I’m blessed to be in my 30th year as a business and financial journalist, editor and media executive, experienced in print, TV, radio, online and social media content platforms. I also have more than 20 years experience as a business plan and elevator pitch competition judge, and an advisor/mentor to entrepreneurs and new start-ups. And over the past 10 years, I’ve been an entrepreneur in my own right, marketing my skills and personal brand as a public speaker and live-event moderator, creating a signature bow tie line, and developing the Grown Zone with my wife and business partner Zara D. Green. And since last year, I’ve been busy promoting my first book, coauthored with my wife, Loving In The Grown Zone: A No-Nonsense Guide to Making Healthy Relationship Decisions in the Quest for Loving, Romantic Relationships of Honor, Estéem and Respect.
I know what you’re thinking: What? Relationships? Nearly three decades as an award-winning business journalist and entrepreneurship expert, and your first book is about love and relationships?
The truth is, until recently, I’d been asking myself the same thing. (It’s probably less of a mystery to my dear sister-friend and AARP Life Reimagined well-being champion Dr. Janet Taylor.) But that changed when that very question was posed to me by “Small Business Evangelist” Ramon Ray, when he interviewed me about Loving In The Grown Zone for Smart Hustle Magazine earlier this year. (You can view the interview on YouTube.)
What I told him is what I’ve learned through both observation and often hard-earned experience (including two ill-conceived marriages): The single biggest determinant of long-term business, career and financial success is your commitment to continuous personal growth and the quality of the decisions you make in your relationships, including—maybe especially—romantic relationships. Conversely, neglecting personal growth and making poor relationship decisions is the single biggest threat to that success.
I’ve spent the majority of my career focused on teaching external achievement and professional development, including career, financial and entrepreneurial success strategies. (In fact, I continue to be passionate about entrepreneurship and financial education, with my work for Black Enterprise as well as platforms such as my Money Matters radio feature for American Urban Radio Networks.) But what few people tell you is that unless you focus on internal development and personal growth—understanding and mastering your beliefs, emotions and choices—any career, business and financial gains you aspire to will be unachievable, unsustainable, in constant peril and/or unfulfilling. For the most part, we in media don’t address this critical aspect of business and financial success until after the fact, when we cover (sometimes gleefully and nearly always judgmentally) the damage that results when outwardly successful people are found to have serious personal growth deficiencies (such as compulsive marital infidelity), with devastating consequences to their families, businesses, finances, careers, and sometimes entire industries.
To paraphrase my wife Zara: Gaining lasting and meaningful wealth, happiness and success is an inside job.
Zara and I launched our Grown Zone campaign to make the case that there is a difference between being merely adult and being Grown. All it takes to become an adult is to survive past puberty. Adulthood just happens. However, it takes intention to be Grown; it must be chosen to be learned, practiced, achieved and mastered. (In the context of business, that means not every business owner is a boss, or qualified to be, because to be a boss requires you to be the boss of yourself.) To be Grown is to be expert in, responsible for and in control of the patterns of your own thoughts and behaviors, both of which are the fruit of your emotions, which in turn are rooted in your beliefs.