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"I think you need to stop being so difficult and just let this go," the senior leader said exasperated, handing my sheets back to me. He was annoyed. I took my sheets back and walked out. It was a battle I wasn't about to win.

Those sheets outlined my compelling case for delaying the launch my team had been leading. The proposition wasn't differentiated. The media plan was underfunded. The estimates from sales teams were coming in lower than expected. My persistence, my persuasive business case, and my passion, all pointed in only one direction: that I was being difficult.

In the end, the launch was never delayed. It went on as scheduled and underperformed terribly. The items were delisted within six months. And we never talked about that launch again. It was as if it had never happened.

And all along I wondered: how could I have been less difficult?

Walking into a huge beauty store similar to Sephora can be overwhelming as you confront rows and rows of bright products promising clear skin and high cheekbones. But as the light dims and you adjust, have you ever stopped to think about whether that lipstick or blush was created by a Black-owned beauty brand? With August being National Black Business Month, we want to further uplift Aurora James's work on the 15 Percent Pledge.

When I first heard #OKBoomer, I cringed and thought — here we go again. Yet another round of generation bashing, this time Millennials against Baby Boomers. This new social media conflict will not help workplace dynamics. Throughout my career, I've heard countless rants about long-established workplace norms that younger generations perceive as overly repressive rules that subvert identity, familial obligations, civility, and respect for the environment.

When I was sentenced to seven years in prison, I had no idea what I would do with my life after my period of incarceration. My life was filled with abuse, addiction, and crime. Trying to become gainfully employed and make a livable wage became one of my greatest challenges post-prison. In my hometown, there were 210 professions I could not even participate in solely based on my criminal record. I had lost my dignity, had zero self-esteem, and felt stuck. After some serious self-reflection about the reality of the situation and having so many natural barriers, I recognized the greatest block was my own way of thinking. I had to ask myself: what do I have, and what can I do with what I have?

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