Tom Joyner Talks Raising Scholarship Money for HBCU Students

Tom-Joyner_Headshot

Every year, thousands of students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities are forced to drop out of school due to financial hardship.

What’s being done to stop this?

For the fourth year in a row, Allstate has teamed up with the Tom Joyner Foundation to raise money and help HBCU students stay in school through Allstate’s 6th annual Quotes for Education program.

So how can you help? From now until November 30, if you receive an insurance quote, Allstate will donate $10 to the Tom Joyner Foundation. This year, up to $200,000 will be earmarked for scholarships. An additional $50,000 in scholarships will be awarded to the HBCU that receives the most fan votes online.

Since launching back in 2009, the Allstate Quotes for Education program has raised more than half a million dollars in scholarships for HBCU students.

Here, Tom Joyner, popular radio personality and alum of Tuskegee University, takes a break from his busy schedule to discuss the importance of HBCUs.

Read the rest of my article at [EBONY.com].

Andrew Goodman Foundation Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Freedom Summer

freedomsummer_small_article-small_48181-001

What are you willing to die for? It’s a bold question, but an important one nonetheless. In Andrew Goodman’s case, fighting so that every U.S. citizen could have the right to vote cost him his life.

Goodman was an activist who joined Freedom Summer, a campaign that attempted to register as many Black voters as possible in Mississippi during the summer of 1964 – the height of the Civil Rights Movement. On Goodman’s first day in Mississippi, he along with two other civil rights workers, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner, were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan. Goodman was only 20 years old.

Two years later, Goodman’s parents, who were also activists, established the Andrew Goodman Foundation (AGF) in honor and memory of their son. The foundation works to empower people everywhere to take social action on the issues that matter to them, whether it’s healthcare, immigration, LGBT rights, or the gender pay gap.

In honor of Freedom Summer’s 50th anniversary, AGF will host its annual Hidden Heroes Awards on November 17th at New York University’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts.

Read the rest of my article at [EBONY.com].

The Best Time To Workout? Morning!

Working out in the morning

Here’s a question for you: Would you ever consider waking up an hour early every day just to hit the gym? Assuming that your answer was a resounding, “No way!” here’s another question: What if we told you that working out in the morning can help you lose weight faster? If your answer went from “no” to “yes,” then you’ll definitely want to check out these three reasons why working out in the morning is actually better for you.

1. Burns more fat

According to a 2013 study conducted by the British Journal of Nutrition, people who exercised in the morning on an empty stomach burned up to 20 percent more body fat. Not bad, huh?

Read the rest of my article at [BlackDoctor.org].

Shift Happens: 5 Ways To Instantly Energize Your Life

5 ways to instantly energize your lifeAre you stuck in a rut and can’t get out of it? It happens to all of us from time to time. If you’re feeling a little down and need a few pick-me-ups, then you’ve come to the right place. These five tips are guaranteed to boost your mood.

1. Get some sun.

A little sunshine goes a long way. Research shows that getting at least 15 minutes of sun exposure a day can help boost your mood, especially if you have seasonal affective disorder. So go ahead and slather on some sunscreen and get your light!

2. Keep a gratitude journal.

It can be easy to dwell on everything that’s wrong in your life. Why not redirect your attention on everything that’s right? Keeping a gratitude journal can do wonders because it forces you to count your blessings while reminding you that it could always be worse. Challenge yourself to write in your journal every day, even if it’s something as small as being grateful for that hot cup of coffee you had this morning or being able to attend your child’s soccer game. And it doesn’t have to be an entire page or a paragraph even – a few lines will work just fine.

Read the rest of my article at [BlackDoctor.org].

Taking A Leap Of Faith: Former ESSENCE.com Editor, Nicole Marie Cato, On How She Launched Her Own Company

Nicole Marie Cato

Anyone who really knows me knows that one of my favorite movies of all time is Selena, and one of the most memorable scenes is when Selena makes a trip to the amusement park and decides to go bungee jumping. Just before taking the big leap, Selena finds herself frozen by fear. The bungee jump attendant notices and says to her, “Come on, the hardest part is letting go.”

Selena jumps.

Now, you’re probably thinking, “This has nothing to do with Nicole Marie Cato quitting her job at ESSENCE.com and starting her own company,” but that’s where you’d be wrong because it has everything to do with it. When it comes to chasing our dreams, we’re often paralyzed by the fear to fail.

“What if it doesn’t work out?”

“What if I fall flat on my face?”

“What if I’m not good enough?”

These sort of questions bombard our brains but do nothing except hold us back from reaching our full potential. More often than not, it isn’t until months (or years) later that we look back at our accomplishments and realize that the hardest part was letting go.

When Nicole decided to launch her company, Melton Digital, earlier this year – March 1st to be exact – she had no idea just how quickly her business would take off. In fact, the same week that Nicole kicked off Melton Digital, 33 people emailed her, inquiring about the company’s services. For those who don’t know, Melton Digital works to build websites for beauty and health companies so they can grow and thrive.

Was Nicole’s decision to leave her job to start her own company a risky one? Sure. Is it paying off? Absolutely! But, if Nicole had never taken that leap eight months ago, she would’ve missed out so many amazing opportunities like the time she stayed at this breath-taking hotel while on a work trip. It goes without saying that Nicole is living out her dreams.

Here, Nicole reveals exactly what inspired her to launch her own company, as well as some of the biggest challenges she’s faced so far.

A Royal Point of View: Before you landed a job in editorial, you worked in corporate America for five years. What sorts of things did you learn there that ended up serving you well when you finally landed that magazine job?

Nicole's workspace, where she runs her company, Melton Digital.

Nicole’s workspace, where she runs her company, Melton Digital.

Nicole: I think I learned a lot about protocol and communication with people – I think that was very helpful, whether it was just following up with someone via email or making sure that emails are answered and phone calls are answered. That was very much something I learned in corporate America that I’m grateful for today. I would say the second thing I learned was analytical skills so I learned how to use Microsoft Excel, how to do analytics on my numbers, crunching data, and making sure that things like that were in order. That has been helpful for me still to this day, so those are skills I definitely don’t take for granted from my corporate experience. I actually encourage students who are able to go into a corporate environment, even if it’s just for the first year or so out of college to do so. You can always get some valuable lessons and also the contacts – I’m still close with some of my mentors from my first internship in college, so that’s always very helpful. You need those skills, you need to be able to present yourself professionally, and that’s something I definitely learned in that environment.

A Royal Point of View: What advice would you give to recent college grads, particularly journalism majors, who are really struggling to find their first job?

Nicole: Keep looking. Start a blog. You can absolutely get so far with having a really nice website and they don’t cost anything to set up, except for maybe $12 for a domain name through GoDaddy.com. Make it pretty and just write. You have to keep writing because we all have a story to tell, and your unique story and the way you present it and the time you take to build your blog – employers will notice that.

A Royal Point of View: After enrolling in graduate school, you were offered an internship at ESSENCE.com, which eventually lead to a permanent job. What made you decide to leave a position that took so long for you to land?

Nicole: I knew that I did not want to live in New York. This is such a strong word, but I just hated New York City. After a while, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I loved living in the D.C. area – that’s where I went to college. And so I just said, “Hey, I’m gonna do it,” so to be honest, it was just New York City. I didn’t like the hustle and bustle. I was having a really hard time dating. I just – I hated it. I didn’t have any family there – I was just over it.

A Royal Point of View: For those people who might not know, would you mind telling everyone what you’re up to now? 

Nicole: Sure! I love, love, love my work. It’s just the highlight of my – well it’s not the highlight. My family and God is the highlight, but my job is definitely something that’s so, so, so fun and real for me every single day. It’s hard, but I love it. I build websites, so there are two pieces to what I do – well, I would say three pieces to what I do. I have to break it down. The first part is I build websites. You need a website? You call me and I help you set it up. The second part is advising bloggers on how to grow their beauty blog or working with brands on how to connect with bloggers, and also, building editorial programs for brands and things like that. The third part is I’m a social media designer, and so what that means is that I design strategies for beauty brands who want to connect with bloggers on social media, whether that’s Instagram videos, whether that’s ID Digital Strategy, ID artwork design – we design the whole social media plan.

A Royal Point of View: What inspired you to launch Melton Digital?

Nicole at this year's ESSENCE Festival.

Nicole at this year’s Essence Festival.

Nicole: Well, Melton Digital was always the plan to be completely honest. I started my company in 2012, so when I left in 2013, I was doing that on the side all along. And the demand was just so great. I mean, when I launched my company, I had 33 people email the first week and so the demand is there. Even now, I’m turning clients away – I can’t take any more clients until February. I’m really trying to bring on team members – you know with that, you have to set legal perimeters in place, financial perimeters in place. I mean, running a business is just so much from taxes to accounting. It is a lot. And I understand why a lot of people are afraid to take that leap because the truth of the matter is that you don’t know what you’re doing when you first start – you just don’t! You have no idea – every day I’m presented with something new and I’m like, “Oh, OK, I guess I’ve got to do that,” so I just call my attorney, call my accountant – I just figure it out, but Melton Digital was always the plan. I wanted something flexible, where I could work from home and where I could travel because my family is in Michigan, and I got tired of staying in the office to be honest.

A Royal Point of View: What’s been the best part about taking that leap of faith so far?

Nicole: The best part is being able to help people. I felt like when I was at ESSENCE.com and actually all of my career, I did a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff, and I was working with huge beauty brands that wanted to be featured on ESSENCE.com. Most of them were large, established brands who could afford expensive publicists who could come to our office and push their products for them. But when you’re just starting your brand, or just starting your beauty blog, or just starting your hair salon – these are all clients of mine – you don’t have those resources, so it’s been really great to share what I learned when I was ESSENCE.com on how a brand gets to a level, where they land a placement in a major magazine.

Also, helping people connect on social media. I think a lot of people are intimidated by technology and intimidated by, “Oh my god, you mean I have to have an Instagram, I have to have a Facebook, I have to have a Twitter, I have to have a YouTube account, I have to have a Vine? I can’t do all this. I’m trying to get clients in my salon – I’m not trying to do all that.” And so I’m their virtual assistant – I take care of all that for them and help them present their business in the best light using social media and for me, it’s fun! It combines everything that I love. I love photography, I love social media, I love lighting, I love graphic design, I love making things pretty, I love beauty – and it’s been a dream come true.

A Royal Point of View: And what challenges have you faced?

Nicole: Oh my God. My number one challenge has been biting off more than I chew. Because the demand has been so great and I love it so much, I’ve been wanting to do this and this and this and this, but there’s power in staying small and keeping track of what you can do good and what you can do great. Do you know what I mean? Because everyone will want to work with you, especially being a Black female, I’ve attracted a lot of other Black females who don’t know a web designer or don’t know someone in the technology field who can help them with their website or their blog, so I’ve definitely been saying yes since I have such a big heart and I want to do so much for everybody. But then, I’m working seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and that wasn’t healthy at all. You get behind and then you also don’t have any room for – you don’t have any margins in your schedule, where you can accommodate when something goes wrong.

I was just approached by a major beauty brand earlier this week, and I don’t want to say the name, but you would absolutely recognize it, and I said no. I said, “I’m at capacity right now.” The plan is to hire – to put together a freelance team to help me with some of those things. I also have to turn down clients who are not in the beauty industry. What happens is that I’ve done things for non-beauty brands, and I didn’t love it as much. So that just goes back to saying no and not biting off more than you can chew.

The logo for Melton Digital.

The logo for Melton Digital.

A Royal Point of View: How do you plan on expanding and growing Melton Digital in the upcoming years?

Nicole: Well, I definitely want to stay small. I don’t ever want to have some big agency where the office is downtown somewhere – no. I would rather have a home-based business, where I can manage things, help people, and build a community of women that I care about, who can also be resources for each other in the digital space. You know like, “Hey, Nicole worked on my website last year, and here’s what I’ve been able to do with my website. Let me help someone who may just have gotten their website up and running.” I want it to be a community, so I absolutely want to stay small. It will always be run out of my house.

Wherever me and my husband move, we have to make sure there is a room for me to have a home office. That’s something that we’ve bargained already and have agreed to because I want to have kids – I want to have a lot of kids, so it will always have to be something, where I don’t have to compromise my time to – I don’t want to have to say, “Oh, I can’t make it to the softball game or whatever.” I want to be able to do work when I need to because I’m sure that as time goes on, things will only get crazier with me being a busy wife and mom. So I want to stay small and like I said, hire a group of freelancers who I can delegate things to, and that’s how we’ll grow.

A Royal Point of View: What advice would you give someone who’s thinking about making a major career change?

Nicole: Pray and just do it. Don’t worry about not knowing enough, don’t worry about resources. When you take the leap, the resources, the people, the financial means will come. You have to make that step though because God won’t know – God won’t be able to provide those things and blessings for you until He can trust you to trust Him, so you have to take that step. So many things out of the blue just happened to me when I decided to start my company.

Melton Digital launched officially on March 1st and 33 people emailed me, but not only that – I had an opportunity to have an ongoing relationship with Cream of Nature, a huge haircare brand that’s sold in every CVS, Wal-Mart, and Rite Aid. That was very humbling for me because I was just a little, tiny person, and my first major client was this a national haircare brand. I’ve traveled with them, and I’m signed on to do another year with them. I feel that had I not set my mind to quitting my job and going for it, that opportunity would’ve been given to someone else. What will happen is going to happen, but you have to move forward, whether you have $5 or five minutes, you have to move forward. You have to just do what you can with what you have. That would be my first piece of advice.

My second piece of advice is a quote that I always say: “You can do it all, just not today.” Like I said, I wanted to do so much. I saw all this potential, and my clients were needing all these different things, and I said, “OK, Yes, I can do it!” And the reality was I could do it, whether it was taking photos of their beauty products, or whether it was designing graphic artwork for their Facebook pages. I can do all those things, but should I have been doing all those things? Probably not. That’s why delegating is so important and keeping your focus narrow when you start out is so important because you want to make sure you’re doing things great and not just doing them good.

You have trust to God and take that leap and once that happens, He’s like, “Oh, OK, now you’re ready my child. Here’s that client you always wanted to work with. Here’s that business grant that will help you pay your bills. Here’s that connection I’ve been waiting to introduce you to, but now you’re ready.” Just go for it.

Be sure to follow Melton Digital on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can find Nicole on Twitter @NicoleMarieCato and on Instagram @nicolemariecato.

Ringing In The Ears: Is It Serious?

ringing in the earsAt some point or another, we’ve all experienced a case of ringing in the ears. The medical term for this is called Tinnitus. Sure, it can be a bit annoying, but just how serious it and why does it happen in the first place? Read on to find out!

What is it?

Tinnitus is noise or ringing in the ears. For most people, it’s a ringing sound, but for others it can be a whistling, buzzing, chirping, hissing, humming, or squealing sound. It’s most noticeable and bothersome in a quiet environment.

There are two types of tinnitus: subjective and objective. Subjective tinnitus – the most common form of tinnitus – is when you’re the only one who can hear the ringing in your ears. Objective tinnitus is when others can hear the sound coming from your ears. This is very rare and is usually caused by a blood vessel problem within your ears, which can be corrected.

Read the rest of my article at [BlackDoctor.org].

The Emotional Side Of MS: Understanding Pseudobublar Affect (PBA)

PBA

If you find yourself crying or laughing uncontrollably, you are not alone. Although most people have never heard of pseudobulbar affect (PBA), it’s estimated that two million Americans are suffering from this neurologic condition. Ten percent of these are people living with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Often misdiagnosed as clinical depression, PBA is a neurologic disorder that’s characterized by uncontrollable episodes of crying or laughing without any evident reason(s). The outbursts may happen a couple times throughout the day and can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes.

While the exact cause is still being investigated by researchers, it’s believed that PBA is triggered by a traumatic injury or neurological disease that affects the parts of our brain that control the way we process and express our emotions.

Read the rest of my article at [BlackDoctor.org].