The Preservation of an Omaha Legacy

 

For 60 years, Goodwin Spencer Street Barbershop has been a historic pillar in the North Omaha Community. Although the cursive lettering on the window advertises men’s grooming services, what patrons find inside is much more than that.

It is difficult to talk about the barbershop without first describing the living source of its culture that is its founder, Daniel M. Godwin Sr. Dan (as he is commonly referred to) was born in raised in Omaha, Nebraska during the height of the Great Depression and racial segregation. At the age of seventeen, he dropped out of high school to join the U.S. Navy. Four years later, he returned to Omaha, completed high school at age 21, and earned his barber’s license. For a short time, Dan worked in his older brother’s barbershop, but in 1955 he opened Goodwin Spencer Street Barbershop.

Traditionally, African American barbershops have been social, political, and educational hubs within the community; Goodwin Spencer Street Barbershop is no different. Regular customers can expect to walk in on passionate conversations regarding topics ranging from who would win the next boxing match to more serious matters such as Civil Rights for African Americans. At one point in time, “the shop”, was the campaign site for Senator (and part-time barber) Ernie Chambers. In 1966, a sensitive debate about segregation in Omaha, Nebraska was captured on the Academy Award nominated documentary A Time for Burning.

Today, the same spirit is alive at Goodwin Spencer Street Barbershop. Even at the age of 85, Dan Goodwin Sr. still comes into work ready to cut hair and have a good time like Lael_Grandpa_Lashaalways. Many customers have been coming to Dan for decades. Even so, positive change is on the horizon for the shop. In 2015, Dan Goodwin Sr. sold the barbershop to his son Dan Goodwin Jr. and his wife LaVonya. The couple acquired the shop with the intention to revitalize the barbershop while Dan Goodwin Sr. is still living. Some renovation has already begun, but extensive remodeling of the exterior and added amenities are underway. But regardless of the physical changes to the image of the barbershop one thing is for certain; the quality of care and the sense of community will always remain.

 

 

 

Rocking the Family Business Boat

 

In their book “Cross Cultures: How Global Families Negotiate Change Across Generations,” psychologists James Grubman and Dennis T. Jaffe identify three styles or “flavors” by which family businesses run. According to the psychologists’ framework the three styles are: individualistic, collective harmony, and honor.

Generally, American, and Western European businesses follow the individualistic style. This business culture emphasizes success on an individual basis, while still maintaining a high level of accountability by way of performance review. Within the individualistic style, it is not necessarily guaranteed that a blood relative will have an executive position within the company. However, family members who are not involved in the family business may still offer their support. Family business with an individualistic style may mean that family members have the autonomy to indulge in their own business ventures. The downside to this level of independence is that the individual may be devoured without the backing of the family.

Asian family business culture tends to take on a collective harmony approach. Whereas family heirs have the autonomy to pursue personal interests within the business, family is encouraged as the primary priority and the community is a close second. As a result, families with this culture have a great sense of trust and significant involvement in society at large. The down side to this approach is that progress tends to be slow because traditions are held in high regard.

Finally, honor is a business approach common in Latin America, African, former USSR, and South Korea. Business culture of this style demands family obligation. Family members within this style emphasize trust and the honor of tradition, and hierarchy among family members . On the contrary, businesses of this style tend to be close minded and often shun the involvement of outsiders.

Although all of these family business cultures are different, the one common challenge they all have is the generation gap. The inclusion of each younger generation introduces a different mentality and approach to business.

Whereas there is not necessarily one “right” way to approach business, each of these family business “flavors” has its own set of benefits and downfalls, as identified above. As an active member of my own family’s business, I have identified (based on this article) they style under which my family approaches business. After reading each description, I determined that my family largely operates under the Collective Harmony style but we still have some individualistic and honor tendencies. And of course the generations certainly clash at times, but ultimately we aim to have a thriving business and moreover want to preserve our family’s legacy. Regardless of any family’s cultural dynamics, realizing that a business may come and go but maintaining  healthy family relations should preside overall.

 

Cultivating Cultural Intelligence in America

 

Today, the world is smaller than ever and the United States plays a significant part in international engagements. Many issues the world faces such as climate change, terrorism, poverty, just to name a few, are not confined to geographic boarders. Not to mention 40 million of the people who live in the United States are foreigners. Despite the prevalence of foreign engagements in the United States, young American Student have a lack of understanding of complex, cultural differences. Even with the “global and cultural competency” strategy implemented during the Obama Administration in 2012, American schools still exemplified low performance.

The founders of World Savvy, global competence curriculum specialists want to help teachers impart the value of cross cultural intelligence. “What are the values, attitudes, skills and behaviors that must be cultivated if we’re going to live in a peaceful world?” says Dana Mortenson, a founder of World Savvy. Teachers who have been successful in integrating global competence found it important to draw similarities between their personal lives and those from around the world. This strategy allows the opportunity for understanding and empathy.

Gone are the days where it is acceptable for American’s to be ethnocentric. The disregard for cultural differences is irresponsible and will negatively impact our country’s younger generation. Hopefully the World Savvy, global competence curriculum will create a genuine sense of interest, empathy, and knowledge about the world that may not be much farther than our backyard.

The Big Payoff: A College Degree

Ever since I was young, my grandfather would always say, “Get your education and you can write your own ticket.” I believed him whole heartedly, successfully made it to my junior year of college, and even landed an amazing internship. As my graduation date draws near, and I plan for the life I intend to live it dawned on me; I can’t live on minimum wage. Then my grandfather’s words took on a whole new meaning; “Get your education and they’ll write you bigger checks.”

College graduates (with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree) are  better off financially than high school graduates even if they took out student loans to pay for their education. Per a study done by the New York Federal Reserve, college graduates on average earn $20,000 more annually than high school graduates. Moreover, the wealth gap continues to expand among education levels. A Pew Research Center report done in 2014 showed that American college graduates ages 25 to 32 made $17,500 more per year than their contemporaries with only a high school degree. That is nearly double the amount that college graduates earned over peers with only a high school degree in 1979. Similarly, the national unemployment rate among high graduates was twice as high as that of college graduates at 6.3% and 3.2% respectively.

Though college is a mental challenge and a potential financial burden, its benefits far outweigh the costs. Some high school graduates skip college and opt head straight into the workforce presuming that they will earn more money. Unfortunately, that is not so. According to Katherine Peralta, “Even though bachelor’s degree holders enter the workforce at a later age and forgo “opportunity costs,” — or money they could have made during those years instead of being in school — over the course of their lifetimes, they made an average of over $1 million more than someone with just a high school degree, and those with associate degrees made $325,000 more than those with high school diplomas.” Even with the increase of interest rates on student loans, statistics show that college graduates earned enough cover the increase in debt.

Ultimately, college is a highly beneficial and necessary investment. Those who are reluctant to attend vocational school or a four-year institution must look at their education from a long-term perspective and that is the ability to land gainful employment. Although it can be pricey, higher education is an investment that allows anyone to acquire, develop, or reveal skill and talents necessary to be successful (not to mention it is fun). With more education, an individual increases their earning potential over a lifetime.

The borrower is slave to the lender…Unless you know better

Navigating Student Loans dispite the dishonesty of servicers.

 

In a perfect world, students seeking higher education would receive full-ride scholarships regardless of athletic talent, academic merit, or socio-economic status. Or better yet, college could just be free. Unfortunately, that utopia does not exist and many students resort to student loans to pay for college.  If borrowing large sums of money is not daunting enough, it certainly is not reassuring to know that large loan servicers, such a Navient (formerly Sallie Mae) are not straight forward with borrowers.

Former student loan ombudsman for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Rohit Chopra, is filing a lawsuit against Navient for “fail[ing] to perform its core duties in the servicing of student loans, violating federal consumer financial laws as well as the trust that borrowers placed in the company.”

The emergence of allegations such as those posed against Navient are alarming. It is important that borrowers take control of their finances by trying to understand their loans and managing repayment plans.

The article outlines six ways borrowers can take control.

  • Know Loans- “How much do you owe and to whom?” These questions are crucial in knowing what repayment options are available.
  • Income-driven payment-Borrowers may be eligible for federal payment plans determined by income that can reduce or eliminate payments.
  • Staying Enrolled-Income-driven payment plans are not a one-and-done deal. Borrowers must be aware expiration dates and enrollment deadlines.
  • No Forbearance (if possible)-For borrowers who have trouble maintaining steady payments, forbearance seems like a good idea but it is not because interest still accumulates. It is better to ask for other options such as income-driven payments.
  • Dropping a Co-signer-If a borrower has a greater income than when initially signing the loan it may be a good idea to begin auto-debit payments. Most loan servicers or banks allow this change free of penalty.
  • Check your Credit (Again)-Borrowers can access free credit reports from three reliable credit bureaus once annually. This is a good way to manage the loan servicer.

For many people, student loans are inevitable. Unfortunately, as exemplified by Navient, students cannot always rely on loan servicers to offer clear guidance during the long and complex repayment process. It is in the best interest of the borrower and their financial well-being to stay well informed about their loans. For as the Proverb says, “the borrower is slave to the lender”…unless you know better.