Friday, February 14, 2014

Stedman Graham at 2nd Annual Toronto Black Film Festival

Stedman Graham Conference: The Nine-Step Plan

Feb 13, 2014 - 19:00 @ TIFF Bell Lightbox
Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham

He’s best known as Oprah Winfrey’s longtime boyfriend, by Stedman Graham makes it clear he is his own man and that he has achieved his own success through hard work, dedication and perseverance.  Stedman emerged from a difficult childhood and took control of things and is now CEO of S. Graham & Associates, a management and marketing consulting firm that specializes in the corporate and educational markets.  Stedman says has a “burning desire” to help others find success as he has.  And to that end, Graham is appearing as part of the Toronto Black Film Festival, as guest lecturer on his Make It Big: Nine Steps to Success programme.  I caught up with Graham in Toronto.
Sometimes it’s difficult for me because people put me in a box based on my relationship and they don’t really understand who I am.  I often have to define myself as opposed to having the world define me so you’re dealing with that everywhere you go. That’s not easy to deal with so you have to so the process of success is a journey.   You don’t get there because everything is rosy.  You don’t get here because it’s easy. You get there because you don’t quit, you don’t give up you keep going and finding your way.  To be in business today, to survive this financial tsunami of the last seven years that’s a tough situation.  If you survived it makes your stronger, and it makes you who you are in the end.  What is my success or Oprah’s success? Or anybody with success? You’re not here because it was easy; you’re here because it was tough.  The law of the jungle applies to all of us and only the strong survive.

You are a high achiever, so what makes you different from the rest of us?

I don’t feel I’m any different. I understand there is a process for success. I work very hard to teach other people the process I have learned through my own experiences.   I work very hard to help people to think differently about themselves and how to develop an identify for themselves which is the foundation for growing and developing and achieving and it’s also the foundation for being able to take information and make it relevant to who you are as a person.  So you can create anything that you want.  The same process I learned is the same process anyone else can learn and if they learn it, they can empower themselves and achieve whatever they want.

But it doesn’t seem as though you’ve encountered failure.

I grew up with two disabled brothers in my family so I grew up with low self-esteem and a lack of confidence in myself.  That in itself was an accomplishment to get through that mentally.  When you’re teased every day and you fight all the time, when you had to fight because of your brothers and the shame that you have in your family, and you also have to deal with the race base consciousness which is what I had, I was always focussed on race, so I had to overcome a lot of internal things that people wouldn’t understand unless they’re in the situation. It was tough for me and I got through it and am able to realise that determination and perseverance that I had to have  to survive that and then be able to take that and help other people through their own obstacles. 

So you codified it in Make It Big: 9 Steps to Success.

I have a burning desire to get other people to find out what I found out for myself which is how to develop quality in your own life and how not to be defined by labels and how to be able to take your power back and move from a follower to a leader based what you think and how to organise your life around information as opposed to going to school and having the teacher tell you how to memorise and take tests and information and two weeks later you forget.  You come out with a degree and you can’t get a job.

So what can we do?

Now in the 21st job you have to be an owner of your own development, create your own lifelong learner and self-direct your life. You’ll live to be 100.  They’re keeping us alive a long time now, so we have to work and take care of ourselves. There is nothing guaranteed today, there is nothing that’s been as tough ever before in the history of our culture and world because it is so complex.  It’s great opportunity for all of us.  We have access to the world but we don’t have the navigational skills oftentimes to be able to understand how to deal with the global market place today or that you can create your own or create a future.  Those skills haven’t been taught yet.  We just have memorization skills and degree skills and someone didn’t teach us how to apply them to the job and nobody can get a job.   The factories are closed.

Why don’t they teach these survival skills in schools?

we ‘re trying to move more into a career oriented educational system and we just haven’t been able to make that transition because we are so hard wired into the old way of doing things.  The world has changed.  You have to learn to navigate it and commit to lifelong learning.


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