Monday, June 10, 2019

Today was the first official day for the class of Fall ’19 to start our Toastmasters International class. Toastmasters is a class for public speaking. The object of this class is to bring us out of our shyness and break the prison/street/slang way of talking. We must become professional speakers who can converse with the business world. So, if we are shy or soft spoken now, we won’t be by the time that this class is done.

We always start the class with a pray-in, followed with the current project. Today was our “Ice Breaker” speech. Getting up in front of the class and giving a four to six minute speech about ourselves is a great way to break the ice for a future professional speaker. It may sound easy, but nothing could be further from the truth.

One by one, we must stand up in front of the class, look people in the eye and speak. This was the first time that most of us have ever spoken in public. It’s easy when we are around our friends and can talk the way we want to without being evaluated, but today we were businessmen talking to strangers about who we are. Our nerves were on edge but, once we reached the lectern, the floor was ours for at least the next four minutes.

Jerome H. (a.k.a. “Idris Elba”)

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Like any other day, today was very positive, busy and productive. We didn’t have class today, but we have started the second phase (business portion) of the program, so we made use of our spare time. We got together to practice our “Ice Breaker” pitches for Toastmasters, which lasts four to six minutes in front of the class as we talk about ourselves. This first speech helps us paint a better picture of who we really are and tell about some of the life experiences we have overcome. It is also designed to help us speak properly and to present ourselves in front of people in a very professional manner.

We gathered in small groups to help each other study for the test that we will have tomorrow in our Entrepreneurship class. A few hours a day of hard, dedicated studying really pays off, and the hard work is made evident through the passing grades we earn. The test will be over Chapter Three, which covers laying the groundwork for our businesses.

We will be tested every week, so studying together and encouraging each other is important to help us do our absolute best. We must keep moving forward and never give up. Still, we are all pretty nervous about entering this second part of the program and putting these first tests behind us.

Lorenzo T. (a.k.a. “DJ Khaled”)

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Today was our Entrepreneurship class and what a class it was! We are all fairly new to the second phase of this program and are still getting used to the swing of things. So far, it is really good! We are all finding the class interesting and engaging.

We started off with basic business practices, discussing economics and the five roots of opportunity. Next, things really started heating up as we took a test over Chapter Three; the vast majority of the class earned a passing grade. Our performance speaks volumes about our dedication and ambition. Bring on next week’s test!

Finally, the class ended with a presentation on opportunity. The overall theme was on the importance of a competitive advantage. We all found it to be very insightful. We discovered that a business’s number one priority should be customer satisfaction. All too soon, class ended, but we are looking forward to next week.

Jordan S. (a.k.a. “Lurch”)

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Many of us in Fall ’19 had computer lab this morning. It was amazing to get on a computer and learn skills that we can use upon release. Many of us have never really used a computer for anything other than keeping in touch with people through social media. Today, we got to learn how to format assignments using Microsoft Word.

Back on the Pod, we studied for next week’s test in our Entrepreneurship class. We will be testing on basic business, the costs and hard work it takes to get a business started, and the benefits you get in return. We are discovering that there is a relationship between the business world and life – “you reap what you sow.” This program is equipping us to step into our new roles as legitimate businessmen.

Juan G. (a.k.a. “Meow Mix”)

Friday, June 14, 2019

We were supposed to have our first Living in the Village class today, but it was cancelled. Instead, the graduates finished up their character assessments. Afterwards, they attended a Mock Interview event. They sat down with executives and practiced what to say and not say during the job interview process.

Even though we didn’t have class, we still had to prepare for next week’s class. We read the first chapter in our Living in the Village book. We learned about the Great Depression of 1929-1939 and the dot-com bubble that took place from 1995-2000. The book discussed what happens to the stock market when such events occur.

We have barely begun the second phase of the program, and we are already learning so much. Many of us didn’t expect things to be moving this fast, but the program is also teaching us that when life “moves your cheese,” you must move with it!

Michael S. (a.k.a. “Pink Panther”)


“Live your life so that your children can tell their children that you not only stood for something wonderful – you acted on it.”
~ Dan Zadra

Throughout the course of our lives, we will encounter many circumstances that have been set in motion to test our courage and will. However, few things can deflate the spirit of a man quite like the look of disappointment in his children’s eyes. They look to us for validation, guidance and protection. Yet, for many of us, we believe that all we can truly offer them is a phone call and the occasional two-hour visit.

PEP’s greatest boast is the number “zero.” That represents the percentage of PEP members’ children who end up in prison. When we accepted the challenge called the Prison Entrepreneurship Program, not only did we embark on a journey to give ourselves a legitimate second chance, we took a stand to break the generational curse of incarceration.

I am proud to be a part of the PEP revolution, and I am honored to share in the struggles and successes of my brothers. Happy Father’s Day!

James R. (a.k.a. “Biscuits and Jelly”)