Thursday, June 21, 2018

Speed of trust

Not too long ago, a White man asked me what I was mad about. Honestly, it was one of the best things that has happened to me over the last five years. The question forced me to pause. It forced me to think. The question showed he was paying attention to me. The answer was important to him. 

The feeling of acknowledgement is important to some people. It shows they are not being ignored or lack value.

Even the Bible says it’s alright to be angry, but not to sin:

“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” — ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:26-27‬ ‭ESV‬‬

As a Black man, I oftentimes get mad because I don't feel I get the same treatment than my White male counterparts, especially when I’m trying to make things happen in Atlanta.

Along with my wife, Kelli, I lead two businesses. Our for-profit business, Diamond Directors, provides the blueprint of success for diamond sports athletes, while our non-profit organization, L.E.A.D. (Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct), partners with Atlanta Public Schools to empower an at-risk generation to lead and transform their city of Atlanta.

In my dealings with other people, I seek three things: benefit of the doubt, respect and trust.

No. 1 — Benefit of the doubt

The Urban Dictionary defines "benefit of the doubt" as defaulting to the belief that your intentions are honest, and not assume malice when there is uncertainty or doubt surrounding the circumstances.

We all stereotype each other. I believe that it’s impossible to stop and is healthy to do.

It scares people at times, but early on in conversations with people, I share the stereotypes that I have of them so that they can debunk them immediately. This helps us connect, which leads to respect.

While I’m not a mind reader, my spiritual gift is discernment. I can feel when people doubt me. If you don’t have the courage to tell me the stereotype you have of me, give me the benefit of the doubt so that I can earn your respect.

No. 2 — Respect

Respect is the ability to treat people in a positive manner—a way that acknowledges them for who they are and/or what they are doing.

An important part of respect is simply acknowledging the other person in a positive manner. You don’t have to like me when you first meet me, but you should respect me until I’ve given you a reason not to.

No. 3 — Trust

Trust is the confident expectation of something; hope.

Things getting done move at the speed of trust. For some, trust takes time, which usually translates into a lot of time. For me, trust moves at the speed of your willingness and ability to make and keep promises.

Making and keeping promises means that I deem you as important. It means I will trust you.

Finding out what you deem important is about asking what's valuable to you.

As a Black leader in Atlanta, I want the benefit of the doubt, respect and trust, in that order. Having all three enables me to deliver on promises that I make to hundreds of young Black men every year.

Under my leadership and the support of our L.E.A.D. staff and executive board of directors, our L.E.A.D. Impact Stats are as follows:

  • 100 percent of our Ambassadors graduate from high school
  • 95 percent attend college
  • 5 percent enroll in the military
  • 92 percent attend college with scholarship opportunities
  • 15 percent graduate from college
These are numbers that we are proud to share. They represent the hallmarks of our success and represent the foundation for efforts to help build the next generation of Black leaders.


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Silver Bullet – People want change but aren’t willing to change

To me, “There’s no Silver Bullet” is code for ...
- I understand the problem but I don’t know how to solve it
- I don’t understand the problem and I don’t care to solve it
- I don’t care a.k.a. it’s complicated and I don’t do complicated

My temperature rises when I’m in the room with “leaders” and “problem solvers” and we get to the point when somebody says, “there’s no Silver Bullet”. What are they really saying?

When I hear that, I immediately think of three things.

1. The person saying it understands the problem but doesn’t know how to solve it.

2. They don’t understand the problem and don’t care to solve it.

3. They simply don’t care to solve the problem.

What is impeding the solution?

What if it is true that all problems are created by people and all problems start out simplistically.

Simplistic statements are typically overstated, shallow and trite. They serve the speaker and can foster avoidance and lack of responsibility. Statements such as, “hard work beats talent when talent works hard”. When put to the test, fails 50% of the time. Why? One reason it is doesn’t account for when we work hard at the wrong thing.

When solutions are simple, things get done. However, don’t confuse “simple” with “easy”. The real Silver Bullet is the “simple thing”. When solutions become simple, folks are now responsible for taking action which exposes their will. Folks that don’t really want to do the work to create change, strive for and hope to maintain convolution.

I live by six Core Values that help me not succumb to the trite statement, “hard work beats talent when talent works hard”.

The 6-Core Values are …

1. Excellence is setting and meeting expectations.

2. Humility is thinking of others more than yourself without thinking less of yourself.

3. Integrity is doing the right thing even when you can do the wrong thing.

4. Loyalty is doing the right thing even when it is unpopular.

5. Stewardship is protection of values, beliefs and people.

6. And finally, teamwork, being your best within a group of people that are being their best for a specific purpose.

The airplane was a Silver Bullet for transportation. The internet, the Silver Bullet for information. How about the telephone? A Silver Bullet for communication. What problems do you see today? Acknowledge the answer may be simple and require us to deal with our will to act.

I’m the CEO and co-founder of L.E.A.D. (Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct) and we use baseball as a vehicle to empower an at-risk generation to lead and transform their city of Atlanta. We empower our Ambassadors to fight against crime, racism and poverty.

The nay-sayers and cynics respond to this by saying that there is no bullet for fighting crime, racism and poverty and my response is simply, L.E.A.D.

Photo by Jason Getz


Monday, April 9, 2018

Will You Get in the Boat?

I’m the husband of Kelli, and the father of two beautiful girls, Mackenzi and Mackenna. I am a baseball coach, author, speaker, and leader. And, I’m the CEO of L.E.A.D. (Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct) an organization dedicated to empower an at-risk generation of young, black men to lead and transform their city of Atlanta.

I was also born into poverty.

Growing up on the northwest side of Atlanta wasn’t a walk in the park. My home was in zip code 30318 where the youths, along with those in zip codes 30310 and 30315, grow up to make up 80 percent of Georgia’s prison system.

My parents were loving, but neither had a college education so they struggled to make ends meet. This meant that my siblings and I grew up on Medicaid, WIC, TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) and food stamps.

If you lived in my zip code, and you wanted to get free from the shackles of racism, poverty, and crime, chances were slim that you would. In fact, today in Atlanta according to the Atlanta Metro Chamber of Commerce, only 4 percent of black children ever do.

Therefore, my escape from the life that had been handed down to me was a miracle, and it’s a miracle that many young black men in Atlanta pray for every day.

And that’s why I am passionate about empowering youths to become politicians, pastors, police officers, and other leaders to be crowns for the city of Atlanta.

I want to empower the other 96 percent to escape, so that not only their lives will be changed, but the lives of the generations after them will be changed too. Their children and children’s children won’t know what it’s like to go to bed hungry, battle poverty, and fear for their lives. Instead they can become leaders and miracle-makers for Georgia.

When LEAD wins, Atlanta and the world wins.

Just Imagine

Imagine there is a young black man sitting in a classroom in Atlanta’s inner-city. If given the chance he could discover the cure for cancer, create symphonies, rescue orphans, or share the gospel with millions. Or, he could become a movement maker like Martin

Luther King, Jr. But without the ability to get free from the grips of poverty, racism, and crime, he will never know what gifts he could bring to the world—and what gifts he could bring into your world.

But consider this, there isn’t just one young black man sitting in a classroom or walking the streets who can’t escape the hand that has been given him. There are thousands. And that’s thousands of lives in the generations after them that won’t be changed if their lives aren’t changed.

The Facts

In addition to the stats I already shared, here’s what you need to know about the plight of inner city Atlanta black males . . .

Atlanta Public Schools educates over 51,927 students grades K-12 with 26,398 being males.
• 33.5% of black males either will not graduate on time or at all.
• Georgia ranks in the top five in incarceration in America while America ranks number one in the world.

By the tens of thousands, black males are trapped in generational poverty because of slavery which was followed by racism that has been supported by government policy before they were ever born.

If this was your story, how could you get free if no one helped you?

Everyone Has a Calling. Anyone Can Change the World.

No one is ever born without a calling. No matter your race or the place of your birth, your Creator has guaranteed that you have been created on purpose for a purpose. Through our 6-year program, Pathway 2 Empowerment—which inspires young men to follow in the footsteps of great leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Maynard Jackson, and Herman Russell—our LEAD Ambassadors are asked four questions to help them discover why they have been created and how they can help change Atlanta—and the world.

• What do you worry about?
• What do you cry about?
• What do you dream about?
• What world problem do you want to solve?

Everyone can learn more about what they have been created to do and how they have been designed to change the world through these questions.

In Georgia, there can only be one Governor and two U.S. Senators. In Atlanta, there can only be one Superintendent for Atlanta Public Schools. There can only be on Mayor of Atlanta and one Police Chief. These are just a few positions that LEAD is preparing our Ambassadors to serve for the benefit of all Atlantans.

Current notable black Atlanta Public School System (APS) alums that are making a significant difference in Atlanta and the world include Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Ceasar Mitchell and Andre Dickens.

Change is possible.

6 Core Values

The LEAD Pathway 2 Empowerment program is driven by 6 core values:

1. Excellence—Setting and meeting expectations.
2. Humility—Thinking of others more than yourself without thinking less of yourself.
3. Integrity—Doing the right thing even when you could do the wrong thing.
4. Loyalty—Doing the right thing even when it is unpopular.
5. Stewardship—Protecting values, beliefs and people.
6. Teamwork—Being your best within a group of people that are being their best for a specific purpose

Will you get in the boat, too?

Imagine a crocodile-infested river where zebras are trying to cross the river to get food. As the zebras enter the water, some will make it across without coming into contact with a crocodile; some will break free but with wounds that will never heal—and others will die.

The zebras represent the black boys in the inner-city of Atlanta. The crocodiles represent the three evils that are designed to destroy them: racism, poverty and crime.

I’m not a spectator on the sideline of this struggle.

I am in the river, in the boat, waiting to rescue any young

man that will grab hold of the baseball bat I extend to them.

If they choose to grab hold of my bat, I will pull them into my boat and take them across the river safely. I have survived this very same struggle, and as a survivor, it is my duty, my burden, and my honor to provide safe passage for them.

One of the ways the LEAD team is working to transform the lives of young black men is through our new vision, Mission 100.

Will you get in the boat with me?

Through the Mission 100 program, LEAD isn’t just interested in making a temporary difference in the lives of black males in Atlanta’s inner city. We want to transform their lives so they can lead Atlanta to lead the world.

To make this vision a reality, LEAD’s goal is to engage at 100 more Ambassadors in Atlanta Public High Schools by 2020. These Ambassadors are at risk, 9th-12th grade black males in Atlanta’s public-school system. LEAD’s Pathway 2 Empowerment program has already provided hundreds of Ambassadors with
unprecedented access to opportunities in athletics, academics, civic engagement, and commerce.

Gensen Scott, former Ambassador, now a LEAD donor says, “L.E.A.D. was important to me [as a kid] because it gave me a different outlook on what I could be in life. I gave me specific tools to help me succeed in life and become the best at whatever I would pursue.”

Denzel Campbell, also former LEAD Ambassador says, “LEAD was a positive outlet for me where I could join my brothers through good and bad times. It was a safe haven for creative ideas around baseball, inner city challenges, and how we can overcome together using positive strategies and networking. Together we had a voice to tell our stories to empower others. Some of my best friends come from this organization, and the inspiration I get from LEAD fuels my internal motivation even to this day.”

To partner with us to transform lives and change Atlanta and the world, please consider giving to support our work through Mission 100.

To donate to Mission 100, join forces with LEAD, and to help 100 Ambassadors in Atlanta Public Schools, contact Kelli Stewart at You can also make a general donation to LEAD for any amount by clicking this link.

If you cannot financially give, please pray. We are grateful for your support.


42 Wants

I don't want other people to decide who I am. I want to decide that for myself. - Emma Watson

Today is April 10th, 2018 and it's my 42nd birthday celebration. There are 42 things that I want for my future that will benefit hundreds of thousands of others and even millions. 

I usually have to pay a price for being clear about what I want. Some call me arrogant. Others will pray that I remain focused.

I want ...

1. I want racism to end in my life time.

2. I want Kelli and I to live happily married until the Lord calls us home.

3. I want my daughters to be happily married to men that will protect and provide for them until the Lord calls them home.

4. I want L.E.A.D. (Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct) to serve youth internationally by 2027 starting with the continent of Africa.

5. I want Kelli and I to establish a family foundation by 2027 supporting sports organizations that develop leaders.

6. I want to lead LEAD to build a Center For Youth in Bankhead, NW Atlanta housing 100 LEAD Ambassadors by 2022.

7. I want to write my second book by 2019.

8. I want my for profit business Diamond Directors to certify at least 100 professional baseball coaches in North America by 2020.

9. I want to visit the Continent of Africa by age 50.

10. I want to mentor a LEAD Ambassdor to become the Mayor of Atlanta, Governor of Georgia and U.S. Senator by my age of 60.

11. I want LEAD to have a corporate partnership with Apple, Mercedes-Benz, Chick-fil-A and Delta Airlines - four of my favorite companies.

12. I want to be on the cover of Time Magazine recognized as the Best Coach in America allowing me to use my influence to serve millions while bringing them in a relationship with Jesus Christ.

13. I want the Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Falcons and the Georgia Bulldogs football team to win a championship by 2020.

14. I want to help Atlanta Public Schools increase the high school graduation rate of Black males.

15. I want to understand politics so that I can lead millions of underserved people in America.

16. I want to understand the Bible proficiently so that I can lead millions of people in the world into an everlasting relationship with God in the name of Jesus.

17. Patience is to wait without anger and I want to be patient with youth that are simple-minded like I was at their age.

18. I want to be empathic towards adults that are knowingly foolish.

19. I want to stand before God and hear job well done.

20. I want to read books for comprehension and be intentional to use what I’ve learned to empower others.

21. I want to be loving, even to those that I don’t believe are lovable.
LEAD Center For Youth rendering
22. I want millions of Black men in America to receive the benefit of the doubt in our racist country allowing us to quickly earn the respect of people that don’t trust us because of the color of our skin.

23. I want to become a great listener.

24. I want to know exactly who I was born to become and have the courage it be it on purpose.

25. I want to learn how to unplug and just chill with my family when it’s time to chill.

26. I want to be less quick-tempered.

27. I want to renovate abandoned buildings in Atlanta to house up to 200 homeless adults short-term while preparing them to live sustainable lives.

28. I want to say yes to assignments and no to invitations.

29. I want to show love to all my haters with my actions.

30. I want to be meek and humble but not to a fault.

31. I want there to be a sequel to Black Panther before 2019.

32. There are people on earth that You Lord, have assigned to warn, inspire and empower me and I want to hear them.

33. I want to continue to worship and praise the Lord in my times of good and bad.

34. I want to be something to explore.

35. I want at least 1,000 Black male graduates of college, military and/or other accredited higher education institutions that are mentees of mine to be employed with the Atlanta Braves, Delta, UPS, Georgia's Own Credit Union, and Coke by 2026.

36. I want to increase the number of Black student-athletes competing in baseball at the NCAA Division I level to from 2.9% in 2016 to 40% by 2036.

37. I want to increase the number of Blacks competing in the Majors from less than 10% in 2016 to 40% by 2036.

38. I want at least 40% of Atlanta Braves season tickets holders to be Black by 2036.

39. I want the LEAD Ambassadors to sell over 100,000 of their books within the first month of it being published, this summer 2018.

40. I want to financially empower thousands of youth that are being educated in rural counties of Georgia.

41. I want to be worth billions so that I can give away billions.

42. I want to draw closer to God in my suffering and be comfortable being uncomfortable for His name sake.

Kelli and C.J. Stewart


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Mentoring – Why do we do it? How do we do it? Are we effective?

Leadership naturally implies mentoring or growing those up who seek us out as mentors and follow. Evaluating if mentoring is right for us or if we are right to mentor, requires an intentional approach and commitment. If we have committed to being a mentor or evaluating this relationship, we should be able to answer three questions succinctly.

Why do we mentor?

I mentor because I am called to transform the lives of black youth in Atlanta. Mentoring allows me to influence young men, train them to excel beyond even their own expectations and expand their vision to lead Atlanta. Race plays a critical role in this conversation.

Why do you mentor? Some feel a responsibility to give back, others may want to inspire change or make a difference. In order for us to be effective mentors, we must understand why we want to mentor because mentees will eventually figure it out, even if we haven’t. Mentees may not connect quickly with us so we also need to understand why and why it may take so long to invoke lasting change.

L.E.A.D.'s Human Ambassador Project

How do we effectively mentor?

Authenticity & Transparency - People won’t believe your success until they believe your struggle. Mentees consciously and subconsciously fear that mentors will not be authentic, aka FAKE. Without authenticity, mentoring relationships become one-sided with mentors dictating directions and “shoulds” which equals guilt. Mentoring relationships are a two-way street. My mentees must be committed to helping me with my shortcomings otherwise we can’t have the relationship. If I don’t share my shortcomings, I cheat them from this opportunity.

Boldness – Are you inspiring? Confident is good. Arrogance is bad. The fine line separating the two is humility, one I often cross. Mentees often lack direction in life or knowledge of the path to reach the destination, hence the reason they follow us. We’ve been given permission to lead so if we expect boldness from them, we must demonstrate it as well.

Consistency – How do we remain influential while not present? As a follower of Christ, I believe that planting seeds of greatness must be watered by the Holy Spirit in my absence. I can influence mentees interceeding through the power of prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit. My mentoring relationship include an aspect of accountability in my absence that works to keep my mentees honest.

One of my favorite authors is Malcolm Gladwell and in his book Outliers, he teachers that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to develop a skill. I believe it to be true.

Helping mentees become the best version of themselves requires deliberate practice within a set of guidelines. Guidelines include honest conversations about available time and my priorities and where they fit into those priorities. While mentees will not get all of my time, they can, by text message, email, sharing of books, blogs and daily prayer, be mentored, follow and learn.

Guardrails established early enable a reliable framework for consistent transformation. These frameworks naturally forecast an end date for the formal part of the relationship. When the purpose of the relationship is clear, frameworks are easier to discuss. Mentoring relationship should never end informally so being clear increases credibility.

Sustainability - Will I (the mentee) be inspired beyond our formal relationship? Sustainability requires strength. I thrive when I’m spiritually, emotionally, mentally, relationally and physically strong and I want to teach my mentees how to fill and keep these five buckets full forever. Since mentoring relationships have a beginning and ending, how will I be inspired and inspire those beyond the framework of the formal mentor relationsihp? By modeling and sharing what personally works for me.

I strengthen myself by growing each aspect required in sustainability: Spiritually – through prayer and my relationship with Jesus Christ; Emotionally by my wife and daughters who inspire and empower me by revealing my positive and negative blindspots; Mentally - by reading which I didn’t like as a child. I felt it was taboo for Black boys to be educated. It was considered to be “acting White” by many of my peers. Now I read almost two books per month because education is learning what needs to be learned to do what needs to be done; Relationally - by spending time with likeminded friends. I’m an extrovert and enjoy meeting new people benefitting most from people that want to become a better version of themselves. I feed off of these folks even if they are homeless, addicted to drugs or the CEO of a Fortune 100 company; Physically - by working out for at least 30 minutes four days per week, even if I don’t want to, feeling good feels good and allows us to do good.

How are you sustaining yourself? What is your plan for sustainability? It this worth sharing with your mentees? You can’t share what you don’t know…

Are we being an effective mentor?

In the end, are we fulfilling our mission as mentors? How are we measuring our effectiveness? We can only do that if we define our role. Mentors need to think twice about starting relationships with mentees if they don’t know how to mentor. Education precedes empowerment and leads effectiveness. Think carefully about committing to a mentoring relationship. What role will you play? What is your commitment? How will you define success for yourself, your mentee and are those the same? I measure my effectiveness by my mentees being able to communicate their life purpose in 30 words or less. Not by memory, by instinct.

If you can answer 50% of these questions, you are ready to get started. Be mentored, finish answering the other 50% and get involved. You’re needed.

Pictured with my mentee Javier Mayora of El Salvador

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Meet Me Where I Live or My Collaboration Methodology, The Nuts and Bolts

It is no secret that I am a transparent personality. I wear my heart on my sleeve. That is by design. You see, I have a God-sized assignment. It is to develop a new generation of civically engaged educated Black men in America starting with inner city Black youth attending Atlanta Public Schools. The only way I know to accomplish this in the time I have here on earth is through Collaboration.

I understand that no man is an island and that working with others is paramount to a successful outcome. I am challenged by others often enough about my ability to Collaborate that I want to address it here. I hope that by doing so others will more fully understand the task at hand, and what I have in my heart. If they do, my desire is that they will open theirs to me in the spirit of Collaboration.

Over the last ten years in my capacity as CEO of L.E.A.D., Inc., I have been honored to work with at-risk inner-city young Black males to empower them to lead and transform their city of Atlanta. L.E.A.D. partners with Atlanta Public Schools, grades 6 through 12, using baseball as the vehicle for transformation. During that time, I have done a lot of soul-searching, heart-searching and self-questioning to grow into the leader I am today. I have “a ways” to go, but I am blessed to have the unwavering support of family, friends and colleagues to help me become the best leader I can be.

2017-18 L.E.A.D. Ambassadors

Also, during that period of personal and professional growth, I developed a methodology for Collaboration that has served L.E.A.D. and its Ambassadors well. To have a successful Collaborative outcome, potential collaborators must define their Conviction and Connection and look for Consensus. Communication is also key. I use this methodology when looking for those with whom to Collaborate. Following is an explanation:

Conviction has four components, and each person involved needs to determine: (i) what they can do; (ii) what they can’t do; (iii) what they will do; and (iv) what they won’t do.

For me:

· I can lead by example based on my life experience.
· I can’t be all things to all people.
· I will serve out of my passion, purpose and grit.
· I won’t spend significant energy and time on things that I’m not passionate about.

I believe this process must happen first because it reveals what’s in the heart. Connection can’t happen without it.

Connection happens when we - potential collaborators - know each other’s hearts. Connection happens when we understand each other strengths and weaknesses. Simply put, through the Conviction process we find out how our earthly talents, spiritual gifts, skills and desires complement each other. We find out what one person can do that another can’t, and what one person will do that another won’t.

Consensus is personal to me and should be taken into consideration by any potential collaborator in their own life. Let me set the expectation here. My wife, Kelli, is my gatekeeper. She is my helper, and voice, from God. Kelli must buy-in to any Collaboration. If she doesn’t even after we, as potential collaborators, have explored Conviction and Connection, there won’t be a Collaboration.

Communication needs to be Clear, Concise and Consistent by and among Collaborators from the start and must continue in that vein until the Collaborative effort is over.
For Collaboration to work for me it must involve a task of God-sized proportion. It must be an assignment from Him. It must be God-sized for it to be worth my prayers, energy and time.

We all know that Atlanta will never become a world class city until hundreds of thousands of Black males are living a sustainable life of significance. I know that the task to get us there is the development of “a new generation of civically engaged educated Black men in America starting with inner city Black youth attending Atlanta Public Schools.” That’s God-sized.

To that end, L.E.A.D. has successfully empowered a group of young Black men from Atlanta to graduate from APS high schools, go on to college, and work in their chosen fields, but we have much more to do before we can dub Atlanta world class.

I challenge you to think about how your “can dos” and “will dos” could work with my “can’ts” and “won’ts” and how together we can positively impact our world with a successful outcome of this God-sized task. Contact me and let’s start the process.


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Fake ... but for whose sake?

F.A.K.E. is an acronym that stands for Forcing Actions while waiting for a Kairos Encounter.

My Kairos moment woke me up one night in 2015 when I started my cohort with Leadership Atlanta. I heard great things about Leadership Atlanta from great people. I was looking forward to expanding my network with more people that were fake like me and maybe, if I was lucky, with a few authentic folks.

It wouldn’t be surprising to encounter fakes. After all, “Fake it until you make it,” is a real mantra in Atlanta (which is my birth city) and particularly so for Black people.

Blacks who are upper middle class are perceived as acting White and disconnected from Blacks who are poor until, it's time for black tie galas that raise money for the less fortunate.

My family comfortably sat in the middle class bubble and was considered as boujee before my Leadership Atlanta experience was complete.

I was fake in Atlanta because it's easy to do. Furthermore, many leaders are not only unchecked on it but also are rewarded for it. I didn’t think about it, because there was no need to until my Kairos moment.

Kairos is a favorable moment for decision or action. 

I went into Leadership Atlanta struggling with three things in need of a Kairos moment without even realizing it:

1. I was never fully engaged with gays and lesbians;
2. I was never fully accepting of women being in a position of authority over me;
3. I thought more highly of myself as a non-profit leader than I was able to execute. 

No one ever challenged me on my shortcomings on these issues, so I never challenged myself to reconsider my stand. That changed with my participation in Leadership Atlanta.

Leadership Atlanta's mission is to build a better community for everyone in the Atlanta region through education about the key issues facing the region. It seeks to inspire members and others to take on and exercise real leadership directed at serving the common good. In my case, it did more than that.

Leadership Atlanta deepened my convictions, helped me develop sound character, and caused authentic change in me.

My wife Kelli often says "everywhere you go, there you are." Thanks to Leadership Atlanta, I was able to see myself everywhere I went, and I didn’t like what I saw. I was faking it. I needed someone to point that out to me. I needed to realize that instead of waiting for a Kairos moment to clarify things for me, I needed to live my life awake by focusing on the 3 Cs. 

- Feeling conviction
- Developing sound character
- Creating authentic change

In Atlanta, we need our nonprofit organizations, particularly those serving young people to focus on these 3 Cs as well.

Thousands of young people in Atlanta are struggling at the hands of mentors and coaches who need mentors and coaches themselves.

C.J. Stewart, CEO/Co-Founder of L.E.A.D., Inc.
Georgia has one non-profit charitable organization for every 361 people. It is ranked in the top 1/3 of most charitable states overall. Georgia’s charitable organizations are generous with both their money and volunteers.

Why, then, does Atlanta have so many problems with poverty and failed educational outcomes?

Why haven’t these problems been resolved?

It isn’t a lack of resources. It isn’t a lack of goodwill. It is time, however, to ask ourselves hard questions so we can create authentic change.

Rise Up Atlanta.

We need to address the problems in our city.  We have to do it without ignoring that our most vulnerable youth need leaders who have the courage of their convictions, possess sound character, and are willing to face their own shortcomings so they can generate authentic change. Who are those leaders? Where are they? Are you one of them? What three questions should our youth be asking their mentors to determine if they can effectively lead them or if they are just faking it?