Michael Taylor, CEO of Creation Publishing in the US, is a life coach, motivational speaker, radio and television host and author of eight books, including ‘Shattering Black Male Stereotypes’. He discusses how switching attitude is a driver for real change and how he is optimistic about the future for black men.
When race is a barrier to promotion and climbing the corporate ladder, there are just two choices – change jobs or change attitudes.
Michael Taylor firmly believes that people should take 100% responsibility for how they want their lives to pan out. And he should know, having done it himself.
“I’m a high school drop-out, I never went to college,” he reveals. “I went through a divorce, bankruptcy, foreclosure and deep depression. I have been threatened with a gun to my head simply for being black. Trust me, I’ve been in environments when I know I’ve been held back because of my race.
“So how has it been possible for me as a black man with limited resources, no formal education, just the commitment to my version of an extraordinary life, to succeed? It’s all about mindset.”
In Taylor’s case, it was a combination of optimism, perseverance in fulfilling a vision and spiritual faith. The vision was devised while living in his car for two years after being made homeless following his divorce.
“I’m in the back of my car, and I have a vision of what I want my life to be,” Taylor recalls. “I remember writing down that I wanted to find my soulmate. I wanted to have a nice house; all of the material things. I would feel the joy and the excitement of what it was going to feel like when I fulfilled my vision. It took me about eight years to get my life back on track. And that’s what perseverance will give you if you stick with it.”
Challenging black men’s perception
He has carved out a successful career as a life coach, motivational speaker, radio and television host and author. ‘Shattering Black Male Stereotypes’, as the title suggests, is about encouraging black men to challenge how they perceive themselves and are perceived and, to see if they are buying into the stereotypes.
“There’s a saying that I love – if we don’t go within, we will always go without,” Taylor explains. “It’s really about them being willing to go within and change their mindset. Because by changing their mindset, they will change their experiences.”
He argues that events like the George Floyd case tended to focus on negativity and led to deluding black men that they are an endangered species. “There’s no truth to that, but when we’re constantly bombarded with these images, I can understand why a lot of black men feel that way,” Taylor adds.
Law of attraction
“The chances of a black person being killed by a police officer is less than 1%. But if we have the mindset as black men that we are constantly under attack, we’re going to attract those types of experiences.
“I’m a firm believer in the law of attraction. Albert Einstein once said this: everything is energy, that’s just the way that it is. Match the frequency of the reality that you want to create, and there’s no way you can’t create that reality.
“What you think about you bring about. If I’m constantly thinking about how much I hate my boss, how much I hate my job, how white people are evil, it creates an energy. It goes out, and we attract to us things to support those beliefs and thoughts. If we change our energy, how we think and feel then the things around us will begin to change.”
Taylor accepts that it’s difficult to challenge people’s beliefs because it’s human nature to want to be right about what they believe in. But there is a positive shift towards recognising the need to resolve issues of racism.
Leading by example, he tries to “shift the stereotypes for black men simply by how I show up in the world. For example, as a writer and speaker who is very optimistic and positive, when people see me, they say, ‘okay, I’ve never seen a black man do that or speak in that way’. So, I become a representative of black men in a positive way.
“I believe that the way we change the world is, first of all, by being willing to understand, to listen first without judgement and then make a choice based on our current belief systems, not something we were taught 50 years ago.
“It is imperative that companies embrace diversity because they don’t have a choice, especially here in America. I think in the next 15 years, white people will be a minority. So, who is going to fill these seats in these companies? We must embrace diversity now.”
Diversity needs top-level commitment
He warns that diversity in the workplace depends on 100% commitment from CEOs and people at the top; otherwise, the culture will not change. Also, they need to commit to diversity and inclusion on an on-going basis, not rely on one-off training courses. With more black talent available than ever before, companies have no excuses for not hiring.
Racism, Taylor argues, is a “disease of the mind”, born out of a collective white belief system (CWBS) that black people were inferior. He states: “Now, fewer and fewer white people are being inflicted with this disease.
“I believe that each generation is less and less racist because that’s human evolution. When Martin Luther King died, there was a sudden shift in the CWBS, and we had the Civil Rights movement, passed laws and started changing the system slowly.
“Now, if you look at what the George Floyd incident did, it’s brought awareness to the CWBS and what’s happening is now more than I’ve seen in my lifetime. I believe the CWBS is breaking down; human culture is shifting, recognising that systemically there are issues that need to be resolved and, white people collectively are saying well we’ve got to participate in this now.”
In his 60 years, Taylor has seen a shift towards better opportunities for black people. They have gone from not appearing on television to owning television stations and from not having the vote to electing a black president.
Another challenge facing black men in the workplace was a feeling of ‘onlyness’. The way to deal with it was to through self-awareness, to challenge beliefs and assumptions about themselves and to become confident in who they are.
Having role models, mentors, and coaches is also important. Taylor points out that, while there have always been plenty of black role models, the problem has been a lack of exposure. To highlight these role models, he launched the Shatter the Stereotypes movement several years ago, which has 6,000 members.
On the website www.shatteringblackmalestereotypes.com, he hosts a series of summits featuring interviews with black men from all walks of life – including music icon Dr. Mathew Knowles, Beyoncé’s dad. Topics include dealing with racism, childhood trauma and depression. There are also personal development courses.
His role model was his mother, who instilled in him that, if he wanted something badly enough, it was up to him to achieve it. That, together with a passion for reading and learning enabled him to shatter the stereotype of what a young black man can accomplish.
However, it was important to have a network of support. Taylor says: “The good news is with technology there’s no reason why you can’t find a support system to empower you.”
Finally, there’s the issue of encouraging more black men to climb the success ladder. “That’s why I write and do what I do because I want to put that ladder back down,” he says.
“A lot of black men aren’t willing to come up. So that’s what I try to get men to do. That’s what the Shatter the Stereotypes movement is all about.”