Justin Black is a recent graduate of Western Michigan University, where he studied public relations and African studies. He started Rising Over Societal Expectations (ROSE) Empowerment Group with a vision to close the information gap for today’s generation of Black and Brown youth after his experiences as a Black male in the foster care system. He has also developed policy recommendations while working with the National Black Child Development Institute resulting in a publication titled The State of the Black Child Report Card: Washington State. Black studied urban and community development as well as political and economic philosophy in countries such as Rwanda, Uganda, Senegal, and South Korea. In his spare time, Justin loves watching sports and enjoys hot wings. He aspires to challenge and expand the ideologies of how to build prosperous communities through interdependence and entrepreneurship.
Where did the idea for Redefining Normal come from?
The meaning of Redefining Normal stems from the identity that has been shaped by your family, community, and society. As foster kids, we inherited a culture of ideas that was a reflection of the trauma of our family and community. This became our reality and the image we had of ourselves. Our Redefining Normal book challenges every idea that we’ve been told/shown throughout our lives in order for us to reshape and redefine what it means to pursue happiness, form meaningful relationships, to prosper, and to love.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Every day of the week is filled with tasks. Before the week begins, I strategically prioritize my mental and spiritual health with specific activities. Next, I organize the projects for my work week. What projects demand immediate attention and which ones do not. I do my best with creating a work-life balance but as you know, separating the two is very difficult.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Meditation and prayer is where I discover most of my good ideas. Sitting in silence works miracles. Oftentimes, our mind is racing at a million miles per hour. After sitting down and slowing down your thoughts, you’ll begin to brainstorm amazing ideas that will contribute to your overall success. Even if it’s the slightest of suggestions, quiet time always brings the best out of us. Outside of that, my wife/business partner contributes amazing ideas.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The focus on mental health is amazing! Discussing mental health can be seen as a sign of weakness. In masculine circles, the attention to detail as it relates to mental health can sometimes be ignored or overlooked unintentionally. I’m interested in how the subject has made its way to the mainstream and what practices do individuals perform to improve their mental health, more specifically within the realm of entrepreneurship.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Listening and learning from the audience and the people I serve is key. Having a few test products used before we officially launch is a good example of utilizing your audience. Increasing your networking ability and willingness to ask for help is almost needed as an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship is all about providing the best quality products and services to those who want and need it most by any means.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be happy with where you are and find joy in who you are becoming. Continue to make progress by the minute and start reading more books!
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Cereal can be dinner, lunch, and breakfast. Many people see this as odd but I see it as convenient during the workweek.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Adopt practices and habits from others and become a good listener. I can sometimes act as if I know it all. I force myself to be humbled and acknowledge that I have so much more to learn. Through books, mentors, and other resources, entrepreneurs can develop many practices that will increase their business success. Patience and daily reflections are also important.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
The first thing any entrepreneur can do is leverage their network. These should be people that want you to succeed and connect you with others. While networking, you should also tell others your ultimate goal. There are numerous people who have done what you strive to do and others who have the connections to teach you how to do the same. You never know who they’ll reach out to on your behalf. Networks can be the very resource you need to push your business to the next level.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
With our first book, we had an unsuccessful launch. At best, we sold a few hundred copies and failed at marketing, networking, and almost every other aspect of introducing a product. Though we still be it is a useful product that can be utilized, we have loads of inventory in our home and nowhere for it to go.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Most businesses have issues with marketing, outreach, and communication. If there could be more platforms (maybe an app) that assist with these components of a business, that be extremely important.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently purchased a Yeti Microphone for my podcasting. A huge investment that allowed me to expand my business and interact with my core audience directly.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Asana is definitely a life-saving service that allows me to organize my day! It’s as simple as scheduling tasks for each day and getting them done. When working in a team, Asana is almost needed. You can assign tasks to team members with descriptions, due dates, and attachments.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I’ll have to go with the old classic Rich Dad Poor Dad. It’s a must-read when considering strategies of autonomy and financial literacy. The book specifically expresses the importance of passive income and how to leverage such tools for your business.
What is your favorite quote?
“It takes a village to raise a child”. This is my favorite quote because I believe we are meant to utilize our skills and abilities to serve and improve the quality of life of the community which will in return, will impact each individual.
- The core of entrepreneurship is about creating avenues to improve people’s lives and addressing the need through multiple different platforms.
- Enjoy the process, not the end result. The end result is never longer than the process. So learn to enjoy it!
- Learn from your mistakes and see how you can improve. Never get comfortable with your failures but learn to bounce back from them.