How to Hustle and Win

Talking White

Excerpted from How to Hustle and Win Part One: A Survival Guide for the Ghetto by Supreme Understanding

“Ebonics” is the name given to the way many Black people speak. Basically, it means “Black English.” Black English is another dialect of Standard American English, just like American English ain’t the same as British English or Australian English. But hey, it’s Black, so it’s not acceptable in America. Anyway, all Black people don’t speak Black English. In fact, there’s always a few kids in any Black school that get ridiculed and picked on for “talking white.” Everyone can tell that they’re speaking differently, and it sounds a lot like the way white folks talk on TV.

Usually these kids were raised in a house that didn’t allow “that ghetto talk,” or the parents were either very educated…or very white. But the kids that “talked white” didn’t just talk differently. Their whole style was different. And it showed. So let’s not get it twisted. People who speak proper English didn’t get dissed just because they talked proper. They were usually also pretty lame. But guess what? They usually became pretty successful.

Why? Well, they learned a very basic principle without knowing it. If you want to be successful in France, then you need to speak French. I’ve met tons of people over the years who say they want to own their own businesses, but they can’t speak proper English. Sometimes, it’s hard to understand them if you’re not from the exact f*cking neighborhood where they’re from.

There’s nothing wrong with speaking how you’re comfortable when you’re home. Trust me, when I’m with people I’m comfortable around, I cuss, I use slang, I might even say a few words that don’t exist. But when I step in that office, or that presentation room, I know how to speak the language of business.

I’ll tell you about an old business partner of mine who had $10,000 to invest into a small business opportunity. I’ll just tell you how it went, and you try to put yourself in his shoes. Two people come in with their business proposals, hoping to get your money. Here’s how it goes.

Joshua Jones comes in wearing a suit, but it looks like his pants are sagging for some reason. Why the hell are his suit pants sagging? His tie isn’t tied correctly, so it just looks like an ugly knot. He hands you his proposal, gives you “dap” because you’re Black and he assumes you’re “cool,” and says to you:

Okay, homeboy. We got the connect from a dude overseas. Straight drop. He got like fitty cases of fresh Ones waitin, just waitin, for me to say the word. He want thirty, Ima give him twenty-fie tho – we gon let em go for sixty. It ain’t gon cost but like fie extra each to set it up cause niggas want em. Tell me I ain’t workin with something!

Next, Henry Henderson comes in with a simple suit, but it looks like it fits him well. And either he knows how to tie a tie, or somebody did it for him. He shakes your hand limply, and you can tell he’s fresh from the suburbs. He begins:

According to market analysis, there’s a great deal of interest in the urban market for Nike Air Force Ones. I’ve found a wholesaler in China who’s willing to sell them to me at a significan’t discount of thirty dollars per pair. If we factor in costs for marketing and distribution, we can sell them at sixty dollars retail for a profit of about twenty dollars per pair, which would give us a gross return on your investment of $15,000.

Who would you rather do business with? Most likely, you’d trust Henderson with your money. Why? He’s obviously got some mastery of the language of business, the language of money, and he’s comfortable in that world, no matter what else he might do outside of the office.

But…if you have a keen eye for business, and you could look past how he said what he said (which most people can’t do), then you’d know Joshua Jones had a better proposal. How much better? Do the math. He would have made almost $20,000 instead of the $15,000 Henderson promised.

People rarely just look at what you’re saying; they are usually looking at how you say it.

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