"Apprentice" winner and entrepreneur Randal Pinkett speaks at UD's Mitchell Hall.

Strategies for success

'Apprentice' winner Randal Pinkett offers words of advice

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2:50 p.m., March 8, 2012--Randal Pinkett, the first African American winner of NBC’s The Apprentice reality show spoke Tuesday, March 6, on the University of Delaware campus about his book, Black Faces in White Places: 10 Game Changing Strategies to Achieve in Success and Find Greatness.

Pinkett offered advice to African American students and community members in the audience at Mitchell Hall about ways to achieve success in predominantly white settings. 

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He said he believes that the 10 “game changing strategies” he found through interviewing successful African American businessmen and women, such as Don Thompson and Hill Harper, will change not only the current generation, but generations to come. 

His first strategy is “establishing a strong identity and purpose” because, he said, being an African American in the workplace “is your competitive advantage that sets you apart from others.”

“You want to see your culture and see your identity as an asset, and not as a liability,” Pinkett said.

He explained another strategy, “building diverse and solid relationships,” with a personal anecdote from his years at Oxford University in England, where he earned a master's degree in computer science. If you want to be successful in life, Pinkett said, you should surround yourself by friends who want to be successful in an environment where you can learn from others. He joked about being able to cook the best General Tso’s chicken because his classmates from different countries taught him how to make various ethnic foods. 

Through his business life, Pinkett said he learned how to have a healthy acceptance of failure. “The best success stories are brought from the worst failures, “ he said, giving as an example the success of the cleaning product, Formula 409 – where it took the inventors 409 different formulas to get the product right. 

Pinkett told the audience that his life was not always so easy; one of his biggest struggles was his adjustment from high school to college because his father passed away during his senior year of high school. He said that the struggle motivated him to succeed because he did not want to dishonor the sacrifices that his mother made for him to have the life opportunities that he had been given. Since he went on to earn five college degrees, he said, "Maybe I got carried away.” 

Failure is not personal and says nothing about you, Pinkett told students in the crowd. He urged them to stay motivated and to view success not as what you do for others, but as what you do for yourself.

Pinkett's presentation was part of UD's Black History Month: February and Beyond. The talk was presented by the Cultural Programming Advisory Board.

Article by Jennifer Kessman

Photos by Lane McLaughlin

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