Ava DuVernay Passes on Directing ‘Black Panther’ Movie

(Image: Source)

Last month, it was reported that award-winning director Ava DuVernay would make history as Marvel’s first African American female director with the upcoming film Black Panther. While the rumors were true that DuVernay was offered the job, she reveals to Essence.com that after much consideration she has decided to pass on the offer.

“I guess I’ll declare my independence from this rumor on 4th of July weekend and Essence weekend,” the Selma director said during the Essence Festival in New Orleans.

“I’m not signing on to direct Black Panther,” she added. “I think I’ll just say we had different ideas about what the story would be. Marvel has a certain way of doing things and I think they’re fantastic and a lot of people love what they do. I loved that they reached out to me.”

[Related: Chadwick Boseman to Become First Lead of Color for Marvel]

Get on Up actor Chadwick Boseman has reportedly been tapped to play T’Challa, who is the ruler of the fictional nation of Wakanda in the film. He is the first African American to play a leading role in a Marvel Studios and Hollywood blockbuster collaboration.

DuVernay, who is currently filming a love story set against Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, makes it clear that despite turning down the opportunity to be involved with the Black Panther movie, she is still in full support of the film.

“I love the character of Black Panther, the nation of Wakanda and all that could be visually. I wish them well and will be first in line to see it.”


Dear New Graduates: 10 Lessons for the Newly Employed

My team is amazing. I say it a lot, and it’s true. However, even the team at Red Branch Media has its moments. There have been times when I’ve seen the cultural gap well in effect, and periods where my employer head has clashed with my leader heart.

In the years I’ve been in business, I have hired a lot of new graduates. After reading Jack Welch’s LinkedIn piece on new grads, I was compelled to write a candid open letter to them as well.

[Related: Racial and Gender Gaps Widening in STEM]

So here’s my copycat post. Here’s what I would (and do) tell new grads when they walk into Red Branch Media with soul-crushing loans and a desire to change the world with their knowledge. Please know, I don’t tell them these things to discourage them, but to prepare them and make them better off than they would be if I simply told them to “find their destiny.”

This Is Not Your Destiny. At least, this isn’t what you thought your destiny would be when you were a kid. I wanted to be a rock star/Miss Universe, and now I lead a merry band of B2B advertising rock stars. I know it’s hard to face up to the fact that you aren’t going to write the next great American novel in your first five years out of school. Although my firm is an amazing place to work and you’ll be a better writer, worker, person and, probably, dancer when you leave; it most likely isn’t your destiny. Don’t expect it to be. Instead, focus on learning skills that will help you when you do sit down to write that novel.

I Am Not Your Mom or Your College Professor. This is a workplace. This means you show up no matter how sick your dog is. You don’t forget about conference calls with clients. While I feel terrible when you and your boyfriend are having a fight, it does not qualify as a sick day. Meeting a deadline and turning in a paper are two very different things, and developing you into a great colleague is very different than helping you become a good person.

Want to Work From Home? Earn It. I get that you want to work from home, but very few college grads are equipped to do so right out of the gate. Perhaps you are the exception. Fine. Spend some time earning my trust so I know I can rely on you to do a good job from home, Starbucks or Tahiti.

Your Loans Are on You. Don’t ask me for a raise because you took out loans. I worked several jobs, had two babies, a mortgage and the same loans you did at your age. It is not in me to feel sorry for you because your dad stopped paying your cell phone bill. Save this conversation for your friends, not your boss. I know the system isn’t fair, and I know it’s hard out there for a grad, but trust me.

You Are Replaceable. This one is hard. You never want to say this to people who work for you, because it’s demoralizing and stinky. But that doesn’t make it any less true. For every job I’ve left, I was convinced the company would implode without me. Only one actually did, and that was a bit of a fluke in timing. Look, it’s easy to think you have the roughest, toughest job in the whole company, but please believe me when I say that everyone is replaceable.

Continue reading on the next page…

Note to Wal-Mart from NYC: You Sell Guns, We Sell Your Stock

(Image: Letitia James)

As the nation focuses its attention on the violent weekend in Chicago that left 7 people dead, including  7-year-old Amari Brown, and 48 shooting victims, there have been many conversations from coffee shops to newsrooms to living rooms about gun control – more specifically what Washington should and should not be doing about it.

[Related: Walmart CEO Announces Higher Wages for Employees]

New York City Public Advocate, Letitia James, first in line to succeed Mayor Bill DeBlasio, is taking the issue of gun control into her own hands.  She’s launched an initiative aimed at getting the city’s 5 pension funds to divest Wal-Mart (WMT) stock from their portfolios.

“As a trustee to the $54.5 billion New York City Employees’ Retirement System (NYCERS), I intend to introduce a resolution at the next Board meeting that will instruct the Bureau of Asset Management and our outside consultant, Callan Associates, to review our Wal-Mart holdings and provide new analysis on permanently removing them from NYCERS portfolio.  I would ask that the other 4 New York City Pension Funds conduct a similar review,“ says James.

“The culture of violence and access to guns in America is a tragic fact, but it also reminds us that the sale of guns and ammunition is a profitable but uncertain business,” she adds.

New York City pension funds have more than 5 million shares of Wal-Mart stock which is currently trading at about $74 a share. That makes the investment worth about $370 million.  The city’s pensions also have a significant amount of Wal-Mart bonds.

Wal-Mart did not respond to our request for a comment.

Jennifer Fiore, Executive Director for Campaign to Unload, said, “Walmart appropriately stopped selling Confederate flags, symbols of hate to millions of Americans, after the murder of nine people of faith in a Charleston church. Yet, Walmart has ignored activist and shareholder concerns about its sales of assault weapons, tools of hate and violence, not sportsmanship. We can’t be complacent, as shareholders in Walmart. Without action from the company to stop selling firearms, we support the Public Advocate’s call to divest from Walmart.”

James, who is also calling on trustees to look at their holdings of Big 5 Sporting Goods (BGFV), and Dick’s Sporting Goods, (DKS), wants New Yorkers to take divestiture in Wal-Mart stocks personally.

“New York State has not been left unscathed by Wal-Mart’s weapons sales.  This past February, Charles Tan, a promising Cornell student, allegedly killed his father by a weapon purchased at one of its stores. The shotgun was bought by a friend after Tan’s purchase was initially rejected.”

6 Kinds of Entrepreneuers

Are you a world-changer? An innovator? An opportunist or a jack-of-all-trades? Maybe you’re a serial entrepreneur — or are you actually a ‘wantrepreneur?’ These are the six major types of entrepreneurs out there, and you likely fall into one of these categories.

[Related: 5 Success Tactics for Trailblazers in Business]

No one type is better than the other, although the wantrepreneur isn’t quite on the same level as the others just yet. It is important to understand your niche so you can hone the talents you have, develop skills that are lacking, and figure out your stride to optimize opportunities.

Here’s a breakdown of the six types and tips for figuring out which one you identify with most. Use this when strategizing about your next move and remember that you might be more than one type. After all, who says a world-changer isn’t also a jack-of-all-trades?

1. World Changer. You are keenly aware of your environment, both on a local and global scale. Maybe you were an activist or environmentalist in a past career, and it is very likely you have green leanings when doing business. You likely created your company in order to make a positive impact in the world, believe that success is measured by impact and when it comes to social media you almost certainly have a Twitter account. You know the world is changed one person and one company at a time, and you are committed to living by Gandhi’s words.

2. Innovator. You are all about creating a product or service. As an idea-man (or woman), innovation is more important to you than actually owning a company, and that is OK. You have a knack for coming up with new ideas or making old ones better. However, that also means you may need to excel at delegating, and hire a CEO to take care of the tasks you don’t enjoy. While you trust your instincts, you also do a lot of research. It’s likely you have a goal of creating an empire, and a tool like Evernote is your biggest crutch.

3. Opportunist. You have a “gift” of intuitive timing and are able to choose the right locations. Some people may call you impulsive, but that’s just another way of saying opportunist, especially when so many of your right-time/right-place moves have paid off. Like the innovator, you also trust your gut while conducting solid research. However, you could be a little better at planning ahead if you want to build an empire.

4. Jack of All Trades. Diversification is your middle name. You aren’t afraid to explore trends or to step in when needed. This makes you think risk can be scary and exciting, all at the same time — you truly believe there are no great rewards without great risk. However, you’re also a bit of a follower, which means you need to find the right investors, stakeholders and partners to be successful. You likely became an entrepreneur to take advantage of the self-starter lifestyle or simply because you didn’t want to work for anyone else.

5. Serial Entrepreneur. You’re flexible and always looking to the future for the next big thing. The ‘Thomas Edison’ of entrepreneurs, you can take a lot of stress and brush off past negative experiences with ease. A total leader, you might struggle with actually learning from your past failures (it’s not automatic). You measure success in being better than the competition and in how much money you make. You might jot down your ideas on Twitter — or even on a napkin.

6. Wantrepreneur. You’re not an entrepreneur yet, and you may never be. You’re rich with ideas, but the groundwork still needs to be done. It’s up in the air: should you win the lottery, you would start a business, take a vacation or invest in a business you’ve kind of started already. You want to enjoy the self-starter lifestyle and consider yourself an idea person, but you need more motivation to become one of the other five types of genuine entrepreneurs.

Which type of entrepreneur are you, and how can you use that to your benefit?

Murray Newlands is an entrepreneur, investor, business advisor and a columnist at BusinessInsider.com, Inc.com and Entrepreneur.com. He runs San Francisco-based PR agency Influence People and is the author of How to Get PR for Your Startup: Traction

BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.

Twitter Officially Launches Mobile Ads Manager


twitter ads 2

Twitter has officially announced the launch of a new mobile Ads tool. Being referred to as the Twitter Ads companion, the tool allows advertisers to manage their campaigns from their smartphone or device while away from their desk.

According to Twitter, the Ads companion will help advertisers check their campaigns performance and metrics either across all campaigns or individually.

Users can see information regarding impressions, engagement, spend, cost per engagement, and engagement rate. Advertisers will also be able to review past campaigns through the tool.

Twitter says users will also be able to perform tasks such as editing campaign bids, budgets and schedules, as well as respond to notifications and pause or resume campaigns.

The Twitter Ads companion will not allow you to actually build a campaign though. That will still have to be done on your laptop or desktop computer prior to managing the campaign on your mobile device.

The Ads companion tool is available to anyone with a Twitter Ads account and can be accessed from the Twitter app on iOS or Android devices. You won’t have to download a completely different app.

The button for the tool will appear in different places in the app depending on your device. For example, iPhone 6 or later users can find the button by going to their Twitter profile, then clicking the chart icon to access Twitter Ads. Whereas Android users will have to navigate to the setting drop down to find it.

This is another of many changes Twitter has been making recently. Those changes include alteration to the direct messaging character limit and the addition of video capturing and sharing capabilities. The departure of former CEO Dick Costolo of the big changes that seem to be under way on the platform.

Blue Background Photo via Shutterstock, Other Images: Twitter

This article, “Twitter Officially Launches Mobile Ads Manager” was first published on Small Business Trends

Coupon Shopping Guarantees Big Savings

It’s true that finding a ready-to-use coupon at any given moment can be a time consuming hit or miss. Although coupons can help save extra cash, many shoppers eschew the rigors of coupon shopping and so miss out on savings. Savvy shoppers know that there are definitely higher odds for finding a discount code at some stores compared to others.

[Related: 5 Must-Read Small Business Blogs]

Some retailers regularly release coupon codes that are more likely to pay off in savings if you take the time to search before shopping. So which stores can you count on for high-volume coupons? And what type of codes are they offering?

Here are several coupon  deal- busters that’s guaranteed to keep dollars in  your wallet.

Snapfish. Don’t print those vacation pictures at full-price when Snapfish offers a solid selection of coupon codes to discount your purchase. Many codes are specific to certain categories, like photo books, but the assortment is wide enough to cover most product types. You’ll also find discount codes for up to 60% off, some with a minimum purchase and free shipping offers.

Bed Bath & Beyond. Get exclusive email offers and promotions from Bed Bath & Beyond and its subsidiaries. First time email subscribers enjoy a 20% off one item in-store. Bed Bath & Beyond coupons can also be used at Buy Buy Baby, and stores also accept manufacturer coupons and competitors’ coupons.

RazorGator. Save on tickets to your next concert, game or other event with RazorGator discount codes. For the best savings, buy with a group of friends or in bulk. The minimum purchase amount is usually at least $150, and discounts get higher as the total reaches $200 and above. Shoppers may also earn an extra 3.5% cash back on Razorgator.com orders.

Sears. Sears tends to have an abundance of coupon codes, both for online and in-store use within specific product categories. General-use codes for $5 off $50 and $35 off $300 are often available on an ongoing basis, but use of category-specific coupons may yield higher savings, and may have a lower minimum purchase threshold, for items like tools, fitness equipment, appliances, and clothing.

JCPenney. JCPenney may have shunned coupon codes for a period of time, but the store gradually started releasing more discount codes over the last year. Now, a little looking can yield big savings with the click of your mouse. Typically, you’ll find 15% off with no minimum at any given time, but you may also find higher discounts of 20% to 25% for larger purchases or specific product categories.  To real make out like a bandit, don’t miss Big Holiday sales

Macys. Just about everyone knows that you can save big with Macy’s coupons, deals and promotions. Macy’s provides exclusive offers from top brands on clothing, beauty, home decor and shoes. You can save online with Macy’s coupons and deals, such as an extra 20% off for Fourth of July Sale and free shipping. You can also use promo codes to save an extra 20% off during the store’s Red Hot sale.  Coupons that offer additional discounts on sales and clearance items are not to be missed.

Groupon, the group buying site that offers daily deals has proven to be wildly popular with consumers. Get great discounts and almost unlimited retail and shopping merchants, including restaurants, retail stores, spas, flowers and theaters.  The website also features discounted gift certificates usable at local or national companies.

Here are several websites where you can browse through thousands of coupons for savings and shopping deals for all your favorite brands and stores: