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The meaning of ‘Black Magic’ and what Black business leaders have learned from trauma and triumph



The meaning of 'Black Magic' and what Black business leaders have learned from trauma and triumph

I grew up a Black kid in white classrooms in Silver Spring, Maryland. I tested well and was deemed “gifted and talented”. That meant my classes had cutting edge technology, teachers with fancy degrees and books without holes in them because my classmates’ parents were white. They influenced the county to ensure our classes had great resources. As one of few Black kids in those classes, that gave me advantages that came at a painful cost.

My teachers were white, my classmates were white, I was Black.

I boiled, alone, when my History teacher showed images of starving Black bodies, crammed like sardines, into wooden ships during the middle passage. I seared, alone, and embarrassed, as overzealous classmates plowed through the word “nigger” in Huckleberry Finn read alouds. I
stormed out of class, alone and insulted, when a social studies teacher called slavery a “historical inconvenience.”

But racial isolation can be the cost of access for Black kids in our schools. It might have broken me, if not for the dinner table. That’s where my parents shored up my emotional holes from school with cultural grounding.

But that’s also where they taught me business. They talked to me and my sister like adult professionals while our pre-teen feet dangled from legs too short to reach the floor. As a result, I entered the callous world of capitalism and industry with intimate understanding of its blistering coldness. But at that dinner table, I also learned business to be ripe for gamification. The
business game became a passion for me; a passion that feeds me.

Chad Sanders, author of ‘Black Magic’
Ismail ‘Calligrafist’ Sayeed

Below is an excerpt from my new book, Black Magic: What Black Leaders Learned from Trauma and Triumph, available February 2.

While my father seemed to focus on rules that maintained my family’s physical safety, my mother pushed my sister and me to strategize and achieve. This was her way of giving us financial safety. She taught us the importance of education, corporate advancement, and earning as ways for us as Black people to protect ourselves down the line from misinformation, financial predators, and unexpected disasters. The four of us—mom, dad, sister, brother—sat down for dinner as a family nearly every weeknight in that three-story house on the cul-de-sac. My parents took turns cooking while my sister and I set the table and listened to Stevie Wonder playing in the background. My late maternal grandfather’s paintings adorned the yellow walls of the kitchen. He was a lieutenant colonel in the army and a Vietnam veteran. His paintings depicted people alone with nature. A bullfighter awaiting a charging bull. A camper alone beside a bonfire at night in the woods.

The television was always off. My Xbox was unplugged for the night so I wouldn’t try to rush through a meal to get back to it. A ringing house phone went unanswered. Door-to-door salespeople stopped coming at dinnertime, because my father warded them off. Before an unsuspecting Jehovah’s Witness or Cutco knife salesman could even open his mouth, my dad would make waste of him.

“We don’t want any and if you keep coming back here it’s going to be a problem,” he said before the guy got a word of his spiel out.

My parents protected dinnertime because it was their chance to listen to us, and to teach us who we were and where we came from, before the outside world could force its Eurocentric perspective into our developing minds. And that sort of enrichment required a high level of insulation and focus from all four of us. No distractions.

My mom was an executive at Verizon for most of my childhood, and she ran our kitchen like her boardroom. Dinnertime was regimented. Each time we sat down at our rectangular wooden table, we’d first say grace together. We took turns speaking to God on the family’s behalf at each sitting. Then, my mom would recount the activities of the day at her Fortune 500 employer. By twelve I was familiar with rebrands, layoffs, mergers and acquisitions, initial public offerings, stock options, office politics, and the unstated rules of corporate culture. My mom engaged us in these conversations not as children, but as thought partners. We were invested spectators as she ascended the ranks from entry-level MBA to senior director over the course of my childhood. Race was an important factor in every discussion.

She’d ask what my sister and I thought she should tell her white male boss about her white female subordinate who’d been undermining her for weeks. She considered our thoughts and feedback carefully. I was eleven, my sister fourteen.

We’d brainstorm together with my father until we found a solution we could all live with. We were a mini war room. My mom often reminded us that business was a game, with rules, and additional nuance and risk for Black people. But like any game, it could be solved, and won. I found over time that living as a Black person is a game of its own, with the highest stakes and a similar set of rules.

In high school, I began to jot down the rules in business that I learned at our dinner table boardroom. I’ve paraphrased some of them here:

  • Money controls all important decisions. The closer you sit to the money, the more valuable and safe you will be as an employee.
  • Someone, somewhere is accounting for you as a human with a dollar amount attached to your name. That is your capitalist value. Your leverage (or lack thereof ) can be reduced to that dollar amount. Be aware of it.
  • In hard times, company culture craters. The leverage created by the money you make the company and the strength of your relationships is your safety net.
  • In good times for a company, opportunities for promotions and growth emerge, and the money you make the company and the strength of your relationships are your leverage to access them.
  • Always make your boss look good to her boss and make sure your boss knows you’ve done so.
  • Value is measured by outcomes and not process. No points awarded for trying hard. No bonuses for sending the most emails.
  • Do your job first before helping others to do theirs. You will never be rewarded in a way that feels adequate for helping other people do their jobs, especially if that aid comes at the expense of your job. Do your job.
  • If you report an issue about a colleague to Human Resources, know that two people will thereafter be examined closely and considered potential threats to the business: the person you reported and you.
  • Don’t cry at work. Don’t do it.

Excerpt from Black Magic: What Black Leaders Learned from Trauma and Triumph by Chad Sanders. Copyright © 2021 by Chad Sanders. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc., N.Y.

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Coinbase’s near-term outlook is ‘still grim’, JPMorgan says, while BofA is more positive about firm’s ability to face crypto winter



Coinbase's near-term outlook is 'still grim', JPMorgan says, while BofA is more positive about firm's ability to face crypto winter

Coinbase is well positioned to successfully navigate this crypto winter and take market share, Bank of America said in a research report Tuesday. It maintained its buy recommendation following the exchange’s second-quarter results.

The results warrant “a muted stock reaction,” the report said. Net revenue of $803 million was below the bank’s and consensus estimates, while its adjusted $151 million loss before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization was better than the street expected. Importantly, the company remains “cautiously optimistic” it can reach its goal of no more than $500 million of adjusted EBITDA loss for the full year, the report added.

Coinbase shares fell almost 8% in premarket trading to $80.74.

Bank of America notes that Coinbase had no counterparty exposure to the crypto insolvencies witnessed in the second quarter. The company also has a “history of no credit losses from financing activities, holds customer assets 1:1, and any lending activity of customer crypto is at the discretion of the customer, with 100%+ collateral required.” These rigorous risk-management practices will be a “positive long-term differentiator” for the stock, the bank said.

JPMorgan said Coinbase had endured another challenging quarter, while noting some positives.

Trading volume and revenue were down materially. Subscription revenue was also lower, but would have been much worse were it not for higher interest rates, it said in a research report Wednesday.

The company is taking steps on expense management, and in addition to the June headcount reductions, is scaling back marketing and pausing some product investments, the note said.

The bank says the company’s near-term outlook is “still grim,” noting that the exchange expects a continued decline in 3Q 2022 monthly transacting users (MTUs) and trading volumes, but says Coinbase could take more “cost actions” if crypto prices fall further.

JPMorgan is less optimistic than Bank of America about the company in the near term, saying pressure on revenue from falling crypto markets will have a negative impact on the stock price. Still, it sees positives including higher interest rates, from which the firm will generate revenue. It also sees opportunities for the exchange to grow its user base, leveraging almost $6 billion of cash. The surge in crypto prices in July, and the forthcoming Ethereum Merge are also seen as positive catalysts, it added.

The bank maintained its neutral rating on the stock and raised its price target to $64 from $61.

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Elon Musk sold $6.9B in Tesla stock in case he’s forced to buy Twitter



Elon Musk sold $6.9B in Tesla stock in case he's forced to buy Twitter

Elon Musk sold $6.9 billion of his shares in Tesla Inc., the billionaire’s biggest sale on record, saying he needed cash in case he is forced to go ahead with his aborted deal to buy Twitter Inc.

“In the (hopefully unlikely) event that Twitter forces this deal to close *and* some equity partners don’t come through, it is important to avoid an emergency sale of Tesla stock,” Musk tweeted late Tuesday after the sales were disclosed in a series of regulatory filings. 

Asked by followers if he was done selling and would buy Tesla stock again if the $44 billion deal doesn’t close, Musk responded: “Yes.”

Tesla’s chief executive officer offloaded about 7.92 million shares on Aug. 5, according to the new filings. The sale comes just four months after the world’s richest person said he had no further plans to sell Tesla shares after disposing of $8.5 billion of stock in the wake of his initial offer to buy Twitter.  

Musk last month said he was terminating the agreement to buy the social network where he has more than 102 million followers and take it private, claiming the company has made “misleading representations” over the number of spam bots on the service. Twitter has since sued to force Musk to consummate the deal, and a trial in the Delaware Chancery Court has been set for October. 

In May, Musk dropped plans to partially fund the purchase with a margin loan tied to his Tesla stake and increased the size of the equity component of the deal to $33.5 billion. He had previously announced that he secured $7.1 billion of equity commitments from investors including billionaire Larry Ellison, Sequoia Capital, and Binance. 

“I’ll put the odds at 75% that he’s buying Twitter. I’m shocked,” said Gene Munster, a former technology analyst who’s now a managing partner at venture-capital firm Loup Ventures. “This is going to be a headwind for Tesla in the near term. In the long term, all that matters is deliveries and gross margin.”

At the weekend, Musk tweeted that if Twitter provided its method of sampling accounts to determine the number of bots and how they are confirmed to be real, “the deal should proceed on original terms.” 

Musk, 51, has now sold around $32 billion worth of stock in Tesla over the past 10 months. The disposals started in November after Musk, a prolific Twitter user, polled users of the platform on whether he should trim his stake. The purpose of the latest sales wasn’t immediately clear.  

Tesla shares have risen about 35% from recent lows reached in May, though are still down about 20% this year. 

With a $250.2 billion fortune, Musk is the world’s richest person, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, but his wealth has fallen around $20 billion this year as Tesla shares declined.    

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The rent is too d*mn high for Gen Z: Younger generations are ‘squeezed the most’ by higher rents, BofA says



The rent is too d*mn high for Gen Z: Younger generations are 'squeezed the most' by higher rents, BofA says

Most of Gen Z is too young to remember the 2010 New York gubernatorial candidate Jimmy McMillan.

But over a decade later, they would probably agree with his signature issue (and catchphrase): the rent is too damn high.

This July, median rent payments were 7.4% higher than during the same period last year, according to a Bank of America report released Tuesday. 

The national median price for a one-bedroom apartment has been hitting new highs nearly every month this summer. It was $1,450 for July, according to rental platform Zumper. In the country’s largest city, New York, average rent exceeded a shocking $5,000 a month for the first time ever in June. 

But inflation in the rental market hasn’t hit each generation equally, and no one is getting squeezed harder by the higher monthly payments as Gen Z. Those born after 1996 have seen their median rent payment go up 16% since last July, compared to just a 3% increase for Baby Boomers, BofA internal data shows. 
“Younger consumers are getting squeezed the most by higher rent inflation,” BofA wrote.

The great rent comeback

Early in the pandemic, landlords slashed rents and gave significant COVID discounts to entice tenants to stay instead of leaving urban areas. Once those deals started expiring in 2021, many landlords suddenly raised payments once again, sometimes asking for over double their pandemic value. 

Young people across the board have been hit hard, and rent burdens compared to age can be seen even within a single generation. Younger millennials had their median rent payment grow 11% from last year, while the median payment for older millennials rose 7%. Gen X experienced a 5% median rent increase, according to BofA. 

It’s not a surprise, then, that Gen Z feels so strapped for cash. The majority of young people, 61%, said they want to receive their wages daily instead of twice a week, a practice typically reserved for workers living paycheck to paycheck, according to a report from the Center for Generational Kinetics, which specializes in research across the generations. Rising rent inflation has even priced nearly a third of Gen Zers out of the apartment search altogether. Around 29% of them have resorted to living at home as a “long-term housing solution,” according to a June survey from personal finance company Credit Karma.

It’s no wonder—the rent really is too high.

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