Week 4

Monday, June 14, 2021 

God is good! Every day we focus to be better than we were the day before. It is all about progression, to become a better man, a smarter businessman. We have learned that for change to occur, we must start with ourselves, because it must come from our inner being. When things become difficult, we want to go right back to what is easy for yourself. We must watch ourselves and be aware. 

We have learned that ideas without actions to follow them are fruitless; just like dreaming, for in dreams this is simply imagining and not acting. Most people have thousands of thoughts a day, but it is a small percentage who actually get up, take the initiative, and start to get things accomplished little by little. All journeys start with one step at a time. Some of us don’t start because we fear failure. Who said reaching goals was easy? Who said life was easy?  Mistakes will come, but when we handle them appropriately and keep on moving forward, we can have success. 

Family can be a great motivator and supporter. Some of us reflect on our past and see that we are now new men. It is nice to see progression, growth, and positive development. If we did not face all the trials, then we would not be the men we are today.   

Howard T. (a.k.a. “Reggie”) 

 

Tuesday, June 15, 2021 

PEP every day is a learning experience. Every Monday morning, we start the week by taking a test concerning our past week’s two Entrepreneurship chapters (college level class work). Upon finishing our tests, they are graded; then, we move on and find out who passed and who failed, also who will receive homework and how much. Homework consists of copying the next chapter outline; it can be really stressful at times, but it is part of discipline and it helps us to build courage and wisdom. All we can do is keep on rolling with the punches and do not give up, no matter how much homework we receive. Be like Nike and “just do it.” All we can do is try our best and keep on pushing to better ourselves. After we are finished with testing we watch a video pertaining to our next Entrepreneurship chapter so we will be one step ahead of the game. Today was a new experience, we actually got to use computers. For some of us it has been years since we last used a computer. It was a fun and productive activity. We learned how to make the font bold and highlight everything; all accomplished with a simple click of the mouse. It was fun learning to do different things with the fonts. Every day is an awesome day in PEP. You just do not know what to expect, you just have to stay ready to keep from having to get ready.     

Jessie G. (a.k.a. “Smigle”) 

 

Wednesday, June 16, 2021 

Today was a great day, we learned about Mission Statements, wished our MC Darius C. (a.k.a. “Chocolate Cornbread”) a Happy Birthday, and talked about our “Who Moved My Cheese?” book. We have learned some big lessons in that little book. The main lesson being no matter in what circumstance we find ourselves, do not get comfortable, be always ready for your “cheese to be moved.” We have learned that the only thing that is inevitable is change. My “cheese” has changed over the years, the things we used to look for did not provide happiness at all, so our direction has changed; instead of looking to money, or alcohol, or women for happiness, we have found joy in our families, our relationship with God, and just being able to walk around healthy every day. We now realize these are huge blessings bestowed upon us.  

During our Leadership Academy Correspondence Course, we had to have a purpose/mission statement. After putting serious thought and effort into what we truly desire in our lives and putting that down on paper, it has given us motivation and direction when we get a little off track. Toastmasters, as this program is helping us greatly with our difficulty of speaking in front of large crowds. We are amazed at how well everyone is doing.  Some of us said we would never speak in front of a crowd, but we are all doing new things. 

We are very thankful to all our Peer Educators and Servant-Leaders who are down there with us every day. And we appreciate all their help and advice. We will close with this personal Purpose Statement: “Stop trying….start doing, learn from the past and leave it there, look ahead. Work hard and leave a legacy.”     

Christian H. (a.k.a. “Larry the Cable Guy”) 

 

Thursday, June 17, 2021 

We are thankful to Mighty God for giving us another opportunity to get our lives together, and to finally be able to serve as a productive citizen. We are also grateful to be chosen for the PEP Brotherhood. We want to better ourselves, and we have been attending PEP classes in person for the last month, as it is quite a learning experience. We have also been enthusiastically preparing for our Toastmasters program, where we will learn how to speak publicly in front of crowds; it can be nerve wrecking, but we will overcome our hesitations and fears and perform our speeches quite well. We are also enjoying and learning much valuable information in our BetterMan course. This is a fantastic class. Today we learned how to be real men who courageously follow God’s word, love and protect God’s women, excel at God’s work, and better God’s world. We are working diligently to better ourselves on these things every day. We are also learning to be accountable for our own actions. We performed a skit pertaining to Wise Stewardship, learning how to be trustworthy and responsible with someone else’s wealth or property.  

We are beginning to interact more, and in doing so we are getting to know each other much better. We are in groups working on our business plans, and our Servant-Leaders are doing a great job at helping us and guiding us along the way. They always have something positive or encouraging to tell us, and that really helps to keep us optimistic and uplifted. They are showing us love because they want us to succeed, and that really means a lot to us. 

Michael L. (a.k.a. “Kat Williams”) 

 

Friday, June 18, 2021 

Today, we had the opportunity to gather both groups together and meet as one big class while keeping social distancing in mind. As always, we started off the day with a prayer. After prayer we watched another one of PEP’s instructional videos, and its topic was mentorship. As always, it was inspirational and motivational like the previous videos. We learned that anyone can use a mentor and we are highly encouraged to have one, especially upon one’s release. 

The video inspired us so much because throughout the years I have read many books about and written by successful men and women attributing some of their success to having great mentors in their lives. Mentorship like Mr. Miyagi and Daniel in the Karate Kid movie. A mentor can be of great help to someone in many areas of one’s life. Mr. Miyagi did not only teach Daniel karate, but also important lessons of life through martial arts.  

Interesting fact, the word mentor comes from Homer’s “Odyssey” in which the goddess Athena disguised herself as an old, wise woman named Mentor who would aid Odysseus and Telemachus with wise advice.  We need to act and seek wise mentorship. We can execute to do this through PEP. 

Carlos M. (a.k.a. “Bruce Lee”) 

 

Expressions 

“We have not journeyed across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairies, because we are made of sugar candy.” 

-Winston Churchill 

“Never go into battle with an enemy who is in the process of destroying himself.”       

-(author unknown) 

“In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins- not through strength but by perseverance.”  -H. Jackson Brown  
 

It is encouraging to see you guys trying every day, and it is contagious and it motivates me to do my job with a greater pleasure. All of us have potential, you just need to tap into it and stay connected. You may surprise yourselves by the things you accomplish with desire, dedication, and discipline. Nothing is easy and nothing will be given to you, but know that through trials and tribulations you will grow and learn many things you will use in your future. So do not ever give up, for in doing so you are giving up on yourselves.  

Donde L. (a.k.a. “Stich”) 

Week 3

Monday,  June 7, 2021

The last couple of weeks have been a real challenge for some of us. Now that we are getting to the core of our business plan, we can feel the passion that people say they have for their businesses and dreams. As a class we are getting more comfortable around each other. Some PEP Brothers (class members) who would sit in the back and be quiet and shy are now participating and “coming out of their tough shell”. We all are very proud of these PEP Brothers on their growth and their willingness to “break out of their shells”. We are proud to call home and talk to our loved ones about how wise and productive we are with using our time. And we are also excited to talk about the things we want to do with our businesses once we our released. It is great to speak with the ones we most love, to hear that they are ready for us to get home and look forward to us helping around the house. This has helped us to get out of prison and the “stinking thinking” of the past. We are focused on the bright future ahead of us. We are looking forward to the next couple of months to see how all our businesses come together. And we are looking forward to watching all our PEP Brothers grow stronger in all aspects in our lives.

Michael D. (a.k.a. “Clear Eyes”)

 

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Today in PEP we were able to see how we scored on our pitches. We feel truly blessed for the opportunities that PEP has provided for us. We can see the change in our PEP Brothers. It really feels good to be part of something like this.

We watched a few amazing videos today, and they inspired us to better men. We know it takes work, but we are willing to do what it takes.  One video focused on the three different types of love. A lot of us have struggled with this topic in the past, and it was nice to know that we are in this together and we can now learn and help each other with this. We realized we are not alone, and all of us have challenges in a lot of similar areas. PEP is a team effort and as long as we reach out to help or receive help, nothing is impossible. We are learning from each other every day now, and things are getting deep. Thank you PEP for showing the standard of what a real men supposed to be.

Brennen D. (a.k.a. “Dennis the Menace”)

 

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

PEP is a great opportunity, and we are learning what we have been missing in our lives. Some of us never thought we would get here because we waited a year to come to PEP. We have been in PEP only three weeks, but it feels as if it is has been three months. We are getting to know each other and our business plans. This week we saw the executives on ZOOM, and it was real. It was a real shocker to see how many executives popped up on the screen. We got to enjoy everyone’s pitches, but the executives picked the top nine. Now it is time to pick teams with the CEO, CMO, CFO, and COO (The business plan portion of PEP is picking a team of PEP brothers in class and each man will have a specific role to preform)

We have been tasked with so much that some of thought about giving up. Instead, we realized that we have been given a Fresh-Start Outlook and if we give up, we lose that. We are also taking accountability for our actions every day. We are also getting accustomed to much being expected of us.  We saw section three of our BetterMan series, and it has opened our hearts. We are growing, opening up, and willing to talk about different topics. God bless us, and we are encouraging our brothers to keep on doing a good job and do not give up.

Lorenzo E. (a.k.a. “Pedro”)

 

Thursday, June 10, 2021

A few things we are grateful for are simply the opportunity to participate in P.E.P, our health, families, and the support that we receive. We set goals to choose to serve others for the day. Some of us have chosen to stay focused on generosity.  If we keep setting goals and have a purpose every day, then we will be accustomed to serving other which will build character. Today we were in groups giving presentations on accountability, we all now know that everyone should address their flaws or misbehavior; “owning it “and dealing with the consequences. On each pod, the Servant-Leaders remind us of how important the word execute is as well as its meaning. Execution is completing something through to completion. And this is one of PEP’s 10 Driving Values. We understand that to get anything done we must focus on whatever it is you are trying to accomplish and to stop until it is done.

Joseph F. (a.k.a. “Pooky”)

 

Friday,  June 11, 2021

We have all been given a chance to change, now we take it upon ourselves to make that positive transformation. We started making changes before PEP. Now that we have made it this far, we know we ready for major changes, for the better. Even though all the work and extra activities we have going on may be frustrating and complicated at times, we must remember that we can use this as a strategy to get ourselves ready for the real world, as our real world starts here and now with PEP. We have been given a big blessing to be able to learn and grow more with each other here in PEP, with the help of all our Servant-leaders, as well as teachers. We are not going to stop working hard because all our hard work will pay off.

Issac G. (a.k.a. “Hoola Hoop Bandit”)

 

Expressions

 

“Sometimes you may not get exactly what you thought you wanted because of hidden blessings you never saw coming…”

Unknown

“There is no passion to be found in playing small – in settling for a life that is less than what you are capable of living.”

Nelson Mandela

“When you cease to dream you cease to exist.”

Malcom S. Forbes

 

Please keep in mind that nothing worthwhile is easy, especially when you feel as though you are being overwhelmed. Just as those who have graduated, they too have gone through the same struggles and persevered; so can you. Sacrifices must be made one way or the other, either a little less time for extracurricular activities so that you can study, or more writing homework. It is simply a matter of your priorities.

Several things were said in the Servant-Leader meeting this morning, such as we can lead a horse to water, but it is up to the horse to drink. If you need help and your brothers are not there for you to pull up on them, you should initiate that contact and put it out there that you want and need their assistance, because we are all on individual walks regardless of our being together. We need to approach our brothers and simply ask for support, advice, and aid with your studies. As Servant-Leaders, we will help you!

Richard T. (a.k.a. “Sheldon” from “The Big Bang Theory”)

Week 2

Monday, May 31, 2021

For our big day, we prepared so hard for the entire weekend, telling ourselves to be calm, cool, and ready. We were surprised with a pop quiz, though all we had on our minds was our pitches (talking about our businesses in a well thought out way).

But with the excellent stewardship from our Servant-Leaders we were able to get past the “Ice Breaker” speech. To realize that it was not that difficult, and if we are willing to put in the effort, there is help all around us. The main thing we learned today is not to give up. And if we are struggling, simply ask our fellow graduate brothers for assistance, as they are always willing to help. The love and initiative in that shows how dedicated these guys are to making sure that innovation not only happens in their lives, but ours as well. Seriously, it feels good not to be put down or given up on. We get the chance to be taught properly so that we may go back to our dorm and practice effectively. That way we can come back and execute properly in front of the camera while gaining self-confidence and gratitude for what we have done, but also for what has been done for us in return. Thanks!     

Christopher B. (a.k.a. “Chuck Liddell”)

 

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

First, we have been blessed to have the opportunity to be here and participate in PEP – a program that offers us not only support and opportunities, but also a reentry plan for when we are released. We are all working on a business plan because each of us has dreams and goals of being an entrepreneur someday. Each day we all get to know each other better. So far, we had an opportunity to do our pitch (talk about our business) in front of the camera, as we hope to better ourselves by improving our pitch in front of others. We have surprised ourselves and managed to remember and perform our business pitch adequately; at the same time, we gave information to others about our business that we are passionate about pursuing. Many of us plan on being self-employed. We have also learned so much business wisdom from our book assignments.

Many of us have thus accomplished our first few goals. We have done all our homework and recorded our pitch for our business plan. Now we hope to learn more with our group and utilize what we have learned with our team. We are so glad that we have graduates on our pods who help us and look out for us on different subjects. They helped us focus on and organize our pitches. We are learning to express ourselves without being judged. Doing our PEP assignments first is best then we have free time. With patience, everything else will fall into place. We will continue to study hard and give it our best.        

Joker C. (a.k.a. “Herbert”)

 

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

We woke up this morning thankful to continue the process of evolving in a positive direction. Having been in PEP classes in person for only two weeks at this point, we are still amazed that we are part of this wonderful program while incarcerated. The various tasks we complete, and the vast opportunities to gain knowledge and experience, are so incongruous with our environmental setting that it is mindboggling.

We were given a reminder today that being prepared is paramount to success and execution. If you expect the unexpected and are armed with forethought, then a surprise becomes not a setback but an opportunity to rise. In addition, we as PEP Brothers are already gaining an understanding of the benefits of being able to help each other and using our network as a foundation that we can build upon to grow.

We sincerely believe that PEP does provide us with the opportunity, tools, and template to initiate a positive change in our lives. Instead of viewing our eventual release in the terminology of “this time around,” we lose the cyclical perspective in favor of the linear approach of proceeding directly to our prospective goals. We are learning not only about entrepreneurship, but also how to look at ourselves introspectively and how we can use this to benefit ourselves and others. We are breaking down the confines of our past each day in PEP. Getting rid of our transgressions and venturing further out of our shells toward a future of collective success.     

Christopher C. (a.k.a. “Piggy Bank”)

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday,  June 3, 2021

Looking into our PEP journey, we have found that so much more comes into play than just the business aspect. Through our BetterMan (Betterman.com) class we are learning about values and moral growth of personal self. The strengthening of our virtues, courage, love, humility, honesty, discipline, and perseverance. These are things to master, and by doing so, this will enable us to become better men and successful entrepreneurs.

PEP has opened the door into our daily lives and goal setting, thus allowing us to reach out to fellow PEP family members and network with these resources. Just today, we witnessed the potent resources available by watching CEOs of major companies, with their own entrepreneurial start-ups, give advice to our PEP family. We learned to engage, trust others, and accept their support.

Thus far our PEP experience has been truly amazing. Learning and using PEP 10 Driving Values daily has given us the ability to apply principles and virtues in all areas of our lives, whether in PEP class or daily living. Through writing, practicing, and learning our “Big Idea Pitch” we have gained a lot of knowledge about public speaking.

Having access to servant-leaders (men who have completed PEP but are still incarcerated) in our pod has helped me tremendously. Their ability to direct and help center our thoughts and energies in a positive manner is awesome. This has helped us with everything in our daily lives including the planning and execution of study groups. In short, PEP is more than just one person. It is a family, a way of life; something that any entrepreneur can and will benefit from, especially when he/she applies the use of resources PEP has taught them.      

Patrick C. (a.k.a. “Forest Gump”)

 

Friday, June 4, 2021

Every day is a blessed day! We woke up and immediately started to go over our pitches.  We watched other pitches to learn from them. We gave pointers on what we needed to work on.

PEP is an adventure, and we are learning so much. We thankful to all my mentors and the Good Lord. We are learning to relax be ourselves and just let it go, speak our mind, and take our time. It takes courage to do our pitches in front of all 38 classmates.  We will push ourselves and we will be better for both ourselves and families and society. I will participate and move forward. We have learned that thoughtfulness, honesty, and hard work can take us a long way. And that we must ask if we need help.  Lastly, always be kind to all in a peaceful manner and respect everyone.

Doremus C. (a.k.a. “Dr.Huxtable”)

 

 

Expressions

 

“No great man ever complains of want of opportunity.”

                                                                                     Ralph Waldo Emerson

“You must never confuse the faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they may be.”

                                                                                     Admiral Jim Stockdale

“I am a success today because I had a friend who believed in me, and I did not have the heart to let him down.”

                                                                                     Abraham Lincoln

 

 

Gentlemen, congratulations! You are finally here, coming to classes in person. Remember, what you put into this program you will receive. Use my three D’s: desire, dedication, and discipline. Use all three and you will get to far places. Study hard and you will have less homework. In all that you do give it 110% and you will have no regrets.

Donde L. (a.k.a. “Stitch”)

Week 1

Monday, May 24, 2021

Today was the first day of PEP class. We started our day like we do every day with the pray-in. After the pray-in everyone needed a bit of motivation; we warmed up with the chicken dance. This is where everyone dances like a chicken. That dance took the edge off and it was super fun. We even had something for the guys who did not know how to dance. Do not feel bad, because everyone joined in. That made it more fun.

During our first assignment we came together in groups of four and practiced trying to sell pens. There were 15 different ideas on how to get someone to invest in buying a pen. Balloons were passed out at the end of the pen exercise. We all had to blow a balloon up with our name on it. The balloons were all put together, then we had to find our own. The ones who found their balloons were able to help others who were struggling. To me this demonstrated Servant-Leader mentality. Servant-Leader (PEP – ten driving value) means: to be of service to others.

We also received our fun names today. These names are meant to be positive and fun like “Major Payne”.  When a name is given then the recipient must “I must own it”. This is saying it with your very own pizzazz. The names help get everyone out of their comfort zone. Fun is another PEP- Ten Driving Values; Life is way more enjoyable when things are fun. We want to create a work environment and homes that encourages laughter. Laughter keeps the negative and bad at a distance.

We are all grateful to PEP and for the second chances we are all getting!                                                                                                  

Riley A. (a.k.a. “Major Payne”) 

 

 

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Today we went over and discussed the introduction and first session of the BetterMan series (betterman.com). As a group we sat down and individually gave our input on what we are looking for in BetterMan, what we are hoping for from being here. Basically, we all found mutual aspects of our backgrounds, and we are all building for change. We are all looking forward to building our leadership traits. Looking forward to gaining the knowledge needed to proceed as Bettermen. Our background is what brought us here, the urge and want to get out to make a difference in our lives for our families and ourselves. Some of us are not giving ourselves any other options. Our only direction is growth, and we accept the hand up that the Prison Entrepreneurship Program is offering. Another topic in the group discussion were “the lies men believe about themselves.” As men we often make the mistake of processing our lives alone and the lies, we have always told ourselves is that “we should know what to do.” Sometimes we let pride get in our way of asking for help or guidance, and sometimes that will hinder us. You will be left behind because those of us who asked the questions also received the answers to move forward. Those who asked the questions are already laying the roof on their house while those who do not ask are still trying to figure out the foundation for their house. So, the moral of the story is, even though we can figure out what to do, we do not always know what to do in a tight spot.

Albert A. (a.k.a. “Apoo”)

 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Today was a very productive day in class. First of we were able to attend the session as one group, instead of being separated. Many of us prefer to be united as a single group, instead of being separated.  Especially since we will be given a name test. Staying in a big group will help us all learn each other’s names but more importantly helps us build a stronger community.

The topic of the day was the book, Who Moved My Cheese?  Sounds silly but there is much to be learned through this tiny book. We also had the privilege of watching the movie that went with the book. The book has a great message that anyone can relate to no matter who you are or where you come from. The “cheese” represents whatever you are after in life, whether it be money, a job, a relationship, etc. Everyone is in search of their own “cheese.”

The big message many of us in class derived from the book and movie was, once you obtain your “cheese” do not become complacent, unappreciative, or don a sense of entitlement to your “cheese” because your “cheese” can be moved at any time, meaning change is always around the corner. The trick is to see the change coming and embrace it and move. When things change, we should be flexible enough to change.  If one chooses not to change then that person will be left behind and traveling a difficult path trying to regain the “cheese.” Change is scary but it is not always bad. Change is inevitable, so stay ready for it, and when your “cheese” is moved, move with it.

Bret A. (a.k.a. “Leprechaun”)

 

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Hello, we are so grateful for the opportunity to be part of PEP. We utilize so many different exercises daily, such as practicing public speaking, mock interviews and sharing business ideas amongst each other. Some people in class were a nervous wreck and very quiet but now many of those men accept the challenge that PEP has given and these men are really changing. These men are embracing the activities with confidence and now have no problem speaking with a microphone. This is working to make us more confident speakers. In PEP we all want to become better men. The values we adhere to and venerate like integrity, accountability and love are the principles that stop us from giving up on ourselves.

Our minds and focus have changed because of what we are leaning. For example, we have learned that with hard work, integrity, and accountability are necessary traits.  We have noticed that the successful PEP graduates all have those traits.

Thank you and God Bless. – “Where there is no vision, there the people run wild.” Proverbs 17:6

 

Michael B. (a.k.a. “Ezel from Friday”)

 

Friday, May 28, 2021

Today caught us off guard because we thought PEP was going to be all structure and no leisure. We worked on a project called “Coat of Arms”; which was basically a collage of each person’s personality. It was a fun-filled activity that required little to no skill, and it also gave us a break from the normal routine of presentations and lectures. However, even in the days of presentations and lectures we still manage to still have some fun. We have fun in such a way that we forget that we are in prison. It makes time fly by, and before you know it is time to pray out and get ready to leave.

In just one short week we have learned how to come up with Mission Statements, create a big-idea hypothesis and a big-pitch presentation. This program helps open one’s hard-shell exterior and find that inner-better man that we all have inside of us, the man with morals, values, and respect, not just for society but also for the benefit for ourselves. This program has helped us find the person we envision ourselves being. Not a man defined by hip-hop culture or the streets of South Dallas, but a man who has learned to surround himself with positive like-minded people.  And we will hold each other accountable for our actions and for that we are truly grateful.

 

Jacobi B. (a.k.a. “Evander Holyfield”)

 

Expressions

“If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”                                                                               

                                                                                             John Wayne

 

“We’ve been looking for the enemy for some time now. We’ve finally found him. We are surrounded. That simplifies things.”         

                                                                                             Lewis Puller, Col. U.S.M.C

 

“It’s not so important who starts the game, but who finishes it.”

                                                                                         John Wooden                                                                                           

Gentlemen, this has been a great week. As a PEP Graduate, I would like to say that your class ClFl21 is impressive. Your courage is evident, especially as you all stepped up to the plate multiple times in your first week. Your strength is contagious. Keep it up!

Ernesto S. (a.k.a. “Joey Badafuco”)