8 bars with: clifton anderson

Our guest is executive, entrepreneur and leadership consultant Clifton Anderson

8 bars with is a series on educated guesses where we offer up 8 questions to a special guest for them to ponder and freestyle on.  The questions aren't necessarily questions as much as they are prompts or linguistic ink blots meant to stimulate thought.  The responses can be short and pithy, long and loquacious or somewhere in between.

Clifton Anderson is a born-again Christian who is about his Father's business. As Founder and CEO of Treasure Holders International, he provides leadership consulting services to major corporations and nonprofits. His calling is two-fold: to impart Kingdom leadership principles in the world and to equip the body of Christ to fulfill their purpose and destiny.

Prior to launching his consulting firm, Clifton served as an executive of three companies—General Electric, Amgen, and The Wonderful Company. Clifton is currently working on a major organizational transformation at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania—the nation’s oldest Historically Black College/University (HBCU), founded in 1837. In his role, Clifton serves as Senior Advisor to the University’s President. 

Clifton holds an M.B.A. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. At Wharton, he received the prestigious Dean Patrick Harker Leadership Award—the highest honor bestowed upon a graduating student. He earned a B.S. in accounting at Florida A&M University’s School of Business & Industry, where he received the Business Sophistication Award—the highest honor given to a graduating senior.

Clifton has served on the boards of several organizations and has been an active member of his church. Throughout his life, he has contributed a portion of his “time, talent, and treasure” to a number of worthy causes. Originally from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Clifton is writing his forthcoming book on leadership. 

1. Identity?

It’s the one thing that drives everything else. It determines how you see yourself, how you interact with others, and how you perceive the world. That one thing is identity. Due to a warped sense of identity, it took me many years to realize that my circumstances—good, bad, or indifferent—don’t define who I am. Before this realization, I allowed my surroundings to influence my identity. Now I use my identity to influence my surroundings. Ultimately, my identity is in Christ. And all is well.

2. HBCUs?

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are as relevant today as they were when first established. I received my undergraduate degree from an HBCU—Florida A&M University. This laid the groundwork for a successful career in corporate America. I count my time at FAMU among the three most significant transformative experiences of my life, along with my upbringing and my Christian walk. HBCUs exist because there was a time when universities did not accept African Americans into the ranks of their student population, so we created our own. Not only do HBCUs offer students a safe haven, but they can also establish a solid foundation the students will need in the world that awaits them. In a full circle moment, for the past couple of years I’ve had the honor of serving as senior advisor to the president of the oldest HBCU in the country—Cheyney University which was founded in 1837. Together, we are working to return this storied institution to its former glory.

3. Sweet Home Alabama?

I struggle with this one because there are a few warring ideas that come to mind when I read “Sweet Home Alabama.” First, I think of the expression: “Don’t forget where you came from,” which to me means not ignoring your past and not looking down on the people with whom you shared that experience. Then there’s “You can’t go home again.” Though I always enjoy going home to visit my parents, it would be tough imagining living there again. Finally, there’s the statement, “There’s no place like home,” meaning that wherever you go you’ll never find a place that carries the significance of your home.

4. Going back to Cali?

Ironically, being away from California working on the East Coast for the last couple of years created a sense of uneasiness on the increasingly rare occasion that I travel back to SoCal. When I’m there, I feel like a stranger in a strange land. Being there is like a shock to my system. It’s like the analogy of boiling a frog. If you throw a frog into a pot of hot water, it will immediately jump out. But if you put the frog in a pot of cold water and gradually increase the temperature, the frog will sit there and allow itself to boil. When I got back it’s like I’m hopping into a pot of boiling water.

5. OK Google?

I just don’t trust Google Home, Alexa, or Siri. People tell me these devices don’t listen before you say the “wake up” code words (OK Google, for example). But if they’re not listening, how do they know when you say the code words?! Think about it. Then we come to find out that Apple contractors regularly hear confidential recordings to “improve quality control” of the company’s Siri voice assistant. Yeah, right. I don’t know if Big Brother is watching, but Big Sister is most definitely listening.

6. This is Us?

What a show! This is Us has the best writing I’ve ever seen on a television series, and the acting is exceptional. The show has the advantage of being able to tell stories in the present, past and future. So the flashbacks provide the backstory, but the flash forwards provide a glimpse into the future, all the while making you wonder what’s going to happen next in the present. How they tie the storyline all together is remarkable. As an added bonus, the show has led me to my newly discovered crush, Susan Kelechi Watson. Step aside, Halle. Step aside. And don’t get me started on the final episode from season 3 entitled, “Her.” What Beth (Kelechi’s character) does in that episode…Whoa! Makes me long to meet my future wifey, my queen, my ride or die. Where you at, mon chéri?

7. Love Your Neighbor as Yourself?

This commandment to love one’s neighbor as he loves himself is harder than it seems. That’s because there are two expectations embedded in this single commandment: first love yourself, then love everyone else in the same way. As mentioned above, one’s identity determines if and how they love themselves. And if someone is incapable of loving themselves properly, how on earth can they love others the way we’re called to do?

8. The Voice of Inspiration?

When I first started as a professional speaker and trainer, my mentor gave me the moniker, “The Voice of Leadership.” He called me this because he said I have a unique voice and that I’m an expert on leadership. After some reflection, I decided to anoint myself “The Voice of Inspiration” because I didn’t want to be pigeonholed. I remember describing my personal mission to be a powerful voice of inspiration throughout the world. Turns out, my mentor was right—I’ve since discovered that my gift is helping leaders become great leaders.

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