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Black Faces in White Places: 10 Game-Changing Strategies to Achieve Success and Find Greatness

Black Faces in White Places: 10 Game-Changing Strategies to Achieve Success and Find Greatness

3.6 22
by Randal Pinkett, Jeffrey Robinson, Philana Patterson

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If the name Randal Pinkett sounds familiar, it may be because Pinkett was the first African-American winner on The Apprentice. When he won, this black man also became the only contestant to be asked to share his victory—with a white woman. The request (and Pinkett’s subsequent refusal) set off a firestorm of


If the name Randal Pinkett sounds familiar, it may be because Pinkett was the first African-American winner on The Apprentice. When he won, this black man also became the only contestant to be asked to share his victory—with a white woman. The request (and Pinkett’s subsequent refusal) set off a firestorm of controversy that inevitably focused on the issue of race in the American workplace and in society.

For generations, African-Americans have been told that to succeed, they need to work twice as hard as everyone else. But as millions of black Americans were reminded by Pinkett’s experience, sometimes hard work is not enough. Black Faces in White Places is about “the game”—that is, the competitive world in which we all live and work. The book offers 10 revolutionary strategies for playing, mastering, and changing the game for the current generation, while undertaking a wholesale redefinition of the rules for those who will follow. It is not only about shattering the old “glass ceiling,” but also about examining the four dimensions of the contemporary black experience: identity, society, meritocracy, and opportunity. Ultimately, it is about changing the very concept of success itself.

Based on the authors’ considerable experiences in business, in the public eye, and in the minority, the book shows how African-American professionals can (and must) think and act both Entrepreneurially and “Intrapreneurially,” combine their collective strengths with the wisdom of others, and plant the seeds of a positive and lasting legacy.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“…important and groundbreaking book…provides the tools necessary for African Americans and members of other minorities, to achieve success and respect on their own terms.” —BlogBusinessWorld

“…Pinkett and Rutgers Business School Professor Jeffrey Robinson present a trailblazing path for leveraging ethnic and cultural assets to not only win the game of success in any arena, but to reshape America and leave a powerful legacy for generations to come…. They show how to achieve professional and personal success while affirming and amplifying racial pride by learning, mastering, and ultimately redefining ‘the ever-changing game’ - their new metaphor for our competitive world of work and life. Building on the four dimensions of the contemporary Black experience - identity, society, meritocracy, and opportunity their book provides a strategic roadmap to keep African Americans moving forward in their journey toward not simply equal treatment but equal respect for their diversity and uniqueness. Covering ten groundbreaking strategies, they inspire and empower every Black man and woman.” -- Career News Service

“…a trailblazing path for leveraging ethnic and cultural assets….[the authors] inspire and empower every Black man and woman.” -- Career News Service

“A helpful handbook designed for the average African-American armed with credentials yet in a quandary about how to flourish in the midst of a corporate culture tainted by intolerance in terms of skin color.” -- Caribbean Life

Black Faces in White Places is the perfect book for any Black job hunter who seeks a real career….[a] thoughtful, helpful book.” – The Chicago Crusader

Library Journal
Pinkett (Campus CEO) won season four of The Apprentice, the first African American winner. Here he offers ten strategies not simply for successful entrepreneurship but also successful "intrapreneurship," gaining success through knowing oneself and the realities of functioning in today's society.

Product Details

Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt


I wrote these words for everyone who struggles in their youth.

Who won’t accept deception instead of what is truth.

It seems we lose the game, before we even start to play.

Who made these rules? We’re so confused. Easily led astray.

—Lauryn Hill, “Everything Is Everything”

Not Getting Trumped: Randal’s Nationally Televised
“Black Faces in White Places” Moment

It had all come down to this moment: Onstage at New York’s Lincoln Center, on live television with millions of people watching the possibility of me, Randal Pinkett, being chosen as real estate mogul Donald Trump’s next Apprentice.

It was the fourth season of the NBC hit reality show The Apprentice, and Trump would ultimately choose one person, out of eighteen candidates—selected from more than one million applicants—to work for The Trump Organization. At stake: the $250,000 prize and the opportunity to be part of a renowned company that runs—in addition to real estate—gaming, entertainment, media, and educational enterprises.

The competition was whittled down to Rebecca Jarvis—a financial journalist who had previously worked for a short time in investment banking and trading—and me.

I believe Trump’s choice should have been clear. Each week on The Apprentice, teams were charged with tasks under the direction of the team member selected as project manager. As project manager, I was undefeated, while Rebecca had a record of one win and two losses. When other project managers had a chance to choose team members, I was picked far more often. Rebecca was twenty-three years old at the time, and just beginning a career in business journalism. Ten years her senior, I was running BCT Partners, a multimillion-dollar consulting firm, and had already founded four other companies. Rebecca did have great education credentials, having earned an undergraduate degree from the prestigious University of Chicago. Still, my academic experience included five degrees, including an MBA and PhD from MIT, and a Rhodes Scholarship to attend Oxford University.

But this was reality television, and things turned on the unpredictable, so I was prepared for almost anything to happen. The final show of the season was a two-hour live event. Our final tasks, the outcome, the boardroom evaluations, and the debriefing of our team members had been taped and aired. It was time for Trump’s choice.

For those of you who missed it, or need a refresher, here’s how those final seconds went down:

Trump said, “Randal you’re an amazing leader. Amazing. Rarely on this...(Applause) Rarely have I seen a leader as good as you, and you lead through niceness. I mean, you really lead through example, and I think you’d be the first to admit that, Rebecca. People follow Randal whenever there’s a choice—we want Randal—I mean it just happened four or five times. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.”

Then he declared, “Rebecca, you’re outstanding. Randal, you’re hired.”

I leaped out of my chair, did a bit of an end-zone-esque celebratory move, and was embraced by several of the previously “fired” Apprentice candidates. My family and friends in the Lincoln Center audience and a group at a party in Newark, New Jersey, cheered my victory.

Then, the “moment.”

My celebration was stopped short when Trump’s voice called over the applause and well-wishes.

“Randal. Randal. Randal. Randal. Randal,” Trump said. “Sit down for a second. I want to ask your opinion.”

I took a seat at the “boardroom” table next to Rebecca.

Trump continued: “You two were so good, I have to ask your opinion. What do you think of Rebecca? If you were me, would you hire Rebecca also?”

I thought, Is he serious? Apparently he was, and I was insulted and angered. No previous winner had ever been asked that question before. That marked my nationally televised “Black Faces in White Places” moment.

—Randal Pinkett

w   w   w

Your “moment” may not have been viewed on-air by millions of people, but if you’re Black, it’s likely you’ve had one. Perhaps you are the only Black in your predominantly white high school and have been asked to speak to the student body, as if you represent the entire Black community. Perhaps you serve as the founder and CEO of a Black-owned business that constantly has to prove and re-prove itself to the marketplace while larger firms are allowed to fail without any repercussions. Perhaps you work for a corporation with little to no minority representation and, for some reason, your opinion seems to fall on deaf ears, while the opinions of your colleagues somehow always carry weight. Perhaps you are one of the few, if not the only person of color in your department, division, or even company, and feel the weight of your race with regard to basic performance. You’re worried that if you’re late, all Black people are considered tardy. If you fail, all Black people are considered failures. But if you succeed, you’re the exception!

The range of such moments is as varied as we are as a people. While the larger society often views Blacks as a monolithic group, we know better. We are liberals and conservatives. We are rich, poor, working, and middle class. We are laborers, blue-collar and white-collar workers. We are Protestants, Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, and agnostics. Though small in number, there are even Black Jews. Some of us have dropped out of school and some of us have earned multiple degrees. We are diverse—but at the beginning of the day, in the middle of the day, and at the end of the day, we are Black. And at some point—whether it’s early in life or late, we all will have our “moment” when we are confronted with a challenge related to our race.

Coach C. Vivian Stringer and the women of the Rutgers University women’s basketball team had their moment when radio personality Don Imus decided to refer to them as “nappy-headed hos” the morning after they played in the championship game of the NCAA Tournament. But they spoke back with dignity and held their heads high as they graced the cover of Newsweek magazine and received the Wilma Rudolph Courage Award from the Women’s Sports Foundation—awarded to female athletes who exhibit extraordinary courage and surmount adversity. Coach Stringer and her team “redefined the game.”

Olympic speed skater Shani Davis had a moment when he was unfairly criticized by a white skater (who had previously lost a race to Davis) for not being a “team player” when he chose to participate in an individual competition over the team event: an educated decision that was actually as much (if not more) for the benefit of the team than for himself, since Davis had never practiced or participated in the team event. But rather than submit, Davis stood by his decision and redefined the game when he became the first Black athlete to win a gold medal in an individual sport at the Winter Olympics.

Cathy Hughes had her moment when she realized the inherent limitations of remaining at a white-owned radio station, WYCB. Though she had faced thirty-two rejections before a bank granted her husband and her a loan, she persevered and redefined the game by creating Radio One, the largest radio broadcasting company targeting African American and urban listeners.

And perhaps the most stunning “Black Faces in White Places” moment of our time: Barack Obama making the bold decision to run for the presidency of the United States when many, including prominent Civil Rights leaders, said America wasn’t ready. But not only did he win the Democratic nomination, he redefined the game by becoming the first African-American president of the United States in the face of millions of naysayers—a Black man in the White House.

What all these people have in common is that they learned the game, played the game, mastered the game, and, at that “Black Faces in White Places” moment, found themselves in a position to redefine the game.

So how did Randal perform in his moment? Read on.. .

w   w   w

Randal: Mr. Trump, Mr. Trump, Mr. Trump. I firmly believe that this is The Apprentice—that there is one and only one Apprentice, and if you’re going to hire someone tonight it should be one.

Trump: Okay.

Randal: It’s not “The Apprenti”!

Trump: Okay.

Randal: It’s “The Apprentice.”

Trump: All right, I’m going to leave it at that, then. I think I could have been convinced, but if you feel that’s the way it should be.

Randal: I think that’s the way it should be.

Trump: I’m going to leave it that way, then. Congratulations.

Randal earned the right to be named the soleApprentice and refused to be one of two apprentices. (The plural form is, of course, “apprentices,” not “apprenti”—but, hey, it made for a great one-liner!) He asserted himself and did not allow the rules of the game to change at the last minute. In front of millions of Americans, in his own modest way, he redefined the game. And Trump never asked that question of any winner on The Apprentice again.

But you don’t have to be a college basketball player, a world-class Olympic athlete, a radio titan, a presidential candidate, or a reality TV star to have such a moment. Many others have overcome their moments, too. This book is designed to help you transcend your own “Black Faces in White Places” moments, redefine the game, and make it easier for the next generation to do the same.

Meet the Author

RANDAL PINKETT, PH.D. is the co-founder, chairman and CEO of BCT Partners, an information technology and management consulting firm. He was the season four winner of “The Apprentice.”

JEFFREY ROBINSON, PH.D. is a leading business scholar at Rutgers Business School.

PHILANA PATTERSON is a business news editor for the Associated Press.

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Black Faces in White Places 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
TheRomerReviewer More than 1 year ago
In a world where everything is neat, pristine and without blemish it's the perfect type of environment to feel that a favorable existence would be most desirable. It would be par for the course not to assume that the races are not bonding and getting along the way God intended in such a scenario. All of the aforementioned is fine and perfect, and the way it should be...but if you are a person of color you would not believe any of this is possible now, and surely you have no reason to believe it wouldn't be attainable in the foreseeable future if change wasn't eminent. As an African American you may have done all you can feeling that you are ready for the world, ready to ascend corporate American and show her what you can do and what you're made of...you're credentialed and well-learned; and you feel that you've arrived -- been there, done it and certainly ready to prove that you belong. Alas, along the way to reality there's a few obstacles in your way. In your mind you would know that strategies and a viable plan would definitely be needed because things just haven't gone right with you stumbling every now and then and feeling that it's no fault of your own. Or is it? "Why am I not looked upon with the same accolades as my white counterparts, some whom I consider peers, even", you may say. Sure, you've put yourself in these shoes because they are real and it may have already happened to you. And you also ask yourself, "what can be done to turn the tide...how can we stay in place without having to prove that we can hang with whomever has been deemed the ones we should emulate"? Now comes authors Randal Pinkett and Jeffrey Robinson who has answers and devised how the game should be played, and how you can stay in place and THRIVE! Their new book, Black Faces in White Places not only has a plan of action, but it comes intact with ten game changing strategic gems to achieve long-lasting success where greatness isn't a second thought to destiny. This is no ordinary 'how to' book with rudimentary precepts that cannot be used with a sense of continuity. Black Faces in White Places is a mindset written and designed for Black folk to change the game and score repeatedly. I feel that there's greatness in all that apply and are able to persevere against all odds. The ten strategies are well-placed and thought-provoking to elicit challenges and changes. The book is divided into four parts with each strategy interspersed in subcategories with its own topical subjects. The authors' voices are vociferous with all of the analogies and objectives loud enough as if to jump off the pages to keep you rooted to the cause. reading this outstanding book gave me hope that there's a method to the madness, and ways to build beneficial relations and powerful networks. In closing, social responsibility is ours to exact ways to diffuse inferiority complexes that we have allowed ourselves to operate from. For sure, Black Faces in White Places is a 'must read' tome for us to redefine the rules, narrow gaps (real or imagined), and to master the inherent 10 strategies to navigate the authors' roadmap to respectability. I'm more than ready, what about you? Buy this book , do an about face and create your own space in the place!
eveready04 More than 1 year ago
I really found this book to be informant and enlightening. While I often am told that the key to success is building the right relationships, the authors were put into more context for me. When I was asked by fellow co-workers why I was reading it, I was able to clearly say because if I don't strive to be successfully from those who are successfully, then how can I help those at the bottom. The strategies were brought to real life experiences and the authors not only provided great information, its a book that can be used as a reference. Definitely a good read for everyone, especially minorities:-)
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Guest More than 1 year ago
The authors were exceptional in identifying an issue, raising the matter, and providing encouraging information to change. The authors are informative and challenges readers to look within. Great Book.
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