Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The ABC's of graduating from high school

Graduating from high school can be really easy for some and really difficult for others. For me, it was really easy because of the guidance from my mother, father, coaches, teachers and church family; I was able to follow the ABC's.

In my hometown of Atlanta, GA, 60% of black males will not graduate from high school on time or at all from Atlanta Public Schools (APS). L.E.A.D. (Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct) has partnered with APS since 2007 to change that story. Click here to check our success.


I'm proud to say that I had perfect attendance from kindergarten through 12th grade. People ask me if I ever got sick and I don't remember being so sick that I couldn't go to school. My mom stayed on top of immature things that I would do to get sick like making sure that I got plenty of rest. Staying on the phone or hanging out with friends on a school night wasn't happening. We hardly ever had junk food in the house and I never skipped meals.
I spend a lot of time in a lot school cafeterias and I witness students not eating breakfast or lunch. Not eating properly and trying to perform well in school is like trying to drive from Atlanta to Miami with a gallon of gas. It ain't happening! In addition to breakfast and lunch, Atlanta Public Schools now has an amazing program called Supper On Site that provides dinner to APS students.


I was fortunate to be educated by men and women who took the time to connect with me first before trying to lay down the rules, etc.

My mom and dad didn't spare the rod on discipline by any means. Neither did my relatives or coaches. It takes a village to raise a child and in my case that included discipline - expectations and consequences.

At school, my teachers knew what I valued and who I valued and they used that as a tool to effectively mentor me. 

Course study

As a child baseball was my favorite sport and the batting average was the golden standard to determine your ability. When I realized that grades at school worked the same way, I began to take education more seriously. My grades were a reflection of my character and I knew that I couldn't be successful at anything if I was average at best.

As the co-founder of L.E.A.D., a Pathway2Empowerment organization, we serve hundreds of male students that have academic struggles. We are committed to inspiring them by exposing them to what their futures can be; ultimately, the motivation must come from within.

"You can't even toast bread without being educated about how to do it." ~C.J. Stewart

When I was a student, the better my attendance and behavior, the higher my grades were. Sure there were times when I pressed the envelope and did immature things, but I had instinctive, committed educators who connected with me well enough to get me back in line - quickly. (Shout out to Ms. Annette Dotson who took no mess from no one. Period.)


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Be mad without commitent or win with it

I've been fortunate to do and experience a lot of great things in my 38 years. One of the things that I struggled with the most as a young adult was commitment to excellence.

The simple definition of commit is to do or to perform. I failed in the area of commitment as a young adult due to a lack of maturation, attitude and discipline. Lacking the ability to commit caused madness for me.


I had to finally get to a place where I was sick and tired of myself. Lazy was becoming very comfortable for me and preventing me from committing to great opportunities. Experience is a great teacher.


I was raised by good parents and knew the difference between right and wrong at a very young age. I chose to have a bad attitude because it allowed me to get attention although for the wrong reasons.


Discipline boils down to doing what what you should do but don't want to do. I didn't commit to a lot of positive things that I should have committed to because I lacked discipline. I also had a bag full of excuses to go along with it.

2012 Georgia's Trend Magazine 40 Under 40
As I have increased in age and grown grey hairs, I am proud to say that I am a committed man now. I am a fan of commitment now due to wisdom, integrity and nobility. By being committed, I'm a winner now.


I've messed up a lot and I've learned a lot. You have to go through some things to become a wise man. I can be committed to excellence now and it feels good.


Integrity is all about doing the right even when you don't want to. I am a man of integrity now. Didn't say that I was perfect but I can now be committed to excellence without others being suspicious of me.


When character became important to me I was able to remove the mask of consistent negativity and become a better character. It's better to be considered as a noble man than an uncommitted child.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Seeds Sown, Ambassadors Grown

I truly feel that L.E.A.D. is doing God's will as an organization planted in Atlanta. It is evident in the fruit that we bear through young African-American males.

We have been serving Atlanta with excellence since 2007. Our mission remains the same, to empower an at-risk generation to lead and transform their city of Atlanta. Our vision remains the same that our L.E.A.D. Ambassadors will lead their city of Atlanta to lead the world. We still accomplish this through a sport that is considered America's favorite pastime - baseball.

L.E.A.D. Ambassadors with Governor Nathan Deal
It is my desire that in 2040 a L.E.A.D. Ambassador will be elected as a U.S. Senator representing our state of Georgia. That is why it is of uttermost importance that our core values of excellence, humility, integrity, loyalty, stewardship and teamwork be upheld.

To be clear, L.E.A.D. scouts out the counted out. In case you haven't noticed, society has pretty much written you off. Why do I say that? I say that because we live in a time where it's more profitable to build prisons than to invest in schools. That's really sad, but you can change that and you're going to need my help. We don't go into schools and cherry pick the top all around students. All you need to have is a minimal desire to play baseball and a passion for living a life of significance.

The baseball field is where the Ambassadors practice their core values the most. Academic excellence for the Ambassadors should be a no brainer starting with excellent attendance and behavior in school. Civic responsibility is nurtured now to prepare Ambassadors to truly lead this city and leadership is all about influence - nothing more, nothing less. It's going to take financial resources to lead Atlanta and the Ambassadors will develop skills weekly that will prepare them to be gainfully employed when they graduate from college.

As we prepare for our fall Legacy League that will produce twenty five Ambassadors, here are three things that I'm most excited about.

1. Ambassadors will coach themselves

We will have sixty Leaders in the Legacy League competing for twenty five coveted Ambassadors slots. We will only have two coaches on staff by choice. Ambassadors know how to lead themselves as well as possess the ability to work with others. When core values are in place, learning to hit and throw a ball correctly to earn a college scholarship won't be difficult at all. Young men that lack core values will be removed quickly because we don't have time to force young men to value this once in a lifetime opportunity.

2. Ambassadors hold each other accountable

It's considered an innate action for youth coaches to yell and scream to get results from their players. With only two coaches on staff this fall, we're looking for Leaders who can hold each other accountable based on our standards and expectations. We don't have perfect kids in our program yet they all have an awareness of core values. From personal experience as a child, I can attest that when their is a lack of accountability, young men stop growing in the positive direction.

3. Ambassadors will lead their schools

L.E.A.D. will have twenty five Ambassadors within eight Atlanta Public Schools (APS) high schools in 2014-15. They will all be charged to lead their schools since we are training them weekly in character development. Their character development playbook will be Habitudes by Dr. Tim Elmore. This is the same character training that the San Francisco Giants, University of Alabama and University of Georgia use to name a few. L.E.A.D. is not a "good for you" organization so it is within the school buildings that our Ambassadors will be able to lead the way to show that L.E.A.D. is good for APS and good for Atlanta.

No need to tell me that you're in on this challenge. You must show me - your consistent, committed actions will tell me all I need to know about you.

I'm here scouting for Ambassadors- period.

Now let's go!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Well Done Mr. Truett Cathy

Well Done Mr. Truett Cathy.

Mr. Cathy was sent to Earth by God for 93 years to do His will. I never had the opportunity to meet Mr. Cathy, but I have seen his tireless love and service to others for a long time.

Mr. Cathy passed last night, but he lived a fulfilled and purposeful life in the name of The Lord. I also want to live a purposeful life for The Lord.

I was giving some thought this morning about Mr. Cathy's life and discovered three things that he and I have in common:

Atlanta Public Schools Alum

Although Mr. Cathy was born in Eatonton, GA, he was raised in Techwood Homes and educated in Atlanta. Techwood Homes was eventually torn down due to the expansion of the Georgia Tech campus. He graduated from Boys High School which is now Henry W. Grady High School (Atlanta Public Schools).

I was born and raised in the inner city of Atlanta on Hollywood Road in Northwest Atlanta (Hollywood Courts) which less than 15 miles from where Techwood Homes once stood. I attended Grove Park Elementary School which is also an Atlanta Public Schools (APS).

APS has always been a school system that developed innovative leaders like Truett Cathy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Mr. Cathy didn't invent chicken but he is known worldwide for creating the chicken sandwich. Chick-fil-A is a multi billion dollar company that not only serves delicious food, but also is respected for developing great leaders within its communities.

I didn't invent baseball. However, I created a methodology to convert the raw baseball talent of inner city African-American males into skills that are attractive to college baseball programs. Hundreds of elementary through high school aged African-American males in the inner city of Atlanta are positioned to graduate from high school (on time) and college and become gainfully employed because of L.E.A.D.

All things are possible through Christ Jesus.

Follower of Christ

Mr. Cathy lived by Christian values and built a billion dollar company with those same values. His legacy will no doubt live on through men and women who remain on Earth until we are also called to Glory.

I'm unashamed to be a follower of Christ. L.E.A.D. is an organization that is governed by ethics, morals, core values, standards and accountability.

Our time on Earth should be to do God's will by loving others and serving others. Mr. Cathy loved and served others well.

I can confidently say that his greeting in Heaven went as follows: 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your Master.' (‭Matthew‬ ‭25‬:‭23‬ ESV)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Future Hall Of Famers Among Us

On Tuesday, September 2nd, eight L.E.A.D. Ambassadors were guests of Major General Ronald L. Johnson (Two Stars) at the College Football Hall of Fame Dinner. The West Point Society of Atlanta hosted the dinner in celebration of the Hall of Fame's relocation to Atlanta and the West Point Academy's leadership role in founding the National Football Foundation, the parent of the College Football Hall of Fame.

A few of Atlanta's finest student-athletes visiting one of Atlanta's finest new establishment:
The College Football Hall of Fame.

The following is a reflection on their experience.

What guarantee can you make to the city of Atlanta after attending this event?

Ambassador Jacoby Evans: I will guarantee Atlanta that I will graduate from high school on time and go onto college to further succeed, with the help of scholarship money. I will have a successful career in accounting.

What was the most impressive thing that you saw tonight?

Ambassador Vernard Kennedy: One of the impressive things I saw was all the alumni that were committed to The Academy (The West Point Academy).

What is something that you saw tonight that you have never seen before?

Ambassador Derrick Walker: I've never seen two rivals get together, get along and enjoy one another. I guess they had one goal in mind: to protect and represent the USA.

What do Atlanta Public School Students (APS) students need to know about tonight's event?

Ambassador TJ Pittman: They need to know that the students who attend West Point Academy are very respected and that they are excellent role models. We can do the same too.

Describe how you feel about life after tonight's event?

Ambassador Emanuel Wilson: I feel that life is a blessing; just to be around some of the people I was around tonight was a blessing. This evening has shown me that life is all about connecting with other people - the right people. Life is hard, I say this because of the Generals that I saw with battle scars and scars that have changed them forever, but they found a way to overcome hard times. It was a blessing to be around them along with the Hall of Famers.

What's the best way to repay Major General Ronald Johnson for inviting us?

Ambassador Desmond Jones: Wow, this was a really great experience! He showed loyalty and stewardship by inviting us. Without him, we would've never been able to take advantage of a opportunity such as this. I think we should present him with an Ambassador ring for showing some of our core values.

Describe the College Football Hall Of Fame facility?

Ambassador Austin Evans: I describe the college football Hall of Fame facility as a place of great history and engulfed with school spirit. An experience like none other. It was an opportunity to tap into the history books and be amazed. The film was creative and mind blowing. I could feel the school spirit and emotion flowing through my body as I walked through the tour. It was honestly a night I will never forget.


Monday, September 1, 2014

Born to be great. It's not Godly to be mediocre.

It's not Godly to seek shelter in the womb of mediocrity but we often do it because we lack discipline, dedication and the ability to dream.

Discipline is simply doing what you ought to do even when you don't want to do it. There was a time in my life when being mediocre was acceptable. When I look back at that time of my life now, I realize that I had successfully surrounded myself with mediocre people. These people would never hold me accountable for being less than excellent because they would have been correcting themselves as well.

My favorite thing to do now to remain disciplined is to start my day with devotionals from Wisdom Hunters instead of checking my Facebook and emails.

Dedication is being committed to a task or mission. Guess what happens when you don't have a clear mission in life? You guessed correctly. You act mediocre and you spend your time with mediocre people doing mediocre things while complaining about it. I've been a less than dedicated person and I don't regret it because I now know what not to be. My mission in life is to be significant and to serve millions. God gave me my beautiful wife Kelli Stewart to help me accomplish this.

The Stewart's at the Annual L.E.A.D. Dinner With Champions Awards Celebration
My favorite thing to do now to remain dedicated is to serve black male students in Atlanta Public Schools through L.E.A.D. We develop Ambassadors that are empowered to lead their city of Atlanta to lead the world.

L.E.A.D. Ambassadors at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Center in Atlanta
Dreaming is so much fun for me. God revealed so many great instructions to men in the Bible in the form of dreams and I feel that He does the same for me. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. didn't have a plan for social equality, he had a dream. When you don't dream, you live a life of mediocrity and you find yourself surrounded by mediocre people and doing mediocre things.

My favorite thing to do now to remain a dreamer is to spend time weekly sharing my dreams with dream catchers. Dream catchers aren't quick to say what I can't do. They think it through with me and challenge me with questions so that I can decide whether to move forward to make it a reality.

God wants to do more for us, with us and through us if we allow Him.

L.E.A.D.'s Core Value for September is Excellence (which is not even in the same air space as mediocrity).