Week in Review
Monday October 1, 2018
Today was our first day of Toastmasters. Everyone was excited to start, and you could feel the excitement in the air. It’s been a tough two weeks with the start of this business phase, called Phase Two, of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program. We have been overloaded with work, but we are all ready for the challenge. We took our first six tests and had the best test score average out of the last two classes. Toastmasters will help us develop our speaking skills in the front of our peers. Speaking in front of an audience is a new experience for most of us. Everybody participated and did very well, although some guys were a little nervous. Most everyone spoke about their upbringings and what lead them to the fork in the road that made them come to prison.
After Toastmasters, PEP gave us supplies to further our growth. Everyone is looking forward to getting the bulk of this program underway and can’t wait to reach the finish line and achieve a goal that we are so ready to accomplish. We also received a very insightful book called Living in the Village by Ryan C. Mack. From the information we’ve received from the last few classes, it’s supposed to be a very good book. For the rest of the day we finished working on our “Coats of Arms,” which is a paper with our faces on action figures. We are still confused as to why we are doing it, but we did it nonetheless.
Aron A. (a.k.a “Gabriel Iglesias”)
Tuesday October 2, 2018
Our Class was full of adventure and suspense today, as we experienced one of the greatest days of our educational careers. We learned many new things that heightened our experience as entrepreneurial students. We also began studying business statistics. Our brothers had clever ideas, but we really don’t know a lot of things about starting a company, especially when it comes to innovation and the time it takes to innovate. We learned that innovation carries with it an undertone of profitability and success. We also learned that innovation also involves positive change. We, as a class, dearly enjoy learning new things from all of the PEP educators. We value innovation and are learning to have an innovative mindset.
We have generated many business ideas. We developed new skills and hobbies and learned about gap analysis. We’ve learned a lot of things in class today that many others do not have the opportunity to learn, including about synergy. Our beloved class truly enjoyed class today, and we are excited to learn more.
Allen M. (a.k.a. “Fix-a-Dent”)
Wednesday October 3, 2018
This week we did not have class on Wednesday, but we had plenty of work to stay on top of for the upcoming week. We are going to be testing on Chapter Three in our entrepreneurship textbook soon, so our days are going to be filled with studying for the test in order to avoid the much-hated writing assignments.
We received Living in the Village by Ryan C. Mack, which is about financial literacy and strengthening the community. With our new books and study sheets, we were blessed with a folder, a notebook and a brand new pen. Between our reading assignments and Toastmasters meetings on Mondays, our days should be filled with preparation for the upcoming week.
The last class we had was headed by Bert S. He gave us insight into his background. As a visionary and investor, Bert S. showed us how he has used innovation to make his living. He then gave us an interactive demonstration of a gap analysis and how to use it. We had a chance to apply it to our ideas to see what needs tweaking and to get a firm understanding of how we can use gap analysis to improve our ideas. He also told us about our business plan curriculum and what to expect in the coming weeks. We were given forms to submit our initial business ideas for our next event, called the Think Tank event, where we will pitch our ideas to get constructive feedback. We also had a brief lecture on art history and U.S. history. Despite not having class, we’ve had a very full five days leading up to this new week. Aside from getting the needed rest, we have been preparing for what’s to come … the thing is, no one knows what’s to come. That’s the tricky part.
Austell R. (a.k.a. “Jerome from Martin”)
Thursday October 4, 2018
As we continue transitioning into Phase Two, we do it with open minds and hearts, welcoming challenges and embracing adversity when it comes our way. We know that our obstacles will lead us down a positive trail of happiness as long as we lovingly embrace our wants and desires to become better men for ourselves and for our loving families. We have already received many “brain nuggets” to help us along the way, including one from Dr. George Burriss who showed us a correct path for how to make wise decisions in a heightened state of emotion. Another nugget, from back in Phase One, was when Robert Lewis helped us seek out our quest for authentic manhood, and we must also include thanks for the very kind and intelligent Bert S. who helped us kick off our entrepreneurship journey in Phase Two. Having people such as these kind men who truly care for us makes it so much more rewarding as all of us PEP brothers take these new steps to change. And last but not least, we can’t forget the dedication and devotion that Gami J. and David F. put into helping us change. When change is in our hearts, nothing positive goes unnoticed. Some have already faced some new challenges with our “3-3-3 heart check,” our new start with Toastmasters as well as studying for our next chapter test in our entrepreneur books. But we welcome this challenge and all to come as we all want better for ourselves and are willing to work hard to achieve our goals. So who are we? We are PEP! We are Redeemed ’19! We live between the wings!
Rodney B. (a.k.a. “Vanity Smurf”)
Would you like to see a magic trick? Full disclosure: it’s not actually magic. It’s more of a party trick I picked up over the years, but mildly impressive nonetheless. Are you ready? Here it goes – I can tell you your future with startling accuracy. Before you scoff, I’m not talking about the way your horoscope is totally about you. I’m talking a genuine prediction of who you will be in the future. I will also tell you how I do it. But first, I’d like to tell you a story. A young reporter, fresh from journalism school, was lucky enough to score a phone interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger. By truly anyone’s system of keeping score, Schwarzenegger has lived one of the most varied and successful lives imaginable. He is considered by many to be one of the greatest body builders of his time. His movies have grossed far into the billions with a “B.” He was elected governor of California, despite the fact that he immigrated to America from Austria. And Forbes magazine listed him as one of the 50 most recognizable people of all times, something today’s famous-for-nothing titans like Kim K. have failed to do. However, the reporter wasn’t so much interested in the accolades and achievements themselves as he was in the “how” of them.
“How were you able to accomplish, in one life, what would take concentrated effort over the lifetimes of any four other men? How did you do it?”
Schwarzenegger replied, “I formed a picture in my head of the life I wanted and I lived into it.” When I read the article, I was struck by this quote for a few reasons, and it has stayed with me since. First, because of its simplicity. Not simple as in easy; simple as in not complex. Arnold’s driving philosophy is that the man you want to be is out there for the taking. You just have to go get it, which can be broken down into three steps. The steps are mine and I leave it to you to judge the veracity thereof.
Step one is to use your imagination, something you’ve been doing since you could crawl, and create a picture in your mind of who you want to be. Be specific. Details are the bones of a story. Give me bones – those are the easy part. Step two is to imagine that guy’s back story. Think about the work he would have had to put in to get where he is. Picture the sacrifices he had to make, the choices, the decisions. Envision the habits he created, the actions he took, and the behaviors deemed extreme, crazy or excessive by some that would simply be normal to him. Think about the internal drive, the willpower, the desire and the determination that it takes to continually push oneself out of the proverbial comfort zone to achieve and succeed.
Step three is where the magic happens. What Arnold says is that now that you have a picture in your head, you simply live into it. The sacrifices that guy made, you make them. His habits become your habits. His drive, his willpower, his determination all become yours. You act out the guy’s decisions until one day, you take a look around, and someone is on the phone asking how you did it. The other reason Arnold’s words stuck with me is because, if true and I believe they are, then the implications are profound. It is easy to miss, but what he says is where you begin does not determine where you end. Where you start does not decide where you finish. For so many, myself included, that is incredibly good news. Arnold says that the possibilities are truly endless. You do not have to be defined by the past, by where you started from, or at what point you mustered the courage to make a U-turn. Just because you had humble beginnings, or a less-than-humble middle act, does not mean you can’t have a grand finale. Don’t misunderstand; I’m not talking about delusions of grandiosity. This isn’t that Joel Osteen prosperity nonsense. I’m not telling you that you can be a movie star or the governor. What I am telling you is that you can become a man that you can be proud of, that the people around you can be proud of; you can be successful wherever we choose to go. Be a man who has the ability to choose.
The world will try to label you. The devil will try to discourage you, but the possibilities are endless. Where you started does not determine where you end up. You will spend all day today becoming the man you will be tomorrow. The decisions you make today, the actions you take, the attitude you develop, the habits you make and the habits you break will all determine who you live into tomorrow, and next week, and next year. I told you that I can predict your future. All I have to do is watch what you do today, and I can tell you who you will be tomorrow. I simply observe and listen, and then I do the math. Like I said, it’s not really magic – it’s more like a party trick. I believe in you. Love God, love others and change the world.
Dustin B. (a.k.a. “Miley Cyrus”)