Little Girl Getting Her Bachelors at 14

Its been a while since ShaperSpeaks has put together a post. Chalk it up to trying to become a better blog site.  With that said all of us should be looking to get better at whatever we are doing.  Thessalonika Arzu-Embry is no exception and has already accomplished more than most 14 year olds.  This little girl has inspired me to spread the story about her journey to be better.  Better than AVERAGE!  Thessalonika was home schooled from 8 to 11 by her mom, Wonder Embry, who is a veteran of the United States Navy.  Thessalonika being African-American, many try to make her story about race.  I think its more about her example not only to children but to parents that being a teen scholar is possible if you work at it.  Prepare your children using whatever resources you can.  Using the average resources will probably produce average results.  One thing is for sure Thessalonika is definitely not an average young woman. Congrats!


Make sure you also check out the video!

My 2014 Youth Workshops

You’ve Been

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Living Chosen: Our Student Principles

At the beginning of any Shaper course, program, or presentation you may hear the same mantra that tells participants, “You’ve been chosen for a greater purpose, destined to live beyond measure, and designed to be more than conquerors. Everyday is your opportunity to live your best life now!” In 2014 we want to reach as many students as we can with those words in mind.  Whether church groups, schools, or Universities I want to be involved with helping you create student change and develop your young leaders. Book ShaperSpeaks to perform or provide these workshops today!

 Workshop  1

Follow A New Script!



Helping teens with decision-making by teaching them to break free of following negative media and music role models to become leaders.


Teens consume 7.5 hours of media per day. If you as an adult ever take the time to see what they are watching whether on television, cell phones, music videos, movies, or social media you would see that most of the media they consume is completely against the principles you are trying to raise them to have. Even though almost all of us have had times where we’ve watched reality television, or some viral video via the internet we as adults are aware of how to separate fact from fiction, and film from reality.  Teens however are in completely different head space. They are still trying to fit in with their friends, impress that girl, or simply have someone make them feel like they are cool!  This session will teach and prompt them to think as individuals and not base their decisions on media images and peer opinion. Depending on time, format, and client budget this session can include a brief musical performance.

Workshop 2 

Young Mogul Development Workshop

Young Mogul


This 2 session workshop is designed to teach students the following skills



Prioritizing dreams versus gifts

Professional behavior on or off the job


Entrepreneurship has been the saving grace for so many people.  From those looking for something to fill the void left by unemployment and financial strain to those that simply feel a lack of purpose successful business ownership can serve the needs of many.  In late 2012 with the goal of teaching young people the importance decision-making and self-branding I began to develop an idea into a curriculum called, “The Young Mogul.” The purpose was not to teach young people to be moguls but instead to help them realize that the successful principles of moguls are useful whether you decide to be a business man or a garbage man.  We all can learn from what makes the people who have reached the top of their game great. Students love the exercises and what they are learning from them. Putting my work into practice I have started the Young Mogul Group which teaches these principles to young men. So far our moguls have accomplished some wonderful things.  My goal is to help them build their resumes now, so that it won’t be an issue later, and also to help them effectively self-brand. Scholarships, 4-year college acceptance, and local teen accolaides have all been accomplishments these young men can boast of.




Young Moguls working on business presentations.

Young Mogul

Young Mogul Meeting 1 Pose

…We also are now offering virtual student-athletic coaching 

Check us out on for athletic and life coaching. To purchase individual coaching or training contact

LIFE Speaks, to Fathers at the N.H County Fatherhood Conference


For about 7 years now I have been involved with a group known as the New Hanover County Partnership for Fatherhood. The group’s focus is to help provide resources and opportunities to get fathers more involved in their children’s lives. We all know, all to well, the crisis in many families that exist in the form of fatherlessness in the lives of many young men and women; white and black.  Every year we host a conference to distribute resources and share ideas with families.  Well, I had the pleasure of being apart of bringing in one of the guest speakers for this year’s conference.  The artist known as ‘Life’, is a spoken word poet that has touched hearts all over the world with his raw and honest delivery of poems everyone can identify with.  It’s rare that I am in awe of a gift. However, Life reached out to so many with his words and lessons about being a great father and raising children that believe they can accomplish whatever they put their minds to. The New Hanover County Partnership for Fatherhood Conference theme this year was “Parenting: Time Well Spent”. And I must say this years conference was not only time well spent but huge success.

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Wilmington On Fire!

Listen to the ShaperSpeaks interview with Travis Corpening and Christopher Everett discussing “Wilmington On Fire”. Click Below

Though many rarely discuss the pain, and horrific whispers echoed in the rich and powerful history of Wilmington North Carolina, there are a few that are brave enough to analyze its beginnings and tell the story.  Documentary filmmaker Christopher Everett is such a person.  Wilmington’s widely known yet rarely discussed 1898 race riots are the only known successful Coup D’Etat in U.S. history.  On our most recent episode of ShaperSpeaks Christopher graced us with his presence to discuss the often untold truth about the history, and future of race relations in the Port City.

In his much awaited new film, “Wilmington on Fire,” Chris takes us on a journey into the 1898 race riots as no one ever has.  The riots marked the overthrow of black, and some white, government officials by a mob of white supremacists armed with rifles and pistols that marched on City Hall in Wilmington, N.C., on November 10th of that year. The impact of the riots was felt not only on a local level but throughout North Carolina and some say are still being felt today.  Imagine removing  all of the successful black business owners from a community by fear and murder.  In a time where opportunity was already limited for a race of people, that type of economic turn-over could be felt for generations.  In the film you hear in-depth analysis of the riots by nationally recognized figures like William Darity, Professor of Public Policy, African and African-American Studies, and Economics, at Duke University and Pennsylvania psychologist Dr. Umar Johnson.

Although all of the filming is complete in order to give the film the marketing and production it deserves the project is in need of about 16,000 dollars. To help with this important historical film please take the time to support in anyway you can by clicking the link below to get to the film’s Kickstarter webpage.

To hear my candid interview with Christopher Everett, the filmmaker for “Wilmington On Fire,” please click the link at the beginning of the post.

Follow A New Script!


I am still flying high from giving a Real Talk Presentation for young men and women at the Young Professionals Leadership Conference Friday!  Young men and women from High School and college came out to enjoy the event and take away some valuable lessons in leadership by the likes of Senators, College presidents, and administrators. The title of my presentation at this year’s conference was, HIP-HOP MANHOOD: The Deconstruction. The conference is put together by a company called Progressive Quality Solutions led by CEO, and Pender County Commissioner, Jimmy Tate. I had the opportunity to have Jimmy on the ShaperSpeaks show after the conference. Students and staff from Duplin, Brunswick, New Hanover, Guilford, Pender Counties and more enjoyed listening and learning from some of the best at what they do.

This was Shaper’s 2nd year presenting at the conference. This year my presentation focused on teaching youth to “Follow Their Own Script!” instead of adopting the roles set by media and hip-hop music.  We discussed everything from gender roles to current hip-hop songs.  Mr. Tate continues to do great things in this community and took the time to sit down with me on the ShaperSpeaks show to discuss the future of the conference and the affect of community support on the futures of young people in general.  Students attending the conference definitely recieved tools to help them become young leaders.  One of the students (shown below) even received a $250 textbook scholarship. All in all I had a great time and I cant wait until next year. Live Chosen!


Remember Hillman? Its “A Different World”


There are a few of us that remember what it was like to have African-Americans on television living a true college experience. Drama free!  If you will notice on my Facebook page I have made my cover art a picture taken of me a while back with Grammy Award winning producer 9th Wonder.  I posted this remembering the conversation we had about the changes in black media in terms what images are available to black youth and brown youth.  Most of you are probably old enough to remember a show called, “A Different World”.  Those of you that aren’t familiar with it, the show was a spinoff of the forever popular creation, “The Cosby Show”.  During our discussion we spoke about today’s lack of examples in media of black youth being successful in higher education and how “A Different World”, served that purpose in our lives.

In my opinion, “A Different World” was truly one of the most relevant shows in the history of media, let alone black media.  It’s depiction of the life of students at the fictitious Hillman College was one of the rare times we as teens were able to see examples of being young, cool, black, and educated on television.  Not only did it show us as thinkers with real issues, but the range of who we truly are. You were exposed to the excellence of a Dwayne Wayne, who became a computer genius, but also of Ron Johnson whose focus was solely on girls and trying to take advantage of anyone he could to make money.  Where is this generation’s, “A Different World?”

On the rare occasion that we see black college students on television today they are depicted as drama seeking reality stars. Where is the education?  I think what has happened to our students in college is the same thing that has happened in hip-hop. To coin the phrase of Chuck-D, we have been boxed into becoming a “one trick image”.  Guns, money, drugs, and bling.  As you digest the words in this post I would like to leave you with one more question.  What are the fruits of what our youth have been exposed to?

Help me bring this culture back. Recently I was turned on to a site that actually sells Hillman College clothing. Theres no doubt one of my next purchases will be a Hillman College Sweatshirt. I can’t wait until the first time I am asked the question, “Where is Hillman College?”

Click to check out what our times are for our weekly radio show ShaperSpeaks.

Diamonds To Polish: Creating Young Leaders

Young Moguls and other young men at work on their futures.

Young Moguls and other young men at work on their futures.

All guys tying ties cropped

Tre and Tyrin tying  ties Young Mogul Meeting 1 Pose

This weekend I had the phenomenal opportunity to meet with my most recent group of empowered young men. They make up a group called our Young Mogul Leadership Team. I am beyond excited waiting to see where these young men will end up.  With the help of companies like Choices DCP,the Wilmington Police Department, and Leading Into New Communities (LINC)  we had an awesome first meeting and look forward to attending the Wilmington Minority Professional Networking Social on September 19th.  During the first meeting we discussed decision-making, resilience, college, and entrepreneurship. I believe every young man should get the opportunity to learn how to turn his visions or ideas into careers through entrepreneurship. I also had the chance to help teach these young men to tie ties. As you get older you will wear a suite more often. Especially once we get jobs and enter the workforce.  We also learned branding and the importance of setting themselves apart from others through using their creativity to produce products or services that would positively impact our world.  Each young men got a short lesson on professional dress and recieved a handout with illustrations of dressing business casual.  Young Mogul will be working to get them prepared for this world of work.