Inspiring Leadership with Diversity, Inclusion & Cultural Competence

Archive for April, 2014

Intrusive Attention – The Key to the Stage for Black Males in Higher Education By Ken Coopwood, Sr., Ph.D., CDE, Missouri State University

Dr. Ken Coopwood Sr., CDE, VP for Diversity & Inclusion at Missouri State University, will present a workshop session on “Diversity Management: Academic and Corporate Settings” on July 24th at the 2014 Diversity Leadership Retreat.


With more than 22 years in higher education, I am no stranger to what can be achieved when diligent and personal service is afforded to young black and Latino men. The recent call to action by President Obama on behalf of black and Latino young men provides startling statistics and realities to those responsible for integrating, collaborating and elevating the social position of these underrepresented populations. To the point, they need to graduate, and we’re failing at getting them to that stage. Many programs across the country use “intervention” tactics to “spark” graduation rates. Although some have been successful, most intervention tactics hit nowhere near the mark. Still these programs are administered everyday around the country, and what I’ve found as a critical ingredient in the most successful programs is that they seek to make immediate and sustainable impact by applying a concept I call “Intrusive Attention.”

I was fortunate some years back to start a male development program at a mid-western university. The students named it, Da BOMB, an acronym for Black Optimistic Men and Brothers which represented the powerful energy released when positive black men come together. This program took athletes, choir boys, Greeks and geeks and turned them into progressive scholars, spiritual beings and overcomers. The students even came together and actually paid their president at a rate that was the highest among student workers throughout the university. The BOMB still exists today, but there was something missing from its core, and I knew it, so I began to search for a better mousetrap.

About 15 years ago, I heard about the Student African American Brotherhood (SAAB). SAAB, now sometimes referred to as SAAB/B2B (Brother 2 Brother for a more inclusive title) began in 1990 at Georgia Southern University. Today it has grown to more than 250 chapters across college and university campuses; middle and high schools in more than 39 states in the U.S. Each chapter is run by student leaders. I saw early-on that SAAB/B2B employs what I’ve come to know as “intrusive attention” – the in-depth, whole-person approach to self-image transformation and societal responsibility. SAAB /B2B was designed to ensure that young men of color enjoy the privilege of social, cultural and spiritual enrichment while achieving academic advancement to graduation. The program increases the number of African American and Latino men who graduate from college by creating a positive peer community based on a spirit of caring.

I had the privilege of oversight for a SAAB/B2B chapter in Northwest Indiana from 2005 until 2011. It boasted a roster of 60+ junior college and four-year university men with ages ranging from 17 to 62, and a 4-year retention rate of 87 percent. Intrusive attention provided to the life structure of these men was the key to success. We knew when the students were in class, and when they were at work, or not. Most importantly, we knew who they loved and who they wanted to love them. We counseled about their closest friends and about being good fathers, men of faith, financially savvy and socially straight. The model in Indiana was the first of its kind for SAAB/B2B, a 2-year/4-Year school chapter, and it worked beautifully. In 2010, this chapter was dubbed “the most stellar chapter in the Mid-West.”

It’s a pleasure to now oversee another model for SAAB/B2B in Springfield, MO, a place known well as the second whitest city of its size in the United States. This time, a pipeline for male development and academic advancement is expected to be built with support for universities, high schools and middle schools. This work is timely and aligns perfectly with the onset of President Obama’s Initiative for Young Black Men. We are just getting started, so let me tell you what has happened thus far, and what will take place in the coming weeks.

Students ranging from 6th grade to graduate school began their exposure to SAAB/ B2B via an introductory meeting with two notables, Dr. Tyrone Bledsoe, founder of SAAB (Student African American Brotherhood) and Mr. Hezekiah Griggs III, a highly successful entrepreneur and CEO of multi-media companies. These notables, along with me, addressed the students about a journey to graduation and success… that was to begin that day. The students underwent get-to-know activities, including afternoon sports, and finished the introductory weekend at church Sunday morning with all three leaders. What followed only two weeks later was an intense “get-ready-for-tough-love” weekend leadership camp, led by Mr. Griggs, which started each day at 5:30AM and ended at 11PM. Prior to the leadership camp, a call for mentors and support for this program to the Springfield community was made by the Program Coordinator, Mrs. Francine Pratt. The community responded well to this needed initiative, and the mentors were present during the entire leadership camp weekend.

The next weekend activity included more leadership development and business planning. On March 21-23, 2014 about 35 black and Latino young men convened. They learned all the things I’ve just mentioned as well as set personal goals that extend over the next three years. Then they received ”the program,” a 3-hour orientation about how to run their meetings, support each other and hold each other accountable for committee responsibility. This was the third start-up meeting of a 5-university, 3-high school and 2-middle school chapter of what the students called the Bridge Springfield Brother 2 Brother (B2B) initiative for male development. A week later, students traveled to the SAAB/B2B National Conference in Dearborn, Michigan.

All the aforementioned activity is just the pre-launch for this intense, intrusive attention program for young black and Latino men. We will culminate our pre-activity with a presentation of the chapter to the entire Springfield community. The presentation will be led by Dr. Bledsoe, Mr. Griggs and me.

Ultimately, the students who remain in Bridge Springfield are expected to graduate and be prepared to serve their home community, or anywhere they find themselves. I believe it is clear that the leadership of this landmark male development program understands the value and impact that intrusive attention can have on young men who are in most cases left to define life through their own devices. I further believe that every PWI, HSI and HBCU should adopt this or a similar model for male development. We are committed to “saving lives and salvaging dreams” because the data shows that it works. And, as implied in the SAAB/B2B motto: “I am my brother’s keeper and together we will rise!”

By Ken Coopwood, Sr., Ph.D., CDE

How to Handle a Social Media Crisis By Ini Augustine

Ini Augustine, CEO of SocialWise Media Group, will present a workshop session on “Social Media and Diversity on the Web” on July 25th at the 2014 Diversity Leadership Retreat.


In today’s quickly changing social environment, every company should be prepared to handle a social media crisis. It’s not a question of if, but when you, or your company could be under attack online. Even though a social media crisis starts small, it can progress into something that is very difficult to handle. This is why it is crucial that you detect a social media crisis while it is still in its early stages.

Step #1: Don’t ignore it
Social Media fiascos typically start with something small. A customer posts a bad review, or a negative blog is posted. Recognize that this is the point at which your company should respond to the situation proactively.

When you notice an unhappy or angry customer has left a not-so-good review on your Facebook or Twitter page, it’s a good time to reach out. It is crucial to constantly monitor your company page and set a Google alert for your brand. Once you spot a potential social media crisis, try to resolve the problem that is causing it.

Step #2: Identify the Problem
Accepting blame is not a typical human response. While there are individuals out there that will never be happy, consider the fact that most customers are being honest about their experience. Apologize, right away if you are sorry. Explain why your company has a certain policy if you’re not.

A certain company went through a sudden social media crisis when a fan posted a question asking for directions on how he could ask them for help and they failed to respond. Because of this, the fan posted very bad reviews about the company the next day, which went viral quickly. People shared the negative post more than 50 times in 24 hrs. Once we stepped in, we approached the unhappy poster, and provided him with the info that was required. He then posted a positive review, which got shared 15 times.

Step #3: Be Proactive, not reactive
One of the biggest mistakes is not respond to customer inquiries or reviews. Respond to posts and messages within 2 hours. Social Media leaves a public record of how your company handles customer service. A pro-active response tells your customers that you are serious about their concerns and want to satisfy their need. When used properly, social media can actually help publicize stellar customer service.

Step #4: Don’t get Lazy
Once you have successfully managed your current social media crisis, you need to work towards making sure that it doesn’t happen again. For this reason, it is vital that you assign responsibility for all your social media pages and accounts. Either hire an agency to do it for you, or train an employee to do it in house. Maintaining your online legacy is an ongoing process.


Ini Augustine is the CEO of SocialWise Media Group. She is Aspiring Businesswoman of the year 2013 for NAWBO , The National Association of Women Business Owners. In 2006, Ini Augustine was named Businesswoman of the year for her work on the Business Advisory Council to Congress. She received a Congressional Medal of Distinction for her contributions to that same council. You can follow her @mrsmadbiz or connect on LinkedIn.

About SocialWise Media Group
SocialWise Media Group uses platforms like Pinterest, Facebook, Blogging, and Twitter to build stronger customer relationships. SocialWise Media Group specializes in social media management and training for Non-Profit’s & SMB’s.

Wishing or Washing? By Enrique Ruiz, CDE

Rick RuizAs a child I learned to wish upon a star, to heaven or to myself. I wanted many things near and far. I wanted easy tests, a game win, toys and work free days. All of this energy was forward looking with relatively static momentum. As the weeks and years progressed though, I found myself saying “I wish I had done…” My grades could have been better had I studied, my idea could have had my name on the patent, my skills would be more rounded, my relationship would have been better or I could have seen the world!

How did I start wishing forwards with HOPE and then later in life find myself wishing backwards with REGRET? In good time, I realized that the things we do not accomplish are a direct result of the momentum we apply at the time we express our wish. Childhood wishes were fine in the family circle, where parents could help me realize my dream, but as I got older that responsibility was clearly mine.

To be sure, momentum is fueled by our burning desire to achieve something but environment, finances, health, parents, work and a variety of other things temper that momentum. For some, the goals are lofty, and yet for others the goals seem well within their reach. In both scenarios though, many will fail to accomplish their goals. New Years resolutions will have a short life, commitments will fall through, and career achievements will be cut short as “life gets in the way.” As we grow older, most of us will look back with regret for the things we coulda or shoulda done.

The decisions we make, recognizing that indecisions are also a decision to not do something now, have downstream consequences. Wishing attitudes and procrastinating behaviors start early and have financial consequences too. A Civic Enterprises 2006 study revealed that “70% of high school graduates wish they had worked harder and taken more rigorous courses in high school” and the College Board in 2004 revealed that “a typical college graduate will earn $1 million more over a lifetime than a high school graduate.”

The dreams I have are mine to pursue yet there is a price I must pay of time, commitment and resources. To be sure, there is personal sacrifice required so with the help of my self-talk I found 5000 excuses for not accomplishing early goals but not one valid reason. I had to give life to these intangible mental thoughts and turn them into a physical reality. It is personal creation at its best!

One by one I started laying my ideas out and planning the how and when I would accomplish them. There was a broad range of goals from receiving a degree, Scuba diving, pilot certifications, international travel, million dollar real estate portfolios, business ownership and family goals. Money was a problem though as I was poor, even homeless living out of a homebuilt camper in my teens, so these lofty goals seemed distant.

Obstacles, hurdles and naysayers were plenty. Isn’t this what happens to us all? We want the roadblocks blasted and the debris washed away so we can see a clear path. Before we begin, a clean road would surely be a sign of the path we should take. Our trajectory is clear and straight. Yet this too is just a wish if there is no momentum. Where can we get the power necessary to wash away obstacles?

The Grand Canyon in Arizona is an example of what water in motion can do for landscaping on a grand scale. This canyon was formed by the persistent action of the Colorado River as it gradually eroded away every layer of rock, every boulder and every pebble that lay in its path to leave a 277 miles long, 18 mile wide and over a mile deep breathtaking view. Today, it is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Could you and I wash away the naysayers and find our path like a river winding its way to the mighty ocean?

The truly successful people have all worked hard for their accomplishments. They have invested thousands of hours in the living daydream, taken risks, failed often and forged paths where others dared not go. They are no different than you and me. Like water they have continuously cleansed their path, washed away obstacles, nourished their commitment and given life to their thoughts.

Regardless of our age, it is never too late to see our wishes transformed into reality. Neither the gadgets we buy, nor the volume of entertainment we can afford to consume, can compare with the joy felt when we scale the mountain we were afraid to climb. The risks we take in life – and the amount of sweat we invest – prevents any regret from settling in had we not taken any action. The journey and risks we take will determine our level of fulfillment.

Almost every goal I have set, I have achieved (although never on my own timeline). Usually, my achievements are years or more beyond my original timeline, and some even decades later like my MBA and pilot certification. To be sure, I have failed a lot too but have become ever more wiser in the process.

As the inevitable time comes to bid farewell to our earthly existence, the strength of the memories we create now will energize our successors with our own immortality. We should all be living examples of what we teach our children… “you can do and be anything you want to be.” Let’s all leave the wishing behind… and become a WASHER making full use of the power of water to cleanse, polish, nourish and sustain our purpose driven life!

Enrique Ruiz, President
PositivePsyche.Biz Corp

Enrique ‘Rick’ Ruiz is President of PositivePsyche.Biz Corp, a management consulting and training firm in the Washington DC area. He earned an MBA in the UK and has led teams in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and across the US. He is PgMP , CM and CDE certified, has managed operations up to 15,000 people strong, is an inventor with a family of six and an author of five books including the popular Wisher, Washer, Wishy-Washy, How To Move From Just Existing to Personal Abundance. Read more articles of interest at

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