Black Faces: 21st Century Conversation on Workplace Advancement

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Times have changed, but timeless principles still remain. Racism continues to be a motionless theme in many areas across the globe and in several factors of life, including the workplace. African-American entrepreneurs Randal Pinkett and Jeffrey Robinson understand a few of the issues facing their race—they’ve both encountered and countered prejudice. But rather then retreat, the duo rebelled, recently releasing their joint manuscript, Black Faces in White Places: 10 Game-Changing Strategies to Achieve Success and Find Greatness to provide a roadmap to Blacks everywhere on how to achieve and survive the suit-and-tie world.

Released on Oct. 28, the book outlines 10 simple strategies designed to ready the Black mind for the working world: establish a strong identity and purpose; obtain broad exposure; demonstrate excellence; build diverse and solid relationships; seek the wisdom of others; find strength in numbers; think and act “intrapreneurially;” think and act entrepreneurially; synergize and reach scale and give back generously.

Attempting to crack the proverbial “glass ceiling” that routinely awaits most Blacks in their careers, Pinkett and Robinson draw from personal experiences, examine the inner workings of blue-collar and white-collar America and provide interviews with 25 of the most notable Black leaders in government, the private sector and academia.

“It comes out of our experiences of usually being the one or one of the few amongst all the white faces in corporations, universities or classrooms,” says Robinson, an author, award-winning business scholar and assistant director of the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development at Rutgers Business School. “We wrote it to help people go through the same kind of situations that we have where it often seems that the rules are different for us as African Americans.”

Sparked by Pinkett, the 2005 winner of business magnate Donald Trump’s popular TV show, “The Apprentice,” the idea for the book was initially hatched in 2004 but withstood a variety of rejections and revisions before its final release. Ironically, Pinkett’s notion arrived before he became the first Black victor of the hit TV series, which drew controversy after Trump requested that the Rutgers grad share his victory with a White woman. Pinkett declined and later served as an executive with Trump Entertainment Resorts in Atlantic City, N.J. Currently the CEO of BCT Partners, a New Jersey-based information technology and management consulting firm, Pinkett, in his book, identifies the racial hurdles that can often stagnate the careers of African Americans.

“I think there are things that we can do to be proactive,” Pinkett said. “The era that we live in, in the 21st century, requires a new generation of strategies. [Old] strategies may have worked 30 to 40 years ago [but] it’s just a different landscape [now]. We live in a global society; we no longer face interacting under a glass ceiling. It’s not a matter of getting there; it’s a matter of getting more of us to apply what we’ve learned and navigate this new landscape. This book for us is really the 21st century conversation about advancement in the workplace.”