Often I work with students that have pasts that reflect mistakes of misguided youth. Too many times these mistakes are felonious and become a major roadblock to them moving forward in their professional lives. Although some do succeed, it’s rare that you see a real story of someone who has actually been able to “re-brand” themselves to the point of becoming a successful CEO. This is exactly what happened in the case of a young serial entrepreneur named Ryan Blair, author of a book titled, “Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain.” He was able to re-brand himself after being in a gang and having a criminal record through making better decisions and using his past. Although this is not the norm and everyone isn’t blessed with the same gifts and talents there is still hope that this can happen for others in similar situations.
This is touches on what I vehemently stress during my presentations to young people. I teach them to view themselves as an enterprise and that the negative decisions they make affect their success just the same way it would anyone else. One example is when Michael Phelps was caught smoking marijuana many people lost faith in him as a role model, and he lost endorsement deals. Constantly, I work to answer questions about how to help people get jobs after they have been incarcerated. The answer really depends on the individual. Some are ready to take on the world when they leave prison or are affected by bad decisions. Others seem to just resort back to how they’ve been programmed and they pay the price.