A man who rose from humble beginnings to become an author and consultant to major companies in the United States was the keynote speaker Tuesday at the Iowa Mosaic Diversity conference in Ames. Stedman Graham is know to many as Oprah’s significant other, but is the author of 10 books including the latest that talks about a “new diversity.”
Graham says the new diversity in the 21st century is going to be focused on performance, excellence and results. He says it’s talent based and not based on your background or color. Graham says too many people in the routine of going to the same job every day and doing the same thing and not thinking. Graham says when you fall into a rut and don’t think — you let the world define you.
Graham says the world defines you by your house, your car, your money, your family,by your peers, your title, your job, your color. Graham says,”Millions of people are programmed to believe they can’t make it because of the color of their skin. And they walk around like second class citizens in their mind.” Graham says people who think they’re are second-class act like they’re second class. He says millions of women around the world are defined by the fact that they’re a woman living in a man’s world. Graham says women are put in a box by the definition of the world.
But he says it’s not easy to change your ways and think for yourself. Graham says when you start thinking for yourself, the world says, “You’d better get back in your box.” Graham says you can never let anyone else define you because “they will always define you as less than them.”
Graham says he sees how the world tries to define him every day. Graham says “They try to define me by my relationship.” Graham says he knows people think it’s Oprah’s boyfriend who’s going to speak to them, but Graham says he doesn’t give the world that much power to define his potential as a human being, because the definition is always “less than.”
Graham told the audience they need to take control of their lives. He says, “You have to control your own thoughts. You’ve got to be able to make education and information relevant to your own soul and to your own heart and then transfer that to the mind and then transfer that to the American free enterprise system. So that you can grow ladies and gentlemen. And if we don’t grow what happens? You die.” Graham say you have to take your power back.
Graham says you have to be able to maximize your own potential so you’re not just average, because Graham says people that’re just average, just get by. Graham went on to talk about a nine-step process he recommends to give people a way to take control of their lives. Graham’s latest book is titled “Diversity, Leaders not Labels.”