One Place Every Black Person Needs to Visit in Their Lifetime

Imagine a place where you have the opportunity to network with successful African Americans. A place where you can learn about finance, discuss the political climate and how it affects our people as well as learn how to launch a successful business. A place where you attend nightly concerts featuring your favorite artists, enjoy amazing soul food and watch screenings of documentaries, tv shows and movies before they are released. This place sounds like “heaven” but many know it as the “Essence Festival.” If you subscribe to Essence magazine, you already know about this annual festival which usually takes place on the July 4th weekend in New Orleans, Louisiana. Blacks from all over the United States as well as Africans travel to New Orleans to experience the Essence Festival. This 23-year-old festival has most attendees coming back each year.

This was my first Essence Festival and it was a wonderful experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Tip: Book your hotel close to the convention center. (My hotel was walking distance)IMG_20170630_173413676The convention center is where all the festival events are held throughout the day. There are entrepreneur workshops, celebrity interviews with the cast of your favorite tv shows and movies such as Insecure, Girls Trip, Queen Sugar, The Haves and Haves Not, Empire, as well as free giveaways and Meet and Greets with celebrities.

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Michellene Barrett (left), Darrin Henson (right) Meet and Greet

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Boris Kodjoe (left), Michellene Barrett (right) Meet and Greet

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Cast of Survivor’s Remorse, from left to right (RonReaco Lee, Jessie T. Usher, Teyonah Paris, Erica Ash) interviewed on the Center Stage

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Halle Berry on the Empowerment Stage speaking about her new movie Kidnap in theaters August 4, 2017

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Tina Knowles-Lawson (left) with her financial planner Cheryl Creuzot (right) on the Empowerment Stage as they discuss her new book on financial literacy

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Kenya Moore (left) interviewed on the Empowerment Stage about her recent marriage and her journey to finding true love at age 46

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Eva Marcille (left) interviewed on the Center Stage about her new sunglasses line First Ave

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The nightly concerts take place in the Mercedes Benz Superdome. Performances on the main stage featured artists such as Jazmine Sullivan, Mary J. Blige, Jill Scott, India Arie, Monica, Chance the Rapper and Diana Ross. There are also performances in super lounges which are also located in the Superdome. Artists who performed in the super lounges were Xscape, Remy Ma, Shaggy, Elle Varner, June’s Diary to name a few.

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These photos and words cannot begin to capture the “Essence” of Essence Festival. I guarantee at Essence Fest, you will feel inspired, encouraged and motivated to be the best version of yourself.

Please let me know, have you ever been to Essence Festival? What was your experience like?

Do you want to visit the Essence Fest after reading this?

Blog post written by Michellene Barrett Some Rights Reserved.

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The “Brains” Behind Love and Hip Hop

Regardless if we love the show or not, we can’t deny the success of the Love and Hip Hop franchise. Love and Hip Hop is VH1’s highest rated reality tv show series. So how did it all begin? Can we really learn something about success from listening to the “brains” behind what some call “ratchet” television?

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Michellene Barrett (Left) Yandy Smith (right)

I had the opportunity to meet Yandy Smith who is currently a part of the Love and HipHop NY cast. In past seasons of Love and Hip Hop, Yandy was always portrayed as a hard-working businesswoman who managed major artists in Hip Hop such as Jim Jones. At this Black women At Work event hosted by the #SheWokeCommittee at St. Francis College, I was surprised to learn about the significant role Yandy Smith played in launching Love and Hip Hop.

Yandy Smith’s journey to success was filled with No’s, disappointments and failures like so many of us. Yandy shared how she really wanted to work at Violater Management after graduating from Howard University with a business management degree. At the time Hip Hop artists such as Busta Rhymes, 50 Cent, Missy Elliot, LlCoolJ and Sean Combs were signed to Violater Management. Day after day, Yandy would go to the Violater Management office in Manhattan asking for a job and every day she would be turned away. She heard the word NO over and over again but that did not stop her from going back to the office every day. Finally, one day the co-founder of Violater Management, Mona Scott-Young saw Yandy and asked her what she wanted. When she told her she wanted a job, Mona offered her an internship which consisted of mostly serving coffee and drinks. Yandy was eager to accept the job and saw it as an opportunity to enter the music business. Eventually Yandy worked her way up to becoming the executive assistant to Mona. Working closely with Mona, Yandy was able to develop a better understanding of management and soon began to manage the artist Jim Jones. She later left Violater Management and joined Warner Music Group/Atlantic Records as a consultant.

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Mona Scott-Young

Things were going well for Yandy. She was living her dream of managing a major Hip Hop artist. She even orchestrated a reality show deal with Vh1. The reality show would feature her artist Jim Jones and it would be titled, “Keeping Up With The Joneses.” Once the taping of the reality show started, her artist decided that it would be too much for him to have cameras filming him 24 hours a day. Yandy was very disappointed because she was going to lose a lot of money from this failure. Yandy Smith still had a close relationship with Mona Scott so she called her and told her about the dilemma. Mona Scott was actually trying to pitch a reality show idea to WeTv and they were not interested. So Yandy Smith and Mona Scott decided to collaborate and create the reality tv show Love and Hip Hop with Vh1.

Words of Wisdom from Yandy Smith on Success:

“My failure led to my greatest success.”

“Build relationships with people who are smarter than you.”

“Offer your product for free.” (When you start a business to get exposure)

Do you agree with Yandy Smith’s quotes on success? Would you do whatever it takes to get your dream job like Yandy?

Blog post written by Michellene Barrett Some Rights Reserved.

10 Most Successful Blacks of Today

Let’s celebrate Black History Month by learning from the Most Successful Blacks of Today! The Countdown begins:

10. Tyra Banks (Supermodel, Talk Show Host, Producer, Actress, Author, Entrepreneur)

Tyra Banks was the first African American woman to be featured on the covers of GQ and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. In 2003, Banks created the reality television series America’s Next Top Model which she executive produced. She also had her own talk show, The Tyra Banks Show which aired for five seasons. Tyra Banks is now focusing on her cosmetic company.

Style: "bw222"9. Queen Latifah (Rapper, Talk Show Host, Actress, Producer, Singer)

Queen Latifah starred in the sitcom, Living Single from 1993-1998. Latifah went on to act lead roles in mainstream movies such as Set it Off, Taxi, Beauty Shop, Barbershop 2, Last Holiday, Hairspray and Joyful Noise. Latifah created the daytime talk show The Queen Latifah show. She has received a Grammy, Emmy, a Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, NAACP and an Academy Award.

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8. Diddy, Sean Combs, P. Diddy, Puff Daddy (Rapper, Record producer, Entrepreneur)

Diddy founded the Bad Boy Entertainment label in 1993. His debut album was seven times platinum. Diddy has won three Grammys, two MTV Video Music Awards and is the producer of MTV’s Making the Band. Diddy has two clothing lines  Sean John and Sean. In 2016, Forbes estimated Combs’ net worth at $750 million.

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7. Jay-Z (Rapper, Entrepreneur, Investor)

Jay-Z has sold more than 100 million records and received 21 Grammys. In 2014, Forbes estimated his net worth at $520 million. Jay-Z owns the NY 40/40 Club sports bar and is the co-creator of the Rocawear clothing line. He is the former president of Def Jam Recordings and co-founder of Roca-A-Fella Records, also founder of entertainment company Roc Nation.

 

"Magna Carta Holy Grail" Album Release Party6. Russell Simmons (Rapper, Music Producer, Author, Entrepreneur)

Russell Simmons is the chairman and CEO of Rush Communications, he co-founded the hip hop music label Def Jam Recordings and created the clothing lines Phat Farm, Argyleculture, and Tantris. Simmons has also co-produced HBO’S Def Comedy Jam and Def Poetry Jam. Simmons had a net worth estimate of $340 million in 2011.

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5. T.D Jakes (Pastor, Author, Filmmaker, Talk Show Host)

T.D. Jakes is the bishop of The Potters House. His sermons are broadcast on many television networks. He has his own television show, T.D. Jakes on the Oprah Winfrey Network. T.D. Jakes has produced several mainstream movies such as Miracles From Heaven, Winnie Mandela and Heaven is For Real.tdjakes4. Beyonce Knowles (Singer, Songwriter, Actress, Designer, Entrepreneur)

Beyonce has sold over 100 million records as a solo artist. She has won 22 Grammys and is the most nominated woman in the award’s history.In 2007, Beyonce was featured on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue becoming the second African American woman after Tyra Banks. In 2005, Beyonce and her mother introduced the women’s fashion line House of Dereon, then later another junior line Dereon. In 2016, Beyonce launched an active-wear clothing line with Topshop. Beyonce has also had lead roles in mainstream movies such as Dream Girls, Cadillac Records, Fighting Temptations, Pink Panther and Obsessed.2017-grammy-gecesine-beyonce-damgasi-666563_9200_19_b

3. Steve Harvey (Comedian, Talk Show Host, Radio Host, Producer, Author, Actor)

Steve Harvey is the host of The Steve Harvey Morning Show, The Steve Harvey Talk Show, Family Feud, Little Big Shots and the Miss Universe pageant. He is the author of Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man, Straight Talk: No Chaser, and Act Like A Success, Think Like A Success. He also played a music teacher Mr. Hightower, in the hit television show The Steve Harvey Show from 1996-2002. He is a three time Daytime Emmy Award winner. harvey-invited2. Kevin Hart (Comedian, Actor, Producer)

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Kevin Hart has starred in many mainstream comedic movies such as Ride Along, About Last Night, Think Like A Man and Get Hard. He currently stars in the “fake” reality show Real Husbands of Hollywood which he co-created. Hart also created Heartbeat productions which is an entertainment company. In the summer of 2016, he released the Nike Hustle Harts which is a new cross-training shoe with Hart’s favorite inspirational quotes displayed.

1. Oprah Winfrey (Talk Show Host, Producer, Actress, Author, Philanthropist)

oprahOprah Winfrey is best known for being a talk show host on The Oprah Winfrey Show which aired from 1986 to 2011. She is ranked the richest African American and North America’s first and only multi-billionaire according to Forbes magazine in 2015. She currently has the Oprah Winfrey Network which has hit tv shows such as The Haves and The Haves Not, Queen Sugar, Green Leaf, If Loving You Is Wrong and Where Are They Now? Winfrey also has her own magazine O and radio station with XM Satellite radio Oprah Radio.

Who are some other successful blacks of today?

Blog post written by Michellene Barrett Some Rights Reserved.

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Don’t Wait for Opportunities, Make Them

There is a misconception that opportunities will come and all you have to do is prepare and wait. Preparation is just the beginning. There is another saying that opportunities come once in a lifetime. Now that’s an awful  statistic. If you miss that one opportunity, is it really all over for you?

What I realized is that successful people make and create opportunities. They just don’t sit around and wait to be in the right place at the right time. They make the right place and the right time. cydxxycwmaiakjm

My motto for 2017 is Ask and it shall be given! All this time, I thought this meant asking an higher being for help but that’s only the beginning.

In an interview from 1995 by the Silicon Valley Historical Association, Steve Jobs talks about how he called a company at the age of 13 and asked if they had any spare parts because he wanted to make a frequency counter. He was not only given the spare parts but was given a summer job working on an assembly line putting the parts together. He said, “Most people never get these experiences because most people never pick up the phone and call. Most people never ask. That’s what separates people who do things from the people who just dream about them.”

Who are you? A dreamer? A go-getter? A person who is afraid to ask?

Blog post written by Michellene Barrett Some Rights Reserved.

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10 Most Shocking Moments of 2016

2016 was full of shocking events! We will always remember 2016 as the year we said, “I can’t believe this happened!” From celebrity breakups to an unlikely presidential candidate, 2016 is a year we will never forget. 

A countdown to the 10 Most Shocking Moments of 2016 begins now:

10. Chipotle closes nationwide on February 8thchipotleoutbreak

Chipotle was forced to close all of its stores nationwide for a few hours on February 8th to investigate the origin of the outbreaks of E.Coli, Salmonella and Norovirus. According to CNN, in December of 2015, 140 students at Boston College were infected with Norovirus and in August of 2016, 64 customers were infected with Salmonella after eating at Chipotle.

9. More Black Lives Matter Protests Across the Country for Alton Sterling and Philando Castile alton-sterling-death

On July 5th, Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old Black male was shot and killed by officers of the Baton Rouge police department. This killing was caught on cellphone video by a witness,
which showed officers on top of Alton Sterling before shots were fired.

The next day on July 6th, Philando Castile, a black male was shot and killed by officer Yanez during a traffic stop. Castile’s girlfriend recorded the encounter. According to the NY Times, on November 16th officer Yanez was charged with second-degree manslaughter.

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8. Kesha Accuses her Music Producer Dr. Luke of Sexual Abuse

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The pop singer Kesha accused Dr. Luke of sexual, physically and verbal abuse for over 10 years when she was signed to him as a teenage artist. On April 6th, the judge dismissed the sexual assault case.

7. Ryan Lochte Lies about Being Robbed in Brazil  

During the summer Olympics, Ryan Lochte claimed that he and three other American swimmers were pulled over by armed men who said that they were police officers and then put a gun to their head and demanded money. During the police investigation as described in the NY Times, it became apparent that the swimmers were trying to cover up inappropriate behavior which included vandalism and public urination. The swimmers later apologized.

6. Tamar Braxton Fired From The Real

This summer, Tamar Braxton expressed how shocked she was to find out that she was fired from The Real. In an interview on Steve Harvey’s Radio Show, Tamar shared that she would be working with Steve Harvey to produce her own talk show. Since that announcement, Tamar has been in the news for having a domestic dispute with her husband Vince and for ending her friendship with Monica and Toya Wright for being a guest on The Real.

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5. Beyonce Releases Lemonade 

2016 was the year of Beyonce Knowles. In February, Beyonce shocked us all and released the song Formation the day before her Super Bowl Halftime Performance. Her performance was very controversial due to the political imagery. All of Beyonce dancers were dressed in outfits that were similar to that of the Black Panthers. 694940094001_4744530566001_54541922-9a14-4a76-b28c-ea4fb8471655

On April 23rd at 9pm, we were all hooked to HBO to see what Beyonce had in store for us. We were all shocked to see an entire visual album Lemonade. Days after the release, people speculated that Beyonce was singing about Jay-Z possibly cheating on her.beyonce-lemonade-album-movie

4. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt Divorce

We didn’t see it coming! According to US Weekly, Angelina filed for divorce on September 19th and requested sole custody of their six children. Angelina and Brad has been together for over 10 years and just married two years ago so this definitely came as a shock.

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3. Prince Dies

On June 3rd, Prince passed away at the age of 57. According to CNN, he died from an accidental overdose of the drug opioid fentanyl. RIP Prince.

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2. Kanye West Cancels the Remainder of His Tour

One of the most shocking moments of 2016 was Kanye West’s rant at his concert in Sacramento, California where he talked negatively about his relationship with Beyonce and Jay-Z. He also expressed that if he had voted, he would have voted for Trump. Kanye did not finish his performance that night and later on canceled the remainder of his tour. According to TMZ, on November 21st, Kanye was hospitalized due to having a mental breakdown. After being released from the hospital, Kanye paid our president elect a visit at Trump Towers.

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1. Donald Trump Becomes the Next President of The United States

This is the most shocking event of 2016! Donald Trump is the president elect.So many people thought that we would finally have a woman president. Almost every poll showed Hillary Clinton leading before the election. According to the NY Times, Clinton won the popular vote (65,818,318) while Trump (62,958,211)  won due to the electoral college.

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Let’s hope 2017 is a better year!

Let me know, what are some of your shocking moments of 2016?

Blog post written by Michellene Barrett. Some Rights Reserved.

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Obama is Gone and So is Our Hope?

It was November 4th, 2008 and Barack Obama was elected president of the United States. The whole world seemed to be celebrating. Black parents and grandparents cried because this meant the struggle was over. There would be no more racism. A black man had reached the highest position in America. The words we heard growing up, “A black man could never become President,” were now a distant memory. obama-family-wave_1107668cFrom now on, Black men would be treated equally and with respect. But you all know how the story goes. Trayvon Martin. Eric Garner. Michael Brown. Philando Castile. Alton Sterling. Akai Gurley and countless others. So the struggle continues.

It is now 2017, and many of us feel like Obama was our only hope especially for African Americans. Is our hope and faith in this country, leaving with Obama? Many Americans are making plans to leave the U.S. It seems as if our nation is more divided than ever. Half of the country has faith that the president elect will lead America in the right direction. While the other half of the country is enraged because they believed their candidate Hillary Clinton had the experience and ability to become an excellent president.slide_261745_1729769_free Regardless if our candidate won the election, we should realize that we can’t put all of our hope and faith in one human being. Humans are flawed. Humans disappoint, break promises and change their views. But we should put our hope in someone whose the same yesterday, today and forever. Hebrews 13:8. Someone who never changes. Someone who holds the future. Someone who always wants what’s best for us. His name is JESUS! Regardless of what you may believe, it’s only best that we put our faith and hope in something much bigger than ourselves.

Do you agree?

Blog post written by Michellene Barrett. Some Rights Reserved.

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What It’s Really Like to Meet Mathew Knowles!

“A little knowledge is a little power. A lot of knowledge, the world is yours,” -Matthew Knowles (Yes, Beyoncé’s father). This weekend I attended the Circle of Sisters event at the Javits Center in NYC. I had the opportunity to meet Mathew Knowles and listen to him speak about the traits of highly successful people at his 2:30pm break out session. When we arrived, Mr. Knowles applauded us for taking the time out to seek knowledge. He understood that we could be somewhere else in the venue possibly buying unique afro-centric items, tasting free samples, signing up for raffle tickets, watching a performance or a live celebrity interview. Those who attended the session were captivated by the words of wisdom coming from the man who created one of the most successful girls group of all time. Mathew Knowles shared his accomplishments, successes, and the a14606446_10153782912052136_5994628482335234054_nmazing work ethic that he modeled for his mega-star daughter Beyoncé Knowles.

In the break out session, Mr. Knowles pointed to me and asked, “What is your passion?” I quickly responded “Writing!” Then he proceeded to speak about the first trait of every successful person is passion. He told us that if we are passionate about what we are doing, we will never work a day in our life (or at least it won’t feel like work). img_20161016_152914522 The other traits he discussed were work ethic, vision, risk-taking, talk-to-do ratio (successful people act on what they talk about) and learning from failure. He left us with the idea that failure is an opportunity to grow, not to quit. He shared a video where Beyoncé talked about the many times she failed when she was trying to make it in the music business. After losing on Star Search, Beyonce worked harder and tried again but she was dropped from her first label at Elektra Records. A lot of people would have given up by then and even thought it might be a sign that it was not meant to be but Mr. Knowles instilled in his children that failure is an opportunity to grow, not to quit. In Mathew Knowles book, “The DNA of Achievers 10 Traits of Highly Successful Professionals” he discusses in detail successful traits and has a workbook included where you can discover your passion and learn the steps needed to become successful.

Blog post written by Michellene Barrett Some Rights Reserved.

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Stop and Recharge!

City life is so fast-paced, especially for those who live in New York City. We are always on the go! There’s a reason why we’re called “The city that never sleeps.” When you are striving for success, resting or taking a break is the last thing on your mind. But you need a time to stop and recharge. When you take a break, you give yourself an opportunity to recharge, reflect, refocus, and reset.

Some of us recharge on the weekends where we attend our place of worship to sing and pray. But you don’t have to wait until the weekend to take a mental break. In the mornings before work, during lunch, or in the evenings, you can calm your mind by listening to relaxing nature sounds/music. Check out the nature sounds below!

Tell me about your experience. Is there a particular sound or song that relaxes you?

Blog post written by Michellene Barrett Some Rights Reserved.

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Success Starts in the Mind!

How you think will affect your level of success! It all starts in the mind. If you go around, thinking negatively about yourself like, “I’m not smart enough” or “I’m not pretty enough,” or “He or she will never like me,” you have already blocked yourself from any future success in relationships, career, etc.

It might seem cliché but you have to think positive. Successful people have no choice but to be optimists. You have to think that you will achieve, say that you will achieve which will help you believe, and then work toward achieving.

I have learned so much about the power of positive thinking from reading books such as The Secret by Rhonda Byrne and Become a Better You by Joel Osteen.

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The Secret discusses how our lives are a reflection of our past thoughts. We attract things that we think about the most. Therefore if you think about success consistently, then you will become successful. It sounds pretty easy, right?

The not-so-easy part is trying our best to keep a positive mindset. Even though we may think about success or achieving our goals, our mind often things drifts to things that could go wrong if we decide to work toward our goal such as “What if I send my resume and don’t get a callback?” “A guy like that would never like me so I’m not even going to say hi to him.” It’s natural to have these fears when you’re pursuing success. When the negative thoughts come, turn them into positive ones such as “What if I send my resume to this media company and I get a callback for an interview?” “You never know, that guy could be my future husband, I should at least say hi.”

Do you find it easy to stay positive?

Blog post written by Michellene Barrett Some Rights Reserved.

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Focus Focus Focus!!!

I pride myself on my ability to focus and have a clear vision. Both are essential to succeed. You focus by ignoring distractions and spending time and effort on that one thing. It seems simple but it’s not easy for a lot of people. Many people become overwhelmed or distracted by multiple ideas or goals and never focus on one thing until it’s complete. The best advice I heard from Tyler Perry was “Focus on one thing, on one area. Put all your energy into watering one area… and stick with it.” Watch the full video of Tyler Perry discussing the importance of focusing.

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“Where there is no vision, the people perish”(Proverbs 29:18 KJV). The most important thing is to know what you want. The clearer your vision, the more likely it will come to fruition. In Steve Harvey’s Act Like A Success, Think Like A Success, Harvey provides readers with a list of questions to help them develop a clear vision and identify the necessary steps to make their dream a reality. Harvey also shares how you can make your goals SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Sensitive). He even provides lines in his book where you can begin to write down your SMART goals.

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The best way you can accomplish your goal is to be focused and have a clear vision. What are your SMART goals?

Blog post written by Michellene Barrett Some Rights Reserved.

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