Business Plan, I wrote my executive summary and put the final touches on my business plan. I constructed the financials and added an appendix. Our class presented our final business plan to our peers and other professors from the program. This taught me to be comfortable in presenting my ideas to potential investors. Also, the program instructors asked questions that investors may wonder about the business. This helped me prepare to be able to pitch my business plan in the future.

As I look back over the past year, I cannot believe the amount of information that I’ve learned. I not only will be obtaining a Master’s Degree, but I will leave Full Sail University with the ability to stand on my own in the world. I am grateful for all of the professors and their knowledge that they have imparted to me. I now have the strength and confidence to look to the heavens and simply say, “Granny, I jumped…”

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Kierra Sheard is... FREE!

On February 28, 2011, Kierra Sheard and Bold, Right, Life (BRL) recorded a LIVE CD at The Harold Washington Cultural Center. In a previous blog post, The Dunlap Digest highlighted the event (click here to read). Now the album has been released! On October 18, 2011, the album “FREE” was released in physical and digital copies.

Kierra has been under the EMI Gospel record label for her last 5 album releases. This is the first release from her on her family’s gospel label, Karew Records and produced by her younger brother J. Drew Sheard, Jr. (JDS). According to the Billboard Gospel Charts, the album “FREE” has kept the #1 chart listing since its release.

The powerful urban sound invites listeners to pause and really pay attention to the words of each song. Kierra’s past records have brought a mix of dance tracks, worship selections, and uplifting messages. The track list on this release takes her original message of God’s love and intensifies the call of worship. Each song is filled with scripture and attention to God’s grace.

In the Gospel recording industry, live recordings has dwindled, but after hearing “FREE,” it’s popularity may come back. I would love to suggest one song as being an album favorite, but each track flows into the next and highlights the spiritual freedom one can receive from a relationship with God. “Desire,” “You Are,” “Free,” & “Indescribable” are songs that will change the spiritual outlook on how one views their relationship with God. She has definitely earned her title as the Princess of Gospel Music. Her strengthened vocal ability is showcased and it sounds like all of her emotions have been expressed on each song.

Kierra Sheard and “Free” being the second release from the independent label makes a statement in the industry that the family label will be around a while. This is a MUST buy! The album “FREE” is available on iTunes, Amazon, and most retail stores. Check out Kierra Sheard’s Facebook, Twitter, and Website.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Minding My Business... Plan!

The Entertainment Business Master’s Degree Program at Full Sail University has challenged students, along with myself, to create a business plan. I had no intention of ever thinking of becoming an entrepreneur until I began this degree. Each month I have added more ideas and business strategies of building my company’s brand. This month, we started to finalized our business plans and bring everything we’ve done to fruition.

Starting an independent artist consulting firm requires key connections within the music and entertainment industry. Because my company is new, selling my company’s services and myself is what will help prosper the business. In writing my business plan, it is important to highlight the potential success my company will have. In the previous blog, Guy Kawasaki states that the most important part of a business plan is the executive summary. This portion of business plan is what hooks the reader, investor, or loan officer to continue to read the entire plan. The executive summary for my plan will express the problems independent artists face while trying to break into the music industry.

I have taken Simone Brummelhuis’ advice and changed my business plan to work from home and eliminate rent and lower office bills. Simone suggests keeping the office in a separate room of the home or apartment. This enables the entrepreneur to stay focused while in the office and not view it as just another room. I have planned to rent a 2-bedroom apartment and have one room as the office. This has cut rent, utilities, and commuting costs.

I believe that the most important portion of a business plan for an investor to read would be the monthly income statement for the first three years. Investors want to see bottom line numbers to see if the business is something worthy of the risk. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

If you fail to PLAN... Your Business PLAN may FAIL...

Starting a business can be a headache if things are not done properly. One of the key steps is creating a business plan. This plan will help guide a successful company. The plan can be used to present to potential investors and banks letting them see that your company can prosper in this declining economy. When writing this plan, it is important to research others who were successful and pull some tips they used to benefit your business plan.

Here are two individuals that I’ve read on and found very interesting. Hopefully, some useful information is gained to benefit your business ventures!

Guy Kawasaki:
Guy was born in Honolulu, Hawaii and studied at Iolani School, Stanford, and obtained a MBA from UCLA. His work experience includes evangelizing hardware and software for Apple Inc., writing for Forbes, and many entrepreneurial ventures. Currently he is the co-founder of AllTop and partner of Garage.com.

He operates an American Express Open Forum Blog, where he shares excerpts from his many books and also insight on how to write a business plan. Guy states that the most important part of the plan is the Executive Summary. His explanation is that it is the first thing a reader sees. It should capture them to read further and gain interest in your ideas. I must say, this is a good read! Click here to read the entire blog. Also, Guy lists 10 sections that are key:

1.     Contact Information
2.      Executive Summary
3.      Description of the problem your solving
4.     Description of how you solve it
5.      Underlying magic
6.     Marketing and Sales Strategy
7.Competitive Analysis
8.     Financial Projections
9.     Team
10. Status/Timeline

Simone Brummelhuis
With a background in international law and publishing, Simome Brummelhuis is the CEO of the first women’s internet business magazine. Entitled The Next Women Business Magazine, issues are in the UK and Netherlands. Being a speaker through Women Inc., Simone was nominated for the Media Woman of the Year 2010. She also helps judge business competitions and awards.

She has a blog post entitled, “Working as a Remote Entrepreneur.” She speaks on how the economy has made it hard to start a business in a new working office. She suggests that new businesses start in a home office. This saves office space rent, commuting costs, and other fees. She also mentions how important it is to separate your home space from your workspace. This will enable you to keep focused while working. Who wants to have a conference call and hear the laundry machine at the same time? (LOL) But by creating an office space, others in your home will know that business is being done.

I really enjoyed both entrepreneur’s stories and hope you find articles to help your business plans!

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Obama, President of Digital Marketing

One name that stands prevalent for setting an example for digital marketing within the political world is President Barack Obama. Instead of being named POTUS (President of the United States), his title should be changed to POTDM (President of the Digital Marketers)! In 2008, he made history becoming the first African American President. But before his reign, Obama took a different path to victory.

If you are like me, then between the times of 5:00 pm and 6:00 pm, I change the channel to avoid seeing the depressing news of murders, approaching storms, and most of all the boring political developments. I’ve never been one to be interested in taxes, vetoes, elections, and decisions made by Congress. But that all changed in 2007! Obama actually changed my stance on our democracy. “How?” you ask… Through TECHNOLOGY! In addition to the normal political campaigns that include nationwide tour speeches and televised broadcasts, Obama targeted the youth through:
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • Facebook
  • Text Messaging
  • Smart Phone Applications
  • Personalized Involvement

Obama’s Twitter was updated regularly and contained tweets that sparked the interests of my demographic. His tweets included information about government spending towards higher education and increasing jobs. Also, there were retweets from followers that offered additional details. Obama reached a younger audience by targeting their social past times. Facebook groups were made that supported his campaign and also those who opposed. Either viewpoint, Obama’s online presence was established.

The President became accessible to the one device that everyone deems as a necessity. A mobile application was developed that kept a video library of his recent and past speeches. At the click of a button you could find out where the next speech would be held and the closest city for any upcoming rallies. Personalized text messages prompted subscribers to donate and volunteer; helping stimulate the “Change” Obama projected to all of America. The text messages and emails continued all through his campaign and throughout his presidential reign.

Now that the 2012 reelections are approaching, Obama’s team is using the different platforms to gear up for his new campaign. Emails and text messages have been sent to Obama’s subscribers to distribute redesigned car bumper stickers. Below is part one of a speech (which I was informed about through a text message) the President made about the economic progress, potential growth of jobs, and tax breaks for small businesses. Regardless of your political stance, there is something to be learned from the reigning President of Digital Marketing, President Barack Obama.

Click here to check out Obama’s website and register to donate for the chance to have a meal with him and three other supporters.

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