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Employee spotlight: celebrating Black History Month

Employee spotlight: celebrating Black History Month

I have been given the awesome opportunity to share with everyone at BigPanda and our community what Black History Month means to me. This message can be found here on my LinkedIn profile along with others that cover topics important to me. I am looking forward to sharing more messages this month in celebration of people from my community who have done and are doing amazing things!

The race wasn’t designed for you

Would you enter a race that you know you can never win? Can you imagine being told your best will always be secondary to your peers. How does knowing you have to work 10x harder than those around you just to be at the same level as your peers make you feel?

While in Vegas for SKO last year, the Formula 1 car that is part of the company’s partnership was there. The car was so sleek, low to ground, and extremely aerodynamic. It’s powerful and can do amazing things. In spite of all its strength, it still has a weakness. It can only hold one person. Being that I have a family of four, bringing that home wouldn’t be comfortable. There’s no place to put the sports equipment. I couldn’t take my daughter to daycare (which is one of the highlights of the day) or my son (another highlight of my day) to school. What’s the problem? It’s competing in a race for which it wasn’t designed. The same could be said if I took my wife’s SUV and entered a Formula 1 race. We’d have no chance because it wasn’t designed for it.

Black History Month reminds me that the things I see today are subject to change. It reminds me that even though this race wasn’t designed for me, I can’t give up. It’s a reminder that BLACK is beautiful, black is bold, black is pain, black is struggle, black is excellence, black is waking up everyday and believing today is your day, black is believing the first shall be last and the last shall be first, and that anything is possible.

As a black man, I’m no stranger to hearing the word “no.” “No, you can’t come in here.” “No, you don’t have the experience for the job.” “No, you aren’t a good culture fit.” “No, you’re not talented enough.” “No, you can’t lead this company.” One could think, why choose a profession like sales where you will hear “no” more than you will hear “yes.” As a black man, don’t you want to hear more yeses?

I’m so grateful that Black History Month is at the beginning of the year. It motivates us to turn that “no” into “know.” “Know that you can break that door down and enter any place.” “Know that you can be increased beyond your experience, talent, and education.” “Know that if it’s the right place, the culture will fit around you.” “Know that you are creative and full of great ideas.” “Know that you can go from working at the company to owning the company!”

This month, gaining recognition in the U.S. in 1976, is not just important to African-Americans. This month is so important as it gives us all an opportunity to imagine what the possibilities are! It’s a time for African-Americans to reflect on what people before us fought for. To celebrate the positive impact and contributions we have made in the world! This month is about realizing you have to enter the race even when all the odds are against you. It’s about figuring out how to communicate with someone who doesn’t look like me. This month is about embracing the fact that you don’t need everybody to be for you, you just need the right people to be for you. This month gives those outside of my community a chance to understand ME!

I proudly wear this brown suit everyday and know I wouldn’t change a thing about my life. I know I need to continue to strive for excellence and that my goal is to create a better path for those from my community who are coming behind me. I wear this brown suit proud to work 10x harder—and, more importantly, make sure I have a positive attitude while working 10x harder!

This month is about realizing all of us are born with things that make us different. The only choice we have is how we see those things. We can either run from them, be ashamed of them, or we can embrace them and recognize that what makes us different also makes us special!

So I ask you again, would you enter a race that you know you can never win?