LA DAY 4: When You Do What You Love Magical Things Happen

January 29, 2013 in Jim's Journal


The 2013 NAACP Image Awards Nominees Luncheon

Jim Smith, Jr.: Outstanding Instructional Literary Work Nominee

I believe it was 1995. I was working for the Vanguard Financial Group (Malvern, Pennsylvania) in a department called Crew Development and Training. I was two years removed from my first “real” corporate job. I had previously worked with the Prudential Insurance Company of America (AARP Operations). Management invited a professional development vendor in to lead a series of workshops called, “Managing Your Career with Power.” I was psyched because I already had visions of BIG THINGS for my career dancing in my head.

The opening activity called for us to create a vision board. I had heard about this process for years but it was the first time I had done so and I loved the experience. When we completed our boards the facilitator asked for volunteers to share their board with the large group. With the speed of a Black Friday customer running into Target to catch a sale early in the morning, I ran to the front of the room. The front of the room, as many of you know, is my BFF. I leaped at the opportunity to share my tomorrows with my session mates.

Our vision board had to be created 50/50 (i.e., 50% pictures and 50% words). Adhering to the rules, I drew and wrote my future: becoming an international motivational speaker and trainer; an author; television appearances, a world traveler; and a teacher/professor. It’s over 18 years later and much of what I drew/wrote has come to fruition. No, I didn’t mention winning the NAACP Image Award on that vision board (I did on the one I created on New Year’s Eve 2012), but when you do what you love magical things happen. Let me repeat, when you do what you love magical things happen.

Fellow Image Awards Nominees

Fellow Image Awards Nominees

And that’s what I kept telling myself on Monday, a day I called “prep-day.” I prepped for my workshop in Santa Rosa, California on Tuesday and Wednesday. Marena and I prepped for her solo appearance at the NAACP 9th Annual Hollywood Bureau Symposium event scheduled for Tuesday night. I prepped for my return to Los Angeles on Wednesday night for the Feature Film Night Reception & Screening as the NAACP week-long event schedule will be moving into full swing. And I attempted, and I’m still attempting, to mentally prepare myself not to lose my mind when I enter the famous Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on Friday with the likes of the other nominees including Denzel Washington, Vanessa Williams, Regina King, Jamie Foxx, Morgan Freeman, Tyler Perry, Halle Berry, Loretta Devine, Viola Davis, Samuel. L. Jackson, Kerry Washington, L.L Cool J, Wendy Raquel Robinson, Lenny Kravitz, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Tatyana Ali and Phylicia Rashad. Did I mention everyone? No. I wanted to finish this blog before Valentine’s Day. Get the full list of nominees here.

Jim Brown

Jim Brown

While prepping, I decided that I would use the Jim Brown approach (lol) for the remainder of the week. When Jim Brown, one of the greatest running backs in pro football history, would score a touchdown he would simply hand the football to the referee without any fanfare. He didn’t jump up and down. He didn’t moonwalk or stir the butter. There were no backflips or chest-bumping with a teammate. He didn’t spike the ball or take off his helmet, motioning for the camera to focus on him. Oh, and he didn’t do the Lambeau-leap. He just gave the ball to the referee and said, “Hold this for me, I’ll be back.” That’s what I’m going to do – act like I’ve been here before and that I’ll be back (stop laughing).

After giving Marena a goodbye high-five, I headed to LAX. Then it was back to life and back to reality. My flight to Santa Rosa was delayed for nearly several hours. I arrived just before midnight (unfortunately, my body is still on east coast time). While I was in the air my client sent me an email reminding me that he would come by my hotel to pick me up at 7:15 am. Ouch! Hey, that’s another part of the life of a traveling trainer and speaker.

Before calling it a night, for inspiration, I read my mentor, Mike Jones’ words, that are on page 20 of my book:

The Nominated Book: The No Excuse Guide to Success

The Nominated Book: The No Excuse Guide to Success

“Life is not what you’ve been taught; it’s what you believe. It’s not what you’ve experienced; it’s the choices you’ve made as a result. It’s not about what happened to you, it’s about how you remembered it. It’s not what challenges have come your way; it’s what you’ve seen as challenging. It’s not what has appeared on your path, it’s what you have accepted. When we accept personal responsibility for our lives, everything is possible.”

That was my bed time story, and I’m sticking to it.



  • SEE DAY 1: On My Way to the NAACP Image Awards
  • SEE DAY 2: Red Carpet 101 at the Nominees Luncheon
  • SEE DAY 3: A Day of Reflection
  • SEE DAY 4: When You Do What You Love Magical Things Happen
  • SEE DAY 5: Our Best Is Yet To Come!
  • SEE DAY 6: Dream Week Continues With CAA Screening Party
  • SEE DAY 7: Runways and Red Carpets Amp Up the Excitement
  • SEE DAY 8: My Night At The 44th Annual NAACP Image Awards Show
  • WATCH VIDEO: My personal thank-you note for all of your support and love this week
  • MORE PHOTOS: See the Photo Gallery from my Awards Week in LA