10 Years of Marriage – The Best Partner

I met Tenika Benjamin, now Butler, in 2002. My good friend, Tony Carpenter, from high school introduced me to her one night after church. I was immediately enamored by her beauty, speech and height. She was absolutely fine and someone that I wanted to know more about. However, I was all jacked up…. see I had recently became a Christian and was trying to sort out the brokenness in my own life. I was a good kid, made good grades, made good decisions – for the most part and I had two amazing parents! However, I had come from a broken home… my parents divorced when I was 9 and I could count on my fingers how many times I had been to church or had an encounter with God from the ages of 9 to 18. Again, my parents were/are both AMAZING… but I needed Jesus to help fill in the gaps and retrain my mind on the spiritual things I missed out on growing up.

We started serving alongside each other with other believers in various ministries shortly after we met. I was a blur to her but for some reason I couldn’t shake this thought/feeling that I wanted to be with this girl. My intensity grew for her more as I saw how dope she was. She was a Proverbs 31 woman before I even knew Proverbs had a 31. More, she absolutely loved God, preached integrity and maintained integrity, was modest, had morals and naturally being a man… I was attracted to her figure. Eventually, we accepted our call to preach the Gospel of the Jesus Christ around the same time and had many of the same ideas and thoughts about God, the church, folk and life.

I never approached her or asked her out on a date until one dreadful day in January 2004.

After a couple of years of seeing this woman serve in the church I finally mustered up the courage to tell her how I felt over the phone after a church event and bowling one night. I was greeted by a disconnected dial tone. #truth, I cried very hard that night because the woman of my dreams had rejected me. Glenn Simpson and Jeremy Canon, my friends, can testify of this today. Now, I’m not Idris Elba or Forrest Whittaker (the eye) either… I handsomely think I’m somewhere in between, but this had never happened to me before.

Over the next few days we had one conversation in which she told me that she’d let me know how she felt after church that Sunday. The suspense was building. My dreadful day turned into a dreadful week because when she finally told me how she felt, the feelings weren’t the same. I felt like “the dude who was always going to be the fine girl’s bestfriend”. I was stuck – she said and I quote, “You’re not my type”. I took her comments as a “yo momma so ugly joke”. I’m a BUTLER, it’s in the blood… or at least I thought. She reluctantly went on a date with me the following week… why? I don’t know. The story gets a bit blurry for me around this part and maybe it’s because I was so happy… but what I do know is this… we went to Subway and I brought with me a box of pictures. They were my life and 95% of them had me in them. More, 50% of the pictures were of me and other girls or girls only. I had a “prized” cheerleader picture from my ex-girlfriend in 8th grade that I was proud of, prom pictures of yours truly with other girls and etc… I mean this was no way to win over the heart of the woman who’d eventually be my wife – I wanted to show her how cool (or niave) I was. I was self-centered and very insecure.

Through my past, struggles and guilt I never felt like I was good enough. I had condemned myself to lose the race before ever getting into the starting blocks.

However, God was at work through my first interactions with Tenika. He began to reveal to me his unconditional love and plan to make me whole in Him. I was tired of being broken, self-centered and insecure. I wanted to give myself away to something greater than myself. Over the next four months God began to transform my thoughts, pour into my life and take me on a journey that would help mold me into the man I am today.

We had a few more dates but I was still in the Forrest Whitaker category up until April 4, 2004. I walked out of my college dorm and answered the phone. To my surprise she explained to me how she felt and heard in her spirit that God wanted her to be with me. The funny thing is… I was going to call her up that day and tell her, “this just ain’t working because I can’t be your ugly bestfriend”. Miraculously the ugly duckling became a beautiful “man” swan over night. But God.

We began courting that day and through accountability, mentors an fathers & mothers in the faith abstained from sex until we got married. It was tough but we got through it.

I asked her to marry on Christmas Day 2004 and we tied the knot on September 17th, 2005.

There have been many bumps, bruises and detours along our journey. Nonetheless, the amount of love, joy, peace and blessing have far outweighed any temporary pain and past shortcomings.

She has stuck by my side as a invaluable confidant and asset to my life. She’s more than a trophy wife or a prized possession. Her beauty is finer than gold or rubies. Her wisdom prepares me to go to war and my heart lies safely with her. When:

  • We had our first child
  • God called me to pastor students for a season of life
  • Was hurt behind church politics, ministry philosophy & BS and needed healing from confusion, unforgiveness, anger and hurt
  • People deserted me after I stepped down from pastoring
  • Or when I went through a period of slap crazy disobedience before God
  • Had our second child
  • Started my business: Kingdom Life Media that specializes in church media

She’s been a mainstay, a bag of chips and more.

I’m grateful that I found my bestfriend at such a young age. The best partner in life is someone who is bold enough to you the truth and humble enough to admit when they are wrong. I have that in my wife, Tenika Butler.

I’m humbled that she has allowed me to walk with and lead her and my kids on this journey.
Many more years to come!

Blessings,
Jeremy Butler

Proverbs 31:10-31
[b]A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

What Is A Brand?

A lot of people (wannapreneurs, entrepreneurs and dreamers) assume that a brand is a logo or the color palette you use. However, in essence a logo and color palette are just integrated components of a much larger idea and system that helps establish who you are and your connection to those who’ll receive the ideas, products or services you offer and then provide some type of feedback.

More, it’s important to clarify terms before building out your idea, product or service. You want to be a good steward or manager of how you invest your time, money and resources so that you don’t have to start over due to a faulty foundation. You cannot afford to skip over fundamentals in building your “Baby”. A brand can be likened to the child rearing process. In order for a child to grow healthy, strong and productive the family must take steps to ensure the child’s success. When these steps are realized and action is taken it could mean the world of a difference in that child becoming a productive citizen or something {other}.

People and organizations who are in the business of building brands use terms, phrases and definitions that help establish a framework (body of work or structure) for common ground. Frameworks help keep everyone on track and moving in the same direction as a unit. If you truly want to build a meaningful brand then you’ll need to become familiar with the standard terms, phrases, definitions and frameworks. I’ve compiled a list of question that will help tackle a basic branding framework. So, let’s jump into it:

What is a brand?

A brand can be the name of something or someone, terms, designs, symbol or other feature that helps differentiate one organization or person from another. As competition increases people look for ways to stand out and connect with their customers so that they can build lifelong relationships, ultimately win their dollars and loyalty.

Entrepreneurs and businesses are only as strong as their brands.

What is brand identity?

Brand Identity is when all of the different elements (design, logo, website, messaging, products, services, customer service and much more) come together as one united front to appeal to the five senses.

What is branding?

Branding is seizing every opportunity to explain and express to “FOLK” why they should choose your brand over the competition. It’s an art and discipline because it can be created and studied.

A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer. – Seth Godin

How do you establish brand identity without losing who you are?

Brand Identity is when all of the different elements or components (design, logo, website, messaging, products, services, customer service and much more) come together and form one united front to appeal to the five senses of a customer or prospective customer. You want to present your best in a unified way that helps people connect the dots from one medium to the next.

What makes you different? How do you stand out?

This is huge! A brand needs to be able to harness their uniqueness and propel itself toward it’s intended audience. The average person passes 1,000’s of brands every day to and from work. These brands are all jockeying for attention and the ones that stand out will increase their brand awareness, expand their reach and hopefully earn your business.

What is branding to you? And how are you using it in your ideas, products and services?

Building a brand isn’t easy but someone’s gotta do it and that someone should be you! So, what are you creating and studying that’s helping you differentiate your brand and driving loyalty to your doorstep?

Top 10 Entrepreneur Quotes That Prompt Action

An entrepreneur by definition is a person who organizes, operates and assumes the risk for a business venture. So, how does an effective entrepreneur manage to stay motivated in the midst of heavy workloads and projects. Well, for one, entrepreneurs who want to produce at high levels need to consume material that helps them build and construct the ideal life, service and value they wish to manifest. And for two, don’t take my word for it; take the following 10 entrepreneurs and influencers who have had massive success in the their industries word:

  1. It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently. – Warren Buffett
  2. People ask me all the time, ‘How can I become a successful entrepreneur?’ And I have to be honest: It’s one of my least favorite questions, because if you’re waiting for someone else’s advice to become an entrepreneur, chances are you’re not one. – Michael Dell
  3. The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity. – Peter Drucker
  4. Part of the challenge of being an entrepreneur, if you’re going for a really huge opportunity, is trying to find problems that aren’t quite on the radar yet and try to solve those. – Sean Parker
  5. It’s good to work for someone else. Because then you appreciate it more when you are an entrepreneur. – Matt Mullenweg
  6. As an entrepreneur, you never stop learning. – Daymond John
  7. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain
  8. Every entrepreneur needs ideas, vision, and creativity – no matter what the product or service. Not only that, but the product should truly delight customers and become an essential part of their lives. – Min Kao
  9. It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure. – Bill Gates
  10. Effort only fully releases its reward after a person refuses to quit. – Napoleon Hill

What’s one of your favorite entrepreneur quotes?

Five Ways To Build A Morning Ritual

Creating a morning ritual has the ability to set the course and expectations for your day. It brings what’s important into focus and allows you to create a strategy that will help you achieve your goals no matter what comes your way and harness a strength of determination that you otherwise wouldn’t have.

I’ve noticed many of the successful men and women I follow from a distance, who specialize in the areas of my life to improve, ALL have morning rituals that have set them up for massive success. Here are five ways to help you build morning rituals.

    1. Praying to the Most High God. Prayer allows you to stay in tune and in alignment with the Creator of the Universe. When you walk in step and in covenant with the Lord Jesus you receive supernatural instruction through his Word and Spirit. A good place to start if you don’t know how to pray is in the Book of Psalms.
      “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. But not the wicked! They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind. They will be condemned at the time of judgment. Sinners will have no place among the godly. For the watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.” – Psalm 1: 1-6 (New Living Translation)
    2. Reading a Book. Reading opens up the mind to new possibilities, sparks creativity and oils your mental gears to problem solve. I didn’t understand the Power of Reading Rainbow until I was well into my 20’s. I just thought it was about the LeVar Burton talking about cool books. But the truth is, it was meant to engage the imagination of children and spur them to read because there is power in applied knowledge.

      “A capacity and taste for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others.” – Abraham Lincoln

    3. The Power of Music. Music stimulates and helps the brain vibrate thought into action, if applied. More, studies have shown that it has the influential power to control the central nervous system which controls our blood pressure, heartbeat and brain function – and also the limbic system. Most professional athletes listen to some form of music during pre-game that gets them ready for the actual game. Now, if athletes position themselves to achieve success on the court, field or in the arena through training and listening to music that allows them to focus all of their energy on specific set of tasks – then I think we can learn something from their example.
    4. Eat your Wheaties. Breakfast builds you up physically and mentally. I remember rising out of bed and running to jump on the bus and missing breakfast altogether. And on those days I didn’t eat breakfast my focus was thrown off and on occasion my attitude was terrible. It’s important to eat breakfast because it does a few things:
      1. It helps with weight control
      2. Boost fiber intake
      3. Boost brain activity
    5. The Power of Affirmations. Affirmations prime the mind for the probable. If you’ve already made up in your mind what you’ll do and accept for the day then you’ll have the type of action that backs up that “Affirmation”. More, affirmations when combined with Scripture produce faith that enables you to do basic to incredible feats.

You can also build and create your own morning rituals that help you take action and conquer your goals. Here are five ways to help you do that:

  1. Being Still – sometimes you just need to slow down and take a break from the culture around you
  2. Knowing and maximizing your Strengths will help you strategically take on things that you are best suited for
  3. Analyzing and Writing down your Goals. Then based upon that Goal Sheet you’ll be able to put a plan in place to help you achieve those goals
  4. Listening to Music – stimulate the mind
  5. Mastermind your way to Success – Jump into a group of people who will hold you accountable, stir up your gifts and challenge to become better

Implementing any of these Morning Rituals can drastically change your daily production and outlook. Your life will produce whatever you consume on a consistent basis. And if you Build Morning Rituals into your life then they’ll give and multiply to you benefits that you only dreamed of.

What are some morning rituals that you practice that help you produce more and better results?

Ideas, Taking Action and FEAR

Ideas

Every great movement, amazing product or incredible service started with an idea. There isn’t anything that has been made that wasn’t an idea first. Ideas can be birthed through a number of ways, which can include:

  • Meditation
  • Accidental Findings
  • Spontaneity
  • Crunch Time Situations
  • Spiritual Disciplines

An idea’s existence is subject to a person’s thought process. And a person’s thought process is subject to what it has been unconsciously and consciously exposed to. Eventually a person will become whatever he or she consumes on a consistent basis. If the mind is filled with negativity, junk, fear and doubt then it will have no choice but to take its cues from its diet. It will not magically produce positive actions, faith and good stuff at the snap of a finger.

Ideas have the power to move nations, birth technological advancements, fixate into the minds of men and women a lifestyle to be obtained and so much more.

Thinking will not overcome fear but action will. – W. Clement Stone

Action

I’ve known people who have some of the most innovative ideas but never take action on them. If you do not take action on your ideas then you will NEVER see #progress. Napoleon Hill, the author of Think and Grow Rich, found a key ingredient in the lives of 500 millionaires he studied and interviewed from the early 1900’s to the mid 1930’s – DEFINITE OR DECISIVE ACTION. These industrialists, entrepreneurs and dreamers just didn’t talk the talk about their dreams – they took action on their dreams and made tweaks along the way that produced great wealth!

Fear

In the process of taking action on your Ideas and Dreams you will come up against notable adversaries but none will hit harder than FEAR. FEAR has caused many men and women to go back to their bedrooms, shut the door and hide under their beds never come out again. FEAR holds no punches and seeks to paralyze ALL of it’s opponents. FEAR will be present during any endeavor but you do not have to give into it. Here’s an acronym for FEAR when it rears its ugly head:

FALSE
EVIDENCE
APPEARING
REAL

ACTIONS

  1. How do you interpret the FEAR acronym?
  2. What are you currently feeding yourself?
  3. What will you do in order to make your dreams a reality?

The Labor Pains and Growth of an Entrepreneur

My strategic game plan for my business and heart to serve others in a greater capacity has been subtly shifting for the past six months. Admittedly, I’ve been stuck between the now and not yet. This constant juggling between my current client work and burgeoning online teaching and consulting work has caused several labor pains, late nights of design work, planning for the future, rise in expenses with little ROI and late and early morning prayers.

The idea of helping people and organizations define their identities, find their voices and ultimately building brands to engage their customers and adding value to the lives of people has me geeked and very excited. Therefore, in order to capitalize on the momentum I’m shifting gears with that hopes that I’ll become a lot leaner and selective in my approach to accepting client work, mastering small business consulting and chasing entrepreneurial goals so that I can connect to and maximize my dreams.

I currently have a handful of interviews, articles and other items in the queue for this website. In addition, I’ve recently gave my website a facelift over the last 3 days (after getting hacked) with more rollouts to come.

And I think that’s the beauty of entrepreneurship… it should constantly evolve because it’s a living organism like us. Our visions should mature and we should become better at our crafts as we keep pushing.

Food For Thought:
How are you shifting in order to realize your dream?
What value are you adding to others?
How can you tighten up the loose areas in your life?
How do you handle labor pains without missing a beat?

What Is Your Definition Of Success?

Business leaders, kings, commanders, entertainers, authors, the religious and the influential from all over the world for centuries have determined and defined the varying degrees of success. I believe many of the definitions and principles are true however, there is one that supercedes them ALL.

Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. – Joshua 1:8 NLT

Scripture paints the ultimate picture of what success looks like and the necessary preceding actions that allow a person to be successful. It involves hearing from God, believing what God said and lastly taking action on what God said.

What is your definition of success? Write your thoughts in the comments below.

The Inspirational Tony A. Gaskins Jr.

Tony Gaskins Jr. is a motivational speaker and relationship coach who focuses on emotional healing, self actualization and giving practical advice to others so that they can become the people that God has called them to be.

If you’ve heard of him, it’s probably because you’ve seen his quotes flying around social media. And if you haven’t heard of him prepare to be awed by his story. His inspirational messages are often reposted, reblogged, retweeted and shared across multiple platforms by the hundreds of thousands of fans and followers that are ALL pushing in the same direction as him. I’ve been following Mr. Gaskins’ work for a while and was very encouraged when he and his team responded with a “Yes” to my interview.

I am excited to give you another look into life and service of Tony Gaskins Jr.

Name
Tony A. Gaskins Jr.

School
I have a PhD from Mistakes University.

What do you do?
I am an Author, Celebrity Life Coach, International Speaker, Bestselling Author, Spoken Word Artist, Ghostwriter, and a Business Consultant. Those are the things I receive a check from, but they break down into over 20 streams of income. I do anything I feel gifted at and know that it can impact someone’s life.

What started you on your journey?
I wrote my first book at 22 years old as I was looking for a way to use my gifts.

When did you realize you could achieve your dream?
Two years after publishing my book and pitching myself to media, I got a call from the producers of Oprah about a pitch I’d sent in. When they brought me on her show I knew then that somehow I would be able to get my message to the masses.

What is a quote you live by?
[inlinetweet prefix=”RT” tweeter=”” suffix=”#dream #build #empire”]If you don’t build your dream, someone will hire you to build theirs. ~ Tony A. Gaskins Jr.[/inlinetweet]

What is a tough lesson you learned? And how did you recover from it?
At 23 I was robbed and I lost my car and was put $30,000 in the hole. I learned that fast money isn’t smart money and that if you try to take short cuts in life you will be cut short. I rededicated my life to Christ and started living by His teachings. Those principles changed my life.

What advice can you give aspiring, entrepreneurs, leaders, influencers, artists and dreamers?
Do it for the right reasons. Don’t let money be your main motive. Don’t chase money, chase purpose and the money will chase you. Don’t try to be like anyone else. Look within and birth the brand that’s on the inside of you and you’ll never have to worry about going broke.

What’s next?
Too much to list, but more of the same of what I’ve been doing. I hope to get a TV show of some sort in 2015 to help expand, build my brand and reach more people.

How can people get in contact with you?
Web: www.tonygaskins.com
Twitter: @TonyGaskins
Facebook:@TonyGaskins
IG: @TonyGaskins

Click here for more interviews on the lives, dreams and habits of successful people.