Monday, September 2, 2019

Today started off like any other Monday. We woke up early, ready to start a very productive day at our Toastmasters International class. At first, it seemed as if there was some sort of delay because we hadn’t been called out. Then one of our Servant-Leaders reminded us that today was Labor Day. Taking advantage of this opportunity, we decided to hold Toastmasters in the dorms. It might be Labor Day outside of this facility, but here at PEP, the laboring never stops. We only have a short time left before we graduate.

Toastmasters is always interesting and exciting. We are able to listen and learn so much from each other’s testimonies and life experiences. For example, Oscar B. spoke about the importance of physical exercise and its benefits in reducing stress. James D. gave a speech about the importance of good credit. He also addressed the procedures of obtaining a credit report, disputing errors and how to improve your credit score. Lastly, Justin R. gave a personal testimony of self-improvement.

Toastmasters has taught us so much! In addition to drawing us closer, we have learned how to formulate ideas, express emotions and sell ourselves with poise and confidence. All of these were put to the test this past Friday at the Business Plan Workshop event. We were able to implement some of the techniques that we’ve learned, such as hand gestures, facial expressions and eye contact to translate our message to the executives and the University of Houston students.  

Dennis M. (a.k.a. “Hyena”)

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Today, the class of Spring ’20 was called out early for Leadership Academy and Quest for Authentic Manhood. This gave the Kings of Fall ’19 some quiet time to study for our upcoming tests on Crime and Punishment and our Entrepreneurship class. So we got together in our study groups and went through all of the necessary material.

Two executive volunteers, Monte P. and Keith F., were available to teach a class about the unlimited power of the personal purpose process. It included information about the importance of having a vision, knowing where you want to be and how you are going to get there. The class also covered the eight keys of life which are: family, financial, mental, physical, relationships, spiritual, service and career. We discussed how we should use all of the keys to make the wheel of life move. It is always a blessing to have these wonderful men share their time, experience and knowledge with us.   

James D. (a.k.a. “Pacman”)

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

This morning, we prayed out two of our fellow brothers who are going to be released next week. Several brothers gave each of them some very touching and heartfelt words of encouragement. We wish them the best of luck and pray that they use the tools that they have received here to become responsible members of society.

Before our Entrepreneur class started, we took our final test from the book Crime and Punishment. Afterwards, we were surprised with a pop quiz over Chapter 12 in our Entrepreneurship textbook. Once the tests were completed, Brian T. gave an amazing presentation on Establishing Operations. He taught us how to use a critical path chart, which consists of a process to time everything that needs to be done to start a business accurately.

We also learned how a business’ location can be a competitive advantage. We discussed the steps necessary to establish a business’ legitimacy in the market. At the end of class, we sang “Happy Birthday” to two of our brothers.

Ruben T. (a.k.a. “King Julian”)

Thursday, September 5, 2019

We started the day off with a wonderful prayer, thanking our Heavenly Father for another day. At Computer Lab, we were given the opportunity to add any final touches to our business plans. To see everything come together is pretty exciting! The closer we get to graduation, the more anxious we become. Many of us have not seen our families in a very long time. In addition to this, we are still nervous concerning the 7-12 minute pitches that we need to write and be able to recite at the Business Plan Competition.

We are doing Toastmasters on the pod to help us prepare. Everyone is doing very well! Many of us would have never thought that we could speak in front of a large group of people, but we are excelling. The speeches are really inspiring and thought-provoking. With new skills and tools at our disposal, we are ready for a fresh start!

 William K. (a.k.a. “The Gingerbread Man”)

Friday, September 6, 2019

Today was a “day off” in terms of classroom participation. However, there is never truly a day off in PEP. We embrace every day as an opportunity to be more productive and to better ourselves.

Everyone gathered in their study groups to prepare for the Chapter 12 test in our Entrepreneurship class. This week’s topic is Establishing Operations, which covers a number of practical, process-based actions necessary to begin business operations.

We are all preparing our 7-12 minute pitches for the Business Plan Competition event. Everything that we have studied throughout the program has been preparing us for the final event. Toastmasters is teaching us to be better speakers, so that we can present our idea to the executives in a professional manner; our Entrepreneurship class is giving us all the skills necessary to formulate a proper business plan; and Computer Lab is providing us with the opportunity to do market research for our businesses. All in all, we are being transformed into legitimate businessmen.

At the end of the day, we gathered together to hold our weekly Accountability group meetings. This week, we talked about “Unity” and what the word means to each of us. We learned that unity means much more than just solidarity – it means working and living in harmony with all of those around us. Each of us walked away from the meeting with a new perspective and much to think about!  

Sonsack X. (a.k.a. “Chow”)

Expressions

“Winning doesn’t always mean being first. Winning means you’re doing better than you’ve ever done before.

~Bonnie Blair

Every class has that one guy in it that has to be the best at everything. I would wager that even as you read this, you have already put a name to who it is/was in your class. Please do not misunderstand me, there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to achieve your personal best. After all, that is why we are here – is it not? Be that as it may, if you view those around you, in this program or in life itself, as competitors instead of brothers on the same journey, you are not only missing the best part, you are missing the point!

I learned a long time ago that my best is not always the best. That’s not an excuse, it’s a fact! However, if I put forth 100% of my effort and capability, I can hold my head up high, resting in the knowledge that I gave it my all. That is something that many of us have never done before. Still, the greatest accomplishment that you could possibly attain from this program doesn’t come from crossing the finish line yourself, but rather it comes from helping your brothers cross it as well.

I mention this because the Business Plan Competition is coming up shortly. I wish all of you well, but please do not get so caught up in the rivalry that you shy away from helping your brother achieve his personal best. In my opinion, that is what PEP is all about: People Elevating People!

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

Fearless Fall ’18