15 Questions for Success: Mike Smoke

15 Questions for Success: Mike Smoke

Recently, we have been working hard to bring you quality content on faith and work and plan to continue shedding light on people who are successful in making their work and faith collide in their respective industries. Each entrepreneur and professional featured in our “15 Questions for Success” series provides us with their road map to success and answers questions on how their faith plays out in their careers.

Our latest installment of the “15 Questions for Success” series features Mike Smoke, Second Vice President at Northern Trust Bank . Check out what Mike has to say about faith and work below:

 

1. When people ask you what you do, how do you answer that?

I work in the Wealth Management department at a bank downtown, I ensure my ultra-high net worth clients have all the information and resources they need to manage their wealth.

2. When you think of the word “successful,” who is the first person that comes to mind and why?

My grandmom, simply because she completed successfully the job that was before her, raising her children, having a successful career herself, and being a pillar in the family.

 

3. What role does faith play when it comes to your career?

My faith in God gives me the confidence to approach my job and give it all I’ve got. My faith helps me overcome challenging times, reminding me that there are bigger problems in this world, and helps me refocus to come to solutions faster.

4. What does the first 60-90 minutes of your day look like?

Emails, emails and more emails.

 

5. What are you world-class at that people might not realize?

I am in the people business, so understanding people, reading people to some degree, being high in emotional intelligence is something I consider essential for this role.

 

6. How has knowing your personality type affected your life and how has it played a role in any life decision?

I think greater than my personality type, understanding who I am and what I bring to the table has helped me in many areas of my life. Understanding who I am at the core, has helped me refocus when something temporarily throws me off my center. I can always go back to center, since I have a strong sense of who I am and who I aspire to be.

 

7. What do you most love about what you do?

I enjoy helping people, I enjoy solving problems, and thinking big picture about solutions.

 

8. What should someone ask to determine their passion?

What activity do you do that makes you feel alive? What, when you do it, makes you feel like you have superpowers?

 

9. How do you define success?

To me, success is feeling good about what you do, from the core of one’s being.

 

10. What habits or skills are most important to living a successful life?

Authenticity. Being true to who you are and not feeling moved off that block.

 

11. If you instantly lost everything, what steps would you take to become successful again?

I would rebuild from the place of what’s important to me. Then take baby steps until what I lost is recovered.

 

12. How do you maintain productivity throughout the day?

Since college, almost every day I write down my daily “TDL”—to do list. I only list 2-5 things, but these things are the big gains that I wish to accomplish by the end of the day. It helps me focus on what really matters.

 

13. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

Listen to your gut and stay consistent at the gym .

 

14. What books would you recommend on career and business to someone just starting out?

How to Win Friends and Influence People – my favorite.

 

15. What advice would you give someone interested in making a career change?

Research, research, research. Find peace within, then LEAP.

 

15 Questions for Success: Avril Speaks

15 Questions for Success: Avril Speaks

For the past few weeks, we have been working hard to bring you quality content on faith and work and plan to continue shedding light on people who are actually successful in making their work and faith collide in their respective industries. Each entrepreneur and professional that will be featured in our “15 Questions for Success” series will give us their road map to success and answer questions on how their faith plays out in their careers.

The second installment of the “15 Questions for Success” series features Avril Speaks, producer and director for BET. Check out what Avril has to say about faith and work below:

When people ask you what you do, how do you answer?

I usually say I am an independent filmmaker, or an independent film producer.

When you think of the word ‘successful’ who is the first person that comes to mind and why?

Ava Duvernay. She is someone who has defined success on her own terms. The movie “Selma” is not what made her successful. She owns and defines her own truth in which she was already successful. She had a unique voice within the film industry before that film and she continues to have one today.

 

What role does faith play when it comes to your career?

Faith plays a huge role because my relationship with God and my interest in film developed around the same time in life, so for me those two always go hand-in-hand. My faith inevitably shows up in my work somehow, even though it is often not in the way that many people would expect.

What does the first 60-90 minutes of your day look like?

It depends on the day. Some days I go to the gym early in the morning. Some days (when I think about it) I’ll read a passage of Scripture. Some days I jump right up and get in the shower. Sadly, other days I lay in bed and scroll through Facebook for an hour (I’m trying to break this habit).

How has knowing your personality type affected your life and how has it played a role in any life decision?

I’m an introvert so I’m not much of a schmoozer. But what that trait has taught me is how to seek out authentic relationships with people. So I’m not really one to “work a room,” but I’m pretty good at finding the one or two people in a crowd that I connect to and those people often end up being valuable parts of my life in some way. I’ve come to realize that my quietness allows me to be an observer, one who thinks thing through before acting out. When making decisions, I weight all the options, rather than jumping into anything too quickly.

What do you most love about what you do?

 Getting to collaborate with other creative people and seeing good stories come to life. I think that human stories and testimonies are powerful and any way I can be part of getting those stories told, it makes me happy.

What should someone ask themselves to determine their passion?

What is that something that makes you lose track of time? What is something that you love doing, even if you didn’t get paid for it?

How do you define success?

Success is having the freedom to do what you love. For some people, freedom comes financially (being able to make a living from doing something you love), for others it comes with time (making time in the schedule to do something you love).

What habits or skills are most important to living a successful life?

 Persistence in making space for those things that bring joy/success.

How do you maintain productivity throughout the day?

Making lists!!!

What advice would you give your 20 year old self?

Trust yourself and the knowledge that you have. I spent so many years doubting that I know anything and that I have something valuable to say (I still struggle with this, actually).

What books would you recommend on career and business to someone just starting out?

Hollywood Game Plan: How to Land a Job in Film, TV and Digital Entertainment by Carole M. Kirschner and

Imagination and the Journey of Faith by Sandra M. Levy

What advice would you give someone interested in making a career change?

Capitalize your strengths. Just because you are changing careers doesn’t mean you have to throw away all of the skills you have acquired in your previous occupation. My hairstylist was an accountant before opening her own salon. She may have switched careers, but that business sense went a long way for her when starting her own business, which is how she has been able to sustain herself for so many years. Think of none of your years as wasted time. Every job you have done in the past was to prepare you for where you are right now or where you’re trying to go.

 

 

15 Questions for Success: Shawn Dove

15 Questions for Success: Shawn Dove

Have you been following our Faith and Work Series? The Urban Faith team understands the importance of connecting faith to your everyday life, particularly for young adults.

So, for the past few weeks, we have been working hard to bring you quality content on faith and work, and now we are going to turn our focus on some folks who are actually making that happen in their respective industries. Each entrepreneur and professional that will be featured in our “15 Questions for Success” series will give us their road map to success and answer questions on how their faith plays out in their careers.

Our first installment of 15 Questions for Success features Shawn Dove, CEO for the Campaign For Black Male Achievement. Shawn is a man of faith who is invested in creating a future where black males and their families can thrive. Check out what Shawn has to say below:

 

1. When people ask you what you do, how do you answer that?

I have all these things inside of me. A preacher. An ad exec. Writer. A motivational speaker. A salesperson. A coach and a mentor.

 

2. When you think of the word ‘successful’ who is the first person that comes to mind and why?

My mother. She was a single mom and she had to make sacrifices on her dreams and vision to raise me in environments and make me the man I am today. She embodies generosity, vision, and sacrifice. So that’s what comes to my mind.

 

3. What role does faith play when it comes to your career?

Faith is everything. I would not be…speaking to you. I would not be doing the work I’m doing if it wasn’t for God who carried me up to this point. Faith is essential because it can get discouraging. God gave you two hands. One to build with and one to fight with.

 

4. What does the first 60-90 minutes of your day look like?

If I’m lucky I wake up. I go downstairs and get coffee. I light some incense and pray. I read devotionals and stretch. I also have this men’s [phone call] I’m on. The Manhood Legacy call. Journaling is also part of my mission. I’ve been journaling since I was 14-15 years old and it helps me get my thoughts together. So that’s my morning from about 5:00-7:30 a.m.

I also have to put out my daily tweet. If I don’t do that then it’s like my world is not right.

“Arise and Shine! Glow & Go be a blessing to someone today. And when in doubt just ask God to let you be a light and to use you as He sees fit”

 

5. What are you really good at that people might not realize?

I would say helping people deliver “breech” dreams. Stuff that they’ve been trying to push out on their own but can’t push out on their own. I have twin boys and my son Cameron came out first but Caleb was born breech. He was coming out feet-first. 9 minutes later his vital signs were dropping. Doctors had to help pull him out. That’s what I do for people’s dreams

 

6. How has knowing who you are affected your life, and how has it played a role in major life decisions?

Well, by knowing what makes you tick helps you know what ticks you off. After I got into my 40’s and 50’s I became more comfortable with who I am and what my calling is. So there’s a certain level of peace and it’s all in divine order.

 

7. What do you most love about what you do?

I love my job. I love investing in other people’s dreams and helping to inspire leaders. I’m the CEO the Chief executive officer of CBMA but I love my role as the Chief Evangelical Officer. I love seeing people on the edge of the pool and I’m the kid who’s going to give you that nudge to push you into the deep end.

 

8. What should someone ask to determine their passion?

First, ask, “Why am I here?” The second is “What do I want my eulogy to say?” That will determine what direction they should go in.

 

9. How do you define success?

My eulogy will serve to be someone else’s life epilogue. And what I mean by that is the epilogue shows there’s more to the story than the last chapter. I want people to say they were ready to quit. Then they hear about how I lived and died and they are renewed. They don’t want to give up.

 

10. What habits or skills are most important to living a successful life?

Forgiveness. I have to forgive myself in the areas where I’ve failed. Having to resign from my first executive director’s position almost 30 and go into rehab I had to forgive myself for that because it was the most important thing I could have done in my life.

You also have to have empathy. That’s one thing I’ve learned being married and having children and leading an organization such as ours. Empathy is necessary.

Then I would say vision and a sense of completion, being open and teachable, and working with people and collaborating. [And finally, you must have] resiliency. You have to be able to bounce back from adversity.

 

11. If you instantly lost everything, what steps would you take to become successful again?

Well if it’s just my job or career, I would focus on everything else I have and not on what I lost. I still have my wife and my children. I still have my relationship with God. Then I would just start doing what got me here in the first place: writing, speaking, leading. I’m a servant leader so I would ask where can I serve.

 

12. How do you maintain productivity throughout the day?

Well, some days are more productive than others. I escape the office to have lunch to get reenergized. I also drink a green shake for energy in the mornings. And, a to-do list is must. I have a tendency to procrastinate so I make sure I knock things off my to-do list. Also, I make sure that it’s not about my productivity but the productivity of the team. Which means I have to delegate [tasks] and trust my team.

 

13. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

Stop stalling on my calling and just jump in! Also, develop a sound financial plan and be maniacally disciplined with that plan.

14.What books would you recommend on career and business to someone just starting out?

I would say “Think and Grow Rich: A Black Choice” by Dennis Kimbro, “As A Man Thinketh” by James Allen, “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho, and John Ortberg’s book “If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got To Get Out of the Boat.”

 

15.What advice would you give someone who’s just starting out or interested in making a career change?

Stop stalling on your calling and just jump. You have more resources and influence than you think. Get a piece of paper or journal and answer these questions:

What season am I in? What’s holding me back? What is God preparing me for? Who do I know that can help me? How did I navigate a season similar to this one?

 

Why we need the Africa Study Bible

Why we need the Africa Study Bible

The internet is saturated with tons of information for all facets of life, including spiritual resources.

In fact, if you do an Amazon search for something like study Bible results will include a wide variety of options. While scrolling down the list, you will find study Bibles for men and women. You will find study Bibles for couples and you can also find a study Bible in just about every translation. So why would anyone need another study Bible, particularly the Africa Study Bible?

Well, to start, we suppose you should start by asking, “What exactly is the Africa Study Bible?”

While all of aforementioned study Bibles have their merit, the Africa Study Bible delivers something unique. It contains insight and knowledge about the Bible from a non-majority culture perspective. It is packed with over 2,400 features, and 350 scholars from more than 50 African countries have contributed to the making of this Bible.

The features of the Africa Study Bible speak on different topics through the lens of African culture. Whether you’re African or a member of the African Diaspora, this Bible provides in-depth knowledge to show that Christianity extends beyond just one group of people.

Contrary to popular opinion, Christianity is not solely the territory of those of European ancestry. In fact, it is the countries and cultures of the South and the East where Christianity is growing at a rapid rate. Not only that, but studies show that Africa played a major role in the development of Christian theology. The Africa Study Bible helps to make that clear and it can make that clear for you as well.

The Africa Study Bible is loaded with tons of features, including:

  • Book introductions explaining the history of each book
  • Touch Points to show where the culture of the Bible meets African cultures and how Africans shaped Christian belief
  • Learn Notes to teach the foundations, values, and the doctrine of the Christian faith.
  • Proverbs and Stories to enlighten readers through the parallels of Scripture and cultural wisdom found in wise sayings and fables.
  • Application Notes to inspire readers to reflect on issues and apply truth to everyday life
  • Articles giving practical advice on how to live out the Christian faith, focusing on 50 critical concerns facing the church in Africa and its people
  • Topical Index and Concordance that lists the biblical text s and Africa Study Bible features by topic and defines difficult-to-understand words connecting concepts from Genesis to Revelation for research and teaching
  • Maps, Graphical Timelines, and Other Features that spread throughout the Bible and help provide insight and understanding

With this Bible you will have specific insight and knowledge into the cultures and customs of the Bible from an African perspective. This will equip you with tools to share non-majority insights with your congregation or Bible study. The Africa Study Bible can help you to reclaim Christianity’s African roots.

Get yours today here!

Check out our interview with Dr. A. Okechukwu Ogbonnaya, Ph.D. on the inspiration behind the Africa Study Bible and its impact on our community below:

 

Recap: 2017 Gospel Grammy Winners

Recap: 2017 Gospel Grammy Winners

It was all about great music and “Giving honor to God” during the biggest night in music (Shout out to Chance the Rapper for both an amazing performance and making Grammy history, including his Best New Artist win.). And, in case you missed it, we wanted to give you a quick recap on some of the biggest wins in gospel music during the 59th Annual Grammy Awards.

Best Gospel Album

“Losing My Religion” – WINNER

Kirk Franklin

 

“Listen”

Tim Bowman Jr.

 

“Fill This House”

Shirley Caesar

 

“A Worshipper’s Heart (LIVE)”

Todd Dulaney

 

“Demonstrate (LIVE)”

William Murphy

 

 

Best Gospel Performance/Song

“God Provides” – WINNER

Tamela Mann

 

“It’s Alright, It’s OK”

Shirley Caesar feat. Anthony Hamilton

 

“You’re Bigger (Live)”

Jekalyn Carr

 

“Made a Way (Live)”

Travis Greene

 

“Better”

Hezekiah Walker

 

Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song

“Thy Will” – WINNER

Hillary Scott & The Scott Family

 

“Trust in You”

Lauren Daigle

 

“Priceless”

For King & Country

 

“King of the World”

Natalie Grant

 

“Chain Breaker”

Zach Williams

 

Best Contemporary Christian Music Album

“Love Remains”- WINNER

Hillary Scott

 

“Poets & Saints”

All Sons & Daughters

 

“American Prodigal”

Crowder

 

“Be One”

Natalie Grant

 

“Youth Revival (Live)”

Hillsong Youth & Free

 

Best Roots Gospel Album

“Hymns” – WINNER

Joey+Rory

 

“Better Together”

Gaither Vocal Band

 

“Nature’s Symphony In 432”

The Isaacs

 

“Hymns And Songs of Inspiration”

Gordon Mote

 

“God Don’t Never Change: The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson

(Various Artists)