4 Hard Truths About Taking the Road Less Traveled

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When you do what you love, you may stumble upon a sobering truth – just because you truly enjoy your work, it doesn’t make it easy. In fact, pursuing your passion can lead to a swift reality check. Today, in a special edition of In His Shoes, I tapped into the beautiful minds of four men who are creating legacies, challenging the status quo and giving the world countless reasons to believe in #blackmanbrilliance. Be inspired to keep fighting the good fight as Rashad Drakeford (Revolt TV), Tristan Walker (Bevel/Walker & Company Brands, Inc.), Stephen Hill (Actor) and Coltrane Curtis (Team Epiphany) share some of the obstacles they face and work hard to overcome on their journeys to success:

Rashad Drakeford

Rashad Drakeford: Head of Content Development, REVOLT Media & TV

“One of the hard truths I’ve realized working in some corporate spaces is that being the hardest working person doesn’t always translate into success. The intangibles truly matter such as navigating politics, having influential allies internally and externally, and possessing personality traits that fit a company’s culture. You overcome that fact by being strategic in every move you make and learning to navigate and nuance the gray areas. Trust your judgement, integrity and character.”

@rashaddrakeford/@revolttv

Tristan Walker Main Shot

Tristan Walker: ‎Founder & CEO at Walker & Company Brands, Inc.

“The hardest truth I’ve learned along my journey to success is that the trials you go through and the blessings you receive are the exact same thing. This advice was given to me by Tyler Perry and it couldn’t be more true. The most stressful week of my life was when I got cut from J.P. Morgan. My wife and I had just bought an apartment, we were renovating, and I hadn’t heard back from Stanford yet. But J.P. Morgan was the worst place for me to be and what initially seemed like a disastrous situation turned out to be a complete blessing: this kickstarted my entrepreneurial journey. Imagine if I’d never been let go from J.P. Morgan and convinced myself to stay there and deferred business school? There would be no Twitter internship, no opportunity to work at foursquare or a16z and no Walker & Company Brands right now.”

@tristanwalker/@bevel

Stephen Hill Sweater Photo

Stephen Hill: Actor (Boardwalk Empire, Lewis & Clark, Netflix: Luke Cage, Christmas Wedding Baby)

“The hardest lesson I’ve learned on my journey as an actor is how difficult it is as a person of color to become an established working actor. I discovered the hardest aspect of that truth when I came to the realization that much of “Black Hollywood” doesn’t greenlight its own films, or vet talent in a way in which one can maintain a lucrative career. I’ve spent several years frequenting Black film festivals that have done a stellar job in presenting new talent to their audiences. I consider myself truly blessed to have grown as an actor in the creative safe havens of Black film festivals all across the country. The audiences, and staff at festivals like ABFF, Urbanworld, BlackStar, Pan-African, Bronze Lens, and Black Harvest Film Festival (to name a few) not only recognize you for doing good work, but they nurture your efforts with genuine love which serves as invaluable encouragement. Making the leap from such festivals to the mainstream isn’t impossible but definitely more difficult than it should be. I was inspired to become an actor on the heels of losing my mother to a bout with pancreatic cancer, in which she fought until the very end. Who am I not to keep up the good fight too? Right, mom?”

@stephenhillacts

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Coltrane Curtis: Managing Partner, Team Epiphany

“The hardest lesson I’ve learned as an entrepreneur is a lesson I learned from my dad. No matter what business you’re in – strategy, public relations, event production – it always comes down to talent. It’s difficult to identify talent, and even harder to retain it. The work we create would not be insightful or produceable without the amazing, talented people we have here to execute it. I worked as hard internally as I do externally to maintain the right talent within the agency.”

@coltranecurtis/@teamepiphany

As a New York City beauty PR strategist, Renae Bluitt created "In Her Shoes" to empower and enlighten women committed to realizing their dreams.